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Wikipedia blocked in Turkey (turkeyblocks.org)
850 points by alansammarone on Apr 29, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 450 comments



I think 2016 will go down as the high water mark for a global Internet. I see a lot of countries looking at the success of China in keeping political control, and the failure of Egypt, Tunisia, etc where the open Internet was used to overthrow the regime and deciding that allowing an open, free internet is not in their best interests. If you think that Western, liberal democracies are exempt from this, just look at the attention "fake news" and "no platform" have been getting. We are going away from the free and open interchange and discussion of ideas (even horrible ideas) to the coercive suppression of ideas (at this point bad ideas, but may not be true in the future).

Add to this that a large portion of the web content is controlled by fewer entities (if Facebook or Google bans your site, you are not going to get very much exposure). Also, we are moving from user controlled general purpose computers to secured, walked garden devices. The government by applying pressure on maybe a dozen companies, can control what type of information the average person is exposed to.

And the whole dodge that the first amendment only applies to the government is dangerous. Freedom of speech is as much a principle as a law. If we get used to large powerful non-government entities suppressing speech we do not like, it will be a brief step to accepting government doing the same or at least pressuring the non-government entities to so it.


> the whole dodge that the first amendment only applies to the government is dangerous

As a supporter of that "dodge", allow me to defend it (though I don't really disagree with your comment in general).

Freedom of speech as a principle has a fundamental tension. One person's freedom to speak must be balanced with another person's freedom to exclude that speech from their private life. Private folks having the ability to go places where they can ignore the people they've chosen to ignore is an important part of why free speech works at all. For instance, we don't need laws against Holocaust deniers, we can simply choose to frequent places where they are excluded.

Freedom of speech as a law is the release valve for this tension. If every private individual and organization in the country has chosen to ignore a person's views, that person is still free to make themselves heard with the government. They can write letters and go to meetings with no fear of punishment for the unpopularity of their beliefs. They can't be legally kept from starting their own private organization where they are not ignored and advertising it to attract others.

Personally, I just find this all to be a very good solution to a difficult problem, so I'm skeptical when I see suggestions that it should be done differently. In this case, the suggestion is that the freedom to exclude (as a principle - there is no law in this direction) should be more tightly regulated. Maybe that's a good idea because of the unique circumstances of the internet, but I'm not yet convinced that it's better than the current regime, which has existed for a long time, and which I think works pretty well.


The problem with "the freedom to exclude" is that the same argument underpins, for just one example: racial segregation. If the blacks want to go to the movies, well then they can have their own movie theater. We can't abridge the proprietor's "freedom to exclude" people from his own business.

Except we can, and we did, and society was better for it. So as it turns out, the "right to exclude" is more of a guideline than a rule, riddled with dozens of exceptions. And "the current regime has existed for a long time" is not very predictive of long-term societal shifts.

So it is here. You are right that there is fundamental tension between the right of free speech and the right of exclusion.

But one of those is a right so fundamental that it appears first when you ask people to list freedoms. The other is something we regularly cede in large and small ways when we live with other humans in a society. Where the two oppose, there is only one way the arc of history can go.

Our grandchildren will be just as puzzled by the "right to exclude" argument as we are when it is made by the generations before us.


>If the blacks want to go to the movies, well then they can have their own movie theater. We can't abridge the proprietor's "freedom to exclude" people from his own business.

I'm sorry, but this doesn't disprove the OP's assertion. Doing business with someone is not the same as speech, and business in general is far more regulated than private life ever was.

As a counterpoint, (in the US) there's still nothing preventing people from excluding minorities from their homes and friendships, and even private organizations are allowed to discriminate by race or sex, and do. (Golf clubs are infamous for this.) Businesses that are "open to the public" are not allowed to; that's the compromise we made, and it's worked out well IMO. If you're a black person, it'd be really awful if you desperately needed a medication, and the one pharmacy in town refused to sell it to you. But being excluded from someone's home or golf club isn't really hurting you.

Similarly, if you run a business, there's many other regulations you must follow: collecting sales tax, using commercially zoned property if you have too many customers, various regulations on how you can treat employees, etc. And part of this is not being allowed to discriminate based on race or sex, unless you have a really really good reason for it (like you're filming a movie about JFK for instance; a black woman isn't going to get far complaining that you didn't audition her for the part). You don't have so many restrictions on your private property.


You misunderstand my argument, and OP's. I'm asserting something like "our children will be protected from firings when they express an unpopular opinion." This would be a regulation that applies to business, so the arguments you construct around business being a regulated sphere are actually arguments in favor of why this will happen. It is also a point that directly disproves OP's assertion that "the first amendment only applies to the government", because here it would be applied to the average employer.


As far as I know, at-will employees can absolutely be let go for expressing an unpopular opinion. It is only illegal to exclude a quite short list of "protected classes", mostly (entirely?) defined by immutable traits like race. To be clear, I don't think this "freedom to exclude" should be protected constitutionally the way freedom of speech is, and I'm a big supporter of all the exceptions to it that I know of, but I still think it's a worthwhile concept that should be considered when discussing freedom of speech as it pertains to private entities.


This is currently true, yes. They're expressing hope/belief that this will someday seem unthinkable and strange.


You're right, I seem to have misread that comment. Too bad I can't downvote myself :)

FWIW, I don't necessarily disagree with that hope/belief, but I have some questions about how such a thing would work in practice. Clearly, some private organizations (like churches and political parties) rely on the ability to discriminate based on belief. But perhaps there's a clue there for how such a regulation could be drawn - those are not for-profit enterprises.


Just how far are you willing to go with this? If people having opinion X, are banned on social media and no private registrar will register their website, no private search engine will index their website, no private employer will hire them, no private bank will do business with them or lend them money, no conference will invite them even for unrelated talks, no open source project will accept their contribution, no private media company will run their advertisements, and no private college will allow them on campus or admit them, are you OK with this situation? After all, they can still write to the government and go to town halls and spout their opinion.

This scenario is not that far-fetched because: 1) There has been more consolidation into fewer large companies​, with less competition 2) Many companies share board members with similar opinions and sympathies and have leadership with similar sympathies. 3) Because of social media, it is easy to get a large group of people to put coordinated pressure on a company. 4) This scenario would just be an extreme example of the "no platform" movement which we already have, and which has already successfully pressured individual companies to dissociate with people or opinions.

It is respect for the principle of free speech in the general population that protects us from this scenario. If you are OK with this scenario for some opinions, be aware that throughout history, what is an unpopular opinion has changed, sometimes relatively rapidly.


If people having opinion X, are banned on social media

I'm not in favor of people being banned, but of ideas being flagged - not censored. For example, I don't want to do any kind of business with anyone who is advocating policies that I have a strict moral disagreement with. The nature of that moral disagreement could vary. Popular sentiment should be employed not to determine whether a given piece of media is acceptable or not, but to categorize it; and the strength of those categorial associations can then in turn inform the decisions of advertises, researchers, and so on.


Just to act as a devil's advocate: it seems like only a little better change from banning something to branding it with a tag such as "racist" or "sexist" or any of the reasons why we ban things currently. I do agree that it makes it much easier to research things, since then you do continue to have access to the primary source of truth rather than screenshots from some shady websites. The problem seems to be that some things are just too vile to leave on the public internet... Personally, I'm not too sure how to deal with this. e.g. religious rhetoric can frequently be incredibly incendiary and motivate a large group of people to violence.


It's a lot better change because people can make up their own minds. It's unrealistic to expect everything to be nice all the time, there ar vile things in the world and people who promote vile ideas, and the most effective response to that is to tag them as such. Oh sure, some whiners will complain about being tagged as nazis or whatever, but too bad, if lots of people think their statements align perfectly with the nazis well then the marketplace of ideas has spoken. Tagging content is a practical idea because advertisers and the like can then choose to avoid content associated with tags that they don't want to associate their brands with.

the tagging is a function of the popular will rather than the output of an algorithm or assignment by committee, and the the tags are associable with discrete media rather than individuals.


Are they?

What things are too vile, then?

I think those things that are "too vile" are better tracked than outright banned.


Well child porn serves as a good example. Tagging it would be effective in monitoring its diffusion, but it's not a neutral thing or a victimless crime like drug consumption; any kind of photographic child porn includes a child whose identity and sexual abuse are the subject matter of the material, and every time it is collected or viewed the rights of that person are violated anew, even if they have since reached adulthood and are thus of no further direct interest to child abusers.

I'm not sure exactly what technical measures should be employed in relation to such cases - perhaps machine-curated honeypots whose attempt to access is itself a crime.

CP raises extremely tricky moral questions. I mentioned photographic examples above because they include real people. But there's a tricky question of what happens in relation to creative works not based on reality such as drawings. It's easy to conceive of art that that would automatically be deemed illegal or at least prurient if it were photographic, but since art can be created from imagination without any real person needing to serve as a subject it's very difficult to figure out an appropriate response.

We could say that the simple lack of actual human victimization should OK the production of such content, but form a practical point of view it's possible to create hyperrealistic art works that are almost indistinguishable from a photograph, and computers are making it easier and easier to produce renderings that approach photographic quality, a trend which will only continue because of the huge economic incentives to instantiate virtual puppets rather than pay people to work. I'm sure this has been employed to produce crude CP already (based on its use in non-contraband porn). It's difficult to make an argument for expressive freedom when the only expression involved in its creation is that of the desire for activity that's illegal, but on the other hand nobody would think of arresting someone for a painting that depicted one person stabbing another notwithstanding the possibility of the inspiring idea being illegal.

This issue matters since it's a demonstration of art's power to subvert norms by realizing the creation of an image depicting a reality where desirous activities occur, but with the added complexity of leveraging mechanical assistance to produce something that's indistinguishable from a recording of real activity, at least to the casual or untrained observer.

(by the way, anyone thinking of dismissing these concerns with a 'think of the children' cliche - don't bother. I know numerous people who were abused and exploited in child pornography. It's not a rhetorical argument when it is something that happens to real people and which continues to impact their adult lives, and if you attempt to dismiss it on rhetorical grounds you are in effect asserting that the bad experiences of some people don't matter compared to some hypothetical liberty interest in consuming depictions of their exploitation.)


> it's not a neutral thing or a victimless crime like drug consumption

Then we ban it. We're not banning the speech; we're banning the child abuse. Take a look (figuratively, not necessarily literally) at loli/shota hentai - that's legal (at least here in the USA) because real people are not being harmed. Actual CP with actual children is banned because real people are being harmed. It's not suppression of free speech; it's protection against abuse.


They are doing this to Scott Adams, Trump, Snowden and others on twitter. I'm following their accounts and seldom times see any updates from them, the updates are filtered (shadowbanned).

Scott Adams himself mentions the same: http://blog.dilbert.com/post/159566176596/am-i-shadowbanned-...

If you tag people with whom you have a strict moral disagreement to avoid doing business with them, this is actually what national socialists did back in the 1930s with their own Jewish community. It is a slippery rope.


It's a slippery slope, not a slippery rope, and you also failed to read my post correctly. I did not say anything about tagging people - in fact I specifically said I was against that - but about tagging content or specific ideas.

It is extremely dishonest of you to attempt to alter the terms of my argument like this and just goes to show how weak your own position is.


The solution to that is simple. Apply free speech rules to entities, even private ones, that have grown to have government-like powers in the lives of people. They serve the same function as government.


If you think that solution is simple, keep thinking about it.


>One person's freedom to speak must be balanced with another person's freedom to exclude that speech from their private life. Private folks having the ability to go places where they can ignore the people they've chosen to ignore is an important part of why free speech works at all.

That's not how it works. The "public square" is supposed to be open to all opinions. If you want protection, you have to retreat into the cloister of a private establishment that disallows this. In the past, it was not possible to bypass the public square, and thus to avoid exposure to the sentiment of anyone who cared to stand there and hand out his papers or cry his opinion. This was a necessary part of travel between private establishments that used their limited property rights over a small piece of land to exclude such stumping within that small parcel only.

The internet is blurring the lines of the public square. We no longer need to traverse the public streets where all views are free to be expressed; via the internet, people are instantly teleported from cloistered space A to cloistered space B. People are starting to feel it is their right to go about their businesses without being exposed to things they dislike, which, whether they realize it or not, is a very worrisome disavowal of the principles undergirding our freedoms. The effect of this on discourse, democracy, and all of our freedoms should not be understated.

Ironically, rather than unifying mankind and increasing sympathy and understanding, we are using network technology to maximize comfort by crafting artificial "safe spaces" where patrons never even have to be exposed to thoughts they dislike. That's bad.

The divide has never been more palpable than during the last election cycle. Nearly half the country was so misinformed that they didn't even believe the outcome was possible, and hostility and misunderstanding are reaching frightening heights, in some cases escalating into violence (post-election rioting, Berkeley).

Whatever is creating those circumstances needs to be fixed, and my belief is that a generation that is used to muting and blocking anything they dislike and spending most of their time in hyper-sanitized environments safe for corporate sponsorship and being coddled in public spaces to minimize corporate liability is no small part in this.


I'm interested in why you are commenting in here, rather than (say) Youtube or 4Chan. Might it be because the active moderation here allows for a certain type of discourse?


Yes. I don't intend to say that no one should be able to organize their forums or exclude some speech; doing so is a critical part of maintaining something functional and workable.

