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Censorship Your Rights Online

Two Ways Not To Handle Free Speech 686

Posted by kdawson
from the hang-up-or-takedown dept.
Two stories in the news offer contrasting approaches by Web companies to questions of free speech. First YouTube: reader skraps notes that the Google property has recently banned the popular atheist commentator Nick Gisburne. Gisburne had been posting videos with logical arguments against Christian beliefs; but when he turned his attention to Islam (mirror of Gisburne's video by another user), YouTube pulled the plug, saying: 'After being flagged by members of the YouTube community, and reviewed by YouTube staff, the video below has been removed due to its inappropriate nature. Due to your repeated attempts to upload inappropriate videos, your account now been permanently disabled, and your videos have been taken down.' Amazon.com provides a second example of how to react to questions of free speech. Reader theodp sends along a story in TheStreet.com about how Amazon hung up on customers wanting to comment on its continuing practice of selling animal-fighting magazines. The article notes that issues of free speech are rarely cut-and-dried, and that Amazon is doing itself no favors by going up against the Humane Society.
Update: 02/11 04:25 GMT by KD : updated Nick Gisburne link to new account.
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Two Ways Not To Handle Free Speech

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  • Religion (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JoshJ (1009085) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:34PM (#17967754) Journal
    Doesn't surprise me that someone who criticizes religion gets censored. After all, religious ideas are completely sacred and can't possibly be questioned by anyone. That would be progress, and progress is WRONG.
    • by BigChigger (551094) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:39PM (#17967780)
      when it was Christianity, it was OK.
    • Re:Religion (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grogdamighty (884570) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:41PM (#17967802) Homepage
      I know this is Slashdot, but did you read the summary? This Gisburne fellow posted quite a few videos about Christianity without any problems. It was only when he posted them against Islam that it became a problem, and that because a number of users flagged it. I'm guessing that what we are seeing here is not protection of religion, but protection is Islam - which Americans have an awkward relationship with right now due to the quandary posed by having a significant (and peaceful) Muslim minority while fighting against any number of predominantly-Muslim foes in the name of fighting terrorism. As you can see, it's the sort of fight that political correctness (in all its self-righteous glory) demands.
      • Re:Religion (Score:5, Funny)

        by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:15PM (#17968042) Journal
        Someone needs to start a new religion that can speak freely - and as a religion it will be protected. Take down notices can be vehemently fought on religious grounds. Fight fire with fire, as it were.

        It can't be that hard, there are plenty of made up religions that have protected status standing. I mean if Science Fiction writers can make up religions, why can Slashdotters?

        How about making up a religion called Objectivity? You can have the Church of Objectivity, the members would be Objectivists, and the main tenant would be that to get to Heaven you must point out the failings of other religions.

        You can tell people that this is the Word of God, because he told me so. (We were having lunch one day, at Hooters. He hadn't been here for a while, and He actually snorted milkshake out of his nose when I described to him the current dogma and beliefs of the predominant religions of the world.)

        Yea, it is written, let it be so. Amen.

      • Re:Religion (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Scrameustache (459504) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:18PM (#17968060) Homepage Journal

        I'm guessing that what we are seeing here is not protection of religion, but protection is Islam
        I dunno, they might just be covering their asses, like in the 90s, when the card game "Jihad" was renamed "Vampire" because some people pointed out that if they didn't rename it, they'd learn the true meaning of the word.

        Sometimes it's political correctness, sometimes it's fear for your safety.
        • Re:Religion (Score:5, Insightful)

          by 0star (886611) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:12PM (#17973354)
          That is the point exactly. All the anti-Christian bigotry, like the posts here that just assumed that Christianity was the focus of the story because it "is" stupid, patriarchal, evil, stoned or burned people at the stake (hundreds of years ago, and don't pull up an isolated incident or two to say it still happens), feels no fear to express their opinion. They do of Islam, because a significant minority threatens or uses violence any time they feel Islam was insulted. For example, during the controversy of the Danish publishing some cartoons poking fun at Islam Islamic protestors carried signs like "Behead those who insult Islam". So this incident has nothing to do with religious freedom of speech and everything with Islamic radicals inhibiting freedom of speech through fear. Sadly, too many of the people here and other places that claim to be so for freedom of speech and expression stay qiuet or even support Islmalic radicals suppressing it. Usually because the west was colonial at one time or because Chimpy McHitler is still Us president.
      • by JacksBrokenCode (921041) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @10:06PM (#17968382)

        This Gisburne fellow posted quite a few videos about Christianity without any problems. It was only when he posted them against Islam that it became a problem, and that because a number of users flagged it. I'm guessing that what we are seeing here is not protection of religion, but protection is Islam.

        South Park has lampooned a multitude of religions since the first season. Last year Comedy Central (owned by Viacom) forced them to remove the image of Mohammad from an episode.

