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AOL Protects Kids From Liberals 256

bitty writes: "This article over at CNET is yet more proof that filtering content to 'protect your children' just isn't the answer." This is interesting - it's talking about Cyber Patrol's "white list," which is a deliberately-selected set of appropriate sites. If there is this kind of bias in their white list, what's lurking in their black list? We may never know, because it's (apparently) illegal to look at it.
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AOL Protects Kids From Liberals

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  • Hey I'm an AOL kid and I take offense to this
    oops.. I'm not alowed to be here...
  • Children who share an AOL account with their parents could rattle off their parents' favorite sites at the dinner table. This would surely lead to a heart-warming discussion of family values.

    Not to mention hypocrisy.

    Pablo Nevares, "the freshmaker".
  • We have a regular process of reviewing sites that are submitted, and if they meet our criteria they are added," she said.

    They think gun sites are appropiate for kids? I swear on my children's lives to never use a product endorsed, sold or advocated by AOL or any of its subsidiaries.

  • It seems that whoever determines the sites that children are allowed to visit is quite obviously a conservative. This, however, brings the thought to mind, how many of us, when we were wee little children, were interested in learning about the political parties. I know for a fact that I wasn't until around the age of 16, when my parents would have turned the filters off, or at least down a notch. Sure there are exceptions, such as school work, but I doubt that many children, if any, visit any political site.
  • by PopeAlien ( 164869 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:37PM (#1110340) Homepage Journal
    Sites promoting gun use are available, including Colt,Browning and the National Rifle Association. But prominent gun safety organizations are blocked, including the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Safer Guns Now and the Million Mom March.

    I'm glad to see that someone is looking after our children.. Just keep em away from information about sex, chess and PopeAliens.. [popealien.com]

    (this is why I LOVE closed source filter software.. Why wouldnt a large corporation have your best interest at heart.)
  • We have a regular process of reviewing sites that are submitted, and if they meet our criteria they are added," she said.

    They think gun sites are appropiate for kids? I swear on my children's lives to never use a product endorsed, sold or advocated by AOL or any of its subsidiaries.

    Sorry about the previous post.
  • Cyberpatrol is not exactly wonderful software. In addition to being slow it is also very expensive - we had been quoted $3000 NZ for a years subscription.

    Instead I now use squidGuard [squidguard.org], a plug-in for squid which blocks or allows URLs based on domain names, domain names with paths, or a small number of regular expressions. Email me if you want a copy of my PLAIN TEXT site lists.

  • it makes aol's search results very unreliable.

    I noticed recently in my site's logs that we get hits from people searching "child porn" on our site. I checked out AOL and found we're listed first when you perform that search. We don't have anything to do with it. What's up?


    LostBrain [lostbrain.com]

  • Did anybody notice Mr. Bean wrote the article? Go back and check.
  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:40PM (#1110345)
    This is absurd... We have had HOW MANY Cyber Patrol stories? This is a discussion site, right? Nobody in the Slashdot community is going to come out in support of them. Even if some did, they get marked down as trolls.

    As a result, this is another story to karma whore by walking the party line.

    I love slashdot, but this is ABSURD.

    When there is a real technical topic, I love this forum as it is the only place that I know of with REAL discussions on very meaty subjects.

    When there is a Linux topic, sometimes there is interested subjects, although the Linux is G-d's OS crowd as moderators try to kill it by only allowing one view to show.

    But this is rediculous. I mean, if there was a bill banning technical debates online, it would warrant a story, as it would effect us. But if you ran it constantly, it is dumb, because there is NO room for discussion.

    We ALL know everybody's view of censorware, can we stop reporting EVERYTHING that can result in 300 censorware sucks posts?

  • Think about it...

    Thousands of kids get fed up with their access being blocked...

    so thousands of kids start hacking to beat the system.

    There is NOTHING as appealing to a teenager as something stamped "forbidden".

  • Since Time Warner's media properties are predominantly liberal-biased, AOL's just doing their part to make the post-merger corporate average bias more centrist.

  • Is blindly allowing some (usually) highly conservative software company to supervise your children considered protecting them? I know this issue has come up before on /., but if you really want to "protect" your kids, maybe you should *gasp* actually watch what they are doing and become involved with them.

  • You think a kid, at least kids this software is designed to protect, will want to look up sites for the political parties? I'm sure they're being deprived by not being able to access these sites. The author also mentions gun sites, as if children will get ideas of shooting other kids by being able to access these sites - you think the NRA would advocate something like that? Think before you start flaming.
  • I kinda feel like Signal 11 here... anyways...

    Yes, we all know you're not really an AOL user because we'd figure that Slashdot would be on the list of blocked "political" sites that happen to talk about new political (software) ideas, like open-source, GNU, etc.

    So how long will it take AOL to put Slashdot on the ban list for the kids filter? I mean if they can block Ross Perot and all his neat-o charts, why not Slashdot? (Does anyone remember Ross and all those charts he used? or is it just me?)
  • by fougasse ( 79656 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:43PM (#1110351)
    This is nothing new.

    I doubt that there really IS a conservative bias -- I think it's just one more symptom of the incompleteness and idiocy of filtering lists. In fact, to support its point, CNET brings up such examples as AOL filtering out that great bastion of liberalism, Ross Perot's Reform Party.

    Any list which attempts to include every site on the Internet that's safe for children will necessarily miss huge numbers of sites. In this case, CNET (The Home Of Accurate, Unbiased Reporting TM) has taken some selective examples of blocked sites and attempted to have those indicate some kind of political agenda.

    They've also tried to find some other examples of problems with AOL's system, like the browser keeping a cache of visited sites. (They do admit that it can be turned off by "sophisticated, advanced" users.) Wow! A cache! What a concept! Admittedly, clicking Back then Forward to allow access to sites in the cache is a bit stupid, but still, IE (which AOL uses) allows you to view cached sites very easily. And then they bring in the gaping hole of a history file stored in PLAIN TEXT. Obviously, this is something that every modern browser does. And by the way, CNET considers viewing the contents of a text file stuck in a program directory "child's play", but turning off or viewing a disk cache is "advanced" and "sophisticated".

    Don't you love clear, objective, unbiased reporting? What's worse is that AOL's filters are inherently stupid -- a blacklist will always allow access to tons of sites it shouldn't, and a whitelist will always block access to tons of sites it shouldn't. Focus on the basic problems with the concept, not some made-up and easily-fixed surface mistakes: that's the only way to actually fight these things.
  • My local public library uses Cyber Patrol, and the last time I was there it blocked out a whole assload of sites, including my own site (*angelic halo*) about graphic design. Pure as can be.

    It doesn't really matter that Cyber Patrol doesn't work, because the people implementing it are, by and large, morons. They don't read slashdot. They don't know it's crap. They just see the glossy brochures and listen to the smooth talking salesman who tells them that their problems will be over....

    CyberPatrol is a joke. It's crap. But unless people keep making (increasingly public) rumblings about it, nobody is going to know that.

    (As I recall, that's how Microsoft came to power....oh well...)

  • Well, I'll admit there's a possibility that this is a coincidence, or the reporter was overly enthusiastic, or it the fault of someone other than AOL.

    However, damn, this is inscidious.

    There is a bright side though: perhaps now some big names will be pissed off at filterware. If the democratic national party is outraged enough, lots of congressfolk will oppose government-mandated filtering.

    See, pissing off informed citizens is no big deal. Pissing off a political party...

    Dammit, my mom is not a Karma whore!

  • by (void*) ( 113680 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:46PM (#1110354)
    It is easy to blame AOL for this, but really, all AOL is doing is trying to provide what the customer wants. The averager AOLer has heard about the bad porn on the net, and the subversive sites around, and is sure to demand some filtering. So AOL provides Cybersitter. That it cannot censor everything just shows that how uncensorable the net is. The latter half of the article which mentions the possibility of "cache surfing" is just not relevant. It sounds like bug in the browser, and not the the cybersitter program itself!

