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The Terrifying Power of Internet Censors (nytimes.com)
182 points by danso 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 274 comments

Two questions for everyone:

1.What do you think are the chances of Nazi's taking over the United States?

2. What do you think are the chances of the US government using its power and influence to label and suppress opposition?

I think the answers to these questions pretty much determine where you stand. If you think there is a real chance that Nazi's will take over the United States, then any means of opposition is justified, and censorship is a fair price to pay to keep this evil from happening. If you think that there is pretty much zero chance that Nazi's will take over the United States, but that government has a tendency to suppress dissent, then censoring Nazi's(who you think pretty much have no chance of coming to power and making their evil ideology anything more than words) is just opening the door and setting a precedent of suppressing ideas and will likely be used to suppress other less evil (or even good) ideas.

Republicans of course know that George W. Bush was hitler, McCain was Hitler, Romney was Hitler, and Trump- you know the joke by now.

"Call them Nazis" is a pretty standard tactic in the left wing arsenal.

Bush: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/jan/5/20040105-1145...

McCain: http://www.mtv.com/news/1593432/madonna-compares-john-mccain...

Romney: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/247789-romn...

It's kind of a shame that Democrats have trivialized the Holocaust into a political punchline. But you can see the 'concerns' on the left if these 'nazis' get into power. It drives their rationalization for these kind of censorship actions and the tech companies are just taking advantage of an opportunity.

That poisonous rhetoric was also directed at Obama by the right:


I think you mean Osama. /s

I forgot the rules of engagement: you're supposed to list his full name, using CAPS LOCK on his middle name

I think it is less a matter of 'this is just what they call those they don't like' and more a matter of 'they recognize the first steps'. A very great many people, possibly even the majority, do not have the slightest clue how Hitler rose to power, how his Nazi party gained prominence, etc. None of the Holocaust documentaries seem to focus on just what was said to all of those good little Germans who got in line and marched people into cattle cars and turned a blind eye to things. THAT is the dangerous part.

We know how to deal with military aggressors. We know how to deal with actual monsters AFTER they've gotten caught and revealed themselves. But does the phrase 'mental hygeine' send chills down your spine? And do you think if it was suggested today, or any time since 9/11, it wouldn't be taken up by both those in power and the majority of the public readily and heartily?


> Hitler virtually had the Pope's blessing.

Pope Pius XI’s 1937 encyclical Mitt Brennender Sorge [0], which when issued was secretly printed and read out at Mass in every parish in Germany, would seem to dramatically contradict this characterization, condemning as sacrilege and blasphemy many of the practices and doctrines of the Nazi state.

[0] http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/document...

Unfortunately you being scared of Christians does not equate to a fascist US government.

> We can see this at play with Trump, and Trump is to some extent using "the church" for his own purposes, while they in turn fawn over their leader.

This is pretty common in politics. I refer you to the great Reverend Jesse Jackson.

This seems like a pretty off-topic veer from the conversation at hand.

Not sure if you actually think this is only one side doing this, but just substitute "hitler" for "communist" from the right, with the same fears and motivations.

There's no excusing either, but let's discuss this with some intellectual honesty.

"intellectual honesty" in this case being "make sure to shit on the right while you point out the foibles of the left, or i might end up reflecting on how i'm playing a pointless, unwinnable game of 'tit for tat' like the hatfields and mccoys"

Communists don't get banned from the internet so far- nazis do.

That's what "communists" (for lack of a better word, from AFA syndicalists to traditional Leninist-Marxists to Maoists to whathaveyounotists) don't seem to understand: while they're doing their best to get "nazis" banned from the 'net by all sort of tricks, they're building the framework for their own eventual ban. The divisiveness of their own doctrine more or less ensures that one day they'll all end up on the "oppressor" side and as such can be banned, just like white male homosexuals are now getting banned from some LGBT[a-z0-9] groups because they are supposedly "part of the problem".

You can absolutely get banned from right-wing forums for being even slightly liberal (aka "communist").

You only have to look at The_Donald to see this in action everyday.

GP mentioned being banned from the internet, not from a forum.

Name a single Communist who got their domain name permanently clientHolded by every Registrar attempted, or their Hosting, DNS, DDoS mitigation services denied by every provider attempted.

Reality is that Communists don't face anywhere near as much platform denial or employment insecurity as Fascists do. Not even close, despite the significantly more horrific body count of Communists in the 20th century.

In the West, communists don't have to worry about being banned from the internet because, at least to my knowledge, they don't believe in racial supremacy and support systemic extermination of other races. Unlike, you know, Nazis.

It is interesting you bring up the higher body count of Communists in the 20th century. The only reason Nazis didn't get to exterminate more people is because America entered the war and the Allies won as a result. Make no mistake though: if Germany had won, Hitler would have moved on to people of other races. After all, he believed the Aryan race to be far superior to others, including non-German whites.

Sure, but as the article points out, it's one thing to be banned or blocked from posting on a particular website or other internet-based service. It's another to be (de facto) blocked from posting on any site/service or even creating your own.

It's an interesting point because while I have no sympathy for the Stormer folks who were effectively shut down themselves, it certainly provides a good illustration of how losing access to DDoS protection and similar services can all but completely remove your ability to engage in organized, internet-based "speech".

Trying to figure out why that comment is getting downvoted so heavily when it's highlighting an important point and is factually correct. Over the last few decades the mainstream left has routinely called all Presidents on the right, Nazis. It's accepted behavior and practice to outright state that as though it were a fact. The left has gotten so extreme with it, that popular left-biased talk show hosts pull heil Hitler routines on national tv, directed at Trump's Presidency.

One need only look at any given protest during the Bush years and the endless parade of Bush is Hitler type signs (and those were the nice signs).

The dramatic, almost childish overreaction would be amusing, if so many of the people proclaiming it didn't actually mean it seriously.

Because we're not on reddit. These arguments are facetious.

I don't understand why it gets attributed to the left. Any time any leader starts making authoritarian overtones that comes out. Plenty of people referred to Clinton as Hitler, Obama at Hitler, etc. The thing is, even if one of them were proven to be genetic clones of Hitler, it doesn't really matter.

The problem with Hitler wasn't that he was Hitler. It was that he advanced extremely popular views which included fears that tolerance of difference would lead to destruction. He promised a recognition of the fundamental greatness of Germans, and a bright future of healthy, strong, prosperous generations living in peace. Everyone seems to think he came right out of the gate raving like a madman. That's not how it happened. That's not how 'it' EVER happens.

When many people say things like 'that sounds like Hitler' or 'he's acting like Hitler', they are taking, usually, an intellectually bankrupt tactic. They wish to take your emotional reaction to hearing the name 'Hitler' and associate it emotionally with the thing being discussed. That's how emotional coercion works. Basic association. If one name and another are perceived close together in time or context, they get associated in the brain. If it happens enough, people see them as nearly indistinguishable. This is one of the litany of reasons why using emotional appeals to win arguments is the most debase, aggressive, disgusting forms of human interaction.

But, there are real things to be learned from the Nazi movement. They were very effective at propaganda. They were a good example of cloaking an odious, destructive ethos in good, clean healthy living, science and reason. Many people who like the ideas of good, clean healthy living and who like science and reason do not want to admit those things were used to cloak genocide, but it is critically important that we understand what worked back then, because it absolutely can happen again. We evolved to live as nomadic hunter-gatherers in small tribes on the African savannah. We did not evolve to deal with nuanced reason, complex urban environments, and strictly regulated social and family situations. We can adapt to them, but it takes intentional effort. And it can be undermined by appealing to cognitive flaws that we all share with frightening ease. So when Bush says "you're either with us, or against us" it is absolutely called for to point out that exactly that mindset is radically dangerous, and that it has backed the most savage regimes in history. I would think that would be more of a Stalin style than Hitler, personally, but it doesn't really matter. It's the talk of a dictator, an authoritarian, an enemy of dissent and thus of discussion. It is danger of the highest order for the leader of the free world to have a sentiment like that. And it really doesn't matter what party they're from or whether they're talking about Americans or Nazis when it comes to who "us" is.

Yes, lets dilute the fascist actions of the current administration with hyperbole from different times and environments. They are clearly one and the same.

Are you asking what we think the chances are the literal supporters of the long-dead German party are going to "take over" the US? Because if so that's a strawman and you know it.

If you really want to set it up as a dichotomy I'd characterize the first category as "people who believe in racial superiority, authoritarianism, bellicose and arbitrary foreign policy, and in general favor short-sighted, poorly-executed and simple solutions - most of which involve completely neutering government as we know it - over sober and data-backed policy"... Then I'd say we're already teetering on the edge, and yeah, I'd consider that a lot more likely than the US government using its power and influence to label and suppress opposition.

You might notice, by the way, that the first begets the other. So turns out enabling (1) also hastens (2). So it's not really a dichotomy at all, is it?

For everyone who's unconcerned that the definition of "Nazi" will expand without limit, note the above.

I mean, I don't like Trump either. But he's a very long way from a Nazi.

If we can't draw a line between "unlimited war to annex your neighbors" and "unwise brinksmanship with North Korea," or between "explicit campaigns to at the very least expel all Jews or alternately to just genocide them" and "professes to have no problems with minorities but seems to enact some policies that are consistently somewhat hostile to them (but which are a million miles away from expelling them)," then where can we draw the lines?

Remember that the Nazi genocide plans were secret; while elections were still going on, the talk was only ever of "the Jewish problem" and e.g. a registry of Jews.

Now compare http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trum... : the "muslim registry" appears to have gone away but the discriminatory immigration ban has not.

I know that the Nazis originally weren't claiming they'd genocide the Jews. But they called for the total separation of Jews and Gentiles in their 1920 Party Program. Immediately on their assumption of power, the Nazis banned Jews from the civil service. They restricted the number of Jewish children at schools. By 1935, they'd stripped Jews of citizenship and forbade Gentile/Jewish marriage.

The explicit, unapologetic goal of the Nazi ideology was the removal of Jews from German public life. It's just not comparable with the actions of the Trump administration.

Maybe in his heart of hearts Trump wants to be a full-on Nazi. I don't know, I'm not telepathic. But he has not presented himself as a Nazi, and he was not elected as a Nazi. Not even a 1932 Nazi.

I'd love to live in your head for a day. It'd make for a great fear-based novel since you can somehow link a travel ban with... "the implication" ... the implication being "Yada yada holocaust." And at no point do you feel the need to really have any extra data points inbetween those.

