Nazis, The Internet, Policing Content And Free Speech

from the many,-many-issues dept

I'm going to try to do something that's generally not recommended on the internet: I'm going to try to discuss a complicated issue that has many nuances and gray areas. That often fails, because all too often people online immediately leap to black or white positions, because it's easy to miss the nuance when arguing about an emotionally potent issue. In this case, I want to discuss an issue that's already received plenty of attention: how various platforms -- starting with GoDaddy and Google, but with much of the attention placed on Cloudflare -- decided to stop serving the neo-Nazi forum site the Daily Stormer. Now, I'll note that as all that went down, I was focused on a multi-day drive out to (and then back from) the middle of absolute nowhere (a beautiful place) to watch the solar eclipse thing that everyone was talking about -- meaning that for the past week I've been disconnected from the internet quite a bit, which meant that I (a) missed much of the quick takes on this and (b) had plenty of time to really think about it. And, the simple fact is that it is a complicated issue, no matter what anyone says. So let's dig in.

Let's start with the basics: Nazis -- both the old kind and the new kind -- are bad. My grandfather fought Nazis in Europe and Northern Africa during WWII, and I have no interest in seeing Nazis in America of all places. But even if you believe that Nazis and whoever else uses the Daily Stormer are the worst of the absolute worst, there are many other issues at play here beyond just "don't provide them service." Of course, lots of services are choosing not to. Indeed, both the Washington Post and Quartz are keeping running tallies of all the services that have been booting Nazis and other racist groups. And, I think it's fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone. There's certainly no fundamental First Amendment right for people to use any service they want. That's not how free speech works.

A second complicating factor is that there are different levels of services and their decisions can have very different impacts. So, for example, if some blog doesn't allow you to comment, that's not a big deal on the free speech front since there are millions of other places you can comment online. But if no one will even provide you any access to the internet, then there are some larger questions there about your right to access the entire network that everyone uses to speak. And there's a spectrum between those two end points. There are only a few ISPs, so if Comcast and Verizon decide you can't be online, you may not be online at all. There are multiple places where you can register domains, but if all the registrars blacklist certain providers, then you can effectively be banned from the open internet entirely. It's harder to say where things like Facebook, Google and even Cloudflare fall along that spectrum. Some might argue that you don't need any of those services -- while others might say that Google and Facebook are so central to everyday life that being forced off of them puts people at a serious disadvantage. Cloudflare is even more complicated, since it's just a middleman CDN/DDoS protection/security provider. But, as the company's CEO admitted in kicked off the Daily Stormer, there are very few other services online that could protect a site like that from the kinds of DDoS attacks that the site regularly gets (the fact that Daily Stormer briefly popped up on Dream Host this week and almost all of Dream Host was hit with massive, debilitating DDoS attacks just emphasizes that point).

But this issue is key: not all internet services are the same, and no single rule should apply across all of them. It simply wouldn't make sense.

Recognize: this is more complicated than you think

As many experts in the field have noted, these things are complicated. And while I know many people have been cheering on each and every service kicking off these users, we should be careful about what that could lead to. Asking platforms to be the arbiters of what speech is good and what speech is bad is frought with serious problems. As Jillian York eloquently put it:

I’m not so worried about companies censoring Nazis, but I am worried about the implications it has for everyone else. I’m worried about the unelected bros of Silicon Valley being the judge and jury, and thinking that mere censorship solves the problem. I’m worried that, just like Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince woke up one morning and decided he’d had enough of the Daily Stormer, some other CEO might wake up and do the same for Black Lives Matter or antifa. I’m worried that we’re not thinking about this problem holistically.

Kate Knibbs, over at The Ringer, also has a nuanced article about this, pointing out how relying on internet platforms to "police hate" results in all sorts of potential problems and contradictions. Even if we all agree that Nazi propaganda is bad, there's a big question about whether or not this (censorship by platforms) is the proper response:

The world will be a better place if technology companies are able to disrupt the spread of propaganda. But while their post-Charlottesville efforts are an encouraging sign that technology companies are finally treating the prospect of domestic right-wing extremist groups as a serious threat, the way these companies have chosen to address that threat is an unsettling reminder that they are near-unfettered gatekeepers of speech. We are online at the whim and for the profit of a few extremely wealthy multinational corporations with faulty track records for moderating content. As overdue and appreciated as their efforts to root out hate groups from the digital world are, their efforts to preserve an open internet should be undertaken with equal urgency.

This, in fact, is the same very public struggle that Cloudflare's CEO, Matthew Prince, has been having over the issue. As he explained in his original statement, he's not really comfortable with the fact that one person -- even himself -- basically has the power to kick someone off the internet entirely. A few days later, in a (possibly paywalled) piece at the Wall Street Journal, he's still second guessing himself.

Your black and white quick take on this misses the point:

Yes, I know that some of you are angrily getting ready to scream one of two (contradictory) things in the comments: (1) free speech should mean that all these sites should be allowed to remain up or (2) oh, come on: Nazis are obviously bad and there's no slippery slope in denying them internet services. But there are strong responses to both of those extreme viewpoints, which come from opposite ends of the spectrum. Again, free speech also means that platforms have rights to choose what speech they host and what speech they don't host. Don't like it? Start your own platform. Similarly, no one truly believes that all content must be allowed on all platforms at all times. For anyone who claims that's not true, I'll just point to the email filter you use to show you're wrong. We accept filtering decisions in our email because we know that a completely unfiltered experience is so filled with garbage as to make it unusable. The question then becomes one of where do we draw the lines for moderation.

As for potential comment (2): yes, Nazis are obviously bad. But here's the problem: there are plenty of people (including some of those who are desperately typing out argument (1) above) who will argue that other groups -- antifa, BLM, the SLPC -- are just as bad. And then... you're just left with a fight on your hands about who's bad. And that doesn't solve anything. Even worse, it puts tremendous subjective power into the hands of those in charge. And, specifically for those who are making this "Nazis are obviously bad, so there's no slippery slope" argument, think about who's in charge right now. Do you really want them defining who's "bad" and who's "good"?

On top of that, we're constantly pointing to example after example after example of platforms being really bad at properly determining what's really bad and what's good. Doing so requires time and context -- which are two things that don't come easily on the internet.

At the very least, putting the onus on the internet platforms to be required to make these kinds of calls means that you're trusting a very small number of self-appointed people -- with very different incentives -- to be the world's speech police. And that should be concerning. Some argue there's no slippery slope argument in banning Nazis because they're Nazis. But there is a different slippery slope: the appointment of private, for-profit platforms being the speech police and the arbiters of what's good speech and what's bad speech. Yes, as noted, those platforms have every right to determine what they don't want on their own platforms, but as we move along that spectrum discussed above, and the power of a centarlized platform could mean cutting people off entirely, the overall impact of these decisions becomes greater and greater. And rushing headlong into a world where we trust private companies to make speech determinations just because they built a scalable platform seems like the wrong way to go about things. Just because you can build a big platform doesn't mean you're good at determining who should be allowed to speak.

Merely censoring doesn't solve the problem

This is a key point that hasn't been brought up very much, but as the coiner of "The Streisand Effect," I'm kind of obliged to do so: it's a pretty common gut reaction to really awful content that the best (and sometimes "only") option is to silence it. And there may be some narrow cases where that actually works. But all too often, attempts to silence or censor content only lead to more attention getting paid to that content. And, in the case of Nazis, it actually has a reinforcing impact that isn't widely considered. Many of the ignorant folks who jump on board with these groups (and, yes, they are ignorant) believe that they're being "edgy" and "contrarian" and "outside the norm." And pulling down their websites reinforces this view. It doesn't make them rethink their ignorant hate. It makes them think they're on to something. They interpret it as "the establishment" or "the swamp" or whoever not being able to handle the truth that they're bringing.

It certainly doesn't do much to educate the ignorant of why their beliefs are ignorant. This is why we often talk about the importance of counterspeech, which can be surprisingly effective, even in dealing with Nazis. But counterspeech isn't always the answer and isn't always effective. There is no counterspeech to deal with spam, for example. But that's why we've developed a system of tools and filters to deal with spam, but don't legally mandate that, say, domain registrars stomp out spammers.

This is why it's complicated:

Up top, I noted that the whole thing is more complicated than many people are willing to recognize. And it's because of the competing factors I discussed above. Some level of moderation is fundamental, necessary and right. Your email spam filter reveals that you know this is true. And platforms do have every right (including the First Amendment) to refuse service to assholes. But, at the same time, we should be concerned about a few centralized powers, or even individuals, being in a position to make these decisions on an ad hoc basis. This may not apply to smaller platforms, but the big guys that are often seen as "necessary" for participating in public life, certainly raise some questions.

So, how the hell do you weigh these seemingly competing factors? Some moderation is necessary, but expecting platforms to police opens up a whole host of problems from arbitrariness to the powerful silencing the less powerful and more.

Towards a (still complicated) solution:

Not surprisingly, EFF's take on the whole situation brings us closer to a framework for thinking about this issue. In fact, while they don't state this directly, in much of the world, we do have at least some history with a system that has faced similar complications and has a process. That system is the existing judicial system, and that process is due process. It is, of course, far from perfect. But there may be lessons we can learn from it. EFF suggests pulling in some of its features including transparency and a right of appeal.

Other elements of the Net risk less when they are selective about who they host. But even for hosts, there’s always a risk that others—including governments—will use the opaqueness of the takedown process to silence legitimate voices. For any content hosts that do reject content as part of the enforcement of their terms of service, or are pressured by states to secretly censor, we have long recommended that they implement procedural protections to mitigate mistakes—specifically, the Manila Principles on Intermediary Liability. The principles state, in part:

  • Before any content is restricted on the basis of an order or a request, the intermediary and the user content provider must be provided an effective right to be heard except in exceptional circumstances, in which case a post facto review of the order and its implementation must take place as soon as practicable.
  • Intermediaries should provide user content providers with mechanisms to review decisions to restrict content in violation of the intermediary’s content restriction policies.
  • Intermediaries should publish their content restriction policies online, in clear language and accessible formats, and keep them updated as they evolve, and notify users of changes when applicable.

In other words, for these core, centralized chokepoints, there needs to be transparency and due process.

Of course, there are dangers in that as well. Last year, in hosting a panel on just this subject at Rightscon, we discussed the idea of internal corporate "due process" for moderating content. Medium's Alex Feerst discussed how they argue these issues out, as if they're in court, with someone representing each side. But when I asked about whether or not the "internal case law" would ever be made public, the answer was likely no. And you can also understand why. Because there are certainly some individuals and people who specifically are seeking to game the system (think: spammers and trolls). Revealing the exact policies upfront gives them extra ammo on how to game the system, violating the spirit of those rules, while not the letter. In other words, some would argue (compellingly) that some aspects of transparency here could make the problems even worse.

So while I'm certainly all for more due process, and some associated transparency, I worry that the requirements of transparency are not entirely realistic either -- especially in areas with rapidly changing activities and norms.

Can we rethink the internet?

To me, this keeps reminding me of an article I wrote two years ago, about why we should be looking at protocols, not platforms. The early days of the internet were built on protocols -- and the power was in the end-to-end nature of things. But with those protocols, people could build their own implementations and software to work with those protocols. The power was thus at the ends. Individuals could choose how they interact with the protocols and they could implement their own solutions without being completely cut off. You could filter out the content you didn't want. But the choice was yours. Over the last decade, especially, we've moved far away from that ideal (in part because there appears to be more money in locked-in, centralized platforms, rather than more distributed protocols). But, opening things up offers some opportunity to allow good things to happen.

Let the ignorant Nazis gather -- they're going to figure out a way to do so anyway. But have widely available (and recommended) filters to allow most decent people to ignore them. Or, let others focus on using counterspeech against them. Let various attempts at responding to and diffusing the power of ignorant propaganda bloom, rather than assuming that the best response is to just make it all disappear entirely. This, of course, does not solve everything. But it certainly seems like a better solution than hoping a few giant companies magically figure out how to become benevolent dictators over what content is allowed online.

In the end, there isn't an "easy" solution to any of this, and anyone pitching one is almost certainly selling snake oil. Expecting to solve "hate" by allowing a small number of internet platforms to censor "bad" people is a fool's errand. First, it's likely to be ineffective, and second, it will inevitably lead to bad results, with content you don't think should be blocked getting blocked. Platforms may have the right to police and moderate their own content, but demanding that they do so in all cases is going to lead to bad results. In the end, some of it needs to come down to a recognition of the different levels of service along the spectrum. Further down the line, with smaller services on the network, any moderation should be seen as a choice those platforms make. But as you move up the chain, at some point we need to be a lot more careful about the power of certain players to completely cut people off from the internet. This is the problem of an internet that has become too centralized in some areas. And, to me, it still feels the better solution isn't putting more power in the hands of massive centralized "infrastructure" providers, but pushing the power out to the ends, in the spirit of the original, open end-to-end internet. Give the ends of the network the power. Let them share tools and filters among each other, but let's not rush to demand that a few key centralized players be the final arbiters of speech online.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:03am

    Well written, Mike, and the timing was perfect as I just happened to bring my 10 foot pole to work with me today. That said, both it and I will be staying away from the rest of the comments on this one!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:08am

    FRIST!

    Fisrt post!

     

     

    (Yeah, I did see above. But that's actually part of the point. Mike's written a lengthy, thoughtful post. It really deserves some carefully thought out responses.)

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:13am

    Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

    Now on to the corporatist payload slyly embedded: "And, I think it's fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone. There's certainly no fundamental First Amendment right for people to use any service they want."

    I'll agree "That's not how free speech works.", but is how the corporatist control system works, as becoming visible. These "platforms" don't want persons having access to the internet without approval. The very word "platform" is then a LIE: a platform MUST be neutral.

    Rest of the piece is just how to put a good PR front on the imminent corporatized censorship regime.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:15am

      Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

      Oh, and that's why these "platforms" MUST be regulated as a utility: if the gov't doesn't ensure that mere legal fictions that have gaining money as sole goal are fair and open to all, they definitely will not be.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:16am

      Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

      "The very word "platform" is then a LIE: a platform MUST be neutral."

      Umm, no.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:24am

      Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

      a platform MUST be neutral

      A public platform, maybe, but a privately-owned platform has no legal obligation to play the “both sides” game.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

        >> A public platform, maybe, but a privately-owned platform has no legal obligation to play the “both sides” game.

        The actuality already is that those "private" platforms control nearly all access and visibility. You've just given the actual Nazis -- definition being merged gov't and corporations -- control over NEARLY ALL speech.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:01pm

          Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

          The actuality already is that those "private" platforms control nearly all access and visibility.

          Yes, and the article says as much. One of the major questions it raises is the point you are trying to make: “Even though a privately-owned platform has First Amendment rights, at what point does denying a platform to ‘bad’ speech become an abridgement of someone else’s rights?”

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:59pm

          Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

          You've just given the actual Nazis -- definition being merged gov't and corporations

          Wait, did I miss a meeting?

          Since when is that the definition of "actual Nazis?"

          I mean, I get the idea of figuratively calling various people and groups "Nazis," from white supremacists, to authoritarian/fascist government figures, to those who try to silence free speech, to basically anyone the speaker doesn't like. It's such a staple of the Internet that Godwin's Law is not only applicable to most discussions, it's gotten to the point where knowledge of Godwin's Law itself is practically universal.

          But, even with the existence of neo-Nazis claiming the name and ideology to harass Muslim women in Calgary, I'd limit the term "actual Nazis" pretty strictly. In addition to self-labelling as one and subscribing to the ideology, I'd limit them temporally to people born no later than 1930, and geographically to people who were in the area claimed by Nazi Germany at some point between 1925 and 1945. You know, actual Nazis.

          That's not to say that those who, knowing what the Nazis did, and what they stood for, take that name unto themselves, aren't choosing to be horrible people. I mean, if someone calls themselves a Nazi, I have no objection to using that label to describe them. However, I'd argue that the burden required to call someone an "actual Nazi" would go a lot further, to the point where very few people alive today would qualify.

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          • icon
            Bergman (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 12:52pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

            Nazi is a slang term for the National Socialist Party. In common usage, Nazi is a label applied to people who espouse the same things the National Socialist Party does.

            National Socialists are strongly in favor of private ownership of corporations (and profits) coupled to strong government regulation and control of those corporations. They want a single charismatic leader at the head of a very centrally-controlled government and suppression (usually forcible) of dissenting voices. They typically use racial tensions and hatred as a preferred tool to motivate people to vote for or otherwise support changes towards those ideals.

            Collectively, that political system is known as fascism. So yeah, that actually is the definition of actual Nazis, and always has been.

            With the way the US system is moving towards corporations writing laws and having the best politicians their money can buy, the parallels to fascism are hard to deny, though some people persist in ignoring them.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 1:20pm

              Charismatic American Leadership [was Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line...]

              They want a single charismatic leader at the head…

              First google search result—

              Trump setting records for low presidential approval”, CNBC (AP), Aug 26, 2017

              Donald Trump started as the most unpopular new president in the history of modern polling. After seven months, things have only gotten worse.

              Plunging into undesirably uncharted territory, Trump is setting records with his dismally low approval ratings…

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 3:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

              National Socialists are strongly in favor of private ownership of corporations (and profits) coupled to strong government regulation and control of those corporations. They want a single charismatic leader at the head of a very centrally-controlled government and suppression (usually forcible) of dissenting voices. They typically use racial tensions and hatred as a preferred tool to motivate people to vote for or otherwise support changes towards those ideals.

              ... As well as the reclamation (and expansion) of historically Germanic territory by Germany, abolition of parliamentary democracy, the superiority of the Aryan race, and denying rights to Jews and those of Jewish descent. Also, the relegation of women to little more than childbearing mechanisms.

              The "actual Nazis," with a very few exceptions, are dead and buried, in hiding or denial, or atoning for the evil that they supported and/or enabled.

              You don't win today's war by fighting yesterday's. We have our own evils in the world today; it doesn't help to confuse them with our fathers' or grandfathers'. Especially since the solution is so very different. The solution when fighting actual Nazis was simple (although not in the least bit easy): you conquer Berlin and remove Hitler from power. As half of that solution is impossible, and the other half will accomplish nothing more than pissing pretty much everybody in Europe off, from Andrea Merkel on down, I fail to see how persisting in the inaccuracy is helping to find a solution.

              The problems America is facing have a hundred names already: some accurate, some less so. Giving them another inaccurate name, especially one so rooted in hatred and history, is merely throwing more fuel on the fire.

              Calling people or groups Nazis or Nazi-like is something that's going to happen on the Internet; as Mike Godwin said, if the discussion goes on long enough, it's inevitable. But seriously, the "actual Nazis?" They've been defeated for over seventy years now. And trying to get people to fight against today's villains by insisting that they're not only Nazi-like, but literally the exact same people that we fought against in WWII, only serves to damage your credibility and therefore your cause.

              I get your point. You think that the people in power are more Nazi-like than the people who actually call themselves Nazis. Fine. Whatever. Find a better way to present that argument and I might believe it. Persist in calling not-actual-Nazis "actual Nazis" and I'll just write you off as someone who can't grasp even the tiniest aspect of nuance, and I doubt I'll be the only one to do so.

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    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:38am

      Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

      You are conflating at least two meanings of the word "platform". That is a poor way to make an argument, intentional or not.

      I am no fan of corporations. I think i would align myself with Jefferson in that matter. But i do not see any upside to regulating them as utilities. What is popular now will pass later, and they have no monopoly other than what people will hand them. Treating them as a utility (or like broadcast television) would only reinforce their position and introduce a new level at which bad decisions can be made.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:44am

        Various common providers [was Re: Re: Easy line...]

        Treating them as a utility (or like broadcast television) would only reinforce their position…

        The Latest Front in Battling Hate Groups: Credit Cards”, by Peter Rudegeair and AnnaMaria Andriotis, Fox Business News, Aug 18, 2017

        Payments and credit-card companies including American Express Co., Discover Financial Services and PayPal Holdings Inc. are booting dozens of individuals and groups associated with right-wing extremist movements off their systems . . .

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 3:26pm

          Re: Various common providers [was Re: Re: Easy line...]

          Neo-Nazis can always use Bisschencoin.

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        • icon
          Bergman (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 12:55pm

          Re: Various common providers [was Re: Re: Easy line...]

          If it's okay to boot people off your businesses because you dislike their politics, it's only a matter of time before the world explodes in outrage when someone denies BLM or LGBTQ pride marchers access to essential goods and services for the same reason.

          From there it's only a small step towards a Republican or Democrat dominated Congress making it illegal for the opposing party to have bank accounts at all.

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          • identicon
            Thad, 28 Aug 2017 @ 11:08am

            Re: Re: Various common providers [was Re: Re: Easy line...]

            From there it's only a small step towards a Republican or Democrat dominated Congress making it illegal for the opposing party to have bank accounts at all.

            That's not a small step at all; it's one giant leap of logic.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:19pm

              Re: Re: Re: Various common providers [was Re: Re: Easy line...]

              That's not a small step at all; it's one giant leap of logic.

              Operation Choke Point was a moonshot?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:25pm

              Re: Re: Re: Various common providers [was Re: Re: Easy line...]

              Seriously. We've got some Underpants Gnome-level logic going on here.

              Step 1: Freedom of association means that people can deny other people goods or services based on their political beliefs

              Step 2: ???

