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Victory in Holland

jamie posted more than 14 years ago | from the ten-percent-margin dept.

Censorship 214

The mandatory library filtering ballot in Holland, Mich., home of the Slashdot Geek Compound, has been defeated. With heavy voter turnout of 41% (compared to 12% in 1996), the proposal was rejected by a pretty wide margin: 55% to 45%. The Holland library will remain unfiltered - or, more accurately, will now have the right to make up its own mind about whether blocking software is appropriate. See the local press coverage (or national or international), or read on for more.

I think it was my friend Lizard on the fight-censorship mailing list who said: "You can't compromise with book-burners. When someone asks you to burn 1,000 books, you cannot agree to burn only 500." He's exactly right. Any middle ground is a step backwards, and hard to recover.

It's important to keep in mind how tough the battle was. Holland was chosen to be a testbed by national groups like the American Family Association and Family Research Council, and they spent a lot of money. Why? Because the AFA and FRC stood to make a lot of money by using Holland as an example for nationwide campaigning. They have been hyping up this ballot as the first big step in a nationwide campaign.

And they figured Holland would be a slam-dunk. It's one of the most conservative communities in American. And the measure was well-timed: the ballot was on the same night as the Republican primary. (Michigan is not a closed primary, though, and many Democrats did vote.)

Some Slashdot posters have commented that I've seemed pessimistic in my reports on the campaign. They've been right. I couldn't read the city's mood very well, not being a native, and based on the coverage and talks I'd seen, I didn't think the chances were very good.

While the AFA and FRC together contributed over $40,000, the anti-filter side raised - locally - $2,000.

The AFA sponsored a "pushpoll," in which a Florida firm made phone calls to hundreds of likely voters, asking them "questions" designed to leave the impression that the library is inviting to pedophiles. Local anti-filter volunteers went door-to-door.

The pro-filter organizations ran radio, newspaper, and cable TV advertisements, they sent out at least three direct mailings, and they spent thousands on slick presentations to local groups.

And when it came down to the vote, they lost.

This isn't the end, though. It's just the beginning. The heads of the various pro-filtering groups are all hinting that the battle is not over. Presumably that means it will become another ballot issue, perhaps later this year, perhaps next year. And it will certainly be happening elsewhere in America at the same time. (Write me when it gets to your community.)

In some cases, the unaccountable censorship of secretive blocking software will be turned down at the voting booth. I'm guessing that, in the next five years, we'll see a definitive statement on the relevance of the First Amendment, one way or the other, in the courts.

But for now ... well, I'll close by congratulating everyone in Holland who worked to defeat this measure, and by quoting from one of the direct mailings funded by the AFA. You'll have to imagine this text as it appears, in 30-point headlines, with yellow highlights:

"America's watching, Holland. The debate over Internet filters on library computers is a national issue. Now, the focus is on Holland, Michigan.

"Tuesday, February 22nd, Holland citizens will decide the first ballot vote on filtering in the nation. How we vote will affect this issue nationwide.

"On February 22, send a clear message to America. Tell America we must protect our children from Internet pornography and drugs."

cancel ×

214 comments

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Re:Voting Works! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251622)

"Voting, hah! What a waste of time! The fix is in, and nothing we can do will change it."

Voting is a waste of time! Don't get me wrong, I'm quite pleased with the turn out here, happy to see a defeat for the AFA, but don't let yourself be fooled into thinking your vote actually makes a difference.

voting is a way to delude you into believing that you actually have a mechanism by which you can enact change, i.e. that you posess a modicum of political power, as small as it may be.

vote all you want. band together in citizen's groups to "fight" (interesting terminology) for what you think is "right." maybe you'll win a few symbolic victories. nothing will change.

while you're out and about making a fuss over petty, symbolic issues, the people who really "control" things are doing all the deals that matter behind your back. voting, politics, elections, most of government itself is just a flashy light show to distract you from the real happenings. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

the weakness in a representative democracy is of course the representative layer. so long as politicians (who in a representative democracy are supposed to act as vehicles of the popular will) can act in self interest, the only votes that count are green and have George Washington (or preferably Benjamin Franklin) on them. government doesn't need to be analyzed any further than that.

money makes the world go round. votes don't accomplish shit.

.

Holland (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251626)

Every time I saw that headline I kept thinking something was happening in the Netherlands. Nice to know that it was just some crazy Americans, and common sense won over the voters.

The Manchurian Candidate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251627)

say, is "The Manchurian Candidate" out on DVD?

I dunno, but I sure wish Frank Sinatra were here to save us from John McCain today...

umm so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251631)

I dont want to sound mean or anything, but,.. what is the point of these recent posts? I dont live in Michigan, and if I did, probably not Holland. Some of you don't even live in the US... Why should we care about what happens in Michigan? Ok, the geek compound is based there,so what?, discuss this via e-mail not a thread on /.
That's like me trying to post stories about how I ate tuna for lunch in my lovely town/state. No one else cares but me, or crazy tuna lovers.

(posted a/c because this may be moderated down... if its moderated up... DAMNIT! i want my karma!)

Yes, "Manchurian Candidate" is out on DVD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251632)

And an awesome fucking movie it is, too. :-)

Re:So, what *do* we do...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251633)

YOU TEACH THEM. you teach your kids right from wrong, let them explore explain to them how the real world functions and how to be a part of it, you dont stigmaitze sex and most importantly you dont WIG OUT if they come across a porn site.

Re:Watch out, they have God on their side! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251634)

"-he would say to us now 'Well done, good and faithful servants,'" Schepers said..." dosent that seem like the epitome of childishness and mindless subservience? ugh. we should'nt be surprised at all that people like that are for censorship, they're so afraid of having to think for themselves.

Free Speach is critical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251635)

I'm in favour of free speach and dissent and against guns and violence, and I'll shoot anyone who disagrees with me.

Congratulations Jamie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251641)

Congratulations Jamie. It was a battle well fought, and won.

The war may go on. But it is important to stop and celebrate the victories!

Re:Congratulations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251642)

Wow. :) Thanks for writing such a scathing piece of social commentary that shows just what kind of odious hypocrites these sanctimonious "people" (and I use the term very loosely) are. Now take a few deep breaths and go have yaself a beer. :)

Re:Watch out, they have God on their side! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251647)

Yeah, how dare they actually stand up for what they believe in... Those fanatics...

How dare they inflict their religious beliefs on people by making them vote. Where do they get off thinking they have that right?
And gosh darnit, if that measure had passed, due to people placing their vote, then it STILL would've been religious fanatacism's fault, not the voting public. Those darn religious people.

It's always worse when the impetus behind a law being passed is a religious organization. Those zealots. Everyone else should be free to get any laws passed that they want, but darned if religious organizations should be able to do the same thing, that's just not right. How dare religious organizations use the political process in their favor... Like everyone else.

41%! the minority has spoken (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251651)

don't get me wrong, I don't vote

but 41%, wow what a turnout

say, is "The Manchurian Candidate" out on DVD?

::Applause:: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251652)

clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap

Victory against censorship... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251654)

Now if Slashdot would live by their ideals and not moderate posts down to -5, they could have some credibility.

Until then, you are just a bunch of blowhards.

Re:umm so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251656)

Sorry to say so - BUT IT MATTERS - to all of us - inside Holland and outside Holland. If they start here where will they end?? My congrats to all who worked hard in defeating this issue. Also, please remember the right to Free Speech and thoughts and views is absolute - you can have it all ot not at all - just as you cannoy be partially pregent; you cannot have partial Free Speech rights. my $0.02 Canadian

Re:Hooray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251657)

I hate the itching, but I don't mind the swelling

*THIS* is how voting works today... (0)

Bad Mojo (12210) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251662)

From the sky comes a scream, as Homer is crashing right into the Capitol. A few footsteps later, he comes running down the stairs.

Homer: America, take a good look at your beloved candidates. They're nothing but hideous space reptiles. [unmasks them]

[audience gasps in terror]

Kodos: It's true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It's a two-party system; you have to vote for one of us.

[murmurs]

Man1: He's right, this is a two-party system.

Man2: Well, I believe I'll vote for a third-party candidate.

Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.

[Kang and Kodos laugh out loud]

[Ross Perot smashes his "Perot 96" hat]

The next day, Kodos announces the result: "All hail, President Kang."

