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Censorship Your Rights Online

Victory in Holland 214

Posted by jamie
from the ten-percent-margin dept.
The mandatory library filtering ballot in Holland, Mich., home of the Slashdot Geek Compound, has been defeated. With heavy voter turnout of 41% (compared to 12% in 1996), the proposal was rejected by a pretty wide margin: 55% to 45%. The Holland library will remain unfiltered - or, more accurately, will now have the right to make up its own mind about whether blocking software is appropriate. See the local press coverage (or national or international), or read on for more.

I think it was my friend Lizard on the fight-censorship mailing list who said: "You can't compromise with book-burners. When someone asks you to burn 1,000 books, you cannot agree to burn only 500." He's exactly right. Any middle ground is a step backwards, and hard to recover.

It's important to keep in mind how tough the battle was. Holland was chosen to be a testbed by national groups like the American Family Association and Family Research Council, and they spent a lot of money. Why? Because the AFA and FRC stood to make a lot of money by using Holland as an example for nationwide campaigning. They have been hyping up this ballot as the first big step in a nationwide campaign.

And they figured Holland would be a slam-dunk. It's one of the most conservative communities in American. And the measure was well-timed: the ballot was on the same night as the Republican primary. (Michigan is not a closed primary, though, and many Democrats did vote.)

Some Slashdot posters have commented that I've seemed pessimistic in my reports on the campaign. They've been right. I couldn't read the city's mood very well, not being a native, and based on the coverage and talks I'd seen, I didn't think the chances were very good.

While the AFA and FRC together contributed over $40,000, the anti-filter side raised - locally - $2,000.

The AFA sponsored a "pushpoll," in which a Florida firm made phone calls to hundreds of likely voters, asking them "questions" designed to leave the impression that the library is inviting to pedophiles. Local anti-filter volunteers went door-to-door.

The pro-filter organizations ran radio, newspaper, and cable TV advertisements, they sent out at least three direct mailings, and they spent thousands on slick presentations to local groups.

And when it came down to the vote, they lost.

This isn't the end, though. It's just the beginning. The heads of the various pro-filtering groups are all hinting that the battle is not over. Presumably that means it will become another ballot issue, perhaps later this year, perhaps next year. And it will certainly be happening elsewhere in America at the same time. (Write me when it gets to your community.)

In some cases, the unaccountable censorship of secretive blocking software will be turned down at the voting booth. I'm guessing that, in the next five years, we'll see a definitive statement on the relevance of the First Amendment, one way or the other, in the courts.

But for now ... well, I'll close by congratulating everyone in Holland who worked to defeat this measure, and by quoting from one of the direct mailings funded by the AFA. You'll have to imagine this text as it appears, in 30-point headlines, with yellow highlights:

"America's watching, Holland. The debate over Internet filters on library computers is a national issue. Now, the focus is on Holland, Michigan.

"Tuesday, February 22nd, Holland citizens will decide the first ballot vote on filtering in the nation. How we vote will affect this issue nationwide.

"On February 22, send a clear message to America. Tell America we must protect our children from Internet pornography and drugs."

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Victory in Holland

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem with putting "pesky social issues" (and I as a gay man, am presumably a problem to fundamentalists in general) is that it ends up scapegoating or harming another group.

    Politicians are supposed to protect the rights of all citizens and when civil rights are up for a vote, the minorities are the loosers.

    Ballot issues are more used more often than not to inflict the tyranny of the masses on the minority.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    How about a paraphrase (I believe from someone in the other Holland)? The Nazis first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It is my understanding, that VA does not allow their workers to view with company equipment. And becase Rob and Hemos are such freeloaders, they do not own a computer themselves. Rob and Hemos then realized that in order to keep their porn scavenging ways a live they were go to have to use the good old public library.

    Using /. as a launching pad, they protested knowing that their porn viewing days were being seriously threatened. It is rumored that Hemos looked into buying a cheap iMac if his library pipeline was to be filtered but Rob assured Hemos that his pornographic cartoons were gettig a lot better and were almost life-like.

    If you do not believe me, then e-mail them at malda@slashdot.org [mailto].

  • by Anonymous Coward
    is that 41% of the registered voters? Who would register and not vote? Odd!

    or is it 41% of the eligible voters?

    that means approx. 21% of the voters voted it down?

    21% decides for everybody? what kind of deal is that?
  • Where I grew up, in Milwaukee, there was a "religion" section, but it was purely informational and had no sermons at all. It was little more than a classified ad section for churches, where they would list times & places of gatherings. There was usually one or two articles about what churches were doing or what people in churches were doing, but no actuall preachy sermons. There might be an article about a new church being built, or a new archbishop being selected, but that was it.
  • The point of this wasn't that the issue came to a vote-- the point was that two very-well-funded organizations *not based in Holland* came in, threw some cash and rhetoric around, and tried to push their morality on others.

    If a group of local citizens campaigned with their own money, on their own time, to get filtering software installed, I don't think there would be such an outcry. Then it is simply a local issue.

    But when outside concerns *start* the fight, and have lots of money to spread around, it becomes *every*one's conern.

    Personally, I'm offended that money is the fuel of politics, instead of public interest, or even public opinion. Most laws are passed to protect business, and not to protect the individual. Even the MS case was brought about because Sun and Netscape cried foul. Why didn't they step in when the *public* complained? (Consumer groups had already started complaining about the MS abusing monopoly power.)

    Sorry. Rant mode off.
  • I grew up in the Boston area and I'm just not used to seeing a "Religion" section in the local papers -- religion is certainly a fine institution but seeing a section of Christain sermons printed in the local newspaper is a bit fo culture shock to me. I know a lot of people in my area who would throw a fit if the Boston Globe printed daily sermons. I grew up in Newburyport, Mass: same population as Holland, lots of churches, plenty of Republicans, but no daily sermons printed in the local paper. Just an indication of some places being more conservative than others, that's all.
  • I'm sure Jamie's work helped a bunch. Nice to know that people don't always get the wool pulled over their eyes.
  • >>how do we prevent the innocent from stubmling across pr0n *mistakenly*?

    When was the last time YOU accidentally stumbled accross porn? I can't think of a single incedent. Now there ARE dangers: www.whitehouse.com is a porn site, whilee www.whitehouse.gov is what you'd expect. How do you avoid this? Educate your children: "Government stuff ends in .gov, never in .com, other stuff ends in .com, .org, .net; And other countries end in .au, .ge, etc..". Make them visit the Whitehouse's site and other government agencies to ingrain the idea in thier heads. Then make sure they're supervised and can ask for help if they don't know how to find a site.
  • http://www.ariannaonline.com/c olumns/files/040698.html [ariannaonline.com]

    I am currently sitting behind a proxy with SurfWatch active (for "sex" only). I had a feeling that the above domain name would be a trigger.

    Well what a surprise...*BLAM!*... Blocked by SurfWatch®

    I then checked out Arianna Online through my home machine and it appears that she is just a political writer. An anti-censorship one at that.

    Where is the "sex" in that? Of course I had to use Lynx, so there could be pictures showing a sexy political writer.

    I just can't figure these filterware companies out.
  • Kurt Gray said,

    To have a proposal like this shot down in a town where the local newspaper has a "Religion" section, during a contested Republican presidential race, what are the odds?

    I think he was trying to say that Holland is politically conservative.

    I don't know what he's trying to say about religion. That religion == censorship? That religion == fascism? That religion is itself a social evil, or that all people who profess a religion are any huckster who comes down the pike?

    There is nothing wrong with a newspaper having a Religion section. In fact, there is a good deal right with it. If newspapers have a Politics section, they should have a Religion section too. Religion isn't just a hobby. It influences the believer's entire life, and is a social force to be reckoned with even by the non-religious. For many people, their religion is the most important thing in the universe, because it truth, it is the best explanation of reality.

    So your statement has no real punch. Some papers have religion reporters. A lot of newspapers consign infrequent religious reports to "lifestyle" feature stories. Though a newspaper merely having a regular section devoted to religion is a Good Thing IMHO, it does not, in and of itself, say anything about the political leanings of the area residents.

    It could just as well have been,

    To have a proposal like this shot down in a town where the high school has a football team, and during a heated gubernatorial race, what are the odds?

  • Before the Web, children could go to a library and look at things their parents considered unsuitable. "Huckleberry Finn", "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret", "The Nat Turner Diaries", "Mein Kampf", Madonna's "Sex". All these books have been and will continue to be under fire for not having the right presentation of ideas.

    But public libraries are just that: public. Just as parents have to accept the fact that their kids might hear "motherfucker" on Main Street, they have to accept the fact that those kids might see a Mapplethorpe whip-in-ass photo in the library. If you try to keep it off the monitors, they'll just look in the books.

    Hmmm. Maybe filtering software isn't such a bad idea...
  • Kudos to Jamie and to those citizens of Holland who had the intelligence and the guts to stand up to Yet Another Special Interest Group trying to force their views down the collective throat of society. It's gratifying to see a case where the underfunded and underdog voice of reason actually wins.

    But the AFA will be back. Count on it. They take losing very badly, and when they come back the second time they'll bring big guns.

    And the remainder of us shouldn't rest on our laurels. There's the DVD CCA/MPAA and UCITA still out there. Our fight is nowhere near over.

    Donate to the EFF! [eff.org]

  • 55/45 is usually considered a pretty substantial victory for a local election. It will probably be enough to discourage the proponents from just putting it on the ballot again next year.

    It's especially big news when you consider it's Feb. ballot ('slient majority' less likely to vote), a conservative town, and the Republican primary (huge turnout mobilized by christian right, although apparently there was quite a bit of Democratic monkeywrenching too.)
    --
  • With all due respect Mr. Moderator, you might as well moderate this down right away, because I'm far on the unpopular side of this issue.

    Look, I appreciate free speech rights. I'm not a "book burner" who opposes ideas and free expression. I think that the free exchange of ideas is critical for our survival as a nation. However, since when is SEX a political statement? I'm sick of people who claim to be for "free speech" by default feeling obligated to defend any speech at all - even if it's not speech but rather people having illicit sex - or enticing you to do so.

    I can hear you saying, "Oh dear, another wacko who is trying to limit me." Or, "look at him trying to impose his values on me." say that if you will, but I feel strongly about what follows:

    Pornography is not an issue of people simply being unclothed. It's far more insidious than that. The people who produce pornography are quite happy to do the necessary research to figure out what will motivate you to want to keep looking at it. You are being manipulated, and so are the women who pose for the pictures. This ultimately hurts our society.

    This is not the same thing as saying "don't contradict the government, or leaders." It's not. Pornography is a not-so-subtle attack on you, on women, and our culture.

    Filtering is not (supposed to be) about limiting access to ideas. I know that filtering software has problems. I know that nothing is perfect. This is not a simple issue. Don't expect a simple answer. The truth is that much filtering of other media occurs today. Librarians decide what to spend public money on. Publishers decide what is worthy of publishing. Bookstores decide what materials they will carry. Newspapers decide which books will be reviewed. In the print medium, restrictions exist. They should exist in some form in the electronic world, too.

    Filtering is supposed to be about blocking matterial that is not appropriate, or that is destructive. Don't fall prey to the idea that all information is good information. Children are not simply little adults. Some information is harmful to all of us. Information that might not be destructive for you as an adult might be very destructive to a child.

    I support the first amendment, but this is NOTa free speech issue.

    Thank you for your time.

    Regards,
    anomaly

  • I would have to disagree. Filtering is precisely about limiting access to ideas. They may be ideas that you consider wrong, but they're still ideas.

    Big problem #1 with the various filtering proposals is that the groups that want them don't want to limit them to just children. The Holland proposal was to filter all computers in the library, including the ones used by adults. A claim that it's to protect the children sounds rather wrong in the face of that. Adults aren't children, so why filter the adult computers if it's the children you're interested in proteecting?

    Second big problem is one you stated. Currently, it's the libraries that decide what to buy and not buy. The Holland proposal would have taken the decision about what was and was not available on the net out of the hands of the library and placed it in the hands of a group that didn't live anywhere near the area, one that has it's own agenda as demonstrated by some of the sites they block that have nothing to do with pornography.

  • I agree with what you're saying. In this debate, however, the equality has been brought up a few times ("she pressed Enter and immediately a picture of a nude female appeared before her...")

    However, I think the best solution is to allow children to gain a greater maturity regarding such matters earlier in life. When you saw that hard-core stuff, it disgusted you, but it didn't mess you up. You kept on living your life just as well. (I hope :-) There's no reason why a five- or eight-year old couldn't have as resilient a facility, given proper nurture.

    I once saw a video about young schoolboys in China. They play games, they do their studies just like any other kids their age, but what really impressed me was their lunch hour. Their school cafeteria is entirely run by them-- not a single person over ten years old. And that includes the people behind the food racks, serving up the dishes. And everything moves along with perfect order. And they leave the cafeteria perfectly spotless when they finish.

    Compare this to an American classroom, where most of the teacher's time is spent simply keeping her students under control.

