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Never! 75%
Sometimes! 8%
Always! 13%
What's censorware?! 2%

Votes: 37

 In Praise of Censorware

 Author:  Topic:  Posted:
Sep 07, 2001
Many people who know about technology decry censorware.

They do so from two angles. First, they claim that censorware is a prior restraint on free speech.

Second, censorware opponents claim that the software is ineffective and hinders the communications that it is meant to let by.

While this second criticism is valid, the first is not.


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Corporations, schools, prisons and other institutions have legitimate reasons for restricting certain types of speech.

In fact, the lack of a unified social push towards responsible censorware leads to its current technological shortcomings. Current censorware technologies, be they text-limiters, site blockers, or image filters, can be subverted.

The more the technology fails, the more ammunition its opponents get.

I'd like to propose a change in perspective for this debate.

Right now, the debate focuses on a stark contrast: the absolute freedom online proposed by many geeks, and the absolute control of online media proposed by many right wing conservatives.

But what about relative freedom?

Think of all of the places where the Internet cannot penetrate due to the inability of authorities to effectively restrict it. Most of the time, these authorities ban Internet use completely. In Arizona's correctional system, inmates are even restricted from using a third party email forwarding service to access the Net.

Surely there is a better way than this. With effective censorware, we can raise the level of trust authorities feel with computers, and deliver some useful services, at least, to the people who need them most - the folks under the thumb of authorities.

In the United States, our laws sound absolute but they really aren't. In the 1940s in a case called Korematsu the Supreme Court ruled that the US has the right to intern Japanese ancestry people based on their skin color, a clear violation of the 14th amendment, due to a clear and present danger seen by the US military. Freedoms are a matter of reform- of making it possible to allay fears held by authorities. In the case of Internet access for prisoners, the California 1st Appellate Court says, We conclude that given the unique characteristics of email, the ban on receipt by regular mail of Internet-generated material was neither arbitrary nor irrational and was logically related to the prison's legitimate security concerns.

If you are a revolutionary, like I am, you may believe that the lack of an absolute freedom of speech is just grounds to overthrow the government. However, without overthrowing the government, we can improve the conditions of prisoners, students and others who would benefit from the Net.

This is called, in contrast to revolution, "reformism," aka "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic" and "painting the jail walls." This is not to denigrate it- there are real reasons to do these things.

Many prisons have abandoned education for prisoners in an era of budget hawks and stentorian harshness towards the criminal, instead of a pro-rehabilitation attitude. Teachers have refused drug testing and content restrictions by the prisons, and most prisoners tend to leave incarceration with new criminal skills, not new social skills. But the Internet could reestablish distance learning and other education for inmates without violating prison rules or security.

Corrections manager F. Warren Benton described a case where computers were used in a prison and prisoners established a pedophiliac pornography ring. This incident was a primary reason for the discontinuation of many Internet programs in prison, and the passing of laws such as the Arizona statute linked above. But Benton does not abandon computer technology in corrections. He describes some potential applications for a secure prisoners' computer network:

Systems for Prisoner Access: The Benefits, Risks, and Tools

There are clear benefits to prisoner access to well-designed computer systems. The benefits occur when they save correctional labor, expedite the transmission of information, and improve the scheduling and logistical management of correctional operations. The following are some examples of ways that computing and telecommunications will transform correctional operations. While the thinking is advanced, Benton's naivete about security measures on the Internet should be a clarion call to geeks everywhere to develop better censorware and security so prisoners and students can get the benefits that Benton realizes the Internet can provide.

•Prisoner E-mail to Staff: Today, prisoners usually communicate with staff directly or via "kites" which are written notes. Face-to-face communication is great if the staff member is available and if the staff member can solve the problem raised. Otherwise, the message does not occur, or the staff member is involved carrying a message from the prisoner to the staff member responsible to solve the problem. If kites are used, these paper messages have to be sorted, delivered, processed,and responded to. An e-mail system would provide for rapid communication, with precise accountability as to when a message was sent and what was said. A structured system (such as a health care request message or prisoner complaint message that uses a computer-screen form) permits inquiry of the prisoner as the initial message is created, improving the chances that staff receiving the message can respond effectively.

