Regulation through the lens of alt.abortions.inequity

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Regulation, or lack thereof, was present in Usenet in many different ways. Firstly, the division of the seven categories and then the emergence of the eighth one, alt, is an example of regulation itself. The division of these conversions is a type of regulation as each chat room like social, soc, and news are regulated with what is said on there. This is the most basic form of regulation on Usenet which provided very little regulation in other parts of the website. People used these Big 8 conversations as a way to regulate their experience on Usenet, and alternative or alt is no different. 

Alt on usenet was an opportunity to share many different opinions about certain ideas with very little regulation compared to the other seven groups. An example of this is the group alt.abortions.inequity shows different levels of regulation within different chats. Regulation can come in many different forms such as the level of discussion, an example of this is in the chat “Re: Is a fetus a living, human being?” in which one person cites various cases such as Roe v Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut to back up their case. This is a type of regulation as though it is not clearly stated, it is implied that this discussion transcends opinions and chooses to use facts. While the person responding does not respond to these regulations as they go on sharing their opinions, it shows an effort to imply regulations to have a civil discussion with evidence and not just opinions. In addition, other parts of the conversation say, “Don’t bring politics into thi,” which is a form of regulation in itself. This type of regulation is not implied, but directly stated and is order to serve the conversation in a positive manner. The goal of this regulation is to not use political views as a way to justify one’s opinions, but instead to use evidence to back their own view on the issue. These examples of regulation, or attempted regulation, illustrate how individuals attempt to regulate themselves to serve one another better in a civil discussion. The overall goal of this is to set boundaries in the conversation that facts are valued in this community. The idea of this regulation, especially in alt chats, would be considered beneficial to the community as it promotes discussions that do not harp on personal experience and opinions. 

In other chat rooms like, “Re: Violence by radical pro abortionists against the pro life movement.” Users choose not to regulate themselves at all but instead conduct their conversation with violent words and strong opinions without listening to the other person. Words like Hell, Damn It, and Propaganda are thrown around in the conversation, clearly showing the lack of regulation in this chat as these people are open to share their opinions about the other’s stance by tearing it down. The lack of regulation in this example shows how discussions can become malevolent and attack one another, instead of staying on topic. Attacking one’s beliefs and ideas, without acknowledging the conversation, also shows the lack of regulation of staying on topic which can be seen in other discussions. The simple act of saying to remain on topic is a form of regulation that is not present in this conversation. The goal of having no regulation is to serve the community to express themselves freely, however much of the time it becomes an attack on one another shown in this case and would have negative effects on the community. 

Overall, alt.abortions.inequity demonstrates regulation done well and regulation that is needed. This chat room provided examples of regulation that is attempted and somewhat successful, while others showed how lack of regulation contributed negatively towards their discourse. The contributors in these conversations as a whole do not value regulation, and feel that these regulations do not apply to them.  

Image sources 

DevonTexas. “Two-Cartoon-Men-Yelling.” DevonTexas, 5 Dec. 2012, devontexas.com/2014/08/04/dialysis-and-disagreement/two-cartoon-men-yelling/. Accessed 6 Oct. 2023.

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