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High Tech Hate

VIEWS: 5 PAGES: 23

									                                      High Tech Hate

                           The Internet: a New Means of Spreading Hate?




Oren Goldstein
Kelli Johnson
Barry Bernstein (all UMCP)
Patrick Supple (TU).

GVPT 439A
Dr. Wayne McIntosh, Professor
Dr. Cynthia Cates, Professor
5/16/00


                                                                          1
                                              Abstract



       Americans have always held the 1st Amendment‟s freedom of speech privilege in the

highest esteem. This provision of the Constitution has produced an extremely diverse expression

of ideas and values which include the exposition of what has been considered the most prurient

material imaginable. The advent of the Internet has facilitated the mass marketing of this

material including the advocacy of hatred by culturally and racially biased organizations. In

some instances this “hatred” oriented material has incited violent activity against individuals

targeted by these organizations.

       Although the Supreme Court has precluded specific types of speech from First

Amendment protection, which would permit the substantive regulation of these “hate web-sites”,

the Court has encountered difficulties in constitutionally regulating the Internet due to its

interstate qualities. This constitutional conundrum has inundated the judiciary with issues

regarding First Amendment interpretation and the scope of judicial authority relevant to Internet

regulation. Are the provisions of the First Amendment ambiguous enough to permit Internet

regulation?




   2
        America has always been a place where hatred and bigotry have existed. Whether it has

been through slavery, segregation or any other form of discrimination, hate has been a facet of

American culture since its beginnings. American hate groups have lately made use of the

Internet to promote these ideologies. Currently these groups use an array of web sites to promote

stereotypes, terrorism, and anti-abortion ideologies. These sites promote different ideas, yet they

all stand for one thing - hate. In the past, hatred has been harder to promote because mass

communication was not a viable option for these groups. With the advent of the information age,

the Internet has served as an effective conduit, through web sites, to promote hate around the

world. Unfortunately, a majority of the sites are based right here in the good old U.S.A.

        The rising numbers of hate sites suggest two broad areas of concern: First, do the sites

cause harm? In particular, can they be linked to hate crimes? Second, to what extent may such

sites be regulated? Are the ideas they promote protected by the Constitution? Moreover, could

such sites be constitutionally monitored and regulated given the cross-national nature of the

Internet? Though few precedents have been established specifically addressing the

constitutionality of these sites, we may draw inferences from other First Amendment and

Internet-related case law. Several anti-hate groups have also championed initiatives to censor the

Internet.

        In this research paper we will discuss what these websites are promoting and whom they

are targeting. We will also explore the ongoing conflict between the hate groups who are

creating these sites and the groups that oppose the existence of “hate-sites” on the web.

Emanating from this debate are issues of individual liberty versus social order, which will also be

                                                                                                   3
addressed. Ultimately, we will explore the Supreme Court‟s role in determining whether or not

the First Amendment protects hate speech on the Internet. Finally, we will take an in-depth look

at how anti-hate groups are combating the Internet hate.

Hate Web Sites Become a Reality

         So when did it all start? Hate groups began saturating the Internet in the 1990‟s. In March

1995, Don Black, an outspoken racist and an ex-leader of the Ku Klux Klan created Stormfront,

located at http://www.stormfront.org, which has been characterized as the first hate web-site on

the Internet. Stormfront, which still exists today, is a resource for those working to preserve

white western culture. The Internet has been a lucrative marketing resource for Black who

comments, “As far as recruiting, it‟s been the biggest breakthrough I‟ve seen in the 30 years I‟ve

been involved in this. . . . Prior to the „Net, when we had to rely on printed literature and leaflets

and occasional public meetings, we were limited in the number of people we could reach. Now

we can potentially reach millions of people.”1




    1
        Backover, Andrew. “Hate sets up shot on the Internet.” The Denver Post Online http://www.denverpost.com, p. 2 (Date visited: April 20, 2000)
4
           Aside from being the first hate web site, Stormfront is also one of the most prominent of

its kind on the Internet, “Stormfront is probably the most sophisticated hate site, featuring

sound, graphics, a White Singles page, a regular column by [David] Duke and multiple links to

other hate sites.” 2 Black is excited about the effectiveness of his web site and the freedom that

the „net‟ affords. He observes, “The Net has changed everything. We suddenly have a mass

audience rather than a small clique of subscribers.” 3

           Stormfront, reportedly receives between 2,000 to 2,500 visitors per day.4 It generates

revenue by hosting web sites for similar hate groups, advertising sales and selling swastika

pendants. The site also has an archived text library, graphics library, chat room, a kid‟s section

with games and trivia and even an Aryan dating service. Links to other white supremacist groups

are also provided.5 Black claims that Stormfront‟s mission is the promotion of white pride.