              Step 3: Totalitarianism!

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    • identicon
      Carlie Coats, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:05pm

      Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

      ...these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone."

      But it is quite clear that bakers and photographers do not have similar First-Amendment rights, especially the "free exercise" parts. Why should ISPs, etc.? They come a lot closer to being government-endorsed monopolies than do the bakers and photographers!

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:11pm

        Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

        bakers and photographers do not have similar First-Amendment rights, especially the "free exercise" parts

        They do have First Amendment rights, but their rights end where another person’s rights begin. Every discrimination case that has gone in favor of the discriminated party says as much.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

          Stunning you can post this without seeing the irony. His point is that the discrimination shown by ISPs against "Nazis" is no different then the discrimination shown against homosexuals by bakers. If the bakers first amendment rights end where the homosexual's rights begin, then the ISP's first amendment rights similarly end where the Nazi's rights begin.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 5:18pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

            Cloudflare and other tech companies discriminated against the Daily Stormer based on an expression of content, not on an immutable trait. Those companies had the legal right to do so; whether it was ethical or moral for them to do so is the ultimate question of this discussion.

            The bakers in the case going before the Supreme Court discriminated against a gay couple based on their being gay—an act that violated of Colorado state law. The bakers had no legal leg to stand on; they treated a gay couple differently than a straight couple based only on sexual orientation. Regardless of how you feel about homosexuality, gay and bi people deserve equal treatment from public-facing businesses if the law promises them equal treatment.

            The last time I checked, Nazis cannot use their political views to force a platform’s owners into hosting an expression of those views. And by the by, the bakers were never forced to make a cake for that gay couple, even after all the losses in various courts.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 11:37am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

              The bakers in that case discriminated not because of the orientation of the customers, but because they were specifically celebrating a gay wedding (which was, by the way, not even recognized by that state at the time. Kind of like how nobody is discriminating against white supremacists just because they are white, but because they are specifically endorsing a political view that is related to, yet quite distinct from, their color.

              And by the by, the bakers were never forced to make a cake for that gay couple, even after all the losses in various courts.

              Oh, come on. That's like saying nobody is forced to come to jury duty. It's technically true; they can throw you in jail, but they can never actually force you to do that. But there's still "force" involved.

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              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 12:18pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

                The bakers in that case discriminated not because of the orientation of the customers, but because they were specifically celebrating a gay wedding

                Distinction without a difference. Straight people do not have “gay weddings”. Besides, other than the toppers—and possibly any messaging that would have been written on the cake—what makes a wedding cake for a gay couple any different than a wedding cake for a straight couple?

                The Colorado law says that a business purporting to serve the general public cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation. That means the business must serve a gay customer as equally as they would a straight one—and vice versa. The bakers in this case refused to do that when they refused to make a wedding cake for the gay customers, which was a service offered to straight customers. It was clear discrimination under the law.

                “But what about how they would have had the cake decorated?” is probably the next question you have on your lips. I can answer that now: Azucar Bakery—also in Colorado—was accused of discrimination against a Christian customer for refusing to decorate a cake with anti-gay messaging. The bakery in that case won for two reasons: They were willing to bake the customer a cake—in the shape of a cross, no less—and they tried to accomodate him by selling him the tools he needed to decorate the cake himself. The bakery’s policy of “no hateful messages on our products” applied to everyone, not just Christians. The policy was designed to prevent employees from being forced to decorate products with messages they did not support or agree with.

                One case involved a business treating a customer equally under store policy and trying everything possible to accomodate them; the other case involved a business that never even got that far because the business refused service to a customer based only on sexual orientation. If you still believe those two cases have no differences, I invite you to explain why.

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                • icon
                  Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 12:46pm

                  Precedent!

                  The Azucar Bakery case probably answers the question of a Jewish baker supplying a Nazi function: As a part of public accommodations, the baker is obligated to provide a stock cake, but is not obligated to add customizations that are objectionable, such as hateful messaging.

                  These days, incidentally, a gay wedding is now recognized as a wedding. Much the way an interracial wedding is now simply a wedding.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 2:05pm

                    Re: Precedent!

                    As a part of public accommodations, the baker is obligated to provide a stock cake…

                    Following one of the citations in the 1877 case of Munn, yesterday, I encountered an earlier, 1847 decision in some combined cases. That decision sets out an 1837 Massachusetts statute. The 1847 cases are not so pertinent here, but the 1837 statute of the Commonwealth provides, in part:

                    Sec. 5. Every innholder shall at all times be furnished with suitable provisions and lodging for strangers and travelers, and with stable room, hay, and provender for their horses and cattle, and if he shall not be at all times so provided, the county commissioners may revoke his license.

                    Sec. 6. Every common victualler shall have all the rights and privileges and be subject to all the duties and obligations of innholders excepting that he shall not be required to furnish lodgings for travelers, nor stable room, hay, and provender for horses and cattle.

                    Sec. 7. Every innholder and common victualler shall at all times have a board or sign affixed to his house, shop, cellar, or store, or in some conspicuous place near the same, with his name at large thereon, and the employment for which he is licensed, on pain of forfeiting twenty dollars.

                    Sec. 8. If any innholder shall, when requested, refuse to receive and make suitable provisions for strangers and travelers, and their horses and cattle, he shall, upon conviction thereof before the court of common pleas, be punished by a fine not exceeding fifty dollars, and shal also, by order of the said court, be deprived of his license, and the court shall order the sheriff or his deputy forthwith to cause his sign to be taken down.

                    Now, I have a simple question here: Is it within the legitimate province of the legislature, by amending section 6 of this old statute perhaps —striking the exception— to oblige a baker to provide a stock cake?

                    To provide a stock cake.

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                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 2:30pm

                      Re: Re: Precedent!

                      A baker selling a generic cake is far less of a burden than a gay customer being told “no faggots allowed” and hoping the next baker disagrees.

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                    • icon
                      Uriel-238 (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 4:51pm

                      You lost me.

                      Here in the US, some states have passed Religious Freedom statutes that specifically provide exceptions to public accommodations laws on the grounds of religious principles. In other words, the religious beliefs of businesses (not necessarily their owners or managers) have been defined as more important than the right of their customers to be treated as decent human beings. (And yes, there's an implication that such customers are either not decent or not human.) I believe these laws extend not just to retail accommodations but also to employment, (advancement,) tenancy or communion. There have been some examples in which non-emergency medical care has been so denied.

                      Is it legitimate for a legislature to pass a law? Always. Legislatures define what is legit. The only exception is if they're held to a higher order of laws, such as (allegedly) the Constitution of the United States. This is where I couldn't parse what you were saying, maybe.

                      Still, the US Constitution has only acknowledged discrimination piecemeal, such as in the 15th Amendment, race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Between amendments and court rulings we've established race, color, creed, religion, national origin, age and gender, but not anything else

                      That leaves us where we are, where each disliked minority has to independently fight for their rights, where some who benefited from the Civil Rights movement have leeway to suggest that it's different for Gays, and where we can watch minorities get stripped of their rights, such as transgender soldiers.

                      What we don't have is any construct by which our legislators are ethically guided, so they really are left to pass what laws please them and the engine that secures their position.

                      I think we'd do better ruling in reverse, assuming that discrimination cannot take place ordinarily, but then define those legal exceptions in which it can. But in the US that would require a major reformation.

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 9:33am

                        Re: You lost me. [was Re: Re: Precedent!]

                        This is where I couldn't parse what you were saying, maybe.

                        Your former subject line was “ Precedent! ”.

                        Not only courts, but also administrative agencies employ precedent. The august chambers of the House and Senate have their own precedents, used in ways peculiar to parliamentary assemblies.

                        Even in the courts, legal precedent ranges from square-on holdings, to suggestive dicta.

                        The landmark case, Heart of Atlanta Motel, decided in 1964, reached back to the 1883 Civil Rights Cases

                        … where Mr. Justice Bradley for the Court inferentially found that innkeepers, “by the laws of all the States, so far as we are aware, are bound, to the extent of their facilities, to furnish proper accommodation to all unobjectionable persons who in good faith apply for them.”

                         

                        ( The actual decisions in both Heart of Atlanta and the 1883 Civil Rights Cases, of course, concerned themselves with acts of Congress, rather than acts of the state legislatures. Yet still, there's an interplay between federal and state power. )

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                      • identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 10:38am

                        History!

                        … such as in the 15th Amendment…

                        Chronology:

                        • 1861, Mar 4: Mr Lincoln was first inaugurated.
                        • 1861, Apr 12: Single 10-inch mortar shell fired at Fort Sumter, initiating general bombardment.
                        • 1865, Apr  9: Gen Lee surrendered at the village of Appomattox Court House.
                        • 1865, Apr 14: Single derringer shot killed Mr Lincoln at Ford's Theatre.
                        • 1865, Dec 6: Thirteenth Amendment ratified.
                        • 1868, Jul 9: Fourteenth Amendment ratified.
                        • Feb  3, 1870 Fifteenth Amendment ratified.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 10:47am

                          Re: History!

                          ( Apologies for the inconsistent formatting: accidentallly hit “submit” rather than “preview”. No subtle message intended by that inconsistency. )

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:33am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

            nazi != baker

            it is sad that this needs to be pointed out

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 2:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

              That's not the comparison: if the baker has to sell cake to the nazi, why doesn't the isp have to sell hosting?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:16pm

        Victuallers and public accomodations [was Re: Re: Easy line...]

        But it is quite clear that bakers and photographers do not have similar First-Amendment rights…

        Common victuallers and other vendors of food in the public square have been subject to close regulation at least since Roman times. Mainly, that's 'cause otherwise people get food poisoning.

        Since at least midieval law, common innkeepers and hostellers have been required to provide lodging and accomodation to travellers, whenever there's room, and the guests are not overmuch rowdy.

        Extending those principles to photographers has already caused some controversy. Photography is not a classical or midieval art, I suppose.

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      • identicon
        Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:23pm

        Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

        I see the "gay wedding cake" analogy crop up in every single conversation about this, and they're really not comparable. Gay people are, at least in some parts of the nation, a protected class. Nazis are not a protected class.

        There are laws that specifically define factors that can't be used as the basis for refusing service to a customer. I'm not aware of any that include white supremacy.

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        • icon
          mhajicek (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 3:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

          Is it okay then for a business to refuse service to an individual based solely on their political affiliation? Would you be okay with getting kicked out of a restaurant because your name was on a list of people who voted a particular way, expressed a particular viewpoint, or visited a particular website? This issue is coming to a head because of how public our lives are becoming; it's pretty much unavoidable that soon everything a person does and says will be a matter of public record. How much of that should be usable against you and how?

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          • identicon
            Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:27pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

            Those are all good questions. Where, indeed, is the line?

            Here are my answers as they come to me:

            Is it okay then for a business to refuse service to an individual based solely on their political affiliation?

            What do you mean by "okay"? Because there are lots of things that I would say should be legally permissible but would not describe as "okay".

            Would you be okay with getting kicked out of a restaurant because your name was on a list of people who voted a particular way, expressed a particular viewpoint, or visited a particular website?

            What am I doing in a restaurant that kicks people out for having my political opinions in the first place? It seems to me that if there were such a policy, it wouldn't be a secret. I imagine the kind of place you're describing looking a lot like a redneck bar, and I already don't go to those places.

            I think that, under such circumstances, I probably wouldn't want to be in that restaurant in the first place. They don't want me as a customer; I don't want to be their customer. There's no systemic oppression going on in your example. I think that's a case where the free market is sufficient to handle the issue.

            There have, on the other hand, been instances in history (and the present) where the market has broken down, where businesses have been allowed to systematically discriminate against people based on race, religion, disability, or other grounds, and where there was no significant financial disincentive for them to do so. Under those circumstances, it was appropriate for the courts and Congress to intervene.

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            • icon
              stderric (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 4:06pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

              I imagine the kind of place you're describing looking a lot like a redneck bar, and I already don't go to those places.

              I have a new hobby: I pubcrawl through my whole town every Thursday. I go into each bar (including redneck ones and others where I'm not welcome), have a beer, and then yell "Common Law!!!" ten times in a row before staggering out.

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              • identicon
                Thad, 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:42am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

                Do you also complain loudly about how the bouncers are censoring you by not letting you in the bar, even though you are clearly sitting inside the bar?

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                • identicon
                  Thad, 28 Aug 2017 @ 11:09am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

                  (Ironically, that post was held for moderation. Now I will proceed to rant about how Techdirt is deliberately censoring me, forever.)

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

            Can I make a political statement by not wearing a shirt?
            Can a business decide to not serve me because I am not wearing a shirt?
            Have any cases like this been ruled on in court?

            /rhetoric

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 9:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

              yes: if your political statement is that shirts are somehow the cause/fix of the political issue- example: men can be shirtless on a beach, women can not. a woman protesting this by not wearing a shirt would be a political statment

              Yes: if your shirt does not conform to their requirements/standards. example: you can try to show up at the MET for a black tie event wearing a t-shirt with an anti trump campaign, but to complain that they are denying your free speech when they say your attire is not appropriate would be kinda stupid and a bit of a stretch.

              live oak high schools cinco de mayo kerfuffle is the only thing i can think of off the top of my head regarding the clothing aspect but im sure there are others.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

          >Gay people are, at least in some parts of the nation, a protected class.

          Which is the huge problem with "protected classes". Lady Justice wears a blindfold because justice is supposed to blind. Carving out special rules and privileges for certain arbitrarily designated groups is literally the opposite of what justice and equality is all about. It does nothing but polarize society and (further) nullify the legitimacy of the legal system. We need to craft intelligent anti-discrimination laws with neutral language while also accepting that in a free society, people are free to be bigots or assholes on their own private property.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 5:59pm

            In re: discrimination

            We have anti-discrimination laws because we used to have pro-discrimination laws. We know what our nation was like when we segregated people out of or into “separate but equal” parts of society based on immutable traits such as age, biological sex, and skin color. That period of time does not deserve an encore.

            And incidentally, the anti-discrimination laws that protect minority segments of the population also protect the majority—i.e., a business that must treat gay people the same as straight people also has to treat straight people the same as gay people.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:06pm

        Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

        A baker has every right to refuse to create a cake saying "Gay weddings are awesome!"

        But if two customers walk in, one after the other, and want the baker to create exactly the same cake, with the only difference that one of the clients is a man marrying a woman and the other client is a man marrying another man, then the baker's artistic expression isn't being affected. After all, they'd be making exactly the same cake for one that they would for the other.

        As a baker, you can refuse to create a specific design; you just can't agree to create a specific design for one person, but refuse the same design for another person, solely because the latter person is in a protected class.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:49pm

          Bakers [was Re: Re: Re: Easy line...]

          A baker has every right to refuse to create a cake…

          A man has an undoubted right to refuse the calling of a baker. It is hard work, and assuredly not for all. But having set his up ovens, may a man then hold himself out as exclusively a baker of bread? May such a man speak to all, saying, ‘Let them NOT eat cake!’ ?

          If doeth as much, perhaps then the wise parliamentarians within the legislature would send a writ to plague him, “Man shall not live by bread alone.”

          Munn v Illinois (1877)

          [I]t has been customary in England from time immemorial, and in this country from its first colonization, to regulate ferries, common carriers, hackmen, bakers, millers, wharfingers, innkeepers, &c., and in so doing to fix a maximum of charge to be made for services rendered, accommodations furnished, and articles sold. . . .

          [The Supreme Court of Alabama] was called upon, in 1841, to decide whether the power granted to the city of Mobile to regulate the weight and price of bread was unconstitutional . . .

          (Emphasis added.)

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:21pm

        Re: Re: Easy line: ACTUAL violence versus mere opinion -- even if urging violence.

        Maybe if you actually looked into those cases beyond your discredited talking point, you would see the difference.

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  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:22am

    This kind of article is why I keep coming to Techdirt.

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  • identicon
    Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:24am

    On the one hand, I'm not entirely convinced that domain names are a right; it seems to me that they may be more of a convenience. Sending the Daily Stormer to Tor doesn't kick it offline, it just makes it harder to find; that seems like an acceptable result to me.

    OTOH, domain names are a trivial enough thing that I'm not necessarily opposed to preventing (US-based) providers from discriminating. I don't think I'd support government regulation saying that providers have to host sites they don't like, but I could get behind treating domain names like a utility and not allowing registrars to refuse service to controversial customers.

    (That would also take care of the boycott issue. Consumers aren't going to threaten a boycott against a registrar for doing business with Nazis if the registrar's hands are tied and it can't help doing business with them.)

    I also don't think Cloudflare should be obligated to provide DDoS mitigation services to anyone it doesn't want to, but this points at an underlying problem that's a matter of technology, not law: the Web is extremely vulnerable to incredibly simple brute-force attacks, and this is a difficult and serious problem. (It seems to me that the best solution in principle is a peer-to-peer structure like BitTorrent, where everyone who accesses a site also serves it; this would be robust against DDoS attacks, but comes with its own share of downsides, from the logistical issue that it would be even more of a niche service than Tor to the fundamental problem of what happens when a site has few or no seeders.)

    I think the problem here is a lot bigger than one website; it's about the Internet's shift from a decentralized network to one that's effectively controlled by a handful of gatekeepers. That is a hard problem (especially since, in many cases, it's the users themselves who are voluntarily stepping into walled gardens -- people escaped AOL only to sign up for Facebook).

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:29am

      Re:

      I think the problem here is a lot bigger than one website; it's about the Internet's shift from a decentralized network to one that's effectively controlled by a handful of gatekeepers. That is a hard problem (especially since, in many cases, it's the users themselves who are voluntarily stepping into walled gardens -- people escaped AOL only to sign up for Facebook).

      Yes. That's a good summary of the issue, and one that's concerned me for a while. I'm not sure the answer, and so far the attempts to just recreate centralized services in decentralized ways strikes me as not a real answer. To get people to shift the decentralized solutions need to be somehow even better (significantly so) than the centralized options.

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Re:

        To wit: Mastodon.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:37pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That had other problems. Its deployment was effectively turned into an arm of subculture warring to the detriment of the platform's success. Sadly the subculture warring was done primarily by the journalists pushing the platform and the main developer who ran the biggest instance threatening any new instance with blacklisting if they didn't moderate according to the largest platform's standards and blacklist the same instances it did.

          Essentially it was a decentralized social media platform that was treated like a centralized one. It restricted grassroots growth to just the remaining echochamber that hasn't been ostracized by tech media in recent years.

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      • identicon
        Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:16pm

        Re: Re:

        Right, inertia is a huge problem. It takes a lot to get a user to shift from something they're used to to something they're not, even if the new thing is clearly better. (I remember arguments back in '04 or so where I tried to convince friends to switch to Firefox and they insisted that IE6 was just fine. The idea that anyone could ever think IE6 was "just fine" is completely inexplicable to me, but part of the problem, I suppose, is that people don't even know how bad a piece of software is until they've actually used something better.) It can be done -- witness the shift from MySpace to Facebook -- but it takes a pretty extraordinary set of circumstances and a lot of luck.

        "Do what the other guy does but more open" has generally been a great strategy for appealing to technical and business customers but not so much for end users. (GNU/Linux on the desktop is still a niche, and while Android leads the mobile market, that's more about the open platform's appeal to phone vendors than to consumers. Plus, Google's influence is a pretty nontrivial factor.)

        There's also the point that, to some extent, "open" and "decentralized" are synonymous with "fragmented". And fragmentation is generally undesirable in a social network. You want to be able to communicate with your friends; that's the whole point.

        Ease of use continues to be a huge challenge, too. If every browser could access .onion sites out of the box, then we probably wouldn't be having this conversation at all, but even though installing the Tor Browser is pretty trivial, it's a step most users are never going to bother with. The same would be true with my hypothetical P2P distributed Web solution. (The plot of the latest season of Silicon Valley was largely built around this dilemma. Richard wants to build a "new Internet" using P2P technology, but faces the catch-22 that it won't be viable until it has a large subscriber base, and vice-versa. Even in a sitcom, there's no good solution to this problem.)

        Shitty names don't help either. "Diaspora" is the worst open-source project name since "Gimp". I once saw a guy remark that letting programmers name your software makes as much sense as letting marketers program it; I'm inclined to agree.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:32pm

        Re: Re:

        I have a very difficult time seeing how this is possible given our current copyright system and, more importantly, lack of meaningful privacy law.

        What you'd need to do is restore decentralization to be the most economic option. To do that you need to make social media *far* less profitable than it is now to the point where an advertising business model cannot conver the costs of centralized infrastructure.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:20pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If everybody could get a permanent IP address for their home system, without being charged business rates, distributed systems have a chance. Without that, costs are increased because of the need to rent a server, which also leaves the server farms as a choke point.

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      • identicon
        David S. H. Rosenthal, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:18pm

        Decentralization

        Building decentralized systems without understanding the force that creates centralization is doomed to failure. Mike writes that there is "more money in locked-in, centralized platforms" but doesn't ask why this is so.

        Technology markets in general and the Web in particular have very strong increasing returns to scale (aka network effects - duh!). This basic economic attribute and the profit motive drives them to being dominated by one or a very few players. Building a decentralized protocol that shares this attribute results in a centralized system at the next layer up - see bitcoin mining for an example. If we want to decentralize the Web we need to design infrastructure that has decreasing returns to scale. A very hard problem.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:31am

    Trap Sprung!