    • Re:Religion (Score:5, Informative)

      by nitroamos (261075) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:50PM (#17967870)
      The irony is that in the Cruelty in the Quran video the article is referring to, what's being presented are not quotes, but paraphrases. I took the liberty of looking up some of them, and although you can see where Gisbourne is getting his paraphrase, I'm not sure that he's always correct.

      For example, one of the slides at 5:06 references Sura 28:62-64. In my copy of (Yusuf Ali translation) the Quran, it is apparent that Gisbourne went ahead and helpfully replaced "them" with "Christians". Looking at the passage, it doesn't even appear to me that this is a correct paraphrase since I think Muhammad was addressing polytheists, not Christians. But I'm not an expert, so I don't know. Either way, Gisbourne made a logic jump there.

      I'm just refuting any claim that these are "quotes".
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        >I think Muhammad was addressing polytheists, not Christians.

        Perhaps, but Islam views Christianity as polytheist, due to the concept of The Trinity.
      • by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:46PM (#17968258) Journal
        English-language translations of the Quran vary so widely that Islam doesn't accept them as translations, they are all regarded as paraphrases. You should read this short article [soundvision.com] to get a feel for how the various translations make errors.

        Here are some other translations of that same verse (Al-Qasas 28:62):

        Khalifa: The day will come when He calls upon them, saying, "Where are those idols you had set up beside Me?"

        Pickthall: On the day when He will call unto them and say: Where are My partners whom ye imagined?

        Shakir: And on the day when He will call them and say: Where are those whom you deemed to be My associates?

        Sher Ali: And on that day HE will call to them, and say, `Where are those whom you allege to be my associates?'

        Yusuf Ali: That Day (God) will call to them, and say "Where are my 'partners'?- whom ye imagined (to be such)?"

        Transliteration: Wayawma yunadeehim fayaqoolu ayna shuraka-iya allatheena kuntum tazAAumoona
        • by radtea (464814) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @10:42PM (#17968700)
          English-language translations of the Quran vary so widely that Islam doesn't accept them as translations, they are all regarded as paraphrases.

          If the Koran has a meaning, it can be translated, and of the millions of English-speaking Muslims in the world there must be a few who are up to the job of translating it correctly.

          The variations between the examples you give are small and in any case doctrinally relatively trivial. I'd be more interested in seeing the various translations of things like 3:118, the gist of which is: "Do not be friends with unbelievers. They all hate you." Or 2:222-224, which has some pretty harsh things to say about women, likening them to fields that a man can go into any any time he chooses.

          The difficulty of translation always gets raised any time anyone mentions any of the terrible things the Koran actually says that Muslims and Muslim sympathizers would like it not to say. It gets tiresome, particularly as it always gets raised as if it were a new and interesting issue instead of an old and tired one. Muslims have been complaining about this for decades. Don't you think its about time that some Muslim leaders got together and produced an authorized edition? Bible translations vary widely too, and there are a few cases where even good translations differ on substantive matters, but the gist of the sentiment is almost always clear: God loves everyone, unbelievers will burn forever in hell, stuff like that. It isn't self-consistent, but there is no major problem with what the text actually says. Whereas no one seems to agree on even the basic sense of the most trivial passages in the Koran.

          Of course, for Muslims to get together and produce an authorized translation would first require Muslims to get together, which is something they appear to have a lot of trouble doing for purposes other than burning embassies because they have been offended by some silly cartoon ~0:-{=
          • The variations between the examples you give are small and in any case doctrinally relatively trivial. I'd be more interested in seeing the various translations of things like 3:118, the gist of which is: "Do not be friends with unbelievers. They all hate you."

            Khalifa: O you who believe, do not befriend outsiders who never cease to wish you harm; they even wish to see you suffer.

            Pickthall: O ye who believe! Take not for intimates others than your own folk, who would spare no pains to ruin you; they
          • by rtechie (244489) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:32AM (#17969420)
            If the Koran has a meaning, it can be translated, and of the millions of English-speaking Muslims in the world there must be a few who are up to the job of translating it correctly. ... The difficulty of translation always gets raised any time anyone mentions any of the terrible things the Koran actually says that Muslims and Muslim sympathizers would like it not to say. It gets tiresome, particularly as it always gets raised as if it were a new and interesting issue instead of an old and tired one. Muslims have been complaining about this for decades. Don't you think its about time that some Muslim leaders got together and produced an authorized edition?

            Subtle gradations of meaning can be lost during translation. The fact they you don't know this simply shows that you haven't done a lot of translation, especially of ancient languages. Jews don't consider translations of the Koran as authoritative (or even "holy", in any sense) for exactly this reason. The same is true of many Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist texts. For example, any "serious" student of Taoism is expected to learn ancient Chinese.

