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[flagged] RPG.net bans posts in support of Trump (rpg.net)
49 points by matt_morgan 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments





Jesus this is terrible. People are quick to point out that First Ammendment doesn't apply, but Freedom of Speech isn't just that, it's the principle - "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". Discussion is what makes peaceful progress possible, otherwise you get revolutions!

>People are quick to point out that First Ammendment doesn't apply, but Freedom of Speech isn't just that, it's the principle - "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".

I'm sorry, if I'm paying for hosting and you come to a page I run and start saying stuff I don't care for yeahhhh I'm removing it. That's my right. It's not a public venue, domain names are usually handled as real-property as far as taxation and hosting fees are a real thing. If you come into my house and start spouting stuff I don't approve of, I'm showing you the door.

I'm all for free speech, and being allowed to support who and what you believe in but not on any given website. If you use a website, you have to play by the owner's rules. If you don't want to do that, go make your own... it's pretty easy and affordable.


Not to necessarily disagree, but "go make your own... it's pretty easy and affordable" only holds so long as you can find a hosting provider, network provider, and DNS registrar.

As has been shown a few times now, this capability can be summarily revoked.


There was a time, brief I'm sure, when making something available on the internet basically meant paying for a high speed connection to be installed wherever you were operating, rather than a big cooled building filled with servers.

The rental model isn't an inherent part of web hosting, it's just much easier and much of the internet is geared toward things working that way.

I'm quite sure that it would be impossible to do that in some situations and for some use cases now, and in some areas it would not work out well, but in other areas it's trivially easy to find "business class" fiber service with at least 1-Gbit up and down, which is faster than the pipes a lot of hosting providers offer.

There's a much stronger case to be made against ISPs tampering with or denying service to those sorts of customers, who are directly paying for a physical connection to wherever they're located.


Then you pay a little more than budget hosting and go to a darknet market for friendly-to-everything hosts, or you go tor with the site, or skip the domain and use the direct IP.

Yes all of these can be ultimate censored, but someone can walk up to you and forcefully hold their hand over your mouth too.


Agreed. Someone stated the other day on something similar and it matches up pretty well, it went something like:

"...you have the right to free speech, not consequence free speech"


There's also an oft-posted xkcd (https://xkcd.com/1357/) that's related.

It makes me really uneasy though. I'm starting to think free speech should be protected in non-government situations as well. Because otherwise you can get your job/project/social media account/etc. destroyed by mobs if you happen to have an opinion that's not politically fashionable at the moment.

I could just be reading it wrong, but "you have the right to free speech, but not their consequences" seems to have an implicit "...because me and my friends will gang up and hound you if you say something we don't like" hanging at the end of the sentence


No, it means "you have freedom of speech, but I don't have to pay for your megaphone".

That's not what the XKCD says - it literally says yelled at, boycotted or banned

In this specific case, maybe, but in general that doesn't seem to be true. In the case of Brendan Eich, Elia Schito, and other random developers, it's "you have freedom of speech, but I don't like what you are saying (or doing) so I'm going to gather a mob and destroy some aspect of your life to teach you a lesson"

I think what happened to Eich et al is a perfect example of "the remedy to bad speech is more speech."

Everything that happened to Eich was a result of people organizing speech and associating with each other freely to amplify the power of their voices.


I distinctly remember liberals condemning this line of reasoning 20 years ago (and rightly, in my view). It’s really remarkable how fungible principles are with respect to tribes and circumstances.

As I've pointed out elsewhere, this argument implies ownership and content control beyond what we've traditionally held forum owners/operators responsible for. By claiming such control, do you think forum owners should be liable for the content posted on their websites?

> As I've pointed out elsewhere, this argument implies ownership and content control beyond what we've traditionally held forum owners/operators responsible for.

This is false, and appears based on both narrowing consideration of accountability mechanisms to legal mechanisms and a faulty understanding of the reason for certain online exceptions to the general traditional legal liability of publishers, which is not lack of responsibility (otherwise they would apply to publishers more generally) but balancing of social costs/benefits of imposing legal liability.


>a faulty understanding of the reason for certain online exceptions to the general traditional legal liability of publishers, which is not lack of responsibility (otherwise they would apply to publishers more generally)

Are you saying that they aren't exempted from responsibility because they are not responsible, but because it's better that they not be held responsible?

Why would they apply to publishers more generally if it was about lack of responsibility? If you recall the decisions about the Communications Decency Act, it states that - "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."

This means that people that own or operate forums are not treated as publishers of the content on forums, and removes the responsibilities of being such a publisher. The act was passed in part because providers said it was injurious to force them to regulate all content - they shouldn't be responsible because they couldn't regulate content without massive cost.

Now you're saying that they should regulate all content - ok, but if that's the case then they should be treated as publishers of said content, since they can decide on a case-by-case basis what is and is not published on their platform.


> Are you saying that they aren't exempted from responsibility because they are not responsible, but because it's better that they not be held responsible?

No.

I'm saying:

(1) They aren't exempted from responsibility, full stop. Site owners and operators manifestly are held accountable for content by a variety of social mechanisms independent of legal liability; you are incorrect to equate responsibility or accountability with legal liability, which is a very small subset of accountability, and that alone, without any other errors, would be a fatal flaw in your argument.

(2) Also, yes, they aren't given the exemptions that apply to similarly situated parties in other media because the internet is fundamentally different mechanically or in ethical situation in a way which changes the ethical responsibilities of people actively deploying resources to selectively relay content, but because (in the somewhat idealistic view) because the perceived benefits of imposing the usual legal liability were viewed as less than the perceived collateral costs in economic development of freeing site operators from legal liability for user-supplied content with certain limitations, or (in the view more in tune with the realities of lawmaking) because the cost of buying off the objections of a set of big money internet interests with a liability exemption was viewed as outweighed by the benefits of imposing the sweeping obscenity and indecency controls they were packaged with.

