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VDARE Fights Blocking By Censorware 278

Posted by Zonk
from the fighting-inconvenience-with-inconvenience dept.
Bennett Haselton writes "The anti-immigration site VDARE is publicizing the fact that it has been blocked as a 'hate site' by several Internet blocking programs, although some of them backed off and un-blocked it after receiving a letter from VDARE's lawyer. Since blocking software is bound to remain in use in most public schools for the foreseeable future, this raises the question: Is it possible for a blocking company to define a 'hate site' in a consistent way, without including conservative groups that might file a First Amendment lawsuit if their sites were blocked from public school computers? See what VDARE says about the content on their own site, and how blocking software companies have handled this issue in the past and what they might do this time." This is the first in a series of article by Bennett Haselton, writing for us from the Peacefire group. Read on for the rest of his piece.
The anti-immigration site VDARE.com is publicizing the fact that their site is blocked as a "hate site" by several different blocking programs. They don't name the programs, although they say that four companies used to block VDARE and "backed off after receiving a lawyer's letter".

It seems to be working, since according to the online lookup forms provided by WebSense, N2H2, SurfControl and SmartFilter, only SmartFilter lists the site under "hate speech"; the rest either don't categorize it or list it in innocuous categories. (N2H2 lists it as "Web Page Hosting/Free Pages", which makes no sense -- but not only that, N2H2 is now owned by the same company that makes SmartFilter, which means the company has VDARE listed one way in one product, and a different way in another.)

VDARE says they decided that showing legal muscle was a good way to get unblocked, after reading about an experiment Peacefire did in which we found that censorware companies would block sites with anti-gay content when they thought the sites were run by individuals, but would not block the *exact same content* when it was hosted by "mainstream" groups like Focus on the Family. Concludes VDARE: "The obvious reason for the double standard is that the foundations have lawyers on staff, and volunteer lawyers, and the Censorware companies are afraid of them." True -- although we did nominate AFA.net as a "hate site" at about the same time, and it did get blocked by Cyber Patrol, so it is possible if the content is extreme enough.

I'm against blocking VDARE, even from people under 18, but only because I'm against such blocking in general. Polls show that most people under 18 are more liberally-minded about race than their parents, suggesting that if you want to end racism, give minors more rights and freedom of information, not less. There was a big flap when it came out that in some Islamic schools in New York, parents had their children taught with textbooks which said that "the Jews killed their own prophets" and "you will find them ever deceitful", but without more civil rights for people under 18 to seek information for themselves, there's not much that anybody can do about it.

But as for whether VDARE really should be listed as a "hate site", the site owner himself says that VDARE is not "white nationalist", but adds, "We also publish on VDARE.COM a few writers, for example Jared Taylor, whom I would regard as 'white nationalist'". Well even if VDARE itself claims not to be 'white nationalist', if they host white nationalist writings, it's still accurate to classify the site as a place where such content is located. VDARE itself is also listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. VDARE's founder insists they are merely anti-immigration, not white nationalist, although he admits he once thought about adding a chapter to his anti-immigration book Alien Nation about the "last white family" (not the "last non-illegal-immigrant family") to leave Los Angeles.

Like BoingBoing.Net did before them, VDARE is retaliating against the block by encouraging people to learn how to get around blocking software. I wonder if they looked closely at our site first, since we fight censorship from the point of view of advocating greater civil rights for minors, which would probably not be a popular view with VDARE's ultra-conservative base. And if that's not enough, I'm planning to contact WebSense, SurfControl, and any other company that doesn't currently list VDARE as a "hate site", and ask them why not. So, VDARE sends us traffic, and this is how we repay them.
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VDARE Fights Blocking By Censorware

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  • New category (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Merovign (557032) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:31PM (#16508691)
    They simply need a new category "political controversy" that people can optionally block, for items/sites where it's subjective to label them as "hate."

    There is a historical pattern of the "hate" bans leaning "a certain way," if you know what I mean, and with a broad brush. Some sites are also the target of campaigns to have them labeled as "hate" by political opponents.

    I don't think VDARE would be able to argue that they don't foster political controversy, though I'm sure the new category would elicit some argument. I used to follow links there from time to time, and while I would categorize them as "strident" I don't think I could honestly condemn them as a "hate" site, anymore than (and probably less than) I could CNN or Reuters.

