“You will never get the crowd to cry Hosanna until you ride into town on an ass.” — Nietzsche
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Copyright Nazis. Literally.
As I write this, the Center for a Stateless Society’s web site is down, as is the web site of its partner group, Students for a Stateless Society (S4SS), active on numerous campuses around the world. That a web site might go down is not especially interesting … but WHY these particular sites are down is interesting indeed. We’ve been shut down by copyright Nazis. Literally.
It all started with some anti-Muslim slurs on the S4SS U Gent’s public Facebook page. For whatever reason, some Belgian neo-Nazis, including one Olivier Janssens (who opined that “the Muslims” are the real power behind the European Left and are over-breeding “parasites” — the same stuff his spiritual forebears would have said 80 years ago about “the Jews”) apparently chose to operate under a false anarchist flag, disguising themselves as a legitimate S4SS branch.
Other S4SS branches and the more general S4SS organization, upon seeing these slurs, quickly moved to dissociate themselves from S4SS U Ghent, as did S4SS’s parent organization, the Center for a Stateless Society, publishing a brief excerpt of the remarks in their dissociation statements by way of explanation.
If the story had ended there, well, the story would likely REALLY have ended there. Few people — movement insiders all — would have noticed the dissociation announcement. Most of those who did notice it would have forgotten it, at least in detail, within a month or so.
But it didn’t end there.
A few days later, C4SS and S4SS received a demand from Janssens: We were to remove his name, and the content of his statements, from our web sites or, he wrote, “I will sue” (emphasis his). This, he claimed, was required because he feared violent retribution from the Muslims he had publicly reviled.
He received a reply that, in retrospect, was probably as rude as the demand.
If he’d been nice about it, we might have considered ways to accommodate his fears.
If he’d been truthful about it — his REAL fear was almost certainly not Muslim retribution but that Belgian authorities would notice he’d violated that country’s “hate speech” laws, which anarchists like C4SS and S4SS have no truck with and would not intentionally subject anyone to the penalties of — we’d probably have gone out of our way to insulate him from those repercussions.
But he was rude, we were rude back, and that brings it down to the simple fact that no, we have no obligation to protect Mr. Janssens from the consequences of his actions, or to refrain from explaining ourselves to the rest of our movement because he might find that explanation embarrassing or even frightening.
So, Janssens escalated: He retained an American lawyer — one JD Obenberger, whose web site brags that he’s “an active member of The First Amendment Lawyer’s Association and the Free Speech Coalition” — to file a frivolous, meritless, malicious and clearly abusive “takedown notice,” per the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, with C4SS/S4SS’s web host.
Ironically, Janssens appears to be a PhD candidate working on a project about “cyber-bullying.” He seems to have taught himself how to “cyber-bully” pretty well.
But maybe not at a PhD level. It’s already backfiring on him, big-time. More people have now taken notice of his Islamophobic statements than ever would have if he’d chalked the whole thing up to “lessons learned,” gone about his business, and left us to go about ours. Within the next 24 hours, that number is likely to grow exponentially.
As I write this, our web sites remain down. They won’t be down for long, though. In fact, when they go back up they will probably reside on offshore servers run by hosts who don’t immediately go into panic mode and cut off their clients when lawyers send them nastygrams.
And when they go back up, Mr. Janssen’s name and actions will probably figure much more prominently than they did before he pursued “the nuclear option” against us. As storied Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart once said of an opponent’s mis-step, Janssens “shall regret [what he did] but once, and that continuously.”
Until those sites ARE back up, I guess I’ll just have to content myself with using email to inform more than 2,500 publications worldwide about what Mr. Janssens did and said.
We anarchists aren’t partial to firebombs the way we used to be. But we still know how to fight fire with fire.
Read this piece in Dutch translation courtesy of Christiaan Elderhorst
Yes, the Center for a Stateless Society always appreciates your donations, but at this particular time they are especially helpful, given that we plan on migration to a different web host, setting up some mirrors, etc. to make sure that this can never happen again. And since our usual donation pages are, like the rest of the site, unavailable at the moment, here are some donation options:
Thomas Knapp is a contributor and frequent commenter here on IPR.