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A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the Civic Chamber of Russia in my capacity as a blogger person to give my Very Important Opinions on a draft law being considered by some United Russia deputies to create “cyber militia” tasked with identifying and reporting illegal/extremist content on the Internet.

I obviously consider that a very bad idea and I wrote about why here: https://akarlin.ru/2019/03/cybermilitia/

That text is also the formal written response that I sent off. I can’t be bothered recounting why here, but if you’re interested, just use Google Translate on the original article. Instead I am going to offer a couple of political observations.

Despite the imbecility of the law in question, and the thuggish attitudes of one of its sponsors (“Do you support terrorism and extremism?” he brusquely demanded to know of one of his critics), I nonetheless came away rather impressed with this institution, and rather hopeful about wider political trends.

1. They invite a wide array of relevant people – social media representatives, security people, journalists, bloggers, etc. – to offer their critiques on new laws. The proceedings are live-streamed on their website. Nor are the people they invite toadies. Regarding that cyber militia law in particular, I estimate around 80% of the participants were critical or very critical. While the Chamber’s function is purely consultative, I can barely imagine that law going ahead – at least in anything resembling its original form – after the all round public drubbing it received. In that sense, one might even consider it a sort of check and balance.

2. The critics included the Secretary of the Civic Chamber Valery Fadeev, who suggested it would be a slapstick repeat of the Soviets “chasing stilyagi” (a postwar youth movement that idolized Western popular culture, obviously to official disapproval) and explicitly compared it to the abuses under Article 282 (a “hate speech” law that was recently partially decriminalized). This is interesting, because Fadeev is also a senior official in the All-Russia People’s Front, a pro-Putin organization meant to coordinate relations between United Russia and Russia’s myriad NGOs and other associations.

This is all very encouraging as it suggests a rejection of sovokism at the (upper) levels of Russian society, both in and out of formal power – that is, at the levels that matter.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Cyber Threats, Internet, Law, Russia, The AK 
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  1. Most advocates of restricting freedom of speech are among ordinary people. They usually don’t enjoy critical thinking, and don’t get what it is all about. And I don’t mean it in a snobbish way.

    When restricting speech starts popping up in elite circles, it is mostly pushed by dumb people with credentials. They can get very thuggish about it, they don’t get the value of free speech and are vaguely annoyed by any non-approved ideas. But they have ‘earned’ their spots, so they have power.

    The latter day enthusiasm for restricting speech in the West is a signal that the elites are being diluted (maybe nepotism or just the usual industrious morons). West and Russia seem to be moving in opposite directions on this topic. I read an article about how Russia ‘could be‘ behind the climate change school strikes today – just very bizarre stuff reaching psycho-paranoid levels, they are losing it.

    • Replies: @German_reader

    I read an article about how Russia ‘could be‘ behind the climate change school strikes today
     
    Merkel insinuated something like that in February, during the Munich security conference:
    https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/aeussere-einfluesse-merkel-irritiert-mit-aeusserungen-ueber.2852.de.html?dram:article_id=441342

    She mentioned those climate school strikes as possibly being related to "Russia's hybrid warfare" and campaigns in the internet.
    She's changed course since then though (because those protests are popular with the German Greens), and has lauded the protesters for their civic virtue.

    , @neutral

    they are losing it
     
    Feels more like they lost it a long time ago.
    , @Kaiju
    If Aristotle or Plato were king, would they restrict free speech, or are you just free to call for King Aristotle to be anally raped with a rebar, and to encourage his subjects to do so? If King Aristotle decides to arrest those calling for the king to the assasinated, does that make him mentally retarded?
  2. A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the Civic Chamber of Russia in my capacity as a blogger person to give my Very Important Opinions

    Further evidence that the Duginist/White Nationalist/Richard Spencer conspiracy runs right to the heart of the Russian state

    • LOL: WHAT
  3. @Beckow
    Most advocates of restricting freedom of speech are among ordinary people. They usually don't enjoy critical thinking, and don't get what it is all about. And I don't mean it in a snobbish way.

    When restricting speech starts popping up in elite circles, it is mostly pushed by dumb people with credentials. They can get very thuggish about it, they don't get the value of free speech and are vaguely annoyed by any non-approved ideas. But they have 'earned' their spots, so they have power.

