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British Men Jailed For Online Hate Crimes 778

Posted by timothy
from the don'tcha-just-hate-online-crime dept.
chrb writes "Two British men have become the first to be jailed for inciting racial hatred online. The men believed that material they published on web servers based in the United States did not fall under the jurisdiction of UK law and was protected under the First Amendment. This argument was rejected by the British trial judge. After being found guilty, the men fled to Los Angeles, where they attempted to claim political asylum, again arguing that they were being persecuted by the British government for speech that was protected under the First Amendment. The asylum bid was rejected and the two were deported back to the UK after spending over a year in a US jail."
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British Men Jailed For Online Hate Crimes

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  • by biscon (942763) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:44PM (#28662009)
    is it the act of hating someone due to their racial background or sexual orientation which is illegal? or just running your mouth about it?. if its the former its thought crime and if its the latter its censorship. I don't believe in hate crime, not because I am a racist or a homofob its just that laws like that tend to be abused. Besides I like living in a free society where the government doesn't get to decide what I can legally think.
    • by RsG (809189) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:04PM (#28662185)

      "Hate crime" is a blanket term for laws that regulate speech with the intent of suppressing racism. More recently this has expanded to include homophobia. How those laws are viewed largely depends on whether the viewer feels more strongly about bigotry or censorship; whether you see a greater evil in suppression of speech or unreasoning hatred.

      I'd call censorship the greater evil, but despite that I'm ambivalent about this particular case. On the one hand, I do not think such a law ought to exist at all, on the other hand, I just can't muster any outrage at a neo-Nazi getting jailed. I suspect that it's cases like this that allow such laws to remain in effect - try to oppose the law on principle and you'll find yourself in the position of having to defend the bigots, something that even those most committed to free speech find repellent.

      • by StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:21PM (#28662359)
        Hate crime laws don't suppress racism... they might suppress public expression of racism, but people will still hate privately, likely using the hate crime laws themselves as a valid excuse to promote hate to others. "Look at James Byrd, they gave two of the three white guys that dragged him to death the death penalty and the other life, while the three black guys that did the same thing to Ken Tillery got 15, 20 and 70 years..." It's hard to enforce the law equally when the purpose of the law is to setup specific protected classes and that will result in more division.

        IMO, it's much better to get people to express themselves publicly since it gives them an avenue to vent while simultaneously allowing you to deflate their arguments before they can spread the hate.

        I live in NY... and you'll hear lots of people saying they were proud to vote for a black man for President, but those same people moved when blacks started encroaching on their white neighborhoods, send their kids to mostly white private schools, etc. While they publicly talk a good game, they still don't want to be around "those kind of people" privately. That undertone of racism is allowed to go unchallenged though, largely because as long as the racism isn't overtly public, it "isn't" really racism. I'd argue refusing to let your kids go to school with someone of a different color isn't much different from beating someone else up for being a different color. The same hate exists, just expressed differently... Sure, one is a violent crime which deserves a penalty in its own right, but the other goes completely unpunished and undiscussed.

        Ultimately, if we want racism (and sexism, homophobia, etc) to end, we need to stop drawing lines to divide people into different camps and giving special treatment to "the right groups." Anything short of equal treatment breeds a hate itself.
        • by c6gunner (950153) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:05PM (#28662733)

          I live in NY... and you'll hear lots of people saying they were proud to vote for a black man for President, but those same people moved when blacks started encroaching on their white neighborhoods, send their kids to mostly white private schools, etc. While they publicly talk a good game, they still don't want to be around "those kind of people" privately.

          That's complete nonsense. They don't live in those neighborhoods and send their children to those schools because they want racial segregation - they do it because those neighborhoods and those schools are upper-class environments where their children can prosper without having to worry excessively about crime or violence, and because those schools tend to offer a better quality of education. Parents who can afford to send their kids to a private school don't start the selection process by saying "hrm, let's see which school has the fewest negros" - they send their children to the best school they can find. Unfortunately, due to the economic discrepancy between the races, those schools tend to have fewer black students, but you're confusing correlation with causation.

