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German Killers Sue Wikipedia To Remove Their Names

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the aim-for-foot-and-pull-trigger dept.

Privacy 859

Jason Levine writes "Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber killed a German actor in 1990. Now that they are out of prison, German law states that they can't be referred to by name in relation to the killings. Therefore, they have sued to get Wikipedia to remove their names from the Wikipedia article about the killings. The German edition of Wikipedia has already complied, but the English edition is citing US freedom of speech and a lack of presence in Germany as reasons why they don't need to remove the name. In a bit of irony, their lawyer e-mailed the NY Times: 'In the spirit of this discussion, I trust that you will not mention my clients' names in your article.'"

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Get your lawyers ready /. (5, Funny)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098050)

You just referenced their names in relation to the killings.

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098068)

What for? The US is not a member of the EU yet

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (4, Informative)

Alphathon (1634555) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098446)

What does the EU have to do with anything? It's a German law, not an EU one.

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (2, Insightful)

Divebus (860563) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098092)

I don't care what their names are. What are they doing out of prison?

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098128)

Uhhh,,,,maybe they served their prison sentences.

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098506)

I don't care what their names are. What are they doing out of prison?

They did the crime, they served their time. What's so hard to understand about that?

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (3, Insightful)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098568)

If they did their time they'd be buried in a state-owned plot with a small placard to mark the spot and this whole discussion would be nonexistent.

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098576)

I don't care what their names are. What are they doing out of prison?

They did the crime, they served their time. What's so hard to understand about that?

No they haven't, since when is 19 years an acceptable sentence for ending someones life out of pure malice? And why does the German government protect a killer's identity? If they didn't want to be known as murderers, they should've tried y'know, not murdering someone.

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098200)

No, Slashdot referenced their names in relation to their lawsuit, which is entirely different...

Get your lawyers ready James (1)

SebaSOFT (859957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098350)

No, Slashdot references that "James Levine" references that those people killed a German actor.....

Re:Get your lawyers ready /. (4, Interesting)

feyhunde (700477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098254)

What's even better is the German Wikipedia article now mentions the dispute and links to the NY Times Article without naming names on their page...

I have the feeling (1)

impaledsunset (1337701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098056)

That they should sue Slashdot now, too!

Streisand Effect (1)

The Gardener (519078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098064)

How many times must slashdotters tell these people how the World works ?

Re:Streisand Effect (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098252)

I imagine they didn't read much Slashdot in prison. Perhaps Slashdot should be required reading for prisoners, if that's not too cruel and unusual. It is a great way to express one's antisocial tendencies without actually effecting anyone!

If these men were free anywhere near me, I'd sure want to be aware of it. If they're embarrassed by that hate-fueled murder in their past, they'll just have to deal with it.

Re:Streisand Effect (2, Interesting)

rvw (755107) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098328)

How many times must slashdotters tell these people how the World works ?

These people have not been part of the "world" (or society) for about 20 years. And yeah I know that prison is part of the world and society, but they totally missed the whole internet thing, so it's not surprising that they think this can be done. On the other hand, his lawyers should have adviced them better.

Re:Streisand Effect (1)

RichardJenkins (1362463) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098334)

Ahh come on. This could be more about there pride than trying to hide their crimes.

Bubby? Is that you? (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098070)

That these guys killed someone and were convicted of it is a recorded, historical fact. No allegations, simple fact.

Are we not allowed to state simple facts now?

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098094)

No I think the idea here is that if you have done the time in jail then you should have the right to a normal life. This is the premise of our entire justice system. I can completely understand that. Ask yourself if you were introduced to a person and you found out that they were murderers would you think of them the same way? Probably not and that is the problem and why the German law exists.

You are right that those are the facts, but must facts always haunt you?

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098140)

They KILLED someone.

I think I would like to know the a potential employee is a murderer, that isn't something you want to come to light later on when said person goes on an office rampage.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098146)

Why should anyone treat someone differently just because they have a record of killing someone who argued with them?

