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Electronic Frontier Foundation Censorship Youtube Your Rights Online

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

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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @11:44AM (#42394819)

    Considering the UN's liberal agenda of stifling free speech, and the US submitting to trampling over its constitution, we are facing another step closer to an Orwellian dystopia. See where the slippery slopes lead?

  • 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 ) <> 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?

  • 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. [] 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" [] 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 DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @01:53PM (#42396183) Journal

    "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.


  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @04:26PM (#42397603) Homepage Journal

    I knew a lot of Communists (big "C") and communists (little "c") in the late '50s and early '60s. Some of them followed the party line, and some of them didn't. Obviously the Trotskyites didn't.

    For most of the Communists I knew, the question was, "When did you leave the Party?" Some of them left the Party after the Hungarian revolution, some of them left after the Czechoslovokian revolution.

    They left the party because they couldn't support a government that was doing the same kind of thing that the U.S. was doing in Vietnam, Haiti, Chile, Argentina, and Iran -- overthrowing democratically elected governments, and replacing them with compliant dictators.

    In other words, most of the Communists I knew had more integrity and commitment to democracy than the right-wing corporate suckups in this country.

    So if you're going to talk about the Communist Party, let's open the discussion to the crimes, murders and dictatorship on both sides of the cold war. Let's bring Henry Kissinger and George W. Bush into the dock.

    I think history will give credit to the American Communist Party for one great contribution to democracy: the civil rights movement.

    If you believe J. Edgar Hoover, the Communist Party was responsible for training the leaders of the black civil rights movement, and showing them how to organize their movement.

    Do you know who Rosa Parks was? She led the Montgomery bus boycott, which put an end to racial segregation on the Montgomery, Alabama public transportation system. Do you know who Martin Luther King is? They were trained at the Highlander Folk School [] where Communists and non-Communists taught them how to develop effective strategies to attack racism, and organize the community to fight it.

    Let's go back to the history that your high school may have skipped through quickly. From shortly after the Civil War, up to even 1968, black people in the South (and a lot of other places in America) weren't allowed to vote. Think about that for a second. What's wrong with Communism? They don't have free elections. Well, up to 1968, Americans weren't allowed to vote, because of the color of their skin. And according to William F. Buckley, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, that was fine, and the federal government had no business interfering with state decisions on the matter.

    And of course black people were also discriminated against in education, the courts, and everywhere else. They had fucking lynchings.

    Think about that. Lynching black people for trying to vote. Are you OK with that? Your right-wing heros were.

    The Communist Party, for all its many failings, supported the civil rights movement. The Daily Worker sent reporters to cover the struggle, when a lot of other newspapers were ignoring it.

    And in fact, the editors of the Daily Worker, and other Communists, were sent to jail for publishing newspapers and books, holding meetings and classes, organizing demonstrations -- the very activities protected by the First Amendment. []

    People were fired, not for being Communists, but for having left the party years ago, or having associated with Communists, and refusing to testify and denounce their former friends before the House Un-American Activities Committee. And people were fired for defending Communists. Or not denouncing Communists strongly enough.

    When I took my first physics course in college, my professor was teaching physics in the U.S. for the first time in many years. He had been blacklisted, and left the country till then. I didn't know that until I read his obituary in the New York Times.

    So don't go crying to me about how nobody asks conservatives to dance at the faculty parties. Unlike a lot of teachers in the 1950s, you don't know what it means to be fired for your ideas.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 26, 2012 @05:31PM (#42398253)

    Left-winger: "I think I'm smarter than everyone else*, and I should be in control of everyone else. I have a set of rules that if everyone followed the world would be better."
    Right-winger: "I'm probably average, but whatever the case I believe people should have freedom to control their own lives. How about I do want I like, and I let you do what your like?"

    *"because I've done a PhD in Communication Studies and Sociology."

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen