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Censorship Your Rights Online

Council of Europe Pushes Net Hate-Speech Ban 642

Posted by timothy
from the thoughtcrime-hatespeech dept.
omnirealm writes: "The N.Y. Times is reporting that the 43-nation Council of Europe is trying to ban racist and hate speech from the Internet by adding a protocol, or side agreement, to its cybercrime convention, which was stamped for ratification on Thursday."
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Council of Europe Pushes Net Hate-Speech Ban

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  • Filters that ban racist and hate speech don't work, because people find ways to get around them. Do we want to say the word "bicycle" assuming it's banned? What can we do:

    b i c y c l e
    b1cycle
    bycycle
    b icycle

    All to the same effect. And there simply aren't enough people out there to monitor hate speech and get it removed, which is why we haven't solved the drug problem in most countries.

    -Evan

  • Going too far. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Raven42rac (448205) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @12:29AM (#2549862)
    I believe that any form of censorship, and yes folks, this is censorship is wrong. Now I do not and never will condone ignorant and/or hateful speech, but even Europe should learn that in order to maintain a free society, a government should allow freedom of speech, even if that speech is not touchy-feely. Remember, even the idiots have the fundamental right to free speech!
    • Re:Going too far. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The question is - is this speech harmful? Does it injure a community to be exposed to it? I believe it does. Does a community have a right to protect itself from being harmed? Indeed it does. The belief in absolute free speech, even for nazis, is not fundamental at all, in fact only America has these laws. Its interesting that in the good old US of A slander and talking about trade secrets, which are both designed to protect the rich elite, are considered a crime, whilst advocating the repression and murder of jews, blacks, and other minorities is "free speech". Discuss.
      • Its interesting that in the good old US of A slander and talking about trade secrets, which are both designed to protect the rich elite, are considered a crime

        What does slander have to do with being rich?

        The standards for libel and slander, in fact, are much higher for many wealthy folks because public figures must prove malicious intent, and many of the "rich" are public figures because of their economic status.

        whilst advocating the repression and murder of jews, blacks, and other minorities is "free speech".

        You can certainly advocate the repression and murder of wealthy white people if you like. Its not particularly uncommon.
      • Re:Going too far. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gilroy (155262) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @03:57AM (#2550222) Homepage Journal
        Blockquoth the poster:

        Does a community have a right to protect itself from being harmed?

        Indeed. And the most grevious harm that can be done to a community through speech is the repression of any of it. Only if all people are free to speak their minds on all topics, without prior restraint or fear of governmental retribution, is a nation free. The lesson drawn from history is that any restraint of speech based on content, no matter how well-intentioned, is corrosive to the freedom of the people involved.

        The belief in absolute free speech, even for nazis, is not fundamental at all, in fact only America has these laws.

        Not entirely true -- Canada has similar guarantees, as does Australia, I believe -- but the poster is right on one count: Only in the United States has this ptinciple been raised to an absolute. Through either foresight or a beneficial quirk of history, in the States, this right is enshrined in the First Amendment: with connotations not just of "earliest" but also "primary".

        Its interesting that in the good old US of A slander and talking about trade secrets, which are both designed to protect the rich elite, are considered a crime, whilst advocating the repression and murder of jews, blacks, and other minorities is "free speech".

        The trade secret laws deal with speech not as speech but as theft of property. One can argue that ideas cannot be property -- I do -- but the restraint of discussion of trade secrets is not based on the content of the secrets but on the fact of their secrecy (and economic worth). That's why it's legal to distrubte trade "secrets" that are publicly available elsewhere.


        Likewise the laws on slander deal not with the content of the slander but on the veracity. Uniquely in the United States (I believe), winning a slander or libel case requires demonstration that the statement made was untrue, not merely that it was "harmful". That bar is much higher than in any other nation in the world. Why? Because courts have ruled that slander and libel suits all too easily chill the exercise of free speech, and that the nation has an interest in protecting the dessimination of true information. Informtation that is demonstrably untrue has less social value and can be actionable... but the presumption is, more discussion is better.


        Here's a lesson too often left unlearned in "free" countires (sadly, including too much of the USA): Freedom is hard. That's why it's so rare in hisotry. Freedom means putting up with people with whom you disagree, people who set your teeth on edge, people who violate your most cherished beliefs. Freedom means offering to others all the rights you expect for yourself, and more. Freedom means allowing the possibility, no matter how remote, that you are wrong on something. Further, it means accepting that even if you are right and someone else is wrong, that person has the right to live his/her life as he/she sees fit.


        Popular causes need no protection. Majority opinions need no guarantee. You don't have to defend the likable speaker or the "acceptable" speech in court, because the wheels of democracy make sure that popular, majority opinions don't end up in court. Always, you must defned the least likable, least appetizing opinions, for they are the ones most liable to restriction; they are the entry points through ignorance and repression will seep into a free society.


        It is nothing, nothing to support the free speech of the people with whom you agree. The rubber really meets the road when you defend the people with whom you most vehemently disagree.



        I have more faith in humanity than people who want to censor "hate speech" or "racist speech". I believe that if the facts are presented clearly and forcefully to the average Joe/Jane, he/she will choose the right way. So, if there's racist speech out there, counter it through speech of your own. Don't force your opponents to shut up; speak more loudly and more clearly than they. Of course, that takes work, skill, and dedication. And that's hard, so the human tendency is to seek the easy way out, to restrict a priori speech with which you disagree.


        You know what? It does take effort, skill, and determination. Find a way to cope with it, because freedom is hard .

        • Re:Going too far. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mpe (36238)
          I have more faith in humanity than people who want to censor "hate speech" or "racist speech".

          Also a lot of the time those who advocate such censorship advocate it in highly selective ways. e.g. "racist speach" is ok if the speaker has dark skin, "sexist speach" is ok so long as the speaker has 2 X chromosones, "religious intolerance" is ok if the speaker is the "right" kind of Jew/Christian or Moslem.

          I believe that if the facts are presented clearly and forcefully to the average Joe/Jane, he/she will choose the right way. So, if there's racist speech out there, counter it through speech of your own. Don't force your opponents to shut up; speak more loudly and more clearly than they.

          But you can only do this where there is unrestricted free speach.
          Restrictions can easily be used to protect all sorts of bigoted speach. Since then an opposition or questioning can be silenced...
      • Your views are identical to those stated in different times by the Catholic Church: speech that deviates from the Catholic Church's views is harmful and injures a community exposed to it, because it encourages people to follow beliefs other than those prescribed by God.

        So why is your example different? Only because you believe fascism is wrong while you don't believe all non-Catholic religions (or atheism) are wrong. But what about those who do? Would they be right in advocating a ban on non-Catholic speech?


      • On the internet at least.
        Meaning warez files are legal,
        mp3s are legally traded, source code legally shared

        true freedom of information.

        However some people will abuse this so there should be strict rules to follow. Like no profiting from it, meaning hate groups cannot accept donations.