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (4, Insightful)

lottameez (816335) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098158)

Someone that has murdered someone should not be thought of "in the same way" as someone who has not.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098492)

Apparently you don't have family who were in the military. And don't give me that crap about it being justifiable homicide just because Uncle Sam told you to kill them. There is no pacifist branch of the military, and you can't claim the moral high ground when you kill people for a living.

In America we tend to worship our troops, and have made a habit of holding our murderers in *higher* regard than the average person, unless they were free agents, in which case we put them in stinking holes in Texas and treat them like subhuman trash.

Germany is enlightened in this regard.

CAPTCHA for this post: "suspect"

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098168)

Ask yourself if you were introduced to a person and you found out that they were murderers would you think of them the same way?

Honestly, no, I wouldn't think of them the same way as I would someone else.
Because they actually killed someone.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (3, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098244)

Sorry, but I have no duty to treat a murderer the same way I would treat an innocent person, even if they've served their sentence. The German parliament made a poor decision to pass a law protecting a murderer from the disgust of the public.

-jcr

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098444)

Yet it's pretty much in the same ballpark as the laws against discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation...

Say you're looking to hire someone and one applicant served a sentence for murder. He might cause trouble, or might not. You can look at statistics about recidivists to find the odds.

Suppose one applicant is of race X. He might cause trouble, or might not. You can look at crime statistics by race to find the odds.

Same thing.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (2, Insightful)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098574)

BULL! Straight BULLSHIT! To compare race to someone who chooses to brutally murder and mutilate a person. SHAME! Shame on you!

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098586)

You have a duty to not assume they're still bad people, or that they even were in the first place. Prison can change people dramatically; who are you to judge?

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098268)

Ask a sex offender after he or she has served time

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (4, Insightful)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098288)

Yes. That's why they're called facts. If you want a normal life, it's your job to spend the rest of it convincing everyone that you aren't the person you were. Redemption, not revision.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098322)

German law is fine & all, but facts are facts. People kill people and history records the events.
If my neighbor was a convicted murderer or child molester, has the potential of doing it again, I'm entitled to know.
Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber are convicted murderers, served their time, but may potentially kill again. Tasted blood & all ...
Their neighbors & community are entitled to know what animal lives next door.

These men committed the crime, now they must live with it for the rest of their lives as marked men. This is justice

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098392)

Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber are convicted murderers
Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber are convicted murderers
Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber are convicted murderers
Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber are convicted murderers
Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber are convicted murderers

Dear Germany,
bring it.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098342)

That's a politically-correct, academic idea that falls flat on its face in the real world, like most everything else that comes out of academia.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098428)

You are right that those are the facts, but must facts always haunt you?

Gee, I don't know because that's the fucking reality of the situation? The guy they murdered doesn't spring back to life after they've paid their "debt". They've got some nerve complaining about how rotten their lives are after taking someone else's. Perhaps they would have been happier with a lethal injection?

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (4, Insightful)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098562)

No I think the idea here is that if you have done the time in jail then you should have the right to a normal life.

That's a seriously wrong understanding of a "normal life". After they come out of jail, the government has an obligation to treat these people no differently than anybody else. Everybody else (employers, private citizens), however, are under no obligation to forgive and forget.

There is something seriously wrong with you if you think that it is the government's job to revise historical facts for the purpose of tricking me into associating with people I would otherwise not want anything to do with.

This is the premise of our entire justice system.

If rewriting historical facts is a recognized function of the German justice system, then Germany is already careening out of control towards fascism again.

Ask yourself if you were introduced to a person and you found out that they were murderers would you think of them the same way?

Of course not. They are murderers. They have to live with the consequences of their past actions, just like everybody else.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (4, Informative)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098218)

In theory right, but in this case you have to weigh the interests. These people committed a crime, did their time and now they are free again. They should be given a chance to reintegrate into society. At least in Germany the idea behind prison is to "better" the person, not just revenge and punishment. And this can be severely hindered if the first thing you find when you look for his name is that he's shot someone. Wikipedia has a tendency to come up as the first hit for any given keyword you might be looking for.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098340)

How about the interest of the public who might like a little warning about what they're dealing with?

