Wednesday, January 23, 2008

De Facto Censorship?

There's a very opinionated blogger who may be the victim of a very hard-to-prove sort of censorship. You may not agree with him, but anyone with an opinion should pay attention to his situation:

"Foehammer: Anvil Outage Caused by Islamist DDOS Attacks" "I’ve been telling LunarPages to check for ddos attacks for weeks; someone finally listened:" the blogger then displays a copy of an email from his blog's host.

So what?

The "Foehammer" post could be written off as the raving of a hotheaded blogger with issues about his blog host's service.

It could be just that, but this is a period in which a British blogger may face time behind bars for having the wrong opinion (see "Which Needs Protecting: People's Feelings, or Freedom of Speech?" in another blog).

Freedom of speech or expression exists as long as people with unapproved opinions are able to speak or publish. Taking a page from America's civil rights movement, censorship can take two forms: de jure and de facto.

De jure censorship happens when the law says that some ideas may not be expressed. An example is Turkey's law that no one may insult the country's founder or "Turkishness." De jure censorship, like de jure discrimination, is pretty easy to spot: It's carefully recorded in the law books.

De facto censorship is harder to spot. The law may say that all ideas and opinions are to be treated equally, but in practice some are encouraged, and some are not.

America has pretty good legal protections for free speech. In theory, a very wide range of opinions may be expressed. In practice, I'm becoming concerned that some opinions are being treated less equally than others.

In the case of "Foehammer," the blogger has presented a pretty good case for being the victim of deliberate neglect from his blog host, possibly acting in concert with third parties who subject his blog to DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks.

If his fears are true, Foehammer has a serious problem with his right to free expression.

If other politically incorrect bloggers are being subjected to this sort of de facto censorship, we've all got a serious problem. Our opinions may be on the approved list today, but ideological fashions could change tomorrow.

2 comments:

1389 said...

The particular blog post being attacked was this one:

Criticism of Obama's Muslim background is absolutely justified

Islamists clearly do not want the issue of Islam to be mentioned or discussed in the run-up to the 2008 US elections.

Brian, aka Nanoc, aka Norski said...

1389,

Thanks for the clarification.

The American elections are going to shake quite a bit of odd facts - and people - loose.

I've been impressed, and appalled, at the way Islam is being "protected" these days. "British Experts Protect Muslims from 'The Three Little Cowboy Builders' " briefly discusses a different sort of suppression, this one in the United Kingdom.

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Blogroll

Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.