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Published: Thu, 19 Oct 2017 00:00:00 -0400

Last Build Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2017 12:35:38 -0400


Brickbat: To Ban a Mockingbird

Thu, 19 Oct 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Officials in the Biloxi, Mississippi, school system stopped eighth-grade students from reading To Kill a Mockingbird after they'd already begun reading it for a literature class. Superintendent Arthur McMillan is refusing to answer questions from the media about why the book was pulled from the curriculum. School board vice president Kenny Holloway says there were complaints about the language in the book, presumably the use of the n-word.

'I Believe in the First Amendment,' Says FCC Chair, Rejecting Trump's Censorious Tweets

Tue, 17 Oct 2017 13:45:00 -0400

(image) Today FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who pre-emptively repudiated Donald Trump's suggestion that TV stations should lose their broadcast licenses if their news reports offend him, reiterated his commitment to freedom of speech and emphasized that his agency has no authority to take journalistic content into account when making such decisions. Asked directly about the president's censorious tweets during a forum on telecommunications reform at George Mason University's Mercatus Center, Pai replied:

I believe in the First Amendment. The FCC under my leadership will stand for the First Amendment, and under the law the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content of a particular newscast.

Pai added that, notwithstanding Trump's argument that purveyors of "fake news" should be investigated by the government, such a role "has not been within the FCC's jurisdiction." He also criticized the so-called Fairness Doctrine, under which the FCC used to require that broadcast stations present contrasting views on controversial subjects. "It was an affront to the First Amendment to have the government micromanaging how much time a particular broadcast outlet decided to devote to a particular topic," he said.

Trump has raised the possibility of reviving the Fairness Doctrine, which the FCC abandoned in 1987. "Late Night host are dealing with the Democrats for their very 'unfunny' & repetitive material, always anti-Trump!" he tweeted on October 7. "Should we get Equal Time?" Four minutes later, he added, "More and more people are suggesting that Republicans (and me) should be given Equal Time on T.V. when you look at the one-sided coverage?" Trump used a question mark instead of a period, and he said "Equal Time" instead of "Fairness Doctrine," invoking a different rule that applies to competing candidates for public office. But you get the idea: If people on TV are saying things that make Trump look bad, the stations on which they appear should be forced to air rebuttals.

That proposal, like Trump's assertion that "licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked" in response to "partisan, distorted and fake" news coverage, is obviously anathema to the First Amendment. Pai, in his low-key, matter-of-fact manner, is commendably willing to say so, apparently as many times as it takes.

Addendum: On Sunday, another member of the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, beat Pai to the punch in responding to Trump's tweets about broadcast licenses. "History won't be kind to silence," the Democratic appointee said on CNN, "and I think it's important for all the commissioners to make clear that they support the First Amendment and that the agency will not revoke a broadcast license simply because the president is dissatisfied with the licensee's coverage."

Brickbat: See No Evil

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) United Kingdom Home Secretary Amber Rudd has called for a law that would criminalize reading "terrorist content" online, including "jihadi websites" and "far right propaganda." Those convicted under the law would face up to 15 years in prison.

Brickbat: Nice Social Networking Service You Have There

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Congressional Black Caucus members Bonnie Watson Coleman and Emanuel Cleaver have warned Twitter officials that if the service does not do more to stop "racially divisive communications" Congress will regulate the service to address the issue.

Utah May Bring Back Porn Czar to Target 'Obscenity' Like Cosmo Magazine

Mon, 09 Oct 2017 16:15:00 -0400

(image) For the past 14 years, Utah has made do without a "porn czar." The position—officially known as the "Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombudsman"—has been vacant since 2003, though it was never officially eliminated. Now state Sen. Todd Weiler (R–Woods Cross) may revive it, even as the Utah attorney general suggests legislators strike it from the books.

Weiler has been on an anti-porn crusade for several years now. He's the architect of a 2016 declaration to declare porn a public health crisis (which passed the state legislature unanimously) and a proposal passed earlier this year to encourage "porn addicts" to sue porn platforms.

And Weiler's definition of porn is apparently broad enough to encompass mainstream women's magazines. Weiler "says he became convinced that the obscenity and pornography complaints office may be needed because of an ad campaign attacking Cosmopolitan magazine as illegal porn," The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

"I've received some complaints...that stores are selling Cosmo at eye level to a child," he told the Tribune. "There's no blinder rack on it, even though we have some blinder rack language in the state code."

