Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?
Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

EU Pushes to Limit Internet Speech 1256

minamar writes "CNN is reporting that at an international conference, the EU is urging the US and other nations to ban racist and 'hate' messages from the internet. The US seems to be resisting, but is this another step away from free speech and how could an international group possibly regulate message on the internet anyway?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU Pushes to Limit Internet Speech

Comments Filter:
  • Free Speech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Laivincolmo ( 778355 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:21PM (#9457469)
    If you don't let people vent their anger on websites that no one will read, then they might go out and use violence to vent that anger.
    • Re:Free Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:25PM (#9457518) Journal
      Well, more to the point: if or didn't exist, it would be rather more difficult to know who the wackos are.

      I'm less worried about their ability to recruit using the net, then I am about them being underground.

    • Re:Free Speech (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:35PM (#9457636)
      However, conversely people with such anger might use websites to recruit people to take part in large acts violence to vent that anger.

      It's a double-edged sword. Sometimes we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.
      • Re:Free Speech (Score:4, Insightful)

        by npsimons ( 32752 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:46PM (#9458659) Homepage Journal

        It's a double-edged sword. Sometimes we're damned if we do and damned if we don't.

        I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

        And I don't care what anyone says, my liberty trumps your sense of security (not necessarily your *safety*, but rather your misguided *sense* of safety).

    • Re:Free Speech (Score:3, Insightful)

      by compwiz ( 21231 )
      Tell that to nearly any psychologist and they'll promptly contradict you. There is really no proof that releasing anger and frustration on harmless objects makes someone any less likely to go out and actually do harm.
  • by DaveKAO ( 320532 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:21PM (#9457474) Homepage
    George W. Bush sends Chirac an email stating- "I hate the French!"
  • by Ridgelift ( 228977 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:22PM (#9457476)
    A sticking point was whether the United States, which has championed nearly unfettered free speech, would line up with European countries that have banned racist or anti-Semitic speech in public.

    The problem is once you ban racist speech in public, you immediately open the door for more laws that do nothing to actually curtail the problem, but rather limit the rights and freedoms of everyone. Once you do that, it just opens the door for large powerful bodies of people (governments, corporations, SIG's) to pass more laws to limit more rights and freedoms.

    Freedom is expensive, but it's something worth fighting and dying for.
    • Freedom is expensive, but it's something worth fighting and dying for.

      That sounds extremely noble in writing, but I doubt many people including yourself would actually be willing to die in order to prevent a law such as this one from being passed.

      There is a delicate balance between complete apathy and out-of-control fanaticism.
      • by WarriorPoet42 ( 762455 ) <> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @07:49PM (#9458263) Journal
        Maybe he wouldn't, but I would. I swore an oath to defend our country from those who would attempt to oppress us. Note that the military oath is first to 'support and defend the Constitution'. I know that I am not alone in interpreting that to mean to defend the Constitution from anything or one - including our own government.
        • by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @09:29PM (#9458859) Homepage
          I swore that same oath - Constitution first and foremost, before all other things.

          The Constitution is worth fighting and dying for. The moment it becomes just another piece of paper we use to wipe our ass with - an end some seem to be working for - then freedom in the United States is truly dead.

          To say that either France or Germany, or any country which uses the government to muzzle it's citizenry (no matter how offensive the views suppressed might be to the majority) is just as free as America is fucking ludicrous. Free speech is the basis of all other freedoms, a point which seem rather self-evident not only to my American founding fathers, but many of their French counterparts as well.

          The French seem to have forgotten that. With any luck, others like myself and the previous poster - who take our oaths seriously - will make sure that America doesn't go the same way. Violently, if necessary. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and all the others who've died before us defending those very freedoms.

    • Unfortunately, if we take that tact, then we have to be stong enough as a culture to accept the Nick Berg video and any similar video that comes our way in the future... because such videos are being used as propaganda to try to convince us and our allies to give up the fight against anti-freedom terrorists.