We don't have to fling to one extreme or the other. There is a moderate position here. And remember, this is about the importance of free speech as a social principle. If we don't cherish our rights, they'll vanish. I'm not necessarily advocating any specific legal changes.

HN is a boutique site that targets a specific niche. I would guess it has a few thousand active users. It's developed and designed specifically to facilitate discussion on issues that fit its niche and target audience.

Facebook, Twitter, et al, on the other hand, are platforms that function much like public utilities. They are used by the masses to disseminate speech of all kinds. They target a generic user base and suggest that they can all use the site to follow their individual interests.

Beyond the mere target audience of "everyone", Facebook and Google have massive amounts of control. The penetration of Google and Facebook is probably almost exactly equal with the penetration of internet service (and to some extent, both have projects that take them beyond that sphere). If you use the internet, the likelihood is that significant amounts of your usage are under the direct control of these corporations.

Facebook boasts over 1 billion daily active users. That is 1/8 of the earth's population. That is MASSIVE -- far further reaching than any monopoly in the pre-internet age. Facebook is also the platform that people depend on most heavily for self-expression. It's a central hub that many people visit multiple times each day; some groups and businesses are now run entirely out of Facebook. Functionally, it is not unlike the pre-internet public square, and it's a frequent crossroads for almost all internet users. As with past public squares, it's possible to avoid it if you're trying really hard, but you essentially have to be a digital recluse.

This applies similarly to Google for search, email, and mobile.

As such, it's scary when such powerful platforms that present with such generic mission statements and see such widespread adoption start erasing political speech because they deem it "offensive" at the corporate level.

That is a ridiculous amount of control, and it's something we've never experienced before. Even the broadcasters of the 20th century were limited by the reach of radio waves to specific metros, and they usually had several easily accessible competitors (that people would actually use, unlike FB's direct competitors). We used to worry about the large influence of these people so much that it was illegal to own more than a certain number of major media outlets in the same market (that restriction was removed in 2003, IIRC). [We also used to have the Fairness Doctrine to compel broadcasters to accurately present both sides of the political issues.]

People recognized the damage to the public square posed by moving the discussion off to corporate-controlled broadcast media and wanted a way to check the power of the broadcasters. We seem to have forgotten about that risk, just at the moment when the central control of a small handful of people is most potent.

Imagine that printing press manufacturers had the ability to stop press owners from setting certain things to the page. That reflects the reality of the publishing mediums we depend on today. That should be worrisome.

I'm stopping short of suggesting a legal solution, but just speaking to this as an important social principle, we should all be disgusted with the conduct from the major online platform providers. Such general, widely-used platforms are betraying the public and our principles and values in favor of open dialogue by working to distort the landscape of public opinion and curtail the speech of the political, philosophical, or moral enemies of the corporate overlords.


Sheer size can certainly be scary, but consider that Google and Facebook got where they are by excluding stuff people don't want.

Google has used page rank from the very beginning to show popular pages. Since then, there have been a zillion other teaks to search ranking. (Not to mention that Gmail's spam filtering was an attractive early feature.)

Facebook started out excluding people who didn't go to a particular college, and later, the friend graph helped people avoid communication with strangers.

More recently, Snapchat showed that auto-deletion of photos is something people really like, even if it's technically "impossible" to do perfectly securely.

So it's not just about big companies being in control. Filtering is a really popular feature. Companies that did it well attracted users and became big.


I think you are overestimating the importance of facebook in the lives of its users. Sure, there are people that depend on it pretty heavily, but I don't imagine that would be all of their users. Moreover, the younger generation is abandoning facebook in favor of other platforms like Snapchat. But I don't have the raw data to know which way the pendulum swings...


Why is it bad to create artificial safe spaces? You're implicitly saying that private networks shouldn't be allowed to exist. So if I set up a forum and hang a sign on the landing page saying 'commies will be banned' you're saying that That's not acceptable? Certainly I'm attempting to create comfort by establishing a virtual space where I can enjoy discourse free of communist ideology, but if I find communism intolerable why shouldn't I be allowed to do that? certainly that's an attempt to employ the network for comfort rather than doing the work of ideological disputaation, but people use the internet for comfort and convenience all the time, like any technology. I don't see how you can argue that certain thins like political ideologies should be subject to differing technological rules, that seems neither logical nor practical.


I don't argue this. I think it's fine to set up a forum that only allows pro-communist or pro-capitalist posts. In fact, I think doing so is critical to building communities that actually function.

The issue that demonstrates the loss of free speech as a social value is that a large number of people enthusiastically pursue and endorse the censorship of legitimate political discourse on the networks that have general applicability and have become the de-facto publication platforms of the modern world.

Facebook, Twitter, et al are not really networks by themselves, at least not in most respects; they're platforms for networks. You use them to build your own communities; communities of your friends, family, businesses, etc. The platforms don't present with any ideology because they present as applicable to every ideology. If they're going to make such representations, it's not unreasonable to expect them to adhere to them with some consistency.

Additionally, when 1/8 of the world's population depends on Facebook for its news and information, and Facebook presents itself as a place that's appropriate for all users, I think it is completely legitimate to hold them to a reasonably strict standard of fairness. Regardless of the legal situation, we can and should be doing this socially.

If we enshrine free speech as a social value, we should all be concerned when good-faith political discussions are removed from these platforms, no matter how repugnant we find the actual views expressed. All views must be allowed to compete on the marketplace of ideas. Forcing legitimate policy positions into hushed tones only builds a tension that leads to a violent snap.

The core question is whether Facebook, Google, et al have reached a level where their corporate-enforced censorship policies have a real effect on the aggregate political dialogue. I think that it's undeniable that they do at this point.


If we enshrine free speech as a social value, we should all be concerned when good-faith political discussions are removed from these platforms, no matter how repugnant we find the actual views expressed. All views must be allowed to compete on the marketplace of ideas. Forcing legitimate policy positions into hushed tones only builds a tension that leads to a violent snap.

I feel this paragraph goes to the heart of your argument so I'd like to dissect it a bit.

Enshrining free speech as a social value is essentially arbitrary, and that's fine - because values are what we really care about and choose to establish the rest of our utility criteria.

But having adopted free speech as a value, it does not follow that all speech must then be upheld. It's interesting that you use the phrase 'good-faith political discussions' here, because that has significant ramifications for judging what we find repugnant.

Let's suppose for a moment that I really can't stand people in the XYZ group. Under the doctrine of free speech, I might write all kinds of things to promulgate my opinions, from asserting that the XYZs are boring and stupid, to opining that XYZ people are going to hell, and so on.

But what if I say that XYZ people shouldn't be allowed to post on the internet? Well now I'm not upholding free speech any more, in fact I'd be asserting an intention to deny it to one group of whom I don't approve. Am I really discussing my views in good faith in that case? What if I say they should be killed? OK that doesn't go directly to free speech, but since it's impossible for people express themselves freely if they're not alive I'm certainly limiting their free speech indirectly.

What I'm arguing here is that there's a qualitative difference between my saying 'I think you are bad (in some way) and I dislike you' and calling for people to have their rights curtailed because they occupy a category that I find repugnant. In the first case I'm expressing my emotional hostility, but in the second case I'm making a positive proposal that their freedoms should be reduced relative to mine.

I'm quite opposed to fascism and similar authoritarian ideologies, and lately I keep running into people who raise this free speech argument, and ask if I am not being worse than the fascists myself for arguing that their views should be driven out of mainstream discourse and marginalized or shut down as efficiently as possible.

But to mind mind, people who espouse such authoritarian ideologies are not arguing in good faith. They're not saying things like 'it's so bad that [this group] won't sign onto my ideology, oh well live and let live.' They're saying things like '[this group] is morally/ culturally/ physically deficient and should not be allowed to participate in society, or maybe even in life.'

To put it in a single sentence, I do not feel inclined inclined to defend the liberty interests of those who have expressed an intention to do harm to me - not necessarily me personally, but because of my membership in various social categories of which they disapprove. To use historical examples, it's not like if some Jews went to Nazi rallies thy were welcomed with open arms as converts to some new intellectual current; their Jewishness (or membership in some other 'degenerate' category) made them ineligible to participate in the Nazi project.

I fail to see how you can justify giving free speech protections to those who make no secret of their desire to limit other people's liberties. I don't hate Richard Spencer because he's white, male, and has a particular haircut, I hate the fact that he's actively exhorting people to join him in a project get rid of people who are not white enough.

I'm a-OK with people punching Richard Spencer precisely because he has dedicated himself for the last several years to promoting a narrow and aggressive policy of racial supremacy that includes reducing the liberty of others by killing them or driving them out of their homes. If he were to popup in public tomorrow and announce that he'd renounced fascism and that people should be judged on the quality of their behavior towards others then I would no longer support people punching him as randomly and as often as possible. But while he's advocating systemic violence against others, he is not to my mind arguing in good faith because he is not willing to uphold that free speech principle for everyone else.

The other argument I hear from some people is 'well the solution to hate speech is more speech.' That's bullshit spoken by people who don't actually know what it's like to feel that their safety is at risk. Obviously I don't reach to interfere with someone's free speech every time I hear something I dislike - a person might be crazy or just angry and offensive by announcing the fact of their prejudice or suchlike, and in most cases they're best refuted, mocked, or ignored.

but where someone is knowingly and systematically arguing [out-group] are inherently terrible people - not the same thing as saying that people in [group] have inherently terrible ideas - then I'm not willing to guard a place on the platform for those who are using that position to push others off the platform. I simply do not owe anything to people who are actively promoting harm against others.

I hope it's clear that I'm not trying to invalidate your position so much as to more fully define my own.


> Ironically, rather than unifying mankind and increasing sympathy and understanding, we are using network technology to maximize comfort by crafting artificial "safe spaces" where patrons never even have to be exposed to thoughts they dislike. That's bad.

This is a bad characterisation; it was much easier to ignore stuff you didn't like before the internet. The internet is also not to blame for politics - while it helped intensify things, it wasn't the 'safe spaces' that gave you Trump, but the hysterical fearmongering that the conservatives had been doing for almost a decade beforehand.

I'm not sure how you think people were 'forced' to see views they didn't like before the internet.


They weren't able to dismiss people who resisted by doing the equivalent of "unfriend"ing them. If you are in the same physical space with someone, the only way you can enforce silence (rather than just pleading for it) is to leave or compel the property owner to exert force against the other guest. In the public square, no one can exert this force over complaints as petty as "I don't like what he's saying".

Some types of public demonstrations or forums require permits and the like, but the public square is still available to anyone with a point to make, and if you're in the same physical area/space, you're going to see it, like it or not.

As the bulk of our discussion offloads from public spaces or common community gathering places to curated digital gardens where no one knows the difference if you unfollow their feed, we lose the forces that make it difficult to ignore each other. That makes it much easier to stay closed-minded.


You have a bizarre picture of the past if you think that people were forced to fraternise. Similarly, the advent of the internet doesn't mean that people no longer interact physically.

You say it's easier to remain close-minded, yet we are in a prosperous time with greater freedom across the board for all. Try being a minority fifty years ago, and see if you still think that people were more open-minded back then.


>You have a bizarre picture of the past if you think that people were forced to fraternise.

I wouldn't necessarily characterize what I was discussing as fraternization, but no, I don't think that's bizarre at all when compared against today's culture of sitting indoors looking at a screen bare minimum of 8 hours per day.

>Similarly, the advent of the internet doesn't mean that people no longer interact physically.

Obviously, this is not absolute. But it is seriously limited. If you wanted to have an active discussion of policy issues, what were your options pre-internet? Three-way calling (I think this came out in the 90s anyway)? You could write letters and stuff but that's quite the lag time. Serious discussion that kept human attention spans engaged had to happen in person.

>You say it's easier to remain close-minded, yet we are in a prosperous time with greater freedom across the board for all.

First, are these necessarily mutually exclusive? Second, isn't this discussion specifically about how our freedoms are jeopardized by the closed-mindedness that arises from cultural disregard for the social principle and value of free speech?

>Try being a minority fifty years ago, and see if you still think that people were more open-minded back then.

I'm not saying that people were more open-minded in an absolute sense, though I think it's easy to say that the mainstream political discourse was more civil. I'm saying that the way technology and telecommunication has changed our interaction is causing us to lose regard for the principles of free speech and open dialogue.

You seem to be reading this from a very narrow perspective that's not ultimately relevant to the discussion at hand.


> I'm saying that the way technology and telecommunication has changed our interaction is causing us to lose regard for the principles of free speech and open dialogue.

You only need to go back a few decades to get to a point where you could simply handwave away an opinion because the speaker was black or a woman. You can't get much more contemptuous of free speech than just ignoring someone out of hand. Your 'principles' don't exist in the actual past; they're a fantasy world that has never existed.

Even the idea that 'you can't bypass the public square' is simply not true, neither physically nor philosphically. Cities have been divided along class lines since forever, with little in the way of mixing. Even in a small town, it's not like you had to go to the square.

> You seem to be reading this from a very narrow perspective that's not ultimately relevant to the discussion at hand.

You're saying technology is holding us back, I'm arguing it's not. But it's nice that you bemoan the lack of communication, then try this dismissal. So much for 'open dialogue'...


>You only need to go back a few decades to get to a point where you could simply handwave away an opinion because the speaker was black or a woman. You can't get much more contemptuous of free speech than just ignoring someone out of hand. Your 'principles' don't exist in the actual past; they're a fantasy world that has never existed.

