Hate Site Horrendous, But Blocking Through ISPs Faulty

    by Mark Glaser
    August 24, 2006

    i-917e8030ddc51a752776355b2d3179be-Free Speech Zone at GMU.jpg
    A case unfolding in Canada and the U.S. exemplifies all that is terrible and difficult about free speech on the Internet. Ottawa human rights lawyer Richard Warman and the Canadian Jewish Congress have asked the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) — similar to the FCC — to direct Internet service providers in Canada to block two hate sites based in the U.S. Warman says the sites, run by white supremacist Bill White of Roanoke, Va., contain “an actual call to murder myself and all Canadian Jews,” according to an article by the Canadian Press.

    The terrible part of the equation is the hate speech and the content of neo-Nazi sites on the Internet. Time and time again, we find that the Internet as a Wild West of open content contains some of the darker sides of human nature, from child pornography to graphic violent acts. I have been drawn down to this netherworld before, reporting for the Online Journalism Review on a site that published the name and home address of Kobe Bryant’s accuser in a rape trial from 2003. And again, when the site NTFU offered soldiers in Iraq free access to porn in exchange for gory photos from the war.

    But the difficult part of the equation is not to “blame” the Internet for this darker side of humanity. Microsoft blogger Don Dodge notes that the Internet acts only as a magnifier for society.


    “The Web is the great magnifier of society,” Dodge writes on his blog. “It magnifies everything beyond its normal proportions and importance. If you think the world is good, you will find a lot of good on the web. There are sites for parents, kids, cancer survivors, support groups, etc. If you think the world is bad, you can also find a lot of bad on the web too. Everyone’s definition of good and bad is different.”

    As with the stories I wrote above for OJR, I have mixed feelings about even bringing attention to this story, for fear that my links and attention will only bring more power to the hate groups. White has already celebrated getting 79,000 new visitors to his white supremacist site because of the furor over blocking it from Canada. That blog post is titled: How to Pull a Media Stunt.

    Just writing that last sentence is an exercise in ethics. Do I link to his blog? Am I helping or hurting his cause? As in previous cases, I come down on the side of openness and linking so that people can learn and decide for themselves. My link — or lack of link — isn’t going to make or break him.


    Google Warning or Hack?

    One thing you’ll notice if you do link to the blog is that Blogger puts up a warning before you enter the site:


    Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this blog’s content is hateful. In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog. For more information about this message, please consult FAQ.

    You can then choose to enter the site or not. Within Blogger’s FAQ, there’s a note about special cases for hate speech: “When the community has voted and hate speech is identified on BlogSpot, Google may exercise its right to place a Content Warning page in front of the blog and set it to “unlisted” [in the blog directory].”

    A Google spokesman had told the Canadian Press that they had taken down the blog, so it’s hard to tell whether they reversed their decision or whether White has figured out how to avoid the site takedown by Google. In a recent blog post, White exulted:

    Today, Google tried to take away my blogger account at the insistence of the Canadian government.

    This evening, I hacked through their ToS [Terms of Service] blocking software, took control of my account back, and just did a full download and back up of this site. And, I’ve now learned how to hack into any ToS banned Google sites.

    This back and forth shows how difficult Canada’s attempt at blocking a site through Internet service providers (ISPs) would be. White is Net-savvy and would pop up on another domain if they try to block one domain, meaning the plaintiffs would have to petition the CRTC endlessly.

    The question has arisen among bloggers as to whether calling for the murder of an individual — and running his home address — and calling for the overthrow of the Canadian government by force is illegal by itself. According to lawyer Mark Goldberg, who helped petition the CRTC, “two U.S.-based websites have now called for [Warman] to be murdered and provided his home address. The sites also call for the violent overthrow of the Canadian Government and for the streets to run red with the blood of Jews.”

    White denies that he called for the murder of Warman, and only said it would be OK if someone else did it. Once again, the limits of ugly free speech online are being tested, and perhaps the Canadian and American courts will be able to untangle this mess.

    While the First Amendment grants a right to free speech, there are exceptions, notes media analyst Cynthia Brumfield at the IP & Democracy blog.

    “The First Amendment does not protect speech that threatens others or that could incite panic or rioting,” she wrote. “In fact, calling for the murder of people is grounds for arrest and indictment. I’m not as familiar with Canadian free speech law, but from what I do know, the laws are similar in both countries.”

