As many of you have undoubtedly noticed I do moderate comments on my blog. If you've read the comments you know that I almost always publish what people have to say even if they strongly disagree with me. On rare occasions I hold a comment to check something before publishing or to compose a thoughtful response. However, if someone is abusive or offensive I do reject comments. A person who wrote such a comment then accused me of having a "strange idea of free speech" and censorship. It's actually nothing of the sort.
If you write something is the New York Times obligated to publish it? Must the Washington Post run a sharply worded op-ed? Can I compel Fox News to give voice to my liberal opinions? The answer to all these questions is an unequivocal no. Private media is permitted editorial control of their content. Websites and blogs are no different. They are simply a newer, different form of private media.
O'Reilly Media editors have deleted comments to things I've written once in a while: comments I would have accepted. It's their website, they own it, so it's their choice. Thomas Holbrook II recently complained about the Terms of Service on LXer.com in a post on his The Nixed Report blog. He finds their prohibition on political discussion "ridiculous". I happen to disagree but I certainly recognize Mr. Holbrook's right to express his opinion on his website. He, too, discussed this prohibition in terms of "freedom of thought and expression" and it is no more a limitation on his freedom than a refusal from a local paper to publish something. The owners and editors of LXer.com have a right to manage their site as they see fit.
I'm not preventing anyone from voicing an opinion or expressing themselves. I am merely exercising my right to editorial control on my blog and websites. If someone wants to post something I won't publish they have every right to do so... on their own blog or website. Everyone has a right to setup their own proverbial soapbox and voice their opinion. Nobody has a right to take my soapbox and appropriate it for their own use. Those who argue otherwise are the ones who have strange ideas about freedom of speech.