No, as I said, you're reading this from a very narrow perspective. Free speech is NOT about whether we choose to ignore someone. It's about whether we allow them to speak at all. In fact, choosing to ignore someone is the option consistent with free speech.

Today, instead of just ignoring content we dislike, we see publishing platforms cutting off the audience when the statements don't comply with their corporate agendas, and we have a bunch of self-righteous people approving of it, as long as the targeted people are not on their side.

That's the social value we are losing. Everyone should be concerned that real political speech is being suppressed, even if it's not happening to their side. Instead, people are actively encouraging it.

Because we no longer hold most of our political discourse in physical rooms where it's much harder to simply dismiss or ignore someone who is also present, and because we no longer have to go across an open area where anyone is able to distribute their content or peddle their ideas, the internet is contributing to the rise of a generation that has no idea how to disagree civilly.

>Even the idea that 'you can't bypass the public square' is simply not true, neither physically nor philosphically. Cities have been divided along class lines since forever, with little in the way of mixing. Even in a small town, it's not like you had to go to the square.

You're thinking too literally; I'm not referring to an actual square/hub. I'm referring to public space, where signage can be placed by anyone, where people can stand on the sidewalk and give out their fliers to people who aren't looking for them, they can get permits from the city and do a march on a public street, etc. The surrounding people can't just make these things go away by pressing "Hide". That's the point I'm making.

While these things are still possible, our reliance on the internet for socialization, shopping, work, and a lot of things that we used to have to go out into public space to do has limited the applicability and, I believe, has seriously contributed to a decline in civility/understanding. I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on that because I don't see you providing any actual points to discuss.

>You're saying technology is holding us back, I'm arguing it's not.

You're not talking about technology at all. You're saying that more people have civil rights today, ergo everyone is more open and enlightened. I don't think this necessarily follows. You haven't discussed how technology actually impacts our dialogue at all, as far as I recall.

>But it's nice that you bemoan the lack of communication, then try this dismissal. So much for 'open dialogue'...

It's not a dismissal, first. It's my opinion. I think that you're reading it from a narrow perspective that's not really relevant, which I've discussed in more detail here. How is that invalid commentary?

And yes, "open dialogue" includes people saying they don't think your argument is working or that your perspective is narrow. That's a very important part of it, in fact, and that's the point I'm making here. People today are used to dismissing those they don't agree with and moving on because the internet makes it really easy, and then it makes it easy to go find more people who will just keep feeding you whatever you want to hear, validating your opinions.

So, to be perfectly clear, this dialogue is still open, and nothing about this betrays any values related to free speech or open dialogue. I'm not trying to get HN to block your comments because I disagree with them. I'm not trying to get you ostracized or punished for disagreeing. I wouldn't be supportive if your comments were blocked. I'm not sure what else to say about the topic at hand, but if I can think of something worthwhile I'd be happy to offer it.

All of this sounds like an open dialogue to me. Open dialogue doesn't mean that people will agree or that you will be in an echo chamber. It just recognizes the importance of real, substantive political discussion, which includes allowing people to blatantly say they think we're wrong, and that people shouldn't be punished for their good faith efforts to pursue a dialogue, no matter how seriously we disagree.

I think the fact that I need to explain this means that technology is keeping us too isolated. We don't have enough experience having discussions with people we don't agree with, and learning to work and sympathize with them. I do posit that pre-internet, this isolation was less severe. I know you keep mentioning class and racial divides, which are totally legitimate issues, but they're not directly related to the problem of political hegemony; people in the same classes and races can and do disagree.


The problem is that the your entire argument rest on the assumption that every individual have equal power, which is objectively not true if you allow for property to accumulate in the hands of a small elite.

The central flaw of libertarianism is that it depend on property rights to essentially be worthless to work in the real world, as any scarcity allows for a libertarian dictatorship based solely on the idea that property rights are sacred, and need to be protected by the state.


> The central flaw of libertarianism is that it depend on property rights to essentially be worthless to work in the real world, as any scarcity allows for a libertarian dictatorship based solely on the idea that property rights are sacred, and need to be protected by the state.

Could you reiterate this statement for me? I wasn't able to fully grok the meaning.

Edit: Spelling.


The problem is that rights don't have meaning if they don't have real world effects and in the real world you need resources to exercise any freedom making freedom a limited good dependent on "goods that can be property".

i.e. you end up with a clash between the right to own/control property and any other right unless you have a post scarcity society with limitless resources.

I am not arguing that we should all go communist im arguing that Marx have point when he claimed that capitalism will devolve back into something similar to mercantilism* if property is allowed to accumulate in the hands of a few clans/corporations[1].

I know im being a heretic but someone have to as the current naive idea that freedom is not linked with real world resources can only lead to the erosion of any real meaning of the word freedom.

[1]in Smiths day corporations looked a lot like AT&T or Google today and Smith was a critic of the power concentrated within corporations like the British East-india Company(the target of the Boston tea part btw.)


Yup, censorship is now a global trend. We shouldn't forget that it also happens in many Western countries such as Denmark, Finland, France, ... https://explorer.ooni.torproject.org/world/

And if we look in particular at government censorship of Wikipedia or some articles in it we find quiet a few Western countries https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_censorship_of_Wikip...


I don't understand what the "anomalies" this site detects in Denmark, Finland, and France represent, but the site itself says that they don't necessarily represent censorship and that it has only confirmed censorship in the following 12 countries: Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, Indonesia, Greece, Sudan, Belgium, Cyprus and Korea.


Just FYI, Youtube is heavilly sensored in the Czech Republic (we have very strong laws against political extremism, like jail time for extreme right wing speech..). But I don't know of any actual domains that are blocked. The government doesn't need a great firewall to censor. They can simply slap a 2 year jail sentence on anyone who shares a right wing video and that's enough to get youtube to censor itself.

Edit: I mean extreme right wing, like KKK, nazi stuf ect.


The UK, France, Spain and possibly others have laws against "glorifying terrorism". In Germany, Nazi symbols and propaganda are banned. I don't necessarily agree with these laws, but this is quite different from blocking the entire Wikipedia.


Is there jail time for extreme left wing speech? Like Che Guevara, Mao, Hugo Chavez? Not arguing -- just genuinely curious how extremism is defined there.


You are very unlikely to go to jail for left wing speech. This isn't a matter of placement on a political spectrum though.

The law is as follow:

1) No Nazi symbolism outside of a historic context. 2) No inciting racial hatred. 3) No expression of hatred against a protected minority (the wealthy are not a protected minority).

These are very easy to prove, but none of them apply to normal left wingers. There are Islamist left wingers that fall into these categories because of their anti-semeticism or anti Christian sentiments.

4) No denying crimes against humanity.

This DOES apply to left wingers. If you deny Stalin's genocide against the Ukrainians that would be illegal. It also equally applies to holocaust deniers. I don't know how often it comes up though.

5) No speach which undermines democratic values and seeks to opress others.

I don't think that this is ever actually used. Though it might apply against left wingers.


One note on this: some elements of the extreme left-wing have in the past had tendencies toward antisemitism, which obviously fits into 2) and potentially 1). So that's one issue.


Yeah, but I don't think that anything of value is said by people who incite racial hatred or use Nazi symbols...

Denial of crimes against humanity, though, I see as a big mistake. I know, I know, we've all beaten the Holocaust to death... But when it comes to anti-capitalist and anti-comunist thinkers there is a great deal to talk about.

For example, anti-communists will tell you that Mao commit genocide during the great leap forward. Reasonable people disagree.

I, as an anti-capitalist, will tell you, that the quality of food sold in primarily black neighborhoods in the US is much lower than elsewhere in the country, that millions of blacks die as a result, and that this is an act of genocide against blacks. Obviously, a lot of white Americans would disagrees with me, and I think it would not be a good thing if they all went to jail for doing so...


I don't think that fits the legal definition of crimes against humanity, although there's admittedly a fine line between that and e.g. some of the famines in the USSR.


5) was used to disband the DS? Although I guess you could say that was 2) and 3) too.


Ds is still going strong isn't it? http://www.dsss.cz/

Wait, you're right https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%C4%9Blnick%C3%A1_strana it was banned as a threat to democracy. That lasted long...


In Poland, the same laws prohibit (meaning - jail time) spreading fascist and communist ideas.


So the videos are still accessible and can simply be shared offline?

Just use a URL shortener and print up links to pass around. Sneakernet still can't be tracked


It says "this video is not available in your country."

I don't really need to spend my time and energy spreading holocaust denial and ISIS beheading videos ;)


I just checked, and there is no apparent censorship of youtube going on (e.g. you can find Czech neo-nazi music without any issues).


You are right that it the censorship is incomplete to the point of sillyness. It is TRIVIAL to find extremist content that isn't blocked. That doesn't mean that some videos are not blocked though.


The map has "Confirmed censorship cases" and Denmark, Finland and France, ... all fit there. For Denmark for example:

https://explorer.ooni.torproject.org/country/DK

They're blocking http://thepiratebay.org, that's straight up censorship.


> They're blocking http://thepiratebay.org, that's straight up censorship.

No, that's anti-piracy judgements.


> No, that's anti-piracy judgements.

How does that change the fact that Denmark censors http://thepiratebay.org?


Read what was just explained to you:

> that's anti-piracy judgements

Not the same as censorship.


Linking is not a crime (or is it in Denmark?).


The latter being censorship is really an opinion rather than undisputed, fact, or a guaranteed majority opinion.


> The latter being censorship is really an opinion rather than undisputed, fact, or a guaranteed majority opinion.

So you're saying that "Denmark censors http://thepiratebay.org" is not a fact that can be measured?


The censorship is a fact, only its justification is in dispute.


I'm Greek and I have no idea of wikipedia (or other) kind of censorship by the Greek state. I know that the Greek mass media is tightly controlled by the Greek oligarchy and Greece is 88th in Freedom of Speech Index and falling - but their grip over the populace has been severely weakened the last 5 years.

I have no idea of internet state-level censorship though, are there any specific


All the sites I see blocked in Greece in those stats are for foreign online gambling.


Denmark, Finland, France and many other countries censor The Pirate Bay: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countries_blocking_access_to_T...


That link says: blocking access due to copyright issues. Respectfully, I don't think you're doing justice to the Turkish freedom of speech issue of Wikipedia being blocked by bringing up The Pirate Bay.


> That link says: blocking access due to copyright issues. Respectfully, I don't think you're doing justice to the Turkish freedom of speech issue of Wikipedia being blocked by bringing up The Pirate Bay.

Can we both agree that both of these things shouldn't happen and ThePirateBay and Wikipedia shouldn't be censored by any country?


Sure, but there's a time and a place, if you know what I mean. One directly undermines access to information, whereas another has to do with copyright law.


Torrents contain information. Blocking torrent aggregators directly undermines access to information.


I did not mean to compare the two cases at all and am sorry if it came out that way. I just wanted to answer the parent post on 'what the "anomalies" this site detects in Denmark, Finland, and France represent' by pointing out that TPB is blocked/censored in these countries. I only meant to point out one possible reason why the above site listed these countries.


So… that's a case of dishonestly conflating shutting down a locally illegal operations and speech/political censorship. Hardly helping the case.


Denmark censors a lot more than just TPB, though it is probably the one website that causes most people to circumvent the censorship.

In Denmark it all started out with blocking child porn sites, then it was expanded to copyright infringement, then it was expanded to companies operating illegally (counterfeit goods stores, illegal gambling, alternative medicine stores) and most recently the government started blocking "terror propaganda" [1] - which means they have begun censoring political speech.

This is in spite of a constitution forbidding censorship, with the counterpoint being that since it's technically private companies doing the censorship, it doesn't violate the constitution. Even though ISPs will be taken to court if they don't censor sites [2]

[1] https://www.information.dk/indland/2016/10/statsligt-debatto...

[2] https://www.version2.dk/artikel/dansk-internetudbyder-traekk...


Sorry, but I did not intend to compare or conflate the two cases. I wanted to give an answer to the parent poster why those countries might be listed on the above site.


The French definitely censor more than just pirate sites.


As far as I can tell from the linked site, it is only thepiratebay.org that is censored in Denmark, and I can confirm that this censorship is dependant on your internet provider.

My landline provider gives me access, but my mobile provider (TDC, same provider as the one tested on the linked site) does not give me access, saying that a court has banned access to the site, but not quoting any specific case.


I don't think this list is complete. Qatar comes to my mind, where while being there recently, I've had multiple instances where given sites were blocked - i.e. redirect to censor.qa and passing unique query parameters along w/ your IP address.


They're basing their results on measurements that anyone can make, if there are very few people who do these measurements in a certain country then most probably no censorship case may come.


You talk about Belgium, but the wikipedia doesn't (I read it from Belgium right now). Could you elaborate on this Belgium censorship information ? Thanks!


IDK about censorship, but France had strict laws when it comes to Nazi support or Holocaust denial.


Click on a country, then click on "Blocked Sites".


Great summary. One missing thing is that goverments are getting better at using free Internet for propaganda. In Poland we have open Internet so far, but we are increasingly exposed to Russian goverment news/comments that are factually wrong but repeated consistently.

Basically - we see the same thing we already saw with free market. It is not free by itself. Countries and companies can use it to establish monopolies.

Freedom is not for free. It is something we need to define, establish and then continuously fight for it.


