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[flagged] 8chan: The far-right website linked to the rise in hate crimes (theguardian.com)
38 points by hhs 72 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 16 comments

Some (two) criticisms of the article:

> "But extremism has been central to 8chan identity since it was founded in 2013 by a computer programmer and self-proclaimed eugenicist Fredrick Brennan."

Brennan himself is both disabled and has said (I can't recall where so forgive me if I'm wrong) that he was just trolling when talking about eugenics. Article says in the next sentence "(Brennan has since distanced himself from his earlier writings and beliefs and has cut ties with the site.)" but I can't help feeling that the initial mentioning of his discussion about eugenics was unnecessary.

> "Protection from Cloudflare"

This entire section looks to me like the article is blaming Cloudflare for 8chan's existence (and subsequently the El Paso shooting). If the author had that in mind they're making pretty big grasps here. Cloudflare has a reputation for trying to support HTTPS for as many sites as possible and offer protection from DDOSing ((disclaimer: I use their registrar and DNS)). This is mostly just my personal thought rather than an actual argument though.


I think 8chan is probably the seediest search-engine-indexed site on the web right now. Even members of 4chan's random board, popularized as the shithole of the 'net, disavowed the actions of the El Paso shooter. Cloudflare can choose to tolerate 8chan, and I find that decision to uphold free speech admirable, but 8chan is far worse than the Daily Stormer.

There isn't a meaningful distinction between ironic advocacy of eugenics and genuine advocacy of eugenics. The only question is whether the advocacy is received successfully or not.

Don't forget the Daily Stormer style guide:

> The unindoctrinated should not be able to tell if we are joking or not. There should also be a conscious awareness of mocking stereotypes of hateful racists. I usually think of this as self-deprecating humor - I am a racist making fun of stereotype of racists, because I don't take myself super-seriously. This is obviously a ploy and I actually do want to gas kikes. But that's neither here nor there.

Yeah, you're probably right.

> > "But extremism has been central to 8chan identity since it was founded in 2013 by a computer programmer and self-proclaimed eugenicist Fredrick Brennan."

This is highly exaggerated and misleading language, and makes it hard to take the rest of the article seriously.

Mr Brennan has osteogenesis imperfecta, where the bones in his limbs are malformed, and constantly breaking and splintering in his flesh, and it is very painful, and there is no treatment. In a moment of deep frustration, some trolls were able to goad him into venting online about how he regrets being born and how cruel it is for his parents to knowingly bring him into this world.

Calling him a "eugenicist" is ludicrous. That language makes him sound like he is somehow punching down at innocent people. He is suffering in a way most of us could never understand, and has moments where he wishes he were dead.

I wish everyone would quit giving them free publicity

Just call them a fringe website instead of driving traffic to them.

I wonder how many people who subscribe to the "contagion" theory of mass shooters also think that 8chan is innocuous. These two lines of thought seem at odds, but I suspect what they have in common is a wish to deny the role of a particular strain of right wing ideology in these shootings.

It wont work. Lunatics find their way to get together and talk. Call it Telegram group or Whatsapp.

This article suggests otherwise.

> What they found was encouraging for this strategy of reducing unwanted activity on a site like Reddit:

> Post-ban, hate speech by the same users was reduced by as much as 80-90 percent. Members of banned communities left Reddit at significantly higher rates than control groups.

> Migration was common, both to similar subreddits (i.e. overtly racist ones) and tangentially related ones (r/The_Donald). However, within those communities, hate speech did not reliably increase, although there were slight bumps as the invaders encountered and tested new rules and moderators.


An interesting round of "invaders encountering and testing new rules" was when far right mods tried a takeover of /r/libertarian. /r/libertarian has always had a level of interesting with groups like /r/The_Donald, and has been full of right wing memes, but is also full of left wing libertarians (the original libertarian - Joseph Déjacque, was an anarcho-communist - left and right libertarian mostly split along the view on whether enforcement property rights are an unjustified state intervention leading to loss of liberty, or a necessity to ensure liberty), and new mods were added that started banning left-wing libertarians all over the place, even for things like just mentioning Joseph Déjacque.

Amusingly, they went too far, and the original founder of the sub came back, revoked their mod privileges and put in place a new "head moderator" who was an anarcho-communist, so it backfired spectacularly.

Though the new head moderator did take care to appoint moderators that represented a cross-section of the community, and things went somewhat back to normal, the explicit support inherent in having a left-wing head mod did embolden a lot of left wing users of the sub to post more commentary countering the right wing posts to a greater extent.

I'm not sure that's true. Surely organizing lunatics is approximately as hard as organizing any hobby group, and low friction is a huge deal in creating and retaining a community. If it's easier to create and maintain groups of incredibly niche communities due to convenient places to digitally congregate, and I believe that it is, then it's also easier if your particular hobby is heinous. By pushing this shit into the darkness you end up with some humans who fail to find that darkness and are thus not radicalized.

(Or that's the theory, at least.)

I think that’s a little defeatist. While sites like this will always be able to exist as tor hidden services or whatever, being available over https with a normal domain name massively increases the reach these sites have. Furthermore, there’s a big element of “performing for an audience” that these shooters tend to have, given the posted manifestos that include community in-jokes, so the reach that a site has makes it much more appealing for mass shooters.

Unoccupied people making racist jokes are as unpleasant as journalists writing biased articles to push their political agenda against freedom of speech.

So we would have more freedom of speech if journalists refrained from publishing and people with political opinions refrained from expressing them?

Being pro freedom of speech doesn't mean that I can't critizice the opinions of people.

If the author had just pointed out how racist and unpleasant 8chan users are, I would have agreed. If she had said that racism and shootings are a bad thing, I would have agreed too.

I don't agree with questioning the freedom of people to say abhorrent things. And I don't agree with questioning a service provider that's just doing its job.

And answer to your question is no.

Sure, you can criticize the opinions of people. But you did not. You said that the fact that they had set forth their opinion, the fact that they had engaged in a speech act, was itself unpleasant.

Now that's your right, of course, but it strikes me as hypocritical. Argue why their position is wrong and take delight in the fact that they set out an argument that you can respond to. Or, perhaps, argue that their position is too dangerous to be stated and poses a long-term threat to the freedom of speech—but distinguish that argument from their own, which is much the same.

> the fact that they had engaged in a speech act, was itself unpleasant.

I obviously think the author has the right to say whatever the hell she wants to say, but I'm against the content of her message.

I could write a really long argument to say why she's wrong, but in short: Because freedom and justice are the most desirable values to have in a society, even when people can use that freedom to say disgusting things.

Why is freedom desirable? Because it's the only way that an individual can develop their own life, chase their dreams and be happy in a manner that respects the freedom of other individuals. (My definition of freedom is that you can't physically attack other people or steal their property. Trying to expand freedom to things such as "freedom from being insulted" (i.e. censorship) is a contradiction, so the only logical way of defining it is around physical actions.)

Additionally, censorship implies that someone has to decide what speech is acceptable and what isn't, at that point, things become really arbitrary. What would the author think if her opinions were labeled as "hate speech" and people made posts wanting prohibit her from posting them? Where do you draw the line of acceptability? It's arbitrary and unjust.

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