    One of the biggest problems with blocking is that definitions of "offensive" vary from person to person.
    • Re:New category (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:50PM (#16508949) Journal
      One of the biggest problems with blocking is that definitions of "offensive" vary from person to person.
      Not that I'm condemning VDARE in particular, but how many sites are going to admit to promoting Hate Speech? One example is their 'white nationalist' author they publish every now and then. 'White nationalist' [wikipedia.org] is code for "I hate everyone who isn't white, they're ruining my country, etc"

      I agree that a new category would be a perfect solution.

      Throw everyone with a militant opinion (whether it is "save the trees" or "i hate spics") and let the individual network admins sort out what they do and don't like.

      P.S. Just so that we're all working from the same definitions, here is what wikipedia has to say about hate speech [wikipedia.org]
      "Hate speech is a controversial term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, moral or political views, etc."

      If you disagree with that definition, feel free to say why, but "because I disagree" or "people are overly sensitive" isn't a valid response.

      P.P.S. Political/Nationalist extremists are just as bad as the religious fundies.
      • Re:New category (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Cal Paterson (881180) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:01PM (#16509077)
        Hate speech is still speech.
        • Re:New category (Score:4, Informative)

          by DragonWriter (970822) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:47PM (#16510417)
          Hate speech is still speech.


          Most masterial identified in a category available for blocking by censorware is speech, and many categories are entirely, or mostly, 1st Amendment protected material.
      • by dangitman (862676)
        "save the trees"

        How is that a "militant" position?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        "Hate speech is a controversial term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, moral or political views, etc."

        If you disagree with that definition, feel free to say why, but "because I disagree" or "people are overly sensitive" isn't a valid response.

        I disagree because the definition itself is an immensely

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Nephilium (684559)

          Best story about boneheads I ever heard was about a group of SHARPS (SkinHeads Against Racial Prejudice) that went to Chicago for a KKK rally... they had ridden on their scooters, and parked on the street right in front of the podium... the cops came up to them and told them that they couldn't park *their*, however they could park on the sidewalk right next to the podium... so there they sat... revving their engines everytime the guy started ranting...

          Of course... before they arrived, they removed all th

      • slashdot=hate speech (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:29PM (#16509437)
        One of the largest (mostly) completely rabid atheist sites out there. Yep, right here. You just did it! YOU. You obviously hate "religious fundies" because that is a deragotory term the way you used it, you "hate" folks because of their religion! HAHAHAHAH! gotcha! No wiggling, admit it!

          See how this works? Constant attacks on religion of all types, and as extreme as it gets, complete with stuff pretty close to threats..I've seen it here. Hate speech? Looks like it to me following this dubious "logic". Is it cool to block slashdot?

            How about those "everything hispanic is just so damn cool" sites, the bronze warrior aztlan overlord la raza reconquista sites?(despite them all wanting to move here and theior own nations are cesspools) Are they being blocked by these softwares? They go so far as to want to kill off all the whites in the south west US, I've read some on their sites, I've seen pics of posters some of them have carried at rallies, complete with graphical representations of white folks with their heads cut off by bronze warrior machetes.. Blocked? Are they? The US attorney general is a member of a hispanic separatist organization! I have seen quite a bit of "hate speech" there at those sites following these strict guides. How about Free Republic and D.U.? You honestly want to say you (anyone you, not being specific at all) haven't seen a variety of "hate speech" there?

        And so on.

        Here's some reality. You have to be 100% pro gay or be classed as a hater. You have to be 100% zionist and pro everything israel does or you are a "hater" (that's a HUGE one in this society, go on, admit it) You have to be 100% pro ultra radical feminism or you are a hater. You have to either bend over and spread 'em with a smile on your face for clinton or bush or you are a hater. And so on.

        There's a HUGE list, and if you look close EVERYONE ON THE PLANET has some semblence of "hate speech" naughty thoughts and the occassional "hate" scribble or "hate" utterences, so let's just block everything and go back to living in caves and grunting. Then instead of hate speech we can engage in mass "club love" and be "sharing" with the "multicultural" neighbors.

        As to the original example in the article, it appears you can be pro anything, anything at all, any other race or tribe or ethnicity, other than having european heritage in your family tree. Then that becomes "hate speech".