> Now you're saying that they should regulate all content

No, I'm saying that operating a site inherently involves that, and that they have the right to choose how to do so, even when that excludes certain views from their site, and that that right is enshrined in the First Amendment.

I'm not saying anything about what they should do.


>No, I'm saying that operating a site inherently involves that, and that they have the right to choose how to do so, even when that excludes certain views from their site, and that that right is enshrined in the First Amendment.

And I'm saying that no, it is not enshrined in the First Amendment. There is significant legislative regulation that applies to publishers and not to web hosts because they could not possibly regulate content on an individual basis.

That's why your second point is incorrect - if you read the legal decisions that have upheld the Communications Decency Act's Safe Harbor provisions, they aren't based on the collateral economic development cost or big money interests - they are based on the idea that it is an impossible task to regulate obscene speech online and that in order to do so, sites would have to chill speech. This chilling of speech (which is kinda what we're talking about here) is the reason sites are not treated as publishers, with again, the underpinning being that it would be impossible for them to regulate content.

If you are correct that they can do so and inherently do so, then the protections they are provided by not being held responsible, legally, as publishers, for the content they publish, should be stripped from them and websites and host should be treated as publishers, with all the regulations that apply therein.


> And I'm saying that no, it is not enshrined in the First Amendment

Then you absolutely fail to understand the freedom of the press.

> if you read the legal decisions that have upheld the Communications Decency Act's Safe Harbor provisions, they aren't based on the collateral economic development cost or big money interests - they are based on the idea that it is an impossible task to regulate obscene speech online and that in order to do so, sites would have to chill speech.

I am unable to find cases meeting this description; I can find cases, OTOH, that have upheld the broad application of Section 230 because narrowing it would defeat it's intent by discouraging self-regulation and editorial control, which the court found to be a central part of Congress’ intent, most notably Zeran v. America Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir., 1997), which noted:

---[quote]--

Congress enacted § 230 to remove the disincentives to self regulation created by the Stratton Oakmont decision. Under that court's holding, computer service providers who regulated the dissemination of offensive material on their services risked subjecting themselves to liability, because such regulation cast the service provider in the role of a publisher. Fearing that the specter of liability would therefore deter service providers from blocking and screening offensive material, Congress enacted § 230's broad immunity "to remove disincentives for the development and utilization of blocking and filtering technologies that empower parents to restrict their children's access to objectionable or inappropriate online material." 47 U.S.C. § 230(b)(4). In line with this purpose, § 230 forbids the imposition of publisher liability on a service provider for the exercise of its editorial and self-regulatory functions.

---[end quote]---


I don't believe I fail to understand the freedom of the press. Websites are not treated as publishers - if they were, they would have the responsibility to regulate their content; freedom from such responsibility is not enshrined in the first amendment.

Interesting that you quote Zeran because this is the most used portion:

[[The specter of tort liability in an area of such prolific speech would have an obvious chilling effect. It would be impossible for service providers to screen each of their millions of postings for possible problems. Faced with potential liability for each message republished by their services, interactive computer service providers might choose to severely restrict the number and type of messages posted.]]

Blumenthal v Drudge, where they didn't hold AOL liable for paying to re-post a libelous Drudge column:

In recognition of the speed with which information may be disseminated and the near impossibility of regulating information content, Congress decided not to treat providers of interactive computer service like other information providers such as newspapers, magazines or television and radio stations, all of which may be held liable for publishing or distributing obscene or defamatory material written or prepared by others.

US v. Backpage: http://www.dmlp.org/sites/dmlp.org/files/gov.uscourts.tnmd.5...

"On one hand, Backpage.com has painted a clear picture of the hazards of self-censorship if this is the case: websites such as Backpage.com will bear an impossible burden to review all of their millions of postings..."

They later quote that same bit about Tort in Zeran

There are about a half dozen others that reference the same bit about it being impossible and using the following chilling effect argument to uphold the application of section 230.


I would upvote you if your arguments were better.

> and hosting fees are a real thing

What's the actual marginal cost of a few extra comments?

> It's not a public venue

It is.

> you come into my house

Your house is a private venue. In contrast, a public forum is a public venue (even if it's privately owned).

> being allowed to support

And I'm not denying you that right. I'm just saying it's morally bad, and also counter-productive (to what you or they are trying to achieve) - you'll get more Trumps elected with policies like this, not less.

> go make your own... it's pretty easy and affordable

Yeah until you get censored by Facebook, Google, Twitter, PayPal, Visa, CloudFront etc. - censors / opponents of free speech have a lot of market power these days.


>Yeah until you get censored by Facebook, Google, Twitter, PayPal, Visa, CloudFront etc. - censors / opponents of free speech have a lot of market power these days.

Facebook, Google, Twitter, YouTube are all advertising companies. They allow you, for free, to post your content on their advertising platform. They have every right to sensor you.

PayPal and Visa are financial companies, they have to protect themselves from high risk activity (pornography, drugs and drug precursors, money-laundering etc) and are allowed to refuse who they want for any number of reasons.

CloudFront... a CDN has the right to refuse to deliver content that they find questionable or flat out illegal, they could easily be drug into a costly legal battle and intrusive investigation if someone is say distributing child pornography, content advocating terrorism etc.


everything that you mention that is illegal (child porn, terrorism, drugs, money laundering) is a strawman.

Maybe one could argue that Visa, PayPal and Mastercard are acting as a cartel/oligopoly? That would be interesting...