Bad Mojo

Re:Those Pesky Fundamentalists (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251663)

The problem with putting "pesky social issues" (and I as a gay man, am presumably a problem to fundamentalists in general) is that it ends up scapegoating or harming another group.

Politicians are supposed to protect the rights of all citizens and when civil rights are up for a vote, the minorities are the loosers.

Ballot issues are more used more often than not to inflict the tyranny of the masses on the minority.

Re:umm so? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251664)

How about a paraphrase (I believe from someone in the other Holland)? The Nazis first came for the communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.

Good for Rob and Hemos (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251665)

It is my understanding, that VA does not allow their workers to view with company equipment. And becase Rob and Hemos are such freeloaders, they do not own a computer themselves. Rob and Hemos then realized that in order to keep their porn scavenging ways a live they were go to have to use the good old public library.

Using /. as a launching pad, they protested knowing that their porn viewing days were being seriously threatened. It is rumored that Hemos looked into buying a cheap iMac if his library pipeline was to be filtered but Rob assured Hemos that his pornographic cartoons were gettig a lot better and were almost life-like.

If you do not believe me, then e-mail them at malda@slashdot.org [mailto] .

Is that 41% of... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251666)

is that 41% of the registered voters? Who would register and not vote? Odd!

or is it 41% of the eligible voters?

that means approx. 21% of the voters voted it down?

21% decides for everybody? what kind of deal is that?

Not quite the point (1)

Tony (765) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251668)

The point of this wasn't that the issue came to a vote-- the point was that two very-well-funded organizations *not based in Holland* came in, threw some cash and rhetoric around, and tried to push their morality on others.

If a group of local citizens campaigned with their own money, on their own time, to get filtering software installed, I don't think there would be such an outcry. Then it is simply a local issue.

But when outside concerns *start* the fight, and have lots of money to spread around, it becomes *every*one's conern.

Personally, I'm offended that money is the fuel of politics, instead of public interest, or even public opinion. Most laws are passed to protect business, and not to protect the individual. Even the MS case was brought about because Sun and Netscape cried foul. Why didn't they step in when the *public* complained? (Consumer groups had already started complaining about the MS abusing monopoly power.)

Sorry. Rant mode off.

Congrats! (1)

bobalu (1921) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251670)

I'm sure Jamie's work helped a bunch. Nice to know that people don't always get the wool pulled over their eyes.

Re:So, what *do* we do...? (1)

flea (1941) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251671)

>>how do we prevent the innocent from stubmling across pr0n *mistakenly*?

When was the last time YOU accidentally stumbled accross porn? I can't think of a single incedent. Now there ARE dangers: www.whitehouse.com is a porn site, whilee www.whitehouse.gov is what you'd expect. How do you avoid this? Educate your children: "Government stuff ends in .gov, never in .com, other stuff ends in .com, .org, .net; And other countries end in .au, .ge, etc..". Make them visit the Whitehouse's site and other government agencies to ingrain the idea in thier heads. Then make sure they're supervised and can ask for help if they don't know how to find a site.

Re: Wow. Congrats Jamie. (1)

knuth (6137) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251673)

Kurt Gray said,

To have a proposal like this shot down in a town where the local newspaper has a "Religion" section, during a contested Republican presidential race, what are the odds?

I think he was trying to say that Holland is politically conservative.

I don't know what he's trying to say about religion. That religion == censorship? That religion == fascism? That religion is itself a social evil, or that all people who profess a religion are any huckster who comes down the pike?

There is nothing wrong with a newspaper having a Religion section. In fact, there is a good deal right with it. If newspapers have a Politics section, they should have a Religion section too. Religion isn't just a hobby. It influences the believer's entire life, and is a social force to be reckoned with even by the non-religious. For many people, their religion is the most important thing in the universe, because it truth, it is the best explanation of reality.

So your statement has no real punch. Some papers have religion reporters. A lot of newspapers consign infrequent religious reports to "lifestyle" feature stories. Though a newspaper merely having a regular section devoted to religion is a Good Thing IMHO, it does not, in and of itself, say anything about the political leanings of the area residents.

It could just as well have been,

To have a proposal like this shot down in a town where the high school has a football team, and during a heated gubernatorial race, what are the odds?

Re:Once in a blue moon, the System works (1)

jimhill (7277) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251674)

Before the Web, children could go to a library and look at things their parents considered unsuitable. "Huckleberry Finn", "Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret", "The Nat Turner Diaries", "Mein Kampf", Madonna's "Sex". All these books have been and will continue to be under fire for not having the right presentation of ideas.

But public libraries are just that: public. Just as parents have to accept the fact that their kids might hear "motherfucker" on Main Street, they have to accept the fact that those kids might see a Mapplethorpe whip-in-ass photo in the library. If you try to keep it off the monitors, they'll just look in the books.

Hmmm. Maybe filtering software isn't such a bad idea...

Congratulations and job well done! (1)

Ethan Butterfield (7481) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251675)

Kudos to Jamie and to those citizens of Holland who had the intelligence and the guts to stand up to Yet Another Special Interest Group trying to force their views down the collective throat of society. It's gratifying to see a case where the underfunded and underdog voice of reason actually wins.

But the AFA will be back. Count on it. They take losing very badly, and when they come back the second time they'll bring big guns.

And the remainder of us shouldn't rest on our laurels. There's the DVD CCA/MPAA and UCITA still out there. Our fight is nowhere near over.

Donate to the EFF! [eff.org]

Re:Most porn isn't nudity (1)

Straker Skunk (16970) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251679)

I agree with what you're saying. In this debate, however, the equality has been brought up a few times ("she pressed Enter and immediately a picture of a nude female appeared before her...")

However, I think the best solution is to allow children to gain a greater maturity regarding such matters earlier in life. When you saw that hard-core stuff, it disgusted you, but it didn't mess you up. You kept on living your life just as well. (I hope :-) There's no reason why a five- or eight-year old couldn't have as resilient a facility, given proper nurture.

I once saw a video about young schoolboys in China. They play games, they do their studies just like any other kids their age, but what really impressed me was their lunch hour. Their school cafeteria is entirely run by them-- not a single person over ten years old. And that includes the people behind the food racks, serving up the dishes. And everything moves along with perfect order. And they leave the cafeteria perfectly spotless when they finish.

Compare this to an American classroom, where most of the teacher's time is spent simply keeping her students under control.

The lesson being, children will be as responsible (or irresponsible) as you make them to be. Not to say this can be carried to an extreme degree, of course-- but that, as a whole, our society has greatly underestimated its youth.

So, what *do* we do...? (1)

Saxton (34078) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251689)

I am 100% for what happened in Holland, Michigan. I am, like seemingly most /.ers, very against censorship.

But, this isn't a 100% win-win situation. Because to me, censorship isn't the answer for protecting our children from mistakenly browing to pr0n or extreamly hateful material... so what do we do about the young children browsing?

Now, keep in mind, I'm not talking about the kids who *intentionally* seek out pr0n and stuff on racist organazations, kids will be kids, that's a topic I don't want to hit on here, because that subject can be a whole 'nother thread...

The issue I do want to address, though, is how do we prevent the innocent from stubmling across pr0n *mistakenly*? I don't want a 5 year old in my library, doing legitimate reading or, hell, reading about Pokèmon characters, I don't care, then hitting the wrong link... And don't come back trying to tell me that kind of thing doesn't happen. =)

Parents will understand that there is a time and a place for children to be educated about the "reality" of things in this world, and sometimes age 5 isn't always the best time to explain all the hate-groups in our world and the high existance of pornographic material.

So, if not censorship (which, as I said, I am against as well), what do we do?

-Saxton


_________

Please explain (1)

Tink (39281) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251691)


Although I tend to be Libertarian by inclination, I find it difficult to get excited about laws restricting the spending of public funds. Censorship is the muzzling of people by government; not the imposition of limitations on what can be said in government facilities. Is it equivalent to book-burning to prevent people from posting political posters in libraries? How about a law preventing evil right-wing zealots from passing out religious literature in a library?

Re:This is getting a lot of attention. (1)

M-2 (41459) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251692)

All I can say is... WTF does full internet access have to do with a girl getting raped in the same building? How the hell is an internet filter supposed to stop that?