          You know, it's like you went out to a rich neighborhood, looked at the kind of cars most of them drive, and then concluded that rich people must be massively pro-German. It makes no sense.

          As for the whole "proud to vote for a black man" thing ... that IS racist. If you're more proud to vote for a particular candidate due to his race, you're a bigot, regardless of whether he's black, white, green, or purple.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kjella (173770)

            As for the whole "proud to vote for a black man" thing ... that IS racist. If you're more proud to vote for a particular candidate due to his race, you're a bigot, regardless of whether he's black, white, green, or purple.

            If you think that he deserves the position, but in the past you wouldn't have voted for him anyway but now you do, then that's something to be proud over. Sure you might say that you're just doing the right thing you should have done all along, though I disagree. Overcoming your bigotry is hard and cause for pride.

            Of course, if you didn't really think he was the best candidate only that the country needed a token black precident as a racial feelgood measure then I agree. Then you've just clouded your judgem

        • by shaitand (626655) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:30PM (#28662893) Journal

          'I live in NY... and you'll hear lots of people saying they were proud to vote for a black man for President, but those same people moved when blacks started encroaching on their white neighborhoods, send their kids to mostly white private schools, etc.'

          I'm sorry but that is not racism. They aren't moving because blacks are moving into their neighborhood they are moving because the culture that prevails in black neighborhoods is encroaching on their own. The same is true of the schools.

          I'm sorry to all of those who want to call it the 'new racism' but opposing your children being influenced by a culture of rap/hip hop that romanticizes abuse of women, use of dangerous drugs like crack, gang violence, and the idea that people should be loud, rude, and obnoxious in their interaction with others is perfectly valid. The fact that people are afraid to express that idea openly and publicly without fear of being called racist is a sign that the public face of "white" america is diseased not their thoughts behind closed doors.

          Why were people willing to elect Obama (your votes are still private not public actions like you seem to suggest)? They elected Obama because his race is irrelevant what is important is that he didn't show signs of being a part of that culture and because he doesn't speak ebonics (which is superficial but to anyone who didn't grow up speaking ebonics it simply sounds like the broken English of the uneducated).

        • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:31PM (#28662913)
          I think the US and UK must have different definitions of "hate crime." In the US, it's an act that would have been a crime anyways, but motivated by any of a specific list of taboos. In the UK, apparently the speech is a crime in itself, even if nobody gets hurt.

          Though the US version seems ripe for abuse, it still seems more sensible than the UK version, and I don't think the US version is totally unreasonable. Take the recent holocaust museum shooting [examiner.com]... a white man murders a black guard in an attack on a symbol of Judaism. Clearly it was a hate crime - not against blacks, even though that's the only person he murdered - but against Jews. But he didn't just think about hating Jews, he took forcible action to terrorize them, so I can at least see the rationale in some extra punishment for that, on top of murdering a guy.

          Speaking of the murder of the guard, cop killers get harsher sentences too, likely including death, since cops represent a symbolic group with extra risks - in other words, a hate crimes. I wonder if all those against special protections for minority groups are also against harsher penalties for killing cops, assassinating heads of state, etc?

          • by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @05:01PM (#28663147)

            Actually from what you presented in your post, there is no evidence whatsoever that the museum shooting was a hate crime. A white man goes and shoots a black man at the holocaust museum. There is nothing in the act itself that suggests a hate crime (any more than someone knocking over a 7-11 with a sikh cashier is likely to be a hate crime against sikhs).

            The problem with hate crime laws is that it is near impossible to actually prove that the crime was motivated by racial or other prejudice (except for particular cases where say, the culprit specifically told someone that's why he was going to do it). Even if a person is publicly known to hate members of another group, and he murders a member of that group, that is not proof that his prejudice was the motivator, but it will very likely get him convicted under the hate crime law.

            In effect, the burden of proof is so low on the 'hate motive' that it becomes no different from the UK's law. It makes certain thoughts illegal, just in the US case you only get charged if you commit an actual crime as well--then the prosecutor says, "Not only did he murder John Doe, but he hates people like John Doe, so that must have been why," with no evidence that this was actually a factor.

