Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Futility of Censorship

JonKatz posted more than 12 years ago | from the a-powerful-censorship-archive-online dept.

Censorship 360

Here's the great irony: There's more censorship -- all kinds, everywhere, involving more media and culture -- than ever before. But it's doomed to fail. As the Net and Web become more commercial, and as parents, government, schools, politicians, churches and corporations have belatedly grown interested in controlling networked computing and the speech and intellectual property therein, battles over censorship and content -- from school blocking filters to music wars to efforts to curb sexual imagery -- have raged throughout cyberspace. That's why Chicago artist Antonio Muntadas' website "The File Room" may be one of the most significant sites ever created on the Web. Despite relentless efforts to curb art, speech, software, writing, thinking and the free flow of ideas, censorship as a contemporary idea is virtually impossible. The Net killed it, and now the Web is becoming a living, global archive of ideas people want to kill.

Artist Muntadas created "The File Room" (discussed in Steven Wilson's book Information Arts: Intersections of Science, Art and Technology as an archive of censorship, a living record of society's ceaseless efforts to control culture and values. The site uses the Web's global scope to collect and store essays, speeches and artistic works from all over the world which have been subject to censorship, from the Republic of Korea's criminal code to high school newspapers to art exhibits in rural areas city halls. "The File Room" classifies its growing holdings by location, date, media and so-called grounds for censorship.

Anybody can contribute new examples of censorship by filling out a short form on the site, which is also part of an art gallery in downtown Chicago.

The strange dichotomy is that the more censors try to curb information, the bigger and richer "The File Room" grows. Sadly, the site makes clear that the United States -- the creator of the modern idea of free speech -- has become one of the world's most ubiquitous censors. "The File Room" literally feeds off censorship, its archived categories growing all the time -- explicit sexuality, language, nudity, political/economic/social opinion, racial and ethnic, religious, sexual/gender orientation and numerous others. Many of these battles involve the so-called protection of children. The access to information and opinion the Net has given kids is one of the most terrifying ideas of the 21st century.

Beautifully organized -- with sections on visual arts, film/video, print, broadcast and electronic media, public speech, personal opinion, even commercial advertising -- the site has become a trove of ideas, opinions and artworks. It also carries an emotional punch. It's truly moving and outrageous to see some of the works (and thoughts) people and institutions are still trying to kill off. What a curious time -- the most sophisticated and open information machinery in history spreading like wildfire, and narrow-minded idiots all over the planet trying to turn back the clock. There are countless governments and institutions who still believe they can impose their views and values on their children and the rest of the world, if only they can practice censorship.

Online rights is a seminal issue, but the smaller fights sometimes obscure the new and much larger reality. Censorship as we used to know it is no longer a viable option as long as there is a World Wide Web.

cancel ×

360 comments

fp (-1)

Captain Peacock (549525) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070263)

This is the first post.

Re:fp (0, Insightful)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070291)

Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) President Jack Valenti has made a veiled pitch for copy-control PCs in a letter to the editor published by the Washington Post.

While much of the letter is devoted to incoherent ranting about some dastardly cabal of "professors" who are trying to rip the guts out of Hollywood, and hysterical claims such as "some 350,000-plus films are being downloaded illegally every day," we do get an interesting wrap-up where the industry Ass. President alludes to the need for the PC to be transformed into a secure content-distrbution device along the lines of a set-top box.

"Computer and video-device companies need to sit at the table with the movie industry. Together, in good-faith talks, they must agree on the ingredients for creating strong protection for copyrighted films and then swiftly implement that agreement to make it an Internet reality."

Otherwise, the industry just can't make movies available for download and viewing on the PC.

The problem, we're told, is that Hollywood can't make a profit on its theatre showings and simply has to make it up on the aftermarket, with video and DVD rentals and such. The insecurity of Net distribution would simply choke off too much of that desperately-needed revenue stream.

"Only two in ten films ever retrieve their production and marketing investment from domestic theatrical exhibition," Valenti whines.

Well of course; but that's because they're ridiculously expensive cartoons that no one over the age of fifteen really wants to watch. But the obvious solution isn't hijacking people's computers and turning them into set-top boxes, but rather making cheaper movies that adults actually care to attend. And the great thing here is that the two go hand-in-hand. It's not an either/or proposition. Movies that involve such grown-up elements as good writing and dialogue and an imaginative story don't require spending of hundreds of millions on infantile whiz-bang special effects.

On top of that, good writers, being largely unknown in Hollywood, will be cheaper than the unimaginative alchemists who chuck together the stock blockbuster ingredients according to the same exhausted formula; and good actors, similarly rare, will be likely to work for a lot less than the no-talent beautiful people we're supposed to accept as plausible characters in these showy fiascoes Hollywood keeps turning out.

Now isn't that a fine remedy? Better movies that more people actually wish to attend, made more cheaply, equals bigger profit margins for the studios and more enjoyment for the public.

So there's really no need to get bent out of shape over 350,000 illegal downloads a day (chump-change at video rental prices in any case), or to re-engineer the personal computer either. All we need is for Hollywood to stop wasting such vast quantities of money as it's accustomed to doing.

Re:fp (-1, Offtopic)

govtcheez (524087) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070332)

Kudos on the frost pistage!

If an AC gets fist sport, the terrorists have already won.

first post shit-eaters (-1)

Sexual Asspussy (453406) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070264)

mmmm. shiiiit.

