The New York Times’s Little Censorship Problem

January 8, 2013   ·   1 Comments

Source: TSA News Blog


By Lisa Simeone:

The New York Times has a travel blog called “In Transit.”

On Thursday, January 3, 2013 the blog published a post called "Keep Your Shoes On, T.S.A. Tells Some Fliers." It was written by Emily Brennan.

I didn’t see the post until Friday, January 4th. When I read it, it had no comments. That cheery little “Be the first to comment!” exhortation beckoned.

So I did.

Here’s what I wrote, late morning or early afternoon, on Friday, January 4th, in its entirety:

Pre-Check isn’t new. Those of us who’ve been keeping tabs on the TSA have been writing about this boondoggle and extortion racket for over a year now.

Pre-Check isn’t a guarantee of anything. The TSA says so on its own website. TSA agents still have complete control, and whatever they decide to do or not do to you is according to whim.

You might not have to take your shoes off, you might not have to take your laptop out, you might not get scanned, you might not get groped.

More important, it’s ethically indefensible. It’s the very embodiment of All Animals Are Equal, But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others. Those who participate in it are saying, “Fine; whatever abuse you dish out to other people is okay, as long as you don’t dish it out to me.”

I comment often at the New York Times, always under my real name, at various articles about various subjects. The comment threads are moderated differently — by I know not whom — but they all have the usual rules about keeping it civil, don’t use vulgar language, don’t slander people, etc. When you comment, a little box pops up that tells you your comment will appear after it has been approved and that you will be notified by email when it does.

My comment never appeared.

Hmm, I thought, they must be swamped. Though that was unlikely, because the blog entry had been up since January 3rd and there were no comments at all. But ya never know. I gave them the benefit of the doubt. Articles and blog posts on the TSA usually elicit hundreds of comments at the NYT.

Saturday, January 5th. Still my comment didn’t appear. But I noticed that another comment, submitted after mine, did: by “Mark A” of Berkeley. He questioned the TSA’s competence.

The day passed. Still no sign of my comment.

Blogs are usually eager for reader comments, especially newspaper blogs. But sometimes things go wrong in cyberspace. God knows I don’t understand how the whole thing works. So I tried again. I re-submitted my comment on Saturday, January 5th, with this sentence at the beginning:

Trying to post this comment again, since it didn’t appear yesterday when I first typed it.

Saturday passed. It never appeared. Sunday came. Still not there.

On Sunday night, January 6th, I submitted this:

Hmmm. Is there a reason the comment I’ve been trying to post for the past 3 days hasn’t been allowed to post? This is perplexing. If someone is moderating this discussion, I would appreciate knowing why.

I didn’t use any vulgar language, didn’t make any slanderous statements, didn’t post any links, didn’t violate any of the community rules.

I also started corresponding with friends and asking them to try posting comments. Several did, including “Susie R,” who submitted the entire text of my original comment, with my name at the end and a link to TSA News, under her own name.

That d