Now let's apply the same logic to something that won't get applause. Violent video games. Yada yada. Columbine.

Clearly, we need to get rid of violent video games.

What's that? Oh... some of the raised hands in the room going back down as the room no longer feels the answer is obvious.

> I mean, I don't like Trump either. But he's a very long way from a Nazi.

He's not what we retroactively think of as a Nazi; but he's not very far from an early 1930's Nazi.

Exactly. People who say "Trump is not a Nazi" simply don't know the history of 1930s Germany and how Nazis actually went from a fringe movement to the major party in power.

Back then the German middle class, who were similarly sheltered in their own bubbles and concerned with their own mundane troubles, also watched from the sidelines and engaged in whataboutism and pointed fingers at anti-fascists who violently opposed Nazis. This only served to empower the Nazis though and we all know how things ended up.

Or, the alternative is that some people have also extensively studied history and see no important parallels.

Don't you love how people here seem to parrot whatever cliche talking points that come from the standard left reading magazine stand? Salon, Huffington Post, Mother Jones (dear god), MSNBC and CNN.

They'll do a PR blitz with no supporting evidence and then for the next few weeks you'll hear the same phrase and comparisons over and over as if these people coincidentally all came to these conclusions on their own.

Remember a few weeks ago when you couldn't go one post without hearing "No moral equivalency between ANTIFA and neo-nazis." It hit the news. Then it hit the social media battleground as people basically parroted back what a couple of rich elites thought would be a good talking point for the sheeples.

And then ANTIFA beats the shit out of a white guy while a black journalist covers him to protect him and all a sudden the PR machine changes and decides to stop defending them. ... And now nobody is parroting the "no moral equivalency" cliche.

What happened? If the logic was sound and truly generated by unique individuals, why did it magically stop? Why would a chorus of people with the same argument stop thinking something they portrayed as a core, sound belief?! Oh wait, we all know the answer. People aren't unique. People aren't smart. And people are just using logic they borrowed from someone else, to smugly "win" arguments.

An easy way to tell people who have no actual depth understanding in their arguments is to simply ask them questions. The more you probe, the more you'll realize they don't have any fundamental understanding. They're the liberal equivalent of someone yelling bible verses at policy debates. "But God said X!" "But what did he mean in the surrounding verses?" ".. uhh.. uhm.. But God said X!"

> An easy way to tell people who have no actual depth understanding in their arguments is to simply ask them questions. The more you probe, the more you'll realize they don't have any fundamental understanding.

Or they are repeating something simple at high volume. It's also how you can tell they care deeply.

Most people don't deeply question why feel a certain way, don't research the history of this or that movement, pursue alternatives, or display empathy towards those on the other side(s). This is true for people on both sides, generally speaking.

I don't believe that ANTIFA and neo-nazis are morally equivalent, though. ANTIFA are protesting on behalf of the rights of others, and neo-nazis are protesting to limit the rights of others.

I don't think either group should use violence, but I understand that ANTIFA has little or no faith in the current government, and thus they feel the need for a show of force. Again, I don't think that actual violence is a good idea, and even the show of force is probably an unnecessary escalation.

You're engaging in a whole lot of assuming your conclusion, there. I have never thought there was any moral equivalency between anti-fascists and fascists, and my view on that has not altered substantially. You can easily confirm this via my comment history, which barely (if at all) refers to the 'standard left reading magazine stand' of your imagination.

I'm not alone in this outlook.

How about fascist? That seems to fit very well. Very well.

Yes, he rejects modernism, appeals to a selective populism, and espouses a cult of machismo.


Nazi Germany didn't turn into a totalitarian state overnight. It took place relatively slowly over a period of years and remained within the letter, if not the spirit, of the Weimar constitution.

I have to say your argument of contrast seems a bit disingenuous.

I would say the two main differences are: The leader of the Nazis was writing about the need to exterminate the Jews well before he had any sort of political power, so we can't really say it's surprising he ended up trying to do that once he had power. There's no analogous thing for Trump. Similarly, the judiciary was sympathetic to pre-power Hitler, letting him make long impassioned speeches at his trial for treason, which ended up netting him just 9 months in prison. Trump doesn't need that kind of thing for publicity in this day and age, but I think it's fair to say that the judiciary views him as an embarrassment at best, or hates him.

>>The leader of the Nazis was writing about the need to exterminate the Jews well before he had any sort of political power, so we can't really say it's surprising he ended up trying to do that once he had power. There's no analogous thing for Trump.

Uh, what? Trump absolutely used racist, hateful rhetoric to rile up his base and get elected. Have you listened to any of his campaign speeches? Any of the debates?

Yes, and I guarantee you will not find any speech or writing by Trump that says some class of people in the USA needs to be "exterminated". The analogy breaks down at that point. The logical leap comes at the step from "Trump is prejudiced against X" to "Trump wants to commit mass murder against X"

With Hitler, he explicitly proclaimed the need for genocide at the time that he was in jail and his movement consisted of about 600 guys in Bavaria (e.g. he wasn't simply glomming onto some broader social trend in Germany and riding it up. He created it)

Hitler did not create anti-semitism or the concept of genocide. You claim that 'he wasn't simply glomming onto some broader social trend in Germany' is wrong to the point of cluelessness.


The link above focuses on European antisemitism in particular and subsequent sections outline its geography and persistence into the early 20th century. Hitler certainly believed in this idea, as opposed to cynically exploited it for political gain, but to suggest that he created it is...absurd.

Also, the question of the degree to which Hitler aimed at genocide is a contested one. His only explicit statement on the subject in Mein Kampf, for example, is an expression of regret that Jews weren't subject to poison gassing in World War 1 (which took such a severe toll on combatants of both sides that gas was subsequently outlawed as a weapon of war).

Personally I think Hitler wanted to kill off the Jews, albeit in a vague, non-specific way from which others took their cue. According to the article below this would be considered a synthesis of the functional and intentional positions.


I'm not claiming he created anti-semitism or the concept of genocide - both obviously existed before Hitler; but it's my understanding that anti-Jewish bigotry was far worse in eastern Europe than it was in Germany, so I think it's worthwhile to figure out why Germany was the source of the Holocaust and not, say, Poland or the USSR.

> His only explicit statement on the subject in Mein Kampf, for example, is an expression of regret that Jews weren't subject to poison gassing in World War 1

He said "The nationalization of our masses will succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the soul of our people, their international poisoners are exterminated."

Edit: looked at another way - let's say Trump ends up not presiding over a genocide. Are the "Trump is like Hitler" people going to say they were wrong, or are they going to claim credit for preventing a genocide that would have happened without their efforts? I don't know how either side can prove its case; it comes down to who can construct the more persuasive counterfactual. To me the "Trump is not going to preside over a genocide no matter what efforts are or are not taken against him" is more persuasive.

The precise course and direction of European anti-semitic currents in the 20th century is a fascinating one, but not really within the scope of any HN comment - as the link I shared above demonstrates, whole books have been written arguing different aspects of that topic.

I don't get the point of your optimistic hypothetical, which seems to vague to admit of a specific answer. I'm more concerned with the present reality of ICE seeking to accelerate its ability to destroy records of death sin custody etc., since oversight and accountability in the immigration detention system is already notoriously poor.


I have yet to see anywhere that Trump said a type of people should be exterminated. Mostly he said that people shouldn't enter the country illegally and take our jobs. Racist, not the same thing.

Can you explain exactly how the idea that "people shouldn't enter the country illegally and take our jobs" is racist?

Why is enforcing well known national borders and stopping people crossing in an incontrolled fashion racist?

The claims of immigrants stealing jobs isn't founded in fact, and the penalties for illegal entry are wildly disproportionate compared to other countries or other kinds of administrative violations in US law. It must take considerable effort to maintain oblivion to the tide of ethnic slanders from certain quarters over the last couple of years.

> It must take considerable effort to maintain oblivion to the tide of ethnic slanders from certain quarters over the last couple of years.

Quite the opposite; it takes tremendous effort to infer racism where none obviously exists. In particular, millions of people are violating the law even with its severe penalties, suggesting that the penalties aren't severe enough. Banning hispanics from entering the US by any means is racist, banning immigrants of any nationality from entering the U.S. illegally is, by definition, not racist. Anyone who suggests otherwise doesn't have the slightest idea what "racism" means.

Of course, opposing illegal immigration doesn't mean that someone isn't racist; it simply isn't evidence (much less 'proof') of racism.

> racial superiority, authoritarianism, bellicose and arbitrary foreign policy, and in general favor short-sighted, poorly-executed and simple solutions - most of which involve completely neutering government as we know it - over sober and data-backed policy

That describes the American far right, but if you modify that to "ideological superiority, authoritarianism, bellicose and arbitrary social policy, and in general favor short-sighted, poorly-executed and simple solutions - most of which involve greatly expanding government as we know it - over sober and data-backed policy" you also have an apt description of the American far left.

Other than that, I completely agree with the rest of your observation.

While I generally agree with you ...

> I'd characterize the first category as ...

I'd say the first category is widespread, institutionalized racial discrimination. And the question is not whether it will happen - there's no denying it's been happening since the founding of the nation - but whether it will get worse.

You're missing:

3. What do you think are the chances of a small number of unaccountable corporations using their power and influence to suppress speech they don't like?

I fear this is the far more likely outcome and is a symptom of there being no truly "public" space on the internet. If it was the government censoring Nazis the answer would be pretty clear-cut - government censorship is bad - and plenty of court precedent would back that up. Since it's now private entities censoring information, what recourse does the censored have? Stop using these products? What if that product is a near-monopoly search engine or a near-monopoly social network? What if no private company is willing to bear the burden of protecting someone's first amendment rights if it costs them revenue?

It's widely regarded today that McCarthyism was terrible even though people of that era believed - not unreasonably - that there was a good chance that Communism would take over the US.

Neither 1 or 2. I'm much more afraid that: 3) the companies that control the internet (which are free from any duties to allow free speech) will enforce an echo chamber in which only a very limited subset of opinions can be expressed. This is much more realistic, and it's exactly what seems to be happening.

It's totally fine if Kekistan gets erased. The world will be a better place. Your (3) I describe as "companies that control the internet realize their customers don't want to be supporting trolls."

