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Philantrop
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 3:10 pm    Post subject: Nazi / German 3rd Reich symbols on Gentoo Forums Reply with quote

I've recently stumbled upon Nazi symbols on the Gentoo Forums and asked NeddySeagoon about the official policy on using such symbols here. There doesn't seem to be one, though, and we both agreed there should be one.

I'd like to keep this discussion focussed on Nazi symbolism exclusively for now because other dictatorships, etc. might be looked upon differently. Please do not stray off-topic as I would hate to this thread locked before we've discussed this to the end.

So I'd like to start a discussion on this here. (I'm aware of another thread about this but that one is locked and Neddy suggested to create a new one.)

My own opinion is that using Nazi symbols should not be allowed on Gentoo Forums for any purpose.

The reason is simple: The crimes against mankind committed by the Nazis should never be forgotten but there's no need, IMHO, to display them here.

The Nazis directly and indirectly murdered 30 to 35 million people in Europe. Six millions of them Jews. Large parts of Europe were destroyed and Iron Curtain was a consequence of World War II.

Knowledge and memory about that shouldn't be suppressed but showing Nazi symbols without making a clear statement about it will still upset and offend both the last surviving victims (which are unlikely to see them directly here, of course), their relatives and those of us who work hard to make our society in our respective country aware that the danger of racism and fascism still exists. Even in modern European countries like Germany, France and Italy (just some examples of countries where I definitely know of fascist movements; there are more all over the world).

There is no need to offend and hurt those who suffered from the Nazis. Not even in the name of freedom of speech which some of you might come up with.

"The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic. [...] The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." (Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., 1919)

The "clear and present danger" here would be two-fold (at least):

1. The existing fascist movements might take it as encouragement if the Nazi's symbols could be used freely here as well. Here on Gentoo Forums are people gathered from all over the world. From Argentina, China, France, Germany, Israel, Russia to the United Kingdom. We don't make a difference when answering their support requests, when chatting with them or arguing with them. We don't care if someone's skin is black, white or whatever else. These differences don't matter here.
Why should we allow people who would like it otherwise to show Nazi symbols here?

2. In many of the countries mentioned above (especially Israel, of course) the survivors of the Holokaust are still alive. Or their relatives are. What do you think they will feel if they see people using Nazi symbols here? What will someone feel who knows his father/mother/grandfather/grandmother was murdered in a concentration camp?
Do we want a place here that is free of discrimination, of hate-mongering "philosophy"? Then let's outlaw Nazi symbols here.

This is the ethical point of view and my main point against the use of Nazi symbols here.


Then there are two practical ones:

- Here in Germany webmasters are generally responsible for the content of websites they're linking to (madness but that's how it currently is). Nazi symbols must not be displayed unless for educational purposes in Germany and you can be severely fined if you do otherwise. So if someone puts a link to the Gentoo forums on his site, he might get into real trouble here. It has already happened.

- There have been bans on websites showing Nazi symbols in Germany by DNS manipulations by order of the law enforcement agencies. This won't happen for a single, isolated case but if it occurred frequently it could happen again.

And the third reason is a very simple one again: In mostly technical forums like these ones, I don't see the need to potentially cause any unrest by using Nazi symbols.
Let those guys post in OTW (which nobody has to read to get to know/get support/whatever in terms of Gentoo) if need be but in the technical forums we don't need politics, IMHO.


I ask all of you reading this with an opinion on this to voice it. You don't have to agree with me, of course, but I hope I could at least make you understand my point of view.


One last word on why I post this here: I'm a German as you can see from my "Location" entry. While there's no individual guilt for the Nazi dictatorship in my generation (born well after 1945) many of us feel a strong responsibility to remind mankind and ourselves of what did happen and what could happen again if we're not careful and concious of the dangers of discrimination in general and especially racism.
Therefor, I cannot remain silent when the subject is Nationalsocialism. I consider that part of my German legacy and I'm teaching my children to do likewise.
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frostschutz
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Symbols, where? Most symbols used by the Nazi were not invented by them; you'll find swastika and stuff in temples all over the world, it had a very positive meaning before the Nazi decided to abuse it and turn it into something evil. So not all Nazi symbols you are seeing might not actually be Nazi symbols.