Being a Russian, I am naturally very curious about this idea of the Russian propaganda getting a stronger and stronger influence over the minds of people in other countries. Could you kindly elaborate on the following issues that mystify me:

- Where do people get the Russian news and why do they care about what Russia has to say? I mean, I don't follow Polish news (or French news, or German news, etc.); so why would people get their information from the Russian outlets?

- You said that the Russian news/comments are factually wrong. What do you use as a reference (which sources would give you factually correct information and how do you verify that it is factually correct)?

Those are honest questions; I am not defending the Russian outlets in any way - I am just curious about how people perceive different news media


Yes, I can understand your wondering (I'm a Russian too). When I hear about the waves of Russian propaganda all around the globe I can't stop to ask myself a question: "how we become so powerful?". I'm afraid that nowadays some people tend to call any opposite opinion in their countries as a Russian propaganda. And I can understand that with a lack of good opposition/alternative media people start to read Russia Today, just like we here in Russia read BBC and other Western media, especially when we think that our state media tries to hide something from us.

By the way, do you know what a main evil scheme Kremlin uses to brainwash the citizens, to set them against the West? It's not some made-up, fake news. They made a few websites instead, where anyone can read translated articles about Russia, published in Western media. And that's it. As you understand, it's much harder to find something pro-Russian there to translate, than vice versa.

On a serious note, I think that the only way to fight with the streams of fakes (regardless the country) is a restriction of anonymity on the Internet.


> On a serious note, I think that the only way to fight with the streams of fakes (regardless the country) is a restriction of anonymity on the Internet.

Please stop suggesting that.

There's zero evidence that removing anonymity works and in that process we lose our online privacy. And I think anonymity is precisely what we need to preserve freedom.

Also people are simply jackasses, real names or not. If you don't believe me, engage in conversations on Facebook about politics sometimes. There's nothing that shakes my faith in humanity faster.


Don't give me wrong, I'm not protecting this idea. But I don't like some alternatives either, like banning the access to "enemy media". And it's more shameful when some democratic country doing it.

I think, the main problem is that Internet was not designed for the masses originally. In 90s you could find there mostly scientists, programmers, hackers, writers etc. Here, in Russia, everything was concenrated in Fidonet and we had our own Eternal September [1] (2000-...) when dial-up access become cheaper. So, what to do now? To be honest, I don't know. I'm not promoting segregation either. I think it's pointless to make a modern version of Usenet/Fidonet/... for closed groups of like-minded people.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September


> When I hear about the waves of Russian propaganda all around the globe I can't stop to ask myself a question: "how we become so powerful?"

Thank you! These are my thoughts exactly. I mean, I remember the Soviet times, when the Russian intellectuals, having zero confidence in the official news, used to listen to foreign radio stations over AM radio – Voice of America and BBC World Service (and perhaps Deutsche Welle too) being the most prominent among them. What happened that now the Western media loudly complains about RT? One might even think that the situation has now been reversed, and that the Western world somehow trusts RT more than they trust their mainstream media. But this does not make any sense!


RT played the long game, and has done a surprisingly good job of gaining a following in fringe viewers throughout the US. Anecdotally, I participated pretty heavily in the first couple weeks of the Occupy Wall Street protests in Manhattan. For the first week or so, we got very little news coverage, and a lot of the established media was downplaying the movement, waiting for it to blow over, or picking the craziest people they could find out of the crowd to discredit us. Russia Today was one of the few news organizations who came out early, giving us positive coverage, and reflecting the views of the protesters more or less accurately. A lot of my friends became RT viewers because RT legitimately succeeded where the domestic media failed.

RT has played the strategy of going in and eating the domestic media's lunch when they hesitate to cover legitimate stories, and that has given them a dedicated following. Unfortunately, as time has passed, it has grown more clear (at least to me) that this bona-fide coverage is the bait they pull people in with, and that their coverage in general is of the journalistic quality of Fox News. They use the same tactics of lying through omission, stoking panic, appealing to emotion, and selecting stories to promote an agenda.

As for the social media shilling, the situation is extremely nuanced. At this point there are probably tens of thousands of organizations astroturfing social media to promote their interests. Russia gets a lot of attention, because they seem to be doing it on the largest scale in terms of influencing geopolitics, but I agree that they aren't the only ones doing it, and that if we make them stop, the problem won't go away. The media has spoken up a lot about Russia's twitter/facebook botting and shilling, but if we were to take a much closer look at the data, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see some shady domestic political think tanks and action committees doing it to the same extent. In fact, the shadowy domestic PACs engaging in astroturfing are probably ecstatic that Russia has taken the focus (and blame) off of them! The Internet has become a ideological battleground, and at this point, anybody who has any power to gain/lose has rolled up their sleeves and entered into the fray. I'm not quite sure what to do about it.


For me, the real value that RT has to offer (and that goes surprisingly unappreciated) is that it acts as a system of checks and balances against more mainstream networks. Whenever those networks make outrageously weak (or simply wrong) claims, RT is quick to point that out. Whenever mainstream media ignore some potentially damaging topics, RT is quick to pick them up. Whenever mainstream media act as vehicles of outright propaganda, RT makes fun of them.

RT's journalist Gayane Chichakyan, for example, has become a kind of a legend among some American podcasters for asking straight and inconvenient, but certainly valid questions at State Department’s press conferences.

And while comedy shows such as The Daily Show or The Late Show with Stephen Colbert are almost indistinguishable from each other in their messages, RT's Redacted Tonight (https://www.rt.com/shows/redacted-tonight-summary/) is radically different and gives the voice to the comedy of the very far left.

I think I understand the concept of lies by omission. Perhaps RT does that. And yet, I am not sure that giving a one-sided account of events is worse than not bringing them up at all. Like that accusation of Wikileaks’ selectively targeting the democrats and being silent about the republicans — I am not convinced that this one-sidedness in any way invalidates what Wikileaks had to say about the democrats. Likewise, if RT does not report on the stories that can be damaging to the Russian side, this should not make their other stories, potentially damaging to the other sides, somehow invalid.


Hi. Sorry to single out your country in particular, but its hard to talk in general :)

We get a lot of comments in main Internet portals which present Russians as victims of NATO aggression in case of Ukrainian conflict. It always misses the point of who invaded who.

There is a lot of comments threatening Poland with nuclear conflict, in particular after US Army established its presence here.

These are examples. But it looks like a lot of comments have particular key and great consistency.


Are those comments that you are talking about online publications of some established Russian media outlets, or are they just comments of some random visitors to the sites?

As for invasion and NATO aggression, I think it’s worth reminding oneself that there are several opposite narratives battling each other and pushing different agendas — God knows whose. Russia is certainly meddling in Ukranian affairs (and it’s revolting) — but invasion? Isn’t it an act of war? Aren’t countries at war with each other if one country invades another? As for NATO, both NATO and Russia seem to be saber-rattling, each side responding to the demonstrations of the other by further threats. This is plain madness!


Sorry, I didn't mean to start this discussion.

I just wanted to point out that Internet due to its global nature is vulnerable to attack on truth by actors with enough money and defined agenda. This kind of attack can be similar to spam/ddos attack in its nature. So basically exploiting Internet freedom.

If we don't build in mechanisms to prevent this, we will loose anyway. Even if it was possible to keep Internet free.

I see that the only positive result of my comment is that it motivated you and several Russian readers to create accounts here and take part in discussion. I hope we will have much more opportunity to participate in IT related topics. You guys are some of the best people in the field and we will all benefit from your expertise.


Thank you for your kind words. There is just one small correction I wanted to make. I created an account here a couple of weeks before this topic, to express my incredulity at an unwarranted (in my opinion) criticism of an example of JavaScript code written in functional style. But it is true that this is my longest discussion on Hacker News. Thank you for that, and please forgive me for steering the thread this way. I hope I was not being too uncivil.


Ukraine and Russia ar at what exhausts the definition of a war - both Russian and Ukrainian military are fighting over a piece of land.


Not from Poland and not in an any way affected country, but I believe I can answer your first question, and it comes down to basically Rossiya Segodnya.

Here's an investigation that discovered them operating in the Baltics: https://en.rebaltica.lv/2017/04/sputniks-unknown-brother/

Long story short, they open a news portal where tracking the ownership is almost impossible and where there is absolutely no hindsight on how do they monetize what they do, they attract readers by appealing to the Russian minorities, trying to create some sort of panic between them and hoping to create a chain reaction.


I am from Germany so I don't know about your first question.

For your second question: I myself don't know too much about this in regards to the internet, but I have read in a couple of white papers that

1: a large majority of Russians (esp. those in rural areas) have TV as their main source of news. Print is only a minority (has small relevance).

2: Most TV is controlled by the government and if they are not they don't criticize the government as there is a fear of being shut down.

3: The Russian media is said to state false Fact as well as to distort Facts/Events. I don't have the time to link specific sources but you can find what I said if you research freedom of press on google and google scholar. There are also renown sites with lists such as a freedom of speech index. Russia ranks 148.

https://rsf.org/en/ranking

https://scholar.google.de/scholar?hl=en&q=russia+freedom+of+...

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14616690320001763... http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1081180011291722...


In the case of the Baltics, it's not so much the natives that are under the increasing propaganda. [1] It's the Russians who were transported here during the various occupations by the empire & soviets. These people weren't kicked out after the collapse of the union, but most of them have never been interested in the local culture. They haven't learned the language [2], aren't interested in going back to Russia even if paid for, and often don't hold local citizenship. They view Putin as their leader, they celebrate Russian holdiays, shoot new year's fireworks according to Moscow time, and cry about the fall of the union. Basically these are people who are waiting for the reunification of the motherland and it doesn't take much for them to eat up any propaganda that aligns with that view.

Digitally they live as Russians, they don't use facebook but use VK etc. Because they don't understand the language the only local TV/newspapers/media they consume is Russian. The local Russian media is mostly funded by the Kremlin and has their agenda aligned accordingly.

In total, it's hard not to see this as preparation work for Putin to come save all these Russians by occupying us once again.

--

[1] Certainly there is the Russian troll army unit who roams the local news comment sections. However they aren't that clever. They are mostly easy to spot, have been spreading the same crap for 15 years, and are often called out.

[2] It's not just that old people don't learn the local languages. A huge number of Russians flat out refuse to teach their newborn children the local languages, insisting on Russian. The continued existance of Russian kindergartens/schools is ensuring that the division among the local populace won't go away.


Well, thank you very much for not kicking them out! Especially those, who were "transported" during Russian Empire times. So very kind of you :)

Not to start a debate, but why would they want to integrate into a culture that quite explicitly hates them?


In my experience the common reason among Russian parents who send their children into local language schools and want their children integrated cite "a better future" and economic opportunities.

Also, you make a sarcastic remark regarding not kicking people out as if that is what everyone does and doesn't require special mention. It just so happens that moving people forcibly around has been the modus operandi of various Russian regimes. [1] They come invade us, and then gather up the intellects and other elite members of the community and ship them off to Siberia in cargo trains. Not only that, but wives are separated from their husbands, children from their parents, families split apart and sent to different parts of the Siberian woods to make sure they won't find anyone to speak their native language with. Then people who already speak Russian are massively transported into the country to help with the Russianification efforts. [2]

To make matters worse, it's not like all of this is only some historic event that is looked at in shame like Germany and the nazis. Putin and his regime, and the local non-integrating Russians think that Soviet Union was the best thing ever and that its fall was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century.

There have been monstrous attempts by Russia at obliterating the Baltic cultures. The remaining non-integrating Russians are pawns in this culture war. I do think that we have been more than fair in offering them an opportunity to integrate into the community and to leave the atrocities of the past behind us. When they refuse, but also don't go back to Russia and keep praising the historic invading Russians as heroes. Well it's dissapointing, insulting, and frankly for our little nations it's also a case of fighting for the survival of our cultures.

--

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_deportations_from_Eston... ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_transfer_in_the_Sov...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russification


> and frankly for our little nations it's also a case of fighting for the survival of our cultures.

Please forgive my insolence in asking this, but why do you feel that survival of a culture is important? I have heard these sentiments frequently from people from various former Soviet republics (the Baltic states and Ukraine being the prime example), and they have always puzzled me, because I, though Russian, can not imagine myself fighting for the Russian culture. I am quite content with the global cultural heritage of the Western civilization that I have accumulated over my life to be specifically protective of the "Russian culture". I fully appreciate that mine is not a popular position here, but I prefer not to be engulfed in whatever nationalist tendencies our country manifests, and am curious to learn why would anyone give in to the nationalist tendencies in other countries.

NOTE: I am not using the word "nationalist" in the perjorative sense that it frequently has, but in a purely descriptive sense. The notion of struggling for survival of a culture rather than simply letting it evolve into whatever it evolves seems nationalist to me.


This is definitely an interesting question which I've pondered myself before. The best answer I have is choice. In the Russian <-> Baltics case existing habits were prohibited and new ones indoctrinated forcefully. People killed & shuffled around. In the Western case new habits are acquired willfully [1] and old ones die naturally.

In practice, I would say that USA has achieved more cultural assimilation with the last 25 years than Russia could in the ~250 years of occupation. In essence Hollywood has won the hearts of the people in ways that force never could.

There are those who don't like the USA influence either, because it does reduce our own identity. For me, it's not as big of a problem as long as we have control over the changes made.

To sum it up, it's about free will & independent thought.

--

[1] A cynic might say that the USA influence isn't by choice and that it's merely an illusion of choice. That while the Western cultural assimilation doesn't share methods with other attempts, it's hard to resist due to the volume & production quality of the Western media.