Refusing to stand in the way of an onslaught of backlash that someone would receive for their speech is not censorship. No one has the right to be heard or be free from consequences. They just have the right to not be silenced by our government. In this case, people _outside of the bounds of the law_ are using their own agency to stop the speech. It's no different than me punching you in the face for using a derogatory term. I'm still subject to assault laws, but you might think twice before you use that term again around people.

You can call that whatever you like, but reality is, no one can realistically be stopped from stopping other people from speaking.

I'm very curious the sort of answers you would get to this question to the general population of Germany in 1926. It may give insight into the perceived risk level we face now.

How afraid were they of a communist takeover? Somebody please correct me if I'm wrong (and I'm relatively ignorant to be sure) but my understanding is that there were serious tensions between communitists and Nazis, and that Nazis won out in large part for public fear of communists.

Which is to say, if you're comparing then to now, we should look at more than just the movement in isolation.

>How afraid were they of a communist takeover?

How afraid are the working class of a socialist takeover today?

The German working class then was afraid of Bolshevism. The American working class today is afraid of socialism. Populist candidates use this fear to suspend rational thinking.

> What do you think are the chances of the US government using its power and influence to label and suppress opposition?

Very long history of this. Go look at basically the entire 20th century for examples.

> 1.What do you think are the chances of Nazi's taking over the United States?

Negligible. I'm more concerned about the tyranny of people using them as a specter.

What even is a Nazi at this point except for an instance of #2? If #1 justifies any means of opposition then we're already Nazi's. It's just radical egoism on a national scale.

At this point it more or less lost its meaning. Even in German we use it for everything from grammar nazi to music nazi.

More or less just stands for stupid ignorance in the most common way I hear it.

Who do you think supports nazis or other extreme organizations? It's not like you wake up one day and realize you want to join nazis for the greater good. No, there must be some people organizing the whole thing, promoting, putting quite a bit of time and effort into it to attract members. And somebody has to pay for all of this. Often those somebodies are state actors or politicians that want to use those organizations for their own agendas. Like suppressing internet freedom, manufacturing consent and all that.

Nazi's? Nazi's what? Do you mean Nazis.

A grammar nazi in a nazi thread

I'd say it's more sad than terrifying. Terror implies immediate danger, most people will not feel the danger that shutting down of a Nazi website should entail. Most people are not Nazis.

The value of an online community exists within participation from those that visit the website. Anyone that visits can explore the ideology from the perspective of those that believe in it, which is an invaluable tool for education.

What happened in Charlottesville was a moment in american history, no matter which side you fall on. What google, godaddy, and cloudflare are doing is (understandably) limiting community engagement on extremist websites. However by doing that it is also restricting those that want to understand who-what-where-when-why-how from accessing the conversations that occurred, and obviously, they did indeed occur. Now, anybody that wants to explore both sides of the event has to do so by navigating a barrage of news articles which loosely throws around the term "nazi", and a smaller subset of opinion articles which view it as a censorship issue.

It makes the stance of anti-censorship & anti-nazi an impossibly difficult stance to take because these two issues are being viewed as two sides of the same issue. This is not conducive to a proactive internet culture. For the first time in history we have the opportunity to explore opposing political/race ideologies from inception to protest, and instead of using it to learn about human nature and group think, companies are hitting a mute button to win a popularity contest with investors.

Here's a parable: They came for the anarchists. I am not an anarchist, so I didn't care. Then they came for the communists, neither am I. Then they came for the Muslims. Then they came for debtors and child pornographers. Then they came for me.

Or in other words, for every man there is a paragraph (in criminal law). If not, one will be invented.

Here is a parable: They came for the murderers and put them in prison. They didn't come for me because I'm not a murderer, and we're broadly ok with seeing murderers as being bad for society.

I'm not saying that your quote doesn't have power - it does. But the important aspect of it is that the targets were people the subject knows were being unfairly treated. So yes, if they start locking up homosexuals or Muslims or jews I'll refer to that parable and think "shit - I'd best do something".

As things stand I'm not getting out of bed to help a nazi.

You are equating a real victimized crime, like murder, with a thought crime, like following a nazi ideology.

The Nazi ideology is to commit genocide. There's an argument to be made that being a Nazi is the equivalent of planning a murder.

Let's not kid ourselves. If these guys took over, they'd kill people, and they're not shy about admitting it.

The problem is that the white power groups are not monolithic, and there are subgroups that do not promote genocide, and actually don't even promote violence. Invariably though they all get grouped under the moniker "Nazi". Now mind you, I still find racist ideologies abhorrent, but in the end, they are constitutionally protected speech, "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security", "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it", and "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me"

It's really a bad slippery slope to start finding new exceptions where censorship is ok. It just shows that you don't understand how free speech works. Until crimes are committed, I don't care if your ideology is universal destruction. You should be left alone.

First, we're not talking about any random group of white supremacists. We're talking about literal Nazis.

Second, the slippery slope is a fallacy. Literally. The "slippery slope fallacy" is a textbook fallacy. In this instance, many countries make it illegal to espouse Nazi ideology today, yet Germany and France haven't become dystopian dictatorships.

"If we outlaw gun ownership for the mentally ill, that's a slippery slope to outlawing all firearms."

"If we outlaw same sex marriage, that's a slippery slope to outlawing all marriage."

"If we outlaw cocaine, that's a slippery slope to outlawing beer."

All of those make just as much sense as a slippery slope of outlawing Nazis.

We live on the "thought censorship slippery slope". The U.S., successfully and without much dissent, outlawed (socially and economically, at least) Social Democratic, Socialist, and Communist thought throughout the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Those ideological thoughts are very much so dead in America.

Now we have factions of the public literally asking for censorship. What a field day and marketed success for Government Relations. Is it really 'thought censorship' if the public is asking for the Government's mighty purifying hand of social ideology? Is the government banning Mein Kampf? Is it banning Hitler's transcripts? Is it just flexing its muscles to see if censoring the living, breathing electorate can be made acceptable by the public?

Calling out "logical fallacies" is a knee-jerk reaction when you don't have a realistic response. It is not a fallacy to think that if we ban a previously allowed form of speech, it would set precedent to make it easier to ban other forms of speech. I said nothing of leading to dictatorship. The slippery slope I'm talking about leads to the lack of free speech, which is realistic.

Furthermore, there is nothing in our legal system that bans Nazis. Fuck Nazis, and fuck their ideology, but free speech is more important. The US legal system bans crimes, not thought systems. If you don't like that, then push for constitutional amendments, but as it stands now, they are exercising free speech.

It is not a fallacy to think that if we ban a previously allowed form of speech, it would set precedent to make it easier to ban other forms of speech.

Yes it is. There are lots of things it's already illegal to say.

In fact, banning some forms of speech can increase the freedom of speech on the whole, such as when you suppress the speech of groups threatening violence on minorities, thus keeping them silent and cowed.

It's only against the law to say things that are direct or immediate danger to a particular person, such as slander/libel and ordering for a particular murder.

So if you order one death, it's a crime — but if you issue a blanket order for thousands of deaths, that deserves the protection of society? Surely the problem with plotting someone's death is not that it's thinking too small.

You are playing word games. Which specific persons have been directed to murder which specific people? Just having abstract desires about abstract groups is not enough in our current legal system.

And don't forget we are talking about censorship here. We don't have a two-step legal system, i.e. let's censor people who have abstract ideas of murder, then arrest them once they start to carry them out. Either they are planning to murder someone specific or they are not. And until we have evidence that they have murder targets and execution plans, then no action should be taken.

There are a lot of groups that espouse murderous beliefs that are not Nazis. What should we do about them? Plenty of non-Nazis have said online that all muslims should be killed. Should they be censored and/or arrested? If you think that there is something special about Nazism, then you should amend your argument to include the historical significance of Nazism as a reason you think they should be censored, rather than any reductive argument, because there will always be counterexamples in the latter.

what is "specific"? is "we should exile all black people from our town" specific enough?

where is the line between freedom of speech and let's say, emotional abuse? Should my statement "all jews are pieces of shit and deserve to die" protected by society? If it should be protected by first amendment, when it should stop protecting? When I would yell same statement to jewish kids in on a daily basis? Would it change when I would say "all jews should be exiled to desert" (now it becomes call to action) ? Would it change when same thing would be repeated by 10000 people community?

right now I keep an eye on one local nacionalist community page in facebook, and they are racists and even don't hide it. I find it troubling because the more vocal they will be, the braver members will become and they will normalize that "opinion" and soon it can become actions. I think it's naive to think that extremist groups will only talk about it without any action towards their goals.

No, those statements are not specific enough. Hate speech is protected.


Slippery slope is a valid argument. However, it can be used fallaciously.


> We're talking about literal Nazis.

Wait, we're talking about Germans from the 30s and 40s? People that conducted the Holocaust, that invaded most of Europe and some of Russia and many other places?

Maybe we aren't actually talking about literal Nazis. Words matter.

By the way, what about various individuals and groups that are not Nazis, but also promote death and destruction. You can see it in various heavy metal and rap subcultures. Should they be silenced?

I am having a hard time figuring out if this is a strange joke I'm failing to get or if you actually mean to suggest that Nazism is victimless.

Isn't consuming child porn just a thought crime? I think you may be splitting hairs when the ideology promotes hate crime & harm to others.

Believing NAMBLA'a propaganda is a thought crime. By contrast, actually viewing indecent images of children involves participating in a crime committed by the creator of those images. Similarly, the demented ravings of The Daily Stormer are thought crime. Racially motivated abuse and violence are actual crimes.

You just reiterated my point:

Thought crimes can involve participating in, or contributing to, crimes committed by other people (as you just elaborated).

That's why as a society we ban consumption of child pornography and other types of thought crimes - because they involve harming others.

Worth noting no one is going to jail for being a Nazi (except the ones that are actually killing people). Private companies are just choosing not to do business with them; because, turns out associating with people that think killing minorities for the glory of the master race is a good idea tends to be bad for business. Who could have guessed?

There is no Nazi "ideology" without victims. That is, there is no ideology that can't shift on a penny, but there's always resentment and powerlessness (as well as the megalomania that accompanies them) projected on those to be made victims. In a way, that's way older and way broader than actual Nazism, but the historic Nazis showed the horrible depths of it.