        Screw that, screw "current political correctness"..because that is the root of all hate. Want to see the simply best possible examples of the most intolerant and bigoted people on the planet, just in general terms, I mean just raw extremism, no matter the subject being discussed, where there exists only black and white but never the shades of gray? Go to any university and watch the young folks there when they discover politics.

        Been there, done that,guilty as charged. Learn from history and learn from the mistakes of youth, because YOU will be making them, a lot of them. You just won't see it for many years, that's all.
        • by wall0159 (881759) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:42PM (#16510353)
          "watch the young folks there when they discover politics"

          In general, young people tend to have more extreme views than older people. That's why societies with a larger proportion of young people tend to have more radical governments (and why Western governments are becoming more conservative as their populations get older). Young people are also more impressionable. (my opinion - unsubstantiated)

          I think freedom of speech is a really difficult (yet important) issue. It's certainly *not* as simple as "everyone should be able to say whatever they want."

          "You have to be 100% pro gay or be classed as a hater."

          I'm not sure what pro gay actually means, but from the examples you cite I gather there are many aspects of political correctness that you do not agree with. P.C. does need to be recognised as an agenda, whether or not you agree with it (personally, I think it has some good and bad aspects). It's agenda could probably be described as "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything," which is probably a bit simplistic, but if everyone practiced it would probably result in a more harmonious society.

          A big problem facing our society is lack of respect and manners, and if people were a little more tolerant, and a little less quick to point the finger ("How about those "everything hispanic is just so damn cool" sites") I reckon that'd go a long way.

          I suggest you chill out a bit. There are problems with what people say. Israel ain't perfect, Hispanics ain't perfect, the West (whatever that means) ain't perfect. Let's accept that, and not get too hung up on the minority of dickheads in each society - how's that sound? :-)
      • Re:New category (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh (216268) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:13PM (#16509989)
        "Hate speech is a controversial term for speech intended to degrade, intimidate, or incite violence or prejudicial action against a person or group of people based on their race, gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, moral or political views, etc."

        According to this, Slashdot and many other web forums are just filled with "hate speech", since they constantly have comments like "Bush sucks", "neocon", "liberal", etc. In fact, just about any political speech these days could be considered "hate speech" according to this definition, since political viewpoints are so polarized.
      • Re:New category (Score:5, Insightful)

        by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:18PM (#16510039) Homepage
        Well the first problem with that definition is the 'etc..' Is a site which tells kids not to be friends with people who have shaved heads a hate site? After all it advocates prejudice based on hair style so it boils down to what you want to include in the etc.

        Secondly, as this situation illustrates, many views that people regard as racist don't facially demand unequal treatment. I think we would all recognize a site that called for seperate schooling for children of different races as endorsing prejudice even though it is cast as a neutral policy. You might try to argue that any site demanding people be seperated based on race or similar categories is inherently prejudicial but this won't fly either. After all a website that advocated seperate sex schooling on the grounds that boys and girls distract each other from learning could be non-prejudiced despite calling for seperation based on sex.

        Ultimately the issue is that 'prejudicial' is a subjective standard. Something is prejudicial if it call for unwarranted different treatment of one group or another. For instance most people don't think calling for adult men who have sex with 13 year olds to be sent to jail is prejudiced. However we do think that calling for adult men who have sex with other men to be sent to jail would be prejudiced. The difference being that in the first case we think having sex with a 13 year old warrants being treated differently but having sex with another man does not.

        This is ultimately why I detest restrictions on hate speech. It boils down to nothing but a list of positions that the society has deemed to be sufficently distasteful. While I happen to agree that most positions now deemed hate speech are horrible I am firmly against society imposing it's judgement through censorship or legal enforcement.
    • They simply need a new category "political controversy" that people can optionally block, for items/sites where it's subjective to label them as "hate."

      It would be better to name that catagory "dissent". Then people would know exactly what they were blocking.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jmorris42 (1458) *
      > They simply need a new category "political controversy" that people can optionally block, for items/sites
      > where it's subjective to label them as "hate."