Dude, don't you know that, like, the Web causes your brains to do bad things? Like rape girls, and read news that the AFA doesn't like, and think for yourself? Don't you know ANYTHING?

THIS POST HAS BEEN RATED 'S' FOR SARCASTIC BY THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PEOPLE THAT USE THEIR HEADS FOR MORE THAN A HATRACK.

Watch out, they have God on their side! (1)

RocketJeff (46275) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251693)

A quote from the Holland Sentinel story [thehollandsentinel.net] says it all for me:

"It's been an incredibly interesting journey that we've been on," said LoriJo Schepers, co-chair of Citizens Voting YES! to Protect Our Children, a committee that campaigned in favor of the ordinance.

"God has called us to this, and no matter what happens from this point forward, I think he would say to us now 'Well done, good and faithful servants,'" Schepers said. "This is a journey. This is not the end."

I don't have a problem with people having religious beliefs - as long as they don't try to inflict them on me. Religious fanatics (from any political bent) are the worst kind of fanatics since their status for eternity rests with doing the biding of an almighty power.

Of course, with AFA and the other groups involved, this was to be expected.

Re:Congratulations (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251696)

I can't believe the AFA actually used this "argument":

For Gary Glenn, president of the family association's state chapter, the issue is simple. "Our only concern is providing maximum protection for children," he says, citing a recent case in Muskegon, Mich., where a girl was raped at a library with full Internet access.

The library's director, in a letter to the editor of Holland's newspaper, denied any connection, saying her "staff is positive that the accused rapist did not use the Internet here."

But Glenn believes libraries with unfiltered access create an environment that draws in sex predators. The association wants to protect children not only from porn on the Net, he says, but also "from having to share a library with adults who are accessing the Internet."

I think this extract just speaks for itself.

Re:Those Pesky Fundamentalists (1)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251697)

Mark that up as insightful! Voting certainly isn't always the best way of deciding issues, because it doesn't properly take account of the way some decisions affect some people more than others.

Re:This is getting a lot of attention. (1)

BluFinger (60149) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251701)

From the MSNBC article:

For Glenn the issue is simple. "Our only concern is providing maximum protection for children," he says, citing a recent case in Muskegon, Mich., where a girl was raped at a library with full Internet access.

All I can say is... WTF does full internet access have to do with a girl getting raped in the same building? How the hell is an internet filter supposed to stop that?

Turnabout (1)

bareman (60518) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251702)

Anyone in Holland Township want to sign a petition to cut the library's funding from the Township unless they remove all materials of the AFA and FRC?

I'M ONLY KIDDING OF COURSE. I'm just still a little miffed that the issue came up in such an underhanded way that excluded 3/4 of the librarys supporters/patrons from voting on the issue.

Good luck to the next community where they try to pull this nonsense. And it is likely they will. Remember, next time they are going to be better organized so you better get ready!

Here's a few links to help you get ready.
http://www.freedomforum.org/
http://www.firstamendment.com/resources.html

Also, let's make it a clean fight. Don't stoop as low as they will.

Print-only newspapers favor blocking(?) (1)

Voltage_Gate (69001) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251706)

I'm guessing that ole fashion newsprint paper editors must be all for blocking software because the news that is blocked out competes with their own newspapers. Editors in general have always seemed prudish and preachy to me.

Re:So, what *do* we do...? (1)

MostlyHarmless (75501) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251707)

Talk to the kid. Tell him/her that there are some mean people out there that are putting bad stuff on the net. Put it in simple words.

And check the logs. If you see something bad, don't yell at him/her or accuse him/her of purposely viewing pr0n. Just explain that that's a site (as above) that a bad person put on the net and that you don't want him/her to read that kind of material. And tell him/her how to avoid it also: Hint, if it is at hotsex.com, it is probably pr0n, no matter what it says in the title :-).

void recursion (void)
{
recursion();
}
while(1) printf ("infinite loop");
if (true) printf ("Stupid sig quote");

Re:Hooray (1)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251711)

Obviously you should get some St. John's Warts [unc.edu] .
--

Re:Great news! But not the last of it... (1)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251712)

I am really glad that the "Decency police" have suffered a hard blow
You mis-spelled "Religious Reich". ;-)
I heard on an interview Tuesday and if defeated, they will keep moving from community to community in Michigan until the Governor and his congress recognize that this should become a state requirement!
The State of Michigan has already lost Internet censorship decisions in court, and the governor (right-wing prig that he is) probably isn't eager to get his nose bloodied over the issue again.
--

Pet peeve: /.ers who don't think (1)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251713)

Why not created a domain where the pornographic sites are. Perhaps a .sex or a .xxx or whatever.
How do you stop sites from putting pr0n in .com or .net sites? What if their business model hinges on getting viewers past the filters?
It would take global committment and regulation.
Do you want any kind of global regulation of the Internet? Are you insane? Think of what would be left after every bit of material that is prohibited in just one jurisdiction has to be kept out by the architecture of the system. Think of the enormous rating overhead you'd have to have before you could reach any part of the world with your pages. It would be the death of free speech, and you ought to know it better than I.
--

Good job Holland! (1)

Sand_Man (81150) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251715)

I also thought that this measure would be a slam dunk in the Tulip City.

It is good to see that people can see past the hype and know when they are being played.

Stay vigilant, these special interests will be looking for another demographic to attack, this battle isn't over.

Re:Those Pesky Fundamentalists (1)

lalas (85981) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251719)

I agreed with you at first glance that there isn't anything wrong with fundamentalists getting something on the ballot.

But I think that the whole point was that No one should be allowed to take advantage of an unknowing and/or apathetic voting audience to put an item that is in violation of the first amendment on the ballot.

I'm pleased with the community's response in this case and I hope that their action is indicative of what will occur in other areas.

Most porn isn't nudity (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251721)

To begin with, we need to get this idea out of our heads that a kid who accidentally looks at a nude human being will be emotionally or socially injured in some way.

The only reason this is such a big deal is because of the long tradition of Puritanical/conservative/whatever values in this country that associate sinfulness/evil with the nude human form. This is completely artificial, and the sooner that sentiment is gone, the better.

To begin with, most of the stuff on pr0n sites doesn't seem to be just pictures of naked people. I am not a regular consumer of pr0n, but the few times I have accidently found my way to some of those sites (ok, I admit it, I was following 'warez links at the time) the stuff there rather turned my stomach. Why? Because it depicted much more than just naked people. Some of it was violent, some of it just plain disgusting (e.g. the bestiality-fetish crowd).

I agree that the best solution is for parents to supervise their children's use of the computer (especially young children), but I would like to point out that the concern people have isn't just some Puritanical anal-retentivity. There's no way any child should see hard-core pr0n. If I want to educate my children (I don't have any, BTW, but perhaps someday. . .) about the naked human form, I will try to find some art gallery or book on human anatomy or something that has much more taste-ful depictions of the human form, thank you.

Congratulations! (1)

upstateguy (90019) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251724)

To me, this is a significant victory for the people in Holland, MI! You had to help mobilize otherwise apathetic voters to get out and shoot down this proposal.

And it is important for those of us opposed to these types of censorship to learn from your experiences. Because these same people are coming to all of our neighborhoods if they aren't already there.

The groups that wanted these filters are not stopping. I am sure they are not even done with Holland, MI (what they can't get done with voters, they then usually try to get with legislators, and vice-versa).

Enjoy your victory, but don't forget the price of freedom really is eternal vigilence (and overcoming apathy).

Re:So, what *do* we do...? (1)

FlightTest (90079) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251725)

The issue I do want to address, though, is how do we prevent the innocent from stubmling across pr0n *mistakenly*? I don't want a 5 year old in my library, doing legitimate reading or, hell, reading about Pokèmon characters, I don't care, then hitting the wrong link... And don't come back trying to tell me that kind of thing doesn't happen. =)

Uhh, what $#^#$%! is a 5-year old doing, UNSUPERVISED, in a public place?!?!? There's one heck of lot worse things that can happen to an unsupervised 5-year old in a public place than stumbling across porn. Where did the idea that libraries, shopping centers, etc. were good baby-sitters come from? Dammit, if you're going to have kids, show some responsibility!