Nazis aren't about a specific set of "enemies", with Nazism becoming peaceful as soon as those are exterminated, it's more about constantly inventing enemies and sub-distinctions. It's flight from self, nihilism made movement. And even if everybody makes the Hitler salute, you can always rank them by enthusiasm and kill the least enthusiastic 5%. A boot (not a human foot) on a human face, forever, an endlessly restricting noose of hatred, and endless rush of power that doesn't fulfill or give happiness but does destroy and cause anguish. That's (one way to describe) Nazism. That's why you treat even one grain of it very seriously.

And while there is abuse of the word "Nazi" or even "Neo-Nazi", and we could argue a lot about what should be called what, just look at all the possible meanings of common words like "get", and notice how we don't get confused about that most of the time. Worrying more about what something is called than what something is much more constructive.

Though I'm not saying this as an argument to censor anyone.. not because I'm necessarily against it in all cases, but because I don't like the framing of that. When societies breed alienation and isolation, where so many kids are left to their own devices (I didn't aim for that pun but I'll keep it) in an onslaught of vapid or even cynical pandering and product shoveling, Neo-Nazis are just one of the predictable results of that, it's one of the ways a human can break.

It's like Mikado sticks (fasces?), when you let go of a bundle, I can't tell you which one will fall to the top right, but I can pretty much assume some will fall there. And the discussion is kind of futile when it starts history with the still image of a distribution of sticks, and kind of nauseating when it comes with too much self-righteousness. Are we to be applauded for not being Neo-Nazis, or should we be grateful we didn't have such a bad childhood or other reasons to be susceptible to it?

We tend to leave people by the wayside until they're old enough to run amok or join a cult or whatever. By that time it's kind of too late for good results, at that point it's like war with no winners. Of course, that's out of scope for "do I host this or don't I?", but I have to get it off my chest (every time this subject comes up).

While I'm rambling, how about freaky third answers, like host it under the condition they have to have an externally hosted comment system for every article, moderated by the UN? Don't shut them up, but don't allow them to shut up discussion about their "ideas" either. I'm not sure about actual Nazis, but for all sorts of grey areas, that's at least a thought?

It's really the post above that which does so, by putting child abuse and political affiliation on the same plane.

Now when it comes to political ideologies, the difference between thought crimes and real-world actions is not so clear. Someone might believe in nazi ideology, vote accordingly, discriminate in their personal or professional lives based on that, but not be any sort of public activist - that's what I'd call a 'thought crime.' It's their right to hold such a position no matter how repulsive I find it.

There is a qualitative difference when someone steps into actively promoting such ideologies (eg waving nazi flags or participating in marches). The thing about nazi ideology is that it's explicitly grounded in the elimination of some people and the subjugation of the rest, and rejection of the democratic principle in favor of leadership from above.

When you get to people who express support for specific policies like genocide, ethnic cleansing, etc. and who organize in pursuit of that objective, it seems to me that they've passed out of the realms of 'thought crime' and into actively threatening demographic groups and their members.

There's a tremendous and insensitive irony in using that parable to describe the persecution of Nazis when it was originally about the Nazi's persecution and genocide of groups.

Perhaps "terrifying" is just an adjective that gets more clicks and people to read what's so terrifying. The marketing of fear - on a site and an article purportedly trying to counter the marketing of fear (Nazi & hate ideologies are broadly about fearing the "other").

In other words, the title is very clickbaity.

That's great until the mob with torches are outside your door calling for your blood. Intolerance will always win if you insist on every issue being a "both sides" debate. It's the same as trying to argue with a creationist, antivaxer or flat earther; there cannot be a reasonable discussion if one or more sides have no facts to stand on (master race bollux was bad science back in the 1920s and hasn't gotten better).

No one is loosely throwing around the term Nazi, these groups self identify as American nazis, carry fucking nazi flags, are on video chanting "jews will not replace us". Also these groups aren't new; they've been around for years technology has just amplified their voice. You don't need The Daily Stormer and its ilk to come to an informed decision on "are Nazis bad" just open a history book.

There's a valuable discussion to be had about whether it makes sense for the internet to not be a public run utility (and thus subject to full 1st amendment protections). But so long as we're leaning on the free market to sort things out, you're on the wrong side of history if Nazis are the cause you want to defend.

Sounds like you're okay with society censoring the websites of Nazis, yes? Care to clarify who gets to decide who is and isn't a Nazi?

This is not rhetorical. In my experience, a lot of people agree with "It's okay to censor Nazis" but virtually no one agrees with "It's okay to censor people that ____ disapproves of", regardless of what fills the blank.

I guess I'd say I'm against censorship not because there's no speech bad enough to censor, but because there's no one trustworthy enough to do the censoring.

> Care to clarify who gets to decide who is and isn't a Nazi?

Given the strict definition of "waving swastikas and advocating for violence against Jews" works in the scenario at hand, I'm not yet terrifically concerned about over-reach.

> waving swastikas

The only reason people wear swastikas in America is because of the strong free-speech protection that this thread is discussing the erosion of. If we banned swastikas (like Germany) then people would stop wearing them (like Germany), but we'd still have the same hate speech you're discussing censoring.

> advocating for violence against Jews

That's a pretty broad standard. If a politician supports evicting Israelis from disputed settlements in the West Bank, is that "advocating violence against Jews?" The answer "Yes according to some people, No according to others." So again, I ask: who are you trusting to decide? President Trump? Congress? You personally? To be clear, the offer currently on the table is "some middle-managers at Cloudfare, as directed by the fickle hand of social media."

> If a politician supports evicting Israelis from disputed settlements in the West Bank, is that "advocating violence against Jews?"

Someone chanting "death to Jews" and waving Nazi flags leaves little unambiguous. I'm usually a slippery slope fanatic when it comes to free speech, and I still am as it relates to First Amendment concerns, but private companies choosing not to do business with people who self identify as Nazis, wave Nazi flags and chant "death to Jews" while saying that employees of said companies are also Nazis is pretty clearly their right. Courts aren't computers and the law isn't code; judges can understand "they are Nazis."

You're answering the question "Is it okay to censor stuff that's super-duper bad", which no one is asking. The question at hand is who gets to distinguish bad-enough-to-ban from the not-bad-enough-to-ban. That you've replied twice without answering suggests, I think, that there's not an easy answer. Not that there's any shame in that! The founders couldn't come up with a good answer either. The first amendment essentially says, "Restricting speech is so difficult to get right that we don't trust Congress to do it."

Meanwhile, the point this article is making is that (in practice, if not in law) the current answer to the question of who decides what to censor is "middle managers at network infrastructure companies, based on what their social media departments suspect might hurt their brand." If you think that's an acceptable answer, great, but I don't think you can go on thinking of yourself as a "slippery slope fanatic when it comes to free speech" in that case.

> That you've replied twice without answering suggests, I think, that there's not an easy answer

There isn't. But we don't need an answer, not yet. The justice system is a lazy evaluator. This case has an easy answer--they are Nazis. If someone sued, the ruling would be quick. If the next case is more complex, reality will illuminate the nuances.

Common law systems are complex. They're also de-centralised and empirical. You don't always need a standard ex ante. We have a cultural standard regarding genocide, its advocacy, and Nazis. Existing norms and laws suffice.

(Philosophically, your question is interesting. It's practically irrelevant, though, until a matching case threatens to arise.)

But you're saying that we should just ignore the examples of super-duper-bad speech because of the difficulty of deciding where the line is. And that is a really hard problem, but it doesn't take away from the fact that people are engaging in super-duper bad stuff like calling for genocide and plotting and committing political murders.

Yes, and maybe allowing that would be less bad than allowing censorship to creep its way into acceptability.

I'd like you to expand on this. I'm sure you're familiar with the idea of a chilling effect, and can understand how accepting the open advocacy of genocide, ethnic cleansing, or terrorism would negatively impact the freedom of those who are intended to be on the receiving end of such policies.

How many or how detailed must threats against others' wellbeing become before you consider them unacceptable?


Threats of violence are already illegal. If speech crosses into threat/violence, we should punish that vigorously so as to deter further violence and to assure would-be victims. In fact, this is already policy and it's working out pretty well; Nazism lags even Islamic terrorism (at least in the US) in deaths. Surely if we tell people not to worry about Islamic terrorism, no one should be chilled by Nazism. The fear isn't rational; it's only propped up by leftist FUD (as fear of terrorists was largely propped up by the right in the aughts).

Strange, I haven't heard of anyone being arrested for promoting genocide yet, why not? Your comparison with Islamic terrorism is a red herring since we don't have Islamists holding public rallies demanding we impose Sharia law.

> Strange, I haven't heard of anyone being arrested for promoting genocide yet, why not?

We weren't talking about promoting genocide, but about threatening and committing violence. If you can't debate with integrity, I'm not interested.

Yes we were, as anyone can confirm by reading back up the thread. Impugning my integrity because the topic of conversation makes you uncomfortable seems like a you problem.

You chose to answer a question that had been addressed to someone else, which you're welcome to do, but it doesn't give you ownership of the conversation as you seem to imagine.

> as anyone can confirm by reading back up the thread

I said "Threats of violence are already illegal.", to which you responded, "Strange, I haven't heard of anyone being arrested for promoting genocide yet".

> Impugning my integrity because the topic of conversation makes you uncomfortable seems like a you problem.

Ha! If I had any doubt about your integrity, I certainly don't now. Feel free to keep trolling, but you'll just be shouting into the void; I'm blocking this thread.

Plotting and committing political murders are already crimes, let's not conflate these with abhorrent speech.

No, let's. Organizing for the murder of a large number of people is as bad as or even even worse than calling for the deaths of individuals.

I don't know how you do that moral calculus, but it doesn't matter because it's still not a reason to constrain speech. At best, it's a reason to apply a hate crime magnifier to the murder/conspiracy charge.

I refuse to legitimize calls or organization for genocide as an acceptable speech act.

So brave.

Given the current political climate of people being labeled as Nazis simply because they disagree, I would suggest some level of worry.

These people are nazis. They're not being labeled, they showed up and said "yes we're nazis look at this flag". Like the false equivalence between crazies saying every political figure is nazis and people that are calling themselves nazis with pride is ridiculous.

We're not operating in a grey area, one group is waving nazi flags, chanting blood and soil, and killing people; the other isn't. Pretty open and shut.

---- spot the grey area http://a.abcnews.com/images/International/nazi-flag-charlott...