    The lesson being, children will be as responsible (or irresponsible) as you make them to be. Not to say this can be carried to an extreme degree, of course-- but that, as a whole, our society has greatly underestimated its youth.
  • Seen from the old country of Holland you are a typical representative of the Smalltown American Way.

    You confuse and mix up differend things like sex, pornography and rape. People DO get hurt through rape and indeed there are extremely rare stories of rape to make porn but no-one gets hurt by looking at pornography or sex as such, not even (small) children when they have been brought up with an open mind to the human sexuality.

    A prime example of wrong upbringing is this Irv Bos [mlive.com] who so couragiously told about his (childhood) trauma after his dad's barn burned down. The source of his grief is not caused by his hiding of a porn book in the barn but by the superstition that false preaching had brought into his mind!

    The sort of people that preach this dangerous belief are often (decendants of Dutch) immigrants of years gone by. These people came from remote rural areas and for them time has stopped when they left Europe. They try to cling to a world that no longer exists, not in the US and even less in The Netherlands. Thank God over here the topic of "Porn Is Dangerous" is largely a non-issue.

    What remains is a dangerous liking by some to restrict access to information, based on obscure ideas that come forth out of the same sick minds as that caused mr. Bos his grief. In the old Jerusalem they were called Pharisees, in the US they are know by names like reverent Bakker to give just one example..... Good luck in the struggle

  • Er, are you talking about those introducing it, or those voting for it?

    I am talking about those who push it: those who spend money and/or effort in order to make mandatory library filtering a reality. Most of the voting public are just innocent bystanders :-/

    you'll lose PR points saying it so bluntly

    I don't think I am running in any popularity contests right now, so...

    "This post is for limited release to Slashdot readers only. Under no circumstances it is to be made available to general population. What would they think of us?!?! Keep PR in mind at all times!!"

    Kaa
  • I am serious.

    Send him a letter or better yet, write a public letter to newspaper where people can read it. So that you can help stop using rape victims as political sound bite. Not that you will actually stop him but at least you can make other politicians think more before they say thing.

  • I'm very happy that enough citizens in Holland had the intelligence and common sense to defeat this measure. However I feel that it will be short lived given the political, cultural climate of the community.

    It was, in fact, a very encouraging vote. And, as someone who lives here in Holland, I actually wasn't that surprised it failed. Yes, it's a hard, hard core conservative area, but that doesn't mean we're all yokels here. While folks hereabouts are genuinely concerned about all manner of moral and ethical issues, at the same time, we've got a decent bit of common sense, and we especially don't like other people dictating what we should or shouldn't do. At least, that's the case for enough of us that this issue's settled.

    55% is pretty danged decisive; when you take a look at the totals for overall Ottawa county, where the staunch Republicans overwhelmingly (2:1) voted for Bush, there is no question but a significant number of 'em must've voted down the library filters--there's no way it would've lost otherwise.

    All told, not a bad moment for our li'l ol' bastion of conservatism here in SW Michigan ;)

  • ... he died of natural causes in 1984, aged 92. He did spend seven years in Sachsenhausen and Dachau, though. The Wiesenthal Center's site has more about Niemoller [wiesenthal.com].

    Props to the original poster for including the line about Communists -- it's frequently omitted, probably because people find it embarrassing.

  • Maybe they meant free beer.
  • There is not an appreciable difference between ballot initiatives and bills brought up before a legislative body. If one person can say, "That should not be on the ballot, because my friends and I think it's unconstitutional," and have it stick, then anyone can. Unfortunately, you're not always going to agree with the person saying it, which is why it's the responsibility of the judicial branch to determine a measure's constitutionality. All of which is to say, this belonged on the ballot, because enough people believed it belonged on the ballot. Arguments of tyranny by the majority have no legal standing at this point. You can (even should) try to convince people not to sign the petition, but once enough people want to vote on it, it should be voted on. Anything else would leave a hole big enough for a Pinochet or a Pol Pot to get through.
  • I don't know. Every second year, two very-well-funded organizations *not based in my congressional district* come in, throw some cash and rhetoric around, and try to push their morality on me. They are, of course, the Republican and Democratic political parties. How was this ballot initiative any different?
  • The rule in our system is, if you don't care enough to vote, you Don't Care.
  • I am 100% for what happened in Holland, Michigan. I am, like seemingly most /.ers, very against censorship.

    But, this isn't a 100% win-win situation. Because to me, censorship isn't the answer for protecting our children from mistakenly browing to pr0n or extreamly hateful material... so what do we do about the young children browsing?

    Now, keep in mind, I'm not talking about the kids who *intentionally* seek out pr0n and stuff on racist organazations, kids will be kids, that's a topic I don't want to hit on here, because that subject can be a whole 'nother thread...

    The issue I do want to address, though, is how do we prevent the innocent from stubmling across pr0n *mistakenly*? I don't want a 5 year old in my library, doing legitimate reading or, hell, reading about Pokèmon characters, I don't care, then hitting the wrong link... And don't come back trying to tell me that kind of thing doesn't happen. =)

    Parents will understand that there is a time and a place for children to be educated about the "reality" of things in this world, and sometimes age 5 isn't always the best time to explain all the hate-groups in our world and the high existance of pornographic material.

    So, if not censorship (which, as I said, I am against as well), what do we do?

    -Saxton


    _________
  • From The Dutch to Holland :

    CONGRATZ!!!!

    And eh... Jamie, please keep writing the most excellent SlashDot articles! I love em.

    Greetz SlashDread, from the old Holland.

  • Although I tend to be Libertarian by inclination, I find it difficult to get excited about laws restricting the spending of public funds. Censorship is the muzzling of people by government; not the imposition of limitations on what can be said in government facilities. Is it equivalent to book-burning to prevent people from posting political posters in libraries? How about a law preventing evil right-wing zealots from passing out religious literature in a library?

  • All I can say is... WTF does full internet access have to do with a girl getting raped in the same building? How the hell is an internet filter supposed to stop that?

    Dude, don't you know that, like, the Web causes your brains to do bad things? Like rape girls, and read news that the AFA doesn't like, and think for yourself? Don't you know ANYTHING?

    THIS POST HAS BEEN RATED 'S' FOR SARCASTIC BY THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PEOPLE THAT USE THEIR HEADS FOR MORE THAN A HATRACK.

  • A quote from the Holland Sentinel story [thehollandsentinel.net] says it all for me:

    "It's been an incredibly interesting journey that we've been on," said LoriJo Schepers, co-chair of Citizens Voting YES! to Protect Our Children, a committee that campaigned in favor of the ordinance.

    "God has called us to this, and no matter what happens from this point forward, I think he would say to us now 'Well done, good and faithful servants,'" Schepers said. "This is a journey. This is not the end."

    I don't have a problem with people having religious beliefs - as long as they don't try to inflict them on me. Religious fanatics (from any political bent) are the worst kind of fanatics since their status for eternity rests with doing the biding of an almighty power.

    Of course, with AFA and the other groups involved, this was to be expected.

  • What about also exploring avenues that would allow public forums, i.e. libraries to avoid the filter issue. Why not created a domain where the pornographic sites are. Perhaps a .sex or a .xxx or whatever. Then they could at least have a better chance of blocking some traffic. The movie industry already does this. The music industry has started.

    Down side with this idea? It would take global committment and regulation. Do we want that? I don't think so... to hard to enforce.

    This is nothing new and has been thrown around. If America does it, it will force the porn industry to move their servers to another country. Being that federal, state and local laws mandate the Internet, it will be very hard to accomplish this unless there turns out to be a universal panel that will govern the Internet.

    If you think the religious zealots whine alot now, wait until you mention a "one world government" and you will have every conservative republican grabbing a gun looking for the "four surfers of the apocalypse".

    I do agree, though. A suffix for a domain of .xxx does make alot of sense, but then we still have the issue of speech that the zealots will whine about and want censored. Hate speech (although selective, they do a fair amount themselves) Witchcraft, Harry Potter websites, they will find something to ban. Chances are they will want .gay domains as well.

    So what other ideas/methods could there be?

    The only thing that comes to mind...

    • COMMON SENSE


    - Detritus

    "I never really liked computers, but then the server went down on me"
  • I read somewhere, I think slashdot actually, that the "lack of minorities on the web" is based on old statistics, and no longer true as of the last year or so. Today, in fact, Hispanics are actually overrepresented on the net.

    I find that very hard to believe - if we're talking about the American population. That was what I meant. Because, obviously, people from other countries are less likely to fly around the world to a protest in Seattle, especially if they are poor. So the proportion of American Hispanics/Blacks/whatever would be the key statistics here.

  • I can't believe the AFA actually used this "argument":

    For Gary Glenn, president of the family association's state chapter, the issue is simple. "Our only concern is providing maximum protection for children," he says, citing a recent case in Muskegon, Mich., where a girl was raped at a library with full Internet access.

    The library's director, in a letter to the editor of Holland's newspaper, denied any connection, saying her "staff is positive that the accused rapist did not use the Internet here."

    But Glenn believes libraries with unfiltered access create an environment that draws in sex predators. The association wants to protect children not only from porn on the Net, he says, but also "from having to share a library with adults who are accessing the Internet."

    I think this extract just speaks for itself.

  • Mark that up as insightful! Voting certainly isn't always the best way of deciding issues, because it doesn't properly take account of the way some decisions affect some people more than others.

  • Actually, I was trying to say that the fix was not in. Especially in local politics, the voters can still decide on issues. (My quote was intended to be the stereotypical apolitical person who doesn't want to deal with issues and said that "it's all decided in backrooms already, anyway.")

    Mind you, there have been political cases where that kind of thing happens, but some people extrapolate from those cases to assume that everything is fore ordained. It is also easier on their consciences when they don't feel like going to the poll or write a letter to say, "Well, it wouldn't have any effect anyway."

    If the fix had been in in Holland, the libary would have lost, and been forced to install AFA approved filters. It is precisely because the outcome was not pre-ordained that this is not how the vote turned out.

  • In this government, unless you're willing (and able) to start a civil war, you don't matter unless you exercise your Constitutional right to VOTE. This is good or bad, depending on how you view it, but most of all it is fact.

    When you don't vote:

    You not only don't affect the process, you also don't get listened/pandered to. Your concerns don't get registered, such that you might come in contact with other people who agree with you, or even find that a majority of people sharing your belief haven't been listened to, either, and that had you spoken up, you may have been able to effect your world in your way.

    People diametrically opposite to your values, issues and way of life come out of the woodwork to pass as many laws and elect as many people as possible to shut you out of the process. They figure you're either not caring, or not noticing.

    I refer you to the Term Limits, Anti-Campaign Finance Reform, Anti-Alternate Voting Methods, and Tax Reform (two-thirds majority clauses, all increases subject to a public vote that you already don't care about) movements as examples of how some people who understand their civic duty are actively trying to exclude you from participating in your government by either limiting your choices, marketing you to death so that you won't give a shit, or otherwise making it tough on you to remain interested in shaping your circumstances.

    The thing is, 1) it's your fault they're able to do that to you, and 2) if you already delude yourself into thinking that you can't even write in a candidate you'd like, or otherwise make a lame-ass excuse, they've already won.

    People who would normally listen to you and agree with your value system have to move away from your concerns. You can't help them back, because you didn't stand up for your convictions. You don't give them the benefit of your support, so there's nothing in it for them to help you.

    Believe me, I've heard personally from more than one Senator, Congressman, or other elected official that our generation (18-35 yrs. old) doesn't get its concerns on the table because we turn out for elections at anywhere from 9% to 16%. That's as in percent of us who can vote.

    And if we don't get our shit together, we in that age group can expect to be shut out of any meaningful role in our government our entire lives. We're not suddenly gonna get religion with regard to voting when we get old. The people who are old now (and turning out at something like 62% - minimum) have been active their entire voting careers. They voted during the Kennedy/LBJ Vietnam era, some even before that, and they haven't stopped.

    Again, the people who took the time to vote in Holland's election are the ones who matter, and who deserve to tell Holland's public library how their iboxes will be configured or not with regard to content filters. Whether 41% turnout deciding a vote is bullshit or not isn't their problem, and it certainly isn't their fault.

    Vote or Die, folks. [xpac.org]
    _____
  • It's a twisted kind of logic. If your library has full internet access, then it attracts the guys who will surf porn. Those guys are the same guys that will rape young girls. Therefore, the guy was hanging around the library, just about to, or just finishing up, surfing porn, and in the mood to rape a young girl, and he found one. Logically, if you don't have full internet access, the guy wouldn't have been there since he couldn't get to the porn, therefore he wouldn't have raped the young girl there.