Defeat (1)

Artagel (114272) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251733)

Ha, the measure required spending money. In Holland, Michigan, the cheapest town in America, that is usually a dead-bang loser. Seriously though, employers love Holland because it has a large body of people with good high school educations. People who can be good workers, and good members of a community. Not everyone gets college degrees and graduate degrees. I think the people there just understood the issues, including the futility of trying to set the Internet in stone. After all, these people did elect Phil Tanis mayor at one point, right? How knee-jerk conservative can they be, electing a 22-23 year old as mayor? I just think the out-of-town proponents just screwed up their market research. There has to be a community in America where that initiative is a winner, just not Holland.

Re:No such thing as too pessimistic here. (1)

kammat (114899) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251734)

Reminds me of a quote I like to live by:

Of course, I'm a pessimist. Then when everything works out, I'm pleasantly surprised. (Slightly maligned from original source)

Anyway, it's good to see that most people there supported making up their own minds than letting some software do it for them.

Re:Pet peeve: /.ers who don't think (1)

Forgette (121463) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251736)

In response to:
Pet peeve: /.ers who don't think

Tau when you mention in repsonse to a line from my post:
Forgette: It would take global committment and regulation.

Tau: Do you want any kind of global regulation of the Internet? Are you insane?

Perhaps you yourself should take some St. Johns Wort (LOL BTW) and read the full line from my original post:

It would take global committment and regulation. Do we want that? I don't think so...

Minority rights by majority rule. (1)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251739)

Ballot issues are more used more often than not to inflict the tyranny of the masses on the minority.

Hear, hear. While I was recently part of a successful ballot campaing in my state (on public funding for candidates, funny how sitting reps are never into that sort of thing.) and see their value, I'm also frightened by the tendency to put human rights for a minority up for majority vote. We live in a constitutional democracy, not a full one. (US that is)

here in MA, you cannot put anything on the ballot that relates to religion. Same concept, but only protects one kind of minority. (though by happy happenstance, the gay civil rights law here was passed with a religious exception that inadvertently ballot-proofed it. :> Same thing will probably prevent an anti-marriage initiative.)

-Kahuna Burger

In other words, turn to censorship. (1)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251741)

This is a response to the overall caliber of responses. None have really answered the question except to say "It isn't a problem or if it is, its your problem, because you dont take care of your kid/raise it correctly/have the right attitude on sex."

Congratulations, you just explained why filter proponents will most likely win. A person says "i am concerned about X" The Religious Right gives them a solution, but one they are uncomfortable with. You give them no solutions and insult them for being concerned. Guess who they are more likely to see as on their side?

This community has the ability to give concerned parents a non-censorship solution to the problem they percieve. Everyone wins except the RR. If we instead choose to insult their perceptions, we give the RR a constant platform to gain support, the parents solutions that dont work and censorship for ourselves. Everyone loses except the RR.

Your choice, guys.

-Kahuna Burger

The Republican primary strategy (1)

Borogrove (126006) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251743)

And they figured Holland would be a slam-dunk. It's one of the most conservative communities in American. And the measure was well-timed: the ballot was on the same night as the Republican primary. (Michigan is not a closed primary, though, and many Democrats did vote.)

I'm sure that was their theory, but take a look at the demographics of yesterday's vote: 49% Republicans, 51% Democrats/Independants. While they came primarily to vote for McCain, I have no doubts that it helped defeat the censorship proposal.

A big question, though, is what happens next time, if they try for another Republican dominated election and there isn't a McCain to throw their expectations out the window. It's also a pretty safe bet they'll try to avoid the geek compound's backyard next time.

Borogrove

"All mimsy were the borogroves, and the mome raths outgrabe." -- Lewis Caroll

Re:umm so? (1)

WhiskeyJack (126722) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251744)

That's like me trying to post stories about how I ate tuna for lunch in my lovely town/state. No one else cares but me, or crazy tuna lovers.

I'm not intending this to be a flame, but that attitude is incredibly shortsighted.

The happenings in Holland, MI are relevent to everyone in the US (read: the majority of /. readers) because they serve as a test of strength of those organizations that are pushing internet censorship. Holland is the first battle in a war that is being waged (or will be soon) everywhere in the country, and one we cannot be complacent in; those pushing censorship have been mobilizing their troops nationwide for quite some time, and they just happened to launch their first attack in Holland. Anyone who finds the idea of filter software appalling needs to mobilize as well.

--WhiskeyJack

Incredible and wonderful. (1)

marian (127443) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251745)

Congratulations to the city of Holland. It's nice to see there are occasionally communities who choose accountability and involvement in their children's lives, over a cop out. Filtering software is simply the latest wayin which people can feel they're no longer responsible for their own actions, and don't need to pay attention to what their own children are doing. Kudos to the people of Holland for rejecting a trend that has become all too familiar in our society.

Re:Defeat (1)

dsl (129140) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251746)

Ha, the measure required spending money. In Holland, Michigan, the cheapest town in America, that is usually a dead-bang loser.

Which is as it should be. The government shouldn't be spending the people's money on anything that doesn't have very strong upside potential. "That government governs best, which governs least" and all that. If only we could get the good people of Holland to export this attitude to the rest of the country...

Re:Congratulations, Jamie (1)

kwsNI (133721) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251749)

Yeah, way to go Jamie.

> I think that you deserve some of the credit for this victory.

Actually, I think you deserve quite a bit of the credit. Thanks for helping to keep the internet open to everyone.

> It just goes to show that geeks can make a difference when we take the time to get involved and to make our pitch in a way that can be understood by the average Joe.

In the words of Austin Powers: "Yeah, capitalism".

kwsNI

Re:Once in a blue moon, the System works (1)

luckykaa (134517) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251750)

people can be trusted to look at an issue and do the Right Thing.

The trouble is that this isn't THE right thing. Children can still go to a library and look at things that their parents consider unsuitable for them. This could be considered wrong. The decision was whether this is this more or less wrong than blanket censorship.

Most children, I think, will satisfy their initial curiosity and move on. Maybe I'm a hopeless optimist,

I think you're right. Difficult to convince a lot of parents of this though.

The point (1)

luckykaa (134517) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251752)

The point is that if censorship happens in Michigan, it culd happen elsewhere.

If it happens in your town, they'll say "Well, they've censored the Library in Holland, Michigan, and nobody complained"

Re:umm so? (1)

sstrick (137546) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251754)

I live in Finland and this story is interesting to me. Why?

Because it is a precedent. Next time the state or country where i live try and bring in a law like this I can argue "this was tried in Michigan in the states and rejected by voters". It is a powerful argument.

It goes the other way though. I am sure censorship organisations where watching this closely as an argument to introduce censorship in there areas. This has now been and defeated their mission is just that bit harder.

Congratulations From Moscow (1)

Skald (140034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251757)

Kudos for all concerned; great job, guys. All your hacking friends in and near Moscow are happy for you.

Oh, yeah... I mean Moscow, Iowa ;-)

Open source filters? New domain class? (1)

GlitchZ28 (141271) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251758)

Slashdotter's

Its seems to me that the problem with internet filters is thier blanket approcach searching for words in pages, URLs and of course the ole blacklist. Its the same as WWII blanket bombing. Drop 500 bombs at one target and chances are you'll get it (along with alot of things that weren't targets). Has anyone considered starting a little project to create a simple very easily modified open source internet filtering program? Allowing library officals to decide what tactics would fit thier needs such as a blacklist of the the obvious prono sites. I really wouldn't mind a filtreing system IN public libraries if it could be scutinized BY the public and then changed.

Now another hot topic has come up in that past was making a new domain classification such as dot XXX or something like that. Of course the obvious objection to that is "Who decides what gets placed into .XXX". I personally think it would work great as a strictly volunatry thing. The same way the the X movie rating is purely volunatry. In fact most adult movie producers have taken a serious marketing liking to it even making the imaginary XXX rating to sell thier movies. I can just see the ads now (even though the change was volunatry) "Goto www.hardcoreprono.xxx! So hardcore we got kicked off .com".

How does the /. feel about these iniatives?

comical (1)

sparkane (145547) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251760)

ATTACK OF THE PORN IMAGES
it could happen to YOU

Supporters of the measure included Holland mother Carolyn Scoby, who said she was using the internet at the library when pornographic pictures started popping up on the screen.

"If it happened to me, it could happen to kids," she said.

Yeah. SURE they did lady. And that Playboy just happened to POP UP in my mailbox.

Re:Voting Works! (1)

Slashdotted (154417) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251768)

the money they spent on trying to get this through all went down the drain.

Better than that, it informed a lot of people about blocking software, and some of those (who decided to find the other viewpoint) are now more educated about Internet privacy/censorship. People are now ad dumb as we sometimes think. Merely misinformed.

Re:umm so? (1)

Steve Burnap (155427) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251771)

So basically what you are saying is that you don't really care about whether someone else loses their rights, as long as it doesn't effect you...

Sorry, but we all suffer when someone loses their rights. And we all need to know about it.

Re:This is getting a lot of attention. (2)

phil reed (626) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251773)

It's a twisted kind of logic. If your library has full internet access, then it attracts the guys who will surf porn. Those guys are the same guys that will rape young girls. Therefore, the guy was hanging around the library, just about to, or just finishing up, surfing porn, and in the mood to rape a young girl, and he found one. Logically, if you don't have full internet access, the guy wouldn't have been there since he couldn't get to the porn, therefore he wouldn't have raped the young girl there.


...phil

Wow. Congrats Jamie. (2)

Kurt Gray (935) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251774)

To have a proposal like this shot down in a town where the local newspaper has a "Religion" section, during a contested Republican presidential race, what are the odds? I think Jamie deserves due for credit for showing the people some common sense like just how flawed the logic in Internet filters are. It bothers me that all the press coverage is not mentioning the various flaws in Internet filters, but instead most press stories are making it sound as if Holland voted in favor of pr0n for everybody because the ACLU told them pr0n is protected by the first amendment -- that's not what this issue is about, it's simply that Internet filters don't work as intended as Jamie demonstrated. I'm suprised there were still 45% percent of voters who didn't get that through into their thick skulls.

Re:Voting Works! (2)

Amphigory (2375) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251777)

You're making an assumption. Namely, you are assuming that of the "fix is in", it would be in for censorship. I think you will find that AFA and friends will feel like the "fix is in" for pornography.

Both sides would be wrong.

Just goes to prove that you can't oversimplify issues by claiming that anything is fixed. Too often, we create general principles where none is warranted.

--

Lowering our guffaw threshold. (2)

Apuleius (6901) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251781)

part of the problem is that when a politician talks about "protecting the children" from the latest bugaboo (like Internet porn), too many of us, who would be laughing at his expense, restrain this natural urge to faux civility.

Take Arianna's advice:
[ariannaonline.com]
http://www.ariannaonline.com/columns/files/04069 8.html

Lower your guffaw threshold. Better yet go to political rallies and lower your guffaw threshold.

Here are some reasons (2)

Lupus Rufus (11262) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251782)

<I>Why should we care about what happens in Michigan?</I>

Let's see...

a) because the Right has decided to try and sneak censorship into Holland libraries, the intention being to develop the illusion of a "consensus" ("Moral Majority," anyone?) on this issue so as to argue it on a national scale.

b) If this were to happen in some other random community, do you think /. would pay anywhere near as much attention as they are to this "local" dispute?

c) Even if the Right didn't have such an agenda, even if Slashdot wasn't the home of /., you should care. For every government-censored public terminal, there're schools full of kids who will be selectively barred from information (about gay rights groups, breast cancer studies, etc.) that would highly enrich their lives.

This is why I care. And this is why I think jamie's doing an awesome service to the community (and to the nation in general) by fighting against the legalization of censorship.

Re:No such thing as too pessimistic here. (2)

arivanov (12034) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251783)

A very old joke says:

Definition1: A pessimist is a well infromed optimist.

Definition2: An optimist is a well instructred pessimist.

Re:No wonder (2)

Industrial Disease (16177) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251784)

And remember, don't take hypercards from large Aleutians with tattoos on their foreheads.

Re:Time for us to Dig In! (2)

jellicle (29746) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251786)

However, could we prevail upon the volunteers for just a bit longer? Can we get a copy of the
presentation up on the Web somewhere permanently? ... A known resource for fighting future battles would be a godsend. The folks at Holland paved the way and we need to learn everything they did right and wrong, and have all the materials they created at hand. ... It would be great if we knew where to go to just grab leaflets and educational presentations, print them out, and respond *the same day*.


We will definitely do this, and store them on censorware.org [censorware.org] for future reference. It's a great idea, one that we thought about in the past but never got up the gumption to actually do.
--
Michael Sims-michael at slashdot.org

Re:Voting Works! (2)

greenrd (47933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251788)

...while you're out and about making a fuss over petty, symbolic issues

Um, excuse me, this was not a petty issue. Although it was very symbolic, and sends out a message that even one of the most conservative of constituencies isn't willing to tolerate this kind of control on access to information.

Here's just one reason why it's important, even if you are very pessimistic about representative democracy (as I am): One of the notable things about the demonstrations in Seattle was that ethnic minorities were under-represented among the demonstrators. It's not entirely clear why that was, but some reasons that have been suggested are:

  • Many ethnic minority people (as well as white people) didn't understand what the WTO protests were going to be about, or how it would affect them - or they saw more pressing issues to organize around.
  • Some "progressive" groups display either implicit or explicit psychological barriers to the entry of ethnic minorities (sometimes this can be as simple as the fact that there are few non-white faces in the group, discouraging non-white people from joining.)
  • The internet - particularly low-tech stuff like email lists - was a big help in organising the Seattle protests, even without there being any kind of overall controlling organization. (In fact, this latter factor probably swelled the numbers, as no-one group felt unable to stand behind a "co-ordinating" group). But many ethnic minority people and groups simply don't have very much, or any, access to the Internet. So again, they didn't get to know how dangerous and relevant the WTO really is.
Given the large disparities in average wealth, and Internet penetration, between white America and other ethnic groups, this is not entirely surprising. Internet access through libraries is a small, though significant, part of access to alternative points of view from the stultifying mainstream media, and hence to real political activity - and of course, battles fought over libraries will affect the current and future debates on school, college and indeed corporate and home-based censorware.

The Internet, particularly with sites like ZNet [zmag.org] and Free Speech Internet Television [freespeech.org] , is a brilliant place to enlighten yourself. I don't call restricting access to the Internet, especially when these restrictions are blatantly designed to censor alternative political views, in any way a "side issue".

And yes, it is a "fight", in a very real sense - not curious terminology at all - it is a psychological battle. As the elites of this world have known for centuries, winning the psychological battles are usually even more important than the physical ones. (Cruise missiles, for instance, are very useful at psychological distancing - not even the soldiers deploying them, let alone the public, have to see the bloodied bodies of their victims any more - a major PR aid.) Behind the rhetoric, if you look at the business pages, the elite and their spokespeople can be very candid sometimes amongst themselves about the very real Class War being waged by the rich elite against working people around the world (though they don't use those words, of course). They know it's war - we should recognise that too.

Re:umm so? (2)

charlesc (50846) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251789)

I think the point isn't so much what's happening in Holland, Michigan for the sake of what's happening in Holland, Michigan as it is to warn about something that could be coming to any town, nationwide. If you are against filtering software in public libraries, you now have a decent idea of how such a plan was fought and defeated. If you are for filtering software in public libraries, you now know which arguments were less effective for one town so you can try different arguments where you live.

On the surface, this wouldn't seem to affect /. users outside the US, but isn't it possible that a non-US site gets erroneously filtered by filtering software? People who are concerned about having part of their web audience taken away by a third party ought to be aware of what's happening in this case. Even if they can't vote in the US to pass or defeat an initiative, they can support whichever side they choose in other ways.

Re:This is getting a lot of attention. (2)

DaveHowe (51510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251790)

I hear they have books there that ACTUALLY TALK about sexual health! Burn them! burn them all!
--

You shouldn't have to get total popular support (2)

slashdot-terminal (83882) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251796)

Which is as it should be. The government shouldn't be spending the people's money on anything that doesn't have very strong upside potential. "That government governs best, which governs least" and all that. If only we could get
the good people of Holland to export this attitude to the rest of the country...