>everything that you mention that is illegal (child porn, terrorism, drugs, money laundering) is a strawman.

Uh no, the're things that actually happen. People are constantly trying to sell prodrugs and 'raws' via paypal, you can go on most darknet markets and buy both stolen and 'fake' paypal accounts for any number of uses, etc. A quick google of 'paypal drug dealers' or 'paypal steroids' quickly returns both written content and videos on how to make money selling steroids via paypal and social media.

Card networks like Visa limit what sort of pornography can be transacted via their network for various legality concerns. A quick google search will bury you in reading material from the EFF to Forbes to pissed off purveyors.

Etc etc so on and so forth, you lose, you get nothing, I said good day sir.


Yeah I don't dispute any of that, but that also wasn't the point of discussion. I'm criticising the censorship of legal content.

> A straw man is a common form of argument and is an informal fallacy based on giving the impression of refuting an opponent's argument, while actually refuting an argument that was not presented by that opponent.


>Yeah I don't dispute any of that, but that also wasn't the point of discussion. I'm criticising the censorship of legal content.

Some of that IS legal content. PayPal and Visa/Mastercard have long lists of high-risk goods they simply won't deal with. That's not censorship, that's preventative damage control.


> PayPal and Visa/Mastercard have long lists of high-risk goods they simply won't deal with.

Still a strawman as there is no inherent financial damage of political speech compared to those high-risk goods.


Replace “Trump” with “gay marriage” and pretty much nobody would agree with your argument. It would be viewed as hate.

Gay marriage is a concept. Trump is currently the president of the United States, the most important actor in the world stage and we are seeing the results of him exercising that power.

A sitting US president, by the strength of their mere words, have the power to change culture. Trump, just by talking the way he talks about the things he talks about, is changing what legal speech is now disavowed by society.

You seem to fail to grasp that a sitting US president is of more consequence than two men marrying one another.


> People are quick to point out that First Ammendment doesn't apply, but Freedom of Speech isn't just that

But it is at least that, and so includes, as does the first Amendment, the right to choose what speech to support with one's own resources, including the platform one owns.

The freedom of speech not only does not obligate anyone else to expend their resources to relay your speech, it absolutely protects their right to decline to do so.

> Discussion is what makes peaceful progress possible,

RPG.net is a site dedicated to discussion of roleplaying games; it is not necessary for “peacefuk progress” for it to provide a platform for all (or even any) support or opposition to political candidates.


> RPG.net is a site dedicated to discussion of roleplaying games; it is not necessary for “peacefuk progress” for it to provide a platform for all (or even any) support or opposition to political candidates.

I doubt this would have made it to the front page of HN if they banned any support or opposition to political candidates. It made it to the front page because they specifically banned support of one politician.


>But it is at least that, and so includes, as does the first Amendment, the right to choose what speech to support with one's own resources, including the platform one owns...The freedom of speech not only does not obligate anyone else to expend their resources to relay your speech, it absolutely protects their right to decline to do so.

This is an interesting argument and implies that forum owners are responsible for the content that they publish. Is that what you believe?


You've posted that talking point several times in this thread, I don't think that means what you think it means.

A web host's right to exercise their speech by moderating the forum they pay for has absolutely nothing to do with the safe harbor laws you're alluding you. Just the same as kicking someone out of your house party for being an ass, you can be removed from internet spaces in the same way. Just because the interaction is digital doesn't grant you some higher set of ~rights~.


Ah, but that's exactly it - a web host's right to exercise their speech DOES have to do with the safe harbor laws, because the safe harbor laws make it clear that a host is not treated a publisher or a writer of content. The reason behind this is because removing content is an 'impossible burden.' You are saying it is not an impossible burden, but definitely doable. That means that you don't have the same logical basis for legal protections.

http://www.dmlp.org/sites/dmlp.org/files/gov.uscourts.tnmd.5...


> Ah, but that's exactly it - a web host's right to exercise their speech DOES have to do with the safe harbor laws

Yes, as protecting and encouraging exercise of self-regulation and editorial functions is a central purpose of those laws, as discussed in Zeran v. America Online, Inc., 129 F.3d 327 (4th Cir., 1997), quoted in my comment in another subthread:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18347523


And as I replied there, also in Zeran: "It would be impossible for service providers to screen each of their millions of postings for possible problems. Faced with potential liability for each message republished by their services, interactive computer service providers might choose to severely restrict the number and type of messages posted."

This 'Impossible Burden' element continued to expand the use of section 230, until the most recent protecting against child trafficking legislation.

Also, it was protection of self-regulation of obscene and/or libelous content, not general content.


Your entire argument is based on denying the antecedent[0]. Because hosts can't be legally required to have strict moderation has nothing to do with the idea that they are legally compelled to host anything.

[0]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denying_the_antecedent


You've misunderstood my argument.

My argument is as follows:

Publishers are required to strictly moderate their content.

Online publishers are protected from these requirements.

The reason that online publishers are not required to have strict moderation is because it is not possible to have strict moderation.

If it is possible to have strict moderation, then their protections should be removed and online publishers should be required to have strict moderation.

By applying strict moderation, you are showing that it is possible to apply strict moderation. Therefore, you should be treated as a publisher and made to comply with all other regulations relative to that status.


You're still making the same fallacy just moving it around.

The ability to apply strict moderation -> the ability to moderate at all; however this is not necessarily true in reverse. You can moderate your forum and still be unable to comply with the law to the standard publishers can.


That's not the same fallacy at all. I'm not sure it means what you think it means.

You're saying that moderation is possible without strict moderation. I'm not disputing that, but instead saying that strict moderation is possible, implied by the complete banning of a particular opinion.