            • by timeOday (582209) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @05:25PM (#28663341)
              I agree about the potential risks, but not in this case. The Holocaust Museum shooting perpetrator is a poster child [cbsnews.com] for prejudice, with a 60 year self-avowed history of anti-semitism. Furthermore, the Holocaust Museum has such overt symbolism that he could not possibly have attacked it without knowing exactly what message he would send. Are you arguing it's just a coincidence he attacked there?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by countvlad (666933)
            You've made an excellent distinction, but both systems are in error.

            I think class-based law is hypocritical in a nation "Where all men are created equal." Having a tiered law system smacks of "separate but equal" combined with a form of hyper-political correctness, neither of which are healthy for an open, democratic society. Discrimination is a property of Humanity, to deny it is foolhardy; all points of view have a place but are not all equal, to equate them all tips the scale in favor of anarchy ove
      • by bitt3n (941736) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:29PM (#28662451)

        whether you see a greater evil in suppression of speech or unreasoning hatred.

        I think the case can be made that suppression of speech is a potent means of perpetuating unreasoning hatred. One is unlikely to change a person's mind by preventing him from speaking it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bhima (46039) *

        It least where I live these days "Hate Speech" is a blanket term for that for laws that regulate speech which has the design of inciting men to violence. That and we have laws specifically about glorifying the Drittes Reich or Nationalsozialismus; denying the holocaust; and generally attempting to relive the mistakes of the past. As far as I can tell these laws are pretty useful because to a man all that have been prosecuted have been intent on goading others to do violence, part of violent groups, done v

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:48PM (#28662607)

          Your definition of "thought crime" as "muttering to yourself" is completely bogus trivializing.

          As for the tolerance of "hate speech" creating a freer and safer society here - the difference between the US and most of the rest of the world is we let it all hang out - the good, the bad and the ugly so that we get public discourse and an eventual meeting of the minds, even if it does take a generation or two and a lot of nasty words to get there. We are the most ethnic and culturally integrated country in the world in part because of that - contrast that to all the states with laws against insulting groups, your immigrants are far, far less integrated into mainstream society.

          You can't fight bad words with censorship, only good words in response to bad words can do that. Censorship just takes away the opportunity for someone to respond with good words.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DMUTPeregrine (612791)
        I am of Jewish heritage. My great grandparents were shot by the Nazis. Part of my family is Argentinian, as they were forced to flee there to escape the death camps. I don't like Nazis of any sort. But I still think the freedom of speech is more important. Suppressing someone's beliefs, through any means is wrong. If that means is hate crime laws or death camps, it's still wrong.
    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:05PM (#28662205)
      I don't believe in hate crime, not because I am a racist or a homofob its just that laws like that tend to be abused.

      I don't believe in hate speech crime, not because I am a racist or a homophobe but because I believe in the right of individuals to think and to say whatever the fuck they want without somebody shutting their mouth by force or putting them in jail for it. Laws prohibiting hate speech don't have to be abused to be wrong, they are also wrong when functioning as intended. If you disagree with racists or homophobes feel free to say so, but don't use the force of government to shut them up because you are replacing one evil with a greater one. And besides, is there an easier thing to argue against and to ridicule than the irrational and primitive nonsense that such people tend to say. Why would you even need such laws is beyond me. I am only sorry that the US government is not willing to step up and protect people from other countries, however odious their beliefs might be, who are persecuted at home for no greater crime than speaking their mind and who seek refuge here.
      • by TubeSteak (669689) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:44PM (#28663003) Journal

        I don't believe in hate speech crime...
        ...
        I am only sorry that the US government is not willing to step up and protect people from other countries, however odious their beliefs might be, who are persecuted at home for no greater crime than speaking their mind and who seek refuge here.

        Call it what it is: inciting violence.
        The fundamental crime is not "hate," it's the inciting of violence towards [people].
        The hate part just adds extra jail time because they're targeting someone for something that isn't necessarily a choice like race/skin color/religion/etc.

