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Electronic Frontier Foundation Censorship Youtube Your Rights Online

EFF Looks At How Blasphemy Laws Have Stifled Speech in 2012 278

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the noodly-appendage dept.
As part of their 2012 in review series, the EFF takes a look at how blasphemy laws have chilled online speech this year. A "dishonorable mention" goes to YouTube this year: "A dishonorable mention goes to YouTube, which blocked access to the controversial 'Innocence of Muslims' video in Egypt and Libya without government prompting. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, a group based in Egypt, condemned YouTube's decision."
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EFF Looks At How Blasphemy Laws Have Stifled Speech in 2012

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  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @11:31AM (#42394721) Homepage

    All I said was that this piece of halibut was good enough for Jehovah!

    • by MrSavage (2127458)
      Blasphemer!
    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:02PM (#42394961) Journal

      ... try being a right-leaning prof in a large, prestigious college (or in Hollywood), or a skeptic of $prevailingOpinionOnHighlyPoliticizedTopic in the scientific community.

      Just something to keep in mind.

      • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:43PM (#42395401) Journal
        If you want your point to be taken very seriously, it would be useful to point out someone who has suffered serious consequences for simply being right-leaning and not for corruption and/or using their doctorate in one field as credentials for their press releases in a different, completely unrelated field.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:58PM (#42395585)

          Obviously, nobody gets fired for "right leaning views". But you can find a cause to fire anybody if you look just hard enough. Academia is generally a pretty hostile environment to either social or fiscal conservatives. Most conservatives I know just don't talk about their political views in such environments at all, but sadly still have to listen to the endless left-wing chatter of their colleagues.

          • by Chrisq (894406)

            Obviously, nobody gets fired for "right leaning views"

            I was chairman of the communist party's local chapter you insensitive clod

          • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @01:39PM (#42396051) Homepage

            Obviously, nobody gets fired for "right leaning views".

            In the 1950's, people did get fired (and also denied positions) specifically for being communists. If you're going to claim systemic discrimination against conservatives in academia, you're going to have to show consequences at least as severe as that.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              Juan Williams did. And he isn't right wing, just one of his views was, and that was enough. No tolerance from the tolerance crowd, we call that irony (or hypocrisy)

          • by ATMAvatar (648864)

            Obviously, nobody gets fired for "right leaning views". But you can find a cause to fire anybody if you look just hard enough. Academia is generally a pretty hostile environment to either social or fiscal conservatives. Most conservatives I know just don't talk about their political views in such environments at all, but sadly still have to listen to the endless left-wing chatter of their colleagues.

            I'm still not seeing any examples. Unfortunately, all of this comes across as playing the victim, much like all the conservative pundits go on about how there's a war on Christmas every year, despite all the decorated trees, colored lights, and light-up santas all over the place.

            Point out even one example of someone who was severely and provably impacted as a result of right-leaning views. If it's such a big problem that it's worth drawing a parallel to the blasphemy laws in other countries, there should

      • Yeah, or throwing rocks at old people. What's with all these totally arbitrary sensitivities, right?

      • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

        Or simply try being a right-winger surrounded by smart people, anywhere. It's rough.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DAldredge (2353)

        "a skeptic of $prevailingOpinionOnHighlyPoliticizedTopic in the scientific community."

        You are going to have to get used to the idea that evolution is supported by evidence and that the Earth really is billions of years old.

        Sorry

    • You're only making it worse for yourself!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @11:36AM (#42394771)

    Using the term "Blasphemy" serves to moderate what is truly an abomination: the fanatical intolerance of Muslims for anything that even smacks of an insult to the so-called prophet and they outrageous response that ultimately ends up getting people killed. Ironically, the people getting killed are usually Muslims.

     

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @11:44AM (#42394813) Homepage

      There are 2 reasons I can see for the EFF using the more general term:
      1. One of the winners was Greece, going after someone who was satirizing a Greek Orthodox monk. It's not always about Muslims.
      2. The organization opposes all attempts to censor online speech, not just religiously motivated attempts.

    • by arbiter1 (1204146)
      Problem with most laws over there, they are based on the religion and not some sense. In some countries over there "Blasphemy" carries the death sentence.
      • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:03PM (#42394975) Homepage

        Problem with most laws over here, they are based on the fear and not some sense. In some airports over here carrying a water bottle carries a torture sentence.