Characterizing his organization in this manner, Black is able to conceal the “hate” aspect of his

web-site, however, “[T]hough Black claims to be a „White Nationalist,‟ not a hate monger, his

idea of „White Pride‟ involves demeaning, demonizing and menacing Jews and non-whites, and

his concept of „victory‟ includes the creation of ethnically cleansed political enclaves.”6 So

although Black‟s site appears to promote the progress of white citizens, it actually encourages the

destruction and disrespect of other races.




2
  2Davidson, Ros. “Web of Hate.” Salon.com .
http://www.salon.com/news/1998/10/16newsa.html (Date visited: April 5, 2000)
3
 3 Sandberg, Jared. “Spinning a Web of Hate.” Newsweek. July 19, 1999.       (http://newsweek.com/),
http://newsweek.com/nw-srv/issue/03_99b/printed/us/na/ty0103_1.htm, pg. 2. (Date visited: April 23, 2000)
4
  Backover.
      5
        5Backover, Andrew., p. 2
      6
        Anti-Defamation League. “Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online—Don Black: White Pride World Wide.”
      http://www.adl.org/frames/front_poisoning.html(Date visited: April 24, 2000)
                                                                                                            5
            Another concern about the hate-sites on the web is their accessibility to and targeting of

young children. For instance, Stormfront has another facet: “Don Black's Stormfront Web site,

brimming with white-supremacy manifestoes, devotes a section to youth. Black says his 10-year-

old son runs it, and the site is dressed up with animated banners that read WHITE PRIDE

WORLD WIDE.”7 The site, (at http://www.kids.stormfront.org), is under the headline “White

Pride for Kids.” There is a brief introduction purportedly written by “Derek,” the webmaster of

the page, who is Black‟s son. The language used in the introduction seems rather advanced for

an 11-year-old child however, the terms and ideas used and discussed are simple enough for a

child to interpret. The information that is given is biased and would probably make a child or

impressionable teenager who visits this page believe that racial tolerance is unacceptable. In fact,

the words are so dexterously crafted that it seems as if the “child” webmaster is not really a child

at all. Could an adult be speaking through the innocent façade of a child? Some suspect that this

can and does occur on many web sites that target children: “Hate hawkers hold out virtual candy

to kids, enticing them with online games, comic strips and music or simply a friendly pitch from

another kid.”8 This method of reaching children demonstrates the deceptive quality of these

groups.

Hate Web Sites Blossom

            Just as the numbers of hate groups are increasing, so are the numbers of web sites




    7
        Sandberg, pg. 1

            8
                Sandberg, pg. 1
6
maintained by these groups. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization that

combats hate web-sites, estimates that there are currently well over 200 hate sites in operation.9

This number varies depending on which organization is making the report. Some counts go up to

2,000 when including bomb-making instructions, anti-abortion and terrorism sites.10 These sites

serve as the perfect means for the groups to promote their messages of hate. The Internet

provides an effective method of spreading messages because it is virtually accessible anywhere

around the globe. No wasting paper, use of door-knocking foot soldiers or excessive action is

involved. The group can simply post its message, and wait for an interested party to respond.




           9
            Davidson, p. 2
   10
        Sandberg, p. 2
                                                                                                     7
             Hate web sites have remarkably blossomed in recent years. The growth of hate and

“extremism” on the Internet mirrors the “juggernaut-like” expansion of computer use.

Computers have increasingly become more common in homes, schools and libraries in the

United States and around the world. Also, Internet access has become more available due to a

considerable drop in prices - average computer prices are $1,000 accompanied by a $20 a month

fee for unlimited Internet use.11 Information gathering has never been easier and the web has

served to promote any conceivable idea. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens observes that,

“any person with a phone line can become a town crier with a voice that resonates farther than

any soapbox. Through the use of Web pages, mail exploders, and newsgroups, the same

individual can become a pamphleteer.” As the District Court found, “the content of the Internet

is as diverse as human thought.”12 It is no wonder that hate websites are so numerous; the

Internet is as easy as 1-2-3 when it comes to spreading any idea thinkable.

