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Its disturbing the amount of posters here who are directly equating banning users who actively post racist, hateful bullshit and handing over the user info of somebody who opposes the president.

Because they did one they should do the other? what?

What's more disturbing is how normalized it's becoming to frame any criticism as hate-speech. That should scare you.

That may also be disturbing (if true), but in no world is it more disturbing than the executive branch of the federal government attempting to punish dissent. This is on a very short list of the most important things our system is designed to prevent from working. It hasn't worked yet, and the courts seem to be broadly willing to check the administration's behavior, but it's telling that they even had the gall to try.

> the executive branch of the federal government attempting to punish dissent

Like using the IRS to target conservatives?

That didn't happen. You were lied to.

I think rfrank meant "conservative groups", and the IRS actually apologized for doing it:


The IRS also was scrutinizing liberal and Occupy groups. And it was all done at the request of senators. Political groups are not supposed to claim 501c4 nonprofit status. Tea Party and Occupy groups were breaking the law so the IRS started looking into the explosion in political groups claiming non-profit status. Keywords the IRS agents were on the lookout for included "Tea Party", "Patriots", or "9/12 Project", "progressive," "occupy," "Israel," "open source software," "medical marijuana" and "occupied territory advocacy".

Then Congressional Republicans turned it into a successful fake news witch hunt against Obama saying he was abusing his power by targeting conservatives.

Read wikipedia for a mostly objective account https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IRS_targeting_controversy

> Read wikipedia for a mostly objective account https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/IRS_targeting_controversy

Over the two years between April 2010 and April 2012, the IRS essentially placed on hold the processing of applications for 501(c)(4) tax-exemption status received from organizations with "Tea Party", "patriots", or "9/12" in their names.


While [Inspector General J. Russell George] had many sources confirming the use of "Tea Party" and related criteria described in the report, including employee interviews and e-mails, he found no indication in any of those other materials that "Progressives" was a term used to refer cases for scrutiny for political campaign intervention.[86] The letter further stated that out of the 20 groups applying for tax-exempt status whose names contained "progress" or "progressive", 6 had been chosen for more scrutiny as compared to all of the 292 groups applying for tax-exempt status whose names contained "tea party", "patriot", or "9/12".[85][89][90][91]

> Read wikipedia for a mostly objective account

You don't actually believe that, do you? Wikipedia is so left-leaning it virtually capsizes.

Do you have any sourced information that suggests what is on Wikipedia is wrong? I'd love to hear it if so.

> Do you have any sourced information that suggests what is on Wikipedia is wrong?

Are you implying that everything on Wikipedia is correct?

> I'd love to hear it if so.

This implies that you've never read anything negative about Wikipedia. I feel like, if that's the case, you must either have avoided such information, or have just gotten Internet access for the first time. If you would honestly love to hear it, then you could have already found it by using Google.

Please avoid sea-lioning.

The implication is that they've never read any sourced information about bias on Wikipedia, not that they've never read anything negative about Wikipedia. Certainly we've all read plenty of opinion and insinuation, but factual analysis is harder to come by, not just for this question, but for all questions. It's a pretty good rule of thumb that you can't do a simple Google for factual information on a hot topic, because your results will be drowned out by opinionated noise. So your implication that you can find this "by using Google" immediately makes me think that you haven't actually seen any yourself, but are parroting opinions you've read. I haven't seen any objective analyses of Wikipedia's bias myself, but this isn't something I look for information on, and I suspect they exist somewhere.

Edit: I didn't know what sea-lioning was, so I just looked it up. Asking for sources when someone makes a broad claim doesn't seem to fit the definition.

I disagree. "Sourced information" is arbitrary, vague, and ultimately meaningless. All information is "sourced," and each person must come to their own conclusions about the validity of information. Finally, while an objective study of factual accuracy might be feasible, any study of political bias would necessarily be subjective, because despite any attempted rigor, it ultimately boils down to the researcher's judgment. Therefore, believing that Wikipedia must be unbiased unless it can be objectively proven to be biased is unreasonable. On the contrary: since Wikipedia is made by humans, and humans are necessarily biased, it must be biased.