    So who do we blame really? Cybersitter for distributing a faulty product? (It can't - the net is not censorable!) Parents who are ignorant and refuse to guide their children? (But they do want to do it - just that they have misplaced trust in censorware). Or the children who are so curious about the world around them?

  • by Maxintern9 ( 146292 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:46PM (#1110355) Homepage
    There is a pretty obvious explanation.

    They use a whitelist scheme, and rely on parents to recommend sites for evaluation. Demographically, in America, if you have children you are considerably more likely to describe yourself as "conservative". But even further, I'd suppose than a "conservative" parent would be much more likely to use filtering software than a "leftist" parent. That equals more user submissions from conservatives. If more leftist parents were interested in filtering internet access for AOL kids, then there would be more submissions of leftist sites.

  • I just fired up AOL and checked this. The stuff about the political party sites checks out. Unbelievable! However, it won't let me to any of those gun web sites. This is on the highest web restriction.

  • by Nerrajam ( 20715 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:48PM (#1110357)
    While I praise this article for pointing out the fact that AOL's filtering software is not at the level it should be, I think any accusations of outright liberal bias are premature and ignore the fundamental differences between whitelist and blacklist filtering.

    Whitelist filtering requires that the filter provider (e.g. AOL) add the site to a list of approved sites. i.e. rather than specifically 'banning' sites that kids can visit, the whitelist method approves sites. Obviously, in order for a site to make it onto this list, a site has to be reviewed. The fact that there aren't as many liberal sites on the whitelist may only go to show a much larger weakness with whitelists, namely, that you can't give the user every acceptable site on the Internet. I could probably test the filtering software and turn up some assinine conclusion like 'there is a clear bias towards Coke over Pepse b/c my favorite Pepsi sites weren't on the whitelist.' There is simply too many sites for any 'human' means of review. If there are complaints about not enough liberal sites being on the whitelist, try submitting them to AOL and see if they get reviewed and added (and maybe this article will be the impetus for that). Until AOL blantantly rejects liberal sites from being added, it's hard to accuse them of any conspiracy to 'republicanize' our youth.

    All arguments about the appropriateness of filters, whitelist filtering is the only filtering option that really has any promise for establishing the goal of a safe sandbox for kids to surf the Internet in. Blacklist filtering techniques will often either (a) miss inappropriate sites or (b) ban appropriate sites because their spider turned up the word 'sex'. Whitelist filtering does not have either of these weaknesses. But if Yahoo's indexers can't keep up with the growth of the Internet, I doubt any whitelist filtering company could either.

  • Did anybody notice Mr. Bean wrote the article? Go back and check.

    That wasn't Mr. Bean you moron, it was Kevin Spacey without the "Just For Men".

    standing on the shoulders of giants,leaves me cold
  • What do you mean by "Mr. Bean wrote the article?"
    Mr. Bean's real name is Rowan Atkinson and not Brian Livingston, or am I missing something?
  • I deleted the email I refer to below, so watch for inaccuracies.

    Long ago, I asked Cyber Patrol what justification they have for blocking Peacefire.org in all of their categories.

    They said it was because Peacefire describes how to get around certain filters.

    They did not respond to my follow up...

    Since this article describes a way around AOL blocking (wish I'd thought of that...), will the CNet article be blocked too?

    Dammit, my mom is not a Karma whore!

  • by Money__ ( 87045 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:52PM (#1110361)
    After reading the article, I was curious to see if many AOLers are biased toward any particular party, and I found this at www.opensecrets.org [opensecrets.org]

    LOS GATOS, CA 95032 AOL 08/30/1999 $1,000 Kerrey, Bob

  • For the past few months, I've been keeping up with Slashdot's reports on Internet filtering, especially in public libraries. This C|Net article [news.com] shows what many of us may have seen all along... censorware (AOL's in particular) has a conservative bias.

    Even though C|Net only published this article yesterday, many of us had known it for quite a while. In fact, some of the groups that had promoted censorware included conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family, as well as the Christian Coalition. However, this is not to say that all conservatives support censorship. Look at the Libertarians, for example. They don't want government in ANY part of their lives. I used to be a conservative, and I didn't support censorship (as a progressive, I am still adamantly against it). I don't think my father, a Republican, would promote it. So don't go blaming every conservative for advocating censorship, because some of them are fighting it zealously.

    As well, we must worry about liberal bias in filterware. Some of the same people who rail against right-wing censorship also want to silence Dr. Laura Schlesinger and get rid of Web sites they find to be non-PC (politically correct). There may be some liberal companies developing censorware and putting on their blacklists sites that promote views that conflict with theirs. People using those programs may be unable to access the RNC and NRA Web sites, like those who use AOL may not be able to access the DNC and the ACLU sites.

    My point: Censorship is bad, no matter who does it. It's not all coming from one particular group. Liberals are just as guilty as conservatives. Information should be free and open to all people.

  • Don't forget the fact that article posts on /. are not only to engender discussion, but also awareness.

    Would you rather that instead they didn't report any cyberpatrol stories? If Virginia decides to pass UCITA (god help us that this doesn't happen), would you rather than no one post the story on /. because we all know what 99.999999% of the /.ers think about the issue?

    I would say that not reporting it is a more egregoius offense because of the repression factor. I mean be honest, it takes what, three seconds to scan the /. headlines? Another two to complain about another censorware story...:)

  • by riley ( 36484 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:54PM (#1110364)
    I don't think so. I think this sort of story (as opposed to the "Spigot, Iowa library gets CyberNanny filters!") is important.

    What we are seeing is one of the big dangers of monolithic control over access to information. Private companies aren't allowed to own too many traditional media outlets in the same area to prevent those companies from exerting too much influence. I believe the rules were originally put in place to stop media from controlling the outcome of elections by only providing single viewpoint coverage.

    With the creation of the AOL/TimeWarner media megacorp, this will continue to be an issue. It's obvious from the article that filtering was done with a political slant. Regardless of government regulation of this sort of this, it will happen again. Systems that can be abused will be abused.
  • I'd have to say that for the most part, Slashdot is a fairly liberal site. I wonder if children can view Slashdot or other Linux related sights? (Or for that matter, can they visit non-mainstream sites? Such as maybe be.com? Or any other alternative-OS?)

    There's so much available on the Web, just restricting it to whatever sites are currently white-listed seems foolish. There are many good ways to protect what your children see when browsing that don't involve filters - the best method it to be with them and watch what they're looking for. Few children would look for pr0n while Mommy | Daddy where in the room, watching what they were doing. I know that's how my parents look at letting my little brother surf on the web - they watch him, and he has to tell them what he's looking for online.

    So does it block Slashdot?

  • This is a good idea of AOL. It will protect kids from viewing dangerous things such as gun control sites and zucchini. I mean, for every kid who gets goes to one of these rebellious sites there is one more a trigger lock and one less kid who can defend him or herself at the house. Just read this [theonion.com] article about the latest Pre-Natel shooting. Now, if only AOL could protect us young 'uns from things such as communists and linux and DeCSS... http://mathjmendl.n3.net
  • Perhaps this story on CNET may do some good raising awareness about how bad some of this filtering S/W is. I also noticed this quote;

    "It's not just indecency that AOL is trying to keep away from children," says Susan Wishnetsky, a Chicago librarian.

    For the /.ers who are trying to prevent filtering S/W from being placed in libraries, it would be a good thing to bring up this quote...especially if your elected reps are Democrats I suppose.

    Of course CNET had better watch out, as they describe a method of overcoming the filtering S/W, and also exposing some of the sites that are on the Cyberpatrol Blacklist.

    "Children who share an AOL account with their parents could rattle off their parents' favorite sites at the dinner table. This would surely lead to a heart-warming discussion of family values."

    That part just made me smile :)
  • no, it's not bad at all. I'm upset with AOL using filtering software that has a political slant. I am the only person who should be slanting my children's thoughts...and even I wouldn't be so abusive as to do that to my children. I want my children to be free of manipulation.

  • by hypergeek ( 125182 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:57PM (#1110369)
    Now, what about all those parents who are looking for a 'Net censorship program with a Libertarian bias?