Oops that shouldn't have been said. Take a look at what people have done throughout history with various shall we say "unpopular" things. I guess freeing of the slaves and helping the poor were bad things too. However the slaves were still freed and the poor were helped all in the century from 1800-1899. Sometimes unpopular things are sometimes necessary because some people can't see past the ends of their noses.

You don't understand Democracy (2)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251797)

Which is as it should be. The government shouldn't be spending the people's money on anything that doesn't have very strong upside potential. "That government governs best, which governs least" and all that. If only we could get the good people of Holland to export this attitude to the rest of the country...

Oops that shouldn't have been said. Take a look at what people have done throughout history with various shall we say "unpopular" things. I guess freeing of the slaves and helping the poor were bad things too. However the slaves were still freed and the poor were helped all in the century from 1800-1899. Sometimes unpopular things are sometimes necessary because some people can't see past the ends of their noses.

Ahh, but, my friend, Slavery was abolished, and the poor were helped, because they became popular issues because good people who knew what needed to be done were willing to go out and talk to everyone they met, to make moral stands in public, et. al. until the Electorate changed its mind. One might like to say that "Might doesn't make Right" and you'd be correct; however, Might makes Law. In the United States, and eventually much of the world now, we came to the conclusion that if might makes law, let the might be in the hands of the people instead of in the hands of those who stand to get rich off of bad laws (like the censorware law in question). What the Patriot's firmly believed when they advocated democracy and framed the constitution is that the people _will_ eventually see what is right and wrong, and while they might for a while support and vote for bad laws, that ultimately bad laws are not good for the majority and the majority would shed them like a stinky shirt. Viva La Democracy!!!! Jeff Schmidt

Flawed Logic (2)

AllynKC (88909) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251798)

My favorite example of the flawed logic on the side of pro-filtering is this one:

For Gary Glenn, president of the family association's state chapter, the issue is simple. "Our only concern is providing maximum protection for children," he says, citing a recent case in Muskegon, Mich., where a girl was raped at a library with full Internet access.

While it's sad and unfortuneate that a girl was raped at a library, the logic in the argument is flawed. It could equally read that the girl was raped at a library that carried Winnie the Pooh. The Muskegan Library points out that the man who committed the act didn't even access the internet; there is absolutely no evidence to support the theory that the library having unfilterred internet access contributed in any way. Yet in the minds of the pro-filterring groups, this was a direct cause.

Remember, if this vote comes to your town, these are the types of flawed logic and half-truths that you'll need to fight.

On a side note to Jamie: Does the opposition have a website? Is there a location that has a collection of the counter-arguments used to fight the misinformation?

Congratulations, Jamie (2)

Anomalous Canard (137695) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251806)

I think that you deserve some of the credit for this victory. It just goes to show that geeks can make a difference when we take the time to get involved and to make our pitch in a way that can be understood by the average Joe.

Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected

Not In My Backyard, but why I should care anyway (3)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1251809)

With all due respect, Rosa Parks wasn't just an old lady sick of riding at the back of the bus when there were open seats available up front.

Mahatma (Mohandas K.) Gandhi wasn't just a former grad of a UK law school who was making salt by the sea.

And a 15 year old Norwegian kid who writes software that lets him play DVD on his Linux box isn't just a kid arrested in a faraway land thanks to the backroom efforts of the MPAA.

Holland was going to be the springboard to encourage censorship of the Net to people without the financial resources to go online otherwise in a country with the strongest legal protection of free speach on the planet (I'm from Canada, but the American protection of free speach lead to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms with a similar protection limited as may be "reasonably and demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society").

In other words, we just barely kept the barbarians from the gates once more in what will always be a war between freedom and order. That's the point, and that's why others besides yourself care. Hope that makes your tuna digest more easily.

Filter This? (3)

moria6 (5565) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251810)

One of my (infinite) job reponsibilities is filtering the web for our coprorate Internet access and for an Elementary & High School on our WAN.

I "think" I'm unusual in this position in that most people (that I've found so far) that are in charge of filtering develop a "Supreme Being" complex, a "you can go where I decide you can" attitude. I thought we moved beyond that when we moved away from the mainframe mindset. I try to filter as little as possible and it's a huge struggle. We use CyberPatrol as our filter software. No one agrees on how to filter. I get an equal number of complaints about blocked sites as I do sites that should be blocked.

At home I have to listen to my 16 year old daughter complain about Bess which they use at the High School. She feels it's wrong (and I agree with her) to block sites or at least she disagrees with the method for determining what sites to block. I don't have any filters or blocking turned on at home nor have I told my kids that I can see where they've been. From periodically checking logs I can see that they have no interest in the seedier side of the web.

I started my 16-yr old's interest in Anime (must mean I'm a rotten parent, right?). She knows what hentai is and can't understand why anyone would want to "ruin" the artform.

The youngest (11 years old) was at our local library and when she went to use one of the Internet PC's she saw a porn site in the screen.
She got the librarian, showed her the PC and showed her how to save the history file, clean out the cache and shutdown and restart the PC.

Why does this whole Holland, MI (I live in an even smaller town) thing remind me of Tipper Gore and her crusade against Rock music? How much of the Internet did she invent with her husband and if she gets in to the White House will she be allowed to dictate what I can see on the web.

Here's hoping that jamie and friends can win this round and all of the next!

I'm thinking maybe these people need something real to do in their lives other than controlling other people's lives. There really is no job market for dictators but SO many people seem to be applying.

Time for us to Dig In! (3)

BranMan (29917) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251814)

Congratulations to all of the volunteers out in Holland, MI. I am sincerly relieved that the measure got defeated.

I don't share the reports optimism though - 55% to 45%, while it is generally a "landslide" in a Presidential race, is not all that encouraging - 45% of the people can't see the big picture. Although it does speak volumes that clear headed reasoning can prevail even in the face of a marketting machine.

However, could we prevail upon the volunteers for just a bit longer? Can we get a copy of the presentation up on the Web somewhere permanently? Maybe one of the OSS free project repositories? While there would be no code involved, I'm sure that presentations, demonstration descriptions, leaflet samples, etc. would be allowed to be stored there.

A known resource for fighting future battles would be a godsend. The folks at Holland paved the way and we need to learn everything they did right and wrong, and have all the materials they created at hand.

The DeCSS events have shown that the battles will pop up when you least expect it, and generally (no pun intended) on very short notice. It would be great if we knew where to go to just grab leaflets and educational presentations, print them out, and respond *the same day*. It would make quite an impact, and at the least show how important people think the issue is. Just that will slow down the process - if officials know their constituency genuinely cares about an issue they will not rush it.

Perhaps the Minute Men will be needed once again (the Revolutionary War soldiers were called Minute Men - to be ready to grab their rifles and fight on a minutes notice. We need to do the same.).

This is getting a lot of attention. (3)

M-2 (41459) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251815)

It's popped up at MSNBC [msnbc.com] and The Register [theregister.co.uk] so far that I know of. But we still have to remember the old quote: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." They didn't mean just from OUTSIDE, people...

There is such a thing as too pessimistic (3)

Tau Zero (75868) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251817)

If you are too pessimistic, you assume you can't win and fail to put forth any effort. There is a corresponding failure of excessive optimism, which is assuming you've already won and coasting to a loss. This sounds like a very happy medium! Congrats on dealing a blow to the New Dark Ages coalition, Jamie.

I suppose this shows a good way to fight filters:

  • Hype up the costs. Money, money, money.
  • Point out who the money goes to. If you can show that the filter maker is financing the filter campaign, you've tarred them as one of the worst things they could be: a bunch of astroturfing lobbyists.
  • Point out that plenty of pr0n goes through the filters regardless, so it's like paying for the QE II and getting a leaky scow. No value for the money; taxpayers hate that.
If filters ever come to a vote where I live, I'm going to busy myself along these lines. And thanks for keeping us all informed.
--

fighting the cult of the child (3)

nido (102070) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251818)

From the Washington Post article:
Elaine Cioffi, 62, saw it differently.

"I just think that children really don't know what's for their own good," she said. "It may not be a really big problem at the library right now or in the future, but why take a chance?"

I'm totally against censorship & all that, but how long will it be until (not if but when) this viewpoint succeeds somewhere? /.ers will never support filters, but we can't expect to reach and convince all the Grandma Cioffi's out there when fighting against the entire "cult of the child" (the "they don't know what's best for them" sentiment).

