cr> A letter to •••@••.•••


Richard Moore

Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996
Sender: David Cloutman <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Hate Online (fwd)

After reading about the Wiesenthal Centers recent campaign, calling for
the censorship of hate groups by ISPs, I visited their sight and left
some commentary. I think the basic mission of this group is good, but their
tactics leave something to be desired. I suggest that subscribers to the
list visit the page (, and let their opinions be
known, if they are so inclined. Here is an excerpt of my message.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996
From: David Cloutman <•••@••.•••>
To: •••@••.•••
Subject: Hate Online

Your page was brought to my attention by a recent posting on the
Cyber-Rights mailing list, and quite frankly your position on online hate
grous is disturbing at best, and possibly dangerous.

The ability for anybody with a certain amount of technical knowledge to
publish on the internet is one of the great powers of modern
telecommunications, particularly in relation to the World Wide Web. Until
recently ISPs have, for the most part, kept a hands off approach to the
information provided by their subscribers through the Web, and for the
most part, that relationship has been successful. Although it is not law
as of yet, ISPs have behaved as common carriers. This is the way most Web
publishers would like to see the internet evolve. When providers begin
contolling content, it will have an incredible centralizing effect on the
internet, and will ultimately put control of information in the hands of
business, negating the very thing that the internet has been moving
against for the past decade. The idea of an ISP viewing pages and
censoring offensive material is much like the idea of the phone
compampany listening in on conversations and cutting connections if the
topic ventures into anything the company finds taboo. If ISPs begin
controlling content, no matter how repugnent, the Web will become
as democratic as television is today. In other words, not at all.

Censorship, by any authority is dangerous, particularly when dealing with
extreamists, because it only serves to strengthen their resolution.
Because they feel that there views are importent, and that there is a
conspiracy against them, an attempt to censor their propaganda will
mearly confirm this viewpoint. Further, this legitimizes their beliefs in
such a way, that it can be used as an anecdote in illustrating their
views, which can be of great benefit when attemping to recruit new members.

There is an added psychological phenomenah that censorship gives
extreamists. It is something that is deeply embedded in human nature, and
that is the fact that when something is forbidden it is made
all the more attractive. An air of mystery and wonder veils the forbidden
object... By shrouding hate propaganda in a veil of
mystery, we run the risk of making something that might easily ignored
for all its vileness attractive, which is certainly not your
orginiztion's intention.

In conclusion, I am glad to see that your orginization is concerned about
online hate. Certainly the rise of extreamist groups of all ethnicities
is a problem that we must face in an increasingly connected world. I
would however ask that you take into consideration my points, and
possibly reformulate your orginization's plan of action.

                        David Cloutman

    |"The great danger... in beliving yourself       |                    |
    | especially chosen is that it becomes easy to   |   David Cloutman   |
    | view those who are not your people as God's    |--------------------|
    | especially unchosen" -Bishop John Shelby Spong |  •••@••.•••  |
    |    Ask the Philostopher Homepage:     |


 Posted by Richard K. Moore (•••@••.•••) Wexford, Ireland
 Materials may be reposted in their entirety for non-commercial use.