Defining "The Political"

I really dont understand this ban… maybe its a cultural thing but as far as i know is writing a form of art… u should never ban any art form in any way … as long as it doesnt praise violant behaviour. Freedom of speach is a very rare privilage nowadays and i strongly believe that u should be able to write about any subject you want even religion politics sexuality and even racism… i think it should be up to the reader to decide if he wants to read it or not. And OK a little warning like… this story contains racism or political ideology i can approve.

BUT for example this story about all this white young college students turned into stinking dumb slaves was all fine … untill later in this story only one black guy was added who got turned into a slave… hell broke loose in the comment section ??? I mean… common…

I would also like to say I disagree with an outright ban. Let me explain why as well.

If you are saying you want an inclusive space, but only so far as in how comfortable you can be with a fantasy version of a kink or fetish, really is not all-inclusive. People have diverse sexual interests and sometimes it offends our sensibilities. That does NOT mean that we should ban or censor stories that utilise this content.

Like other users have suggested, the stories should not have been banned, but the comments could be deleted or hidden. Comment moderation with a ban on hate speech (deragotry speech made with clear malicious intent toward an individual person or group of people in a non-sexual role-play scenario)

I have used this site for many years and am grateful for all the work that you do, I think you need to make sure that you are not using your own feelings or opinions to decide what content is acceptable to be published to the degree of the ban in its current wording.

I understand you don’t want to be Facebook, but do you really want to be Tumblr ?

For reference, here’s a link to the story in question (with all comments intact):

‘Keep America Gay’ by Pikemence

And here the story that triggered Pikemence’s rebuttal story:

‘The Intellectual’s Awakening’ by Geros

The Intellectual’s Awakening - Chapter 2+1: Revision, Retcon, Onward

For these links to work, I had to make a small update to the site (otherwise deleted stories couldn’t be accessed even with a direct link). I wanted to wait until my latest feature update is finished, but that’ll still take a bit of time and I don’t want to rush things.

And I’m going to write a direct response to the latest comments in this thread shortly.

When I read the Pikemence story, it occurred to me that - not for the first time on GSS, mind you - political nonsense was driving a big fat wedge between members of our community. I may be wrong, but I don’t think there’s another site out there that serves the same purpose as GSS, and I was concerned - and still am - that this divisiveness could end up ruining the site and driving many people away.

I don’t want that, and I applaud Martin for taking action to address this issue.

For me, the discussion is not whether we should tackle this problem or not; it seems obvious that we should. The question is how best to do that. My initial thoughts upon reading the Pikemence story were not of banning politics, necessarily. What I thought to myself was “I don’t think satire is really appropriate here”. I’m sure some will disagree with this, but to me, satire is not what this site is purposed for. It is almost always going to be political in nature, and is almost always going to be at the expense of one or more groups who comprise GSS’ broad spectrum of political and ideological viewpoints. There is no way that satire is not going to piss off someone. And I don’t think any of us come here to get pissed off or get into a debate.

I think overt satire, as well as ‘rebuttal stories’ - which surely cannot be said to have been written in the spirit for which this site is intended - should be restricted.

My advice to you Martin, however, is not to have an explicit ‘no politics’ rule, or even a ‘no satire’ rule, because as other commentators in this thread have pointed out, that’s a difficult distinction to make and may end up discouraging valid creative input. Instead, I would put a disclaimer in the ‘rules’ section of the GSS site that says something like:

“The site administrator reserves the right to refuse to publish any story for any reason”.

After all (and the person above talking about ‘freedom of speech’ would do well to remember this), this is not exactly a public space, this is a site owned and operated by a private entity. No one is ‘entitled’ to having their story posted here, and it is ultimately your call, Martin, what you allow to be published on your own website. I think the key here is to nip these types of inflammatory stories in the bud at the review stage, on a case-by-case basis, before they ever see the light of day. That way we never arrive here again. We do not need specific rules for stories of this type, we just need good judgment to be shown from those who are approving these stories.

And I realize some people are going to read this and think “but censorship!!! Slippery slope!!”. But that doesn’t really make sense in this instance. It is not in Martin’s interests to prevent stories from being published. Regular new content is what brings people here. I am confident that only the most egregious of stories would be withheld from public viewing, and I think during his time as administrator, Martin has proven himself to be someone who is responsible, open-minded, reasonable, and always erring on the side of self-expression. I have no concerns whatsoever that we would see a skew towards any one political agenda.