•Prisoner E-mail to Family and Lawyer: Prisoner e-mail could be set up as a closed system that only reaches staff for official communications. Alternatively, it could be set up to permit external e-mail to an approved list of individuals. In this way, it would work like telephone systems that permit collect calls to an approved list for each prisoner. Since prisoners can write letters to practically anyone, adding e-mail on a structured basis would not increase the range of people who could be contacted. However, e-mail is more accountable than written mail, because the source and destination of messages can be documented, and messages can be stored for later retrieval. The legal aspects of procedures for storage and later retrieval will have to be confronted, but there is probably an acceptable policy somewhere between "It's a privilege - don't use it if you don't like the policy," to "We'll only retrieve messages from archive if there is probable cause of a crime."

•Network Computers: Network computers can come in many versions, but the general idea is to simplify the computer at the desktop or work station, relying more on central network computers called servers. The network computer can be simpler, cheaper, more reliable, and more controlled. A correctional officer's desktop computer might have no disk drives, always relying on software from the network server. A computer intended to provide nformation to prisoners might not even have a keyboard, relying on a touch screen or a number pad as the means for prisoner identification.

•Security Devices: Today many security systems rely on computers and computer networks, for functions such as monitoring and communicating alarm, lock, and monitoring devices. Future devices, such as inexpensive and small network-based video cameras, can be new components of security systems. Instead of having a video camera wired into a video network, the camera functions as a part of a computer network, sending a picture over the network whenever requested. The picture could be initiated by a movement or sound sensor, a button requesting the opening of a gate or door, or by a person or computer program from another point in the network.

Manage Risks By Planning Systems with Security All computer systems should be planned, designed, and monitored with security in mind. There are several basic strategies involved, focusing on user identification, network firewalls, and application security.

User Identification: A computer system should be designed to assure who is using the system. Traditionally, usernames and passwords have been the primary tools for user identification. New techniques involve smart identification cards, physiological means of identification such as voiceprints, eye scanners, or fingerprint and handprint scanners.

Firewalls: A firewall is a barrier, developed with equipment or with software, that limits access into or out of a computer network. A simple firewall can be created with space -- not connecting computers to other computers and systems that should not interact. This strategy can be defeated, however, by motivated users with diskettes. Sophisticated firewalls are combinations of software and hardware that limit the movement of information across networks by monitoring the information exchanged and by limiting the ways that it can move.

Application Security: A secure application reinforces user identification and network firewalls, but also limits the ability of the user to "hack" the application itself by modifying how it works.

Those who say that "information wants to be free" are really anarchists. They would oppose the social interests that want to restrict information and access to information. I heartily support them and wish them luck! Meanwhile, though, we should work on improving the security and censorship technologies available.


Thanks for a fair and impartial article. (4.00 / 4) (#2)
by Anonymous Reader on Fri Sep 7th, 2001 at 04:42:50 PM PST
This is the kind of high-quality journalism I've come to expect from popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org. I've gotten just about fed-up with Libertarian weenies crying foul about a little harmless content filtering. They need to grow up and learn to live in the real world. Your article is a breath of fresh air.

Thanks Adequacy!

Best regards,

Michael Sims

Noble idea, what about execution? (5.00 / 4) (#3)
by localroger on Fri Sep 7th, 2001 at 07:24:33 PM PST
With effective censorware, we can raise the level of trust authorities feel with computers, and deliver some useful services, at least, to the people who need them most - the folks under the thumb of authorities.

I think the biggest objection to censorware is due to censorware that isn't effective -- it restricts things that shouldn't be restricted (hate a student? Make them do an essay on breast cancer when their computer is censorwared), and doesn't restrict things that should (how do you tell an innocent teenage conversation from a paedophile's attempt to schmooze up someone's daughter?).

It is also rather tacky that some censorware packages censor all references to themselves.

