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Thanks to bitterfig, who posted this while I was looking for it:

In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up.



Pastor Martin Niemöller

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
mygothangel
Jun. 4th, 2007 06:11 am (UTC)
*applauds*
ozma914
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:16 am (UTC)
He was a smart fellow, wasn't he?
kazzy_cee
Jun. 4th, 2007 06:19 am (UTC)
I think this could all have very serious implications, although as it's been pointed out several times, free speech doesn't apply on Lj because we're part of a company that sets their own rules for what can be put up here..
ozma914
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:21 am (UTC)
free speech in private business
You're absolutely right. Still, I think what made the actions of this particular company seem outrageous to many is that they believe the very purpose of LJ is to encourage free speech. If that's the case, the irony of such a blanket action is hard to ignore.
curiouswombat
Jun. 4th, 2007 10:47 am (UTC)
speakr2customrs (I think) posted it in his journal a few months ago after a different kerfuffle, the nature of which I have forgotten.


It is something that we all need putting in front of us at regular intervals so that we never forget it, relating to life outside LJ as well as inside it.

Thank you for posting it.
ozma914
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:22 am (UTC)
You're welcome. And yes, it does indeed seem to apply to many areas of life ... I've seen it posted at least one other time on LJ, and it may very well have been the time you mentioned.
(Deleted comment)
ozma914
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:23 am (UTC)
Indeed. I could only hope to come up with a gem like that; of course, I don't need to as long as the sayings of others are remembered.
frimfram
Jun. 4th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
This came to mind for me too, though I don't quite have the balls to post "They came for the paedophiles, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a paedophile".
ozma914
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:29 am (UTC)
Good point! Of course, I haven't heard anyone actually defend the right of paedophiles to troll around here; it's the overreaction to the group's attack, and its effect on the innocent LJ users, that caused the outcry. And now there are people saying that the reaction to the overreaction was overreacting. Maybe the only people who aren't overreacting are the ones who haven't commented on this at all!
francis_eugene
Jun. 4th, 2007 05:42 pm (UTC)
Okay, Here's why it's not a big deal. The following rant is going to come off a lot harsher than it should, and will be a very unpopular viewpoint, gauranteed not to gain any friends (probably will lose some) but I think by now I'm just tired of the whining...

<RANT>
Very pithy aphorism.

And nowhere close to hitting the target.

Go read SixApart's Terms of Service (again). You (I mean the wider, more generic "you" of everyone who's all up in arms about this) signed up with them. More than likely you sought them out, not the other way around. I also doubt they coerced you to sign up. You read their TOS when you were thinking about signing up (at least, as the responsible rights-bearing American that you are, I assume you did). You agreed to their TOS, otherwise you would not have your journal. SixApart has not forced you to do anything you didn't want to do. They have not infringed any of your rights, nor have they come close.

They are a company with a business plan that includes making a profit (hence the ".com" in their URL, if you needed a hint). They make decisions they perceive to be in their best interest (making money), not yours. They will continue to make decisions they perceive to be in their best interest, not yours. If they happen to piss off their advertisers (the majority of the source of the money they want to make) then they have made a bad choice and they will have to deal with it. If they piss off their customers (the people the advertisers are seeking) then they have made a different bad decision, and will have to deal with that. In all likelihood they will make more bad choices in the future. It's their company and they have every right to make all the bad choices they want to.

I don't know who these WFI people are. Maybe they're a bunch of crazy schmucks, maybe not. Maybe they are a serious threat to my freedoms, maybe not. But just as the Nazi party has the right to march down the streets of some mid-western suburban town, the WFI has the right to inform SixApart of things they don't like on the site.

It's SixApart's business decision as to what to do about it. And that's really all it is. A poor knee-jerk business decision perhaps, but still theirs to make. Trying to draw some kind of comparison between a business decision and genuine threats to our rights is ludicrous and only trivializes the genuine threats.

Now, it's time for your decision (you can read that as "right" or "freedom" or whatever). Put your money where you mouth is. Exercise your rights! If you're all so truly upset about the choices the company is making then you should NOT continue to be customers of the company. Cancel your accounts. Right now.

But for God's sake, stop the whining!

</RANT>
ozma914
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:43 am (UTC)
I have yet to hear anyone whining about this, from either side of the debate; in fact, the only thing I found offensive about anything you had to say was that particular bit of name calling.

(By the way, kudos to you for writing this -- with opinions going so overwhelmingly in the other direction right now, it would be easy to back down and not share your opinion.)

I've researched the WFI people, and they appear to be sincere in doing what they believe is best. Schmucks maybe, certainly naive, but not really bad people. The problem is that if businesses continue to allow these people to harass them into shutting down customers who have done nothing wrong, it would be a quick and easy step for them to put the same pressure on local and then national governments. That could make this one event a stepping stone that could allow a small group to remove one or more of the rights from members of society who have done no wrong. That makes the quote I gave entirely on target.