    ...phil
  • To have a proposal like this shot down in a town where the local newspaper has a "Religion" section, during a contested Republican presidential race, what are the odds? I think Jamie deserves due for credit for showing the people some common sense like just how flawed the logic in Internet filters are. It bothers me that all the press coverage is not mentioning the various flaws in Internet filters, but instead most press stories are making it sound as if Holland voted in favor of pr0n for everybody because the ACLU told them pr0n is protected by the first amendment -- that's not what this issue is about, it's simply that Internet filters don't work as intended as Jamie demonstrated. I'm suprised there were still 45% percent of voters who didn't get that through into their thick skulls.
  • Why not created a domain where the pornographic sites are. Perhaps a .sex or a .xxx or whatever. Then they could at least have a better chance of blocking some traffic.
    I don't think this would help much. Legitimate porn sites aren't the problem. Those are the sites you find if you are looking for them.

    The real problem is sites you find when you aren't looking for them. These are mostly spammers -- email, usenet, search engines. Looking up "monkey" shouldn't give you porn sites -- but I've seen kids do just that and get 50% of the results as porn. If kids are getting pornographic email, parents aren't going to let them have email at all -- and I want children to be able to communicate. These are the problems.

    Parents can't be expected to monitor their children's activity completely -- this simply isn't practical. Nor is it practical for schools.

    However, I think filtering could be okay if it only targetted misleading sites, email, and posts. This might include pyramid-schemes (though education is much more important and effective here) but wouldn't include all porn, risque geocity sites, hate sites, or nearly anything based solely on content. Fraud is illegal, and filtering out fraudulent content doesn't harm anyone's first ammendment rights.

    OTOH, these fraudulent sites are exactly the ones that are hardest to filter. Heuristic-based filtering is bound to make mistakes, and that's exactly the problem. Making it easy to bypass the filters is one possibility to counter this. It isn't really a problem for a child or adult to be able to bypass a filter if it requires extra action. Mostly children do the right thing, and adults should be allowed to bypass whatever they want.

    I really think children should be able to do the wrong thing -- that's part of learning. But they shouldn't be able to do the wrong thing without trying. That's the valid argument for filtering, and denying that the problem exists isn't the right answer.

  • Err... I think you are missing my point. My point is that, while someone who was anti-filter would suppose that the fix was not in, someone who is pro-filter could very well suppose that the fix is in. "Many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view".

    I've never seen a society where everyone is so keen to be the underdog.

    --

  • You're making an assumption. Namely, you are assuming that of the "fix is in", it would be in for censorship. I think you will find that AFA and friends will feel like the "fix is in" for pornography.

    Both sides would be wrong.

    Just goes to prove that you can't oversimplify issues by claiming that anything is fixed. Too often, we create general principles where none is warranted.

    --

  • Here is a paragraph out of the article on this incident as reported in the Digital Library Journal:

    "However, the rapist -- who has not been caught -- was not seen on the library's main floor, where Internet stations are located, according to library director Martha Ferriby. The rape occurred in the women's restroom on the ground floor, where the girl had gone after coming to the library with her father; different news organizations reported that the rapist followed the girl into the restroom or was already present there. "We know nothing about this man, if he's ever been in the library before," Ferriby said. She said she was "99 percent sure" he hadn't used the Internet, since workstations are monitored closely."

    The other paragraph basically states Gary Glenn's comment about how the internet is at fault, which is contradicted here. It wasn't as if this guy looked at porn and then grabbed a random library patron and rapped her on the library floor. If the library had had no internet access, the chance that this event would still have occured are incredibly high. Even if he was looking at porn on a library machine (highly unlikely, as the machines are monitored as mentioned), it did not force him to go rape that girl (remember, the internet doesn't rape people; people rape people).

    Brynn, who is really pissed off when people blame machines for people problems
  • So far, all I've seen here is comments and restatements but no proof to back up these statements, so I made one. Although it is geared toward the illegality of censorware in schools, it also applies to public libraries as well (esp. the last paragraph).

    During some recent research, I came across an intriguing idea: Schools cannot use censorware on their Internet connections. After further research, I have found this to be supported by current United States Supreme Court (USSC) decisions. The following, using said decisions, will show that censorware on Internet connections used in public schools is illegal.

    First, according the 1997 USSC decision, Reno v. ACLU, the Internet is covered in full by the First Ammendment. However, many people believe that the 1988 USSC decision, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, gives the schools the right to censor the Intenet as the see fit because that decision stated that schools can censor publications with the schools name on it. This is completely untrue. Here's why:

    The Internet contains many sites which promote one religion over another. If schools associate themselves with the Internet, they inherently associate themselves with all of the Internet's content and, therefore, the affore-mentioned religious sites. This is illegal due to the 1971 USSC decision, Lemon v. Kurtzman, which requires that all government and, therefore, school, actions not end up promoting one religion over another. By associating one's self with a religious site, you are inherently promoting that religion. Therefore, the government and all of it's entities must disassociate themselves from the Internet. Also, because the schools will be supplying information from many independant sources, and because said sources retian the right to disallow the schools association, the schools are required to disassociate themselves from the Internet. Without association with a given medium, schools loose the Hazelwood right to censor it.

    The ability to censor, therefore, falls to the 1969 USSC decision, Tinker v. Des Moines, which grants the ability only in cases of obscenity or where material and substantial detriment to the learning process would result. Blocking even one page that is not obscene and does not materially and substantially interfere with the learning process is, therefore, illegal. Censorware blocks many pages which do not fall into the category of legally censorable.

    Furthermore, being considered printed material by Reno v. ALCU, the internet collectively counts as one gigantic library. By having connections to the internet, you inherently have the entire internet's book collection (that is, every page as one book) in your library (every computer, in this case). The 1943 USSC decision, West Virginia State Board Of Education v. Barnette, says that once admitted into a library run by the state or entities thereof it cannot be removed. Since the internet constitutes a library of books, no one book may be removed, with sole exception of pornography and other materials which are detrimental to the school environment. Censorware will always block some material which does not fall into the latter category. This is a trait which cannot be removed with any ease nor reasonable amount of time and, since even one instance of illegal censoring is illegal, censorware cannot legally be used by any entity of the state including schools.

    BTW, IANAL.
  • ObWarning: The following post is liable to get just a bit ranty and pissy, mostly because it hits one of my major trigger-buttons. Don't worry, this time I'm not going to flame the fundies ;) No, I've got another set to rant against...just keep that in mind if this sounds pissy.

    Saxton dun said:

    The issue I do want to address, though, is how do we prevent the innocent from stubmling across pr0n *mistakenly*? I don't want a 5 year old in my library, doing legitimate reading or, hell, reading about Pokèmon characters, I don't care, then hitting the wrong link... And don't come back trying to tell me that kind of thing doesn't happen. =)

    Well, for starters...how about doing your job as a parent and (Cthulhu forbid!) actually supervising the little rugrat in the library instead of letting him run about and getting on stuff unsupervised?

    What in the bloody nine layers of hell are you doing letting a five-year-old-kid run about unsupervised anywhere? (No, I don't care if he's in the library or not. By the gods, you shouldn't let kids that young be unsupervised--not at home, not at the library.)

    I could name a million reasons why you don't ever let a kid that young be unsupervised anywhere--much less mucking about on a terminal in the library (and for what it's worth, it's not safe for you to let a kid run about unsupervised in a library, Internet access or no--among other things, he might find the exact same things in the "adult" section of the library you are so afraid of him finding online (yes, believe it or not, libraries carry not only "Playboy" but stuff like translations of the Kama Sutra ;), he could be abducted or worse, he could hurt himself running around like a yard-ape...).

    Let me ask you this--would you allow your five-year-old to walk around unassisted and without adult supervision anywhere outside of your backyard? Would you allow Junior to attend school, or go on field-trips, or even to cross the freakin' STREET by himself to go to a playground without adult supervision?

    If you had an IQ of over, oh, your average resident in a state home for the profoundly mentally retarded, you'd say "Hell no". Because you know little Junior--being over five--barely knows how to tie his own shoes, much less safely navigate himself in a downtown area without getting lost or hurt. You'd want a responsible grownup with him in school, with him as she leads the kid-herd to the zoo, at the playground, and you sure as hell wouldn't let him cross busy streets by himself (not even if he knows the "look both ways" rule, because he forgets sometimes much as most five-year-olds will).

    Guess what? The Internet is just the same as if you are taking Junior on a field-trip, or taking him to the park, or (shock! shock!) the actual library itself. He's freakin' five years old. I don't think it's unreasonable to be with Junior while he's looking on the Internet--not just to make sure he doesn't accidentially or on purpose stumble onto www.babeswithgreatbigtitties.com instead of Pokemon stuff, but because a) it could actually be an enriching experience for you AND him, b) you could well teach him some lessons if he (God forbid!) were to stumble upon some nekked chick (and trust me, he's going to be far more likely to ask "Mommy, why is that girl naked?" and be very confused than to become a rapist at the age of five from looking at a picture of a naked woman) like that you don't approve of that sort of thing, and c) because, by the God and the Goddess, you took that responsiblity to actually parent the kid when you did the Nasty Dance, nine months later Junior popped out, and you didn't hand him over to the orphan's home.

    If you feel that, somehow, you cannot handle such a pressing responsibility as daring to parent little Junior instead of expecting the library staff, the complete written works of Dr. Seuss, the computer and Internet provider, Nintendo and all one hundred and fifty-two Pokemon, the school system, and the Teletubbies to act as babysitters and/or parentis in loco because you are too busy watching TV or posting to Slashdot or whatnot, there are plenty of people who can't have kids who would be more than willing and able to take the little monster off your hands and give him a loving, supporting home where people would give enough of a shite about him to parent him instead of expecting everyone else to parent him. Failing that, I'm sure there are plenty of wolf-packs in Alaska, Canada, Wyoming, and Michigan who'd probably do a decent job of raising the kid, because if you are so stuck on yourself like that, the kid would probably be better off in the long run being raised by wolves (at least the wolves would give a damn about the kid and parent him--wolf parents are very, very good parents, which you'd know if you watched so much as a special on the Discovery Channel, and I honestly think that most human parents could stand to learn some lessons from the canids on parenting ;).

    Yes, I'm very pissy about this. But it's exactly this crap--people expecting librarians, libraries, the Internet, all one hundred and fifty two Pokemon, the Teletubbies, Barney The Insipid Purple Hellwyrm, the boob-tube in general, and basically anyone but themselves to actually step in and parent their damn kids--which involves being involved in their lives, supervising them, giving them lots of love and support, knowing enough to see when Junior might be Seriously Bent or Very Ill and knowing when to get professional help, knowing exactly how much to hold onto them and how much to let go, and is by very definition a very labour-intensive process, especially among us apes [yes, it's been labour intensive since before we split from chimps--watch "People Of The Forest" sometime--it actually has a case of a chimp that died thanks to overprotective parents]--it's THAT crap which has given us such wonderful things as NC-17 movies being the theatrical kiss of death, the country swinging ever more to the theocratic right-wing, book-banning initiatives in schools, and yes, even little happy censorship initiatives like in Holland.

    You get them because some Very Bad Folks (who, by and large, are control-freaks [who may not entirely be control-freaks of their own design; the vast majority are also members of Bible-based cults which have a VERY strong control structure and a major emphasis on obtaining Control and Power over others--a fair number are even folks who have been in this for multiple generations] who have been taught that they are literally the Chosen People, that it is their duty and their very destiny to force this entire nation and then the world to be a fundy theocracy whether folks want it or not, and whom are not only not above lying to get that goal but are actually taught how to do so [such stuff as "stealth candidates", using "code words" for fundy initiatives like "family" or "heritage", and an entire principle known as "Heavenly Deception" which basically means "lying is perfectly ok as long as it's in the service of God" are a part of this]) who will actually use this (partly because they are outright taught to be predatory and sneaky to "win battles for God") as an excuse to sell a whole, nasty bill of goods that most folks would normally not agree with...by claiming "it's for the children...you don't want your children to be corrupted and harmed, do you?" A lot of folks (not coincidentially, the same ones who let their five-year-old kids run around unsupervised in libraries and on the Internet and let Mickey Mouse, Simba, La-La, Barney, and Elmo babysit their kids) fall for this, because they don't bother to do the homework in researching the groups pushing all the censorship stuff--all they hear is "this is protecting your kids from porn" and they think "Whew...I don't have to parent my kids, I'll just let Cyber Sitter (or X-Stop or BESS or any of the other censorware programs) babysit my kids." They might not realise that's what they're thinking, but they are. (Ironically--the groups that have pushed for censorware, especially the Religious Right groups, probably do more harm to kids themselves than do "naughty pictures". A whole nasty look at their agenda (including links to comparisons between Bible-based cults and Scientology) is here [slashdot.org]--including a mess of links to stuff in the very words of the groups. Also, fun statistics: upwards of one to fifty kids a year are killed in attempted "exorcisms" by Bible-based cults (where the Religious Right groups that push censorware get a lot of their membership, especially hardcore members); gay kids who grow up in fundamentalist households, especially in Bible-based cults, have the single highest rates of both suicide and being victims of abuse of any group (per population) for which statistics are kept; kids in Bible-based cults are victims at a higher rate in general of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse than the general population.)

