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Censorship Your Rights Online

Google Complies with Law, Excludes 'controversial' Sites 756

Posted by Hemos
from the mmmm-dumb-laws dept.
YDdraig writes "To conform with some French and German laws, Google has removed listings for over 100 sites which it believes to be anti-abortion, pro-Nazi, white supremacist or anti-semitic. They're not keen to talk about it either, saying merely: 'As a matter of company policy we do not provide specific details about why or when we removed any one particular site from our index.'" Noted from Declan's articles: This is Google.de and Google.fr, and is done to be in compliance with those countries laws. Because, of course, not being able to talk about something makes it less attractive right? And drugs being illegal makes it less attractive for kids too, right? *sigh* Update: 10/24 13:55 GMT by H : Thanks to Declan for providing the linkage to his News.com original story which has more links then the ZDNet UK one.
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Google Complies with Law, Excludes 'controversial' Sites

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  • only 100 sites (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mirko (198274) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:05AM (#4520794) Journal
    OK, there'd be a lot to say about the reason a site should be considered as controversial but their light quantity just sounds like to me they actually visited these to ensure they would not blacklist a legitimate site...
    • Re:only 100 sites (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NetRanger (5584) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:56AM (#4521169) Homepage
      Uhhh...

      So, what number of sites does it have to be before it becomes wrong?

      Frankly I find it rather interesting that Germany is censoring and banning pro-Nazi sites and literature that it doesn't agree with. Gee, sounds rather familiar to a Germany of the past...
      • Re:only 100 sites (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rhubarb Crumble (581156) <r_crumble@hotmail.com> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:06AM (#4521256) Homepage
        Frankly I find it rather interesting that Germany is censoring and banning pro-Nazi sites and literature that it doesn't agree with. Gee, sounds rather familiar to a Germany of the past...

        Very true. The problem that Germany has, though, is that whenever some neo-nazi skinheads or right-wing politicians make headlines in Germany, the entire world points the finger and goes "nasty germans"! Whereas e.g. in the USA the whole "white power" crowd goes pretty much unmolested, and nationalist rhetoric is considered standard rather than offensive.

        Because of its past, Germany does live under the microscope in that sense and it sometimes makes Germans a bit hyper-sensitive, and excesses (such as the (IMHO extremely stupid and counter-productive) law that denying the holocaust happened is an offense) do happen.

        • Germanies Free Press (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ACNeal (595975)
          So German press reports [slashdot.org] that Germany has a freer press than USA. Then we get an article about their censorship.

          Germany has a more open press, as long as you don't talk about anything that might upset someone?
          • by Rhubarb Crumble (581156) <r_crumble@hotmail.com> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:57AM (#4521645) Homepage
            So German press reports [slashdot.org] that Germany has a freer press than USA. Then we get an article about their censorship.

            And if you read the original article [www.rsf.fr] (by a french, not german outfit BTW), you will read that:

            "The poor ranking of the United States (17th) is mainly because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned there. Arrests are often because they refuse to reveal their sources in court. Also, since the 11 September attacks, several journalists have been arrested for crossing security lines at some official buildings."

            No mention of actual censorship. Although the american media has a reputation for being good at self-censorship, i.e. 'don't criticise the president while we're "at war"' and all that.



            • Obvious this poster doesn't read the New York Times, watch network TV or in general partake of the dominant media in the US, which has a long history of critizing presidents during war - especially republican presidents.

              The journalists arrested for failing to reveal their sources simply highlights the natural conflict between freedom of the press and the need of the people to be protected from criminals. None of these people have been imprisoned for refusing to reveal *political* sources.
  • It's OK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gabrill (556503) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:07AM (#4520798)
    as long as they only remove the sites from France and Germany's Google sites. We can't have them dictating OUR right to speech in the US, now can we?
    • Re:It's OK (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RobinH (124750) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:13AM (#4520835) Homepage
      We can't have them dictating OUR right to speech in the US, now can we?

      I completely agree with you. It's unfortunate, then, that the U.S. tries to extend its DMCA to other countries. [thefreeworld.net]
      • by ghack (454608)
        The US trying to extend the DMCA to other countries? No. These countries have trade agreements that they signed with the US.

        The US has every right according to the agreements to enforce our law.

        Blame your governments as well as ours. European countries aren't exactly innocent when it comes to the DMCA
    • Re:It's OK (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Parent post is hardly insightful - the laws in each of those countries is different. The US allows that content, France and Germany do not. Pretending we're being hypocritical about it is just dumb.

      And what the fuck does the US have to do with it? The only 'fault' you can lay at the feet of the US is helping to destroy Nazi Germany, thereby making it possible for France to exist and for both France and Germany to ban Nazi content.

      Should we have left Nazi Germany in place? Then this particular act of censorship wouldn't have happened... does that make it better? No, it doesn't.
  • by Laglorden (87845) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:07AM (#4520800) Journal
    My guess is that there will be many here who will moan over Google being stupid, but of course they are doing the right thing following the law of each country in this case.

    If the laws are wrong both Germany and France are fairly democratic countries so advocate to change the laws instead. Make it legal to spread nazi-propaganda i Germany etc...
    • Make it legal to spread nazi-propaganda i Germany etc...


      Problem: even if a majority of Germans wanted greater freedom of speech, try to imagine the public outcry if a candidate campaigned on the platform:

      Candidate: Und eef I am electet, I vill also leat a coalition to repeal ze anti-Nazi censorship rules in ze constitution, ja?

      Even in Germany I have trouble seeing that flying with the voters or the press.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:43AM (#4521057)
      Greetings,

      First of all, I absolutely agree with you. Censorship is never the right way to go after ideologies of debatable morality. The only thing it's gonna achieve is make its proponents feel persecuted, and as such, it legitimates their views.

      Thing is, you absolutely CAN'T touch those anti-racism/antisemitism/whatever laws. It's a very, very touchy issue over here, and some organisations [uejf.org] will scream bloody murder if you ever even want to open the debate about it. (Note that it's the same organisation -- *not* the government -- that had the Yahoo auctions censored, for example). If you want to open the debate then you're obviously a racist antisemitic extreme-right wing nazi and should be dragged out and shot. So the debate is never opened. Heck, Sharon called Chirac an antisemite when France stopped supporting his attacks on Palestine.