Weiler suggests that an obscenity ombudsman could focus on things like providing guidance to retailers. But the position also has the power to monitor and punish business owners for daring to display magazines that mention sex.

Victoria Hearst, the public face of the Cosmo campaign that so inspired the Utah senator, thinks that Cosmopolitan should not only be kept out of the eyesight of children but also prohibited for anyone under age 21.

Opponents of Weiler's note that for all its seeming frivolousness, Cosmopolitan can be an important source of sex-positive information for girls. "Pornography isn't an issue in Utah, but shame definitely is," wrote Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro, an advocate with sexual-violence victims group Start By Believing, in a recent op-ed.

Weiler says that reviving the porn czar position isn't a priority for him, and he hesitates because of the cost of funding the office. But whether or not he brings back the position, Weiler—who also chairs the state's Senate Judiciary Committee—has pledged to keep up his anti-porn pursuits. He also continues to push insane ideas about porn's supposed harms, urging parents get "counseling or treatment or therapy for a child who has been exposed."

Bikini Barista Lawsuit Defends Freedom to Espresso Oneself

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 08:00:00 -0400

Earlier this week, a group of eight women who work in the coffee industry sued the city of Everett, Wash. in federal court. The plaintiffs allege a pair of new Everett laws are unconstitutionally vague and infringe on the plaintiffs' freedom of expression; right to privacy, personal autonomy, and liberty; and substantive due-process rights. The laws, adopted last month and implemented this month, are intended to crack down on the so-called "bikini barista" phenomenon that's popular in Western Washington State. The lawsuit defines the business model as centering on baristas who "wear bikinis while serving coffee to customers in their cars through a drive-through window." The Stranger, a free Seattle weekly, defines it similarly as "the Pacific Northwest custom of wearing a bikini while working at a commercial coffee business." The first law "prohibits women from exposing 'more than one-half of the part of the female breast located below the top of the areola'" or anyone from showing the "bottom one-half of the anal cleft.'" Under the law, women in particular could be subject to intrusive and demeaning bodily inspections. Those who are found to be in violation of the law face stiff fines and up to one year in jail. The second law specifically targets bikini barista stands. It requires drive-thru espresso baristas—all of Everett's bikini baristas are women—"to cover completely their upper and lower body, including the pectorals, stomach, back below the shoulder blades, and the 'top three inches of legs below the buttocks.'" These laws are patently dumb, moralistic, and theocratic in nature. As the lawsuit also alleges, they're also unconstitutional. In order to learn more, I drove up from my home in Seattle earlier this week and visited one of the city's bikini espresso joints (with my friend's 70-year-old mom, to boot). It would be my first trip to one of the establishments. My first stop, though, was at a fully clad espresso stand on the city's south side. The barista there, a woman, said she had no opinion on the lawsuit, but told me nevertheless that she thought baristas should be free to wear whatever they want at work. I then drove across the street to Hillbilly Hotties, one of the city's bikini espresso stands. The barista there, wearing a Santa Claus themed bikini—complete with matching Santa hat—told me she didn't want to comment on the suit. But she gave me the phone number of Jovanna Edge, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit and owner of Hillbilly Hotties and other bikini espresso stands. I spoke with Edge on Wednesday. Edge, who describes herself as "very conservative," tells me she and her co-plaintiffs filed suit because the city "enacted this dress code that was obviously against our First and Fourteen Amendment rights, and we shouldn't have to abide by their morals and values. They shouldn't be able to infringe upon everybody else's beliefs." She told me she was shocked by the city law. "I can't believe this actually passed," Edge said. "I never thought it would." Shocking, too, is some of the language in the law. For example, I'd never heard the term "anal cleft" until reading about the lawsuit. "I still don't know what that is" Edge tells me. "Our attorneys didn't know what that is. I think it's the part right above your butt crack. But I really don't know." In a somewhat surreal conversation—my columns tend to focus on food law and policy issues like farm subsidies and menu labeling, rather than butt cracks—I came to understand the term is largely synonymous with the colloquial "plumber's butt." I searched but could find no moralistic plans in Everett to crack down on the butt cracks of plumbers in the city. The same goes for Everett's own workers. A city-owned pool's website currently boasts several photos of women in bathing suits. The Facebook page for the city's Parks & Recreation Department, too, features many such photos. You can judge for yourself the mo[...]