I'm not speaking of the people who show up in public wearing Nazi paraphernalia and carrying Nazi flags. That's so easy any idiot can correctly identify them as that is exactly how they wish to be identified. I'm speaking of the people who show up in public with signs supporting free speech, unity, and love for all people that are then screamed at by idiots in masks labeling them as Nazis. Before they are beaten while police stand by and watch.

Simply because they have a different point of view.

Or any politician that openly disagree with certain politicians that have been in office for quite some time. It's a known tactic that has been in effect for a long time now. If you find yourself losing a debate, compare your opponent to Hitler.

Fortunately we don't need to decide "who is and isn't a nazi". They literally say so. They're proud of it, they've got the flags, and the arm bands.

I love how to the "free speech advocates" genocide is something that you just "disapprove" of. Im pretty sure, baring literally nazis, you can get just about every person on board with "It's ok to censor people that want genocide".

Maybe you're one of the exceptions. But if so, I'd so some introspection about why "we should indiscriminately kill people" deserves the same consideration as "we shouldn't indiscriminately kill people"; because that's the debate.

> Im pretty sure, baring literally nazis, you can get just about every person on board with "It's ok to censor people that want genocide".

Well gosh, that sounds simple! Who could possibly argue with that! And of course, quite a large number of Americans believe that legalizing abortion was genocide. So we're all on board with shutting down plannedparenthood.com then, right?

And to think, I thought censorship was a complex issue.

This really seems like a red herring considering the grandparent post addresses the question of those who self-identify as nazis and are willing to publicly incite genocide.

I think you are misunderstanding me. I agree there is no debate that those claiming they are Nazis are Nazis.

It is important to understand why people feel compelled to identify with Nazism. If we don't understand why something happened, there is nothing we can take away to prevent it in the future. What we have with Daily Stormer is a quite literal database of interactions of people who self identify as Nazis... I'd say deleting it is not the most productive thing we could do with such information.

But this isn't a new problem, is it? We have a plethora of books, essays, documentaries, and museums examining that very subject. For that matter, many modern nazis are not shy about articulating their reasons - desire for collective identity, desire for power, difficulty with women.

If you'd like some reading material:

The Rise and Faull of the Third Reich by William L Shirer - the single best historical overview

Anti-Semite and Jew - by Jean-Paul Sartre - an examination of the fundamental dynamic of nazi ideology

The Nazi Conscience by Claudia Koonz - examines the nazi worldview in detail

Kill All Normies by Angela Nagel - examining the intersection of chan culture and far-right ideology

* What we have with Daily Stormer is a quite literal database of interactions of people who self identify as Nazis... I'd say deleting it is not the most productive thing we could do with such information.*

True, but it's not some petri dish that you can keep isolated in a lab, is it? You have to balance the benefit of what you might learn against the costs that their organizing activity imposes on other people.

I don't want to defend Nazis, but I don't trust our society to accurately identify Nazis. We already see people who question political orthodoxy getting fired for "being intolerant", and there are a lot of people (even in my workplace) who sincerely believe that anyone who voted for Trump (close to 50% of our country) is a closet Nazi. Some people even question whether free-speech advocates are Nazis ("Why else would someone defend the speech rights of Nazis?"). The reason the left took an absolutist position on free speech in previous decades is because there isn't a good test for identifying deplorable speech--maybe today censorship sounds appealing to you, but consider the precedent you're proposing for the next cultural administration (if you indeed believe the country is 50% Nazi, you should be very concerned about weakening free speech).

EDIT: One other important point--who's to say that censoring Nazis is even an effective way to limit the spread of the ideology? It could well galvanize Nazis or push those on the fence over to the wrong side. What are our motives? Are we more interested in limiting the spread of intolerance, or do we want to make sure there are plenty of Nazis to punch?

> close to 50% of our country

You mean close to 50% of registered voters. Which are less than 40% of the population who are eligible voters. And that number is probably off too, thanks to voter suppression, disenfranchisement, and gerrymandering of voting districts.

Furthermore, it was the electoral college who decided who the president should be, in many cases going against the popular vote within their state. When you understand how the electoral votes are decided upon, the number of voters who voted for our current president grows even smaller.

In short, it's a relative minority who actually voted for Trump, and all the voters together are in the minority of all eligible citizens who can vote. Why those others didn't vote is up for debate, but I've already mentioned three potential reasons (not counting apathy).

So that other portion of the population that didn't vote - we have no idea how they stand ideologically on political and social issues. But we can certainly say there's a percentage of them who would have voted for Trump, and the ideology that supports him.

Greater than 50% of the population? Not likely. But it isn't a small percentage, either (in fact, it is probably somewhere close to his polling numbers - around 30%).

How is this relevant? My 50% figure is a rough estimate based on the voting population as a sample of the overall population. Even if the actual number is closer to 30%, my point stands--any one who believes that 1 in 3 people in the U.S. is a Nazi are deluding themselves (or more likely, they've broadened the definition of 'Nazi' to include more people who disagree with them politically so they can feel morally superior).

>That's great until the mob with torches are outside your door calling for your blood.

I hope you realize that's exactly what you're doing.

>No one is loosely throwing around the term Nazi, these groups self identify as American nazis, carry fucking nazi flags, are on video chanting "jews will not replace us".

Yes, there were a handful of those. And there were a whole bunch of other people who're simply tired of being the only ethnic group that's not allowed to advocate for its own interests.

This article has some good points. But I think it's interesting to notice that there are certain kinds of information that even we here in the US, and other liberal countries, censor (and have more or less always censored) without a moment's consideration. Take child porn, for example. So that blows a hole in the idea that there's no clear line somewhere. I wonder, then, why are ideas like Nazism, with its close historical proximity to genocide and the death of millions (arguably much more repugnant than pictures of naked children), somehow given more consideration than something like child porn?

Easy answer to your question -- do a quick google search for NAMBLA

We don't censor the opinion that people should be able to have sex with children.

There is a very clear line and it's called the First Amendment.

We censor child porn because it is a crime that involves a victim.

The Daily Stormer was all talk.

Once you start talking about censoring people who might cause people to commit crimes, you've crossed a philosophical boundary into policing thought crimes.

On the other hand, erotic literature about children (which has no victim) is at best in a legal grey area, and has been successfully prosecuted before. Such a thing is also "all talk".

Can you give an example?


There are a few other examples of people getting in varying amounts of trouble, but that one stands out.

We censor spam without a second thought and that's only advertisement. Some may be outright illegal scams, but some is surely offering a legitimate service, just in an annoying way. Free speech doesn't grant you a right to use privately owned infrastructure for anything you want.

You have to actively opt-in to spamfilters/advertisement blockers though, or at the very least can opt-out (e.g. look into your spambox).

Internet companies remove users posting spam all the time.

The act of spamming people is, in fact, illegal. Having an opinion isn't.

Let’s be careful not to conflate legal with ethical. It could very easily be legal to censor all hate speech (Canada and UK have these laws). And I mean government censorship, not we-don’t-want-to-do-business-with-you-censorship.

I was very explicitly speaking of "legal". With acts like the CAN-SPAM Act, a lot of spam is, in fact, illegal, and it isn't by any stretch a restriction of free speech for an infrastructure provider to shut down someone sending illegal spam.

The fact that it's illegal, that is, the government has outlawed that form of speech, renders it very clearly a free speech restriction.

Is it? e-mail spam yes, I don't think posting advertising on websites or social media is per se - still companies act against it if it doesn't meet their own thresholds.

the CEO dropped stormer because they claimed that cloudflair was secretly nazi.

if i said someone was secretly a nazi, i would definitely be causing them harm.

> The Daily Stormer was all talk

Talk is not all safe nor is it all protected, even under the First Amendment in the U.S. You can't slander people; you can't say fraudulent things (this elixir cures cancer!); you can't yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater; you can't assist or encourage people, though talk, in the commission of a crime.

Talk moves armies and nations, to good and evil, and in fact is far more effective at it than anything else. Talk encouraging ethnic hate has a very well-established track record of causing great harm to people's lives and liberties in large numbers. Arguably, nothing has done more harm in human history than ethnic hatred. To try to minimize it as "all talk" is dangerously misleading.

(OTOH, I do believe we should be very careful with limiting speech, and that monopolies and oligopolies are the wrong people to do it.)

Thanks, very good point.

For what has to be the billionth time: when a company stops you from posting hate speech on their platform, your first amendment rights have not been violated.

It takes some serious cojones to declare your support of the principles of free speech upon which western democracy is built, and then when someone points out your hypocrisy in censoring declare "Im not violating the law!!!!"

No. You're not. You're just (legally) attacking the principles upon which your society is built.

Are you sure that western democracy is build on an interpretation of "free speech" that means having to host nazis?

Western democracies like Germany, the Netherlands, or Canada (to name a non-european democracy) might disagree there.

> You're just (legally) attacking the principles upon which your society is built.

The US government, by the first amendment, can't legally censor your speech.

That doesn't mean they have to give you a bullhorn, a soapbox, and a corner to stand on, though.

For a random small company - sure. But not for a large infrastructural company that can pretty much silence you if a handful of other large infrastructural companies follow.

No, but your fundamental human rights, as recognized by the UN, have been.


Article 19

"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

I assume you'll be filing suit against Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and The Economist for failing to publish your articles?

Seriously, I would bet that "impart information and ideas through any media" doesn't mean that you have the right to use others' equipment, venue, and name.

Except for maybe when you paid for such access beforehand?

Just because you pay for something, doesn't mean I have to continue to sell it to you.

Now - if the Daily Stormer paid for services, and wasn't refunded their money after their access was pulled, that's one thing.

But if the money was returned to them, and they were told "We won't sell you this service any longer, because you have violated our terms of service" - then the company offering the services are free and clear to do that.

If the DS wants to continue broadcasting their speech, they are welcome to set up their peering services, dns providers, and DDOS prevention and CDN services themselves. And, if someone violates their terms of service, they are just as free to stop providing services to them.

But companies aren't required to give someone a bullhorn to amplify their voice.

Well you can't follow just a bit of the UN charter:

Article 30.

Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Honest question: is the UN declaration incorporated into American law?

That is trivially true. The first amendment forbids the government from suppressing free speech, but the moral principle of a liberty to engage in free expression exists prior to the first amendment in the same way as the right to life is prior to Title 18, U.S. Code Chapter 51.

Even as a moral principle, free speech isn't a blank check to express whatever you want without consequences. The founders of free speech principles even acknowledge this with the harm principle, where someone's free speech liberty can be hindered if the expressions cause harm.