        Meaning napster like companies cannot earn a profit off of other peoples mp3s.

        Meaning warez people cannot earn profits off of other peoples files.

        Free information is one thing, but there should be rules.

        Anyone should be able to say or share any information, but there needs to be rules.

        If the people in europe believe hate sites are bad, while its not right to totally censor, they do have a right to make it difficult to host a hate site, by setting rules in place that make hosting a hate sitee difficult
    • Re:Going too far. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No country, and I mean NO COUNTRY, has total freedom of speech. Speech is always regulated to some extent. For example, it is illegal in the US to publicly say bad things about other people (particularly if those things are not true). This is called libel law, and it's a clear limitation of free speech. In most countries, it's also illegal to call for murder, or to threaten someone, or to scream "fire" in a theater.

      The Europeans think that calling for the elimination of a category of people is at least as bad as calling for the murder of one particular person. Racism is simply a call for murder disguised as political speech (just like Bin Laden's ramblings are calls for murder disguised as religious speech).

      The French consider this a crime that they call "incitation a la haine raciale" (enticement to racial hatred). I think it's perfectly fine to make that illegal. The Germans (and most of the rest of Europe) suffered from complacency toward hateful speech in the last century. That's why they are careful now. Some Americans suffered from that too, many still do, but they represent 10% of the population (to which you probably do not belong).

      If you think freedom of speech exists in the US and not in Europe, then explainto to us why we don't see naked bodies anywhere on American network TV (unlike in Europe). Explain to me why the government can't stop me from calling for the murder of people of one particular color, but Microsoft can stop me from publishing benchmarks of their SQL server, and my ISP can regulate what I can put on my web page.

      Freedom of speech in the US (as well as privacy) is an illusion: money and corporate greed have almost total control over what can be said and done. The government can't stop me from speaking, but the corporate world controls our lives.

      The US government does NOTHING to help me protect my freedom of speech or my privacy. European governments actually protect the privacy and the freedom of speech of their citizens to a much larger extent (and I have lived on both sides of the pond).

      - Anonicous Moward

    • Re:Going too far. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nomadic (141991)
      While I don't agree with European attempts to ban any kind of speech, I can understand why they do it; just look at the events leading up to WW2. BTW, as much as we Americans like to criticize, we ban, or try to ban, many types of speech too. Schools banning books, Congress trying to ban flag burning, "slander", "copyright infractions", the list goes on and on.
  • by thogard (43403) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @12:32AM (#2549874) Homepage
    So if I tell someone that I think they should go to jail because they just forced Female Circumcision [mwlusa.org] on their 12 yr old daughter, is that hate speech? The only groups I know of around here that do it are Muslims so is that racists?

    • I have two parts in response to this question. Here we go.

      In specific reply to your question, if you were directly criticizing one or a subset of Muslims [those supporting/advocating female circumcision] for the practice, this would not be racism in the true sense. If you were criticizing the faith as a whole for the practice (when clearly the vast majority of Muslims do not support it), this *would* taking racist actions.

      Unfortunately, given the nature of the proposal, even using "harsh language" containing anything resembling a racist slur would be considered "hate speech", no matter the intended target. This is where the core issue really lies, in the ability of a person to criticize freely the actions of another person or group of people based on specific criteria.

      Furthermore, as much as I may dislike racist thought in general, it must be maintained that people are allowed to express themselves in this manner if they desire to. I may not like what people say, but I am compelled to defend their right to say it.

      Just my thoughts on the matter. Thank you for your post!

    • What you should be doing is to suggest that the countries in which these practices occur make them illegal. And then enforce the law.

      And if the practice is occurring in your country which already has such laws on the books, you should press for enforcement.

      No, this doesn't mean I support the proposed side agreement. Free speech is free speech, and I'm with the ACLU (who supports free speech protections for neo-nazis as well as less odiforous groups).

      Still ... your right to talk about, or not talk about, female circumcision isn't the problem. It's the fact that there are countries in the world that allow it, by law, that's the problem.

      Just how many Europeans do you think support the practice? Nearly nada. How many European countries protect it as a religous right? Nada? I don't know ... tell me.

      My shorter answer is that you're raising a strawman, which is unfortunate because there are *serious* reasons to worry about this.
      • Blockquoth the poster:

        Just how many Europeans do you think support the practice? Nearly nada. How many European countries protect it as a religous right? Nada? I don't know ... tell me.


        My shorter answer is that you're raising a strawman, which is unfortunate because there are *serious* reasons to worry about this.


        No, I don't believe the original poster was raising a strawman. The point is, Euorpeans don't support the prsctice of female circumcision. (I'm going out on a limb here, but I think this is true.) Therefore one might expect that they would accept speech decrying the practice. But wouldn't that be hypocrtical, since such speech would be directly against a particular race or creed?



        The hypothetical here was raised to make people think: What if "good" speech ( = "speech I support") were banned as "hate speech"? Who draws the line? And do we really want anyone drawing the line, given the possibiility for abuse? Even when we think we're right, we might have to accept not acting on it, because maybe we are wrong. And maybe we don't have the authority or the overwhelming need to insist that everyone agree with us.

  • by Flavius Stilicho (220508) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @12:39AM (#2549892)
    "The Justice Department fought hard to have the racist bits pulled from the cybercrime convention itself. I can't imagine they will let freedom of speech be curtailed via the backdoor in this way."

    I wonder how hard the DOJ fought against some of the other recent bills that have been passed that fly in the face of the Constitution.
  • Hate speech (Score:2, Troll)

    by thelenm (213782)
    Obviously the Council of Europe hates racists and are being given a public platform for their hateful beliefs! The N.Y. Times should be forced to remove this hate speech from their web site!
  • How relevant? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eloquence (144160) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @12:44AM (#2549906) Homepage
    First, although it may seem like it, the COE has nothing to do with the European Union. The "Cybercrime Convention" has received some attention, but I hope that it is not as relevant as people claim it is. Similar to other such international treaties, signatory nations can basically disregard certain provisions or all of it without any further effect. That means that the battle against some of this specific convention's provisions mostly needs to be fought on a national level, although it would of course be better if these things were not ratified in the first place.

    There's a very real danger of conventions like this to grow into a "meta-government" only within reach of lobbyists, especially if additional meta-government enforcement measures are provided, e.g. through the WTO in the case of certain WIPO treaties. But in this specific case, as in the Hague Convention, it should be possible for Europeans to lobby effectively against blatant violations of free speech and new privacy-violationg laws on a national level. Just don't be fooled by politicians telling you that they have to obey "international treaties". Tell them what you think these treaties, signed without any prior democratic discourse whatsoever, are really worth.

    • Re:How relevant? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Zeinfeld (263942) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @01:02AM (#2549949) Homepage
      First, although it may seem like it, the COE has nothing to do with the European Union. The "Cybercrime Convention" has received some attention, but I hope that it is not as relevant as people claim it is. Similar to other such international treaties, signatory nations can basically disregard certain provisions or all of it without any further effect.