> So your implication that you can find this "by using Google" immediately makes me think that you haven't actually seen any yourself, but are parroting opinions you've read. I haven't seen any objective analyses of Wikipedia's bias myself, but this isn't something I look for information on, and I suspect they exist somewhere.

Fascinating: you make an unwarranted assumption about me, then accuse me of parroting, and then admit that you yourself have neglected to even attempt the most basic search. You seem to be accusing me of what you have convicted yourself of.

I perceive two definitions of sea-lioning, one of which is attempting to provoke by making demands for sources which meet arbitrary standards. It's typically followed by moving the goalposts until the respondent gives up, after which the sea-lion asserts victory. In other words, it's a form of trolling, not of serious discussion. Given the nature of the argument (whether Wikipedia is biased is necessarily subjective), and the arbitrary standard ("sourced information"), I conclude that it's sea-lioning. You're free to disagree.

Lookit, you made a very broad claim for which you still haven't even tried to give any evidence. It's fine to say, "in my opinion, based on what I've read, wikipedia is biased", but when you present something as a fact, if someone asks you for evidence, you shouldn't be outraged, you should either say, "oh you're right, here's some evidence", or you should say "I don't really have any direct evidence, this is my opinion based on my accumulated experience".

I really do understand the annoyance of finding and citing sources for things that you're pretty sure are true based on accumulated experience, but don't have any handy links for - we all have that problem, it's exhausting - but it doesn't mean you can just state your opinions as fact and expect to not be called out on sourcing them. I find the pattern of "go look it up yourself" that you used especially off-putting - you made the claim, you aren't willing to put the work in to cite sources, but you expect me to?

I'm not making a claim one way or another about wikipedia's bias. It isn't a topic that interests me enough to go research it. I only hopped into the thread because you triggered my pet peeve of "here's a claim, now you look it up!". But obviously that is always stupid to do. Edit: that is, hopping into threads you have no investment in is stupid to do.

I'm sorry I accused you of parroting, I couldn't think of a better word.

Look, I just explained that any claim about Wikipedia's political bias is necessarily subjective. Obviously, therefore, I am not claiming my statement as fact.

If your beef with me truly boils down to, "You didn't prepend the words 'I think' to your claim," then I would have to agree that this has been a waste of time. Just because someone uses the word "is" doesn't mean they intend their statement as a fact. This isn't an academic journal, it's the Internet Argument Clinic.

(I really wish the other guy had answered my question of whether he thinks everything on Wikipedia is correct. That's the real issue at stake.)

I'd argue that Wikipedia isn't left, but it's focus of published media, and the fact that much of the American media is left, causes this effect.

That's a good point, and you're probably right that a lot of it is due to that.

I would add my anecdotal observations that, whenever I have looked at the edit history and talk pages for anything remotely political, the non-left views are virtually shouted down and literally edited out ad nauseam. The editors by-and-large seem to have a strong left-leaning ideology.

There are thousands of churches across the US who tell their congregation who to vote for. The IRS doesn't touch them.

The right has privileges the left doesn't have, too. Unfortunately things aren't fair.

Trying to avoid getting further into the muck - I meant the very specific way of punishing dissent: attempting to reveal the identity of anonymous dissenters.

Two bad things by both sides doesn't make them right

It's just amusing to me how only one of those bad things seems to be "terrifying" or "disturbing". Which is worse, unmasking the twitter account owner, or Susan Rice's unmasking of intel reports on Trump's campaign staff?

The equivalent to "unmasking" would be someone inside twitter knowing the name. Totally incomparable to mandated disclosure.

Doesn't it bother you that these names showed up in intelligence reports on Russia?

Would it bother you if Nancy Pelosi's name did? After all, she's had meetings with the Russian prime minister, ambassador, etc. Photographic proof on Twitter.