    Parents will understand that there is a time and a place for children to be educated about the "reality" of things in this world, and sometimes age 5 isn't always the best time to explain all the hate-groups in our world and the high existance of pornographic material.

    Well, you know what? Sometimes Things Happen, and even though we don't want to have to explain horrible stuff like that to our kids, we have to in terms they'll understand. It's part of being a parent, you know.

    Black kids, and in fact MOST minority kids, have to sometime in their kindegarden or first-grade years have The Talk regarding why little Joe there just called them a bad name like "nigger"...and they have to explain to kids why this is such a hurtful thing and why racism is Bad. I bet those parents wish they never had to do it, but they do. That's life.

    A fair number of parents, especially in the more rural parts of the South and the Midwest, have to have The Talk with their kids at a rather young age about why the Klan are considered Bad Folks (if you're unaware--in many Midwestern towns, branches of the KKK will have parades down streets or rallies in downtown areas; in some areas, they've even attempted to join "Adopt A Highway" highway-beautification programs, so even if the kids never see a Klan protest they might have to have The Talk anyways). I had The Talk myself around the age of five, when we were going to a family park/picnic-area and passed through a rural town in Kentucky--which just happened to have a Klan march going on at the time. :P

    Parents with girls usually have to have The Talk around the age of five to seven when boys won't play with girls and call them names.

    Parents sometimes even have to explain to five-year-olds that the "Show-world Dance Emporium and Blue Movies" store they passed when going downtown sells things they don't approve of and aren't for grownups.

    For that matter, you also have to explain to kids why drugs are bad, and why kids shouldn't drink or smoke. Yes, you sometimes have to do this young (Are you aware, incidentially, that most drug-education programs now want to start such education as early as kindegarten and first grade? That they routinely start as early as the second and third grade nowadays?). Yes, it'd be nice to let them have their innocence longer, but sometimes Stuff Happens, and trust me when I say it doesn't require the Internet.

    (For instance--how would you explain it to your kid if--say--he saw a Klan rally outside his school because they're talking about keeping busing (this is not uncommon in parts of the Midwest and South, by the way)? How would you explain it if he found an issue of Playboy all by his lonesome (yes, kids have been known to do that)? What if (Cthulhu forbid) someone were to expose himself to the little tyke? Or someone stole his Pokemon cards or ripped him off in a trade?)

    The point is, you are going to eventually have to explain to him that people do certain things that are not within your family values. If you do your job as a parent, and you don't let electronic babysitters (or print babysitters) raise your kids for you instead, your kids will (assuming they aren't Seriously Bent to begin with, which you can't do a hell of a lot about without professional help--most kids aren't Seriously Bent, though) learn what is Right and Wrong according to your family's values, and you'll probably be really surprised how many of the core values he takes with him as an adult. (Again, this is assuming you raise your child, rather than a) using electronic babysitters or b) trying to train the kid under an atmosphere of fear and pain rather like a lion-tamer does with his whip. All too many households (especially those in which many members, or especially Mommy and Daddy, are in coercive groups) do take the latter approach, and if the kids don't end up completely brainwashed, Broken, or dead from it they usually end up resenting the parents and going the opposite way...)

    If (Cthulhu forbid) your kid is one of the few who is Seriously Bent, again, short of professional help there isn't much you can do about it. It's also about the only way your little five-year-old is going to be permanently scarred by ANY form of porn. If you do your job as a parent (instead of expecting the television, the Internet, censorware programs, the school system, and the librarian to babysit your kid for you) then you should be able to see the early signs that your kid is Bent before he goes off doing Stupid Things like trying to outdo the Columbine Massacre or going about raping cattle and pillaging women, and hopefully you will get some help for that kid before he hurts someone. (By the way--most kids that DO go off like that either have something seriously Wrong in their brain chemistry or wiring that has probably existed from birth, or are victims of rather severe abuse and/or neglect. If you are doing your job as a parent, the latter isn't likely, and the former is basically a matter of a crap-shoot with genetics (or possibly environmental conditions or both--probably "both") that there's not much one can do with it--especially since we know only some of the causative genes for two of the mental illnesses known to have a definite genetic factor, schizophrenia and bipolar illness.)

    As for Junior seeing porn and hate-groups on the net at the age of five--the best antidote, again, is to do your job as a parent. The Internet is just like a downtown area or busy mall, and you wouldn't let your kid walk around there unsupervised at the age of five; just like you insist Junior hold your hand crossing the street, make sure he only uses the Internet when you're with him. (This way, he's not going to stumble on anything like bigtitties.com or surfnazis.org or anything like that; if, Cthulhu forbid, you do--you explain that this is something you disapprove of and is "yucky" or "bad", then you go on to find Pokemon pages--just like my grandma explained to me how the Klan were bad folks because they hated black people and Jews, then we went to the campground and had lots of fun.) Raise your kids with your values (this is not to say "cram them down their throat on pain of physical pain"--it's possible to raise your kids with values by acting as a good example to your kids and having those values in place continuously, and it usually works better doing it that way too ;) and--again, if they're not Seriously Bent to start out with--they should be ok. (If you have Nazis or the Klan imparting their values to your five-year-old, you have a problem much deeper than the possibility that little Johnny is regularly hitting stormfront.org. Either Johnny is seriously bent, or (far more likely) you are not doing your job as a parent, are simply using the Internet as a babysitter whilst you check out whatever at the library, and as a result the Nazis or the Klan are now teaching Junior. That's a case where you fucked up, not the library nor Johnny nor even the Nazis.)

    In relation to this--this is why censorware is bad. You're not only using the Internet as a babysitter (and the censorware, at that) instead of taking the time to parent the kid, you are letting someone else who does not have the same values as you, and may have values which you neither agree with nor want imparted to your child parent your child for you. Most censorware supports, at best, a very right-wing agenda (a lot of stuff on feminism, birth control and even body education for females and males, safer sex, gay/les/bi/trans teens, and even stuff on breast, uterine, ovarian, cervical, and testicular cancer is blocked; in many cases, the Constitution, anti-censorship groups, the ACLU, and especially anti-censorware groups have been blocked) and much of it supports an outright fundamentalist agenda. (No offense, but if and when I do have kids--a decision I have not made yet, because the possibility exists that I may not have kids for a long time, if ever; I'm sure as hell not ready for it now, because a) I don't have the patience required to have 'em and parent them properly, and b) there's a lot of stuff I have to work out before I'm gonna be ready to have kids--one thing I do not want them exposed to until I've had time to educate them on the mores I want them brought up with is the fundamentalist agenda...considering that many Religious Right groups get much of their membership from Bible-based cults and the fact that a lot of Bible-based cults use very deceptive marketing techniques to lure teens in especially (including "hell house" haunted houses, "free pizza" dinners, "Christian rock" concerts, and even "motivational anti-drug speeches" where kids are forced to hear sermons and not allowed to leave until they are over--many kids have joined the groups under such circumstances), and further considering that I happen to be a walkaway from such a group I was raised in...I don't want any kids of mine hurt like I was, and I'd rather not have fundamentalists mucking about with the moral education of my kids till they're old enough to decide on their own, thanks. This is also why I'm worried on the whole "grandparents' visitation rights" thing, by the way; my folks, and much of my extended family, are still involved in the cult [most recruited by my birthmother, no less] and I ESPECIALLY don't want Grandma trying to turn my kids into good little fundamentalists, but if "grandparents' visitation rights" laws are held up as Constitutional I might not have much of a choice to keep them from that (unless I delay having kids till my birthmother dies)...)

    Nobody ever said it was going to be easy being a parent. If anything, it's the hardest job in the world. (I'm at least smart enough to know I'm not up to raising kids at this point in my life unless it's the four-footed, feline sort of kid [and hubby tells me I'm overprotective in THAT and spoil our "daughter" Demi the half-a-kitty rotten ;)].) If you don't think you can hack it, then please, for both the sake of your sanity and the sake of the kid, give 'em to someone who CAN take the time and care to raise them and actually parent them instead of using them as a little droid to be programmed or instead of using damn near every electronic babysitter known to man to babysit them with. Give them to a pack of wolves or your neighbour's German Shepherd to raise if you can't find humans to do it. They'd be better off with THAT (even counting all the social problems feral kids have when they come back to human society) than with a parent who doesn't give enough of a shit about his own kids to parent them instead of using all one hundred and fifty two Pokemon to babysit his kids, or not caring enough to be physically there and present to make sure that Nazis aren't recruiting your five-year-old for the next Racial Holy War, or thinking his kid is less a decent young human who can be raised to be a decent adult human and more a sinful, icky thing that needs to be indoctrinated and mustn't ever, EVER be allowed to get "dirty" or "sinful" (because either extreme is going to fuck your kid up, one way or another--look at me ;). Orphanages would be better in the long run if you can't hack it. (And some folks can't. No offense, but the ones who can't should take the fragging responsibility as an adult and the Brains that God/Goddess/[insert your favourite deity here]/the process of evolution gave you, and make the active decision not to breed unless and until you can make the commitment required to properly parent and raise your younguns, and if you've already popped them out and can't take the responsibility, for the sake of the kids, give them to someone who can. It's pretty much people not wanting to take responsibility in the first place that not only has led to kids not being found to be Bent till they go nutzoid and shoot up half a school, but people demanding censorware crap on all their favourite electronic babysitters and wanting them to be made "kid-safe" because some control-freak from the Religious Right is just predatory enough to prey on both their worries and their wanting a minimum of responsibility to push for that crap on behalf of wanting to turn the effective government of the United States into a giant Bible-based cult...and because the folks don't want to take responsibility, they get goaded into this crap (especially if it's claimed it's for the children)...they're more than willing to go along. For the love of Grud, show some backbone and take responsibility, folks... :P)

  • part of the problem is that when a politician talks about "protecting the children" from the latest bugaboo (like Internet porn), too many of us, who would be laughing at his expense, restrain this natural urge to faux civility.

    Take Arianna's advice:
    [ariannaonline.com]
    http://www.ariannaonline.com/columns/files/04069 8.html

    Lower your guffaw threshold. Better yet go to political rallies and lower your guffaw threshold.
  • <I>Why should we care about what happens in Michigan?</I>

    Let's see...

    a) because the Right has decided to try and sneak censorship into Holland libraries, the intention being to develop the illusion of a "consensus" ("Moral Majority," anyone?) on this issue so as to argue it on a national scale.

    b) If this were to happen in some other random community, do you think /. would pay anywhere near as much attention as they are to this "local" dispute?

    c) Even if the Right didn't have such an agenda, even if Slashdot wasn't the home of /., you should care. For every government-censored public terminal, there're schools full of kids who will be selectively barred from information (about gay rights groups, breast cancer studies, etc.) that would highly enrich their lives.

    This is why I care. And this is why I think jamie's doing an awesome service to the community (and to the nation in general) by fighting against the legalization of censorship.
  • A very old joke says:

    Definition1: A pessimist is a well infromed optimist.

    Definition2: An optimist is a well instructred pessimist.

  • And remember, don't take hypercards from large Aleutians with tattoos on their foreheads.
  • I can't help but wonder how much of the vote was a negative reaction to outsiders coming in and throwing relatively large amounts of money on one side of a (notionally) local issue? We in "Middle America" tend to have a conservative streak -- even the hippie-looking folk like me -- but we also tend to bow up at the idea of outsiders throwing lots of money behind one side in a local election.

    Perhaps all that money did more harm than good?

    --
  • However, could we prevail upon the volunteers for just a bit longer? Can we get a copy of the
    presentation up on the Web somewhere permanently? ... A known resource for fighting future battles would be a godsend. The folks at Holland paved the way and we need to learn everything they did right and wrong, and have all the materials they created at hand. ... It would be great if we knew where to go to just grab leaflets and educational presentations, print them out, and respond *the same day*.


    We will definitely do this, and store them on censorware.org [censorware.org] for future reference. It's a great idea, one that we thought about in the past but never got up the gumption to actually do.
    --
    Michael Sims-michael at slashdot.org

  • What the heck's wrong with getting divisive social issues put on the ballot?

    I Grew up in Atlanta in the '60s and saw the cival rights movement first hand. I'm pretty sure it qualified as a "devisive social issue". I can assure you if this appeared on the ballot in any local or state election in the south, 40 years ago

    "Should Negros have the same rights as Whites?"

    It would have been defeated by a landslide! The racists in the south didn't have the "Right" to deny African-Americans thier cival rights. Fundamentalists don't have the "right" to deny others thier first admenment rights.
  • ...while you're out and about making a fuss over petty, symbolic issues

    Um, excuse me, this was not a petty issue. Although it was very symbolic, and sends out a message that even one of the most conservative of constituencies isn't willing to tolerate this kind of control on access to information.