The problem is that the only really effective censorware we have today (or are likely to have for the foreseeable future) is a human censor. And that's one system that isn't too compatible with the Internet. (Just look at the trouble AOL has with it, and their system implements heirarchial controls!)

Not tacky (3.66 / 3) (#4)
by iat on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 01:58:05 AM PST
It is also rather tacky that some censorware packages censor all references to themselves.

It's not tacky, it's their responsibility. The programmers are admitting that there's no way that they can make their software totally bug-free (even with the best of intentions, there's no way to eliminate all bugs that may allow the software to be circumvented), so they're blocking users from searching the web to find a list of exploits. Therefore, they're doing their duty to the purchaser of the software, to try their best to ensure that the software fulfills its desired purpose and provdes adequate content control.

The fact that it censors sites which may say unkind things about the software or its makers is an unfortunate side-effect. I'm sure the software makers are even less happy about this than you are, because it demonstrates that their software is slightly overzealous. If they could remedy this shortcoming, I'm sure they would.

hate a student? Make them do an essay on breast cancer when their computer is censorwared

It's pretty poor when you're completely dependent upon the Internet as your sole source of information, particularly considering how unreliable much of the information on the Net is. It looks really bad to start citing web pages as references when you're trying to write something credible. Fortunately, us old-timers still remember how to use books, which are are far better and more reliable source of information. Your hypothetical student would do well to take a trip down to the library. - love it or leave it.

Libraries may be our last dim hope. (5.00 / 4) (#5)
by elenchos on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 02:49:17 AM PST
Nothing symbolizes the will of the united workers joyfully empowering themselves through the propertyless sharing of knowledge in the classless prototype of our future paradise than the public library. Without the opiate crutch of the heirarchal, oppressive and white-male-dominated Internet, the unfiltered and natural world comes directly into the hands of all men and women in the beautiful form of a book, without having to beg a single thing from the tight purse of the corporate weath-horders and the bosses that own them.

Reactionaries here in the state of Washington have had terrible success in their efforts to eradicate public libraries and replace them with this dog-eat-dog world of the corporate-bought and corporate-sold Internet. Agent of the ruling class Tim Eyman used wealth-driven, backroom tactics to undermine the will of the people and force through an undemocratic referrendum eliminating our progressive automobile tax here and replacing it with a flat $30 fee for license plates. The immediate result was that the Spokane Public library is no longer open on weekends at all and is only open for a few short hours during the week. Bitterly, workers can't even use the library during the few hours left to them, as they are diabolically chosen to coincide with the same hours the oligarchs have chosen for them to toil in their factories and plantations.

I would provide links to this great crime, but even without censorware, there is nothing of this travesty available on the Internet, no matter where you search. One more example of how the corporate tool serves the interests of wealth and wealth alone.

I do, I do, I do
--Bikini Kill

What use are libraries... (5.00 / 3) (#8)
by iat on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:24:09 AM PST
...when you can't even read? The UK's failing educational system is clearly the result of a sinister government plan to turn us into a nation of servile imbeciles who are unable to read (that wasn't an invitation for you to make a joke, USian readers). By stealing our ability to read, they are removing our capability to inform ourselves and form our own opinions. And by doing this, they are hoping to subdue the people so that we cannot oppose their misrule of the UK! Everything is now so clear to me! - love it or leave it.

Joke (2.00 / 2) (#9)
by SpaceGhoti on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:33:06 AM PST
...(that wasn't an invitation for you to make a joke, USian readers).

There's no need for us to point out the joke, thank you. The joke is self-evident, and has been perpetuated for generations. As a USian born and bred, I sincerely thank you for decades of cheap laughs.

PS: that doesn't include Rowan Atkinson. Black Adder was hilarious, but nothing he's done since has been worth the effort to sneer at.

A troll's true colors.

Bah. (5.00 / 3) (#11)
by iat on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:38:38 AM PST
I suppose you're going to make a crap joke about British dentistry now. USia is a country in turmoil - it is clearly wrong when a country pays its dentists more than its ministers of religion. I'm proud of my English smile, it is evidence of a country which has its priorities in order.

