Fark Self-Censorship

by Dish Staff

Amanda Hess has limited expectations for a new misogyny ban at Fark:

Policing misogyny is fabulous in theory. In practice, it’s a bitch. [Drew] Curtis notes that Fark’s commenters often appear to be engaging in an extreme “parody” of sexism, using a pastiche of satirical cultural references. (Fark contributors favor the SNL line “Jane, you ignorant slut” and callbacks to Blazing Saddles’ rape jokes.) Where is the line between pointed social commentary and vile misogyny? “On SNL and in a comedy movie … the context is clear,” Curtis continues. “On the Internet, it’s impossible to know the difference between a person with hateful views and a person lampooning hateful views to make a point. The [moderators] try to be reasonable, and context often matters. We will try and determine what you meant, but that’s not always a pass.” He added: “I recommend that when encountering grey areas, instead of trying to figure out where the actual line is, the best strategy would be to stay out of the grey area entirely.”

Telling members of an anonymous Internet message board to stop hating women is, unfortunately, a monumental ask. But instructing posters to refrain from pushing the boundaries of acceptable human discourse—to avoid a “grey area” just in case—is an irresistible provocation. The gray area between vile offensiveness and dark humor is where Fark’s commenter community thrives.

Jason Koebler is more optimistic:

“oderating speech online is tricky, and there’s the whole “slippery slope” argument to be made about censorship. Let’s be clear here: privately owned websites are obviously not required to respect the First Amendment, but there’s a mandate on the internet that anything and everything goes that there’s this de facto assumption that you should be able to say whatever you want, anywhere on the internet.

But Fark’s move is more likely to actually facilitate truly free speech, rather than restrict it. And it’s a sign that women’s rights are thankfully and finally being taken a bit more seriously of late (take a look at what Gawker finally did over at Jezebel last week for another example).

Jessica Roy, meanwhile, responds to some of the backlash the ban has received:

It’s hard to imagine Fark’s community will suffer from the banning of easy rape jokes — if anything, it will make the community a safer space for women and might even elevate the quality of humor. And don’t worry, if you’re desperate to discuss how women who dress slutty deserve to be raped, there’s always r/mensrights.