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Comment: Oi (Score 1) 226

by fyngyrz (#48929867) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

I was saying that it makes a lot of sense for Facebook not to allow pictures of Mohammad in Turkey. Just like they don't allow boobies in the USA.

It doesn't "make sense", it simply retards social progress by keeping neurotics from considering the darker corners of their own thought processes. I mean, seriously. "Boobies bad"? That's just... pitiful. I am perfectly ready to describe anyone who isn't pleased by the sight of a nice pair of boobies in any neutral, humorous, peaceful, appreciative or loving context as a broken human being. One for whom I have sympathy and pity, but in no way does this engender any urge to force the world into a form that serves to insulate them from the toxic processes of their own twisted psyches.

As for drawing Mohammad, your assertion that there is no purpose but offense is wrong out of the gate. Art is one reason, political commentary is another, historical illustration is another, simple choice is another, and yes, offense is one but that doesn't make it an invalid use.

Comment: Who says it serves no purpose? (Score 3, Insightful) 226

by fyngyrz (#48928309) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

What offends you may not offend me. And vice-versa. What serves no purpose for you, may serve a purpose for me. Be it intended offense, or otherwise, or both at once.

No one in the USA has the "right to not be offended." Being offended is subjective. It has everything to do with you as an individual, or as part of a particular group; it varies due to your moral conditioning, your religious beliefs, your upbringing, your education; what offends one person or group (of any size) may not offend another, nor a person of another grouping; and in the final analysis, it requires one person to attempt to read the mind of other persons they do not know in order to anticipate whether a specific action will cause offense in the mind of another.

And no, codifying an action in law is not in any way sufficient... it is well established that not even lawyers can know the law well enough to anticipate what is legal, and what is not -- any more than you can guess what is offensive to me, or not.

Sane law relies on the basic idea that we try not to risk or cause harm to the bodies, finances and reputations of others without them consenting and being aware of the risks. It does not rely on the idea that we "must not cause offense."

Law that bans something based upon the idea that some individual or group simply finds the behavior objectionable is the very worst kind of law, utterly devoid of consideration or others, while absolutely permeated in self-indulgence.

Comment: Re:But power corrupts (even if unintentionally) (Score 4, Interesting) 421

Interesting story. One of the things I find most reassuring about the police service* in the UK is that they have long maintained, great consistency and at almost any rank, that good community relations are the heart of good policing. Officers who go out on patrol** have consistently and overwhelmingly said they do not want to routinely carry firearms, because that goes against the basic principle of policing by consent, and instead they tend to assume that the solution to local problems often starts with trying to improve those relations if they are failing. Concerns are also raised often by the police themselves about the balance between having officers patrolling in vehicles for rapid response and having officers literally walking the beat and actually making contact with the public. I get the feeling that police officers in certain other parts of the world have a very, very different attitude to their relationship with the public.

*I remember well that when the local police schools liaison officer visited us, he made a point of saying he didn't like the term "police force" because it had the wrong connotations before you even started to look at what the police did.

**It's curious how often police officers and politicians in some places refer to officers "on the front line", this being about as overt a military metaphor as I can think of (short of being "on the front line in the war against $ABSTRACT_NOUN" I suppose).

Comment: Re:First they came for... (Score 2) 226

by fyngyrz (#48927551) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

what have you "won" exactly?

You "win" Turkish citizens annoyed with their government -- a win in the only venue likely to be able to create change there.

so you're for not opening diplomatic relations with cuba? we should just never ever ever reconcile or talk with cuba?

Diplomatic relations are not on the same level as corporate sponsorship of repression. Yes, we should talk to other governments, definitely including cuba, and yes, we should allow our citizens access if they wish to go there, and vice-versa.

But no, I don't think it is a positive thing when corporations adopt behavioral restrictions that are antithetical to freedom in general. It's not that I expect them to change, it's just that I don't like it, and as I am free to object and explain here, I do so.

we don't talk to iran? what is iran's attitude going to be then?

This is a straw man. I am all for talking to, and mutual visitation of, Iran (Cuba, etc.) These things allow cultural values to spread -- because generally, the dialog is quite open. I am not for FB repressing speech. These are not the same issues.

you are a dogmatic rigid ideologue

It's always entertaining to watch someone slinging mud at their own straw man.