BTW, it's amazinf tha USians have the cheek to call the UKians stupid. 80% of USians can't locate the US on a map of the world, which is particularly poor when you consider that the US is one of the largest countries on the planet. - love it or leave it.

Dentistry? (3.00 / 2) (#15)
by SpaceGhoti on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:51:16 AM PST
I'm sure your English smile is more than enough to solicit broad grins in return. While I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, I congratulate you on your oral hygiene.

BTW, USians may be stupid, but at least we're progressively stupid. Our monarchies have to hide behind a veneer of democracy. Royalty is so last millennia. Our stupidity is innovative. We don't rely on the stupidity of our forebears.

A troll's true colors.

There you are (5.00 / 3) (#13)
by localroger on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:41:34 AM PST
The fact that it censors sites which may say unkind things about the software or its makers is an unfortunate side-effect.

Exactly. Their system isn't effective, it pisses people off for no reason. This is the very behavior that causes people to go looking for exploits. Your arguments in favor of effective censorware are apt, but there is no system in existence which really satisfies the requirements.

People who have made the reproduction mistake sometimes ask me about ways to protect their kids from the Bad Stuff on the Internet, and I usually tell them that I would be somewhat disappointed in any child of my own who couldn't figure out how to bypass client-side censorware behind my back. (Hey, I knew where my parents hid their porn, why should I expect today's kids to be any different?) Server-side censorware is another matter, but as long as it filters stuff that shouldn't be filtered people will erect routes around it.

It's pretty poor when you're completely dependent upon the Internet as your sole source of information,

Unfortunately, it's pretty common today for teachers to make such assignments specifically as Internet research exercises. While I agree about the quality of the information (what isn't outright kooky is usually corporate-centered) the 'net is a way for cash-strapped schools to augment their meagre or nonexistent libraries.

Adequcy.Org being censored by Anonymizer.Com! (5.00 / 3) (#6)
by Anonymous Reader on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 03:37:34 AM PST (formerly The Internet Anonymizer or more commonly "the Anonymizer"), a proxy/privacy service, has blacklisted Adequacy from the free version of its service. Although paying customers of are able to use the service to anonymously visit popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org, users of the free service who try to visit Adequacy are redirected to a page that states as follows:

Some Web pages are randomly blocked on our Free service. This is done to keep our bandwidth costs low and the speed of the service high. The blocked page lists are changed every 2-3 days. If you are trying to reach a site of significant social benefit, please email to request that the site be unblocked. No pages are blocked on our Full Version service.

Now, let's examine why this is B.S.

  • Popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org is not a random website.

  • How likely is it that knew enough about popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org in order to put it on the list of sites to "randomly block"?

  • Why haven't I seen this message anywhere else during many years of using It appears that the list of "blocked sites" includes only popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org.

  • The blocked page list has not been changed after 2-3 days. Popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org has been blacklisted like this for over a week.

  • "Keep our bandwidth low, and our speed high." This is obvious BS. I'm sure Anonymizer.Com, which has millions of people using its free service to view tens of millions of sites per day, is saving itself a ton of money by choosing to block only popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org.

  • The block page also has a "List of unblocked sites", which just happens to include fierce Adequacy-competitor Slashdot! And it gets the URL correct also,, instead of the media's typical This is a little bit suspicious.

    Hypothesis: Anonymizer.Com is being influenced or controlled by Slashdot's Michael Sims, who used the Anonymizer's "randomly" blocked site feature to try to censor popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org. He also added the Slashdot link to the "unblocked site list" in an attempt to steal traffic from popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org and redirect it to Slashdot.

    Popular news and discussion site Adequacy.Org is clearly a site of "significant social benefit," and if the people at the Anonymizer know about Adequacy, they should know that. Please consider e-mailing the above-quoted address and voicing your disgust.

    NOTE: You can currently visit Adequacy through the Anonymizer, despite the blacklisting of Adequacy, by using Adequacy's secondary URL, SlashdotSucks.Com,. It's available through the Anonymizer at the moment, although it could also get blacklisted at any time, and you can't post because the Anonymizer does not allow you to accept cookies.