    Here's just one reason why it's important, even if you are very pessimistic about representative democracy (as I am): One of the notable things about the demonstrations in Seattle was that ethnic minorities were under-represented among the demonstrators. It's not entirely clear why that was, but some reasons that have been suggested are:

    • Many ethnic minority people (as well as white people) didn't understand what the WTO protests were going to be about, or how it would affect them - or they saw more pressing issues to organize around.
    • Some "progressive" groups display either implicit or explicit psychological barriers to the entry of ethnic minorities (sometimes this can be as simple as the fact that there are few non-white faces in the group, discouraging non-white people from joining.)
    • The internet - particularly low-tech stuff like email lists - was a big help in organising the Seattle protests, even without there being any kind of overall controlling organization. (In fact, this latter factor probably swelled the numbers, as no-one group felt unable to stand behind a "co-ordinating" group). But many ethnic minority people and groups simply don't have very much, or any, access to the Internet. So again, they didn't get to know how dangerous and relevant the WTO really is.
    Given the large disparities in average wealth, and Internet penetration, between white America and other ethnic groups, this is not entirely surprising. Internet access through libraries is a small, though significant, part of access to alternative points of view from the stultifying mainstream media, and hence to real political activity - and of course, battles fought over libraries will affect the current and future debates on school, college and indeed corporate and home-based censorware.

    The Internet, particularly with sites like ZNet [zmag.org] and Free Speech Internet Television [freespeech.org], is a brilliant place to enlighten yourself. I don't call restricting access to the Internet, especially when these restrictions are blatantly designed to censor alternative political views, in any way a "side issue".

    And yes, it is a "fight", in a very real sense - not curious terminology at all - it is a psychological battle. As the elites of this world have known for centuries, winning the psychological battles are usually even more important than the physical ones. (Cruise missiles, for instance, are very useful at psychological distancing - not even the soldiers deploying them, let alone the public, have to see the bloodied bodies of their victims any more - a major PR aid.) Behind the rhetoric, if you look at the business pages, the elite and their spokespeople can be very candid sometimes amongst themselves about the very real Class War being waged by the rich elite against working people around the world (though they don't use those words, of course). They know it's war - we should recognise that too.

  • I think the point isn't so much what's happening in Holland, Michigan for the sake of what's happening in Holland, Michigan as it is to warn about something that could be coming to any town, nationwide. If you are against filtering software in public libraries, you now have a decent idea of how such a plan was fought and defeated. If you are for filtering software in public libraries, you now know which arguments were less effective for one town so you can try different arguments where you live.

    On the surface, this wouldn't seem to affect /. users outside the US, but isn't it possible that a non-US site gets erroneously filtered by filtering software? People who are concerned about having part of their web audience taken away by a third party ought to be aware of what's happening in this case. Even if they can't vote in the US to pass or defeat an initiative, they can support whichever side they choose in other ways.

  • I hear they have books there that ACTUALLY TALK about sexual health! Burn them! burn them all!
    --
  • What the heck's wrong with getting divisive social issues put on the ballot?

    The general population tend to not know anyhting about the true state of minority rights, so social issues the ballot will tend to be targeted at removing a minority's rights.. and will play on the ignorance of the genreal population.

    A worse problem is when unelected elites impose their morality upon others *without* the opportunity of putting the measure before the people for a vote.

    Yes, this can be a serious problem and it should be prohibited too. Orginisations like the ACLU have done a realitivly effective job of prohibiting government officials from forcing their beliefs on their citizens.

    Example: There was this preacher in some random fringe christian sect last year who wanted to get a drivers lissence, but believed that it was a sin to have his photograph taken. The DMV (unellected beurocrats) was quite happy to tell him to go fuck himself (and no christian orginisations came to help him because he was not in a main stream sect), but the ACLU sued the DMV on his behaf and won.

    Example: During desert storm the Saudi's did not want American soldiers bringing bibles with them and out unelected millitary leaders were happy to comply. No christian orginisations mounted an effective defence (I guess they did not wantt o seem unpatriotic), butthe ACLU sued the millitary and won, so the millitary sent chaplans and stuff over too.

    Example: The religious reich tries to get laws passed which "protect the religious freedom of teachers" to do things like post the 10 commandsments, but they ignore the fact that a teacher is a member of an unellected elite who is in a possition of athority and has the power to unethically influence her/his charges religous leanings via such activity. Clearly, this violates the rights of Moslems, Hindu's, Atheists, etc. and if it is allowed to expand it would result in attacks on some christian sects like Mormons and Catholics. The only solution is that patents have the right to teach their children whatever religion they want, but the school has no rights to teach the children anything related to religion period.

    Now, you need to make an exception for scientific things which some religions object to (i.e. evolution) which influence the child's future job opertunities (it's hard to get a biology degree without understanding evolution), but parents still have the ability to object and keep their child home on those days. The reality of the situation here is that the children who's parents do not objet have a right to learn about evolution AND the school is obligated to educate them in this matter since it is a scientific idea which parents are not qualified to teach.
  • This deserves to be moderated up.
    --
  • take a look at the demographics of yesterday's vote: 49% Republicans, 51% Democrats/Independants.
    You're conflating a part (Holland, a rather small city) with the whole (the entire state of Michigan). Holland (and its relatively near neighbor, Grand Rapids) is extremely right-wing compared to Detroit and the rest of Wayne county. The votes from the Republican primary were tallied on a statewide basis and mean just about nothing for the mix of the turnout in Holland.
    --
  • Tell America we must protect our children from Internet pornography and drugs.

    Internet drugs? Would that be.. snow crash?

    --

  • (Frankly, I'm surprised my rant got moderated up as high as it did - in all honesty, it's only tangentially related to the topic at hand. Or maybe we're just ready to move from hot gr1tz to volumes of the OED :-)

    Maybe you're just being modest, but I think your summary from your original post just about "sums" it up:

    Quickly, Gary, since you're the expert on what's obscene and what's not obscene - did I just jot down an obscene piece of violent pornography, or was I making valid commentary on what it means to the victims when you trivialize rape?

    No filter could effectively differentiate between those two possibilities. Gary apparently can't either.

    numb
  • Which is as it should be. The government shouldn't be spending the people's money on anything that doesn't have very strong upside potential. "That government governs best, which governs least" and all that. If only we could get
    the good people of Holland to export this attitude to the rest of the country...


    Oops that shouldn't have been said. Take a look at what people have done throughout history with various shall we say "unpopular" things. I guess freeing of the slaves and helping the poor were bad things too. However the slaves were still freed and the poor were helped all in the century from 1800-1899. Sometimes unpopular things are sometimes necessary because some people can't see past the ends of their noses.

  • Which is as it should be. The government shouldn't be spending the people's money on anything that doesn't have very strong upside potential. "That government governs best, which governs least" and all that. If only we could get the good people of Holland to export this attitude to the rest of the country...

    Oops that shouldn't have been said. Take a look at what people have done throughout history with various shall we say "unpopular" things. I guess freeing of the slaves and helping the poor were bad things too. However the slaves were still freed and the poor were helped all in the century from 1800-1899. Sometimes unpopular things are sometimes necessary because some people can't see past the ends of their noses.

    Ahh, but, my friend, Slavery was abolished, and the poor were helped, because they became popular issues because good people who knew what needed to be done were willing to go out and talk to everyone they met, to make moral stands in public, et. al. until the Electorate changed its mind. One might like to say that "Might doesn't make Right" and you'd be correct; however, Might makes Law. In the United States, and eventually much of the world now, we came to the conclusion that if might makes law, let the might be in the hands of the people instead of in the hands of those who stand to get rich off of bad laws (like the censorware law in question). What the Patriot's firmly believed when they advocated democracy and framed the constitution is that the people _will_ eventually see what is right and wrong, and while they might for a while support and vote for bad laws, that ultimately bad laws are not good for the majority and the majority would shed them like a stinky shirt. Viva La Democracy!!!! Jeff Schmidt
  • My favorite example of the flawed logic on the side of pro-filtering is this one:

    For Gary Glenn, president of the family association's state chapter, the issue is simple. "Our only concern is providing maximum protection for children," he says, citing a recent case in Muskegon, Mich., where a girl was raped at a library with full Internet access.

    While it's sad and unfortuneate that a girl was raped at a library, the logic in the argument is flawed. It could equally read that the girl was raped at a library that carried Winnie the Pooh. The Muskegan Library points out that the man who committed the act didn't even access the internet; there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory that the library having unfilterred internet access contributed in any way. Yet in the minds of the pro-filterring groups, this was a direct cause.

    Remember, if this vote comes to your town, these are the types of flawed logic and half-truths that you'll need to fight.

    On a side note to Jamie: Does the opposition have a website? Is there a location that has a collection of the counter-arguments used to fight the misinformation?
  • Orginisations like the ACLU have done a realitivly effective job of prohibiting government officials from forcing their beliefs on their citizens.

    Organizations like the ACLU have also done a relatively effective job of crippling men's sports programs in college. LEXIS-NEXIS is down right now, so I can't get the citation, but the ACLU managed to turn Title IX into a prohibition on expanding traditionally male sports. E.G. at Dartmouth, there is no varsity wrestling. This is because there was no interest in a women's program, and so the college couldn't just create a men's wrestling program. Same thing with Ultimate, I think.

    The ACLU is not the source of all good things. They screw a lot of good people over, too.
    --

  • Hehe.. That's pretty funny. I would assume that there would be some way arround it though.. like promoting intermural women's wrestling and promissing to make it more serious if they ever got the partisipation.

    yeah, that would probably be the Right Thing to do. Unfortunately, the ACLU don't care.
    --

  • > While it's sad and unfortuneate that a girl was
    > raped at a library, the logic in the argument is
    > flawed.

    Whats worst....this girls unfortunate incident is
    being dragged through the media by this man and
    used as justification for his ends.

    It is sad to see the misfortune of people and
    fammilies twisted and used by politicans and
    others to try to further their own social and
    political goals.

    This is, sadly, not the only case of this. The
    anti-GHB legislation which either recently passed
    or is being passed by congress is named after
    a girl whose fammily was told she died after
    being drugged with GHB and date raped. Another
    investigater later noticed that her case did not
    show the symptoms of this, and with further
    investigation found out that she was not drugged
    at all...she died from a previously undiagnosed
    heart defect.

    You can imagine how used this girls fammily felt
    when they found out that everything that had been
    told to them about her death was a lie.

    Of course...as usual I am speaking about something
    which I read several months ago and the web
    page has dissapeared (probably because the bill
    has already passed). If anyone can find a
    reference to this story (or a correction of my
    telling) please let me know (or just post here)

    In any case, I think it sad that these people are
    willing to take the misfortune of others and drag
    it around to further their own goals.
  • However, I think filtering could be okay if it only targetted misleading sites, email, and posts. This might include pyramid-schemes (though education is much more important and effective here) but wouldn't include all porn, risque geocity sites, hate sites, or nearly anything based solely on content. Fraud is illegal, and filtering out fraudulent content doesn't harm anyone's first ammendment rights.

    Well, maybe a better solution would be to approach the problem you discribe from a different technological angle.

    I think (though I'm no expert in any of this) that the best way to correct the problem might be to change the way we browse the net. Most of the "horror stories" that censorship advocates love to tell, involve children finding porn or other "inappropriate" content, by accident. This is either because of a bad result turned up by a search engine, or from following a link from another "appropriate" page.

    If there were better ways for us to accurately tell what web pages really contained, and organize that information so that we could use it to navigate more easily, then it would be easier for everyone to find what they want. Little kids wouldn't accidentaly end up on a porn page that pops up half a dozen other porn pages when it is closed. Adults who are looking for porn would be able to find it. Adults looking for some porn, but who don't like other porn, could find that too. Anyone looking for anything else would be better able to find it.

    The question is, how to make this work. I don't know all that much about search engine algorithms, or anything else that might be useful for something like this, but I'm sure some readers on Slashdot do. Can better search engines accomplish this? Perhaps it will will need a radical (or evolutionary at least) new way of navigating between pages.

    There's not going to be any revolution that will bring censorware to computers everywhere (not that some groups won't try). The internet will continue to chage and adapt to it's users needs and gradually the porn sites will fade into the background a bit more.

    Anyway, congradulations to everyone who helped defeat the effort in Holland.

    Steve

  • And the "no compromise" attitude sucks too.

    Any other approach runs into the quid custodes problem, which ultimately leads to a repeat of the Inquisition.

    I think you just made his point: dredging up moral demons hardly helps your position. Knee-jerk comparisons to witch-burnings, inquisitions (no matter how historically questionable) or nazism might fire up the troops, but it also tends to isolate those in the middle -- parents, such as myself, who don't generally support censorship, but who do sympathize with the concerns of those on the other side of the issue.

    I, for one, felt slightly offended to be broad-brushed by implication as an inquisitorial, witch-hunting nazi simply because I think the pro-filtering crowd has concerns that need to be addressed, not mocked.

    I have no sympathy for parents who indulge in electronic babysitting of any form. ... [That's] ultimately responsible for things like Columbine. But I digress.