      And it is growing into a REAL problem. People are so afraid of being thought of the extreme-right that they'll never speak up, but brood in their corner instead, and then (other) people act all dumbfounded when the extreme-right candidate suddenly makes it to the second turn of the presidential elections.

      While opening the debate will allow to laugh the extreme-right into oblivion in a matter of minutes, to everyone's benefit. Sigh.

      Oh well. Now you can mod me (-1, Flamebait) for obviously being an antisemitic nazi bastard. :/

      (Posted anonymously, for obvious reasons -- I dared open the debate, so now I'm gonna play it safe and hide.)
      • by DaytonCIM (100144) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @01:53PM (#4524154) Homepage Journal
        I definitely understand why you posted Anon.

        Thing is, you absolutely CAN'T touch those anti-racism/antisemitism/whatever laws. It's a very, very touchy issue over here, and some organisations [uejf.org] will scream bloody murder if you ever even want to open the debate about it.

        "Over here" I suspect means Europe? We have the same situation in the US. But we have it two-fold. One, if you don't support Israel, then you're anti-semitic. Two, if you don't support the war on terrorism, then you're anti-american.

        You can't win with everyone, nor should you try. German and French laws prohibiting Nazi propaganda are derived from fear and hatred of the past. No one in Europe wants another facist, murderer, yet Milosavic (sp) was pretty damn close, and no one did much to stop him. Oh the irony...

        If you want to open the debate then you're obviously a racist antisemitic extreme-right wing nazi and should be dragged out and shot.

        Pretty much the same attitude here in the states. If you don't support the troops, then you're anti-american. If you don't support Israel then you're a nazi. If you don't support Cuban exiles, then you're a communist. Etc... All of it meaningless rhetoric. Problem is, if you get enough people spewing meaningless rhetoric, then it becomes opinion and soon after, policy.

        But then we have great technical sites like /. to openly discuss these types of issues... damn, there's my bleeding-heart, liberal sarcasm again.
    • It's not as if those laws had been passed only yesterday. The respective (german) law has been in place since around fifty years. That is, if they act according to 130 StGB.
      It says, basically, that whoever produces, offers or advertises "hate speech", which is defined as material "which incites to hate or violence against parts of the population or which violates their human dignity". A later addition also bans material "which denies or plays down crimes committed during the reign of national socialism".

      Anti-abortionist speech is not banned at all, but it could be that it also falls under this law if it calls for acts of violence against e.g. physicians.
  • Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dj28 (212815)
    Those European countries sure do like to talk about their free speech. What was that about European nations scoring higher on freedom of the press, when they are asking google at the same time to censor data they deem to be 'racist'? Sounds like hypocrisy to me.
    • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by McCart42 (207315)
      What blows me away is not the racist speech blocking, but the fact that they're blocking anti-abortion websites from google's listings--racist speech could be construed as "hate speech" and thus I can maybe see how they'd not want their children to see it, but anti-abortion (AKA pro-life, depending on whether you support it or not) speech?! How is that worthy of censorship? Oh, does it not agree with what their government believes?
      Well, we get a chance to see their freedom of the press in action--let's see if any French or German newspapers cover this blatant act of censorship.
      • Remember there are anti-abortion sites that advocate murder of doctors who perform abortions.
        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

          by JonTurner (178845) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:57AM (#4521176) Journal
          "Remember there are anti-abortion sites that advocate murder of doctors who perform abortions."

          Remember there are pro-abortion sites that advocate murder of unborn babies.

          If you're so damned concerned about censorship, the removal of EITHER site should trouble you. Otherwise, you're just an activist hypocrite.

          • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Gorm the DBA (581373) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:09AM (#4521278) Journal
            Important difference, dude... Killing of Doctors = illegal by current laws Removing a mass of fetal matter from it's unwilling host = legal by current laws (in many places) Abortion may or may not be morally corrupt, depending on your particular moral code, but there is an unambiguous fact, it's legal.
            • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:32AM (#4521444)
              "Once the government approves something, it's no longer immoral!"

              -- the Simpsons (about allowing gambling in Springfield)

              If any of you actually visited the pro-life site in question, you will notice that it doesn't advocate violence against anyone, it merely states that abortion is immoral and against God's law.
            • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

              by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:37AM (#4521485) Homepage Journal
              Not so important difference dude. In Germany in 1944 mass killing of Jews == legal
              hiding jews == illegal.
              Legal does not equal right.
              My personal belief is
              killing doctors == wrong
              Abortion == wrong
              Speaking your mind on the subject == right

      • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ponxx (193567)
        Have a look at the site. If that is not hate-speech, i don't know what is. Some things I read on extremist christian sites (have a look at tencommandments.org) made me feel actually sick, including suggesting the murder of all non-believers as a solution to world hunger, implicitly or explicitly condoning murder of doctors, homosexuals etc. not even speaking of generally insulting individuals and groups or religions that happen not to share their views. In my view this is hate-speech and asks people to commit crimes.

        Some countries have different definitions of where the right to free speech ends, for example when it urges people to commit crimes.

        In germany there would be not much controversy about censoring a magazine or group that wanted to glorify and re-instate a nazi-regime / get rid of all non-christians / foreigners / ... particularly when it includes calls to direct action.

        Anyway, different countries have different standards, google.de is registered in Germany, so it has to comply with its laws, Germany is a democracy, so if people get upset, they can vote in a new government that will repeal them.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

      by CaVi (37216) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:16AM (#4520860) Homepage
      I haven't seen the suppressed sites, but there has been anti-abortion sites giving names of the doctors practising abortion and saying "Here are the adresses of murderers to kill".

      A site which makes it easier to kill somebody by giving private information like home adress,... should be banned IMHO. Of course, some fanatics will dig the web and find that information anyway, but it is no reason to allow to publish it anyway.

      If the site is hosted in a country which doesn't ban it, then it is IMHO perfectly legitimate to try to ban it from other countries, even if it is not 100% effective. Removing it from Google is not 100% effective, but it makes it a bit less accessible.