Current State of Hate Web Sites

            The Internet is probably the greatest forum for the exchange of ideas that the world has

ever seen. It operates across national borders, and efforts by the international community or any

one government to regulate speech on the Internet would be virtually impossible, both technically

and legally.

            For years hate groups have created written materials of every kind to spread their

propaganda, including books, glossy magazines, newspapers, flyers and even graffiti. As

communication technologies advanced, these groups have taken advantage of these new


    11
         11Berkowitz, Howard P. High Tech Hate: Extremist Use of the Internet Anti-Defamation League: New York (1997): 4.
    12
         12Berkowitz, p. 4


8
resources. First, standard broadcast-band and short wave radio, audiotape, videotape and public

access cable TV served as a common forum for hate groups. According to the Anti-Defamation

League web-site ( http://www.adl.org ), more recently, bigots of all kinds recognized the

Internet's power and rushed to use it to rally their supporters, preach to the unconverted, and

intimidate those whom they perceive as their enemies.

           In the United States, the First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right of

freedom of speech to all Americans. This freedom of speech is not limited to the type of speech

that is deemed morally acceptable. The Constitution guarantees the right to free speech, however

deplorable it might be. The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the United States government

may not regulate the content of Internet speech to any greater extent than it regulates speech in

public forums.

           The First Amendment does not provide a shield for libelous speech, nor does it protect

certain speech that threatens or harasses other people. A web-site that expresses a clear intention

or threat by its writer to commit an unlawful act against another specific person is likely to be

punishable under criminal law.

           One of the first Supreme Court cases to deal with the use of offensive words was the case

of Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire.13 This case involved an appeal from a judgment affirming a

conviction under a state law denouncing the use of offensive words when addressed by one

person to another in a public place. A person belonging to the religious sect of Jehovah's

Witnesses made derogatory and inflammatory remarks about another person. Mr. Chaplinsky

was appealing on the count that a state statute which makes it a crime to address any person with



   13
        12Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire; 315 U.S. 568; 62 S. Ct. 766; 1942 U.S. LEXIS 851; 86 L. Ed. 1031
                                                                                                           9
any offensive, derisive or annoying word that have a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by

the person addressed is too vague. Chaplinski argued that the statute violated the due process

clause of the 14th Amendment.

            The Court rejected Chaplinsky‟s legal rationale as Judge Murphy declared in his opinion

that, "No person shall address any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who

is lawfully in any street or other public place, nor call him by any offensive or derisive name, nor

make any noise or exclamation in his presence and hearing with intent to deride, offend or annoy

him, or to prevent him from pursuing his lawful business or occupation."14 The Court decided

that Mr. Chaplinsky's right to free speech did not entitle him to offend, annoy, or prevent any

other person from doing his job.

            In Brandenburg vs. Ohio the Court embraced an argument which considerably differed

from that which was offered in Chaplinski. The Petitioner in this matter, a leader of a Ku Klux

Klan group, spoke at a Klan rally at which a large wooden cross was burned and some of the

other persons present were carrying firearms. His remarks included such statements as: "Bury the

niggers," "the niggers should be returned to Africa," and "send the Jews back to Israel." He also

called for the overthrow of the United States government. In an Ohio state court, he was




     14
          Hua, Thao; Los Angeles Times; May 5, 1998; page 24.
10
convicted, under Ohio's criminal syndicalism statute, both for advocating the duty, necessity, or

propriety of crime, sabotage, violence, or unlawful methods of terrorism as a means of

accomplishing industrial or political reform, and for voluntarily assembling with any society,

group, or assemblage of persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal

syndicalism. Although he challenged the constitutionality of the criminal syndicalism statute

under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution, the state appellate court

affirmed his conviction without opinion. The Supreme Court of Ohio dismissed Brandenburg‟s

appeal on the ground that no substantial constitutional question was presented, at which time

Brandenburg petitioned the United States Supreme Court who granted certiorari and reversed.15

