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Free Speech and the Internet

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Free Speech and the Internet

Old 05-20-2010, 08:01 AM
  #1  
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Default Free Speech and the Internet

In another thread, the issue of Free Speech on a site such as HNi was raised. Someone pointed out that free speech is a restriction on the government and not private companies. However, the issue of private companies regulating speech generally relates to the freedom that companies have to set standards/rules and then fire or punish employees for things they say that violates said rules. That has been repeatedly held up in court. However, private companies censoring people who are essentially customers/consumers of their internet product is much more of a gray area. As just one example, America Online is a private company that has recently been forced to back off of some of its attempts to place arbitrary restrictions on site content, based in part on the issue of free speech.

I don't really have a set opinion on it, since even a cursory internet search shows that the case law on this issue is in a state of flux, given that the internet is still to some extent in its infancy. But, it certainly appears that things are not necessarily as clear cut as some would think.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:25 AM
  #2  
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I don't know squat about the law, but I can tell you this much.

If someone comes into my shop and starts putting up flyers for my competition, starts telling my customers that they should go somewhere else, starts announcing what a lousy store I have and how others are so much better, starts acting like they think they own the place.......they sure ain't going to be allowed, much less invited, to hang around and sit in my chairs and enjoy my air conditioning. I don't care how much they whine about "free speech"--it's my shop.

It's simple common sense. Not suprisingly, some people have a really hard time with that these days.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:35 AM
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I have no doubt that AOL shared your perspective.
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Old 05-20-2010, 08:38 AM
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There's a lot to be said when we speak of, the pen is mightier than the sword.
If you give a fool both, I'm betting he does more harm with the sword, yet he looks far more foolish when using the pen.
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Old 05-20-2010, 09:07 AM
  #5  
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This falls under "common sense", so I'm sure it will go over some heads.......

Concerning "free speech" and HNI, you agree to a set of rules when you sign up as a member. Basically, you sign a contract that restricts your "rights" to what HNI deems acceptable on their "property" when you are on the "property" of HNI.

HNI and AOL are two completely different businesses, and this thread was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at starting a big stink. Or maybe the "political" part of it just went over my head? Either way, gonna' pee on this fire before it grows. If there are any questions or objections, contact me, another mod, or HNI administration via pm or e-mail.

Chad
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Old 05-20-2010, 12:33 PM
  #6  
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Stuck for referance.
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Old 05-20-2010, 02:30 PM
  #7  
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Lance Couch Couch and other interested HNI members,

The 1st amendment free speech issue is sometimes misinterpreted. It was originally included with 9 other amendments as a "Bill of Rights" to achieve ratification of the original constitution as some states were concerned that there weren't strong enough guarantees for individual citizens. As you pointed out with the caselaw example of shouting "fire" in a crowded theater, that "right" has certain limitations. Like you mentioned, this "right" was protection for citizens from the government, not private businesses or other individuals.

Huntingnet (HNI) is a private business that operates a group of forums that are open to the public for reading. The same public can become members and gain the right to post in the forums but in doing so, they are made aware of a list of rules that they agree to abide by in this non-monetary contract that people create with HNI by becoming members.

In this contract, individual members are allowed to cease being members or break the contract at will and without financial repercussions. HNI only cancels the contract (bans) a member when they have violated the terms of agreement (contract, also known as rules). Again, without any financial repercussions.

Admin and mods enforce the rules (contract) and often enforce them leniently by giving people warnings or temporary bans instead of permanently banning them. The vast majority of members abide by the rules and if they happen to violate a rule, generally respond positively to a warning or temporary ban. The only members who get permanent bans are spammers and those who continue to violate the rules, argue with admin/mods and try to foment problems within the website and forums.

It's a fun place with a unique quality and character to it. Several people have left and then returned, stating something along the lines of there's really no other place like HNI. It isn't a perfect website and changes or problems sometimes occur. For the most part, admin resolves those in a reasonable manner and everybody adjusts to the changes or solutions.

Within the past few months, there has been a small group of people posting in the off-season forum who continued to violate the rules, challenge admin/mods when they were moderated and have tried to foment further problems by enlisting other members to engage in some type of protest or bashing of HNI, admin and/or the mods. That behavior has resulted in Admin pulling the Off-Season forum offline indefinitely until a final decision can be made as to how to resolve the problem that small group of members posed.

Admin is considering permabanning the Off-season forum and possibly the Religion forum with other forums to be considered if they have continuing problems. Admin is seeking input from mods on these actions and several mods (including the main ones on the Off-Season forum) have spoken in favor of reinstating the Off-Season forum. There are ideas, suggestions and possible changes being discussed on how to reinstate the Off-Season and correct the problems so everybody can enjoy the forum again (except those who were permabanned).

In the middle of this somewhat delicate process where we have no guaranteed return of the Off-Season forum at all, members are beginning to post topics like this that question HNI & Admin's authority and legal right to limit members ability to post some things by enforcing rules.

As you might guess, this isn't helpful right now and is likely to upset the applecart. If you have questions or input on this issue, please PM or email a mod. Please do not post topics like this or comments on topics like this.

This post isn't meant to single out LCC or imply that he's trying to create a problem (he's not). What I do want all members to take away from this is that now is a very sensitive time and topics like this will not help that process.

So PM a mod with your questions or input instead of posting these topics. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised to know that we (and admin) are not the enemy. We're all still hunters, obviously pro-2nd amendment and want to keep HNI as fun and unique as we can. Now, can we switch the political forum topics back to Obama, Arizona's immigration law, etc.


p.s. Here's a link to more information.
http://www.huntingnet.com/forum/enha...son-forum.html

Last edited by CalHunter; 05-22-2010 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:05 PM
  #8  
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Nicely said calhunter..
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Old 05-24-2010, 09:22 AM
  #9  
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Dear Sirs,

I am a longtime lurker and this is only my second post. With all due respect I can see both sides of the issue here and we have a quandry. You have people affiliated with this site who make the claim that they have free reign to regulate any and all discourse here. On the other hand, Mr. Couch makes a good point that the internet is different from a mechanic's shop. He (or she, I don't know if Lanse is a buck or doe) is also correct that recent actions against AOL have demonstrated that private companies do not have absolute power to regulate any and all content on the internet, unless like Wikipedia when an intitiy needs to regulate obscene content, and we all agree obscene is subjective we can save obscene for a new topic. One can easily visualize future trends where businesses that attempt to do this in heavyhanded ways may face legal action or boycott. I might also respectfully point out that in the deep South business owners were once able to make use of the my private shop so its my rules logic to deny some people their basic Civil Rights. So some comments about common sense and censorship are not necessarily that commonsensical.

Thank you for the opportunity to offer my opinion, I hope am posting correctly.
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Old 05-24-2010, 05:55 PM
  #10  
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I find it a bit condescending when some one post and locks a thread on top of each page for posters to report others for post points of view that differ from their own.
For many years this site has prospered and grown because the skills of debate and reading comprehension were all the tools this place needed.
If you lack the tools necessary to defend your point of view or to persuade others to see things from your point of view, maybe you should seek other avenues or venues to express yourself.
A closed mind is no different than an unread book. Is whats going on here any different then the burning of books?
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