      Council of Europe meetings are typically held behind closed doors and are usually attended by civil servants rather than ministers. Legislators sometimes attend but there is no democratic mandate and national parliaments do not consider COE decisions to be binding, in fact they are rarely even reported in the European press.

      As a result the decisions made tend to be all things to all people. The decision will require legislation that considers X while also considering ~X.

      European Union legislation is very different. EU directives are binding on the member states. But the voting rules are pretty complex and there is some democratic input in the form of the EU parliament. National parliaments still have to vote through the implementation legislation.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @12:46AM (#2549910)
    Many U.S. folks take the 1st amendment for granted. However, freedom of speech, embedded in the U.S. constitution, is a fairly unique gem in this world.

    In France for example, you can easily go to jail if you say anything about the Jews : for example, if your opinion is that most banking establishments are run by Jews and you voice it publicly, you open yourself to antisemitic lawsuits against you, and most likely lost by you as well. That opinion isn't particularly antisemitic, and is frankly quite dumb (IMHO), but it's your right to have it. Just don't say it otherwise you could be in trouble.

    If the same laws were even proposed in the U.S., people would scream bloody murder, and it's good. But in Europe, things like that happen all the time and people don't even notice.

    So, what is surprising here ? nothing. This is a piece of non-news (for Europeans) reported by the US-centric Slashdot team. It's exactly like the Nazi memorabilia ban France tried to impose on Yahoo.

    • by Tachys (445363) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @01:23AM (#2549995)

      Yeah I'm glad in the US we don't censor anything on TV,Radio or the internet like the beepheads at the European Union. I mean what a bunch of beepholes.

    • Sorry chap, but up here north of the 49th we have something called the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [justice.gc.ca], which states, among other things:
      • Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
        • freedom of conscience and religion;
        • freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
        • freedom of peaceful assembly; and
        • freedom of association.
      • 1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

        Sorry the clause in bold above negates the entire document. Rights by definition may not be subject to any law. They exist through providence, divine or not, and therefore are not subject to the whims of a filthy democracy. This is why Canadians have "hate speach" laws in place. Thanks for playing "Who Wants to be a Freeman". Try again.
    • It looks like this will continue to be a non issue in the USA, despite worries to the contrary.

      The more recent Anti Terrorist bill is more of a hassle, especially since members of congree didn't even get a chance to read it before passing it [insightmag.com] Many of the problems in the European measure are is a secondary or side agreement which is not binding on everyone - Citing from the article:

      The United States, which is a signatory to the convention, resisted European moves to include the issue of racist Web sites in the main agreement, because doing so would conflict with the free-speech protections in the First Amendment.

      To keep the disagreement from holding up ratification of the cybercrime convention, the council decided to cover the issue in a side agreement, which the United States and others could choose not to sign [...]

      While the side agreement obliges only the nations that sign it to ban racist Web content and online hate speech, [...] the council hopes that all signatories of the main convention, including the United States, will respect the protocol, and will agree to remove such material if it originates within their borders and is aimed at an audience in another country.

      [...]

      France is thought to be one of the countries that pressed hardest for action by the council on racist content and hate speech. But one executive of an Internet company said the protocol would have little effect.

      "It is very unlikely the United States would cooperate in the way the Council of Europe would want it to by removing Web content classified as racist by another country's courts," the executive said. "The Justice Department fought hard to have the racist bits pulled from the cybercrime convention itself. I can't imagine they will let freedom of speech be curtailed via the backdoor in this way."

    • Well, for the Council of Europe (an Organisation not related to the EU) freedom of speech is a very important right. This has been showen in the past. There is just something else that is more important.

      The Council of Europe has priorities different from the priorities of the people writing the US constitution some hundred years ago. For example, in Europe death penalty is banned, because the life has a higher priority than revange.

      The reason for the different priorities about anti-nazi laws is the different history.Anyway, i hope 10 years later all those anti-nazi laws will not be nescessary anymore, then maybe it will be more harm than use and the law should be changed. (In most european countries it is far easier to change a constitutional law, than it is in the usa)
    • by MosesJones (55544) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @06:37AM (#2550452) Homepage

      While the US does have the 1st amendment there is much to say for the claim that there is less free speech in the US than in many other countries.

      US TV is phemonmenally bland, there is also a marked lack of decent media to really question goverment and business. What has been built up is a system where it is okay for someone to stand up on national TV and say "Evolution is rubbish" but someone who stands up and says "God doesn't exist" is liable to get lynched.

      The US has one of the most terrible self-censorship mechanisms in place on planet earth. Examples of this are demonstrated above. Most people in the US have no clue about the laws of other countries, and don't attempt to find out. You can't "easily" go to prison for saying anything about Jews. For godsake if you knew anything about French politics you'd know they have a real problem with racism with the Front Nationale who polled 15% of the vote a few years ago.

      Now as to the idea that the US would scream bloody murder if the same laws are applied... take scientific bigotry there are States in the US (esp Kansas) where Evolution isn't accepted. No one in Europe would have a _chance_ of getting that even close to being approved, they'd be laughed at so hard and then locked in the nut house.

      The self-censorship applied by the US media and US citizens is quite stunning, opinions voiced about "Global Terrorism" from the country that supported Pinochet, the IRA, Contra rebels etc etc. The country of the McCarthy Witch Hunt. The country of DMCA.

      In other countries people fight for freedom, the US clings to the 1st ammendment as if it solves the need to fight.

      In the UK if a policeman pulls me over I do not have to be carrying my driving license, or any other identification, I do not have to give my identity. Sure he can then take me into custody on suspicion... but it is not a crime to not say who you are. Do you have the same freedom ?

      In France if a company wishes to close down they must first discuss it with their employees, do you have such power over your life ?

      In the Netherlands you can smoke cannabis for your own personal enjoyment, do you have such Freedom.

      The last 3 prime ministers in the UK have been a middle class lad turned new Labour (Tony Blair), the son of a bloke who worked in a circus and who was an accountant and very working class who led the conservative party (John Major) and the daughter of a grocer who got a degree in Chemistry and led the Conservative party in 3 successive election victories. Working class, middle class, upper class, man or woman and no-one cares about religon... all have led the UK. Do you have such equality.

      Freedom is education.
      • The last 3 prime ministers in the UK have been a middle class lad turned new Labour (Tony Blair), the son of a bloke who worked in a circus and who was an accountant and very working class who led the conservative party (John Major) and the daughter of a grocer who got a degree in Chemistry and led the Conservative party in 3 successive election victories. Working class, middle class, upper class, man or woman and no-one cares about religon... all have led the UK. Do you have such equality.

        George W. Bush was a criminal (DUI), doesn't that count for anything? You hoity-toity brits...
    • Ha. I'm a swede (Sweden is a member of the EU). And we, as all the Nordic countries, do have free speech protection and protection of the press. In addition, we have a requirement for governmental transparency; all govermental documents not deemed critical for the security of our country, must be accessible to the public. We _are_ screeming bloody murder about these things! Just we are but 8 million people, so no one listens to us...
  • by hearingaid (216439) <redvision@geocities.com> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @12:46AM (#2549911) Homepage

    I mean, c'mon. You'd think Europeans would learn after a few centuries or so that trying to make bad people shut up doesn't really work.

