Should Facebook Remove Holocaust Denial Groups?

Against Holocaust Denial Laws

When the Allied forces began to turn the tide of their conflict against Hitler’s Germany in 1944, one of history’s most disturbing events was about to be discovered.

Named the Final Solution by the Nazis, and subsequently known as the Holocaust around the world, concentration camps were found by Allied forces advancing toward Germany. The first major camp was Majdanek, which was found by the Russians in July 1944. This was followed by other camps in 1945.

The concentration camps were built for one reason – the extermination of the Jewish race by Hitler, in an attempt to breed the perfect Aryan race of blond hair and blue eyes.

While the exact number isn’t known, over six million Jews died in these camps – two thirds of the Jewish residents of Europe at that time. Of this number, one million children perished, along with two million women and three million men.

However, the numbers could be far more – many scholars feel the genocide of other ethnic groups by the Nazis, such as homosexuals, disabled people, Romani and other cultures, should be included. This would mean around 11 million people were murdered in the Holocaust, all because of one man’s twisted vision.

Over the years, there have been many claims by groups and individuals that the Holocaust never happened and that it was a myth created by Israel. Despite the public video footage; the images taken by Allied troops; the admittance of guilt by past Nazi generals – many still believe the Holocaust never happened.

It’s a viewpoint that’s raised questions on free speech and opinions and if, by denying the right to deny the Holocaust, people are having their own right to speak abused.

Now that debate and fight is involving Facebook.

Facebook and Free Speech

A caveat. I’m a huge believer in free speech and differing opinions, and often get shit on because of it – c’est la vie. I will admit I don’t agree on all speech being free – clear hate and sex crime/hate, for example, are some areas I feel opinions step over the line. But then does that make me against true free speech? Possibly.

That’s a personal opinion, though, and would affect very few people in the grand scheme of things (and only if I spoke out). A social network like Facebook, with over 700 million users, is a different kettle of fish. It’s a public platform that allows anyone and everyone to post (and access) status updates, thoughts, views and more.

Holocaust denial

Facebook’s policies look to encourage free speech and opinion, and rightly so. But is there a limit to which this should stop, and a different policy invoked?

That’s one of the questions currently being asked of Facebook by survivors of the Holocaust, in a plea to Facebook to remove groups that have been set up to deny the Holocaust ever happened.

In an open letter posted on the Simon Wiesenthal Center website, the survivors ask Facebook to re-evaluate their approach to what’s classed as free speech versus hate speech so that the atrocities of the past aren’t repeated.

In dialogue so far between the survivors group and Facebook, a Senior VP at Facebook has advised of the importance to “…maintain consistency in our policies, which don’t generally prohibit people from making statements about historical events, no matter how ignorant the statement or how awful the event.”

I’m not sure I can buy that.

Free Speech or Road to Conflict?

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a huge believer in free speech and opinion – yet should all speech be free? Opinion is different – you can keep that to yourself. But, by definition, speech is public and has the ability to change mindsets and start movements.

A speech by Hitler in 1938 led to a movement. It resulted in the deaths of at least six million people.

I’m not naive enough to believe that had the speech never happened, the Holocaust wouldn’t have. Hitler was determined in his path to the Final Solution, and if that speech hadn’t happened, others would have (some did). Nazism was much more than words from a balcony.

But if there’s one thing that history can teach us, it’s that words can be dangerous. When hate is powerful enough, it can see words become a powerful weapon. The world saw its results from Nazi Germany. It sees its results in countries where dictators rule by force, and people live in fear of their gender, sexuality, beliefs and religion being used against them.

Free speech is important – it differentiates true freedom from state-defined freedom. The question is, if free speech is silencing voices and historical fact – and has the potential to incite violence – should it still be free?

I don’t have the answers, just my opinion. You?

Sign up for free weekly content

Enter your first name and email below to get my free weekly newsletter with the latest posts, recommended reading, content tips and more.

(I respect your privacy and will never spam you)

Blog consulting with Danny Brown

Comment Policy: Your words are your own, so be nice and helpful if you can. Let’s treat the guests (and that includes you) nicely. Otherwise, you will be moderated and deleted where I feel it’s applicable. Please, only use your real name and limit the amount of links submitted in your comment. Apart from that - have at it!

    Share Your Thoughts

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. davevandewalle says

    There are wack jobs just about everywhere – I put Holocaust deniers up there with those goofballs who picket funerals of servicemen with “God Hates Fags” signs. It’s deplorable behavior. It’s reprehensible. And, while I’m going to have a tough time in THIS world proving that God is Love, I think the immutable proof that the Holocaust did indeed happen doesn’t mean people can’t believe what they want to believe.

    And it doesn’t mean they can’t say what they want to say.

    As an American, I feel that the second they take away free speech, we’re all screwed.

  2. says

    That people even think this way is shocking to me. Hate speech such as this should not be permitted anywhere on Facebook, but the problem is that these groups are not that stupid. So, maybe they soften some of their language. Now its not “hate speech” it is the “right to free expression”

  3. says

    Fuck me Danny … talk about a crazy ass title. OMG. I was always told to NEVER discuss religion… NEVER EVER. BUT since you brought it up .. I come from an upbringing that respected all regions BUT suddenly made a change. Yes, I was born in a country where a stamp in my passport from Israel will deny me access forever. I have a name that makes airport officials ask me where my headscarf is so well, I live in France which is secular. I wish the world would take heed. Seriously.

    WTF is wrong with Facebook? Breastfeeding mothers are banned for publishing “indecent images” of themselves breastfeeding but religious and racial hate is permitted?

    Sadly free speech leads to a road of conflict, divide and discrimination and well, it sucks balls.

  4. says

    My take is easy. Your freedom stops where mine starts.

    Easy. You can be free but if you are going around screaming that me and my peeps (whoever they are) should be exterminated, efficiently in some grand scheme. Well, let’s just say i won’t be supporting your freedom to say that.

    John Galiano just got done in France for hate speech. It’s a crime in this country to talk in a way that incites hate towards people because of race/sex. I know many who live in a country where you can walk around wearing a hood and ask for the death of a race think that Galliano is treated unfairly. Well let them go to hell .

    I have journalist and writer friends who were tortured and some of them died because they spoke when everyone else was silent. I spoke out when I heard about the blogworld ridiculous attempt at trying to silence you and ginidietrich

    blogworld is even more of a farce now that they ask for a public apology. They made their stance on free speech very clear. Say what I want to hear and we will be friends. It’s disgraceful in 2011 in a country like the United States of America to see people think that way.

    Free speech is important but when millions die, free speech isn’t free anymore.

  5. says

    I believe it was Voltaire who said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    When I first got out of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1992, I went to work for two men who were Holocaust Survivors. Talking to them, there was no doubt the atrocities they suffered were real. I won’t recount it, but one slow day, one of the partners recounted a couple of stories that were unfathomable in their horror.

    I live in a nation that prides itself on Freedom of Speech. I served in its military and worked as a journalist at its newspapers. We don’t always get it right, that’s for sure, but folks have to give the US and most other free nations credit for trying.

    Because of that, I am allowed to talk about judo. I’m allowed to conduct business, and interact with friends. I am in a Facebook group for a politician’s political campaign. I can express my opinion, without fear of reprisal, for what is going on in government.

    I hurt when people of a particular race, gender, or sexual orientation suffer at the hands of others. I get furious at stories of gays being beaten, or stories showing the Ku Klux Klan marching in some town.

    However, can I publicly proclaim my Christian faith and not be willing to let others proclaim their beliefs, thoughts and opinions, repugnant to me though they may be? That’s my question.

    The answer is they have to have a voice or our Democracy doesn’t work.

    Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t drown them out with the truth…….

  6. says

    Danny, I have a horse in this race so to speak. I am Jewish and I think about all of this quite a bit. I teach my children to judge people based upon their actions and not upon their color/religion but that doesn’t mean that I think that all people are good/smart. Some of them are stupid sheep who will go along with bad things because they don’t think or see where the consequences may lead.

    Most people know the name Daniel Pearl and remember that he was murdered. Well, he and I grew up in the same neighborhood. He was older than I am but my friends older siblings knew him so his murder isn’t something I think of as a simple tragedy- it hits closer because of many connections.

    When I watch videos ( that call for rape because they see it as political resistance I get irritated and angry. Passive disagreement is one thing, but that another.

    I am very aware of the millions of others who died in the Holocaust and lots of other tragedies and don’t believe that others don’t suffer. That being said most of the Holocaust denial rhetoric is antisemitic. Those are people that hate my children, my cousins, my siblings, my friends, the people I love for silly reasons.

    I don’t mess around with people like that. When you say you want to kill me I take it seriously. Look in my eyes and you will see that insouciant Jack is gone. Part of me likes to have them out there parading their beliefs around because it is good to know who hates.

    But the thing is that some of them are clever and know how to couch and clothe their hate in ways that make it seem reasonable, palatable and they will catch some people aren’t so smart. I’d rather not let that go on so take that crap off of Facebook and let them hide in some little hole.

  7. says

    @John Falchetto I agree with you John. This isn’t directed at any one person, but I don’t think that everyone understands that much of the world doesn’t see things through a Western perspective and that they are willing to use force in ways that are more than repugnant.

    I am a huge believer in people but I have seen crowds turn ugly and it doesn’t take long.

  8. says

    @TheJackB Crowds have no morals. As I said I strongly believe that you freedom stops where mine starts. Without limits there can be no freedom. It just becomes chaos and anarchy.

    • JasonC says

      If one questions the existence of anything, it doesn’t mean one promotes hate. If one denies the existence of God, it does not promote hate. How does denying the holocaust promote hate?

  9. Billy_Delaney says


    I lived in Hanover Germany as a boy back in 1961, my father was a soldier in the British Army. He wanted all of us to learn and see something. So, He took us to Belsen Concentration Camp for this lesson. As a young boy I remember to this day the long rows of mounds that contained the bodies of the murdered people. One thing stood out amidst all of this. The birds did not sing. I questioned my Dad about this. He was as stunned by this as all of us. My mom wanted to leave. That is all I remember and it is enough.