        To be clear... saying "I want to kill soldiers and you should to"
        and "I want to kill nigger soldiers and you should to" is already a crime.
        The only difference is that we, as a society, have decided the latter is more
        odious to our culture and that the punishment should be greater as a result.

    • I don't believe in hate crime...

      Well, most people do. And these days, that's all you need to throw someone in jail forever: The consent of the people.

      It's easy to get that consent as well. You just need to own a few newspapers and get a few people to cry on television. Gets 'em every time.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:13PM (#28662793)

        Well, most people do. And these days, that's all you need to throw someone in jail forever: The consent of the people.

        Who are "most people"? Do you have a cite or statistics to back this up? I didn't think so.

        The fact of the matter is (and I'm a centrist Democrat) that minority groups of various persuasions have squealed to the media about hate motivated crimes and laws have been put through by self-righteous cappuccino Dems while vilifying anybody who dares oppose it.

        I'm from Cincinnati (yeah, we've got one hell of a past, check dangerous neighborhood listings [walletpop.com] and witness our #1 glory) and I've seen it happen: five white guys beat the shit out of a black guy and it's a hate crime. Five black guys beat the shit out of a white guy and it's just a "crime"... in fact it's business as usual. I work in the engineering field and I personally know three engineers (including a female) who have been assaulted while trying to get to data centers on off-hours calls. Hint: all the perps were black and all the victims were white.

        You can bleat anecdote and I can show you trends.

        There are just as many black racists here as there are white. I lost count of how many times I've been called cracker, honkey, casper, etc. Just for walking down the street. I've spoken to others, and yes, it's the norm. I'm a pretty big guy so nobody ever acts on it (and I'm a prior military CCW if they do), but for more "average" people you're pretty much screwed.

        And remember, when you're getting your teeth kicked out in the gutter for being a stupid white motherfucker in "our" part of town during the night, it's not a hate crime. We just don't like you straight white folks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DittoBox (978894)

      But the government loves you, and wants you to be happy. Why do you hate the government? Maybe you should go through a program to rehabilitate you. If you hate the government and it's policies then you obviously hate other races and such.

      [/sarcasm]

      Therein lies the problem. This is exactly why thought-crime is such a dangerous notion.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cederic (9623)

      Count this one as censorship. They were found guilty of 'inciting racial hatred'.

      That doesn't mean it's illegal to hate someone because of their racial heritage (i.e. thoughtcrime) it's illegal to incite such hatred in others.

      Still right on the edge of suppression of free speech, and without knowing exactly what these guys printed/posted I'm not sure whether this is something I need to be concerned about or not.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Psyborgue (699890)
        But a court could find almost anything likely to "incite". A court could find a Big Mac likely to "incite" obesity. Where the hell is personal responsibility?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AP31R0N (723649)

      The legal aspect of the term hate crime was invent to make sure such crime were actually PROSECUTED. Not long ago, crime A by person type B against person type C was no big deal. Stomp a fag to death, burn a cross on a nigger's lawn, no problem. The people enforcing the laws were the same as the people breaking them, so often the crimes were unpunished. Enter hate crimes. Now it's harder to get away with it.

      Some hate crimes are meant to terrorize, which makes them actually WORSE than the act itself. Fo

  • Thought crime (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Werrismys (764601) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:46PM (#28662027)
    This is old news in Finland. We have had at least 4 convictions on dubious basis within one year. "Insulting" muslims and negroes seems to be verboten while insulting christians and white males is ok. 1984.
    • Re:Thought crime (Score:5, Interesting)

      by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:19PM (#28662341)

      This is old news in Finland. We have had at least 4 convictions on dubious basis within one year. "Insulting" muslims and negroes seems to be verboten while insulting christians and white males is ok. 1984.

      As a fellow Finn I must say that I have not heard of such dubious convictions, and would be interested in seeing some proof of such. I would also like to point out that those who insult "muslims and negroes" in this country are overwhelmingly white Christian males. If there were widespread racism on the part of the non-white non-Christian population toward the ethnic majority, I can assure you that the yellow press would be all over it. It would be too lucrative for them to downplay it. So far, there has been no word of such, so I have a hard time stomaching your allegation that "insulting christians and white males is ok."