    Oh, wait.

  • I believe that censorware is A Bad Thing(tm).

    I can hear the voice already: Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the antislashdot party?

  • It looks a lot like him. I think that's the point. Not quite exactly like him but there is a resemblence.
  • ...that AOL would be actively blocking sites that expressed any anti-corporation slant??


    IMHO, Microsoft was not a dangerous monopoly. I know I am going to get flamed for this, but M$ could not position themselves as the thought police. AOL is the internet service provider for something like 20 million people. (That's a good 6% of the population of the US, computer owning or not.) AOL, with their purchase of Time Warner, can be the thought police. I would hypothesize that they reach into the homes of at least 35% of the US population on a daily basis.

    Any entity with that kind of power is an active danger to freedom in this country. Political parties and lobbyist groups and other political bodies are just things that are talked about in the news. To a great many people in this country, AOL / Time Warner are the news, and are implicitly trusted.

    Letting them get away with this act of thought control would be a travesty.


    the inquisitor has spoken.

  • Slashdot sometimes have rique comments in it. Letter arrange to look like porn, dirty words and the like. Does this mean that slashdot itself will be black listed?

    Then again, what about sites using slashcode or ZOPE where users can add posts in discussions. They can easily have inappropraite mateiral for childern to read. Should all sites with such posting abilities be black listed?

    I think the Internet shouldn't be filtered at all. The net is a tool, a library that everyone can get into. If you don't want to view porn then porn won't show up. (OK, Spam doesn't count.)

    The most "censored" the net is the more dangerous it will be for kids. Parents now see the net as a breeding pen for sick pedophiles. They know that guy may uses the net to try to meet their 15 year old daughter in an ally so she can give him head. If they think the net is safe and "censored" then they won't be alert to the pedophiles who get threw some software.

    Sorry for the rant, I just feel parents need to guard their kids themselves and not trust some buggy software.

  • by jeff.paulsen ( 6195 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @01:59PM (#1110374)

    They think gun sites are appropiate for kids? I swear on my children's lives to never use a product endorsed, sold or advocated by AOL or any of its subsidiaries.

    I don't mind my kids learning about guns on the net. Or yours. Any kids who may be reading, please keep the following in mind:

    • aim center-of-mass.
    • focus on the front sight blade. Be IN the front sight blade.
    • PRESS the trigger. Don't pull.

    ... and, of course, Col. Cooper's Rules:

    1. All guns are always loaded.
    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you aren't willing to destroy.
    3. Finger off the trigger until ready to fire.
    4. Be sure of your target and what lies beyond it. Don't shoot at anything you can't positively identify, including presumably hostile muzzle flashes.

    Hope this helps.

  • Check this article [theonion.com] out if you want to take a humorous (and fictional) look at the way the National Rifle Association and gun proponents laud the use of firearms and campaign against trigger locks.

    It's not real, but it could happen...

  • Oh yeah..

    "People wouldn't need guns if the government finally enacted some laws that get tough on deet."

    "Obviously, the [liberal] president has never been captured by super-intelligent apes, or he'd feel differently about the importance of guns."

    "Guns don't kill people; guns are designed and manufactured for the purpose of enabling people to use the guns to kill people."

    Quotes from The Onion [theonion.com].
  • I would have to say that I view Slashdot not just as a discussion group but also as a new service.

    It just happens that I am generally interested in a large fraction of most of the news articles pointed at by the /. community, a much larger fraction than lets say the news on either Rootprompt or Salon. It is in a happy medium between the technical and the real world where I like to be.

    For this reason I view the comments to be more of a source of supplementary information. People who are in the know, or at least think they are chime in with extra info and links, and of course, opposing viewpoints on even the slightly objectionable points. Moderation generally takes care of the rest. In general I could care less about someone's opinion or a rant; I just want more infor and perhaps another viewpoint on the topic to facilitate making my own decisions on the issue.

    Oh cr*p, I just made a huge rant about my opinion, and contributed no new information. Um... check out all these neat papers on security your Linux system. Whew, I think I saved myself from commiting a SIN. [securify.com]

  • OK, I'll come out in favor of Cyber Patrol. And this is not a troll.

    I think American liberalism was weakened by its somewhat-successful attempts to coopt the moderates in the 70s (post-Watergate, Carter) and even more the 90s (DLC, Clinton).

    Those of us who grew up as "liberal Democrats" in the 70s had Carter to look up to. Compare that to my grandmother, who had radical union leaders and anti-fascists. Is it any wonder that their first success was FDR, while ours was Clinton?

    Maybe making Democratic party information "taboo" will lead to a revitalization of real progressive sentiment in the next generation of "liberal Democrats." It won't take a genius to realize how ridiculous the filtering software is, and by extension the system that created it. They'll either find a way around it or to get the information you're looking for elsewhere. If anything, it'll make liberal politics--and, by extension, politics in general--more interesting to kids.

    If that doesn't happen, if the Democratic Party remains the party of welfare cuts, free trade, the war on drugs, and forcible repatriation of refugee immigrants, what do we need them for? We already have the Republicans for that.
  • Oh come on. What kind of arguement is this? 'I get sick of seeing this, so I don't think it should be posted.' This is inane on a number of levels.

    1)Not everyone is /. 31173 like yourself, and thusly, hasn't had a chance to see previous articles.

    2)If there is one sort of point that should be brought to our attention on a regular basis, it should be censorware, and all other things censor related. The more this is brought to our attention, the more likely that people are going to get off of their asses, and do something about it... (Letter writing, etc...)

    3)This isn't exactly a common sort of article on censorware. This is, basically, catching them with their pants down. Finally someone gave a small peek into one of the lists of a major piece of censorware... Maybe I just need to get online more, but this isn't something I have seen much of before.

    Just one human's opinion,
    Dusty Hodges
  • Aside from the usual arguments against the principles of censoring, the group that decides what to censor is going to end up taking sides, even if they don't do it intentionally. I wouldn't be surprised if Cyber Patrol had similar biases on religion, abortion and philosophy.

    Its entirely possible that Cyber Patrol took sides in the Elian controversy, the Kosovo/Serbia conflict or the fallout of the Columbine killings. I think this would make another good argument for the anti-censorware people, in addition to the issue of sites that are fairly/unfairly blocked.

    Everybody see the episode of South Park when the school tries to put on a play, but parents kept demanding that parts get removed (and the school kept caving in) until there was nothing left? As the biggest isp in the US, AOL has a large and diverse customer base. It would be ironic if those customers complained that the censor software blocks sites that cater to their beliefs, and AOL kept giving in until nothing was blocked.
  • Would you rather that instead they didn't report any cyberpatrol stories?

    Is that a rhetorical question? Yes, I would prefer they didn't report any cyberpatrol stories.
  • Well, this is sure to cost me mucho karma, but here it goes.

    I'm sure there may be many parents that don't want their kids exposed to a liberal agenda untill they're old enough to make their own decisions. A political affiliation is a decision to be made by an educated and informed adult, not by little skulls full of mush.

    OK, there, I said it. Now bring on the bleeding wallet liberal whining.

  • Is it not also true, that when you filter NOTHING, you still miss out on the vast majority of the web; that is to say, most people use search engines rather than specific URLs, and search engines index what, like 10% of all sites?

    (sorry - I need to try the decaf Jolt. . . )

    I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said "Information wants to be free".
  • What is most disturbing about the article was the cavelier attitude shown by CyberPatrol's spokeswoman. Instead of vigorously asserting that this was an oversight that would be corrected, she stated, "We have a regular process of reviewing sites that are submitted, and if they meet our criteria they are added. If some sites are included, it's probably because someone submitted them." Parents utilizing this service need be warned that the decisions regarding the appropriateness of a website are not based on whether a site contains "indecent" or illicit material, but are based on the particular political philosophy of the makers of the software and the people who submit links to add to their database. Censure ware turns the world wide web from a place that allows free discussion of both sides of an issue to a place where only the views that coincide with a select group of editors are presented.