    No, I'm not an American.

    • I mean, c'mon. You'd think Europeans would learn after a few centuries or so that trying to make bad people shut up doesn't really work.

      What about making good people shut up?

      Does that "work"?

    • It is sort of funny how Europeans went through the horror of the Nazis burning books and censoring everything, and years later seek to prevent Nazist hate with censorship...

      *sigh*
  • Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Why is racist/hate speech wrong?

    For example, I hate MSCE's, and we all know that they're inferior to the rest of us.

    What's wrong with stating that? Are MSCE's going to get offended? Then let them be offended! And let them learn how to patch IIS so it isn't assaulted by countless virii!

    On a more serious note, this is indeed stupid. Perhaps racist and hate speech is wrong, however, everyone's entitled to their opinion. What's next? Book burning?

    Harry Potter, burn 'em all, they promote witchcraft. Get rid of those copies of The Charge of the Light Brigade. Man, if that doesn't promote violence, I don't know what does. Don't get me started on Tolkien..

    Sounds ridiculous, eh? Not so much. If someone wants to believe something they read, whether that be that a certain race is inferior, or that the Nazgul are chasing them down.. Well, shouldn't it be their choice whether or not to believe it?

    Banning hate speech from the internet isn't going to make the problem go away. Nor will banning it from being written anywhere else. You could always make it illegal to even speak hate, but in the end, if someone wishes to hate something, be it a person, place, thing, or an entire race, they will.

    And there's not a damned thing you can do about it.

    Fight now, Europeans, or become slaves to tyranny.
  • If you ban sites like http://www.godhatesfags.com from spouting their idiocy, then all kinds of poor saps on usenet will have to make up their own strawmen to shoot down.

    It helps so much more to have these morons right there, where everyone can see, laugh, cry or whatever it is they do when they see such silly sites.

    Why support a government that doesn't want its people to feel strong emotions?
  • by Courageous (228506) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @01:00AM (#2549942)

    One of the reasons that things like this concern civil libertarians is that its really not a very big step from hate speech to politically unpopular speech. In the United States, jurisprudence is such that many forms of speech and expression, including things both hateful or vulgar, can quite easily also be considered statments of political content, and therefor protected on general principle.

    C//
    • Exactly. Sure, you ban the Nazis because you believe they are wrong, and their beliefs are harmful to society. Plus they're only a small percentage anyway.

      Then what happens in a very religious country when you decide that atheists are wrong, and their beliefs harmful to society? Ban them too.

      And so on.
  • by at-b (31918) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @01:07AM (#2549958) Homepage
    Right now, 300 of you are probably starting to write replies, all in the vein of..

    Free speech doesn't end where you disagree with what the other person has to say. You can't muzzle people just because they're evil or stupid. Information wants to be free, even if it'll be misused. etc.

    To all of those people - will you please not talk about things you don't understand? It's very easy to talk about freedom of speech whilst being very far away from the real issues, posting comfortably over your DSL link. Right here, right now, teenagers are being seduced into neo-fascist ideological groups every day. In France alone, there are local governments which have started banning books and newspapers that oppose them; Germany saw hundreds of attacks on blacks and non-Germans, with many of them dying in the attacks.

    People were burned to death in their sleep.

    There's a deep-seated strain of virulent fascism in Europe that's been intermittently expressed in politics and popular culture for most of the 20th century. Hitler and Mussolini didn't come out nowhere - there were fascist governments in many European countries because the authoritarian tradition instilled by the former feudal/royal systems was a fertile breeding ground for fascists.

    Sure, Germany and Italy lost the war. That doesn't change the fact that Italy has a Prime Minister with strong ties to the fascist right. That doesn't change the fact that neo-Nazi skinhead groups in Germany are getting more and more support from stupid teeangers every day. Jewish cemeteries are being defaced. Blacks are attacked, asylum seeker homes are burned down.

    What's that have to do with freedom of speech? Someone once said that in order to stop the hate, you'd have to kill all the grandmothers. (paraphrasing badly, basically in order to stop having hate passed on through generation)

    Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf (My Struggle) remains banned in Germany. Even though public education in Germany is far better than in the US, with history being one of the most thoroughly-taught subjects, and the Nazi regime being thoroughly exposed as the evil that it was, a small minority will still flock to neo-fascist ideals. They will use everything they can as propaganda material. They will find followers - probably not many, but enough. People are being killed by those 'few' followers. Hate is being spread. A lot of harm has been done to Europe through politics of hate, wars have been started, millions and millions have been killed.

    The internet is difficult to regulate. Neo-nazis use it to co-ordinate their activities unchecked, and to spread as much hate-filled material through the net as possible. You can't make accessing it impossible, but you can make accessing it illegal. You can make it illegal to spread false propaganda that's only intended to harm people and cause harm. You have to try.

    Most of you haven't lived through the type of hate that's being spread by the hate speech being banned. It's easy to be an armchair critic. It's easy to criticize. Please don't. I know many of you will say that the only way to fight this is by allowing the complete and unfettered flow of information, with public education taking center stage to show the people how wrong all of that hate speech is. Sure. That has been done, for more than half a century now. But a small minority persists, a small minority causing a disproportionate amount of evil.

    Yes, we have to be very careful not to let matters escalate too much - after all, who watches the watchment? It's important to note that banning hate speech is an approach that crosses party lines in Europe: in Germany, both the ruling Socialist/Green coalition and the right- and left-wing opposition are strongly in favour of dealing harshly with neo-Nazis.

    In closing, hate speech is a genuine problem. There are very, very few solutions to dealing with it, and trying to criminalize its flow is one of the few approaches we have.

    Maybe you want to think about that next time you make fun of France banning Yahoo! nazi auctions. A lot of the stuff auctioned off could conceivably be worn by people burning down houses simply because they didn't like the skin colour of the people living in them.

    Alex T-B
    St Andrews
    • No, there isn't (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bwoodring (101515)

      I don't disagree that racism and fascism are serious problems in Europe, but those are serious problems everywhere, including the United States. We have the Klu Klux Klan, and Al Sharpton and every other kind of maniac you could imagine. But we also have a key philosophical premise that it is unacceptable to make thought or speech illegal, because that is the real root of facism: the desire to control another persons thoughts and actions.

    • by isomeme (177414) <cdberry@gmail.com> on Sunday November 11, 2001 @01:33AM (#2550021) Homepage Journal
      The irony would be amusing were this subject not so important.
      To all of those people - will you please not talk about things you don't understand? It's very easy to talk about freedom of speech whilst being very far away from the real issues, posting comfortably over your DSL link. Right here, right now, teenagers are being seduced into neo-fascist ideological groups every day. In France alone, there are local governments which have started banning books and newspapers that oppose them; Germany saw hundreds of attacks on blacks and non-Germans, with many of them dying in the attacks. [my emphasis]

      Read that bold part again. Apparently, the author of this post abhors censorship of unwelcome ideas if his opponents are doing it, but encourages those with whom he agrees to censor all they want.