I did not claim that free speech should completely unconstrained, and I don't see how such an inference can be drawn from my point above. My point was simply that the scope of the principle that free speech ought to be protected is not bounded by the limits of the first amendment because it is a moral principle that exists prior to codification in law.

You simply stated that free speech as a moral principle wasn't constrained by the law. I was just reminding you that free speech as a moral principle still has constraints, which are relevant to the discussion of expressions that historically harm others (child pornography, Nazism, etc.)

Because child pornography is better defined than Nazism. Sexually explicit images of under age persons is child pornography, full stop. But is "White Nationalism" Nazism? How about Holocaust deniers? KKK? Unless a site explicitly labels itself as pro-Nazi, who's to say it's a Nazi site?

Child Porn is a tough definition too. Good example is during the 80's in the heyday of "Satanic Ritual Abuse", which had its ow acronym btw (SRA), and "repressed memories", you had lots of people being hauled off to jail from K-Mart photo labs after developing pictures of their kids taking a path with their mother and stuff like that.

Yes, there were many witchhunts. But they concerned (almost always false) accusations of child abuse, not child pornography. If you posted a picture that was purported to depict child abuse, but which was in no way sexual, I don't think that would be considered child pornography.

The line between Nazis, white supremacists, and KKK members has always been pretty thin. All the Nazis did was apply white supremacist ideas that were in vogue at the time. I still see the occasional person arguing for eugenics, and not all of them are fringe goofballs.

All you have to do is to take the stance of protecting individual human rights. So much for the Supremacists, KKK members, and Nazis, for all of those ideologies crap on individual human rights. So much for eugenics, which does the same.

Make no mistake: The ideological basis of WWII was the protection of individual human rights. In WWII and all through the 20th century forces on the extreme right and the extreme left crapped on individual human rights. Some bad actors acting on behalf of all of the major countries did the same. The cast changes, but the story is the same. Non-violent vs. violent. Good vs. evil. Freedom vs. authoritarianism. Rational intellectualism vs. silencing and baseless accusation.

If you would speak truth to power, look at who is exercising power. Look at who resorts to fear and intimidation. Look at who is silencing instead of engaging. Look at who resorts to violence. Look at who revels in the power of the mob. Look at who resorts to appeals to emotion in spite of logic and facts. If you would speak truth to power, speak to those actors.

> "Make no mistake: The ideological basis of WWII was the protection of individual human rights."

Erm, then why did we hand over Poland and other Eastern European states to the USSR? Why did we let France re-establish their colonies in French-Indochina and elsewhere?

You're dramatically oversimplifying things in order to make this some kind of cosmic fight between good and evil. Stop forcing a narrative by cutting out all the bits that get in the way.

Erm, then why did we hand over Poland and other Eastern European states to the USSR? Why did we let France re-establish their colonies in French-Indochina and elsewhere?

Those are clearly failures of human rights. In the current international legal framework, the United States holds sovereign power and grants human rights to its citizens. The United States can grant human rights to persons within its borders. It cannot do more than play international politics on behalf of people outside of it.

You're dramatically oversimplifying things in order to make this some kind of cosmic fight between good and evil. Stop forcing a narrative by cutting out all the bits that get in the way.

Sorry, but you're the one who is "forcing a narrative" here. You have defined the sides, such that all "sides" have crapped on human rights. It is possible that you want to define sides this way because you know that your "side" is morally compromised and has crapped on human rights. (And if you are a member of the far extreme left, there is a good chance that your "side" is morally compromised and of authoritarian bent.) You can instead define your sides to be the non-violent against the violent, or individual human rights against authoritarianism. I suggest you do this.

The USA is certainly not perfect. No sovereign nation that has ever existed has been perfect. This is why Free Speech is important, so that criticism can be levied against those in charge. This is why democracy is important, so that the voices of people can be heard and things can change, without further unnecessary violence. This is why genuine public discourse is vital, and why tactics of namecalling, shame, and intimidation are harmful -- it puts society in a position where "good" can only be accomplished by the commission of evil. Let us instead work towards a world where violence is no longer necessary.

I'm not advocating for a specific side and it's interesting that is the conclusion you instantly went to. I'm saying WW2 wasn't about a global fight of good versus evil or even about individual rights per se. Those were definitely parts of it, but saying that's the ideological basis is untrue.

> "Sorry, but you're the one who is "forcing a narrative" here. You have defined the sides, such that all "sides" have crapped on human rights."

I consider my views to be Independent, not left, right, or center. I don't think things can be boiled down to two subjects easily as there are often many more considerations that need to be made when making a decision on what to do. If I did have to advocate a side, my side would be in the interest of trying to talk about things in as complete a manner as possible. That means I generally try to resist boiling things down to dualistic evaluations.

I'm not arguing that all sides have crapped on human rights and that somehow invalidates the good actions of the USA. I'm saying that what you claim to be the ideological basis of the war is untrue. Doesn't mean that the war wasn't necessary and a good thing. If anything I'd make the argument that we really messed up the post war and betrayed a lot of people who were looking to us for help. I still consider it rather ironic how Ho Chi Minh was originally a supporter of democratic instutions and a friend of the US, until he decided the independence of his people mattered a lot more.

I think I can understand why you went to the conclusion that you did, but I don't think you're arguing against what you think you are.

I'm saying that what you claim to be the ideological basis of the war is untrue.

The ideological basis and the geopolitical basis are two entirely different things.

I still consider it rather ironic how Ho Chi Minh was originally a supporter of democratic instutions and a friend of the US, until he decided the independence of his people mattered a lot more.

That's a place where the USA really f'd up!

The ideological basis and the geopolitical basis are two entirely different things.

Geopolitics and ideology have to be considered hand in hand when making decisions at the scale that Roosevelt and Eisenhower did. Before Pearl Harbor, even though the general US populace knew what the Nazis were doing to some extent, even Lend-Lease was hugely controversial. It took a surprise attack on US soil to galvanize people into action. To me, I think survival of the US is a much easier sell as being the prime ideology. Everything else such as protection of rights and freedom were good partial truths. Otherwise things like the internment of the Japanese, rationing, censorship, propaganda, and so on become harder to explain.

Again, none of these encroachments take away from the rightness. I just think it's important to acknowledge that the ugly and the good and everything else can stand together all at once.

I think it's also worth mentioning that when I'm thinking of WW2, I'm also thinking of WW2 as a whole. Not just from a purely US centric perspective.

To me, I think survival of the US is a much easier sell as being the prime ideology.

Please don't confuse motivations with ideology. Ideology is a philosophical thing. Motivations can be ideological, but they can also be apart from ideology. Fighting "to preserve our way of life" is effectively an ideological call out. It certainly was in the 1930's and 1940's America.

To me, I think survival of the US is a much easier sell as being the prime ideology.

Fighting to protect your home is rather at a more basic level than the ideological basis of the USA, which is that of individual human rights on the English model. American GI's, German Wehrmacht, and Red Army soldiers -- all 3 of them were motivated by patriotic defense of the homeland. However, all 3 groups had widely differing ideologies.

Ideology needs special attention. Especially at times like this.


That goes both ways. There's a good deal of venality to point to surrounding WW2 and its aftermath, but we should not ignore the existence of the United Nations or the principles upon which it is founded. It is a real institution that shapes world affairs, however imperfectly.

It's a global stage for kabuki. So yes, it definitely shapes world affairs that way. I don't really consider the principles of the UN to be important when it's a paper tiger. Government without force is not government.

That's one way to ignore 60 years of history.

I'm saying that political theatre is important and necessary. When it comes to everything else the UN has a really bad history of ineffectiveness.

It's flawed, for sure, but given the short history of supranational institutions that seems like something you'd expect to struggle with.

> Look at who resorts to fear and intimidation. Look at who is silencing instead of engaging. Look at who resorts to violence. Look at who revels in the power of the mob.

Not a good look for progressives and antifi, it would seem.

(Nor genuine Nazi skinheads, but they're in the minority.)

Because people have been labeling each other Nazis for the past decades, that the word lost all meaning. What it kinda boils down to is "a person I disagree with".

But isn't it probably true that the Daily Stormer was run by neo-Nazis?

Updated to be more accurate in response to a reply. Use of the term "literal Nazis" in my original post was arguably not appropriate.

It was run by literal neo-Nazis, I think. Pretty sure the literal Nazis were either put to death, sent to prison, died of old age, or ended up hiding in Argentina somewhere never to be heard from again.

As soon as those neo-Nazis commit a crime, they should be put away and the figurative "book" should be thrown at them.

But the moment our society makes it a practice of punishing people for throughtcrime and for what they might do or have yet to do, then we've become a literal dystopia from Science Fiction.


Planning to kill someone is a "thoughtcrime" and illegal.

More to the point, you're engaging in the slippery slope fallacy. Being a Nazi and espousing the ideology is actually a crime in Germany, and they haven't descended into some dystopian dictatorship.

Planning to kill someone is a "thoughtcrime and illegal.*

Criminal conspiracy is illegal. If you can make such a case against neo-Nazis, then by all means, do so! They would be vile people guilty of a vile thing.

More to the point, you're engaging in the slippery slope fallacy.

It's been shown historically not to be a fallacy. The Nazis didn't have to change the constitution of the Weimar Republic very much to put totalitarianism in place. Every law that was the basis of human rights in the Weimar Republic had an "out" clause, in case of the greater good or in case of other laws being passed. When it comes to law, the formulation of a meaningful law cannot allow for ill defined exceptions. When it comes to human rights, it's not a question of slippery slope. It's a matter of a well formulated law. There is no slope. It's a bit-flip. An abused exception is an exploit, and governments, especially the judicial system, are precisely the actors who have power that can be abused.

Either your code has an exploit in a given function, or it doesn't. Either your legal code has an exploit in a given section, or it doesn't. No slope!

You do realize that criminal conspiracy is a thing, right? There's a whole host of laws around "thoughtcrime" (minority report and dystopias like it deal with "precrime" which is distinct).


There is a line to be drawn distinguishing between a toxic ideology, and an active conspiracy to commit a definite crime. They are at least notionally distinct.

You do realize that criminal conspiracy is a thing, right?

So, would Antifa making specific plans to get away with breaking the law apply? Would calling for the overthrow of the US government or the nullification of the US constitution apply? I think yes. I'm all for the prosecution of criminal conspiracy. However, we need to keep a clear distinction between politics and criminality.

