Why we have to take action

February 7, 2006 at 6:22 am | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

The cartoon issue continues to take the lead in the news. The best reporting I have seen is at the BBC, including an article which emphasized this:

The propaganda factor

One aspect that these governments might also want to examine is how they can counter false information.

Twelve cartoons were originally published by Jyllands-Posten. None showed the Prophet with the face of a pig. Yet such a portrayal has circulated in the Middle East (The BBC was caught out and for a time showed film of this in Gaza without realizing it was not one of the 12).

The finger of suspicion has been pointed at a delegation of Danish Muslim leaders who went to the Middle East in November to publicise the cartoons. The visit was organised by Abu Laban, a leading Muslim figure in Denmark.

According to the Danish paper Ekstra Bladet, the delegation took along a pamphlet showing the 12 drawings. But the delegation also showed a number of other pictures which they claimed had insulted Muslims in Denmark. These also got into circulation.

Western diplomats appear to have missed this entirely and seem to have made no attempt to counter some of the arguments in the pamphlet or to distinguish between the various portrayals.

It might not have made much difference but it shows how rapidly propaganda can add to fuel to the fire.

How rapidly propaganda can add fuel to the fire. That is why we have to continue to take action. Free speech is a right, an unalienable right. But we have the right and the responsibility to respond to abuses of this right – abuses by people who spread false information, who exaggerate, or present only one side of a story. And we need to ensure that companies that control the distribution of information – increasingly the Googles, Yahoos, MSNs of the world, do not support and promote those who would add fuel to the fire.

JihadWatch prepares the ground for ethnic cleansing

February 6, 2006 at 9:03 pm | Posted in Hating Hate, Hypocracy unmasked, Taking Action | 3 Comments

From Watching JihadWatch:

Rarely does hatred manifest itself in such clear forms, particularly in our country. But leave it to JihadWatch Board Vice President “Hugh Fitzgerald”:

1) ending Muslim migration to Infidel lands, which Muslims consider Dar al-Harb, and thus they are settling behind what they regard as enemy lines. An ending of migration would also signal to Muslims already present that the tolerance for outright disloyalty to the Infidel nation-state has come to an end, and that removal of threats to the way of life and physical security of those Infidels whose countries, after all, are not simply open to all who feel like coming, no matter what their attitudes, or how unlikely it is that they will ever fully accept the legitimacy of the Infidel nation-state and the laws, customs, manners of the locals, will now be routine, rather than extraordinary. This should cause some to change their ways, and lessen their aggression; others to move back to Muslim lands. And the ground will have been prepared for further measures, should those prove necessary — of the kind the Czechs thought necessary in 1946, in dealing with the Sudeten Germans.

Wait a minute? Catch that last part? Let me repeat it:

And the ground will have been prepared for further measures, should those prove necessary — of the kind the Czechs thought necessary in 1946, in dealing with the Sudeten Germans.

For the historically challenged, here is what Wikipedia says happened in 1946 to the Sudeten Germans:

From 1945 to 1948 the Sudetenland was cleansed of ethnic Germans … About 3 million Germans, almost the entire German minority of pre-War Czechoslovakia, were expelled to Germany and Austria. As a consequence, 15 000 – 30 000 (according to the official German-Czech Committee of Historians) Germans were killed or otherwise died.

Get that? Ethnic cleansing. Which, for those not in the know, is defined by Wikipedia as:

a euphemism used to refer to various policies of forcibly removing people of one ethnic group. At one end of the spectrum, it is virtually indistinguishable from forced emigration and population transfer, while at the other it merges with deportation and genocide. … A similar term with the same intent was used by the Nazi administration in Germany under Adolf Hitler. … Ethnic cleansing is designated a crime against humanity in international treaties.

ROBERT SPENCER – will you now disassociate yourself and JihadWatch from “Hugh”? A person who has, on your own website and while an officer of JihadWatch, called for crimes against humanity, for population transfer, deportation, genocide against Muslims? I expect the answer is no. And that should be enough to prove the case. JihadWatch is not worth the electrons it is published with. It is a un-American hate site, no more, no less, preparing the ground for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims.

Comments – an interview with the WashingtonPost and Boing Boing

January 26, 2006 at 9:06 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

Great interview and discussion on the issues surrounding blog comments, over at the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. I listened to the podcast, but there is the transcript and video on the site also. The segment contains an interview and discussion with the Washington Post online editor and one of the folks over at BoingBoing!

Google policing

January 26, 2006 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

It seem that Google has the time and energy to do SOME policing of adsense. Specifically, it looks llike they are cracking down on people who encourage ad clicks.
So if they have an automated engine that looks for advertising abuses, why do they not have one that looks for hate speech, which also violates their TOS?

Another responsible act

January 19, 2006 at 11:46 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

The Washington Post Blog is also turning off comments.

I’d really prefer moderated comments to this. But if you are too busy, or it takes too many resources, to moderate, then by all means shut down comments. Follow Totten’s and WaPo’s lead! It is better than letting some hateful idiots piggyback off of your hard work to spread their filth. It brings you down with them.

WaPo’s letter:

Comments Turned Off

As of 4:15 p.m. ET today, we have shut off comments on this blog indefinitely.

At its inception, the purpose of this blog was to open a dialogue about this site, the events of the day, the journalism of The Washington Post Company and other related issues. Among the things that we knew would be part of that discussion would be the news and opinion coming from the pages of The Washington Post and washingtonpost.com. We knew a lot of that discussion would be critical in nature. And we were fine with that. Great journalism companies need feedback from readers to stay sharp.

