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Discuss the note to the TED community on the withdrawal of the TEDxWestHollywood license.

For discussion: http://blog.ted.com/2013/04/01/a-note-to-the-ted-community-on-the-withdrawal-of-the-tedxwesthollywood-license

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  • Apr 3 2013: TED gives incredible freedom to TEDx licensees. In return, we agree to some rules to maintain the value of the brand. So I have been a little surprised by the exaggerated use of the word "censorship" as it has been casually tossed around. Get real – TED is not the government. TEDx is a platform for sharing and publishing ideas worth spreading. A publisher has the right to set basic editorial policy. That is not censorship, it is called having standards. This is especially important for recent TEDx licensees, as it is the reputation of the brand that enables us to attract excellent speakers without paying them. The same goes for creating interest among the public to become participants. It is likewise instrumental in drawing amazing and dedicated volunteers to staff our teams and events. Brand integrity is a precious and invaluable asset for the entire TEDx community. It would be a detrimental for us if TED and TEDx had no standards, and that is what this is really all about.

    We organizers are trying hard to become better curators and raise our standards, not lower them. When TEDx organizers talk with and support each other, these kinds of problems can be worked out or avoided entirely. It is only when we refuse to listen to each other that we ultimately fail. Those who don't agree with the standards are always free to develop their own "anything goes is worth spreading" platform.

    I appreciate that the TED staff cares not only about the TED/TEDx brands, but also about what we volunteers have helped build.
    • Apr 3 2013: I don't think that anyone is suggesting that TED completely drop its standards. TED would come to be something more like Youtube if that were the case.

      The debate is over the nature of the standards, not the level of them.
    • Apr 3 2013: Jay the question is not whether TED should have standards, irrespective of what they are it must apply them equally. Furthermore those standards should reflect its motto "Ideas worth Sharing". The interest and support for subject material is now beyond doubt as confirmed by the amount of outrage being expressed at TED's DOUBLE STANDARDS.
    • Apr 3 2013: Jay - The word 'censorship' was accurately applied to the removal of the Sheldrake and Hancock videos from the YouTube channel. I have not seen it mentioned in response to the withdrawal of the West Hollywood license.

      These two are connected because if TED had not created the firestorm over the videos, the West Hollywood event would have occurred as planned.

      If TED's actions regarding West Hollywood are based on applying or raising standards, the organization has done a woefully poor job of presenting that to the public, One the hand, TED produced a set of written standards that apply while simultaneously claiming that those standards do not apply. To be specific, the written standards that TED says justify its action refer to individual speakers, nothing about curatorial direction. Then, TED says the individual speakers are all qualified, but the grouping of them in a single program is the problem. The Catch-22 is: "Larry Dossey is well qualified and approved to speak at a TEDx event, but if he does, TED will withdraw support for the entire event."

      Watching the value of the TED brand crumble before your eyes cannot be a pleasant sight. Through a series of heavy-handed missteps, the viewing public is coming to read "Ideas Worth Spreading" as "Ideas Worth Suppressing."
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        Apr 3 2013: TED has the established and repeatedly discussed ability (and the editorial freedom) to choose which talks appear on the TED website, and which of it's licensed events fulfill it's expressed guidelines. That is absolutely not censorship. As has also been repeatedly said by a number of people, the event's license was revoked not on the basis of any speaker but on "the overall curatorial direction of the program."
        • Apr 3 2013: It becomes censorship when the stated reasons for removing the videos are crossed out and not replaced with anything. http://blog.ted.com/2013/03/14/open-for-discussion-graham-hancock-and-rupert-sheldrake/.

          "Overall curatorial direction of the program" is not an established criteria. The criteria that the organizers were given were:

          "We disallow speakers who use the language of science to claim they have proven the truth of ideas that are speculative and which have failed to gain significant scientific acceptance."

          It is glaringly obvious that the firestorm created by removing the Sheldrake and Hancock videos on flimsy grounds, raised the question, "What about Targ? What about Dossey?" TED management recognized the hypocrisy of pulling down the videos while allowing the West Hollywood event to proceed. Instead of admitting a mistake, TED compounded it by inventing a new criteria on the spot. They used this previously non-existent "overall curatorial direction" excuse to do further damage the organization's reputation.
        • Apr 3 2013: Of course it's censorship.

          "Standards and Practices is the term most American networks use for what many, especially in the creative community, refer to as the 'network censors.' Standards and Practices Departments (known as Program Practices at CBS) are maintained at each of the broadcast and many of the cable networks." ~ http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=standardsand

          You really don't see the similarity?
    • Apr 3 2013: "So I have been a little surprised by the exaggerated use of the word "censorship" as it has been casually tossed around. Get real – TED is not the government."

      Mr. Klaphake, I think you're confused as to the meaning of the word "censorship." You appear to be conflating censorship with First Amendment, free speech rights. Censorship is not the exclusive domain of the government. Companies such as, say, television networks employ censors. It's the job of a censor to ensure that content complies with network "policy" and "standards" just as you claim TED is doing.

      "A publisher has the right to set basic editorial policy. That is not censorship, it is called having standards."

      Except that, yeah, it is. Censors disallow certain content. That's their job. Censors for a particular network don't prevent people from expressing that content elsewhere. They disallow that content from being expressed under their auspices.

      "Standards and Practices is the term most American networks use for what many, especially in the creative community, refer to as the 'network censors.' Standards and Practices Departments (known as Program Practices at CBS) are maintained at each of the broadcast and many of the cable networks." ~ http://www.museum.tv/eotvsection.php?entrycode=standardsand

      Now tell me again how this isn't censorship.

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