      I'm not sure if the world has that strong of a stomach sometimes...
      • by randyest ( 589159 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:48PM (#9457784) Homepage
        I hear what you're saying but, in all honesty, we can just not go to or otherwise seek out the info. Just hearing about it from someone who has seen the offensive material is adequate; but some knowledge of the yuckiness that is is important, even critical, for everyone to have. IMHO. Even simple knowledge that those spewing "hate-sites" exist and the basics of what they say is important. People should know about that stuff, not have it hidden from them so they can pretend no one thinks that way.

        That sort of ignorant bliss is dangerous and requires yielding too much power to government.

        And there's no valid public safety argument to be made either -- you can let the hate sites exist and bring down the law when/if one crosses the line in to criminal activity (inciting or doing) as Bryuant says:

        U.S. Assistant Attorney General Dan Bryant acknowledged the American approach differs from that of other countries.

        "We believe that government efforts to regulate bias-motivated speech on the Internet are fundamentally mistaken," Bryant said. "At the same time, however, the United States has not stood and will not stand idly by, when individuals cross the line from protected speech to criminal conduct."

        Hm. Makes sense to me. Heckk, it probably even makes it easier to keep an eye on these nuts since their news sites and forums are public. I guess forcing them deeper underground (IRC and such) would hamper monitoring. But France and some of the EU thinks it's worth it:

        "Will this put the (Ku Klux Klan) out of business? No. They will be able to find some way of getting their messages back online," he said. "But it will put a crimp in that subculture on the Internet."

        This, however, smacks of futile, misdirected, token effort to me. Not to mention a hassle and a fat inroad for EU governments to hassle those who espouse unpopular ideas (read: anti-government.)

        The thing that always scares me in these "well-intentioned" efforts to protect people from ideas is that someone gets to choose what's bad and what's good, and that someone will always be less well-equipped to do that for me than I.

        BTW -- huh? How can the Berg video be taken or used that way? If anything, it incited me to a firmer resolve. Same with dozens of friends and coworkers.
    • I am not so sure whether this is true. For example Austria has a law banning anti-Semitic propaganda since a couple of decades, but I have not noticed further steps in this direction.
      I do not think that corporations are interested in this kind of laws because they will not help them make money (unlike copyright laws).
  • by ( 782137 ) <joe&joe-baldwin,net> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:23PM (#9457488) Homepage Journal
    I know it's unpopular, but it's true.

    Free speech applies to everybody, and that includes neo-Nazis and racists. I am in no way supporting neo-Nazis and racists, but they still have the right to disseminate things and the right to free speech no matter how stupid their thinking is.

    Censorship of any kind is just the start of a slippery slope.
    • by shawn(at)fsu ( 447153 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:32PM (#9457603) Homepage
      My favorite quote I use allot. "The first amendment wasn't made to protect people who say things you like to hear it was made to protect people who says things you don't want to hear"

      Anyone know who said this first?
    • Amen. You know, I'd kind of like to read "Mein Kampf" - not because I admire Hitler, but because I'd be interested to hear first-hand how such a monster came to be. If that book were banned, then I am powerless to watch for those conditions occurring again. Santayana said that "those that do not study history are doomed to repeat it." In certain parts of the world people who claim to be looking out for society's best interests are making it illegal to study that history. I'm completely at a loss to und
  • Effect? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Machitis ( 597087 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:25PM (#9457515)
    Do they really think they can fix hatred by telling people they shouldn't talk about it on the internet?
    • Re:Effect? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Jesrad ( 716567 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:36PM (#9457651) Journal
      Their rationale is to stop other people from being subjected to hate and racist speech, in particular "sensitive" persons, such as children and teenagers. Unfortunately, as many other posters have remarked already or will soon remark, that kind of blinders does not make the hatred problem go away magically. And often the gag just plugs the vent, and after the frustration builds up, these people full of hatred go pop. Or rather, they go boom, if I may say so.

      And, yes, IAAE (I Actually Am European).
    • Re:Effect? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
      There we go, I knew someone had posted the crux of my argument already.

      If you want to eliminate racist speech on the internet, start at home. Don't go to the UN. Educate your people. Racism comes from fear and the fear comes from ignorance.

      Educated people are less likely to indoctrinate their kids right back into the cycle of hatred.

  • Online hate? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Faust7 ( 314817 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:25PM (#9457517) Homepage
    There are signs that online hate is getting worse.

