An Egyptian court has decreed that YouTube has been rather naughty and needs to go sit on the naughty step for a time out.
Yes OK, that is kindergarten speak, but then what else can we think when faced with their attempt at gagging free speech. Yes the “Innocence of Muslims” movie was offensive, and was also designed to provoke a reaction, and was in fact a rather crappy bit of bullshit that promoted daft claims. It asserted that Mohammed was both a womanizer and also gay, which to anybody is seriously weird, you can be either, but by definition not both.
So what is going on? Well, the Guardian reports …
In what human rights activists have called a backwards step for internet freedom, Judge Hassouna Tawfiq ordered the government to block access to the video-sharing website for 30 days after the trailer for Innocence of Muslims sparked outrage.
The ban had not been enacted by Sunday afternoon, and a Google spokesperson said the company, which owns YouTube, had not yet been served with any order. But five years after a request for a similar ban was thrown out by an Egyptian court, this week’s putative YouTube ban has been seen as a regressive step.
In 2007 an Egyptian judge tried to block 49 human rights websites, but his efforts were vetoed by an administrative court. “It is certainly a backwards step compared to what the court ruled [in 2007],” said Amr Gharbeia, civil liberties director at the Egyptian Institute for Personal Rights.
Gharbeia, whose website was one of those threatened in 2007, said the case showed a failure to grasp the central tenets of the internet. “People will find ways around the ban,” he added. “The courts are not aware of how the internet works. They are using the same measures that they would use against newspapers and broadcasters.”
He is right of course, due to the Internet you can no longer gag the stuff you don’t like, the world does not operate like that any more, any block can be circumvented by the tech savvy, for example a VPN service would do it.. Ever if it was possible, it is not appropriate to censor, if you do, then you are granting privilege to just one view, freedom of speech is not simply about you being granted to express the things you feel are right, but rather is about enabling all views, even the batshit insane ones being permitted.
For example, the following are weird and quite frankly demonstrably wrong ….
- Evolution is a lie assertions
- Relativity if a myth assertions
… yet those who hold such views should still retain the right to express such views.
To go a bit further, how about, stuff like this …
- If you don’t believe you will go to hell
- Anybody who is gay is wicked
- The holocaust never happened
… and yes, some of that is truly offensive indeed (I can think of even worse, but my intent is not to gross you out, so I’ll keep it simple).
Gagging things we do not like should never happen, because once you do that, you are stomping all over basic human rights. People will always say things that offend others. Not being offended is not a right, so in the market place of ideas all thoughts should flow so that we may then criticise the irrational, obnoxious and crazy stuff, not with rhetoric, but with reason.
As for what is going on in Egypt … to be honest I’m not surprised, this is exactly what has been anticipated, when religious loons gain power, basic human rights get tossed out because of the special privileges granted to the prevailing belief.