>Where do people get the Russian news and why do they care about what Russia has to say? I mean, I don't follow Polish news (or French news, or German news, etc.); so why would people get their information from the Russian outlets?

Russia will provide funding to various conspiracy nuts, contrarians and such, who then write and/or translate shitty "news" articles that are then consumed by people that want someone to confirm their bias.

They also pay people (located in Russia, mostly) to post pro-Kremlin opinions on the internet, and if you are not aware of that, it may seem like there's a lot of people that disagree with the "mainstream media" that are "lying to us".

Another thing they do is try and control the expat organizations of Russian speaking minorities in the West (and Central Europe too). These people are often relying on Russian language news so they are easier to influence.

They also like to finance eurosceptic political parties (e.g. National Front[1]), to try and break-up the EU.

1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Front_(France)#Russia...


Just to give you one answer, at least in the United States, a not insignificant number of people read or watch RT.com, and -- this is really terrible, but it's true -- they aren't aware that "RT" stands for "Russia Today" and is basically a pro-Russian news outlet. I'm not sure how you folks view Russia Today, but at least in the United States, people that know that "RT" == "Russia Today" consider it very pro-Russian, almost propaganda. People that don't know that it's a Russian news source generally just consider RT like most other news sources in the United States. I've got friends on Facebook that post RT links like they post CNN links or something and they're completely unaware of its origin.


I must confess that I too watch RT sometimes. I was initially drawn to them by the total openness of their broadcasting — I could go to their website and either watch RT America live or watch recordings of any of their major programs. I have never seen other networks do so (perhaps with the exception of Bloomberg) — and I looked at CNN, Fox, and BBC at least. So at least for this RT deserves some credit.

Now, having watched RT from time to time over a certain period, I learned to distinguish between the shows that blatantly push the Kremlin agenda, and others that do not necessarily do so and are more interested in being a non-mainstream platform of inquiry into the world affairs, and of criticism of the world policies rather than being a carrier of the Russian point of view.

Also, I couldn't help wondering about what it is that ostensibly makes RT so different from other media networks. It seems to me that if RT is propaganda (which it very well may be) then so is CNN, or MSNBC, or Fox, or even BBC. I don’t know. Perhaps, despite all my attempts to resist, I am infected by the Russian propaganda beyond cure.


> even BBC

Two recent examples of BBC 'impartiality'

https://twitter.com/maitlis/status/854308223838371840

https://twitter.com/bbcnickrobinson/status/85500451929767936...

With an election in just a few weeks time, two major BBC 'journalists' who support the right-wing, pro-Establishment British Conservative Party, brazenly attacking the left-wing (anti-Establishment) Labour Party candidate.

The BBC is a state broadcaster that has always been pro (British/Western) Establishment, but always in the past with a veneer of impartiality (more delusional right-wingers even absurdly accuse it of being left-wing).

Now, with the possibility of the first moderately left-wing British Prime Minister in decades, and public faith in established media at an all time low anyway, top BBC staff aren't even trying to hide their right-wing political bias any more.


> what it is that ostensibly makes RT so different from other media networks

1) Different kinds of propaganda. Fox, CNN, MSNBC are businesses that reflect the biases of audience, owners, employees, etc. RT bias is support of the Kremlin.

2) Different levels of commitment. Fox, MSNBC, CNN are businesses pursuing their own interest. Their purpose is making money. RT was set up purely for propaganda. It's purpose is spreading propaganda. The "alternative news" is merely a method to deliver the propaganda.

Fox opposed Trump but then flipped to suit their interest. RT will never oppose Putin.

If Putin decided he wanted to genocide Jews (a totally unrealistic example just to illustrate the point), RT would come up with a reason why it's unavoidable, justified, and the US's fault anyway. If Trump came up with the same idea, even Fox news would probably oppose it.


Look up Murdoch and Trump's dynamic over the past few years and you'll understand why that happened. Wrt BBC, they are both biased and incredibly inconsistent - I lost any trace of respect for them a long time ago.


Watching competing sources of propaganda is extremely interesting and entertaining, for sure.


I read Russian, French, and English language news from as many sources as I can find to try and get a relatively good idea of what actually happens in the world, and if you want to call out bias, try nbc before you talk about rt. Rt's reporting is closer to the reality almost every time and they much less commonly bury stories unfavourable to a certain united States party specifically.


So, I'm just talking about RT here. Obviously, it's not the only place in the world with bias. I didn't include my own RT consumption habits in the paragraph above because it's not about me, it's about RT, and how a pretty large group of Americans view it.


That's hilarious. I suppose the lack of .ru trips them up


Weird, Bulgaria is also seemingly being targeted by systematic Russian propaganda and fake news via news sites with anonymous authors and no citations, and via fake profiles on social media sites that like, share and comment on said sites.


> and via fake profiles on social media sites that like, share and comment on said sites.

The same happens in Romania. In fact, I've called out a couple of such profiles on FB already, during the recent anti-Government demonstrations. If you're careful enough it's easy to spot them, one of them for example had shared pro-Assad news (which us Romanians don't care that much about), some traditional music that now only appeals to those 60+ and some nationalistic-sounding articles about Romania.


"I think 2016 will go down as the high water mark for a global Internet. I see a lot of countries looking at the success of China in keeping political control, and the failure of Egypt, Tunisia, etc where the open Internet was used to overthrow the regime and deciding that allowing an open, free internet is not in their best interests."

Peak Internet:

http://blog.kozubik.com/john_kozubik/2010/12/peak-internet.h...


I think it's cyclical-- remember the original consumer internet was based on portals such as MiniTel, CompuServe, AOL, Prodigy, then the portal concept shifted to a search/Google based "portal" as people wanted content access outside of the curated portal content.

Walled garden devices are pretty irrelevant though because unless that wall blocks the internet, there is little effect. Current walled gardens are about application security and not about actual content-- the most locked down iPhone can still access the open internet -- so device walled gardening has nothing to do with information access generally.

Also the obsession with "stopping fake news" coming from the American left is what's causing Google and Facebook to respond -- they couldn't care less about fake news -- they are responding to market pressures. Google and Facebook aren't leading the charge against fake news in the US -- leftist activists are the ones screaming the loudest because they are still fuming about Trump.

In Europe, its governments that are pressuring companies to censor things -- for example the so-called right to be forgotten. Governments are the problem not the companies -- at least in Europe.

Why would Facebook or Google care about fake news? They don't -- until a major portion of their constituencies start howling about it. Fakebook and Google weren't unilaterally concerned about content veracity -- until a large segment of people started complaining about it.


>> so device walled gardening has nothing to do with information access generally.

I disagree, on iOS specifically you have no practical way to install/sideload your own applications and thus what you can and can not do is wholly controlled by Apple. Applications determine what parts of the Internet you can actually use.

My impression of "Fake News" is that it is a new push for political correctness and censorship in news publications, while it does not improve things like the quality, transparancy and trustworthiness of sources and references of news.

It could also be interpreted as a push for platform control; if you want to influence people using our platform, fucking pay for it!


Google and Facebook might care about "Fake News" (i.e. non vanilla left or mainstream media type slant which is what the term often means although certainly real "fake news" exists) for reasons of self interest.

The policies of nationalists aren't all friendly in principal to the global agendas of these outfits. On imported labor for instance.


The moral principle that prefers letting people have their say to shutting them up applies to us all.

But things like the US 1st Amendment is an actual laws that can be enforced by courts, and American courts have mostly developed good jurisprudence about it. That includes applying it mostly to governments -- for reasons that sanerj goes into in detail.

The "mostly" is interesting here. There was a case of a woman handing out leaflets in a town where all the land was owned by one company. The US courts ruled (rightly, I think) that the company was not allowed to stop her.

Today, private enterprises like YouTube and Facebook are being used as if they were public services and are in a position to censor. So I don't rule out something like the company-town rule forcing internet giants respect free speech.

But realistically, I don't see todays political culture doing that even-handedly. In fact I see it being far more likely to force these companies to censor.


This problem is every bit as much a political and cultural problem as it is a technological one. So I largely agree.

But from a technological perspective, even if 2016 is the high water mark of the "centralized" internet, a new internet is forming. That which you lament is the natural result of a centralized system. It's something that the early creators of the internet have warned about since its inception. But now as the incumbents centralize control, a new generation of technologists (helped by many of those early creators) are constructing the underpinnings of "Web 3.0", a decentralized internet built on Ethereum, IPFS, WebTorrent, BigchainDB, SOLID et al.

There is plenty left to do, it is still a newborn child... nobody knows where this goes. But come 2030, I agree we'll look back on 2016 as the high water mark of the centralized internet. But instead of longing for how things were in the 1990s and 2000s, we'll say "good riddance".

All that said, the battle needs to happen on the political front at the same time, which makes EFF, FFTF, and ACLU so important.


i don't know what else we could have expected. the internet that people have access to is no longer decentralized. we need more of this. more systems that cannot be controlled or censored by any one party. applications, devices, and services that obey the users, rather than the developers, vendors, or service providers. not only do we need these things, we need to find effective, decentralized ways of pushing their adoption.

i've done some work in this space, but it is a hard path. we need more people working and innovating in creating viral alternatives to the present system. not only in technology, but in business. we don't need an economic landscape composed of kingdoms and fiefs, we need economic democracies: cooperatives and other worker-focused businesses. we need stronger communities. more strong connections to each other.


Not trying to throw salt in the argument for democracy, but isn't your argument the digital equivalent of "Why doesn't everyone do everything for themselves to overthrow the dependency on unstable corporations"?

It'd be great if everything was decentralized, everyone encrypted all their messages, used tor to mask their activities. At some point though, these would require the average person to learn a lot about the network and systems they use, otherwise they risk not using it correctly and invalidating the point. If these services are provided to them, they don't have to think about all these factors when using the network, they can specialize, allowing it to be more accessible. It seems that the people vote has been on more accessible, but it is starting to look like the foxes are running the hen house for the internet these days.

That being said, what Turkey is doing is scary.

> The government has not officially commented on the outage. But the Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry told the state-run agency, "Instead of coordinating against terrorism, (Wikipedia) has become part of an information source which is running a smear campaign against Turkey in the international arena."

This shows a profound lack of understanding of how a basic site like Wikipedia works, which is either ignorant or malicious, and the latter sounds likely in this day and age.


i said decentralized, not distributed. decentralization has plenty of room for centers, the point is not to have just one. having specialized service providers is fine, the problems start to crop up when we don't have real choices. for natural monopolies, i'd argue that a cooperative model would work well.


Yes, this is the reality we now face. A generation of Internet idealists is still quite slow to realize what is happening, though.


You are too dismissive of the very real problem of fake news. It is another form of censorship. When millions of people are led to believe incorrect information it is just as effective as banning the correct information.


I'm a canuck who has worked with Turks and has visited Turkey. They're a wonderful people from a beautiful country with a real problem of a person in power. Turkey is almost entirely Muslim, yet they produce alcohol and tolerate its consumption within their borders, even by their own people. Let that fact sink in for a moment. Erdogan is subverting the premier secular democracy of the Islamic world, but nobody seems to care.

Turkey is nothing like the common stereotypes we have of it in the West, but Erdogan is a guy who, I think, wants to change that. A wonderful human being who I've had the privilege of knowing is currently in prison in Turkey on absolutely baseless accusations[1]. Nobody in Canada gives a damn because he was an "Imam", and that's a scary word apparently.

People in the West need to wake up and do their due diligence on Erdogan's regime. There's some seriously scary stuff happening because of this guy.

[1]http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/davud-hanci-turkey-cou...


Plenty of people care, but what are we supposed to do about it? Here in Europe Erdogan makes the headlines from time to time, right before the referendum he made several speeches where he called the politicians of multiple countries "descendants of nazis" and similar. Everybody knows that he cares more about suppressing the Kurds than ISIS. He holds Europe hostage by threatening to release large amounts of refugees into Europe, not dissimilar to what Qaddafi did. We've been hearing about the increasing religiosity pretty much since he took office.

It's one more example of a common pattern where the rural and the urban population disagrees, due to globalization, increased liberal ideas in cities, and a switch from manufacturing to service jobs. It seems to be universal that the rural population is more religious, less prepared for a global economy, and in general more backwards, yearning for times that aren't here anymore.


I think we should stop communicating from the top. Many problems right now are because heads of state, not necessarily people. Erdogan, Putin ...

We should try to get real people to talk, about who they are, what they want (peace ? surely .. war ? not so sure). So peoples in every nation start to avoid the national/patriot filter when thinking and voting.


Real people rarely want war, they all want the same basic things: food and shelter, a good future for their kids, and to live in peace. This is universal over the whole world, unless they've had their minds poisoned by leaders with their own agendas, be it political or religious.

However, most people also don't really care that much about other people, especially in other countries. So they elect people to handle that for them, and then believe what they're told. Mark Twain's quote "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness" seems fitting. With modern tech you can communicate with people all over the world without traveling (I'm in my underwear in Sweden right now for instance), which helps widening the gap between the "liberal elite" and the rest who feel left behind or that their country is taken away from them.

One thing that contradicts that in a way is the fact that a majority of the expat Turks living in Europe voted for the new referendum giving Erdogan much more power. More than 63% voted yes in Germany for instance.


I have a lot to say to and ask you, but right now I'll say you're right.

