Columnist Claims Italy's Google Verdict Makes Sense

from the someone-edited-that? dept

Ted Rall is a columnist/cartoonist, who, a couple years ago, wrote one of the most ridiculous opinion pieces we've seen in a long time -- suggesting that the answer to newspapers' current economic woes is that they should all take their websites down. That column was so full of economic and legal ignorance I thought there was a good chance that it was actually satire -- but people insisted he was serious. Now reader Mandy alerts us to a new column from Rall that again is so devoid of basic logic that I wonder if it's satire. This time he's standing way out on a limb arguing that Italy got it right in finding three Google execs criminally liable for a video some kids posted to Google Video.

Rall's reasoning once again defies logic. He seems unable to comprehend the difference between a publisher and a tool or service provider. Instead, he just insists that Google (and any other online service provider) should be forced to carefully review and fact check every piece of content uploaded before it can be available. Apparently, he doesn't quite recognize what he's asking for. On YouTube alone, more than 20 hours of video are uploaded every minute. And that's just YouTube. Rall also suggests that every blog post, every Tweet and every Facebook message should first be reviewed by an editor before it can be posted.

I think this really goes back to Rall's previous clueless column. He can't stand competition, so his solution is to put in place ridiculous free speech destroying rules and regulations to effectively kill off the internet, because someone might misuse it. His argument is based on the scenario that what if he ran a story falsely accusing you of being a drug-addicted child pornographer. He claims -- falsely -- that if he just published it online, there's nothing you can do about it. He later admits he's lying by saying you could sue him, but he brushes that off by saying no one would sue him because he has no money. Of course, people sue for libel all the time -- even those with no money.

But the really scary thing is that Rall seems to think that basically destroying the freedom to communicate and to express yourself online makes sense, just because the tool might possibly be used to spread a false statement. Does he not recognize the unintended consequences of this? Does he not realize that his "suggestion" for fixing the internet is effectively how much of China's internet censorship program works? Does he not think there might be more effective ways of dealing with such situations? For example, if Rall were to falsely accuse you of being a drug-addicted child pornographer, and it's clearly bogus, then you have an opportunity to fight back, and point out that Rall is wrong, destroy his reputation, and make sure he never gets another job again. Why not let free speech combat free speech?

Instead, Rall seems terrified of free speech, and would prefer that it only come from the "professionals" like himself.

Filed Under: communication, editors, filters, free speech, italy, ted rall
Companies: google


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  1. icon
    R. Miles (profile), 9 Mar 2010 @ 11:48am

    Re: Google Italy Verdict

    "I find it interesting that so many people here resort to name-calling rather than discussing the ideas at hand."
    Wait... ideas? Wouldn't this be a conversation on censorship? I see no idea discussion in your blog or your comments here.

    Your "idea" is asinine, Ted, on so many levels, it's difficult to figure out where to begin. Bluntly: you should practice what you preach by censoring your own comments before you post.

    Your post will now lead to discussions, in which name-calling (as you indicate) will result. YOUR POST was the cause of the name calling. Now, I'm betting you don't want to take any responsibility, right?

    Your post will also fuel debates against your piece, thus leading to a difference of opinion. The same type of opinion which Italy took against the executives of Google. Again, care to take responsibility for this or leave it to those who made the comments?

    You CAN NOT have a discussion and have it edited at the same time, Ted. Censorship, your opinion piece's foundation, will prevent it. The upload of the video is unfortunately done in bad taste, but it *is* news. It's a story. And this upload contributed to countless stories published, including your own blog.

    Now you want all this to be edited. Well, start with your own blog piece, Ted, given it's the result of actions you had nothing to do with. You can't discuss it ever again.

    In fact, don't blog anything ever again unless the information relates to you, and only you. Including any company or individual is forbidden, because it will lead to discussions which must be edited, or in your world, censored.

    Oh, and for the record, despite the fact I disagree with your words, do note I sure as hell wouldn't want it censored or edited. You're free to write what you feel, and you should be thankful for that. Be happy I didn't sue you, just because you're responsible for words which I had no part of, but feel you should be held liable.

    Hypocrisy knows no bounds.

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