The International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, or ICSR, is a sort of think tank over in London. They say that they're against radicalization and political violence, and I have no reason to doubt that. On the other hand, I don't know that much about the outfit.
They did make some sensible observations though, which got reported today:
- "LONDON (Reuters) - Western governments have overstated the role the Internet plays in the recruitment of militants, and measures to block extremist material are 'crude, expensive and counterproductive,' a report said on Tuesday...." (March 10, 2009) (Reuters via Wired)
- "Strategies to combat online extremism can be crude, expensive and counter-productive, says a report by experts...." (March 10, 2009) (BBC)
- "Extremist groups in Southeast Asia are increasingly using the internet and social networking to radicalise the youth of the region, said a new security report released on Friday...." (March 6, 2009) (Reuters via International Herald Tribune)
Bottom line? It would be somewhere between hard and impossible.
I think I see their point. Let's say that someone decided to use blocking software to keep terrorists and other extremists from getting viewers. An obvious starting place would be to start with words and phrases that Muslim extremists, the white power types, and others typically use.
The software would look for words and phrases like
- satan america
Blocking Terrorists or Silencing Criticism?The Reuters/Wired article brought up something I'm very concerned about.
"...Officials have argued that it should be possible to filter militant material in the same way authorities crack down on child pornography.
"But the report said this analogy was flawed: issues surrounding militant content are less clear cut, and it is politically hard to decide what is illegal and what is merely offensive...." (Reuters via Wired)
It's awfully easy to see strongly-worded criticism as a terrorists threat. Sometimes the strongly-worded criticism actually is a terroristic threat, uttered by someone with strong feelings and self-control issues, but no serious intent to cause harm.
Particularly since I experienced the golden age of political correctness in American academia, I'm very concerned about attempts to control the ideas people are allowed to express, how they express them, and how they discuss ideas that other people were allowed to present. As I said in a previous post, "Knowledge is Power: and I Like Power".
Freedom is precious. And, although I understand how important being safe is, I'm inclined to agree with Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." (from Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759 (The Quotations Page)
"One of the drawbacks of having freedom is that, after a while, it's easy to forget about the alternatives." (March 8, 2009)
- "Minnesotans Recruited for Terror?"
(March 10, 2009)
- "Recruiting for Terror? Somali Minnesotans Missing, One Found Dead"
(December 4, 2008)
- "Pro-Islamic Ads Coming to New York City Subways: There's a Real Danger Here, of Becoming Informed"
(July 21, 2008)
- "Obama's a Radical Muslim; McCain's a Racist: Facts, Mud and the Anonymous Expert"
(October 7, 2008)
- "New York City Counterterrorism Report: Profiling, Stereotyping, or Common Sense"
(August 17, 2007)
- "DC Gun Ban, Online Censorship, Individual Rights, and Power to the People"
(June 27, 2008)
- "Report Slams 'Crude' Effort to Fight Web Militants"
Reuters via Wired (March 10, 2009)
- "Online extremism tactics 'crude' "
BBC (March 10, 2009)
- "Internet growing weapon in Asian radicalisation"
Reuters via International Herald Tribune (March 6, 2009)
- ICSR home page
Countering Radicalization and Political Violence