Hate vs. Hate
April 14, 2000 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Hate vs. Hate Film critic Roger Ebert criticizes Hatewatch, a catalog of hate sites intended for people who hate hate. My commentary is a bit too long for the front page, so I put it on my log. Choose your poison.
posted by baylink (11 comments total)
HateWatch could have accomplished its mission just as well by naming the sites (paraphrasing the names, to defeat search engines) and then going from there. It wasn't really necessary for them to actually link.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 2:53 PM on April 14, 2000

Maybe I haven't thought this through entirely, but I don't have a problem with HateWatch. It seems to me that the argument against censorship is that we should have a "free market of ideas." Let people choose which ideas they think are good and which are bad. It could be argued that HateWatch facilitates that process by making these ideas even more easily available.

Moreover, I tend to think that people who look at these hate websites and decide they agree with them already have something wrong them. I think most people are going to be shocked and outraged. I think that was probably the original thinking behind HateWatch.
posted by andy at 7:57 PM on April 14, 2000

I have no clue whether it does more good than bad, and I don't think any of us really know, and we aren't going to figure it out by reflecting on it with our only tools our somewhat arbitrary and vague apprehensions, principles, & rationalizations. I mean this as a general statement, nothing personal & please don't interpret it as such. And don't say anything bout big werds or ampersands.
posted by EngineBeak at 8:36 PM on April 14, 2000

Oh hell, it's true but doesn't matter. I Think That if hatewatch (or a similar group) didn't do it, there would be a sympathetic portal which would of course be worse. And it's not good to brush things like this under the rug. And direct linking brings direct confrontation, and you see how nasty, stupid, or slick these various sites are. It's amazing how childish a lot of these are: for instance the anti-Christian one saying "SODOMIZE JESUS CHRIST - For Christ would love to sodomize you." What is their point? They don't have one.
posted by EngineBeak at 8:46 PM on April 14, 2000

For me, this all boils down to one simple point. We're better off keeping an eye on these sites.

If they develop a subculture that we don't even have a clue exists, thats' far worse.
posted by dhartung at 10:18 PM on April 14, 2000

Good point, Dan.

As I noted in my piece (the hits are running 51 to 41 direct link now, though it started off the other way -- I was curious how that would play out) the underlying question is: does making information that is 'publicly' available -- that is, information that doesn't require any authentication to retrieve -- available on the web change situations disproportionately?

There are several arguments to be made that it does; it's much easier to retrieve certain types of info if you don't have to talk to a human, and it's also easier to retrieve *lots* of information without anyone being as inclined to notice...

... but do these things change the playing field enough to be worth compensating for?

Is it better to submerge hate, or haul it out in the open for everyone to be able to judge it's inherent stupidity... or will they be *able* to see it? That last one's kind of a scary thought; there are some *stupid* people out there...

-- jra
posted by baylink at 9:15 PM on April 15, 2000

Well, a hundreds of years ago you could have said the same thing about books and literacy, because they made it potentially easier for bad ideas to spread. Did books change the "playing field" enough to be worth compensating for? Some people thought so, that's censorship for you. I'm totally opposed to any sort of actions to protect *stupid people* (as you put it) from bad ideas.
posted by andy at 11:16 PM on April 15, 2000

I'm not so much suggesting that the stupid people should be protected from the bad ideas... I'm asking if the use the stupid people will *make* of the bad ideas is bad enough that *we* should be protected from their having access to those bad ideas -- or, more properly, if we should avoid making it any easier than it already is for them to get to them.

-- jra
posted by baylink at 10:08 AM on April 16, 2000

First of all, that sounds like the same thing, only euphemistism. One problem is "bad ideas" and "stupid people" are subjective terms. So you think it might be a good idea if only "smart people" get access to the "bad ideas"? Who will be making all of these judgements on what ideas are good and bad and who should be restricted from what content?

And you seem to think it might be a good idea that the rights of these "stupid people" are restricted in the name of protecting the rights of everyone else? And if the guy who runs HateWatch changes his mind and decides to shut it down, doesn't that make it harder for both "smart people" and "stupid people" to get access to these "bad ideas"?
posted by andy at 8:56 PM on April 16, 2000

My, but I enjoy being the Devil's Advocate. :-)

Stupid people, of course, are people stupider than me.

No, really. My definition of stupid is that hate and offensive (as opposed to defensive) violence usually qualify. These are, of course, all grey areas, but let's face it: the internet is loaded, now more than ever before, with people who aren't used to this free-flowing an exchange of ideas, and whose thinking is at best, not especially critical, and at worst, provincial.

You can build furniture much faster with a bandsaw than with a handsaw... but we don't let apprentices near the bandsaw until we know they're likely to be safe using it.

No such constraints are placed on letting people use the Internet... and it's power continues to increase. Power is inherently neutral; it can be used for good or evil.

But "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing"... and (good) people are notoriously lazy...
posted by baylink at 7:25 AM on April 17, 2000

Figured we needed to link these two threads together.

For the record, LoveWatch is an available domain. Would be interesting to see if someone with the proper resources could do something cool with that without being smarmy and mushy about it. Perhaps a satire/parody site that links to the most mushy and obnoxious "practice random acts of kindness and senseless beauty" kindsa pages on the Internet, with a narrative voice throughout the site of an Aryan Skinhead Ignorant Eff who insists that something must be done to stop all this rampaging love and goodness throughout the world.

Probably a one note joke, but in the right hands it could really rock.

posted by ZachsMind at 8:36 AM on July 2, 2000

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