    Yes, you do. And please stop. It's been my experience that most of your "opponents" on this issue are not weekend parents, but rather the opposite; take the time to know your enemy, and I'd venture you'd find that most of them are very involved in their children's lives. It's why they're concerned about such issues in the first place. Not because they're looking for substitutes for involved parenting, but because they are involved parents. Trying to pin tragedies such as Columbine on them is hardly conducive to convincing them to listen to your arguments. At least, it wouldn't work with me.

    Frankly, I think a real good solution is simply to remove the 'Net access altogether from the kids' section and replace it with a copy of Britannica... the uncensored Net is no place for unsupervised younglings. If Mother wants to sign for her kids' adult-grade library card, including a release of liability, that's her problem.

    I proposed a similar solution in a /. forum a few months ago. I was unmercifully attacked as a witch-hunting censor out to destroy the First Amendment (quite amusing, actually, since I don't even live in the United States).

    Apparently, quite a large contingent of /.ers considers any attempt by parents to control (nay, even monitor) the information their children have access to as morally outrageous as burning books. I was accused of many unspeakable attrocities - including what to /.ers appears to be the ultimate sin - impeding my children's First Amendment rights. (The fact that, since my children are not American, they don't have any First Amendment rights didn't seem to deter them in the least.)

    But when we consider adults in the adult section of a public library, paid for by you and me the taxpayers, censorship in any form has no place.

    This, as far as it goes, is fine. However, I suggest you need to take the next step and address (not dismiss) the concerns of those who don't cotton to the idea of their tax money being used to fund someone's porn habit at the local library.

    It very simply constitutes prior restraint on free speech

    But the issue, from what I can tell, is not so "very simple". If it were, it wouldn't even come up.

    And even then, it only addresses the concerns of Americans. You should consider that an increasingly large segment of the Internet community is not constrained by American laws or philosophies. And unless you're considering imposing your American jurisprudence on the rest of us, you'll need to find arguments which will play well outside of Peoria (or, in this case, the United States). While America may think of itself as the center of the universe, you need to keep in mind that fully 95% of the world's population is not subject to its laws or constitutions.

    Some folks learned the hard way about sixty years ago about defending their rights, and that so-called "middle ground," and six million of them paid with their lives.

    Again, rewriting history does nothing to help your case. Six million Jews were not killed for defending their rights, or whatever "middle ground" you're talking about. They were killed because they were Jews. Period. It may be tempting to attempt to enlist them to your cause. It also strikes me as rather revisionist.

    Lee Kai Wen

  • As far as I am concerned, the pro-filter people are exactly those who were pushing CDA a couple of years ago and are pushing CDA II now. I don't think they are concerned parents. I think they are unmitigated bigots.

    Er, are you talking about those introducing it, or those voting for it? If the former, whatever, but you'll lose PR points saying it so bluntly. If the latter, I think you may want to think it through a little more. I really doubt that 45% of Holland MI's voting population are "unmitigated bigots" and if they are, you might as well give up now. I rather suspect that those who voted for it were people who saw a problem and had an easy solution handed to them.

    -Kahuna Burger

  • Some folks learned the hard way about sixty years ago about defending their rights, and that so-called "middle ground," and six million of them paid with their lives. Sorry, I don't intend to go quietly.

    Oh please. The only thing I hate more than holocaust revisionists is those people who demean it by trying to equivalate every tiny crimp in their style. You know why? Because the revisionists are at least implicitly acknowleging the significance of the event.

    If you think finding a way to keep people from (irrationally) worrying about their kids happening upon porn at the library without censoring deliberate searches is the first step to gas chambers you need to grow up and get some priorities.

    -Kahuna Burger

  • I think that you deserve some of the credit for this victory. It just goes to show that geeks can make a difference when we take the time to get involved and to make our pitch in a way that can be understood by the average Joe.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • The issue I do want to address, though, is how do we prevent the innocent from stubmling across pr0n *mistakenly*? I don't want a 5 year old in my library, doing legitimate reading or, hell, reading about Pokèmon characters, I don't care, then hitting the wrong link... And don't come back trying to tell me that kind of thing doesn't happen. =)

    The answer is simple - don't let a young child surf the web alone! People keep trying to equate the Internet to TV. Sorry, they are completely different things. Too many parents have gotten in the bad habit of using the TV as an electronic babysitter to keep the kids occupied while they are doing housework or whatever, and now want to use the Internet the same way.

    Picture a giant bookstore in your mind. The contents on the shelves are totally unorganized - Green Eggs and Ham might be on a shelf right next to the Kama Sutra. There's a lot of material in here that's appropriate for your child, but there's a lot of material that isn't either -- and your child doesn't necessarily know what's appropriate for her or not. This is what the Internet is like. No sane parent would allow their child to wander around a bookstore like this unsupervised; but somehow they think it's perfectly ok to let the same child play on the 'net without supervision.

    Personally, I'm not crazy about the idea of letting young kids watch TV unsupervised either -- some of the crap that passes for "children's entertainment" these days is far more damaging than a couple of pictures of nekkid people. Get your kids away from the computer and the TV and read a book (together!) or play outside, or anything else which will help them develop their minds and bodies in a positive way. Nothing can replace one-on-one interaction with your kids.

    If you are concerned about protecting your children, spend time with them!!! Discuss things with them - don't just talk to them. Encourage them to learn new things. Meet thier friends. Meet their friends' parents. Teach them your values by setting a good example. In short, be an active part of their lives. Parenting is not a passive activity. The responsibility of raising your children does not belong to the librarian, nor the teacher, nor the priest, nor the government; the responsibility for raising your children is yours and yours alone!
    Your family is the most precious and important thing in your life. The real meaning of "Family Values" is that your family comes before everything else, period.

    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'
  • "God has called us to this, and no matter what happens from this point forward, I think he would say to us now 'Well done, good and faithful servants,'" Schepers said. Leave God out of this! This is not what God called people to do. Of course, I am just as presumptuous as Schepers by saying so, but see if she will admit that. *sigh*...It's days like these that I'm reminded that God is in dire need of a publicist to make comments to correct the idiotic things people say that God made them do or God chose them to do. "No, I did not send them to do that, they did that all by themselves and frankly, I'm disgusted." Or, "No, I didn't tell him to kill the abortion clinic doctor; I told him `Thou Shalt Not Kill' and `Love Thy Enemy.'" Or even, "No, those people are not defending Me when they attack homosexual marriages." *shudder*
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:48AM (#1251809)
    With all due respect, Rosa Parks wasn't just an old lady sick of riding at the back of the bus when there were open seats available up front.

    Mahatma (Mohandas K.) Gandhi wasn't just a former grad of a UK law school who was making salt by the sea.

    And a 15 year old Norwegian kid who writes software that lets him play DVD on his Linux box isn't just a kid arrested in a faraway land thanks to the backroom efforts of the MPAA.

    Holland was going to be the springboard to encourage censorship of the Net to people without the financial resources to go online otherwise in a country with the strongest legal protection of free speach on the planet (I'm from Canada, but the American protection of free speach lead to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with a similar protection limited as may be "reasonably and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society").

    In other words, we just barely kept the barbarians from the gates once more in what will always be a war between freedom and order. That's the point, and that's why others besides yourself care. Hope that makes your tuna digest more easily.
  • by moria6 (5565) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @08:02AM (#1251810)
    One of my (infinite) job reponsibilities is filtering the web for our coprorate Internet access and for an Elementary & High School on our WAN.

    I "think" I'm unusual in this position in that most people (that I've found so far) that are in charge of filtering develop a "Supreme Being" complex, a "you can go where I decide you can" attitude. I thought we moved beyond that when we moved away from the mainframe mindset. I try to filter as little as possible and it's a huge struggle. We use CyberPatrol as our filter software. No one agrees on how to filter. I get an equal number of complaints about blocked sites as I do sites that should be blocked.

    At home I have to listen to my 16 year old daughter complain about Bess which they use at the High School. She feels it's wrong (and I agree with her) to block sites or at least she disagrees with the method for determining what sites to block. I don't have any filters or blocking turned on at home nor have I told my kids that I can see where they've been. From periodically checking logs I can see that they have no interest in the seedier side of the web.

    I started my 16-yr old's interest in Anime (must mean I'm a rotten parent, right?). She knows what hentai is and can't understand why anyone would want to "ruin" the artform.

    The youngest (11 years old) was at our local library and when she went to use one of the Internet PC's she saw a porn site in the screen.
    She got the librarian, showed her the PC and showed her how to save the history file, clean out the cache and shutdown and restart the PC.

    Why does this whole Holland, MI (I live in an even smaller town) thing remind me of Tipper Gore and her crusade against Rock music? How much of the Internet did she invent with her husband and if she gets in to the White House will she be allowed to dictate what I can see on the web.

    Here's hoping that jamie and friends can win this round and all of the next!

    I'm thinking maybe these people need something real to do in their lives other than controlling other people's lives. There really is no job market for dictators but SO many people seem to be applying.
  • by Windigo The Feral (N (6107) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @12:47PM (#1251811)

    Some anonymous coward dun said:

    I dont want to sound mean or anything, but,.. what is the point of these recent posts? I dont live in Michigan, and if I did, probably not Holland. Some of you don't even live in the US... Why should we care about what happens in Michigan? Ok, the geek compound is based there,so what?, discuss this via e-mail not a thread on /.

    It's Important, because (among other things) the various and sundry Religious Right groups in the US who had their sights on Holland were planning on using Holland as a precedent. (If you want to know more about their agenda--on which I've posted at least three very longish posts on Slashdot in the history of the threat to Holland's libraries--here's a good (if pissy) summary here [slashdot.org]; I'm not gonna type out all that mess again right this second. ;)

    Basically, they badly need a precedent for library filtering right now; they've had two separate cases where the smack has been laid down on attempted library filtering initiatives by no less than US Federal Courts (most notably in Loudon County, VA). They were sure they would get a definite win in Holland, seeing as Holland is not only one of the most conservative towns in North America but also is close to no less than three colleges run by very conservative churches.

    They did not get their precedent. (Let me be the first to say "WAHOO!!!" in that case, drink to those who busted ARSE to keep Holland's libraries and Internet connections free, and thanks for posting this on Slashdot.)

    However--it's very, very likely (especially if you live in smaller towns in the Midwest, or in Southeastern parts of the US that have large fundamentalist populations--like, for instance, Pensacola, FL [which actually has a large Bible-based cult running out of it] or Springfield, MO [which has been described as the "buckle" of the Bible Belt] or anywhere in Virginia). Even moderate towns like Louisville, Kentucky could be targeted (we have no less than three large, vocal fundy groups here--one of which is literally a Bible-based cult; it seems the happy folks who are running the Southern Baptist Seminary are also working very hard to turn the Southern Baptists into the next denomination to have severe problems with Bible-based cults, as the seminary has gone increasingly coercive).

    In other words, It Can (And Probably Will) Happen Next In Your Town. Just like record-ban and concert-ban initiatives have. Just like huge abortion protests have. Just like the calls that have gone on for well nigh over thirty years for censorship of school materials and forcing kids to listen to Christian sermons in schools even if neither they nor their parents are Christians (there are public school systems in Kentucky that still try to put up the Ten Commandments [Protestant King James version] even though Kentucky is under a direct court order from the US Supreme Court not to do so; there are public schools in Florida that offer "Bible History" courses that are very thinly disguised versions of the exact lesson plans they use in fundamentalist Sunday schools). There are even attempts to get public libraries censored in many large cities (Columbus, OH has recently had to fight "Family Friendly Libraries", an AFA splinter group).

    These folks have an agenda, and we must always be on guard lest we be snuck up on and caught unawares. Holland is a big wake-up call for those who might not be aware of how the Religious Right is slowly trying to take over everything it can in the pursuit of their ultimate goal. Those of us in anticensorship circles and those who are walkaways from the various Bible-based cults and Religious Right groups that promote this stuff have seen it literally for years.

    Doesn't make it less Important, though.

  • by warpeightbot (19472) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @09:00AM (#1251813) Homepage
    And the "no compromise" attitude sucks too.
    Does not. It's the only position that is defensible, and the American Library Association, a bunch of people who know a whole lot more about books than I do, knows it and espouses it. Any other approach runs into the quid custodes problem, which ultimately leads to a repeat of the Inquisition.

    Yes, pointing out other solutions is useful. Matter of fact, that's probably the best way. But I have no sympathy for parents who indulge in electronic babysitting of any form. This whole raising kids by proxy thing is not only producing parents who have forgotten what civil rights (and their corresponding responsibilities) are, but are ultimately responsible for things like Columbine. But I digress.

    There are some folks who will listen. Address them. (Frankly, I think a real good solution is simply to remove the 'Net access altogether from the kids' section and replace it with a copy of Britannica... in all honesty, thinking as a parent, the uncensored Net is no place for unsupervised younglings. If Mother wants to sign for her kids' adult-grade library card, including a release of liability, that's her problem.) But when we consider adults in the adult section of a public library, paid for by you and me the taxpayers, censorship in any form has no place. It very simply constitutes prior restraint on free speech, and any such restraint, no matter how small, must be opposed, lest we gradually and by degrees lose all our rights. Some folks learned the hard way about sixty years ago about defending their rights, and that so-called "middle ground," and six million of them paid with their lives. Sorry, I don't intend to go quietly.