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098466)

Reintegrate into society? I don't think that was the plan when they where both given a life sentence.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098526)

"In Germany, the minimum time to be served for a sentence of life imprisonment is 15 years after which the prisoner can apply for parole. If the verdict in the original trial includes an explicite finding of "exceptional gravity of guilt" (in German: "Besondere Schwere der Schuld") then the possibility of parole after 15 years is excluded and the prisoner can apply for the first time after 18 years. After about 10 years of imprisonment, a specialised chamber (technical term in German: "Strafvollstreckungskammer") of the criminal court which is responsible for the case sets a recommended minimum term to be served depending on the individual characteristics of the crime, in other words, a minimum time which is deemed just and appropriate for the gravity of the crime. Release of a prisoner on parole requires (1) that this minimum time is served and (2) that a psychological expert opinion finds no further dangerousness for this prisoner and a positive social prognosis. In reality, a finding of "exceptional gravity of guilt" drastically increases the time before parole is granted. The average time served for a life sentence in Germany is around 20 years. Around 20% of all people serving life imprisonment stay in prison until their natural death."

http://www.economicexpert.com/a/Life:imprisonment.html [economicexpert.com]

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0, Troll)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098246)

> Are we not allowed to state simple facts now?

Not in Germany, evidently. This is another area where Europe is way ahead of the USA, where we still harbor the quaint notion that the truth is an absolute defense. This deficiency is being adressed, though. See, for example, "hate crime" laws.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (2, Informative)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098276)

That these guys killed someone and were convicted of it is a recorded, historical fact. No allegations, simple fact. Are we not allowed to state simple facts now?

Depends where "we" is - in Germany, apparently not. In the US, yes.

Different lands, different laws.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (0, Troll)

mounthood (993037) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098362)

You know who killed someone? Hitler. That's who.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (1)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098592)

Impressive, I expected this thread to be Godwinned in the first 2 or 3 posts.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098472)

Yes, but in modern Germany, even historical facts can be suppressed as a matter of law. If that sounds scary, it should.

Re:Bubby? Is that you? (1)

stumblingblock (409645) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098552)

Wow. The latest example of a German law apparently designed to proclaim to the world: WE ARE NOT NAZIS!!!!, in fact, when we arrest people we treat them with the utmost respect, unlike those nasty people who used to run our country, who were ALL killed, which they deserved.

NOT Ironic!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098098)

There is nothing ironic about that whatsover. What would be ironic is if the NY Times didn't mention their names.

Why do people keep calling things ironic when it is not? People who do this just sound stupid.

Here's a clue: look up the word irony or don't use the word.

Re:NOT Ironic!! (1)

uxbn_kuribo (1146975) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098316)

Are you kidding? It's just as ironic as rain on your wedding day, a no smoking sign on your cigarette break, or 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.* * that is to say, not ironic in the least

Same old, same old (1, Interesting)

Digana (1018720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098112)

It's the same story all over again. Once the information is out, there's no way to lock it down again, at least, not without severely affecting our modern means of conveying information, and even that seems unthinkable. Essentially, it's impossible, no matter how many laws you make. Iranian dissenters can find proxies over the internet, samizdat dissemination in Soviet Russia; it's everywhere. The technology for instant everpresent information can't be unlearned. We've spent many centuries perfecting it since Gutenberg's printing press.

Our society would do well to simply accept the present state of instant and everpresent information instead of trying to suppress it.

Re:Same old, same old (1)

ServerIrv (840609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098220)

This is silly even before the stated "instant and ever-present" information. The only way something like this works is if the newspaper sends out retractions after a criminal leaves prison. Ummm, today 57 criminals were released from prison, but we cannot say their names, so please throw away Section B, C and J from December 12, 2001 to March 3, 2006. This law is completely idiotic. I can understand their thoughts about "new" news articles, but the articles that are already there are stating facts that cannot be erased...get over it.

Re:Same old, same old (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098566)

Our society would do well to simply accept the present state of instant and everpresent information instead of trying to suppress it.