Nancy Pelosi is also House minority leader who would have official business with the Ambassador. Pelosi's meetings were also not in secret.

"intelligence reports on Russia" = had a phone conversation with Russian ambassador. in soviet union one could easily get a prison sentence for talking to US ambassador. it is fascinating to watch the transformation of US into USSR.

Why do you want to ignore and sweep away the investigations into the possible misdeeds of Trump and his associates? Are you a paid Russian troll?

I disagree. I think it's more disturbing how normalized it is to frame hate-speech and harassment as simply criticism.

Surely this is really the fundamental disagreement.

Group 1: I would rather deal with harassment and hate speech than risk erroneously silencing someone I need to hear.

Group 2: I would rather risk silencing someone who's voice ought to be heard than allow someone use speech to hurt another person with harassment or hate.


Group 1 isn't trying to promote hate speech or harassment, they're just worried about the potentially malicious intentions of those that want to decide what speech falls under those banners.

Group 2 isn't trying to silence opinions they disagree with, they're just worried that people are getting better at subtly codifying their hate speech in a way that gives them plausible deniability to out-groups but is obviously hateful to the in-group.

I think the important takeaway is that neither 'side' is evil and despite the fact that it causes heated arguments one should maintain respect for those they disagree with.

Your description of the groups is oversimplifying things and isn't a very "fundamental" dichotomy at all. The key phrase is "silencing someone." There is a continuum of power that a private individual or corporation or government can have to "silence" someone.

At one end of the continuum is an individual hanging up the phone when they decide they've heard enough from whoever called them. I think most of us would agree that this doesn't violate the principles of free speech, even if the caller was expressing valid ideas.

At the other end of the continuum is a government imprisoning someone for their speech. I think most of us would agree that this violates the principles (and laws) of free speech, except in certain circumstances (e.g. falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre).

But there are cases in the middle of the continuum where things aren't so clear. If I run a small blog with occasional guest writers, a lot of us would probably agree that I can choose at will which content I publish without violating the principles of free speech.

But what if my blog has millions of viewers? What if it has become more of a "news site" or "forum" than a "blog?" What if it's the largest such site in the world, and the only one with significant market share? Perhaps then many of us would accuse me of violating the principles of free speech, since I have significant power to "silence" certain people or ideas.

I'm still a bit confused about libertarianism. Is this argument libertarian? It feels like it is because you're arguing in favor of allowing people to do as they please (freedom of speech) so long as it doesn't cause clear hurt to others (like yelling "fire" and giving someone a heart attack). You're arguing for the govt to get out of our way, and for private entities to fill in gaps, without restrictions. But if what you want is this unrestricted freedom, then shouldn't you be happy about Twitter? After all, by removing Milo, Twitter exercised the very freedom you seem to advocate for. They are a private entity, doing as they please. Why should Twitter be forced to store Milo's data on their servers and serve it up to users if Twitter, a private entity, chooses not to?

I understand libertarianism in many social contexts (e.g. "People who aren't straight are not hurting anyone by not being straight, so there should not be any draconian laws against people for not being straight"), but I can't wrap my head around libertarianism in the context of all these "free-speech" arguments. I feel like I'm missing something, which would make a lot of sense considering how little I have read about libertarianism

The key thing to understand about libertarianism is that all of the arguments against governments apply equally to any organization with sufficient coercive power.

Many libertarians believe that if not for government interference, monopolies wouldn't form in the free market. Those people are right in some cases (e.g. payment processing) and wrong in others (e.g. roads). But the dogmatic position asserts that it's true in all cases, and then no corporation would have sufficient coercive power so you only have to worry about the government.

If you take the practical approach and accept that there are always going to be some private monopolies and oligopolies, or even the pragmatic approach that they actually exist today and we have to deal with them today even if the wonder of the free market will eliminate them in the future, then we have to hold sufficiently coercive corporations to the same standards as governments. And at the same time try as hard as we can to destroy their coercive power, so that we can stop needing to do that.