    Then after that I spent three years living in Libya, and witnessed the hatred of Jews first hand. from that I grew up in Belfast Northern Ireland. The religious hatred and insanity that resulted in that bloodbath for all those years ensued never left me either.

    Living in England and serving in the British Navy when a soldier was murdered in Northern Ireland I could not freely speak, my voice singled me out as Irish. It was not the best of times.

    I saw mobs and what they do. They have no conscience, values or beliefs only actions, and once incited those actions are never in the interests of its victims.

    Anyone who lived through that will remember the task of keeping quiet. The “terrorists” a.k.a. thugs silenced anyone who did not hold to their views in any area they held sway.

    Once reason I came to live in America.

    The point I want to make from all of this.

    I have been around the block and when good people don’t speak up, other good people die.

    To say that history did not happen and that a race fostered these notions upon the world for money is a lunacy that one day again will be acted upon.

    I am totally with John, ‘your freedom stops where mine starts’ and I am completely supportive of Israel and its people in the reality of what has happened to them throughout history. I am also completely in agreement with Jack when your hatred denies others the rights of life, your life is a twisted, amoral, denial of fundamental human reality.

    Nothing, nothing, nothing was ever resolved by hatred, nothing. If social media like facebook continue with this crap stand I am gone. Who needs to be a part of it? It is not a conversation I want to be associated with ever.

    People ClayMorgan are not of sound logic. Because you find a dollar in a garbage can that does not make it a bank. Because whole nations deny truths and hate does not make them right because of their numbers.

    Clay Americas policy on free speech is an anomaly in the world and it is abused to the enth degree. Lawyers and their like make a mockery of speech period.

    See a mob beat two soldiers to death by acts unimaginable and then tell me about your free speech beliefs.

    Billy Delaney said this and this is my voice.

  10. MSchechter says

    Even as the worlds worst Jew, this tends to be a very personal issue for me. My grandmother was one of the fortunate who was able to escape to the woods of England and inevitably get to the states.

    That said, I hope they don’t block these groups. I like these assholes where I can see them. Block them on Facebook, they will turn up somewhere else, somewhere darker and somewhere that they can cook up something worse without the fear of prying eyes (not that they likely don’t do that anyway).

    As I’ve said before, you can’t fix stupid. I also think the same is true for hate. Let people say what they want. The louder they say it, the easier they will be to find if they ever truly step over the line and try do anything that is a fraction as idiotic as the things that come out of their mouths and fingers.

    That said, I couldn’t agree more with @Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) that the double standard surrounding these things are often as stupid as the issues themselves… Let people post what they want. They are easy to ignore and easy to find.

  11. Ken Jacobs says

    In memory of my my great-grandparents, great aunts and uncles and their children, who were slaughtered in the Holocaust, I say thank you, friend.

  12. EvilPRGuy says

    That’s a really well written post Danny Brown You took a damn complicated subject and broke it down so it actually made it easier for people to understand as opposed to muddying the waters. That’s a hard writing trick to pull off.

    When it comes to free speech, I don’t think you can have both free speech and “limits” on what people can say. One clearly contradicts the other. As ugly, wrong, misguided and evil as Holocaust denial is, people should still have the ability to write about it if there is free speech. It’s too slippery a slope to star saying, “You have the right to free speech, except when it comes to X, Y and Z.” Once you put up one blockade, even on one subject, it effects the free speech of all subjects. People will immediately feel that they can’t truly speak their minds, because there are some subjects that are off limits.

    When it comes time to back up free speech, and put your money where your mouth is, it only means something when it comes down to real ugly subjects like this. The hard choices are the ones that matter.

    In this case, if people can’t discuss holocaust denial, does that only mean the holocaust that occurred in WWII? Does that extend to the genocide in Armenia, Rwanda and Cyprus as well? I think people who don’t believe that the holocaust occurred are clearly delusional, and totally wrong. However, I also think the idea of their being a “God” is just as silly, but people should be able to openly discuss it.

    The point of free speech is rooted in an open exchange of ideas and information. If people can openly exchange ideas, then any intelligent person will easily be able to gather the information they need to determine that the holocaust happened, and people denying it are clowns who don’t have their facts straight. When you start banning free speech, people no longer have the access they need to absorb information to construct intelligent opinions.

    Things like real freedom, and freedom of speech don’t come cheap.

    As an aide, I realize in this specific case that Facebook is a private network, and cam ban any speech they like on a whim. I also know that in Germany, it’s illegal to discuss holocaust denial, and certain other aspects of WWII.

  13. Mike Johnson says

    Limits to free speech? Is that freedom? I say let idiots voice their opinions, it is easier to point them out and shun them.

  14. says

    Danny, this an excellent discussion on a very tough subject. Kudos for addressing it.

    Frankly, I think freedom of speech is something we need to aggressively protect – even when we abhor it. I hate the people who protest military funerals for their whacked out views, but the person being buried that day swore an oath to protect their right to say it – and be idiots. It is not free speech if that only applies to what I/we agree with. Holocaust denial is wrong, and might be dangerous, put for the most part it is probably protected.

    Just as important, I don’t want the people who run Facebook deciding what is and isn’t free speech. Time and again they’ve shown a lack of good judgement. I don’t want them becoming censors of what is or isn’t there beyond things that are specifically prohibited by law. I guess I’d say that if you want the Holocaust deniers silenced take them to court. If you don’t want to hear it, block them. But no way in hell do I want the people running Facebook to decide what I can or cannot read.

  15. DavidSvet says

    A short while ago the right wing fringe in Kansas managed to infiltrate the state board of education and enact creationism as a core tennet of biology while downplaying evolution in public school education. While not hateful or inciting any kind of gross public action, it’s still an infliction of religious belief on scientific theory. At some point you need to draw the line and say, no. Kansas said no when we ousted these duly elected officials from the board of education. But there are obviously places where irrational thought can create great public harm and the recourses for stopping it are few and very far between.

    Creationism vs. evolution in the classroom is nothing compared to the Holocaust or Holocaust denial, nothing. But where can a line be drawn? Can a line be drawn? Who ends up on the wrong side of the line against their will?

    Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this is apathy. Remaining unengaged with your head in the sand is probably more dangerous than the blood curdling screams of the right and left.

  16. says

    @DavidSvet The religion versus science angle one is always a feisty one, mate (for want of a better word). Bring kids into the equation who, depending on age, have little knowledge of fact versus fiction, and it can become a dangerous game.

    You’re right about apathy – that’s the worst enemy of truth regardless of topic. It’s why governments comes to power despite being clear idiots, because we believe they can’t possibly win. Except they do.

    With regards the line, for me it’s the threat of suffering or worse – I can’t condone that on any level.

    Cheers for your thoughts, mate.

  17. says

    @RickRice Great points as usual, mate, particularly the military one. I may vehemently oppose the reason for going to war, but I’ll just as vehemently support the men and women that march into it, because they’re just following the thing they signed up to do.

    I guess the big problem is the enforcement based on the law of a country and how little impact that can have. Then again, that’s probably more to do with the idiots and their ignorance taking precedence over legal rulings than anything else…

  18. says

    The law is complex in that it can be vague and uncertain.

    Your freedom to speak is limited, even by our constitution. It ends if it infringes on another person’s rights. If true free speech existed, we would let the KKK speak freely wherever they wished. This isn’t the case–establishments seek to eradicate what they have to say or limit where they can say it. But that’s just one example.

    You aren’t allowed to speak freely if it is meant to incite violence or to disrupt the peace–you will be held liable.

    You aren’t allowed to speak freely if it is to commit slander or libel–you will be held accountable.

    My Aunt is a lawyer, graduated from Harvard Law, and always said that the law was fluid. It’s never been straightforward, is open to interpretation, and should be considered a form of art. Freedom of speech is part of this fluidity. Laws and their interpretations change with time or are altered for the times we’re in.

  19. says

    @EvilPRGuy Hey there Michael,

    Awesome, awesome comment, mate. I think this is why it jars so much with me – I’ve always seen free speech as exactly that, since there are laws that ban (or protect) anything that could be seen as “crossing that line”.

    Yet I can’t condone the right to threaten to maim, hurt or kill someone and have that protected under “free speech”. If someone threatened to kill my son, and claim, “Hey, I can say what I want” and then hurt him? It wouldn’t be pretty (nor, probably, legal).

    But then, your points – and the very meaning of free speech – are bang on. I think this is where @DavidSvet ‘s point about apathy is something that we all need to combat.

    Thanks, sir, appreciated.

  20. Grit08 says

    Absolutely they should remove them. I love free speech and it is every persons right to voice their beliefs as long as it is about freedom and not hate. Holocaust Denial is not about free speech it is about spreading a message of hate and disinformation. Millions of people died and some sick, ignorant bigots want to deny the fact it happened. How many honest, decent men and women gave their lives fighting the Nazi’s. And milllions of other people suffered. People talking about free speech as if it did not cost anything to achieve. Free speech is not a right. It is something earned by contributing positively to society by breaking down barriers that obstruct equality, peace, democracy, social and economic justice and harmony.

    Does anybody really think Hitler would have let you have free speech if he had won the war. How many of us would have been alive now to even talk about free speech. Lets get real here. Peddlers of hate in any of its forms have no right to a voice any where on this planet. Absolutely pointless policy statement by FB.

    They can write holocaust denial within their own circle, peddle their hate anywhere they want except among decent people in public. Trying to influence people who are naive and misinformed and to build a new generation of hate mongers is really what this is about. They are not interested in free speech they are interested in destroying a free society.

    They are hiding under the banner of their right to free speech and at the same time infiltrating institutions of freedom and democracy with one ultimate goal to tear down a free society and replace it with one based on the Nazi philosophy. Any body who cannot see this is delusional. Why should this be allowed to continue. All over Europe and the US these types of groups and people are openly inflitrating every economic, social and political structure.

    This kind of thing makes me sick to my stomach get some balls FB its a business. What other business would allow this type of thing to happen without taking action or being forced to take action. Its a complete joke that this is allowed to continue dressing it up as an issue of holding up our right to free speech is bull*shit plain and simple. Ban them now.