"You should just accept it because everyone else has. It's inevitable. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated." We all know how well that's worked out historically.

Once the information is out, there's no way to lock it down again,

Just because there's not a way to do it now is not somehow proof against it ever being done, or the necessity of finding a way. Also, my delete button still works. Is your keyboard busted?

Essentially, it's impossible, no matter how many laws you make.

That is because of cross-jurisdictional and international law considerations... An entirely artificial problem. And thus, solvable.

The technology for instant everpresent information can't be unlearned. We've spent many centuries perfecting it since Gutenberg's printing press.

Well, the technology for blowing us all up in a nuclear holocaust also exists, and we've spent about fifty years perfecting that. While it can't be unlearned either, we've figured out ways of living with it, as opposed to dying because of it. You're assuming the temporary state that we have now with current technology being ahead of effective controls for it is a permanent situation. It isn't.

Also, Gutenberg was sued, went bankrupt, and then exiled for his work. While it may not have stopped the advancement of the printing press, it certainly left its principal creator in ruin. He was rescued near the end of his life by the government, who gave him a stipend (welfare) as thanks. Few people knew of his achievement in his lifetime and he died in relative obscurity.

Freedom of Speech (1, Troll)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098122)

And THIS is why the Internet needs to remain under United States control. Out imperfections notwithstanding, the United States is one of the only countries that can be trusted to understand what Freedom of Speech means. (Not that there aren't certain elements that try and water it down, but at least it's codified at the strongest level of law).

Re:Freedom of Speech (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098224)

Are you trolling or just brainwashed? This is why the Internet (which is not under US control at the moment) should not be under any single country's control. If it were under US control, you could watch the gambling sites and anything else politically expedient disappear.

Re:Freedom of Speech (3, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098228)

Oh REALLY?

Explain the PATRIOT act to me?

While the American constitution undeniably is what you say it is, the past 20 years has not been kind to America!

Re:Freedom of Speech (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098250)

Wouldn't it be much more effective if the internet was not under the control of any one country? If instead it was a network of computers spread throughout the entire world....oh wait. Nevermind.

...NOT (4, Interesting)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098314)

Out imperfections notwithstanding, the United States is one of the only countries that can be trusted to understand what Freedom of Speech means.

Do you really believe that? It's easy for the United States to be all indignant when it comes to German killers. But what do you think will happen when, say, the RIAA/MPAA lobbies to have domain names such as thepiratebay.org preemptively revoked?

Germany need to have a say in how DNS is run, as does the United States, England, France, Russia, China, and all the other nations of the world. Does Germany want x blocked or removed? Too damn bad, Swaziland vetoed them. Does the U.S. want that pesky torrent tracker site blown away? Too damn bad, Antigua says it stays. Everybody wins.

Having one nation in control of who gets to have a voice sucks, no matter which nation it is or how much they profess to love freedom of speech (while simultaneously making it harder and harder to enjoy that "freedom").

Re:Freedom of Speech (2, Interesting)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098436)

Silliness. Court records, including the names of the parties involved, are sealed all the time in the US, for a variety of reasons. Germany simply has a different set of reasons than the US does. (In the US those reasons generally involve money, while in Germany they involve blood; this should come as a surprise to nobody.) If you think any one country, including the US, is going to do an adequate job preserving freedom of speech online, you're deluding yourself.

Re:Freedom of Speech (0)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098438)

No... I don't agree. I'm not going to bash the United States like the other replies, but I will give a more rounded answer.

Government is always BAD. Whether it's German, American or Martian. I would rather GOVERNMENT not have control of ANYTHING. That's the only way we can remain free.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. -- George Washington

Wolfgang Werlé & Manfred Lauber are murde (3, Funny)

Charles Dodgeson (248492) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098134)

Just so that we don't forget the names of Wolfgang Werlé & Manfred Lauber, convicted killers. I would like to mention that the names of the killers are Wolfgang Werlé & Manfred Lauber. If they, Wolfgang Werlé & Manfred Lauber, don't like it they (Wolfgang Werlé & Manfred Lauber ) can sue me.