LiveJournal is a business. But the company is in the business of providing communication and free speech among people throughout the world. And that makes a protest by those same people against the company entirely appropriate. The only real surprise is that SixApart didn't see this coming.

As for canceling my account -- well, WFI and others who think they can bully me into going their way would love to see me disappear, which is exactly why it's not going to happen.
francis_eugene
Jun. 5th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)

the only thing I found offensive about anything you had to say was that particular bit of name calling.


My apologies for that.


I've researched the WFI people, and they appear to be sincere in doing what they believe is best. Schmucks maybe, certainly naive, but not really bad people. The problem is that if businesses continue to allow these people to harass them


How has WFI "harassed" SA, other than exercising their FA rights to complain? Has WFI threatened anything illegal? Have they threatened a denial-of-service attack on SA? Have they spammed SA directly, or any journals? Have they threatened any journal holders? What exectly have they done that constitutes harrasement?


...into shutting down customers who have done nothing wrong,


If SA's claims are to be belived some of those accounts really do contain material in clear violation of the ToS.


it would be a quick and easy step for them to put the same pressure on local and then national governments.


Which is their right, just as it is yours to voice something you don't like about government policies. I doubt you consider anti-war rally's as "harrasement" of the government. So if WFI did the same in regard to policies they consider near-and-dear why would that be harrasment?


LiveJournal is a business. But the company is in the business of providing communication and free speech among people throughout the world.


I think this is the crux of the matter. They are most emphatically NOT in the business of providing free speech, nor are they obligated to. They are in the business of making money. End of story. Here's some quotes from LJ's home site:

"LiveJournal is dedicated to offering a stable and meaningful experience for members from all backgrounds and nations, so we have a few rules we've laid out to provide this."

Nothing about free speech. Nor is dedication obligation. Interesting reference to rules, though (I'll get to that in a moment). Or:

"What is LiveJournal? LiveJournal is an online journal service with an emphasis on user interaction."

See any mention of free speech? Didn't think so. I challenge you to find anything on their site that says they provide a channel of free speech.

On that rule thing, the Terms of Use (ToU) and Terms of Service (ToS). Be honest now, did you fully read them before you signed up? Did you read the parts where, essentially, they can do anything they like, where they can close an account for any reason they like, and change the rules whenever they feel like? Doesn't sound very free speechy to me.

Or did you just go, "yeah, yeah, whatever, just sign me up," and skip through them?

Did SA coerce you to sign up? Did they seek you out? I don't think they did. They certainly didn't to me (for the record, I just skipped through the ToS. I've seen enough of these to know what they say).

You voluntarily agreed to their ToU and ToS; you voluntarily agreed to become a member of their community under their rules.

To me, this makes it a huge whopping difference from a genocidal pogrom that sought out groups and individuals. I don't see how you can compare the two.


And that makes a protest by those same people against the company entirely appropriate. The only real surprise is that SixApart didn't see this coming.


This I agree with. I have no problem with users complaining about how they're treated. SA's knee-jerk reaction was an incredibly poor business decision. Their lack of understanding of who their customers are makes me wonder if they really know what they're doing and if they can maintain their business for the long term.


As for canceling my account -- well, WFI and others who think they can bully me into going their way would love to see me disappear, which is exactly why it's not going to happen.


Here's the message Six Apart is getting from you (I doubt WFI has a clue who you are): Your eyes are still glued to their web pages (which advertisers love) even after all the crap they pulled.
ozma914
Jun. 6th, 2007 10:09 am (UTC)
My wording seems to have attracted your attention more than my meaning, so it appears I wasn’t clear. Maybe "harassed" is a strong word, since SixApart seems to have jumped to do WFI's bidding almost immediately, including deleting not only everyone on WFI's list, but some others besides. I've seen these groups in operation many times, and harassment is, indeed, the normal M.O. if their demands aren't met. If it didn't meet legal definitions of harassment yet, then I withdraw the statement for now. I don't think we'll get a chance to find out; I think WFI will be satisfied with the way things have gone.

No one denied that some of the deleted accounts violated the TOS; the complaint is of a sweeping, presumed to be guilty cleanout of sites that were clearly not doing anything wrong, including some sites dedicated to helping the survivors of rape and child abuse. Frankly, SA should have been dealing with this issue on a case by case basis from the beginning, rather than waiting until they were scared into it.

Some anti-war rallies I do see as harassment. Going to a military funeral and screaming that God is punishing America because it supports homosexuality is harassment of the people at the funeral, for instance. But the real comparison to this situation would be if a group went to Congress and announced that the government should close libraries that have a volume of "Huckleberry Finn", only to have the government react by shutting down any library that carries any book by Mark Twain. It's that group's right to protest the book, but it's my right to read the book, anyway.