  • by Maxintern9 ( 146292 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @02:12PM (#1110390) Homepage
    For what it's worth, Marc Andreessen also recently gave $250,000 to the Democratic National Committee. That's a big chunk of change (unless you're Andreessen). No Conservative bias there. I don't have a link, but it was on WashingtonPost Online recently.
  • The Democratic, Green, and Reform party? Gun Safety groups? If this kind of thing can be shown to continue, I suspect that some powerful groups will be looking to bring a class action suit against AOL.

    I don't use AOL, and this is just one more reason not to. The one time Cyber Patrol got loaded on my home computer (as part of another program's install), I couldn't get it off soon enough. I don't let my kids (9 & 2) look at certain things on the net, but _I_ decide what is appropriate!

  • by 47Ronin ( 39566 ) <{moc.ninor74} {ta} {nnelg}> on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @02:15PM (#1110392) Homepage
    This filtering crap is getting totally out of hand. These special interest groups and the like are looking in the wrong direction when it comes to protecting children/populace from "disagreeable content" ..I find it hard to believe how fascist these guys are becoming and they don't even recognize it. They're not attacking the root of the problem and at the same time they're turning the Internet into a government controlled propoganda machine.

    The real solution simply is.. Moms, dads: For once, watch your damn kids once in a while and bitchslap them if they do anything on the Net that you don't want them to do!! Stop blaming the Net for everything! Who bought the damn computer in the first place? If you don't want your kids looking at porno or Bill Gates pics from newsgroups or websites, introduce their asses to some genuine leather waistbelts dammit! Stop giving your spoiled brats a free ride through life and become responsible parents!

    After all, if you buy them the computer and provide them the Internet, you basically have given your kids the keys to the Real World(TM). If they aren't ready to handle the crap that's out there, well they shouldn't be looking for it, right?

    Linux user: if (nt == unstable) { switchTo.linux() }

  • If you'd actually read the article, you'd see that it is the parents who use the site that submit sites for approval. THEY are the ones with a "conservative bias". If you want it to be fair, go submit some leftist sites (that don't include gratuitous nudity).
  • It's not necessarily hypocrisy. Imagine a parent investigating a hate site like stoormfrunt.org; it is clearly inappropriate for a child to be viewing that site by themselves. Nonethless, it is appropriate for a parent to view it.

    I still think that most parents underestimate the intelligence of their children anyway. For every parent who uses filters that the child doesn't know how to avoid, I bet there are 10 that either don't use filters or who have children who can get around them.

  • by jsm ( 5728 ) <james@jmarshall.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @02:17PM (#1110395) Homepage
    We ALL know everybody's view of censorware, can we stop reporting EVERYTHING that can result in 300 censorware sucks posts?

    I disagree. This article told me a new argument against censorware that I had suspected, but didn't have hard evidence of.

    You seem to accept that censorship is a serious danger facing us today. If so, we need to do more than just sit around Slashdot and tell each other what we already know. We need to go out and change other people's minds, people who still think censorware is an imperfect but acceptable way to "protect children". We need to (diplomatically!) open the discussion with our family, friends, and coworkers. It helps to present outrageous examples to support our argument. Maybe then our family and friends will understand where we're coming from.

    This article presents one really good example, which would offend most moderate-leaning people who still believe in a free exchange of ideas. It clearly and undeniably shows how the censorware "solution" goes way beyond "protecting children". Restricting political speech strikes much closer to the heart of the (US) first amendment than restricting porn, and is a much more serious threat. I'm glad this article was posted.

  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @02:18PM (#1110396) Homepage
    Right at the end of the article I see this:
    The average child in the United States sees 200,000 killings, stabbings and beatings on television by the age of 18, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The academy cites numerous scientific studies demonstrating that many children learn violent behavior from shows they watch.

    After a few years of exposure to television, it's hard to imagine that anything on the Internet would be worth filtering out--even if the filters worked.

    I don't get it. This has nothing to do with the rest of the article. Is there some perl script at CNET that automatically includes this line in any story about children and censorware? Is this part of some conspiracy by CNET to get people away from the TV and onto the net? It just doesn't make sense. Looks like they were desperate for some kind of closing paragraph and just pulled one out of their asses.
    Two can play at this game.
    The average american consumes 15 gallons of salsa a year. Can moronic CNET articles detract from the spiciness of life after that? Of course not!
  • Why not just have a huge, distributed, open-source database of sites that specially chosen "moderators" get to give input on. Rate them according to certain adjectives. Then, let parents (or anyone else) choose what "Threshold" to browse the web at. This tech would easily integrate into modern web browsers (just stick it with Netscape's "What's Related").

    Tell me somebody is already working on this, right?
  • Yes, I would prefer they didn't report any cyberpatrol stories

    Why? So the subject will go away, at least in this forum? What purpose would that serve, other than to further push an important topic out of the spotlight that deserves to be recognized?

    Chill out with all this "We've already seen this" crap. Yes, this story is similar to the CyberPatrol stories. It's different (and important), however, because it involves AOL, which is, like it or not, a major force in the internet today. If 30 million (or whatever their subscriber base is now) people live with this for a period of time, they will see it as acceptable behaviour. And that is a situation that none of us wants.

    If you don't want to read any more of these types of stories, then don't "Read More" and skip the post. I mean come on, how hard is that?
  • by meckardt ( 113120 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @02:26PM (#1110402) Homepage

    No argument about the need to be educated and informed. But by that logic, kids should be blocked from ALL political sites.

    On the other hand, the kids have got to learn sometime. I think it would be better to let 'em look, and then discuss it with them so they can become educated and informed and learn to make their own decisions.

  • by ry4an ( 1568 ) <ry4an-slashdot@@@ry4an...org> on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @02:34PM (#1110408) Homepage
    Last year (after Columbine) they deleted (without warning) every gun related web site that they had been hosting for their customers. After they deleted their user's gun related sites they sent the owners of these sites form mail saying their site had been deleted for pornographic content and that putting any more porn on AOLs server would result in the revocation of their membership.
  • I already mailed the author of the article on the biases in how sites were classified.

    The Libertarian Party is not a "conservative" organization. Elimination of most of the government and its laws is hardly conservative.

    The NRA has done more for gun safety than any of the so-called gun safety organizations listed. The NRA has extensive gun safety training programs for children and adults. The "gun safety" organizations are really gun prohibition and confiscation advocacy groups. That is not the same thing.

  • I don't want my kids (when I have them) exposed to anything persuasive either. I don't care if it's a religion, a political party, a sexual orientation or anything where other people tell them what to believe.

    That will be my job. I don't plan on letting my kids go to church, surf the 'net, attend political rallies or whatever until they are old enough to be able to formulate their own opinions. In short: until they are cynical, like me.

    I certainly don't intend to ever get any internet service where blocking software is part of the package. When my kids want to access the 'net, I'll be right there, sitting next to them. I'm not one of the millions of lazy people that think that schools or software should raise their kids for them.

    Your kids are the only thing you leave behind in the world, it is your responsibility to raise them. If you don't want the responsibility, then don't have kids.

    If you're a minor who thinks it's disgusting to have to surf the net sitting next to your father, well, all I can say is once my kids prove to me that they are responsible, I won't have to sit there anymore. My goal is to raise responsible, mature citizens. Other people may have different goals, but I can't imagine what they might be.
  • And by the way, CNET considers viewing the contents of a text file stuck in a program directory "child's play", but turning off or viewing a disk cache is "advanced" and "sophisticated".

    Oh, but they know exactly what they're talking about. After all, turning off the disk cache is something that needs to be done by the parent, while viewing of the text file has to be done by the child. 9 out of 10 homes, the parent is the more clueless of the two.

    CNET (The Home Of Accurate, Unbiased Reporting TM) has taken some selective examples of blocked sites and attempted to have those indicate some kind of political agenda.

    I don't think they were trying to show a political agenda, but only to demonstrate the inherent dangers of these lists. I mean, even without an actual political agenda, the very bias is an inherent free speech issue.