If I'm incorrect about the possibility of strict moderation, it doesn't mean that logically there is a fallacy.

If I am correct, there is still no fallacy.


> strict moderation is possible, implied by the complete banning of a particular opinion.

A blanket policy doesn't prove that strict moderation is possible.

Web hosts tend to have blanket policies prohibiting illegal content, and did both before and he whole time since CDA § 230 was adopted, without legislators or courts finding any inconsistency; to the extent impossibility of strict moderation is a necessary element of the justification of the provision, the mere possibility of stating a blanket policy does not, clearly, suffice to defeat it.


It's not about the blanket policy itself, but about the efficacy of its enforcement. If it's possible to enforce such a ban, then it should be possible to enforce bans on obscene content.

But the fact that CDA § 230 was expressly adopted (and has been repeatedly upheld in broad application on this basis) permitting self-regulation and editorial control of third-party content without exposing site operators to strict liability for unlawful content that they miss means you can't use it to defend the argument that self-regulation and editorial control are inconsistent with CDA § 230, and that site operators being able to establish content policies implies that they must be deprived of the safe harbor.

That's the opposite of the safe harbor rationale.


I'm actually saying that the safe harbor rationale exists because it was believed that completely regulating content was impossible.

If this is not impossible, then there should be no need for safe harbor.

Also, safe harbor has been used to defend not applying content policy; I'm not sure it's ever been used to defend the application of a content policy.


> I'm actually saying that the safe harbor rationale exists because it was believed that completely regulating content was impossible.

Completely regulating content may be impossible (or, at least, a greater burden relative to other irreducible costs) in online media, and at least the latter if not the former is a premise of the CDA safe harbor.

But since adopting and making best effort enforcement of a content policy does not require the ability to completely regulate content, site operators having a Constitutional right (as they clearly do) to adopt and enforce such a policy is not, in any way, inconsistent with the continued existence of the safe harbor.


Discussions that change someone's racism or the penchant to mock the disabled generally don't happen on the internet. In person, with friends perhaps, but not on faceless forums where people are more likely to double down on opinions in the face of criticism when they are as extreme as racism.

Moderating discriminatory statements is fundamentally different than censoring a political oponent.

More importantly, these utter idiots don't even realize they are creating such profoundly anti-democratic precedents targetting a political rival that is actually contributing to their cause, as now they have very real and very specific examples of how they are being targettend and persecuted for their political views.


Referring to these people as "utter idiots" sure does make you sound reasonable and level headed.

What if a political opponent's main platform position and primary rhetorical tactic is to make discriminatory statements? You can't just turn around and say "don't ban me, it's just politics!".

> What if a political opponent's main platform position and primary rhetorical tactic is to make discriminatory statements?

Censorship is never the solution. Censorship is the problem. Keep censoring idiots instead of demonstrating they are idiots and you end up making them out to be poor democratic martyrs instead.

Have they learned nothing from the history of fascist europe?


A privately owned and operated web forum isn't exactly comparable to fascist Europe. Don't be disingenuous.

> Keep censoring idiots instead of demonstrating they are idiots and you end up making them out to be poor democratic martyrs instead.

Trump got far and away the majority of news coverage in the run up to the 2016 election. Everything he said was breathlessly reported, fact checked, and sometimes mocked for its inanity. That did not work out well.


The argument is that in this case support for Trump is support for discrimination, in a way that's very distinct from "normal" conservativism.

> The argument is that

The argument means shit. It's the action that counts, and these idiots decided it was a good idea to atively persecute and censor anything related to a political movement.

These morons don't even realize they're setting totalitarian precedents and are so full of themselves to the point they even boast their totalitarian leanings to have any moral basis, just like the textbook fascists from half a century ago did.


You might find that people are more receptive to your statements if you didn't use insults along with them.

You have a point. However, my point is that the people behind this persecution and censorship campaign did not thought their plan through or at all, and this sort of persecution will obviously backfire by legitimizing the perception that Trump supporters are actually and inequivocally being targetted just for the crime of supporting a different candidate.

Exactly. Saying "I like the recently passed tax cuts" is different than saying "I support President Trump." The first is supporting a conservative policy decision, the second is supporting a person who would be banned from the forums themselves if they talked the way they do in real life as comments on the site.

> The first is supporting a conservative policy decision, the second is supporting a person who would be banned from the forums themselves

No, actually the second is punishing a person just because he presented an opinion on a president that you don't share and for some reason you feel it constitutes grounds to persecute and punish him. This sort of attitude is the hallmark of proper fascist parties and their militants, the kind that goes around wearing matching shirts persecuting those who don't fall in line or god forbid have opposite opinions.


I like George Carlin. He'd be banned from most forums - should I be banned for saying I supported his career?

They have the right to do this.

I still think this is terrible.

Echo chambers are becoming more common with the wide-spread adoption of the internet and people are increasingly worse at handling disagreements. It is so easy to immerse yourself in communities that validate your ideas. Many online services push you into these echo chambers because, in general, people engage more with groups that express ideas they are comfortable with.

The internet is a never-ending record of the adverse effects of echo chambers. Politics, religion, game consoles, programming languages, frameworks, operating systems, browsers, text editors... they exist for just about everything and the effect is always the same. People immersed in echo chambers gradually stop being able to show empathy to those outside their group. Perceived public opinion is a powerful thing and we love to point to popularity as justification[1].

Humans need to be challenged in order to grow. Maybe RPG.net isn't the right place for people to be challenged politically. Then the mods should just ban discussions about any real-life politician. Targeting one politician just creates another echo chamber.

Again, I know they have the right to do this. They should be allowed to do it.

I think it's bad.