        Every government tries to enact laws that mold its citizens to fit one particular morality, regardless of whether it's led by religion, hivemind democracy, or dictatorship. For localized groups that face communal problems, this has usually been perfectly fine. The real problem comes from applying one group's morality (and therefore its laws) to another group. The Internet lets everyone see everyone else's actions immediately, so what's perfectly fine to an irreverent filmmaker with poor taste in comedy can quickly spread as outrage among people with a stricter sense of decency.

        To the people who enact and support the religious laws "over there", they make perfect sense, just as the people who support anti-terrorist or gun control laws in America think those laws make sense.

        • Any point you might have made later in your post was lost by the lack of perspective demonstrated by your use of the word "torture".

          You really dont understand what torture is, and you really need to get a grip on reality. What the TSA does doesnt constitute torture by any remote stretch, and youre ignorant and sheltered if you think otherwise.

          • by Sarten-X (1102295)

            The chain of events that goes from carrying a water bottle to government-sanctioned torment in an offshore prison is little different than the blasphemy-to-death-sentence progression. A minor offense occurs, the perpetrator gets annoyed by the subjective and obtrusive enforcement, a small circus of scandal ensues, and because nobody in the enforcement agency wants to be the guy who let a lawbreaker go [schneier.com], especially one who doesn't seem repentant, the slightest infraction can result in the maximum possible sen

    • by fermion (181285)
      Have you not watched the Fox News War on Christmas coverage. They want to punish secular establishments that do not wish exclude persons who do not celebrate christmas.

      Or an alarming number of terrorist christians who want to attack a secular government for not promoting their particular superstition.

      Have you tried to talk to a christian about the fact the devil is a christian and therefore only christian can be devil worshiper, as most other religions which understands that we cannot judge, much less u

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @11:46AM (#42394847) Journal

    Well, infinitely powerful God apparently needs humans to kill off his political enemies. Censoring them ain't no thang.

    • Well, infinitely powerful God apparently needs humans to kill off his political enemies. Censoring them ain't no thang.

      I guess that's why they call their God omnimpotent, or something like that. Whatever that means.

      • Ezekiel 23:20 is about some potent erhm... but not sure if it is meant to be omnipotent though. :-D
        To stay on topic, I think that he is omnipotent. But he is also very old, so probably he just doesn't know how to write an email to the rascals at Google. Or he is just slightly less of an idiot than his followers and has a more humorous and positive outlook on eternal life.
  • by nomadic (141991)
    Free speech incorporates the right not to say things just as much as it incorporates the right to say things. YouTube should be allowed to determine what it is saying on its network just as much as the creator of the video should on whatever channels it controls. EFF is wrong about this.
    • by MrSavage (2127458)
      "Free speech incorporates the right not to say things just as much as it incorporates the right to say things." You reminded me of something Abraham Lincoln said: “To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.”
    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @11:54AM (#42394907)

      Just because Google can do what it wants doesn't mean it is above criticism for its actions. Any racist shitbag can spew whatever racist nonsense they want. At the same time, I can call them out as a racist shitbag all I want.

    • by PPH (736903)

      YouTube isn't exercising a "right to say thinks" of their own. They are simply providing infrastructure that allows others to do so. Just like the phone company isn't responsible for the content of the conversations they carry.

      YouTube should be allowed to determine what it is saying on its network

      That's a slippery slope. Once YouTube or any other content host begins exercising editorial control, they could be held liable for failing to do so. And then if they let something slip by that offends one group, that group will sue for blasphemy or some other form of imagined discrim

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        How are they going to 'be held liable'? Unless there is some law that says otherwise (there isn't) they can decide what they will and won't host. They have been doing just that since their inception (find a lot of porn on YouTube?).

        If someone is going to sue YouTube for blasphemy, they are going to do that regardless of what OTHER content YouTube hosts or doesn't host.

        And you can't (successfully) sue someone for 'imagined discrimination'. If you are going to sue for discrimination it has to be about some

      • Huh? Content hosts have had their own policies over what they deem acceptable and have exercised that control since their inception. There is no risk here of opening themselves up to trouble. You have no right to say whatever you want to say on their private infrastructure. They could decide to censor any and all religious talk on the site and there's not a damn thing anyone could do about it from a legal standpoint.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:00PM (#42394941)

    It isn't about religion, but the decline in Moderate thinking.
    With the internet people in general get caught up in a competition on who is the best in their group.