  • Oh, wait a minute, I don't use AOL. Nevermind!

    Seriously, I think their explanation may be true. Some right-wing yahoo (pardon the expression) submitted those sites, which were approved. There was just no left-wing zealot who did the same for the other side.

    --- Speaking only for myself,

  • by MAXOMENOS ( 9802 ) <.maxomai. .at. .gmail.com.> on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @03:02PM (#1110425) Homepage

    I'm sure there may be many parents that don't want their kids exposed to a liberal agenda untill they're old enough to make their own decisions. A political affiliation is a decision to be made by an educated and informed adult, not by little skulls full of mush.

    Maybe you're right. In my estimation, parents like these are willfully foisting ignorance on their children. Which may be okay when they're toddlers, but when they're teenagers, it's child abuse.

    Consider the following: random kid is brought up unexposed to undesireable political, religious and social agendas; some good, some bad, all somehow controversial for reasons that may or may not be complete bullshit. Kid goes into college, where, for the first time in his or her life, there is free and unfettered access to information. (NB, I'm not refering to technical information here, such as patents and trade secrets. I'm refering to philosophies, religions, and politics that random kid's parents find objectionable).

    So, the kid runs into the Army of Satanic Order, a group which s/he has never heard of before. Furthermore: s/he discovers that there is a conspiracy (through AOL/Time-Warner and other companies) to deny him/her information about this group, because this information is threatening to the powers that be. Which is now true!

    Said kid, whose real world experiences have thus far been filtered, probably hasn't had to develop bullshit detectors, either. Moreover, s/he's likely to make the mistake a lot of conspiracy theorists make -- believing that if information is being suppressed, that it must be true.

    In no time flat, the Army of Satanic Order has a new, naive, paranoid recruit.

    Note that you can substitute any other organization, legitimate or illegitimate, objectionable or merely controversial, good or bad, for the Army of Satanic Order. The end result is the same: recruits who have been deliberately brought up not to think for themselves.

    I'm not saying that AOL shouldn't be censoring content. Far from it. If parents want to raise their kids this way, fine by me. I'll raise my kids with exposure to more of the world, so they can learn about real life at an earlier age. Let's see whose kids are working for whose 30 years later.

  • > The Libertarian Party is not a "conservative" organization. Elimination of most of the government and its laws is hardly conservative.

    They oppose censorship. Therefore they are a threat. It's that simple.
  • This is great news! AOL, by setting itself up as mamma before it really had a strangle hold on the new media, is being forced into the impossible position of satisfying dominant political interests rather than giving its customers a real choice. Perhaps it isn't too late for the new Protestant Reformation, where every pagan tribe on the planet gets to reassert their own cultural sovereignty. Let's just hope we don't need the equivalent of the Roman/Protestant wars before parents can actually have a choice of internet filters.

    The Priesthood never gives up its editorial control without a fight.

  • Don't you think parents have the right to say what their kids read, see, and hear? My parents monitored me closely. When I left home to join the Navy, I ran smack into everything they had ever tried to protect/hide from me. Much of it was very attractive to me, just away from home at first.

    The more I saw of it, the more I realized my parents decisions were good ones. My parent's decisions helped to keep me from rushing headlong into really stupid decisions (mostly) and as I get older, my respect for my parents grows. It's really weird.

    Now, I'm much more liberal than my parents. They don't drink (I do on occasion, but rarely do I keep alcohol) they don't go to bars (heh) and they attend church regularly. (I manage the major Catholic holy days)

    Despite this, I tend to see things through a filter of my own now. (I got no cpHack for my brain :) ) This is where maturity begins. Good lord help me, what am I saying :)

    My parents, of course would never listen to Insane Clown Posse. I never heard of them until I left the Navy. I think the lyrics are pretty ironic, and twisted to the point of the ridiculous, but you need to have a mature perspective to really see it. It's like SouthPark. And you can't really get that perspective until you've seen both sides of the coin, the conservative, and the liberal.

    So AOL offers a filtering/censorship service. Don't you think people have the right to choose it if they wish? And don't you think that the public who requests the service has the right to demand the content of a service?

    Now don't get me wrong. This sort of thing has no business being placed where the public doesn't request it. Do you hear me, public libraries? Library of Congress? Washington Post? (oh wait, they filter for liberal content there. :) But while you live under your parent's roof, they have the right to demand how you live there. Don't like it? Turn 18, get out of the house, join the military, and I guarantee you'll see more than you ever bargained, or even wished for. Uncle Sam won't hold your hand.

  • Yes, good call. Furthermore, (social) conservatives are far more likely to support filtering, and therefore more likely to even think about submitting their sites.


  • Somehow, I suspect my point will be missed and I'll be flamed. But what the heck -- it's chilly today.

    Quoth the poster: (emphasis added by me)

    may be some liberal companies developing censorware and putting on their blacklists sites that promote views that conflict with theirs... It's not all coming from one particular group. Liberals are just as guilty as conservatives.
    Did anyone else notice the shift in sense here? While I would believe that some "liberal" groups support censorship of ideas opposed to them -- I've experience much the same at college -- the poster only suspects this. But then he/she claims that, despite the lack of evidence, liberals are in fact just as guilty.

    I'm really not trying to make this into a liberal-v.-conservative thing. I just wanted to point out how quickly we can move from a hypothetical suspicion of guilt to an acceptance of it as proven fact.

  • One of the arguments used in court to throw out the Communications Decency Act and its progeny was that censoring the net is a massive-overkill approach to protecting kids, when the same objective can be obtained by less restrictive means, such as filters. The least-restrictive-means test is a big hammer in freedom-of-speech law and court decisions about it. The courts did apparently gloss over the issue of whether filters should be used by parents who want them, or mandated by governments, particularly for libraries and schools, but perhaps also for ISPs. Some Feds, pro-censorship groups, and of course censorware vendors have been using this to force public libraries to install filters, and one of the main arguments used in opposition (besides the obvious "censorship is UnAmerican and UnLibrarian") is that existing censorware products usually block too many things, either through clumsiness (like blocking "breast cancer") or not-very-hidden agendas, like blocking feminist sites.

    But some Feds have recently been getting sneaky - they're going to the people who made these arguments, and asking them things like "So this censorware stuff you said was less restrictive isn't working, and isn't usable in public libraries? Would you be interested in testifying in court as an expert witness?". It looks like they may be trying to overthrow the least-restrictive-means argument, by contending that filters aren't that much less restrictive, and trying to Catch-22 us into letting them censor the net like they tried to before.

    Peacefire [peacefire.org] is the group that was sued for revealing Cyberpatrol's blacklist, but also for publishing the password-cracker that lets you get around Cyberpatrol's restrictions. The EFF [eff.org] archives on filtering are at this link on eff.org [eff.org], but they're a bit out of date (unless you believe the year is "19100" :-). The Censorware Project [censorware.org] is more recent.

    A reasonable fraction of the many blatant errors in Cyberpatrol's agenda need to be "explained by incompetence rather than attributed to malice"; classifying everything on the net is an impossibly large job, much of the gruntwork gets done by bots with only minimal accuracy, and there's certainly not enough time for real human attention to most of it. That doesn't excuse their lack of fixing problems they've been notified about, or the biases that do appear to be in that product and in many others. "Hackers" - oh, nooo! keep your kids away from them!

    The referenced article has its mistakes as well - the Libertarian Party [lp.org] may occasionally be accused of being Republicans who smoke dope [cannabis.com], and some of its members are, but that's pretty much a mischaracterization :-) It'd be much more accurate to classify most of the members as computer geeks who don't do real politics because that involves talking to non-geeky people in a way that's interesting to them and doing a lot of plain boring time-consuming hard work like precinct-walking.

  • On behalf of the slashdot team, I want to apologize for them for breaking your arm and forcing you to not only read this cyberpatrol story, but also for contributing a comment. Those heinous folks at the compound must be stopped at all costs.