    The latter day enthusiasm for restricting speech in the West is a signal that the elites are being diluted (maybe nepotism or just the usual industrious morons). West and Russia seem to be moving in opposite directions on this topic. I read an article about how Russia 'could be' behind the climate change school strikes today - just very bizarre stuff reaching psycho-paranoid levels, they are losing it.

    I read an article about how Russia ‘could be‘ behind the climate change school strikes today

    Merkel insinuated something like that in February, during the Munich security conference:
    https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/aeussere-einfluesse-merkel-irritiert-mit-aeusserungen-ueber.2852.de.html?dram:article_id=441342

    She mentioned those climate school strikes as possibly being related to “Russia’s hybrid warfare” and campaigns in the internet.
    She’s changed course since then though (because those protests are popular with the German Greens), and has lauded the protesters for their civic virtue.

    • LOL: Anatoly Karlin
    • Replies: @Beckow

    Merkel mentioned those climate school strikes as possibly being related to “Russia’s hybrid warfare” and campaigns in the internet.
     
    That's simply insane. People on that level cannot string random words together and produce mental garbage that doesn't mean anything. There used to be a certain standard, even what I would call a decorum. This is becoming unreal. Statements like that would fail you during an Arbitur exam - they are unsupported, and even worse, they don't mean anything. It is a form of mindless mantra.
  4. What about the amendment to the Information law (penalizing clear disrespect to the government “organs”) that just went through the upper house? Did it go through this oversight body? Well, at least this article won’t ever get blocked by the powers that be.

    http://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/606594-7

    • Replies: @Anatoly Karlin
    Well, I wasn't invited to give my commentary on that particular law, so I can't say.

    Its raison d'être seems to be as a way to disrupt oppositionists in small but effective ways in an arbitrary fashion. This is typical in soft authoritarian regimes. Singapore, for instance, does that with libel suits.
  5. @not convinced
    What about the amendment to the Information law (penalizing clear disrespect to the government "organs") that just went through the upper house? Did it go through this oversight body? Well, at least this article won't ever get blocked by the powers that be.

    http://sozd.duma.gov.ru/bill/606594-7

    Well, I wasn’t invited to give my commentary on that particular law, so I can’t say.

    Its raison d’être seems to be as a way to disrupt oppositionists in small but effective ways in an arbitrary fashion. This is typical in soft authoritarian regimes. Singapore, for instance, does that with libel suits.

  6. Karlin made it on their website lol, you have click through their image gallery there

  7. @Beckow
    Most advocates of restricting freedom of speech are among ordinary people. They usually don't enjoy critical thinking, and don't get what it is all about. And I don't mean it in a snobbish way.

    When restricting speech starts popping up in elite circles, it is mostly pushed by dumb people with credentials. They can get very thuggish about it, they don't get the value of free speech and are vaguely annoyed by any non-approved ideas. But they have 'earned' their spots, so they have power.

    The latter day enthusiasm for restricting speech in the West is a signal that the elites are being diluted (maybe nepotism or just the usual industrious morons). West and Russia seem to be moving in opposite directions on this topic. I read an article about how Russia 'could be' behind the climate change school strikes today - just very bizarre stuff reaching psycho-paranoid levels, they are losing it.

    they are losing it

    Feels more like they lost it a long time ago.

  8. Most parliament’s have committees like this. Well done to get noticed.

  9. @German_reader

    I read an article about how Russia ‘could be‘ behind the climate change school strikes today
     
    Merkel insinuated something like that in February, during the Munich security conference:
    https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/aeussere-einfluesse-merkel-irritiert-mit-aeusserungen-ueber.2852.de.html?dram:article_id=441342

    She mentioned those climate school strikes as possibly being related to "Russia's hybrid warfare" and campaigns in the internet.
    She's changed course since then though (because those protests are popular with the German Greens), and has lauded the protesters for their civic virtue.

    Merkel mentioned those climate school strikes as possibly being related to “Russia’s hybrid warfare” and campaigns in the internet.