      And that, my friends, is what's wrong. Everybody "knows" what content is "wrong" -- but no two people agree on the cut. So, for the safety of our right to self-expression, we must make the distasteful but necessary choice to allow all speech, even that which we know to be false and vicious. To do otherwise is to become as bad as our enemies, as the quote above vividly demonstrates.

      • by at-b (31918) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @01:41AM (#2550035) Homepage
        Apparently, the author of this post abhors censorship of unwelcome ideas if his opponents are doing it...

        I could try to explain the difference between:

        1. Banning propaganda solely intended to cause the breakdown and destruction of a democratic system, and spreading of hate

        2. Banning things you disagree with.

        The things being banned are the former. Material that is intended to incite people into overthrowing a democratic system. It's not that I disagree with it (I do), it's securing everything that allows us to be the way we are.

        There's no irony. It's very sad that people don't seem to understand that. Sure, Hitler burned books and imprisoned/killed people who disagreed with him. The fundamental difference is that he wanted to take away everybody's rights; the reason hate speech is being banned is because it's trying to replicate the situation in which everybody's rights would be taken away.

        Alex T-B
        St Andrews
        • But does it really make sense to defend our rights by taking them away? This question is rather urgent in the USA right now, as our civil liberties are being quickly eroded by anti-terrorism measures, all being sold as being essential to protecting "freedom". At what point do we give up so much freedom to protect freedom that there is scant freedom left to protect?

          Censorship is one of those weapons which it is simply too dangerous to give to any power. It is far too easy to abuse, for too little real benefit. If you ban Nazi propaganda on the net, do you really imagine that people won't find it elsewhere, or even on now-illegal web sites outside the reach of European authorities? If anything, you'll add to the feeling of persecution and solidarity against attack that helps groups cohere and grow.

          The only productive way to fight information is with more information, not less. If you disagree with right-wing propaganda, then start cranking out left-wing propaganda, or attention-grabbing critiques of right-wing propaganda. Do you truly believe that the only way to protect your teenagers is to keep them ignorant? Let them see and choose. Provide guidance and put all the facts out there. Give them alternatives.

        • Blockquoth the poster:

          The fundamental difference is that he wanted to take away everybody's rights...


          ... sort of like the way you want to take away everybody's rights.



          You claim to see the irony but you clearly do not: The techniques you advocate are the ones absolutely vital to the overthrow of a democratic system. Artificially choking off the flow of information among citizens is a recipe for fascism and totalitarianism. The fact of the matter is, in a free society, pweople have the right to belive "wrong" -- even vile -- things. They even have the right to advocate their "wrong" vile opinions. That's what makes it a free society.



          People call for censorship to "defend" the public. Such people have no faith in the public and, usually, no real historical perspective. They need to feel important and they cannot believe that, amazingly, the public can defend itself.... given the tools. What are the tools? Not repressive laws that smother debate, but open regimes that permit and encourage it.


          Neo-Nazis are indeed a disturbing and worrisome strain in the body politic. You know what, though? They are also pretty laughable. Given a forum they almost invariably come off as awkward, ignorant, and just plain silly. Exposed to the harsh light of publicity they wither and die. But locked away, hidden from our view for our own "safety", banned and persecuted, they flourish like a noisome fungus. Then the uninformed can't make a rational evaluation or a balanced judgement. And of course, the very act of banning them feeds their sene of persecution and gives it an air of legitimacy.



          Freedom is hard. We have to put up with disagreeable, even vile, people and opinions. But history shows that free speech -- far from being a threat to a democratic system -- is the best inoculation against virulent hate and violent overthrow. Show a little faith in the people you purport to protect. Elsewise you are displaying an anti-democratic streak, yourself.


          • Freedom is hard.


            You keep saying that. Have AOL, Microsoft, and Apple taught you nothing? People don't want hard. They want easy! They don't want freedom, self-sufficiency, and responsibility for one's own actions. They want a benevolent government grandfather who will take care of them and put their kids through school and keep the thugs off their streets. But woe to the person who raises the ire of this government. It's spare the rod and spoil the child. That's the price you pay for an advanced, "progressive" society, I guess.

            Frickin' EUian elitists. Oh wait, that's hate speech! Lock me up!
        • Democratic systems suck. Massive corruption, the blind (citizens) leading the blind (senators), all sorts of problems. They just happen to be one of the best systems found so far. One of the great possibilities of a democratic system, is that when the next great political system comes along, it can be overthrown in peaceable voting, instead of violent revolution.

          I've always found it interesting that a country that saw first hand what Nazism can do still has a problem with it, but a country that has never had a problem with Nazis doesn't. Maybe it's because America doesn't try and censor it; it lets the Nazis make asses of themselves in public. They don't get the glory of being an oppressed group that society reacts panically to; they're seen as the idiots they are.
        • 1. Banning propaganda solely intended to cause the breakdown and destruction of a democratic system, and spreading of hate

          2. Banning things you disagree with.

          The things being banned are the former. Material that is intended to incite people into overthrowing a democratic system.

          If people are not permitted to advocate rebellion against a democratic system, exactly how democratic is that system? There is a line, however fine it may be, between democracy and majority totalitarianism. Part of what draws that line is that in a democracy, the minority are allowed to speak and are protected from the majority, however distasteful that may occasionally be.

          Where I'm from, one of the primary reasons we protect the right of the minority to speak is so that change can be effected in the government. Advocacy of revolution is permitted because that permission allows it to become part of the national debate, and thereby neutralizes the violent impulse to rebellion while allowing the ideas to change in the government, should they so warrant.

          You speak of a fear that a new Hitler might arise, but seem to forget that Hitler came to power in the first place in large part because the majority allowed him to do so. The fact that the majority now wants to institute a ban on hate speech should indicate that their supporting another Hitler is extremely unlikely in a post-1940s European democracy.

          The intention may be noble, but it's worth considering that the very existence and popularity of the intention indicates that its primary goal has been achieved. Its secondary goal of stamping out these minority hate groups should be weighed against the implications of the action under consideration... I cannot believe that it is worth the cost.

          The road to hell...

    • Wow, are you misguided.

      First, if governments decide what constitutes acceptable speech it makes situations like Nazi Germany MORE likely. An honest debate is more constructive than government thought-control.

      Do you think that "another Hitler" is more likely somewhere where Mein Kampf is studied, or banned? If you believe it is the latter, you haven't studied your history.

      Finally, you cite a LOT of criminal activity. The laws against those activities haven't stopped the perpetrators. Why will they suddenly obey this one? Or will only the law-abiding be hurt? (Yes, a precedent that the government is the ultimate authority on what one may say will hurt them.)