In a per curiam opinion, expressing the unanimous view of the court, it was held that the

constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press did not permit a state to forbid or

proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation, except where such advocacy was

directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action. Since the Ohio criminal syndicalism

statute, by its own words and as applied, purported to punish mere advocacy and to forbid, on

pain of criminal punishment, assembly with others merely to advocate the described type of

action, the statute violated the Constitutional guarantees of the First and Fourteenth

Amendments.16




    15
       15Brandenburg vs. Ohio; 395 U.S. 444; 89 S. Ct. 1827; 1969 U.S. LEXIS 1367; 23 L. Ed. 2d 430; 48 Ohio
     Op. 2d 320
16
   16Brandenburg vs. Ohio; 395 U.S. 444; 89 S. Ct. 1827; 1969 U.S. LEXIS 1367; 23 L. Ed. 2d 430; 48 Ohio Op. 2d 320

                                                                                                                      11
          The Court has also ruled on the validity of Hate Crime statutes used to protect First

Amendment rights. In R.A.V. vs. the City of St. Paul, the Supreme Court unprecedentedly

evaluated a free speech challenge to a hate crime statute. The defendant in this case had burned a

cross "inside the fenced yard of a black family that lived across the street from the house where

the [defendant] was staying." The ordinance before the Court, as interpreted by the Minnesota

Supreme Court, criminalized so-called "fighting words" which "one knows or has reasonable

grounds to know arouse anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed,

religion or gender." Fighting words are words which will provoke the person to whom they are

directed to resort to violence.17 The state of Minnesota argued that because all so-called

"fighting words" are outside first amendment protection, race-based fighting words could be

criminalized.18 This argument was rejected by the Supreme Court which held that because

Minnesota had not in fact criminalized all fighting words, the statute isolated certain words based

on their content or viewpoint and therefore violated the First Amendment.19 However, in

Wisconsin v. Mitchell, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a Wisconsin statute which

provides for an enhanced sentence where the defendant "intentionally selects the person against

whom the crime [is committed] because of the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation,

national origin or ancestry of that person." The defendant in Mitchell had incited a group of

young Black men who had just finished watching the movie "Mississippi Burning" to assault a

young white man by asking, "Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people,” and by


     17

More than 50 years ago, in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the Supreme Court decided that such words were not
protected by the First Amendment.
    18
       17Anti-Defamation League Web site http://www.adl.org; Date visited: April 14, 2000; last updated: April 13, 2000.

          19
               Anti-Defamation League Website http://www.adl.org ;Date visited: April 14, 2000; last updated: April 13,
12
calling out, "You all want to f_ck somebody up? There goes a white boy; go get him."20 Chief

Justice Rehnquist opined that, "traditionally, sentencing judges have considered a wide variety of

factors in addition to evidence bearing on guilt in determining what sentence to impose on a

convicted defendant." The defendant's contention that the enhancement statute penalized

“thought” was rejected as the Court affirmed that the statute was directed at a defendant's

conduct. Since the Court found that the Defendant‟s motive would have to be connected with a

specific act, there was little risk that protected, bigoted speech would be infringed upon. The

Wisconsin statute focused not on the defendant's bigoted ideas, but rather on his actions based

upon those ideas. The Court clarified that, "the First Amendment . . . does not prohibit the

evidentiary use of speech to establish the elements of a crime or to prove motive or intent."21




   2000.
       20
            Anti-Defamation League Website http://www.adl.org; Date visited: April 14, 2000; last updated: April 13,2000 .
       21
         20Anti-Defamation League Web site http://www.adl.org ; Date visited: April 14, 2000; last updated:
   April 13, 2000.
                                                                                                                             13
         There have also been cases, comparable to Mitchell, in which persons have been held

liable for motives linked to specific acts which have been traced to Internet activity. In 1999 a

coalition of groups, led by Otis O'Neal Horsley, was ordered to pay over $100 million in

damages for providing information for a Web site called "Nuremberg Files." The site posted

photos of abortion providers, their home addresses, license plate numbers and the names of their

spouses and children. In three instances, after a doctor listed on the site was murdered, a line was

drawn through his name. The jury found that the information the site contained amounted to a

real threat of bodily harm."22

         Arrests have also been made concerning the use of e-mail. In 1998, Richard Machado

was sentenced to one year in prison for sending e-mail death threats to 60 Asian-Americans at the

University of California, Irvine. He was also fined $1,000 and ordered to stay away from UC

Irvine's computer labs.23

         Free speech is protected on the Internet in the same manner that speech is protected when

used in a public forum. Unless the words used are specific and pose a direct threat of bodily

harm, there is no way for the person using those words to be prosecuted. As shown in the above

cases, many times the words have to be very extreme for them to be punishable. Most times,

however, the First Amendment protects hateful speech.