You've got the GOAT in YOU! (-1)

LunchLady (555057) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070267)

* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *
g88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888g
o8/88888\8888888888888\888888888888/8888\8888888o
a|8888888|8888888888888\8888888888|888888|888888a
t|8888888`.8888888888888|888888888|8888888:88888t
s`88888888|8888888888888|88888888\|8888888|88888s
e8\8888888|8/8888888/88\\\888--__8\\8888888:8888e
x88\888888\/888_--~~8888888888~--__|8\88888|8888x
*888\888888\_-~88888888888888888888~-_\8888|8888*
g0000\_00000\00000000_.--------.______\|000|0000g
o000000\00000\______//0_0___0_0(_(__>00\000|000 0o
a0000000\000.00C0___)00______0(_(____>00|00/000 0a
t0000000/\0|000C0____)/000000\0(_____>00|_/0000 0t
s000000/0/\|000C_____)0000000|00(___>000/00\000 0s
e00000|000(000_C_____)\______/00//0_/0/00000\000e
x00000|0000\00|__000\\_________//0(__/0000000|00x
*0000|0\0000\____)000`----000--'0000000000000|00*
g0000|00\_0000000000___\0000000/_0000000000_/0|0g
o000|00000000000000/0000|00000|00\000000000000|0o
a000|0000000000000|0000/0000000\00\00000000000|0a
t666|6666666666/6/6666|666666666|66\66666666666|t
s666|666666666/6/666666\__/\___/6666|6666666666|s
e66|66666666666/66666666|6666|6666666|666666666|e
x66|6666666666|666666666|6666|6666666|666666666|x
* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *

Re:You've got the GOAT in YOU! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070339)

Inverse Goatse? Estaog?

Great site (2, Funny)

TheGreenLantern (537864) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070270)

But the questions is, who will archive this site when it is censored?

Cool.. (3, Insightful)

sandidge (150265) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070276)

Anybody can contribute new examples of censorship by filling out a short form on the site, which is also part of an art gallery in downtown Chicago.

Cool... so how many people are going to report that whole moderation mess in the Oracle thread where the editors kept bitchslapping people who posted in there?

Re:Cool.. (-1)

LunchLady (555057) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070299)

Doesn't everyone remember the Oracle thread when all the Slashdot editors kept bitchslapping the people's comments about their moderation system.

Katz is an ass clown.

IF that is true (2)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070422)

Cool... so how many people are going to report that whole moderation mess in the Oracle thread where the editors kept bitchslapping people who posted in there?

If that is true, please provide links to the thread(s) in question or, if they have been removed, archives or caches of the material (if they exist).

As a longtime slashdot reader I would be very interested in this. Finally, if this can be documented in any way, why don't you report it. Censorship is censorship, and some of the worst forms of censorship come not from governments, but from corporations (such as the one slashdot is beholden to[1])

[1]Though I have no personal knowledge slashdot's parent company has ever engaged in this, beyond reading these allegations.

Re:IF that is true (0)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070481)

Here [slashdot.org]
Don't quite recall what the final tally was, but there were certainly well over 400 moderations on this article. (which is just silly).

Re:IF that is true (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070504)

Amazing! Taco killed the SID that he created in response to the extreme bitchslapping in the Oracle thread, where a single comment got over 800 moderations, and where every comment in the ensuing thread was downmodded to -1! I am talking about this sid [slashdot.org] .

Re:IF that is true (1, Offtopic)

sandidge (150265) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070517)

Yeah, the metamod discussion. I was wanting to post that link too, but, too late... it's be censored. How appropriate.

All your penises look great today!!! (-1)

RoboTroll (560160) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070281)

I once had a penis sing to me

His Penis Penis song

And when that Penis Penis sang

Here was the Penis's song

He'd sing me..."

All: "Penis, penis, penis, penis

Penis, penis song.

Penis, penis, penis, penis

Penis all day long.

Penis, penis, penis, penis..."

This troll was reposted from the Troll Library [slashdot.org] without permission of the original author. If you object to this post, or if you wish to add your troll to the Troll Library, please reply to this message.

Ummm...yeah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070289)

What? Is Jon Katz discovering the WWW for the first time? Does he have too much time on his hands? Please, please make him stop posting!

Re:Ummm...yeah. (1)

hij (552932) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070329)

Wow, who would have thought that the web is a great way to express yourself? Now if I only had the time to google around all day wading through all of the crap. This site, by the way, is a great way to motivate the importance of editors [thefileroom.org] who make sure that the text is clear but who can also be censors themselves!

I want to censor Jon Katz (0, Offtopic)

knulleke (557202) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070295)

See subject

Re:I want to censor Jon Katz (1)

CptNoSkill (528594) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070409)

Go to preferences and do so then. (Just select Jon Katz in the exclude author section). It isn't that hard. Personally, I think Jon Katz is worth not censoring. If only for article's like this one.

Re:I want to censor Jon Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070503)

Why? Do you get a good laugh out of his ignornace of the world or his total abuse of the English language?

Re:I want to censor Jon Katz (1)

reidbold (55120) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070542)

Go ahead, you can change your preferences and you'll never have to worry about him again.

Nothing's impossible. (1)

BobGregg (89162) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070296)

...censorship as a contemporary idea is virtually impossible...

Somebody who things the 'Net makes any kind of control impossible has never read Lawrence Lessig's "Code". That somebody should.

Re:Nothing's impossible. (4, Interesting)

bribecka (176328) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070459)

Somebody who things the 'Net makes any kind of control impossible has never read Lawrence Lessig's "Code".

I agree. I love when JonKatz makes these sweeping predictions about how the world is becoming a better place/global community/free society all because of the net.

JonKatz thinks that the net makes censorship virtually impossible...obviously he's never surfed the net from China or Saudi Arabia, or most other countries for that matter. He only sees things as it is in the US, because we have the 1st Amendment. Unfortunately, *only* we have that.