Flaunting the rule of law is criminality. Making specific plans to break the law is criminality. Operate within the law, and you should be fine.

If the extra-legal persecution of Nazis is a good idea because they were such vile people who committed crimes against humanity, then why not the extra-legal persecution of Marxists and Anarchists? Those ideologies have been responsible for the sparking of world wars and the deaths of about 100 million people in the 20th century. People in the Gulag system weren't gassed in mock showers then burned in ovens. However, they were worked to death while freezing to death then blindfolded and bound and loaded on carts while still alive, to be dumped into pits to be buried alive. Not because the masters of the camps were cruel, but rather because it was found to be more efficient to move people around while they were still alive -- and because in the Dialectic Materialist ideology of Marxism, what did a moment of suffocation and horror matter if all flesh is bound to turn back into soil anyhow?

Postmodernism is just a cut-and-paste homomorphism to "good old" Marxism. And that stuff isn't about benefiting the people. It's about undoing the current social order and systems of value so you can seize power. Both Nazism and Postmodernist Social Construction explicitly say these things! Just read what the thought leaders say! All attempts to push collectivism to the level of sovereign power have historically resulted in mayhem, millions of deaths, and totalitarianism.

(Collectivism on the small scale is fine, when it doesn't try to take over the monopoly on violence, because then it can be held in balance through human relationships. Pure collectivism always fails when there are more than about 350 individuals, though such grouping can be affiliated in a larger bureaucratic framework. But such frameworks can't manage something as large and complex as a national economy. Just look at history. It always fails!)

I'm pretty sure that neither World War was started by Marxists

I'm pretty sure that neither World War was started by Marxists

(EDIT: You are correct. While commonly called "anarchists" in popular accounts of history, The Black Hand were a nationalist paramilitary. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hand_(Serbia) )

You can also be certain that Marxists allowed the mass rape of civilians.


They are also responsible for the deaths of millions in Russia, millions in Ukraine, millions in China, and millions in Cambodia. They are directly responsible for emotional scars borne by my mother and father which affect them and my family to this day. It doesn't matter "who started it." It very much matters who craps on Human Rights. It very much matters whose ideology explicitly says that individual Human Rights do not matter.

"Mass murder in the Soviet Union sometimes involved motivations, especially national and ethnic ones, that can be disconcertingly close to Nazi motivations."


If the best you can say for an ideology, is that, "They started it!" and "The other one was worse!" it's time to throw away that ideology.

(And make no mistake, anarchism can only devolve into collectivism, generally resembling communism. Other than that, its only contributions are crimes, murder, and mayhem. You can look at the historical examples here too.)

This is a distinction without a difference. Neo Nazis are people who are working to revive Nazi ideology. They're Nazis.

Actually, in some cases it is a distinction with a difference. US Immigration law still prohibits members of the actual Nazi party from obtaining permanent residency, and people looking to live here still have to sign statements under penalty of perjury that they are not members of said party.

That and the parent said "literal".

> So that blows a hole in the idea that there's no clear line somewhere

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobellis_v._Ohio and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_v._California come to mind. Obviously these involve government censorship but the idea that you "know it when [you] see it" seems to apply for Nazis...

From Jacobellis:

"Stewart wrote, "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material... But I know it when I see it"

From Miller:

> "However, the Court acknowledged "the inherent dangers of undertaking to regulate any form of expression," and said that "State statutes designed to regulate obscene materials must be carefully limited."[12] The Court, in an attempt to set such limits devised a set of three criteria which must be met for a work to be legitimately subject to state regulation:

> whether the average person, applying contemporary "community standards", would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest,

> whether the work depicts or describes, in an offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions, as specifically defined by applicable state law; and

> whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.[13] This obscenity test overturns the definition of obscenity set out in the Memoirs decision, which held that "all ideas having even the slightest redeeming social importance . . . have the full protection of the guaranties [of the First Amendment]" and that obscenity was that which was "utterly without redeeming social importance.

I don't think many average people are fooled by groups that try and hide behind the principles of free speech when they walk through the streets chanting slogans associated with the ideology of the Holocaust.

> "...But I know it when I see it"

I have tended to think Stewart was being disingenuous with that statement.

Simply because he seems to imply that only what he thinks is pr0n is pr0n.

He doesn't seem to realize that anything and everything can be and is pr0n. I've often wondered, upon showing him an image or video of woman's foot in a high heel shoe crushing a wine glass, if he would think that was pr0n or not?

If he said "No, that is not pr0n" - would he ever realize how wrong he was?

Isn't his point that the context is what determines the classification?

A foot crushing a glass is just that. But the classification and regulation of that image may be different if the context is sexually explicit versus first aid.

To use the Nazi example - someone with a SS flag might be a collector or history nerd but if they start marching through the streets with it while chanting racist slogans they will likely be interpreted differently.

Defining that in law is difficult but most people know the difference, including those hiding behind free speech.

Why not censor communism too, since it is heavily linked to genocide and the deaths of tens of millions of people?

You can be a communist and be against genocide and mass murder. But ethnic hatred is at the very core of Nazism and white supremacy. You cannot believe in those things without believing in ethnic violence.

Maybe because they are two completely separate things? You might as well ask why don't eat oranges like we eat lobster. Not everything needs to be compared with something else to understand how we treat things.

Yes, they are literally two separate things. But the point of my comment was that they are similar in some ways and appear to highlight an inconsistency in the way we deal with ideas we don't like. I'm mostly just trying to spur some discussion here. I'm not trying to take a hard stance on anything.

> ideas like Nazism, with its close historical proximity to genocide and the death of millions

cough, communism, cough

This is a thread about Nazism, not Communism. Whataboutisms like that are not constructive.

No it isn't, it's a thread about "The Terrifying Power of Internet Censors"

So the real problem here is the monopoly/oligopoly.

Usually, a monopolist has more restrictions in what it can do than a healthy market business. Should a monopolist be allowed to not serve a customer because of an ethics difference? (assuming the customer did nothing illegal)

Situations like this will help drive a mindset that these and most all ISPs should be regulated as Utilities.

You are serious? A IP washing service is by no means a utility. Maybe we can talk about companies that receive a government granted monopoly; certainly we should talk about regulated Title II, but this article claiming that Cloudflair should not choose who they protect is asinine.

Anyone is free to try to go raise the money to create a technology company; just as any technology company should have the freedom of self-expression to not take customers outside of protected classes.

The author of the article makes a point about how it's everyone's right to go onto the street and voice your opinion. But if you'll be attacked and silenced any time you do that, so long as you don't hire the local protection, do you still have that right to free speech if the local protection doesn't like you?

There are two services that are gateways for small, independent (but prominent / notorious) internet sites:

CloudFlare and Google Project Shield.

These are the two only services that provide affordable DDoS protection, even for 100++Gbps, for $200/month or free.

Tell me another provider like CloudFlare that will protect a blog against a 100Gbps DDoS for $200 a month.


By the way, regulating CloudFlare by limiting its ability to choose customers would be unconstitutional under the 1st amendment, would it not? There are a very specific number of protected classes that private individuals or companies can't discriminate against.

"Do not discriminate against hate speech" is not a class.

> hate speech" is not a class.

As a hacker, do you not see that there's a security vulnerability here that's big enough to drive a truck through? You simply label whatever you don't like as hate speech, then you're magically allowed to censor it.

As a libertarian, do you not see there's a security vulnerability here that's big enough to drive a truck through? You just put all speech under the control of private monopolists you control, and then you're magically allowed to censor whatever you don't like!


Cloudflare can and will censor everything they want without the need for labels

When you subscribe to their service you agree to their terms

The right to be published or served through a gateway is not an universal human right

> The right to be published or served through a gateway is not an universal human right

This is demonstrably not true; it just requires the victim to be a member of a protected class. Private businesses can not legally deny service to ethnic minorities, women, people with disabilities, or gay people.

The law determined many decades ago that some people are more equal than others.

> Private businesses can not legally deny service to...

They can deny service to those people. They just can't do it because of their membership in those protected classes.

> This is demonstrably not true; it just requires the victim to be a member of a protected class.

What's a protected class?

What I mean is: I'm from Italy, Europe, what is a protected class here may not be a protected class where Cloudflare operates.

The only protected classes are those that Cloudflare decided are protected.

You can't force them to publish for example nazi propaganda because it comes from a disabled person.

What about the telephone company? Can AT&T cut off phone service to groups of people they politically dislike?

I don't believe they can. But they are also a common carrier, unlike ISPs and similar. Once ISPs become defined as common carriers, then the argument will have more merit. But expect that to happen anytime soon, because the big guys like Comcast and Cox don't want to allow anyone and everyone to have access to their infrastructure.

All I'm trying to highlight here is that our government already does have some limits on what infrastructure companies can do to shut off service to customers. I feel that Internet infrastructure companies like Cloudflare should have at least as much responsibility to be content neutral as a phone company, and I do hope the law catches up here.

I certainly don't think it would be "unconstitutional" to bar infrastructure companies from moderating content, like we already do with telcos.

> I feel that Internet infrastructure companies like Cloudflare

Cloudflare it's not an internet infrastructure company

It's a service

We are not talking about cutting the internet connection, we are talking about terms of service.

Don't use Cloudflare, host your server behind your DSL line and write whatever you want.

I think there are two main enforcement tactics.

1. Classify them as a utility like the phone company.

2. Allow safe harbor provisions only for those companies that do not do content discrimination. You can either choose to provide your services to every legal user that pays and have safe harbor, or you can choose who you service based on content and be liable for that content. For example, someone hosts pirated movies. If the company had no content discrimination, it would have safe harbor and would not be liable. If the company had engaged in content discrimination, then the copyright owner could also sue and win damages from the company.

> By the way, regulating CloudFlare by limiting its ability to choose customers would be unconstitutional under the 1st amendment, would it not?

You're correct from a legal perspective, but Matthew Prince himself called it "dangerous" to do what they did. I think with good reason. While it's legally okay, it definitely raises valid questions, not about what's legal, but about what's right.

If a bar has the right to not accept Nazi customers, and they have it, why not a service provider?

The danger is inherent to the kind of service you're using: a private company in the US

Not just a company in the US, but the right of any group of people who are not the government to freely associate in the US. Free association has implicit within it, the right of people to choose who they do not wish to associate.

Exactly right

My point is that especially if you are not from US, a service from a private company in a foregin country, cannot be considered a public utility.