Then there's the point-of-view problem; from German POV, anyone using Nazi symbols as avatar should be banned immediately. There's no question about it. Using Nazi symbols is a no-no. The other extreme is that in some countries, you will find children wearing Nazi SS uniforms for carnival, and their parents think nothing of it.

My personal opinion on the matter is that you can't make people change their mind by silently shutting them out.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philantrop,

The forums are international. Other national groups may feel the same way about their former dictatorships.
e.g. Russians and Stalin
South America (forget the country) and Peron
Uganda and Amin ...
If the insigna if one group is banned where do we stop ?
All political symbols being banned?

Thats jus some food for thought
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RuiP
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 4:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

so let me see if i get this right...
to gentoo forum human tits (human breast) are problematic, offensive and annoying, till the point of being removed from an user's avatar, but nazi symbols are allowed cause we should care for free expression? Even if people from at least 2 countries (German and Israel) could much probably find it offensive or annoying?

great!
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amne
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

General policies about that are hard to achieve as there are multiple cultures and philosophies clashing at the forums, which makes it virtually impossible to figure out a solution. Censorship and not having freedom of speech (as defined in the US-American principle) may be as outragous for an American as a Swastika to a German.
We try to solve those problems as good as possible, so if you could provide us with information which avatar makes you feel uncomfortable we will try our best to help.
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Philantrop
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

frostschutz wrote:
Symbols, where?


Doesn't really matter. I've seen two during the last two days and a German 3rd Reich flag is pretty easy to recognise.

frostschutz wrote:
Most symbols used by the Nazi were not invented by them; you'll find swastika and stuff in temples all over the world, it had a very positive meaning before the Nazi decided to abuse it and turn it into something evil. So not all Nazi symbols you are seeing might not actually be Nazi symbols.


I know what the swastika once was. It was so immensely abused, though, that its other meanings have basically disappeared from common knowledge.

frostschutz wrote:
My personal opinion on the matter is that you can't make people change their mind by silently shutting them out.


I totally agree. But uncritically using Nazi symbols is not the best idea either. We can't make neo-Nazis change their mind here but we could at least stop them from spreading their poison here.
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Philantrop
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

amne wrote:
General policies about that are hard to achieve as there are multiple cultures and philosophies clashing at the forums, which makes it virtually impossible to figure out a solution. Censorship and not having freedom of speech (as defined in the US-American principle) may be as outragous for an American as a Swastika to a German.


Amne, the quotation above is from a former judge of the US-American Supreme Court. :-)

There is a limitation of free speech all around the world - in your country, in mine and in the USA. I expected the argument you brought up that's why I brought up the example of the man shouting "Fire!" in a theatre. Try shouting "bomb" in US-American airplane. Freedom of speech has its limits.

amne wrote:
We try to solve those problems as good as possible, so if you could provide us with information which avatar makes you feel uncomfortable we will try our best to help.


The user that originally used the avatar has already removed it. The one that caused the other thread I linked to above still has it.

There shouldn't be a case-by-case evaluation but a policy against Nazi symbols, though, IMHO. Please read the non-ethical arguments in my original posting.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My country was occuiped by the nazis during WWII and I personally see no problem with people wanting to publish nazi symbols - what we need to be careful of is the context, someone treating someone else is not acceptable. By specficially limiting free speech we only attract people who want to provoke to partake in such behaviour - it's not like we have rampant neo-nazism on the forums so why are we worrying again?

The same goes for tits and cocks, they are natural parts of the human body and while they might be offensive to some people due to prudeness but I don't see that as a reason to stop them from being published here, it's not like people who want more information about human reproduction can't find it in about 5 secs using google.