      Also worthy of note is that insulting Muslims, Christians, Blacks or Whites is perfectly allowed and legal in this country, as long as you don't insult them for being Muslims, Christians, Blacks or Whites.

  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:46PM (#28662031)
    Have you ever noticed how hate mongers usually look like douchebags?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:46PM (#28662035)

    "Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don't give it any value." - Dean Steacy, Canadian Human Rights Commission investigator

  • by number6x (626555) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:47PM (#28662039)

    There is no guarantee of Free speech in the UK

    It is simply a fact.

    The vast majority of countries do not allow simple basic freedoms. Even the freedom for stupid people to say stupid things.

    • Actually there is (Score:3, Informative)

      by jeevesbond (1066726)

      Actually, freedom of speech is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights [wikipedia.org], 1689. However, keeping a freedom requires the populace to care about it. In Britain's case everyone's too busy hating Europeans (then going on holiday there), being paranoid about jails full of paedophiles and being scared of terrorists and KnifeCrime(tm) to worry about the finer points of freedom of speech. Obviously these two are a pair of scum bags, so no-one cares to defend them, for what it's worth I believe their freedom of speech should

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by D-Cypell (446534)

      There is no free speech anywhere, just people that harp on that they have it and others dont.

      There are certainly things you could say in the US that would mean that you would end up in jail. It might be for some other reason, but if you started publically praising the 9/11 hijackers (for example), you can expect the authorities to start looking into your business pretty closely. You had better be whiter than white. Most likely you would end up incarcerated (assuming you lived long enough to get there), for

  • by Kell Bengal (711123) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:47PM (#28662043)
    I never understand what people like this hope to accomplish. Inciting racial hatred... really, it's like internet trolling - it just gets people flustered and angry, and they do it for 'teh lulz'. It's pathetic. Nothing changes; nobody is going to be swayed by their infantile invective, they aren't ever going to have the people they dislike evicted from their country. Even if they did, would it really make their life any better?

    The common thread amongst racists that I've found is that they invariably want someone to blame for the state of their own lives, and they choose someone who is obviously different from them, because it's easy. These guys aren't smart, capable people; they're losers. It takes people with amazing charisma and a climate of social discontent to legitimise racially prejudicial attitudes - insulting cartoons shoved under a synagogue door don't make the grade.

    Should they be imprisoned? Maybe. But I think we'd accomplish just as much by ignoring them and their malcontent existance, as one would an internet troll.

    • by EWAdams (953502) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:01PM (#28662157) Homepage

      Inciting sectarian hatred is not pointless there. It matters deeply and gets people killed. As it does in those large parts of the world still riven by ethnic, sectarian, and tribal divisions.

      The USA is one of the few countries that can AFFORD freedom of speech.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kell Bengal (711123)
        That is true... but this is the UK we're talking about, not a tribal society.
  • Speech. At one time it did, but now there are limits to free speech. Both in the UK and USA now.

    I guess that means we can send the KKK and Nazi groups in the USA to jail then for distributing hate speech materials. Also track down the "Anonymous" group for hate speech against Scientologists, etc.

    • by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:09PM (#28662245)

      At one time it did, but now there are limits to free speech. Both in the UK and USA now.

      While the USA is getting there, it's still easily the best, any laws on the books probably will be struck down before the Supreme Court (although having that as my last line of defense does not reassure me).

      Most countries with "Freedom of Speech" have so many exceptions to the rule that it's worthless, see Germany. Popular speech doesn't have to be protected but that's all they seem to try to protect. That is pretty ironic as the terrible parts of their history was not due to Freedom of Speech, but slavish adherence to the state, which is still ingrained in the national attitude.

      It's ironic that the Founding Fathers were considered "liberals" in their day (look up the term classical liberal) but both sides of the political spectrum would love to censor speech at any opportunity, just for different reasons.

  • by Bartab (233395) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:51PM (#28662085)

    If you can't say something other people don't want to hear, you do not have free speech.

    • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:32PM (#28662471)

      "Freedom of speech" in the US doesn't mean you can say whatever you want either. If you endanger other people by what you say (e.g. shout "fire" in a crowded theatre, incite others to murder, violence) there are consequences. If you slander someone there are consequences. If you lie under oath there are consequences.

      Freedom of speech isn't a right that overrides all other laws, not should it be.

      I'm amazed not only that this story was posted to /. but also that so many apparently have sympathy for these losers.

  • !thoughtcrime (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:55PM (#28662105) Homepage Journal

    Publishing words that incite hatred is not "thoughtcrime". Words are not thoughts. You can think whatever hatred or whatever else you want. But speech is an action, a real act in the world that affects other people. Not all acts, not all speech or expressions, particularly in public, are protected. You do not have the right to speak in a way that harms people. And currently, as always in history, published hate speech forms links in the critical path from protected hateful thoughts to non-protected violent acts that physically harm people. Those links are on the action side of the thought/action boundary.

    You can't tell someone that you're going to kill them and expect to get away with it. You likewise can't threaten everyone who's a member of a group, racial or otherwise, and expect to get away with it. You can think about genocide, but the moment you do something, including organizing or inciting others to carry it out, you've crossed the line. And that's when we have governments to protect us from you, not you from the consequences of your speech.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192) *

      I don't buy it. Maybe, just maybe if an actual crime is committed and you can link the motives of the perpetrators to speech someone else made I can see an argument for criminalizing that speech. Of course, we have conspiracy laws for that. Criminalizing speech that hasn't caused yet anyone to harm anyone is just chilling. You're essentially arguing that we should prosecute precrime. Frankly, it's much worse than the speech they are trying to stop.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Psyborgue (699890)
      I have the right to say "death to [group/country/people/religion]" or "killing abortion doctors is good". You are responsible for your own choices if you decide to ask on my words, not me. In US law, anything is protected speech unless it is an *immediate* threat of violence [wikipedia.org] (i.e. inciting a riot when you are actually in the riot). If you want to defeat bad ideas, fight them with good ones in the open commerce of ideas. Suppressing speech only treats the symptom and not the root cause of the problem, wh
    • Re:!thoughtcrime (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MindlessAutomata (1282944) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:00PM (#28662701)

      I claim that your ability to silence what I say is harm, are you going to lock yourself up in a jail cell? Or wait, lemme guess... it's you, the wise, enlightened populist liberal, that gets to decide what constitutes "harm," what opinions are "harmful," no?

  • by EWAdams (953502) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:57PM (#28662121) Homepage

    Israelis arrest (and indeed assassinate) enemies of Israel anywhere they like. Ditto the USA. A California couple publishes porn on the Internet in California, and is tried and convicted in Tennessee, which they have never visited. You can do something in a foreign country that's totally legal there, and your own government will still prosecute you for it -- as these guys did. It's only a matter of time before the USA starts prosecuting American citizens for smoking dope and visiting prostitutes in Amsterdam.

    The fact is, if you publish it on the web, you're liable for it worldwide, regardless of where you are or where the server is. Better get used to it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 0racle (667029)

      What they did, they did in the UK. They then fled and attempted to request asylum, which was denied. One of two things happened after that, both legal. Either their priflege of being in the US was revoked and they were deported, or the UK voiced their claim on them and they were extradited per US/UK agreements.

      Just because they put their works on a server in the US does not change the fact they were created in the UK. They UK can use this to say the crime occurred in their jurisdiction. They did wha

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:59PM (#28662135)

    . . . don't convicted criminals have their passports confiscated, while awaiting sentencing?

    I just find it bizarre, that they can just hop on a plane to LA.

    This would be a great Monty Python sketch with Eric Idle, as the bloke checking the passports on exiting the country:

    "Ah, going to Los Angles, super, super! Business? No, holiday? Ah, spit, which one is it?"

    "We are convicted criminals leaving the country, to apply for asylum in the United States."

    "Ok, off you go then!"

