Satire is dead.
September 25, 2002 4:54 AM   Subscribe

Satire is dead. "On Monday 23rd September, the Metropolitan Police (acting with the support of The Internet Watch Foundation) contacted my web host, Webfusion (aka Host Europe), and requested that be 'removed from the public domain'."
posted by MintSauce (31 comments total)
Boo, hiss. The site was only becoming popular when it was closed down. It's a shame, as it and Chris Morris were the only things I've seen lately exposing the media as exploiting paedophilia and child murder for their own gain.

And they were funny.
posted by Swandive at 5:06 AM on September 25, 2002

Won't someone think of the children?!
posted by crunchland at 5:09 AM on September 25, 2002

And the content of the site was . . . .?
posted by jeremias at 5:21 AM on September 25, 2002

So this wasn't a legal shut down from what I can see, more a webhost wussing out when the police "raised concerns". Warn everyone and everybody away from the old host, consider civil action (probably screwed by TOS though), and get a new host. It's gobsmackingly ridiculous that this site got pulled down, but am I missing anything?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:23 AM on September 25, 2002

jeremias: (and those who didn't see this the first time around) The site contained details to where angry mobs were meeting in your area as well as info about starting your own angry mobs (i.e. what to wear, what to bring, will there be refreshments). Good stuff.
posted by Dr_Octavius at 5:28 AM on September 25, 2002

The site was a "laugh once" bad joke, but maybe a bit too subtle for the average mind.
posted by gordian knot at 6:01 AM on September 25, 2002

Here's the discussion from when the actual site was posted. As mentioned in that post, even if you didn't "get" the We are concerned parents, many of whom have children of our own bit, you should have at least realised it as satire when you got to the bit about wanting to make burying children in woods illegal.
posted by chill at 6:05 AM on September 25, 2002

But this is how the Man crushes dissent

Watch the edges. That's where it gets burned first.
posted by Domain Master 666 at 6:12 AM on September 25, 2002

Hang on, could we get the Met to ban the News of the World because of their name and shame campaign? That kind of incited mob violence, and wasn't even meant as satire.
~Imagines a world without front page headlines about Coronation Street Actresses and Barrymore~
Worth a try.
posted by chill at 6:13 AM on September 25, 2002

As far as I'm concerned, it was a good joke. The fact that ignorant fuckheads want it banned is just another feather on its cap.

I sent the guy a mail telling him to hang in there and that satire is protected under the freedom of speech - even in Great Britain ;) - and that I would ask around here if someone could provide the man with some non-GB hosting to keep him out of trouble. So, anyone?
posted by NekulturnY at 6:22 AM on September 25, 2002

Hmm I just shifted my weblog off Webfusion, due to their ridiculous charges for extra bandwidth (50 quid per GB!). Just as well really, sounds like you only have to offend a few humourless idiots to get taken off the web...
(of course, my new hosts might be just as spineless)
posted by malevolent at 6:25 AM on September 25, 2002

I liked it. It was an amusing and relevant site. But the punchline.... superb.
posted by The Great Satan at 6:48 AM on September 25, 2002

Can satire survive with the stupidity of our culture?

Doesn't it just become elitism if just a small number of people get the joke ?
posted by dprs75 at 7:03 AM on September 25, 2002

It's not like it was an obscure joke that you could only get after reading the entire works of Jacques Derrida (Derrida being a decent joke all by himself, if only he wasn't so boring. God help anyone who actually has to read that crap - go on, try it!).

To answer your question: of course satire can survive the stupidity of our culture. It even owes its existence to it: no satire without stupidity.
posted by NekulturnY at 7:14 AM on September 25, 2002

I like to think of the children.

I love kids, I just don't think I could eat a whole one.
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:39 AM on September 25, 2002

More about the Internet Watch Foundation. Jesus, it includes the two major UK ISP trade associations. I can't believe they'd do this.
posted by mediareport at 7:42 AM on September 25, 2002

Seems police in the UK have been cracking down on satire lately, and ISPs seem more than willing to cooperate.

(I'd offer the owner of this site hosting on my colo'd server, but I'm not on the fastest connection in the world -- metered bandwidth; unlimited transfer -- and I'm not sure the box could handle a popular site without dying.)
posted by Danelope at 7:54 AM on September 25, 2002

The old pages are still in the google cache.
posted by Emanuel at 8:00 AM on September 25, 2002

As long as there was no official action taken, the owner really doesn't have to take the site down. They simply asked him to roll over, and he complied. Satire isn't dead, the convictions of the satirists are.
posted by mikhail at 8:13 AM on September 25, 2002

Mikhail: he didn't roll, the hosting company did.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:15 AM on September 25, 2002

Danelope, that's the same story.

The problem here is with the ISPs. It's like giving the decision over whether to publish or not to the printers. Something must be done, but I don't know what. That's not really a fighting slogan is it?
posted by Summer at 8:49 AM on September 25, 2002

Well I find it odd then that the owner of the site is still able to update it. Normally when a host takes a site down, the owner is unable to update it and/or is temporarily locked out from doing anything with it. I find it amazing that the site is back so soon after the request came for it to be taken down. Something doesn't seem right.
posted by mikhail at 8:54 AM on September 25, 2002

hmmm, my question is this: If you link to the google cache, and google googles your page, does that make the cached google page stay around long after the original site is gone? Can we save websites by linking to the google cache?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:33 AM on September 25, 2002

Summer: Danelope, that's the same story.