Nobody wants war, but in most context people don't feel the need to handle their lives either. Democracy re-emerges after wars because the people felt hard and had to suffer and wake up, so now it's obvious and easier to act for peace and democracy.

Seems like societies just have a MTBF of 50 years and after that war acts as a reset button.

ps: travel quote is neat


> Nobody wants war

Unfortunately that's not quite true. It is true that very few people want war as an end in itself (though even then there are exceptions) but some people want something else (land, power, eliminating the infidels) for which they are willing to pay the price of war -- especially if they can coerce someone else to do the fighting on their behalf.


> Seems like societies just have a MTBF of 50 years and after that war acts as a reset button.

Exactly my thoughts. Now how could we replace overreliance on unrealistic uptime goals with scheduled maintenance?


Sure, but what we need right now IMO, is calming shock among populations to reduce pressure/heat/tension all over. Then we can start exchanging peacefully and efficiently, and discuss alternatives. We need to slow down the boat.


A big solar flare might do the trick.


> More than 63% voted yes in Germany for instance.

I also was baffled about the results of the Turkish vote abroad. How is it possible that, in many EU states, they won which such a majority? I would have expected expats to be generally more liberal/globalist/progressive.


> I would have expected expats to be generally more liberal/globalist/progressive.

I'm not sure "expat" is the right term to designate the masses who responded to West Europe's call for more labor in the 70s. In the sense that they live outside of their native land, yes, they are expatriates. But, today, the term almost designates a wealthier group who are sent by their companies to work abroad now.

In any case, there's a big difference between the Turks in Europe (more than 60% of them voted for Erdogan) or, say, Turks who live in the US (only 15% of them voted for Erdogan). Their backgrounds are completely different. Most of the people who immigrated to Europe to satisfy the new labor needs came from rural areas, mostly from the central and eastern part of Turkey without even living in a sizable city in Turkey. That created a complete culture shock and great integration problems.

Turks in the US, on the other hand, came here mostly for college/university. They are highly educated and they've fully embraced the values of the nation because they had those values at heart even before they decided to live or study abroad.


When I lived in Germany a lot of the Turks I knew were very right wing. They were against asylum seekers and would have kicked out foreigners if they could have. The people in the US who are against big government while receiving government pensions remind me a little of that mindset.


This is a common phenomenon that's not very well known outside of immigrant communities. My family emigrated to the US from Russia in the mid 80s and quickly went hard-right, as did most of their cohort. Same for many Chinese immigrants to the US, Cubans, and I'm sure the list goes on.

I never completely understood this. I guess it's partly a kneejerk reaction to the nominally left-wing repressive regimes they left behind. Another component is probably a sudden immersion into a truly pluralistic society when coming from an intolerant and homogenous one. But still, I can't say I truly understand it.

I'm in my 30s and this is still a source of conflict between my family and me. They're lower-class "real people" who have a soft spot for despots on the Putin spectrum. Because while they're pro-democracy, they also think you need a "firm hand" to keep all "those people" in line, and by "those people" they mean people they can't or won't empathise with: poor black people, the stew of "educated degenerates" who refuse to have normal sexualities or lifestyles, muslims, and so on.


How did your family change, exactly?


Most of the Turks I have had contact with in Germany are racist against Germans (they are jealous of the lifestyle, or for whatever other reason).

The reason they are against asylum seekers may be simpler as it seems: they know that the situation was going to create troubles and escalate, and therefore it will be blamed on the dark ones (the focus is on them). Can you distinguish a Turkish from a Syrian, for example? Furthermore, with this huge expenses for refugees, the social money is likely to be reduced, and I don't have the numbers, but many of them live off of the social security provided by the state. (without even considering the money they get for the kids)


My experience is from the time before the refugee crisis. At that time asylum seekers were mainly from Africa.


Yeah, which kind of fits the description.

I mean, I do understand their concerns, which is really sad...

Many dark foreigners have the same point of view. In such white countries, more dark foreigners mean more chance of troubles for them. Dark, slightly dark, black, etc, they all belong in one category: dark foreigners. Even Indians, who do not have absolutely anything in common with Africans, for example, still belong to the same category.

If an Indian does something bad, dark people will suffer from it.

Same for social security: they'll have less, considering that many (poor) foreigners will come, and they may have to share the resources.

It's all about survival...


>How is it possible that, in many EU states, they won which such a majority?

Of course one explanation is:

"The people who cast the votes don't decide an election, the people who count the votes do."


Just want to point out that majority of Turks in Germany(and some other EU states) are labourer immigrants that went there during 1960-1980. If you take United States instead where the Turks living there belong to a more elite class, you will see significantly more no vote. It seems expats are divided in terms of world view according to where they live.


+1

Average Turk from Istanbul is way more western than the average labor migrant from 60ies-70ies. Mainly they came from rural areas and without much education to do manual labor (which was great IMO).

So "same" people that are now voting for Erdogan in said rural areas today.

2nd-3rd generation who grew up in Europe (local education etc.) don't even necessarily have right to vote in Turkish election.


When you don't feel the effects of your vote, you don't care about what you vote. I feel like this was the case of the referendum.


It also has to do with culture freeze. When people leave their country of origin, they try and retain the culture they left with, and fail to change with the country over decades. It's a type of coping mechanism for when they enter an unfamiliar place.


It's easy to blame it on "ignorance" as "I am not there, so I don't know". In that country they also voted for it.

Why don't we simply face the ugly truth that most people who voted for YES are the alpha-males, unable to speak the country language, living in parallel societies, who want submissive women?

That's the kind of stereotype that Erdogan wants. I mean, Kurds are nice people, but for some reason they need to be wiped out. Boh!?


Haha, doubly amazing comment. That's indeed a very very possible reason. Same thing happened in France, people not impacted by a new airport all voted for it, people near the landing lanes voted against.

Also, there was an article about learned helplessness, how to craft depression into animals by confusing their brain when searching for way to stop suffering. Very similar root cause.


That's why the Swiss system is better. Only locals get to vote on local issues (building an airport, as opposed to giving Erdogan superpowers which affects the whole country and maybe even those around it).


If "you don't care about what you vote" you don't vote.


others already replied about the rural/urban distribution in expats, but there was another factor. in NL, speaking out against Erdogan got them ostracised from the Turkish community. only very few Dutch-Turkish political / tv personalities dared to speak out, even if you knew for sure they are against Erdogan, they would avoid the subject or twist words around it. very weird and quite scary to see such influence reach that far.


>With modern tech you can communicate with people all over the world without traveling

Internet used to be a tool that enabled people all over the world to communicate. I wouldn't have spoken a word in English if it wasn't for internet.

Commercialization of the Web killed the globalization spirit of the internet.

There's no commercial value in connecting people who are in different markets.

A Web enterprise does not benefit by showing its customers that they might be holding the wrong opinion.

Echo chambers bring loyal customers.

Globalization dies a little bit every time a curious teenager sees an error saying: "this content is not available in your country".

You are not an average internet user if you talk to the people on a different cohort, you are an elite and elites have always been communicating with the elites.


Uhh, I'm not so sure. Look at all the people on here essentially clamoring for war with Russia over.. uhm, Russia supposedly releasing authentic emails showing their favorite party (TM) to be corrupt? I might have missed some details in all the cold war fervor.


This is putting your head in the sand. The problem is the people, the voters, who put Putin and Erdogan in office and kept voting for more autocracy instead of democracy. Those presidents are just manifestations, symptoms.

There's always going to be a candidate like that to vote for, and democracy can only survive as long as voters prefer candidates who uphold democracy.


Not necessarily.

Both Putin and Erdogan (many others as well, Orban, Gruevski, to name a few), were elected under promises to bring prosperity through democracy.

Carefully targeting vulnerable groups with PR and economic engineering has proven itself a great tactic for achieving their autocratic vision.

edit: spelling.


Erdogan was democratically elected. He's not a dictator (even if he does act as one at this point) and judging from the referendum results, at least half of Turks seem to like his direction. It's easy to say those voters are uneducated or misguided but the fact is that this is how democracy works. Where I am going with this is that we should not blame just the leader but also the people who put him there.


Blaming misguided voters only has merit when freedom of the press is available and people have access to news that does not have significant pro-government bias. Turkey was ranked #155 out of #180 evaluated countries on this year's RSF list [1]. If the government controls the information that the people have access to, it is a little difficult to expect a legitimate democracy, which requires more than simply valid elections.

[1]: https://rsf.org/en/ranking_table


Do the Turks in Germany also enjoy no freedoms? Because they actually support Erdogan more than Turks in Turkey.


* Many of them identify with their (parents' or grandparents') conservative countryside roots. * A community so much oriented towards Turkey consumes a lot of Turkish (the country) and Turkish (the language) media. * Turkish country media are in Erdogan's pocket. There is not even a semblance of free press anymore in Turkey. * Turkish language media in the EU with an editorial line not pro-Erdogan have been threatened in every possible way, either directly from Turkey or indirectly. Many have ceased to exist. The best example: Zaman in .be and .nl. * Kurdish language media have always been under threat from the Turkish authorities. * The Turkish government has directly ordered the network of Turkish mosques ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidency_of_Religious_Affair... ) abroad to create lists of Gülen supporters. Evidence of these practices has led to a diplomatic incident with at least Belgium. * You may also want to read about media repression inside Turkey like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Today's_Zaman . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%BClen_movement#2013_corru... .


Democracy, just like any tool, can be manipulated and corrupted to serve one's own ends. This is how tyrants come to power: they use populism and nationalism to get elected, then slowly dismantle the very institutions that make up democracy until they are the only one in charge.


> this is how democracy works

No, that's a common misconception.

Democracy isn't characterised only by the vote, but also by liberal values. We call it liberal democracy.

I'm from Romania btw and until 1989 we've had communism / stalinism. Guess what - we had votes then too. It was all arranged of course, party members didn't dare going against the dictators, everybody was dancing on the same music, etc.

In other words, everything is up for vote except for the liberal values that make democracy work. Without those liberal values, you don't have a democracy.

And to put this in perspective: you cannot claim that a popular vote is legit without freedom of speech, because in that case people can be coerced or manipulated by those in power, without the opposition being able to fight back at all. How many people has Erdogan imprisoned? You also cannot attest the legitimacy of the vote when you don't have separation of power in the state, because you no longer have a functioning judicial branch.

All famous autocrats in history achieved power through popular support.

But here's where it actually hurts: it's easy to vote an autocrat into power, it's hard to vote him out.

Turkey's economy will suffer, tourism is already going down the drain, other countries will slow down trade with Turkey due to political instability. Erdogan, like all populists before him, will end up pushing more and more nationalistic messages, blaming the Occident for his own fuckups, threatening with conflict because that's what populists do when they lose support.

Either way, I'm fairly confident at this point to say that Turkey is no longer a democracy.


You can be democratically elected and later become a dictator. That's been the path of many dictators.


It's not uncommon for dictators to be elected. That's how the transition from democracy to dictatorship works. But I agree with your assessment of the problem: there isn't really anything outsiders can do when an electorate tries to hurt itself. Any appeals to reason will just be catalyzed into even more votes by "them against us" rhetorics.


Neither is Putin, yet he controls all the press. He's just an elected gang leader. Have something against the gang in power? You might just get shot on a bridge while going to work, imprisoned on account of fiscal fraud, poisoned with Polonium in your tea etc. That is how the Russian mafia works.


Imagine the Turkish coup was organized and executed properly and they succeeded.

Who takes power? Does it create a vacuum? A civil war? I often ponder these "alternate history timelines" and try to imagine what the world might be like.


Turkey has had several coups. So I'd look at what happened after the previous ones.


None of them bore any resemblance to Erdogan. All the previous ones were the army emerging from its barracks, deposing democratically elected and popular governments they thought too Islamic/not secular enough and returning to their barracks. The current political situation is a result of the increasing democratisation that the EU encouraged. Erdogan would never have been tolerated before.


In this case it's especially ironic. The Army regarded themselves as the guardians of Turkey's secular democracy - even if that meant acting anti-democratically. This is of course a problematic position.

Now Erdogan - as a result of genuine democratic support- has gained enough power to make his move and has resolved to dismantle democracy and weaken certain factions in the Army to protect himself against any similar future coups.


Actually the kemalist factions in the army and police were the guardians of secularism (not quite a secular democracy but close) until Erdogan took care of them.


Well... It was properly executed and it has succeeded in giving Erdogan more power.


I asked a Turkish friend if she thought the coup being a false flag operation was an outlandish conspiracy theory and she strongly disagreed.

Of course that means nothing other than "one specific liberal ex-pat Turk believe X was plausible" but it's one more data point.


Coup was probably real but failed and Erdogan exploited it for his own ends. He's a very able and dangerous politician.


I agree with you that we should stop communicating from the top - and this is what some politicians tried to do (at least what some European politicians did, like the Dutch ones before the elections, when things escalated).

However, for business interests, you simply can't ditch a country like Turkey[1]. Let's not forget that Bush's grandfather was also funding Nazi [2] (I would like to focus primarily on the years before Americans joined WW2, basically, before they "knew" that Nazis were not yet official enemies) and he earned a lot of money out of it.

Nowadays, a lot of companies do the same. And it will always be like this, unless such a country is recognized as an official "enemy" of the state, and you can't do business there.

So, we have already 1 reason that you simply can't stop communicating from the top.

Then, you have one more reason: immigrants.