Brickbat: Make School Great Again

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) Officials with Georgia's Cherokee County school system have apologized after a teacher ordered two students out of her classroom because they were wearing "Make America Great Again" shirts. The teacher said they couldn't wear the shirts "just like you cannot wear a swastika to school."

Hey, Berkeley Mayor: Do Your Job and Protect Free Speech in Your City

Wed, 30 Aug 2017 12:05:00 -0400

Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin has had enough of violence bursting from protests of right-wing speakers in his city and at University of California Berkeley. So in order to end it, he wants the speakers to shut up, go away, and go bother somebody else. Weekend violence from black-clad antifascist provocateurs disrupted a "Rally Against Hate" in Berkeley, and 13 people have been arrested. After the protest, Arreguin decided to buckle under the threat of the "thug's veto" and asked U.C. Berkeley to cancel an upcoming Free Speech Week at the college in September, where people like Milo Yiannopoulos are scheduled to speak. "I'm very concerned about Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter and some of these other right-wing speakers coming to the Berkeley campus, because it's just a target for black bloc to come out and commit mayhem on the Berkeley campus and have that potentially spill out on the street," Arreguin said. Yes, there is clearly some sort of trap being set here. There are an unknown number of people on each side in this ongoing public political battle especially invested in turning speech into violence. In this particular case, it seems most likely that violence is going to originate from the self-described "antifascist" side, as it has previously. But let's be clear here. It is the job of Arreguin, the city government of Berkeley, and its police to protect the right of people within its borders to speak without facing violent responses. This is not some sort of additional source of frustration and labor for the city. One of the primary expectations of a city government is to protect the civil liberties of the people within its borders, and the right to speak freely and demonstrate peacefully are among those liberties. Arreguin is hardly the only mayor to attempt to use violence as an excuse to abandon the responsibility to protect freedom. The mayor of Portland did the exact same thing in May when an apparently unstable man turned violent on a train and stabbed and killed two people. It was clearly a bizarre, isolated incident, yet Mayor Ted Wheeler made a huge performance out of trying to ban right wing protests in the city as a result. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also just banned demonstrations temporarily at a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond while the state comes up with more regulations over the correct way they'll allow citizens to protest. U.C. Berkeley should resist Arreguin's request, and Americans should reject the idea that violent reactions can be used as a justification for giving up on free speech. Instead, citizens need to be demanding that cities do a better job of both protecting protesters and holding individuals who engage in acts of violence criminally responsible. It may be messy and it may not be easy (people intent on violence are masking their faces for a reason), but it's nevertheless the only real way of working through this current phase of public political resistance and coming out the other side with our rights intact. If Arreguin is not up for the job of protecting the people in his city from violence, he should consider whether he should be mayor. He did propose another solution, one that is also terrible. He wants to possibly classify "Antifa" violent activists as a "gang." Such a proposition shows either an unwillingness or inability to hold individuals responsible for their own behavior and attempts to establish collective guilt. It would use California law as a tool to suppress the freedom of association rights of people who are classified as being in a gang rather than to punish actual criminal conduct. And California's gang law enforcement is a mess as it is. A state audit in 2016 found very poor oversight and accountability within the system, resulting in people being added to the gang member database without supporting evidence that they should be there. You better believe that if Calif[...]

Germany Raids, Shuts Down Far Left Website. Will You Stop Praising European Censorship Now?

