Murder, YouTube, and Censorship

Murder, YouTube, and Censorship

Summary: The Google YouTube trailer for the “Innocence of Muslims,” has sparked murders and attacks on American embassies throughout the Islamic world. Google has started blocking the video in some counties, but is that enough? Is that too much?

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A trashy video has sparked protests, murders, and censorship.

Innocence of Muslims is a crude and trashy video that portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a hate-mongering bum who approves of violence and sexual child abuse. Considered by Western audiences that adores the popular cartoon South Park, which mocks many religions on a regular basis, Innocence of Muslims is clearly insulting, but it's too boring to be worth a second thought. By conservative Islamic standards it's blasphemy. And, it's sparked the murder of four American diplomats in Libya.

Largely ignored at first, for the simple reason that's it's really not very good by any standard, this YouTube video has now been seized as an excuse for protests and attacks on American embassies in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen.

Google, YouTube's owner, but in no way, shape, or form the video's creator, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, as part of the Western culture, they're invested in freedom of speech. On the other, this shabby video has been used as an excuse for murderous attacks.

Publicly, Google has said, “We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions. This can be a challenge because what's OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video—which is widely available on the web—is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, given the very difficult situation in Libya and Egypt we have temporarily restricted access in both countries.”

Since then, YouTube has blocked the video in India. Other Islamic countries, such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Afghanistan have already blocked access to the video on their own. Google has yet to respond to queries about further plans to block the video.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) thinks Google shouldn't take censorship too far. “It is easy to understand why YouTube might feel compelled to act in response to the rioting over this video, especially after three U.S. embassy employees were killed in the Libyan city of Benghazi, but the blame for the violence lies not with the video, but with the perpetrators. Once YouTube has made the decision to pro-actively censor its content, they start down a slippery slope that ends in YouTube Knows Best moral policing of every video on their site. It is disappointing to see YouTube turn its back on policies that have allowed it to become a such a strong platform for freedom of expression. We hope that this new-found enthusiasm for pro-active censorship is a temporary aberration rather than a sign of things to come.”

The real aberration is that we live in a world where a video by a shadowy figure whose real identity remains unknown can provoke unjustified attacks on innocents. Indeed, the American ambassador, Chris Stevens who was murdered in an assault on U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Libya, had opened the U.S. diplomatic mission to the Libyan revolution at risk of his own life.

In a world where the Internet binds us together, there are no easy answers to questions of censorship. One person's sacred belief is another's sacrilege. Google can try to balance censorship and danger, but there are no black and white answers. Indeed, for all of Google's importance, they have little real control. Even were they censor the original video everywhere, copies would, and indeed already have, sprang up all over the Internet.

In the end, Internet censorship, no matter how justified, will fail. We can only hope that wise men and women will eventually prevail over the fanatics whose response to the words and images from the larger world lead only to pointless death and terrorism.

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Topics: Censorship, Google, Government, Networking, India

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44 comments
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  • One question-Did all those rioters in the Middle East viewed on World News

    Video channels watch this Anti-Islamic video? I didn't think so! Enough of the excuses for senseless violence.

    The West learned invaluable insights into the human condition and scientific advances from Eastern Muslim societies. (Algebra, fidelity to a common religious belief - to name only a few).

    It's about time the East learned a few lessons from the West - like freedom of speech and rational thought.
    kenosha77a
    • reply

      Sorry, from Muslims we learn nothing, that was the Arabs, well before Islam rise there.
      Hope this helps.
      Tamás Almási
    • It would appear the the West never learned it's lesson

      To wit: "The Last Temptation of Christ"

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Temptation_of_Christ_(film)#Controversy

      There were mass protests in the U.S. causing some theater chains to not screen the film. The film was banned or censored in several countries. And in Paris, France, the Parisian Saint Michel movie theater was firebombed while showing the film, injuring 13 people, 5 of them severely.

      Religious fundamentalism is not limited to Islam or to the East. Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism all have their own fundamentalists.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Yeah, that happens all the time!

        The difference is that Christians did not condone the firebombings. And protests are quite different from dragging out innocents and killing them.