    "I'm going to try to discuss a complicated issue that has many nuances and gray areas. That often fails, because all too often people online immediately leap to black or white positions, because it's easy to miss the nuance when arguing about an emotionally potent issue."

    No, this is NOT nuanced or complicated. These terms are thrown around as an excuse to avoid doing the right thing, because doing the WRONG thing is JUST EASIER!

    People need to stop being racist.
    People need to value liberty before their politics.
    People need to stop letting racists insult them.
    People need to stop making non racist things into a thing about race, just because they felt hurt by a comment or disagree.

    Some cultures can mix, others just cannot.
    Humans caused these troubles, not religions, not politics, not morals, not science!

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    • icon
      orbitalinsertion (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:43am

      Re: Trap Sprung!

      i was waiting for someone to say that nuanced was the new black.

      a lot of the individual ideas you list have merit, only they have nothing to do with various service providers or the issue discussed here.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:33pm

        Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

        The fact that you cannot see how these all are interrelated is what is going to make this problem "unresolvable".

        Before anyone can have a proper debate, the meanings of words and ideas must first be agreed up. Right now, everyone follows a different truth. You must learn theirs before you can begin to properly deconstruct them. And when you are unwilling to learn about the definitions they use to define their lives you sit squarely in the part of culture that cannot mix with another culture, quickly proving my point.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:45am

      Re: Trap Sprung!

      I'm curious. How often do the voices tell you what to say?

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:06pm

      Re: Trap Sprung!

      Some cultures can mix, others just cannot.

      You know, not for nothin’, but this is the kind of statement you hear from a White supremacist just before they talk about “race mixing” and “ethnic cleansing”.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:28pm

        Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

        Yea, it looks like the BLM cultures and the White Supremacist cultures are mixing well right?

        If what you say can be so easily proven false, why rush to stick your foot into your mouth?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:11pm

      Re: Trap Sprung!

      You are correct, people do need to stop doing all those things and value liberty and be kind.

      However, the article isn't about that, the article is about whether or not it's a good idea to let a few large entities basically have the power to control who can and who can't post things on the internet.

      Because ultimately, you can't control people, and there will always be people who do nasty, hateful, disgusting things. Not to say that we should ever stop trying to change that, but recognizing that that reality is currently beyond our ability to bring about in the near future, and making sure we are being good stewards of the rights, privileges, powers and abilities that we do have.

      That's why this is a nuanced issue. You can't just swing the ban hammer because what people consider to be unacceptable is not universal. Flipping it on its head, suppose the Nazi groups somehow managed to take control of Google, Facebook, domain registrars, etc... They then would have the power to kick off the internet anyone they disagreed with, just like Google and company did to them. This could include kicking off Black Lives Matter, Democrats, Republicans, Christians, Muslims, the ACLU, or anyone else that doesn't subscribe to their beliefs and ideology.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:43pm

        Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

        Title of Article
        "Nazis, The Internet, Policing Content And Free Speech"

        You said in response.

        "However, the article isn't about that"

        If you are not able to see it, then so be it!
        Be sure to think back to this post as the nation burns and you cannot figure out why the problem only keeps escalating until people are dying and will keep getting worse until enough have died that people wish to stop it.

        It's humanity's cycle. Crazy people keep growing in population until they finally outnumber those wanting peace and then war breaks out. The crazies murder and kill each other along with the innocent until they are done wiping themselves out or at least the key people causing the war have lost enough to stop.

        But don't let me forget to remind you the next time a crime happens to your person or a loved one... after all, none of this is about that.

        Culture
        The totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought.

        Of course none of this is about the article... not at all!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:50pm

          Re: Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

          - You use the title of the article to prove I don't see it, except the title says "Nazi's, THE INTERNET, POLICING CONTENT AND FREE SPEECH", not "Nazi's, human kindness, morality, and the degnerate state of America". He's talking about a tech and free speech issue, not that America is going to hell in a hand basket because some people are racists.

          - Unless a crime committed against me or a loved one involves kicking me off the internet or impinging on my right to free speech, then no, this article definitely is not about that.

          If you want to discuss human morality, that's fine, but don't make false assertions just to bring up the point. You just lose credibility.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 7:38pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

            "If you want to discuss human morality, that's fine, but don't make false assertions just to bring up the point. You just lose credibility."

            So you are saying that this article is not about culture?

            Who is losing credibility?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:23pm

      Re: Trap Sprung!

      Saying "People need to x,y,and z" does an excellent job of begging the question. What you're proposing is an universal code of morality. Never in recorded human history has an universal moral code been universally adopted. Even killing those who disagree doesn't buy acceptance, it merely pushes disagreement underground. People are complex, and there's a reason that the aphorism "Cutting off your nose to spite your face exists. Plenty of people are naturally like the ones Mike referred to (see quote below), and this impulse will always exist in humanity. Complex people require complex solutions.

      From the article:
      And, in the case of Nazis, it actually has a reinforcing impact that isn't widely considered. Many of the ignorant folks who jump on board with these groups (and, yes, they are ignorant) believe that they're being "edgy" and "contrarian" and "outside the norm." And pulling down their websites reinforces this view. It doesn't make them rethink their ignorant hate. It makes them think they're on to something. They interpret it as "the establishment" or "the swamp" or whoever not being able to handle the truth that they're bringing.

      Mike, like Stephen above, this is the kind of journalism that I read this site for. Keep up the good work, and you'll drag me all the way from lurkerhood to making an account and commenting regularly. :D

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:06pm

        Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

        "Saying "People need to x,y,and z" does an excellent job of begging the question. What you're proposing is an universal code of morality."

        A universal code of morality is exactly what laws of a nation seek to achieve.

        "Never in recorded human history has an universal moral code been universally adopted. Even killing those who disagree doesn't buy acceptance, it merely pushes disagreement underground."

        I agree, which is why there I stated that some cultures will not be able to co-mingle with others. A criminal is someone that cannot accept the current culture they live in and fights against it for better or worse.

        "People are complex, and there's a reason that the aphorism "Cutting off your nose to spite your face exists. Plenty of people are naturally like the ones Mike referred to (see quote below), and this impulse will always exist in humanity. Complex people require complex solutions."

        No, people are NOT complex. You are just putting the word complex in place of the word "unknown". You simple just do not KNOW what how a person is going to react to a given situation. We can if we try to learn more about each other, but that is too hard. Instead we would rather attack them until one side backs down.

        Much like this guy in another post...
        "this is the kind of statement you hear from a White supremacist"

        He did not like what I had to say, so he jumped to his card deck and went straight for calling me a racist in a passive aggressive way.

        "Many of the ignorant folks who jump on board with these groups (and, yes, they are ignorant) believe that they're being "edgy" and "contrarian" and "outside the norm.""

        I don't agree with this at all. It has been my experience that people genuinely have reasoned with themselves to load up on excuses, real or imaginary, to hate others they just disagree with. Humans are just by nature in the mood to group up and cause problems for others. Bonus points for comping up with "smart sounding reasons" like "the situation is more complex that it looks, or there are just so many shades of gray!

        People like computers are just a bunch of little yes/no on/off collections of bits. Complex is just a word people use to escape blame for letting their own bias lead to the wrong conclusion.

        "It doesn't make them rethink their ignorant hate."
        Humanities problem in general, especially for those that claim to be against hate. I am not against hate, it is necessary. I will never like a racist, murder, willfully ignorant, drunkard, abusive, or hypocrites.

        It is really hard to not fall into a ditch of hate ourselves when we start throwing around platitudes the way ALL sides are currently doing!

        We want war, and it will not be stopped!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

          People like computers are just a bunch of little yes/no on/off collections of bits. Complex is just a word people use to escape blame for letting their own bias lead to the wrong conclusion.

          Well, if it's that simple, it should be very easy to just find the bits that are responsible for racism and turn them off.

          Surely it couldn't be any harder than stripping DRM from a game. After all, people are just like computers, and not very complex.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 7:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

            "Well, if it's that simple, it should be very easy to just find the bits that are responsible for racism and turn them off."

            http://news.mit.edu/2010/moral-control-0330

            Your comment has been voted as insightful by the community. How sad is it that a simple truth is now considered "insightful" by you guys?

            Knowledge is power! This community seems to lack a bit of it.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 8:01pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

              From the article you linked:

              "Our moral judgments are not the result of a single process, even though they feel like one uniform thing," she says. "It’s actually a hodgepodge of competing and conflicting judgments, all of which get jumbled into what we call moral judgment."

              I think that particular passage makes the article argue better for "people are complex" than "people are simple."

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:38pm

          Re: Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

          Oh, so then if computers are simple, just like people are simple, then you wouldn't mind reciting to me the millions of lines code that makes computers do what they do. Go ahead, I'll wait.

          Many things can be complex while being fully understood, much like computers and people, and can also have simple aspects. I think that assuming that people are simple creatures in totality is short-sighted and idiotic. I think we have simple aspects but we also have complex aspects as well. Put 100 people in a situation and they will all react in 100 different ways. Scale that up to millions and tell me that isn't complex.

          I would also argue that assuming people are not complex and instead simple, is more of an excuse to not learn more about people than assuming they are complex. After all, if everyone is so simple, how much more is there to learn?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:45pm

          Re: Re: Re: Trap Sprung!

          Fighting against current culture for better or worse does not make one a criminal. Rebel? Maybe. Counterculture exists in all civilizations and maybe even promotes change for the better.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:21pm

      Rumsfeld's law continues to prevail.

      You build a society with the people you have, not the people you wish you had

      This is to say that we're going to have crappy people who are going to have crappy traits, and we need to include them in our society.

      We definitely need to improve our education, to encourage critical thought of specific issues rather than identity politics. We need to advise our people how pluralism is better than homogeneity if they enjoy a large society with great infrastructure. We need to encourage self awareness, maybe teach mindfulness, so people understand why they personally are xenophobic and the benefit for not letting those feelings cross over into behavior.

      But we're always going to have bigots. We're always going to have racists and sexual chauvinists and intolerant religious fanatics and homophobes. Not liking weirdos is the default for most people. They need to be trained to respect their overlarge society and acknowledge the benefit that comes in being part of one, so that they can choose to not indulge their racist tendencies. I think people are willing to suffer the freaks and creepazoids when that's the recognized price we pay for having countless makes of sourdough bread and beer, and free wifi at every cafe.

      This is how we beat them. Just say no never worked for drugs or cults or sex. It's not going to work for racism either.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:41am

      Re: Trap Sprung!

      "Humans caused these troubles, not religions, not politics, not morals, not science!"

      Those are all human constructs, created by humans ... who are known to cause trouble. Not sure what you meant to say.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:41am

    "Start your own platform"

    Don't like it? Start your own platform.

    ... if you can get a domain name. If the registrars come to the same decision as Google--that platforms without sufficient moderation should be denied service--it will be difficult. They could hide on an Onion service, start their own DNS root, or use IP addresses (or, try to have IANA delegate .dd to them).

    The idea that registrars can arbitrarily cancel domain names is disturbing and IANA policies should prohibit it. They might deny DNS hosting, but they should be required to give out the NS records and DNSSEC signatures for anything they've registered. Neither of those record types would contain objectionable content.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:53am

    > And, to me, it still feels the better solution isn't putting more power in the hands of massive centralized "infrastructure" providers, but pushing the power out to the ends, in the spirit of the original, open end-to-end internet. Give the ends of the network the power. Let them share tools and filters among each other, but let's not rush to demand that a few key centralized players be the final arbiters of speech online.

    Every bit of this goes directly against the business models of Facebook, Google, etc.

    They will continue to do everything in their power to replace the previously-open internet with their walled gardens.

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  • identicon
    Anon, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:56am

    Very Good Points

    I noted when Trump made his point "many sides" that a lot of news sources glossed over the facts. Whether you are anti-fa or Nazi, coming to an assembly armed and armoured is NOT exercising your First Amendment rights -that allows for "peaceable" assembly. I would like to see more detail on who was fighting and who started things. (Because like most good people, in my heart, I would like to believe the Nazis/KKK started it).

    Trump also ignored the corollary of the First Amendment - that just because someone is allowed to say something, does not turn "a right" into "right" as in correct.

    The problem with internet censorship exposes a number of problems. The first is, of course, that as private entities and restricted areas become necessary to enjoy your life, your rights are stripped away. The TSA violates our constitutional rights because "you don't have to fly". (What, there are ocean liners to Europe? Hop on one of the transcontinental Amtrak trains running daily?) Shopping malls can restrict activities and search for or bar weapons because they are private; you can protest out on the sidewalk or shop in the closed boarded up shops downtown.

    Now, the general internet could be barring people based on alleged reputation. You are right, this is a slippery slope. the classic example is McCarthy's House UnAmerican Activities committee, which resulted in witch hunts, people fired, and blacklists - the Hollywood blacklist for example resonates still today. Despite the fact that Stalin *was* trying to infiltrate the USA, despite that later decrypts proved for example, Julius and likely Ethel Rosenberg were spies - the consensus today is that the social censorship was a serious un-American over-reaction.

    Do we want to repeat that episode? In the 1950's, much of the country was convinced that Communism was a ghastly evil force that could only be stopped by serious active measures that justified constitutional violations... as is terrorism today. And so on.

    The proper response to any such hate is truth, not repression. The police need to step in and control any situation where alleged "peaceable assembly" strays into violence. (This is where Hitler made his progress. His thugs were allowed to battle Communist thugs in the streets, then eventually attack other targets of opportunity, with minimal adult supervision until people feared to cross them.)

    Finally, when thinking about history and statues - I was in Egypt a few years ago. If you visit any temple or see many of the statues there, so many wall carving have faces and hands chipped away. This our Muslim guides attributed to early Christians finding the depiction of idols blasphemous. My inner skeptic wonders if it could have been the Muslims too... Nevertheless, for what seemed decent and moral and urgent reasons at the time, what was a historical legacy was destroyed. We still see this today with ISIS and the Taliban, the monks following the conquistadors did this to the Aztec and Mayan heritage, the prudish popes put fig leaves on naked images from high art, and so on. While it is not necessary to revere someone like Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee or his minions for rebellion, treason, and preserving an institution on its way out, perhaps those statues should go in museums not the dustheap of history. Similarly, we should not forget that Davis' and Lee's greatest accomplishment was that an elite group of very rich persuaded the dirt poor farmers around them to get themselves killed in service to a cause that would never matter to the average farmer.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:31pm

      Re: Very Good Points

      Now, the general internet could be barring people based on alleged reputation. You are right, this is a slippery slope. the classic example is McCarthy's House UnAmerican Activities committee, which resulted in witch hunts, people fired, and blacklists - the Hollywood blacklist for example resonates still today. Despite the fact that Stalin was trying to infiltrate the USA, despite that later decrypts proved for example, Julius and likely Ethel Rosenberg were spies - the consensus today is that the social censorship was a serious un-American over-reaction.

      I'd argue that the major difference between that and what's happening today is that was government-led. McCarthy and the HUAC started the witch-hunt; private industry (the Hollywood studios) followed their lead. You could make a similar argument about other private-industry censorship regimes in the same era (eg the Comic Code appearing as a response to the Senate Subcommittee on Juvenile Delinquency).

      In this case, that's not happening; while some people in state and local governments have complained about these protests, I'm not aware of any major (and certainly no successful) government efforts to suppress the speech of white supremacists.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      mhajicek (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 3:54pm

      Re: Very Good Points

      I disagree with one of your points. I shouldn't have to forgo one right in order to exercise another. I have the right to speak freely, worship or not as I please, be armed, be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, not quarter soldiers in my house, etc. all at the same time.

      If I threaten or commit violence against another unprovoked then I deserve the weight of law being brought against me, but until that point I have the right to be armed as I please, especially if I anticipate violence being threatened or brought against me.

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      • identicon
        Anon, 26 Aug 2017 @ 6:42am

        Re: Re: Very Good Points

        Yes and no. Just as your right to wander public streets would be curtailed when police block off certain areas for demonstrations or parades similarly your right to carry offensive weapons - clubs axe handles etc- should be curtailed when the situation is conducive to a riot. Which of course loud crowds of on two sides colliding pretty much fits the bill.

        Should also
        Point out that in your land of "right to bear arms" quite a few jurisdictions have made bullet proof cars and vests illegal for private citizens.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 11:30am

          Re: Re: Re: Very Good Points

          By the same logic your right to speak should be curtailed when the social and political environment is such that your speech may cause unrest.

          Fortunately that is not the case.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 8:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Very Good Points

            We call that inciting a riot, and it is very much illegal.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 8:46am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Very Good Points

              Ummmm, no, that isn't called inciting a riot.

              Depends on what you are saying.

              If I give a speech in Alabama advocating equality and a riot breaks out, did I incite a riot.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 8:57am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Very Good Points

                Well considering the gentleman I was responding to did qualify their statement with "is such that your speech may cause unrest", then yes, you incited a riot.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 9:23am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Very Good Points

                  I guess we should have never let Martin Luther King open his mouth then.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:32pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Very Good Points

                    If we're going to bring these hypotheticals into the realm of realism and drawing parallels between the civil rights movement and Nazis denouncing non-whites and also specifically Jews, then please tell me of the rights that the Nazis are fighting for that they don't currently already have. And don't tell me it's the right to free speech because you and I both know that's just a veil for their bait.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 1:19pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Very Good Points

                  … qualify their statement with "is such that your speech may cause unrest", then yes, you incited a riot.

                  Terminello v Chicago (1949)

                  The trial court charged that "breach of the peace" consists of any "misbehavior which violates the public peace and decorum"; and that the "misbehavior may constitute a breach of the peace if it stirs the public to anger, invites dispute, brings about a condition of unrest, or creates a disturbance, or if it molests the inhabitants in the enjoyment of peace and quiet by arousing alarm." . . .

                  [A] function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. . . .

                  The ordinance as construed by the trial court seriously invaded this province. It permitted conviction of petitioner if his speech stirred people to anger, invited public dispute, or brought about a condition of unrest. A conviction resting on any of those grounds may not stand. . . .

                  Reversed.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 2:15pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Very Good Points

                                … speech may cause unrest…

                    Terminello v Chicago (1949)

                    Henry v City of Rock Hill (1964)

                    PER CURIAM.

                     . . . . As in Edwards, the South Carolina Supreme Court has here "defined a criminal offense so as to permit conviction of the petitioners if their speech `stirred people to anger, invited public dispute, or brought about a condition of unrest. A conviction resting on any of those grounds may not stand.' [Terminiello v. Chicago] ". Accordingly certiorari is granted and the judgment is reversed.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:58am

    Yes, it's way more complex than anybody can grasp and Cloudflare got points with me because kicking them out sparked questioning and discomfort with this power the CEO has.

    Anyway, I like the idea of decentralized services (possibly based on the block chain idea) where the users would be the ones doing the moderation and the content would be generally hidden unless a big portion (say, 90%+) of the network agreed it should be deleted. This would allow deplorable stuff to stay around hidden (like our trolls here) and universally hated stuff would be effectively removed (I'd guess child porn would get a very high rejection and would pass very high thresholds pretty easily). Of course things that society hasn't evolved to accept (think black people in the 50's) would still be hidden but not removed.

    Of course this is not perfect either. Maybe some mixed solution using this and the due-process thing. But I like this kind of system even if it will eventually allow some assholes through.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:05pm

      Re:

      Cloudflare got points with me because kicking them out sparked questioning and discomfort with this power the CEO has.

      They get more points with me because the CEO himself expressed his discomfort and questioned his company’s power. How often do you see someone in his position openly saying he and his company has too much power?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:39pm

    If dissent isn't allowed to appear, the "platform" is sure to win!

    Can't you guys see that if solely corporations decide what's allowed, and thereby control users, it's inherently bad, will certainly lead to tyranny through and by those platforms? Do you think that present "platforms" are good, benign, totally free of gov't interference, follow your philosophy, and always will be?

    Well, even if so... Imagine if Trump, that reckless insane scourge of all that's good and liberal, just simply "nationalized" the platforms? The President has that power -- don't for the moment argue the practical problems in current "democracy" -- just muse on whether you'd want an enemy controlling "platforms". If not, then you should resist Masnick's corporatized view that hands over such power asserting that "platforms" have "First Amendment" Right. -- Show me that Right in the Constitution. You can't. It's another artificial construct by lawyers and Masnicks.

    Where would you go if banned by Facebook, Google, and all other large platforms? -- All at once: as "persons" they're allowed to collude against dangers. -- You can be worse than marginalized: with minor increase of the principle and a little "script", your bank accounts and indeed all of "you" that's held in electronics can be disappeared with one click. YOU'D BE AN UNPERSON, just as in the book.

    Present "platforms" are just using prior and minor Nazis as excuse to inch closer to their REAL goal: GLOBAL control BY neo-Nazis.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:23pm

      Re: If dissent isn't allowed to appear, the "platform" is sure to win!

      "Show me that Right in the Constitution. You can't. It's another artificial construct by lawyers and Masnicks."

      Platforms are run by people. People have First Amendment rights. This is not complicated, except to the willfully blind.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:49pm

      Re: If dissent isn't allowed to appear, the "platform" is sure to win!

      Do you think that present "platforms" are good, benign, totally free of gov't interference, follow your philosophy, and always will be?

