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Doug's Mailbag: Web Censorship vs. Free Speech, Apple vs. Google vs. Microsoft, More

Doug's Wednesday blog item about Web censorship not only brought in a deluge of letters from all of you (see below), but also one from a spokesperson from the Klu Klux Klan:

When the day comes you silence all opposition, America will have ceased to exist. Silence the Ku Klux Klan and you muzzle this nation permanently.

With no voice of dissention what would have happened to the Watergate story? Having only one side of an argument means you get no truth at all.

Learn the lessons of propaganda: is propaganda your truth, my truth or the truth. The answer is my truth, I don't care about your truth and the truth is what you decide it is. If we take away your truth, and my truth do we get the truth? No, far from it. You will then have no way to reach the truth.

Likewise, hate is what you say it is. If I dislike green beans will you say I hate all vegetables? If I love lima beans does that mean I love all vegetables?

What has made America the country it is? The right to speak, publish and preach your truth, trusting the public to know what to ignore and what is to be called truth.

- Rev. Dr. Travis Pierce, National Membership Dir.
The Ku Klux Klan, LLC.

And here's your take:

The Web should be a free-for-all without censorship. After all, who is going to censor it? If I censor the Internet, I know that I will make certain groups angry (, Salon, ACORN) due to my definition of hate speech. I didn't like many things President Bush was doing but I still believed it to be hate speech to call for his hanging, showing him as Hitler, etc. I would very much dislike having those groups in charge of censorship. Leave it free and everyone can be offended, if they so please.

I would make one exception: if the action is illegal, then the Internet should reflect that (NAMBLA is an example, as pedophilia is illegal).

Just read your Redmond Report newsletter, which I read religiously. While I feel that hate groups and hate speech to be very morally wrong and disgusting, especially in this day and age, I think censorship is far worse. It's a slippery slope to go down. Who knows what's next, especially if it ended up to some government agency to regulate and enforce? These guys couldn't manage making a ham sandwich (and no, I'm not wearing a tinfoil hat either). This is a human issue I feel that needs to be fixed through education, not technology.

Someone much smarter than I once said something to the effect, "I may completely disagree with what someone says, but I will fight to the death to defend their right to say it." Any censorship on the Internet is the start of a slippery slope toward providers deciding what can and cannot be passed over their networks. Giving any monolithic entity that sort of power is extremely dangerous.

It should be left alone. Otherwise, who gets to decide what's allowed on the Web? Maybe haters will get in power and they will then decide, like in Nazi Germany. The truth will set you free!

As much as I despise the garbage that is spewed by hate groups, I don't feel that censorship is the issue. Unfortunately, I don't have an alternative. The problem is that with the advent of the Internet, this crap is available to one in the comfort of one's own home, as opposed to having to “work” a bit to seek out like-minded individuals, as in the past. In effect, they are closeted racists and bigots. Additionally, hate mail is forwarded by people with little or no thought as to the damage that's being done when they do so. I am certain that everyone has received forwarded racist “jokes” that one would not speak to another for fear of being labeled a bigot.

I have taken a stand in my small way by replying to the sender, suggesting that they certainly did not mean to forward something of this nature and asking them to please not send anything like this to me again. I also suggest they think about how they're presenting themselves, either overtly or inadvertently. One person was the mother of a friend who would pass these freely on. She was offended at me when I called her attention to what she was forwarding -- fairly ironic. We have mended our friendship and she does not forward those items to me, though I'm uncertain about the rest of her e-friends.

The freedoms of speech and thought are basic human rights.

To deny them validates the beliefs of those who irrationally fear those whom they demonize and strengthens both the position and the intensity of their language. Censorship also denigrates those who deny these freedoms by allowing them to forget or marginalize the humanity of those they are censoring.

Live and let live, speak and allow others to speak, listen and learn.

You do not have to agree with what you hear and discuss but open discourse is the best way to combat the hateful beliefs and misconceptions which drive intolerant speech. Open discourse is also the only lasting way to open the minds of others, which ultimately frees people from intolerant ideas.

I am the member of an ethnic group that is one of the main targets of a number of these hate groups and I say a resounding NO to restricting them. One thing that has to be remembered is the person, group, etc determining what should be restricted today may/will not be the one making the decisions in the future. When that person, group, etc is changed, what is considered hate today will change and it won't fit the current definition of hate.

The only real deterrent to hate is vigilance, education and activism -- out of which, hopefully, comes reasonable, responsible people and laws.

I don 't agree that networks should be unrestricted.  If we start with criminal behavior and work forward, we can see that there are restrictions on various forms of speech in our open society.  There is no divine right to “say anything, anytime, anywhere.”  The easy anonymity of the Web has inspired many who would not venture out in daylight.

I am hopeful that the spirit of the law can be applied, perhaps refined slightly, to apply to hate Web sites and networks.  There is real damage caused by hate speech (fighting words) and there should be real legal and civil consequences.

Who would be responsible for deciding what is and is not acceptable?  Perhaps my view of not acceptable includes not allowing tech-related information to be exchanged, since that might enable my users to DIY themselves into a mess of a computer.  Maybe someone else wants to keep me from accessing Facebook, where I keep in touch with friends old and new, some of whom I haven 't seen in person for 25 years.

If parents want kids to see only kid-friendly stuff, they should be monitoring what their kids are doing.

If employers want their people to only work, that 's their business if it 's their connection and equipment.

