Skip

Internet Sting
December 8, 2008 3:16 AM   Subscribe

Several British Internet Service Providers have blocked access to a Wikipedia page (NSFW) of the 1977 album Virgin Killers by the German rock group The Scorpions. The Internet Watch Foundation had advised the ISPs that the albums cover featured imagery that was 'potentially illegal' child pornography. The way the ban was enacted has had the side effect of stopping thousands of UK users from editing articles on Wikipedia. Naturally not everyone is happy about this.
posted by fearfulsymmetry (102 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
That alternate cover is more dangerous to my eyes.
posted by mannequito at 3:33 AM on December 8, 2008




Won't someone please think of the children?

Not that way you pervert.
posted by srboisvert at 4:07 AM on December 8, 2008 [21 favorites]


the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.

That's a step too far. Secretly, I wonder whether Matt Groening brought this case for copyright reasons.
One might argue that possessing drawings can lead to making or downloading real images. By that logic, we should ban pens, paper and cameras for good measure. There are things that are distasteful and things that are illegal - are they too easily confused?
posted by marmaduke_yaverland at 4:25 AM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


Let's do something about it. Sign the pledge: "I will move to an ISP that does not censor my Internet access but only if 1,000 other people in the UK will do the same."

http://www.pledgebank.com/boycottcensors
posted by mr. strange at 4:26 AM on December 8, 2008


Well intentioned and yet completely stupid.
posted by asok at 4:29 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


(regarding the IWF)
posted by asok at 4:30 AM on December 8, 2008


Let's do something about it. Sign the pledge: "I will move to an ISP that does not censor my Internet access but only if 1,000 other people in the UK will do the same."

This one only needs a total of 25 signatures and is of far greater importance.
posted by gman at 4:32 AM on December 8, 2008


It's refreshing that this wasn't the US. Probably because we are still too antiquated to have judges ruling on blagonet pages, but still.
posted by DU at 4:41 AM on December 8, 2008


No but in the U.S. you still can't take bathtub pictures of your newborn without being branded a sicko. It's sad. More. Links.
posted by banished at 4:56 AM on December 8, 2008


"Blind Faith" (NSFW) is probably next then, I suppose.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:00 AM on December 8, 2008


Or this one.
posted by mannequito at 5:14 AM on December 8, 2008


Suprised nobody posted this one yet.
posted by smoothvirus at 5:24 AM on December 8, 2008


Remember Show Me! ?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:36 AM on December 8, 2008


With all the troubles the world is having, they are spending time making cartoons illegal? I can't help but wonder if much of this hypersensitivity to kiddie porn isn't driven by the same urge that drives the closeted politician to be an anti-gay crusader.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:38 AM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


This will just make more people see the damn thing, I was previously unfamiliar with Scorpions and hence with their Virgin Killer album. First thing I did when I discovered it was banned? I used Google Image Search to find out what it looked like.

An absolutely ridiculous ban.
posted by knapah at 5:40 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wasn't this the theme of an Itchy and Scratchy episode?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:43 AM on December 8, 2008


I always thought that Cartoon porn was not considered real porn. As sick as it maybe, you cannot charge him with having child porn then.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 5:45 AM on December 8, 2008


I predict we'll see this situation fixed quickly, and a review of the IWF's procedures. It's either that or they lose all credibility.
posted by tomcooke at 5:54 AM on December 8, 2008


I saw Scorpions like nine times in the 80s. They were already a cartoon.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:54 AM on December 8, 2008


This is the first I'd even heard of the IWF: I had no idea the British internet had an equivalent to the BBFC.

> Well intentioned and yet completely stupid.

Censorship is the perfect vehicle for turning good intentions into hamfisted stupidity with peak efficiency. And yet it seems monstrous to oppose an organisation dedicated to lessen the dissemination of depictions of child sexual abuse. I hope they can lessen the hamfistedness, and pick their battles more astutely, but I'm afraid this will only be the first in a long line of similar controversies.

Here, by the way, is what the IWF have to say about 'possession of non-photographic visual depictions of child sexual abuse'.
posted by misteraitch at 6:01 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Smoothvirus - My dad got mad when I put up a poster of Houses of the Holy back in my undergrad days, but seemed to understand when I pointed out that it was the cover of the album.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:05 AM on December 8, 2008


Oops: I meant to link here.
posted by misteraitch at 6:08 AM on December 8, 2008


I'm with BeThere, who are usually a first-rate ISP. Their unmetered actually means unmetered.

Much as I'm intrigued by the pledge linked by Mr. Strange, I'm still liable for the rest of my first year contract. My conversation would go something like this:

Me: Hello, I'd like to terminate my contract.
Be: Be aware you are liable for 6 months' outstanding service.
Me: No, because you changed your terms of service without my approval. There is a potentially illegal image of a naked underage girl on a Wikipedia page I'd like to look at.
Be: Sure. Would you rather pay 6 months' service, or be reported to authorities, sir?