      Obviously they are at least "good enough" for now, otherwise I would use a different one / wouldn't use them and/or would make my own. If Trump "nationalized" them, they would either have to maintain that minimum standard or new ones would have to be built (by myself or other like mindeds) to take their place (somewhere else, obviously.. twice shy and all that)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 7:42pm

      Re: If dissent isn't allowed to appear, the "platform" is sure to win!

      You've already spammed the same thing above, dumbass. Jumping from TOR exit node to TOR exit node doesn't portray you as a martyr, because nothing you post is flagged/moderated for content; it's flagged/moderated because you keep spamming the same garbage over and over, triggering the filter, then when it predictably does so you crow about it like a millennial's certificate of participation. (Yeah, the millennials you hate so much.)

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  • icon
    Richard Hack (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:49pm

    Hypocrisy at its worst

    The US media is happy to denounce US Nazis.

    They're also happy to support the idea of the US government sending lethal arms to the right-wing government in Kiev, Ukraine, which uses neo-Nazi militia groups like the Azov Battalion in their fight with the pro-Russian Ukrainians in Donbass.

    The ISPs and other Internet infrastructure are happy to be considered "public utilities" when they want to get out from under being held responsible for content - but when it's content they don't like - or are afraid will lose them business - then they want to censor the content.

    Hypocrites. A pox on all their houses - including the Nazis.

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  • identicon
    Andrew D. Todd, 25 Aug 2017 @ 12:54pm

    The Postal Analogy

    Like you, I believe in giving the Devil benefit of law for my own sake, as Robert Bolt put it in _A Man For All Seasons_. And, to avoid any misunderstanding, I am what a Nazi would call a "Zebra," a person of half-Jewish descent.

    Until fairly recently, Network Solutions, and then Verisign, operated the dot-com, and dot-net registries pursuant to a contract from the Department of Commerce. Of course the situation is a bit more undefined new, with the greater role given to ICANN, but this is still indicative of a delegated government power, similar to the registration of trade-marks.

    To take an analogy, in certain very remote areas, such as rural Alaska, the Post Office delegates local operations. In a village of, say, a hundred people, a hundred miles from the next village, they will commission the local storekeeper as a postmaster, and he will install a postal counter in his store. When he is behind the postal counter, he is a civil servant, bound to faithfully deliver the mails. This can lead to conflict-of-interest situations, of course, because people get basic groceries, things like spam or corned beef hash, by mail order from Fairbanks. John McPhee, _Coming Into the Country_ (1977) provides a good descriptive account of how the system worked in an outback village in the late 1970's. Mail-order supplies were flown out, in a small airplane, at very considerable government cost and subsidy.

    Normally, Verisign delegates registries to competitive companies such as GoDaddy. I think a case can be made that Verisign is obligated to act as a registrar of last resort, as the price of holding what amounts to a government commission. They would charge, oh, three or five times what GoDaddy charges, and confine themselves to dealing with hard cases, and certain large organizations, which prefer "to deal directly with the boss."

    Once someone has the means of indicating his IP address, servers per se are something else. A server can be anywhere in the world. At this point, we are getting towards the principle that "freedom of the press belongs to the person who owns one."

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  • icon
    crade (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:10pm

    "Again, free speech also means that platforms have rights to choose what speech they host and what speech they don't host. Don't like it? Start your own platform"

    Yes.. This is the root of the issue for me.. Free speech doesn't guarantee you a platform. It doesn't mean someone else has to build you a stage or let you use their stage.

    The issue seems to be getting conflated. We aren't talking about people acting as gatekeepers over public services here in any way, we are just talking about people acting as service providers that just happen to do good work so lots of people use their services. The question is more one of: "do we force them to work for Nazis" than "do we prevent them from censoring Nazis". These guys aren't censoring anyone just by saying you can't use the stuff we built.

    When you get to the actual regulated services that control actual internet access, ip and dns delegation it's a different story of course. The difference is whether or not anyone can legally start their own competing service.

    There isn't any inherent right that makes people work for you.

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  • identicon
    Norahc, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:11pm

    Unfortunately, we've moved from a society that values free speech to one that values approved speech...all in the name of social justice.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:28pm

      Re:

      all in the name of social justice.

      I'm pretty sure when the President talks about "opening up our libel laws", he's not doing it in the name of social justice.

      The "both sides do it" argument isn't always a valid one. But when it comes to suppression of speech, it absolutely is. There are, indeed, pro-censorship forces across the political spectrum.

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  • identicon
    Kalean, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:25pm

    Borrowing solutions.

    First and foremost, that was a thoughtful and well-written article, Mike.


    As pointed out, the Internet isn't the first area this kind of battle has been waged. Other mediums have struggled with either this *exact* problem, or something similar.


    In D&D, it is fairly common for a player to find ways to game the system, to abuse the rules for their own advantage. To break the spirit of the rules, rather than the letter. This is essentially what neo-nazis are doing when they are falling back on their free-speech rights as a defense.


    They may not advocate a society that will have free speech for those they dislike, and they may not be utilizing their right to free speech in the way the founders intended, but they're not breaking any laws. In D&D, we call this focusing on "Rules as Written" (RAW) as opposed to "Rules As Intended" (RAI). The difference comes up very often.


    It's virtually impossible to create a set of laws that can adequately govern any possible circumstance, and since the entire point of gaming the system is to abuse the laws or rules that do exist, it's a particularly tricky subject to deal with. Legally, anyway.

    In D&D, the DM will look at this exploitative player and decide if they are abusing the rules to make the game more fun (good faith), or if they are abusing the rules to be a jerk (bad faith). There is no explicit set of guidelines for dealing with rule-abuse, the DM just looks at it on a case by case basis and says "Mm, no, you may not use five thousand peasants to create a medieval railgun."


    While it may seem like the obvious parallel in the legal system is the Judge, this is not the case. A judge is more or less bound by the law, and only empowered to decree when something is against the law, not when it *should* be against the law but technically isn't.


    There are no easy solutions within our legal framework, but maybe we should look at what works outside our legal framework, and consider adapting it. Noone would be happy with selecting someone to be a moral arbiter, as everyone has different morals, but a job specifically designed to go after rules abusers is still within the realm of acceptability.

    Patent trolls. Nazis. SLAPP suits. Use of Copyright as a silencing tool. There is nothing complicated about these on their face; we all look at these and see them for what they are - unethical abuses of the system's legal framework to hurt others. They don't have to be examined from a moral standpoint to know they're wrong; their exploitative nature is quantifiable and codifiable, even if they are constantly adapting to new laws on the fly.


    It would be at least achievable to create morally neutral, transparent guidelines for exposing, proving, and slapping down abusers of the law while still requiring a form of due process. It would probably require a new position to exist, but it's not outside of the realm of possibility.

    We *could* create a judicial position that is both flexible enough to be less limited by traditional legal constraints, and still accountable enough to have to prove they're working in the interests of the law, and doing so without violating civil rights. It's not impossible. Just difficult. And such a job would have to be focused on rooting out exploitation.


    The inevitable complaints would be "corporate witch hunts" and "anti-capitalist mccarthy-ism", but those don't have to hold any weight if the position is properly designed.

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    • icon
      stderric (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:43pm

      Re: Borrowing solutions.

      Mm, no, you may not use five thousand peasants to create a medieval railgun.

      You just made me realize what it'd be like to play D&D with Neal Stephenson.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:26pm

    But when I asked about whether or not the "internal case law" would ever be made public, the answer was likely no. And you can also understand why. Because there are certainly some individuals and people who specifically are seeking to game the system (think: spammers and trolls). Revealing the exact policies upfront gives them extra ammo on how to game the system, violating the spirit of those rules, while not the letter.

    This is a very odd statement for Mike to make. To me, this sounds analogous to endorsing secret law. Just instead of the U.S. legal system it's the social media sites that have taken over the Commons.

    How can you justify companies keep internal "case law" a secret from the public but not FISA court rulings? Conceptually these seem to be at odds with each other.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      How can you justify companies keep internal "case law" a secret from the public but not FISA court rulings? Conceptually these seem to be at odds with each other.

      Only one of those has the power to jail and kill you. That's the difference.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:53pm

        Re: Re:

        So instead if all they had the power to do was socially isolate you and prevent you from participating in the social commons that you'd be ok with the FISA court having secret law?

        I'm not entirely comfortable with the distinction being drawn just because one consequence is much more severe than the other when either can still be debilitating.

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        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 11:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So instead if all they had the power to do was socially isolate you and prevent you from participating in the social commons that you'd be ok with the FISA court having secret law?

          Meaningless hypothetical.

          We restrict the powers of gov't while making sure private entities have rights. That's all that's being discussed here. Government should not create secret law. You cannot opt out of being governed. Using an internet service is a different issue altogether, but there is much nuance here, which is why I wrote a giant post about all of it.

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  • icon
    John Snape (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:37pm

    Serious Question

    If a "platform" edits what the people who use it say, by deleting it wholly, do they lose their Section 230 protections?

    At what point are they editorializing by refusing to host material?

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    • identicon
      Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:30pm

      Re: Serious Question

      I think the courts are still working on that question, but up to this point the general consensus seems to be that removing some content does not waive section 230 liability protections.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:38pm

        Re: Re: Serious Question

        No, it's not being worked on, it's explicitly in the law: Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material

        (2) Civil liability No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of— (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:52pm

      Re: Serious Question

      At what point are they editorializing by refusing to host material?

      47 USC § 230 - Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material

      (c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material

                  (1)

                  (2) Civil liability No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—

                              (A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected; or

                              (B)

      “… or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected”.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 3:00pm

      Re: Serious Question

      If a "platform" edits what the people who use it say, by deleting it wholly, do they lose their Section 230 protections?

      No, not at all. Indeed, many people focus just on the part of CDA 230 that is about being free from liability, but miss out on the just as important "Good Samaritan clause" which is (c)(2)(A), which clearly states that any moderating behavior does not introduce liability.

      This is important because it specifically encourages platforms to moderate content without fear of introducing new liability.

      So, deleting content does not diminish 230 protections. Indeed, part of the purpose of 230 was actually to incentivize platforms to delete "indecent" content.

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  • icon
    ysth (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:47pm

    Public accommodation

    There's certainly no fundamental First Amendment right for people to use any service they want.

    With the fairly important exception of public accommodation and protected classes. The most moving argument for that I've read is Judge Bosson's concurrence in Elane Photography v. Willock (once quoted by Ken White), concluding:

    On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less. The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.

    In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different. That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the to lerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. That sense of respect we owe others, whether or not we believe as they do, illuminates this country, setting it apart from the discord that afflicts much of the rest of the world. In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship. I therefore concur

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 3:58pm

      Re: Public accommodation

      Judge Bosson's concurrence in Elane Photography v. Willock:

                  In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.

      Amendment XIV

      All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. . . .

      In short, I would say to Judge Bosson, with utmost respect, where the constitution has set ‘the price of citizenship’, you and your court must not set any higher price.

      To the extent that Judge Bosson deprives the Huguenins of their rights as Americans because they will not meet the inflated price on citizenship which he raises up, Judge Bosson does a very great wrong.

      Would Judge Bosson deport the Huguenins?

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  • icon
    Vaultnode (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:49pm

    I find it disappointing that so few people have faith in their fellow human beings (and Internet-using dogs). Hasn't the free speech argument since the Internet's inception been to let people speak and have listeners make up their own minds?

    I get the distinct impression that most censors fear a critical mass of people will embrace ethnic cleansing if they're exposed to neo-nazi speech. And that kind of fear speaks to deep cynicism, contempt, and fear in their fellow person.

    To those who point at Nazi Germany as an example, I say that Hitler's rise to power was accompanied by blackmail, routine intimidation of physical harms, and murder of critics. All of which are unacceptable and crimes in the modern era in any civilized society.

    My response to Neo-Nazis would be to let them speak and box them in. Put them under enormous scrutiny and if they do anything remotely approaching intimidation tactics, blackmail, or any other crime that they be given the boot then.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:36pm

      Re:

      My response to Neo-Nazis would be to let them speak and box them in.

      I'm not going to let them post on my blog.

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      • icon
        Vaultnode (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:43pm

        Re: Re:

        Sure. Your blog is unlikely to be free for all discourse on every conceivable topic at all times. Nazi discourse at the very least would likely be off topic (among other things).

        I'm moreso referring to public square social media sites like Twitter or Facebook or Reddit.

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        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 7:26pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Facebook, to pick one, isn't free for all discourse on every conceivable topic at all times.

          You aren't permitted to post pornographic material there, for instance. (Unless things have changed significantly while I wasn't looking.)

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  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 1:55pm

    Is Godwin's Law the New SLAP

    Can I use a Nazi label in a SLAP manner to get someone I don't like banned?

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    • identicon
      Thad, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:35pm

      Re: Is Godwin's Law the New SLAP

      You can use anything in a SLAPP. By definition, SLAPP suits are vexatious litigation designed to suppress speech through inconvenience and expense, not legal merit.

      If you filed in a state with a good anti-SLAPP law, though, your suit would get thrown out pretty quickly.

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  • icon
    Pronounce (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:04pm

    Germany, in a First, Shuts Down Left-Wing Extremist Website

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  • icon
    Unanimous Cow Herd (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:37pm

    I was doubtful about the wisdom in tackling this issue on TD

    However, your article is well thought out and lends itself to some important points. My stance: Don't fight "bad" speech or ideas with fists or banhammers. Fight them with good speech and better ideas. You cannot win a battle of any import unless you truly understand your enemy.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:21am

      Re: I was doubtful about the wisdom in tackling this issue on TD

      But a banhammer is, itself, a form of speech.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:38am

        Re: Re: I was doubtful about the wisdom in tackling this issue on TD

        But a banhammer is, itself, a form of speech.

        Loosely and figuratively speech. More concretely, it is an expressive action. Expression, to be sure. But coupled with action.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 2:41pm

    The complexity of the issues meets the simplicity of horror

    This is a well-written piece that provides some valuable insight into the issues in play here. And were we talking about anything other than Nazis, I'd likely be able to write something other than what I'm about to write.

    But we ARE talking about Nazis.

    I knew a man, much older than me. He was kind. He worked hard. He raised four kids and they all grew into great people, shaped in large part by his guidance. He loved them and he loved his wife, as much as anyone can love another.

    But there was something in his eyes. Always, even when he was happy, even when he was laughing at a joke. In all the decades I knew him, it never went away. Neither did the tattoo on his arm. You see: he survived Dachau. The only one of his family to do so. He endured the unspeakable, the unforgiveable. But not without a cost that he paid every day for the rest of his life.

    I'm not a good enough writer to fully convey what looking into his eyes was like. The best I can do is to say that it was a glimpse of hell. Even now, sitting here many years later, I can still see his eyes. And I shiver at the thought of what was in them.

    So this is not an abstract philosophical debate for me. Were it about pro- or anti-abortionists, Libertarians, Communists, Black Lives Matter, Republicans, Democrats, housing advocates, corporate advocates, or any other of the zillion groups out there, it would be. But not this time. And if you'd like to point that I'm making a one-off exception, a special case: you're damn right I am.

    Nazis shouldn't be censored. They should be exterminated.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 3:10pm

      Re: The complexity of the issues meets the simplicity of horror

      Nazis shouldn't be censored. They should be exterminated.

      The Nazis would certainly agree with you—if you changed the word “Nazis” to “Jews”, “homosexuals”, “Romani”, “non-Aryans”, or just the catch-all “undesirables”.

      If we fight Nazi ideology with Nazi methodology, they win. We cannot allow ourselves to succumb to their tactics and their ways of dealing with “undesirables”. We must be better than them. If we must use violence, it must be used in defense of self or others. A “pre-emptive strike” against Nazis will do nothing but make them martyrs.

      I understand the hate you have in your heart for Nazis; I will not begrudge you for your feelings. But your hate—or anyone else’s—cannot and should not dictate who is allowed to live and die. We have seen the end result of a genocide driven by the hatred held in a man’s heart. We call it “The Holocaust”.

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      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 6:13pm

        Massacre of the bigots

        This is the double edged blade that is discrimination, and there have been enough incidents of neo-nazis and white supremacists who believe it just and fair to purge other groups based on a given standard, yet would find it unjust to be purged themselves, by the same standard.

        This aligns with what was revealed regarding Trump-supporter objections to the Trump-like Julius Caesar (Shakespeare in the Park, Central Park, NYC), Trump Supporters, in fact, like and demand political correctness, but only when it's in deference to their sensitivities.

        There's a conspicuous absence of the awareness of reciprocity, or the rule of law, that standards should be applied universally, or not at all.

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  • icon
    Ryunosuke (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 3:59pm

    I have two points on this matter.

    1) let us look at Germany. They, like the US, have not gotten over their... less than glorious past. Again, I point towards Politico. Now Germany does not have any statues of Hitler, Rommel, etc. But also it is Illegal to display emblems associated with that era. (Incidently this is why KISS [the band] Has their albums changed for German markets).

    And as Politico said, The Germans haven't faced what it did until the 1972 summer Olympics. And after speaking to a few Germans and a couple of Dutch that I know, the sentiment hasn't died out completely, yet. This is why you see, oddly enough, US Confederate flags in Germany.

    This is why I think we SHOULD remove Confederate monuments and symbols, EXCEPT for places of NATIONAL importance (Cemeteries, Battlefields, etc.). It will take some time, but we can forget about it if we don't remember it.

    2) The First Amendment guarantees the right to free speech. But it doesn't mean that I HAVE to listen to your hate filled drivel.

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  • identicon
    Just some random person, 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:06pm

    Free speech and all those other rights and laws

    I keep seeing articles like this stating that a business not offering it's services to individuals and groups that promote illegal activities is somehow an affront to "free speech". Would techdirt.com allow someone to post comments or share articles promoting pedophilia? Of course techdirt.com wouldn't and no one would complain nor would anyone question Google or Facebook doing the same. Why? It promotes an illegal activity. These sites in question, like the Daily Stormer, promote violent acts, the violations of Constitutional rights and protections and undermining the rule of law. Just like pedophiles. Should pedophiles have the "right" to express their ideals? Should companies be compelled to host pedophile promoting content under the guise of "free speech"? Would techdirt.com willingly host content for them? Of course not. What's the difference? Would you argue that techdirt.com be required to host content from sites like the Daily Stormer because it's their right to free speech? Of course not. What's the difference?

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:26pm

      Re: Free speech and all those other rights and laws

      Unless the Daily Stormer and similar sites advocate the performance of any illegal act, what they publish is not illegal. Immoral? Probably. Worthy of mockery and derision? Sure. But saying a group of people are subhuman based on the amount of melanin in their skin is, in fact, legally-protected speech under the First Amendment.

      A company as big and powerful as CloudFlare still has the protected legal right to refuse serving people such as the owner of the Daily Stormer. The question raised here is this: In the absence of clearly illegal content that would justify a refusal of service, at what point does that company’s refusal turn into outright censorship?

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      • identicon
        Thad, 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:51am

        Re: Re: Free speech and all those other rights and laws

        Unless the Daily Stormer and similar sites advocate the performance of any illegal act, what they publish is not illegal.

        Even the advocacy of an illegal act is generally legal. The definitions of "imminent lawless action" and "speech integral to the commission of a crime" are narrow.

        If I say "go punch a nazi" or "go smoke a bowl", in either case I'm advocating illegal action (provided that I mean it sincerely and am not indulging in protected hyperbole), but it's still legal for me to say that.

        And that's the way it should be. Because it'd be pretty hard to get laws changed if we weren't allowed to advocate for illegal behavior.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 5:38pm

      Re: Free speech and all those other rights and laws

      It's not clear that you read the post at all. You seem to have made a bunch of assumptions about what we said that are directly contradicted by the post itself.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:14pm

    Question: Is a white identitarian a Nazi?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:17pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:18pm

    Finally, sanity reigns amongst Techdirt once more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Advocate (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:25pm

    So from now on, only the wealthy can have free speech because only they can afford to build their own platform.

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  • icon
    Advocate (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 4:36pm

    a) corporations do not have rights. corporations cannot have rights. corporations can have legal privileges under legal fictions. only real actual persons can have rights.

    b) if every platform has the right to deny service, you have no right to a platform.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 5:00pm

      Extreme individualism [was Re: ]

      only real actual persons can have rights

      Where the first amendment protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”, that's quite obviously an individual right. Each singular person has the undoubted right to assemble. But clearly, whenever two or more people assemble — that's not persons — it's just a mob — dispersable as a common riot.

       

      Or not so?

      Maybe there are a few collective rights scattered here and there? The ninth amendment might refer to rights retained by associations? That is, rights of groups? People, rather than persons?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 8:11pm

        Re: Extreme individualism [was Re: ]

        They put "assemble" in the wrong amendment.

        It's obviously supposed to state that you can build your own guns.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 5:26pm

      Re:

      if every platform has the right to deny service, you have no right to a platform.

      Yes, that is correct. No privately owned and operated platform has a legal obligation to host your speech, and you cannot force such a platform’s owner(s)/operator(s) to host your speech. Even the use of open-to-the-public platforms have limitations based on the time of day, the date, and the size of any potential assembly.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 5:41pm

        Re: Re:

        No privately owned and operated platform has a legal obligation to host your speech

        The RBOCs and other common-carrier providers of POTS tend to be privately owned and operated.

        47 USC § 202 - Discriminations and preferences

        (a) Charges, services, etc.