Unprotected Speech


         Due to the diminishment of international borders, the scale and speed of the information


         22
           21Anti-Defamation League Web site http://www.adl.org ; Date visited: April 14, 2000; last updated:
     April 13, 2000.

              23
                Hua, Thao; Los Angeles Times; May 5, 1998; page 24


14
being distributed, and the great protection the First Amendment affords citizens of the United

States, the ability to legally censure hate-groups and their web sites encounters enormous

technological and legal challenges. Even if it were illegal to promote this kind of ideology,

electronically or otherwise, the international nature of the Internet makes legal regulation a near

impossibility. However, the Internet does need some sort of censorship because some of the

material the hate groups are posting is not protected by the First Amendment.

        The Internet, under the protection of the First Amendment, is able to publish the views of

an intolerant, offensive, and demeaning groups. The Court‟s have prudently declared that this

First Amendment privilege of free speech is not absolute; when the hate mongers make threats of

death, violence, intimidation or fear, the speech is no longer protected.

        Although Internet litigation is a relatively new phenomenon in our judicial processs, there

are several instances which have resulted in the prosecution of groups for actions they took via

the Internet.24 In 1998, a Californian man sent racist e-mail threats to dozens of Latinos

throughout the country. When caught, he pleaded guilty to federal charges.25 In October 1998, a

white supremacist group in Pennsylvania called Alpha HQ had a complaint levied against it by

Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher filed for “publishing terrorist threats, harassing

messages and ethnic intimidation” on its Internet Web page.26 Alpha HQ published an image of a

state government office being destroyed and showed a picture of the Assistant Director of the

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission on the same page.



        24
             Anti Defamation League Website
   http://www.adl.org/issue_combating_hate/10faq_extremist_online.html#2 http://www.adl.org/issue_combating_hate/ (Date Visited: April 18,
   2000)
         25
             Anti Defamation League Website http://www.adl.org/issue_combating_hate/10faq_extremist_online.html#3 (Date Visited: April 18, 2000)
         26
             Anti Defamation League Website http://www.adl.org/terror/focus/16_focus_a1.htm (Date Visited: April 18, 2000)
                                                                                                                                                   15
          The landmark case regarding the incitement of violence over the Internet is the

“Nuremburg Files.” As mentioned previously, the Planned Parenthood of America and the

American Coalition of Life Activists (Civil No. 95-1671-JO) were parties to this case.27 The

ACLA, an anti-abortion extremist group, published a web site in the style of an old west wanted

ad. It gave the names and addresses of doctors who performed abortions and put a reward out for

stopping them from continuing their abortion activities. It was decided that they had violated a

law that protected the freedom of practitioners and patients to have access and freedom for care.

The law is called FACE, 18 U.S.C. § 248(a)(1). Although there was no incitement of violence it

was concluded that any reasonable person would decipher the message as a threat of violence.

          Other cases, involving forms of communication other than the Internet, also address

where the line is crossed from promoting one‟s ideas to threatening and encouraging violence.

These cases support the notion that the courts act in favor of First Amendment regulation when

the language or message given via the Internet or any other means when that language can be

directly linked to a criminal act.




          27
                http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/document--this web site refers to Civil No. 95-1671-JO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
     DISTRICT OF OREGON, 23 F. Supp. 2d 1182; 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16530, October 14, 1998, Decided, October 14, 1998, Filed
16
        In the case of United States v. Fleschner 98 F.3d 155 (4th Cir. 1996), cert. denied, 117 S.

Ct. 2484 (1997), the defendant urged a group of people to file unlawful tax returns. After the

attendees of the meeting did so, he was charged. He attempted to hide behind the First

Amendment but the courts held that because his words were directly connected to the criminal

act, he was held accountable.28 This case is important because it demonstrates that the courts

can, and do make the distinction between simply expressing ones view and telling someone what

they should do. In this case, the defendant tried to hide behind the First Amendment by asserting

that he was just voicing his opinion and the courts found that he instructed his followers to break

the law.

