Jose Saavedra: "net.terrorist"

zodiac zodiac at
Fri May 31 05:35:47 MDT 1996

Ang  <uls at> writes to Doug Henwood:

> I think the "anti-hate-speech types" don't believe that generic 'hate'
> speech or political commentary like that of Jose Saavedra's should be
> banned.  Instead I think they would like to ban racist speech, that of
> denigrating individuals or groups because of their race.  This is the
> kind of speech that the right uses and the left wouldn't suffer from any
> restrictions on it.  How could such an anti-racist speech law be applied
> unevenly?

Like this:

(Notes from my TV debate with the head of the Canadian Jewish Congress,
May 16 1995, on censorship laws on the net. Thanks to N.Strossen.)

    Throughout history, censorship has only worked to uphold the status
    quo. It keeps the strong strong and the weak weak.

    In 1871, Prussia's "personal honor" laws were intended to prevent
    insults against groups, such as Jews. Not surprisingly, the courts
    never upheld them for Jews, but rigorously used them to prevent
    criticism of Prussians, clerics and the military -- the status quo.

    At the turn of the century, France never charged the anti-Semitic
    enemies of Captain Alfred Dreyfuss. Of course, when Emile Zola wrote
    his famous tract "J'Accuse," he was charged with libel against the
    clergy and had to flee to England.

    In 1965, the British Race Relations Act was passed to combat racism.
    The first people charged under it? Black Power leaders, labor leaders,
    no-nuke activists. Britain's National Front thrives.

    In 1974, Britain's National Union of Students passed a resolution
    against "openly racist and fascist organizations." It was designed
    specifically to prevent anti-Semitism. A year later, it was invoked to
    prevent Israeli/Zionist speakers from touring. The National Front was

    Think all this is ancient history? How about Canada's infamous 1992
    Supreme Court decision in "Butler vs. the Queen"? It was hailed by
    pro-censorship feminists like Andrea Dworkin and Catherine MacKinnon
    as being a great step forward for women in the "battle" against sexual

    Two-and-a-half years later, we find that it has been used by the
    authorities to seize and confiscate material from well over half of
    all the feminist bookstores across the country. In fact, Customs
    actually seized two of Dworkin's own books. It was also used against
    gays and lesbians. "Traditional" sexual material was rarely touched.

    When are people who work for change going to learn that when they
    support censorship, they are building their own gallows? If they want
    to change society, why are they working to transfer still greater
    powers to the state? If they believe in change, they simply cannot
    support censorship.

To put it crudely: The fascist/racist right is an extreme form of the
ruling power structure; the communist/anti-racist left is (generally) an
extreme form of the ruled, the working class. In class struggle terms, you
don't start strengthening the status quo until you are the status quo.
The capitalist class, generally, finds less threat from the former than
the latter. The status quo will certainly punish the former, in the odd
visible case -- like Tom Metzger and Wolfgang Droege.  But it usually
takes actual physical violence.


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