If you want to know what I think, ask me. Don't put words in my mouth.

Comment: Re:Security is a yes/no question (Score 1) 421

The key point from an ethical/legal point of view might be the warrant. The key safeguard from a practical point of view is that to plant those bugs someone has to actually visit the site and do something. This requires time, effort, and a risk of getting caught, which means it's potentially an option if you really do have a good reason to consider a specific individual to be a threat but it's prohibitively expensive to spy on everyone all of the time. As far as defending democracy is concerned, that is a much healthier balance than mass surveillance of the many by the few.

Comment: They only come for the ad viewers (Score 2) 226

by fyngyrz (#48927447) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

the absence of facebook won't make those problems go away.

I missed addressing that; responded a bit too quickly, sorry.

I consider this assertion to be flawed; here's why. FB has a very high public profile. Any visitor to the US that is exposed to social media is likely to be aware of both the institution and its reach. They can also learn that the reason "they can't have nice things" is because their government has stepped in the way of their citizens using religion as an excuse. Likewise, US family members who cannot connect with Turkish family members are likely to hold strong opinions, and share them.

If anything is going to make things change, I think that's far more likely than a FB presence that is repression-compliant.

Of course, this would require Zuckerberg and crew to operate using a metric quite different from the "maximize users as ad viewers" model, and that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

Comment: Agreed (Score 2) 226

by fyngyrz (#48927347) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

There is an issue of State here, the Turkish State, requiring Facebook to filter and or creating at least the implied thread[sic] they will be blocked if they do not filter.

Yes. But it is, in fact, the Turkish state. Not the US state.

I agree with you that I don't like FB's policy here (nor Turkey's) and I would be much happier if FB operated with a lean towards freedom of speech, but that's never been who they were -- they mute, restrict and ban US posters on a regular and constant basis WRT written material and photographs, and they have inflicted their "Real Name" policy on members without regard for the numerous negative consequences.

The objective of FB is to sell ads they can put in the faces of their members. Those who describe members as FB's "product" seem to me to be very close to the mark. How they treat membership, then, can be expected to be the fruits of a policy to maximize the size of the group. And frankly, that's what I see when I look at their policies. Not care for quality, safety or freedom of speech -- just a place to farm ad consumers.

I suspect we're in a similar position to someone trying to tell a happy dictator that "absolute power is bad." It wastes our time and annoys the pig. Er, Zuckerman, I mean. But I repeat myself.

Comment: Re:First they came for... (Score 1) 226

by fyngyrz (#48926947) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

If gays were members in places with fundamentalist islam, as soon as they were discovered they would likely be killed.
Banning gays from facebook in those places actually protects them

Say I'm gay, I speak the language of Some Islamic State, and I live here in the US, and I have a FB page and otherwise post around FB. Facebook bans gays in Some Islamic State. They refuse to display my page or commentary in Islam.

Or just say I'm female, same set of circumstances otherwise.

This does not protect me, it only serves to eliminate gay/female voices. The consequences of that are fairly obviously negative to you, are they not?

This is also one of the consequences common to FB's "Real Name" policy. If you are a member of some forbidden or politically disadvantaged community, your speech is constrained. This simply serves to keep you down.

Comment: Re:When everyone is guilty... (Score 1) 421

All agreed, though I am increasingly of the view that systemic bias in favour of the accused is not sufficient. Merely being dragged through the legal system even if ultimately found not guilty is sure to be stressful, time-consuming, and possibly costly in more ways than one. People who have committed even quite serious crimes are sometimes released immediately after conviction on the basis that they've already served as much or more time than their sentence -- but of course, someone who was entirely innocent and not convicted in court also served that time. Right now you're unlikely to get much financial compensation for any of that, and even less any obligation for those who caused the damage to do anything else to set the record straight or otherwise make things right as much as possible.

The more I've thought about these kinds of issues as I get older, the more I think our modern "justice" systems are no longer fit for purpose, if indeed they ever were. In particular, they take an absurd amount of time and resources to deal with trivial infractions, sometimes at a cost to all involved that is far greater than any damage done by the alleged act itself. For major cases, the court proceedings can cost millions and drag on for years, and by the time they are finally over the result is no longer relevant anyway.

