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.