    Well done Danny top quality writing and balanced, eloquent presentation of an issue that is difficult to address for so many.

    Respect Sir.

  21. says

    @MSchechter@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) Oh, there are definitely a ton of groups away from Facebook, some hidden, some not. The Rick A. Ross Institute does a great job of keeping track of many of them:

    While I understand the premise of being in public allows for better “monitoring”, I also worry about apathy through ignoring. No easy answers here, I guess.

  22. says

    I agree w/ some good comments on both sides. This is beyond deplorable and yes there are limits on free speech. Per @Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) point about the double standards, like @RickRice I am not comfortable letting Facebook (or Etsy or Google or Apple) decide what I can see (hate) or can’t (breastfeeding?!) based on their values and ‘policies.’ Also gotta agree with @DavidSvet on the dangers of apathy, so kudos to you Danny, for taking a stand on such a topic. I know this is deeply personal and offensive to some; others say don’t let them hide under the cloak of darkness, better to point out how ignorant and offensive these groups can be. Do I consider this hate speech? Yes. Should FB take it down? I honestly don’t know. FWIW.

  23. says

    @Billy_Delaney I lost my cousin to an IRA ambush when he was just 18 years old. I recall watching, live on TV, the two SAS soldiers being dragged from their car by a baying mob and butchered. I remember the gas attacks on the Kurds.

    Hatred is a powerful emotion, mate – perhaps the most powerful going. Like you say, reason goes out the window and the mob mentality takes over.

    I want to believe in free speech, and I will fully support anyone’s right to not be silenced on their beliefs. But when violence and worse is a result of these beliefs, I can’t condone. Not one iota.

    Cheers, sir.

  24. says

    @DannyBrown When it comes to the military I am firm supporter of the volunteers who serve in any country – they don’t get to pick and chose their mission.

    This really is a tough one. I might prefer German law when it comes to Holocaust but I don’t get to pick. If I want to be able to say what I want to then I need to accept that people can say things I hate to hear – because they might hate to hear what I have to say. Other than ‘fire’ in the theater when there isn’t one we have to cope with hearing tons of things we don’t agree with – or as I said abhor – if we really believe in freedom of speech.

    It isn’t easy and (not to be trite, but…) it isn’t free either. It isn’t perfect, but it is better than any alternative I’ve seen. And, either way, I still don’t want the fools at Facebook making the decision.

  25. says

    @TheJackB One of the reasons I don’t really have any religious views one way or another is that much of the strife throughout history has been caused by religious zealots. Sadly, the beliefs of a few powerful people usually result in the rising of millions against others. And still we don’t learn.

    I’m 100% with you on the physical threats against those I love, or innocents and weaker people. You come after my family, mate, you better be prepared more than you think you need to be, because I will not back down until you lose or I do.

    Thanks for the thoughtful words as always, mate.

  26. says

    @ClayMorgan It’s a definite quandary, and probably why I feel at odds on the topic. Like you say, if you only have free speech for some and not others, is it really free speech? And yet…

    The moment that free speech becomes a rallying call to take lives or maim and destroy, I can’t see that as free speech. For me, it’s hate speech, and that – surely – can never be free. Yes, we have laws, but do these really make a difference?

    As others have said, that drives people underground and we’ve seen time and time again what happens when underground movements come up for air.

    Yet is this a result of denying “free speech”? Many would argue yes. Just as many would argue no. Which, I guess, goes to show how dividing the principle of free speech versus actual free speech can be.

    Cheers, mate.

  27. MSchechter says

    @DannyBrown@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) I don’t think anyone is ignoring them. I think we know they are there, think they are a bunch of moronic assholes. But the thing is, there is a big difference between a tragic statement and a tragic act. Words can hurt, but they can’t kill. Only the actions people take because of those words can. And thankfully our laws hold people accountable when others act on the words of others. But if they just want to throw horrible words around, what can we really do? It isn’t a matter of apathy it is a matter of outcome. There is no way to reach these people, there is no way to stem the conversation.The only thing that can really be done is to make sure it is all talk.

    Believe me buddy, I’d rather live in a world without it either, but banning it on Facebook or anywhere else isn’t going to make anyone any less of a piece of shit.

  28. says

    @John Falchetto The journalism example is a powerful one, mate. My friend debbi morello shares tragic stories like yours, and the papers frequently report on people doing their jobs either being murdered or kidnapped, because they’re trying to expose that which others would have you stay quiet about.

    I’m all for free speech – but, like you, I draw the line at incitement to harm, maim, or kill. Millions of people of all races, religion and country have died because of hateful rhetoric dressed up as free speech.

    Call it what it is – hate speech. That’s punishable; free speech (*real* free speech) isn’t.

    Cheers, mate.

  29. says

    @John Falchetto Actually, something I forgot. While I completely agree on the “violence and threats isn’t free speech” approach, I can’t agree with “say what I want to hear and we will be friends”, as doesn’t that go against the idea of free speech to begin with?

    I’ve had many folks disagree with my points of view and, while I may not agree with their reasons, I won’t see them as “enemies” because of their views. Heck, some of my best friends say things I don’t agree with, but I wouldn’t want to not be friends with them just because we don’t see eye-to-eye.

    Just a thought.

  30. Lesley McLaughlin says

    Gotta go with the free speech, in spite of the seriousness of this insane line of thinking! Then we can keep an eye on the instigators!

  31. says

    @Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence) I guess boobs are more offensive than actual tits? 😉

    There was a story in the news a couple of weeks back about Delta Airlines and their partnership with Saudi Arabian Airlines, and whether that would mean Delta would stop allowing Jews to travel on their flights.

    Where does common sense disappear to when religion and hate mean people can’t travel a world we all have to share? The mind boggles.

  32. says

    @DannyBrown@John Falchetto I’m sorry John, but I have to agree with Danny. People’s right to free speech doesn’t stop with my boundaries – that is probably where free speech begins – not my boundaries but everyone’s different boundaries. I can decide if I want to listen but I will defend your right to say it whether I agree or not. Yes, there are limits but I sure don’t think my opinions should define that.

  33. says

    @NancyD68 I think that’s one of the biggest problems, Nancy – many hide under the free speech banner when it’s clearly hate speech. It’s something that needs to be addressed and enforced – then perhaps we can really appreciate free speech for what that actually represents.

  34. says

    @davevandewalle Hi mate,

    Completely agree, silence free speech and you silence democracy. Though I’d agree even more if the lines between free speech and hate speech weren’t blurred by organizations and people looking to abuse both.

    Cheers, mate.

  35. says

    @DannyBrown In this instance I meant ‘friends’ as people we respect and don’t attack with demands of public apologies for their opinions. Yes to respecting friends who have different opinions than ours.

  36. says

    @RickRice There is where I disagree Rick, when my freedom of speech means I take away your freedom then there is a serious issue with what I say. What if I called for the extermination of the Rice family? @DannyBrown

  37. says

    @MSchechter Hi Michael, words can kill the same way words can heal. Words have power. When a talented orator drives a crowd into a frenzy and calls for the death of a people, well we know what happens.

    I agree though banning it on Facebook won’t make it go away. FB has a rule that kids under 13 shouldn’t have an account. At last count there around 10million under 13 with FB accounts. So this shows how ineffective bans can be @DannyBrown @Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence)

  38. says

    @RickRice@DannyBrown We need to be clear that in the USA we do not have absolute free speech. It doesn’t exist. Shad mentioned it earlier and I’ll reiterate it.

    Go look up Gitlow V. New York or take my “word” that there are limits. You cannot advocate the violent overthrow of the government. You cannot yell fire in a theater.

    It feels good to say that we should let people say whatever they want even if we don’t like it. It feels good to say that there is a slippery slope and we don’t want to give away freedom.

    But life is now and will always be filled with choices and reasons to be worried about how we act and what we do.

    We don’t have to let these people create groups in which they advocate violence. I have never seen the Holocaust deniers not reach a place where they don’t suggest that people need to be hurt.

    This is not about chicken little. This is not fear mongering. This is about groups of people who create a cancer that murders indiscriminately.

  39. says

    @DannyBrown Danny, I get it. I understand completely. There was a time when I felt exactly the same. I don’t care what people believe as long as it is not used to hurt others.

    Religious history is definitely a mixed bag.

  40. says

    @RickRice You bring an interesting point with the ‘fire in the theater. Why can’t we scream ‘fire’ in a theater? Because people will trampled and hurt.

    How different is that to calling for the death and extermination of a people? History has shown us that time and time again, people have been hurt by such calls.

    I agree with you Facebook shouldn’t be making a call but it is a private entity and they can choose what they want on their site or not. The same way every corporation has a code of conduct for its users. If I were to walk in to a fast food joint tomorrow and ask for the death of a people, wouldn’t I be asked to leave by management?


  41. MSchechter says

    @John Falchetto Totally not arguing the power of words to compel action. But those strong hateful words still require the actions of weak people in order for us to do anything about it. I actually think we are saying the same thing or at least something similar, but this is one of those topics that can easily become an unending semantic run around (not that those aren’t fun from time to time).

    For me, the bottom line is that there will never be an a-ha moment for anyone who truly believes the holocaust didn’t happen. There is no talking to anyone that is that in denial. In the case of morons like that, we need to keep an eye on them. Make sure hateful words don’t turn into hateful actions, but their own tactic of pretending like something doesn’t exist actually works pretty well when applied to them as well. Because unfortunately, talking to a brick wall would likely prove more effective.

  42. MSchechter says

    @RickRice@DannyBrown Thankfully, according to Abbie Hoffman at least, you can yell theater in a crowded fire…

  43. MSchechter says

    @John Falchetto@RickRice@DannyBrown There is a subtle difference. In the first example, people would fear for themselves and attempt to escape. Would you say the same is true in genocide? Aren’t the people doing the killing just as guilty (if not more so) than the guy standing on the balcony…

  44. MSchechter says

    @John Falchetto@RickRice@DannyBrown But isn’t what you are getting at here more a matter of intent than it is the words. Even saying “someone should kill the rice family” (Sorry Rick) is very different than “i’m going to kill the rice family” (Sorry again Rick). I think we are focusing on the wrong thing here. It isn’t a matter of what you say, it’s a matter of what you are trying to do. Take the Holocaust for one. I’d rather focus my energy on the guys trying to create the next one rather than those denying the last one. I get why getting rid of both would be nice, but I’m far more worried about the intent of the former than the latter.