/. Censors (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070313)

See, censorship is futile. The great Slashdot troll investigation has not and will no tbe forgetten!!!

How about a (-1, Offtopic)

3nd3r (560984) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070316)

beowulf cluster of Katz articles..

LUNIX?!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070368)

Could we load LUNIX on Jon Katz? I think it'd make him FASTAR!!! Everything needs to be FASTAR!!! Lord knows what the world really needs is more Jon Katz articles!

Let's Declare Victory NOW! (1)

Shuh (13578) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070321)

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, but who has time for that?

Good idea, but... (3, Interesting)

adam613 (449819) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070323)

The idea that the 'net can't be censored by anyone is WAY too optimistic. Yes, governments will have a hard time doing it because there's always some other government that makes it legal. But there are a lot of coprorations (AOL-TW, M$, etc) who are more powerful than governments, and will eventually manange to force the replacement of IP with a protocol which only lets you see what they want you to see.

Re:Good idea, but... (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070425)

(AOL-TW, M$, etc) who are more powerful than governments, and will eventually manange to force the replacement of IP with a protocol which only lets you see what they want you to see.

It can only be our fervent hope that widespread adoption of wireless networking will create a ubiquitous network beholden to no one principal authority.

If every computer, house, car, pda was a peer node on a network, wouldn't it be virtually impossible to censor the entire thing?

MjM

Re:Good idea, but... (1)

Nick (109) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070447)

The idea that the 'net can't be censored by anyone is WAY too optimistic. Yes, governments will have a hard time doing it because there's always some other government that makes it legal.

China has had pretty good success in censoring what it's citizens can and can not view. Costly I'm sure it is, it makes me wonder if France is next?

Re:Good idea, but... (0)

forgetful_ca (554717) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070541)

China has had pretty good success in censoring what it's citizens can and can not view. Costly I'm sure it is, it makes me wonder if France is next.
This argument assumes China will continue to be successful in this, and that it's goverment isn't buying more trouble in the attempt. Remember it's current government replaces a thousands-year long predecessor, so it's reasonable to conclude it can itself be replaced, which would make it's current attempt to censor a failure.

1st "1984" & "sacrifice freedom for liberty" p (0, Offtopic)

ReluctantBadger (550830) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070330)


oooooh this is just like George Orwell's 1984. Big Brother is Watching! "Those who can't get this quote right deserve neither sex nor hot meals" - Abraham Lincoln.--

Now we know why it's censored (1)

IainHere (536270) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070335)

Online rights is a seminal issue

Do you get the feeling he's let slip the real reason he's interested in this issue?

To quote Princess Leia (2, Redundant)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070342)

"The tighter your grip, the easier it is for people to slip through your fingers!"

I've found this quote is useful on all levels, including censoring (or to take a step higher, control). For example: Slashdot can delete posts all they want, and incur all types of censoring, but that just encourages people to try and break the system.

Look at the lameness filter. We've seen ASCII art pass by it, not to mention page lengthening/widening posts that get by this filter, and yet some people with perfectly legit comments get caught in it from time to time.

"Complete control" doesn't exist, we need to find a balance between "controlling" what people see and "freedom". Only then will people be content.

Re:To quote Princess Leia (3, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070444)

An interesting observation, but I don't think you can QUITE call Slashdot moderation 'censorship'.

Moderating posts down and letting users filter lower-quality posts (by their own definition) lets people read what they want to, not what Slashdot wants them to. If a person wants to read at -1, it's his/her choice to do so.

If Slashdot truly practiced censorship, the lower-quality posts (and there are PLENTY of them) would simply be deleted.

You mean To MISquote Princess Leia (1)

spellcheckur (253528) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070480)

When you put it in quotes or italicize it, you're claiming it's a verbatim transcription. What you should have said, was to paraphrase Leia.

The proper quote is: The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

You could also add an ellipsis to make it relevant, and still leave it in quotes:

The more you tighten your grip... the more star systems will slip through your fingers.

Of course, that's only appropriate if you don't substantially change the meaning of the quote. It would be improper to quote Yoda as saying "Adventure, Excitement, a Jedi craves... these things."

as long as there is a World Wide Web (5, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070344)

But how long will that be? If people are getting locked into proprietary [msn.com] interfaces [aol.com] with built in censorship, and lawsuits flying all over the place against ISPs who allow content that might offend someone, will the WWW, as we know it, last?

And what about spam? Is there any way of effectively controlling spam that doesn't also allow the effective controlling of other content? Can we have unrestricted free speech without spam?

Off-topic, this is my one thousandth slashdot comment...

Re:as long as there is a World Wide Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070359)

People aren't getting locked into proprietary interfaces, they are choosing them because they're better.

Re:as long as there is a World Wide Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070441)

Nope. They're choosing them because they're fucking morons. And AOL is only popular in USA, what does that tell you?

Re:as long as there is a World Wide Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070523)

It tells me that it is America Online. And I believe it is also popular in Canada (which is also in North America last I checked).

Re:as long as there is a World Wide Web (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070536)

There are no similar bollocks anywhere else in the world. Oh, and using Canadia as an example of intellectual superiority is pretty fucking moronic.

Re:as long as there is a World Wide Web (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070436)

interesting that you should mention this, since, while you are reading this, a certain software giant is test marketing a theoretical product called (try not to laugh) the secure PC. The "features" advertized by samesaid giant include "keeping critical documents safe from any type of hardware or software related damage" and other related claims. It's described as a combination of hardware and software technologies. I suspect that the hardware in question is CRPM hard-drive technology in the new IDE spec. It is only a matter of time before everything you are capable of accessing on the net is on a pay-per use only basis, because your computer won't let you download something unless you can prove you paid for it! after one viewing, it's gone, and you have to pay again.

