Internet debate can be coarse, but it really does hold journalists and politicians to account, writes Boris Johnson in the London Daily Telegraph.

Shielded by anonymity, bolstered by the online support of others whose views may be even more gamey than their own, readers are now able to fire back at journalists with a speed and ferocity that has never been possible before – and there are signs that they can be quite intimidating. …

In the past few days there have been plenty of people wondering whether the blogosphere, with its seething irascibility, is actually coarsening political discourse. Could all this aggressive language actually encourage aggressive behaviour – or even violence? There are some people who wonder whether we need to tame the blogs, to sandpaper them, moderate them – perhaps even to censor them. And as soon as you put it like that you can see what twaddle it is. What we are seeing on our websites, for all its exuberant roughness, is a uniquely healthy and democratic process.

I don’t believe we can draw any clear link between website rantings – even illustrated with crosshairs – and the Tucson shootings; and I don’t believe we should be doing anything to suppress or even to pasteurise the vast internet symposium.

These sentiments of the Conservative Lord Mayor of London I pretty much agree with. I think the only things I have censored on this blog involved gratuitous obscenity and scatology but I often do wish contributors were a little less vituperative.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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