The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/mcvay.ken/press/edmonton-sun.980309

 Edmonton Sun
 March 9, 1998


By JEREMY LOOME -- Staff Writer
It's a digital dilemma: how to warn the public about the spread of
Internet hate without giving racists free advertising.

It didn't take long for that question to divide participants into two
camps yesterday at a symposium on cyberhate hosted by the Edmonton
Jewish Community Centre, 7600 156 St.

Take keynote speaker Ken McVay. The B.C. director of the Nizkor
project, which monitors Internet hate, told the 50 or so participants
media coverage isn't helping. He cited the U.S. news show Nightline,
which featured a hate site operator.

"On the night he did the Ted Koppel show, the number of hits on his
site went (from dozens a day ) to 3,000 to 4,000 an hour," said McVay.
"It's why I rarely speak to the media any more - every time they do a
story it triples the audience."

He noted Canada's largest Internet hate site only gets about 40 visits
a day - unless it's been in the media recently.

He'd rather people learn to recognize the Internet can be a deceptive
place where the truth is easily twisted.

"I can say without a doubt that if you are on the Internet, somebody
hates you," said McVay. "One individual can create a site on the World
Wide Web and give the impression that he represents a group of 10,000
but you have no idea if it's one bigot in Edmonton or a group in

David Matas disagreed that publicity does more harm than good. The
legal counsel to the B'nai Brith of Canada said even fringe support
for racism must be publicized.

"Because their ideas are so ridiculous to most people that they can
easily be ignored. But the lesson from our history is that we cannot
afford to ignore it.

"I reject the argument that by confronting hatemongers we're just
giving them the attention they crave. It's true that they're getting
attention but what they're saying will also be discredited."

The symposium, which also delved into free speech and Canada's legal
response to Net hate, did reach a consensus on two measures, including
pressuring Internet service providers to follow through on voluntary
conduct codes.

Those attending also committed to asking schools for more sensitivity
training, to stop racism before it starts.

The symposium was an eye-opener for Grade 10 students from Archbishop
MacDonald Catholic High School.

"I'm on the Internet all the time and ... I didn't even really know
this stuff existed," admitted Sandy Woo.

Canada still has a way to go, said B'nai Brith president Lyle Smordin.
"Germany, for example, has taken great steps, because of the stigma of
Holocaust and Nazis, to keep hate off of the Internet. It can be done.
They've been very vigilant in ensuring so because they don't want it
to happen again."

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