Dealing with Hate on the Internet

July 2001
by Reid Goldsborough

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Some Web sites may cause you to shudder from the deepest part of your being. You can read, view, and hear some of the most malicious and inflammatory material imaginable. You’ll find blatant racism, anti-Semitism, Christianity bashing, homophobia, and more–all designed to pit people against one another.

 

Then there are critique or “rogue” Web sites that target specific companies or individuals with angry accusations and epithet-filled condemnations.

 

Considering these developments, you might think that the Internet was the greatest thing to happen to hate since the invention of the printing press. You’d be right. But with its unparalleled ability to answer ignorance with insight and create a channel of communication where none existed before, the Internet can also be a great boon to tolerance.

Free speech reinforced by recent ruling

 

Cybersmearing has a long history on the Net, and a ruling in April by a federal judge in Seattle reinforced the right of people online to speak their minds, even anonymously. The judge ruled that a company involved in litigation can’t force disclosure of the identities of people who anonymously blasted the company on the Web.

 

“The First Amendment clearly applies to the Internet,” wrote U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly. In this situation, wrote the judge, the First Amendment applies even though the critics said “downright nasty”…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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