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[ga] Darrell misses my points
Subjective criteria for filtering are not a good idea for a public list.
Recall the U.S. Supreme Court's reaction to government efforts to screen us from
sexually explicit materials on the Internet. Such filters catch gynecologists
and abortion protesters as well as XXX sites.
Our sys admin decided to play a trick--a demonstration of the preceding point--by
installing a filter on my law office network. When I did a search for materials
relevant to a sex discrimination case I was defending, I found that most of the
sites I sought to visit were inaccessible. Let's relate that fact to the
The current rules for judging the acceptability of posts prohibit:
- ...indulging in personal attacks, insults or slander
- ...using offensive language.
First, I assume you understand that the standards for my posts are these
principles expressed in the interim list rules. Nor, do I approve of disruptive
behavior by others. I think most participants agree on that point.
Second, while I do not comment upon the propriety of the different test you would
apply, let me point out that you have replaced the subjective criteria of the
interim rules with another--"obscenity." Needless to say, there is a whole body
of law surrounding that concept, possibly best summed up with the comment "while
I can't define obscenity, I know it when I see it." I still suggest that
Please reread my comments (appended, below) in the context of the list
guidelines actually being applied rather than the criteria you discussed. I
believe you will understand the point I tried to make.
At any rate, the alternative formulations need to be formulated and voted upon.
We should start by defining the degree of consensus necessary for enactment of
constitutional provisions for this list. I think it is clear that we need strong
resolve, focus and leadership to get this accomplished in the allotted time.
Darrell Greenwood wrote:
> At 7:27 AM -0800 2/12/00, Weisberg wrote:
> >Sanctioning the form of speech (i.e. how people choose to express their
> >points) is a slippery slope with no easy landing. It is very difficult to
> >explain why Mr. Williams post required sanction while Mr. Crispin's did not.
> It isn't difficult to explain at all, one term is obscene, the other isn't.
> shit: n 1: obscene terms for feces
> urinate: To discharge urine; to make water.
> obscene: ... 2 Foul; filthy; disgusting.
The post to which you respond follows:
While I had hoped we would work out the voting procedure before addressing
the merits of specific proposals for rules, I must take advantage of a recent
exchange to illustrate my own strongly held views on a particular matter.
Please understand that I do NOT intend ANY criticism of Kent's post by the
following reference, but merely use it to demonstrate the problem inherent in
subjective criteria for sanctioning speech on a public list.
On January 18th, Ellen Rony wrote regarding what were to become the interim
Third, the Rights to Post are subjective as to content, cumbersome and
vague; they place sole discretion in the hands of a Sergeants at Arms, who
may a) unilaterally impose posting limits; b) determine what constitutes
decorum and relevant business of the GA, and c) moderate content.
These rights do not describe an "open forum".
On February 7th, the List Monitor took the following action:
The list rules say that:
- The messages must be relevant to the business of the GA
- The messages must observe a minimum of decorum, including:
- Not indulging in personal attacks, insults or slander
- Not using offensive language
This message does not observe a minimum of decorum, is a personal
and uses offensive language.
Therefore, I declare that the person known to the list as "Jeff
<email@example.com>" has had his posting privillege to the GA
revoked for 2 weeks, starting today, February 7, 2000, and lasting
not later than Monday, February 21, 2000, 12:00 GMT.
Harald T. Alvestrand
------------ The main text of the offending message -----------
>Unfortunately, and sadly I am sure the Roberto, Harald, Kent, and
>William Walsh "The Four Horse-Shitters" are glad to see them
>go. The major interest of Roberto and Harald especially is new
>members (Sheep) to fertilize with their Horse Shit...
On February 11th, Kent Crispin wrote:
> If a substantial percentage of the subscribers had sent email supporting
> your position, things would be different. But they didn't. We got down
> to a grim, mostly silent majority waiting for the grandstanding martyrs
> to finish their speeches. Some people will fight to the death for their
> right to urinate on the barroom floor...
Sanctioning the form of speech (i.e. how people choose to express their
points) is a slippery slope with no easy landing. It is very difficult to
explain why Mr. Williams post required sanction while Mr. Crispin's did not.
I oppose sanctions for either. Subjective evaluation of style is unnecessary
and has a chilling effect. And, I would not embroil this list in endless
arguments regarding which side of what lines particular posts fall.
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