Thank you so much! This comment has been very informative, and I'm glad you threw in the part about being dogmatic. I had been assuming libertatians were very dogmatic about libertarianism based on the libertarians I know, but reading your comment made me realize the stupidity of that.

I wouldn't call my previous comment particularly libertarian, although some of the claims seem to overlap with libertarianism as I understand it. Most of my comment is descriptive rather than prescriptive. I certainly think you're looking into my comment and find things I didn't say or imply, like the "private entities filling in gaps without restrictions" part.

Really, what I'm saying is that there are two ends of the continuum that look pretty obvious and which I suspect the vast majority of people would agree with, but within the continuum things get less clear are offer more room for disagreement.

Sorry, I assumed you were libertarian based on your comment, and went from there. You definitely didn't say or imply anything about "private entities filling in gaps without restrictions" I just assumed you felt that way because I assumed you were libertarian based on your stance.

I definitely agree that it's not black and white, especially as you delve into the corner cases.

I find it funny that someone isn't sure whether to agree with you until you put a label on your views. Once you pick a team, they'll be free to figure out what they think.

Lol my comment started with "I'm still a bit confused about libertarianism" and went on to ask for clarification on libertarianism, a subject I know little about. The reply was essentially "You looked deeper than my comment really went into libertarianism" - how did you arrive at your current conclusion? Who here is looking for a team? The person asking to understand a point of view? The person clarifying their original message? I don't think anyone hear is looking to team up based on labels

The beginning of the comment was "I'm still a bit confused about libertarianism. Is this argument libertarian?"

Perhaps I misread this, but it sounded an awful lot like "are you on the libertarian team?"

twitter has every right to do whatever they want on their platform. we have every right to ridicule twitter for double standards.

The first amendment does not guarantee a right to a platform.

I agree with the gist of your post, however, I found this example slightly jarring:

> except in certain circumstances (e.g. falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre).

Considering it originates from suppression of wartime dissent - https://www.popehat.com/2012/09/19/three-generations-of-a-ha...

I'm well aware. I don't think that opposition to conscription is equivalent to falsely shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre, but the latter phrase is still the goto example.

But the point in that post is this "goto example" is actually an example of the vague rationalizations used in attempts to censor speech. It covers two pillars of free speech exceptions which are both controversial - incitement(the case where the phrase came from), which Brandenburg vs Ohio narrowed significantly, and false statement of fact, which is very controversial, with decisions like Sullivan protecting newspapers from almost any liability vs the government.

The problem with almost all of the exceptions on freedom of speech is that they're all meant to be just that, exceptions in the most extreme of cases, and none of them are without controversy and tons of reinterpretation. Handwaving them away with the simplistic "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater" does not do any of them justice.

I really am quite aware of Schenck v. United States. Truly. I don't agree with that particular application of the phrase. However, the phrase still does describe what I believe is a genuine instance where speech ought to be infringed. Moreover, it is a common idiom for such instances regardless of its original application to criticism of conscription.

I think Group 2 is, in practice, more reasonable. It seems like the only time someone gets banned is when they're a huge asshole about whatever controversial opinion they may have. I've yet to see a tactful, levelheaded person be banned for their controversial views. It's like the only casualties with Group 2's ideals are annoying assholes, which hardly feels like a loss.

To me, having terrible people silenced in your community seems far better of a "drawback" than having marginalized people harassed in your community.

This is also commonly the case:

Group 1: I would rather others deal with harassment and hate speech than risk erroneously silencing someone I need to hear.

That may be an interesting debate, but it is a derailment from what's going on here. This is just about the executive of the US federal government attempting to determine the identity of an anonymous dissident.

I cannot agree with the way you've set up those groups. Mainly because I don't think it's that difficult to ban the harassment and hate speech without erroneously silencing someone who shouldn't be silenced. I don't buy the slippery slope argument on this one.