  45. says


    I was always told to NEVER discuss religion… NEVER EVER. BUT since you brought it up .. I come from an upbringing that respected all regions BUT suddenly made a change. Yes, I was born in a country where a stamp in my passport from Israel will deny me access forever. I have a name that makes airport officials ask me where my headscarf is so well, I live in France which is secular. I wish the world would take heed. Seriously.

    WTF is wrong with Facebook? Breastfeeding mothers are banned for publishing “indecent images” of themselves breastfeeding but religious and racial hate is permitted?

    Sadly free speech leads to a road of conflict, divide and discrimination and well, it sucks.

  46. LordZion says

    Speech isn’t free, it has consequences. As we move further away from the actual events of World War II and the Holocaust, it becomes less “real” to us so it is more important that the true facts are preserved for historical reasons, if nothing else. Allowing – frankly – idiots to spout their nonsense spreads an untruth about events that should be remembered for EXACTLY what they were, in the hope they might be avoided in the future.

    This also goes for atrocities the allies did. Was Nagasaki really necessary after Hiroshima? Debatable.

    I could go on!

  47. says

    I find it intersting how I only just found your site and the first email i got from you was one that hit home. I kind of feel the universe just works that way.

    I have been blogging now for about a year and a half. I am Jewish and I have lived in Israel half my life.

    The only comment I have ever deleted from my blog was a hateful antisemitic comment based purely on hate and my heritage that was a reply to this post ( )

    I was shocked when I looked at the blog of the commentator and found that the blog was not only just hateful but full of articles about untrue things like blood libel (how jews kill non jews to be able to drink their blood)-seriously middle age rhetoric with no basis.

    What worries me about groups like facebook not drawing the line, is that our society is getting way too permissive. And because of that, things are shocking us less and less. There is more hate, there is more murder and for stupid things like someone looked at you wrong.

    I do hope facebook comes to its senses.

    I apologize for the length of this comment. :-)

  48. says

    @RickRice@DannyBrown I think the question here is not one of just opinion. Two people can see things different ways. Heck I live in that country.

    That said, is what is being spouted true or untrue. Can it be proven or not proven?

    I might be opening a can of worms because people call Israel an apartheid state, yet as a whole, our army is one of the most humane armies in the world:warning civilians ahead of time, preferring to pout soldiers at risk instead of civilians from the opposing side. But if you were not to see the whole picture and hear both sides of the story, you might not know that. You might indeed make a judgment based on limited knowledge.

    I just don’t understand how with all the proof out there, people can actually claim the holocaust didn’t happen. I have two grandmothers who both lost families in the holocaust-they were both minors at the time. The stories they tell, make me wonder how they are still alive and functioning so many years later.

  49. says

    I’d rather that such groups have a presence in mainstream media where they provoke discussions like this than festering in the darkness of underground discussion groups where they’re never challenged. I like knowing what people think. Even when it infuriates me.

  50. debmorello says

    Thank you @DannyBrown for this very thought provoking post and for thinking of me in one of your replies. The difficulty in the issues and questions of “free speech” and “hate speech” is it is far from simple or straightforward. The Constitution and the rule of law, both of which the United States and the West benefit from, provide for freedom of speech no matter how repugnant the speech. The rule of law, where it exists, allows for people to exercise these rights if you are doing so within the boundaries of the law – if you break the law, that’s another matter.

    It’s difficult to remain objective when you see such heinous groups such these Holocaust deniers, or Westboro Baptist Church, the group that protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers. Recently the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Westboro after a case brought by the father of a soldier who was killed in Iraq. Westboro Church protested at this funeral, as they have at hundreds of others. The Supreme Court’s 8 to 1 decision was controversial.

    However, The majority opinion acknowledged that “Westboro’s choice added to Mr. Snyder’s already incalculable grief” and emphasized that the ruling was narrow and limited to the kinds of protests staged by the church. But the language of the opinion was sweeping. “Westboro’s funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible,” Chief Justice Roberts concluded. “But Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of local officials.

    Two things – first, the states are able to enact laws that dictate “how” these protests can be conducted. The Supreme Court’s decision gave implicit support to those laws.

    Second, Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined the majority opinion but wrote separately to say that other sorts of speech, including television broadcasts and Internet postings, might warrant different treatment.The case initially did concern not only public protests but also an Internet posting created by the church group that denounced the Snyders by name.

    But Chief Justice Roberts said the Snyders had failed to pursue their arguments concerning the posting in the Supreme Court and so it “does not factor in our analysis.”

    Important to note, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 21 news organizations, including The New York Times Company, filed a brief supporting the church. “To silence a fringe messenger because of the distastefulness of the message,” the brief said, “is antithetical to the First Amendment’s most basic precepts.”

    Yes, the journalism example “is” a powerful one. And while I would argue journalists would be the first to report on these hate mongers and their twisted logic, journalist would also be the first to defend the right to do so.

    Again, the important thing to remember and always be cognizant of, the rule of law and the path one can pursue. I believe the response by Facebook’s senior vice president about ” ‘policies’ which don’t ‘generally’…” is thin at best. I mean “generally”?? And what about “policies”??

    Facebook’s policies are not law. Perhaps someone might consider “legal precedent” has something like this ever been challenged? By the way, there are Holocaust Denial Laws in place in seven countries. The size of Facebook and its reach alone sets it apart from anything out there – the response by it’s SVP is weak and uninformed. Perhaps some grown-ups should consider legally challenging Facebook’s “general policies”. (just my IMO and rant for the day) Thank you Danny!

  51. says

    @DavidSvet couldn’t agree more about apathy. At some point, doing nothing becomes a choice, which is why it has taken so long for German people to work through the issues of responsibility, blame, guilt and shame.

    But I disagree that “creationism vs evolution” is less dangerous than Holocaust denial. In order for society to engage in discussion and debate, its members need to be educated. Denying the scientific method, confusing faith with facts and teaching that those who are not like us are damned sinners does not teach children to engage in debate or create fertile ground for civil discourse. Both of which are necessary to avoid repeating some of the horrendous mistakes mankind has made in the past.

  52. JohnHaydon says

    @MimiMeredith Mimi – I’m right there with you. Also having a publicly traded company determine what’s acceptable speech is no good for anyone.

  53. Danny Brown says

    @Mike – If it’s limiting free speech, then no, it’s not “freedom” per se. If it’s stopping people inciting violence and worse, is it still limiting?

  54. Danny Brown says

    @Lesley – What if the law isn’t enforced or, in the case of Westboro Baptist Church, where they’re forcing hateful views onto people when burying their children or loved ones?

  55. Robert DeVore says

    Free speech covers love speech, protest speech, hate speech and everything in between. Regardless of how stupid the people are who run the holocaust denial pages, they’re still entitled to free speech just like every blogger, musician, author, etc gets. Take it from them and then there’s no such thing as free speech anymore

  56. Mike Johnson says

    @Danny – The law and constitutional amendments have been pretty clear on this issue. Hate speech, for example, is on the books for good reason. The line is drawn, in my opinion, between discussing situations but when individual look to hurt people physically or their reputation (slander/libel) there are lines drawn and with good reason. The lines protecting individuals in spirit, I believe, are aimed to allow further discussion and debate in order to come to an informed conclusion. Again, the ability to shun or push someone out of the debate or a community, with an informed rational choice, is something that the US Constitution protects (for better or for worse).

  57. Robert DeVore says

    No problem. I had this discussion not too long ago about the Westboro Baptist Church and their “god hates fags” campaign and hate speech. As much as I personally wish that somebody at a funeral they protest punches them square in the face, they’re still free to speak out and use their free speech however they see fit.

  58. Mike Johnson says

    I agree Robert, I hold opinions that differ from some and would never want my voice to be silenced.

  59. Mike Johnson says

    We can look back to history to see a minority challenge the majority and make social change for good, hence the need to protect these freedoms and not just align with “the powers that be”.

  60. says

    I too am for ‘free’ speech but definitely not ‘hate’ speech. However, where do you draw the line? If you try to be the ‘thought’ police that in and of itself has implications and power.

    Having said that, I am somewhat ‘ok’ with racial profiling. If it helps identify the trouble makers, then I’m all for it. Yes, it is easy for me to say as a white middle class male, but I will tell you I am one of the least prejudicial people you will meet. I am very inclusive and non-judgmental. However, if we know where the majority of the problems are coming from I think it’s naive to say ‘well we can’t do that because we will violate their civil rights’.

    Both of those are very divisive issues and where do you draw the line, or can you even draw a line because by doing so it’s no longer totally free, right? Who gets to be the judge, society? That’s a good one; think you can get more than 10 people in a room and totally agree on everything?

    I’ll tell you what; I will come up w/ a plan for world peace through social media and you come up with a universal solution for free speech. I should be able to have it to you by Monday………………

    Have a good one D.

  61. debmorello says

    @RickRice@DannyBrown@Billy_Delaney Agree, and excellent point. I did not know Danny, I’m so sorry for your loss.

  62. MikeSchaffer says

    @DannyBrown – What an excellent post. There is a clear distinction between truth and fiction, although sometimes the line is hard to see. The Holocaust, however, is one instance where there is no blur.

    It happened. Bottom line.

    Believing in free speech, while everyone SAYS it’s easy to do, is actually quite difficult, as you outlined. While everyone deserves to have their opinion heard, spitting hateful, willful lies does not constitute an opinion. Thus, Facebook should cut the cord and pull the pages.

  63. says

    @bdorman264 Yep. In this case, I was thinking of infectious diseases, and fatal fungi. I know there are good things that grow in underground groups and dark places. Mushrooms for instance. But seldom healthy thoughts.