If any other Be customers can confirm this, the linked page does not work (throwing a 404) but the google archive does work. In this case, they are not censoring the image, which is what is potentially illegal, but chilling the speech around this image.

This strikes me as a more worrisome development. The cache shows me the cover in question, so Be are failing quite spectacularly in censoring it.
posted by davemee at 6:11 AM on December 8, 2008


I was previously unfamiliar with Scorpions

I wish I could receive some massive (yet oddly specific) head trauma that would make me unfamiliar with Scorpions. An images of a naked kid won't haunt me for the rest of my life, Wind Of Change will. *shudder*
posted by slimepuppy at 6:15 AM on December 8, 2008 [7 favorites]


Well intentioned and yet completely stupid.

Apparently, they were paving the way for browsers to find this album.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:26 AM on December 8, 2008




Some of the best Wikipedia editors are from the UK. This is a total disaster for the English Wikipedia. 95% of the UK is cut of from editing Wikipedia, since they are being routed through a proxy and WP blocks proxies for security reasons.
posted by stbalbach at 6:44 AM on December 8, 2008


Apparently Sky broadband isn't one of the ISP's in question.
posted by nthdegx at 6:53 AM on December 8, 2008


That's not precisely true, stbalbach. The issue is that the XFF headers aren't working, so almost all UK editors appear to be coming from a handful of proxy addresses. This creates collateral damage to anonymous IP editors only. As I understand the block as it is currently set, it's only anon editing and account creation that is disabled from those IPs. I believe the devs are in touch with ISPs in the UK to address the issue.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:54 AM on December 8, 2008


I've just asked the IWF if they can further eliminate access to Google for the UK, as well as block any page mentioning Gary Glitter or the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind album. Better safe than sorry.
posted by davemee at 7:00 AM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


From the Wikipedia article on Blind Faith, about the 11-year-old model:

Mariora initially requested a horse as a fee but was instead paid £40.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:11 AM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]


I can see it fine on BT Broadband. God, I'd have thought of all people BT would be all over this like white on rice.

Good luck getting a be contract terminated, davemee. I tried quite unsuccessfully to get them to budge even the slightest of an inch over finishing my contract early. They will remind you of the terms and conditions and then politely tell you that the computer says no. Terms and conditions. I'm sorry sir, terms and conditions. fuck them.

Your best bet will be contacting their complaints department, but don't bother will the low down people, go straight for one of the named representatives on this page.

The higher you go, the less they will care about authorising a one off termination to keep you happy. That is, if you complain persistently and nicely enough - to the right people. I'm not particularly able to judge whether they are violating their own terms and conditions on this (I'd assume they've worded them so thats basically impossible), however I think the fact that you can't edit wikipedia articles (not that you can't see some 10 year old girl with nowt on) is a pretty severe limitation to an internet service and you could argue to be let go without having to pay any more fees on those grounds. be persistent, and if you don't get what you want, always ask to speak to their senior.
posted by 6am at 7:13 AM on December 8, 2008


I'm on Be and have had no trouble at all following the links to the page in question, something I've never felt tempted to visit before. So a bit of an own-goal there for the censors, at least. I can also edit pages, though not the page for this album (because I don't really have anything to say about it, except that it's not as good as Michael Schenker's first solo album, or anything the UFO ever did).
posted by Grangousier at 7:30 AM on December 8, 2008


it seems monstrous to oppose an organisation dedicated to lessen the dissemination of depictions of child sexual abuse. I hope they can lessen the hamfistedness...

History strongly suggests that hamfistedness is part of the psychological make-up of would-be censors. [When you have a hammer, every problem starts to look like a nail... etc.] So opposing this organization strikes me as not only non-monstrous - but commonsensical.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:30 AM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mariora initially requested a horse as a fee but was instead paid £40.

Did £40 buy a pony back then?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:36 AM on December 8, 2008


"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."

-Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, Publ. Houghton Miflin, 1943, Page 403 source, via google
posted by DreamerFi at 7:52 AM on December 8, 2008 [23 favorites]


Did £40 buy a pony back then?

40 acres pounds and or a mule.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:58 AM on December 8, 2008


“We believe it's worth noting that the image is currently visible on Amazon, where the album can be freely purchased by UK residents. It is available on thousands of websites that are accessible to the UK public.”

Looks like Amazon UK caved; they blacked out the entire image. Here's what that album looks like.
posted by mediareport at 8:00 AM on December 8, 2008


Did £40 buy a pony back then?

it bought 100 big macs, which is equivalent to a pony
posted by pyramid termite at 8:01 AM on December 8, 2008


it bought 100 big macs, which is equivalent to a pony

Especially since they are made of the same stuff.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:16 AM on December 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


dirtynumbangelboy: "That's not precisely true, stbalbach. The issue is that the XFF headers aren't working, so almost all UK editors appear to be coming from a handful of proxy addresses. This creates collateral damage to anonymous IP editors only. As I understand the block as it is currently set, it's only anon editing and account creation that is disabled from those IPs. I believe the devs are in touch with ISPs in the UK to address the issue."