  • I've informed our lawyers... (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by iat on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:14:40 AM PST
    This is truly scandalous. By discriminating against us and blocking Adequacy, (or, for short) are illegally preventing customers from viewing our site and are harming our business. Furthermore, when they allow paying customers to browse Adequacy anonymously, they are illegally making a profit from our hard work by stealing our bandwidth and content! Fortunately, our legal team is now on the case and a cease and desist letter is in the post.

    In the meantime, I recommend that those Adequacy readers with a guilty conscience who are concerned about their privacy use the far superior Safeweb service. - love it or leave it.

    Safeweb (4.00 / 2) (#12)
    by SpaceGhoti on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:38:47 AM PST
    Just FYI, Safeweb makes the claim that they "disable pop-up windows."

    Curious, I used Safeweb to go here and here. I suffered scripting errors (possibly a result of the build of Microsuck Exploder 5.0 on this machine), but the popups still came through. Safeweb's claims are fraudulent.

    A troll's true colors.

    Disables them for OK me (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by iat on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:47:53 AM PST
    in Konqueror. OTOH, it also seems to have disabled the entire page from loading in Konqueror. But, the pop-ups do, erm, pop-up in Netscape on Lunix. - love it or leave it.

    Divide and Konquer (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by SpaceGhoti on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:55:00 AM PST
    I find that highly amusing, since Safeweb's site strongly recommends the use of Microsuck's aforementioned Exploder 5.0. This is what I'm using on this computer, and it crapped out on me.

    A site that cannot fulfill their claims is not a site worth taking seriously. But I'm sure I don't have to tell anyone around here about that.

    A troll's true colors.

    Minor quibble (3.66 / 3) (#10)
    by Anonymous Reader on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:35:59 AM PST
    "Many people who know about technology decry censorware"
    Given that you included a link to slashdot in that sentance, shouldnt that be changed to "Many people who claim to know about technology decry censorware"?

    I cant believe the editors missed this one, yet another sign adequacy is well past its halcyon days....

    bah, more rights babble (3.00 / 2) (#17)
    by venalcolony on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:59:34 AM PST
    I cannot understand Americans' ferocity at defending absolute rights as an invariant measure for enlightened society. Rights are just a set of ethical relations between the individual and his community. It is trivial to show that these relations must be exercised situationally instead of absolutely. Consider first that communities make demands upon individual liberties. If they didnt, why would Rights have to have been invented? Second, without community, there would be no individual. In other words, communities make demands on individual liberty in order to preserve the community which guarantees the individual's existence.


    Every act (and speech is an act) is morally neutral without a community for its interpretation. The most stringent protection of individual liberties must always depend upon the social circumstances under which the individual acts. If those social circumstances are the US, then Freedom of Speech will protect a commodified public discourse created from the synergy between minorityphobes and irresponsible commerce on the one hand, and the entertainment and news industry on the other. Americans *will* die for the Right to confuse the verbal litter they soak up in front of their TV sets with Speech. Americans will *not* die for the right to Speak Freely on commercial property despite the fact that they spend most of their expressive days on or using commercial property. Americans *will* die for the Klan's Freedom to express itself with "White Robe Acessories for Barbie."

    In contrast, Quebecers will not only *not* die for the Right to post unilingual english signs, they will not permit unilingual english signs to be posted. Quebec understands Freedom of Speech just as well as the US, but it has decided as a community that the protection of their culture overrides the protection of liberal capitalism.

    Political Rights are simply incoherent empty platitudes without regard to the discovery process within society that guarantees them. This discovery process rationalizes Rights by a juridical interpretation of selective facts and opinions filtered according to evolving community standards. As communities fundamentally differ around the world and across time, so does the exercise of Rights. For example, Freedom of Speech is three simple words, the same three words Americans wield as sword and shield without discrimination (or insight) in debate. But the actual definition of those three little words occupies tome after tome of fudging, rationalizing, exquisite sophistry in jurisprudence. You have the Freedom to Speak what those tomes permit.