        It is clear from the few cases that have been prosecuted to date and the standard that has

been set, via freedom of speech protection, that there is little to stop the flow of bigotry, hatred,

and extremism on the web. Legal action can only be taken when these groups advance a message

which immanently threatens people, or incites criminal activity. As international borders

continue to erode, it will become increasingly difficult to prosecute perpetrators of violence and

intimidation. Hate groups have certainly found a home on the Internet.

        The entity that mediates the transmissions of the Internet also play an integral role in the

perpetuation of hate. The government cannot prevent, nor should they, the beliefs of hate groups.

The First Amendment ensures that the people of this nation, all people of this nation, have a

voice. However, the Internet is not a government owned media. The conduits of the Internet are



   28
         http://web.lexis-nexis.com/universe/document - this web site refers to United States v. Fleschner, No. 94-5929, No. 94-5933, No.
   95-5063, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT, 98 F.3d 155; 1996 U.S. App. LEXIS 26639; 96-2 U.S. Tax Cas. (CCH)
   P50,536; 78 A.F.T.R.2d (RIA) 6760, October 30, 1995, Argued, October 11, 1996, Decided, Certiorari Denied June 23, 1997, Reported at: 1997
   U.S. LEXIS 3910.

                                                                                                                                                17
the Internet Service Providers (ISP's). These private companies can, if they choose, prohibit hate

groups from using they're cyberspace to promote images and ideas of hate. This is a choice that

must be made on ethical principals and cannot be required by law. Even if the ISP's decide to

fight hate, the battle is difficult. The anonymity of web site creators and the extreme ease of

changing the URL of a web site, called mirroring, create huge difficulties in even pinning down

the source of a web site.

The Internet‟s Role in Hate Crimes

        After the April 19, 1995 terrorist bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City,

President Clinton declared that the Internet has a dark underside. Clinton was responding to

reports that secretive, anti-government militia groups were using the Internet to organize

rebellions and spread messages of hate.29 Indeed, it is no wonder that anti-hate groups are

worried about the Internet‟s role in hate.

     With the recent influx of hate crimes, the federal government and anti-hate groups are

watching Internet sites more closely. Millions of Americans are now a click away from instantly

joining a worldwide computer communication network. For that reason, anti-hate organizations

feel that they must combat hate on the Internet in order to prevent the Internet

from becoming a bastion of hate and ignorance.

     There is a consensus by anti-hate groups that hate may be on the rise because of the Internet.

Hate groups use more powerful tools like the Internet to recruit a different breed of racist such




        29
             Charles Clark, “Regulating the Internet,” Congressional Quarterly 5.24 (1995): 563


18
as college students, suburban residents and women.30 The number of organized hate groups

alone, jumped 20 percent in the U.S. from 1996 to 1998, according to a government study. In

1997, 164 web sites in the U.S. promoted issues such as racial superiority and apocalyptic

religious conflict. In comparison, only one such Web site existed like this in 1994.31 The FBI

counted 9,759 hate crimes in 1997, which included burned churches, murders and paintings of

swastikas. Experts say that the expansion and increased extremism could cause a deeper and

broader shift among young people toward an acceptability of hate. “It is safe to say there are

about 10,000 individuals who are hard core,” Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center

said. “The neo-Nazis, the fringe of the fringe, those who think about serious violence as part of

their identitythat fringe number continues to rise slowly.”32

   Searching for “hate” on a search engine like Yahoo! can result in thousands of web sites

devoted to hate. Anti-hate web sites are diligently trying to block hate groups from gaining

domains on the web that specifically point to hate. For example, the ADL (Anti-Defamation

League) is constantly trying to buy domain names that may be offensive.




       30
          John Cloud et al., “Is Hate on the Rise?,” Time 19 July 1991: 33.
       31
          Robert Marquand, “Hate Groups Market to the Mainstream,” Christian Science Monitor 6 March 1998: 4.
       32
          Marquand, p. 4


                                                                                                                19
     Groups like the ADL and the Southern Poverty Law Center were created to deter the dangers

of this hate. Now, they, like the hate groups, have to move into cyber space to once again

prevent growth in hate. The ADL even has a downloadable hate filter via its web site.