        It shall be unlawful for any common carrier to make any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services for or in connection with like communication service, directly or indirectly, by any means or device, or to make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person, class of persons, or locality, or to subject any particular person, class of persons, or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.

        Maybe POTS isn't a “platform” ? In your view?

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 6:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I have legitimately never thought about this, and you raise an excellent point. I will leave any arguments about this specific point to those more knowledgable on this matter.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 6:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I have legitimately never thought about this

            You're kidding me.

            No, seriously. You must be kidding me.

            Or we have all done an absolutely horrible, no-good, very-bad job of explaining Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.

            I guess maybe that if you weren't involved in policy issues during the age of dialup, you might just miss some of the contextual background behind the current network neutrality debate.

            We probably all just thought, of course, that everyone knew this.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 8:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I guess maybe that if you weren't involved in policy issues during the age of dialup, you might just miss some of the contextual background behind the current network neutrality debate.

              Most teenagers are not telecommunications policy wonks, so yes, I was not even aware of policy issues during the age of dialup.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 9:06pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                … policy issues during the age of dialup.

                Well, as copper twisted pair gives way to wireless and VOIP… as technology flips from 'net over phone to phone over 'net… here's an updated question — yet still very basic:

                Do you think the phone company be allowed to prohibit Nazi speech on your cell phone?

                If you do the nazi-talk on the cell, can ma bell cut your service?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 1:06am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Common carries are not a platform, they are simply the means by which people communicate. The sole point of the net neutrality argument is that they should not decide who can talk to who. Remember that they are carrying both private and public conversations, and therefore should remain both blind and neutral to the conversations crossing their networks.

          To legalize them deciding who you can talk to is giving them the power to decide which doctors, ministers, and fast food outlet you can contact over their system, or to cut off your because you are documenting and repudiating hate speech, because your traffic includes that hate speech.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 11:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Common carrie[r]s are not a platform, they are simply the means by which people communicate.

            I suppose most here have not often experienced standing on a passenger ‘platform’ waiting for a train. Passenger rail has gone quite out of style lately. But consider, is it the railroad car which a ‘common carrier’ ? The whole train, with locomotive and caboose, too? The miles upon miles of steel rail upon which the train runs? Alongside the track, the train stations flung into countryside fields — jam-packed into tall cities?

            ‘Common carrier’ is something of a term of art in law. Within broad confines, the legislature may define that term as they please. See, for example, the definition within the Communications Act of 1934 (as amended) codified at 47 USC § 153 - Definitions.

            (11) Common carrier

            The term “common carrier” or “carrier” means any person engaged as a common carrier for hire, in interstate or foreign communication by wire or radio or interstate or foreign radio transmission of energy, except where reference is made to common carriers not subject to this chapter; but a person engaged in radio broadcasting shall not, insofar as such person is so engaged, be deemed a common carrier.

            OTOH, the word ‘platform’ does not strike me as a term of art in this context. Within broad confines, we're at liberty here to define it as we please. But we must keep in mind that if we define it too far away from common definitions (Merriam-Webster), then everyone, not merely casual readers lurking, but even we ourselves, may sink deep into perplexity, bafflement and confusion — into the bottomless pit of endless argument. That would be bad.

            So what, in your view, are the defining characteristics of a ‘platform’ ?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 2:32pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              A platform provides short and/or long term storage of user generated content, along with public or restricted distribution to other users. You also have other services services offered to users, like search engines and shopping sites. However the big distinction is between the common carriers that are the means of connecting to platforms and services, which is why the common carriers should be strictly neutral in handling what they carry.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 3:17pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                A platform provides short and/or long term storage of user generated content

                How short is short term?

                Are you distinguishing a store-and-forward router, which keeps user-generated content in RAM, from a cut-through switch?

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 3:26pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                the big distinction is between the common carriers that are the means of connecting to platforms and services

                At its most basic, email is a remote file-writing service.

                Incidentally, here, I'm using ‘service” here in a network engineering sense: A lower layer of the protocol stack provides a ‘service” to higher layers. Not quite sure what you mean by ‘service’.

                How do we use your ‘big distinction’ to classify email?

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 4:57pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Not OP, but...

              I'd say that a "platform" is a place for the public to stand, and either congregate, or speak and/or listen. A train station platform isn't a "platform" in this sense as its space is provided as part of a transport service. That is, it's not for the public to use to chat (although that will happen); it's there to allow people on and off the train.

              If, however, a bar wanted to hold a poetry slam or talent show or amateur standup, or other open mic night, I would say that would be a good physical parallel to the kind of "platform" that Facebook, Twitter, etc. provide online. Sure, in theory, you'd be allowed to say anything, but in practice, if you threaten to alienate the regulars enough so that they don't come back, chances are you'll get an oversized hook pulling you offstage. And then it'll be suggested to you that maybe you should find a different bar. Or perhaps start your own, if you can't find one that'll let you speak.

              The problem, and where the analogy breaks down, is that a large, well-performing bar would have a few dozen regulars, a couple hundred semi-regulars, and a bunch of people who come by from time to time (my numbers may be off by as much as an order of magnitude). I live in a city with a population of about a million, and I could probably list off two dozen bars just from the ones I pass by on a regular basis, and *I don't even drink*. If I got banned from one, I wouldn't have far to look to find another to patronize.

              Facebook, Twitter, etc., on the other hand, have *billions* of patrons. There isn't really "another platform" to go to, or, at least not one that's really comparable.

              That's a problem, and not one easily solved.

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  • icon
    dawog (profile), 25 Aug 2017 @ 6:46pm

    Excellent & thoughtful article! Only comment I have is that I agree with everything you wrote.

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  • identicon
    DONT BE STUPID BE EDUCATED, 25 Aug 2017 @ 7:31pm

    mussolini fascists

    this is the type a nazis that are in fact what people are truly worried about

    this is what he did ( mussolini ) and his fascists even had jews in it until mid ww2 when hitler kept buggin him aobut it...

    they have corporate business and govt LINKED heavily to form true power....now have a look real hard at the usa govt, your congress and senate and both the republican and democrat parties and how each side gets bribed er lobbied BY big business to do stuff for them and thus NOT the voters...

    its a sham everyone has known for some time and its jsut that each election the businesses and govt peeps are hiding it less and less. It is at point i bet if nixon were president not a thing would happen to him now ....

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  • identicon
    Christenson, 25 Aug 2017 @ 7:43pm

    Centralization is the problem

    First, a typo: SLPC --> SPLC

    Second, we tend to make monopoly providers * COMMON CARRIERS *. That is, the larger you are, the more transparent and evenhanded you need to be.

    Third, if you silence these goons, how am I going to find out if I am in danger from them? Think too to the effective experiment in this with the catholic priests for whom sex was not supposed to exist, now how much has been paid out for their abusing children?

    To me, an awful lot of this boils down to a trust problem...on the internet, the marginal cost of speech is almost zero, so how do I figure out which speech is trusted?

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    • identicon
      Christenson, 25 Aug 2017 @ 8:45pm

      Re: Centralization is the problem

      And, just to make this discussion EVEN MORE complicated, how would a counter speech site, hypothetically stormwatch.com, function if it's readers could not access the daily stormer in its entirety and reproduce it?

      Same argument for *ANY* bad speech...The effect on the listener/viewer/reader depends heavily on context. It even works for true threats of violence.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 28 Aug 2017 @ 11:18am

      Re: Centralization is the problem

      Second, we tend to make monopoly providers COMMON CARRIERS . That is, the larger you are, the more transparent and evenhanded you need to be.

      The only possible monopoly provider I can think of in this situation is Cloudflare. GoDaddy is not a monopoly. Google is not even a monopoly in search; it's certainly not a monopoly in domain registration.

      Third, if you silence these goons, how am I going to find out if I am in danger from them?

      If the gun-toting, torch-wielding marches didn't clue you in, I'm not sure what difference a single website is going to make.

      Think too to the effective experiment in this with the catholic priests for whom sex was not supposed to exist, now how much has been paid out for their abusing children?

      Yes, if only GoDaddy hadn't canceled abusive priests' domain registrations. Er, what? Seriously, what?

      To me, an awful lot of this boils down to a trust problem...on the internet, the marginal cost of speech is almost zero, so how do I figure out which speech is trusted?

      Well, if you see a website with swastikas on it that uses the phrase "master race" a lot? Maybe don't trust that one.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 9:07pm

    The definition of hatred, and the solution

    If you accept the idea that we are all thinking beings, what does that imply? We are all working, in our minds, all the time, to refine our opinions, to identify and adopt new strategies, and to differentiate, from our experience, between strategies for success strategies that fail.

    Deep in our understanding, as Americans, is the benefit of engagement. It goes to the heart of free speech. What we can do, when we engage with others, is refine our understandings, to consider other points of view, even if we discard them. To leave ourselves open to insight, and we bolster our views of right and wrong.

    Hatred and censorship are failures in our ability to think and reason. When problems get too complex, we stop thinking and start hating. That's just human nature. But we can do better if we continue to engage, even with people and issues with which we disagree.

    The ultimate failure of engagement is the Muslim suicide bomber. His engagement is evil, and he does himself and his society no service at all. He is a definition of failure.

    IMHO, the darkness and the light, in this area of morality, is defined by our willingness to engage. When we are open to listening, even to Nazis, and consider their argument, we are the better for it. We know what we are discarding and why we are discarding certain ideologies. But to hate them is to become them. To censor them is to become them. You can never battle hatred with hatred or censorship, you have lost the moral battle if you do.

    Let everyone speak, with scant few exceptions. Morally, we will benefit, even Techdirt will benefit, and already has.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:58pm

      Re: The definition of hatred, and the solution

      I was trying to remember what the Nazi ideology was that I learned as a youth in school. I think it was a variant of Eugenics, also practiced and widely endorsed in the United States previously. Some idea that human society could be usefully divided based on race, and white people were better.

      I think by the time that the Nazi White Supremacism argument was being pitched to the Germans, it was already losing favor in the US. That is, it was endorsed by less and less of the actual scientific community (wasn't real), but was still promoted by Hitler by creating pro-Eugenics media, literature with statistics, and silencing his critics. His argument was supported by oppression, as I remember, there were lots of historical examples. If you raised scientific arguments about Eugenics in public, people could hate you for it (in Germany). They had literature and statistics and the support of the Government. They would scream they were right, at the top of their lungs, and if you persisted, they would kill you.

      Is it only me or does anyone else see some parallels between the Eugenics of Germany and the Climate Change argument in America. Lots of media pieces about climate change, lots of facts and statistics being thrown around, and whole lot of hate and screaming. Not too many people killed, that's a blessing.

      IMHO, the whole Climate Change crowd failed in communicating engagement, and lost their fight. Hating people will not persuade them. Unless of course, like Germany, it is combined with censorship and intimidation.

      This is another compelling reason NOT to censor people. Let people speak, we are all the better for it.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 3:53am

        Re: Re: The definition of hatred, and the solution

        And lest we forget the historical and moral lessons of Nazi Germany, we should not confuse white supremacism, which is a flawed statistical analysis employed by the Nazis, with the real evil embodied by that period in history, in Germany. The evil was not the supremacism, the evil was the blind hatred.

        It was the combination of flawed science, relentless promotion, severe censorship (life and death) and the resulting atrocities. It was the system behind the promotion of the false science that was evil, not the false science itself. There's lots of false science, you can "prove" anything with statistics at the article level.

        Hatred, censorship, group think and closed minds are what we should remember as the evil. That's what really happened, and why it happened.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Aug 2017 @ 11:40pm

    Get the U.N. OUT of America.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 7:26am

      Re:

      The u.n. just slammed this presidency with enforcing a european type take on free speech.. a gross violation of this country's sovereignty and our sacred constitution. Perhaps it is the gravest of all free speech violations in America's history.

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  • identicon
    junkyardmagic, 26 Aug 2017 @ 12:28am

    nazis on the net

    With all these well thought out points it seems to me your leaving yourself open to being labelled a Nuance Nazi

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  • icon
    David (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 3:18am

    Too many assumptions about what is necessary.

    I still do not have a Facebook account. I can get by without Google if I decide to. I have managed quite well without MSFT product purchases for years at a time.

    A DNS service is a freaking luxury. Type in the IP address. Oooh, the scary dark net. Yep, that is just more BS. IP addresses is how we started. Nothing stopping them from connecting and running except money.

    If they want to shout hate speech on sites that have existing EULAs that ban their hate, then they can get kicked off. They can survive without a FB or Twitter account. It isn't that hard.

    They only want them for amplification anyway. I'm fine with denying them such.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 11:09pm

      Re: Too many assumptions about what is necessary.

      I still do not have a Facebook account. I can get by without Google if I decide to. I have managed quite well without MSFT product purchases for years at a time.

      I know there are some people who will always make this argument, but that's a bit short-sighted. They may not be necessary for YOU, but that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone else.

      A DNS service is a freaking luxury. Type in the IP address

      You are not a serious person.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 5:02am

    Last time I checked I still resided in the United States of America. Freedom costs, or have you forgotten how our freedoms have been infringed upon since 09/11/01? Like FDR said, we have nothing to fear...and if you are going to panic stay the hell away from me, you won't like when it makes me angry :p

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  • icon
    Glathull (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 1:04pm

    1. The problem with having a nuanced and tricky conversation:

    It's a shame that the internet--a platform that is so completely well-suited for long-form writing and discussion of nuanced issues with a broad audience--has succumbed to human nature in this way. Our basic human desire for quick, easy, simple answers is limiting the positive power the arguably greatest inventions in human history.

    2. a disclaimer:
    It's an unfortunate necessity that I have to provide a disclaimer to say that I'm not a fan of neo-Nazis, actual Nazis, haters, racists, or fascists. It's a sign of the sad state of the world that defending a person's right to express something I think is really disgusting will get me labelled as a supporter of that idea unless my dad happened to fight against actual Nazis in WW2 (which he did, bless his 98-year-old-ass).

    2. The problem with "evil":
    Applying the "evil" (and Nazi is basically a surrogate for evil) label to a group of people and then exterminating them to the greatest extent possible is the oldest and most reprehensible trick in the book. Our society has reached a level of development that it doesn't condone outright murder of the evil people.

    (caveat emptor: we do this all the time when the "evil" people are in other countries, and we call it war. I'm talking about what we do to our own citizens within our own borders most of the time. And I'm not making the case that the government doesn't punish classes of people by policy. It does. But I'm not talking about government policy right now. I'm talking about social behavior.)

    Pushing them off to the sidelines, limiting their ability to express their ideas, and perhaps failing to prosecute people who harm them is the extent of what we generally find acceptable.

    But make no mistake: this is the same operational morality that drives violent extremism, terrorism, racism, and everything that we want to claim we are better than. Kicking groups of people off the internet for having ideas we think are bad comes from the same internal logic as burning someone alive for believing in a different god than you do. I'm good; you're evil. Therefore you must go away.

    I'm not equating the act of silencing a person with physically killing them. I'm not saying that depriving someone of access to the internet is the same as murder. I'm saying, to be clear, that the logic of punishing people based on being a member of a very loosely and arbitrarily defined class is a universally bad idea.

    Regardless of how people want to spin it, the only operating definition of evil is whatever the ruling class of a society decides it is. It changes over time; it varies by culture; it fluctuates depending on the power dynamics of the ruling classes.

    Defining evil based on what a person says or believes or thinks is one of the worst ideas ever.

    The constitution, bill of rights, and specifically the first amendment is a genuinely revolutionary document. It shifted the burden of power to define good and evil from monarchs and churches to the people while recognizing that the simple majority of people can still be wrong. The people who wrote the constitution were aware of mob mentality and the human tendency to act like like mobs and try to violently erase ideas and people that were deemed evil by the angry mobs.

    And it was a good response to a world mostly run by monarchs and churches. The power structures have changed now. Governments hold certain powers, but the vast majority of policy is determined by corporations through lobbying, funding for political campaigns, and infrastructure leverage. Many aspects of our lives are not determined by the rule of law as defined by governments or courts. They are dictated through opaque terms of service, by the arbitrary decisions of individuals at the tops of the world's largest corporations, and by the mobs that express outrage on the platforms that drive their bottom line.

    I'm not angry or upset about this, and I'm not ranting that we need to overthrow a corporate oligarchy. I'm simply realizing that this is the state of the world at this moment. As a technologist, it's an amazing and exciting time to be alive. The internet is still the wild west. Mistakes have and will be made.

    The fact that the first amendment only applies to the State is obviously true. But the intent of the first amendment (in my opinion) needs to be taken into account. The literal effect of the first amendment was to codify the concept of free speech: that the government is not allowed to censor ideas.

    I'll go out on a limb and suggest that the intent was more general. That those who hold the power of limiting speech cannot censor ideas.

    That we desire to create a society in which punishment is only meted out to those who have been convicted of an unlawful action.

    That we recognize and embrace the fact that shitty people with shitty ideas exist. And that killing them, putting them in jail, silencing them, telling them to go home and die, DDOS-ing them, removing their ability to make their ideas heard is not the right answer.

    I don't have the right answer. There isn't a clearly right answer here. And we're seeing that play out in real time from the handful of people that control speech on the internet. Consider the difference between Tim Cook's response to this situation and the CEO of CloudFlare. Two private citizens who each hold enormous amounts of power, unelected by the public, with two very different views. Both are, by all accounts, honorable people, committed to ethical behavior, with very different responses to this. One quite sure that evil is evil and must be silenced, the other quite unsure about whether this is really the right option.

    At some point, we have to recognize how much the world has changed and decide what pieces of our governing principles we want to take into the future. What we want to protect, and what we don't.

    The internet is, for all of it's glory, mob rule right now. While I can't even begin to say what a solution is in terms of preserving some set of basic (and by necessity, global) human rights online, I can say this: mob rule is not the answer.

    We definitely need to take some of the following points into consideration:

    1. Bad ideas exist. They will never stop existing.
    2. The definition of bad ideas will change over time.
    3. Pretending that bad ideas don't exist and trying to get rid of or hide them only makes things worse.
    4. The most effective way of dealing with bad ideas might be to air them out in the sun, for all people to see, naked, in full view of the public.
    5. Private individuals and companies should not be forced to interact with bad ideas.
    6. Private individuals and companies should not be forced to provide service to bad ideas.

    If you read through that list, it becomes immediately obvious that the concepts are in a severe conflict. The right to have and hold and speak a bad idea is in direct conflict with a basic principle that people have a right to not service it or interact with it. And as well, the right to not interact with it is in conflict with the idea that the best response to a bad idea is to engage with it and argue with it.

    But that's where we are. In conflict. A fundamental conflict about what it means to have rights on the internet--to have rights across the entire earth.

    That's not a bad thing. The conflict and friction here is healthy. And I'm optimistic about the process. In the 17th century when we were fighting a war and killing boatloads of people to establish the first amendment, it was a bloody and brutal war.

    We're trying to sort out one of the exact same points of disagreement about the internet now. And it's not about the politics of a few individual countries anymore. It's about the way the entire population of the world interacts with each other. And we're doing it with astonishingly less bloodshed. People like Mike are writing careful articles and providing a forum for discussion. Many others are as well. It's a difficult situation, but it was inevitable from the beginning of the internet.

    We are talking about this rather than stabbing and shooting each other. It's an important conflict and a necessary one. But let's not lose sight of the fact that when my dad went to war in 1941, it was a literal war over bad ideas and one group of people treating treating others with hated, bile, murder, rape, and slavery.

    We are fighting the same fight against the same ideas now. But we are doing it with words on the internet, for the most part, and I think that's an improvement.

    I sent this article to my dad after I read it and called him to talk about it. I was really curious what his point of view is. He lives in Texas where I'm from, at our family farm, is a devout pre-Vatican 2 Catholic, and voted for Trump. He sent me this email:

    "I didn't sign up for the army and leave my wife at home and go to war because of what the Germans were saying or thinking. I went because I believed that they were going to attack us. Just like the Japanese did. I thought they were going to invade us and take my family away. I didn't know about the concentration camps when I signed up, and I didn't know what they were doing to the Jews. It was never about that until I saw them with my own eyes. I didn't know anything about why they were doing what they were doing. It was never about them being Nazis. I didn't even know what being a Nazi meant until long after the war. As far as I knew, being a Nazi meant you were trying to kill me.

    I was a poor kid who grew up in the depression era, and the army promised me a lot of things. And they gave them to me after the war. WW2 is the only reason I went to college and eventually met your mother. It was an opportunity to make my life better if I survived. Be a hero. Fight the Nazis. Save your family.

    The more I read about WW2, the more I get frustrated. Either I'm really wrong about what I experienced or the historians are really wrong. And it makes me question how much of everything else I read about history is wrong. People now act like we went to war to save the Jews. I didn't know anything about any of that. No one on the ground did. And I didn't very much like the Jews I knew at the time or served with. And the Jews I was serving with didn't know anything about it either.

    When I read about the politics leading up to the war and how everything went down, I am, at least happy with the choices I made. You know I was a medic, son. I never carried a weapon and never killed anyone. People made fun of me at the time because all the medics broke the rules . . . carried guns, fought, killed the enemy. We were supposed to be non combatants. But most of us weren't. I got reprimanded for treating German soldiers during the battle of the Bulge.

    From my point of view, my job was to treat the wounded and comfort the dying. All of them. And I hope I've passed that idea along to you in some way. That the people other people are telling you are your enemy are still people. I didn't hate the Germans. Even when they were trying to kill me. Our unit was so far out in front of the regiment, that we often got shelled by our own people. I didn't hate our people.

