Censorship: Balancing the Interests

It doesn’t matter what type or what size it is, an organization needs a leader. It needs a person who will develop a vision that ignites a fire in the hearts of others who want to be part of that vision. And the person who carries that flame of inspiration also needs to develop a plan about how to make that vision a reality.

Censorship as a barrier

Censorship as a barrier

A vibrant organization has a free flow of communication – talking, reasoning, listening, making recommendations and suggestions, responding to input, and encouraging input. A dictatorship has one-way communication, from the top down, sans feedback or comments about where a plan has a flaw or suggestions that can make the plan even better. It’s as though the members of the group merely exist for the sake of their numbers, not for what they’re able to add to make the plan not only a reality but the best outcome for all under the leadership of the organizer.

Sometimes a twist in circumstances arises when things are done out of order. It can appear that one of the team members is pushing forth their own agenda. That happens when they’ve not had a private conference with the leader about their ideas. Perhaps that missing, private conference was because the team member feared reprisals for saying something that goes contrary to the expressed ideas of the leader. That’s a pity for many reasons. But embarrassing the leader before the world is not a good idea. Expect that there will be no further input from that member, no matter what the quality or the abilities of the one who spoke out of turn and at the wrong time.

Some people simply don’t know where they are and don’t recognize that others take the meeting place with the discretion they would expect in their own home. Certain types of speech are acceptable. Desecrating the venue with distracting content that isn’t at all related to the mission can cause more than discomfort. It’s obvious that a rational person would not do such a thing but what would cause a person to feel it is appropriate? In a professional gathering, it will seem out of place to begin screaming expletives and threats at all those present. It also sends a message to the rest of the group when one person begins publicly ranting about inappropriate behavior by the leader when the information isn’t true. In these scenarios, is outright censorship appropriate?

No matter how egregious the sin, it’s a good idea to use due process, that is, tell the person what they’ve done that is an offense to the group, to the leader, to their own self, or to all. At least they will go forward with an awareness. If the offending conduct is repeated, it can be deemed that it was repeated with knowledge and was deliberate. They’ve already been advised that the behavior is not appropriate and will not be condoned.

But what if the conduct that urged insurrection is a belief held by more than just one? We go back to the logic of private counsel. A delegation of one or as many as three will want to talk with the leader and explain that the group is dissatisfied and wants to see certain changes. The changes can even be outlined in order to show where the group would like to be led.

Some people are authoritarian, others are focused on the good of the group. The authoritarian will not hear good counsel or new ideas, no matter how they are structured, no matter how courteous or compelling the conversation. A leader who is focused on the good of the group will see the areas where they need to accede and either do so or will negotiate a new position.

Censorship is a tool. It needs to be used judiciously and the circumstances dictating its use need to be carefully evaluated. It’s helpful for warding off negative behavior that can lead to the demise of the group. It can only make things worse if it’s used without good judgment.

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