August 15, 2017

Terms & Conditions, Right to Privacy and Freedom of Speech

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. The Daily Stormer, a White Supremacist site is now homeless on the internet after first GoDaddy terminated their hosting and then Google denied to host their domain as well. And the White House is trying to subpoena Dreamhost for the IP Addresses of people who visited a site designed to coordinate protests against 45.

And there’s a lot going on here – and I’ve seen some confusion how one person could be against a website saying no to Daily Stormer, yes to protecting private information…. and support free speech.

First, Freedom of Speech is that you are entitled to speak your opinion freely and the government cannot stop you. It gives you the right to assemble to protest, too. It’s not that you can speak your mind everywhere – private companies are private property. They can set their own terms.

Which is where I’m going with Daily Stormer. When you sign up for a domain name or web hosting, you agree to follow that company’s policies. And 100% there is something in there that you won’t be using that site to incite violence or commit crimes against others. The reason a lot of hate/fringe groups have websites is that they’re generally cautious not to cross the line of actually inciting violence. It’s all theoretical. (It’s gross, but that’s what happens) So, this particular site crossed a line and companies are saying no.

As they should.

Should we be terrified that the Administration is going after people who want to protest 45? Absolutely. Because one of the fundamental rights that we have in the US is the First Amendment. That we are allowed to speak out against the president, we are allowed to assemble, to protest. It’s part of our political freedom. And so long as people aren’t actively using that site to incite violence against the President and his Administration – they are legally protected.

You’ll notice, nobody’s subpoenaed for lists of white supremacists who visited certain websites. Yes, people have been posting pictures of people who were at Charlottesville hoping that they’ll be identified. Because these were men who showed up, showed their faces… and believed they were bulletproof enough to be able to go back to work after revealing themselves to be white supremacists/Nazis.

Compare that to people who protested Michael Brown’s shooting, and marched knowing that they would be arrested and possibly blacklisted from their work.

There’s a huge difference there. I’ve seen some people try to compare my response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville it with my defense of Black Lives Matters protests – but there’s a marked difference. A huge difference. The people in Charlottesville were there to express their hate. People at Black Lives Matter protests were asking to be respected and given the same protection that white citizens gets. Free speech comes with caveats. You aren’t allowed to say things that could bring harm to others – it’s why you can sue someone for libel. Because saying whatever you want can harm someone else. (And if you cannot see that the BLM protests were about protection – you need to reexamine your own personal biases)

Hate speech is not protected under the First Amendment. And spouting off Nazi rhetoric would certainly qualify as hate speech.

This is likely a rambly post, but I hope it at least clarifies what does/doesn’t count as protected – and why you should be terrified at what the White House is attempting right now.