    So it appears as if Freedom of Speech is not the sine qua non of community, community is the sine qua non of community.

    Since the US has the luxury of not having to protect itself from any internal or external threat to its existence, individual liberties tend to suggest themselves as morally absolute qualities. But this is deceptive; as soon as individual liberty constitutes a real or perceived threat to community, that liberty is punted right out the window. The example of Japanese internment is a perfect example. It doesnt matter that we recognize this as a civic violation after the fact, all that matters is to ask ourselves how does it come to pass that we are suddenly so much more intelligent and morally superior than the Supreme Court judges which decided Korematsu.

    I mean, Supreme Court judges arent normally idiots, right?

    The difference between trolling and life is life doesnt have to make sense.

    while I'm on a jag (3.00 / 2) (#18)
    by venalcolony on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 06:45:17 AM PST
    The overly dramatic USian references of life sacrificing itself for the Freedom to Speak is almost wholly informed by historical USian rhetoric. Consider the following quotation by Beatrice Hall (often wrongfully attributed to Voltaire. Clue: Voltaire is not USian :-)
    I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
    Without loss of meaning, the above can be written as
    I disapprove of what you say, but I will *militarily* defend your right to say it.
    Not me. Fuck no.
    I disapprove of what the KKK says, and given the opportunity to defend them in battle, I will desert in order to shoot them between the eyes, instead, and will further greatly resent having been placed in a position requiring their defense to begin with.
    Reality check.
    I disapprove of what you say, but then again it took me 200 years to give black people their civil rights so I dont approve of much to begin with, obviously.
    What an absurd and dangerous proposition it is to die and wage war for an idiot's Right to utter evil and stupid things whose consequence as the function and purpose of communication will be the manifestation of evil and dangerous action. I will never die defending the KKK or the Church of Scientology. In fact, expending time, money and expertise to defend someone's legal right to say evil and stupid things is not at all in the same league as risking one's life, limb and family,
    and no one with a balance of sanity does it.
    It is pure, luxurious rhetoric whose repetition is only possible because the means and infrastructure to defend FoS is already in place in a community under none of the threats unpopular speech advocates (by definition).


    Consider the fact that the first ever First Amendment case heard in the US was heard in 1919 (Schenck v US), quite a few years after law enforcement was routinely bashing anarchists and communists into an early grave. Before 1919, the social fabric of the USA wasnt yet strong enough to entertain foolish, leftist, radical ideas. The infrastructure to defend FoS was still too fragile for the elite to suffer any sentimental affection for unpopular and threatening speech. In fact, most of formal justice was a luxury, hence the term Frontier Justice which is evidence for the fact that the unversal application of justice is only possible if people do not risk going to bed hungry. Rights arent good eating.

    But that isnt the whole story. In order to understand how hypocritical and incoherent Rights talk is, you have to shed all your unconsciously held assumptions and pretend you are an alien looking down on the world. How will you judge China vis a vis the USA?

    None of this should be construed as a principled rejection of political reason, only the categorical admission that Rights and Reason in the same sentence constitutes an oxymoron. USians inability to wrap their collective head around postmodernist disciplines in favor of 17 and 18 century incoherent ideologies of liberty is no one's fault but their own. Our understanding of ourselves and society has advanced several times since Jefferson spoke his last inaccurate homily.

    Rights are ideological dross and ideology is a fair weather friend to reason at best. In conclusion, do what your government tells you to do.

    The difference between trolling and life is life doesnt have to make sense.

    Could not have put it better myself. (none / 0) (#19)
    by Anonymous Reader on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 08:31:42 AM PST
    Venalcolony, I think you should expand on this, perhaps submitting an article to adequacy on the very subject: "Freedom of speech - an overrated luxury ?".
    Its obvious that most people (even hardcore constitution worshippers) accept that there must be some boundaries on freedom of speech (e.g. you cannot yell FIRE! in a crowded movie theater). Perhaps its time to extend this kind of restriction to encompass some of the more obviously inflammatory free speech abuses, such as racism and homophobic speech.