      No need, everybody with a clue understands that "hate speech" is newspeak for "disagrees with liberal orthodoxy" because it certainly doesn't have anything to do with supressing "hate". Go look at ANY website where 'progressives' (also known as liberals (US), Democrats, socialists depending on country and audience) hang out. Hate will drip from th
    • Censorware developers aren't in any position to define what constitutes hate speech, since it's such an amazingly flexible and murky concept. Also, from the post (off-topic I guess):

      There was a big flap when it came out that in some Islamic schools in New York, parents had their children taught with textbooks which said that "the Jews killed their own prophets" and "you will find them ever deceitful", but without more civil rights for people under 18 to seek information for themselves, there's not much that

    • I just tested the site against my Blue Coat proxy and it finds Vdare.com to be a 'Political/Activist Site'. That doesn't seem too unobjectionable...

  • by bunions (970377) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:34PM (#16508725)
    Ok, sure, we got the net nanny stuff blocking things it maybe should and maybe shouldn't, and we can have that debate for the 47th time. But do we need the giant screed about whether these people are white supremacists or not? Shouldn't that have been, oh, I dunno, edited out? By someone whose job it is to edit things? Like some kind of an editor? And why is there this weird aside about some Islamic textbook thing wedged in there?

    I mean, I don't know what the article-publishing mechanism is. I wouldn't imagine you'd design it as just a button labeled "Publish" and no edit controls, but I don't really see any evidence to the contrary.
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by michrech (468134)
      Ok, sure, we got the net nanny stuff blocking things it maybe should and maybe shouldn't, and we can have that debate for the 47th time. But do we need the giant screed about whether these people are white supremacists or not? Shouldn't that have been, oh, I dunno, edited out? By someone whose job it is to edit things? Like some kind of an editor? And why is there this weird aside about some Islamic textbook thing wedged in there?

      I mean, I don't know what the article-publishing mechanism is. I wouldn't imag
      • by bunions (970377)
        > What do you expect from Bennett Haselton?

        Nothing. I do expect something from the /. editors.


        ...



        Yeah, ok, I know, but still.

      • by logicnazi (169418)
        Sounds like a great idea to me!

        We restrict parent's rights to beat their children, make them work too much and otherwise harm their children. We should treat their attempts to brain wash their children into accepting whatever ideolgy (religion, social views whatever) by blocking their children's access to information exactly the same way.

        I don't see what your issue is. The government routinely prevents parents from harming their children and the sad truth of it is that blocking software is often used by m
    • by dangitman (862676)
      But do we need the giant screed about whether these people are white supremacists or not? Shouldn't that have been, oh, I dunno, edited out?

      Why should it have been edited out? Surely it is extremely relevant to the question of whether they are a "hate" site or not. Isn't it really the crux of the issue?

      • by bunions (970377)
        Since when is that a relevant discussion to have on slashdot? How is that 'news for nerds'?
        • by dangitman (862676)
          Well it is news. Nerds read it. Therefore, it's news for nerds. More to the point, how is it not news for nerds? Who are you to say what is allowed to be discussed on slashdot?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bunions (970377)
            I'm sorry, I must have missed the point when slashdot became a discussion board for issues of general interest. I was under the impression it was for discussion of issues relating to science and technology.

            I look forward to further slashdot articles such as "Ask Slashdot: What knitting needles are best for sweaters?" and "Everybody Loves Raymond Picked Up for Nth Season".
            • by dangitman (862676) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:49PM (#16509711)
              I'm sorry, I must have missed the point when slashdot became a discussion board for issues of general interest.

              Of course you missed it, because it has always been that way.

              I was under the impression it was for discussion of issues relating to science and technology.

              No. It's "News for Nerds." Nerds are interested in more than just science and technology.

              By the way, how could you miss the technology angle? This is about how the use of technology impacts society, and the ethical questions surrounding technology. Sounds like perfect nerd/technology discussion fodder to me.

              I look forward to further slashdot articles such as "Ask Slashdot: What knitting needles are best for sweaters?" and "Everybody Loves Raymond Picked Up for Nth Season".

              Yeah, because the internet will run out of space if slashdot posts too many articles. Oh noes! Somebody is interested in reading something that you don't approve of!

              • by bunions (970377)
                > By the way, how could you miss the technology angle? This is about how the use of technology impacts society, and the ethical questions surrounding technology.