Fri, 25 Aug 2017 16:15:00 -0400

First they came for the Nazis, and everybody cheered, because to hell with Nazis! We hate Nazis! But today the German authorities came for a far-left website, shutting it down and raiding organizers' homes. German authorities say this site was used to help foment violent protests at the G20 summit in Hamburg in July, where thousands of leftists marched and some black-clad individuals clashed with police. Dozens were reportedly injured in the frays. Each side blamed the other for the violence, according to The New York Times. But only one side has the power of government authority at their disposal. Much as they've done recently with far right websites, German authorities have used the argument that this leftist site that they're shutting down is instigating violence. The Times reports: Linksunten.indymedia, founded in 2008, billed itself as "a weapon in the social struggle" and said it was a "decentrally organized global network of social movements." The ministry was able to move against the website because it viewed those running it as an "association," and under German law, those can be blocked for extremist activity. The platform was not accessible on Friday, and the ministry said that its goal was to shut the site permanently. Raids in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg were conducted in the early hours of Friday against several leading members and supporters of the website, the ministry said in a statement. There's nothing in the Times story that says the people they raided actually participated in any violence. But they say that the website referred to police as "pigs" and "murderers" and that activity on the site intended to "legitimize violence against police officers." Let this be a reminder that Europe's censorship laws are not what a lot of Americans think they are. Governments use these laws to preserve public order, not necessarily to protect "enlightened" folks from bigotry. And a lot of people here in America would cheer on the government if it tried to root out and shut down sites used by the more violent participants in the antifascist movement. Even some folks on the left would probably be relieved, given how this violence is used to dismiss their arguments and their protests entirely and to feed "both sides do it" arguments. But let's be clear: This crackdown in Germany is awfully similar to what the Department of Justice is already doing to try to get information about people who tried to disrupt President Donald Trump's inauguration in January. The Justice Department attempted to serve a remarkably broad warrant against website company DreamHost to get information about anyone connected to, including details on anybody who had even just visited the site. They pulled back to make the warrant a little less of a fishing expedition after DreamHost went public with the demand, bringing the Justice Department some negative publicity. If President Donald Trump and his administration had the kind of authority to declare that disruptj20 was an extremist site instigating violence in order to shut it down, don't you think they'd do so in a heartbeat? Let's stop pretending that laws against "extreme" speech in European countries are a sign of enlightenment. They're fundamentally a tool for the government to shut down anything they find potentially disruptive, and they have little incentive to discern a difference between civil disobedience and violence.[...]

Brickbat: Stay in the Closet

Thu, 24 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) When Joey Slivinski and Thomas Swartz, two openly gay seniors at Missouri's Kearney High School, got their yearbooks, they found only blank space beneath their names. School officials did not use the quotes they have provided—"Of course I dress well. I didn't spend all that time in the closet for nothing" and "If 'Harry Potter' taught us anything, it's that no one should have to live in the closet"—saying some might find them offensive.

Why Are Media Outlets Giving Commentary Space to Wannabe Censors?

Wed, 23 Aug 2017 12:45:00 -0400

This week, The Washington Post joins several other large media outlets in giving commentary space to an academic who thinks the First Amendment maybe shouldn't protect so much free speech. I'll give Jennifer Delton—Skidmore College's "Douglas Family Chair in American culture, history, and literary and interdisciplinary studies"—this much: She's not disguising her calls for censorship of conservative opinion by claiming this will achieve some sort of racial enlightenment or equality. She openly describes this censorship as a tool for stopping the spread of political arguments she sees as dangerous. Her example is the purge of Communist Party members from unions, the civil service, and academia in the middle of the 20th century because they were a threat to the established liberal control of the Democratic Party. The argument was that these Communists did not actually believe in free speech (probably true) and were using it as a shield to protect them while they attempt to undermine democracy. She sees similar tactics in the alt-right, which Delton says is using speech as a weapon to attack liberal values and colleges: It is true that higher education has brought much of this on itself through the extreme policing of speech and tolerance of student protesters who shut down speakers with whom they disagree. But that doesn't diminish the extent to which the alt-right and conservatives are using "free speech" to attack and destroy colleges and universities, which have long promoted different variations of the internationalist, secular, cosmopolitan, multicultural liberalism that marks the thinking of educated elites of both parties. Hilariously, she ends her commentary by saying the process of depriving these bad people of their First Amendment freedoms should not be used to censor "liberal critics" of college or government behavior. Only wrong people should be censored! The title of this op-ed, by the way, is "When 'free speech' becomes a political weapon." Writers aren't typically responsible for their headlines, but her op-ed does describe speech as a weapon; the title reflects the piece accurately. So it's worth wondering whether Delton even grasps that she wants censorship to be a political weapon. She wants to use the government to shut down speech that undermines the institutions she and many others value. It's almost as though she understands the actual underpinnings of Supreme Court case that brought us the tiresome "fire in a crowded theater" trope—a case that revolved around the prosecution of anti-war protest—and still supports the ruling. It's also fascinating in that Delton doesn't seem to want to engage in the idea that academia could actually win a debate on these issues. There is no hint in her story there could be a debate in which the values she holds dear change minds and influence people. Her commentary opens with a stark—but completely false—choice for college presidents: Either they let conservatives speak and "risk violent counterprotests" or they censor speakers and "confirm" the speech crisis. She sees those as the only two options, as though it's simply not possible to stop violence at protests. Many of us outside the academic bubble keep reminding folks that if the government has the authority to decide what sort of speech gets censored, it won't be people like Delton calling the shots, and that in all likelihood, it will be the weakest and least influential of our citizens who will be punished. Now that so many of these commentaries have found homes at major media sites, it's also worth asking: What the bloody hell are these massive news outlets thinking when they run these? Certainly news outlets should run whatever commentaries they want, and it's beneficial to present a range of different views. Don't take this [...]