Re:as long as there is a World Wide Web (2, Insightful)

shawnmelliott (515892) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070511)

It's true. The number one place to kill ideas now is not the offender but the ISP of the so called offender.... Imagine "Hello Mr Bush. My name is Steve Johnson Legal Counsel of North Korea. After your State of the Union Address you have left us with no recourse but to contact your backbone provider Sprint to report your abuses of it's services. Consider this your Cease and Desist letter.

Good Day"

it's pathetic but anybody who disagrees with anything you say just has to contact who is hosting/providing/carrying your traffic with a big scary legal letter and voila... you're shutup without so much as a word in sidewise. Of course I have no objection to blocking child pornographic sites.... there's a not so fine line between art and child porn.

-----Notes for those who want to censor this ----
contact the site admin for Slashdot.org as that is your fastest route to shut me up

Re:as long as there is a World Wide Web (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070519)

Congratulations on your 1000th post!

Nothing New (2)

tiltowait (306189) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070345)

Sure, the medium has changed, but fascists were burning books well before the Internet came along. All of this talk of being so aghast that censorship is happening of the Web should really be taken with some historical perspective.

Skeptical (5, Interesting)

maelstrom (638) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070348)

Although FreeNet, Peek-A-Booty, Crowds, and other tools make it easier than ever to "route around" the damage caused by censorship, these are by no means a guarantee to freedom. It is more important than ever to stand up for inherit rights at the source of the problem, rather than creating band-aid solutions around them.

Its nice to be able to distribute political pamphlets (for instance) anonymously without fear of retribution or censorship, but its even better to be able to do it in a major newspaper or website and claim authorship knowing you have the freedom to do so.

My gut tells me a government totalitarian enough to curb free speech on the Internet could find ways around these tools and sites. Implementing the death penalty for anyone caught writing an anti-government editorial would have a chilling effect on free speach, simply because like all software, there will be bugs. Would you trust FreeNet enough to protect your life?

World Wide Web (3, Interesting)

PowerTroll 5000 (524563) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070350)

It's the first two words in the subject line that makes censorship on the web difficult. It transcends state and country boundaries. You can access content from servers almost anywhere in the world from the comfort of your home or office.

Re:World Wide Web (2)

mpe (36238) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070454)

It's the first two words in the subject line that makes censorship on the web difficult. It transcends state and country boundaries.

This simply makes it more difficult for national governments to censor. Though not impossible. This simply means that the greater risk is from entities such as megacorps which also transcend internationa boundries.

Think Again... (1, Interesting)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070351)

It was only the other day that Slashdot posted an article about Cisco et all having a field day in China.

Surely, if the Chinese can control the Internet so well, other people can.
Granted, China is a completely different place to Europe and the US - speaking out against the Chinese government will get you on the frontpage of the newspaper, but for reasons entirely different than would be the case in other countries.

even-handed (1)

s4m7 (519684) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070352)

IANAC (I am not a christian) but I do think it's cool that the bible is included in the list of religious/political censored works. it goes to show that they are not trying to stilt the censorship. It's also one of the few places on the net where you will find the bible listed right next to the satanic verses. yay!

Re:even-handed (2)

mpe (36238) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070416)

ANAC (I am not a christian) but I do think it's cool that the bible is included in the list of religious/political censored works.

Hardly suprising when you don't have to read too far into it to find descriptions of murder, child abuse, rape, genocide, etc...

Re:even-handed (2)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070485)

Hardly suprising when you don't have to read too far into it to find descriptions of murder, child abuse, rape, genocide, etc...

IAAA (I Am An Athiest), but having read the bible cover to cover I do think it should be pointed out that the Bible itself is a censored work. The early catholic editors chucked several gospels out of the new testament as well as several books out of the old testament that didn't jibe with their political goals and theology at the time. If you're really interested in what the old testament looked like prior to its modifications, may I suggest reading the jewis torah (sp?), from whence it was taken. Even that has probably not gone without modification over the last several thousand years, but it is closer to the source, and less heavilly edited, than the old testament.

Add to that biases in translations, and mistranslations from hebrew to greek to latin to [insert your language here] and you end up with something that doesn't bear a whole lot of resemblence to the original works.

Re:even-handed (1)

waxmop (195319) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070554)

IAAA Also.

The omission of the gospel of Thomas is a great example of how the early church selected books to shut down gnosticism.

Never mind the Council of Nicene that decided to send a bunch of Roman soldiers to butcher the remaining gnostics in Alexandria. All people remember about that now is the Nicene Creed.

Re:even-handed (0)

anti-snot (555305) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070509)

Freedom of Religion makes Baby Jesus Cry.

Child porn? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070355)

Some censorship is good you know.

Re:Child porn? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070380)

Right, let's just censor the stuff you find offensive.

Re:Child porn? (-1)

LunchLady (555057) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070435)

Tell that to Jon Katz...the king of all online and offline child porn.

Meta-mod (5, Funny)

spellcheckur (253528) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070363)

Censorship is just the government abusing it's unlimited supply of moderator points. Unfortunately (in the "free world"), too many voters don't take advantage of their meta-mod capabilities.


I just read my most. Now I know I need to take a break from /.

Re:Meta-mod (0, Insightful)

bdumm (152137) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070568)

>too many voters don't take advantage of their meta-mod capabilities

not true, they just vote based on emotional instead of logical reasons

The mind as an organism. (3, Interesting)

Torinaga-Sama (189890) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070373)

Censorship arises out of what I will say is a postive desire to protect our collective consiousness. Think of information as food. You can eat a steak, an apple, or some draino. Is it wrong to label the draino as toxic? I don't think so. Now is it wrond to make Draino unavailable to the public? No, it provides a function, and almost all information does.