None of which is an good comparison, of course, because SA is a private company.

Yes, SA is in the business of making money. The way they make their money is by providing user interaction, which is another way of saying communications among people, which is free speech, no matter how you word it. We pay them to give us the chance to speak freely with other people. Maybe it's a matter of semantics, since I'm not meaning free speech in the Constitutional way of thinking, so I should have worded it differently. This is not the government; they can elect not to let us speak, and we can elect to go somewhere else. But if we do that, what have we stopped paying them for? The ability to speak freely.

Again, I'm not defending the people who blatantly violated the TOS (which, by the way, I did read, because coming here was my first experience with this kind of site). I do lean toward defending the people who just breezed through the TOS, which I'm sure most did. Are they in the wrong? Yes. Would a site administrator with a brain in his head really think everyone reads the TOS? No. So why was no warning given before everyone got turned off? I don’t deny that what you say is technically correct, but there’s a whole lot of wrong inside it.

Finally, you're right; I'm playing into their hands by staying, when I could go. I’ll live with that; for me it remains a matter of principle, rather than money. If I do go, it will be at the same time as the majority on my flist, and SA will know exactly why.

I have the strangest feeling that you and I are a bit closer in our opinions about this than it seems at first glance; the only big difference being that you're sick of the debate (wait, so am I), and that I shouldn't have worded it as if I was arguing before the Surpreme Court.
francis_eugene
Jun. 6th, 2007 07:40 pm (UTC)
This is a two-part reply because LJ has a 4300 character limit on replies. (Maybe I should complain they are violating my right of expression by imposing such limits?)

My wording seems to have attracted your attention more than my meaning, so it appears I wasn’t clear. Maybe "harassed" is a strong word, since SixApart seems to have jumped to do WFI's bidding almost immediately, including deleting not only everyone on WFI's list, but some others besides. I've seen these groups in operation many times, and harassment is, indeed, the normal M.O. if their demands aren't met. If it didn't meet legal definitions of harassment yet, then I withdraw the statement for now. I don't think we'll get a chance to find out; I think WFI will be satisfied with the way things have gone.

Since we have no evidence of WFI doing anything other than exercising their right to complain, let's leave them out of it.

No one denied that some of the deleted accounts violated the TOS; the complaint is of a sweeping, presumed to be guilty cleanout of sites that were clearly not doing anything wrong, including some sites dedicated to helping the survivors of rape and child abuse. Frankly, SA should have been dealing with this issue on a case by case basis from the beginning, rather than waiting until they were scared into it.

Yes, that would have been nice. But that's not how companies work. If there is expense they don't need to incur then they won't. They will take the lazy, easy, cheaper way every time. The sweeping cleanout is simply a matter of time and expense. A few database queries, a few commands, a few minutes of an admin's time, and the cause of the original complaint goes away.

Now SA has learned something else. They've learned they may in fact incur a greater expense (customers departing-->loss of ad revenue) by being too lazy. How long they retain this lesson remains to be seen (I'm not hopeful).

[minor snippage]

But the real comparison to this situation would be if a group went to Congress and announced that the government should close libraries that have a volume of "Huckleberry Finn", only to have the government react by shutting down any library that carries any book by Mark Twain. It's that group's right to protest the book, but it's my right to read the book, anyway.

Absolutely. And Congress (or whoever) deserves all the blame.

None of which is an good comparison, of course, because SA is a private company.

Yes, SA is in the business of making money. The way they make their money is by providing user interaction, which is another way of saying communications among people, which is free speech, no matter how you word it. We pay them to give us the chance to speak freely with other people.

This is where we part ways. You pay them for easy access to an audience, under their rules you agreed to, not for the chance to speak freely (you can do that already).

If a publisher, who can bind your words into a nice looking book and spread it far and wide, refuses to publish your book do you accuse them of violating your freedom of speach? To me, that's the space where SA sits.

(continued in next reply)
ozma914
Jun. 7th, 2007 06:10 am (UTC)
The publisher pays *me*. (Or in my case, doesn't.) With SA, I pay *them*. That's a big difference, and again I say, SA's business is making money by giving others a platform on which to speak. No one's saying we should be able to say absolutely anything we want, any more than it's okay for me to yell "fire!" in a crowded theater.

At which point I come close to saying "It's the way they did it!", which might actually be the whole point, in which case I take back my complaint about your use of the term "whine".
francis_eugene
Jun. 6th, 2007 07:43 pm (UTC)
reply continued

Maybe it's a matter of semantics, since I'm not meaning free speech in the Constitutional way of thinking, so I should have worded it differently. This is not the government; they can elect not to let us speak, and we can elect to go somewhere else. But if we do that, what have we stopped paying them for? The ability to speak freely.