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@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:

Prohibited speech

  • 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.

First: The comments are now also shown when you click on the links in my last postings. They’re important as the comments played a crucial role for my decision to delete those stories, as well as the discussion on Discord I started.

Secondly: I am amazed by this discussion. And all the long and intelligent postings you guys are writing here. Even though I don’t agree with every point (obviously), I’m stunned by the general tone and quality of this discussion. I’ve been in so many public discussion platforms all over the net, and never have I seen such a pleasant community. Thank you all.

Now to your postings:

As I’ve said, I haven’t really written the new rule yet. But it will be about banning hate-speech and defamation of a group of people (ethical, political, religious, sexual…). But again, the threshold will be quite high. Meaning a casual side cut (like the quite common dig on straight people) will certainly never be a problem.

But as soon as I see that the whole story is just about disparaging a general group of the population, I will not accept it.

I don’t want to censor in the dark. So in case the author is not willing to fix his story and I end up denying its publishing, I will note that here in the forum and give the author a platform to link his story here and put it up for public discussion. I won’t keep any material from you, just because I don’t agree with it.

But: In contrast to what @Hypno_TPE_Master wrote, I have no obligation to publish anything. It’s like the editorial staff of a magazine: They always decide what to publish and what not. That is not censoring, that’s called editorial responsibility. I am responsible for everything on this site, and I have to keep control of it because of that.

Also, I’d like to point out, that GSS is not under jurisdiction of US law. The hoster (Amazon) is a US company, true, but I can move the site anywhere else anytime. If at all, the site would be under German jurisdiction, and even that could be debated. Still, I will do everything in my power to make sure that the contents of the site don’t violate either European or US laws.

Colorism wouldn’t be banned, because it doesn’t fit the categories I pointed out above. It’s a close call, though, and only because it’s obvious to me that Hypnothrill never wrote this story to actually spread the idea of white supremacy. I have to admit (and I wrote so back then) that I did feel quite uncomfortable reading it. Because without knowing the background, the story could easily be misunderstood.

Sorry, but there is a clear definition for hate speech. Keeping transgender from doing something (for whatever reason) might be questionable, but is never hate speech in itself.

You are free to write and say anything you want - but not in my living room and not on my site. My site, my rules. It’s as simple as that. If you don’t understand that, then you’d have to allow anyone to stand on your balcony and shout out any kind of shit.

Did you really read what I wrote? Because I explicitly wrote that I am fine with about ANY sexual kink. If it’s sexual! I think my tolerance in that regard is much broader than of most of the readers here. The only limit is when people are hurt.

But sexual kinks are not about hate!

Yes, disabling the comments has been suggested many times. But that would only fix the problem of an endless fight in the comment section. The story would still be there, uncommented and without context. Which makes it even worse. That way, I, as the publisher, even make it more “my own”, since I allow it to stand there uncommented on its own.

Do you really think that this is a fair analogy?

@Swizzington
Thank you for your posting, which I absolutely agree with. Let me reassure that “satire” is in no danger of being banned, and neither is politics in general. I think I’ve already sharpened my policy on that now.

@Hypno_TPE_Master
Thank you for your nice words, and I am happy that you hold GSS in such high regard. Please don’t be offended that I don’t agree with your assessment on censorship on a private site. I simply don’t think you’re right on that. At all. But sometimes it’s ok to disagree, isn’t it? :slight_smile:

Hello, I am the author of the controversial story.

First of all, I am not pro-Trump, nor am I pro-racism/homophobia/transphobia/whatever. I believe in equality for all.

While I know my original comment appealed for it to be a full politics ban, it was not written with a clear head, and I regret having posted it in such a superficial, short way.

The point of this story was to expose how bad a story is when it tries too much to be a political jab, which was the case of the other aforemented story with direct references to figures associated with the right-wing. I wanted to basically invert the roles and target the other side with an exaggeration of the things more mocked in very extremely progressive people (especially the self-hatred). As you can see, the exaggerated character of Ronald was not portrayed in a positive light either.