    Perhaps the online expression of it. The hate itself was always there and will only be minimized/eradicated with gradual cultural shifts on a global scale that will take centuries, if not millennia.
  • by shawn(at)fsu ( 447153 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:25PM (#9457519) Homepage

    That simply not letting some one say something racist in a public forum will make racism magically go away.

    I for one do NOT welcome our thought police overlords

    It amazes me how we can revolt against something so much, we push ourselves away from it so strongly, that that we end up meeting it on the other side.
  • by MammaMia ( 764083 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:26PM (#9457523)
    abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press... How much simpler could it be?

    The internet by its very nature is not, and cannot be, under any government's jurisdiction to control content. Period. Let folks say what they want to say, and you always retain the freedom to read it or ignore it.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:26PM (#9457531)
    Hate speech has always been a sore issue for Europe for as long as the Internet has been around. Over there, they really don't like anybody throwing hate speech around the way that Nazi Germany did.
    Stateside, we just take groups like the KKK and ignore them and shove them out of our way when they try to use their right to free speech to say something we don't really care to hear... hate speech is protected by free speech, but we most definitely slam the cell doors on people who take actions that we define as hate crimes.

    But what's sticky about this is that hate speech is often the forerunner to hate actions. Afterall, part of Al Queda's definition is that they hate anybody who doesn't follow their misguided splinter religion (that they claim to be Islam but isn't) and any form of government that isn't an opressive "perfect Islamic state". We should be particularly alarmed about about the spread of anti-American hate speech going on in the world... it's perfectly fine to be critcal of what we do here, but there comes a point where "dislike" crosses the line into "hatred", and it's those who have been brainwashed into thinking that free governments need to be banished from the world that we are fighting against as terrorists. Simply put, if there were less people in the world spreading hate against us, there'd be less terrorists for us to have to defend against.

    It's a delicate balance that we need to maintain. Our most powerful individial freedoms are defined in the First Amendment, and we can't afford to waive them away. However, the "Freedom of Speech" has never been truely absolute. Libel and slander are considered civil torts because that use of speech steps on the rights of other people to not have their image torn down by the spread of lies. The classic "yelling 'Fire!' in a theater" example is a case where saying something untrue that puts others in danger can be a criminal act.

    I don't see "hate speech", as long as we're able to agree on a tight and fair definition of what makes up that term, as being something worthy of protection... afterall, it's those who spread hate propoganda who are also most likely to be those who are about to take action, and we could count the 9/11 attacks as the largest hate crime of all time.
    • but where is the line between "just speech" and propoganda? Is slashdot anti-microsoft propoganda illegal? It would be under your definitions. American law originated under the concept that *actions* are punishable, and it should remain that way. Curtailing information, even the opinion of hatred does not, and has never in the history of mankind, prevented people from finding it. It has only limited the freedom of men.
    • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:11PM (#9458407)
      We should be particularly alarmed about about the spread of anti-American hate speech going on in the world... it's perfectly fine to be critcal of what we do here, but there comes a point where "dislike" crosses the line into "hatred", and it's those who have been brainwashed into thinking that free governments need to be banished from the world that we are fighting against as terrorists. Simply put, if there were less people in the world spreading hate against us, there'd be less terrorists for us to have to defend against."

      I don't suppose it occurred to you that maybe the U.S. is doing things that makes people really hate you, though its your government more than the people, but the people are culpable in supporting that government with votes, tax dollar, soldiers and going along with it. I think I should point out people don't hate you for what you do "here" assuming as in the U.S. They hate you for what you are doing "there" by constant intervention, invasion, manipulation or occupation of their homelands.

      You seem to be saying people hate the U.S. only because they've been "brainwashed" in to it. You seem to be echoing the Bush administration line that the people attacking the U.S. are attacking it because of its "Freedom" which simply isn't the case.