    It's nice living in the Great White North (none / 0) (#20)
    by Anonymous Reader on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 05:24:35 PM PST
    Because we have already extended the boundaries on freedom of speech to protect society from people who would use freedom of speech to promote hatred.

    "In America, we have three God-given freedoms: Freedom of speech, freedom of expression and the good sense never to practice either."
    -Mark Twain

    in fairness (3.66 / 3) (#22)
    by venalcolony on Sat Sep 8th, 2001 at 11:44:03 PM PST
    Despite its willingness to tell people like Zundel to go fuck themselves, Canada is far from ideal and your reply shouldnt be mistaken as an invitation for Americans to emigrate there. Americans with such a notion would be well advised to consider the following:
  • Canada is brits with hockey sticks and frenchmen without haute cuisine;
  • it is strictly illegal for unattended libertarians to step beyond asylum property;
  • there is but a single TV frequency and it is public for obviously good reasons;
  • marijuana is not really the cash crop of British Columbia, but McDonald's really does serve lettuce burgers without meat;
  • the right to bare arms during winter is a good way to catch a cold, not a Constitutional right;
  • the Hells Angels play weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs;
  • politicians are cultivated in petri dishes by a bureacracy under the auspicies of the United Nations;
  • Mon pays ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver;
  • all the beautiful, beaudacious women have gone and left to marry Tommy Lee;
  • if your tax bill is less than 90% of your total income, your neighbors will inform the government of its innocent mistake;
  • national defense is entrusted to cub scout troupes;
  • government has mandated the Jehova's Witnesses to deliver the mail since they're going to knock on every damn door anyway;
  • Canada's two official languages of are the words "eh" and "hoser";
  • If all of the above and lots more where it came are an attractive proposition for Americans, then by all means, mi socialism su socialism.

    The difference between trolling and life is life doesnt have to make sense.

    In response (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by SpaceGhoti on Sun Sep 9th, 2001 at 06:33:27 PM PST
    I have only one answer. Thankfully, Wiley Miller ran this cartoon which sums up my response to your litany of complaints.

    A troll's true colors.

    i have no idea what you're talking about (3.00 / 2) (#24)
    by venalcolony on Sun Sep 9th, 2001 at 08:35:40 PM PST
    if that cartoon sums up your response to my "complaints", then we have a crisis in mutual understanding. No offense, but a cat walking across your keyboard would have conveyed as much helpful information.

    Help me out here; demonstrate that Rights are logically coherent instead of a set of social biases. I submit the continued exsitence of the KKK in USia is due to the fact that black people were and remain a threat to whites. USians will weave all sorts of sophistry from whole cloth in order to justify its existence on FoS grounds, but the contemporary existence of the KKK and white hegemony in political and economic power is no accident.

    Rights are pious assertions of social bias. For example, why dont USians fight for FoS on commercial property? Why the cognitive dissonance between government and capitalism? Ever see one without the other? Ever try to get elected in the US without gobs of commercial backing? Who has a greater effect on your life -- your employer or your President?

    I bet Chinese nationals can exercise FoS on factory floors.

    Rights are nice things, but they are no defense for decisions made intelligently, and their invocation in public discourse is a good way to subconsciously limit avenues of investigation and intelligent discussion. Why are people afraid to reach intelligent decisions without the aid of a laundry list of Rights?

    The language of Rights impoverishes thinking and Rights themselves are easily deconstructed into a set of social instead of universal biases.

    The difference between trolling and life is life doesnt have to make sense.

    A clue for you (3.50 / 2) (#26)
    by SpaceGhoti on Mon Sep 10th, 2001 at 05:53:40 AM PST
    People tend to write about what they know. In the period when the People's Rights were written down in the USian Constitution, many of those Rights were being denied for anyone who wasn't rich or nobly born. You may think that's a perfectly reasonable course of action. Bully for you. The rest of us think otherwise.

    Using your example of Freedom of Speech, let's look at the latter 18th Century. In that time, if you pointed out an injustice and didn't have the nobility to back up your word, you were just as likely to get killed for saying it. By attempting to protect speech by force of law, the framers of the Constitution were effectively telling the world that Truth is more important than Lineage. At the time it was a radical concept, but one that is taken for granted in our more enlightened times.