Thanks for the clarification. In that case the upside and downside of blocking anon's sort of evens out.
posted by stbalbach at 8:18 AM on December 8, 2008


You'd think the Scorpions would get banned for their atrocious lyrics, not this album cover.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:25 AM on December 8, 2008


You should have seen the cover they wanted to do. It wasn't a kid, believe me.

It was a glove.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:26 AM on December 8, 2008


mediareport wrote: Looks like Amazon UK caved; they blacked out the entire image. Here's what that album looks like.

What? No they haven't, they just have a crappy image of a completely different edition of the box set, which doesn't feature the image of the girl in the first place, and, far from being blacked out, clearly says "Axe Killers Collector's Set" above a logo. The very same deluxe box set cover is thumbnailed on the Ciao! page for the standard box set that you link to as 'proof' they've blacked out the cover, for goodness sake.

Paedoggedon censorship nonsense is bad enough, no need for you to completely invent a new outrage.
posted by jack_mo at 8:31 AM on December 8, 2008


A Supreme Court judge has ruled that an internet cartoon, in which child characters resembling those from The Simpsons engage in sexual acts, is child pornography.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:41 AM on December 8 [+] [!]


Looks like we're going to have trouble at the 2012 Olympics then.
posted by crashlanding at 8:39 AM on December 8, 2008 [8 favorites]


Tiscali UK isn't blocking it right now, which is given the fact that they are the most craptastic of all providers in greater london, a miracle.
posted by krautland at 8:41 AM on December 8, 2008


Sorry, jack_mo, after reading Amazon UK had the cover I tried to find the page for the CD, and didn't see it. I still can't find it, can you?

the blacked out thing was stupid, tho, I'm using a crappy monitor and the sun was streaming in and it looked like a black box, see...
posted by mediareport at 8:46 AM on December 8, 2008


I'm using Be Internet (O2) in the UK and the page is blocked. Not the google cache however... Amateurs.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 8:51 AM on December 8, 2008


My ISP also aren't blocking it. I went to them after the story about BT/Virgin/&c. looking at using Phorm (a transparent proxy that inserts ad-tracking cookies/javascript into all requests) broke, on the recommendation of a friend who's involved in computer security and online liberties.

It's perhaps unsurprising that the same ISPs that were so keen on Phorm are also involved in this.
posted by acb at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2008


Dear Internet censors....
posted by DreamerFi at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2008


So Cracked.com does an article featuring it as the worst album cover of all time, and suddenly this is an urgent issue? 31 years after the album came out?
posted by quin at 9:22 AM on December 8, 2008


Thanks for the clarification. In that case the upside and downside of blocking anon's sort of evens out.

Kind of. Blocking account creation (which needed to be done given the scope of the problem) means that nobody from those ISPs can create accounts as soon as they reach the limit--which, unless you are a registered user with a specific flag set on your account, is six/day/IP. With all UK traffic appearing to come from (I think) 7 or 8 IPs, this is a problem--new accounts are in the tens of thousands per day, if memory serves--as people need to go through a manual route and ask users with the accountcreator flag to create named accounts for them.

It's all a bit of a mess, really.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:24 AM on December 8, 2008


"The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation."
-Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, Publ. Houghton Miflin, 1943, Page 403 source, via google


Let me start by saying that I'm not defending Hitler or Nazism in any way, but that quote is not accurate. Hitler said the first part, but the second part comes from an article written by Daniel Lapin, a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, an ultra-right-wing political group. The article purports to be a letter from Hitler to Julius Streicher some time after Hitler has entered the afterlife.

To be sure, a lot of what the Nazis did was cloaked in 'for the children' type language, but Mein Kampf doesn't contain anything close to the second sentence of that alleged quote, even allowing for a liberal translation. This page gives the actual quote in context: Hitler was talking about the need for 'fit' people to have lots of children and 'unfit' people to have no children. Typical Nazi eugenics nonsense, definitely evil, but not part of a broader scheme to get away with anything and everything by claiming it was 'for the children.'

Ridiculous and hamfisted censorship is terrible, and we don't need to invent fake Hitler quotes in order to show that it's bad.
posted by jedicus at 9:24 AM on December 8, 2008 [14 favorites]


all over this like white on rice

What does this phrase actually mean? It makes me think of mushroom curry.
posted by mippy at 9:24 AM on December 8, 2008


Rice grains are white inside and out; that is, whiteness is an inseparable quality of rice grains. To be on something like white on rice is to be inseparable from it. More broadly, to be all over something like white on rice is to pursue it quickly and aggressively (i.e., to become inseparable from it or inextricably linked to it).
posted by jedicus at 9:40 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can't see it on BT Broadband here.

Don't like the situation at all, but also have precious little sympathy for wikipedia and its roiling hordes of teenange libertarians with their clanging demands for All Speech All The Time No Laws In Our New World.

