“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” -Mark Twain
So today a friend of mine posted a link on /r/bitcoin to a Liberty Entrepreneurs podcast with me and Roger Ver. The link never appeared for anyone but the friend who published it. It appeared to have been actively censored from /r/bitcoin.
I decided action needed to be taken. Mods should not be able to get away with that kind of blatant censorship. I got screenshots. I made a righteous tweet. I posted proof of the malfeasance on /r/bitcoin to alert everyone.
Censorship bothers me greatly. One of the reasons I so love Bitcoin is that it makes financial censorship impossible, and by extension, that enables new forms of speech and human interaction that were previously blocked by governments. An ethos of anti-censorship is fundamental to the Bitcoin project, in my humble opinion.
Over the past year, there have been instances of clear censorship on the Bitcoin subreddit. It got so bad in late 2015 that an entirely new subreddit, r/btc, was created to cater to those who felt disenfranchised and angry at the gatekeepers of the former.
It’s been a highly controversial issue, that has largely devolved into adolescent vilification by each side upon the other. It has poisoned the community, and like many issues in society, it’s gotten too convoluted to assign blame cleanly to one side or another. Many people are at fault, many have made mistakes. Nobody is looking in the mirror at their own missteps, but rather digging up every possible shred of evidence that the “other side” is evil.
For months I’ve attempted, largely in vain, to advocate civility between the sides, and to encourage people in the Bitcoin community to stop assuming the worst about each other; to set aside the vitriol that is plaguing this most important project.
Well, today I fucked up, and I need to admit it.
Today I did what I’ve long denounced – I made assumptions of ill-intent, and vilified a group of people over what amounts to merely a misunderstanding on my part. I felt very righteous in my early pronouncements, but upon further learning, I was in fact in the wrong.
The post which appeared censored today, was not censored by any mods at r/bitcoin. It turns out that the link itself, which went to a page at CoinTelegraph.com, was blocked wholesale by Reddit itself – apparently CoinTelegraph as a domain is blocked across the entire Reddit platform.
Reddit’s global policy blocked the podcast from showing in the feed, not the action (and especially not the sinister intent) of any /r/bitcoin mod. One of the mods, /u/bashco, pointed this out to me.
The reason I’m reflecting on this, and writing about it, is because today I was guilty of the very thing that so many in the Bitcoin community have been guilty of – assuming the worst about people with whom they disagree. In reality, a misunderstanding was to blame, and without full knowledge, I made a bunch of noise and vilified people who didn’t deserve it.
To /u/bashco and the other r/bitcoin mods, I apologize for the accusation of censorship today. I was wrong.
Certainly, this doesn’t mean censorship hasn’t happened, or won’t, but in this instance, the “proof” I thought existed was a myth. Acting on that myth, I drove further divide in the community.
The reality, community-wide, is that the vast majority of people who spend their days Bitcoining, are doing so because they are good, authentic people who care about the project. Most of the people, on all sides of the various debates, and most notoriously the block size debate, are genuine, thoughtful people, who are more frequently misunderstood than they are wrong. The forum through which we communicate – the internet itself – is partly responsible for this. We lose a little bit of our humanity, our civility and kindness, when we’re behind a screen.
For this project to be as successful as possible – and it has a mountain of challenges to overcome – those of us within it should spend more time working on kindness and empathy, and examining our own faults and assumptions, and less time vilifying those who hold differing opinions.
Today, I *knew* the censorship to be true. I had proof. I had screenshots. Yet, what I knew to be true, wasn’t. We all hold things as truths which are not so, and we benefit as individuals and as a community from reflection and humility on this fact.
Before your next accusation upon your enemies, spend great effort to first challenge your own assumptions about their character, their intentions, and their villainy.
Today it was me who was wrong.