A "right", constitutional or otherwise is never something you pay for. It just is. What you're paying for is a service (sit-on-your-butt-in-front-of-a-PC easy access to an audience), which you may or may not find satisfactory. If you don't like the quality of their service, go elsewhere:

- Lots of other journaling/blogging sites out there.
- Get a site of your own. It's very cheap these days.
- Subscribe to a Usenet group or mail list.
- Scribble it down on a piece of notebook paper and hand it out.
- Revive the great tradition of oral story-telling and shout out
your story from the street corner (bleep the four letter words, please)

[small snippage]

I do lean toward defending the people who just breezed through the TOS, which I'm sure most did. Are they in the wrong? Yes. Would a site administrator with a brain in his head really think everyone reads the TOS? No. So why was no warning given before everyone got turned off?

Because it's cheaper (see above) and easier for them, and because they told you--and you agreed to it!--they could do such a thing.

I don’t deny that what you say is technically correct, but there’s a whole lot of wrong inside it.

If the ToS was hidden and/or confusing and unclear, or they didn't specifically ask you to read it and agree before joining, then I could see your point. But it's easy to find. It's boring and dull. And very clear. Just as you speak of those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it, I'll say that those who fail to read the rules they agree to are condemned to their imposition and really have no leg to stand on. Not only is there such a thing as "rights" there is also something called responsibility.

Finally, you're right; I'm playing into their hands by staying, when I could go. I’ll live with that; for me it remains a matter of principle, rather than money.

I'm finding that a bizarre statement. You're making a case for high principle, that SA has violated that principle and their actions are comparable to those of the Nazis. Yet you stay with what you consider a clearly unprincipled organization. Okay, maybe you think it was an unfortunate one-time incident and SA will be better.

I'm going to tell you now, that when it comes to principle vs. profit SA will chose profit. Every. Single. Time.

I have the strangest feeling that you and I are a bit closer in our opinions about this than it seems at first glance; the only big difference being that you're sick of the debate (wait, so am I), and that I shouldn't have worded it as if I was arguing before the Surpreme Court.

I'm sorry, but I really don't think we're that close. If we can, we're just going to have to agree to disagree, and move on. You're informative, articulate, write interesting columns and great stories, and I hope we can remain friends. This is my last reply on this topic, and I thank you for allowing the discussion to continue and to stay up on your journal.

[Now if you really want a hot and endless debate, just ask me what I think of Barry Bonds and the homerun record. Actually, don't. You won't like the answer, and I don't have the time.]
ozma914
Jun. 7th, 2007 06:59 am (UTC)
part 2
There have been many, many attempts in history to make people pay for rights (or of course to just take them away). Short answer to all of this: I stay on LJ because people who try to take away your ability to speak in a place like this have a tendency to follow wherever you go, and once they’re full of success on the internet they’ll go on to the next level. That’s history.

I’m horrified to admit this, but I thought your replies sounded like a corporate lawyer, which suggests we’re going at this from exactly opposite directions. You’re using legalities to argue something most of us do, indeed, see as a matter of principle. I’m not saying SA is unprincipled as a whole; I’m saying that in this case they’re acting out of fear and using legalities to avoid acting on principle. Which, yes, is something the Nazis did, but I posted the poem as a way of understanding the parallels, not so it could be taken literally.

Using legal technicalities to get SA out of any kind of responsibilities is absolutely and legally right, and I’m well aware that businesses worry about the bottom line first, and everything else second. The point is, none of that makes it right. Their choice of profit doesn’t make it right. Their shutting down customers who did nothing wrong just because they legally can doesn’t make it right. Shutting down people because they should have read the TOS is legal, but that doesn’t make it right.

If doing what’s right is in any way bizarre, then it’s a sad, sad world indeed.

Jeez, I sound so … Sixties. Usually I’m the law and order guy.

Anyway, if your next to the last paragraph was a suggestion to let bygones be bygones … it worked. And why wouldn’t I leave the discussion up on my journal? Deleting it would have been going against the very ideals I was arguing for, after all.

I don’t follow baseball much, but when I want to start a real debate, I tell people Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be allowed to run for President, because she already had the job for eight years. It’s more sweeping than the Angel vs. Spike debate.
yume_kokoro
Jun. 5th, 2007 03:47 am (UTC)
Well said!
ozma914
Jun. 5th, 2007 07:15 am (UTC)
Thanks! Well, maybe I shouldn't be saying thanks, since I didn't write that ... I guess I'll just say I agree!
elizalavelle
Jun. 5th, 2007 11:01 am (UTC)
Thank you, this is a good quote for what happened. I keep being so surprised that there are people who keep arguing that it was no big deal. Le sigh, some people don't learn.
ozma914
Jun. 6th, 2007 07:19 am (UTC)
no big deal?
It's largely a simple case of refusing to learn from history, which the human race is incredibly good at.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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