Take Peter Tobin when he was on trial for murdering Vicky Hamilton. Scottish courts have sub judice laws, so it's possible for a case to collapse if material evidence is reported outside the courts during a trial. Wikipedia's page on Tobin had details of the previous woman he murdered -- Angelika Kluk -- which Tobin's defence was pushing for a contempt of court ruling over (ie, the trial of a serial killer would have collapsed).

Wikipedia eventually took the page down, but not before a raging battle with thundering idiots demanding the US law is the only law and free speech and what about other countries with sub judice like Zimbabwe and free speech also free speech and facts.

I don't agree with either of the laws at work in these cases, but the way to handle them is not to go "nah-nah we in da US youse can fuck off", it's to try to work within the framework of the laws, and move to change them if possible. Otherwise we end up with these kamikaze blocks like we have today. "en" is no longer enough -- they're going to need a "uk.wikipedia.org", evidently. Or lose their UK editors, of course.

Still, though, IWF: kindly fuck off.
posted by bonaldi at 9:49 AM on December 8, 2008


to be all over something like white on rice is to pursue it quickly and aggressively

I don't have any proof but it probably started as a southern US colloquialism. There are a ton of similar simile-based sayings. Also see Dan Ratherisms.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:50 AM on December 8, 2008


jedicus: thank you!
posted by DreamerFi at 9:54 AM on December 8, 2008


An images of a naked kid won't haunt me for the rest of my life, Wind Of Change will. *shudder*

The Scorpions kind of had two careers, the first as a totally fucking righteous guitar driven hard rock band that ranked at the top of the A-List alongside Thin Lizzy, and a second as a totally clownshoe, skulletted circus sideshow. Winds of Changes is from the latter period; Virgin Killer is from the former. If you like rock, listen to Virgin Killer ASAP.
posted by The Straightener at 9:58 AM on December 8, 2008


OH NO CHILDREN WITHOUT THEIR CLOTHES ON OH NO NOT THAT

Seriously, this is about the most ridiculous thing ever. It's actually shocking. To Catch a Predator wasn't enough, nor was branding people as sex offenders for pissing on walls, and the whole "you took a photo of your kid naked in the tub so welcome to Sing-Sing" thing just didn't do the trick, so now we have to censor a thirty-year old album cover that was never intended to be "pornography" in the first place, an image which harmed not one single child not only in its making, but in the thirty fucking years since.

You know what? I don't care if "it seems monstrous to oppose an organisation dedicated to lessen the dissemination of depictions of child sexual abuse" -- these organizations have proven, over and over again, that they are less interested in preventing real child sexual abuse (which is overwhelmingly likely to be perpetrated by people known to the family, and rarely involves a camera or other recording equipment) than they are in censoring art and ultimately enforcing their prudish version of "morality" on everyone else, on pain of arrest and life-long social shunning.

Sorry, but it's not that goddamn hard to tell child motherfucking porn from a cartoon, a comic, or a 1970s album cover, so I must conclude that these groups are not trying to do so, and thus have no legitimacy as anti-child-abuse groups whatsoever.
posted by vorfeed at 10:16 AM on December 8, 2008 [13 favorites]


"I will move to an ISP that does not censor my Internet access but only if I can find one that's as fast and as reliable as Virgin."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:31 AM on December 8, 2008


as well as block any page mentioning Gary Glitter or the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind album

Judging by the size of Crazy Frog's genitalia, it's pretty clear that that frog is intended to be a child. Although tv station commercials sometimes conceal the penis using pixellation, Crazy Frog is obviously an animated version of a child.

Although it's called Crazy Frog (aka, The Annoying Thing -- have you ever heard of a more obvious euphemism for a child?), I've never seen a frog with fingers and a penis, let alone one that rides a motorcycle. These are clearly cunning ruses on the part of the pornographer to attempt to creep around this legislation in an attempt to pump child pornography into the homes of us all.

There can only be one solution to this problem. Ban Crazy Frog from the airwaves and the internet, and prosecute his creator to the fullest extent of the law.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:40 AM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't agree with either of the laws at work in these cases, but the way to handle them is not to go "nah-nah we in da US youse can fuck off", it's to try to work within the framework of the laws, and move to change them if possible. Otherwise we end up with these kamikaze blocks like we have today. "en" is no longer enough -- they're going to need a "uk.wikipedia.org", evidently. Or lose their UK editors, of course.

All of the data is licensed under creative commons, all of the software is open source, so if you want a censored wikipedia, go ahead and set one up.

The idea that Americans should all be forced to comply with whatever backwards-ass laws your puritans come up with is ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


What does this phrase actually mean?

The same thing as 'All over this like a cheap suit' or 'All over this like a nasty rash'.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:44 AM on December 8, 2008


I wish all this fiasco was related to a better album.
posted by GilloD at 10:46 AM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


The idea that Americans should all be forced to comply with whatever backwards-ass laws your puritans come up with is ridiculous.

Dear America,

You can pick up your backwards-ass drug laws whenever you'd like. We'll have them all packed up and ready to go.