    We were trying to get shit done. Just like you try to get shit done every day at work. That's really all there was to it. It was my job at the time, so I did it. There was no ideology for any of us. We didn't even know what that word meant.

    I know you are not religious, but the Bible sometimes has some words of wisdom, even if you don't believe in God. Love your enemies. That's what I would say to any of the Nazis I "fought" in the war. That's what I did. I treated our POWs the same as I treated our own wounded. I don't care what people believe or even what people do. They are people. And people shouldn't die the horrible ways that I saw every day for 19 months in Europe. I've told you about that. You know what it was like.

    These clowns in Charlottesville? Amateurs at best. They can't even effectively enact their ideas. Yeah, when they hurt someone, lock 'em up, as Trump likes to say. Until then, they are like stubbing your toe on the coffee table of society. Oh fuck, that hurts. Then you forget about it. Shutting them down just makes them more angry. Ignoring these assholes is far more effective than responding to them. They are a nuisance and minority, and they will all get old and die some day. Just like me.

    I went to war against people with the same ideas who were better organized, more effective, and able to really create a political movement. These clowns are just what you often call out with your co-workers. No talent hackery.

    Let them have their stupid ideas. They are wannabes anyway. If they cross the line, put them in jail.

    I didn't go to war over ideas or speech or philosophies. I went to war because I thought we were being attacked. And that's what everyone thought at the time. I never thought about the first amendment or free speech or anything like that.

    This whole thing with the new Nazis is just stupid, and the best way to deal with stupid is ignore it. It's always going to be there, so just leave it alone.

    Love,
    dad
    "

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 5:39pm

      Re:

      >I'll go out on a limb and suggest that the intent was more general. That those who hold the power of limiting speech cannot censor ideas.

      I would disagree. Remember, this is from a period in time when it was considered normal (or, at least, socially acceptable) for two people to take part in a mutual attempt to murder each other if one said something the other didn't like (see: Alexander Hamilton).

      That isn't to say that you're wrong. Perhaps a more general ideal of "those with *any* sort of power should not limit speech" is a better idea than "government should not limit speech."

      But the Founding Fathers were men of their time. To a man, I'm sure we could go through each of their letters, and dig up an attitude that each held: an attitude that would have rated a shrug back then and would horrify 90% of Americans living today.

      You have an ideal of free speech, based on your own upbringing and experiences, based on reflection and consideration and careful examination of consequences. Good for you. Now own it. Don't look back over two hundred years and say, "This is surely what they intended." Who **cares** what they intended? They were, by today's standards, horrible people, just as we probably would be if we were transported two hundred years into the future.

      An attitude isn't right today because it was considered right by 55 people in 1789. It's right today because it's considered **right today** by enough people to make it matter.

      It took nearly 19 centuries to outlaw slavery within a religion whose second commandment (after "love the Lord your God God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your soul") is "love your neighbor as you love yourself." It took that long because people were willing to outsource their morality to others: to their community, to their priests, and, ultimately, up that chain until it found someone who valued prosperity over love.

      Please, don't outsource your morality to 55 people who lived two hundred years ago, and had morals that suited their time perfectly and ours poorly. Make the argument for your position based on what *you* believe (which I think you did admirably by posting your grandfather's words).

      Having heroes to try to live up to is a good thing; it gives you something to aspire to. But never stop questioning those heroes, or you might find yourself following an ideal that doesn't represent what you, given time to reflect, would consider to be what a good person would do.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 5:50pm

        Re: Re:

        My heroes are my own. Your lack of heroes does not affect me in the slightest, you are likely not American and you likely have no heroes, only hatred and condemnation for people you never knew. And my heroes include those who wrote and signed the US Constitution, and what I believe they intended, and what I believe in supporting, promoting and defending, even with a gun, if I need to.

        Your calling the founder of the United States of America "horrible people" is just crap. You are the horrible person, in my opinion, spreading unwarranted condemnation and hate. And this is my post, about my opinion, thank you Techdirt for allowing me to voice it.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 6:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Your calling the founder of the United States of America "horrible people" is just crap.

          Several of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. None of them had the courage to explicitly outlaw slavery when drafting the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States. Thomas Jefferson even raped one of his female slaves.

          By today’s standards, most people would consider them all to be horrible men, regardless of their achievements. Only Neo-Nazis and white supremacists would likely dissent from that opinion, and only because they would see the enslavement—and possibly the rape—of black people as a good thing.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 6:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Wow, you're kind of sick, aren't you? What a terrible point of view you suffer with. Well, even I support your ability to post your ill-conceived ideas, you should have a voice too. Easy enough to ignore. Have a nice day.

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            • icon
              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Wow, you're kind of sick, aren't you?

              I can acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of the Founding Fathers while also acknowledging and denouncing the horrible acts they committed in their lifetimes. I should not want to remember them all as either monsters or gods. They were, for better or for worse, human.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:15pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                They were heroes of the first order. Consider for a moment the society that they were born into, and could not control, and their contribution to that society.

                It is useless to try and judge anyone by an absolute standard, that is the basis of totalitarianism, and it was the basis of White Supremacy in Nazi Germany, absolute standard of good and bad. Useless. Nazis used that argument to kill millions. I'm guessing you would too. Anyone who owned slaves is bad, right? What an idiot you are.

                What did the founding fathers do to change the world for the better? Read their ideas, how good are they? They were heroes of the first order, because of how they moved society in a better direction and not a worse direction. They were visionaries and extraordinary human beings, the founding fathers and their expression of hundreds of years of proud American ideals. We should emulate them, not condemn them, and do our best during our brief lives to move our own society towards a better place and not a worse one.

                I denounce nothing about them, I raise them up as examples of what we should all aspire towards, making the world a better place for everyone. Focus on their contributions, and then YOU exceed them. That's a goal. Condemnation is easy for any idiot to spout. Get inspired.

                Or not, who cares? You've always been a violent jerk, right? Spout some more of your violent jerk diatribe, if you like, it's a free country, and recently, a Free Techdirt.

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                • icon
                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:18pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  They were heroes of the first order.

                  Several of them kept people enslaved and treated them as property. Thomas Jefferson raped one of his female slaves. How heroic is that?

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:20pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    How heroic are you?

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                    • icon
                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:30pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Last time I checked, I have never enslaved another person and treated them as property; subsequently raped a female slave because I could; and directly contributed to the genocide of Native Americans. Then again, I have also never founded a country or written the documents that form the guiding principles of that country’s central governmental bodies.

                      Eh, I’d call it a wash. 😃

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                        identicon
                        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 8:00pm

                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                        Interesting point of view, I had not considered that point of view before.

                        Gandhi was my idea of a hero. He freed the whole of the Indian people from the oppression of the British with a single though, the idea that you do not have to submit to oppression. Don't fight, just don't submit, and eventually your oppressor will embarrass himself with his own immorality, and he will give up. I want to spread ideas like that, too.

                        Churchill was my idea of a hero. He inspired and comforted the whole of the British people in a desperate hour with bravery, commitment, and celebration of morality. I want to be so brave and well spoken too.

                        Einstein was my idea of a hero. He saw deeper into the Universe than anyone before him, and translated his understanding into the tools we all live with today. I want to see like Einstein.

                        Edison was my idea of a hero. He worked almost as a slave to humanity, inventing, documenting and patenting huge leaps forward in our society, like electric light. I want to be inventive like Edison.

                        Hamilton was my idea of a hero. Oh, wait a minute, I am Hamilton. Enough of that.

                        Anyway, my point was, Stephen T. Stone, those are some of my heroes, who are your heroes? What are the expressions of humanity and morality that you admire and look up to? Do you have anything on that side of your moral scales, or are you only filled with hatred and condemnation and nothing else?

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                        • icon
                          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 8:35pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Mohandas Gandhi was a noted sexist who, in spite of his call for women to have more freedoms, continually called for them to remain childbearing housewives. He also believed that rape was the woman’s fault for not doing enough to fight off her attacker (“I HAVE always held that it is physically impossible to violate a woman against her will. The outrage takes place only when she gives way to fear or does not realize her moral strength. If she cannot meet the assailant’s physical might, her purity will give her the strength to die before he succeeds in violating her.” — Gandhi, My Non-Violence). He also expressed racist stances toward native South Africans and helped kickstart the policies that would define apartheid in that country for decades.

                          Winston Churchill made decisions that led to the Royal Air Force firebombing German cities and killing innocent civilians. He also intended to hold onto India as a British colony, which put him in conflict with the views of Gandhi in re: Indian independence. Oh, and do not forget what he said about the creation of Israel: “I do not apologize for the takeover of the region by the Jews from the Palestinians in the same way I don't apologize for the takeover of America by the whites from the Red Indians or the takeover of Australia from the blacks. It is natural for a superior race to dominate an inferior one.”

                          Albert Einstein was, by all accounts, a decent human being with an astounding intellect. Too bad he gets misattributed to quotes all the time.

                          Thomas Edison was a generally unethical douchecanoe. He is also responsible for Hollywood: The American film industry moved away from the New York/New Jersey area to southern California so filmmakers could escape the reach of Edison's monopolistic Motion Picture Patents Company, which held patents on most filmmaking equipment. Oh, and he loved The Birth of a Nation, a film which is both historically important and exceptionally racist.

                          Alexander Hamilton favored a strong central government that damn near resembled an aristocracy, offered little—if any—real support for the abolition of slavery, and took part in a duel to the death over an insult. I mean, just for the last one alone, you gotta think the guy is a bit nuts.

                          Reconsider how you think of the men you view as heroes. They were not gods—they were men, as flawed and frail as you or I. To view them only in light of their accomplishments is to deny that one immutable truth.

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                          • identicon
                            Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 8:58pm

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            It was their moral accomplishments and contribution to society that were heroic, Stephen, I want to be as accomplished as they were, I want to contribute as much, that was my point.

                            Of course they were human, we all are, Stephen. But some of us accomplish and contribute more than others, you would agree with that, right? For example, your putting yourself on the same level of accomplishment as the Founding Fathers of the US seems a little unfair, don't you think? What have you accomplished that would put you anywhere near the accomplishment level of those you are denouncing? What have you done, Stephen, name something, what have you done other than promote hatred and unjustified criticism What value have you actually contributed to society, while either ignoring or demeaning the moral leaders of generations past?

                            Another great leader I admired: King. King dreamt of a better world, and his dream was so powerful and his voice so persuade that the whole world moved in the directions of his dreams.

                            What do you dream about, Stephen, other than hatred and condemnation?

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                            • icon
                              Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 9:08pm

                              Heroes? Meh.

                              But some of us accomplish and contribute more than others, you would agree with that, right?

                              You can quit trying to gaslight me. Your rhetorical trick cannot, does not, and will not work on someone who can expose it.

                              And I do not put myself on the same level of accomplishment as the Founding Fathers—or anyone else, for that matter. I am simply reminding you that, like you and I, the Founding Fathers were human—flawed, frail, imperfect beings who are capabale of creation and destruction, cruelty and kindness, good and evil in equal measure. Do not put a person on a pedastal, or else their fall will hurt you both.

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                              • identicon
                                Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 9:19pm

                                Re: Heroes? Meh.

                                Respectfully, I see your position as completely ridiculous. Everyone one of us is flawed, let's start with that. That's a given, OK?

                                Consider Gandhi for a moment, I say his accomplishment and fundamental teaching regarding using conviction of character and not violence to win a war is inspiring. Using his inspiration often directly from his own mouth, the Indian people fought and died for the ideas they believed in, by doing nothing, often just sitting down. Their bravery, character and moral conviction saved countless lives. If the Indians would have risen up in open warfare, the British would have killed many more, and likely even prevailed. Gandhi is a hero for all time, regardless of your opinion about he treated women. He is an example of the power of moral conviction and from that view should be put on a pedestal and celebrated. A hero, no doubt at all.

                                Your moral stature pales in comparison to his. That's the truth. And your opinion of him is petty and narcissistic. You failed the Test of Inspirational Heroes, you have none, obviously. You are a small person compared to those at whom you hurl your hateful accusations and unjust criticisms.

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                                • icon
                                  Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 9:30pm

                                  Re: Re: Heroes? Meh.

                                  HIs actions in that period of time were heroic—and that still does not erase his flaws and moral failings. We must all decide how much weight to give his deeds, both good and bad, when judging him as a person. We should do so with a fair and honest recounting of his life, rather than a narrow recounting of a single period of time when we could consider him a hero.

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                                  • identicon
                                    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 9:37pm

                                    Re: Re: Re: Heroes? Meh.

                                    You are completely missing my point, Stephen T. Stone. As a society, heroes allow us to communicate with each other, and to reinforce moral values that help society and further the interests of all members of a society. Moral values, Stephen T. Stone. I keep asking for your moral values, and you say nothing.

                                    Hitler had no moral values, and he inflicted incredible crimes against humanity. The German country lost their moral way at that point in history, and they lost their way based on hatred and criticism of whole groups. The world had to come to their aid to restore their morals. Their heroes were repressed, and their villains (like HItler) idolized. He spread hatred and condemnation, too, and I am sure completely ignored the moral consequences of his actions, hard to see it another way, right?

                                    Where are your moral values, Stephen T. Stone. Tell us about what or who you admire and put on pedestals. If you are your only moral reference, that makes it easy, right, just say so. Just you and you alone, Stephen T. Stone, is that the basis of your moral authority to demean heroes to society?

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                                    • icon
                                      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 10:11pm

                                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Heroes? Meh.

                                      Hitler had no moral values

                                      Hitler did have moral values—just not ones that humanity in general would agree were good ones. His morality led him and his government to commit atrocities for the glory of Germany and “the Aryan race”. We refer to him as one of the most evil men to ever live. And yet, we often forget how Hitler was as human as any of us—and how any of us could one day be as evil as Hitler.

                                      Also: My morality relies not on the views of a single person or a group of like-minded individuals, but on what I can learn from men and women, real and fictional, in all walks of life. If you want nitty-gritty specifics, you can find me on Twitter and ask me there. Unless and until you decide to do that: Eat shit, Hamilton.

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                                        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 10:17pm

                                        Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heroes? Meh.

                                        I celebrate each and every meeting with you, Stephen T. Stone. You remind me of the futility of gunfire to settle ideological arguments. I respect your willingness to support engagement in public, with words.

                                        I celebrate your conviction and expression of beliefs, no matter how unpersuasive. All the better, actually. "Eat shit" is especially unpersuasive in an argument. But, you always make it too easy to win. That's what I like about you.

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                                          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 10:59pm

                                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Heroes? Meh.

                                          Well, reading that again, what I said at the end wasn't very nice, was it, it was a little snotty. Sorry about that, I have my own weaknesses and sometimes they come out. In fairness, I can understand that you might need a little time to think about who your heroes are. Many people are too busy to give it much attention, and I can certainly understand that. I'm just saying that when you really consider the question of heroes and morals and right and wrong, you can become a better person. You can sort things out and find people and their influence on outcomes that you really respect. It's kind of the whole half full half empty argument, if you only look for flaws that is all you will see in everyone, that's not very useful, right? Instead of looking at yourself through your own lense, find some heroes and morals you admire, and measure yourself through that lense. Measure yourself and compare yourself and move yourself in the right direction, that you choose, and be sure you know what that direction is. Then, being critical and hateful is less interesting, and moving the world in the direction of your moral convictions more satisfying. Hate less and think more. I am sure it will happen, and you will be a better person for it.

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                          • identicon
                            Thad, 28 Aug 2017 @ 11:22am

                            Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                            Albert Einstein was, by all accounts, a decent human being with an astounding intellect. Too bad he gets misattributed to quotes all the time.

                            Plus he married his cousin.

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                            • identicon
                              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 12:11pm

                              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                              I'd rate "being romantically involved with a woman (who happened to be his cousin) while still married to someone else" as a greater moral flaw than "being romantically involved with his cousin."

                              Though I suppose, if you really want to find a flaw in someone, finding a sexual taboo that they've violated is probably the easiest way. It sure worked in the case of Alan Turing.

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                        • identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 8:37pm

                          Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                          Come on, Stephen T. Stone, share a hero or two with us on this public forum, you seem to have a lot to say, you have a lot of posts in a lot of articles. You can name yourself as your own hero, that's fine, if you'd like. You can say you look up to only yourself, if that's how you really feel. You could put yourself on the same moral footing as the Founder Fathers of the US, and justify it by your own opinion of yourself. That's fine. Are you (yourself) your only hero, or are there any more?

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          • icon
            Glathull (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 3:02am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            This is a priceless example of what I was talking about in my original post. Thanks.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 11:18am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Your lack of heroes does not affect me in the slightest,

          I never said that I don't have heroes. In fact, I have several. I occasionally borrow their words, their ideas, their points of view as my own.

          But when their morals come in conflict with my own, I consider viewpoints beyond those of my heroes, and make up my own mind.

          you are likely not American and you likely have no heroes

          I am, indeed, Canadian, and one of my heroes is the man who spearheaded the effort to confederate Canada, to protect it from being caught up in the then-burgeoning Civil War to the south: Sir John A. Macdonald. It's likely due to his efforts that I'm alive today, and that Canada exists as the country I love.

          However, he called native tribes "savages" and called for their cultures' eradication by pulling children away from their parents. That's unconscionable. It's unforgivable. It was, sadly, fairly standard for the time.

          And my heroes include those who wrote and signed the US Constitution, and what I believe they intended, and what I believe in supporting, promoting and defending, even with a gun, if I need to.

          They intended to deny women, slaves, indigenous peoples, and others the right to vote, among other rights. Do you really support, promote, and defend that intention? Would you take up a gun to do so?

          Your calling the founder of the United States of America "horrible people" is just crap.

          If it makes it any better, I don't hold anything against them specifically. I think that they were decent men when they lived, and I think that if you pulled anyone else from the same time period forward to today, they'd be considered horrible people as well.

          That's all I'm trying to say: that perhaps it's not a good idea to defend, without distinction, every ideal of a "hero," solely because they were held by someone who did something heroic. If an ideal is worth defending, it is worth defending on its own merits, not because, nor despite, who has or has not held such ideals in the past.

          You are the horrible person, in my opinion,

          For acknowledging that the Founders were not perfect, and that you should support freedom of speech as an ideal worthy of protection itself, not as a historical relic of a bunch of heroes?

          spreading unwarranted condemnation and hate

          Fine, then. I have made a claim: that I can dig up an attitude that would be considered horrible by 90% of people today, for any of the 55 Founding Fathers. If that condemnation is "unwarranted," name a Founding Father, and I'll dig up the quote. Choose wisely, though; I'll only do this trick once.

          As for hate: I deny that I am spreading any such thing.

          And this is my post, about my opinion, thank you Techdirt for allowing me to voice it.

          Seconded, both for your post, and my own.

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  • icon
    frank87 (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 3:00pm

    I agree: we have to avoid mob rule. It promotes the division: if you're not with the mob, you're against it.
    Never convict anybody for indiscriminate serving everybody.
    No blacklists, no employer calling, no boycots.

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      Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 5:37pm

      Thank you Techdirt

      I am so happy to see posts from actual literate Americans on Techdirt. I applaud again Techdirt's decision to stop censoring posts, and to allow the general public to contribute to the thoughts and ideas here without having their voice hidden behind a grey gravestone.

      For months, I have seen the voice of the hateful mob dominate this web site, and now, thanks to the new editorial policy at Techdirt, real Americans are finally free to voice their real opinions without censorship. It's wonderful, really, thank you for your brave and patriotic decision to allow American voices to be heard again.

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    • identicon
      Thad, 28 Aug 2017 @ 11:25am

      Re:

      No boycotts?

      Boycotts are speech, Jack; they're a vital part of civic conversation and an integral instrument in a free-market economy. They were a vital instrument during the Civil Rights Movement.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:01pm

    Techdirt Saves Nazi Germany

    Imagine if we could transport Techdirt back to Nazi Germany and allow the Germans to openly voice their opinions, and imagine Hitler had no way to censor it. Imagine Techdirt was freely available to all the Germans anonymously, and they could voice their honest opinions about Eugenics and Supremacism to each other. Imagine they could share their contrarian scientific facts and their disgust and anger and condemnation of Hitler himself, and then vote as a society to recover the moral character they lost. Imagine Free Speech in Nazi Germany, Techdirt style. It would have been great, right? Techdirt could have saved Nazi Germany from itself by overcoming the hatred and censorship, and replacing it with moral arguments that the German people actually felt, but could not voice. Techdirt saves maybe not Nazi Germany, that's the past, but it may save us from the next round of oppressive censorship and moral depravity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:17pm

      Re: Techdirt Saves Nazi Germany

      It would have been great, right?

      This insidious rhetorical trick of yours deserves a good explanation, if for no other reason than to show just why it is so insidious.

      The real gimmick of your trick lies in the phrasing at the end of the quoted sentence. That “right?” is a fishing hook—an attempt to lure someone into agreeing with you on some minor point—with which you hope to land a sucker who is unfamiliar with your bullshit.

      Once you hook a sucker, you bamboozle them with empty rhetoric and fallacies until you get to another “right?” question. You do this to keep your sucker hooked on your bullshit—and to make them second-guess themselves and their own knowledge of a given subject.