[1] Apparently it's called "argumentum ad populum". Cool! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum


Not sure if a gaming forum is an apt comparison to a politcal echo chamber

You don't have to be a politically-focused website to be a political echo chamber. Clearly politics are a common discussion point on that forum.

The part that is terrible is that they are not banning all political discussion, they are just banning the part they don't like. The rule says:

> New Ban: Do Not Post In Support of Trump or his Administration

If they want to keep the gamming forum on topic they can ban all political discussion.

(As a comparison, HN has a ban in political discussion. It's difficult to ban all political discussion because the is an spectrum between 100% political and 100% technological, and some posts are both political and technological, and in some case there is not clear threshold.)


> If they want to keep the gamming forum on topic they can ban all political discussion.

This isn't about being on topic, as it's a sitewide rule which applies even in the open-topic forums on the site.

So, criticizing it as not the best way to keep things on-topic is missing the point.

> As a comparison, HN has a ban in political discussion.

No, it doesn't, though it did as a quite controversial experiment for a few days a while ago. (If it did, this discussion, which is 100% political, would be banned.)


Privately owned and operated forum makes sensible moderation rules on how they would like to operate themselves. Now to Jim with the weather.

>Privately owned

Ding ding ding! A website is effectively the owner's house, if you come through their door you follow their rules or you leave.


That's not accurate. Do you believe that an owner should be able to deny services based on political or religious leanings?

Absolutely. It's not a public park, it's virtual private space.

If you say something on a website the owner is allowed to remove it, if you don't like that you are more than welcome to go make your own website for as cheap as probably 15$ a year with shared hosting.


Well, I'd argue that you are using a service and being denied use of that service arbitrarily does have some guidelines to it. It's not about how cheap it is, it's about whether or not it's discriminatory.

I am fully in support of this, and actually quite surprised by the negativity in this thread about this decision. All the major hold outs online, like the Donald, already do the reverse of this and ban anyone who challenges their viewpoints.

/r/The_Donald isn't exactly a community I would hold up as an example of this sort of policy working out.

I have a general distaste for communities like this and it's always disappointing to me when I see any community voluntarily turn itself into an obvious echo chamber.


Frog boiling. “Trump is president, and a third of our country supports him, so he’s gotta be at least sort of mainstream and acceptable. And we can’t go around banning mainstream and acceptable things.”

The underlying premise is wrong, but many people no longer seem to recognize it. This is how the fringe builds power until it’s too late to stop them.


Why not ban just ban all political discussion? That would be more fair than calling out specific politicians you aren't allowed to support (but you are allowed to condemn)

If you read the link he's explains it in great detail. I won't rehash it all, but basically: we have 0 issues with conservative ideology, we have a lot of problems with politicians who support hate groups and promote racism.

[flagged]


You've framed this criticism as a hostile, unconstructive mockery of a person who is ostensibly your partner in conversation/debate.

That would be a ridiculous rule for RPG.net. RPG settings and stories often have social commentary inspired by real-world issues, and occasionally even blatant stand-ins for real-life political parties and figures.

Apparently they only want a particular flavor of social commentary.

Nope. That's not what the post says at all

Lets skip the Donald Trump bit and get to the heart of the matter.

> [Donald Trump's actions are] so wholly incompatible with our values that formal political neutrality is not tenable. We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both.

The problem is not Trump. The problem is the values they associate with him. They don't want people advocating those values on their forum, so they banned expressions of support for Trump.

Are you suggesting they are okay with people advocating those values sans Trump?


Because then my nerd rage can't be expressed to my 12 users.

To those who say this is OK but net neutrality is something that should be, why? If people can ban others for speech, because they're the ones providing the hosting. Should ISPs not be able to throttle whoever they'd like for the same reason?

This is not even a close comparison. In one case the owner is providing a space at no cost to users where they have many choices.

In the other, a company is proving you a connection to the network and nothing more, but in exchange for payment and often with no other choices.


This is actually an argument that is sometime raised in regards to net neutrality. The difference between an ISP and a web host is that the former functions more as a utility (the debated common carrier classification). If they are a common carrier, the analogy would be the ISP is the power company and the web host is a land lord. The land lord can choose not to rent to someone for any reason other then the person belonging to a protected class. But the power company can't turn off their power as long as they keep paying.

The distinction makes sense because you can find another land lord to rent from, or buy your own house (as you can find another web host, or become a web host). But you still have to get power from the, usually one, local electric company (as you have to get a connection to the internet from your, usually one, local ISP).


Eh it's their website. Personal property. They're idiots though.

If they ban all politics equally I'm all for it. Off topic moderation. Seeing American politics being hawked everywhere is rather tiresome. Makes me appreciate what Canada has to go through every day.

The infractions section is going to get interesting: https://forum.rpg.net/forumdisplay.php?138-Infractions

A question for all the “my business, my rules” crowd: do you also support a cake shop refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple?

I'm honestly not sure of my answer to that question, but there's a huge difference between refusing service to someone because of their sexual orientation and refusing service to someone because of active support of white supremacists and other hate groups.

Not only is one discriminating because of what you are and the other because of what you do and say, but the "do and say" side in this case is doing and saying things that are unquestionably morally repugnant, and in many cases actively inciting (or at least condoning) violence against classes of people...mainly because of what those people are.


> their sexual orientation

Which I believe is considered a "protected class" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protected_group - whereas being a racist/white supremacist/alt-right (currently) isn't. That's the difference.


While that's true, and the legal definitions are derived from the moral foundation I'm applying here, they themselves aren't really my point. Rather, it's that the reason they're protected classes in the first place is because they're (basically) things people either can't control about themselves.