Yours, etc.
The rest of the world.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:47 AM on December 8, 2008 [10 favorites]


A website must follow the laws of the country in which it is hosted. It does not have to follow laws of countries in which it is not. This cuts both ways; the piratebay is currently legal under swedish law, but not US law - but since it's hosted in sweden...

Scottish law does not apply in the US, any more than US law applies in Scotland. This does not change just because 'the internet' is involved.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:52 AM on December 8, 2008


The idea that Americans should all be forced to comply with whatever backwards-ass laws your puritans come up with is ridiculous.

It's a give and take thing, Mr #1 #1 #1. You want our editors? Then make reasonable efforts to allow them to edit within the laws of the country they live in. uk.wikipedia would no more affect the precious, beautiful free flow of information, truth and shitty album covers to yearning American minds than de.wikipeida does.
posted by bonaldi at 10:54 AM on December 8, 2008


It's a give and take thing, Mr #1 #1 #1. You want our editors? Then make reasonable efforts to allow them to edit within the laws of the country they live in.

It seems like your fellow citizens want to edit, and for you to take away their ability to do so seems like a much bigger problem for them then for wikipedia, and I wonder how they feel about their rights being used as bargaining chips.
posted by delmoi at 11:16 AM on December 8, 2008


Why can we no longer think of the British Isles without the word "paedoph" in front of them?
posted by Tenuki at 11:22 AM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]


For those of us at work, could someone explain exactly what's on the album cover? Is this Nevermind territory, or something entirely different?
posted by roll truck roll at 11:41 AM on December 8, 2008


It seems like your fellow citizens want to edit, and for you to take away their ability to do so seems like a much bigger problem for them then for wikipedia, and I wonder how they feel about their rights being used as bargaining chips.

I also want to edit, and don't like my ability being taken away one bit. But I don't think it's a bigger problem for us than wikipedia, not at all. If that Tobin page hadn't come down, there's a pretty high chance that the court would have blocked Wikipedia wholesale. It's big, but it's not riots-in-the-streets big, so I'm guessing the next move would have been a fork sans Tobin page. Forks generally aren't much use to anybody, but the US side would unquestionably have come off worse in terms of work generated vs work obtained via merging.

Oh, and we have the Daily Mail here, so "they" are used to hyperventilation about "rights", so I think they'd recognise that we don't actually have any "right" at all to submit content to a website.
posted by bonaldi at 11:55 AM on December 8, 2008


For those of us at work, could someone explain exactly what's on the album cover?

It's a full frontal of a 13 year old girl with a cracked glass effect covering her bikini zone.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:12 PM on December 8, 2008


Well, she's around 44 years old now, the model they used. Wonder what she thinks of it now, in retrospect. Kinda tasteless, but I wouldn't call it child pornography, personally.
posted by jamstigator at 12:20 PM on December 8, 2008


“we don't need to invent fake Hitler quotes in order to show that it's bad.”

You know who else invented fake Hitler quotes?

“so now we have to censor a thirty-year old album cover that was never intended to be "pornography" in the first place...”

I agree. The cognitive dissonance is stunning. I undress my infants, wipe their butts, put them in a tub - no problem. Take a photo of them in the tub playing with a boat or something to send to gramma - I’m a pervert. Or, what, I see this album cover and I’m going to molest a kid?
Wha?

The only reason the photography should be illegal in the first place is because it’s evidence of a crime. Not because it’s a crime in and of itself.
That said, I think selling the images (of children being raped) should be illegal. And, ok, so should the transfer of them.
But policing the free transfer of them is so hard as to border on the ridiculous.

Eventually you reach a point of diminishing returns, where policing something like that becomes more of a public danger than the thing itself.

Unfortunately people feel very strongly about children, and keeping them as asexual as possible. Hell, I do too. But repression can become very very dangerous. Like any form of pressure - let it off slowly and in a controlled fashion where it’s appropriate, it’s safe. Try to keep it bottled up - boom.

The right to speak freely includes the right to hear if one wishes.
The fact of the matter is, children are sexualized in many ways, some of them (I think) are incredibly inappropriate and yet, they’re socially acceptable (those fashion/beauty shows for kids, like the Ramsey kid comes to mind - ugh).

The irony here is that this particular image (an otherwise juvenile artistic attempt) achieves in reality a worthwhile message - that what destroys innocence, or purity, is overreaching and false attempts to protect it.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:32 PM on December 8, 2008


Well, erm, to comment on a couple things...

1) Editors from the UK have absolutely no problem accessing the site (apart from that one blocked page), nor do they have any difficulty editing. The only thing is that they have to register a named account. A surprising number of people don't want to do that, and for some reason they don't get that a named account gives them more privacy, not less! One throwaway email address plus one boring username equals relative privacy. Once you edit behind a username, only a handful (~50ish) of people can access your IP data and other relevant information, and any accesses of that information are logged. Editing 'anonymously' reveals your IP to the world.