  64. says

    First off I am of Jewish blood though not the religion (I gave it up for lent…just kidding people!) my own investigation into the God of the Jews/Christians/Muslims has steered me to a different spiritual path because that God in pre Judeo Cultures was the god of war (go figure but great book to read is Karen Armstrongs – History of God, I highly recommend it. She also wrote a great one on Buddha). But my people have a rich and colorful history going back a long time. I very much am offended by any jews who do not feel the other groups that were included in the extermination are not included. Claiming we are special and God’s chosen people (oh and BTW you are not =P ) is part of how we got here. We are all brothers and sister on planet mother earth get over it and hug already!

    I feel these groups should be allowed on Facebook as long as the comments are of a philosphical discussion type. If they are actually saying things like ‘Lets kill jews’ and really nasty dialogue I feel that is no different than any other hate group and Facebook should maybe not have them on the site.

    BUT can they keep them off. Do a Twitter search for #TCOT #TLOT #SGP #ORCA you will find a lot of crazy right wing obama is the devil lets kill democrats tweets. And you want your sponsored tweets showing up those streams don’t you Doritos and Pampers? I found those during the healthcare reform debates. I was floored.

    But while Twitter is anonymous Facebook generally isn’t. And if those people want to play on Facebook vs say a private NING site so be it. Because if you think the FBI isn’t monitoring who is there and memberships etc you are naive. Let them play in plain site. Plus if you are that small minded or mentally handicapped we could target them to visit Michelle Bachmann’s hubbies business. Not only can you pray away the gay I bet he can help you pray away the hate 8)

  65. says

    @LordZion one thing Robert Sheer always bring sup on left right and center is the fact we didn’t have to wipe out either city with the bombs and that the decision to do so was a genocide or war crimes worth event. he is right 100%. The problem is when because other groups are doing things so much worse, that we can view something horrible as acceptable because ‘at least it wasn’t as bad as that’. Similar to the waterboarding debate right?

    The good news is that we now have media. When the Jews left the desert and started taking the land like Jericho they killed every man, woman, child and animal. We have no video footage of that. Were the jews my people the first to commit holocausts? Was there groups before them? Obviously there were plenty of events after right among many many peoples during war time. But until Germany never was their such scale or had it been mechanized, nor the number of people on earth.

    But now we have video and photos and hopefully this explosion in technology will help prevent these things in the future.

  66. says

    I studied European History as an undergrad. I specialized in World War II, Nazi Germany, and the Resistance. I’ve read many books about the Holocaust, including personal writings of both victims and survivors. Based on my studies of the events during the time, I have developed a strong opinion: This kind of speech IS hate speech. Its purpose is to incite violence. It should absolutely be removed from Facebook.

    Regarding the constitutional issues here in the US, private enterprises can restrict speech however they want in all but a small number of unusual circumstances. I checked with my sister who is an attorney, and she said Facebook can certainly remove whatever it wants.

  67. says

    @HowieSPM The incitement to hurt, maim or kill is where I draw the line, Howie. If that means I’m against free speech, then fair enough, but when real danger comes into play, you no longer are speaking freely, you’re breaking the law.

    But I am seeing the logic behind keeping these groups public as well, so they can be monitored by those that can really do something about the more extreme views.

    Cheers, mate.

  68. says

    @marianne.worley I think that’s the key difference, Marianne – free speech is free speech, but when you’re saying something that incites a violent reaction? That turns the corner.

  69. says

    @MikeSchaffer One of the points that’s been raised elsewhere is of Facebook being a business (since it sells ad space and has premium products). And the questioning becomes, would you want to deal with a business that encourages hate speech by inaction?

    I thought that was a good way to look at it.

  70. says

    @HowieSPM Howie, I don’t believe for a moment that the “yahoos” on FB are using real names or that the FBI has enough resources to truly monitor these groups. How do you figure out who is serious and who is just a kook.

    While I understand and appreciate the logic in trying to keep them “visible” I don’t like providing forums in which they can mask hatred with “scholarly” works and that is part of the problem.

    I’ll toot my own horn for a moment. I am a very fine writer and I can construct an essay that is reader friendly and chock full of information that will make you nod your head in agreement with any position I choose to take.

    Most people will not take the time to question the facts that are laid out there. I am not as worried about the people who say things like “Kill the Jews because they run the world and perpetuate hoaxes upon people.”

    They are easy to discredit. It is the man/woman who writes the aforementioned “scholarly” works that provide “facts” that “prove” something didn’t happen or couldn’t have happened on this scale.

    It is dangerous to provide them with broader platforms to promote their messages of hate.

  71. says

    @bdorman264 That’s the definite danger, Bill, and probably why I’m a bit torn on the topic.

    Who polices the police? Who ensures there are no ulterior motives for removing something because of someone on the monitoring team’s beliefs? Can we be 100% sure that those we place in charge are any better in their decision-making?

    I’m all for free speech; I’m all for removal and prosecution of hate speech. It’s the in-between parts that can get blurred, unfortunately.

    Have a great weekend, mate.

  72. says

    @HowieSPM@LordZion Had to jump in here and bring up another point/question. Hindsight is 20/20. It is easy to look back and say what could have or should have been done but harder to see things within the context of the time.

    People forget or are unaware that the Japanese were just as brutal or worse than the nazis. Ask survivors of the Bataan death march or those who were captured and they’ll you stories that prove just how inhuman we can be towards each other.

    It is easy to argue that we shouldn’t have dropped the bomb but just as easy to argue that it prevented the need for an invasion of Japan and potentially more casualties/damage.

  73. says

    @debmorello Hey there miss,

    See, this is what gets me every time about the judicial system. So, basically, the Snyders should have been pro-active at filing a complaint, even though the abuse and shit was there for everyone to see?

    So what’s the point of having laws if they’re only enforced once a complaint is made? Are we paying for reactive policing as opposed to pro-active law enforcing? Crazy.

    Thanks for the wise words as always, miss – as @HowieSPM says, you’ve been missed. :)

  74. says

    @newdaynewlesson Hi there Susie, great to have you here (just wish it was a cheerier blog post to welcome you!).

    The desensitization to violent acts has led to an interesting mindset, thanks to mainstream media (movies, TV, papers) lowering the “entry level” to graphic images being used. But them without this, would we know how terrible conflict really is (I think back to the grainy footage of WWI, and the troops falling under artillery fire).

    Of course, this doesn’t excuse the crap that’s being spewed by people under the “free speech” banner, far from it. But how we counter that? That’s something that I don’t know if we’ll find the answer for any time soon.

    Thank for being here, miss, and never apologize about comment length – you just wait until you meet my friend ingrid abboud … 😉

  75. says

    @TheJackB@HowieSPM@LordZion Great points by everyone. The “two wrongs don’t make a right” mantra is so apt here. My granddad lost many of his best friends to the Japanese labour camps and, ’til the day he died, would never buy Japanese.

    But then, hearing about some of the attrocities the Allies carried out on Japanese villages, as well as the war crimes we carried out in the name of The War on Terror in the last decade, shows there’s no simple sense of “right” when it comes to war.

  76. says

    @3HatsComm@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence)@RickRice@DavidSvet Considering the crazy policies Facebook have in place currently that’s sparked this conversation, I agree – I don’t think I’d trust them to make the smartest decisions, either….

  77. says

    @3HatsComm@Ameena Falchetto (MummyinProvence)@RickRice@DavidSvet Considering the crazy policies Facebook have in place currently that’s sparked this conversation, I agree – I don’t think I’d trust them to make the smartest decisions, either….

  78. says

    There’s nutbags on both sides of the aisle. And in very religion. And in ever culture. There’s people who want to hold a discussion based on logic and fact, and there’s hate speech.

    @HowieSPM , like you I am Jewish by blood and not by faith. My parent’s couldn’t really practice their faith openly in Soviet Russia (although they are not religious by nature so I’m no so sure they would even if they could).

    I’ll agree with you that ALL people destroyed by the Nazis need to be included in that number and remember. That just makes the atrocities that much more horrifying.

    My question to you is how do you hold a “philosophical discussion” in a groups like these that deny fact.

    I have family that was lost in the Holocaust, and family members that sat in Gulags in the Soviet Union because they were Jewish.

    So for me, personally, there is no way to hold a discussion with someone that denies that things like that ever happen. I don’t see how a denial like that can lead to anything philosophical.

    Mind you that doesn’t mean that I think these groups should be taken down because I am a strong proponent of free speech.

    I am honestly lost on this one. Maybe all speech should be free speech, including hate speech.

    But I can tell you one effect statements like the ones made in these groups has…it makes me hate THEM. It hits too close to home. And I would never want to be in the vicinity of these people, much less have a discussion with them, even a “philosophical” one.

    Thanks for the great post @DannyBrown

  79. says

    @Grit08 You know, that’s a great point, Kenny (and one that I think Facebook should be cognizant of with this situation and others like it). Kids are subjected to all sorts of information, and they’re much more likely to trust a peer network on something like Facebook than they are text books (at least, that’s how it seems).

    If speech like this is allowed to be accessible to impressionable minds, where does that leave free speech and free thinking in future generations?

    Staying with the Nazi plans for a moment, this was what the Hitler Youth were all about – propaganda and lies fed to those who knew no historical alternatives. Had they succeeded…

    It’s a tough one, because by denying free speech you deny all the brave men and women died for throughout the years. Yet allow hate speech, and you taint the very same memories…

    Cheers, sir.

  80. says

    @Shad Boots Great thoughts, Shad, and thanks for some clarification on a few points. The only thing, I guess, is that the fluidity can be used both ways – so, if something legal suddenly becomes illegal, the fluidity allows for the tiniest loophole to be found, and then we’re back to square one.

    Fun times. :)

  81. says

    I’ve been a direct victim of hate crimes. When I lived in Vegas, I was waiting at the bus stop when someone hurled a baseball at my chest from a moving car while screaming go home Nword. It’s not the only time something like that has happened to me. Minus the violent act, I doubt it will be the last.

    However, I vigorously defend the right of people to be wrong, stupid and vocal about it. Two reasons.

