Cuban Censorship

No, this isn't a post about Castro and the Communists in Havana. It's about a story at the other end of the economic spectrum, featuring everyone's favourite billionaire-of-the-people, Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and publisher of Blog Maverick.

The story begins with a post by Mr. Cuban entitled "The Sport of Business", in which he declares that business is the ultimate sport. Besides being a patently ridiculous premise that totally misunderstands the meaning of the term 'sport', I felt that the post was, unlike most of the quality material on his blog, fairly self-promotional. As I've noted before on sportsBabel, he does have a history of self-promotion.

So I let him know about it. The beauty of the blogosphere is interstitial, to be found in the comments and trackbacks that link various ideas and spaces together. To get permission to post on Mr. Cuban's blog (which is run by Weblogs, Inc.) and identify myself as non-spam, I had to supply my email address. After clicking on a URL, my comments were activated:

Mark, usually you have some really insightful and interesting things to say on this blog, but today's post was pure self-indulgent crapola. Is it difficult to type and look in the mirror at the same time?

A little harsh? Maybe. But I don't really think it was that bad, and I certainly tried to temper the negative with the plaudits at the beginning of the comment.

When I re-visited the blog a few hours later, though, I was shocked and peeved to find out that my posted comments had been deleted. Gone. Without a trace. Just like I had never voiced a word of dissent.

Naturally, I sought an explanation:

Dear Mark/Weblogs Inc.,

With all due respect, I am wondering if you could perhaps elaborate on the censorship practiced by deleting my comment from the Blog Maverick post on "The Sport of Business". Was the content so inappropriate? Even though I praised Mark in general, was it so wrong to call him out this one time for what I felt was a self-indulgent post?

Most print publications run far worse in the Letters to the Editor, and the Internet grew because of people on electronic bulletin boards who called a spade a spade, a fact of which I am sure you are both aware.

At the very least, doesn't a responsible micro-publishing empire have an obligation, if it accepts a comment and posts it, to notify the author as to why the editorial decision has been made at a later time to censor a dissenting opinion? You do have my email address, after all.

I'm sorry to learn about your decision, and wish you the best in your ventures. I, however, will no longer be following.

Respectfully yours,

Sean Smith

Mr. Cuban's terse reply?

Courtesy of AP


He's right. It is his board, and it is his decision, and he is certainly welcome to take his ball and run home with it. But he does tend to dish out the negative quite heavily himself, so it seems quite interesting that he is not willing to take it as well. Has he not been called worse in the boardroom? Is he surrounded by sycophants at work? Does Mr. Cuban, sponsor of the Fallen Patriot Fund, truly believe in the American First Amendment rights that these patriots have defended?

And finally, where does the role of dissent rest in his world?


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