2) The issue with the Tobin thing was largely a horde of thundering morons bleating about FREE SPEECHEZ U DON'T OWN US SCOTLAND who refused to listen to really, really simple concepts: "No, we are not taking down 'illegal' material. We temporarily deleted material that is directly prejudicial to an ongoing court case." But, the twits who scream loudest are the ones who get their way--this is what 'consensus' actually means on Wikipedia--and they tend to ignore things like logic and reason and the big picture.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:40 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like the cover. It's honest. I was fucking like a bunny by the time I was sixteen, anyway.
posted by Maisie Jay at 12:54 PM on December 8, 2008


There's also the https access to wikipedia way of getting around both the censorship and the blocking issues.

Like davemee earlier in the thread, I am (or was up to a few days ago) happy Be internet user, but am going to be switching to a different ISP if they don't stop filtering in the next three weeks. Sadly I'm on a rolling one-month contract, this seems like an excellent way to get out of a one year lock in.

The pledgebank link (here) has some discussion about which ISPs are still giving unfiltered internet access, The Phone Coop seems like a good candidate (I'm already getting my phone line with them without any issues).
posted by fvw at 1:11 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]




The issue with the Tobin thing was largely a horde of thundering morons bleating about FREE SPEECHEZ U DON'T OWN US SCOTLAND who refused to listen to really, really simple concepts

It doesn't sound like you've put much effort into understanding the other side or their arguments.

But, the twits who scream loudest are the ones who get their way--this is what 'consensus' actually means on Wikipedia--and they tend to ignore things like logic and reason and the big picture.

That is a fact. I'm sorry it took such a blunt instrument to thwart the censors during the Tobin affair. At least they got the correct result. It happens.

Sometimes I wish Wikipedia would fork. There are certain ideological lines upon which it could be split, that would make it easier for certain groups to stomach. Wikipedia has long had all the content it needed to be as useful as a traditional encyclopedia, so a reduction in the number of editors per site wouldn't be so bad these days.
posted by yath at 1:46 PM on December 8, 2008


It doesn't sound like you've put much effort into understanding the other side or their arguments.

You'd be wrong, there.

That is a fact. I'm sorry it took such a blunt instrument to thwart the censors during the Tobin affair. At least they got the correct result. It happens.

Censors? Temporarily deleting a page in the interests of justice--in this case, ensuring that a rapist-murderer went to jail and couldn't claim a tainted jury, or at least not blame WP for doing so--is censorship now? Free-speech absolutists are just as fucking stupid as any other sort.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:01 PM on December 8, 2008




Or yet another way:

Keep the page = possible miscarriage of justice
Temporarily delete the page = no chance of miscarriage, some people can't see an article for a week or so.

Gee... yeah, DOWN WITH CENSORZ OMGZ!1!11!!!!!1!!!!!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:11 PM on December 8, 2008


Temporarily deleting a page in the interests of justice--in this case, ensuring that a rapist-murderer went to jail and couldn't claim a tainted jury, or at least not blame WP for doing so--is censorship now?

Um, yes? What part of "remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable" doesn't this fit? Whether or not you think this sort of censorship is acceptable is one thing, but your assertion that it's not censorship is just bizarre.

Free-speech absolutists are just as fucking stupid as any other sort.

That's a rather absolute statement, isn't it?

on preview: if the mere existence of a single Wikipedia page for one week is actually likely to cause "miscarriage of justice", then there is clearly a problem with the justice system instead of or in addition to Wikipedia. I mean, it's not as if WP is the only place this information could be published on the web, especially after there's been some to-do about it; having a justice system in which a carefully-designed murder prosecution can be defeated by someone who spends his days adding "Col. Boner and Lt. CoreyWuzHere" to the list of third-season Battlestar Galactica characters is not something one should expect the rest of the world to scramble to accommodate.
posted by vorfeed at 2:28 PM on December 8, 2008


Well, yes, but nonetheless it'd still destroy the trial. It's not as if this is the only dumbass law that Wikipedia has to acknowledge. Copyright, for instance, is another dumbass law, but one they scramble to accommodate by censoring non-CC images.
posted by bonaldi at 2:43 PM on December 8, 2008


Copyright, for instance, is another dumbass law, but one they scramble to accommodate by censoring non-CC images.

Yes, but that's a dumbass law which actually applies to the country in which Wikipedia's servers are located. The Scottish law is not. "Should writers on the internet be liable for violation of other countries' laws" is a much stickier question than "should writers on the internet be liable for violation of their own country's laws".
posted by vorfeed at 3:15 PM on December 8, 2008


For those of us at work, could someone explain exactly what's on the album cover?


Sure, Roll Truck Roll! It's an actual, full-size adult male glans, dismembered and wedged under the CD jewel case, and a petrified sex-assault victim cowering behind, clearly about to be assaulted by it. The clever thing is, it's a white member, and a petrified black foetus. Or possibly a horse, you can't really tell with 1970s print quality. I think the little girl, or horse, or foetus, or all three, went on to commit the world's largest sex crime, or possibly it was the owner of the real glans. Either way, we're all potential victims now, thank you, ACDC, or Sunday, or whatever the band was called. I think the ink they used was made out of AIDS and smegma as well.