                That's fine, like I said, we can have that discussion for the 47th time. But the weird tangents the submitter goes off on (the islamic textbook bit is relevant how?) are what I object to.

                > Oh noes! Somebody is interested in reading something that you don't approve of!

                Don't be insulting. My objection is to complete lack of editorial effort.
                • by sholden (12227)

                  But the weird tangents the submitter goes off on (the islamic textbook bit is relevant how?) are what I object to.

                  It's an example of why censoring content is bad for society - it removes one way people can actually learn a viewpoint different from their parent's/school's.

                  At least I think that's what it was trying to be - it seems a pretty stupid example but there you go...

                  I'd appreciate it if the editors did more than simply blindly pass the press release along.

                  So you choose an article that isn't just a pre

                • by dangitman (862676)
                  Don't be insulting. My objection is to complete lack of editorial effort.

                  Welcome to slashdot! You can always read a literary journal, or peer-reviewed journal if you want a robust editorial process.

                  • by bunions (970377)
                    > robust

                    I suppose you're right, but I'd really settle for "some sort of attempt at"
    • by logicnazi (169418)
      Maybe you missed the point but the islamic textbook thing is a valid argument on the point.

      Generally people object to the view that filtering is a bad thing by saying that parents should have the right to decide what their children are exposed to. This example demonstrates the danger of that response.

      If parents have a right to decide what their children are exposed to then radical islamic parents have the right to make sure their children are only exposed to views that portray jews as decietful manipulator
  • by Doctor Memory (6336) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:36PM (#16508757)
    might file a First Amendment lawsuit if their sites were blocked
    What? If their site were dropped by an ISP, they might have a case, but I don't think they have much of a case if it's blocked. Their site is up, people can get to it, just not from some schools. It's like radio stations that refuse to broadcast Howard Stern — he's still free to make his show, they just choose to not distribute it.

    I see no rights violation here.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I think it comes into play when the list is used by public entities, such as schools. The use public money and they are an arm of the government, hence the opening for a First Amendment challenge (at least, in the current status where the First Amendment applies to any decision by a publicly funded entity and not just laws passed by Congress). The question is, should each school be sued or should the list making company? Seems a little fishy to go after the company, even if many blocklist companies' prac
      • by merreborn (853723)
        There's no such thing as free speech on a public school campus. I was suspended for handing out fliers (the sole purpose of which was entertainment) on campus, as a student, without permission during my highschool days.

        Sure, you can say anything you want, but they can (and will) kick you off campus any time they please.

        Similarly, if you can't require that schools carry every book in their libraries; how can you require that they allow students to view any website?

        The first ammendment has *nothing* to do wi
        • by logicnazi (169418)
          Another response nicely summarized the library point. I suspect the subtlty you are missing is that time/place restrictions on speech at schools are generally perfectly constitutional. What is not constitutional is to make content based restrictions on what speech is allowed at a school.

          If you were discipline because of the content of your fliers you probably had a good case. There are plenty of examples of schools violating the first ammendment and getting chastised for it and probably far more where th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259)
      What? If their site were dropped by an ISP, they might have a case

      I was under the impression that the constitution placed restrictions on the government; ISPs are private companies, and so surely can drop whatever site they like.

      I see no rights violation here.

      Indeed; the only potentially iffy aspect is that public institutions use these filters. However, surely the complaint would be against those institutions, not the filtering companies. The institutions can attempt to persuade the companies to modify the
  • It seems like all the blocked sites need to do is hire a lawyer, file a letter threatening lawsuit, and get a chance at being unblocked.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Unfortunately, not everyone can afford a lawyer.

      The first amendment isn't only supposed to apply to those with deep enough pockets to protect themselves.
  • by ChristTrekker (91442) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:40PM (#16508805)

    It's hard to be a pro-gun site and not be blocked, too. You need not necessarily be promoting violence or have any images of people even using guns, much less anything that's been shot by a gun. All you need to do is show guns positively and the blockers think, "Oh, horrors! Kiddies might go on a rampage!" and you're on the blacklist. Of course, anti-gun sites are fine, and get right through. Hard for a schoolkid to get any balanced information.

    If one is going to filter (let's just assume for the moment that filtering is inevitable), then one needs to distinguish between responsible sites that talk about the political issues involved and the ones that glorify the elements of that issue that some find unsavory. There's a big difference between NRA.org and WatchMeBlastEverythingThatMovesIntoBloodyPulp.net - you can't lump them together as "gun sites" and block both.