      The number one reason the Arab world hates the U.S. is because it has for more than a half century backed Israel at every turn, against the Palastinians, an arab people suffering under a brutal occupation if they are still in their homeland or who are scattered around the middle east and the world, often in squalid refugee camps, in a diaspora like that inflicted on the Jews so long ago. Here [] is a little history. The Palastinians certainly have some bad people and done some bad things but the Arab world is always going to hate the U.S., with reason, until the U.S. finds a balanced position and helps compel an equitable peace there, equitable being defined as one where both sides are equally unhappy, and one isn't living under the thumb of the other. A few weeks ago when Bush took it upon himself to give parts of the West Bank to Israel, acting like he even had the authority to make concessions on behalf of the Palastinians, he pushed a bunch more Arab moderates in to the hands of the extremists who hate the U.S.

      Another reason many Arabs hate the U.S. is because the U.S. put troops in the middle of their holyland, Saudi Arabia, after the first Gulf War and has been propping up brutal and corrupt dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Egypt. U.S. troops are infidels in this region, they are Christians, Jews and liberated women. The people in the region react to them about the same way Americans would react if an Arab or Hindu army were camped in the bible belt. They're pissed.

      Perhaps the Taliban form of Islam is extreme but its really very close to Islam in Saudi Arabia, its just the U.S. chooses to pretend its different. Saudi Arabia beheads people in public, they cut off their hands, they repress women so why aren't you upset about that. The women with the greatest equality in the Middle East were in Saddam's Iraq, a secular and progressive state compared to most in the region. Women in Iraq have already lost many of the rights they had and they will lose them all if Iraq ends up being an Islamic state which is nearly inevitable.

      The other problem you have in all this is Islamic law is somewhat brutal, its spelled out in the Koran. It is a part of their culture, maybe you don't like it but its not the place of the U.S. to tell everyone they have to live like Americans and Christians. If you want people to stop hating you, you have to start respecting cultures different from yours, and stop telling people how to live.

      Another reason most of the world hates the U.S. is because you invaded Iraq under false pretenses, and rather than bringing "Freedom and Democracy" there it appears the U.S.

    • by jefu ( 53450 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @08:45PM (#9458653) Homepage Journal
      Was 9/11 :

      Worse than the Nazi "final solution"?
      Worse than the "Rape of Nanking"?
      Worse than the Turkish genocide against the Armenians?
      Worse than the genocide in Ruanda?
      You get the idea (and I've not even gone earlier than the 20th century)

    • by grozzie2 ( 698656 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @02:25AM (#9460534)
      The classic "yelling 'Fire!' in a theater" example is a case where saying something untrue that puts others in danger can be a criminal act.

      This is kinda like yelling 'weapons of mass destruction' when they dont exist.

      and we could count the 9/11 attacks as the largest hate crime of all time.

      On the grand scale, 9/11 was a small isolated incident. If you want to see large hate crimes, go read the history books regarding events of world war 2. Even recent history contains many examples of much greater magnitude than 9/11. Go read up on Bosnia and Somalia for just a couple recent examples. As much as americans want to believe 9/11 changed the world, and is justification for wars and invasions, it was truely a small isolated incident on the overall scale of this world.

      The hypocracy of americans trying rationalize the slanted views never ceases to amaze me. If China throws a few 'inusurgents' in jail for political reasons, it's a 'violation of human rights'. If america throws a few into a jail in cuba with no trials, and no rights to defend against accusations, thats 'for the good of the people'. The amazing part is, americans cant see the hypocracy of it, and they actually believe the drivel from the politicians about 'well, this is different, human rights dont apply when its us doing the afflicting'.

      Americans talking about 'rights and freedoms' these days is just a laff for the rest of the world. Go take a look at any newscast from the last couple of months. America has demonstrated clearly how they view human rights. USA doesn't have to take second place to any third world dictatorship when it comes to invading another country, setting up jails for political prisoners, or establishing systematic torture treatment for political prisoners. GW wanted to show the world that he's as good as the best of them at running the show, and he's proved it. He doesn't have to take a second seat to Saddam for anything, quite capable of matching all the deeds. Now the rest of the world just isn't paying attention to any of the 'rights and freedoms' drivel coming forth from america anymore. It's cheap talk for the press, not something to actually practise.