    In essence, the concept of writing down the people's Rights was to remind the government where their boundaries lay. Governments frequently have trouble remembering this. Furthermore, it was the intention of the framers to help future generations protect their Rights from government when they pointed out that all rights not expressly laid out in law were assumed to be held by the people. This was written to prevent the government from playing "gotcha" with new situations that hadn't yet been covered by law.

    To me, Rghts are things that should be protected jealousy and used judiciously. Mankind has a particular genius for taking anything fair or foul and finding a way to abuse it. The KKK is an excellent example of this. But I would rather suffer the KKK than to live under Stalin or Buchanan's idea of the "good of the people." It would seem that you hold the opposite view. Again, bully for you. The rest of us think otherwise.

    As for how the comic sums up my response to you, re-read the last panel. If it still escapes you, ask your father.

    A troll's true colors.

    governments change... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Anonymous Reader on Mon Sep 10th, 2001 at 05:48:48 AM PST
    "I disapprove of what you say, but then again it took me 200 years to give black people their civil rights so I dont approve of much to begin with, obviously."

    I would like to point out that there is no "me" in this. There is a government that failed to give such social rights to those that deserve them (minorities and women), but there is no me. You say that as if it is every U.S. citizens fault that there is corruuption in the government,
    and as if we should now be blamed for things that happened before most of us were even born.

    "I didnt do it." Who did? "I dunno. (none / 0) (#27)
    by Anonymous Reader on Mon Sep 10th, 2001 at 09:15:53 PM PST
    Man, I am so ready for parenthood.

    I would like to point out that there is no "me" in this.

    [...] You say that as if it is every U.S. citizens fault that there is corruuption in the government, and as if we should now be blamed for things that happened before most of us were even born.

    I find this kind of reply both typical and frustrating.

    One the one hand there is no shortage of Americans making autistic arguments about the illegitimacy of government, on the other these same Americans are the first to damage their vocal chords in defense of a Constitution which guarantees and legitimizes their form of governance. Apparently there are citizens, and there is a monolithic Mr. Scapegoat in charge of "Government"; the executive, the legislative, the judiciary, and the myriad of public processes responding to public pressures exist for their rhetorical dismissal.

    Thing is, American history enjoyed the broad popular support of historical Americans. That's would have been the point. The people who make your sermon today are the people whose pious, rationalized certainty victimized minorities in your past..

    So really what you are trying to tell me is that government is illegitimate, that it exercises its power randomly and for its own purpose, and that historical perspective will, peculiarly, find no fault with you, tomorrow.

    nothing i said defended the constitution (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Anonymous Reader on Tue Sep 11th, 2001 at 03:00:03 PM PST
    "Thing is, American history enjoyed the broad popular support of historical Americans. That's would have been the point. The people who make your sermon today are the people whose pious, rationalized certainty victimized minorities in your past.."

    Oh yeah, nobody ever protested anything the government did. Nobody ever risked bodily harm from dogs or being shot to tell the government that what it is doing is wrong. I guess those changes just magically happened when the politicians just came to their collective senses.

    "So really what you are trying to tell me is that government is illegitimate, that it exercises its power randomly and for its own purpose, and that historical perspective will, peculiarly, find no fault with you, tomorrow."

    Exactly, what the government did was illegitimate and it has (and continues to) exercise it power and power it doesn't have for it's own intentions. And that is no fault of my own as i do not condone nor have I voted for these people and they have no right to represent ME. You can (as I do) blame the government for wrongs it has done in the past (or what it is currently doing), but that doesn't mean that its citizens are to blame. I am sure the 90% of people that were not nazis in post WWII Germany would agree with me.

    sorry for the blooper (none / 0) (#29)
    by Anonymous Reader on Tue Sep 11th, 2001 at 06:53:44 PM PST
    That should read:I am sure the 90% of people that were not nazis in pre-WWII Germany would agree with me.


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