    • by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:58PM (#16509807)
      It's hard to be a pro-gun site and not be blocked, too.

      Yup. It's the one civil right that isn't politically correct.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by John Hasler (414242)
      > There's a big difference between NRA.org and
      > WatchMeBlastEverythingThatMovesIntoBloodyPulp.net
      > - you can't lump them together as "gun sites" and block both.

      But the anti-gun nuts really and truly cannot see any difference, any more than the "religious right" can see any difference between a gay porn site and a liberal site advocating tolerance for homosexuality.
  • by bigdavex (155746) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:40PM (#16508809)
    Since blocking software is bound to remain in use in most public schools for the foreseeable future, this raises the question: Is it possible for a blocking company to define a 'hate site' in a consistent way, without including conservative groups that might file a First Amendment lawsuit if their sites were blocked from public school computers?

    You mean it begs the question?

    Wait a minute . . .

    WTF! A Slashdot summary that gets it right? What next? Dogs and cats living together?

  • Wait a second... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:41PM (#16508819) Journal
    Who are we defending here...the website, or the filters?

    Because it seems to me that the companies filtering sites are the ones being trampled on by lawyers, forced by threat of litigation to back off their initial judgement that the page contained racist ideas. It sounds like it's THEIR rights being interfered with here.

    After a quick reading of a few things on the site, I'd say that if it's not racist, it teeters on the edge of it.
  • Not what I thought (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jaymzter (452402) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:41PM (#16508821) Homepage
    I was going to slam the submitter about their "anti-immigration" remark, which is usually weasel speak for characterizing anti-ILLEGAL immigration views. But what the hell, I put off the knee-jerk reaction and checked Wikipedia's VDARE entry [wikipedia.org] to see who these guys really are.
    They're not only anti-immigration (which is un-American IMHO), they sound like a bunch of racists. But should they be blocked?
    • by dangitman (862676)
      But should they be blocked?

      Well, I don't use blocking software, and I don't agree with censorship. But people choose to buy and use blocking products because they are into blocking and censorship. Surely they are free to block whatever they want, right? Ironically, is their right to censor a freedom of speech issue?

      If any particular group can sue for being blocked, then shouldn't all blocking software be shut down? Or more likely, shouldn't they be able to block whatever they please? Either blocking should

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Merovign (557032)
      Wait - you wonder about a controversy, so you go to WIKIPEDIA for ACCURATE information?

      I just wanted to get that clear.
    • by Bryansix (761547)
      They're not only anti-immigration (which is un-American IMHO), they sound like a bunch of racists. But should they be blocked?
      I think you need to clarify something. I know the website is anti-immigration but they are mostly anti-illegal-immigration. I would hope that you would agree that illegal immigration is not American in any way shape or form while legal immigration is what this country was founded upon.
      • by jaymzter (452402)
        Ok, I am against illegal immigration. What these guys want is to take immigration policy back to the 1920's and before, where white Northern Europeans should be allowed in, or should be highly preferred over anyone else. I find that un-American because it's not based on your ability to succeed, but where you were born. Clear enough?
  • to do something objectively that essentially a subjective task

    however, that doesn't mean:

    1. you should stop trying
    2. you should consider getting it perfect as your goal

    it is wrong to block a site that shouldn't be blocked

    it is also wrong to allow unfettered access to the web by kids in school

    but you can't stop doing one wrong without committing the other, so that there exists a tension between two perfectly valid goals, where you always have to be careful about what you block, mindful of the fact that no matter what you do, you won't get it perfect

    but there are a lot of people out there who are idealists, who believe that if you can't do something perfect, you shouldn't try to do it all. there are also a lot of people who are only capable of looking at wrongs completely out of context. in other words, they see a downside, a negative, but they don't understand that for some thankless challenges in life, there is a downside no matter what you do, and the goal is not get something upside, or even a wash, but to just minimize the downsides. and yet some people therefore:

    1. don't recognize the nature of the problem, and oppose an action just because a downside exists (nevermind that it is impossible for a downside not to exist for some problems in life)
    2. don't recognize that acting imperfectly in some problems beats not acting at all. but because they can't be perfect, they'd rather not act, but they only wind up compounding the problem, simply because of their idealism

    the fact that these tensions between two competing wrongs exist for some tasks in life doesn't mean you stop trying, but it does mean that you unfortunately must continually whether withering criticism from howling idealists who just don't understand the nature of the dilemna
  • I loved this bit:

    ...without including conservative groups that might file a First Amendment lawsuit if their sites were blocked from public school computers.