    --
    Never Again the Burning

  • by BranMan (29917) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:44AM (#1251814)
    Congratulations to all of the volunteers out in Holland, MI. I am sincerly relieved that the measure got defeated.

    I don't share the reports optimism though - 55% to 45%, while it is generally a "landslide" in a Presidential race, is not all that encouraging - 45% of the people can't see the big picture. Although it does speak volumes that clear headed reasoning can prevail even in the face of a marketting machine.

    However, could we prevail upon the volunteers for just a bit longer? Can we get a copy of the presentation up on the Web somewhere permanently? Maybe one of the OSS free project repositories? While there would be no code involved, I'm sure that presentations, demonstration descriptions, leaflet samples, etc. would be allowed to be stored there.

    A known resource for fighting future battles would be a godsend. The folks at Holland paved the way and we need to learn everything they did right and wrong, and have all the materials they created at hand.

    The DeCSS events have shown that the battles will pop up when you least expect it, and generally (no pun intended) on very short notice. It would be great if we knew where to go to just grab leaflets and educational presentations, print them out, and respond *the same day*. It would make quite an impact, and at the least show how important people think the issue is. Just that will slow down the process - if officials know their constituency genuinely cares about an issue they will not rush it.

    Perhaps the Minute Men will be needed once again (the Revolutionary War soldiers were called Minute Men - to be ready to grab their rifles and fight on a minutes notice. We need to do the same.).
  • by M-2 (41459) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:23AM (#1251815) Homepage
    It's popped up at MSNBC [msnbc.com] and The Register [theregister.co.uk] so far that I know of. But we still have to remember the old quote: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." They didn't mean just from OUTSIDE, people...
  • by RocketJeff (46275) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @08:29AM (#1251816) Homepage
    I usually don't respond to AC's, but since my post was a wee-bit unclear about my stand...

    My main concern with anyone using this kind of a religious argument is that they can't change their mind about the issue. Back in college I tried debating some of the highly religious students about their political stands - almost to the person they said that their stand came from God and was unchangable. Since, obviously, everyone else was wrong (God told them so), it was their duty to keep trying to change every one else's opinion.

    I don't object to them bringing the issue up, I object to a national organization being so involved in a local issue. I also object to thier wanting to 'continue the fight' even after soundly losing the referendum. Enough people's time (on both sides) has been spent on this idea already and the people have spoken. It seems that only the idea that God wants them to do this is keeping them going. That's my problem.

    BTW - I am not anti-religious. I belong to (and attend) a church and act on my beliefs. Pushing them down other people's throats is not part of what I beleve.

  • by Tau Zero (75868) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:53AM (#1251817) Journal
    If you are too pessimistic, you assume you can't win and fail to put forth any effort. There is a corresponding failure of excessive optimism, which is assuming you've already won and coasting to a loss. This sounds like a very happy medium! Congrats on dealing a blow to the New Dark Ages coalition, Jamie.

    I suppose this shows a good way to fight filters:

    • Hype up the costs. Money, money, money.
    • Point out who the money goes to. If you can show that the filter maker is financing the filter campaign, you've tarred them as one of the worst things they could be: a bunch of astroturfing lobbyists.
    • Point out that plenty of pr0n goes through the filters regardless, so it's like paying for the QE II and getting a leaky scow. No value for the money; taxpayers hate that.
    If filters ever come to a vote where I live, I'm going to busy myself along these lines. And thanks for keeping us all informed.
    --
  • by nido (102070) <nido56@noSPam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:46AM (#1251818) Homepage
    From the Washington Post article:
    Elaine Cioffi, 62, saw it differently.

    "I just think that children really don't know what's for their own good," she said. "It may not be a really big problem at the library right now or in the future, but why take a chance?"

    I'm totally against censorship & all that, but how long will it be until (not if but when) this viewpoint succeeds somewhere? /.ers will never support filters, but we can't expect to reach and convince all the Grandma Cioffi's out there when fighting against the entire "cult of the child" (the "they don't know what's best for them" sentiment).

    "On February 22, send a clear message to America. Tell America we must protect our children from Internet pornography and drugs."

    Sure... http://www.crackaddictsonline.com/, where your first hit is free!

  • by Dman33 (110217) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:40AM (#1251819)
    Well, I'm not the first to say it, and I won't be the last, but this is a great victory!

    Being a Michigan native, I know how small conservitive communities work. I am really glad that the "Decency police" have suffered a hard blow to thier "My ideals should be imposed on you" campaign. Wow.

    And the bad news is that they will not stop. I heard on an interview Tuesday and if defeated, they will keep moving from community to community in Michigan until the Governor and his congress recognize that this should become a state requirement! Now IMNAL, but I know that non-complying libraries would then lose all State endorsement and funding.

    As with all great victories, celebrate for a minute, but then get back to work because the fight is not over yet!
  • by Yaruar (125933) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:29AM (#1251820)
    The issue is about censorship and how it affects society.

    I'll be the first to admit that I play devils advocate in free speech arguements, but I think this was a good victory and a just one.

    The people pushing this campaign were using it as a test bed for others around the states. This was espeially highlighted with the proximity of the presidential compaigns which got rolled into the debate.

    I personally live in the UK and the case was in the states. Why does it affect me

    Mainly because the US's political hegemony is pretty much global now and if it appeared to be effective in the US then the UK would probably be more inclined to carry out the same processes.

  • by Steve Burnap (155427) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:15AM (#1251821)
    Some Slashdot posters have commented that I've seemed pessimistic in my reports on the campaign. They've been right. I couldn't read the city's mood very well, not being a native, and based on the coverage and talks I'd seen, I didn't think the chances were very good.

    Better to be too pessimistic, and put in too much work to defeat something like this than to be too optimistic and see it pass because you slacked off.

    So, congradulations!

  • by jht (5006) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:36AM (#1251822) Homepage Journal
    This vote is proof positive that, once in a rare while, in spite of ourselves, people can be trusted to look at an issue and do the Right Thing.

    The problem here has boiled down to a question of who to trust with the decisions about what you and/or your children see when using the Internet. Obviously, the best solution would to be to have real, enforcable ratings for web content, but given the distributed and ever-changing nature of the web, that's impossible. So in lieu of ratings, will you trust some anonymous company with a possible agenda of their own to make decisions through their filter as to what you can and can not see on the Internet? Not even factoring in that filters just don't work very well and are child's play to defeat, the answer seems obvious to me. Since filters don't work very well, and ratings are impractical, then your ability to view content should remain free. Whenever we err, we should always err on the side of freedom, choice, and individual responsibility. We owe ourselves that much.

    On a related note, at my company I am often asked by my co-workers if they should put filtering software on their computers to protect their kids. My response to them has been this: "You can go ahead and buy filtering software, and there are quite a few options to choose from that are well-supported commercially. But keep in mind that your kids probably know more about the inner workings of your PC than you do, and it's likelier that you'll be blocked than your children will. Your kids probably already know how to beat all the filters out there - you need to address the issue by talking to your kids, tell them what you don't want them doing, and check things like the browser history (I'll show them how to use these if they ask), cookie files, and cache to keep a watch over them and their habits. If they don't do the right thing as you see it, take away their access."

    Most children, I think, will satisfy their initial curiosity and move on. Maybe I'm a hopeless optimist, but there's so many useful things to do on the Net and on a PC that I think that most kids will find better uses of their time.

    - -Josh Turiel
  • by Kaa (21510) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @09:36AM (#1251823) Homepage
    When you demonify your opponents, you lose the middle ground and you cheat yourself.

    Sometimes there is no middle ground. I am not saying this is one of those issue, but there are certainly struggles where there is NO middle (or, rather, the middle is a very slippery and very steep slope towards one side).

    Besides, if you are always searching for a compromise, in a negotiated deal you will always end up worse than the hard-core people because you will start from the middle, and they'll start from their end.

    Some proponants of filtering software may be in the same league as "book burners." Most aren't going to be. They will be concerned parents, people who have had a misleading porn site draw them in...

    I disagree. I think that a small minority of pro-filter people really worry about dropping their kid at the library finding him an hour later totally corrupted. The majority of pro-filter people just want to legislate their morality. What gets their panties in a bunch is a simple fact that somebody somewhere could be sitting in a public library and enjoying porn. Clearly, this is evil and should be prohibited. I would bet that most of these people would gladly prohibit all and any porn anywhere, it's just that there are some problems on this road (Supreme Court being a nuisance, and all that).

    As far as I am concerned, the pro-filter people are exactly those who were pushing CDA a couple of years ago and are pushing CDA II now. I don't think they are concerned parents. I think they are unmitigated bigots.

    Kaa
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @09:16AM (#1251824)
    An AC writes: > (Gary's AFA-associated phone number snipped)

    Naah, truth be known - while I have very strong feelings about his (mis)use of rape as a rhetorical device to link an unfiltered Internet with real-world violence - that's not what this fight is about.

    (Frankly, I'm surprised my rant got moderated up as high as it did - in all honesty, it's only tangentially related to the topic at hand. Or maybe we're just ready to move from hot gr1tz to volumes of the OED :-)

    What this fight is about, is the right of library patrons to have unfettered access to information. Nothing more, nothing less.

    One culturally-insensitive AFA representative can choose to stop trivializing rape in his propaganda whenever he wants.

    But he can't hide the fact that the AFA's solution is fundamentally flawed, technically unworkable, and offers poor value-for-tax-dollar.

    The AFA can't hide the fact that the only beneficiaries of their solution will be the balance sheets of the companies that hawk censorware.

    Indeed - with so many strikes against it - the fact that the AFA solution is also morally unjustifiable (i.e., being in direct opposition to what a library is supposed to be for), is almost of secondary importance.

    The people of Holland have spoken, and Jamie has helped show us that even the combination of big money and an existing predilection towards extreme social conservatism can't win against the facts. He's helped show even the most cynical among us (myself included) that the people aren't as easily-duped as we may have thought they were.

    If there's a real message here, it's not my rant against Gary's cheap shot at rape victims - it's to see what Jamie did, and to "Go ye and do likewaise".

  • by G27 Radio (78394) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:30AM (#1251825)
    "On February 22, send a clear message to America. Tell America we must protect our children from Internet pornography and drugs."

    Many drugs become more hazardous when they are distributed on digital media. We should at least consider removing the floppy drives from these machines to prevent children from downloading Internet drugs.

    numb
  • by TuRRIcaNEd (115141) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @07:43AM (#1251826)
    Most kids, even young ones, have a certain degree of tech-savvy, simply because they'll have grown up with these technologies. They're used to them. Also, a lot of kids have a fairly good grasp of our favourite Anglo-Saxon nouns and verbs by the time they reach primary (US: read elementary) school. They may not necessarily know what it means, but it doesn't stop them from using it. I would be pretty horrified if my 5-year old stumbled upon teensexxx.com, or whatever, but it wouldn't exactly surprise me. So here's what you do:

    Rule No. 1 : Don't assume anything. Odds on, they've reached the site by mistake, and you know for a fact that these pages spawn sub-windows like there's no tomorrow. (I was a newbie searching for warez once :-) They will probably either be oblivious to what they've seen, as nudity is rarely a problem for most small children, or, especially if they are slightly older, they may be frightened out of their wits. To them it can seem like the computer has completely taken over. Talk to them gently. Ask them what happened. They'll probably tell the truth first time, as they are still likely to be shocked.

    Rule No. 2 : Tell it like it is. Explain that there are people who put this kind of thing up there (Call them 'bad' people if you want). Tell them that because of these people, they should be careful about using the computer, and that they can always come to you if it happens again. This is important, because if you go into fundamentalist mode, they won't learn anything from the experience, only that, to you, what they've done is shameful and wrong, which is almost as bad a thing to tell a child as the Religious Right spout. Growing up with a guilt complex doesn't help. Also explain that this is a thing that they will understand better later in life.

    Rule No. 3 : DON'T LOSE IT! If you start screaming bloody murder at your child, you stand a better chance of frightening them much more than they already are. You may not be an advocate of porn, in fact you may harbour strong feelings about it, but don't express it in front of them. It's that kind of guilt-complex method of raising children, espoused by the Religious Right, that has been defeated here. Equally, violent reactions (Ripping cables out of the wall etc.) are a bad move for your kid to see (to say nothing of the state of your equipment). Just gently power down the monitor, or close the windows (shut the browser task down). The calmer you appear, the easier a child will listen to what you have to say.

    I'm not saying that this is the best way of dealing with it, but I can't see that getting het up in front of your child will solve anything. Respect from your child is a good thing, but it must be respect attained without fear. The second a child is intimidated, you go down the same route as those just defeated.

    Again, sorry if I sound preachy, it's just the way I feel.

