Scotland Times

Monday, Oct 25, 2021
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The attempt to hold Epik.com accountable for the content of its clients' websites is like blaming Gutenberg for the NYT's fake news that dragged the US into the pointless war against the nuclear weapons Iraq never had

The proper means of fighting against outrageous, annoying and invalid opinions is by education and free, open and public debate. Using censorship as the means instead is a characteristic of the worst dictatorships in human history. By de-platforming and silencing political opponents and those with annoying, wrong or extreme opinions, we are basically pooping on the Constitution, pissing on the Bill of Rights and throwing rotten eggs at the Founding Fathers of the USA.

Censorship produces a divided society, and encourages hatred among family members, friends and neighbors. In fact, those who censor others instead of allowing free speech and open debates, have in effect declared a civil war, even if it has not yet matured into a real, violent, armed war.
By resorting to censorship we do not protect the public, but instead we provide justification for them to develop the paranoia that leads to conspiracy theories.

By dictating what the public is allowed to think or not think, to talk about and to question, our society will end up divided into blind silos of suggestible people who never question anything, and pessimists who never trust anybody.


Those self-deluders who pretend to be enlightened would do better to come out of the darkened Plato's Cave in which their opinions are tightly chained, and open their minds to the light of different ways of thinking. They can start by embracing the immortal words of the Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman”. (Brandeis 1933, 62)

Blocking the free flow of opinions, may "protect" the public from hurtful or disturbing words, but will eventually cause escalation from what is just a verbal or written stance  to a violent confrontation that is the natural outcome when the censorship drives dissenting views underground.
I do not propose that bullying, insulting and shaming should be allowed without any restrictions in the name of freedom of expression. This would portray the internet as a jungle of cannibals operating without any rules. It is not. What I am saying is that silencing those who think and say the "wrong things" is not the right way to deal with the problem. Silencing dissenting opinion is like putting on a band-aid to seal a ticking time-bomb , instead of disassembling and defusing it in a controlled and informed manner.

What I am also saying is that not every statement that is invalid, wrong or stupid in our opinion is invalid in itself. History teaches us that it is often the so-called lunatics who dare to speak out against the status quo, and that in retrospect they are the ones who can demonstrate that the establishment and the institutions that condemned them were the real idiots. Galileo Galilei and his deranged declarartion that the world is round, for example; or Steve Jobs and his crazy claim that a phone with only one button can do much more than a phone with 35 buttons, as another. After all, we are now witnessing in the course of our daily lives the irrefutable proof that George Orwell was not a delusional paranoid, but a true visionary who saw with amazing clarity the dystopian reality of the future. Considering what is happening today on the world's political stages and information platforms, he may if anything have understated the problems.

So yes. Bad talk can lead to bad deeds. But silencing the bad talk does not prevent the bad deeds from happening. It merely forces contentious issues underground instead of being visibly exposed.

Bad talk is the result of bad thoughts. Bad thoughts are the result of sincere but false beliefs. The most effective way to correct a false belief is through persuasion and learning, not through silencing and closing eyes.

The solution to overcoming bad thoughts is not by lowering the volume of the arguments that support them, but in increasing the volume of the evidence that refutes them.

And here comes the Epik Hack or Epik Leak.

It's an attack against a domain name and web-hosting service provider, for its hosting of not only the 2 million mainstream domain names and websites, but also among them a handful of websites that are controversial, one way or another.

As a society we love to fight against hate speech by deciding to hate someone who had nothing to do with the hate speech itself. We believe that hate is the solution and forget that this was the problem to begin with. So now Epik is the scapegoat victim to be blamed for not censoring controversial opinions. Somehow it seems that it has become Epik's fault that the US education system has failed to better educate the public; and that it is Epik's fault that each silo of American society is united by hating some others outside the silo: Dems, Reps, Women, Blacks, Muslims, Hispanics, Chinese, Jews, LGBTXYZ... whatever the "target of the moment" is. In every instance, the underlying conclusion is unfortunately the same: hate is what now unites the people in their various partisan silos, not love.  Suddenly being "different" has become the problem in America, rather than the distinctive advantage that made America Great to begin with.

Is America so preoccupied with hatred that it does not notice that a society in which everyone hates everyone is falling apart on the inside, just as that divided society has already lost its moral authority on the outside?

Doesn’t everyone really realize that the "largest, richest and freest democracy" in the world is already really, really, really not?

Is this not the time to question the usefulness of a hate strategy when the damage it does is so obvious? If not now, when will be the time  to stop the collapse of what used to be and still can become again the stable, respected and civilized world leader?