    I mean, it's the American Left that gets its way via the courts, since it can't achieve anything at the ballot box. Well, apart from Diebold conspiracy theories.

    Oh, and as a refection of the Slashdot demographic, I fully expect this post to be modded -1000000, Offtopic.
  • how a "First Amendment lawsuit" is relevant. As I understand, the First Amendment only restricts the government.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DRJlaw (946416)
      "[Please clarify] how a "First Amendment lawsuit" is relevant. As I understand, the First Amendment only restricts the government.

      It's conceivable that the organization could file lawsuits citing the First Amendment against public schools, public libraries, or other government entities that provide public internet access through a filter.

      It's far more likely that the organization would file lawsuits based on some form of defamation tort against the filtering businesses themselves, since "hate speech" does h
  • by Oddster (628633) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:51PM (#16508965)
    Any form of censoring inherently violates the right to free speech, for the simple reason that it is impossible to objectively define universally acceptable standards for censoring.

    For example, take something which we, for the most part, can equally identify: Pornography. Now define it. If you're reaching for a dictionary, note that it will use the word "obscene" or somesuch - a subjective, qualitative adjective. To make the impossible even harder on yourself, try to come up with a strict definition that would clearly differentiate pornography from nude art. You can't.

    There is a reason that former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart came up with the famous case-law definition of pornography: "I know it when I see it." I cannot think of a more ambiguous definition for something which we know so well, and if we can't even come up with a suitable definition for something so clear as pornography, how ever could we come up with a clear definition for anything else?
    • by dangitman (862676)
      No, private parties are free to censor. The First Amendment only makes it illegal for government to do.

      Otherwise, newspapers would be forced to publish every goatse picture that a reader sends them. In fact, every publication would be forced to publish every single thing submitted to them, and editors would be criminals. You'd also need a forklift to collect the daily (hourly?) newspaper.

      • by BrookHarty (9119)
        Censor no, Libel yes. Calling someone a racist just because you don't agree with their immigration policy.

        They are being sued for Libel calling them a hate speech site, which is well, kinda a black pot calling something something...
        • by dangitman (862676)
          So then, isn't libel law a violation of the First Amendment? After all, it is the government enforcing restrictions of freedom of Speech. Plus, I'd say that they were blocked because they are racist, not because someone disagrees with their immigration policy.
        • Censor no, Libel yes. Calling someone a racist just because you don't agree with their immigration policy.
          ...is nothing like libel, particularly if the reason you disagree with their immigration is because it seems to be racist.
  • VDARE's views... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by paladinwannabe2 (889776) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:54PM (#16508985)
    Taking time to read about them on their site, they do seem slighty rascist- but to quote Avenue Q [wikipedia.org], "Everybody's a little bit rascist". They aren't advocating killing other ethnicities, denying rights to hispanics, or anything illegal- they seem primarily concerned with enforcing existing immigration laws and supporting Free Speech rights of extremists. If having an extreme political view is cause for censorship, /. should be high on the ban list.
    • by dangitman (862676)
      If having an extreme political view is cause for censorship, /. should be high on the ban list.

      No shit. I guarantee you that slashdot is already blocked by many systems around the world. But I'm not sure why you say slashdot has an "extreme political view" - opinions are quite diverse and usually pretty moderate around here.

    • by bky1701 (979071)
      Maybe they just know better then to block a website full of lifeless nerds (me included). Normally the outcome of that is bad...
  • by BeeBeard (999187) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @05:59PM (#16509037)
    to characterize anti-immigration politics as racist? It's nothing but a patent, ad hominem rhetorical trick to try to change the subject from "Are U.S. immigration and naturalization policies sound?" to "Are people who want to change U.S. immigration and naturalization policies racists or not?" I am a liberal democrat and I'm fucking offended by it. It insults the intelligence of everyone who wants to have a rational debate about the immigration issue.
    • by Merovign (557032)
      But it works, which is all that counts in some circles.
    • > It insults the intelligence of everyone who wants to have a rational debate
      > about the immigration issue.