I think that's what it is, anyway. I didn't pick up a paper this weekend, and bloody Be is blocking me from seeing it, so I can't actually confirm. Don't forget to tell everyone in class.

If they're thinking of the children on this, and the average male thinks about sex every 6 seconds, aren't they simply creating potential abuse? We should outlaw children.
posted by davemee at 3:30 PM on December 8, 2008


Um, yes? What part of "remove or suppress what is considered morally, politically, or otherwise objectionable" doesn't this fit? Whether or not you think this sort of censorship is acceptable is one thing, but your assertion that it's not censorship is just bizarre

It's not 'objectionable', it's 'liable to cause a mistrial due to tainting the jury pool'. The deletion was temporary, and no harm was done while a greater harm was avoided.

But I wouldn't really expect you to see the big picture. Absolutism is stupid, but you'd rather insinuate I'm a hypocrite than actually defend your ridiculous clinging to the ridiculous notion that just because you can say something therefore you should.

Which is the greater harm? Temporary (bolded, again, because unsurprisingly you're ignoring that bit, same as the thundering morons on WP) deletion to preserve the integrity of the trial or at the very least shelter Wikimedia Foundation from unbelievably awful PR if a mistrial were to be declared, or providing one venue whereby a brutal rapist/murderer could get off?

Hmm, tough call there.

One of the guiding principles of the entire Wikipedia project is to do no harm. I absolutely agree that censoring images because they might be offensive to some people (there's a slow-brewing kerfuffle over images of Muhammad currently as one example) is bad and wrong. Temporarily suppressing information in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice is an entirely different thing. Real-world harm results from that.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:18 PM on December 8, 2008


dirtynumbangelboy: "but you'd rather insinuate I'm a hypocrite than actually defend your ridiculous clinging to the ridiculous notion that just because you can say something therefore you should."

There are lots of flavours of censorship. We all self censor our selves constantly and most of the time it's subconscious. Most of this argument is just semantics and fighting over who owns that little bit of the english language today.

There were no legal threats against WP, there was no "we will shut you down or fine you" or anything like that in this case so it's not anything like the sort of censorship that we as members of the british internet using public are experiencing in regards to this Wiki page however minor it might be. WP acted based on their own moral judgement, which is simply called being a good citizen of the world. Censorship is sometimes called "self control." Which is probably why us young idealistic (or otherwise unbalanced) types are so bad at working out how much of it to apply at times.

PLZ TO STOP DERAIL NOW. (NOTDERAILIST.)
posted by public at 4:37 PM on December 8, 2008


I can't really see what defense there is for that cover. What is there to possibly like or get? Is it simply meant to shock? And if it is, when you freak out and censor it, aren't you just giving the (purposefully provoking) creators what they want?

Troll Art?
posted by defenestration at 5:45 PM on December 8, 2008


But I wouldn't really expect you to see the big picture. Absolutism is stupid, but you'd rather insinuate I'm a hypocrite than actually defend your ridiculous clinging to the ridiculous notion that just because you can say something therefore you should.

Where have I supported such a notion anywhere in this thread? Again: "whether or not you think this sort of censorship is acceptable is one thing, but your assertion that it's not censorship is just bizarre." I never said that Wikipedia should have done this-or-that, merely that what they did do clearly fits the definition of censorship. Sorry, but I don't have to "defend" a "notion" that you just made up out of whole cloth.

As for "insinuating you're a hypocrite", that's not my point. You're absolutely against absolutism: if you really wish to continue with that line of argument, much less with insulting people who don't agree, then I suspect your problem goes way beyond hypocrisy.

Which is the greater harm? Temporary (bolded, again, because unsurprisingly you're ignoring that bit, same as the thundering morons on WP) deletion to preserve the integrity of the trial or at the very least shelter Wikimedia Foundation from unbelievably awful PR if a mistrial were to be declared, or providing one venue whereby a brutal rapist/murderer could get off?

Hmm, tough call there.


For those who believe that freedom of speech has innate value, especially in a collaborative project which necessarily involves many potentially objectionable points of view: yes, it is a tough call. Temporary or not, many believe that this sort of thing violates the spirit and purpose of Wikipedia, and sets a precedent for further violations in the future, which is why Wikipedia members argued over it for some time. But of course, they're all ridiculous thundering morons because some of them have a different take on this than you do, right? Come on.

One of the guiding principles of the entire Wikipedia project is to do no harm.

And another is freedom of speech. Half the point of Wikipedia is that they keep everything anyone ever does to the pages, even "Corey Wuz Here", because collaborative speech -- even speech that doesn't fit the guidelines -- is a valued part of the process. Conflict between two equally important "guiding principles" is exactly why this was such a difficult decision for Wikipedia to make, despite your repeated assertions that it's obvious to anyone who isn't "stupid".
posted by vorfeed at 6:06 PM on December 8, 2008


Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler, Publ. Houghton Miflin, 1943, Page 403

Yeah, but what's on page 404? Huh? HUH?