I honestly think that Group 1 is more often, "I'm fine with the others being harassed, so I'm going to pretend we're talking about criticism or something like that instead of harassment."

As long as both sides do agree this is accurate, this seems like a great summary of the perspectives involved.

> I think the important takeaway is that neither 'side' is evil

I disagree. While group 2 may not intend evil, they are attempting to control others' speech. By their own standard, effect matters, not intent. To exercise control over others against their will is evil. Therefore they are evil.

Their sole principle is that the ends justify the means, which is the equivalent of might-makes-right. By that priniciple, whoever happens to be in power will get away with whatever they want. In other words, opportunistic authoritarianism rather than the rule of law.

While I don't doubt that there's an increasing trend to shout "hate speech" in an effort to shut down discussion (and that's obviously dangerous) there is equally a worrying trend of dismissing co-ordinated campaigns or harassment and personal attacks as "free speech".

There's more complexity here than you're acknowledging.

And things labeled hate speech isnt as easily defined as some seem to imply.

> there is equally a worrying trend of dismissing co-ordinated campaigns or harassment and personal attacks as "free speech"

Why is this more worrying? Seems less worrying to me if by harassment/attack you mean purely verbal online gabber.

No, id say the goverment directly attacking people who criticise them is a more disturbing development.

I don't see why criticism being normalized as hate-speech is more scary than equating banning users who actively post racist, hateful bullshit and handing over the user info of somebody who opposes the president.

One has people starting mobs against each other while the other has people thinking actions taken against demagogues is of the same vein as government suppression of dissent.

You're more afraid of mobs of people shit talking you than the government arresting you for your opinions if they don't agree with them?

Its a problem when it isnt consistent.

So you claim you're more afraid of inconsistent mobs than the government when it comes to suppression of dissent, or are you just derailing?

Can you provide an example of simple criticism being framed as hate-speech?

Yes, milo yiannopoulos'a criticism of the ghostbusters movie. Show me the actual "hate speech". It's become common for any criticism of liberals to be framed as hate speech.

If all he'd done was criticize a movie or a celebrity, nothing would have happened but what what he actually did was to repeat racist slurs[1] and incite other people to attack her by reposting fake screenshots as if they're real[2], and continuing long after it was clear that she wasn't interested in hearing from him or the rest of the GamerGate brigades.

As a private company, Twitter is under no obligation to provide anyone with a forum and their terms of service (https://twitter.com/tos and https://support.twitter.com/articles/18311) very clearly exclude that kind of behaviour:

> Harassment: You may not incite or engage in the targeted abuse or harassment of others. > Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.

1. Called her an ape, echoing a long history of racist comparisons: https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/755182965060169728 2. Examples at http://www.vox.com/2016/7/20/12226070/milo-yiannopoulus-twit...

> 1. Called her an ape, echoing a long history of racist comparisons: https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/755182965060169728

Not to defend Milo here (it certainly sounds like he deserved to be banned for harassment), but the tweet in this screenshot doesn't seem to be him? It's from "evyarb9000", and from a quick Google search, Milo's username was "Nero". (He must have grabbed that handle pretty early on...)

That's not him but I thought he retweeted it but unfortunately all of the history disappeared with his account.

Milo wasn't banned for hate speech: he was banned for encouraging harassment of Leslie Jones.

This is false. She directed her followers to attack him, not the other way around.

> Horrible to compare Black Lives Matter to ISIS.

ISIS is coherent, effective and well-organised. twitter.com/MADBLACKTWINK/

> We need aspirational role models. We need fantasy. We need the unattainable. We need something to strive for. Fuck feminism.

> Michelle's a tranny, not a queen. Drag queens are fierce, fabulous, ballsy, hilarious & brave. Trannies are insane.

> Liberals: the problem with putting Muslims at the top of your victimhood hierarchy is that THEY WANT TO KILL EVERYONE ELSE ON THE LIST

> Muslims are like the common cold and leftists are like Aids. It's easy to fight off a cold... unless you have Aids. pic.twitter.com/S9amPR1YVa


If it were more common, perhaps. What has become incredibly common is framing hate-speech as criticism. That should scare you.