      Being about anti-abortion, pro-terrorism or anything else doesn't change the fact: there are some sites which should be banned. But they should not be banned too lightly, and there should be ways to defend oneself against being banned,...
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bartmoss (16109) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:18AM (#4520872) Homepage Journal
      Yeah well freedom of speech ends where you step on other people's rights, like those anti-abortion sites inciting people to kill abortion doctors or Nazis who want to gas the jews.

      I agree that it's a problematic issue. Note that freedom of the press is not the same as freedom of speech, by the way. You can report all you want about Nazis who want to gas jews, but as soon as you advocate it yourself, then you're in deep trouble, and in my humble opinion rightfully so.

    • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

      by FeloniousPunk (591389)
      In the case of France, we are talking about a country where a major novelist (Houellebecq) faced a jail term for calling Islam "the dumbest religion" in a magazine interview.
      He was acquitted thankfully, but that he even went to trial for that is very suspect.
      • Re:Wow (Score:3, Informative)

        by Bartmoss (16109)
        So, he was sued by islamist organizations if I remember correctly. That can easily happen in the USA as well.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WhyteRabbyt (85754) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:33AM (#4520987) Homepage
      Those European countries sure do like to talk about their free speech.

      When? Americans make a big thing about it but Europeans dont tend to.

      What was that about European nations scoring higher on freedom of the press, when they are asking google at the same time to censor data they deem to be 'racist'?

      Exactly what data is being censored? Exactly what speech is being removed?

      Google isn't 'censoring' the sites, it is merely removing them from its indices. That has not impinged on the 'rights' (whatever they are) of the originating sites in the first place.

      The index is Google's. Google's 'right to free speech' allows it to remove entries in its own index.

      Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

      Only yours, mixed with stupidity.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SmileyBen (56580) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:36AM (#4521010) Homepage
      Erm, no they don't. For one thing, Europeans talk about freedom of *expression*, not freedom of speech, which is a totally different thing. But that's kinda beside the point.

      I find it kinda ridiculous that every time one of these stories happens, the largely American audience takes the opportunity to ridicule other country's approaches to these issues. Fine, so America things freedom of speech is the way to go. They also have quite a large faction of white supremicists, holocaust deniers, and violent anti-abortionists. Some European countries go for outlawing very extremists groups, and are largely successful at this, in exchange is a loss of a limited amount of speech.

      These are *different approaches* guys, and have different pros and cons. The American approach is certainly not terribly successful (it was YESTERDAY that there was a report that put America as ***17th*** in terms of free journalism) - whilst in principle people have freedom of speech, the American media is very narrow in its scope, moderately to radically right-wing. Whilst America guarantees the right to abortion, practically in many states it might as well be illegal.

      So get off your supposed moral high-ground, which the rest of the world currently sees as sheep all readying for a war that will kill millions of innocents with barely a world of dissention amongst the beautiful free speech.

      Sorry if that's rambling, but my point is that this issue is very wide. Don't look at a single issue, view it in context. It's part of a whole different approach, and one that I think probably works at least as well as the American one.
  • by Mantrid (250133) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:10AM (#4520818) Journal
    So it probably sounded like a good idea to filter out Nazis...everyone hates Nazis right? (except the Nazis) While we're at it let's censor White Supremicists, cause we all hate them too.

    Yay censorship! Oh wait while we're at it, let's censor everyone who has a different point of view on abortion from the state view...well at least half the people will be happy...

    What's next? Oh we don't like this site, it says unkind words about Jacques Chirac...ban it please...
    • by sql*kitten (1359) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:23AM (#4520911)
      So it probably sounded like a good idea to filter out Nazis...everyone hates Nazis right? (except the Nazis) While we're at it let's censor White Supremicists, cause we all hate them too.

      The list of what's censored is in an of itself controversial. For example, pro-Fascist sites are censored... what about pro-Communist sites? After all, Stalin killed 20M or more of his own people in his purges compared with 6M in the Holocaust. Anti-abortion sites are censored, what about pro-Catholic? After all, Catholics oppose abortion.

      Note that I'm not claiming to be pro or anti anything in this post, I'm merely pointing our some gaping inconsistencies that render the policy meaningless, and hence probably mere cheap political point-scoring rather than a serious attempt to suppress hate-crime or make the world a better place. Assuming you believe in hate-crime; my personal opinion is that it matters little to the victim what the criminal's motivation was.

      Even more meaningless than it would be if French and German users couldn't simply point their browsers at google.ca [google.ca].
      • There is a difference between nazism and communism.

        Nazism killed a lot of people, the wish to eradicate groups of the population being an integral part of the nazi ideas.

        Stalin might have done the same, but communism itself is not about killing or suppressing people.

        My point is that people have wronged other people in the name of some ideal or other for as long as we know. What makes nazism different from the others you mention is that it tells people to wrong other people. That can never be right in my book and might even be reason to censor.

        So a site that is against abortion is ok, a site telling you to kill doctors who perform abortions is not.
        • by sql*kitten (1359) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:32AM (#4521959)
          Nazism killed a lot of people, the wish to eradicate groups of the population being an integral part of the nazi ideas.

          Well, I contrasted fascism and communism, not nazism ("Hitlerism", if you will) and Stalinism.

          The modern-day Left would have you believe that Hitler and Stalin were ideological enemies, but it would be far more accurate to describe them as rivals. They both ran totalitarian police states with absolute power concentrated in a single leader, both believed that the only purpose of the citizen should be to serve the state (and hence the maximum leader), both ran command economies, both had expansionist foreign policies, both persecuted ethnic minorities. The only real way to differentiate between them is that Stalin's purges killed 3-4x what Hitler's did. It is also worth noting that other self-described Communists (China, Cambodia, etc) have similar records to Stalin's.

          But mysteriously, modern-day Fascists are shunned and modern-day Communists are tolerated. In fact, the same attitude should apply to them both; neither has a place in the modern world.
  • by osiris (30004)
    I dont think that this is as bad as it sounds. Its not like they have removed the indexes completely from their databases. Only their .fr and .de sites. That would be complying with local laws as .de and .fr TLDs are specific to those countries unlike .com/net/org which are considered worldwide.


    If these people want to search for these sites, they can still fire up google.com.


    Guess it does seem a little pointless like that but they are complying with local laws for countries they are operating in which i think is fair.