According to the web site, the hate filter is a software product designed to act as a gatekeeper. It

protects children by blocking access to web sites of individuals or groups that, in the judgment of

the Anti-Defamation League, advocate hatred, bigotry or even violence towards Jews or other

groups on the basis of their religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or other immutable

characteristics.33 One portion of the ADL site answers frequently asked questions about the

regulation of hate on the Internet.34




        33
             Anti-Defamation League Hate Filter at (Last modified: unknown; date visited: 20 April 2000)
        34
             Author Unknown, “Frequently Asked Questions,” Corrections Today Aug. 1999: 61.
20
   Likewise, the Southern Poverty Law Center provides a searchable web database of racist

groups for tracking purposes. For nearly 30 years, the Center has monitored hate groups and

today provides an extensive newsletter dealing expressly with issues of hate. Furthermore, some

web sites give statistical information about the rise of hate on the Internet and other contributing

factors. For example, the Media Awareness Network, posts graphs and time lines that relate to

the topic. Another web site called HateWatch, offers free assistance and information to

academics, activists, the media, civil rights groups and concerned individuals on the growth and

influence of racist activity on the Internet.35 The site offers links to videos on the subject, a

monthly web-based radio show called “The State of Hate” and an “Online Community Chat” for

those interested in discussing “the problem of the rise and spread of web based hate groups”.

   Whether or not rising numbers of hate crimes is directly related to the Internet, anti-hate

groups will persist in their efforts to try to combat hate group web site propaganda. Indeed, just

as the hate groups have First Amendment rights to free speech, anti-hate groups are entitled to

these protections as well. Organizers of anti-hate web sites agree: “The Internet is the greatest

thing to happen to hate,” says David Goldman, the executive director of HateWatch. “It‟s also

the worst thing.” Goldman points out that the result of which side will prevail “may be a

stalemate”. Goldman continues, “Unfortunately, hate is part and parcel of what it means to be a

human being. We would be foolish to think that technology will solve the problem of human

vice.”36



           35
                “What is Hate Watch” at (Last modified: unknown; date visited: 18 April 2000).

   36
        Author Unknown, “Downloading Hate,” Economist 13 Nov 1999: 30.



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        The Internet has helped hate groups spread their message of hate and ignorance. The fact

that its span is so broad makes it hard to regulate and, therefore, uncensored. This is the perfect

environment to breed new followers of hateful messages. Hate organizations use their web sites

to attract young, vibrant, militant followers. This could lead to dangerous situations and in fact,

the Internet is thought to have initiated some recent hate crimes. Though there are not many

legal precedents that have been set about the regulation of the Internet regarding hate speech,

there are some cases that apply to regulating hate speech that could apply to this topic.

     Hate web sites have definitely advanced since Stormfront made its debut on the Internet in

1995. What seemed to be a harmless demonstration of free speech has the potential of inciting

violence and promoting intolerance. With this in mind, it is important to promote social order

over individual liberty. The Internet should be regulated and hateful messages should be

censored on the information superhighway. Today and in the future, the spread of material from

any part of world is increasingly becoming faster via the Internet. In some ways, this speed is a

great benefit. In other ways it is a hindrance by perhaps being the cause of lesser privacy and the

uncertainty of what effects it will have on the future. Hate web sites have defiantly carved their

way into the hearts and minds of a great number of people in the United States. Hate has always

been an issue in this country, but now there is a concern that the Internet will be used to spread

those messages beyond the confines of the many hate groups that exist. Who will win the fight

over freedom of speech on the Internet? The Founding Fathers of this nation may have already

answered those questions because we feel that our right to freedom of speech can determine the

answer.

     Anti-hate groups will continue their battle against Internet hate to halt their ill-fated effect on


22
America‟s youth. The recent tragedy at Columbine High School points to some type of

connection. The Internet does effect the perspectives of today‟s youth.

   Our group has learned a great deal from this project. We have come to the realization that

hate web sites are, and rightly so, an area of concern. The framers of the Constitution crafted the

law to adapt to a maturing nation and as we become a more technologically advanced society it is

left for us to decide whether the Internet is protected by one of our most fundamental

freedoms--the freedom of speech.




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