Re:Wolfgang Werlé & Manfred Lauber are mu (3, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098358)

maybe time to register:

wolfgangwerleandmanfredlaubermurderedayoungactorin1990.com

Curious if you could register the .de counterpart.

Respect the law (0, Troll)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098138)

Shouldn't you respect a countries laws weather you agree with them or not, LOL yeah right when's the last time 23 Italian agents were convicted in the US and not handed over.

Re:Respect the law (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098184)

*whether

Re:Respect the law (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098380)

Shouldn't you respect a countries laws weather you agree with them or not,

So if a law against something exists, anywhere on the planet, everyone should follow it? I'm pretty sure you don't want the world to adhere to Saudi Arabian, Singaporean, or North Korean laws. And I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want to adhere to Western laws.

Re:Respect the law (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098390)

No.

I elected my government to support and protect MY interests, not other countries' citizens' interests.

Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098148)

Who? Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber? Killed somebody in 1990? No, that doesn't ring a bell.
Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber....
Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber....
Hmmm, no, I'm sure I'd remember those two names if I'd heard them, especially in context of manslaughter. Well, if I ever see Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber's names online in reference to having killed someone back in 1990 I will report it to the proper German authorities.

Cause and Effect (2, Funny)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098188)

Less Hasselhoff, more Streisand.

this is not a huge problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098204)

1. make an article about each of them.
-do not mention the murders
-mention everything else about their life
-like the fact that they sued wikipedia
-mention the fact that you cant talk about what they did thanks to german law
-link to the german law involved

2. make an article about the murders.
-mention that the killers got out of prison
-mention what year they got out
-mention everything about them except their names
-you could even make up fake names, like 'Famous Actor Case Convict X' and 'Famous Actor Case Convict Y',

in other words.... you push that law right up to the point where it is about to break. but you dont beak it. smart readers can fill in the blanks, and most readers ae smart

Re:this is not a huge problem (1)

uxbn_kuribo (1146975) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098338)

You know as well as I do, that as soon as you did 1., one of the nerds on wikipedia would AfD it for the subject being non-notable: which it would be without mentioning the murder. Anyway, it's nice that people are in favor of the killers having a "normal life." Now, can we grant the same to the victim?

Re:this is not a huge problem (3, Funny)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098468)

'Famous Actor Case Convict X' and 'Famous Actor Case Convict Y'

I guess I can accept that with sufficiently large values of Wolfgang Werlé for X and sufficiently large values of Manfred Lauber for Y.

Their names are J.delanoy and Mike.lifeguard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098208)

Yes the killers are also Wiki admins.

Re:Their names are J.delanoy and Mike.lifeguard (2, Interesting)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098420)

Wikipedia should ban people for being murderers like Something Awful does

http://encyclopediadramatica.com/Andrew_Allred#Public_Reactions [encycloped...matica.com]

Also I just permabanned this guy because he murdered two people: http://forums.somethingawful.com/member.php?s=&action=getinfo&userid=84611 [somethingawful.com]

Now the question I have here is that, in the rules, it doesn't explicitly state you will be permabanned or punished in any way if you murder people. Does this make the user terms of conditions unclear?

Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber (2, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098236)

Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber are killers. Nothing can whitewash that.

"WERE killers" or "HAVE killed", not "ARE killers" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098520)

Your post is a good example of why that German law was passed in the first place.

Now that they are out of prison.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098248)

They did get out of prison, but both where sentenced to life, so lets wait until they have completed there sentence, and then remove there names from Wikipedia. (but only if they ask nicely).

A fresh start (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098280)

I'm sure a lot of people are going to come out against the position of Germany's culture on this, citing freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, in the United States at least, is not given to citizens so that they can harm other people's reputations or hold them accountable for their actions. It is there so that actions by the government can be openly criticized and constructive dialog be established between (and amongst) citizens and the government, without fear of reprisal. It is there for the betterment of everyone. If there is no benefit to society, no protection is granted.