      I'm sure I'll get modded troll into oblivion for this, but wtf, I've got karma to burn, and if it opens the eyes of a single american voter, it's worth it. To be taken seriously on the world stage, you have to practise what you preach. Until a couple years ago, usa was given credit for doing just that, but not anymore. Anybody willing to step back and look at facts, ignoring the political spin, can see it pretty plainly. If americans truely believe in 'rights and freedoms', regime change is in order. Luckily, they have the mechanism to do it legally. Time will tell, we will find out in November if they truely believe in rights and freedoms, or if they they approve of the new role of oppressive invader with total disregard for even the most basic of human rights.

  • by freeduke ( 786783 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:26PM (#9457535) Journal
    Those guys are intolerant to intolerancy, so those thoughts should be banned by themselves.
  • Who decides? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mdvolm ( 68424 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:29PM (#9457562) Homepage
    Who decides what "hate speech" is, these "international experts"? With free speech you have to take the good with the bad. Education is the key here!

    Not that these guys have any authority anyway...
  • Man (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nate nice ( 672391 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:30PM (#9457577) Journal
    Does Eurpoe really have that much guilt over its wretched past? It's OK guys, all our fore-fathers have made mistakes. Banning speech, which is only that, speech, is a ridiculas, unthought-out, pointless idea. Let the racists and biggots publicaly make a fool of themselves so we know who not to associate with. If this does go through though, does this mean that Europeons can no longer write about their hatered for Americans or Stupid White Males?
    • by Goonie ( 8651 ) * <> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @07:49PM (#9458260) Homepage
      Germans (my father's side of the family) collectively have a truckload of guilt over their country's wretched past. A racist and bigot convinced about a third of the electorate that the rest of Europe, and specifically the Jews, were responsible for their problems. Hence World War II and the Holocaust. Germans are therefore paranoid about anything like it happening again, and are prepared to trade off some aspects of free speech to try to prevent it.

      I happen to think they're wrong, but when it comes to the danger of racist demagoguery, they have a very direct and painful perspective on the matter that you don't appreciate.

  • censorship, again? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jokach ( 462761 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:30PM (#9457583) Homepage
    Like everytime a censorship issue is brought up, the question becomes:

    1, Where does the censorship end,
    2. who decides what should be censored?
    3. What should be the punishment?

    We should learn by example, as the article states, that we cannot even regulate shared music online without filing nonsensical lawsuits again John-Does.What are we going to do, file lawsuits against constant violators in other countries?

  • by Dr. Bent ( 533421 ) <> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:31PM (#9457595) Homepage
    A sticking point was whether the United States, which has championed nearly unfettered free speech, would line up with European countries that have banned racist or anti-Semitic speech in public.

    In order to do this, you'd have to repeal the First Amendment. And in order to do that, you'd have to repeal the Second Amendment.

    It's just not going to happen, people.

  • Great idea! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:33PM (#9457612) Homepage
    Get rid of hate speech. We'll finally stampout those base hateful societal dregs!

    Like maybe those "hateful" communists. Or was it the "hateful" capitalists? Let's not forget those "hate-filled" Christians. And, gee, how often do I hear Rush Limbaugh referred to as "hate radio"?

    Face it, as much as we might like to think that there is an objective assessment as to what qualifies as hate speech; the truth is that any hate speech laws will eventually be used to protect ideas and prosecute dissenters. These laws are not designed to protect people--the laws on the book already do that. These laws are designed to regulate thought, and it positively ignorant to believe that someday someone will not think that they can "help" society be eliminating that harmful capitalist/communist/whatever branch of thought.

  • 1 st Ammendment (Score:4, Informative)

    by mysterious_mark ( 577643 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:34PM (#9457629)
    Apparantly the EU doesn't understand that free speech is written into our constitution, and its not up to 'shrub, the Congress or anyone else to circumvent the constitution. Granted our constitutional rights are under constant attack by the current un-elected regime, but it is up to us as citizens to be ever vigilant. You cannot take away right from one group, without taking away everyones rights. The true test of a free society is how well it tolerates views that are abhorrent to the majority. MM
    • Re:1 st Ammendment (Score:3, Informative)

      by BenjyD ( 316700 )
      Article 11, Part 1 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, enacted as law in (all?) EU states:

      "Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers."