It was not meant to be hot (even though I appreciate the people who found it hot!), it was just meant to show how low hanging fruit these things can become if overdone.

Martin, it was not my intention for you to create a new rule banning these kinds of things. It was just a call for people to not dwell further on these kinds of stories, especially since the 2020 election is approaching. Stories like The Caravan were great satire (and hot), stories like The Intellectual’s Awakening were just sad, and the intention of Keep America Gay was to show how ridiculous and bad it sounds when the treatment is applied to the side most of this website agrees with (yes, the intention was just to expose some hypocrisy).

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Thank you for your kind words directed at me and the others who posted on this threat.

Also, thank you for your thought out replies to our comments.

I am certainly not offended. I simply put that there for your thought.

For some context, I work in consulting in D.C. and I know that this is currently a huge issue here right now for both governments and private companies. My research particularly focuses on how privacy rights and free speech/expression are implemented online, how violations are dealt with (especially in the case of hate crimes or harassment), and how that affects both companies and end-users, especially in the case of LGBTQ+ sites and companies. Particularly, I am doing research on gay dating sites/companies such as Grindr and Scruff, and then also Tinder and OkCupid.

The issues being discussed on this site right now are similar to what I am working with and so I just wanted to post some basic information about the possible legal complications/implications in addition to my concerns regarding the ethics of the issue.

Also, just for your reference, certain countries do require that sites/companies comply with the laws of the local or federal governance/law to operate there. Both the US and EU do this to some degree and countries like Singapore do so to a very high degree.

But, yes, of course, it is okay to disagree sometimes :stuck_out_tongue:

And I still love the site and am immensely thankful for your work on it.

I am just glad that we have this space to discuss and advise on how we in the community think you should move forward, and I thank you for taking our comments into consideration.

I look forward to seeing your fully realized policy. I do have extensive experience writing US and EU compliant ToS, so if you decide to go that route, and would like help with writing that, I would gladly contribute if you desired.

Thank you so much once again. I shall now go back to reading stories to catch up on what I missed the last few weeks while I was in Asia and the Middle East and had limited internet access haha.

Long live GSS and its Community :slight_smile:

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Oh and I am sorry @Martin . In regards to the FB versus Tumblr comparison. I was being hyperbolic to make a point. It is that when entering into the censorship game, it is easy to do something one thinks is good for the community that ends up only causing more problems. I do not think that you are purposefully turning the site into Tumblr or that it is becoming Tumblr. I was only saying that it is easy for that to happen, especially when you do not listen to your community.

You, however, have shown us that you are extremely willing to listen to and engage in a dialogue with your users.

So, thank you very much for that as well!

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To clarify this point on Martin’s behalf, and to emphasize a very important point glossed over: the First Amendment only clearly applies to the government. There are very few and very special instances of it being applied to “private” actors, and none of them are in the realm of internet censorship. They’re more like psuedo-governmental organizations.

There is no real reason to believe Reno v. ACLU applies here, since that was about an action taken by Congress. The concern about freedom of speech applying online is, for the time being, at least, political, not legal.

However… I would love to have a court case titled, “Pikemence v. Gay Spiral Stories,” echoed in Law school Lecture halls for decades to come (yeah, yeah, yeah… I know that wouldn’t be the title… but imagine?).

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yeah after reading this thread and those stories i 100% agree with this ban as those stories both are really just shoehorning porn into a rant about the other side of the political spectrum. And that’s where I draw the line, I understand that just because this is a porn site doesn’t mean it needs to be 100% free of politics and we must only be here to fap because that’s a stupid argument that allows people to say terrible things and get away with it because “it’s not political it’s just porn” But those stories weren’t porn, there were large sections of them dedicated to political talking points which are clearly meant to invoke reactions in people. While a blanket “no politics not ever” ban would be dumb that’s not what i see @Martin trying to do. Stories that are JUST going to lead to a shouting match about politics are stupid to have on a site like this and would just put tension on the community it doesn’t need. I trust that martin is smart enough to understand a story that has a political message in it like “it’s okay to be gay” (a stance i’m pretty sure 99% of the people here on GAY spiral stories agree with) would be fine since you know, it’s not gonna invoke a lot of heated debate. Other stories like Colorism did invoke political debate but most of it was pretty civil and at least the story was clearly meant to just be sexy (also yes i’m the same guy who mentioned it earlier in this thread). The debate that happened at least stemmed from an honest mistake and there was a notion of trying to improve about it. While a story who’s themes and writing are just like “lol omg let’s own the libtards” or “trump supporters are mindless fuckhead whinebabies” are pretty much only gonna invoke a lot of screaming and trolling that will bring about drama that no one wants.