    And as another poster pointed out, they probably checked each site individually to insure that they were offending sites and not just done automatically.

    • by sebi (152185) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:47AM (#4521089)
      If these people want to search for these sites, they can still fire up google.com.

      As a matter of fact they can't. Access to google.com is restricted. I am in Austria and can go to google France, Germany or Belgium. But if I try to go to google.com I am automatically sent to google.at. And this can not be circumvented by changing the Language settings of your browser.

      • by pg133 (307365)
        I don't think its your ISP that's redirecting you to google.at.

        Why don't you just click on the "Google.com English" link on the "google.at" web page, it will bring you straight to google.com!

        This fixed the problem, (as describe in a previous post), for a user from German with a similar problem. I guess it just google itself, "trying to be helpful" doing the redirecting.
  • by techstar25 (556988) <techstar25@cf l . r r . c om> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:12AM (#4520831) Homepage Journal
    Maybe the French should try re-reading the works of French, postmodern writer/philosopher Michel Foucault, who wrote that repression of ideas and restriction of speech leads to discourse. France should know better. Now, Germany on the other hand . . .
  • Ineffective? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A non moose cow (610391) <slashdot@rilo.org> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:12AM (#4520832) Journal
    What prevents French people from just using Google.com ?
    • Re:Ineffective? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Glanz (306204) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:15AM (#4520850)
      They are using a "redirect" in Frogland...., much as they do here in Quebec, Canada. I can't get to google.com. I am always redirected to google.ca no matter what I do.
      • Re:Ineffective? (Score:2, Informative)

        by lovebyte (81275)
        In France, I use this:
        www.google.com/en
      • Re:Ineffective? (Score:5, Informative)

        by the bluebrain (443451) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:30AM (#4520967)
        YMMV, but try this:

        1) Goto Google.
        2) Click on "Preferences".
        3) Edit the URL in the address bar to read "[...].com[...]" (instead of "[...].ca[...]"). This should not cause a redirect.
        4) Click the "Save Preferences" button. You get the "Changes Saved" JavaScript popup.

        Any subsequent access to google.com should no longer cause a redirect. If you track the cookies, BTW, you should see a brand-new one created by points 1-4 above, which overrides any existing one you have.
    • That none of them speak English, and that even pretending to be able to read such a third-world language such as English is a gross social offense? :-)
  • OT: Kids and drugs (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ted_Green (205549) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:14AM (#4520843)
    "And drugs being illegal makes it less attractive for kids too, right? *sigh* "

    Do you seriously believe that rubish?

    Yes, drugs being illegal makes them more attractive to "some" but I wager it makes it that it also makes it that much less attractive for the majority.

    Just because somone's a kid, isn't going to make them a rebel against all law.
    • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:49AM (#4521125) Homepage

      Yes, drugs being illegal makes them more attractive to "some" but I wager it makes it that it also makes it that much less attractive for the majority.

      I live in the Netherlands. Cannabis is basically legal here (well, have to be 18+ to buy it, and the "coffee shops" have to buy it in secret, but it's practically legal). The theory is that cannabis isn't very harmful by itself (less than alcohol or even tobacco), and making cannabis legal prevents users from coming into contact with dealers of heavier drugs. Plus of course, if you can't beat it, tax it - aka Dutch pragmatism :-)

      According to a recent study [eu.int] by the EU anti-drug organization, see also this newspaper report [independent.co.uk], cannabis use in the Netherlands is average, with 20% of adults having tried it at least once (the UK and Denmark, which stricter laws, are at 30%).

      Also, Britian, Luxembourg, Italy and Portugal have the most problem users, with 6 to 8 cases per 1000. Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, which all have more liberal laws, have 3 per 1000 problem cases.

      So it does seem that legal cannabis does not lead to more use, but might prevent problem use (of more potent drugs, usually).

  • by phunhippy (86447) <zavoid&gmail,com> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:14AM (#4520848) Journal
    Well since the french are offensive in general.. maybe we should simply ban all references to the french on google.com :) except for the links to the "French WWII rifle, never fired, only dropped once"

  • Easy work-around (Score:3, Informative)

    by paul.dunne (5922) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:14AM (#4520849)
    Just use http://www.google.com/en -- they've only removed the stuff from the French and German versions of the database, as I understand it.
  • Anti-Abortion?!?!? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joel_mac (575677)
    How the heck did that get lumped together in the same group with pro-Nazi, white supremacist and anti-semitic sites?!?!?
    Pro-Nazism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism are all hate-driven egocentric nationalistic racial biases. How the heck does the Pro-Life movement fit in with these groups?

    joel

    • Also banned is Jesus-is-lord.com, a fundamentalist Christian site that is adamantly opposed to abortion.

      I haven't read the page just looked around, abortion seems not to be the main topic (there's a number of pictures which put rotten.com to shame though) of the page it's more like an "Anti-*" page against anyone and everyone. Probably they violated hate-speech laws somewhere in one of their texts, wouldn't surprise me

    • by NumberSyx (130129)

      How the heck did that get lumped together in the same group with pro-Nazi, white supremacist and anti-semitic sites?!?!? Pro-Nazism, white supremacy and anti-Semitism are all hate-driven egocentric nationalistic racial biases. How the heck does the Pro-Life movement fit in with these groups?

      Blowing up Womens Clinics, then planting more bombs in the dumpsters outside to kill Policemen and Firemen are acts of Terrorism. Assassinating Doctors is Terrorism. Advocating political change through violence against a civilian population is advocating Terrorism. Checkout The Nuremberg Files [christiangallery.com], this is pretty clearly a website supported by a hate group and inspite of its Christian trappings, has nothing what so ever to do with the teachings of Christ.

      Mind you, I do not advocate suppressing these sites, these people, as sick as they are, have the right to say whatever they want. However, Google is a private company, they recieve no government funding and is therefore within thier rights to de-list any site it feels is objectionable. It is no more censorship than a TV broadcasting company refusing to show full frontal nudity during prime time.

