Wikipedia:Minority opinions

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In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have.

—President Harry S. Truman, Veto of the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950
Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park, London, famous as a centre of free speech, has no statutory basis in law, and anyone can be arrested for disturbance of the peace there. The reality is, however, very few people are.

As a community-edited encyclopedia, there will be people who hold opinions on how to run the encyclopedia. Some are good, some are bad. Some are popular, and some are held by a small minority. However, the issue of people holding minority opinions has recently become an issue in community ban discussions not related to said opinions at all.

Despite what most people think, we rarely ban people for having unpopular opinions. Even opinions that may seem anathema to the project—for example, paid editing and shutting off anonymous contributions—have been seriously entertained and argued. Most editors you work with will carry one or two unpopular opinions, on average. The only time we'd ban them for just holding the opinions were if they were to bring the project into disrepute; for example, pro-paedophile advocacy.

Some people that hold opinions almost exclusively to themselves, however, take it too far, and disrupt Wikipedia to get their points across. And this is the key point: if the editor was to be respectful of others and raise their opinions in enlightened discussion, they wouldn't be facing sanctions. We even allow, on some occasions, for people to run for Foundation-mandated offices solely to make these points. However, most editors with these exclusive opinions don't do this, and often face sanctions.

When disruptive edits by minority opinion editors are discovered, however, some people will invariably defend them simply because they hold the opinion. This is often unrelated to the disruption at all; if an editor with a majority opinion was to edit disruptively, they would almost certainly be sanctioned. For some editors, this is so entrenched in the community that the editor with a minority opinion becomes, effectively, a "designated dissenter", and will abuse their unofficial title by asserting that any block would be "censorship". Of course, our ban against censorship is so entrenched and universal this will string along a few unwitting editors.

What's the moral here? Don't let an editor's opinions get in way of their actions. If a person vandalises pages or harasses other users, their opinions on how to run the site should not be used as a mitigating factor when it comes to sanction them. Just treat them as any other editor. And if they abuse their holding of the opinion to prevent oversight of their actions, treat it as disruption and make it an aggravating factor to any sanctions.

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