    I don't have the citation and it has been a few years (and I am too lazy to look it up for a slashdot post), but there was a study that shows the stricter groups (Religions, Parties...) have a better retention and growth rate then the groups that are a bit more moderate.

    So a Religion that says you are going to Hell unless you follow these commandments are more popular and tend to last longer than a religion that states if you are good of heart than you will be saved.

    The same thing is happening with political parties, Parties are creating stricter guidelines to say what it means to be in the party. The difference between a republican and democrat isn't as simple as Small Local Governments vs. Large Centralized government. But to an array of policies often contradictory to each other that define the groups stances.

     

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      there was a study that shows the stricter groups (Religions, Parties...) have a better retention and growth rate then the groups that are a bit more moderate.

      Then why are the "fire and brimstone" Christian denominations shrinking while the "Jesus died to pay for your sins" nondenominational Christian churches thriving and growing?

      Sorry, but the citction you're too lozy to look up is completely necessary in light of the facts.

  • by m.shenhav (948505) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:02PM (#42394959)
    For residents of countries where separation of Church and State is upheld, Blasphemy Law is clearly one step too far.

    What interests me is the tensions which exists between Free Speech, Privacy, Intellectual Property and Slander. There are Non-Trivial Tradeoffs involved, making this a domain where opinions are more divergent and definitions far trickier to formulate. Attacking an Idea or an Institution is quite a different story than attacking a Person.
  • Saving lives (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Excelcia (906188) <kfitzner@excelcia.ca> on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:16PM (#42395091) Homepage Journal

    Youtube's blocking of that video was an effort to save lives. I'm not convinced that the production of the "Innocence of Muslims" wasn't intended to have the effect it had. Perhaps as a people those who are murderously offended by such things need to grow up and get a thicker skin. I'll grant that. But any words, religiously themed or not, which are intended to offend are reprehensible. And I applaud Youtube for taking steps to mitigate the disaster that video initiated.

    Beyond this, so many people (Americans especially) have this "I may not like what you say, but I'll die to defend your right to say it" attitude that sounds good on the surface, but which denies a basic fact, which is that words which are intended to be hateful do hurt. There is no place for any action which is intended to harm, whether that action is picking up a stick or a pen. There is a difference between an unpopular idea expressed in good faith, and one intended to offend. And while differentiating may be difficult, in an age of instant global communications, at least Youtube stood up and tried. They made a call with what they will allow on a network they own. No one should have gotten murderously angry over this video, but the fact is some people did. And you may not like suppressing ideas, but there may be some people alive today who wouldn't be if that video wasn't turned off for a time. Which of those people is the EFF going to tell shouldn't be alive today?

    • Re:Saving lives (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dugancent (2616577) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:34PM (#42395319)

      You don't have the right to not be offended.

    • by swb (14022) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:41PM (#42395391)

      It's not "saving lives" it's rewarding intolerance by showing sensitivity to intolerance. It also creates a precedence that says that you recognize their intolerance and will react affirmatively to it again in the future, guaranteeing another intolerant reaction.

      Is it wrong to purposefully offend someone? Sure, that's Ethics 101.

      But Ethics 201 asks more questions about what intent means and what it means to be offended and how far you can go to react to that offense.

      By most civilized standards, rioting and killing people in response to a video is also unacceptable.

      • Ding ding. This is exactly it. YouTube's knee-jerk reaction and everyone condemning the video openly just affirms that these radical groups are going to keep doing what they do because it works.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by interval1066 (668936)

      which is that words which are intended to be hateful do hurt

      NONSENSE. You sound like the biggest douche on the planet with that statement. When I was coming up it was "sticks and stones", now its douchebags like you with your "fluff is the new real" crap. Ya feel hurt now, little boy? I suppose you do. I guess that means you have every right to lob a bomb my way. I have NO USE for you and your ilk, you immature little fuck. I'll call ONE MAN who has more substance and fibre in his body my friend before I take 100 of you "words hurt" buggars as acquaintances.