That's a fair point as well. But, both of those are cultural issues we will work through eventually, IMO. The federal government abusing its power is a procedural error that needs immediate veto.

If a government employee publicly takes positions in opposition of their job duties, it's legitimate for the government to look to see if they are properly doing their job.

Everyone, gov. employees included, have first amendment rights. However they do not have the right to have their own agenda in their role as a government worker. That flies in the face of the core principle of the constitutional election of legislative and executive officers.

(If you want an example of twitter being inconsistent, just compare the suspension of Glenn Reynolds - instapundit - for tweeting "Run. Them. Down." in response to rioters on I277 and the lack of action on the multiple and explicit death threats the are tweeted regularly.)

> If a government employee publicly takes positions in opposition of their job duties

Civil servants swear an oath to defend the constitution, not the political interests of whoever happens to be in office currently. Anyone who doesn't want to live in a banana republic should strongly support that.

And the government is welcome to investigate. But they can't compel a third party to help them conduct the investigation just because it would be easier on them.

I doubt there's a legal basis for saying that these "alt_X" accounts are functioning in the role of a federal worker. They're obviously not advocating the official government position -- that's the whole point of them. They clearly state they aren't reflective of the views of the agency they're referencing. You'd effectively be arguing that no government employee could ever, in any capacity, express an opinion related to the function of their agency.

> But they can't compel a third party to help them conduct the investigation just because it would be easier on them.

This is a ridiculous statement. Who isn't a third party in an investigation, other than the investigated and the investigators? Bank records, third party statements, etc. This is one of those statements to save for posterity.

As many have noted, suspending accounts is very different than de-anonymizing them. And the government doing things is different than a private organization doing things.

but its against trump so its ok

> somebody who opposes the president.

What disturbs me even more, is how the media is able to shape the narrative that this is about president Trump's hurt feelings, and has nothing to do with anything else.

Like the whole Muslim ban story [that was really a list of countries numerating all the death sentence destinations to Americans].

Or kind of like the narrative that Assad likes to gas random civilians whenever the US peaks in its interest in having an intervention over there.

Even though none of this makes sense, people just don't look any further into what really is going on, and happily degenerate into the narrative.

But the real irony here, is that the people at the top, that made and control your side, aren't really on your side... They just want division (and sides) - so you lose even when you think you are winning.

What is this about, then? I don't see what it has to do with your other examples. It appears to be a straightforward case of trying to identify and punish a political dissident.

The concerning thing is that the headline frames it in the context of Trump, implying that the government is pursuing the information at the President's request.

However, about ten paragraphs in they mention:

> There is no indication that the White House was aware of the summons, which was signed by a Florida-based supervisor who works in an office that investigates employee corruption, misconduct and mismanagement. The supervisor could not be reached for comment."

So all we know at the moment is that some manager, somewhere in Florida, is looking into `ALT_uscis`. And yet, the article mentions Trump multiple times (including in the headline) before that, giving the impression that Trump is pursuing legal action that would seem to compromise freedom of speech. It's not unreasonable to infer that the journalists taking this angle on the story have an axe to grind.

Either way, I took a brief look at the `ALT_uscis` account and didn't see any tweets alluding to malfeasance or obstructive action in their official capacity, so I'm inclined to agree that this is government overreach.

Thanks. This is very fair. I agree with your assessment that it appears to be overreach but that the President-personally angle is being overplayed here.

It's getting so ridiculous, and I'm sad it's leaking over to Hacker News. People have become so delusional from their outrage over Trump's election.

Can you post a link for someone who has no idea what you're referring to?

You mean users like Leslie Jones? https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/440339119239991296 https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/564664734268411906 https://twitter.com/Lesdoggg/status/755218642674020352

You're right, not handing over user info of somebody who opposes the president is a lot like not banning users who actively post racist, hateful bullshit.

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