And now for cats that look like Hitler:
http://www.catsthatlooklikehitler.com/
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 7:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My thoughts, not relevant, but I will let you know anyway :P

1. There are people that have a similar concept of G. W. Bush and the USA, should we, to be fair for everyone, forbide to use anything USA related as an avatar?
2. As someone suggested, svastica and most of the stuff, is not inherently nazi related stuff. Just symbols, that a mad man abused.
3. The ones that likes to hide and forget the past, are advocated to repeat it. So, let the info be available, let the symbols remain, and let the names of Hitler, Gadaffi, Mussolini and Franco be shown. So, all the people can know about them, and the history will not -hopefully, be repeated.
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Philantrop
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

6thpink wrote:
1. There are people that have a similar concept of G. W. Bush and the USA, should we, to be fair for everyone, forbide to use anything USA related as an avatar?


Please, let's stay on topic. This about Nazi stuff.

6thpink wrote:
2. As someone suggested, svastica and most of the stuff, is not inherently nazi related stuff. Just symbols, that a mad man abused.


Well, a black swastika in a white circle on a red background is pretty clearly a Nazi symbol, wouldn't you agree? A swastika alone would still annoy me but I wouldn't complain. A SS officer with full insignia is pretty clearly Nazi stuff, too.

6thpink wrote:
3. The ones that likes to hide and forget the past, are advocated to repeat it. So, let the info be available, let the symbols remain, and let the names of Hitler, Gadaffi, Mussolini and Franco be shown. So, all the people can know about them, and the history will not -hopefully, be repeated.


Basically, I agree. Read my original posting: If someone used something like that in an unambigous context to remind people of the horrors of that time, I'd applaud him. If it's just an avatar I wouldn't because that might simply show his/her sympathy for the Nazis. That's the difference, IMHO.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think thats a big diference between a simple avatar maded with some black humor or even with some provocative intention and plain propaganda.

The mentioned user have a nazi symbol as an avatar, an almost obvious racist reference at "location" and a home site of neo-nazi propaganda. That was, i think, what makes the point and became they posts excessively provocative.
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yabbadabbadont
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is a *very* simple solution. If you don't want to see such things, don't look.

From the user's profile setttings of the Gentoo forums:

Code:
Show avatars in threads:       Yes   * No


Problem solved.
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Philantrop
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yabbadabbadont wrote:
There is a *very* simple solution. If you don't want to see such things, don't look.


That's what we did about 60 years ago. That's not a solution to the real problem.
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yabbadabbadont
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds to me like the problem is not, "I don't like this imagery, I don't want to see it", and is really, "I don't like this imagery, I don't want anyone else to see it."

Personally, I don't care for such imagery, and if I were offended enough, I could disable its display. However, I don't feel that I have the right to tell anyone else what they can, and cannot view.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philantrop, please re-read and understand what i wrote in my earlier post. As said, your concept of censorship is as offensive to some people as Nazi related avatars may be to you. Part of living in a global society is to accept different points of view and philosophies, and as also said, we do our best to minimize friction that is likely to occur. If you want to see recent examples, just visit some of the recent Israel/Hisbollah/Lebanon threads in OTW.

As for the user with the avatar offending you, he has been banned a while ago for repeated abusive behaviour.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well i think Philantrop's intentions are good and valid, however maybe hard to implement.
I'm not intenting to troll here, just wondering, what would happen if somebody chooses to use islamic or mohammed images? (Not sure if somebody already has before)
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Philantrop
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

amne wrote:
Philantrop, please re-read and understand what i wrote in my earlier post.


I've read it and disagree, I'm sorry.

amne wrote:
As said, your concept of censorship is as offensive to some people as Nazi related avatars may be to you.


First of all, what I suggest is not censorship. Secondly, there's a major difference between allowing symbols of an organisation that murdered 30 to 35 million people and something simply offensive.

amne wrote:
Part of living in a global society is to accept different points of view and philosophies, and as also said, we do our best to minimize friction that is likely to occur.