      Seems pretty simple and straightforward to me.
      • Re:1 st Ammendment (Score:5, Informative)

        by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @07:31PM (#9458145) Homepage
        I am not familiar with the EU's "European Charter of Fundamental Rights". With that said, something that strikes me a fundamental difference between this law and the first ammendment, is that it hasn't got language to the effect of "The government shall not..." - which is basically how the first ammendment (and indeed, most all of the other amendments) start off: "Congress shall make no law..."

        This a fact that most people (even most Americans, sadly) do not seem to understand, and why much of the various "human rights" laws and such by various other "governing" bodies, like the EU and UN, are fundamentally flawed:

        The United State's Constitutional Bill of Rights does not grant rights to the people, instead it seekes to limit our government from violating rights we intrinsically have because we are (supposedly, though eroding every day, it seems) "free men" - the rights we were "born with". That isn't to say our Constitution is "etched in stone" - it can and does change with time.

        Back when our Constitution was written, for example, most, if not all, of the limitations in the Bill of Rights did not apply to black people or women. At the time, these groups of people were not seen as "free men", but rather as chattel, or property - thus members of these groups were unfairly prosecuted and worse. Over time, though, our Constitution was changed, via the ammendment process, to include these groups as people became more "enlightened" as to who was a person (sad, but true).

        I could see such a process occurring again for hate speech - that is, an ammendment banning it. It would run counter the the first ammendment - but that hasn't, unfortunately, stopped things in the past (see the 18th Ammendment, for example).

        What is more likely to occur is a similar "end-run" around our Constitution, much like both the DMCA and PATRIOT were rammed through - but first, they need to come up with a "boogyman" to allow for it (what that will be, is unknown)...

  • by N8F8 ( 4562 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:39PM (#9457686)
    Just wanted to say that befor it is illegal.
  • Fucking stupid (Score:5, Insightful)

    by theLOUDroom ( 556455 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:39PM (#9457687)
    (see subject)

    This kind of shit just amazes me.

    The whole point of freedom of speech is so that one isn't persecuted for UNPOPULAR ideas.

    This stuff just makes me sick. It's never going to be illegal to say "I like pretty flowers." The whole reason we have freedom of speech it to protect ideas that others disagree with.

    The government has no business regulating people's thoughts.
    This type of law is a great example of the "harm principle" not being applied. I should be able to hate you. That's my right. What I shouldn't be able to do is gas a bunch of jews. That's infringing on the rights of others.
    Laws like this are the first step towards yet another totalitarian, nazi-like regieme. First you put the goverment in charge of what is and is not acceptible public discourse. Next, the government abuses that power in ways you never imagined.
  • by linuxhansl ( 764171 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:44PM (#9457732)
    It always had.

    You can't call for killing somebody.
    You can't state knowingly wrong "fact" about a presidential candidate without being sued.
    You can'd say everything you want on product review pages without risking being sued by the producer (for the negative review).
    In Germany you can't say "The Holocaust did not happen".

    It's absolutely justified banning public statements like "All jews should be gased" or "All blacks should be hung" or "Our race should be cleansed".
    It would, however, be harmful to ban statements like "Based on emperical evidence, *** tend to *** and are more likely to ***".
    And you see, I had to leave blanks, because the obsession with political correctness in this country, to the point to of just denying/ignoring fact.

  • Racism (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Henry V .009 ( 518000 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @06:46PM (#9457755) Journal
    Racism is the Great Satan of our age. There are a lot of worse things in life. But public indoctrination against racism starts very early, and is accomplished more thoroughly than most other government propaganda efforts (in the West).

    The races of man exist, and there is substantial evidence they differ in things like intelligence, athleticism, temperament, and a number of other mostly genetic characteristics, as well as there being substantial - and mostly immutable by public policy - differences in cultures.

    Sure, hatred and incivility are to be regretted, but all modern liberal democracies get along with substantial amounts of them. If you are American, canvas your neighborhood for opinions on Republicans (or Democrats) to see what I am talking about. Hatred is not the Great Satan you think it is.