      I'm sure many of you who are subjects (or wish to be) will not understand.

      -Peter
      • Do you think that "another Hitler" is more likely somewhere where Mein Kampf is studied, or banned?

        First, you can buy and study "Mein Kampf" in Germany, if you would like to do so. There is no ban and burning of that book.

        Second, it is known that most Nazis, who willingly accepted any of Hitler and Goebbel's propaganda hate speech to be reasonable, never even bothered to read the book. They hated the Jews before Hitler even told them to do so. All they got in Hitler was someone, who allowed them to act upon their hidden hate thoughts legally.

        What you don't see is that people have hate feelings and hate thoughts no matter what. How well you let those thoughts out in the open via hate speech is dependent how much freedom you give people to act upon their hate thoughts. And that freedom to act upon one's hate thoughts is dependent on how much public hate propaganda you are going to tolerate.

        There are two sayings:
        First saying: "Deine Gedanken sind frei" (Your thoughts are free) -
        note: the freedom of thought is absolute, but it doesn't equate automatically that your freedom of speech is absolute as well.)

        Second saying:"If it can't be abused, it's not freedom".
        Guess what, if you can use your freedom to destroy freedom, then there is unfortunately no freedom left, rather sooner than later. There is no proof or guarantee that the ones, who use freedom to destroy freedom, are always counterbalanced by those, who use freedom to protect freedom. Usually it has been a struggle of epic proportions since existence of mankin. What the majority of people end up doing is deliberately limit their freedom to destroy freedom, and consciously using their freedom to maximize freedom to the extent that it can't be used to destroy it. I guess that's why we have laws.

        So, bottom line, saying number one is absolutely true and saying two is a logic fallacy.

    • by shaper (88544) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @01:34AM (#2550025) Homepage

      Hitler's autobiography Mein Kampf (My Struggle) remains banned in Germany.

      Who is this Hitler person? I tried to look up his autobiography (Mein Kampf) to find out, but my searches just keep returning something about "access forbidden". Hold on a sec, someone's banging on the door so hard it sounds like they're about to break it down! I'll be right ba...

    • While much of this is true, as living in Finland, as part of the EU, I know that the EU doesn't do much good in this area. I'm not saying that any organization of that size could with the amount of personal interests the politics have. This is 100% clearly just fishing for votes.

      Much of the EU member countries, at least Finland, DO already clearly criminalize certain kinds of behaviour on the net. I've seen it - nazi material, child porn, etc. doesn't live long on local servers. No - this isn't any kind of "we're best, you're not" talk, just one thing that imo, at least currently, is somewhat under control. Probably it's because we're a relatively small country. The problem has been real here though, newspaper articles come up now and then speaking of removed content this and that, person jailed for spreading something unwanted.

      But of course, we've gone over the edge. A big ISP had a nice service of providing a lot of extra temporary space for compiling large programs, temporary location for downloads etc... of course, many abused it, and because one or two abused it badly, the police had the whole service shut down. The ISP was threatened in every possible way. If in such a small country, and such a small environment, it gets so badly out of hand, I can imagine the problems it will do to hundreds of thousands of innocents on a large scale.

      I mentioned local servers above, so what about non-local servers? Yep, it's a problem, but in my view, everyone has to look under their own nose. It's not realistic in today's world, but responsibility is a key word in "political evolution".

      So, what is realistic now? Common sense. In us - many of us know what to avoid on the net, and can spread our knowledge onwards. Help others know that the net isn't always friendly. The less popularity any extremists receive, the less they'll live on. And common sense in law enforcement - there'll always be problems on the net, and they will always be found. Make effective ways to deal with REAL problems. Don't harm the masses. Free internet has made many young people into very smart young people, who have learned a lot and moved our world ahead.

      And common sense at homes and schools. There's a lot you can learn when you're young, but there's a lot of things parents or even teacher just don't know to teach. Like in real life, there's a lot of things on the net that can be "fun", but the risks are just as big. I've seen parents surprised when they suddenly get a call hearing their son has been helping illegal operations on the net - and because they didn't have a good idea how stupid it was, they may have done extreme things, like serve nazi material on their homepage - only thinking it was fun.

      But don't take away people's right to disagree. People must have the right to have personal opinions, even direct ones. Of course there's a limit - you can't post death threats, but you can dislike a politician, a law, or even a country. You can have an opinion, IRL and on the net. Sensible people know how to express these, and others will hopefully learn from these. More directly - it's not a nice thing usually, but you have the right to hate. Just do it with your words.
    • No, no no no no no no.

      Criminalizing is not the answer. As pointed out by others, it's a short step from "hate speech" to "politically unpopular speech". And it's a short step to the Ministry of Information, making sure no one is thinking bad thoughts.

      Information and speech must remain free. There is a price, but the price is worth it. Killing people, defacing cemetaries, threatening people, and the like are all already illegal. We must be vigilant in their enforcement, and make sure they know that their behavior is not acceptable. But the next step after banning their speech is banning speech you don't find offensive (but someone else does), and the next thing you know, it's your speech that is censored.

      Information and propeganda have been used as a political tool for millennia. We must not fall into the same trap again. We must keep this tool out of the hands of those who would use it to control us. Though you may agree with them now, governments are not looking out for your best interest. Their power must be kept in check, and one major way this is done is with freedom of information, and freedom of speech.

      --Bob

    • Most of you haven't lived through the type of hate that's being spread by the hate speech being banned

      Are you kidding? Americans have honed hatred into a fine artform. We have more social groups who would like to annihilate each other than any other nation on earth. Heck, we still bicker about our civil war, and that was over a hundred years ago.

      But the answer is not to tighten down the lid -- then the pressure builds until it explodes. Instead we let all these groups go on and on about how much they hate each other, until quite frankly everyone is bored. With twelve talk shows a day to let off your Nazi steam in public, it's hard to pretend you're not just a bunch of idiots in black boots with nothing better to do.
    • You know, this guy's right. I didn't think I would come around so easily, but he is. Europe has seen so many of these things before. What would happen today if a large scale collective of a hate group (think of all those videos of the speeches where Hitler was speaking to the crowds) started up somewhere again. Would everyone here just pad it off with "Now now, you need to allow these things. They're just growing up" or something like that? Would you intervene when they started marching? Would you intervene only after they started to march as they had been publicly planning? Would you intervene before they attacked you?
    • Any time you supress any form of speech, you legitimize it. Most loonies (like those easily seduced by hate-speech) will latch on to the notion that if the government is trying to silence a particular group, then that group must be "on to something".

      The great thing about free speech is that there are so many idiots and lunatics exercising it that it forces you to become jaded to people usually spouting off such tripe anyway. All the stupid people who latch on to some fascist notion happily bray it out to the world and do us all a favor by disreputing everyone who espouses that idea, so by the time some charismatic sort comes along that might've fooled the world and tries to sway everyone they are simply looked at as a slightly smarter idiot than that last kook rather than a "revolutionary bearer of new ideas".