    1- I feel safer in a world where people are dumb enough to put their prejudices out in the open and gather around them. That way if I inadvertently make the acquaintance of someone whose beliefs I despise, sooner or later I can run into that information and act accordingly.

    2- Until the line between what is acceptable and what is not is made extremely clear and applied universally, preventing one group from free speech is something ultimately used to prevent other groups from speaking freely as well.

    Having said that, the rights and freedoms we have do have limits under the law. I have the right under the US constitution to free speech, but it’s also illegal to yell “fire!” in a movie theater. I’ve disturbed the peace of others in that case, one could even argue that I’m interrupting their right to pursue happiness. So if they’re doing something illegal by having those groups, then they should be closed. If not, I’d rather have them gather and act out in public where I can see them.

    If someone has those ideas in their head, arguing them or censoring them is rarely the way to change them. Most people have to go through a life-transforming experience in order to change. And I’d rather be FOR that, than AGAINST something that odds are I can’t change just through conversation. On the other hand, if groups against women, black people or people of homosexual orientation are being closed, then groups against Jewish people should have equal protection.

    Then again, a policy against these kinds of groups before they could be formed would have been the best policy in the first place. Someone may get hurt, claim they were influenced by these groups, and attempt to use some kind of “Twinkie defense” to hold the places where these folks gather liable. The bad press alone is something I’d rather not have to deal with if I was in Google’s or Facebook’s position.

  82. says

    @HowieSPM Goldfarb, I thought that was Italian………….or Cherokee. I’m not sure if that is the book I read, but I read one about the history of religion. Interesting indeed.

    Right up your alley though, because when early man was talking about the gods descending from the heavens, it was aliens of course. I mean really, who do you think had the technology to build all those pyramids around the globe at the same period in time to precise engineering standards? We couldn’t even build them that precise today with all the technology we have.

    Aliens rule………..

    Did I get off point here? Sorry Danny, I thought Howie would appreciate my alien reference, and Howie and I are friends like that……..just sayin’………..

  83. says

    It is a tough question, Danny.

    I don’t believe that majorities deciding who shall and who shall not have a voice is the best way to honor the victims of that very process taken to its logical conclusion.

    It always starts out with the easy choices, and it can go to a very dark place.

  84. Lesley McLaughlin says

    @Danny – The question of enforcement of the law is a separate issue.
    I grew up in a military family. I find the disrespect at funerals of service members to be abhorrent, and certainly not “what Jesus would do.” Still, freedom of speech allows people to air their own views without fear of government reprisal. Compare that to what’s been going on in repressive regimes. We Americans don’t want to go there! Great question thanks for posing it.

  85. says

    @TheJackB That was part of my point if long winded Jack.

    Something you should know about progressive peace loving Howie. When it comes to hurting others I believe in proper response. We have 15000 murders a year in the US. Since 9/11 we have had over 150,000 a small genocide unto our own people. It gauls me brutal murderers get put to sleep like a puppy gets put down after some of the things they do to people. Obviously that isn’t stopping murders. I would make their death so painful and heinous beyond anything they did to their victim and then lets see who kills others.

    So I have no problem with what we did. Even in dictatorships there is often the tacit support of the people when they are winning things.

  86. Leon says

    G’Day Danny,

    I’ve been sitting here saying to myself, “Will i, wont I?” I dunno. I’m from strong Irish- Catholic stock. The persecution of the Irish by the British over centuries is truly appalling. Even famous British historian Cecil Woodham- Smith claimed that ” the treatment of the Irish by the British [during the Great Famine of the 1840s] is matched only by their treatment of their own soldiers in the Crimea.”

    Between 1 and 2 million Irish died in a few years as a direct result of British Government policy.

    Even here in Australia Cetholics were not permitted to practice their religion in the early years of the Colony. Personally, I grew up in a period when anti- Irish and anti- Catholic sentiment was opanly displayed.

    For all that, I dont believe in censorship. As my father used to say,”never lower yourself to the level of the competition.”

    That’s good enough for me.



  87. Rieva says

    What a thought-provoking post Danny. Words have power–and when that power is abused, we have to do what we can to make it right. Holocaust deniers spread their lies because they likely wish Hitler had finished the job.

    I am a Jew (and no Jew I know has denied that millions of non-Jews were also slaughtered), so that obviously colors my thinking. My mom’s family came to America following a pogram where my great-grandfather was shot (though not fatally). My dad’s mother was sent from Poland to live with an aunt and uncle in America in the 1920s, which was a good thing, since the rest of her family was killed in the camps.

    I grew up in the suburbs of NYC, where kids of all religions played together. Then I got to college in Missouri where one person told me I was so nice she couldn’t understand why my people killed Jesus, was called a “kike” by another, and was–for real–asked where my horns were because “everyone knows Jews are the spawn of the devil.”

    All of those “offenders” were TOLD these things.For over 20 years I have lived next door to Muslims. I helped two of the kids (now in their 30s) start their business. Their father told them his whole life he had been TOLD Jews were bad people. But after living next door to one who was so nice to his kids, he realized he’d been “lied” to and was sorry he’d wasted so much time on hate.

    Words that deny the holocaust, proclaim that kids raised as slaves were better off than black kids in today’s America, or imply that all Muslims are terrorists are all hate speech. And hate speech comes with a very high cost.

  88. says

    Oh I’m so going to kick myself for answering before reading the (gasp) 103 comments… but I need to write it first, then go dig in.

    I am, I admit, a huge proponent of Freedom of Speech. I only wish that the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution were actually incorporated into the main body the first go round.But (and this is a BIG one) the 1st Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”See that very first word? The first phrase?

    *Congress* shall make *no law* is the part everyone loves to gloss over.

    Free speech? It means free from Government control. Not “free no matter who actually owns the platform you are using for free.” And Facebook? Isn’t a government. It’s a business. A privately owned business. One that allows its users free use of their system, but not without first agreeing to a lengthy Terms of Service agreement.For all that Facebook is now larger in population than most countries in the world? It’s not a government. It’s not enacting laws. It’s not telling you that you aren’t free to say something – it’s telling you that you aren’t free to say something *on their privately owned platform.*

    This isn’t a Freedom of Speech issue. It’s a “not understanding the nature of the players in the debate.” You, no matter who you are, may be invited into my home and I may not charge you for that – but if you say something I find offensive? Bet your ass that I will throw you out and your 1st Amendment rights will do you no good – because I’m not a government entity. Neither is Facebook.

    Now I’ll go read all of the “missed the point” responses I know are down below.

  89. says

    Oh I’m so going to kick myself for answering before reading the (gasp) 103 comments… but I need to write it first, then go dig in.

    I am, I admit, a huge proponent of Freedom of Speech. I only wish that the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution were actually incorporated into the main body the first go round. But (and this is a BIG one) the 1st Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” See that very first word? The first phrase?

    *Congress* shall make *no law* is the part everyone loves to gloss over.

    Free speech? It means free from Government control. Not “free no matter who actually owns the platform you are using for free.” And Facebook? Isn’t a government. It’s a business. A privately owned business. One that allows its users free use of their system, but not without first agreeing to a lengthy Terms of Service agreement. For all that Facebook is now larger in population than most countries in the world? It’s not a government. It’s not enacting laws. It’s not telling you that you aren’t free to say something – it’s telling you that you aren’t free to say something *on their privately owned platform.*

    This isn’t a Freedom of Speech issue. It’s a “not understanding the nature of the players in the debate.” You, no matter who you are, may be invited into my home and I may not charge you for that – but if you say something I find offensive? Bet your ass that I will throw you out and your 1st Amendment rights will do you no good – because I’m not a government entity. Neither is Facebook.

    Now I’ll go read all of the “missed the point” responses I know are down below.

  90. LordZion says

    @TheJackB@HowieSPM I don’t want to take this totally off-topic by talking about the bomb drops, but my argument would be against the second bomb, not the first. Hiroshima probably saved lives (in terms of lives lost presuming the war had continued for many more years); Nagasaki just seemed like overkill. The end result worked, but I believe the Japanese would have surrendered without it.

    The nature of war means there will be brutalities. Unless you have fought (I haven’t), it would be impossible to understand what the heady mix of adrenaline, fear and testosterone would do to a person’s psyche. I am sure we would all behave in ways that we would question after the event.

    BTW, I should point out, despite my name, I am not Jewish. Just had hippy parents :)

  91. says

    @LordZion@TheJackB Love Hippies since I am 1/4 hippy! But my parents weren’t I just like too much music to be only hippy. Throw in Punker. Raver. and Headbanger and you got me.

    But I agree with everything you said. I can not imagine shooting anyone…I would really have to hate them. Kill my mom or girlfriend not sure what I would do. That is why women so rarely murder. Carry a baby to term for 9 months and nurse them when fragile very hard to kill another woman’s kid.

    I suggest training pool stealing attack dogs like @DannyBrown has instead 8)

  92. says

    @DannyBrowningrid abboud Thanks for the welcome Danny. Cheery or not cheery post-at least it is thought provoking and as I am sure you know well written. (Some people just have a way with the written word.)

    I wish I had the answer as well. I have an inkling it has something to do with education and tolerance and love.

    I take it then that long comments are okay then lol.

  93. Billy_Delaney says

    The conversation here is illuminating, some of it theoretical and some of it practical. Most of it would change if they faced the mob spouting it and had damage done to them by it as so many of us have already. This is what the blogosphere can do, lets see some links to this on twitter!

    PS I mentioned you in my recent post just a few words but it was because of this type of post. If you get a chance to read it great


  94. says

    I’m a big fan of freedom of speech. I’ve always felt that when it comes to hate groups, I’d rather have them spewing out in the open so I know what I’m facing. I feel that any that join the mind(less)set of hate are looking for it anyway. Anyone that uses quotes from Holocaust deniers to fuel anti-semitism is already an anti-semite. Better the debate is in the open where it is easier to debunk. I will defer all the above to the Wiesenthal Center. They know better than I. Still, limit speech even hate speech in a public forum is a slippery slope. One note to the Facebook staff quoting policy to the Wiesenthal Center: You’re using a variation of “I’m just doing my job.” Find better reasons.