    What do you think? Should the Canadian telecom commission rule that ISPs must block the U.S. white supremacist sites? Should Google take down White’s blog? What do you see as limits to free speech online? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

    UPDATE: Bill White, who runs the sites in question here, explained to me in an email how he has protected his main website from legal hassles:

    I have servers and backups and off-shored mirrors and whatnot all over the world. The last time a lawyer seriously came after me for alleged ‘harassment,’ I had to move the site to Malaysia for a few weeks until my attorneys could put the guy down.

    I have two law firms on retainer and enough money to pay for the computer
    equipment necessary to keep myself publishing regardless.

    It is very difficult — if not impossible — to stop someone from publishing online if they have enough resources and determination. If the person is breaking the law, however, the authorities could always arrest them for that violation, though other people might continue to operate the site.

    An Ottawa computer engineer who blogs by the name of Engtech explains in great detail (much better than I could) why trying to block a site is futile.

    Photo of Free Speech Zone at George Mason University by dcJohn.

    Tagged: freedom of the press hate speech law

    9 responses to “Hate Site Horrendous, But Blocking Through ISPs Faulty”

    1. engtech says:

      Very good analysis, I completely agree that this is a waste of time for the CRTC and an utterly ineffectual solution.

      The CRTC does not have the technical means to keep this guy off of the net.

    2. Bill White says:

      What you didn’t note is that my site has had 3,000,000 (three million) visitors this year — and the year includes the time before this latest attack on it.

      That’s an average of 12,500 or so visitors a day so far this year.

      That means that the site is not some fringe niche — its bigger than your site, and I would almost be more concerned about sending visitors over to you — except I’m not concerned about sending visitors over to you, because your ideas pale in comparison to those on Overthrow.


    3. B Klatt says:

      Richard Warman does a poor job at playing the ‘victim’. He is an active participant on several ‘hate’ or ‘neo-nazi’ website forums that he denounces.

      He has admitted in CHRT proceedings to have have used aliases when posting dozens of messages to StormFront and VNNforum.

      He’s apparently posted very disparaging commentary re: Senator Anne Cools that could be considered as a violation of s.318.

      Warman’s home address is public information – nothing particularly ‘threatening’ about that.

      Warman needs to grow up and get a new hobby.

    4. Meg Ruth says:

      Hmm. Interesting. As a muslim, a Shi’i, one who had to flee Israeli atrocities in Lebanon…all I can say is, do not confuse Jews with Israelis. They are two different things.

    5. Alex K. says:

      Richard Warman is one of those individuals that actively visits websites that he has no interest in and acts offended. The equivalent of a women’s rights activist grabbing a drink at a strip bar and complaining about the nudity.

      The real question to ask is, Who will decide which sites should be blocked by the CRTC? Just like we saw in the July Lebanon war, both sides call eachother terrorists. Since this act is a Jewish initiative, it can almost be guaranteed that only “white and arab supremacist” websites will be the target of censorship.

      Will the Canadian Jewish Congress have violent zionist websites like the “Jewish Defense League” (a fanatic anti-Muslim group whose rabbi leader planned bombings recently against Muslim institutions) blocked? Or will there be an actual, fair hearing into every site that gets blocked to allow them the chance to defend themselves against this kind of censorship?

      Is this a mission in futility? This isn’t the first time death threats have appeared online and it’s not the last. In fact, a group that both Richard Warman and the Canadian Jewish Congress have close ties with (and have provided financial support to), the aptly named “Anti-Racist Action” has posted individuals’ home addresses as well as direct calls to murder individuals previously. In a recent protest, this group was holding signs stating “Die, Nazi Scum” and distributing the home address of the targetted individual (who may have been a racist, but not a Nazi).

      Is the real motive here an effort to censor political opposition or actual concern for citizens’ safety and human rights? All this from a group that supported the civilian bombing campaign in Lebanon, but labels those who disagree in even the slightest form with Israeli policies as anti-semitic.

    6. I know I shouldn’t be weighing in on this issue any more than I have already, but I wanted to provide a link to my thoughts.

      The article was titled: Ottawa “human rights lawyer” wants Canada’s Internet to be more like China.

      In a later comment I’ve added you can see a summary of my thoughts:

      In my mind, this idea is simple: technological solutions won’t work to solve social/legal problems. In fact, they will backfire and cause more people to see the material and there will be considerable unintended consequences that will harm persons unrelated to the specific case.

