@Swizzington and others in this thread,
I think that we all agree that Martin does an excellent job running and moderating this site. I am sure that we all have features we like and don’t like and some we would like, but none of us are actually doing the work, and we should be (and I think are for the most part) very grateful to Martin for actually doing it.
To your point about other sites like GSS, over the years I have found several, but GSS to this day remains the best in my opinion.
However, I must disagree with your points and some others have made.
Before I do that, let me say that I am a Democrat and that I am trying to make a point about policy creation from an objective, apolitical, and legal perspective.
As I said in my above post, I am fine with comment moderation and bans on hate speech, but we must be careful about censorship.
It is an important social, ethical, and legal issue.
Furthermore, as to your point that Martin can restrict any content he wants because he owns the site, this is simply not true, or at the least, unclear.
This site is open to the public for posting and reading stories, making comments, and using the community forum.
In the landmark case, Reno v. ACLU (https://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/96-511.ZS.html) the United States Supreme Court unanimously voted to extend First Amendment rights and, “specifically extended the First Amendment to written, visual and spoken expression posted on the Internet.”
Martin, to be in the clear legally, needs to have a clear, written, and published policy regarding posting restrictions.
What Martin is clearly legally allowed to moderate or restrict is the following content:
Fighting words —speech that would incite hatred or violence has been constitutionally prohibited for nearly 60 years.
Advocating illegal activity —speech that would encourage others to engage in illegal activity is not afforded any protection.
Limitations Placed on Speech
Commercial speech —a specific type of speech afforded First Amendment protections.
Obscenity —is regulated, and depending on the context, can be prohibited.
Defamation —publishing a statement that is false, although proffered as fact, that is harmful to the reputation of another person or organization.
Profanity —different from obscenity, profanity can be regulated if it is integrated into speech that is clearly prohibited.
Copyright, trademark and patent —regulated by law and giving owners exclusive rights, others are prohibited from speech or expression that infringes on an owner’s rights.
When it comes to other forms of speech that are user-generated, Martin can potentially legally restrict content, but he would be open to legal challenges in the US and could possibly lose.
In both the EU and the US, the law has not been made clear in many cases regarding private companies or sites. It is being hotly debated and is likely to be resolved in the next few years.
To see a decent review of the issues, see this site: http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/social-clashes-digital-free-speech.
This also goes beyond the legal issue, however. It involves professional and social ethics.
GSS is and always has been a place for the fringe of the gay community, a place where kinky stories and fetishes have not only a home, but a community. Often, in the “real world” many kinksters do not live in communities where they can find solidarity with others or even in some cases acceptance of their lifestyle or interests. GSS has provided that for many through its sense of community and the many stories published here.
As I said before, I am fine with Martin moderating/banning some content. However, to censor both stories and all the comments due to his desire to be equitable, especially in the case when the stories or comments are political in nature, whether they are satire or not, is problematic, because as you have even admitted, there is some level of political nature in almost every story published on the site. And it is IMPERATIVE that creative freedom and the idea of freedom of expression within this community not be tarnished or restricted through subjective acts of censorship, such as an outright ban on political speech.
Even within this community forum, we all seem to have both similar and differing opinions and that is okay. It is intrinsic to being not only gay but a kinkster.
So, I thank you @Swizzington for your input, just like I thank @Hypnothrill
And Martin, I really hope that you take into consideration everything that has been posted in this thread while making your final decision. And I look forward to seeing your replies to my posts as well as the others.
Thank you once again for all of your hard work and dedication to the site.