"On February 22, send a clear message to America. Tell America we must protect our children from Internet pornography and drugs."

Sure... http://www.crackaddictsonline.com/, where your first hit is free!

Great news! But not the last of it... (3)

Dman33 (110217) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251819)

Well, I'm not the first to say it, and I won't be the last, but this is a great victory!

Being a Michigan native, I know how small conservitive communities work. I am really glad that the "Decency police" have suffered a hard blow to thier "My ideals should be imposed on you" campaign. Wow.

And the bad news is that they will not stop. I heard on an interview Tuesday and if defeated, they will keep moving from community to community in Michigan until the Governor and his congress recognize that this should become a state requirement! Now IMNAL, but I know that non-complying libraries would then lose all State endorsement and funding.

As with all great victories, celebrate for a minute, but then get back to work because the fight is not over yet!

Re:umm so? (3)

Yaruar (125933) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251820)

The issue is about censorship and how it affects society.

I'll be the first to admit that I play devils advocate in free speech arguements, but I think this was a good victory and a just one.

The people pushing this campaign were using it as a test bed for others around the states. This was espeially highlighted with the proximity of the presidential compaigns which got rolled into the debate.

I personally live in the UK and the case was in the states. Why does it affect me

Mainly because the US's political hegemony is pretty much global now and if it appeared to be effective in the US then the UK would probably be more inclined to carry out the same processes.

No such thing as too pessimistic here. (3)

Steve Burnap (155427) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251821)

Some Slashdot posters have commented that I've seemed pessimistic in my reports on the campaign. They've been right. I couldn't read the city's mood very well, not being a native, and based on the coverage and talks I'd seen, I didn't think the chances were very good.

Better to be too pessimistic, and put in too much work to defeat something like this than to be too optimistic and see it pass because you slacked off.

So, congradulations!

Once in a blue moon, the System works (4)

jht (5006) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251822)

This vote is proof positive that, once in a rare while, in spite of ourselves, people can be trusted to look at an issue and do the Right Thing.

The problem here has boiled down to a question of who to trust with the decisions about what you and/or your children see when using the Internet. Obviously, the best solution would to be to have real, enforcable ratings for web content, but given the distributed and ever-changing nature of the web, that's impossible. So in lieu of ratings, will you trust some anonymous company with a possible agenda of their own to make decisions through their filter as to what you can and can not see on the Internet? Not even factoring in that filters just don't work very well and are child's play to defeat, the answer seems obvious to me. Since filters don't work very well, and ratings are impractical, then your ability to view content should remain free. Whenever we err, we should always err on the side of freedom, choice, and individual responsibility. We owe ourselves that much.

On a related note, at my company I am often asked by my co-workers if they should put filtering software on their computers to protect their kids. My response to them has been this: "You can go ahead and buy filtering software, and there are quite a few options to choose from that are well-supported commercially. But keep in mind that your kids probably know more about the inner workings of your PC than you do, and it's likelier that you'll be blocked than your children will. Your kids probably already know how to beat all the filters out there - you need to address the issue by talking to your kids, tell them what you don't want them doing, and check things like the browser history (I'll show them how to use these if they ask), cookie files, and cache to keep a watch over them and their habits. If they don't do the right thing as you see it, take away their access."

Most children, I think, will satisfy their initial curiosity and move on. Maybe I'm a hopeless optimist, but there's so many useful things to do on the Net and on a PC that I think that most kids will find better uses of their time.

- -Josh Turiel

No wonder (4)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251825)

"On February 22, send a clear message to America. Tell America we must protect our children from Internet pornography and drugs."

Many drugs become more hazardous when they are distributed on digital media. We should at least consider removing the floppy drives from these machines to prevent children from downloading Internet drugs.

numb

Educate, don't flagellate! (4)

TuRRIcaNEd (115141) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251826)

Most kids, even young ones, have a certain degree of tech-savvy, simply because they'll have grown up with these technologies. They're used to them. Also, a lot of kids have a fairly good grasp of our favourite Anglo-Saxon nouns and verbs by the time they reach primary (US: read elementary) school. They may not necessarily know what it means, but it doesn't stop them from using it. I would be pretty horrified if my 5-year old stumbled upon teensexxx.com, or whatever, but it wouldn't exactly surprise me. So here's what you do:

Rule No. 1 : Don't assume anything. Odds on, they've reached the site by mistake, and you know for a fact that these pages spawn sub-windows like there's no tomorrow. (I was a newbie searching for warez once :-) They will probably either be oblivious to what they've seen, as nudity is rarely a problem for most small children, or, especially if they are slightly older, they may be frightened out of their wits. To them it can seem like the computer has completely taken over. Talk to them gently. Ask them what happened. They'll probably tell the truth first time, as they are still likely to be shocked.

Rule No. 2 : Tell it like it is. Explain that there are people who put this kind of thing up there (Call them 'bad' people if you want). Tell them that because of these people, they should be careful about using the computer, and that they can always come to you if it happens again. This is important, because if you go into fundamentalist mode, they won't learn anything from the experience, only that, to you, what they've done is shameful and wrong, which is almost as bad a thing to tell a child as the Religious Right spout. Growing up with a guilt complex doesn't help. Also explain that this is a thing that they will understand better later in life.

Rule No. 3 : DON'T LOSE IT! If you start screaming bloody murder at your child, you stand a better chance of frightening them much more than they already are. You may not be an advocate of porn, in fact you may harbour strong feelings about it, but don't express it in front of them. It's that kind of guilt-complex method of raising children, espoused by the Religious Right, that has been defeated here. Equally, violent reactions (Ripping cables out of the wall etc.) are a bad move for your kid to see (to say nothing of the state of your equipment). Just gently power down the monitor, or close the windows (shut the browser task down). The calmer you appear, the easier a child will listen to what you have to say.

I'm not saying that this is the best way of dealing with it, but I can't see that getting het up in front of your child will solve anything. Respect from your child is a good thing, but it must be respect attained without fear. The second a child is intimidated, you go down the same route as those just defeated.

Again, sorry if I sound preachy, it's just the way I feel.

Re:So, what *do* we do...? (5)

Straker Skunk (16970) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251827)

To begin with, we need to get this idea out of our heads that a kid who accidentally looks at a nude human being will be emotionally or socially injured in some way.

The only reason this is such a big deal is because of the long tradition of Puritanical/conservative/whatever values in this country that associate sinfulness/evil with the nude human form. This is completely artificial, and the sooner that sentiment is gone, the better.

If you want to talk about something that young kids really shouldn't see, how about some of the horror films to come out of the Holocaust? Who here hasn't seen, say, that grainy black-and-white film clip showing a bulldozer pushing a huge pile of dead, emaciated bodies of Jewish victims into a shallow grave?

I saw that one a long time ago, I think when I was twelve, and it hit me pretty hard. If I had seen that when I was five or seven, it would probably have left a much stronger impression on me, to the point of being harmful. (As in, I'd have needed some serious counseling to be able to get on with my life).

But even then, the only reason seeing something should leave such a strong impression on a person (not just a young person) is that he/she is unprepared for it.

The heart of this whole problem is that we are giving children these incredibly sheltered lives, where sex is unknown to them until the two-digit age range, where racism and political realities are fuzzy concepts with no real-world relevance-- while, at the same time, mass media and the Internet are super-shotgunning that filtered worldview into Swiss cheese.

And there are two ways of reacting to that. Either you call for mass action to hold back the ocean of foreign thoughts, and ideas, and pictures coming in through the cable and telephone lines-- at this point, akin to commanding the tide not to come-- or you can push up the timetable of those "little talks" you've been preparing for your kids, by about five or six years. (Or more)

Children are learning about things a lot sooner than many people are expecting them to (and taking great pains that they do). Between valiantly fighting to keep the wool over their eyes, or telling them about such things earlier, I think the latter route is the better one.

(Not that I would tell my hypothetical four-year-old all about the Holocaust, but if she were to see some of those images, and come crying to me, I would sit down with her, and explain to her the whole sordid story. As well as why a great many people today go to a lot of effort to ensure such a thing will never happen again. This, as opposed to postponing the issue for a few years with, "No, no, that was just an old horror movie...")

