The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Last-Modified: 1997/03/30

3.1 The Internet - Hate In Cyberspace
by Bernie M. Farber

Throughout the rise of the Heritage Front, organizers such
as Lemire, Droege, Burdi, and others, began to realize the
potential of utilizing new technology as a means by which to
spread their messages. It is cheap; it's easy; and it has
the potential to reach millions. The internet. Like a walk
through the shouk or the kasba, today's internet offers
access to whatever the heart desires. Without leaving the
comfort of our office or living room, and by finding the
right newsgroup or websites, today's computer literate
society can travel to Paris, tour the Louvre, climb Mount
Everest, chat with Bill or Hilary Clinton and even download
recipes from world famous chefs.

However, the dark side of the equation is bleak indeed.
Sexual predators, hustlers, scam artists, child
pornographers and hate-mongers also populate cyberspace,
thankfully on its periphery.

Some argue that the internet is but a mirror of the world.
Good and bad, intelligent and stupid, love and hate, are
part of the society we live in and therefore one should not
be surprised to find them on the information super-highway
or at least a gravelly side-road.

However, in the real world we have to deal with issues of
responsibility, sensitivity and a balancing of rights. These
are accomplished through various means. In a free and
democratic society the best possible choice to ensure one's
rights are respected is through a combination of law with
individual and corporate responsibility. For example,
newspapers, radio and tv, and other forms of inter-global
communications have established various sets of guidelines
which give definition to what they will print, broadcast or
communicate. In various provinces, newspapers fall under the
auspices of Press Councils . Where editors and journalists
have crossed the bounds of decency, the press council will
adjudicate and decide on the appropriate sanctions if
necessary. Even within certain large newspapers, codes and
guidelines have been worked out. For example, the Toronto
Star has established what have become known as "advocacy
advertising guidelines." These guidelines assure that
specific religious minorities, visible and other vulnerable
minorities are not targeted by the unscrupulous to promote
hatred, contempt or religious conversion. In broadcasting,
the CRTC ensures that radio and tv meet the standards
expected by a decent society. As a result, the likes of
Ernst Zundel, George Burdi, or Wolfgang Droege would never
be given air-time to expound on their hateful views.

Even ham radio operators must abide by an international set
of guidelines in order to receive a radio operator' s
license. Citizen band radio operators have similar
regulations.

This brings us to the internet. Many suggest that the
technology of the internet transcends man-made law and
therefore, the internet, unlike newspapers, radio and tv
cannot be so easily controlled. Others, purists, demand that
the internet be left untouched as the last domain of free
expression in the communications frontier.

The internet is indeed complex new technology. In fact, one
can hide in the internet world and be close to invisible.
There is great difficulty in clearly identifying those who
post abhorrent messages, like garish billboards, on the
super information highway. Some have even suggested that
this technology makes it impossible in any way to control
the net. And yet, only last year we note that a man was
convicted in Toronto for downloading pornographic pictures
of children on the internet for others to view. Only
recently, another individual from Kirkland Lake, Ontario has
been charged in the largest seizure of child pornographic
material on the internet in its history. And in Ottawa a
Department of Defense physicist was charged late last year
under child pornography laws for downloading pornographic
material from his government-supplied computer. So policing
does take place and at least, in these cases, seemed
technologically viable.

And many ask why not? In Canada and many other democratic
countries around the world there are laws dealing with child
pornography, hate-mongering, copyright, fraud, etc., all
serving as a means by which we choose to live. If the
internet is part of society, should it not be subject to
society's laws? In the last couple of years we have heard of
two significant decisions by internet servers: firstly
Compuserve's resolution to shut down a number of news groups
dealing with sexual pornography on the net and secondly the
determination by Deutcher Telekom to close down Ernst
Zundel's web site in Germany. On the first issue of sexual
pornography, Compuserve announced that it had closed access
world-wide to more than 200 internet user groups,  the vast
majority of which dealt specifically with child pornography,
as a result of a request from a Munich prosecutor who warned
that Compuserve would be held legally accountable for
distributing illegal sexual material in Germany. This was
historically the first time that a government's action led
to a world-wide ban on the internet. A number of months
later, Canada's I-Star, another large internet service
provider, also limited access to child pornography sites on
the internet.
In the second case, that of the notorious Canadian landed
immigrant and Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, the T-on line
service of Deutcher Telekom claimed that it voluntarily
blocked access to Zundelsite the world wide web page
operated by Zundel. However, it should be noted that this
action occurred shortly after a Manheim Germany State
Prosecutor warned Deutcher Telekom that it was investigating
whether or not the service was "helping to incite racial
hatred" which is a crime in Germany.

Deutcher Telekom has more than one million customers in
Germany and it has bitterly complained that it is
unreasonable for the German government to hold the server
responsible for antisemitic material appearing on one of its
world wide web pages.

The real question in this case therefore, is whether it was
necessary for state sponsored censorship to be invoked or if
less intrusive means were available.

In this light it is absolutely necessary to understand the
concerns of vulnerable minorities. Recently, the Jewish
Public Library of Montreal in cooperation with Canadian
Jewish Congress, Quebec Region, held a seminar dealing with
the promotion of racial tolerance in the world of cyber
hate. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon
Weisenthal Centre, explained to the audience that well known
hate monger Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan
Resistance (WAR) and a resident of Fallbrook, California,
spent most of his twenty year career as a hate monger,
distributing flyers on street corners and operating a
telephone hate line from his home. Six months ago he went on-
line. For the first time in his career as one of America's
most notorious hate-mongers, Metzger had a way to reach a
world-wide audience, specifically targeting youth. Glenda
Carmen, a communications associate at the Canadian Jewish
Congress, in a recent paper she prepared dealing with hate
online noted that

" since going on line, the White Aryan Resistance has had

more exposure and the membership growing at a faster pace
than Tom Metzger's previous group did in its twenty year
history."

It should be remembered that it was Tom Metzger's group, WAR,
which a Portland, Oregon jury found liable ( to the tune of
$12 million) for inciting a group of neo-Nazi skinheads to
murder a young Ethiopian immigrant in that city a few years
ago. Similarly, in the past, Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel's
ability to access the  young was strictly curtailed both in
Canada and many areas around the world. Even in the United
States, Satellite TV banned his Holocaust denial program
following complaints from viewers. With the advent of
Lemire's Freedom Site and the Zundelsite high school students
and many others need only type in the word "Nazi" or even
"Holocaust" onto their web browser and pull up pages and
pages of antisemitic Holocaust denial garbage. The
hatemonger's dream of being able to spread his poison
worldwide has become society's nightmare.


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