    • A lot of the backlash against immigrents in Europe is caused by the fact that most European governemts went into a fit immigration after the WWII to help build their enonomies. Unfortunatly - instead of geting hard working people who wanted to become europeans themselves, they got a bunch of overbreading rif-rafs who sponge off the socialist governemts. France now has a higher crime rate than the USA and a huge un-employment problem - and Germany will have more foreigners by 2030 than native Germans. Granted, a racest backlash is wrong, but it is due to the real problems that face native Europeans.
    • What a load of bull.

      People like you are what's wrong with the world today, your holier-than-thou attitudes are the beginning of the oppressive dictatorships whos opinions and histories you're trying to suppress.

      I have every right to dislike you.

      I have every right to like you.

      I have every right to dislike you because you are tall.

      I have every right to like you because you are tall.

      I have every right to dislike you because you are white.

      I have every right to like you because you are white.

      I have every right to dislike you because you are black.

      I have every right to like you because you are black.

      I have every right to dislike you because you have blond hair....

      You know where I'm going with this. I also have every right to tell anybody who cares to listen that I dislike you, and why I dislike you.

      I'm have no right to punch you in the face, wether it's because you called me a name, or because you've got brown eyes.

      That is the difference, and it's what's important.
    • That was certainly a passionate post, and I understand where you are coming from and why you said it. I think my objection, however, comes in what you said toward the end:


      "The internet is difficult to regulate. Neo-nazis use it to co-ordinate their activities unchecked, and to spread as much hate-filled material through the net as possible. You can't make accessing it impossible, but you can make accessing it illegal. You can make it illegal to spread false propaganda that's only intended to harm people and cause harm. " [Boldface mine]


      What is "false"?

      What is "propaganda" and what are facts?

      What is intended to "cause harm"?


      If society could define thse concepts universally, your solution might work. Unfortunately, to take some examples from the U.S., those who support the right of a woman to have an abortion could be assailed by the Christian Right for putting out "false propaganda that's only intended to harm people and cause harm." They could say the same thing about evolution. Conversely, humanists could lay these same charges against religious thinking.


      One person's "falsehood" is another person's "truth." As long as we cannot agree on standards such as these, it will always be dangerous to make certain types of statements illegal.

    • There is no difference with free speech.

      Proponents of free speech often draw a line in the sand. However, a favorite quote of mine comes from the movie "The American President". Check it out, because most of this next statement comes directly from the movie, and from history itself.

      You say you value free speech, and want it protected? Lets see you protect someone's right to speak, whose very ideas conflict so greatly with your own, as to make your blood boil in rage. THATS free speech. THAT's an inherant freedom, as adopted the United States founding fathers.

      The simple fact is that banning "free speech" on issues that the majority is against is only going to strengthen yougnsters resolve to be a part of that group. Look at child psychology, especially during the impressionable years of 12-18.

      Children, by nature, become rebellious against THINGS. This rebellion is a deep seated psychological desire for that child to separate themselves from their parents, AKA, strike out on their own. Seeing as most parents are law abiding, non-critical people, their children will undoubtedly side with the side of ANARCHY for a time. If said anarchy takes the form of a socially unacceptable behaviour, then so much the better, in their eyes. If, however, society embraces someone's freedom to have such views, then having them will not be as much of a rebellion in their eyes.

      I'm not advocating the acceptance of hate crimes, I'm only stating that making speech, or views a crime, makes those ideas more desirable to the very children you are trying to "protect."

      Punish the crimes severely. Award zero quarter for participation in such crimes, regardless of how small. That way, you preserve the idea of free speech, while driving the crimes themselves underground.

      In the end, you will never prevent anyone from having one idea or another. However, you can regulate a societies actions based on negative re-inforcement for certain acts. How Europe chooses to deal with this issue is really not of my concern. But, trying to make a claim that it's "For the Children" is laughable, because the Children will undoubtedly flock towards that which the parents dislike the most, in an effort to "rebel".

      krystal_blade
  • Well then.... if Euro folks are so adimate to censor people, then why don't they just create a proxie, and firewall, for their people? This would shelter their citizens from all that evil free speech, and free expression. While thier at it, why not just physically remove the internet, and replace it with euro-net.... a fully contained intra-net for euro folks that is protected from the hate-mongers?

    serriously folks, the most logical reason this amendment is being slipped in is because the USA court rulled that Frenchy anti-hate laws do not apply to USA based companies. I would not doubt it to find that a french person sponsored this addition into being. IT is too ironic that this slips in not even a week after the USA court rullings.

    "I HATE YOU"

    OOOO.. oh no... I said it.... now I'm going to be banned in Europe.... and slahsdot is going to be sued in a French court....... its a damn shame.

    Go ahead... balkanize the internet.... the folks in the USA wiull simply go on with what we have always done... freely express ourselves. And the folks in Europ will still do what they always do... read USA internet sites.

    As if anything is going to change by this.... it might lift the ego of some politician for a year or two. If Europe folks are so advanced, and enlightend then it would seem that they would be mature enough to simply not look at the hatefull items on the net....
  • If you want to keep up on the wide world of hate I would recomend Hatewatch.org. If I can recall correctly they have had some trouble with keeping up with all the hate sites the web has to offer and had to suspend their arcive of hate sites.
    If they can not keep up with just monitoring these sites how is anyone going to cut down on them?
    Also, in the grand /. tradition of mentioning GPL any time you can, hatewatch is made with Post-Nuke a slashcode style GNU/GPL licanced app.
  • Once again, this proposition is a type of law that only hurts the innocent. Te real haters out there will continue on with there hateful websites, probably on some foreign server. But you and I (or in this case, innocent European civilians) will have to watch out that they don't accidently click on a link to a site that mentions the word nazi, or else the they'll find the KGB knocking on their door.

    This is really like gun laws in the US. Real criminals can get any gun that they want through the black market, but law-abiding citizens have to jump through hoops just to get a gun so that they can protect their own home.
  • by Millennium (2451) on Sunday November 11, 2001 @02:29AM (#2550119) Homepage
    While I don't doubt this is well-intentoned, it must not be allowed to happen.

    If all people are to be held equal before the law, then all human thought must also be held equal before the law, because it is thought which truly makes us human. And if that is true, then all human speech must also be held equal before the law, because it is via speech that ideas are formed and propagated. Even the right to say things as reprehensible as hate speech must be held as absolute and sacrosanct.

    The reason for this is simple: no one person knows the absolute truth. Not just about morality, but about basically anything (even sciense; Heisenberg showed that with his Uncertainty Principle). And yes, I include myself in this. It is only at some point in between all the differing viewpoints that the truth can ever be found. Start disallowing thoughts of any type, and you permanently cripple humanity's ability to seek truth. This is a far greater crime against humanity than any hate speech could ever be.

