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Archive for December, 2006

A story titled ‘Make GodHatesFags pay for their bandwidth‘ has just appeared on the front page of digg; clicking the link will download a podcast from that site. By having thousands of diggers try to download it, it is essentially going to cause a DoS attack on the site.

No matter how unpleasant the site’s message, this is unacceptable. It is using mob rule to suppress the Westboro Baptist Church’s right to free speech. It’s easy to tolerate reasonable speech that one disagrees with, but free speech protects all speech (subject to caveats). This is a terrible way to counter the site’s message, and it illustrates the risk that unpopular speech may be suppressed because more people dislike the site’s message than are willing to stand up for it’s right to say what it wants. I see several posts on the story page arguing that somehow the ‘masses’ control the internet and that this is a form of protest, but it’s not protest when you prevent someone else from speaking; it’s just done to silence them. It’s of even more concern that this, rather than being a government-induced attack, is performed by a horde of idiots. Will we next go after NAMBLA? How about al-Jazeera? Fox News? Perhaps we’ll go out and burn all the copies we can find of Ann Coulter’s latest rag, or Michael Moore DVDs.

Who said, ‘If you don’t believe in free speech for the people you despise, you don’t believe in it at all’? Chomsky, was it? I’m sure we could kill off his website too, and then we won’t have to think about that quote.

Update: It now appears the story has been removed from digg. I strongly suspect the story is a violation of digg’s TOS, so I don’t know if it left just because enough people buried it.

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Christmas Quote of the Day

It’s truly absurd, as well as depressing and asinine, to see a collection of pseudo-sentients pretending to exist as persons and pretending to wish one another “Merry Christmas”. You do NOT wish me, or anyone else, “Merry Christmas”. You are defective, vicious, incoherent imitations of persons, stuck in some ridiculous cosmic groove like a broken record, until such time as — thank heavens! — you are all destroyed. That day cannot come too soon, and I cannot think of a better GENUINE Christmas present than waking up on December 25 to find this planet depopulated of the verminous, robotic travesties of human beings who attempt to pass themselves off as human beings. If I were to wake up on that day (or any other) to find myself alone (apparently, as well as actually) I would jump for joy. I cannot begin to live until you vermin stop ruining my life. My Christmas wish is death to you all, and (for the corporeals) may it be violent, as you deserve.

From the cafe at ChessGames (probably been removed by now). You can’t deny that ‘stuck in some ridiculous cosmic groove like a broken record’ has a lovely poetic quality to it.

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Quote of the Day

“The tendency to occultism is a symptom of regression in consciousness.” – Theodore Adorno

From this page on 9/11 conspiracy theories (which I found on Digg, or something, I can’t remember):

I am therefore sure that the Bush gang, and all the real conspirators of Washington, are delighted at the obsessions of the 9/11 conspiracists. It’s a distraction from the 1,001 real plots of capitalism that demand exposure and political challenge. As Theodore Adorno wrote: “The tendency to occultism is a symptom of regression in consciousness”.

 

On a related note, a recent episode of South Park suggested that the Bush administration was responsible 9/11 conspiracy theories – because they want people to thin they really are capable and willing to carry out such a thing. Hmm.

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So, what keeps most scientists quiet about religion? It’s probably something close to that trusty old limbic reflex called “an instinct for self-preservation.”

read more | digg story

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Eugene Volokh points to a nifty article on Slate offering an alternate perspective about Ebenezer Scrooge’s generosity:

Scrooge has been called ungenerous. I say that’s a bum rap. What could be more generous than keeping your lamps unlit and your plate unfilled, leaving more fuel for others to burn and more food for others to eat? Who is a more benevolent neighbor than the man who employs no servants, freeing them to wait on someone else?

Great artists are sometimes unaware of the deepest meanings in their own creations. Though Dickens might not have recognized it, the primary moral of A Christmas Carol is that there should be no limit on IRA contributions.

That’s the holiday spirit, I think.

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Michael Geist addresses some of the objections to the child pornography blocking initiative from Cybertip.ca that have been brought up (e.g. see my post on the matter). Says Geist:

In particular, Cybertip.ca:

  • is amenable to incorporating judicial review of the block list
  • will issue regular public reports that identify the number of sites on the block list along with the number of participating ISPs
  • will only block images of pre-pubescent child pornography, thereby limiting the prospect of overblocking legal content
  • is developing an appellate process that includes review from the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre
  • is subject to several internal accountability mechanisms including an independent board of directors and pressure from funders (60 percent of its funding comes from the federal government) to avoid potential liability by overblocking

which still does not address all the issues involved. As one commenter put it,

Secret blocking, with secret trials, with secret oversight doesn’t sound Canadian and should correctly be opposed; however, if cleanfeed wants to do this open and notoriously; more power to them. I think the issue comes down to public trust, and we have no ability to trust this organization, or any one branch of government. Our trust is in the system as a whole, and if we’re going to allow this type of thing, then stakeholders from all branches should have to approve. I guarantee if this program was publically reviewed, you’d see a lot of amicus briefs and policy documents that ensure that this program is consistent with the structure of our democracy. Right now it feels like its being created in an end-run around the checks and balances that are so critical to the system.

There are also common-carrier issues wherein can a site be blocked without notification. If someone has uploaded illegitimate information to a site, and that site is not in the business of moderation, can that site or isp even be blocked without a notice-and-takedown type request. They clearly can’t decide if an image is illegal or not; thats [correctly] not their job as a common carrier. It would seem to me that the presence of material on a network does not necissarily mean that the ISP should be punished and blocked. For example most USENET mirrors could be accused of hosting this type of material, but it is unfeasible to mandate that ISPs monitor all USENET traffic or face an entire blocking of their USENET service. [Don’t give me counter-arguments about they only block websites-blah-blah, give it 12 months). There needs to be some form of notice-and-notice and notice-and-takedown given judicial order that an ISP can comply with in order to ensure that it is not blocked. What about collateral dammage from ip-based blocks? Voices-for-change and the 700 or so blocked sites involved does tend to come to mind….

…Cleanfeed just isnt the right organization to be doing this type of thing, it should be a branch of the judicial system.

And still nobody has pointed out to me whether or not this type of blacklist has actually been proven to help keep children safe.

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Carleton University’s student council voted today to ban resource allocation towards pro-life groups by a not-very-narrow margin, one member of the council arguing that ‘[the] campus is supposed to be about human rights, diversity, mutual respect. Well, there isn’t respect when you want to throw women into jail for choosing abortion.’ I’m inclined to suggest that believing in human rights and diversity also implies accepting diffferent points of view from what the majority of your members may believe; it’s fundamentally inconsistent and hypocritical to argue for human rights, and then deny the most most basic and fundamental political right (free speech) under that guise. The resolution as worded will prevent pro-life groups from using space allocatred by the student’s association, receiving funds that go to student groups or even any type of recognition from the association. The result is that debate on campus will be suppressed. This move is discriminatory towards pro-life groups.

Eugene Volokh discusses this and brings up a point that’s relevant: all Carleton students are automatically enrolled in the association and pay fees on the assumption that it will allocate access to university property fairly. If it were a private organization, it would be entitled to allocate resources however it wishes. Since it is student (and possibly government) funded, it should not be allowed to discriminate against those with whom its members disagree.

Funny how invoking diversity and human rights can cause one to violate those very principles.

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