These people have served their sentences. They have been punished according to the law of their land, and then released. In this country, a person's criminal record haunts them for life -- denying them jobs, restricting their freedoms, and in some cases leading to a greatly diminished quality of life such that they are forced into criminal enterprise in order to meet basic needs. But in Germany, these laws are crafted so that people can have a chance at a normal life again--A chance at redemption. It is recognized that people make mistakes, but these mistakes shouldn't haunt them for the rest of their lives. The government has stepped in to ensure that any adult citizen that has their freedom also has the same chances as the next.

As far as the internet -- do we really want it to be a tool that enables a person's past mistakes to haunt them forever? That any personal information, once released into it, somehow becomes public property? Those naked photos your boyfriend took of you when you thought you'd be with him forever -- are those public property once he breaks up with you and posts them online? How about the records of your divorce, or the reasons why you were fired? What about that one night when your best friend tried to walk out of the bar drunk, and you stole the car keys and the two of you got into a big fight and the police were called? You want the whole world to know about these things? Or--was it just a mistake and once amends have been made then that's the end of it?

Just because the information is out there doesn't mean it should be. Information doesn't have rights -- people do.

Re:A fresh start (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098376)

Yes. If you murder two people, then I have the right to know about it. That you served your time and have set out in the world to start over is your right once released. But people have the right to know the guy down the street is a convicted murderer.

What happens if somebody is released for sexual predation of children? Should their names be stricken from any record of the crime? Does the young mother living next door to this released predator have no right to know of a potential danger?

I am all for giving ex-cons a fair deal. I really do understand how badly they are treated by society and would never treat them as such myself. But I do have the right to know about these crimes. If you are talking about stealing beer at age 19, then fine, whatever. I really don't care. But murder? Come on.

Re:A fresh start (4, Insightful)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098594)

Well, in Germany, you do not have that right. End of the story.
Laws are only a reflection of the will of the society. The German society seems to be okay with forgetting such things. A large part of the slashdot community (a significant part of it living in the US) seems not to be okay with this. Different places, different minds. After you've said this, it just comes down to know how such laws are handled between countries. It kind of reminds me the "Yahoo nazi items" [wikipedia.org] controversy, in which the U.S. site of Yahoo was accused to sell nazi items to French people (selling such items is prohibited in this country). Yahoo was ultimately required to prevent the sale of such items to French people. In the story case, I suspect a ruling would not be as clear cut - as there is no financial motive involved for wikipedia.

Re:A fresh start (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098378)

I'll bet there are a lot of dictators who agree totally

Re:A fresh start (1, Insightful)

toiletsalmon (309546) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098400)

"Information doesn't have rights -- people do."

That, is a very good point. I'm sure it falls on deaf ears here, but a good point regardless of what the anti-social "nerd patrol" here thinks.

Re:A fresh start (4, Insightful)

Wog (58146) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098462)

What about the rights of Walter Sedlmayr, who the duo tortured, mutilated, and killed because he was gay? He apparently doesn't matter anymore, you know, because they murdered him.

Everyone makes mistakes, right? Hogwash.

So these men should have a chance at a normal life again? What about Sedlmayr's normal life?

Re:A fresh start (5, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098474)

I'm sure a lot of people are going to come out against the position of Germany's culture on this, citing freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, in the United States at least, is not given to citizens so that they can harm other people's reputations or hold them accountable for their actions. It is there so that actions by the government can be openly criticized and constructive dialog be established between (and amongst) citizens and the government, without fear of reprisal. It is there for the betterment of everyone. If there is no benefit to society, no protection is granted.

Actually, no that is not the fundamental premise of the US concept of freedom of speech. It is that the prior restraint of speech is so onerous that it is not allowed; so that open debate can be had around issues.

These people have served their sentences. They have been punished according to the law of their land, and then released. In this country, a person's criminal record haunts them for life -- denying them jobs, restricting their freedoms, and in some cases leading to a greatly diminished quality of life such that they are forced into criminal enterprise in order to meet basic needs. But in Germany, these laws are crafted so that people can have a chance at a normal life again--A chance at redemption. It is recognized that people make mistakes, but these mistakes shouldn't haunt them for the rest of their lives. The government has stepped in to ensure that any adult citizen that has their freedom also has the same chances as the next.