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I agree with this guy. I don’t think there’s a problem with this politics rule unless it’s abused, and I really don’t think that Martin’s the kind of guy who would abuse it. I think it was pretty clear that those two stories were written in order to make a political statement with little or no thought to the actual porn element, whereas stories like Caravan of Love, Colorism, or even the one about Brett Kavanaugh (I don’t remember the name) have a clear focus on the porn despite a dual focus on politics. So I think the difference between these two stories and the other ones I mentioned are pretty obvious, and I think as long as Martin is aware of that distinction, I think the rule is fine.

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Hi i wrote The intellectuals awakening. I don’t think trump supporters are mindless. I think they’re often duplicitous, oppurtunist, outright cruel, or violently stupid.

Oh and the guy who called my story “just sad” is rude and can eat shit.

“stories like The Intellectual’s Awakening were just sad”

I agree i rushed the ending but you’re a rude person.

In a political discussion, I’d probably agree with you, even though I try to avoid generalized judgements.

And I am with you, that people should stay civil with their criticism.

I welcome any stories you might write in the future, just try not to impose any political message on us with them. As much as I might agree with you politically, this is simply not the place for these kind of messages.

Anon, you need to be able to take criticism better. Telling people who didn’t like your story to “eat shit” is, ironically, extremely rude. My writings are frequently very sadistic and thus controversial, and I’ve had several comments telling me that “this is why I don’t go on the site, because of stuff like this.” You have to take it in stride, man. There was a comment on your story that you responded to four times. You were more than a third of the comments on your own story. You can’t put your stuff out there and then get that pissed off when someone doesn’t like it.

I don’t really want to debate you on Trump supporters, because I’m not one myself. However, you need to understand that what you portrayed in your story carried a message of support to the current political climate in which people are not willing to actually debate anything. They just throw milkshakes on their head or throw punches or turn the speaker into a dog or whatever. It’s absurd the sort of message you send with a story like what you wrote. The concept that debating someone you disagree with is somehow a bad thing. The concept that violence or cosmic revenge is the only way. And I think I’m allowed to call that sad if I want to. And it totally is sad. Sorry. Feel free to respond to this four times telling me to eat shit, but that’s the way I see it. Cheers.

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I can accept constructive criticism, calling a story “just sad” is not constructive at all. Its just rude, and i have no problem responding to rudeness with rudeness.

“The concept that debating someone you disagree with is somehow a bad thing.”

I was specifically making fun of alt-right grifters like ben shapiro who clearly get off on disengenous “debate” which allows them to be cruel.

Stop defending unconstructive criticism. I replied to comments saying the ending was rushed by agreeing, accepting the critique, and saying i would work on it more on the next story.

First of all, satire should be subtle. You literally just changed Ben Shapiro’s name and wrote a story about him. Which is gross, I don’t want to imagine Ben Shapiro in a sexual light. I don’t see why you perceive his debates as “cruelty” but I can tell I’ll never change your mind so Orange Man Bad or whatever. Also, he’s not even an advocate of conversion therapy. He, (as well as other Republican speakers like Milo Yiannopolous, who is literally gay), thinks gay marriage should be legal, he’s on record as saying so. Even Steven Crowder, who’s against gay marriage, doesn’t support conversion therapy. But go off I guess.

I don’t think anyone here wants to do that, to be honest.

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I said “like Ben Shapiro” it was still just an amalgam of the right. He had an entire made up backstory with an abusive father in part two to further distinct him. I added in conversion therapy because i wanted to. I didn’t literally just change Ben Shapiro’s name and write a story about him. You can “orange man bad” me all you want, Milo and Crowder and Shapiro are still shitheel assholes. I am not going to get into it with you about if conservatives are bad (spoiler alert they are - Conservatives are bad people) and you come across as a huge asshole yourself here, dude. I said i accepted the criticism of the actual writing of the story and was going to work on it further. Fuck off.