Let us face the facts that some information, in the minds uncritical people, is dangerous. What is important is the discussion on the possible uses and function of this information. An attempt to censorship is a dialouge, and is an important freedom of expression itself.

The great truth maker... (2)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070377)

The one thing the net is forcing us to do as a whole is making us define a global set of standards. No longer will a specific country's social ethics stand, but be replaced with a global ethic of what is offensive and what is not.

Obviously and not surprisingly, sexual material has become widely acceptable globally... and the taboo's of individual country's in regards to the "maturity" are being replaced with what nature has decided is "acceptable".

The same would be said for political and financial ethics. The ethics for money as a whole on the net are much more tightly restricted simply because people on a global scale are conservative about their financial resources.

Forget the U.S. as "the great melting pot", the net will do what no country ever could....DEFINE US!

Re:The great truth maker... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070458)

"a global ethic of what is offensive and what is not"

We're all doomed...

How do you know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070381)

"There's more censorship ... than ever before."

Says who? How do you measure that sort of thing? How do we know it's not going down?

The more experience I get, the more I distrust blind assertions.

Re:How do you know? (1)

rootmonkey (457887) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070427)

Um, ever heard of napster, bnet.org, theunderdog.org ....

Maybe... (1)

Exidor (119947) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070525)

I would argue that even if censorship is going down the instances of censorship are more visible.

And if censorship is going down, why is that? Could it be because the forces of evil are winning and there are fewer voices speaking out?

Michael Martineau said it best: (2)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070386)

"The Internet regards censorship as a hardware failure and just works around it."

Doomed to fail? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070390)

I wouldn't be so quick to assume that the 'net makes censorship "doomed to failure"... that sounds a lot like a recipe for complacency. It's far better, I believe, to assume that threats to free speech are real, and to work within the system to make sure they are promptly squelched.

What is free speech? A question. (4, Insightful)

nakhla (68363) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070392)

One of the things I love most about America is our right to free speech. The ability to live in a country where we can publicly speak out against injustice and oppression is priceless. Where would our nation, and even the world be if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not free to challenge his people to practice nonviolent protest?

However, the issue of free speech is not so cut and dry. I hope that most people will agree with me that COMPLETELY free speech is NOT a good thing. For example, what if a witness was free to lie when testifying at a trial? Laws against purgery are technically "curbing" free speech. However, these kinds of restrictions are necessary in order to promote justice and freedom for all. Laws against slander, libel, death threats, and the proverbial "yelling fire in a crowded theater" fall into the same category. These laws are designed to protect the general public from the misuse of free speech.

So where do issues like pornography and hate speech fall? The question is, if purgery is prohibited in order to protect the public, could hate speech be prohibited for the same reason? And, exactly what constitutes "free speech"? I'm certainly no expert on the Constitution, but I believe that the first ammendment was put into place not to allow citizens to say and act whatever and however they please, but rather to act as a guard against the kind of oppression that was found in England at the time.

"Free speech" was intended to allow citizens to protest the actions of government when government overstepped its bounds, or was acting improperly. A prime example of this is the civil rights movement. I don't believe that the first ammendment was intended to protect individuals who want to post child pornography on the Internet.

And, although it's rather controversial these days, I don't believe it protects those who want to make copies of DVDs and CDs and distribute them over the net or to their friends. That is an issue of "Fair Use", not free speech.

Re:What is free speech? A question. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070529)

they murdered King, fool.

Re:What is free speech? A question. (2, Insightful)

waxmop (195319) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070577)

Where would our nation, and even the world be if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was not free to challenge his people to practice nonviolent protest?

Wait - he wasn't free. Go read "Letter from Birmingham Jail" which he wrote while in Birmingham Jail.

The "system" fights every reform and then when it loses, and progress is made, it says "see - the system works!" and we all get taken in by it.

Get real (3, Insightful)

heyetv (248750) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070394)

There's more censorship -- all kinds, everywhere, involving more media and culture -- than ever before.

Um?? Are you forgetting the 50's era, when you couldn't even show a belly button on TV? How about other eras, like when you couldn't vote because you were a woman, or black? Just another form of censorship. Go tell your "oh my god" stories to CNN, they'll post 'em, too.

Like the old west (1)

rootmonkey (457887) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070397)

The internet is (was) new territory setup and pioneered by a different breed than those groups have recently joined the web. Kinda like the old west, the pioneers headed west and in the process they governed themselves and made their own rules. Then the settlers followed and things were "cleaned up" by church groups more law etc. And don't forget to think of the children. Kinda sad that it will end up this way. It will continue to become tamer and more polluted away from what it was originally used for. I guess history does repeat itself.

What About Slashdot Censorship? (2)

Cheshire Cat (105171) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070400)

What about the censorship [slashdot.org] that happened here on our very own Slashdot? I don't mean to sound like a troll, but for a site that promotes freedom of speech as much as Slashdot does, that thread definately seemed to be full of heavy-handed, editor-initiated censorship. Anyone else agree?

Slashdot Knows Censorship (1)

Goody (23843) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070411)

The strange dichotomy is that the more censors try to curb information, the bigger and richer "The File Room" grows

We've seen this happen at Slashdot. The more the editors try to suppress posts and information regarding the moderation scandal, [slashdot.org] the louder and more numerous opposition becomes.

If Slashdot had been open and let the system work as it supposedly should, none of this would have happened.