Protect Internet Companies' Freedom to Refuse to Host Racists, or Anyone Else They Don't Like

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 13:30:00 -0400

When I edited a small-town newspaper, I eventually ended up rejecting letters to the editor from an elderly gentleman who had many interesting things to say about the issues of the day. He was, in some ways, a boon to the op-ed page—online commenting has completely demolished the number letters sent to many news outlets. But he was also a bigot, and this became obvious and more overt once Barack Obama was elected president. The final straw was a letter explaining how he could tell walking into a house that black people lived there based on the way the house smelled. I would run no more letters from him. I informed my publisher and he agreed. We deprived him from a platform of communication and we didn't regret it one bit. The impact in this case was small—the growth of the Internet means that there are plenty of other ways to get your message out when the local media tell you no. But that didn't used to be the case. Go back 30 years, and the average American's ability to communicate ideas to the larger public was much more limited. Yet newspaper editors regularly censored or refused to run letters to the editor they felt were in bad taste. There was never any question that newspapers had the authority to make those calls. The First Amendment is very clear here. Now that mass communication has moved online, a whole new crop of companies have the power to decide whether to host controversial content. They don't see themselves as "media outlets." They're just hosts and service providers. Traditionally they have not cared what people are saying. But in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, some of these companies are making the same decisions that old-fashioned media outlets have made in the past. They have decided that they do not want to provide their services to neo-Nazi outlets like The Daily Stormer. Earlier in the week GoDaddy and Google booted the white supremacist site as customers. The CEO of CloudFlare, a service that helps protect sites from cyberattacks, subsequently decided abruptly to dump Daily Stormer as a customer. Now the CEO, Matthew Prince, has some regrets. He's concerned about betraying his neutrality as a service provider, about the potential consequences of taking sides in a highly charged political debate, and about his own power, saying at one point: "Literally, I woke up in a bad mood and decided someone shouldn't be allowed on the Internet. No one should have that power." Fortunately, Prince doesn't actually have that power. CloudFlare is a major player, but it does have competition, and it's competition that should resolve this fear. Going back to the newspaper example: When enough people in a community felt like their local newspaper didn't serve them well enough, it created the environment for rival newspapers to pop up and thrive. The entire alternative newsweekly industry exists because traditional dailies were not meeting a younger, more liberal readership's needs. If Prince were to get so drunk on his power that he starts cutting ties with customers willy-nilly, that wouldn't just be bad for the customers. It would be bad for CloudFlare, because it would lose business to its competitors. There's a subtext to Prince's statements, one that suggests that what he really wants is not to be seen as responsible for controversial corporate decisions. The idea that a handful of companies have complete control over whether or not you can communicate your beliefs online creates a significant tension around the issue of censorship. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is worried that careless censorship by companies will bolster the efforts by governments to turn these decisions into demands. It is true that we should be very, very concerned about government censorship. Germany, fo[...]