  • Gun Safety groups

    Sorry, but the groups listed have very little to do with gun safety and more to do with gun control. If you truly want gun safety, how about a group that promotes the message "If you see a gun, stop, don't touch, leave the area, get an adult." A group that promote locking criminals who commit crimes with guns up for a very long time. A group that feels that if you are going to handle a gun, you should get training first.

    Oh, wait. That would make sense. Silly me.

  • If you don't take your kids to Church on a weekly basis as being a responsible parent DEMANDS, then you don't deserve the right to have them. Unless you take them to Church you are raising the next Columbine Shooters. That is a FACT. Kids don't get Morals from thin air. Without a Christian upbringing there is little hope for them.

    Nice to hear from the thinking impaired side of the house.

    Back to the subject: Having AOL decide what sites are good to let a child see is silly and naive. It promotes parental laziness, which is the actual cause of the school shootings.

    Most people have better behaved dogs than kids, precisely because people know that they have to train their dogs. Then they entrust the welfare and education of their kids to other people who are actually justified in thinking that it isn't their responsibility. Everyone thinks about their rights and no one thinks about their duties. I personally don't like Kennedy, but 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country' is probably his finest quote.

    I just wish that people still felt that way. Someone sometime is going to compile a list of what caused this society to collapse and this shirking of parental responsibility is going to be right near the top of the list. Trusting some anal retentive moron at AOL or CyberPatrol to choose what information your own children can see just goes to show that the collapse is near.

    MMmmm.. Troll food...

  • > The fascists were left wing.

    What a lot of hogwash. Whether a political party is left-wing or right-wing is best determined by finding out what they call themselves. The Nazis explicitly and persistently described themselves as "right-wing" and moreover they set themselves up in contrast to and in opposition to the communists, who were universally described as "left-wing." You go back to school and learn history as it was, not as your airy ideology would arbitrarily fantasize it to have been.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • You mean.. actually expecting parents to think for themselves and raise their children properly? Like that's gonna happen.
  • by jsm ( 5728 ) <james@jmarshall.com> on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @05:28PM (#1110476) Homepage
    This is true, but it doesn't change the dangerous result. Some would argue it's even more insidious, since it's a bad effect that arose unintentionally. Sometimes things that happen as a result of large social patterns can be the most dangerous, because they're harder to change or undo.
  • I'm sorry if I came across that way, but you have gotten the wrong opinion. I didn't say that mine would be the only opinion they will know, but that I will be there with them when they are forming opinions. I just don't intend to lie to them and I certainly don't intend to let anyone else do so.

    Children are very trusting, they will believe anything you tell them until they have enough data to decide for themselves. I'm just going to speed up the process by giving them more than one opinion. I'll answer any question that they ask, no matter what the subject, based on the best available evidence. That's what makes the information age so cool, you can find out almost anything.

    That is why I don't want any net filtering software running anywhere near me. Certainly not at my ISP where I can't change anything.

    I don't expect to have much of a problem controlling their web surfing at home. If they get in the habit of surfing with Dad, it will seem pretty natural. I probably won't try to stop them from going anywhere they want. I think that their concience will keep them out of trouble. How many porn sites would you visit with your Dad in the room? They won't have computers in their room, or even net appliances.
  • I left out the words 'without me' in the quote.

    I figure that the kids will be about 7 or 8 when they get to the 'able to form their own opinions' stage. After that, I'll severely cut back on what I disapprove of.

    The 'attend political rallies' was a joke, too lame...
  • I'm not sure that there is a lot of difference between the two. Years ago, I read an interesting observation on how easy it was to convert NAZI fanatics into Communist fanatics, and vice versa, in Germany. I think the author of the observation was Himmler or Gehlen.

    I hope Hitler and Stalin are sharing a pit in hell.

  • Good points! Just wait until AOL comes pre-set to use their filters unless the user knows they are there and registers with AOL proving they are an adult (credit card). We all know that a filter is not very useful if the user knows they are being filtered. Thus I think AOL will develop browsers (Mozilla!) that filter by default to the point where links on target pages will not be displayed if not "whitelisted". Most non-internet savvy Americans will think they are surfing "the web" when in fact they are surfing AOL's version of the web, full of corporate partners and excluding anything not mainstream. I can't wait until websites have to get AOL approval to be included in the "white list". This is truly frightening. With a media conglomerate controlling access to sites and regular advertising/news to promote their views widely to the public, the already brainwashed public can be easily lured into these sorts of schemes.

    Quite scary! We must lobby against censorware! Tell your non internet savvy neighbors about these perils, tell your mom, encourage them to tell....and she told two friends...and so on...and so on.....
  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @06:49PM (#1110502) Homepage
    Here [clede.com] is an article that describes what happened to one gun oriented web page on AOL.
  • Microsoft has a definate slant, to the surprise of all I'm sure:

    http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/cgi-win/indivs .exe

  • Oh crap, I just realized that that wasn't the kind of URL that includes the fields from the query. Dammit. Sorry.

  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Tuesday April 25, 2000 @07:44PM (#1110506) Homepage Journal
    I'm VERY pro gun. The reasons why aren't important to this discussion however. Obviously I have no problem with children visiting sites for gun makers or the NRA.

    But even so I have a real problem with AOL, or anyone else for that matter, hiding the other side of the story. I might not agree with the anti-gun groups, but that doesn't mean they should be silenced. Only through open discussion of all points of view can the best approximation of the truth be found. Censorship ammounts to one thing, preventing young people from thinking for themselves. If you control a person's access to information, you literally control the kinds of things they think about and therefore what they think. In most contexts this is simply called brainwashing. But when children are the subjects our society uses a cute euphemism and calls the process "raising" them. What is truly sad is that the adults of today do the same thing to their children that was done to them. When I think about these things I can get pretty depressed. Luckily there are sites like this one or peacefire.org or allaboutsex.org that help restore my faith in humanity.

    (No, I'm 27 and quite educated)

  • The Libertarian Party is not a "conservative" organization. Elimination of most of the government and its laws is hardly conservative.

    What are you talking about? That is the classic "conservative" position: that the government's power should be "conserved" and used only when there is absolutely no alternative. Supposedly.

    In practice, compare the Libertarian Party's positions on the following issues with, say, those of the Republican Party:

    • affirmative action
    • antidiscrimination laws
    • public schooling and mandatory K-12 education
    • gun control
    • antitrust laws
    • market regulation

    That the Libertarian Party occasionally endorses causes that are traditionally characterized as "liberal," such as a woman's right to choose or narcotics decriminalization, only emphasizes the fact that on most issues, Libertarians are closely aligned with "conservative" issues. Whether you consider this a good thing or a bad thing, there is not much room to deny it.

  • Some good points.. I even agree with most of them. And if the list (both black and white) were freely available, I'd agree completely. But right now if you want to protect your children, you have no idea what you are protecting them from. Sure, I wouldn't want my kids on the KKK-members-for-the-legalisation-of-drugging,rapin g-and-murdering-of-all-non-white-people homepage. But I see nothing wrong with sites about political parties, news, gay rights and several religions. But.. I could, without knowing it, be denying my kids these resources. And I have no easy way to check this. Everyone is free to use or not use censor-software on themselves and their kids. It's your choice. But with current practice of making it impossible toi check, I am denied the ability to make an informed choice.

  • You obviously forgot about Godwin's Law! [jargonfile.org] From the Jargon File [jargonfile.org]
  • In a society where firearms are nearly nonexistant, there are not as many killings as in a society which poses as an armed camp. Maybe you gun-fuckers will never learn this.

    Ever been to Switzerland, you butt weasel? It's practically an armed camp and there is very little gun violence there. Yes, I've been to Switzerland.

    The trouble with guns in America isn't the existence of the guns. It's the ignorance and mystification that surrounds the machoistic and unrealist attitudes portrayed in the popular media about firearms. From whining reporters and pseudo-intellectuals proclaiming that all guns must be banned after an aberrant episode of gun violence (such as Columbine) to the equally ignorant portrayals of firearms in actions films where they are used to solve all disputes, the prevailing attitude toward firearms in this country is way out of whack with any sort of realistic assessment of the situation. The trouble is that infantile Americans want to see everything in terms of black and white and they leave no room for discourse in the middle.