The founder and CEO of Epik, Rob Monster, genuinely believes in free speech - on the left and on the right - and in democratizing the Internet. He is a decent, honorable and genuine libertarian who believes that free speech is the best tool to fight against hate speech and disinformation.

Rob Monster's website-services company Epik.com, which calls itself "the Swiss bank of the domain industry," is home for as many as 2 million domain names. Of these, 10 or 20 of them are controversial, one way or another, such as the conspiracy theory website InfoWars, the embattled conservative platform Parler, the largely unregulated YouTube alternative BitChute, the gun forum AR15.com, and the site for rabid Trump supporters called Patriots.win, previously known as The Donald.

The attempt to hold Epik.com accountable for the content of their clients' websites is like blaming Gutenberg for the NYT's fake news that dragged the US into a pointless war against the nuclear weapons that Iraq never had. Or like demanding compensation from the newspaper for all the soldiers killed or injured in Iraq while tilting at desert windmills and losing the war to an enemy that never existed (but was subsequently created as a result of the war).

Epik is a service provider. A solid, reliable and popular provider, but a relatively small one.

Epik pays taxes for the government to do their job to stop bad people from doing bad things.

It’s not in Epik's capacity, nor authority, to monitor every post, words and usage of every domain it hosts. Actually, the privacy laws and the terms of use do not allow it to do so. This responsibility is part of what the government is paid for.

The government has the tools to monitor in real time every item that is posted all over the internet, encrypted or not, and to track back who is behind every post, picture and video. I am not saying that the government should have the right to monitor everything, but this is what they do with a chunk of our tax money, whether we like it or not.

A hotel cannot and should not check what its guests are doing - whether legal or not - in the privacy of their rooms. A landlord cannot and is not allowed to monitor his tenant's activities inside their rented apartments. Web-hosting/domain registry platforms cannot and should not monitor what people - good or bad people - are doing with their websites.

On the other hand, Facebook, Google and Apple must be held accountable for the content on their platforms, because they profit from the content itself, not only from providing the hosting platform and devices.

Making a profit from content automatically creates responsibility and liability, which necessarily incurs expenses. That's business.

The BigTech claim that they responsible only for sharing the income from the content, but at the same time say they are exempt from the obligation to allocate whatever it takes to monitor each and every photo, video and text they are profiting from.  This is blatantly, unfair, unethical, grossly hypocritical and an insult to the rule of law.

The BigTech evade their legal duty to make sure all the content they profit from is genuine, trustworthy and legal, just as they evade their duty to pay fair and legal taxes from their huge profits. And  just as they evade their duty to be loyal, honest and fair to the users that have made them so rich.

It is unfair and unreasonable to expect little Epik to do what even the huge companies with trillions of dollars on hand are refraining from doing.

After more than 2 decades of monitoring Rob's work, I can say that he is a decent, honorable and genuine libertarian who believes in free speech as the best tool to fight against misinformation and hate speech.

The proper means of fighting against outrageous, annoying and invalid opinions is by education and free, open and public debate. Using censorship as the means instead is a characteristic of the worst dictatorships in human history. By de-platforming and silencing political opponents and those with annoying, wrong or extreme opinions, we are basically pooping on the Constitution, pissing on the Bill of Rights and throwing rotten eggs at the Founding Fathers of the USA.

When we forbid people to speak freely and publicly about what is bothering them, we prevent them from learning from the reactions of people who think differently. In silencing opposing views we prevent the public from developing and upgrading original ideas and opinions.  On the one hand, we risk producing a public of unquestioning idiots who can think in only one dimension; on the other,  we do not really silence the opposing voices but merely drive them underground.

When we silence written criticism, blatant and annoying as it may be, we encourage people to take the only alternative left to them instead of words: deeds, usually violent deeds. And in such a situation, we cannot accuse them of violence because we are the ones who forced them into it.
Those who censor dissenting voices bear the ultimate responsibility for the violence that is the inevitable outcome when dissent is forced underground.

Censorship produces a divided society, and encourages hatred among family members, friends and neighbors. In fact, those who censor others instead of allowing free speech and open debates, have in effect declared a civil war, even if it has not yet matured into a real, violent, armed war.

By de-legitimizing nearly half of America's voters we are not producing a stronger America but breaking it in two halves, stirring up the kind of animosities that caused the Civil War, and even questioning the justification of the American States for being united at all. For people on either side of the divide, this is far more dangerous and harmful than any short-term political benefit.








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