  • Legislation is being prepared in the background that will force them to comply, as well, in Portugal. Freedom of Speech _does_not_ exist in Portugal either (even though the constitutios says it does), which makes laws like this very dangerous.
  • I can understand (even I don't agree with) their reasons for blocking anti-semitic, and white supremacist speech, because it's hate literature. I can find similarities between them and anti-slander laws. But why are anti-abortion sites banned? Isn't that going a little too far? There are enough people on both sides of the issue, and I can't see the justification for censoring people opposed to abortion.
  • I remember some Slashdot story. Something about the US being, oh what 17th in the world for free press? France and Germany ranked in the top 10 if memory serves (and I am only going by memory here). Guess I have a different opinion of what free press is than the enlightened lawmakers of France and Germany.

    The Clash song Know Your Rights has never been more appropriate.
  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:20AM (#4520885)
    I bet you the pages of these idiots got more visits from all the people whose curiosity was piqued by the bad. They must be thrilled to be banned! I bet you there are some Nazi sites and "Holocaust Never Happened" sites and "Bush is Smart" sites that are like "hey, what a rip! How come we didn't get banned! That's bloody favoritism!"
  • Censorship... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pdboddy (620164) <`pdboddy' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:20AM (#4520887) Homepage Journal
    Google's a target, that's for sure, it's a drawback to being highly successful. But Google has to follow the laws of each nation it is based in. So of course Google.de and Google.fr had to remove the links. It *could* make a stand, and challenge the laws, but does it really want to put the time and effort and money into such a legal challenge? These laws have stood, what, almost 60 years? Take a look at ChillingEffects.com and see how many cease and desists Google has to wade through... for simply having a link to a controversial site.

  • There's a difference between supressing *all* speech about a bad topic like those listed, versus just supressing the speech of the active supporting groups. In at least some of these cases I'd be willing to bet they banned (for instance) an anti-semetic hate-group's website, but not another that merely discusses anti-semitism in a rational and moral light.
  • by goodEvans (112958)
    such as this one [vatican.va]? Or this [catholic.net]?
  • by jukal (523582) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:22AM (#4520900) Journal
    Otherwise, the final result will be that each country will have it's specifically censored index which will ultimately result into a mess which does not change anything but only makes hypocrites feel good. There is not much you can do by applying local rules, and in the context of internet every corner of the globe is local. Ohh, and this is not a free speech campaign - IMHO, it is just stupid that even at this very exact moment tens or hundreds of people are wasting time & money trying fix the problem with the wrong approach. As the publisher of the site with racist content said:

    It's really a French and German issue rather than a Google issue."

  • by Ravenn (580407) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:25AM (#4520925) Homepage
    Hypothetical Question:

    A [German|French] student needs information on WWII, and the political aftermath. Where can they find information on anti-semitism and white supremacy groups to add to the project?

    Same student needs to study the socio-politcal problems facing modern medicine. They know that others are choosing stem cell research or cloning, and want to do something with more information. They choose abortion. Where did all the statistics and one side's propaganda go? They need to offset one point of view with the other side, and can no longer access pro-life sites.

    Propaganda is still propaganda, regardless of truth. But politically, propaganda is what the opposition puts out, and must be eradicated.

    Not good. Not good at all...

    Ravenn
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:26AM (#4520933)
    Welcome to democracy, people. France and Germany are both democratic countries that have decided (along with most of Europe) that racist speech is not acceptable in society. The government isn't trying to dictate what people think, or say privately, but in public we expect people to behave in a certain way (eg. masturbation in public is not okay).

    It saddens me when I see white supremacists in the USA campaigning outside schools for the removal of black teachers and children etc. If we need laws to stop that kind of abuse, then we have no other option. Your freedom to speech stops when it promotes violence and hatred towards other people. Don't forget that even in the USA theres no such thing as freedom of speech - try writing an "ANTHRAX-HOWTO" or setting up a pro-terrorism website and see how long it lasts. Its just a matter of drawing the line somewhere, and in Europe we draw the line closer at protecting personal freedoms - the freedom to live in peace is more important than the freedom to kill/promote killing.
    • by A non moose cow (610391) <slashdot@rilo.org> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:25AM (#4521403) Journal
      I disagree.

      Taking nazi, etc. content offline does not stop the proliferation of the actual practice of it. All it does is hide it from the public. Why should people not be allowed to look up information about something that they are curious about?

      It seems that it would be much better for curious people to be able to read about these things in the safety of their own home, rather than having to attend a fan-club meeting about it. Generally I believe that people are smart enough to make decisions for themselves about ideas like anti-semitism, because the fools that believe in such ideas tend to represent themselves poorly. Apparently Germany and France do not think their citizens are smart enough to make their own decisions.

      Personally, I occasionally visit Communist and Socialist web sites. I don't do this because I believe in either philosophy, but because I am curious about why other people believe in them. What this typically ends up doing is re-affirming my notion that these ideas are inherently flawed (I'm not trying to start a debate, this is just my opinion). If I could not reach web information about these ideas because my government prevented me from doing so, what am I supposed to think? Is the government hiding these sites from me because there is some merit in their ideas?
    • by Dr. Bent (533421)
      Your freedom to speech stops when it promotes violence and hatred towards other people.
      Violence? Yes. Hatred? Of course not. You can't yell fire in a crowded theatre but you're free to tell everyone that you think the director of the film is a complete asshole. Some people may think hate speech against certian groups is offensive (Eminem, for example), but nobody's forcing you to listen to it, and it is certinally not illegal. Nor should it be...that's not how we operate here in the U.S. (regardless of what those nutcases over at Reporters Without Borders say).
    • In the US, you can put up an ANTHRAX-HOWTO and you can set up a pro-terrorism website, and it is perfectly legal (although the latter has a few limits).

      Fortunately, in the US we have constitutional democracy. In other words, we have checks and balances to prevent the majority from violating constitutionally protected rights of minorities.

      Of course, our self-admiring universities, actively try to suppress speech that *they* don't like, but that abhorrent practice is not as bad as the state passing censorship laws.

      I think Germans should be able to read Nazi hate propaganda. It is good to be able to understand how these groups operate. They should be able to read pre-WW-II Nazi propaganda in order to understand how a majority of Germans supported Hitler well into World War II.

      As far as the suppression of the jesus-is-lord site, it looks to me like hate speech suppression. Jesus-is-lord is audacious enough to attack certain acts of certain muslims: Muslims are killing, raping, torturing, mutilating, kidnapping, and enslaving Sudanese Christians in their Islamic jihad ("holy war").