As far as the internet -- do we really want it to be a tool that enables a person's past mistakes to haunt them forever? That any personal information, once released into it, somehow becomes public property? Those naked photos your boyfriend took of you when you thought you'd be with him forever -- are those public property once he breaks up with you and posts them online? How about the records of your divorce, or the reasons why you were fired? What about that one night when your best friend tried to walk out of the bar drunk, and you stole the car keys and the two of you got into a big fight and the police were called? You want the whole world to know about these things? Or--was it just a mistake and once amends have been made then that's the end of it?

Just because the information is out there doesn't mean it should be. Information doesn't have rights -- people do.

Yes, and in the US we have the right of free speech. The solution is not to suppress speech but to change the concept of how past infractions are viewed. While the later is a difficult task; repressing speech in the name of protecting people's rights is far worse.

Of course, as information becomes easier to access people also need to modify behaviors in light of changing technology; which they have been doing since the beginning of time. That is the real solution, IMHO.

Re: A fresh start (5, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098496)

But in Germany, these laws are crafted so that people can have a chance at a normal life again--A chance at redemption. It is recognized that people make mistakes, but these mistakes shouldn't haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Forgive and forget? Seems pretty short-sighted. I'm not sure I'd call murder a "mistake". An act like this *should* haunt the perpetrators for the rest of their lives.

The government has stepped in to ensure that any adult citizen that has their freedom also has the same chances as the next.

Except for the guy they killed. Where's his freedom and chance?

Lastly, what about the victim's family and friends? How about their chances for normal lives without the murder of their loved-one haunting them. Some things cannot be forgiven and some things should definitely not be forgotten.

Re:A fresh start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098512)

I'm sure a lot of people are going to come out against the position of Germany's culture on this, citing freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, in the United States at least, is not given to citizens so that they can harm other people's reputations or hold them accountable for their actions.

Well excuse me if I would like to know the people I'm freely speaking to have issues with other people's right to a life. It might persuade me not to freely speak around them as they OBVIOUSLY have an inclination towards taking the lives of those they don't agree with.

Re:A fresh start (2, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098522)


Freedom of speech, in the United States at least, is not given to citizens so that they can harm other people's reputations or hold them accountable for their actions.

I know of no such restriction that protection of speech is limited to only speech regarding the government. In fact, I'm quite sure that speech protection covers discussing all historical events. Some of the few restrictions are libel, slander, and obscenity.

What about that one night when your best friend tried to walk out of the bar drunk, and you stole the car keys and the two of you got into a big fight and the police were called? You want the whole world to know about these things? Or--was it just a mistake and once amends have been made then that's the end of it?

The examples you give are potentially private matters, so addressing them only clouds the issue. This particular case is very much NOT a private matter, and from the article was extraordinary public and common knowledge.

The idea that the public at large is supposed to "by law" forget about a very public event and not refer to the perpetrators in print is simply abhorrent to me. Are the victims no longer allowed to refer to the assailants by name?

Re:A fresh start (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098544)

Yes.... People have rights. Perhaps we could entertain the concept that the murder victim has a right to not have the truth about his death hidden from public view?

These two people committed the worst possible human rights offense against their victim. They took ALL of his human rights. It seems more than a skosh disingenuous to be lamenting their personal rights loss (A minor loss of privacy.) in this context.

Must we now ignore the fact that the victim ever existed? Certainly any reference to his existence must (at least by implication) point to his current non-existence....

Re:A fresh start (2, Insightful)

Macrat (638047) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098570)

These people have served their sentences. They have been punished according to the law of their land, and then released. In this country, a person's criminal record haunts them for life -- denying them jobs, restricting their freedoms, and in some cases leading to a greatly diminished quality of life such that they are forced into criminal enterprise in order to meet basic needs. But in Germany, these laws are crafted so that people can have a chance at a normal life again--A chance at redemption.

And when they kill again, say at a job, the employer can just shrug off responsibility because the law says you're not supposed to know they kill people.