            Bible translations vary widely too, and there are a few cases where even good translations differ on substantive matters, but the gist of the sentiment is almost always clear

            No it isn't. There are often radical differences in translations which can lead to serious doctrinal differences. Part of the split between Protestant and Catholic has to do with the interpretation of various passages. You're coming from the perspective of an unbeliever to whom such fine distinctions don't matter. They do to Christians.

            And you also don't seem to recognize the awesome effort put into translating the Bible into English by Christians. Literally BILLIONS of USD has been spent, and literally centuries of effort. There certainly ARE English translations of the Koran, it's just that they aren't as precise as the Bible translations because nowhere near as much effort has been spent translating them and there is less incentive to do so as the Islamic academic culture strongly prefers study of the Koran in Arabic (see above). I find it unlikely that Islamic scholars are going to risk the integrity of the Koran by altering this culture.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by radtea (464814)
              No it isn't. There are often radical differences in translations which can lead to serious doctrinal differences. Part of the split between Protestant and Catholic has to do with the interpretation of various passages. You're coming from the perspective of an unbeliever to whom such fine distinctions don't matter. They do to Christians.

              I know of know differences in translation that make any significant differences to doctrine between mainstream Christian sects. And while interpretation was an issue between
  • Now wait a little (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JanneM (7445) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:36PM (#17967766) Homepage
    So some people are trying to silence magazines about a subject they object to, and Amazon refuses to be intimidated or allow them to intimidate others on their property. Sounds more like a good way to handle free speech to me.
    • by Smidge204 (605297)
      I have to agree.

      Even though I may not agree with the material, it's the Humane Society that appears to be violating free speech here. Just because you find something objectionable does not mean you have the right to deny it to someone else.

      As for Amazon hanging up on them, well, you have the right to voice an objection but that doesn't mean they have to listen. If Amazon was deleting comments or otherwise preventing people from making their opinions known, that might be a case for freedom of speech... but a
      • by JanneM (7445) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:48PM (#17968262) Homepage
        As for Amazon hanging up on them, well, you have the right to voice an objection but that doesn't mean they have to listen. If Amazon was deleting comments or otherwise preventing people from making their opinions known, that might be a case for freedom of speech...

        Well, no. Amazon can within very broad limits decide what gets said and not on their site. "Free speech" is not a right you have on private property. They could pull most any kind of comments at impunity and your rights would pretty much extend to taking your comment business elsewehere.

        Of course, the Human Society is claiming the material is illegal, and if that's true it adds a whole other aspect to the situation - but I don't know enough about whatever laws may apply so I can't comment on that.

        More to the point, the Humane Society is not the arbiter of what is legal and not. And Amazon is not the publisher of the material. If the Humane Society has issues with the legality, they should get in contact with the police or a prosecutor, and address the magazine publishers, not Amazon.

        They're just using harassment as a way to stop ideas they don't like - which, in the long run, probably harms their cause more than it helps. I'm very much against blood sport, but right now I feel like laying down a bet on a dogfight just to spite these hateful morons.
  • Google being evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jay2003 (668095) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:40PM (#17967788)
    Maybe now some of the Google is wonderful nonsense will stop. Censoring people on religious grounds qualifies as being evil in my book. Of course, after Google sold to out to please the Chinese government, it was clear Google had decided that greed was a better motive than not being evil.
    • will have its great people and bad apples. I haven't lost hope in Google in terms of being a fairly morally-conscious company, but I do realize in such a massive company there'll be people (like the Gootube staff member who deleted this dudes vids) who don't match the same level of morality (in this case, for freedom of speech).

      While there is Google playing up to China, and other such "evil" things, Google in my book is much better than Yahoo or other companies in terms of policy. This situation it was on

  • by jdp816 (895616) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:40PM (#17967796)
    Private parties can do as they please. You have *NO* constitutional right to say what you want on their services. It may not be "nice" to do, but no one can stop them from doing this. Your right may vary by state, though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Private parties can do as they please.

      Welcome to government by contract. The police can't search and seize without a warrant, but they can hire "independent" contractors with guns to come and kick down your door as you please. The government can't listen to your phonecalls, but they can pay AT&T millions to find out what they hear when they listen. The president can't declare war on his own, but he can hire mercenaries to fight wars for him.

      In the 80's Capitalism crushed Communism. Now, it has turne
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      In general, your freedom ends where someone else's nose begins...

      Freedom of speech doesn't imply freedom to slander, libel or incite. It rather means freedom to discuss any topic in a dry, boring, responsible, sane, adult, philosophical manner.
      • I think you meant "Your freedom to swing your arm ends where someone else's nose begins"... Doesn't make much sense otherwise.
      • by oohshiny (998054) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @10:22PM (#17968522)
        Freedom of speech doesn't imply freedom to slander, libel or incite. It rather means freedom to discuss any topic in a dry, boring, responsible, sane, adult, philosophical manner.

        Yeah, and that's what the video apparently was doing. I mean, how does showing a sequence of direct quotes from the main religious text--nothing more--amount to "slander, libel, or incitement"?