More Censorship (1)

DOsinga (134115) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070413)

Here's the great irony: There's more censorship -- all kinds, everywhere, involving more media and culture -- than ever before


This is of course totally untrue. There might be a slight fallback, but think back a mere twelfe years and there was no freedom of press in the Soviet Block. Think back three hundred years and freedom of press was just a vague ideal of the enlightment movement.

Alan Thicke. DEAD. (-1)

Alan_Thicke (553655) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070424)

I just heard the sad news on CBC radio. Comedy actor/writer Alan Thicke was found dead in his home this morning. Even if you never liked his work, you can appreciate what he did for 80's television. Truly a Canadian icon. [slashdot.org]
He will be missed :(



Show me That Smile (The Growing Pains Theme Song):

Show me that smile again.
Ooh show me that smile.
Don't waste another minute on your crying.
We're nowhere near the end.
We're nowhere near.
The best is ready to begin.

As long as we got each other
We got the world
Sitting right in our hands.
Baby rain or shine;
All the time.
We got each other
Sharing the laughter and love.

Spanish Inquisition (2, Insightful)

RazzleFrog (537054) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070437)

The Spanish Inquisition joke would be appropriate now. How can he think that we are more censored than ever before. He has obviously never even picked up a history book let alone read it. maybe he's never heard of slavery, Salem witch trials, Spanish Inquisition, McCarthy and the Red Scare, Hitler, Stalin. I could go on for hours. I don't know why I even start reading a Jon Katz article. I see more intelligence out of my cat. At least he knows who feeds him.

censorship.. why? (1)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070440)

I do not understand. i know its a bit offtopic but why should anything be censored at all. if you dont want to view/read something, then dont. i think humans have enough self control to deem what is apropriate for themselves.

can you think of something that should be censored? if so why?
to quote the famous line, "information wants to be free"

I hadn't run into it too mush till now... (2)

eaddict (148006) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070446)

...at work. Seems some folks here at work have too much time on thier hands and so our company has started blocking sites. The first sites to go were job posting sites... then there was competitor sites... Now there seems to be no rhyme or reason. If you want to access a blocked site you have to submit a business case (I had to do this for HP [hp.com] !). I don't like it (yes, I could work elsewhere). In my management days, if you had time to surf it was your supervisors fault - they didn't give you enough to do. If you were caught with some p0rn or such on your monitor, well, that was also a case for disciplinary (sp?) actions. Not blocking.

I don't plan on filtering what my kids can surf too. I plan on being involved with them and having an open enough relationship.

They tried filters at the library but since they block proxy sites they really didn't block anything. The took the filters off and put the comptuers out in the open where folks could walk by and see what was going on. THAT was the best filter.

Justice Talking (3, Informative)

the_rev_matt (239420) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070449)

I highly recommend checking out "Censoring the Web" (Kathryn Kolbert with Zak Mettger). It consists of a debate between Nadine Strossen (ACLU) and Bruce Taylor (National Law Center for Children and Families) along with relevant legal documents and annotation.

http://www.justicetalking.com [justicetalking.com] usually has some decent content...

Earth to Jon Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070450)

the Web is becoming a living, global archive of ideas people want to kill.

I know that folks like you don't like to hear this, but there are ideas that deserve to die. When I look at people promoting child pornography, Nazism, evolutionism, Holocaust denial, violent racism, etc., I wonder .. why on Earth would anybody feel the need to "protect" these ideas? They have been thoroughly rejected by decent society on all continents of the globe.

It's not "censorship." It's good taste and morality.

Re:Earth to Jon Katz (1)

n3r0.m4dski11z (447312) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070501)

I would say a good reason to remember is so we never forget. you want people to forget things like the holocaust? funny... thats what the nazis have been trying to do for years. somone once said, if we forget history we are doomed to repeat it.
another thing, who says that any idea is less valid than another idea. im not advocating for child pr0n or any other example you put on the floor, but i do think that its important that we know that there have been debates and discussions for years about these sorts of things.

Who gives a *? (1)

SkyLeach (188871) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070453)

There will always be someone who wants to control what you see and hear. The ones you know are trying to do it have already lost and are just making a fuss on the way out.

The ones who succeed are called "directors" or "producers" or "broadcasters" in today's society. The irony is, someone will outsmart them and they will be tied to the witch-stake of society and burned for their crimes while the one who defeated them takes their place commiting the same crime in new ways which are really just fresh paint on old ways.

It's the real-world. Let's stop worrying about it and just get on with our lives.

Feature: The Futility of JonKatz (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070462)

God that is so lame.

Your thesis is WRONG (5, Insightful)

foo fighter (151863) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070465)

. . .censorship as a contemporary idea is virtually impossible.



This is so untrue. So very, very untrue.

Mr. Katz, if you would read Professor Lessig's book _Code_, or even just think about this for a minute, you would realize that the technologies that enable unprecedented freedoms of communication also enable unprecedented censorship.

Technology makes it easier and easier to intercept communications and to punish those who initiated the communications and their intended recipients.

As a community, we (the well education, rich, techno-savvy, elite) like to think we have the moral high ground, and because we have the moral high ground we can sit back, complacent in the knowledge that the good guys always win. Or, we can sit back knowing "someone else" will take care of the problem.

That attitude will result in things getting worse before they get better, if they ever get better.

The lack of activism, the unwillingness to study the basics of law in our society, the hypocrisy, and the complacency shown by this community makes me very sad and I worry about the type of society in which my children will live.

The bottom line: censorship is more of a threat now than ever, and it is only vigilance and activism on our part that will stop it.