Activist Sentenced to Two and a Half Years in Prison for Sharing BBC Article

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 13:30:00 -0400

Thailand government critic Jatupat Bonnpattaraksa, a.k.a. Pai, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for lese-majeste, or insulting the king. Pai, a former law student who has been outspoken about the military junta running the country, was arrested just two days after Maha Vajiralongkorn took the throne as the new king last December. Pai's crime: sharing a BBC Thai profile of Vajiralongkorn. The article was fairly objective—you can read the English-language version of it here—and thousands of people shared it on social media. Pai was the only one targeted by authorities. Pai pled guilty and had a five-year sentence reduced to two and a half. "Pai confessed," his attorney told Reuters. "He knew that if he tried to fight the charges it would not be of any use." As Reuters notes, the number of arrests for the crime of lese-majeste has increased sharply since the military overthrew the democratically elected government back in 2014. The arrests have often targeted government critics. "Jatupat's case is only the latest in the Thai government's increasingly repressive and arbitrary attempts to chill expression online and censor content critical of the state, including banning interaction with certain exiled dissidents and making it a crime to simply view lese majeste content," the Electronic Freedom Foundation's Gennie Gebhart writes. "These extremes are not just about stopping the flow of information; they are also about spreading fear among users that the authorities may be watching what they read, share, and say online." Human Rights Watch condemned the verdict, and in a statement its Asia director, Brad Adam, suggested Pai was "prosecuted for his strong opposition to military rule more than for any harm incurred by the monarchy." Amnesty International also condemned the verdict. "This verdict shows the extremes to which the authorities are prepared to go in using repressive laws to silence peaceful debate, including on Facebook," Amnesty International's Josef Benedict said in a statement. This sort of repression should be a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment. As hate-crime laws are coopted to cover classes of people like police officers, it's easy to imagine how hate-speech rules could be similarly deployed. Pai's persecution also highlights the importance of protecting anonymity online. The rise of trolling has led to calls to eliminate anonymity on the internet; Facebook has made it difficult to use the site without revealing your identity, even as it also becomes a tool and traffic hub for activism. Facebook is free to run its own network the way it wants, but opponents of anonymity need to understand that anonymity doesn't just protect trolls; it protects people from troll governments. Please share your totally appropriate and not-at-all insulting comments about the Thai king in the comment thread below.[...]

GoDaddy Dumps Neo-Nazi Website. Hooray for Freedom of Association! (UPDATE: Google Also Declines to Host)

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 13:15:00 -0400

In the wake of the violent confrontations in Charlottesville, Virginia, that culminated in the slaying of Heather Heyer, the massive web host company GoDaddy is telling neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer to go pound sand. In a tweet over the weekend, subsequently confirmed as accurate, GoDaddy told the site to go find a new host for their white nationalist content. A Daily Stormer post about Heyer's death insulted her and said people are "glad she is dead"; the host company ruled that this violated its terms. A spokesman told The Washington Post that the article, coming right on the heels of the protests, could "incite additional violence." GoDaddy has been under pressure to stop hosting sites that spout "hate speech," but it had resisted the idea, citing the First Amendment as a reason to keep hosting racist content. But since GoDaddy is a private company, it doesn't have to use the First Amendment as a guidepost. The First Amendment restricts government censorship, not media or Internet hosting site censorship. Invoking the First Amendment here is a way for the company to establish that it's going to attempt to take all comers and to serve as many people as it can, as long as they're willing to pay. But if GoDaddy does not want to play host to these hateful messages, it's absolutely the company's right to say no. That's what freedom of association is all about. GoDaddy should not have to play host to content it finds offensive or abhorrent. That's one good reason to keep web hosting in the hands of private companies and not turn the internet into a government-managed utility. If, for example, GoDaddy had to operate as though it were a government agency, it might be required to prove that Daily Stormer's piece insulting Heyer meets a legal threshold for incitement. As a private company, GoDaddy can decide for itself what counts as instigation. And if freedom of association is a right for GoDaddy, then it's a right for everybody. GoDaddy shouldn't have to host Nazis. T-shirt companies shouldn't be required by the government to print gay pride messages if they don't approve. Office Depot shouldn't be required to make photocopies of anti-abortion fliers. It's not a perfect solution. In fact, it's a very messy solution, one where people often use social pressure and public outrage as a way to try to influence company behavior. GoDaddy's decision came after people tweeted at them to ask whether they would do anything about the Daily Stormer's postings. At other times people have tried to get other people fired for expressing opinions they don't like, as we saw with Google. It's nevertheless preferable to solutions that involve the government, because once the government is involved, resolving the conflict becomes a matter of using force, not influence and social pressure. Police in the United Kingdom and Germany have responded to hate speech by raiding people's homes and arresting them. That's not a better solution. Not only does this create the extremely obvious problem that a person's speech limits will be determined by whoever is in control of the government (spoiler: It's not you), but it also increases the likelihood that somebody will be injured or killed by police during these interactions. So regardless of whether any particular person agrees that GoDaddy made the right choice to dump these guys, we should support their right to do so. And we should perhaps keep that in mind when other businesses don't want to play a role in producing or carrying messages with which they do not agree. UPDATE: Daily Stormer attempted to move its hosting to Google, but now Google is also rejecting them on the grounds of the site violating their terms of service.[...]

Brickbat: When in Germany

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 04:00:00 -0400

(image) German police have arrested two Chinese tourists for photographing each other outside the Reichstag building giving the "Heil Hitler" salute. The gesture is illegal in Germany, and those found guilty of performing it face up to three years in prison.