    If, like me, you are a product of Western culture, you probably have a substantial disgust-reaction to anything even slightly tainted by racism. And if try to reason to yourself about it, you will find that you have that degree of an adverse reaction to very few other things - probably only rape, child pornography, and other evil acts. That is not the most natural thing in the world. It does not have much historical pedigree. The only thing that I can compare modern anti-racism to is beliefs that originate through religious conditioning. The average person's indoctrination in anti-racism - from schools, media, and parents - is highly similar to the experience of being indoctrinated in a religion from childhood on.

    People need to reevaluate their reflexive anti-racism. It deserves a far lower priority in most people's public policy views.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Thursday June 17, 2004 @07:25PM (#9458104) Homepage
    A big problem with censoring "anti-Semitic" speech today is that the groups that want to censor it want to stop criticism of Israel. Look at what the Anti-Defamation League [] is currently wound up about. None of this stuff is hate speech. These are political statements.

    This issue tends to be framed in terms of "Nazis", but the Nazis died out a long time ago. Today's issues revolve around Israel vs. its Arab neighbors, Israel vs. its Palestinian population, and US support of Israel. The ADL has a major cow whenever the anti-Israel side of those issues gets major press in the US. (Interestingly, the domestic Israeli press criticizes the government of Israel over these issues frequently, but the ADL doesn't get mad at the Jerusalem Post.)

    There's a real political question as to whether continued support of Israel is in the interest of the United States. It's important to Israel's survival to divert serious poliical debate on that issue. That's the real meaning of this "anti-hate-speech" push. It's not about Nazis.

  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <> on Thursday June 17, 2004 @07:41PM (#9458207) Homepage Journal
    Seems!? Are you kidding me? The United States government doesn't have a choice. Our Constitution doesn't allow them to limit hate speech. The slippery slope becomes a cliff far too quickly. First you let the government ban hate speech, then you redefine hate speech to "anything that disagrees with the P.C. stance."

    Far fetched? Not a bit. It's been done. A kid in a school said, "I think homosexuals are going to hell," during a classroom discussion. He was expelled for hate speech. While I disagree with his beliefs, I wouldn't call it hate speech, but the school did.

    The U.S. government can NOT ban hate speech. They can arrest people for "inciting to riot" or a host of other criminal offenses related to speech, but they they can't impose a blanket ban.

    Europe needs to realize that, unlike them, we take our Constitution dead serious and don't allow compromise.
  • As a former american citizen now living in germany I have to say I don't like the attitude the way US people think their 'free-speech' is the only 'free-speech' in the world and that germany and other countries trying to 'limit free speech' are somewhat 'unfree'.
    While I agree on that it's not an easy issue, it should be taken into account that speech is just about as free in germany and other western countries as it is in the US. Somebody like Kaplan for instance - a large type islam-fundamentalistic asshole - who has cause serious trouble in germany with so-called 'hate speech' and simular things can still walk around rather unhindred in germany, where as in the o-so-free-speech US they would've locked him away already for some dubious one-size-fits-all terrorist threat possibility charges or whatnot. Try to say 'f*ck' 'sh*t' and 'motherf*cker' on TV or even on slashdot and see how far you can get. How's that for free-speech? It's all got quite some US bias, this discussion.

    This whole free speech issue is just a problem because some people in the US insist on officially threatening and insulting other people and call 'constitution!' whenever someone wants to get them for it. And even judges limit free speech in the US when it comes so far as what the germans call 'Volksverhetzung'. If I were to stand up and officially ask for the public to storm the white house and take down the goverment or fly some planes into public buildings the US authorities would take me in, free speech or not. Just like they would in germany. And for good reasons to.
    As you see, the differences aren't that big as one may think.

    So to those bias-ridden comentators here: Just quit the rubbish your blowing out of your behind about the 'rest of the world' as opposed to the o-so-free US. It's not all that differenta situation alltogether.
  • hypocrites (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday June 18, 2004 @04:58AM (#9461069) Homepage Journal
    One word to all you holier-than-thou USians: DeCSS.

    I live in Germany.
    I was sued over DeCSS in the USofA.
    I was never sued, nor even questioned over DeCSS in Germany.

    For me, the question on which country has more free speech has been answered.

"To take a significant step forward, you must make a series of finite improvements." -- Donald J. Atwood, General Motors