The definition of "censorship" (2)

axlrosen (88070) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070467)

Traditionally "censorship" means only government supression of information, as you can see from all the definitions quoted on this web site. Only the quote from the touchy-feely "Academic American Encyclopedia from Prodigy on-line" suggests that "censorship" can be applied to non-governmental entities. The web site itself has quite a different idea, however. The idea that "subtle, pervasive, and often invisible psychological methods" of hiding information could be called "censorship" is pretty weak. If you expand the definition of the word to include corporations that supposedly control what you see, you're weakening the meaning of the word in its classical, and most dangerous, sense. Maybe the RIAA is somehow keeping me from hearing all the really good underground bands, but that's nothing compared to government repression of ideas that are "dangerous" (to the current government, of course).

Extremes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070469)

I see various entities that seek to control the internet in some way. ICANN being the most recent and striking example. I think ICANN and other similar reptiles are going to get what they want. They're gonna get the control they want!

What are they getting. Control of the contiguous network of machines and networks that we call the internet. Domain names, perhaps routing control, taxation of content on that network.

And then people will say "Fuck you, ICANN." and "Fuck you, corrupted garbage internet." And splinter off to form various private networks that will exist in an essentially parralel universe to the old internet. This is when it will get interesting.

Will our government(s) try to make it illegal to form private networks as described above? I bet they do.

non-sequitur? (1)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070470)

As [various parties] have belatedly grown interested in controlling networked computing..., battles over censorship and content ... have raged throughout cyberspace. That's why Chicago artist Antonio Muntadas' website "The File Room" may be one of the most significant sites ever created on the Web.

Is it just me or was that just a bit of a non-sequitur? I can't see anything more here than the assertion that censorship (and therefore a website about it) is one of the most significant issues on the web.

This argument seems to be self-defeating, since the author himself asserts that censorship on the web can't succeed. It's just not a big deal. Is it really that important for everyone to be able to say whatever they want? What about if you don't have access to the web? Or what about if you can say what you want, but no one else ever hears you? (Ironically, this comment could be modded down to -1 - I would still have so-called 'free speech', but chances are no one would hear me.) I don't think the reality lives up to the hype. And I don't think it really matters.

USA leading the way? (5, Insightful)

GMontag (42283) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070482)

The strange dichotomy is that the more censors try to curb information, the bigger and richer "The File Room" grows. Sadly, the site makes clear that the United States -- the creator of the modern idea of free speech -- has become one of the world's most ubiquitous censors.

This criticism does not sound very well founded.

1. If the USA was actually a big censor state it would not allow the posts to get to "The File Room" in the first place, no matter where the posts originated. The Soviets, Chinese, Cubans, Germans and North Koreans (insert others here) were all very well skilled at this type of prevention. It is well documented that it is possible to some extent and it is obvious when it is happening.

2. In the USA one is protected from GOVERNMENT censorship ONLY, not the censorship by one's next door neighbor nor the censorship by the contributors to the local art gallery.

la-di-dah (1)

waxmop (195319) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070487)

Self-censorship is the real issue. Blame it on our education, parents, the media, whatever. People have accepted Candide's view of the world that this is as good as it can get.

Censorship is important only if you believe that people are really open to new ideas. Which I don't think they are. Sure, we CAN educate ourselves and communicate with eachother - but we don't. The net mostly clusters like-minded people together and encapsulates them safely - away from the rest of society.

So whoop-di-doo: I can look up censored materials at this guy's website. Is this going to change how the majority of Americans feel about anything? No.

We get the government that we deserve.

Misinformation... (5, Insightful)

brogdon (65526) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070491)

Personally, I find misinformation and omission much scarier than censorship. They're both far more of a threat to us here in the US.

Foucault used to say that he who controlled and influenced the way people think had the real power in the world, because he could control what is true and what is false, since the concepts really only exist in our minds. Media companies and governments know this, and not just in China.

For a modern example, think about Iran. Most Americans, when asked about Iran, would respond that they don't like the Iranian people, and think they're a bunch of terrorists. Why? The average American doesn't know any Iranians. How you can you hate them when you don't know the names of more than one or two at most? Because all you see on Television is Iranians burning flags, holding up pictures of militants, and holding guns. You never see the average Iranian farmer, or baker, or homemaker. You never see the normal, decent people of that country. Same thing goes for North Korea. People have these amazingly harsh opinions about people and countries they don't know anything about simply because of what they've been told by the media.

It works both ways too. Most of what those people see of us is our President saying mean things about them that get repeated over and over by their media, and the business end of our military photographed onto their front page. They never see the average Joe working his construction job, or Mom baking an apple pie.

So now you have two groups of people that barely know each other, but hate the other side with wild abandon.

Like I said, misinformation scares me more than censorship.

Spam (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3070497)

Can't the same be said for spam? For all that people scream and yell about censorship, it seems that when spam is involved, they become just as tolitarian as those in the religious right.

who'd have thought it (5, Funny)

skunkeh (410004) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070506)

I found this quite amusing. One of the cases detailed in The File Room describes how Brown University closed down a site hosted there called "The Bondage, Domination, Submission, Sadism, & Masochism Web Page". The University computer support staff deemed the content inapropriate:

http://www.thefileroom.org/FileRoom/documents/dyn/ DisplayCase.cfm?id=297 [thefileroom.org]

I did a google search out of interest to see if the site ever found a new home. I didn't find the site, but I did find out what became of the intrepid creator of the site, Daniel C. Robbins:

http://research.microsoft.com/~dcr/ [microsoft.com]

Yup, he appears to be working at Microsoft as a 3D User Interface Designer. Strangely enough the BDSM site is noticably absent from his online CV ;)

Thankful for the Constitution (4, Insightful)

pmz (462998) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070518)

The importance of the U.S. Constitution cannot be overemphasized when trying to regulate websites in the U.S.A. When people post material onto their website, they are making a willing expression of their ideals, which are protected under the First Admendment.