Why not simply outlaw the use of Nazi symbols and be done with it? Is the "friction" caused by such kind of symbols worth your and your fellow moderators'/admins' time?

I cannot believe either of us wants the stuff to be spread here. So why is it so difficult to just make it a rule not to use it?


Please re-read my non-ethical arguments as well: As it is I couldn't even safely put a link to these forums on my own site.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philantrop wrote:

First of all, what I suggest is not censorship. Secondly, there's a major difference between allowing symbols of an organisation that murdered 30 to 35 million people and something simply offensive.


What exactly is the difference, it's pixels, the fact that their configuration doesn't please you can't be up to the rest of us to take care of.

You are advocating an orwellian society in which you tell us what we can and cannot do, in response to what exactly - If you don't allow people to remember the nazis you are amongst other things making knowledge about what went wrong and how it could have been prevented illegal. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to relive it.
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Philantrop
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Playfool, I've answered the "remember it" argument in http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-p-3450521.html#3450521 already. Please re-read that.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philantrop wrote:

First of all, what I suggest is not censorship.

I'm quite certain some Americans will strongly disagree about it. So what is it then?

Philantrop wrote:
Secondly, there's a major difference between allowing symbols of an organisation that murdered 30 to 35 million people and something simply offensive.
[..]
Why not simply outlaw the use of Nazi symbols and be done with it?

If we outlaw them, we should as well outlaw lots of other symbols, Neddy already mentioned a few before. Basically everything is offensive to someone in some culture. So we either need to outlaw everything or nothing.

Philantrop wrote:
Is the "friction" caused by such kind of symbols worth your and your fellow moderators'/admins' time?

If we outlawed them by the forum rules, we would be spending our time explaining to Americans why we don't allow freedom of speech. If we don't we spend our time explaing to you why we don't. So it's a lose/lose scenario anyway.

Philantrop wrote:
I cannot believe either of us wants the stuff to be spread here.

If you want my personal opinion: No i do not want it to be spread here. I don't want to have intolerant and ignorant points of view spread in these forums as well - this happens in quite some threads in OTW. However simply applying censorship is not what the Gentoo forums consider the solution to this problem.

Philantrop wrote:
So why is it so difficult to just make it a rule not to use it?

We'd also need to make a rule not to use everything else that offends someone else. In the long run we'd be ending turning off avatars anyway.

Philantrop wrote:
Please re-read my non-ethical arguments as well: As it is I couldn't even safely put a link to these forums on my own site.

Maybe you should invest your time to convince German politicians that their laws concerning the internet are seriously flawed then.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Philantrop wrote:
Playfool, I've answered the "remember it" argument in http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-p-3450521.html#3450521 already. Please re-read that.


Not only are you brushing over the pagan roots of the symbol, you are effectively willing to do the same kind of historical revisioning that holocaust deniers want.

Exactly why is what you are asking not limiting my freedom of speech? You have yet to make a case explaining why when you want us to not say or do specific things to please you and biggots like you is any different from banning opposing political thoughts..

If we had to do for everyone what you are asking us to do for you we would end up with a forum where we couldn't use long words because those are offensive to dyslexic people, we can't mention the number 5 because that's considered insulting in certain groups and no there's no posting opinions because the forum gestappo officer (that would be you) might disagree and enforce brutal unspoken off retribution. You are asking people to give up what is a fundamental human right to please you, nothing more - it's censorship and you know it!

Your means of expression has a striking resemblance to that of those you are trying so hard to bury as mere myth.