    That’s simply insane. People on that level cannot string random words together and produce mental garbage that doesn’t mean anything. There used to be a certain standard, even what I would call a decorum. This is becoming unreal. Statements like that would fail you during an Arbitur exam – they are unsupported, and even worse, they don’t mean anything. It is a form of mindless mantra.

  10. @Beckow
    Most advocates of restricting freedom of speech are among ordinary people. They usually don't enjoy critical thinking, and don't get what it is all about. And I don't mean it in a snobbish way.

    When restricting speech starts popping up in elite circles, it is mostly pushed by dumb people with credentials. They can get very thuggish about it, they don't get the value of free speech and are vaguely annoyed by any non-approved ideas. But they have 'earned' their spots, so they have power.

    The latter day enthusiasm for restricting speech in the West is a signal that the elites are being diluted (maybe nepotism or just the usual industrious morons). West and Russia seem to be moving in opposite directions on this topic. I read an article about how Russia 'could be' behind the climate change school strikes today - just very bizarre stuff reaching psycho-paranoid levels, they are losing it.

    If Aristotle or Plato were king, would they restrict free speech, or are you just free to call for King Aristotle to be anally raped with a rebar, and to encourage his subjects to do so? If King Aristotle decides to arrest those calling for the king to the assasinated, does that make him mentally retarded?

    • Replies: @Beckow

    ...if King Aristotle decides to arrest those calling for the king to the assasinated, does that make him mentally retarded?
     
    We don't live in kingdoms, no 'king' is sacred. There are laws against making credible threats, organizing illegal activities like assassinations, or yelling fire in a crowded theatre to create panic. We are better of dealing with public threats instead of hidden ones. Ask police in any country, they like to have access to people's plans. But it has to cross into an actual criminal activity, not opinions or thought crimes. A society has to be able to distinguish between the two - in the West recently that's no longer the case.

    What you describe also has very little to do with restrictions that we have seen on free speech. That uses 'hate speech', 'fake facts', or other subjective arguments as justification. We cannot ban hatred, it is a legitimate emotion that is a part of human nature. What would you ban next? Envy, malicious thoughts? It is a part of being a free person to have a full range of emotions, including negative ones.

    People will always disagree on 'facts'. There is an overlap between opinions and facts and we all have biases, facts change over time. Argue for you side, but don't ban the other side from expressing their views. Labelling something 'fake', instead of addressing it is also a sign of under-developed minds.

    Dumb people don't understand this because it requires a critical mind. That ability only seems to reliably exist in higher IQ bands. With all due respect, when I people argue against free speech, I assume that they are not very smart, they lack the critical thinking ability.

  11. @Kaiju
    If Aristotle or Plato were king, would they restrict free speech, or are you just free to call for King Aristotle to be anally raped with a rebar, and to encourage his subjects to do so? If King Aristotle decides to arrest those calling for the king to the assasinated, does that make him mentally retarded?

    …if King Aristotle decides to arrest those calling for the king to the assasinated, does that make him mentally retarded?

    We don’t live in kingdoms, no ‘king’ is sacred. There are laws against making credible threats, organizing illegal activities like assassinations, or yelling fire in a crowded theatre to create panic. We are better of dealing with public threats instead of hidden ones. Ask police in any country, they like to have access to people’s plans. But it has to cross into an actual criminal activity, not opinions or thought crimes. A society has to be able to distinguish between the two – in the West recently that’s no longer the case.

    What you describe also has very little to do with restrictions that we have seen on free speech. That uses ‘hate speech‘, ‘fake facts‘, or other subjective arguments as justification. We cannot ban hatred, it is a legitimate emotion that is a part of human nature. What would you ban next? Envy, malicious thoughts? It is a part of being a free person to have a full range of emotions, including negative ones.

    People will always disagree on ‘facts’. There is an overlap between opinions and facts and we all have biases, facts change over time. Argue for you side, but don’t ban the other side from expressing their views. Labelling something ‘fake’, instead of addressing it is also a sign of under-developed minds.

    Dumb people don’t understand this because it requires a critical mind. That ability only seems to reliably exist in higher IQ bands. With all due respect, when I people argue against free speech, I assume that they are not very smart, they lack the critical thinking ability.

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