      Every time you pull this trick, you try to gaslight someone into thinking they are wrong and you are right. You do this not because you have an actual argument supported by facts and evidence, but because all you have is bullshit. You cannot win an argument or debate in a “fair” way, so you resort to deflection and distraction. That “right?” construction proves how you cannot make an argument without first trying to gaslight someone into giving up theirs.

      And for that, Hamilton, you deserve nothing but mockery and derision. I would say what else you deserve, but I have better uses for such vulgarities—like shitposting on 4chan.

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        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 7:28pm

        Re: Re: Techdirt Saves Nazi Germany

        Well, I do admire the fact that you feel free to voice your opinion, however hateful it might seem to me. That's good, and I encourage you to do so, and I again applaud Techdirt for their new Free Speech Editorial Policy with regards to comments. Good for you to speak your heart, and good for the Techdirt Free Speech Editorial Policy to allow everyone to do the same, without censorship.

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    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 9:58pm

    Free Speech as a Moral Value

    I am sitting with myself having a little party tonight, celebrating real Free Speech on Techdirt. I'm so happy I may even drink some champagne.

    This is something to celebrate, in all seriousness. Imagine if Gandhi was silenced, how many more Indians would have died under the hands of their British repressors? Imagine if Churchill was silenced, and Britain caved in to Nazi oppressors. The world would be a very different place without Free Speech. Free speech is a moral value and has literally saved civilizations.

    Thank you Techdirt, for moving this forum in the direction of openness, morality and Free Speech. We plan to add some songs about Techdirt in our secret Hamiltonian rituals, that's how impressed we are. Maybe even a coat of arms, dedicated to Techdirt, waving along with all the other flags in our secret underground lair beneath the capital.

    God Bless America, and God Bless the New Techdirt with the No Censorship Editorial Policy.

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    Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2017 @ 11:54pm

    You know Gandhi is my hero, right?

    I am a Free Speech advocate, here on Techdirt. Like Gandhi, I have a moral conviction, more than one actually, but one of my moral convictions is the importance of Free Speech. My plan is to post my opinion here, again and again, until you shame yourself into allowing Free Speech on Techdirt. Hiding my posts just encourages me, because I see it as your public suppression of the very thing you say you promote. Each post you hide marks you as hypocrites, plain and simple.

    My moral conviction regarding Free Speech, and your moral conviction against it, are on display (partially) for all to see. Your censorship is on display for all to see. Go ahead and do more, that's fine. You are making my point for me with your censorship. You are taking the wrong moral stand, in front of God and everybody.

    And I don't have to do anything to prove that, except to do what I am already doing, quite happily. I think Gandhi was a happy person, too, as he pressed his convictions.

    Thank you, from me and Mohatma, as we sit in the street and allow you beat and censor us, and show yourselves for the ideological oppressors that you really are.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 1:02am

      Re: You know Gandhi is my hero, right?

      >My plan is to post my opinion here, again and again, until you shame yourself into allowing Free Speech on Techdirt.

      You are nothing more than a heckler, trying to deny others the rights to speak to and listen to whoever they choose to, and to ignore whoever they choose to.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 1:49am

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 2:32am

        Re:

        Free speech, you ignorant prick, is a moral right, not a legal right. You are publicly justifying and documenting your lack of morals for all to see. Go ahead, say some more.

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 3:21am

          Re: Re:

          Some more.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 5:43am

          Re: Re:

          You have no 'moral right' to use someone else's platform to host your speech. You have no 'moral right' to demand other people just silently sit back and let you say whatever you want without response(whether that be getting the boot from a service or simply having your comments flagged and hidden behind a single mouse click).

          If you want to frame free speech as a moral right then you have a moral right to speak. You do not have a moral right to make others listen(or even 'just' demand that they do so), nor do you have a moral right to force others to give you a platform to speak from.

          There is no infringement of any 'moral rights' from one or more people seeing someone acting as a pest and responding accordingly, but by all means continue slinging insults as usual if you think it'll make me look bad.

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            Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 8:16am

            Re: Re: Re:

            IMHO, all of us, including Techdirt, have a moral obligation not to silence speech, even speech we disagree with. Nazi Germany had that obligation too, and failed their obligation, with disastrous results and unspeakable crimes against humanity.

            And by humanity, I mean our shared humanity. The same human society that we both belong to. IMHO, that human society has a moral obligation to promote and defend free speech, so we do not degenerate into the hateful bigots that killed so many. I protect your right to free speech, you protect my right to free speech, and we both protect our rights to a free and open society without oppression.

            I understand that the moral value of free speech escapes you, That One Guy. It does not escape everyone, and it will not escape Mike's jury.

            You are infringing on the shared moral rights of decent humanity. You are defending exactly the same rationale used by the Nazis to silence their ill-conceived ideas. How can you do that and not be ashamed of yourself?

            Where is your moral conscience?

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            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 3:05pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Wrong. Not only is no-one being 'silenced' here in the comment section(they can still speak, as the many comments attest, their comments are merely hidden behind a single mouse-click so others don't have to 'listen' if they don't want to), but the 'moral obligation' you're attempting to create in order to 'shame' people into not flagging comments doesn't exist.

              If a bunch of racist bigots set up shop on my lawn for a demonstration/speech I am under no 'moral obligation' to let them do so, and can turn on the sprinklers to drive them off without demonstrating any lack of morality.

              If a casually jingoistic putz walks into an event open to the public but hosted by a private group/individual and starts being disruptive, people are under no 'moral obligation' to stay silent and let them be disruptive, and can remain quite moral even as they tell the other person that they are not welcome and ask them to leave.

              Despite your repeated attempts to conflate the two there is a significant difference between someone's right to speak, and the requirement for others to listen or host them while they do so. Actions have consequences, and no amount of trying to hide behind 'moral responsibility' will change this or magically make it immoral to treat someone according to how they act.

              (As an aside I certainly hope you practice what you preach and don't have any spam filters enabled. Can't 'silence' any speech after all.)

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 11:29am

      Re: You know Gandhi is my hero, right?

      Thank you, from me and Mohatma

      His name was Mohandas. Mahatma was a title.

      So it's either "from me and Mohandas" or "from me and the Mahatma."

      Odd that you don't know the name of your hero.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 2:00am

    tl;dr

    First, they came for the nazis...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 3:06am

      Re: tl;dr

      You are exactly correct in your moral analysis. As a free society, it is in our moral interests to promote free speech. That is, we promote our own well being when we promote the right of everyone to free speech. If we fail to promote free speech, as Germany failed to promote free speech in the 30's and 40's, none of us are safe. When we single out one group to silence, we will single out another, and then another. It is morally wrong to suppress speach, it is morally right, and self-preserving, to promote free speech.

      Stop Hiding Posts! You are morally bankrupt to do so!

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      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 3:25am

        Re: Re: tl;dr

        As a free society, it is in our moral interests to promote free speech.

        How does our moral interest in promoting free speech relate to the morality of, say, a Neo-Nazi calling for the genocide of “non-Aryans”?

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          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 3:33am

          Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

          Because there is a moral gravity to free speech that is all encompassing, much as the idea of a slippery slope describes. Moral Gravity is the force at work, respect it or be crushed by it.

          For example, the best argument in front of a jury, like Mike's future jury, is a moral argument. It summarizes a position and accounts for the rough edges. If you can win the moral argument in front of a jury, the verdict goes your way.

          For example, the argument here is free speech, what it means. My position is that we all must promote everyone's right to free speech, even the Neo-Nazis. Why? Because of the gravity involved. If we all promote it, and endure listening to each other, everything stays open. As soon as we start to slide down the slipper slope into censoring some and not others, the moral gravity drives us towards depravity and hate.

          I think the reason Mike will lose his case against Shiva has a lot to do with the censorship policy here. If there was no censorship, and everyone could have spoken their mind, you would have never defamed Shiva. It would have never gotten that far, he's a nice guy, actually, and everyone in the real world knows that. It is only because of the Techdirt editorial policy of censorship and promotion of hatred that the dispute ever occurred.

          Moral gravity, Stephen T. Stone. That is my argument for why we all need to support free speech, even neo-Nazi free speech. Otherwise the censorship will envelope us all, eventually.

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          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 4:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

            the best argument in front of a jury […] is a moral argument

            The last time I checked, the best argument you can make in front of a jury is not “this thing is wrong to do”, but “this person broke the law and this evidence should convince you of that”. You want to argue facts, not opinions, unless you have no other choice.

            My position is that we all must promote everyone's right to free speech, even the Neo-Nazis.

            You will find few people here that disagree with this point. A Neo-Nazi, in spite of their hateful views, deserves as much a right to speak their mind as anyone else. Therein lies the problem discussed in the article: At some point, a denial of a platform can turn into legitimate censorship. The trick lies in figuring out where that point is and what to do about it—preferably in a way that respects the platform owner’s protected right of association.

            I think the reason Mike will lose his case against Shiva has a lot to do with the censorship policy here.

            A certain Mr. Rodriguez perfectly sums up my thoughts on this.

            If there was no censorship, and everyone could have spoken their mind, you would have never defamed Shiva.

            Shiva Ayyadurai could have dropped into the comments sections here any time he wanted and disproved any of the evidence that refuted his outlandish claims. That he has not done so leads me to believe he has no way of disproving this evidence. A lack of comment moderation would not have changed either his lack of evidence or his cowardice.

            It is only because of the Techdirt editorial policy of censorship and promotion of hatred that the dispute ever occurred.

            No, the lawsuit occured because Shiva Ayyadurai “won” his defamation case against Gawker and decided that suing another vocal critic would achieve the same results. A lack of comment moderation would not have changed this fact.

            That is my argument for why we all need to support free speech, even neo-Nazi free speech.

            I support the right of a Neo-Nazi to speak his mind—but I do not believe they have a right to force their views upon a platform or a potential audience.

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 4:10am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

              Could you consider that perhaps free speech comes with a price? That the price you pay to guarantee your own free speech is that you must tolerate the free speech of others?

              I guess we will never know about whether Shiva could have voiced his opinion fairly in this forum. But given my own comments above that have been censored (that is, hidden without any explanation or commentary, no engagement, just blind censorship) above, this is not a "safe space" for Americans, right?

              In America, most of our country is a "safe space" where Free Speech is promoted by all. Techdirt is like another country, with it's own laws and morals, and we may speak here only with permission. And no one will explain what will be censored, that's a secret shared only with "insiders". What a place! Oppressive, really, to normal Americans.

              Mike's moral argument in front of a jury is pathetic, don't you think? He takes money on the basis of Free Speech, and actively censors his critics online. Easy to prove him a fraud and a liar. No doubt about that, right, Stephen T. Stone? Even if you maintain that Shiva is a fraud, Mike is also a fraud, right? One fraud calling another fraud a fraud. That's what the judge has to sort out.

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              • icon
                Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 4:31am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

                I guess we will never know about whether Shiva could have voiced his opinion fairly in this forum.

                He could have voiced his opinion. Whether he considers dissenting voices criticizing him or the risk of hidden comments as “unfair” is entirely on him.

                my own comments above that have been censored

                Discretion is “I’m not going to say this”; censorship is “you’re not going to say this”. Neither of those things have happened to your comments. They were allowed to be posted; they were hidden, not deleted; and you were not somehow prevented from repeating those comments elsewhere. Anyone can read your inane comments if they bother to click the correct link. You cannot force anyone to read your comments, which is as it should be.

                right?

                Your rhetorical gaslighting will not work on me.

                Techdirt is like another country, with it's own laws and morals, and we may speak here only with permission.

                I did not ask for permission to post this comment, yet it still went through. Imagine that.

                He takes money on the basis of Free Speech, and actively censors his critics online.

                Mike Masnick has not filed a frivolous and baseless lawsuit against a critic who expressed a legally-protected opinion that was backed up by evidence and facts. To my knowledge, he has never done so—nor has he ever actively sought to silence any critic who only said mean things about him.

                Even if you maintain that Shiva is a fraud, Mike is also a fraud, right?

                Take it away, Mr. Luthor.

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                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 4:48am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

                  Well, Stephen, I cannot fault you for not engaging. Thank you for that. How about one more go?

                  If I understand your argument and Mike's argument correctly, Shiva did not Technically invent Email. That is, your definition of Email that does not include his program, named Email. You are making a technical argument, right?

                  And Mike is making a technical argument about Free Speech, right? If you redefine Free Speech as Speech that Mike approves of, then Technically he supports Free Speech, right? It's a technical argument.

                  In front of a jury, these technical arguments will not go very far, trust me on that. I learned about juries at a young age, I used to write software for little Raidio-shack hand-held computers to measure and summarize jury behavior and how it relates to their opinions and moral positions. Juries hate technical arguments, really, no kidding.

                  Find some moral high ground, Stephen, there is a lot available, and morality is persuasive by it's nature. Just not here in this forum of anonymous censorship. Immoral place, really, everybody sees it.

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                  • icon
                    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 4:54am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

                    I used to write software for little Raidio-shack hand-held computers to measure and summarize jury behavior and how it relates to their opinions and moral positions.

                    Jim Fucking Sterling has two words for ya, son.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                      identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 4:56am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: tl;dr

                      That is not what I meant by "moral high ground", Stephen. But I did like, both your videos were entertaining. Thank you for that.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                        icon
                        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 5:01am

                        So what?

                        Eat shit, Hamilton.

                        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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                          identicon
                          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 5:18am

                          Re: So what?

                          I support your speech, Stephen. I support your right to say what you just said. I don't like it very much, but I support your right to say it.

                          Tell me again why you don't support my right to speak? What is it about my speech that needs to be hidden?

                          Support me, Stephen, and condemn censorship in all it's forms. Come on, Stephen, do the right thing and support Free Speech, including my right to Free Speech, and each and everyone's right to Free Speech, right here, right now. You know it's the right thing to do, morally. You don't want to be called a Nazi, do you?

                          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 8:30am

    How many posts will you silence?

    Why not go ahead and silence every post you don't like? First I saw 2, then 6, then 8 posts silenced with no explanation. No engagement. No policy.

    Since you clearly have no intention of allowing Free Speech on Techdirt, why stop half way? Or do I just need to wait a little longer for you to silence the rest?

    Cowards. Unable to defend your own positions, so you silence your critics.

    You are moral cowards. You will not prevail. Gandhi was not a moral coward. He showed the whole world how to deal with moral cowards that use oppression to silence their critics.

    I will not be bowed. I may be small, I may dress in rags, but my convictions run deeper than yours ever will.

    Cowards. Silence some more posts, go ahead, show the world who you really are.

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 8:44am

    Silence me again, embarass yourself again. Do it.

    I am a Free Speech advocate, here on Techdirt. Like Gandhi, I have a moral conviction, more than one actually, but one of my moral convictions is the importance of Free Speech. My plan is to post my opinion here, again and again, until you shame yourself into allowing Free Speech on Techdirt. Hiding my posts just encourages me, because I see it as your public suppression of the very thing you say you promote. Each post you hide marks you as hypocrites, plain and simple.

    My moral conviction regarding Free Speech, and your moral conviction against it, are on display (partially) for all to see. Your censorship is on display for all to see. Go ahead and do more, that's fine. You are making my point for me with your censorship. You are taking the wrong moral stand, in front of God and everybody.

    And I don't have to do anything to prove that, except to do what I am already doing, quite happily. I think Gandhi was a happy person, too, as he pressed his convictions.

    Thank you, from me and Mohatma, as we sit in the street and allow you beat and censor us, and show yourselves for the ideological oppressors that you really are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 5:27pm

      Re: Silence me again, embarass yourself again. Do it.

      All this speech and you still can't post the list of people harmed by Techdirt, or the list of inventions and patents you supposedly have, or just what citeable contribution to America you made that behooves you to harass everyone else like this.

      You're firing blanks, Hamilton. Anyone who clicks on the unhide function can read your paragraphs and see for themselves. It didn't take long for your civil veneer to fade away and reveal the hateful, babbling garbage disposal that you are.

      You're the disruptive student throwing a tantrum in the classroom. Until you graduate and make a breakthrough to prove us all wrong, the teacher is going to sentence you to standing outside the principal's office. If you feel no need to justify anything, sure. You get what's coming to you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 27 Aug 2017 @ 11:17am

    The context of Slavery in the United States.

    As of the founding of the US, the entirety of the western world still functioned on slavery, that is, the yoking of human labor by force. Europe had pretty much banned slaves but they had plenty of serfs (coming from the Latin servus meaning slave). Granted, designated serfs had a few more rights than designated slaves, but it was a small promotion and a far reach to freeman.

    The framers of the US Constitution secured their own freedom, and the freedom of white males, but nonwhites and non-males were still disregarded (or were regarded as three fifths of a white). (Non-Judeo-Christians were hypothetically secure in their persons, but that didn't stop their persecution, or the persecution of some disfavored denominations)

    We in the United States didn't have serfs, we instead had sharecroppers and laborers under truck systems, so subjugation was based not on the social contract, but was instead based on rent or credit. We chose not to criminalize slavery on the same principle that we choose not to criminalize abusive labor practices today: It's economical to those making the laws.

    None of this is to say slavery isn't morally wrong. It is, and how. But we still do it. We still seek out and exploit vulnerable labor forces: children, and when not them, unlawful refugees and when they have (limited) rights, workers in nations that don't (or won't) establish those rights for themselves. Locally we still treat poverty as the worst of crimes, keep minimum incomes low and force people to overwork themselves just to survive. ...and these people don't even have access to the legal system, which is how they can be gunned down by the police (or have all their property seized) without just recourse.

    It's still the same story, people forced to work just to exist, and with limited access to the rights we've decided any human being should have.

    Slavery is still terrible, but the United States still does most of it and avoids calling it slavery. If we're going to be honest with ourselves and truly abolish slavery, the public needs to be able to make actual choices regarding the work they do -- or not to work at all when all current options are crap -- and still be able to survive with dignity. We don't have that at all.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 11:31am

      Three-fifths compromise [was Re: The context...]

      … (or were regarded as three fifths of a white)…

      BlackPast.org: The Three-Fifths Clause of the United States Constitution (1787)

      Often misinterpreted to mean that African Americans as individuals are considered three-fifths of a person …

      The three-fifths clause was part of a series of compromises …

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:26am

        "Three fifths of all other persons."

        Yes, the three-fifths rule only counted for purposes of taxing and for the number of representatives a state gets in the house. It didn't mean non-free persons were actually represented. It doesn't mean they actually got their fractional vote.

        But it does present that the US Constitution acknowledged that not all people were free. Not all people have the same rights. And not all people are represented equally under law.

        Which was my point.

        We shouldn't call this a free country when it isn't. We shouldn't call this a nation of equal rights or equal representation when it isn't. It shouldn't be called a nation of laws when it doesn't follow the rule of law. If being proud to be American is contingent on at least knowing we're free, well, it's time to rethink our pride.

        When we decide that one human is less deserving of rights, regard and access to justice than another, that’s bigotry. When we do so on the grounds of race, that's racism.

        And it's hard to argue against these guys for equality when our own society systematically fails to practice what it preaches.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 11:18am

          Re: "Three fifths of all other persons."

          Yes, the three-fifths rule only counted for purposes of taxing and for the number of representatives a state gets in the house.

          But that's not what you said above.

          The three-fifths clause of the constitution drafted in 1787, Article I, Section 2, Clause 3 (prior to amendment) is a historical artifact. A fair-minded person ought to carefully situate that artifact within the context of its times — laying no more upon its interpretation than the evidence should bear.

          Instead, you twisted it, aiming to score a cheap point — to fashion a tawdry slogan.

          If you did so in the darkness of ignorance, then in my earlier post, I have already supplied a link for your enlightenment.

          If you do so wilfully, then — well — upon reflection, I have deleted the remainder of this post's first draft here.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 9:17pm

      Re: The context of Slavery in the United States.

      Yeah and nearly the same amount of whites (1.6 million) were kidnapped and enslaved by Barbary pirates (mostly consisting of blacks and arabs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_pirates ) during the same period. Not to mention, Americans BOUGHT all of their slaves from BLACK slave merchants...Those same families of slave traders still continues to pedal slaves to this VERY DAY...Like Niger, which CURRENTLY has over 800 thousand slaves living under oppression:

      http://www.dw.com/en/modern-day-slavery-still-rampant-in-niger/a-17871711

      America was the FIRST nation to abolish slavery yet we're treated like we're the ones who started it despite the fact we're one of the last nations to form and have only existed for a couple hundred years...while other nations have had slavery for thousands of years and STILL perpetuate it to this very fucking day.

      Hypocrite, GET FUCKED!

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 9:28pm

        Re: Re: The context of Slavery in the United States.

        Good post, well reasoned, persuasive, except the end. I understand you, yes I do, I have exactly the same feeling you do. But if you give in to the emotion of moral condemnation and miss the subtlety, the dark side of the left will have you in their grip. Never give in to hatred, young Jedi, the force is with you and your views, don't let hatred get a grip on you, that is the purpose of the dark side. Just be right and be happy and sing a little song, that's what we do in the Hamilton society. It works, really, sing a little song to Techdirt, after you evicerate them and leave their entrails on the field of ideological battle. Love them a little, in their defeat and humiliation. It's the right thing to do.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:40am

        Re: Re: The context of Slavery in the United States.

        America was the FIRST nation to abolish slavery

        From Wikipedia:

        Britain abolished slavery throughout the British Empire with the Slavery Abolition Act 1833, the French colonies re-abolished it in 1848 and the U.S. abolished slavery in 1865 with the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

        So, France, England, and their colonies don't count because...