Those Pesky Fundamentalists (5)

technoCon (18339) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251828)

Yesterday or the day before, I read bitter words to the effect that, "Fundamentalists can get anything on the ballot."
Well, fundamentalists (of which I am one) got the internet filter on the ballot. and thankfully, the measure was defeated. (i oppose internet filters, too.)
What the heck's wrong with getting divisive social issues put on the ballot? A worse problem is when unelected elites impose their morality upon others *without* the opportunity of putting the measure before the people for a vote.
smiles and cheers,
steve

Not legal anyway? (5)

FascDot Killed My Pr (24021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251829)

This weekend I went to my local library (small town NH) and signed up for Internet access (as a convenience thing when I'm in the library and want to look something up). One of the steps I had to do was reading the "policies and guidelines". "Uh-oh," I thought, "Holland all over again."

Not so. Turns out they had VERY liberal policies. Essentially, you can do anything you want, although if you view porn, etc and other patrons complain they will ask you to stop.

The most interesting thing (and I wish I had kept a copy of the sheet for the URLs it gave) was the references to Supreme Court (of US? of NH? dunno) decisions that filtering in a library amounted to censorship and had been outlawed in 1996.

If no one here can post with any more information, I'll go get another copy of the sheet and copy the URLs for jamie (or someone) to post later.
--
Here is the result of your Slashdot Purity Test.

Voting Works! (5)

ronfar (52216) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251830)

I feel like going to all the people who post here and other places stuff resembling, "Voting, hah! What a waste of time! The fix is in, and nothing we can do will change it," and showing them this case. I'm never sure why people say that, whether it is to depress turnout because they are on the other side, to spur people to violent or other illegal methods of protest, or just because they are depressed cynics who feel fatalistic about these things.

Make no mistake, this was a loss for the AFA. They don't have an infinite supply of money and the money they spent on trying to get this through all went down the drain. That doesn't mean they'll give up though, not as long as their coffers are full, but it does mean that their threat to keep pushing this should not obscure the fact that this is a real victory for freedom of speech.

Good for Holland, the town proved that people who use dishonest and underhanded tactics to push their agenda don't always win and can be defeated by ordinary citizens standing up for their rights.

Re:Congratulations (5)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251831)

Gary Glenn, president of the AFA's state chapter, says:
"Our only concern is providing maximum protection for children," he says, citing a recent case in Muskegon, Mich., where a girl was raped at a library with full Internet access.

Woo-hoo! We've finally found the rhetorical level lower than "the dumb bitch asked for it by dressing like a slut", we have "the Internet made him do it".

<MODE=ABSOLUTELY_LIVID_WITH_RAGE>

I have a friend who was raped within a block of a library. It happened in 1985. Obviously it had nothing to do with the library having Internet access, but the library did have a wide selection of books.

It must've been the books.

Mr. Glenn should consider himself extremely fortunate that he's at least 1500 miles away from said friend at the moment, or he'd be the proud recipient of the Oxford English Dictionary (the unabridged version!), each volume delivered through what remains of his distended, torn and bleeding anal sphincter. Given such an opportunity, I'd gladly fly up to Holland and hand my friend each volume for insertion.

I'd vidcap the results and webcast it, live, in streaming screaming video, to the world. I'd make a (non-encrypted :) DVD of the video. I'd sample Gary's screams, lay 'em over a pumpin' backbeat and distribute the MP3s far and wide. And I'd print out choice .JPGs along with a narrative, and put the whole thing into a professionally-bound hardcover book. That MP3 would be a chart-topper. That book would go into every library in the world. That website would be the default home page on every copy of IE5 that Bill Gates shipped.

You want obscene, Gary? Obscene isn't what's on the bookshelves of your local library. Obscene isn't what's on the Internet. Obscene isn't even what happened to my friend 14 years ago.

Obscene is what you, Gary, just did to every rape victim and everyone who's had to help pick up the pieces.

Quickly, Gary, since you're the expert on what's obscene and what's not obscene - did I just jot down an obscene piece of violent pornography, or was I making valid commentary on what it means to the victims when you trivialize rape?

Now get the fuck out of our libraries.

Re:Congratulations (5)

G27 Radio (78394) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251833)

For Gary Glenn, president of the family association's
state chapter, the issue is
simple. "Our only concern
is providing maximum
protection for children," he
says, citing a recent case
in Muskegon, Mich.,
where a girl was raped at
a library with full Internet access.


This is from the ZDnet article that Industrial Disease posted. Some of the stuff in it is unbelievable. Some of you might want to read the part about Hudsonville, MI--a nearby town--where the AFA got enough people to sign a petition to get the Internet access in the library shut off completely. And not because they refused to filter, but because their plan would have allowed adults unfiltered access with an ID card.

numb

Hooray!!! For now, what next? (5)

Forgette (121463) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251834)

I know that I am preaching to the choir here...

I'm very happy that enough citizens in Holland had the intelligence and common sense to defeat this measure. However I feel that it will be short lived given the political, cultural climate of the community. Eventually there are going to be filters unless the community can work even harder/stronger to EDUCATE the communities of the world that filter technology is not the answer.

I used to live in Michigan (all of my life) until about five months ago when I took a position at a software company in ChicagoLand. In Michigan I worked as a trainer traveling from library to library teaching librarians and other staff members how to use databases and internet resources. My backgroung is in Library and Information Science. During that position I traveled to well over 100 libraries, and also spoke at several state-wide conferences for libraries or media-centers.

Sad to say, it seemed to me that the library community is split on the issue. Academic libraries don't wan't filters. Public libraries are about 50/50 on the issue. And school media centers, well they just want to protect themselves from the litigation by are society (same for probably the 50% of libraries that are leaning towards filters)

So, what next? How to proceed?

As a community we have been doing very well at fighting this. But for all of our good intentions of fighting against filters, we are going to fail and then it could very well be a domino effect.

What about also exploring avenues that would allow public forums, i.e. libraries to avoid the filter issue. Why not created a domain where the pornographic sites are. Perhaps a .sex or a .xxx or whatever. Then they could at least have a better chance of blocking some traffic. The movie industry already does this. The music industry has started.

Down side with this idea? It would take global committment and regulation. Do we want that? I don't think so... to hard to enforce.

So what other ideas/methods could there be?

Note: Please keep in mind that I am not pro-filter/censoring. I am just looking for discussion of possible alternatives.

You won, but you made mistakes. (5)

KahunaBurger (123991) | more than 14 years ago | (#1251835)

While I congradulate you on your victory, you made some big mistakes on your way there, and you should think about them, considering there will be a "next time". One was making a big deal out of the "accidental porn viewing" and claiming it couldn't happen. Frankly you are lucky there wasn't more time between that and the vote because it could have bommeranged on you big time.

Never make an argument for your cause which is both falible and unneccassary. If and when it fails, some people will percieve your entire position as invalidated with it. I'm seeing it happen on an issue I work on right now, and I started worrying when I read about your little bet. Think about that in the future.

Then there's this...

I think it was my friend Lizard on the fight-censorship mailing list who said: "You can't compromise with book-burners. When someone asks you to burn 1,000 books, you cannot agree to burn only 500." He's exactly right. Any middle ground is a step backwards, and hard to recover.

When you demonify your opponents, you lose the middle ground and you cheat yourself. Some proponants of filtering software may be in the same league as "book burners." Most aren't going to be. They will be concerned parents, people who have had a misleading porn site draw them in (a friend found a site posing as a pet supply retailer that dumped her into hard core porn then kept popping up windows on her. It might be unusual, but it only has to happen once to change your opinion on the internet) people who want to feel that dropping their kids off for an afternoon at the library is better than leaving them home with the TV, and people who take care of their kids, but are worried about other peoples. You deal with these people by educating them, not with insults.

And the "no compromise" attitude sucks too. When someone complained of finding another user's porn, you didn't say "deal with it, no compromising with book burners", you pointed out a solution which is not censorship. If you actually listen to what the average voter is concerned about, you can help them solve their problems without them feeling they have to resort to censorship. If you tar everyone with the same brush, you won't know how to change the moderate minds.

Sorry to be negitive, and I mean the congradulations, but the only problem with victories is that they rarely inspire you to learn from your mistakes, and in a closer contest those mistakes will cost you. Good luck in the future.

-Kahuna Burger

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