If such a service don't want to support nazi propaganda is their right to shut it down.

I see no risk for everyone's freedom.

There is also OVH and Voxility and a bunch of other affordable options. These days you really can get something with DDoS protection for five bucks.

But I still agree that large infrastructure companies should not be able to choose customers freely.

Yes, if the government were to mandate that Cloudflare refuse service to neo-Nazi websites, that would be a violation of the First Amendment. But it is not illegal for Cloudflare itself to refuse service based on content.

I think the GP was saying it would be unconstitutional to _force_ Cloudflare to serve neo-Nazis.

"We needed a constitutional ammendment for many protected classes, because otherwise there's issues with other rights" is the idea here perhaps?

It would be unconstitutional, though a version this question is going before the Supreme Court right now in that case involving Christian bakers and gay wedding cakes. I think the baker's lawyers are basing their argument on that sort of reasoning.

I haven't followed the case closely enough to tell if that premise itself is actually in question, or if it's whether that premise is overridden by some other (e.g. regarding anti-discrimination laws).

The baker's lawyers are arguing that a customized cake is a form of personal artistic expression, and that punishing a business for refusing to provide such an item amounts to compelled speech.

We can't realistically expect service providers to completely allow free speech until we learn to separate the speech from the service on which it occurs.

Suppose a bunch of Nazis started frequenting Hacker News and dominated every thread with a discussion of Nazism. The site would pretty quickly become known as "that Nazi place" and everyone who's not a Nazi wouldn't want to go there, even if the people running the site don't share the opinions of the people using it.

It's not entirely rational, but if GoDaddy got a reputation as "web hosting for Nazis" that would severely limit their market and hurt their business, so of course they're going to jettison that customer in order to keep all the others.

Hacker News is a content curator. Godaddy is network infrastructure.

Imagine if Cisco released an IOS update that allowed ISP routers to automatically detect certain types of hate speech and simply RST the connection. Good, or bad for "free speech"? More directly, good, or bad for everyone?

We do have DMCA safe harbor. Is that different from what you're talking about?

I'm thinking more of an economic consequence, rather than a legal one. Customers boycott businesses all the time for speech they find distasteful. A newscaster uses a racial slur and advertisers threaten to pull sponsorship until he's fired. A company owner endorses a candidate or cause that customers don't like so they vow never to do business with them again, etc. etc. I personally stopped using GoDaddy years ago because of their stance on SOPA.

So, why couldn't businesses boycott customers for the same? If someone's speech is so odious that nobody wants to be associated with them, even in a remote, business sense, I think that should be allowed as a reasonable consequence.

it wasn’t until Cloudflare, a website security and performance service, dropped the site as a client that The Daily Stormer truly lost its ability to stay online

Daily Stormer lost its ability to stay online on the clearnet because its registrars kept dropping it. First GoDaddy and Google for .com (or .net) and then national registries when they tried ccTLDs (.al and others).

They did manage to find a replacement for Cloudflare -- BitMitigate.


Should we encourage or require companies like google and cloudflare to cater to fringe groups? Ordinarily, a business, especially in the United States, has the freedom to not conduct business with all but a few protected classes. Is being a neo-nazi, or a member of antifa, or of the old Animal Liberation Front now supposed to be a protected class?

If yes, does that mean we also require the bakery down the road to post advertisements for local hate group gatherings? Do we want to commit to taking away a business's freedom of association?

If a Nazi walks into the coffee shop I'm at and starts trying to rally people around the their ideology, I'm going to do one of two things, either leave or attempt to talk the nazis down, and when that (typically) doesn't work, also leave. If the Nazi comes back every day and does the same, it can reasonably affect that coffee shop's business. Does the coffee shop not have the freedom to kick the Nazis out?

If you think of internet communication as a utility, then perhaps we should? Would you think it's OK for an electricity or a water company to decide who it wants to serve based off that company's fallible determination of an individual or group's beliefs?

I think if only because communication is such a basic human right, then we shouldn't risk the 'false guilty verdicts'.

If you think about it - giving a business the right to cut off customers decreases the chance of guilty people being empowered and skating by without punishment (which is awesome!), but increases the chance of innocent people being victimized through a 'false conviction'.

I'd argue that for very fundamental services, it's not the job of the business to try to play judge and jury and determine who is right and who is wrong, if only because the risk of an innocent party (like a false conviction putting an innocent person behind bars in the legal system) is so high stakes.

Stop equating access to the internet (a utility) with a purpose of the internet (communicating your message). Nazis are free to post up a server from their living room and spread their message all they want to try. But nobody, especially private companies, should have to help them keep it up, that's absurd.

You're convoluting a very simple set of points.

So since food and water are also basic human rights, should we disallow Walmart from turning away Nazis? If I was a jewish business owner, why shouldn't I have a right to turn away someone advocating for my death? At that point isn't it just self defense?

Who determines who is a nazi and who is not?

Who determines what is hate speech and what is not?

The Daily Stormer is obviously a truly vile organization, but the risks of abuse that arise are incredible when it becomes normalized for a company like Cloudflare that's truly at the backbone of the internet to start to exert control over what is allowed online and what is not.

These aren't phantom boogey man futures we're talking about here with regards to the fear of future government and corporate control of the internet and widespread censorship. These things are taking place right here, right now.

It used to be just China. Then it was China and Russia. Then it was China, Russia, and Turkey. Now the UK wants to censor its internet.



The US congress introduces a new variant bill of internet censorship every year. SOPA. CISPA. CISA. PIPA. ACTA.

We're headed towards a future of widespread global censorship one step at a time.

Look to the forefathers of the internet and see what they're saying about control of the internet being wrenched away from the people and into the hands of government and multinational control.


Arguments about nazis, human trafficking, terror, drugs, etc. are the tools being used to seize power from the people and put us in a little prison a la Brave New World.

You do not need to announce your political ideology to do business with Walmart, etc. Walmart does not collect that info by nature of a normal transaction.

You do need to announce your political ideology to whoever you're buying services from when you're buying services for a website for a politically charged website.

> You do need to announce your political ideology to whoever you're buying services from when you're buying services for a website for a politically charged website.

Actually, you don't - at least not here in the United States. That said, if the company finds out about your political ideology before they sell the service to you, or after the service has been sold to you, they don't need to sell it to you or continue to sell it to you.

They do need to give you back your money, though, if you have paid for service already (minus whatever you have used).

Maybe this is a pretty good test of the free-market to self-regulate. Most people wouldn't shed a tear for one hate site going down. But if someone else takes the reigns of this company and starts following Twitter or YouTube's example, what would stop another competitor from filling that void and taking the money from jilted sites? As long as it's possible for new services to compete...

That already happened with Daily Stormer: https://www.propublica.org/article/spurned-by-major-companie...

I imagine it might be easier to make some niche profit in Cloudflare's business. Not so sure with Twitter, partly because Twitter itself isn't profitable, but also because the main feature of social media services is their ubiquity and userbase. Even if Voat were decidedly a better site than Reddit, it just wasn't that interesting to revisit a sparsely populated discussion site. Especially one weighted toward folks who wanted to discuss the things that Reddit wanted to ban.

> ubiquity and userbase

I'm not so sure about that - I recall having much better experiences when these sites were much smaller. Something about eternal september.

It depends on the filtering to get to smaller.

This has sort of happened in some spaces - in certain right-wing communities Twitter has been largely replaced by Gab, Patreon by the aptly named Hatreon, etc.

The issue becomes more severe when it runs up against services that are hard or expensive to start or which rely on other uncooperative services - look at what's happened with Daily Stormer and Bulletproof.ai for example - Bulletproof wants to provide them service, but they're unable to find a TLD thus far which will allow their domain to stay online.

This is what I was wondering. If it's impossible to be a Cloudflare alternative because they rely on something like ISP's rely on public utilities, it feels like these barriers to entry really hurt the consumer.

Interesting to think about the dichotomy that exists between our country and China when it comes to issues like this. In China, they would just block the content and move on to other things. In the US, because we value every individual's rights, we have to grapple with these tough questions.

I think it's worth these headaches to protect our inalienable rights, but others may disagree. It makes me proud, though, that our country is still willing to take on these issues despite the amount of vitriol from both sides.

As frustrating as these topics can be, I think it's much better to have the discussions then to just shut things down a-la-China.

My fear is that this particular case could set a precedence of the "pipe lines" controlling the contents that are passed through. If we allow this to happen in this case, how long until the other bigger pipe lines are allowed to make similar decisions? Is it a slippery slope that leads to Time Warner, Verizon, or AT&T to control what content is allowed to passed through their cell/data networks?

I don't know what the correct course of action is, I just hope that we will continue to debate and weigh options and not turn a blind eye to this kind of thing.

>Is it a slippery slope that leads to Time Warner, Verizon, or AT&T to control what content is allowed to passed through their cell/data networks?

It's not a slippery slope. It's rock bottom. Those companies already proposed exactly that sort of thing, a long time ago. They proposed it with copyright enforcement, and they proposed it when they fought against Net Neutrality and common-carrier rules.

They want to control what goes through their pipes. They do not want to be a dumb pipe, they want to rent-seek, they want to play highway robber of the information superhighway. They've told us that. They are proud of that. They believe that is good business.

The question is whether we let ourselves hear it.

> In China, they would just block the content and move on to other things. In the US, because we value every individual's rights

Do we, though? This used to be true but I no longer think it is.

It was never particularly true with respect to minority rights. It's just become more difficult to pretend that it's broadly true.

Google is the most terrifying company today. De-google yourselves as much as you can, folks. This company cannot be trusted.

I know this post will get flagged and deleted because so many google employees post here and flag everything. But it must be said. Do not trust Google.

I'll back you on this opinion. I was a huge fan of early Google (98-04). They seemed like a noble, cute, altruistic steward of the Internet, and they did a lot of good. IMO we have to acknowledge that things have changed. The factors that made them succeed wildly, allowed them to grow into a profoundly self-interested, monopolistic behemoth with entirely too much power. They no longer even appear well-intentioned, and we ought to update our expectations accordingly.

I'll add another point. Even if you believe, today, that Google is good/noble, it's still best for the market to promote competition. If you allow too much power to concentrate into an oligopoly, the cost to capture the market drops to a level where coercive actors have the capability to do so.

The problem is as follows: a small number of private companies have huge power over the internet.

Yes, I agree.


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