      Thereby insulting the intelligence of you and I and maybe three other people.
  • There is a lot of information here from the EFF on site blocking by censorware:

    http://www.eff.org/Censorship/Censorware/ [eff.org]

    Also some related links from ACLU and other groups.

    Transporter_ii

  • I wonder how they'd rate Charlie Johnson [www.littlegreenfootballs]'s Echo Chamber, along with the like minded sites. Hate works *both* ways, y'know.
  • by domenic v1.0 (610623) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @06:52PM (#16509751)
    Who's The Illegal Alien Now Pilgrim? [uga.edu]

    There goes my karma, but I don't care. The message that the image portrays speaks for itself. My ancestors were here first. Someone should tell these guys that.

    /Lives in Texas by the way...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ignis Flatus (689403)
      Well, if only things were so simple. Modern research is showing that the population of the Americas is more complicated than originally thought, with people migrating from both Europe and Asia. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/first/claimbonn.html [pbs.org]

      So which argument should we follow, "We were here first" or "We were here last"? Because you may not have been as first as you think you are, and hell, we're probably related anyway.
  • > Is it possible for a blocking company to define a 'hate site' in a consistent
    > way, without including conservative groups that might file a First Amendment
    > lawsuit if their sites were blocked from public school computers?

    The definition of "hate speech" is purely political, as evidenced by your evident inability to conceive of a "hate site" being associated with anything but "conservative" groups. Thus government-mandated blocking of "hate sites" is censorship.
  • by The Raven (30575) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @07:57PM (#16510535) Homepage
    Any kind of 'hate' speech is protected under the first amendment. I do not believe that schoolkids doing research should be blocked from any kind of protected speech, other than pornography. Even for porn, I'd classify it right with gaming and chat sites; nothing that will harm them, just a useless time waster when they should be learning.

    Political extremists, racism, zealotry... we should be exposing kids to this, and explaining why it is wrong; not hiding them from it to the point where they don't recognize it when they see it. My children shouldn't need to use the Internet at home to do their research.

    I am fundamentally opposed to limitations on speech. I believe that censorship is almost universally wrong, and suppression of ideas has no place in a school setting.

    Raven
  • Maddox's 2 cents (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kawahee (901497) on Thursday October 19, 2006 @08:00PM (#16510595) Homepage Journal
    Maddox has a commentary over here [thebestpag...iverse.net].
  • So elsewhere I have argued that parents shouldn't have the right to deny their children access to conflicting views. Just as we prevent parents from abusing their children, keeping them out of school stoping them from learning to read or similar harms we shouldn't allow parents to brainwash their children with their prejudices and stop them from hearing conflicting viewpoints. The radical islamic parents in the article are a good example of why we shouldn't let parents totally control what their children
  • observations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Friday October 20, 2006 @01:45AM (#16513057) Homepage
    A few observations:
    1. The Slashdot summary talks about "First Amendment lawsuits." Well, it's true that you can sue anybody for anything. You can sue someone for having a haircut you don't like. But that doesn't mean that a non-government entity can sue a non-government entity for violating its 1st amendment rights, and win. The first amendment says: "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." If somebody is interfering with your attempts to communicate, but that somebody isn't the federal government, then it's not a first amendment issue.
    2. By global standards, the U.S. is a paragon of free speech. European countries, for instance, have a lot of very Big Brotherish laws that prohibit things like holocaust denial, selling Nazi paraphernalia, etc.
    3. The whole thing is only a public policy issue in the U.S. because it involves the public schools. If it wasn't for that, then it would be purely a private, voluntary issue between an adult (a parent) and a company (the one selling the censorware). But if you think the biggest mind-control problem in the U.S. public schools is that they block certain web sites, you're out of your ****** mind. The public schools are instruments of social control. They're focused on turning out workers who can work in a cubicle or at an assembly line. They absolutely don't want kids to think too much about Columbus, or slavery, or genocide against native americans, or the Palmer Raids, or Vietnam, or the Cold War, or evolution, or the Big Bang, or the Crusades, or the Philippine-American War.

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

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