    Trying to eliminate racism is an honorable goal. But this must be achieved through education, not legislation. Yeah, it's not as efficient. But it doesn't limit the human mind, and that is what makes it ethical.
  • Ok. I have a solution to all this. I call it FacistNet(tm). It will be under the strict control of a committee of representatives from concerned interests who are unhappy with all the nasty freedom that the Internet provides. Users will not be allowed to post, send, say, think, or otherwise express anything that might offend, damage, cost, inconvenience, or otherwise do anything to make anyone sad. Membership will be open to anyone willing to submit to constant scrutiny and investigation, just to make sure that no bad people can use FacistNet(tm). Everything that goes onto FacistNet(tm) will have to be approved by the ApprovalsBoard(tm) to make sure that it doesn't violate any of the Terms Of Lets All Be Nice Conformist Citizens And Do What The Nice People Tell Us(tm).

    Then maybe the rest of us can use the internet to send information to each other.

    Geeze...
  • "The only solution to harmful speech is more speech."
    -- Thomas Jefferson
  • Too many of you people are posting hatefull comments about the Council of Europe. That means you're all outlaws.

    Since the days of freedom and free speech are counted, I guess I better grab the few occasions I have and say what's on my mind. All those pro-censorship laws are crap.
  • Jim Davidson and Lord William-Reese Moog and Ayn Rand all rolled into one wouldn't make a "Sovereign Individual [amazon.com] -- nor would they taken separately make 1, 2 or 3 sovereign individuals.

    Here's something that comes a lot closer to a sovereign individual than those pussies:

    One sovereign individual says to the other: "You filthy son of a geezleforp! Your kind fratzlebgratz their sisters and fail to properly potty train their boys which is why they grow up to become triffsings!" This, being said in a prominent weblog can result in only one rational response: "'Sir' and I use the term lightly, I hereby formally and publically challenge you to a formal combat to the death. My purpose is to end your tyranny of hate speech against my people. If I cannot end your tyranny of hate speech against my people, then perhaps others, more expert, cunning and/or lucky, will see my example, and put an end to yours!"

    After a mandatory 3 days of waiting, typically counseling with community leaders who attempt to find less extreme measures and avert bloodshed, the fateful day arives. Each individual sovereign gets 15 meters of strong cordage, a 10 inch blade, a wilderness area large enough to allow strategy chosen by a panel of community leaders, and a mandate that only one shall return. They enter from opposite sides and no observers are permitted in the wilderness area.

    If one entering into a community bound by such rules of such individual sovereignty refuses combat or attempts to leave during the 3 day waiting and counseling period -- anyone may lawfully take any action whatsover against him at any time. See Valoric Fire: A Working Plan for Individual Sovereignty [wonderclick.com].

  • I went to a cyberhate conference [danny.oz.au] in Sydney a year ago. One of the interesting things about that was the huge gap between the invited US participants (McVay from Nizkor and Goldman from Hatewatch) and most of the Australian ones. McVay and Goldman were both adamantly opposed to censorship of hate speech and some of the Australians were rather surprised by that. I wrote quite a long writeup (link above) of the event for those who are interested.

    In any event, it didn't turn out to be a "we must ban it" whitewash. It was particularly good having the Australian Broadcasting Authority give a speech about how wonderful filtering software was and having David Goldman blow everything they said away completely.

    Danny.

  • *sniff* (Score:2, Funny)

    by x136 (513282)
    *sniff* *sniff*
    What's that smell?
    Oh, yeah. It's the rancid stench of A Stupid Idea That Will Never Work.


  • Meaning speech, meaning source code, meaning all digital information, and not free as in you dont pay for it, but free as in anyone can write anything they want, and own any file, and trade any file.

    This is freedom of expression, freedom of thought, etc

    Now about the hate sites, you cannot Ban them from the internet, what they should do is treat hate sites like they treat kiddie porn sites

    Meaning they should be monitored, the people should have a right to launch these sites but there should be rules. No one can have a hate site which threatens anyone for example,

    people can host a kiddie porn site in europe, doesnt mean people wont arrest them for doing it.

    People can host a hate site too, but if they choose to host this, they better be careful.

    I'm totally against censorship, but i dont like hate sites, or kiddie porn sites, and i'm sure alot of other technically gifted people dont like them either

    So anyone hosting a site like that wont have to worry about the government censoring them they should worry about the hackers who constantly hack them, the carnivore like tools constantly monitoring them.

    Think of it like this, if Usama bin laden had a site, theres no rule saying he cant host a site, but if he hosts one you better believe people would be monitoring every thing he does.
  • The wrong concept of freedom is 'do whatever you want to do'.
    This is the one used by the 1st ammendment, 'say whatever you want to say'.
    In the US, the 'do whatever you want to do' is certainly not applied always, you are not allowed to kill people, for instance, substantially reducing your freedom. The reason is that killing others, harms.
    In Europe, the same limit is applied. If it harms others, then it is not allowed. And this is also used for speech.
    I agree that saying 'All the (your_choice_here) should be killed because they are the root of the problems in our country' is not as bad as effectively killing them, but hate speech, I believe, helps very much in creating the situation that leads to killing. That's why in some countries, it is not allowed.

    Now I'll give you an example: do you think that Osama Bin Laden's hate speech, broadcasted all over the muslim countries has an influence on the latest terrorists attacks?
    My opinion is that it has a lot of influence. To me, that man should not have the freedom to say what it says because using his speech (only words!) can convince a lot of confused people that yes, the US is the devil. He is not _literally_ pulling the trigger but his speech does.
  • While i'm also against racism and see the good intentions, i think this legislation will be used to squash legitimate critics and opposition. Probably scientology, who are very much criticised all over the Web, and often from sites which rely on the protection of their countries to be safe from lawsuits is already drawing up threat letters. Scientology didn't have any scruples to liken their case to the Holocaust the Jews experienced in the 3rd Reich, when they were not recognized as a religion in Germany, but as a business organisation. Soon they'll probably have a field day threatening with lawsuits to get any 'hate speech' against their organisation off the net.
  • The Protocol... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by suwain_2 (260792)
    The whole HTTP protocol should make any form of banning illegal. I'm surprised not many people have commented on this. I've argued in the past about how "adult" sites should not have additional laws regarding them. Why? Let's use an analogy... A six-year-old calls a 1-900 number, and OOPS! Wow, it's an inappropriate site! But, how is the company to blame? The kid called and 'requested' something inappropriate. The same holds true for "mature content" on the web - you submit a request to the server with the content, and the server gives you what you asked for. Furthermore, it only gives you the HTML, which points you to the images that you 'should' get to get the full experience. The same principles apply to "hate speech" as apply to "porn".

    Another thing that bugs me... How do you define the Internet? If I have two boxes that are "connected" the the Net, using external IPs, and transfer "hate speech" between them over LAN, am I on the Net? The whole thing with the net is that it's not so clearcut... And don't tell me that they're going to regulate what I send over my own network! When the packets get into someone else's network, I can see them objecting if they wish, but suppose I have run a small ISP? It all gets rather confusing...

    Just some food for thought...

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.

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