How about pedophiles being hired at schools?

Re:A fresh start (1)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098584)

These people have served their sentences. They have been punished according to the law of their land, and then released. In this country, a person's criminal record haunts them for life -- denying them jobs, restricting their freedoms, and in some cases leading to a greatly diminished quality of life such that they are forced into criminal enterprise in order to meet basic needs. But in Germany, these laws are crafted so that people can have a chance at a normal life again--A chance at redemption. It is recognized that people make mistakes, but these mistakes shouldn't haunt them for the rest of their lives. The government has stepped in to ensure that any adult citizen that has their freedom also has the same chances as the next.

oul
It strikes me as very authoritarian for the state to make this judgment for other people. Do you really think it's appropriate to block an employer or a potential spouse from getting this information?

Small incorrectness in the NYT article (5, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098290)

It states:

The question of excising names from archives has not yet been resolved by the German courts, he said.

There is no such concept as precedence in the German law. Every judge and every court is free to decide based solely on the current law and the merits of the case. There is something called prevailing opinion, but this is not obligatory, it is rather used as a shortcut by judges to reach a decision.
Only decisions by the highest courts (BVG = Federal Constitutional Court and BGH = Federal Court of Justice) are binding.

Apparently its a rent seeking scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098318)

At first I assumed it was a unwitting Straisand effect case, but after RTFA I now believe they just want money from the Wikimedia Foundation, and aren't really concerned with the publicity

Re:Apparently its a rent seeking scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098430)

You can't be too much concerned with publicity if you decide to go and murder someone.
Although as you can't sue for fantasy amounts($1000 billion bailout please) in germany i'm not really sure what the fuck they want to achive. My bet is that they're stupid and haven't really had the chance to follow the development of internet during their twenty years in prison. So they are both dumb and out of date, a wonderful combination indeed, good thing they let us know of their existance either way, i sure hadn't heard about them until now.

Mod this +5 funny! (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098356)

In the spirit of this discussion, I trust that you will not mention my clients' names in your article.

Oh Yeah? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098370)

... and what are you going to do if I don't??? Oh wait ... never mind.

but.. (1)

snugge (229110) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098402)

Don't mention the war!

Chalk up another one for the Streisand effect (1)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098404)

Those who fail to reckon with the Streisand effect are doomed to invoke it.

Shades of Blazing Saddles... (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098410)

I found the line:

In the spirit of this discussion, I trust that you will not mention my clients' names in your article

reminiscent of the "of course, you'll have the decency not to mention this to anyone..." line in Blazing Saddles. Which, of course, had Germans as well. And Lilli von Schtup; which is what just happened to his clients.

Capital Punishment (0)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098424)

If they had received what they deserved for their crime then this whole argument would be irrelevant.

Re:Capital Punishment (1)

thht (1473001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098564)

We(as country) have killed 60 million people in WW2. Enough is enough.

A proposal (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098432)

I propose we rename the Streisand effect after them.

Re:A proposal (3, Funny)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098538)

The Werlé-Lauber effect sounds like something physics students would have to memorize an equation for.

wouldn't it be easier... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30098456)

if these two gents just changed their names?

Preferably not to 'Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart' and 'Manfred Mann', though.

Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber killed a pe (1)

Majik Sheff (930627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098530)

It's in the title, and it will now likely be in the title of every reply. I think it's interesting that a nation with Germany's history would still think it's a good idea to control its citizens in such a way.

Wait, what? (1, Insightful)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 4 years ago | (#30098550)

Wolfgang Werlé and Manfred Lauber killed a German actor in 1990. Now that they are out of prison...

So basically in Germany, if I really really dislike someone, I can say "hmmm for a mere 20 years of my life I can take X amount of years of theirs, after giving them a gruesome and painful death". Seems like stupid logic to people who have a lot to live for, but for people that don't... I'm sure these two are giving each other high fives and declaring themselves the winner.

And this isn't the difference between "murder" and "accidental killing" here, they murdered this guy, and it was a hate crime. The victim was a gay actor. They then mutilated his body.

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