        In fact, the problem here is on the side of the religious nuts: they are offended by any criticism of their religion. Should we limit free speech according to whether the target of criticism is offended? I don't think so.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by The_Wilschon (782534)
        Ah, a bit of digging reveals that the original quote is from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., a Supreme Court Justice 1902-1932. The original quote was "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."
    • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:24PM (#17968090) Homepage
      Unless the service is gov't regulated, like telephone lines. Common carrier status and all that. The telephone companies (at least the landlines) are not allowed to censor anything that goes over their lines. OTOH, without net neutrality, the telcos could very well examine packets and try to censor packets that are part of hate speech (or really anything they want to censor, like fluffy blue bunnies) with no legal repercussions. IANAL.
      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:59AM (#17969568)
        Mod parent up! He's exactly right. Youtube can't afford to lose the safe harbor provisions as defined in the DMCA [wikipedia.org], or it will open itself up to massive copyright infringement claims.

        Any large community site like Youtube is full of copyrighted material, which means it is committing massive copyright infringement by allowing people to download those materials. The DMCA says (paraphrased) "don't look closely at what's on your site, and pull down promptly anything that someone claims is theirs, if you obey those rules then you can't be sued".

        So it's wrong to say that Youtube can do whatever they like simply because it's their private site. They can of course, but only if they don't care about being massively sued.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adrianmonk (890071)

      Private parties can do as they please. You have *NO* constitutional right to say what you want on their services.

      Thanks for saying this. I remember years ago when The Last Temptation of Christ [imdb.com] was in theaters, it was controversial where I lived (Dallas, TX), and theaters were picketed. Some chose not to show it, and others cried "censorship!" when this happened.

      Looking back on it, it was probably pointless and stupid to picket the theaters, and I think it was wrong for anyone to demand that theaters

    • by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:33AM (#17969428) Homepage

      It doesn't have to be unconstitutional to be unethical.

      If Google wants to provide a public forum in the form of YouTube, it's better if they don't censor the videos there on the basis of topic. They are legally required to censor certain content (pornography involving animals or children). They are socially expected to censor other content (any other porn and certain extreme violence). Beyond that, they deserve a raft of shit for any censorship - not because they don't have the right to control their content, but because the public forum is much more useful if they allow it to be used.

  • Yeah, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WebHostingGuy (825421) * on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:40PM (#17967800) Homepage Journal
    You have to remember this -- there is no guarantee of free speech from any corporation. The US Constitution guarantees that "government" shall not infringe the right to a citizen's free speech. Any time you have a non-governmental agency "it doesn't apply".

    Amazon can cut off anyone they wish, so can Google. Google is not obligated to do a damn thing concerning free speech. They can censor anyone they want because they are a corporation, not the government. The law/Constitution isn't going to protect someone from posting in a forum/newsgroup ran by Google. Too bad, that's what you accept when you post in Google's forum/newsgroup; a place owned by essentially a private party.

    The only repercussions from something like this (private censorship) is the free market system. Boycott, attention getting, etc. But you can't force them to make them accept your free speech.
    • Terminology (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperBanana (662181) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:56PM (#17967936)

      You have to remember this -- there is no guarantee of free speech from any corporation.

      That's because everyone perpetually equates "free speech" with "censorship". Censorship CAN be a violation of your right to free speech, but not always- and this case is a perfect example. Others say that censorship cannot be done by a corporation; that's also wrong. Everything you watch on TV is run past network censors. Anything you watch in the movie theater, also (most likely) run past censors.

      Youtube's actions are censorship. They are not violation of anyone's "free speech" rights. Nothing stops the gent in question from posting his commentary on his own website, or publishing commentary in any number of forms of other media (for example, printing a booklet or printing a newsletter.) If the government comes knocking on his door and takes his computer and printer and says, "You can't print this, Muslims don't like it", that is a violation of his right to free speech.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Redrover5545 (795810)
      Actually, they have a constitutional right not to publish or host content, it's called the right of free press. Google, Amazon and any other companies owned by private individuals have the right to publish or not publish whatever they want and to force them to host or publish a message or a video would actually infringe on their (or more precisely their shareholder's) first amendment rights.
    • by mlc (16290)
      Just because YouTube (or whoever) legally can do something doesn't mean that they should, or that anybody else has to like it when they do.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by flyingfsck (986395)
        Yup and Google should refund the guy's money he paid for the service, with interest...
    • Corporations have the right to censor people. And we have the right to tell other people about it, and if we choose, "vote with our money" based on what those corporations do. Ain't free speech grand?

      As a practical matter, I don't want any big entity telling me what not to say. I don't want the government doing it, or Google doing it, or a church doing it, or even Slashdot doing it. And in cases of censorship by anyone, it is always appropriate to fight back. If it's the government, you fight back on t
    • That is all well and good, but hosting large numbers of videos requires considerable capital outlay. This is a barrier to entry into the market which ensures that there wont be sufficient competition.