        You also forgot the atheistic death toll - 120 million in modern times by antireligious governments, many times larger than all the religious atrocities combined. It is insensitive to rob atheism of credit for this accomplishment.
        harvey_rabbit
        • You are an idiot.

          Atheists don't kill because of their atheism. The people you are talking about here killed because of their retarded political systems.
          Atheism is nothing but a lack of belief. It is not tied to a hatred towards religion, that would be anti-theism.
          mathiasappel@...
          • heh

            "Atheism is nothing but a lack of belief."

            I'm sure Atheists believe:
            -There is no God.
            -Science is a valid form of study.
            -That water is made from hydrogen and oxygen.
            -That Gold is an element.
            -That the Earth is spherical.
            -That gravity exists.

            Lack of belief, eh? Keep fooling yourself. In order for your statement to actually be true, you'll have to question pretty much everything you think you know about the world.
            CobraA1
        • RE: Yeah, that happens all the time!

          It doesn't matter whether other Christians condoned the Paris theater firebombing or not. The point is that violence was used by extremist Christians in response to a film, "The Last Temptation of Christ". And this particular film was banned or censored in some countries. On a general level, this is in line with Steven's article.

          Atheism? This is an interesting one. Is atheism a religion? The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that atheism *is* a religion and, therefore, it is protected as such (under free speech). Atheists reject this though (too bad, you're overruled). And with regard to anti-religious governments (e.g., U.S.S.R.), one would have to determine whether or not atheism was viewed as the State religion. Atheists also reject this.

          You're trying to turn this discussion into which religious extremists are the worst. I simply won't play. *All* religious extremists, irregardless of their stripes, are dangerous.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
        • The difference is

          Atheists have not made themselves world famous by engaging in violent acts and killing people due to someone saying something offensive about being an atheist.

          You have to get real.

          Your commentary about atheists is really stupid. Its clearly just a bunch of hogwash you drag up to defend indefensible actions on the part of zealotry. Actions of those kind motivated by some form of zealotry are completely unacceptable from any group. No matter the cause or source. Saying atheists do the same thing is ridiculous and is simply a red herring that dosnt even deal with the problem.

          No wonder as humans we cant seem to solve anything. Nobody wants to take any responsibility.

          It so dumb. Point out where there has been bad behavior by religious zealotry and some dimwit has to bring up the fact that atheists have killed people as well. Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.
          Cayble
          • They'll have their chance.

            "Atheists have not made themselves world famous by engaging in violent acts and killing people due to someone saying something offensive about being an atheist."

            If they keep growing, and if they become more organized, I'm sure they'll have their chance.

            Atheism already has some dark spots in history, though - social darwinism has been used as an excuse for genocide, and I'm sure if I dug around, I could find some isolated incidents of atheists doing some pretty nasty stuff. I wouldn't hold them as angels here.

            "No wonder as humans we cant seem to solve anything. Nobody wants to take any responsibility."

            I'd say that includes atheists. They look for every excuse to distance themselves from such events. Talking about such things:

            "and some dimwit has to bring up the fact that atheists have killed people as well. "

            This is a good example of atheists not wanting to take responsibility.
            CobraA1
    • The issue is censorship.

      What we cannot afford to have in the world is the tail wagging the dog when it comes to censorship.
      Cayble
  • The blame lies with the murderers

    not some guy making a movie.
    baggins_z
    • agreed

      there is not a single belief in this world that one can not make fun of or criticize!
      Those murderers should be judged that is for sure.....about censorship it is not acceptable after things have come down google should end the closing!
      L3thargic
    • The killings had more to do with a celebration of the 9/11

      Attacks, than any movie. These murders were carries out by well armed persons, not a random mob that was rioying. the use of RPGs, and several AK-47s gave it away.
      Troll Hunter J
    • Unquestionably. Not even debatable.

      The killers are clearly out of their minds and without a sane moral compass.

      Imagine the outrage they would show, the screams of intolerance if we seen something online we didnt like and decided it was a good reason on its own to just kill a few people from another country.