      The fact that this statement happens to be true is apparently not enough for the site to avoid censorship.

      Or maybe it is their attack on the Catholic Church? Somehow I doubt the European governments are all that fond of protecting it!

      Or maybe it is their complaint about abortion?

      But nowhere that I saw (and I didn't have the stomach or time to read beyond the front page), the site does NOT preach violence or hate.

      In general, the site is pretty bizarre and offensive, but to deny their citizenry the right to read it is wrong and silly.

      Given what gets posted on slashdot, including this posting, maybe Slashdot will be next on their censorship list!
  • by lovebyte (81275) <lovebyte2000NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:26AM (#4520936) Homepage
    According to the Harvard report, some sites that Google does not list include 1488.com, a "Chinese legal consultation network", and 14words.com, a discount Web-hosting service and some conservative, anti-abortion religious sites. Those sites do not appear to violate either German or French laws.
    This is a particularly surprising move though. The German and French laws against racist speech are well known, but why would google remove sites like the ones mentioned in the article and that I have reproduced above? Certainly not because of pressure of the French or German governements.

    Interestingly, 14words.com, which seems to be just a web-hosting company, is in the following category in google directory:
    Society > Issues > Race-Ethnic-Religious Relations > Hate > Hate Groups
    • "14words" is a white supremacist rallying cry. It refers to the number of words in some mission statement that some neo-Nazi came up with. I vaguely remember adding 88 to it had some other significance, but have since forgotten. There was an article in a Der Spiegel issue sometime back about the women in the neo-Nazi movement and how they utilize the internet for their political ends.
  • "And drugs being illegal makes it less attractive for kids too, right?"

    Yes. Not nearly as many kids do drugs now as there would be if they were legal. How many more kids smoke cigarettes? Even that is in decline...
  • anti-abortion? wtf? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ender Ryan (79406) < > on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:37AM (#4521018) Journal
    Is it against the law in fr/de to be against abortion, and speak about it?

  • is it possible ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by beta-tim (555339) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:39AM (#4521028) Homepage
    ... as i live in germany and use an german ISP i always get redirected to google.de even if i visited google.com(the language changes to english and it looks like google.com but sitll the name i read is google.de) my question now is is it possible for me to go to the .com page and STAY there and search the .com index or will google always redirect me?and if the index has to be censored in germany because google.de doesn't want to be sued in germany, is it then legal for me to search the .com index(that is hopefully not censored) or do i become a criminal then? hopefully someone with some knowledge about laws can help me
  • 'Net law. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RPoet (20693) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:40AM (#4521034) Journal
    This is what may result from the internet being evenly accessible from all over the world. You need to comply with a set of laws forming the "lowest common denominator" of all laws in the world, eventually - meaning that the strictest laws is what you comly with. Sad, and dangerous.
  • by cr@ckwhore (165454) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @07:47AM (#4521095) Homepage
    Somehow this implies to me that anti-abortion views (read: pro-life, anti-murder) are supposedly "evil" just as pro-nazi views are assumed to be "evil"... at least according to the French government. Its a simple assumption to make.

    First of all, nobody controls the free speech (supposedly) of US entities. Secondly, who decided that Anti-abortion, Pro-nazi propaganda is offensive? Are the french people that weak that their government decides whats offensive to them?

    I happen to find pro-abortion sites offensive, but I don't rally for google to block those sites from their index! My respect of free speech and other people's opinions to be far more important that the content of their views.

    So, lets think about the implications of this for a moment. The French government has the power to remove listsing from the internet's most popular search engine. Ok, so there are a couple hundred governments in the world that could do the same. [sarcasm]Wouldn't it be great if other governments hopped on the bandwagon and reduced the quality and accuracy of search results for the entire world? [/sarcasm]

    What if another country decides that chickens are offensive? Do they now have the "right" to lobby Google for removal of chicken websites from the index?

  • by Gannoc (210256) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:11AM (#4521294)
    They ban sales of Mein Kampf? So they're burning books in France and Germany?

    These are the people who we're worried about offending with a conflict with Iraq?

    This isn't some quirky "Can I block an intersection/burn a flag/show porn in public" free speech issue, this is "This book contains material we don't like, and it reminds us of something we'd rather forget. Ban it."

    We can discuss the erosion of civil rights in the United States after 9/11, while the readers from overseas loudly criticize the president, but I suppose if this was Europe, we'd be banning terrorist literature and shutting down Islamic web sites.

  • by imr (106517) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:15AM (#4521326)
    The real problem in France is that there is no laws done for the internet. So basically, and IANAL, they use laws on publications.
    There are laws on what you can write in a publication, laws on what kind of foreigns publications you can distribute on the french territory, and so on. And they don't fit the internet.
    Instead of building from the ground up new better laws, they try to enforce those laws, a process which require brutal force and a lot of resistance to stand being ridiculous, since they don't fit the internet.
    Did I mention that they don't fit the internet?
    The real problem has nothing to do with speech freedom. A lowering in speech freedom is just a consequence, even if a bad one. The description of this problem is better explained in the famous text of John Perry barrow "The Economy of Ideas". Seing the origine of this text and famous US laws I read about in /., I believe this is not a european related problem. At least the US proved that "made for the internet" laws can be worse than old unfitting laws. :(
    Now on the anti nazi issue: 2 things.
    1/ We did suffer a lot from our own behaviour during those years and do not trust us anymore on this subject. Good luck to you in being better. (sorry, I doubt it)
    2/ This laws are actually a part of a vast protection scheme against real existing threats. The use of publications is at the core of the extreme right wing movements in Europe. This movements are extremly well organised, dedicated in seizing the power by all means necessary. They succeeded once and are not to be let loose again.
    Would the guard be lowered just a little on the publication issues that there would be massive propaganda denying the Jewish extermination soon followed by massive lies how the nazi regime was great and in fact prevented from doing a righteous governmentship by this terrible coallition. All this followed by flows of trials to prevent real journalists from doing their work. From this on, they would make their base grow. Yes, they would.
    3/(yes, I know) Unfortunatly, since the political partis in place learned nothing from history, they continue to play the "security" card to use the "extreme right wing" movements against their opponents. Miterrand(left) used the national front to lower the votes for the righ wing and stay elected 7 years more. Chirac(right) just did the same recently.
    Unfortunaly those laws are still needed. Yet they do not fit the internet and result in highly ridiculous trials. (After the yahoo affair, some of the plaintiffs were disappointed because nothing that came out of the trial was about what they were complaining about. Of course since they used laws which were not about their problems. They recognised that, had they known that, they wouldnt have sued in the first place).
    Until the day when governments really adress issues of poverty (and people stop electing morronnic puppets), there will be ground for "political" movements based on hatred and laws to hold them.
  • Nazism and abortion (Score:3, Informative)

    by Quill_28 (553921) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:22AM (#4521378) Journal
    I was under the understanding that Hitler was for abortion. An easier way to get rid of those he wanted. Much like the founder of planned parenthood. She was for abortion so the riff-raff wouldn't reproduce.