Yeah, I thought so.
posted by Eekacat at 6:22 PM on December 8, 2008


There were no legal threats against WP, there was no "we will shut you down or fine you" or anything like that in this case so it's not anything like the sort of censorship that we as members of the british internet using public are experiencing in regards to this Wiki page however minor it might be. WP acted based on their own moral judgement, which is simply called being a good citizen of the world.

Err, actually might want to check your facts there. The request came directly from the Courts through the police to the person listed as the press contact for WMF in the UK.

As for "insinuating you're a hypocrite", that's not my point. You're absolutely against absolutism: if you really wish to continue with that line of argument, much less with insulting people who don't agree, then I suspect your problem goes way beyond hypocrisy.

That's the same sort of tiresome argument that says we should be tolerant of the intolerant. No.

But of course, they're all ridiculous thundering morons because some of them have a different take on this than you do, right? Come on.

No, they're ridiculous thundering morons because they--as you are in this very thread--ignored the real-world effects of what they were arguing, ignored the blatant and obvious facts that it was a) temporary, and b) had been deleted for over a month at the point the brouhaha started. There are limits on free speech all the time--classified information, doctor/patient privilege, state secrets--and, in Scotland, details of ongoing court cases. In every single one of these situations there is a clear and unassailable benefit to the common good. Arguing against it is arguing that your special snowflake 'right' to say whatever you want without consequence is more important than the interests of society in trying a case fairly.

But, y'know, big picture. Not much of a concern, obviously. Much better to focus on very narrow situations than to actually look at context.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:50 PM on December 8, 2008


There are limits on free speech all the time--classified information, doctor/patient privilege, state secrets--and, in Scotland, details of ongoing court cases.

Well, clearly, since there's already censorship, it should be allowed to propagate willy-nilly. I mean, we already HAVE it, so why not just censor everything?
Oscar Wilde is spinning in his grave right now.
posted by eparchos at 6:57 PM on December 8, 2008


Arguing against it is arguing that your special snowflake 'right' to say whatever you want without consequence is more important than the interests of society in trying a case fairly.

Um, yes. In this country, that's entirely true. However, that has less to do with my "special snowflake 'right' to say whatever I want without consequence" than it has to do with the fact that society's interest in promoting free speech, as defined by the society I live in, Constitutionally outweighs society's interest in trying a case fairly, with regards to this particular action. Yes, there are some limits on free speech according to US law, but this is not one of them, and your assertion that it should be is just that: an assertion. Hint: it's probably not all that "clear and unassailable" if most Western nations do not subscribe to it.

But, y'know, big picture. Not much of a concern, obviously. Much better to focus on very narrow situations than to actually look at context.

Context. The big picture. Y'know, like the fact that Wikipedia isn't located in Scotland?
posted by vorfeed at 7:24 PM on December 8, 2008


[Hey, everybody! There's this thing called metatalk, and this other thing called email, and it'd be great if y'all would pick one of those and run with it if you need to yell at each other some more, because this shit happening in here is just about over.]
posted by cortex at 9:34 PM on December 8, 2008


"I will move to an ISP that does not censor my Internet access but only if I can find one that's as fast and as reliable as Virgin."

We're on Zen, and as of right now I can still view the offending page and access Wikipedia edit pages without a login. They're fast, extremely reliable, and when occasionally BT have one of their spasms and disconnect us for an afternoon, their tech support people are helpful and friendly.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:55 AM on December 9, 2008


and because of all the brouhaha, the cover shows up on my GoogleNews page. too ridiculous.
posted by RedEmma at 7:57 AM on December 9, 2008


Wikipedia gears up for flood of video and photo files
What is the significance of Sun Microsystems' announcement Wednesday that Wikimedia is buying truckloads of Sun servers? It's that the Wikimedia team, which runs Wikipedia, Wikinews, Wikibooks, and other sites, is gearing up to change the nature of the reference services. Wikipedia, in particular, is going to get a lot more visual. Limits on the size of upload files will be increased to 100MB. Video--hosted by Wikimedia--will soon be part of the mix.

With the more aggressive support for media files will come, eventually, new ways to edit those media. Kaltura has been working with Wikimedia to create an online video editor that supports wikipedia concepts: users will be able to edit others' videos, and everyone will be able to see the edit history.
posted by stbalbach at 11:33 AM on December 9, 2008


Mild backpeddle:

http://www.iwf.org.uk/media/news.251.htm

To paraphrase: "We brought it to the attention of hundreds of thousands of people who'd never seen it before, realised how ineffective we are and have given up".
posted by vbfg at 11:45 AM on December 9, 2008


Not so much mild backpeddle as complete reversal.

Censor lifts UK Wikipedia ban
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:08 PM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older Septimius Severus - the Barack Obama of the Roman...   |   I'm responsible for increasing greenhouse gases. Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post