Your are conflating two different things: speaking in favor of one particular policy of President Trump is NOT speaking in favor of supremacist or hate groups.

I am myself in favor of a couple of Trump’s policies, and I am pretty sure I am not a white supremacist or part of a hate group.


What was the legal outcome of the court challenge in that situation?

I was against this until I thought about it this way: if an individual on the forums posted the opinions that they are quoting Trump as saying they would likely be banned. For example, if I actively made fun of a disabled person or sexual assault victim I would rightfully be ostracized from the space. Now they are saying that showing open support for someone who uses that as their main rhetorical tactic is as bad as saying it yourself. I'm conflicted about it, but I understand it.

Hate to be the one that says this...Why is this being posted on Hacker News? A privately operated forum is using moderation tools in ways that not everyone finds agreeable, how is this news in 2018?

We have a lot of discussions on free speech but do we really need to post every single site that uses these tools to reiterate the same points?

>Pro:Free exchange of ideas is being threatened and is creating an echo chamber; i don't agree with the ideas but will die for you to say it >Con: They are privately operated and the first amendment isn't a catch all for all speech; XKCD comic showing you the door...

Maybe i'm cynical but most discussions just devolves to the same conversations being repeated with nothing interesting to add to the already long list of FB, Google, Go Daddy, Twitter posts/groups that have been censored/deplatformed. At this point it seems everyone already has their opinions firmly placed and nothing will really convince them otherwise.


In post-ww2 Germany, they essentially adopted the policy of suppressing Nazi ideology and it was regarded as a good thing, thought every German except post-war Nazi holdouts. They came to find out its not all that much dif't in fx than shouting "fire! in a crowded theater. Not just those who went throught he war, but especially all those who were born afterwards. This here is just doing what Germany did except pre-emptively. Like Woody Guthrie's guitar. The 1st Amendment is a great step forward in democracy, but Rupert Murdoch has a ) day exploit on the constitution and pretending he doesn't = owned

Hate speech laws, deplatforming, or political bans don't actually accomplish any of their stated goals. In the Weimar Republic, there were hate speech laws (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/copenhagen-speech-v...). Relevant quote:

"Researching my book, I looked into what actually happened in the Weimar Republic. I found that, contrary to what most people think, Weimar Germany did have hate-speech laws, and they were applied quite frequently. The assertion that Nazi propaganda played a significant role in mobilizing anti-Jewish sentiment is, of course, irrefutable. But to claim that the Holocaust could have been prevented if only anti-Semitic speech and Nazi propaganda had been banned has little basis in reality. Leading Nazis such as Joseph Goebbels, Theodor Fritsch, and Julius Streicher were all prosecuted for anti-Semitic speech. Streicher served two prison sentences. Rather than deterring the Nazis and countering anti-Semitism, the many court cases served as effective public-relations machinery, affording Streicher the kind of attention he would never have found in a climate of a free and open debate. In the years from 1923 to 1933, Der Stürmer [Streicher's newspaper] was either confiscated or editors taken to court on no fewer than thirty-six occasions. The more charges Streicher faced, the greater became the admiration of his supporters. The courts became an important platform for Streicher's campaign against the Jews. In the words of a present-day civil-rights campaigner, pre-Hitler Germany had laws very much like the anti-hate laws of today, and they were enforced with some vigor. As history so painfully testifies, this type of legislation proved ineffectual on the one occasion when there was a real argument for it."

Nothing gets stopped by merely refusing to extend some small measure of legitimacy to whatever is deemed "bigoted". These policies and norms do not change minds, which is the skill these wannabe social engineers need to master.


> Nothing gets stopped by merely refusing to extend some small measure of legitimacy to whatever is deemed "bigoted".

The targets of bigotry being subjected to both the bigotry itself and the additional insult of the community they are participating in legitimizing it is, in fact, stopped by the community not legitimizing it.

As that has long been a central purpose of RPG.net policy on acceptable participation, I think this particular rule is probably doing exactly what is intended.

> These policies and norms do not change minds

Perhaps, but in this case they aren't intended to, so that's not an argument against the policy.


Still don't think it's wise to adopt a burying one's head in the sand approach. It just leaves the participants unprepared when confronting this "bigotry" in the real world, as inevitably they will.

> Still don't think it's wise to adopt a burying one's head in the sand approach.

No one is suggesting that, so I'm not sure why you are beating that strawman.

> It just leaves the participants unprepared when confronting this "bigotry" in the real world, as inevitably they will.

Just because I'm quite prepared to (and used to) dealing with inclement weather in the “real world” doesn't mean I forego HVAC in my home or places I rent for social gatherings where that weather isn't conducive to the purpose of the gathering.


I don't think it's about changing minds. If you look at the OP, it's about letting people participate on a specific discussion channel about gaming without being harassed, (either explicitly or implicitly) for their origin, gender, etc.

Changing people's minds, as you mention, is a different problem entirely.


then ban harassment, racism, etc. Banning support for a politician is not a proxy for those things.

True, but sometimes it might be if repeating the words of that politician would continually fall into that category.

Invaluable insight: banning something you don't like reinforces its status as "something we can't handle except by censorship" which lends political weight to the ideas exposed. Without the opposition(actual debate/counter-arguments) to the idea, the idea becomes more like a "forbidden truth" to its supporters. They are in effect creating an echo chamber where the idea isn't opposed or ridiculed, but accepted as background truth and banned due being "politically incorrect".

This is really important.

Free and open debate exposes evil. Attempting to suppress debate gives it a platform and allows it to grow.


Please explain why so many everyday American’s are now repeating Trump’s lies? It’s certainly not for lack of the media pointing them out. There is just much more to it than that.