I think we would probably do much better if we built on the kinds of distinction we already make about severity: misdemeanour vs. felony in the US, magistrates vs. crown courts here in the UK, small claims courts with less formal procedures for minor civil disputes, and so on. For example, I don't see why any very minor offence can't be fully tried and a judgement made within a single court session and within a matter of days after the alleged infraction. Either there is clear evidence to convict, or you acquit. If you convict in a fast track procedure, you have strict limits on the level of penalty that can be imposed.

Then for repeated minor offences within some defined time period or for more serious crimes (probably anything including violence that allegedly caused significant injury and/or damage needing repairs exceeding a certain cost, for example) you can extend the timescales involved to a degree to allow for more careful preparation of the case, perhaps increase the degree of scrutiny in terms of magistrates vs. judge and jury and allow the use of expert witnesses, and so on.

Crucial to all of this, in my ideal world, would be the idea that there was also proper compensation for anyone brought through the system at any given level but not ultimately found guilty, making it not cost effective to bring cases in the first place without a reasonable expectation of a conviction. No doubt experienced lawyers could come up with much better ideas for the specific details of any such system, but I think the idea of having more well-defined tiers with strict limits on applicability and proportionate compensation arrangements is basically a sound one.

Comment: But power corrupts (even if unintentionally) (Score 3, Insightful) 421

I agree with your basic point about the need for balance. Of course there are bad people in the world and of course we need police and courts and the like.

I think the problem today is that many in our current political class don't recognise that need for balance so much as they see "them and us" and even start to forget whose side they are supposed to be on. The truly evil part of the situation is that this result seems almost inevitable. The people calling the shots are exactly the people who necessarily deal with the worst of humanity as part of their job. How could this not affect their perspective? They naturally want to trust their allies, who are the people who would be empowered under all these proposed security measures and aided by restrictions on the privacy and security of others. And of course being influential figures within the government, it is highly unlikely that they will personally ever find themselves on the wrong side of a government screw-up and unable to get the problem fixed very quickly.

I don't think these people are evil. On the contrary, I suspect most people in government, including their agents in the police and security services, are probably just normal people who have a job to do and who genuinely want to do the right thing. As with any large group, there will eventually be a few bad actors included as well and it is necessary to identify and contain them, but that isn't usually the main problem.

However, I do think we're talking about people who are heavily biased, even paranoid, because it would take a superhuman level of detachment not to be when you look at the kind of people they have to deal with at times. I also think in most cases they are ignorant about the technologies they are dealing with, and therefore unable to make rational, objective judgements about the likely effects of the technical measures they propose as policy. Finally, I think that the more senior these figures get within the government and its agencies, the more detached they tend to be from reality for average citizens and the more ignorant or dismissive they can become of how things tend to play out for innocent people in less privileged positions who are nevertheless caught up by the measures the politicians propose.

As the saying goes, power corrupts. It doesn't necessarily have to be malicious or intentional. Obviously in some cases it has been, but often I think the corruption is more of a slow but almost inevitable change in perspective caused by the situations you find yourself in when you have power to wield.

And so it is necessary for those who are looking from outside, those who don't spend disproportionate amounts of their time dealing with a particularly nasty minority of the human race, those who understand the technical issues, to speak out about what is happening and where it could lead. As with any issue of civilised government, in the long run you're going to get much further by educating people about relevant issues and promoting intelligent discourse than you are with wildly exaggerated rhetoric and extreme positions backed by intimidation and ultimately violence. The latter are seductive, and often appear quite effective in the short term, but I doubt they've ever truly solved much.

Comment: Re:First they came for... (Score 1) 226

by fyngyrz (#48925721) Attached to: Facebook Censoring Images of the Prophet Muhammad In Turkey

if the positive influence outweighs the negative

The problem here is who defines positive or negative. When you go with the majority or those who otherwise hold the most power, that rules out gays right out of the gate -- because gays are a minority and hold less power.

If you ask the minority/less-powerful what the positives and the negatives are, you're going to get a very different answer than if you ask the majority/powerful. Quite often, the minority/less-powerful answer will be the correct one.

a bastardized influence, in order to exist, is still an influence, and better than no influence at all... this is called realism

Actually, I think it is more accurately described as cowardice. YMMV, obviously.

Exceptions prove the rule, and wreck the budget. -- Miller

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