2007-10-15

For what it's worth: One Balkan blog fewer

In response to a campaign by net users, news reports say that Google has closed down the blog run by the remarkably atypical Novosadjanin Goran Davidović (although if you ask me, it was right there three minutes ago when I checked). Fans of the jovial little fuhrer can still, if they do not find his blog, visit his personal site or read this little profile bz Milan Laketić in Politika. So no worries, there should always be plenty of Goxy to go around.

My own feelings on the campaign to take the guy off the net are a bit mixed. I don't care for Nazis even a little, and my position on censorship is that it should be reserved for that small category of things that can be proven to be dangerous. Legal standards are vague (for an interesting application to an obscenity case see the exchange between the minority and the majority of the US Supreme Court in Miller v California from 1973). On balance I would have to argue that the "redeeming social importance" of sites by Mr Davidović and people from groups like his is that they provide a source of information about these groups. Of course Google (which runs Blogger, where both this blog and Mr Davidović's blog are hosted) is not a government institution, and is legally free to publish or refuse to publish anything it chooses.

4 comments:

Dejan said...

Mind you, Nazism HAS proven to be dangerous, and so has Serbian neo-Nazism.

Just prior to the last elections, there were attacks on Roma neighbourhoods around Serbia, some people have even been killed before that. Not to mention how often I ran into nazis in the street or places like KST (some 10 years ago) who wanted to physically attack me for one thing or another.

I sent out the e-mail urging the people to report it, and posted the request on several forums, because I knew we could use the momentum from the clashes in Novi Sad.

And to my great positive surprise, a lot of people responded and spread the action further.

I had no moral dilemma for a second.

Eric Gordy said...

Yeah, I understand your point Dejan. And I agree that there is no issue of censorship or free speech involved in whether Google is willing to publish something or not. Maybe it's even a little surprising that nobody has come here to argue the point, but then maybe not, since Davidovic only pretends to have supporters.

All the same, I would stand by the point that sites like that have a useful function in that they provide information about the groups that sponsor them. Some of this information does not help research much, but then some of it does. I would keep the sites around just for that reason, while going after the people for the illegal things they do. At the same time, there are laws about promoting hatred, so this could be one of the illegal things.

I have a vague recollection of a campaign not so long ago by people who were by no means admirers of Radovan Karadzic seeking to prevent his "defence committee's" site from being shut down, for the simple reason that the site gave an idea who they were and what they were up to.

Dejan said...

Never mind that particular blog - I don't think one could argue that it was a particularly good source of information, nor that it was a threat or a way to organize as such (it was simply brainless propaganda), but you do raise a good point.

Bigger problems are sites like Stormfront forums, which those people use as a part of their organizational infrastructure. Sure, we can get some sort of "intelligence" (which is just funny... I don't remember the last time I read something intelligent there) about what they do, but we also need to be disruptive if we want to fight them.

Even if Serbia did start arresting those people, and even if we instituted USA-style concept of "hate crime" with more severe punishments, we still leave them with the Internet as a medium to communicate.

Mind you, if we had proper education, and if kids here came out of school functionally literate, they would be able to recognize neo-nazism, populism or hate speech when they see it.

But that would also mean that people would understand that Serbian Radical Party is national-socialist, and that Democratic Party of Serbia would once again need to rethink their strategy and appearance :)

Eric Gordy said...

Dejan, on another topic entirely (or mostly), you have probably already seen this, but Čolović on S. Antonić makes a nice complement to your post on NSPM:

http://www.pescanik.net/index.php?&p=288&an=Ivan_%C4%8Colovi%C4%87&ni=907&nd=1