      If all of the newspapers in a country are owned by a small group of people, and they collude, then that is no different from a state newspaper.

      At present there are enough competitors to YouTube to ensure this guy can take his content elsewhere. While this remains the case, your arguement holds. However, this ki
  • These are corporations, not the government; there is no "right" to free speech that's being infringed upon. Whether these are sensible approaches from the companies is a different question, of course.
  • So what (Score:3, Informative)

    by RichPowers (998637) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:42PM (#17967812)
    If YouTube decides that a video is offensive to a segment of its users, then it has every right to remove the video. Expecting free speech protection from a private entitity is a bit absurd. The local mall would throw my ass on the street if I stood inside protesting leather products.

    The lesson here? Host your videos somewhere else, provide your own video hosting service, or deal with YouTube's practices.

  • animal fighting mags (Score:2, Interesting)

    by timmarhy (659436)
    "Amazon hung up on customers wanting to comment on its continuing practice of selling animal-fighting magazines"

    i've dealt with animal protection fanatics before, and i know this statement is misleading bullshit. a more accurate picture of the situation would that be one of them would have rung up and abused the service rep over the phone and they had no choice but to hang up on them. manners and due process don't ever occur to people like this who try take the moral high ground. while i am against animal

  • by MaverickUW (177871) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:45PM (#17967830)
    Okay, apparently half the posters don't understand what Freedom of Speech is all about. Google and Amazon are not the government (yet at least). The first amendment protects you from the government taking away your rights, not corporations and individuals. So what if Google removed a video, it's their property that he's posting it on. If they don't like something, they have a right to remove it. To say they don't have this right, would be like saying if someone put up a political sign in your yard of someone from the party you don't support, that you don't have a right to remove it because you're violating someone else's free speech.

    As for the Amazon case, sure, you have a right to call and complain. Nothing says that Amazon has to actually listen to you.

    In the end, these aren't issues of free speech. These are people getting their panties in a knot because someone wouldn't listen to them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JoshJ (1009085)
      So corporations can take away your rights?

      The founders flat-out messed up because they had no idea that big business would have the power it has today. They had no idea that the internet would put the ability to curtain free speech in the hand of corporations rather than the government.

      Had they known that, I suspect rather strongly that they would have phrased the Bill of Rights differently.

      The rights of corporations are secondary to the rights of individuals.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:26PM (#17968116)
        Posting videos to a website isn't a "right", it's a freebie offered by a corporation so that they can make revenue by showing ads alongside the video. Saying you have the "right" to post to YouTube is like saying that you have the "right" to get a free toy when you buy Cheerios.

        In what way, exactly, is Google taking away somebody's rights? Please, I'd like to know.
      • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:54PM (#17968296)
        So corporations can take away your rights?

        Exactly what right is a corporation or person taking away from you when it decides to hang up on your phone call? Surely you do not have a right to force someone else to listen to your speech.

        Similarly with Youtube. There isn't anything in the Constitution that guarantees you the right to use somebody else's web site, printing press or megaphone to distribute your viewpoint. Such a concept would in fact infringe on other rights under the Fifth Amendment and the Constitional ban on bills of attainder. You can speak all you want - how you get your message to others is YOUR problem, not someone else's just because they have an jim-dandy established distribution channel that you might want to use to put forth your opinion because it would be a lot more work for you to build your own distribution channel.

        The founders certainly DID NOT mean to abrogate property rights when they cast the First Amendment. Just because Youtube is a convenient forum you are not suddenly granted an inalienable right to use it however you want irrespective of the rights of the owners. If you want to get your message out there is no guarantee by anyone that they have to pay out (Youtube like any other web site has to pay for the bandwidth it uses) to give you a free ride for your crackpot theories.

        Your concept of corporate power holding back your free speach is also ridiculous. Exactly what is Youtube doing that prevents you from setting up your own web site and publicizing it? Nothing.

        They had no idea that the internet would put the ability to curtain free speech

        Exactly what does the internet do to curtain(sic) free speach? To me it looks like it does exactly the opposite. $8.95 for a domain name and $10/month for a hosting package and you can spout off in almost unlimited fashion. In fact never before has it been as easy to get out whatever outlandish idea you might have.

        Had they known that, I suspect rather strongly that they would have phrased the Bill of Rights differently.

        In exactly what way? Even in the days of the Founders channels of distribution like the press were owned by individuals. In fact since such channels were more limited than what we have now it was much harder to get an idea out without significant financial backing.

        The rights of corporations are secondary to the rights of individuals.