  • No Asylum? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bellegante (1519683) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @02:59PM (#28662139)
    No free speech in the UK, I get that (though I strongly disagree with it!), but why not offer asylum? Don't we believe in the right to free speech ourselves? Isn't this a perfect example of a situation in which we should, when someone comes to us who is being prosecuted for a crime that we do not consider to be a crime?
  • by jipn4 (1367823) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:16PM (#28662315)

    Great going, Britain! As Yugoslavia has shown us, trying to suppress racial hatred through government oppression works really well!

    • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:53PM (#28663083)

      It worked very well, indeed. Only after Yugoslavia was broken up in little pieces, when there was no government oppression anymore, people started being nationalistic and trying to kill all the others.

      Same thing happened in the ex-USSR republics (the war in Georgia last summer was a perfect example). In the times of USSR there were minor ethnic conflicts but worst thing could happen were some broken noses. After the government suppression was gone azeris started to kill armenians, georgians started to kill abkhasians and ossetins, chechens just started to kill everyone around.

      Seems that government suppression has some good sides after all.

  • There are many forms of authoritarianism. It is a belief system that is surprisingly "cross-platform"; you'll find examples in all kinds of communities, secular and religious, left-wing and right-wing, liberal and conservative.

    What they have in common is a mis-trust in the governed. The governed must be repressed, and cannot be allowed to have free choice. There can be no tolerance for meaningful opposition, for that would "weaken" the community, resulting in "instability", i.e., loss of control by the governing class. It is a forced form of allegiance.

    All truly free societies are built on the power of persuasion.

  • by jipn4 (1367823) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @03:32PM (#28662467)

    Their web site is called heretical.com [heretical.com]. They apparently hate me, too.

    But their writing is so discombobulated that I'd be much more concerned about the threat to my life and liberty from a government that thinks it needs to throw people in jail over this drivel than about these two nuts or their readers.

  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @04:25PM (#28662861)

    Whenever somebody makes the nonsensical claim that it is unacceptable to censor racist or homophobic propaganda because it is a free speech issue, consider the following examples.

    1: You're not allowed to harass people, even if you do so by speaking.

    3: You're not allowed to tell people lies in order to make them agree to things they otherwise would not ( i.e fraud ).

    4: You are not allowed to print untrue stories that may damage somebody's reputation ( i.e libel ).

    5: You're not allowed to damage people's reputation by spreading lies about them ( i.e slander )

    The main problem with the laws against racism and homophobia is that they have been poorly named. They should have called it "The protection against harassment of minorities act" or something like it. As with all other liberties your freedom ends where mine begins, and just like freedom of movement does not entitle you to sleep in my front-yard, nor does freedom of speech entitle you to spread lies about my sexual orientation. If you seriously think that freedom of speech gives you a right to lie about and harass people, then I'm afraid you have a rather naive idea of how the world works and you may just find that a lot of people with disagree with you.

    • by labnet (457441) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @05:39PM (#28663461)

      It is the definition of harrasment that concerns me.
      Is expressing an opinion harassment, or does that harssment need to be targetted toward an individual.
      Eg. I don't think a gay lifestyle is right, but I certainly don't hate them for it and wouldn't condone any specific action.
      If someone doesn't like my religion, then that's their opinion, but if they said hunt me down and kill me because of my religion, then that would be harassment.

      So my concern is that the mere expresion of a personal opinion without intent could be considered harasment.

  • by nbauman (624611) on Saturday July 11, 2009 @07:45PM (#28664289) Homepage Journal
    Here's the anti-Semitic comic book that they were arrested for. http://www.heretical.com/holohoax/index.html [heretical.com]

    I believe in freedom of speech. There is a small risk that this could lead to anti-Semitism and violence, but there's a greater risk that censorship could lead to things that are as bad or worse. And I think that getting this out in the open is the best way to deal with it.

    Don't the Brits still read Milton's Areopagitica and John Stuart Mill's On Liberty any more?

    BTW, Simon Sheppard seems to have a case of arrested sexual development, even by Slashdot standards. http://www.heretical.com/sexsci/index.html [heretical.com] Or maybe not by Slashdot standards.

    Here's the Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Sheppard_(far-right_activist) [wikipedia.org] and here's his index page http://www.heretical.com/main.html#directory [heretical.com] I believe the British term is "nutter."

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