    Firearms are not the problem in America. The problem in America is that no one is willing to compromise and no one is willing to view this issue with dispassionate reason and clarity.

    Fact is, more people die in automobile accidents than are injured by firearms in this country. Is anyone calling for a ban on automobiles? If Americans were anywhere near being rational, they would.

    The trouble in the U.S. is that everyone is more ready to start calling names and labelling everyone (liberal, conservative, commie, gun-nut, tree-hugger, you name it). I've even done it above in this post to make a point. When you fall back to playground tactics, you close the door on rational discussion and you leave yourself no room to escape, no room to actually reach a resolution of issues with those with whom you disagree. There must be dialogue and compromise for a community to exist. When there is no dialogue, no compromise, there is only oppression.

    This means that there should be no censorship of any individual's or group's views on any facet of an issue. There should be no state or corporate censorship. Filtering when imposed in such a manner is just wrong. If you feel strongly that you don't want your children to have access to certain information while online or in school or anywhere, then you must take the initiative and provide your children with the guidance that you feel is appropriate. Hopefully, you will teach your children to be open-minded and to listen to other points of view and to consider the merit of other people's ideas. You do not foster those attitudes by outright filtering and denial of access or other heavy-handed tactics. At what age do you allow them to grow up? At what age, at what time, will America at large grow up?

  • That the Libertarian Party occasionally endorses causes that are traditionally characterized as "liberal," such as a woman's right to choose or narcotics decriminalization, only emphasizes the fact that on most issues, Libertarians are closely aligned with "conservative" issues.
    What about:
    • freedom of immigration
    • freedom of speech and the press
    • separation of church and state
    • equality under the law for gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities (and for everyone else too)
    • opposition to the draft and to militarism
    • opposition to corporate welfare, stadium subsidies, and other forms of corporatism
    • protection of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments against "law-and-order" police powers, wiretaps, unwarranted search-and-seizure, and the like
    • (for some libertarians) opposition to the patent system [mises.org]
    These are "conservative" positions? Do they sound like Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, or Rush Limbaugh speaking? I think not. And yet they are Libertarian positions, just as much as support for the free market is.

    The left/right, liberal/conservative, single-axis political spectrum, dating back to the French Revolution, is an inaccurate model for the diversity of political views. It is more useful to describe people's political positions in terms of the set of rights or freedoms which they support, or conversely in terms of the set of restrictions on freedom which they support. One such model is the two-axis system proposed by the Advocates for Self-Government [self-gov.org]. I think even it is too simplistic, but it is a damn sight better than the usual spectrum.

  • I know of at least several people who can assemble handguns in under 20s flat.

    If it takes you 20 seconds to assemble your weapon in a life or death situation, you'll spend the last 18 seconds of that time dead. In a crisis situation, seconds matter.

    That being said, simply owning a weapon (be it a firearm, stun-gun, knife, or baseball bat) is in itself insufficient for self-defense. You also must have training, and marksmanship is only one small part of what you have to learn.

    If you keep firearms in your home, every person in the house must be trained in gun safety. This especially includes children. There are many things in every home that are dangerous or inappropriate for children. If you can teach your children not to play with matches, drink bleach, touch a hot stove, play with power tools, or stick their fingers in an electric socket then you can teach them not to play with guns.

    Half-assed legislation is no replacement for good parenting. Raising your children is not the Government's job - it is your responsibility. If you can't handle this responsibility, do the species a favor and have yourself sterilized.

    What about having a voice activated unlocking mechanism for a gun? Take a voice activation chip and implant it into a trigger jamming device. Then you say something in your own voice it checks it and unlocks the gun (ala Millenium).

    Millenium is science fiction . A system like you describe is not feasable with existing technology. Even if the technology did exist, it would be impractical to use. In order to be suitable for use in a firearm, a system like this would have to be as reliable and simple to operate as existing safeties. It would have to be small & light enough so that it did not add noticable weight or bulk to the weapon and be rugged enough to still function flawlessly under severe adverse conditions. (driving rain, sub-freezing, baking hot, after being dropped repeatedly, etc). Politicians who endorse so-called "smart guns" should be required to have their bodygaurds carry only those weapons. I think their attitude would change when it's their ass that's on the line.

    "The axiom 'An honest man has nothing to fear from the police'

  • Just this last week, an intelligent and mature friend & I who have shared an irc channel for the last 4 years, messaged me about my past experience with Cyber Angels. She was considering joining (as I did, 3 years ago, thinking she too could 'give back to the net' by educating and informing the unaware on how to use the net safely and effectively. She asked about my experience with this organization and it's agenda.

    She was not aware, as I was not, even as a member that, THE AGENDA, was censorship. When I told her that they were developers of censorware she was astonished. Like me, increasing newbie awareness of the lurking dangers associated with the net was desirable....limiting access to information IS NOT!

    It is important that I had URL's, links & examples of how inappropriate and devious censorship really is to educate her on the dangers of limiting information.

    22 million people on AOL think they have access to the world! 22 million people have access to AOL/Time Warner's version of the world. Most of them do NOT know 'what' they do not know. Did you ever argue with an ignorant person who stood on the value of their limited knowledge to defend their position?

    /. Articles provide new and useful information, as it is discovered, as well as many otherwise unknown links to additional data from knowledgeable readers. Unlike access providers who utilize censorware, /. allows readers to really research the world for facts, statistics and data which provide the foundation for the thoughtful, responsible implementation of decisions gleaned from all available information, not just that approved by some community with an agenda I may or may not agree with.

    Keep on 'keepin' on' Slashdot! I count on you to provide a large and very diversified membership with a forum where they can share their massive wealth of knowledge with me on many diversified subjects that might otherwise leave me like 'AOL'ers', Were it not for /.'rs pointing me to all the available information repositories of the net, as it really exists, I too might NOT know what I do NOT know!

  • You write: While I praise this article for pointing out the fact that AOL's filtering software is not at the level it should be, I think any accusations of outright liberal bias are premature and ignore the fundamental differences between whitelist and blacklist filtering. Sorry, I'm not buying it. While of course accidents happen, any organization maintaining such a list that is committed to avoiding bias would, when given a request to add the Republican Party web site to the whitelist, add the Democratic Party's site at the same time, and would do the same in other cases where advocacy for one side of a cause is considered for addition. Failure to do this is irresponsible and a sign of active bias. Now that the CNET story is out, then either the company will fix the list, or by not doing so will confirm their bias.
  • There are two really baseless assumptions you make in your argument. The first is that a young adult who has lived a sheltered life does not have the capacity to think. You assume that these people are incapable of rational thought just because they have not seen pornography, heard about satan worship, or tried pot.

    I think you're intelligent enough to recognize hyperbole when you see it. Just for the record, I am not advocating that people see pornography or try pot. But hearing about Satan worship, absolutely. Not necessarily practising it, mind you. Hearing about it, or maybe knowing a thing or two about it, so that you can fight it better, or decide it's plain silly, or even join in if you're so inclined. But any of these is preferable to being completely ignorant about it.

    This is a ridiculous assertion. Everytime I go to math class I learn something new, that doesn't mean I just blindly accept these things. I have the capacity to judge the proofs that back these new concepts. If I believe the proof makes sense, then I accept the new concept (If I don't, I go ask the TA to explain it :)).

    And, consequently, you gain further experience with proofs. Which is a good thing. It also means that you'll be better capable of recognizing a lousy proof when you see one. But this is still experience, and speaking as someone who loves mathematics myself, this is really pretty limited experience.

    We are humans, we have the ability to reason and make valid inferences from data. We don't need experience. I don't need to steal something to know that I would feel guilty afterwards. I can reason! I don't need to kill someone to know it is wrong!

    I think we have sufficient information to judge that stealing and killing are, in most cases, wrong. On the other hand, coming to a conclusion based on little or no evidence is pure superstition.