        Poppycock. The two are exaactly the same. Corporations are the private property of individuals. By threating the two differently you are depriving these individuals of their property rights without due legal process as guaranteed by the Constitution. Forcing a corporation by law to carry your video is EXACTLY the same thing as forcing Joe Smith to pay a tax that will give you financial support for your package of wacko ideas. The idea is totally unacceptable and contrary to all basic ideas of life in modern society.

  • by DogDude (805747) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:46PM (#17967838) Homepage
    Amazon has a right to sell that filth if they so choose. I also have the right not to shop there, and to tell everybody I know that they condone this sick shit. I still don't see what this has to do with free speech.
  • by Bieeanda (961632) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:47PM (#17967848)
    Come on, this should be a no-brainer. Google, Youtube and Amazon are privately owned, privately administered and privately funded organizations. They are no more obligated to keep the videos of controversial speakers on line, or engage in conversation with people who have animal-rights concerns than anyone is obligated to read this post, or Slashdot is obligated to prevent it from being deleted. There is no contract implied here beyond a social one; said speaker can take his videos to other sites, and people who have a problem with Amazon selling cock-fighting magazines can take their business elsewhere. If Slashdot banned me for whatever reason, I could continue to post on Kuro5, or Digg, or any other equally private site that would let me in.
    • not so clear (Score:3, Interesting)

      by oohshiny (998054)
      Come on, this should be a no-brainer. Google, Youtube and Amazon are privately owned, privately administered and privately funded organizations.

      First of all, they are publicly traded corporations, which already imposes strong requirements on their conduct, in particular with regards to discriminatory practices.

      Secondly, it's not at all clear that they can do what they want. US phone companies are non-governmental, yet they can't pick and choose what kinds of speech they allow on their wires. So, it's far
  • by tacocat (527354) <tallison1 AT twmi DOT rr DOT com> on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:47PM (#17967850)

    OK, I think I get the gist of the OP but let me see if I get this straight.

    You can make a movie called White Guys can't Jump but you can't make a movie called Black Guys can't swim (fill in swim with whatever).

    You can make "logical arguments" against Christianity. You can even make jokes about the religion and it's Members.

    But as soon as you breath a word against the Muslims you are silenced.

    We have a new minority in America. It's call the muslims. Please, if you are a male white American, add to your list of people not to offend: the Muslims. But remember, anyone can publicly deride the whites, males, christians but never speak ill of the jews, muslims, blacks (oh shit! sorry -- African American), mexicans, or anyone else who didn't have an ancestoral basis in North Western Europe along the paternal lines of the family tree.

    It's getting kind of crazy around here with all the people who are demanding both freedom of speech and respect for their own beliefs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      (fill in swim with whatever)

      Work.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 (1458) *
      > but never speak ill of the jews

      You haven't been paying attention. Anti-semitism, Holocaust Denial and outright jew hatred are now pretty much mainstream on sites like Daily Kos and DU. So as long as you are a deranged leftie Jews are now in season. Best I can figure they have decided that if they throw Israel under the bus the terrorists will stop hating us. Pathetic if you ask me, but I'm just a right wing reactionary neocon.

      Sorry if this is too much truthiness, but when I have to pick sides in th
  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:51PM (#17967878)
    So, you're an atheist. Would you be a Protestant or a Catholic atheist then?

    The religeon defines a lot of our culture even if we don't believe it. It depends on how this is done - going after extreme loonies doesn't make the entire thing invalid.

  • by wes33 (698200) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:55PM (#17967918)
    A lot of people here have noted that free speech does not extend to corporate America. Quite true - no one has a right to speak on youtube. But the interesting question is why does google choose to exercise their corporate prerogative so as to permit anti-Christian argumentation but not anti- Islam argumentation. This does intrigue me. I haven't seen either the anti-Christian or the (now banned) anti-Islam videos. Is there a real difference that would explain why the former is welcome on youtube but the latter is forbidden? There are a great many arguments revealing the fundamental irrationality of both religions. I don't see why google would not welcome both.
  • Amazon is actually being nice if all they do when someone calls to complain about what they carry is hang up. If it were me, I'd tell you to go fuck yourself, and I'd phrase it just that way.

    I object highly to forcing animals to fight for entertainment. I think it should be illegal in all of the US (currently, cock fighting is pefectly legal in at least two states (New Mexico and Mississippi, if I'm not mistaken).

    But I find censorship even more objectionable than that. And when a group like the Humane So
  • It's the Hypocrisy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by M0b1u5 (569472) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @08:56PM (#17967934) Homepage
    It's not the free speech, it's the hypocrisy. It's OK to bag Christianity, but not Islam? WTF is up with that?

    I can tell you: Christianity is used to being harrassed, and Christianity has shown itself to be nothing, if not resilient to this kind of thing. Whereas Islam is extremely poor at handling criticism; you might find yourself dead, burned, having some bizarre rushdie-like death sentence on you, or being chased by a bunch of brainwashed muslims.

    So no, you CAN'T make fun of Islam or point out the stupidity of living 14th century dogma in the 21st century.