  • by Straker Skunk (16970) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @07:24AM (#1251827)
    To begin with, we need to get this idea out of our heads that a kid who accidentally looks at a nude human being will be emotionally or socially injured in some way.

    The only reason this is such a big deal is because of the long tradition of Puritanical/conservative/whatever values in this country that associate sinfulness/evil with the nude human form. This is completely artificial, and the sooner that sentiment is gone, the better.

    If you want to talk about something that young kids really shouldn't see, how about some of the horror films to come out of the Holocaust? Who here hasn't seen, say, that grainy black-and-white film clip showing a bulldozer pushing a huge pile of dead, emaciated bodies of Jewish victims into a shallow grave?

    I saw that one a long time ago, I think when I was twelve, and it hit me pretty hard. If I had seen that when I was five or seven, it would probably have left a much stronger impression on me, to the point of being harmful. (As in, I'd have needed some serious counseling to be able to get on with my life).

    But even then, the only reason seeing something should leave such a strong impression on a person (not just a young person) is that he/she is unprepared for it.

    The heart of this whole problem is that we are giving children these incredibly sheltered lives, where sex is unknown to them until the two-digit age range, where racism and political realities are fuzzy concepts with no real-world relevance-- while, at the same time, mass media and the Internet are super-shotgunning that filtered worldview into Swiss cheese.

    And there are two ways of reacting to that. Either you call for mass action to hold back the ocean of foreign thoughts, and ideas, and pictures coming in through the cable and telephone lines-- at this point, akin to commanding the tide not to come-- or you can push up the timetable of those "little talks" you've been preparing for your kids, by about five or six years. (Or more)

    Children are learning about things a lot sooner than many people are expecting them to (and taking great pains that they do). Between valiantly fighting to keep the wool over their eyes, or telling them about such things earlier, I think the latter route is the better one.

    (Not that I would tell my hypothetical four-year-old all about the Holocaust, but if she were to see some of those images, and come crying to me, I would sit down with her, and explain to her the whole sordid story. As well as why a great many people today go to a lot of effort to ensure such a thing will never happen again. This, as opposed to postponing the issue for a few years with, "No, no, that was just an old horror movie...")
  • by technoCon (18339) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:44AM (#1251828) Homepage Journal
    Yesterday or the day before, I read bitter words to the effect that, "Fundamentalists can get anything on the ballot."
    Well, fundamentalists (of which I am one) got the internet filter on the ballot. and thankfully, the measure was defeated. (i oppose internet filters, too.)
    What the heck's wrong with getting divisive social issues put on the ballot? A worse problem is when unelected elites impose their morality upon others *without* the opportunity of putting the measure before the people for a vote.
    smiles and cheers,
    steve
  • by FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:34AM (#1251829)
    This weekend I went to my local library (small town NH) and signed up for Internet access (as a convenience thing when I'm in the library and want to look something up). One of the steps I had to do was reading the "policies and guidelines". "Uh-oh," I thought, "Holland all over again."

    Not so. Turns out they had VERY liberal policies. Essentially, you can do anything you want, although if you view porn, etc and other patrons complain they will ask you to stop.

    The most interesting thing (and I wish I had kept a copy of the sheet for the URLs it gave) was the references to Supreme Court (of US? of NH? dunno) decisions that filtering in a library amounted to censorship and had been outlawed in 1996.

    If no one here can post with any more information, I'll go get another copy of the sheet and copy the URLs for jamie (or someone) to post later.
    --
    Here is the result of your Slashdot Purity Test.
  • by ronfar (52216) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:27AM (#1251830) Journal
    I feel like going to all the people who post here and other places stuff resembling, "Voting, hah! What a waste of time! The fix is in, and nothing we can do will change it," and showing them this case. I'm never sure why people say that, whether it is to depress turnout because they are on the other side, to spur people to violent or other illegal methods of protest, or just because they are depressed cynics who feel fatalistic about these things.

    Make no mistake, this was a loss for the AFA. They don't have an infinite supply of money and the money they spent on trying to get this through all went down the drain. That doesn't mean they'll give up though, not as long as their coffers are full, but it does mean that their threat to keep pushing this should not obscure the fact that this is a real victory for freedom of speech.

    Good for Holland, the town proved that people who use dishonest and underhanded tactics to push their agenda don't always win and can be defeated by ordinary citizens standing up for their rights.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @07:31AM (#1251831)
    Gary Glenn, president of the AFA's state chapter, says:
    "Our only concern is providing maximum protection for children," he says, citing a recent case in Muskegon, Mich., where a girl was raped at a library with full Internet access.

    Woo-hoo! We've finally found the rhetorical level lower than "the dumb bitch asked for it by dressing like a slut", we have "the Internet made him do it".

    <MODE=ABSOLUTELY_LIVID_WITH_RAGE>

    I have a friend who was raped within a block of a library. It happened in 1985. Obviously it had nothing to do with the library having Internet access, but the library did have a wide selection of books.

    It must've been the books.

    Mr. Glenn should consider himself extremely fortunate that he's at least 1500 miles away from said friend at the moment, or he'd be the proud recipient of the Oxford English Dictionary (the unabridged version!), each volume delivered through what remains of his distended, torn and bleeding anal sphincter. Given such an opportunity, I'd gladly fly up to Holland and hand my friend each volume for insertion.

    I'd vidcap the results and webcast it, live, in streaming screaming video, to the world. I'd make a (non-encrypted :) DVD of the video. I'd sample Gary's screams, lay 'em over a pumpin' backbeat and distribute the MP3s far and wide. And I'd print out choice .JPGs along with a narrative, and put the whole thing into a professionally-bound hardcover book. That MP3 would be a chart-topper. That book would go into every library in the world. That website would be the default home page on every copy of IE5 that Bill Gates shipped.

    You want obscene, Gary? Obscene isn't what's on the bookshelves of your local library. Obscene isn't what's on the Internet. Obscene isn't even what happened to my friend 14 years ago.

    Obscene is what you, Gary, just did to every rape victim and everyone who's had to help pick up the pieces.

    Quickly, Gary, since you're the expert on what's obscene and what's not obscene - did I just jot down an obscene piece of violent pornography, or was I making valid commentary on what it means to the victims when you trivialize rape?

    Now get the fuck out of our libraries.

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @08:55AM (#1251832)
    > [We're worried about kids seeing nekkid chix before they're ready but] Who here hasn't seen, say,
    > that grainy black-and-white film clip showing a bulldozer pushing a huge pile of dead, emaciated bodies
    > of Jewish victims into a shallow grave?

    True - our (North American) culture is one that puts a "PG" rating on a breast being blown to smithereens, but an "R" rating on one being kissed. (I suppose when that AFA guy is done trivializing rape, he can say that it's the nakedness of the bodies being bulldozed that's the problem with that footage...)

    As for the effects of seeing real violence upon impressionable young minds, I learned about the Holocaust at about age 8 or 9, watching war documentaries. Seeing a clip of Hitler hollering his lungs out in this majestic-looking square, facing thousands of adoring fans, and having seen the occasional swastika spraypainted on the walls of my public school, I wondered aloud who was this guy with the funny moustache and squiggly symbols behind him, and why did all the people seem to like him so much?

    Dad made a very quick judgment call (a clue to AFA: this how you protect kids, it's called "parenting"), and said "He's a very, very evil man", which I tentatively took for granted, although I didn't quite understand why. Dad picked up on my confusion, warned me that I might see some things that would disturb me, but invited me to have a seat. Being a kid, of course, I couldn't resist a golden opportunity to watch "adult stuff". (More style points for Dad :-)

    So Dad and I watched the rest of the documentary and followed the history of WWII together. Six weekends later, 50,000,000 were dead on all sides, but the war was mostly over, our side had won, the Russians were blowing the hell out of the rubble that was once Berlin, and our troops finally started liberating the camps. And I had a much better appreciation of what Evil was.

    "So the Russians were the good guys, right? So how come they're the bad guys now?" (Kids can come up with the most embarassing questions...)

    So Dad (hey, nobody said parenting was easy :-) had to tell me about Stalin. We went to the library (oh, irony, a library, of all places!) and checked out some books. I found out how he came to power. What he did afterwards. Why we overlooked it during WWII. The purges. The KGB. Another 10,000,000 on top of Hitler's 6,000,000. Yet more Evil.

    Over the next few years, I realized that you don't get to pull off anything really Evil without the support - or at least wilful ignorance - of the people. All that stuff about "the banality of evil"; excuses like "just following orders", and "hey, I'm bummed by it, but I just drive the bulldozer, it's not like I can stop them".

    Evil is what happens when you let government - any government - get out of control. And all that is necessary for Evil to triumph is that Good do nothing.

    It took a parent to teach me that, not an Internet filter.

  • by G27 Radio (78394) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:52AM (#1251833)
    For Gary Glenn, president of the family association's
    state chapter, the issue is
    simple. "Our only concern
    is providing maximum
    protection for children," he
    says, citing a recent case
    in Muskegon, Mich.,
    where a girl was raped at
    a library with full Internet access.


    This is from the ZDnet article that Industrial Disease posted. Some of the stuff in it is unbelievable. Some of you might want to read the part about Hudsonville, MI--a nearby town--where the AFA got enough people to sign a petition to get the Internet access in the library shut off completely. And not because they refused to filter, but because their plan would have allowed adults unfiltered access with an ID card.

    numb
  • by Forgette (121463) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:39AM (#1251834)
    I know that I am preaching to the choir here...

    I'm very happy that enough citizens in Holland had the intelligence and common sense to defeat this measure. However I feel that it will be short lived given the political, cultural climate of the community. Eventually there are going to be filters unless the community can work even harder/stronger to EDUCATE the communities of the world that filter technology is not the answer.

    I used to live in Michigan (all of my life) until about five months ago when I took a position at a software company in ChicagoLand. In Michigan I worked as a trainer traveling from library to library teaching librarians and other staff members how to use databases and internet resources. My backgroung is in Library and Information Science. During that position I traveled to well over 100 libraries, and also spoke at several state-wide conferences for libraries or media-centers.

    Sad to say, it seemed to me that the library community is split on the issue. Academic libraries don't wan't filters. Public libraries are about 50/50 on the issue. And school media centers, well they just want to protect themselves from the litigation by are society (same for probably the 50% of libraries that are leaning towards filters)

    So, what next? How to proceed?

    As a community we have been doing very well at fighting this. But for all of our good intentions of fighting against filters, we are going to fail and then it could very well be a domino effect.

    What about also exploring avenues that would allow public forums, i.e. libraries to avoid the filter issue. Why not created a domain where the pornographic sites are. Perhaps a .sex or a .xxx or whatever. Then they could at least have a better chance of blocking some traffic. The movie industry already does this. The music industry has started.

    Down side with this idea? It would take global committment and regulation. Do we want that? I don't think so... to hard to enforce.

    So what other ideas/methods could there be?

    Note: Please keep in mind that I am not pro-filter/censoring. I am just looking for discussion of possible alternatives.

  • by KahunaBurger (123991) on Wednesday February 23, 2000 @06:53AM (#1251835)
    While I congradulate you on your victory, you made some big mistakes on your way there, and you should think about them, considering there will be a "next time". One was making a big deal out of the "accidental porn viewing" and claiming it couldn't happen. Frankly you are lucky there wasn't more time between that and the vote because it could have bommeranged on you big time.

    Never make an argument for your cause which is both falible and unneccassary. If and when it fails, some people will percieve your entire position as invalidated with it. I'm seeing it happen on an issue I work on right now, and I started worrying when I read about your little bet. Think about that in the future.

    Then there's this...

    I think it was my friend Lizard on the fight-censorship mailing list who said: "You can't compromise with book-burners. When someone asks you to burn 1,000 books, you cannot agree to burn only 500." He's exactly right. Any middle ground is a step backwards, and hard to recover.

    When you demonify your opponents, you lose the middle ground and you cheat yourself. Some proponants of filtering software may be in the same league as "book burners." Most aren't going to be. They will be concerned parents, people who have had a misleading porn site draw them in (a friend found a site posing as a pet supply retailer that dumped her into hard core porn then kept popping up windows on her. It might be unusual, but it only has to happen once to change your opinion on the internet) people who want to feel that dropping their kids off for an afternoon at the library is better than leaving them home with the TV, and people who take care of their kids, but are worried about other peoples. You deal with these people by educating them, not with insults.

    And the "no compromise" attitude sucks too. When someone complained of finding another user's porn, you didn't say "deal with it, no compromising with book burners", you pointed out a solution which is not censorship. If you actually listen to what the average voter is concerned about, you can help them solve their problems without them feeling they have to resort to censorship. If you tar everyone with the same brush, you won't know how to change the moderate minds.

    Sorry to be negitive, and I mean the congradulations, but the only problem with victories is that they rarely inspire you to learn from your mistakes, and in a closer contest those mistakes will cost you. Good luck in the future.

    -Kahuna Burger

Riches: A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased." -- John D. Rockefeller, (slander by Ambrose Bierce)

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