I also didn’t see anyone making these arguments when YouTube and other platforms said they were going to target content the helps radicalize Muslims.

There needs to be some middle ground where we can protect those being targeted and protect free-speech.


Did I say anything about Trump?

My comment was a broad based comment about censorship of ideas.

I don't recall YouTube making any such comment, perhaps I missed it. I don't think they've been successful if they even tried.


Point me to evidence of broad censorship please because the discussion is about Trump.

And if this is an issue that concerns you more broadly I’m not sure how you could possibly miss the dozens or hundreds of news stories about online platforms trying to combat extremism.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/several-tech-giants-join-forces...


deleted and reposted with the correct parent post -- not sure how I made that mistake above.

There's been broad based discussion about most of the major web platforms deplatforming speech they don't agree with. If you haven't heard about it you've had your head stuck in the sand, or more likely you simply agree with it because you agree with deplatforming those with whom you disagree. That's not an abnormal thing, most people would gladly take away their political opponents' ability to speak if they could get away with it. That's why it's important we don't allow it -- it's the "when they came for..." argument.

Your link talks about speech that specifically calls for violence and is credibly not covered by the first amendment. That's a bit different than the free exchange of ideas.


Most of the terrorist propaganda actually does not directly call for violence. Their recruiting is almost identical to white supremacist or other extremist propaganda. Them saying “we must fight the infidels” or “strike back against the western imperialists” isn’t much different from people saying “we must take our country back”, “we must secure a future for white children”, or “there is an ongoing white genocide by the globalist elite.” The problem is where it leads and all the damage it does to society because most extremism starts seemingly benign, until it isn’t.

I don’t want people with differing opinions on healthcare, abortion, civil rights, etc. to be banned, but to me it’s more than a difference in political opinion when someone suggests people I care about are subhuman or citizens should be removed from the country by the millions.

Your “when they came for...” argument is actually a reference to a historical quote about the targeting of groups by the Nazi party. It’s hard for me to see the people wanting not to be labeled evil, subhuman, and criminal as playing the role of the Nazis in this case or how you could compare being told you can’t Tweet disgusting falsehoods with imprisonment or extermination.


First, I don't think you've ever seen any terrorist propaganda. I have. It absolutely calls for violence.

What you fail to realize is that those particular groups are recruiting into organizations that explicitly require violence against anyone who disagrees with them. I know it's popular to pretend that isn't true, it's just an "internal struggle" or whatever, but that's simply not the case. When they say "we must fight the infidels", they literally mean, we're going to take up arms and go and murder all the infidels, specifically including as many noncombatants as we can find.

In general, people speaking in America aren't calling for that. I don't agree with what you refer to that they're advocating, and I think the right way to combat it is to argue why they're wrong, but they're not advocating murder of innocents. Those who do are falling afoul of the restrictions that have been allowed on speech and should be dealt with accordingly - making threats isn't legal.

I'm well aware of where the comment came from. Again, restricting speech you disagree with is a slippery slope, and that's why we don't do it -- or didn't, until it became fashionable to shut down all forms of conservative discussion on media that has become left wing propaganda arms.


One moderator wrote:

"No. You know what? Fuck that noise. Ethnic cleansing is not "different views." Racism is not "different views." White nationalism is not "different views." Dogwhistling that attacks against your political enemies will continue if the media doesn't stop saying things you don't like is not "different views." Putting children in cages is not "different views."

This is not an argument over tax rates or the proper role of government in education. This is an argument about who will be allowed to exist in America.

Get the fuck out of this thread. Don't post here again."

Whether you agree with their decision to ban Trump support on their (privately owned) forums, you have to agree we are in a pretty grim state here in America.


That is indeed very grim, given the number of angry straw men that moderator came out with.

Has Trump ever supported "ethnic cleansing"? No. Has he even supported racism? As far as I know, no, despite attempts to cast his criticism of illegal immigrants as generalised racism.

Those claims are absurd and extreme. This person appears to believe any sort of functioning immigration system at all is the same thing as mass murder.

It looks to me from my vantage point abroad like a section of American society has become so totally swamped in righteous anger, that they have concluded - but are unwilling to explicitly say - that US immigration controls and borders should be entirely abolished. The Democrats are not campaigning on that platform though. So what happens next?


> This person appears to believe any sort of functioning immigration system at all is the same thing as mass murder

Where is that coming from? It seems completely out of context with what was said.

Trump has been consistently proven to be racist, xenophobic, misogynistic - none of which are a crime - but should be considered seriously when at command of the United States.

These aren't straw men points. There are real victims out there suffering real consequences because of the hate and regression Trump has promoted. Children ARE being locked in cages. To say it's all Trump's fault would be careless and wrong however, but at the same time we wouldn't say the civil rights movement happened without Martin Luther King. Trump happens to be the leader of a hateful movement no one can hide from. It is indeed very grim.


Trump literally proclaimed himself a nationalist a few weeks ago. As far as online communities go, these bans are long overdue.

I’m not interested in sharing an online space with people who are more than happy to tear my country down.


The title is a little misleading. RPG.net is banning PEOPLE who publicly support Trump on their forum.

Look at these 5 videos. People on the left are allowed to bring their whole selves to RPG.net. People on the right are not welcomed to do the same.

https://www.wsj.com/news/types/voices-from-a-divided-america


If your "whole self" wants to dehumanize and kill entire classes of people because of their perceived race, sexual orientation, gender, etc, then I don't think it should be welcomed. Anywhere.

And if your "whole self" actively supports others who espouse such views, even if you do not directly do so yourself, then while I won't go so far as to say you're as bad, you're certainly bad enough that you should also not be welcomed in that way.