    It's telling too, because a confident religion doesn't care what is said about it. Witness what's been said about Christianity! No, it's only a scared religion which reacts poorly to criticism - and the main reason (I maintain) is because even "devout" Muslims KNOW that what they've been told is a load of stinking horse shit, but it is impossible to speak out against it.

    Loud voices openly criticising Islam might start the tide against Islam, and that would result in the modernisation of that religion, and those who currently hold the power in Islam would see their power vanish almost instantly. So this issue continues to be about the power Islam wields over women, and other people. It's certainly got nothing to do with religion per se, in my view.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jpardey (569633)
      I remember, a week or two after september 11th, me and my father were riding our bikes down the road, and a minivan driver asks us for direction. He was dark skinned, and the first thing he said to us was "Please, I am not an Arab." Can you believe that? The area I live in is fairly culturally and racially diverse, and seems in no way discriminatory, yet this man thought he had to say he was not of a certain race to talk to us safely.

      Arabs and Islam have been demonized for ages, and more so now in this "po
      • by cronohyper (1044990) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @11:39PM (#17969056)
        I don't recall thousands of Christians taking to the streets and burning everything in sight when the documentary "The God Who Wasn't There" came out. Hell, the documentary received very little media attention at all. I bet it would be very different if they made a documentary named "The Holy Prophet Who Wasn't There". You didn't see Jews burn down Iranian embassies whenever Amedinijad made holocaust denying remarks. But hundreds of people died in riots and Danish embassies were burned down just because a Danish newspaper made some cartoons in bad taste. Yeah, I guess Muslims must be "pretty fucking pissed" over something so minor as cartoons. I'd hate to see what would happen if someone made an anti-Islam documentary or if a prominent politician publicly insulted Islam.
    • by rtechie (244489) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:55AM (#17969554)
      I can tell you: Christianity is used to being harrassed, and Christianity has shown itself to be nothing, if not resilient to this kind of thing. Whereas Islam is extremely poor at handling criticism; you might find yourself dead, burned, having some bizarre rushdie-like death sentence on you, or being chased by a bunch of brainwashed muslims.

      This has nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with Western secularism. You can thank ATHEISTS like Thomas Paine for the freedom of religion we enjoy in the West.

      Christians INVENTED the concept of "heresy", murdering people who believe very slightly differently than the way you do. The Catholic church became the dominate Christian sect by slaughtering everyone else. Christianity, much like Islam, has spread almost entirely through the sword. "Convert or die" has been the Christian mantra since at least the 4th century.

      Everyone here is missing the context. YouTube has been banning anti-Muslim videos much more often than anti-Christian videos because the anti-Muslim videos have been MUCH more offensive and racist. Videos accusing Muslims of raping children, using children as suicide bombers, claims that all Muslims are suicide bombers, graphics of Muslims murdering Christians and Jews, truly offensive depictions of Mohammed (like graphics of Mohammed raping children), calling Arabs "towel heads" and "sand niggers", etc. Similar video simply has not been posted anywhere NEAR as often with Christianity and other religions, but when it is, it's banned too.

      And this hasn't happened just once, it's happened thousands of times. YouTube has rules against posting offensive and racist videos. I haven't seen the video that was banned, but even assuming it was fairly tame one can easily see how YouTube might remove it in a knee-jerk manner.

  • Terrorist goals (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Haxx (314221)

      You relize that this means that the goals of the militant islmists are being met, therfore proving that terrorism works.
  • $subject. It doesn't exits. It is just another "product" of "democracy".

    Every society has taboo topics - and existence of "free speech" didn't changed that.

  • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:35PM (#17968174)
    So wait.. YouTube is bad because it didn't defend free speech, but Amazon is bad because it did and it is Kevin Kelleher's opinion that going up against the Humane Society might be a bad idea?
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:49PM (#17968268) Homepage
    In the US human societies are local organizations. HSUS is a front for PETA.
  • by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @09:54PM (#17968300)
    I think the Humane Society does itself no favors by ripping apart the 1st, 9th and 14th Amendment in pursuit of its own goals. Maybe it should try convincing people not to sell or buy animal fight magazines, and cease and desist its self-serving attacks against the US Constitution.
  • by dsanfte (443781) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @10:18PM (#17968482) Journal
    Anyone who criticises Islam is accused of being racist, and has the full weight of Political Correctness thrust down upon them. This is utter bullshit.

    It is our RIGHT to criticize ANY religion, be it in the spirit of Martin Luther, or in the spirit of Frederick Neitzche. It doesn't matter.

    Now, to ban a man for making a video of quotes from a book, simply the quotes, and calling that "inappropriate hate speech", that is a fucking travesty, and a symptom of everything that's wrong with giving certain groups special treatment. It may not be a violation of any of his rights, since Youtube is a private entity, but it's still a bitter pill to swallow. A man has been silenced because quoting from a book was deemed "inappropriate".