  • by Noryungi (70322) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:26AM (#4521408) Homepage Journal
    This is based on Declan's article (Hi Declan!)

    I am using Opera 6.03 uner Linux.

    Entering "Stormfront" in the "Internet Search" field gives me [hit n.1] "stormfront.org -- Stormfront White Pride" neo-nazi web site we all love to hate.

    If I enter "http://www.google.com", I get re-directed to "http://www.google.fr" and "Stormfront" does not appear in the results anymore. Screenshots available upon request.

    On the other hand, I can always go through my main (US) ISP and browse google.com without redirection.

    What's the moral of the story? If you are a [French|German] neo-nazi, and you have a [French|German] ISP use Opera to go around the google limitations. Or get a USA-based ISP.

    What's the moral of this moral? Geolocation does not work!!!!. Moronic solution such as this one are simply to easy to avoid. And, yes, UEJF, that one is for you.

    Whether neo-nazi opinions are worth defending is left as an exercise to the reader...
  • by Winterblink (575267) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:51AM (#4521589) Homepage
    Someone explain to me why Google is being slagged for removing these items from their indexes? Yes they're a popular search engine, but at what point did the idea surface that they were required to maintain some kind of free-speech or anti-censorship policy? It's their site, their database -- they can do with it whatever they want. It's also not as if Google has taken down the sites it's removing from their indexes -- as much as I object to the content those sites might have on them, they're still available for people to read.
    • by oldstrat (87076) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @01:11PM (#4523838) Journal
      Someone explain to me why Google is being slagged for removing these items from their indexes?

      I will.
      Google is being 'slagged' because it affects the integrity of Google as an impartial (aside from the programmed rules) producer of search results.
      Of course you are right Google can do anything with it's property that it wants, and it will have to suffer the barbs of the consumer in response.

      I do appreciate that for the most part they are only complying with the law, however the results are the results, and results don't care about the law.
      The results will be tainted by the fact that the dataset has been corrupted and can no longer truely be 'trusted'.

      You cannot change the fact that hate groups exist by hiding them. I know this is not Google's intent, it's the laws intent.
      Failure to collect the information that these groups exist, the levels they exist at, and the mis-information they are trying to spread will diminish the ability to see them, and hence to fight them.

      "Just cover your eyes and it will all go away." Nope, won't happen.
  • by unwesen (241906) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @08:52AM (#4521599) Homepage
    hi!

    i'm german, and i'd like to drop a few words about the comment on i paraphrased in the subject line.

    first off, it is entirely possible and legal to speak about such things as national socialism, antisemitics or whatnot in germany. in fact, judging by personal experience, about a third of the history lessons in school involve discussing said subjects. so much for that not being legal.

    what google does goes back to our constituion. laws in germany are not so much set by precedence as is the case in the usa or the uk, so while some laws are plain stupid, this thing here is based on a very thoroughly discussed law from the time when the federal republic of german was founded.

    under the pressure of the allies, and in view of the recent history, two important laws made their way into this constitution:
    the first declares that the dignity of every human being, regardless of religion, political views, race, whatever is inviolable, and all are equal before the law.
    the second declares that it is a crime to spread lies about the third reich.

    both are clearly intended to ensure that germans learn from their own history and to prevent a fourth reich or some such from coming into existence. in the light of how fundamental those laws are to germany, there simply is no other way websites propagating anti-semitism or nazi paroles can be treated. and, yes, i wholeheartedly agree with that treatment.

    what bothers me is that sites that are anti-muslim, anti-american, anti-whatnot... are less strictly treated.

    let me again remind you that it is in no way forbidden to discuss these things, not even publicly. freedom of speech is a highly valued law in germany, and, judging by this [slashdot.org] article on slashdot, americans are not necessarily in a position to judge (no offense intended, your comment suggests that you're not entirely happy about the 17th place either).

    the trouble is that nazi sites tend to distort history as to make nazi germany reasonable and attractive, thereby coming close to flat-out lies about it. forbidding such material to be spread is not a bad idea, as long as it does not get out of hand, and so far i'm not aware that it has.

    censorship is never a pleasant thing, and not a tool that a state should become used to using. nevertheless, the internet being the pool of useful and harmful opinions that it is, i'm not opposed to some slight moderation - it is still entirely possible for people to reach those sites. i'd protest vehemently, for example, if german providers dns servers would filter sites.

    the pro-semitical standpoint that germany is taking is part historical guilt and part international pressure - don't judge modern germany on that.

    i've met quite a few germans, from certain social groups, among whom it is almost fashionable to use the word 'jew' in an insulting way - with a careful, joking, guilty tone of voice. germans of my generation (give or take a few years) have been so much exposed to nazi history during school that quite a few have probably begun to resent jews again - not for what they are, but for being exposed to too many discussions about their plight, when in fact most don't know any jews, and would instinctively treat them as any other person - thus the joking but careful way of breaking a taboo, i.e. using 'jew' as a swearword. that, at least, is my interpretation of their reaction, might be wrong.

    in fact, if i were to meet a person that i know is jewish, i'd be uncomfortable. not because of any religious resentment, but because jews are commonly regarded (oooh, stereotype, i know) as rather sensitive about their history (understandable) and it is extremely easy to be called anti-semitic in germany, due to the general, acquired guilt of the german population. does that make me antisemitic? i hope not! i'd try to treat any jew as any other person i know.