But there are things that we said we would not allow, including personal attacks, the use of profanity and hate speech. Because a significant number of folks who have posted in this blog have refused to follow any of those relatively simple rules, we’ve decided not to allow comments for the time being. It’s a shame that it’s come to this. Transparency and reasoned debate are crucial parts of the Web culture, and it’s a disappointment to us that we have not been able to maintain a civil conversation, especially about issues that people feel strongly (and differently) about.

We’re not giving up on the concept of having a healthy public dialogue with our readers, but this experience shows that we need to think more carefully about how we do it. Any thoughtful feedback on that (or any other issue) is welcome, and you can send it to executive.editor@washingtonpost.com.

Thanks,
Jim Brady
Executive Editor, washingtonpost.com

A pledge

January 19, 2006 at 10:01 pm | Posted in Taking Action | 2 Comments

I posed this question to Robert Spencer on JihadWatch, and now pose it to everyone operating a website that allows comments:

I pledge, unconditionally, that I am wholly against those who hold or practice hostility toward or discrimination against any religious, ethnic, or racial group, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists. I further pledge that I will promptly remove any and all comments and postings, of any sort, that promote such hostility and discrimination.

Please note the “unconditional” part of the statement. No self defense clause, no in some circumstances. Unconditional. This does not mean you cannot promote law enforcement action against groups of Muslims or Christians or whatever that are planning to or have broken the law. It does not mean that you cannot discuss the motivations of insurgents in Iraq or mullahs in Iran or rabbis in Israel. It means you cannot collectively hold a broad group responsible for the actions of a few. And you cannot discriminate against, or commit violence towards, a broad community in retribution for the actions of a few.

I encourage everyone to take this pledge, publicly post it, and contact your favorite internet companies and have them insist that participation in their revenue and lead gen programs is contingent on agreeing and enforcing this pledge.

The right way to deal with comments

January 19, 2006 at 6:27 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

I recommended Michael Totten’s site a few days ago. Now, he has posted the following:

Comments are Closed

Due to a troll infestation, comments are closed until a subscription system is in place. I need to plan a trip to Iraq and have neither the time nor the inclination to babysit foul-mouthed psychotics. Thank you for understanding.

Finally, some responsible blogging! Well done, Mr. Totten!

Now if only his Pajamas Media colleages would follow suit…

Free Jill Carroll

January 17, 2006 at 10:24 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

See the Jill Carroll update at the Christian Science Monitor.

The kidnapping of journalists is just one of the travesties occuring in Iraq these days. I am not a naive peacenik, and I know we’re in a war there. But a 28 year old journalist is not a threat to anyone. And she is not some expendable pawn in a “great” game.

Everyone, pray for her release.

How to make an impact

January 17, 2006 at 2:36 am | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

I was just reading memeorandum and saw a pointer to the firedoglake blog.

The post talked about how they managed to bring down the sales of a book on Amazon by taking concerted action against it. Quoted in the post is an article from the WSJ’s Opinion Journal:

Amazon itself is another boon to conservatives, since the Internet giant betrays no ideological bias in selling books….”The rise of Amazon and the chain stores has been tremendously liberating for conservatives, because these stores are very much product-oriented businesses,” observes David Horowitz. “The independent bookstores are all controlled by leftists, and they’re totalitarians–they will not display conservative books, or if they do, they’ll hide them in the back.” Says Marji Ross: “We have experienced our books being buried or kept in the back room when a store manager or owner opposed their message.” She’s a big fan of Amazon and the chains.

Amazon’s Reader Reviews feature–where readers can post their opinions on books they’ve read and rate them–has helped diminish the authority of elite cultural guardians, too, by creating a truly democratic marketplace of ideas. “I don’t think there’s ever been a similar review medium–a really broad-based consumers’ guide for culture,” says 2blowhards blogger Michael. “I’ve read some stuff on Amazon that’s been as good as anything I’ve read in the real press.”

This is what we’re striving for – neutralize the elements of the Internet that promotes hate speech. It is possible, if we can build a large enough critical mass. It just requires us to speak up and make our opinions heard!

We can do this for books written by people like Robert Spencer and Serge Trifkovic. We can also write the companies directly and let them know the hate speech contained on the sites that they are funding. But we can only do it if we take action.

Nick Carr’s predictions

January 3, 2006 at 9:01 pm | Posted in Taking Action | Leave a comment

Nick Carr has issued his predictions for 2006.

Among them:

“2. The culture wars slam into the internet, as a group of influential evangelicals launch a boycott of Google, demanding that it “stop distributing pornography” through its search engine.”

I think the issue is likely to be broader than distributing pornography. The biggest issue is the funding of sites promoting issues that people might disagree with. Google not only provides easy access to pornography, it actually provides a mechanism for funding it (AdSense). And, as we’ve seen, the fund a whole lot of other disagreeable stuff.

Amazon, for example, sells books on a web page that calls for and justifies suicide bombings in Israel. Paypal provides funding mechanisms for a site that attacks Islam as an evil cult. And there are hundreds of more examples.

Perhaps most dangerous is the attitude of the companies themselves to this. Despite having policies against all of this, they rarely take action. It is only a matter of time before the entire Affiliate business model is called into question as a result. I agree it may start with Evangelicals targeting pornography. But it will spread, unless the companies start taking responsibility. Customers don’t want to fund hate, terrorism, racism, homophobia. They want responsible business practices.

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