It seems I pasted the wrong URL, which goes to show that there IS such a thing as having too many Moz tabs open at once. The story I meant to link to is here.

mikhail: Normally when a host takes a site down, the owner is unable to update it and/or is temporarily locked out from doing anything with it.

The ISP likely sent them an e-mail demanding the supposedly-offensive content be removed immediately or their account would be suspended. While ISPs rolling over in the face of criticism is lame, it seems this one did them a favor by not pulling the plug immediately.

Anyway, I've e-mailed the author to offer him or her hosting, though I'm sure they've probably received countless others by now.
posted by Danelope at 9:43 AM on September 25, 2002

"The ISP likely sent them an e-mail demanding the supposedly-offensive content be removed immediately or their account would be suspended."

It's unclear by the information on the site what exactly happened beyond the Metropolitan Police contacting Webfusion. We can infer that the owner was contacted, and a request made to remove the offending content, but then that makes my earlier point. If the ISP made the request, the owner rolled over. If the host did pull the site, then the owner has more of a case for complaint, but he should make that clearer, and perhaps even put some of his correspondence with Webfusion on the site. Right now, it's a bit like unsubstantiated hearsay.

The Register article adds some more info:

"Host Europe shut down the site after they failed to contact the site's owner."

Ok, so the host shut it down. How'd it get back up? They finally got in touch with (or were contacted by) the owner when, monday, yesterday? He then removed the content got them to make the site available again, contacted the Register, and put up his response all in time for the article to come out today? Fastest turnaround and most amazing story I've ever heard.

Did anyone else notice that the little pop-up mailing list window connects to a site called the friday thing, whose copyright notice goes to AllTheThings whose " includes writers from Channel 4, The Guardian, The Observer, The Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan and many more"?

Looks more like someone trying to drum up they're own publicity.

Danelope, I wouldn't worry about hosting them. They seem to have plenty of resources and options.
posted by mikhail at 10:25 AM on September 25, 2002

This sort of thing is most certainly not just a problem with the ISP. Speaking as an American, I've heard of the FBI doing the same sort of thing. The police should not be "trying" for powers that they don't have and "enforcing" laws that don't exist. Of course it would be nice if our large printing (best analogy I can think of) institutions would respond to this with a quizzical: "Is there some sort of crime-type problem here officer?"
posted by Wood at 11:44 AM on September 25, 2002

mikhail, you mean like the part where he tells whoever decided his site can be taken down (that would be his host) to go fuck themselves?

I thought it was fairly clear, myself.
posted by The God Complex at 12:52 PM on September 25, 2002

Satire is dead? I guess I'll bury it next to Irony and give eulogies of sarcastic remarks.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:08 PM on September 25, 2002

"...(that would be his host)..."

"I thought it was fairly clear, myself."

Really? You don't think in the context it was presented (a rewritten 'Who Are We/What Is This' page) that he's speaking to a past/future "...tabloid-fuelled, pig-ignorant mob participant"? The person who called the police, or the type who would call the police? Funny how I interpret the same passage differently than you. But that little section of ambiguity is not the one I'm referring to.

I find this section even more ambiguous:

"The reason? Several complaints had been received from the general public that the site was 'inciting others to engage in mob violence'. There was no warrant issued. No form of official order at all. Just a polite request - which was immediately complied with. Much like a small puppy might comply with a request to 'roll over'."

Just a polite request to the host by the police, or a request by the host to the owner after a request came from the police? It can certainly be inferred that he's speaking of the police request to the host, but it's not clear.

But then I still say explain what followed. The host removed his content? That doesn't usually happen. They normally only make the site unavailable to public viewing.

After it was 'taken down' (on Monday the 23rd mind you) he got in touch with them and had the site reactivated? Gee, how nice. When? What happened to the former content? Into the ether? Did HE remove it at the request of the host in order to get them to reactivate the site? Isn't it convenient how swiftly things moved along so as to have the site back up with his new 'Satire is Dead' page in time to have an article written about the whole affair in the Register (published today). How long was the site offline, an hour? I'm surprised a host so readily willing to delete offensive material worked so swiftly to get the site back online.

posted by mikhail at 1:47 PM on September 25, 2002

Gotta dig the popup's source:

<meta name="description" content="Our meta tags are shit.">
<meta name="keywords" content="utter, horseshit"</meta>
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:49 PM on September 25, 2002

And from the meta description in today's updated version:

"Dave Green in an enormous cunt. Yes, The Friday Thing is kindly hosting my mailing list. Yes, I do write for them. No, they had nothing to do with ThinkOfTheChildren. No, I am not secretly gathering email addresses / police investigations on their behalf. Please stop emailing them. And did I mention that Dave Green is a cunt? Good, because he is. An enormous one in fact. He could probably win a prize. If only he could stop wanking over soft-core Channel 5 porn long enough to collect it. Cunt."
posted by kerplunk at 1:44 PM on September 27, 2002

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