1. Conservatives and even Trump supporters don't want that. 2. Thanks for pushing normal people even further to the right.

@danaris - Thank you for stating out loud what many people think a Trump supporter is. You summed up the stereotype very well. That's important.

Now please take a few minutes and look at the people in the videos (see my previous comment) who are Trump supporters. Those are real people who support Trump. Please let me know specifically which ones are bad enough that they should not be welcomed.


Trump espouses the views I enumerated. He supports the dehumanization of, and in some cases violence against, women, LGBT+ people, and people who are not white.

Therefore, anyone supporting him also supports these things, and should not be welcomed.


I conclude from that, that you do not welcome Scott Bowen, the Bi/Gay man in this video, to participate in conversations with you.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/i-shouldnt-exist-1540823580

I'm disappointed in you, @danaris.


Well, I haven't watched the video (skimmed the article), but if he's a Trump supporter who's also LGBT+, then he's not only supporting fascism, nationalism, and bigotry, he's also kinda dumb for supporting an ideology that wants to eradicate him.

The article says he's a fiscal conservative, so that explains why he's a Trump supporter, if he is (it doesn't actually outright state that, just says that he's a conservative), but I don't consider it to be a good enough excuse. Maybe two years ago before we knew just what kind of politician and President he would be, but not now.

I understand the dilemma the Republican party has right now. Many of them don't actually believe in the horrible things that Trump supports, but feel like they don't have any choice because the Democratic party opposes so many of their policy positions.

But policy should take a back seat when you're confronted with actual evil, and that's what we're dealing with right now. Nazis. Literal, not-even-slightly-kidding gas-the-Jews lynch-the-blacks ethnic-cleansing white-power Nazis are what Trump truly represents right now, and the Republican party leaders, by and large, won't even denounce them and say they don't support that shit.

If you support Trump, now, you support the rise of literal Nazis, and I don't care what else you believe in or support, that's something I can't see any value in even allowing in the debate.


It's their perogative, no problem there, but I do find it a little childish that a moderater in that thread can keep their post footer as:

"Eisenhower got elected President for overseeing a war that was ALL ABOUT killing Nazis. We should return to those days." — Cessna"

Why not just ban all political posts?


Because they are taking a stand.

Yeah, some real modern day Eisenhowers there.

I’m surprised by some of the response; I actually think they were pretty articulate about exactly what they were banning and it certainly wasn’t all political speech. Trump stands for so much hatred and bigotry and it’s hard to vocalize support for him without implicitly/explicitly supporting that stuff yourself. We need to stop pretending like this is political discourse.

Intolerance of intolerance is the only acceptable form of intolerance. I think that this intolerance for others through trump support is what they are banning first and foremost.


> Intolerance of intolerance is the only acceptable form of intolerance.

This seems vulnerable to a meta-level attack: "who gets to decide what is intolerable?"


The answer is clear: in a privately owned business, the owners

I wish I had the definitive answer but in my books that line has been crossed in this context. I don’t think it’s as gray as we might want to pretend it is right now. The state of discourse online seems like some level of indicator something has happened recently that is descending us into chaos. Personally I do blame Trump and RPG.net seems to share a similar sentiment.

The state of discourse online is such because of the Culture War, and the Culture War predates Trump, and possibly caused Trump to be elected in the first place. The current phase of the Culture War began with universities getting creative with their definitions of "bigotry", "white supremacy", "racism", and "sexism". The worldview promulgated there eventually percolated to the mainstream and is a massive driver of the ongoing cultural conflict.

Thanks. Trump is certainly a symptom of something that existed before he took the stage. I don't think that absolves him but the problem isn't going to go away just be putting him out of sight and out of mind.

(p.s. the Thanks is generally for your response. Just want to be appreciative for peoples thoughts while discussing this topic)


Huh? Trump approved the space force and further missions to the moon, which will hopefully result in much more spending on space-related technologies. He's renegotiating global free trade agreements, which is definitely a good thing (I'm not entirely on board with how he's renegotiating them, but the status quo is bad, and if people are more willing to renegotiate, that makes me optimistic). He's done more progress with NK than anyone else in the last x0 years.

On the other hand, Obama invaded 2 countries and kept on waging a war in two others. He also lied about closing Guantanamo Bay.

It's easy to come up with one-sided examples for any politician. That's what politics is, really - the game of (shitty) trade-offs.


> It's easy to come up with one-sided examples for any politician

Except unlike with Trump, with Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, the nominees from the other major party who ran against those, most governors in the last 100 years, most of the Senate for the last 100 years, probably a majority of the members of the House of Representatives over the last 100 years, and probably even a large majority of state legislators...if you got into a tit for tat exchange of one-sided examples with a supporter of your candidate's opponent, you'd both run out at about the same time and each would have scored about equally.

PS: it may have been unclear, because I should have also quoted your next sentence, "That's what politics is, really - the game of (shitty) trade-offs", as that was actually more of what I was addressing.

The point was that the trade-offs with Trump are way beyond the normal parameters we've had to consider trading off before. Pick various politicians and go look up their records on fact check sites. They are all pretty terrible, but Trump takes it to a new level of terribleness.


Fair enough but personally I don’t care how many feathers are in your cap if you promote hatred the way Trump does. that’s just me though. Also I’m canadian :)

> Intolerance of intolerance is the only acceptable form of intolerance.

So now the game becomes figuring out how to label what your opponent is doing as intolerance so that you can conveniently be intolerant of it.


Hopefully we can be more reasonable than that, but you’re right that’s it’s totally subjective.

Can't see the actual site/post because of overly eager nanny firewall at the client, so I'm just going to comment on the title.

So? It's a privately-run forum.




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