Europe has a bunch of Turkish people which, it seems, helped a lot during the elections - in some cases (Holland, Austria, and Germany) the "YES" to the referendum got more than 60% (in some cases 68%). This opens up a whole new bunch of questions we should ask ourselves (and people actually do, at least in Europe):

- Why?

- Why did these people vote for YES?

- Don't these people value the freedom they have here (which they do have, unlike in the US - sorry guys, that's how we perceive it in Europe - where racism is much more common)?

Questions which raise another question:

- What did we as Europe (or West?) do wrong?

This is somehow connected to your sentence:

> We should try to get real people to talk, about who they are, what they want (peace ? surely .. war ? not so sure). So peoples in every nation start to avoid the national/patriot filter when thinking and voting.

In my opinion there are too many things we did wrong and failed to do.

One thing is to have expectations. In Europe, I can tell you that before the Turkish referendum there were a lot of people, mostly reporters and journalists, going out asking such "pro-YES" voters (they were grouping together for propaganda or for any other reason) whether they actually were aware of what Erdogan wanted to achieve with this referendum. Obviously, nobody actually knew all the points in it. The journalist was mentioning each point, and their faces were like "uh?", while, of course, some of them were bitten by the strong cognitive dissonance: "no, but this is what media here say...", or "no, but it's not as bad as it seems".

This issue dates back to the beginning of immigration. People with low education came, and many of them simply didn't get further - meaning, 2nd, 3rd generations still striving to make it, or criminals, or simply living off of social money. Where can this lead to? Entire neighborhoods not accessible to the police, criminality rate super high, etc. People who cannot even talk the national language - forced, therefore, to watch their own news.

Another issue: double citizenship. What is that? You live here, but you still have a voice in your country. Sorry, but no. After X years, as an immigrant you get citizenship from the country you live/pay taxes in. Further, you are born in this country, eventually (in some countries when you are 18) you get this country's citizenship. That's it. Either that, or the old one. Both? No.

There is a sentence from a German author, Max Frisch, "We wanted a labour force, but human beings came" [3], which kind of explains what had really happened. And now? That's what we have. A huge mess, people creating parallel societies, and Erdogan that comes to Europe as a good politician to the majority of his people.

Why good politician? Well, want it or not, it seems that during Erdogan's administration, Turkey's economy got better. [4]

Does this justify the fact that this politician needs a crown and absolute power?

[1]: http://aa.com.tr/en/europe/german-companies-investing-in-tur... [2]: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/sep/25/usa.secondworl... [3]: http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/735/3/the-end-of-mu... [4]: https://www.quora.com/Turkey-country-What-is-the-story-behin...


It seems you are talking about Germany. Please name one neighbourhood in Germany "not accessible to the police".


I can name a few. For example Neukölln in Berlin, or some areas in Köln (like Kalk, Ossendorf, Chorweiler, Porz), or the north of Duisburg. You can find lots of references online - search for "no-go zone germany", or simply befriend a German policeman.

http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/nordrhein-westfalen-po...

https://www.derwesten.de/politik/in-problemvierteln-fuerchte...

All these are areas where policemen are afraid to work because they may get suddenly surrounded by 40-50 people. It's true, you can still access them, but then it doesn't mean you get out easily, hence they are not accessible.


Also, I live near one of the most damaged suburb in France, one that would earn a "no police zone" easily 10 years ago; it's now liveable, so much that I look at the sky when I drive in it now.

People react in fear and absolutes, but things are fixable.


thats what the un is partly about.


> I think we should stop communicating from the top. Many problems right now are because heads of state, not necessarily people.

Damn right. If the people in charge could stop trying to exercise power and just leave everybody alone, we'd all be much better off.


I think its easy to make the mistake that replacing the guy at the top solves the problem. Isn't there enough history to suggest that is not how things work? Trump could have a heart attack tomorrow but his fan club is still going to be around. They will just prop someone else up. Same goes for Ergodan. This is not a problem that gets solved by dropping a bomb or making a kill list or a wikileak or a tahrir square or a Jon Oliver skit. Unfortunately the current instant gratification generation produced and conditioned by silicon valley is in total delusion when it comes to this fact. This is a multi generational problem and we could be working towards a solution if we weren't wasting our time with all the above "well intentioned", "quick fix" distractions.


Yes and no. There were wannabe dictators in turkey before erdogan, but the army had removed them, which is why erdogan essentially neutered the army (in multiple ways and through quite a few years) to allow him his current level of control.

Turkey didn't change as much as they guy in charge was persistent, smart and popular enough to do things his predecessors didn't.

It is possible a different ruler would have done the same, but it is also possible that without Erdogan, turkey would still be democratic.


> He holds Europe hostage by threatening to release large amounts of refugees into Europe

This is one of the key facts of the situation.

Logically then, if the Syria disaster is solved, Erdogan loses a lot of his power. Or in other words, the crackdown of Turkey is part of the Syria conflict.


> what are we supposed to do about it?

Kick Turkey out of NATO first. If things get worse, impose sanctions.


He's holding millions of Syrian refugees and has threatened to send them to Europe if things don't go his way. Think European nationalism is bad now? You might not have a NATO after that.


We should refuse to be blackmailed by him. If he is that bad, those refugees are in danger in his hands. Europe has several rich countries that can easily handle the amount of refugees held hostage in Turkey.


Which rich countries do you propose 'easily' settle 2.7 million Syrian migrants? I'd like to tell you about their nationalist/neo-fascist candidates and their vision. Marine Le Pen, Victor Orban, Geert Wilders, Frauke Petry, Matteo Salvini, Norbert Hofer, etc. They're already building walls in Europe - in Norway, Greece, in the Western Balkans, Hungary. Border controls inside the Schengen area (I saw this first hand in Sweden a couple of weeks ago). We've already had Brexit. We could have Nexit, Frexit, Italexit, Grexit, and on. You might see a significant strain on the common currency, especially with some of the capital flight already going on. If anything close to 2.7 million refugees come to Europe at once, it's going to get _very_ ugly.


Europe does not want those refugees even if Merkel told you otherwise and undemocratically imposed refugee quotas on other EU states, which now threatens the EU's very existence. Then they're only Syrian in part.

But yes, I agree we should refuse to be blackmailed by Erdogan, although I'd not go as far as to kick him out of Nato.


Nope, US needs more Turkey, not less. Erdogan is democratically elected leader, and yes, he is changing and breaking things, but he is still ELECTED.

Turkey is going through transformation, and it will come out of it stronger and mostly becoming pillar of Middle East. In an already chaotic part of the world, pushing Turkey to brink to satiate your "bleeding heart" will cause more death and destruction not less.


What is strong about that massive paranoia this guy and his corrupt gang is displaying for months now? And how the hell do you get the idea that this behavior is something that would be accepted anywhere in the 21st century?

FYI: in democratic elections, you don't put the opposition in jail first and control the media in a way that the ones you've left don't even get a chance to reach the population or tell them in a honest way what is currently happening. I'm sure all those vote manipulations are also part of democratic elections in your eyes eh?


>Turkey is going through transformation, and it will come out of it stronger and mostly becoming pillar of Middle East.

Like Nazi Germany grew stronger and stronger and grew to be the leader of Europe (+)?

((+) until it was vanquished of course by democratic countries -- but where do you find democratic countries, when you need one?)


Every strongman is not a hitler, mao or stalin. Especially, when they come through with largely "free" elections.

Abuse of power as President is different from putting 6 million people in gas chambers and marching around and being responsible for deaths to 10s of millions of people.

Lets have some perspective here, Please!


Hitler came out of largely "free" elections.

I don't think, that every despot is similar to Hitler, but still it is a despot.

BTW: How do you recognize a despot: He behaves like one. Just open your eyes!


To be fair, the issue here is that he seemed to be an undesirable despot. A good despot is actually better than a democracy, but they are just terribly risky every regime change. And a bad despot is.. well, terrible.


Isn't this the same argument for leaving Assad alone in Syria?


Of course, it is. If Assad loses Chrisitians and Alawites will be massacred in Syria.

A more honest assessment is, Gaddaffi, thanks to regime change, you have slave trade live and well in Libya. Pick your poison.

Its always easy to say, replace this.. but it much harder to replace it with what?

Middle East is not a choice about good and evil, it always present two bad choices, I choose the ones in which fewer people die.


> he made several speeches where he called the politicians of multiple countries "descendants of nazis"

Whoever cries wolf is a wolf himself.


I think a major issue with Turkey is that there is a large non-secular voting bloc. Historically, that has been kept in check by periodic coupes by the Kemalist military. However, Erdogan has succeeded in taming the military (as demonstrated vividly by the failed coupe). Thus, the non-secular voting bloc has escaped the historic check. I am afraid, Turkey will become less secular in the next few years. In addition, there is not much we can do externally, as evidenced by the latest referendum, Erdogan has the support of a majority of voters.


Well it seems the majority is not that big. He won by a small margin, while controlling all the media. If it had been a true free election, I bet he would have lost this referendum. And if you look at the demographics, people in cities voted against, countryside pro. Turkish people living abroad voted pro Erdogan. I bet most of those people came from the countryside in Turkey.


> while controlling all the media

It's much, much more than that. Every single billboard and half the TV ads before referendum were ads telling people to vote "yes".

People didn't even know what they were voting for.


People trust him. He provides "Stong and Stable Leadership", he's built roads and delivered on his promises.

He then says "I need you to vote for this to give me extraordinary powers", and people trust him - especially as the opposition is in disarray

Hopefully people will see this for what it is and not vote Tory on June 8th.


Whenever I see a politician calling for strong and stable leadership (happens in Spain, too), I know that's a politician I'm not going to vote.


Win with 75% and everyone knows you cheated. With 51%, you leave just enough doubt for it but to be obvious.


Bingo! It also seems that the quantity of secular bloc is lesser than that of the non-secular bloc. Apart from the military, Erdogan has also tamed the judicial system.


The majority of rural voters anyway. In the latest voting he had low support in major centres. His control of the media is key to controlling the public vote, especially in rural areas. So supporting the free press, and anti-censorship technology, is a great way to support democracy in Turkey.


He does not. He falsified votes.


>People in the West need to wake up and do their due diligence on Erdogan's regime

I think people in the West who follow these things pretty much uniformly dislike Erdogan and his throwing the journalists in jail type activities but the Turks vote for him. I'm not sure what we're supposed to do about it.


> but the Turks vote for him. "Vote". I'm not quite sure about Turks, but in Russia "vote" is a fake. As Stalin once said "It's not about who votes, it's all about who counts the votes".

There were always way too many violations in the vote process. e.g. people who voted multiple times, militaries who were forced to vote in the right way. God damn it, even 146% of a votes sum translated on federal TV channels [1]. Nobody even tries to hide violations anymore.

A lot of people simply don't believe there is anything they can do about it. They just wait the people in charge will be gone.

Plus add massive brainwashing, threatenings like "without <put the name> the country will fall into chaos", active opposition mortification by government.

And here we are.

[1]: http://netbespredelu.ru/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/656886.jp...


Much of the urban population rose up in support of Erdogan during the attempted coup.

And I agree with the brainwashing, we have that in the uk right now


The urban population rose up in support of democracy, not Erdogan.


> Turkey is nothing like the common stereotypes we have of it in the West

From what I see, there are two Turkeys - the liberal Turkey which resides in cities like Izmir and the conservative ones which come from places like Bursa or Gaziantep. Currently, there are fewer liberal Turks than the conservative ones.

> People in the West need to wake up and do their due diligence on Erdogan's regime

On this point, I've always found it amazing how most of my American friends/colleagues have little idea about what's happening outside the USA. I get that most news is local and all that but sometimes there are impactful events around the world which would be difficult to miss. Most times, they haven't even heard about the event let alone know about it.


I don't understand why Altay's comment is dead. I found it interestingly and informative. Unpopular opinions reasonably expressed should not be killed.


Check the user's comment history. It's not that comment in particular. The whole account is blocked for wishing people dead, calling people scum, insulting other users and expressing sadness that a genocide program ended to early. There's unpopular opinions and there's crossing the line.


Fair enough!


It's not that we don't care, it's just we have our own problems, have you been following what's going on here?


Seriously, stop trying to spread that notion that EU has to take care of everyone's problems. It doesn't!

If the majority of Turks are brainwashed enough to support a dictator, mass incarceration and ties of their government to terrorist organisations in order to appease their xenophoby towards the Kurdish minority, then make sure it's their problem and not the EU.

The only thing EU must do is make sure it doesn't blow up their way. When (not if) Turkey starts their civil war, just make sure you don't allow them in the EU after they willingly destroyed their own country after decades of EU trying to help them solve their internal problems by increasing democratic institutions there (and pouring a lot of money), but they very stubbornly resisting it and actually going the opposite way.

The world must stop looking at EU like they are the fireman of the world and at fault for all the arsonists the population keeps electing in Africa, the Middle East and even some parts of Eastern Europe.


You are describing the more modern half of Turkey aka the vacation belt.

The other half is much worse than what most western people who are familiar with the Turkish resorts imagine.

It's like looking at SF or SV and extrapolating from it the mindset of the Bible Belt.

Erdogan has support of at least half of the Turkish population and in many ways when compared to the more extreme mindset of it he's a moderate.


The voters elected and support an autocratic leader, however wonderful people they may be. It's not just about Erdogan.


Turkey has a very harsh rural/cosmopolitan split, just like the US has.