      "Words

      • by Excelcia (906188)

        I didn't say you get to use violence as a remedy, I'm saying that the reality is that people were using violence as a remedy and that Youtube did the correct thing. It's fine for some airy-fairy rights-obsessed intellectual in the EFF to say that all censorship is wrong, but there were real people with real guns at peoples heads. Which innocent are you willing to sacrifice for the ideal of never taking a video off of Youtube? A video made with the intention to inflame hatred.

        I'll tell you what, hero...

      • by ZorroXXX (610877)
        Dear interval1066.

        I do not know what your intention were in writing the above post. Maybe you wrote it purely for own reasons to blow off some steam or you felt that someone was wrong on the internet [xkcd.com]. But if you also want to influence other people, politeness is much, much, much more effective than insulting them. And to other people not target for the insult you risk appearing childish by calling the other person douchebag etc. So I kindly ask you to consider being more polite. Not because I felt insult

    • No amount of appeasement will ever satisfy them. If it isn't a silly video, it's a silly cartoon, or "santanic passages" or whatever.

      Kill the infidels where ever you find them, right?

    • But any words, religiously themed or not, which are intended to offend are reprehensible. And I applaud Youtube for taking steps to mitigate the disaster that video initiated.

      While I agree that setting out to deliberately offend people for no good reason isn't normally a good thing, the idea that deliberately offending people is automatically reprehensible is unrealistic idiocy. If someone claims that it's fine for a father to rape his own daughter, I'm not going to mince words in describing what he is.

      There is a difference between an unpopular idea expressed in good faith, and one intended to offend. And while differentiating may be difficult

      That's kind of academic unless we can be certain that these Islamic nutjobs will notice that differentiation. Even today you'll find more conservative Christians who'd rather see

    • Youtube's blocking of that video was an effort to save lives. I'm not convinced that the production of the "Innocence of Muslims" wasn't intended to have the effect it had. Perhaps as a people those who are murderously offended by such things need to grow up and get a thicker skin. I'll grant that. But any words, religiously themed or not, which are intended to offend are reprehensible. And I applaud Youtube for taking steps to mitigate the disaster that video initiated.

      Yes it is a great day when murderers can get someone censored merely by claiming the speech as the excuse for killing someone. Lets keep appeasing these people since if we all cower in fear they will never kill anyone again. *rolls eyes*

  • The headline reads like something from a new fiction genre... cyber-inquisition-noir.
  • Wot? (Score:5, Funny)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @12:55PM (#42395559)

    Blasphemy is for wimps. Real men use heresy or apostasy to distinguish themselves from the common infidel.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @01:47PM (#42396125) Homepage

    The nuttier religions may be about to crack. In the US, the number of people reporting "no religion" has doubled in the past decade. [pewforum.org] There are now more than twice as many atheists and agnostics (4%) in the US as Jews (1.7%). "Unaffiliated" is at 16.1%. Islam only has 0.6% market share in the US, and Mormonism is at 1.7%. Total US "Christian" is at 78%, but that's self-reported. The number of people who say they go to church is about twice the number churches report showing up.

    Some religions need a high level of coercion to maintain market share. For most of the period since the decline of the Roman Empire, Catholicism was the worst offender. It took several wars in Europe to overthrow that tyranny. Today, militant Islam (and its mirror image, ultra-orthodox Judaism) struggle to keep their members in line and coerce their children into their grip.

    That isn't about religion. It's about power. Political power. The religions that fear "blasphemy", demand obedience, and want theocracy are political organizations. They should be treated as such. They have no moral right to demand that they not be criticized. Indeed, citizens have a duty to point out their failings and fight their excesses.

    So keep that "blasphemy" going out. Religious leaders, not their followers, should be afraid. (And up the production value; "Innocence of Muslims" was ineptly executed. Read "Florence of Arabia" [amazon.com] for what's needed.)

    History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose. - Jefferson

  • by virtigex (323685) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:10PM (#42398083)
    Hosting a video that is solely intended to cause outrage is bad for business and YouTube should remove it if it causes trouble. What does YouTube gain by hosting this video? This is not a US First Amendment issue, since the producer of the film is quite welcome to have the film hosted and published by some other means. Put it on vimeo your own web site or even host it via The Pirate Bay. Free speech does not mean that a company has to help you to spread your message.

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