But if someone tries telling me I cannot say what I want in a public forum dedicated to the topic I am discoursing upon, that takes away my freedom of speech and is not acceptable.  I agree not everything should be said, done or maybe even thought. But this is America, and freedom is a right not to be given up so lightly.

The demoncrats already call ANYTHING conservative hate speech. Then they start calling conservatives all sorts of hateful names. Banning hate speech will end all speech that's not government approved.

Consider how politically correct is used. Check how China treats bloggers. Also, remember that the Tiananmen Square massacre never happened, according to the Chinese government.

Today you can Google Tiananmen Square and read about it. Maybe not tomorrow.

Where is Buffy when you need her?

You may publish my comment but not my ID. I fear what was my government. The November elections will be suspended.I'm a normal computer guy otherwise.

I think that the Web should be a free-for-all. But I also think that it shouldn't have the same rules as wire taps and evidence collection. When a person posts something to the Web he does not expect to have the same privacy as he would have over the phone. When you call someone, that's personal communication. The Web is a public forum so anything you say can be used in a legal matter. What about social sites like Facebook and Myspace? It would depend if the owner limits who can access their information. If it is by invitation-only, then it would fall under the wiretap rules. If anyone can see it, then it would not. While on the subject, how about the arcane rule about encryption only have a limited key i.e. PGP with 128 bit encryption? If you want or need to encrypt your info, so be it. We have the right to privacy just like the law has the right to collect evidence. It's not our responsibility to assist the investigators in collecting evidence against us.
-Paul Bonney

With the battle lines drawn between Apple, Microsoft and Google for mobile supremacy, here are some of your thoughts on who will reign supreme:

I'm with Google. While I have a lot of hatred for Microsoft for many of their practices, Apple is worse. Apple wants complete control, wants everyone else shut out and wants competitors to just accept it.

I'm rooting for all. The competition is a very healthy thing. I carry an iPhone (and love it) but know that if no one challenges the leader then Apple will get to big for their britches, and, regardless of which company it is, lose respect for the customer. It also spurs innovation. The iPhone, for example, is a great product, but the pace of innovation will slow if there's no one there to push them. If there was no AMD what kind of processors would Intel be producing today?

I like the simple elegance of Apple products. I also appreciate the flexibility and creativity that an Android (open source) option can bring to individuals and hardware makers alike.

Your blog points out that Google is taking a Microsoft approach -- they'll build the software and invite others to build the hardware. I would say that I root for Apple. I think that the fact that they build both is a strength of theirs.

Sent from my iPod because droids are only cool in a Star Wars movie.

What is Apple's alternative? Surely they aren't pushing that cludgy, buggy and nightmarish QuickTime? Or is there something else they have that I'm not thinking of?
And on the other side, isn't Microsoft pushing Silverlight for mobile applications?


Doug asks for your favorite and least-favorite virt venders. You respond:

My favorite vendor is VMware, for the win. They offer:

- Live Migration for killer functionality
- Dynamically powering on and off servers(well, idling them) for killer functionality
- Resource pools and over subscription for killer functionality that will enable the future of hosting solutions!!!!

For my least favorite… I like and dislike things about all of them.


We are a VMware shop. Out of 500 servers, at least two-thirds are virtual and running on ESX. It just works. Disaster Recovery, backup and upgrading software (with snaps) are all much easier now.

So when it came to VDI, we obviously tried View. That fell on its face. We're now using Citrix's XenDesktop running on the ESX hypervisor. Have there been issues? Yes. Any new technology has issues. But the user experience is so much better with XenDesktop.

We may always be a VMware shop. But with the prices they're charging, that may change in the future.

Here's some more of your responses for the possibility of third-party patches in Microsoft's Patch Tuesdays:

I think its a good idea. My home system, which runs Ubuntu, keeps all my software up-to-date. I think third-party software running on Windows should be updated due to the fact that the update process is not the easiest thing to keep up with, especially being a system admin that's busy with other things. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "I need my Adobe (Flash) updated." I just don't have the time to keep flash updated on 100 or so workstations. I have it set so all machines in the organization check and install updates. Having Flash and other Adobe software updated with automatic updates would be great.

I strongly agree with the consensus amongst your readers that Adobe products being included with the Microsoft patches would be a really good thing, especially because many of the patches are not cumulative and a reboot is needed after each.

There is also another problem I've come across: I've deployed Acrobat and Adobe Reader via Group Policy. Ever try using Adobe 's auto patch method when the app is managed that way? Forget it. The only way I know to do it is to add the patch to your install point and actually redeploy the app package every time you want to update it. This means a long delay at boot time for the end user. I hope that if MS distributes for Adobe, the patches will install even when the app is managed, such as it does for managed Office applications.

That's a BIG YAY!

Finally, unlike the defunct company and product names sent to Doug, your answers don't end:

I still have an Amiga Technologies Inc A4000T that has been running for 13 years, non-stop (except for hard drive and fan replacements). It's my house controller, using CyberCron to execute CyberX10 commands to control X10 power modules (light switches and outlets).
It also has a PhonePAK, which is my telephone answering machine. And I listen to CDs on it.


It has to be the Singer minicomputer. Only ever saw one at the Arthur Andersen training center in St. Charles, Ill. Singer's the only sewing machine company I know of that branched out in this direction.

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Posted by Doug Barney on March 26, 2010


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