    now consider someone less able to reflect on that feeling of being uncomfortable than i am, meeting jews. then meeting lots of people who use 'jew' in the above described way... wouldn't that enhance the feeling that something is wrong with the word, that it is stigmatized? it is human nature to try and remove things that jeopardize you, and something that makes you feel uncomfortable without you being entirely able to put your finger on it surely irritates. now suppose such a person types 'jew' into google and finding sites that 'prove' that jews are the reason for many troubles in the world... i find that situation _by far_ more frightenting than the state trying to make it a little more difficult to find such 'proof'.

    so give google a break here. the laws that convinced google to take those steps may not be perfect, but they sure are sensible - until someone comes up with a better idea, which i haven't heard so far.

    let me remind you again, a last time, that it is entirely possible for german citizens to find sites via google that state the facts about the third reich and jews, and also sites that voice opinions about that, unless those opinions are distorted or amplified to the point that they become lies or demagogic in nature.

    that said, i would prefer google not to be censoring sites. i would prefer a world where all people of all religions live in peace and harmony, where crime and war are unknown, and every expression of your opinion is taken only as such, and not stigmatized. that, though, is a goal difficult to reach, but the laws in discussion here are at least trying to help with that.
  • by jazzbotley (581155) <jazzbotley@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @09:23AM (#4521870) Homepage Journal
    Seems rather Orwellian to me ... if you reinvent the language, you control the people.

    [1984]Let's introduce a new term, boys and girls: "hate speech". Yes, that's right, these are thoughts and ideas that are too terrible for you to contemplate, so we will censor them from your tender minds. What? No, you are not sensible enough to arrive at your own conclusions, so we must ensure that you are never exposed to these evil ideas.[/1984]

    One of the consequences of truly "free" speech is that you have to hear a lot of crap from people you strongly disagree with. These are the "idiots" that we "love to hate", but if their speech isn't free, then nobody's is. That's the idea of free exchange of ideas in a free society. But then again, there's no such thing, because every attempt at a free society has ended by a centralization into a totalitarian state. [© 2002 jazzbotley the cynic] Ah, the rub. (Thanks, G.W.!)
  • Hogwash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dh003i (203189) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (i300hd)> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @11:53AM (#4523192) Homepage Journal
    No matter how offensive, mean, or cruel-spirited you may find people's ideas, they have the right to express them. Its a fundamental human right to freedom of speach. It exists whether or not government's recognize it, just as does the right to life.

    If pro-nazi speaches offend you, then don't listen to them. Go somewhere else. Don't read Mein Kampf. No one's forcing you to listen: the right to speak does mean the right to necessarily be heard (though it does mean the right to have the potential to be heard).

    That Germany as a nation chooses to ignore and violate the right to freedom of speach proves they haven't learned much from Hitler's era, when human rights were completely ignored. Had they, they would respect these rights. I'm speaking as someone of German descent, in this case. Its even worse in a democracy when human rights violations occur than when they occur in a dictatorship; when they occur in a democracy, that means that a majority of the people must have voted for someone who supports human rights violations.

    To those who say that Google's doing the right thing by obeying the laws of Germany and France, I say that's non-sense. Unjust laws should not be obeyed. Just as in Germany during WWII, the right thing to do was ignore orders to kill Jewish people, so is the right thing to do in this case to disobey these laws which violate freedom of speach. This is not such a severe case, but the right thing to do is to violate laws which are wrong.

    That said, I wonder why Google bother's to obey these laws. Google is based in the US, and to my knowledge all of their people are in the US, as is all of their finances. If Google chose not to obey these laws, how could the German & French government's possibly coerce or penalize them, since Google is beyond their sovereignty?
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @12:13PM (#4523368) Homepage Journal
    Google, Please remove all web pages that discusses the evil practice of commercialism.

    And Christianity violates my moral beliefs, so they must remove those pages too.

    Only kidding, but you see my point i hope. This sets a BAD precedent.. a really really bad one.

    This will open the flood gates on mass censorship.

  • gotta love the US (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spudwiser (124577) <spudwiserNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday October 24, 2002 @12:55PM (#4523702) Journal
    i can't read rhat release notes, but i can read all the white power bs [google.com] i want.
  • by stew-a-cide (324615) on Thursday October 24, 2002 @03:35PM (#4524888)
    As many people know certain forms of 'hate speech' targeting people on the basis of race, religion, etc. are banned in Canada. Currently (openly gay) MP Svend Robinson is trying to pass a private members bill that would add anti-homosexual propaganda to the section of the Criminal Code pertaining to hate literature.

    While I'm all against gay bashing, the repercussions of this going through are very broad - going so far as to ban certain passages of the bible, prevent certain religions (e.g. Catholics) from distributing certain of their teachings, outlawing political party platforms that call for un-equal rights for gays (such as pertaining to marriage), etc. Again, while I'm not religious, and don't object to any of these possibilities personally, they are by most people's definition extreme.

    I'm not sure what chance he has of getting this through (I certainly wouldn't call it impossible), but he certainly got a leg up yesterday when the leader of the opposition Stephen Harper (from a very right-wing party that would certainly oppose such an amendment) made a homophobic slight against Mr. Robinson in an unrelated debate. Stephen Harper and his party are very sensitive to being labelled as homophobic, so they might now just keep their mouths shut and let the proposed amendment go through rather than draw more negative attention to themselves.
  • by NewsWatcher (450241) on Friday October 25, 2002 @12:27AM (#4527670)
    There is no doubt that during World War II the Germans perpetrated some evil crimes against the Jews, the Gays and the Communists. Millions of innocent people were slaughtered and it serves as a permament blight on the German people that they will have to live with forever more.
    I have been to Germany and I can tell you that they are among the most open people in the world. They have rebuilt a society that anyone would be proud of. Where civil liberties are held much higher than in the USA. What Americans fail to realise is that you are not an open society in the true sense of the word. Your journalists are free to write the truth, but not free to get the information. In Germany a few years ago, a newspaper was given access to the private email account of a politician, in the name of transparent government. Can you imagine someone from the Washington Post getting access to W's personal e-mail account? Oh, I am not a German either, or even European, so I have no vested interest in highlighting US hypocrisy.

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