3/26/2008

fitna against fitna

As previously mentioned, Dutch MP Geert Wilders is planning to release a film entitled "Fitna" which purports to prove that Islam and the Qur'an are an "inspiration to murder" and the faith is fundamentally inmical to Western values. In essence, it is hate speech, which will test the boundaries of free speech in much the same way that (falsely) yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater does.

There are numerous restrictions on free speech - for example, in most of Europe, Holocaust denial is illegal. Still, I find myself repulsed by suggestions that the Qur'an and Islam should be placed beyond limits of critique, parody, or even mockery as a matter of law. However, there is nothing wrong with advocating opposition to hate speech in the marketplace. They say that the best answer to bad free speech is more speech, but what is often more effective as an answer to bad speech is less money. Boycotts, public pressure, and media scrutiny upon those affiliated with hate speech hits the purveyors of hate where it counts - in their pocketbooks.

This is why, though I am absolutely opposed to any restriction by law upon speech against Islam, I applaud this news:

Godhatesfags.com. JewWatch.com. KKK.com. These are all examples of controversial web sites that regularly stir up debates over religion and hate speech online. Generally speaking, if a site avoids making direct threats and is based in the US, it's usually allowed to continue operating in the name of free speech. Once site that has not made the cut is Fitnathemovie.com. It promoted a yet-to-be-released film by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders that was critical of the Qur'an, and it has now been suspended by its US-based hosting company, Network Solutions, pending an investigation into the site's contents.
[...]
The company's placeholder page says that Fitnathemovie.com "has been suspended while Network Solutions is investigating whether the site's content is in violation of the Network Solutions Acceptable Use Policy. Network Solutions has received a number of complaints regarding this site that are under investigation." The Acceptable Use Policy generally prohibits sites that contain "profane, indecent, or otherwise objectionable material of any kind or nature."


And yes, I do believe that Network Solutions should follow suit on the other hate sites mentioned above, assuming that they have received complaints. This strikes me as a reasonable market response to a speech issue. Anyone who cries foul or censorship on Network Solution's takedown of the movie page is misguided in their understanding of what speech is. Wilders has no inherent right to force any company to act as vehicle for his (genuine) right to free speech. A company affiliated with him has every right to assess their own self-interest and determine whether they want to maintain that association, and take into account just how that association will affect its own image in the marketplace.

I think Ars Technica is trying to be fair in invoking other hate sites which remain in operation, but really it is pretty irrelevant that other hate sites remain online. If Ars were to file complaints about each of those, and NetSol refused to then do the same to those as they have done for Fitna, then the comparison would be relevant.

6 comments:

mfs786 said...

this is a great article -- http://www.arabnews.com/?page=21§ion=0&article=108290&d=27&m=3&y=2008

in particular the last paragraph.

Nightstudies said...

I've only watched half of it so far.

The movie doesn't argue at all, it just plays clips of Imam's preaching hatred, quotes the worst parts of the Koran, while showing Islamist violence.

Islam speaks for itself only.

Nightstudies said...

No one has trouble finding hosts for criticism of any religion, except where there's reasonable fear of a violent response.

There is only one religion where one needs to fear that, and this is the ENTIRE point of Geert Wilders movie.

So by taking the movie down - transparently motivated by fear, Network Solutions is validating Wilders thesis. And that's all they're doing.

Nightstudies said...

If you think this validation of Wilder's thesis is a win for Islam, you're completely blind.

Nightstudies said...

Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill informed reports from certain corners of the British media that could directly lead to the harm of some of our staff, Liveleak.com has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.

This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else. We would like to thank the thousands of people, from all backgrounds and religions, who gave us their support. They realised LiveLeak.com is a vehicle for many opinions and not just for the support of one.

Perhaps there is still hope that this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one anothers culture.

We stood for what we believe in, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high.

Nightstudies said...

--> that was the official statement by another internet host.

Yeah. I don't think hatred TOWARD Muslims is the cause of the problem at Live Leak. One shouldn't confuse victim and victimizer.