On top of that, the last election (the turn the President into Sultan) had massive fraud and any critical media has been jailed.


Reposting my comment from another place here, as it kinda applies to this too, especially the second sentence:

> Every single billboard and half the TV ads before referendum were ads telling people to vote "yes".

> People didn't even know what they were voting for.


> People didn't even know what they were voting for.

absolutely true! Which says a lot about those people who voted for him.


But they voted him many times before, it was apparent where he was heading.


I'm a greek who's grandmother has a view of Turkey within their back yard.

I'd say the majority of your view is true, but in my guess-timation, about half of them are fundamentalists, who still treat Kurds like third-class citizens, who want to turn Hagia Sophia, a cultural epicenter and museum back into a Mosque, who helped vote Ergodan in in the first place. The people you are talking about never wanted him.

A funny parallel, if you read HN, you could draw the same conclusion about America -- it sounds like most everyone is against Trump and are reasonable people, but 48.5% of the country still voted him in, and of that 48.5% half think he's doing a 'wonderful job'

These people don't stay in power by chance. America -- take note.


Isn't it kinda undemocratic for "the West" to go in and overthrow an, ironically enough, democratically elected dictator?


As someone living in Cyprus an island who has serious issues with Turkey, overthrowing Erdogan scares me more than Erdogan being a dictator.

At this point at least we know Erdogan's issues stay inside Turkey. If someone unsuccessfully tries to overthrow him no one can predict what his reaction will be. From invading Greece to a civil war that will end with hundreds of thousands dead.

If he is successfully overthrown, we'll have a new Iraq for a decade before the area stabilizes. Either way there's no clean solution.


It's also destabilizing. Look at Libya, Iraq, 1970s Iran, etc.

Ukraine is the only example where an autocrat was removed from power without the entire country falling into chaos. They were fortunate to lose control over just Crimea and the eastern zone.


Germany, 1945


It required killing 7 million Germans, 10% of the population. I guess if you kill enough people, that does reduce certain types of chaos... but a world war is basically peak chaos.


Did these Germans die because Hitler was in power, or because he was removed from power?


I am not sure about truly democratically elected part, but if its truly democratically elected it should be fine with the rest of the world.


You do realize they voted him in? They specifically chose him to be his leader and continue to do so. Why should the West "wake up"? What do you propose the west does? Should we send the militaty and overthrow him?


In a referendum with tons of irregularities and many reports of government thugs intimidating voters.


Please give me a break, the great majority of the Turks living in Germany (just as an example) not only voted yes in the referendum but after it won there were major celebrations on the streets of a lot of big German cities by Turks living there.

Please stop this nonsense of trying to pretend it's always somebody else's fault other than the majority of the Turks. They choose to transform their country in the mess it became.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/referendum-in-tu...


In Germany sure, but not in most countries. http://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/map-turke...


Did you reply to the wrong post or something?


I play video games from a young Turkish woman. She goes to gigs, nightclubs, drinks and socialises. She hits on guys and they hit on her. She is indistinguishable from any western 20something. I was on a voice call with her the night of the supposed coup, and listened to her and her family angrily lemmenting the administration. It seemed even on the night of they knew something was fishy. She lives in Istanbul, and is educated, so maybe I don't get a full picture of the Turkish opinion. Maybe others elsewhere support the government and its actions, blindly. She'd love to move to the UK, and would fit in well with our culture. Yet a part of the Leave campaigns was about how Turkey would one day join the EU, and then we'd have Turkish people flooding here too!!! Shock horror. It's becoming a self fulfilling prophecy by the west at this point, to turn Turkey from what it is, to what they think it is.


As a Turk, I'm actually happy that we were told that we can't join at all due to the referendum results. Not for me, I see myself similar to the friend you talked about, with a western culture, wanting to get off but failing, but for Europe. Allowing the 51% to roam around Europe would seriously damage the level of culture and freedom you have reached.


Let me see if I can follow the logic.

There are people in turkey that are more western.

These people would leave turkey if possible, but they can't.

This is making turkey less western?

Wouldn't that have the opposite effect? The west is generally responsible for the brain drain in less successful countries. Throwing borders up will keep those people who share our views in those countries. It's a fair bet that those people will be the force for good change in their governments more likely within their country than outside it.


There is a 49% in Turkey, and then there is 51%.

51 won and this happened.


We need to introduce some sort of minority action in democracy. The smaller pluralities should not be powerless against the majority...

The problem there I suppose would be neutral arbitration. sigh


Most countries tend to have or quickly get rules to make constitutional changes hard to pass. E.g. requiring 2/3 majority or even multiple votes across multiple parliaments, or the like. Couple that with constitutions that limit the governments power, and you get some reasonable degree of protection of minorities.

The ability to enact drastic change with a minimal majority like in Turkey (or the UK...) is terribly dangerous.


That's a great thought - I believe this is how democracy in the US used to work with more magnanimity and cooperation. Maybe I'm romanticizing, but I will think on how I can do my part to bring it to fruition.


Or something like proportional representation, maybe?


Proportional representation makes no difference for a straight yes/no vote.


51% won, but the vote rigging is staggering.


I'm Turk and living in Turkey and I can't name single positive thing about "that guy" or political islam in general.


> Turkey is almost entirely Muslim, yet they produce alcohol and tolerate its consumption within their borders, even by their own people. Let that fact sink in for a moment.

Call me naive, but is this actually a problem? I'm fairly secular and don't know much about how 'Muslim states' operate, but if they're producing alcohol, for it's population who drinks and and doesn't care, what is the actual problem here? Shouldn't the government reflect the values of the people (which has seemingly fine with alcohol consumption)?


The point is that there's no problem at all. The standard for many Islamic countries to introduce parts of Islamic law as state law, such as the forbidding of alcohol or the veiling of women. By contrast, Turkey is much more secular in its government.


Unfortunately, this secular government is precisely what Erdogan is eroding.


People who haven't travelled read Islamic and think Saudi Arabia. Go to Indonesia and you'll find cheap beer and the only reason women wouldn't drive is the traffic is really bad.


What is the legal punishment for leaving or insulting islam in Indonesia?


People can sue you for insulting religion, there is a law for it (not specific to Islam, but religion in general). 99% of the times, this is a non-issue. People just don't care enough to bring the issue to court. However, if politic is involved, this can be used as a ground to discredit a politician. It is a hot topic this year before our capital's election, where one of the frontrunners was sued for allegedly insulting al-qur'an[1]

One other exception is if you live in Aceh. It is a special region in Indonesia which implements Islamic law to the tee.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/November_2016_Jakarta_protests


Was. There's been a steady trend towards theism and religiousity promoted by Erdogan.


I don't think it's that no one cares, it's that he is very difficult to stand up to. The EU needs him because Turkey is the only thing holding back a flood of 2 million refugees. They can't threaten sanctions without risking the floodgates being opened. The US has had a long relationship with Turkey and doesn't want to terminate it unless it has to. Turkey also has the second largest standing army in NATO and is a regional rival of Russia, which is convenient for us.


Yet so many people are rooting for Erdogan... to the point of fighting tanks bare hands. People say erdogan managed to improve some things and now people are all praising him madly...


1) There is a conservative majority in Turkey, which has flourished under Erdogan, both economically and societally. They have no reason to stop supporting them.

2) Not wanting a military coup does not make one a supporter of Erdogan.

But yeah, the secularist block seems to be powerless to do anything (and not even talking about the Kurds).


I would be hard pressed to believe the people pushing out tanks that night were just anti-coup.


Nor were they rural farmers


Aren't you oversimplifying things? Wasn't Erdogan democratically​ elected and later democratically increased?


There is nothing democratic about a election in a country where the ruling party has demonized the opposition in such a way that people are afraid to vote for them...


>People in the West need to wake up and do their due diligence on Erdogan's regime. There's some seriously scary stuff happening because of this guy.

I am wide awake but I am not one of the idiot Turks who voted for this guy. What am I supposed to do if a foreign nation turns itself into an islamofascist dictatorship?


FWIW, here is a map of US military bases in the region https://www.antiwar.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/1.-u...


This is a great map. However it doesn't include "minor" bases and classified installations, FWIW. It appears to be a map of unclassified bases with air operations capabilities, e.g. an unclassified base you could fly into and out of.


>> People in the West need to wake up and do their due diligence on [whatever] regime.

Yep, because that is what happened with the Eastern-Europian regimes in 1956 and 1969. History repeats itself.


It's this mode of thinking that tbh kills democracies, both internally and externally. The idea that just because you're struggling, your problems are someone else's problems.

We see it here (and elsewhere) with people continually calling for and hoping for politicians to "do the right thing" rather than organize themselves (unless it's to do something easy like stand around holding signs) and think through new reforms to then push for (we even have the article 5 mechanism designed explicitly for that); we see it elsewhere with "Where is the West, why isn't anyone helping" as they forget we have literally neither mandate nor motive to solve their problem for them, and problems of our own besides.

Yes, we will likely intervene on certain actions anyways to preclude all-out wars if they loom. But if it gets to that point it will only be insofar as it protects us or defuses that war; liberation and organization is still ultimately a people's own problem we literally have no business butting into.


In germany, we Germans know.

But as Merkel put it : erdogan is a democrat in a democracy.

Nothing we can do here.


I guess that's the thing: from what I can tell, Turkey ceased being a democracy with Erdogan. I do not believe anything pertaining to votes in Turkey for some time, since the time Erdogan was first elected. That vote was suspect, and so has everything that's happened since then.

In certain ways, what I find so disturbing about what's been happening in Turkey is how readily everyone seems to accept the official account of major events. The vote that initially established him, the "coup," the most recent vote... Things seem to be accepted at face value by the west without questioning it, even when major red flags are everywhere.

Erdogan isn't just a despot, he's a liar. And the West, especially Western journalism, seems to turn a blind eye.

Even if a large proportion of Turkey supports Erdogan, it doesn't mean a majority do. Even if Erdogan's government says a majority does, doesn't mean it actually does. And when a government establishes itself by subverting democratic or constitutional processes, it's not a democratic government anymore.


Well, he or the situation is often compared to Hitler.

I think for good reason...


People care, like watching a child throw a tempter tantrum in a restaurant kind of care. Us in the core west know we can shut it down if it ever becomes convenient to, so its just amusing to watch.


> Turkey is almost entirely Muslim, yet they produce alcohol and tolerate its consumption within their borders, even by their own people. Let that fact sink in for a moment

I don't think this is something to be proud of. The US is majority Christian and they tolerate satanism


You seem to be implying that because they're Muslim but not really Islamic and very western that it's somehow not desirable for them to become more Islamic. How about you let them decide what's good for themselves? Why is it scary just because it's Islamic? I detect racist undertones in your post. And I don't think much of Erdogan at all, and how he thinks censorship is cool. But you don't get to start deciding what's good for a nation unless you're happy for others to decide what's good for Canada too.


As an atheist is it 'racist' for me to want a country to be "less Islamic". I certainly want countries to become "less Christian" - and generally less ideological, less superstitious, more rational and less socially conservative.

If that bundles up as "more Western" then so be it. These are the values I hold dear. I want more of the world to be liberal democracies and I an unhappy when a nation retreats from that.


Well, for starters they didn't decide for themselves. It was decided for them: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/world/europe/turkey-refer...

The greater issue though, is that it seems the "majority" is now imposing their religious ideals on a "minority". That is an unacceptable violation of the basic right to religious freedom.

Sadly Turkey is far from the first country in the Middle East to do this. There's a guy in Saudi Arabia on death row because he admitted to being atheist on his blog / social media.


>The greater issue though, is that it seems the "majority" is now imposing their religious ideals on a "minority". That is an unacceptable violation of the basic right to religious freedom. //

But that violent subjugation of non-Muslims is a central part of Islam (as practiced and preached by Mohammed). Become a Muslim, if you're "people of the book" pay jizra, or die. That's the only way for an Islamic majority to stay true to Mohammed's injunctions.

Unless Islam turns is back on Mohammed and the Koran it can't become accepting of our Western concept of human rights in this way.

Muslims whom I know are thankfully just not practicing this party of their religion and not emulating Mohammed in this way; but suggestion they are not being true to Mohammed and his ideals would nonetheless be a massive affront to them. I see no way to fit Mohammedism in to a peaceful world.


Race != religion, and it is in no way unreasonable to judge people for following backwards religious doctrines that are a danger to the people themselves and their surroundings.

"I'm sorry, but we've decided you're not a cultural fit" is a reasonable response to Turkey wanting to join the EU in its current state IMO.


Islam is not a race, it's a religion, so he is not racist at all in his comment. You don't choose the color of your skin, but you have a choice which religion to follow, or not follow any.


It's less about Islam being a race and more about how Manifest Destiny is showing its ugly face once more.


I like that you think people living under dictators "decide for themselves".


They can. Revolution is an option too. "Decisions" do not begin and end with a paper ballot; ultimately, everyone is human and can be ousted from power or killed by an angry mob.

"The army" that would defend him are countrymen; the wealthy who help maintain the status quo are a much wider group of individuals whose interests can be led to differ from his own.

That said, I do not think it should have to come to violence. If "the 49%" are steadfast and "the 51%" are beginning to doubt, calls could be organized for another referendum or neutral third party arbitration or such. The EU or UN would at minimum have something to justify a closer look. Though I haven't been following this too closely, so maybe it's too late idk.


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