    7. Fairness Fairy says:

      Here is some information about Richard Warman for those who don’t know the whole story. Richard Warman is involved with an urban terrorist group called the “Anti-Racist Action” who he recently sponsored to go and protest in front of another individual’s house, thus the Paul Fromm reference. (link provided)

      They picketted his street with masked faces and sticks and weapons. the cops acted as a barrier between them and Mr. Fromm’s house. This group of individuals that Richard Warman has given speeches to and financed, were also responsible for the firebombing of another individual’s house, including the posting of instructions to do it.
      (link with news articles and pictures on the ARA, including the firebombing, and articles about them attacking police horses’ eyes with sharp sticks during protests provided) http://www.freedomsite.org/ara/index.html

      And if you visit the website of ARA Toronto (link provided), the first page is a video that shows their members in another county of ganging up on an individual sleeping on a train that they suspected was racist and assaulting him while filming it. (link provided)

      After the event, this group posted paul fromm’s address online in a “declaration” about their “successful” mission attacking his house.
      (link provided)

      While they were protesting however, a member of the group was holding up a sign that said, “Thank you Richard Warman for the bus rental” and another with “Die Nazi Scum”
      (2 picture links provided) http://www.stormfront.org/forum/showpost.php?p=3341546&postcount=2

      As you can see in the pictures, some of the members are masked in this protest. Good thing the cops outnumbered the protesters threefold.

      Now this isn’t the end. Paul Fromm is an individual that Warman is trying to sue, seemingly unsuccessfully, for calling him a censor. Also, Paul Fromm has been doing free legal defense work for individuals that Richard Warman files complaints against. A month before the attack on Paul’s house, Richard Warman was unsuccessful in trying to ban Mr. Fromm from defending people for free. At the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, the complainant gets a lawyer from the Canadian Human Rights Commission to prosecute the case for him (for free), but the respondents have no right to legal representation, so they have to pay for their own lawyers. Since most people that Richard Warman targets are youth that post messages online, they can’t afford that.

      Richard Warman also filed a human rights complaint against someone alleging that he was making racist posts online recently. Before the case even went to court, or was even investigated by the canadian human rights commission, Warman called up the university where this guy worked and told them he was a racist and convinced them to fire him. (link provided)

      Richard Warman was also videotaped counciling members of the ARA to commit assault against David Icke, a previous Green Party colleague, that was on a tour signing he latest book because he didn’t agree with what he was writing. (link provided)

      He has affected other peoples’ lives and threatened their safety as well on many occasions. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. So ohara’s comment on the matter is influenced by the fact that she has no idea about any of the background in this case.

      So it’s okay for RIchard Warman to do this to other individuals and then whine about it when it gets reciprocated. At least it’s a good thing that the CRTC rejected the application.

      And feel free to read the actual application and decision:
      (link provided)

      Ignore what the media hides, but the application was attempting to carry out the action ex parte (with no one being allowed to oppose them). Is this the kind of action defensible? Is this a dictatorship where well-connected civilians should be able to file an-unopposed motions to change laws that affect the whole nation?

      The Ruling Also states that Richard Warman is not a legal applicant because he is not from the ISP community. So all this was an utter failure.

      And to make matters much worse, Bernie Farber filed an affidavit that he was a qualified expert in the hate field while leaving out that the last time he tried to testify (in 1999), he was DISQUALIFIED from testifying because he had made comments to the media that indicated that he is dangerously biased would likely say anything to get some people nailed. (link provided)

      There is no information to show he has been requalified as an expert witness since then. And the fact that he decided to go in on the ex parte application shows that his heart is not in the right place.

    8. Craig Cobb says:

      Re your generally positive coverage of Richard Warman: I enjoyed reading your webpage in which you describe yourself, Mark Glaser-
      “He is Jewish…”

    9. Dan says:

      You don’t hear La Raza called a ‘hate group’ for advocating that all the ‘gringos’ be killed and driven out of North America. You don’t hear the ADL being called a ‘hate group’ for promoting all things jewish, and suing in court to remove all things Christian. It’s not called ‘hate speech’ when blacks advocate the genocide of whites, or when moslems in US mosques say ‘kill all infidels’. No, these terms such as ‘hate group’, ‘hate speech’, ‘racist, ‘supremist’ are reserved for whites alone, who dare to think that maybe, just maybe, that white, western civilization is worth preserving. Any expression that seeks to present Whites in a positive light is ‘hate speech’.

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