    The second assumption is even scarier, "children are property of the state". You are now not allowed to teach your children your own values or via your own methods. You must do it our way, or no way. Our thinking or no thinking. These same liberals (I'm just guessing you are one, but you might not be) would have us believe that we have no right to teach our children the way we want but we have every right to abort them before they have a chance at life. What a coherent idea!

    For the record:

    1. I never make the assumption that children are anyone's property. They are the responsibility of parents, primarily, and everyone else also to some extent. But they are not anyone's property, let alone the state, or in this case, the corporation.
    2. I have no problem whatsoever with instilling in children whatever values you, as a parent, wish. However I would advise that values are stronger when sharpened on real world experience.
    3. I have no clue where people get the idea that allowing children of an appropriate age to handle things like Marxism, the gay rights debate, the gun debate, etc., somehow constitutes a Liberal agenda to wipe out parental involvement and turn children into government property. This strikes me as evidence of an utter failure of reason.

    NB, I think Slashdot is handling social issues really well. It does, after all, allow people do discuss these things. There may be a liberal or libertarian bias here, but at least here, anyone with something to say can be heard, instead of just one person delivering information one way to the waiting masses (as in most of the rest of the media).

  • Actually, it's an interesting phenomenon to examine. I happen to be a staunch libertarian--call me crazy, but I like freedom--so perhaps my viewpoint may be of some use.

    The great hope for democracy was that the average man would be enlightened and less likely to be tyrannical than the elite. As we all know, this hope was misplaced; the common man is just as bad as anyone else.

    It really doesn't matter what sort of government one lives under. As long as that government recognises the liberties which are inherent and proper to man (speech, conscience, religion, arms-bearing &c.), who cares howit may be run? The only reason that we ever wanted a popular government was the hope that it would respect our rights. If a government of men wearing robes and silly hats is willing to respect the rights due the individual, well then bring them on!

    Incidentally, censorware is not necessarily a bad thing. It has one use: by parents. A parent has a right to control his children (I believe this, anyway; there is debate, but I've yet to be swayed). Anyone who acts in loco parentis has a derived right to use censorware. No one else does--not one at all.

    Actually, that's a little bit wrong. Anyone in control of those without rights can use censorware. So parents, wardens and military officers may use censorware. But the point still stands.

    Censorware in libraries, OTOH, is a bad idea. Just put the 'puter carrels out in public. Worked when I was a kid...

  • Straight from the source code of www.democrats.org
    The only slightly controversial word here might be "gay", but personally, I find the words "Rush Limbaugh" to be much more offensive.

    "keywords" content="Democratic National Committee, Democrat, Democratic Party, Working Families, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, White House, Hillary Clinton, Tipper Gore, Roy Romer, Joe Andrew, Loretta Sanchez, Dennis Archer, The Presidency, President, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Harry Truman, Franklin Roosevelt, fairness, equality, civil rights, Jesse Jackson, Richard Gephardt, Tom Daschle, voting rights, environment, education, teachers, minimum wage, balanced budget, safe schools, community policing, women, liberal, gay, lesbian, african-american, latino, native american, asian american, politics, political, news, political sites, convention, Republican National Committee, RNC, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Hastert, Trent Lott, Rush Limbaugh, George Bush, Ronald Reagan"
  • equality under the law for gays, lesbians, and other sexual minorities (and for everyone else too)
    It would be nice if that were so. In reality, I have not found the Libertarian Party to be very enthusiastic about gay rights. In 1996, I approached the Libertarian Party of Illinois about endorsing same-sex marriage. They brought it up for a vote among party members and the motion was denied. So much for equality under the law.

    This is what I mean: people who want to describe themselves as Libertarian like to talk a good game, but when the rubber meets the road they tend to retreat to comfortable conservative positions. Libertarians do not generally oppose "corporatism" -- on the contrary, they tend to support completely unrestrained free-market activity. To the extent that they support separation of church and state, that support does not usually extend to school prayer issues. And by your own admission, the fact that only "some" libertarians oppose the patent system only reinforces this point: why do not all libertarians oppose it, as an outrageous intrusion into individual liberty? Why is it not a fundamental part of the Libertarian Party platform?

    Because the Libertarian Party is chiefly about economic liberty, with civil liberties as an afterthought, if they are addressed at all. It is not for nothing that they are often lampooned as the "Propertarian" party.
  • I think it's a fabulous idea. In fact, it's just like an idea I posted about a few days ago, AskGneeves. Check out my silly little beta code at:

    http://www.gneeves.org [gneeves.org]

  • people who want to describe themselves as Libertarian like to talk a good game, but when the rubber meets the road they tend to retreat to comfortable conservative positions.
    Not this Libertarian. I actually agree with what I wrote above, surprise surprise.

    In fact, the Libertarian Party Platform [lp.org] has the following to say about "Sexual Rights":

    "We believe that adults have the right to private choice in consensual sexual activity.

    "We oppose any government attempt to dictate, prohibit, control, or encourage any private lifestyle, living arrangement or contractual relationship.

    "We support repeal of existing laws and policies which are intended to condemn, affirm, encourage, or deny sexual lifestyles or any set of attitudes about such lifestyles."

    To me this means that rather than supporting "gay marriage", we should oppose "straight marriage". Marriage is a religious issue, not a civil one, and for government to grant special favors to straight couples is unjust to gay people, unmarried straight people, polyamorous people, and so forth.
    Libertarians do not generally oppose "corporatism" -- on the contrary, they tend to support completely unrestrained free-market activity.
    ... which shows that you don't know what "corporatism" means. It means the entanglement of government with corporations, the use of corporations as a tool of government policy ... things like corporate welfare, the creation of monopolies [cato.org], the use of corporations to control workers (piss tests, anyone?) ... the kind of thing that was all the rage in Fascist Italy.

    Libertarians support the free market ... and the free market is not served when government gives favors to corporations, nor when it manipulates them to assail the private behavior of their employees.

    And by your own admission, the fact that only "some" libertarians oppose the patent system only reinforces this point: why do not all libertarians oppose it, as an outrageous intrusion into individual liberty? Why is it not a fundamental part of the Libertarian Party platform?
    Probably because it hasn't been a major issue until recently? The mises.org link I gave earlier is also to a group that represents to me the most "conservative" (i.e. Republican-esque) side of the Libertarians, and I was (pleasantly) surprised to find them opposing patents.
    Because the Libertarian Party is chiefly about economic liberty, with civil liberties as an afterthought, if they are addressed at all.
    Well, why don't we go to the source? Let's see what we find at the Libertarian Party Web site [lp.org]. On the front page I find four headlines related to specific current issues: the War on Drugs, Internet censorship, the income tax, and the Census. Of these, two are clearly civil-liberties issues (the WoD and censorship), one is a privacy issue (the Census), and one is an economic issue (the income tax). So if you could privacy as a civil liberty (which I do), we have 75% civil-liberties and 25% economics.

    Let's go to the news page [lp.org]. Here I see nine news articles, of which three pertain to privacy, two are tax issues, one is gun-rights, one pertains to the right to breastfeed an infant, one to hate-crime laws, and one to an attempt by government to regulate circuses out of existence. By Libertarian standards (under which the rights to keep and bear arms and to raise one's child are civil liberties) again we have a significant majority of civil-liberties over economics issues.

  • To me this means that rather than supporting "gay marriage", we should oppose "straight marriage".

    I could respect this point of view if the Libertarian Party were actively involved in an effort to dismantle or abolish marriage laws. To the best of my knowledge, it is not, which tells me that however uncomfortable the party is with the government getting involved in citizens' private lives, they're not so uncomfortable with the status quo that they're willing to oppose it.

    I am looking forward to being proved wrong. Seriously. When I see the LP make a real, hard, practical, strong effort at supporting gay equality or a woman's right to an abortion, and not just pay lip service, I'll believe that they're something other than the "pro-gun, anti-tax" party. Until then, it's not surprising to me that politically biased filtering software likes the LP as much as the RNC.

The IBM purchase of ROLM gives new meaning to the term "twisted pair". -- Howard Anderson, "Yankee Group"