The way to fight evil is not restriction, it's knowledge.

oh and amne, you don't have to be american to appriciate freedom of speech - in fact we backwards europeans do it just fine thank you.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As someone who would be first in line at the "showers" if the nazi's were to ever take power I must say that I still support anyone's right to their opinion and for them to freely express that opinion. Using the "FIRE!" in a crowded theater example doesn't cut it here. No one is being hurt by this expression of opinion. Plus, we get the chance to address the people using it and see why they think the way they do. And maybe, just maybe, we might be able to change that opinion.





ps. If we were to start banning symbols I would INSIST that all religious iconography of any sort to be banned as well. Since religions are also responsible for millions of deaths around the world. FAR FAR FAR FAR more deaths than the nazis could have ever dreamed about. And the worst part is that Religions are STILL killing people in the name $DIETY to this very day. Hitler died 50+ years ago.....
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Philantrop
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

amne wrote:
Philantrop wrote:

First of all, what I suggest is not censorship.

I'm quite certain some Americans will strongly disagree about it. So what is it then?


Censorship is information control by a government. As we're both from German-speaking countries I'll post a link to the German Wikipedia:

http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zensur_%28Informationskontrolle%29

amne wrote:
Philantrop wrote:
Secondly, there's a major difference between allowing symbols of an organisation that murdered 30 to 35 million people and something simply offensive.
[..]
Why not simply outlaw the use of Nazi symbols and be done with it?

If we outlaw them, we should as well outlaw lots of other symbols, Neddy already mentioned a few before. Basically everything is offensive to someone in some culture. So we either need to outlaw everything or nothing.


That's why I referred to one subject only that is universally recognised as being one of the worst ever. We're simply not discussing anything else here but the Nationalsocialsm and its symbols. Therefor, it's not a matter of outlawing everything but just one topic.

amne wrote:
Philantrop wrote:
Is the "friction" caused by such kind of symbols worth your and your fellow moderators'/admins' time?

If we outlawed them by the forum rules, we would be spending our time explaining to Americans why we don't allow freedom of speech. If we don't we spend our time explaing to you why we don't. So it's a lose/lose scenario anyway.


Ok, so choose the moral/ethical way out: Lose with grace and outlaw Nazi stuff. My personal experience with Americans (and basically any other people) is that they will understand eventually. I've run a large-scale phpBB forum (about 1000 users concurrently online during peak hours) in the past which was most frequently used by Americans. None of them had any problem with leaving Nazi stuff outside.

Or would you rather explain users from Israel why you accept Nazi symbols as avatars? Don't you think it might really hurt people who lost relatives in Nazi Germany?

amne wrote:
If you want my personal opinion: No i do not want it to be spread here. I don't want to have intolerant and ignorant points of view spread in these forums as well - this happens in quite some threads in OTW. However simply applying censorship is not what the Gentoo forums consider the solution to this problem.


I'd love to educate those people with Nazi avatars/signatures/whatever instead of making them remove it, too. But this is not the place to do it.

amne wrote:
Philantrop wrote:
So why is it so difficult to just make it a rule not to use it?

We'd also need to make a rule not to use everything else that offends someone else. In the long run we'd be ending turning off avatars anyway.


No, just outlaw what's already outlawed anyway in some of the European countries.

amne wrote:
Philantrop wrote:
Please re-read my non-ethical arguments as well: As it is I couldn't even safely put a link to these forums on my own site.

Maybe you should invest your time to convince German politicians that their laws concerning the internet are seriously flawed then.


It's not a flawed Internet law but a series of court rulings which is way worse because a law can be changed but rulings need to be overruled and that'll take lots and lots of money.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

curtis119 wrote:
If we were to start banning symbols I would INSIST that all religious iconography of any sort to be banned as well. Since religions are also responsible for millions of deaths around the world. FAR FAR FAR FAR more deaths than the nazis could have ever dreamed about. And the worst part is that Religions are STILL killing people in the name $DIETY to this very day. Hitler died 50+ years ago.....


Quoted for truth
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

playfool wrote:
to please you and biggots like you is any different from banning opposing political thoughts..


Leave out the personal attacks and I'll gladly keep discussing this with you. Otherwise I'll exercise my freedom of speech in not answering to such attacks.
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