I know that I will encounter material on the Web that I find offensive, bigoted, and hateful. This is no different than walking through the wrong part of town or watching day-time talk shows. However, restricting the people behind this material will only restrict me in the long run. This is the irony of free speech, but we must not let it sour our attitude towards content on the WWW.

Censorship is never the solution. We just need to know when to avoid the dark alleyways of the Web.

There are none so blind... (5, Insightful)

shilly (142940) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070520)

...as the Katz that cannot see.
He writes "Sadly, the site makes clear that the United States -- the creator of the modern idea of free speech -- has become one of the world's most ubiquitous censors."
1. The site makes no pretence of being a full or comprehensive view of censorship around the world.
2. The site is a US project based on the web. It is not surprising that many examples of US censorship are submitted
3. Even a moment's cursory attention or thought (we could only wish for such a thing) would have led our dear scribbler to the blindingly obvious fact that the US doesn't even get *close* to the top of the censorship list when the following countries and regimes are/have been around:
Syria
Afghanistan
China
the USSR
Zimbabwe
Each of these regimes has/had engaged in systematic and comprehensive efforts to control free speech. The scale of these efforts far outweigh anything seen in the US. Buying a copy of the Talmud in Syria, or hardcore porn in Afghanistan, or looking at a anti-government Tibetan website in China, or reading the Koran in the USSR or listening to the BBC in Zimbabwe--these are all illegal acts. *This* is the sort of censorship that should terrify us.

Or, if I were a pessimist... (2)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070521)

I would say that the world wide web gives corporations and the countries that they sponsor a huge incentive to build empires of influence. As long as someone nation out there somewhere is truly independant, those with Intellectual Property are threatened.

Ukraine's decision whether or not to embed tracking information in the CD stamping systems made there was important enough to the US that they bullied the Ukraine into changing their minds and pursuing a course contrary to their self interest.

Censorship at schools a good thing (5, Insightful)

Wizard of OS (111213) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070543)

I've already posted this comment today at another story, but it seemed relevant again :)

In the Netherlands, a big project is going on currently called 'kennisnet' (or, translated, 'knowledge-net'). The idea is to put all elementary schools (I hope I translated that good, schools for children from 4 to 12 years old) on a 'subset' of the internet. They will be linked together and have access to the internet too, but on a filtered basis. Every school may choose which filter they want to have activated (Filternet [schoolfilternet.nl] is the biggest one that claims 99% filtering), to ensure that the children don't see pr0n and such when the teacher is unaware of it.

Frankly, I find this quite a good idea. Ofcourse, I'll have a bunch of people replying on this that information shouldn't be censored and that filtering is evil, but think of this: how would you react if your child, aged 9, interested in technology, viewed this page and accidently clicked on a goatse link?

site about more than censorship... (1)

buzban (227721) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070544)

i can't help but notice on my first search, the most interesting case to come up was the red raids/palmer raids of the 1920s. this is more than just a censorship issue, it's more of a civil liberties issue. saying that this site is about internet censorship is a fairly narrow interpretation, or at least a fairly narrow use.

Online rights is a seminal issue, but the smaller fights sometimes obscure the new and much larger reality. Censorship as we used to know it is no longer a viable option as long as there is a World Wide Web. [tell that to the average saudi or chinese user... ]

online rights is certainly an issue, but as this exhibit (the fileroom website) points out, it's part of a larger problem. in my opinion, it's an important part, but not the largest part. i'm not sure that jonkatz intended it as such, but it seems to me that online censorship is the "smaller fight" to civil liberties' "much larger reality."

Make up your damn mind (1)

Vorro (124142) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070547)

Seems like half your columns are about censorship and how it's killing the net. Hell, most of /. loves talkin about how hard it is going up against government bodies and individuals as well as businesses who impose censorship.

Now, this.

Which is it?

Check out this picture of Katz... (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#3070572)

* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *
g88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888g
o8/88888\8888888888888\888888888888/8888\8888888o
a|8888888|8888888888888\8888888888|888888|888888a
t|8888888`.8888888888888|888888888|8888888:88888t
s`88888888|8888888888888|88888888\|8888888|88888s
e8\8888888|8/8888888/88\\\888--__8\\8888888:8888e
x88\888888\/888_--~~8888888888~--__|8\88888|8888x
*888\888888\_-~88888888888888888888~-_\8888|8888*
g0000\_00000\00000000_.--------.______\|000|0000g
o000000\00000\______//0_0___0_0(_(__>00\000|000 0o
a0000000\000.00C0___)00______0(_(____>00|00/000 0a
t0000000/\0|000C0____)/000000\0(_____>00|_/0000 0t
s000000/0/\|000C_____)0000000|00(___>000/00\000 0s
e00000|000(000_C_____)\______/00//0_/0/00000\000e
x00000|0000\00|__000\\_________//0(__/0000000|00x
*0000|0\0000\____)000`----000--'0000000000000|00*
g0000|00\_0000000000___\0000000/_0000000000_/0|0g
o000|00000000000000/0000|00000|00\000000000000|0o
a000|0000000000000|0000/0000000\00\00000000000|0a
t666|6666666666/6/6666|666666666|66\66666666666|t
s666|666666666/6/666666\__/\___/6666|6666666666|s
e66|66666666666/66666666|6666|6666666|666666666|e
x66|6666666666|666666666|6666|6666666|666666666|x
* g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x * g o a t s e x *

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...