    I suppose nobody at Youtube figured that, if the quotes are inappropriate, maybe it's the author(s) of the book itself that should be blamed, and not the messenger. No, truth takes a back seat to making damned sure nobody could possibly be offended by anything.
  • by boingo82 (932244) on Saturday February 10, 2007 @10:24PM (#17968536) Homepage
    Nick Gisburne's website [gisburne.com]

    His new YouTube profile [youtube.com]

    Unfortunately he hasn't reposted all of his videos (God's Magic Banana Factory was hilarious) but God willing, (ha) he will soon.

  • The difference (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brandybuck (704397) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @12:43AM (#17969492) Homepage Journal
    What's the difference? Figure it out for yourselves:

    -----

    Martin Scorsese releases a film that was mildly heretical to Christianity. Some Christians stand around with placards protesting. Some boycott his movie. Most yawned and flip the newspaper to page two.

    The very same year Salman Rushdie publishes a book that is mildly heretical to Islam. He received death threats and had to go into hiding. Noted peace activist turned Mulsim, Cat "Peace Train" Stevens, affirms that Rushdie should be killed. A fatwah was issued against booksellers (I was one) selling the tome. To this day, Rushdie remains in hiding.

    -----

    Over a decade later another movie was released that was mildly heretical to Christianity. A bunch of Christians boycotted it. A few sermons were preached from a few pulpits. That was it. Dale Brown and Tom Hanks made a lot of money.

    Near the same time, a Danish newspaper publishes some cartoons, a few of which were mildly heretical to Islam. The Islamic world threw a shit fit, and engaged in violent protest for weeks. People died. Newpapers around the world tossed out principles held since the dawn of the Enlightenment and refused to print the cartoons.

    -----

    An opera that is planning to portray the severed heads of religious leaders is cancelled out of fear of violence... not because of the head of Jesus, but because of the head of Mohammed.

    -----

    Are you beginning to see the picture? Certainly Christianity has a checkered past, but it embraced the Enlightenment and Reformation. It has moved past its sins. But Islam remains rooted in a violent medieval mindset.

    I used to think it was just a small group of fanatic extremist Muslims that were the problem. But then I started to realize that mainstream Islam was not condemning the fanatics. They were being awfully quiet. Where was the outcry from mainstream Islam over suicide bombings? Where was the outcry from mainstream Islam over Hamas and PLO thuggery? Where was the outcry from mainstream Islam over Wahabism? Over femail genital mutilation? Over "honor" killings? Over the torture and murder of homosexuals?

    Western Civilization needs to STOP pretending that Islam is a religion of peace. It needs to stop sheltering Islam in the blanket of political correctness. It needs to stop pretending that the camel isn't in the tent. It needs to take a break from bashing Christianity and recognize where the real danger lies.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @01:54AM (#17969856) Homepage Journal
    Islam is particularly not a religion that says 'turn them your other cheek' - it actually encourages retaliation against 'the infidel'. 'infidel', 'against the religion' concepts are broad, and can be reevaluated to suit anyone's wish.

    hence, whereas christians wont be attacking the site, trying to ban the site in sweden, argentina, russia or anywhere, it cant be said for the muslims, especially those in arab countries. even so that the guy himself would easily be the target of attempts on his own life, if only some sheikh (curious concept, as islam does not allow priest class) showed him as a target with a 'fetva'.

    it seems that youtube is covering itself from islamic intolerance, something which we experienced with the denmark cartoon event.

    in middle east, and immediate nearby islamic countries, for over 50 years now, unlimited number of varied publications, some even with the hand of government, are condemning, villifying, demeaning, insulting west, western countries, their prominent contemporary and historical figures, demeaning christianity, jews, buddhism, anything you can think of that are not islam, and even insulting. they have all been doing that, or allowing that. however when not even the same thing, a much lesser offense is done in a western country, it suddenly became a scandal.
  • by Nick Gisburne (681796) on Sunday February 11, 2007 @06:55AM (#17971300) Homepage
    The latest situation is that I posted 2 near-identical videos to YouTube, in the account I was forced to create after my original accounts and videos were removed:

    One contained information showing negative passages from the Qur'an
    One contained information showing negative passages from the Bible

    Their formats were similar, just the origin of the material differed.

    The Qur'an video has just been removed by YouTube and flagged as 'Content Inappropriate'
    The Bible video? It has not been touched. It's there now.

    YouTube is censoring any comment which puts Islam in a bad light. Negative Christian comments are being ignored.

    I have posted a new YouTube video about this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEaC6Azs9DE [youtube.com]

    And there is more information on my web site:

    http://www.gisburne.com/ [gisburne.com]

    Please contact YouTube with any protests you may have. This is censorship, and YouTube is caving in to pressure from Muslims, undeniably.

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