  95. zaqqus says

    If I were the owner of Facebook, I would weed out those sorts of groups. It they want a platform for their nonsense, let them build it themselves.

    I would also weed out most anti-Obama rants, anything that questions the “theory” of Evolution, 9/11 Truthers, and probably lots of other stuff that I don’t feel adds value to my business. Because sorry, but when you’re in my house, the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply. You will be civil or you will leave.

    And that’s why it’s good that I don’t write public policy.

  96. says

    @zaqqus Then you’re not running a forum, you’re running an echo chamber. I agree with a requirement of civility. It’s possible to disagree vehemently, have polar opinions and remain civil (see marriage and parenthood). I do think certain classes get special handling when they object to “exercise of free speech” among them Holocaust survivors, victims of rape, incest, abuse and probably a few others.

  97. JohnHaydon says

    @DannyBrown@MimiMeredith Danny – Not public as in you and me, but owned by shareholders – each of whom have agendas.

  98. saragoldberger says


    In response to your initial post: Facebook isn’t in for freedom of speech anyway. And if they are they are imposing US laws and manners on the rest of the world. I mean if I want to put up e.g. a Holocaust denial page in say Nigeria, and it should be legal in Nigeria, FB can scrap the page because its illegal in the US.How is that for freedom of speech?

    But as always, it is better to keep things like these in the open as it will be easier to fight it.

  99. says

    @barryrsilver@zaqqus I think the thing with Facebook though, Zach, is that it’s not a business forum. Yes, businesses are using it, but primarily it’s somewhere for personal use. So, whatever beliefs someone has, there’s no “business value” that they’re worrying about (if that makes sense).

    I think Barry makes a great point about that being an echo chamber, since it’s only allowing views you want to hear. As I mention in the post, I’m all for free speech, but I’m wondering if there are limits (or should be). Instances like the one the post references, or the ones that Barry highlights, are the ones that (personally) I don’t want to see. But does that give me the right to question whether others should see them too?

    Probably not, which – going by the really strong points everyone is raising on both sides of the coin in the comments – is why it’s not a clear cut topic.

  100. says

    @barryrsilver For me, it’s definitely a conundrum, mate. I can see the reasoning of things being in the open being easier to monitor. But then I ask, if it was me that was affected by the words and ideas being discussed, would I think differently?

    And yes, that’s a typically lame excuse from someone that doesn’t want to take responsibility, good or bad.

  101. says

    @LucretiaPruitt Hi miss,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment as usual – always makes me think.

    I don’t know the laws of the U.S. – heck, I barely know the laws of my own country! – so I won’t try and say “Yay” or “Nay” to 1st Amendment, etc. And I agree – Facebook, or any other major network, isn’t a Government (and hopefully I wasn’t suggesting that in the post).

    So I’ll look at it from the business angle. I agree, Facebook is a business that has its own rules and policies, and these have been quoted to the survivors in their plea letter. From that view, businesses do fall under (or can) Government jurisdiction and come under scrutiny and investigation, should this be warranted.

    This may or may not fall into that category – that would be decided by people far smarter than I. Which then perhaps begs the question – if this was a business like Ford or Sears or Apple, and they let their “employees” say anything, regardless of how false, hurtful or (potentially) dangerous the words might be, would people want to do business with that company?

    Maybe that’s something for Facebook to consider in examples like this?

  102. says

    @Rieva I think that’s one of the scariest potentials from all of this (and other denials), Rieva – if history is claimed to be either false, or non-existent, at which point does the truth end and the fabricated version take over?

    And if the lies win, does that mean the next genocide is in the near future? Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but then if people had said one man will be responsible for 11 million deaths, perhaps they would have been looked at as being “dramatic”.

    Thanks for the thoughts, Rieva.

  103. says

    @Leon I hear you, mate. Every nation pretty much has its own skeletons – I recall my uncle being a part of the British Army and being shocked at some of the things they were ordered to do in Ireland at the height of the Troubles.

    Like you say, we only grow if we learn, and we only learn by being the bigger person. Your father sounds a wise man, mate.


  104. says

    @Peter St Onge That’s a good point, Peter, and the one that stands out even though the existence of these groups is abhorrent – who”s to say the “alternative” would be the answer?

    Thanks, sir.

  105. says

    @Tinu I never knew the “Fire!” law, though I guess it makes sense – darkness and blind panic can’t be a good combination.

    It’s something I’ve been thinking of more since posting, and I still don’t have an easy answer. Part of me says remove, but then I read comments like yours and others that are along the same lines, Tinu, and they make complete sense too.

    Like you say, reactive measures are far more difficult than preventive ones, and maybe Facebook could have made more stringent ToC’s. But then, does anyone really read the small print these days?

  106. says

    @saragoldberger@davevandewalle Hi Sara,

    I’m not sure on the exact legalities here, so this could be a completely moot point, but I’m wondering if it’s to do with where the host IP is located?

    If Facebook’s servers feed from the U.S., then they’d be bound by whatever laws are in place in the U.S. regarding online activities. It’s why a lot of the illgal download sites have hosts internationally, since some countries have no issues with that type of activity.

    So Facebook – or anyone else – would be within their rights to remove something not in the U.S., if the IP host is in the States.

    But, like I mention, I’m not a lawyer, so take all that with a pinch of salt. 😉

  107. says

    @DannyBrown The thing is? I would expect Facebook to *limit* the speech – as they have censored much already in bringing FB to countries with much stricter laws.

    When you own a site, you have the ability to say “nope, sorry, not here buster.” If they haven’t? Then yes, I certainly would consider spending my advertising dollars and my time elsewhere.

  108. says

    The problem with selective free speech is that as soon as you say something is “too serious” to joke about or “too hateful/ignorant” to allow, all other topics that don’t fall into those camps are demeaned.

    That said, Facebook is not the US government. It’s not even exclusively used by U.S. citizens. If it wants, it can erase the users accounts of all those who type tHiS wAy, think Lord of the Rings is an enjoyable film or book series, and neglect the Oxford comma (Which would be my first moves if I were president of Facebooktopia.).

    I agree with the general consensus below that I prefer ignorance to be out in the open. Then others have the opportunity to engage in conversation and perhaps – in some instances – bring



  109. says

    The problem with selective free speech is that as soon as you say something is “too serious” to joke about or “too hateful/ignorant” to allow, all other topics that don’t fall into those camps are demeaned.

    That said, Facebook is not the US government. It’s not even exclusively used by U.S. citizens. If it wants, it can erase the users accounts of all those who type tHiS wAy, think Lord of the Rings is an enjoyable film or book series, and neglect the Oxford comma (Which would be my first moves if I were president of Facebooktopia.).

    I agree with the general consensus below that I prefer ignorance to be out in the open. Then others have the opportunity to engage in conversation and perhaps – in some instances – bring

    Jana Quinn

  110. says

    The problem with selective free speech is that as soon as you say something is “too serious” to joke about or “too hateful/ignorant” to allow, all other topics that don’t fall into those camps are demeaned.

    That said, Facebook is not the US government. It’s not even exclusively used by U.S. citizens. If the company wants, it can erase the user accounts of all those who type tHiS wAy, think Lord of the Rings is an enjoyable film or book series, and neglect the Oxford comma (Which would be my first moves if I were president of Facebooktopia.).

    I agree with the general consensus below that I prefer ignorance to be out in the open. Then others have the opportunity to engage in conversation, provide evidence, and perhaps – in some instances – effect real change.

  111. Everett Martin says

    Am I the only one who believes that Facebook shouldn’t remove anything at all that isn’t illegal in the country from which it was posted? Free sharing of opinions is part of what will eventually bring people, and hopefully their governments, out of the dark ages and into a more progressive global society. Who are we to say that a message that is threatening to westerners (holocaust denial) be censored, but that messages from us (democracy, capitalism, women’s rights, secularism) that are threatening elsewhere not be subject to the same sanctions? Seems hypocritical and myopic in the most West-centric way.

  112. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown Obviously you can’t answer an opinion that isn’t allowed into an (almost) open forum. It’s a trade-off: Protecting the feelings of those already injured by the deeds of hate purveyors, at the request of the injured vs. allowing the hate in public to be replied, rebutted and hopefully not multiplied. As I’ve stated I give certain injured groups extra credence in a request for censure in an open forum.

  113. saragoldberger says


    Sorry if I was unclear – Ia longer answer goes – don’t think that these, or other hate groups, should be taken off the grid. Instead they should be out in the open to be fought. AND if they post on a server in a country where this kind of speech is allowed FB should have the integrity to leave it.

    Let me give you an example, in Sweden we banned child porn on the internet. Yes, I find child porn sick to say the least and can understand the legislator. BUT the result is that the police now have trouble policing because the law has made it difficult for them to find the porn in question. Is that better? The police certainly don’t think so. So somehow what stared out as a well-intended measure ended up shooting the “right” (e.g. the police) people in the foot. Just taking trash like that off, in this case FB, won’t make it go away it will just become more difficult to monitor and rebut.

  114. margieclayman says

    When I was in graduate school, I had a professor, an African American, who hailed from South Carolina. One day we got in a discussion in class about how the “yanks” think they’re so far above racism. After all, slavery was abolished in *most* northern states long before the Civil War. But he said something interesting.

    In South Carolina, every Friday night, he could hear the KKK gatherings at the local high school from his house. He and his family stayed in. They knew where not to go. They knew who was at the gathering. It was all out in the open. When he moved to Ohio, he knew that there were KKK members around. He knew that the state was/is creeping with racists. But he couldn’t pinpoint who was who. Everyone tries here to stuff it under the rug and pretend it doesn’t exist.

    This story came to mind after reading your post. Although there is no word I can summon that describes my full opinion of Holocaust deniers, I say let them spout their hatred openly so that we can see who they are. So that we can point to those people and say, “Yep…there are really people who would say that on an online platform.”