        Why is that exactly?

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 6:22pm

    A question for Mike

    "I'm going to try to discuss a complicated issue that has many nuances and gray areas."

    Mike, how about we hear from you directly, since you are the editor of this publication? You decide the editorial policy, that's what an editor does. How about adding your voice to the mix here, I have never understood why you are so evasive.

    Do you think Free Speech, when considered as a moral issue, is nuanced or not? IMHO, Free Speech, as a moral right, is much more black and white than nuanced. When I support your right to free speech, and you support my right to free speech, we are helping to establish a free society.

    Not nuanced, right? Easy to express as a moral value we can all support wholeheartedly. That is, we put up with the free speech of others so that we can retain it for ourselves.

    Do you agree with that Mike, or do you have a different point of view. How about speaking to your values, Mike, we are all curious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 7:55pm

    What is your editorial policy, and why is it secret?

    In all my years of public commentary, from newspapers to town meetings to other blogs, I have never seen an editor and owner of a publication engage with his readers so little. Mike, you are both the owner and the editor of this publication, I believe that is public record. The editorial policy is unquestionably yours. No one has ever disputed that. Could you please communicate your editorial policy to your readers, so they have some understanding of what you will censor and what you will let stand. That's a request, a sincere request, from myself and others, who have voiced it frequently.

    How about standing behind the editorial policy that you own, and explaining it, on your own forum. You will have to do it eventually, Mike, because of the level of attention your site is now getting, in public and in court. Why not just explain it now so everyone can understand it?

    Explain what you censor and what you do not censor. Don't waste any time about the meaning of the word 'censor', everyone already knows what it means, it means removing posts from view.

    What are your editorial guidelines? Give us a clue, Mike, it's a fair request.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 8:28pm

      Re: What is your editorial policy, and why is it secret?

      Here is an example in case it might help you express yourself:

      From: Mike
      To: Censorship committee
      Re: Techdirt Editorial Policy

      Dear Censors,

      While Techdirt would usually support everyone's right to free speech, because the moral imperative, we consider certain types of speech exceptions to our moral responsibility, and forego our commitment to a free society. We are not a free society. We are a closed society in the following areas (see list below), because there is a preemptive moral imperative that supersedes the rights to free speech.

      We believe this passionately, and are ready to defend our position to anyone who cares to challenge our fairness or morality. Here are the types of speech we cannot, have not, and will never accept in our closed society. We are proud of being a closed society, and believe we are the better for it. Here are Techdirt Moral Guidelines for when Free Speech should be Abanonded:

      1. Superior Moral Guideline 1
      2. Superior Moral Guideline 2

      Does that help?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 8:35pm

    Do it again

    I am a Free Speech advocate, here on Techdirt. Like Gandhi, I have a moral conviction, more than one actually, but one of my moral convictions is the importance of Free Speech. My plan is to post my opinion here, again and again, until you shame yourself into allowing Free Speech on Techdirt. Hiding my posts just encourages me, because I see it as your public suppression of the very thing you say you promote. Each post you hide marks you as hypocrites, plain and simple.

    My moral conviction regarding Free Speech, and your moral conviction against it, are on display (partially) for all to see. Your censorship is on display for all to see. Go ahead and do more, that's fine. You are making my point for me with your censorship. You are taking the wrong moral stand, in front of God and everybody.

    And I don't have to do anything to prove that, except to do what I am already doing, quite happily. I think Gandhi was a happy person, too, as he pressed his convictions.

    Thank you, from me and Mohatma, as we sit in the street and allow you beat and censor us, and show yourselves for the ideological oppressors that you really are

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 8:41pm

    Policy 1: Don't ask Mike any questions

    That's part of your editorial policy, right? I posed a question to Mike, and was silenced. No questions for Mike, right, he refuses to engage with anyone about any question regarding him, his publication, his values, morals, or editorial policy.

    Don't bother to ask, that's your policy, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 8:55pm

    Updated Editorial Policy

    From: Mike
    To: Censorship committee
    Re: Techdirt Editorial Policy

    Dear Censors,

    While Techdirt would usually support everyone's right to free speech, because the moral imperative, we consider certain types of speech exceptions to our moral responsibility, and forego our commitment to a free society. We are not a free society. We are a closed society in the following areas (see list below), because there is a preemptive moral imperative that supersedes the rights to free speech.

    We believe this passionately, and are ready to defend our position to anyone who cares to challenge our fairness or morality. Here are the types of speech we cannot, have not, and will never accept in our closed society. We are proud of being a closed society, and believe we are the better for it. Here are Techdirt Moral Guidelines for when Free Speech should be abandoned:

    1. No questions for Mike or his beliefs
    2. No questions about this policy, keep it secret
    3. No criticisms of this secret policy
    4. No arguments using Ghandi, Churchill or King as moral heroes
    5. No arguments about the moral value of free speech and free societies, only technical arguments about government's role and individual freedoms
    6. No posts defending Shiva

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 8:56pm

    Listen, comments on the internet are a form of telecommunication no different from the telephone, and as such, should fall under the rules and regulations of the telecommunication act and thus be treated as a public utility.

    This mass censorship by the far left needs to end...Shutting down your political opposition isn't going to make them magically disappear and never will.

    YOU WILL NEVER COMPLETELY CULL YOUR POLITCAL OPPOSTION EVER!!!

    To attempt to do so is FASCISM.

    It seems like to me that we have a shit ton of people on the far left who are incapable of debating their opposition and thus are using their elite positions to silence their opponents...

    This is a slippery slop that needs to see federal and state intervention.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 9:56pm

      Editorial policy at work

      Wow, that post got hidden fast. You censors are hard at work enforcing your censorship policies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 9:57pm

      Isn't he right? Is that why you hid his post?

      You just like totalitarian when you hide posts, that's all. No different than the Nazis.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 10:02pm

      Re:

      Yes, Hamilton. You are a slippery slop. Get over yourself, you're just not that important.

      Of course if you could cite and explain how you are important with verifiable proof, like the patents you supposedly hold, you would have done so already. My educated guess is it's for some silly, prior-art idea like bookmarking pages on the Internet on a smartphone, just waiting to be thrown at some Open Source app developer (oooh, filthy, nasty, disgusting un-American Open Source).

      Until then calm your tits. Nobody's culling any opposition. Your hero Shiva is the one demanding for this site to get shut down. And you want to demand to be heard? Get bent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 10:06pm

        Re: Re:

        What?

        Are you really trying to shut me down by conflating me with someone you have a beef with?

        Ok, what I said upset you and now you're crying over spilled milk and thus validating my claim that the far left are incapable of holding a civil debate.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 10:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's what happens. First they come for me, then you...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2017 @ 11:50pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You have your answer. Yes, they will shut down anyone that they cannot debate. Standard fare for fascists.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 1:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            You mean like the guy trying to have this site shut down because he can't stand the criticism that he might not have invented email?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 2:43am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Oh the apples and oranges fallacy...Yeah, the alt-left on this site and copyright trolls do have a lot in common.

              Mainly, they both have bogus arguments.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 2:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Interesting that you said "might not" and you did not say "did not". I guess even you understand he "might have".

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                The Wanderer (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:48am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Oh, he didn't.

                But it seems clear to me (based on the things I've seen it indicated that he's said) that he also can't stand seeing it suggested that he even might not have done so, much less that he didn't.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
                  identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:56am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Tell me if I am right or not: You base your opinion upon what you have seen published and not censored right here on Techdirt. There is undeniable bias here, proven by silent censorship with no explanation. Half the time I click on the "Click here to show it" it doesn't even work.

                  The bias here is huge, and any opinion someone forms from reading this blog is tainted with the legacy of censorship and hated that is promoted by this closed society.

                  This is a small, closed, censored society that passes itself as an open society falsely. It is a sham and you can pretty much assume anything promoted here is false, since they are too weak to even respond to questions.

                  So, the only thing that is "clear" in this forum is the censorship. Just look above. Whole groups of innocuous questions that are silenced. Simple questions about editorial policy and moral values. I have never seen an editor that is so reluctant to publicly express his views. Most editors are very outspoken.

                  The only voice that is clearly from the editor (above) is the censoring. Strange, no? To promote a blog as having interesting material, and silence the public response to that material. Never to respond to questions, just to lurk in the background and exercise editorial policy by hiding posts. Creepy, isn't it?

                  I wouldn't trust anything here, about Shiva or anyone else.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 5:33am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Tell me if I am right or not:

                    Not.

                    That was easy.

                    Thanks for playing!

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 8:15am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I base my opinion on what Mike said in his posts about Shiva and email, including the many links in those posts. I also base my opinion on the court documents (yes, I’ve read them. Have you?).

                    I don’t base my opinion on your rantings, hidden or not. And if you can’t get the “Click here to show” to work, then you are not clicking on the link.

                    And as has been explained to your numerous times, the hidden posts are hidden by the community, not by any “editor” and are available for anyone to read, with a single click, assuming you are capable of clicking on a link.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 10:39pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                No, what I'm suggesting is that Shiva is so thin-skinned that any suggestion that diminishes the possibility of him inventing email in his head sends him into such a furious rage he lashes out wildly, with plentiful usage of the vulgar language you seek to criticize Techdirt for.

                Just like you.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    obarthelemy (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 2:54am

    What about making lies illegal ?

    A nontrivial part of hate speech is factual lies and baseless theories, often peppered with defamation.
    Wouldn't a first step be making that actionable ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 3:01am

      Re: What about making lies illegal ?

      I think the first step would be to give each other mutual respect, and acknowledge to each other our mutual right to speak. Free Speech, in others words. The first step is supporting Free Speech, which Techdirt does not, by demonstration.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:20am

        Re: Re: What about making lies illegal ?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:43am

          Re: Re: Re: What about making lies illegal ?

          This is a very petty analysis without any reference to the morality of censoring speech or the effect on society. It's the kind of legal analysis I would expect from a Clinton. Are you Bill or Hillary Clinton, or are you working for them? You sure sound like them. Crooked, I mean, You sound crooked.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:09am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What about making lies illegal ?

            Morality does not come into play when someone decides to not listen. No one has an obligation to listen, no matter how much you wish that expressing yourself means another person must listen to you.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jonathan Vick, 28 Aug 2017 @ 4:58am

    Opposing hate is free speech too

    The principle of free speech does not mean only allowing hate to be heard. The ability to speak out and act against hate must also be preserved.


    https://loadedmouse.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-free-speech-differential.html?m=1

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:34am

      Re: Opposing hate is free speech too

      And by "hatred", you mean your hatred, not someone else's hatred, right? The posts above were silenced because someone hated them. No one knows who or why. Unexplained hatred is normal in your world, or not?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:35am

    Most of the comments here are based on the ultimate straw man, and most don't even recognize it.

    The word Nazi gets thrown around a lot, and a few douchbags here in the US call themselves Nazi's. Ummm, that doesn't make them Nazi's. If I call myself a bear, I am not a bear (and bears couldn't type this well because their claws would keep hitting the wrong key. This is a fact, unless anyone has even seen a bear type and can prove it.)

    Jews should be offended of all the talk of Nazi's in today's world. Everyone else should be too. Yes, I understand they call themselves Nazi's (and how many of them are there actually? A couple of hundred showed up in Virginia, they came from around the country.) They are not Nazi's, at least in the way most people think of Nazi's.

    Today, everyone is called a Nazi, and I think it really lessens what actually happened during World War II, and I think that could be a very dangerous thing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:06am

      I'm afraid I can't stop seeing the possessive.

      Each time you use it, I think of someone not identifying as a Nazi (neo-nazi, white supremacist, white nationalist: there's a lot of cross section between each) but as someone belonging to a Nazi. Like I'm the Nazi's attaché, (which doesn't make me a Nazi, myself.)

      But then, I think you also have bears wrong. I suspect plenty of bears are typing away right this moment.

      Regarding the Godwinian faux pas. These aren't Nazis but nazis. And they're pretty nazi for nazis, so I think it's okay to call them nazis.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:10am

        Re: I'm afraid I can't stop seeing the possessive.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:28am

          Re: Re: I'm afraid I can't stop seeing the possessive.

          I believe that he is wrong.

          Comparing these douchbags to Nazi's is like comparing Aaron Judge to Babe Ruth. Now if you compared Barry Bonds to Babe Ruth, I would listen. Judge is just a joke because it is too soon.

          Comparing these douchbags to the KKK maybe, Nazis no.

          Here is something that isn't really being covered, and that is a lack of response from police. In Virginia, reports were that the police almost pushed the 2 groups together and then left when violence broke out. We saw a non response at Berkley.

          Is our government using groups like Antifa for political reasons? Using Antifa for silencing groups they don't want to hear from?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:09am

    Virginia is for lovers

    And to show that, let it be known to all the people from out of state coming here to incite violence:

    We will be stenciling that logo on any car or bus with foreign plates, anywhere near the next such rally, with paint stripper.

    Have a nice day, and drive safely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:46am

    Funny, headline "Black-Clad Anarchists Swarm Anti-Hate Rally in Berkeley".

    Nazi's? Ummm, a transsexual organized a anti-Marxist rally but cancelled because of fear of Antifa. So now being anti-Marxist turns you into a Nazi?

    Oh, and a quote from the article "Berkeley Police Chief Andrew Greenwood said officers were told not to actively confront the anarchists. He applauded officers' restraint, saying it forestalled greater violence. Six people suffered injuries, including two who were hospitalized, and one officer was injured while making an arrest and several others were hit with paint."

    So now our police are supporting anti-government Marxists? Where is the militarized police (like we saw in Ferguson) when you need them? I guess they only let those guys loose on black people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 7:54am

      Re:

      Police officers deciding not to confront agitators so that greater violence would not be provoked does not amount to “support” for anyone, regardless of political ideology. Besides, the police breaking out their paramilitary gear and going HAM on protestors would have turned said protestors into martyrs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Calvin (profile), 28 Aug 2017 @ 9:20am

    We need a consistent way for individuals to show disapproval of articles

    Social Media sites often allow reader to enter a 'thumbs up' or 'clap' to show approval of articles, some even allow you to vote multiple times to show your level of appreciation.
    What is not so common is allowing you to enter a sign of disapproval.
    What we need to become common is the 'thumbs down' or 'boo' icon where you can register disapproval of an article.
    If we couple this with the ability for an individual user to 'block' a particular author or authors we then have a system that puts the power where it belongs; in the hands of the individual users.
    This would give the needed level of granularity whereby a user could show disapproval of individual articles or shun an author completely.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 9:26am

    Perfect, and EPIC becomes reality.

    EPIC stores and categorizes not only news, but the demographics, political beliefs, and consumption habits of every user. At its best, EPIC is "a summary of the world—deeper, broader and more nuanced than anything ever available before ... but at its worst, and for too many, EPIC is merely a collection of trivia, much of it untrue." EPIC is so popular that it triggers the downfall of the New York Times, which goes offline and becomes "a print newsletter for the elite and the elderly."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:05pm

    Techdirt would not survive without censorship

    Witness the censorship above. How many posters kept silent after seeing how Techdirt censors post? I kept silent, I am sure there were many more. Criticism without engagement, the tool of Hitler and Mussolini, and Techdirt.

    There would be no Techdirt, absent censorship. Techdirt would be overrun with good ideas from moral people, instead of the small group of supremacist haters that control it.

    Techdirt is defined by it's censorship. Sad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 6:51pm

      Re: Techdirt would not survive without censorship

      It is only in this sad, oppressive domain that the dispute with Shiva could have taken the form it took. Really, who talks like that and who writes like that, and who condemns strangers like that, outside a small group of hate groups? And how to hate groups survive? Censorship, which IMHO is the opposite of Free Speech. Nazis and facials were the same, just like you.

      What a small, nasty, fearful society you are, Techdirt, with no alternative but to silence your critics. Never to respond to questions about your values. Never to explain your editorial policy. Instead, to hide in your underground bunker, letting your minions spread sh*t on good upstanding people like Shiva.

      You want to argue your right to free speech as the justification for your hateful speech about Shiva? Your right to free speech, but not my or his right to free speech, right on the forum you control. How do you know I am not Shiva? You don't. Maybe I am. Maybe I have been all along. Maybe I just enjoy watching you twist in the wind with your ridiculous justifications for hatred and condemnation.

      Maybe not, who really knows? The only hard evidence is your censorship, which is now even further documented in public.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Aug 2017 @ 11:09pm

    Come on, this is legitimate

    https://xkcd.com/1357/

    This is a very petty analysis without any reference to the morality of censoring speech or the effect on society. It's the kind of legal analysis I would expect from a Clinton. Are you Bill or Hillary Clinton, or are you working for them? You sure sound like them. Crooked, I mean, You sound crooked.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 11:09am

      Re: Come on, this is legitimate

      Weird. So the xkcd you link to notes that it's fine for platforms to censor... and yet your text appears to attack the author (with a very weird ad hominem) for explaining why it's okay for platforms to refuse service. What is your actual point?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Aug 2017 @ 4:17pm

      Not a difficult concept

      If you can't understand a simple concept such as 'private platforms are under no obligation to provide their platform for your use if they don't want to' I'm not going to waste my time explaining it to you again.

      If you want to show people what free speech 'really' means, provide a shining beacon for all to admire, by all means create your own platform without any filters or moderation, where you can post your own content and where you let anyone post whatever they want. Really show everyone how it's done.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 12:37am

    Definition of Fake News

    When you combine censorship, posters with false identities that post nasty content that actually are paid by Techdirt, and unending hatred of American values and American morals, the result should be illegal. No doubt it is immoral, unethical, and deceptive. Fake News, no doubt.

    Anyone who is harmed by this combination of despicable totalitarianism and editorial fakery should be recompensed several times over for the damages they suffered.

    Right, Shiva? Oh, I forgot, you are censored here, as well as any one that supports you.

    Buckle up, Mike, it's going to be a bumpy ride. I just heard Trump single out your date Chelsea for public criticism. You have all the wrong friends, and it will come back to haunt you, I guarantee it. And soon.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 6:53pm

      Re: Definition of Fake News

      No amount of "hoping" or "shoulding" is going to magically make criticism illegal. You'd think someone who claims to espouse and champion American rights would realize this, but you've already proven yourself incapable of keeping track of the garbage you spew.

      Shiva isn't harmed. If Shiva wasn't harmed he wouldn't be capable of going on an expensive litigation campaign precisely designed to win out a war by attrition, merely by virtue of having more resources. Case in point? His political career, which you use as evidence of his superiority. That's supposed to be "harmed"? Give me a break.

      So much for your claim of "I heard that even Shiva is reconsidering his criticism of Techdirt. Now that the censorship of Americans has stopped, maybe he will drop his lawsuit too."

      Take your patents and shove it up where your magical forest fairies don't shine.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 7:36pm

        Re: Re: Definition of Fake News

        I like you, you have an interesting voice. Unfortunately, my comments no longer appear at all, Techdirt has silenced my IP address altogether. Which is what I wanted, of course, but it also silences my appreciation of my critics, an unforeseen cost. Anyway, thanks for sharing and helping me to prove my point.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Aug 2017 @ 10:30pm

        Re: Re: Definition of Fake News

        I think you may have broken one of the Techdirt Editorial Imperatives: NEVER RESPOND TO HIDDEN COMMENTS.

        You will be next, if you don't stop immediately. You IP will be blocked and everything you write will disappear, maybe forever (who knows?)

        Just saying - totalitarianism for everyone, or no one at all

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Aug 2017 @ 10:35pm

          Re: Re: Re: Definition of Fake News

          I'll respond to both your messages, obviously from the same person using multiple IP addresses.

          Firstly, what happened was you managed to get your IP address flagged as a spammer. Which isn't surprising; what's actually surprising it didn't happen sooner. Funny story, apparently posting comments in rapid succession of each other, especially to yourself, is widely considered spamming by every single online platform that exists.

          In addition to the point about the first message, here's a tip: saying "my comments no longer appear at all" is absolutely meaningless if I can see it. What it means is that you admit to being a spamming jerk, and are also willing to do so by changing your IP address. (Which I would also add is considered under some interpretations of the CFAA to be breaking the law, which you copyright, patent and Trump-types support. So yeah, you broke the law of your glorious leader, who you have dreams about. Choke on that, Hamilton.)

          To the second message, there is no such thing as a Techdirt Editorial Imperative, which is why people engage you. Also because watching you flail in your perpetual idiocy is mildly entertaining; you get to be disproven that your comments are deleted, and you get to be disproven that nobody responds to them. Twice the wrong for one comment. It's a bargain!

          And as for your sad little threat, sure, go ahead. That's the end goal for Shiva Ayyadurai, isn't it? Unlike you, I'm not misguidedly arrogant enough to believe everything I write deserves to be recorded for all posterity. But you? Given how much weight you put into your precious Massachusetts, magical tigers and forest fairies and all, when your hero Shiva takes down this website, all of your glorious, self-righteous commentary goes with it.

          Hell, given that you continue to spam the site from other IP addresses anyway, having your IP address blocked is clearly not significant. And thanks for confirming that Shiva's plan of shutting the site down is totalitarianism in your eyes.

          Think about it, just make sure there's a bucket of water handy to dunk your head in after the garbage disposal you call a brain starts to overheat.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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