      We are dealing with people who have no tolerance and clearly think that what they believe, just the fact they believe it, is so much more important than another persons life that criticizing their belief is grounds for taking lives.

      Its the thought police taken to insane and immoral extremes.
      Cayble
      • Well,

        Do you honestly believe that all the Muslims in the riots saw the video? Do you really think they have the wherewithal to purchase computers when many of those who participated have homes that don't have electricity?

        No, it wasn't about the video. It was about people who manipulate the media where they live that incited such hate.
        benched42
  • Appeasement is never the answer.

    There are parallels between radical Islam and the Nazi's.

    Persecution of Jews, Gays and non-believers spring to mind. That and the ease of which violence and symbolism is used to hush debate.

    There is a lesson to be learned. You cannot appease those who wish you dead.
    Bozzer
    • A much better parallel would be...

      the Roman Catholic church right around the dark ages. How many "infidels" were put to death because they didn't kneel before the Roman Catholic God, pay their annual tithe and not get on the bad side of some local busybody? Pagans were routinely rounded up and murdered. Sound a little like today's "radical muslims"?
      jasonp@...
      • Yeah, right around the Dark Ages

        how many years ago was that? The Roman Catholic Church doesn't do that anymore, not for some time.

        You would think that the other radicals would have realized that by now, but apparently not.

        Wonder what that says of their intelligence?
        William Farrel
      • Answers here

        The recent scholarship says about 4,000 over a period of 350 years - about 11 a year. Terrible, but nowhere near.

        Contrary to popular belief, witch hunts were actually prevented by the Catholic Church where it had influence. Where it had none, there were maybe 60,000 deaths.

        Atheists killed 120 million in just decades, in the 20th century. Millions more were sent to prison and torture in gulags and so forth.

        Hitler was famously anti-Catholic. His Holocaust was based on Darwinian principles. "Sir Arthur Keith was a British anthropologist, an atheistic evolutionist and an anti-Nazi, but he drew this chilling conclusion: ‘The German Führer, as I have consistently maintained, is an evolutionist; he has consciously sought to make the practice of Germany conform to the theory of evolution.’"

        Thanks for asking :D
        harvey_rabbit
        • Atheists have not a thing to do with it. It dosnt even apply.

          You should give up on this whole atheists crap because it dosnt follow at all. I cannot recall any event in recent history where some organized group of atheists got together to purposely kill people from another country of a particular religion that posted negative comments about atheists.

          All this atheist crap you bring up is red herring nonsense. The fact is all modern democratic western style governments are theoretically of an atheistic nature at the core due to the fact that they are not supposed to bring in or enforce any law that’s designed specifically for a religious doctrine only. Various governments may be guided by certain religious ideals and to some degree or another approve of a particular religion, even promote it to some degree but in the end they are not supposed to run the government in anyway that follows dictates of any particular religion that fly in the face of general humanist interests.

          TO proclaim that atheists killed people is garbage. The armies and soldiers for these atheist governments you seem to be claiming killed people were full of religious people, often of numerous denominations and whatever killing done in the name of their country had nothing at all to do with atheism and has no place in this conversation.

          If you think its has some meaningful place in this you’re an idiot and part of the problem because that kind of truly stupid commentary gets nobody anywhere and simply reeks of more religious zealotry that wants to be RIGHT above all else and would prefer to continue the violence to prove themselves right as opposed to admitting the important thing is to stop the killing, not try to blame atheists for having some part in this crap.

          To try and place religious based killing as also being a problem atheists have is so insanely ridiculous it just goes to show you what religion does to peoples minds. They always have to be right and attacking in even the most stupid and spiteful ways people who do not believe exactly what they believe. It must be awful to so love an ideal that it makes you hate atheists so much because they do not believe what you do that you want to blame them for a kind of behavior that they have never engaged in.

          Sure, atheists have killed people. But not in some war or revenge style mob for mean things said about their beliefs. Leave it alone and try living in just enough reality to be part of the solution instead of trying to be an apologist and blaming others for something they clearly have never done.
          Cayble