    Free speech is a double-edged sword. We conveniently call out for it when we feel our voices are being deprived, but if someone else voices an opinion we don’t like (or find abominable), well, then free speech doesn’t matter so much. We need to get over that hypocrisy as a modern society. But, as people spew things that are harmful and hurtful, we need to find a way to overcome those cancerous cells and improve our society…somehow. Now how to do that? I have no idea.

  115. dariasteigman says

    This is such a difficult (agonizing) question. I once provoked a personal response from Abbie Hoffman (if you don’t know him folks, google his name) over my opposition to his efforts to stop the CIA from recruiting on college campuses. My point: You don’t like the CIA, someone else doesn’t like the Peace Corps.
    But factually and historically incorrect hate speech is different. All the Holocaust denyers are doing is spreading lies, & counting on the rest of us to allow “free speech” to give them an excuse to do it. Facebook is a private company not a public square. They should shut them up (and off).

  116. says

    @dariasteigman I think this is what makes this such an “interesting” conundrum, Daria (for want of a better phrase).

    Facebook doesn’t really fall under legal jurisdiction (from what I understand), so it’s on its own when it comes to any decisions about stuff like this. Perhaps it comes down more to a moral question as opposed to a free speech one?

  117. says

    @margieclayman Completely agree on the double-edged sword comparison, Margie, and it’s one of the biggest reasons I’m torn over the issue.

    My heart says take them down and ban these idiots – my head says that’s a conflict with the very notion of free speech. And while I agree that keeping them in the open helps keep tabs on them, at the same time if it fair to those it’s so clearly causing pain to?

    Not an easy answer…

  118. says

    @Jana Quinn Okay, first, props for saying people should be kicked out of Facebook for abusing the Oxford comma – love it! Mind you, I probably fall into that camp at times, so I’m signing my own expulsion warrant. 😉

    It’s a fair point – there was a trending topic on Twitter over the weekend, with the hashtag #reasonstobeatyourgirlfriend. Obviously this is something that any right-minded person would avoid – or fight. Yet there were a bunch of tweets saying it was meant to be dark humour.

    Thing is, like you say, there’s a fine line between dark humour and poor taste, and it can open up a can of worms on other topics.

    Although I don’t think anyone with common sense would even begin to think the Holocaust deniers fall within a dark humour category – they’re simply hateful idiots.

  119. says

    I understand why people would argue that it makes it easier to identify those people who can be characterized as racists and anti-semites but I still see keeping them open as a mistake.

    It doesn’t identify those who don’t post. It doesn’t tell you who is posting under their real name and who under fake. But it does provide a global forum for ‘like minded” individuals to collect and congregate. It does make it easier for them to find ways to work together and that is something to be concerned about.

    And I will keep beating the drum that warns people to remember that these are not all stupid people. There are some very smart, very clever individuals who understand marketing, how to frame a compelling argument and how to use numbers.

    They concern me because not everyone is smart enough to see the manipulation or educated enough to pick apart what is fact and what is fiction.

  120. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  121. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  122. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  123. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  124. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  125. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  126. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  127. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  128. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown I agree 100% but… shouldn’t the victims of child porn have a seat at the table? And shouldn’t the vote of victims of child porn carry more weight than most if not all.

  129. saragoldberger says


    I don’t see why. What happened to one man one vote? Sorry, for me that’s not a road to take. Unfortunately as we have seen lately in Norway democracy and openness have a price.

  130. LordZion says

    @DannyBrown@margieclayman I’m old school, I just don’t like wasting my time hearing or reading about the nonsense spewing out of the brains of blithering idiots. Life is too short for that. Shut them up at source :)

  131. says

    @saragoldberger@DannyBrown Referring to an earlier post, this will be where we agree to disagree in a civil manner. As for Facebook, the only vote that matters belongs to M. Zuckerberg. I wold hope Mr. Zuckerberg would place more wight on the feelings of the victims. As for one person, one vote that’s for elections. One of the beautiful (and most frustrating) things about living in a representative democracy is that majority doesn’t always rule. Sometimes a minority requires and receives special consideration.

    Not that it’s mine to offer, but in the name of civil disagreement I offer you last word on my contributions to this part of the stream.

  132. says

    @DannyBrown Thanks, Danny! Between Oxford comma neglect and Wikipedia-supported arguments, Facebook can be a dangerous place. 😉

    I certainly don’t think Holocaust deniers fall into the dark humor category at all (unless we’re talking about The Onion here). They’re hateful idiots, to be sure, and largely ignorant. They were likely raised with that view and have entrenched themselves so deeply into it that there’s little chance for a paradigm shift. That’s why I think it’s more important to teach logic and debate in schools that the periodic table of elements, but hey – again, not president of Facebooktopia or any school board.

    I think the audience is a far better barometer for dark humor versus poor taste than the subject matter. I can tell certain jokes in front of my friends that I would never say in front of coworkers. As a health care professional that works with children with cognitive impairments, I don’t find any humor in jokes that include the word “retard.” Then again, there are some groups that have an unexpected sense of humor; one of my good friends lost her mom to cancer earlier this year, and she was cracking jokes about her mom’s death almost right away.

    Anyhow, I’ve digressed so far from my main point that I shall simply wrap it up with this: you can’t present someone with an alternative viewpoint if you don’t know their opinions or worldview. There are only two peaceful choices: you can either adapt a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy between you and that friend on that subject, or you can have a discussion. Letting people post their viewpoints in a public forum at least opens the door for the latter.

  133. Danny Brown says

    @Everett – It’s a fair point, although much of what’s said in the West is sanctioned by governments that don’t want that kind of thinking shared. And I guess it boils down to where the host is – many sites may have international users, but the hosting is North American-based, so Facebook – or whatever site it may be – is within their rights to use U.S.-based laws, or similar.

  134. Everett Martin says

    I think it’s less important where the hosting takes place, and more important where the user is who is violating the law. To me, holding Facebook accountable for the actions of its users is like holding Bell responsible for a murder that’s organized over the phone. You could say they have to monitor everything and respond accordingly, but in the end the accountability really should fall to the individuals.

  135. Danny Brown says

    @Everett – Not sure if I’d agree with the Bell comparison. A phone call is private – Facebook is accessible to more than 700 million people, and therefore has more potential to influence someone’s train of thought.

    I agree, personal responsibility is key – but then, we both know there are less responsible people that don’t care about facts and/or consequences. For them, moderation is often needed (think employees endangering businesses because of political or sexual orientation views being made on a public platform).

  136. Everett Martin says

    I guess I would prefer that Facebook be only a channel, and not an influence in and of itself. Any action to promote or repress is, to me, an unfortunate reality of them having to turn a profit and be seen as a good corporate citizen. I like the Internet as an unmitigated melting pot of ideas, where people can get viewpoints from all over the world and make better informed decisions. I would never have watched/read Aljazeera, which I now consider to be among the best MSM outlets in the world, if “the powers that be” in North America had their say in what messages I could have access to. Same goes for Wikileaks, another one of my personal favourites.

  137. says

    Glad you took this on Danny. I am not sure if censorship is the answer, though I think Facebook should be consistent with their TOS and if it is a violation they should pull the plug on any group that violates it.

    There are all kinds of crazy and ignorance in this world, free speech is a great thing but I can’t help but think certain groups have really been exploiting this freedom.

    One thing is for sure reading those idiotic statements makes me want to redouble my efforts to do good…..

  138. says

    @TheJackB You are so right Jack, seemingly normal and rational people are capable of believing extraordinarily crazy things. Where do you think the best place for people to get educated on objectivity and critical thinking is? I will definitely do my best to instill it in my offspring :)

  139. says

    @hackmanj I think that’s one of the problems, Joe, the consistency. Like ameena falchetto mentions, they’ll go after groups that talk about lactating and new baby issues, but they’ll happily have stuff like this up. Be consistent and be strong in enforcing that consistency.

  140. says

    Inconsistent and cryptic enforcement of TOS will create legal issues and a lot of pissed off people. It will be part of their undoing. Facebook better get a handle on that now or I am afraid it will not bode well for them. You can really see the pent up frustration with Facebook in the adoption of Google+ and the zealous advocacy for the service.

  141. says

    It is surprising a search of these comments for the name Timothy Sparapani comes up blank. He’s Facebook’s director of public policy and a former legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union when he was hired by the social network in 2009. Months before his hire, I met him at a Harvard conference and I recall him speaking smartly about privacy/security concerns.

    I raise his name wondering where he is in this debacle.

  142. says

    @Ari Herzog Maybe I’m not on their radar, mate. They have other things to worry about – like whether the Skype deal means they need to get a new logo with a phone somewhere in it. 😉

  143. says

    @DannyBrown I didn’t imply they’d know of you, but that someone else commenting here would know his name. Based on the legalese provided by @margieclayman and @barryrsilver for instance…

  144. says

    @Ari Herzog@margieclayman@barryrsilver Legalese is a bit different from a company monitoring their brand mentions. Besides, I would suggest they would be better off addressing the letter from the Survivors Group as opposed to a blogger just asking about free speech and instances like this.

  145. danmoyle says

    While I believe people like Holocaust deniers and the “Westboro Baptist Church” are abusers of free speech, I’m not sure shutting them down is the answer. At least not by the “authorities.” I think we as citizens should continue to work to make sure the truth is known in all of these events. It breaks my heart that some people are so ignorant that they believe their “right” should infringe on other people and their rights, but it’s part and parcel of free speech. I know it’s not really a great answer, but that’s what I have. I don’t think “authorities” should shut down people/groups like that.

  146. says

    @danmoyle It’s definitely not an easy call, Dan – my own feeling is if it incites to hate that leads to violence, it can’t be condoned. I guess the problem there is where you track it back to.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment, mate.

  147. danmoyle says

    @DannyBrown Inciting hate and violence…well-put. Although I wonder whether it’s someone’s “job” to stop hate (if that hate does not lead to violence)? I agree with you – I just wonder if there’s a correlation. I’d say all violence is rooted in hatred, but not all hatred leads to violence. How is “hate-speech violence” any worse than “run of the mill violence?”

    Now I’m rambling. In any case, your post is doing what it’s meant to do: make us think and hopefully stop violence/hatred at a grass-roots level. Thanks for that. Cheers.