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Re: Court challenge to AOL junk-mail blocks

Damaged Justice wrote:
> > > This is utter horseshit. AOL, like any private individual or organization,
> > > has the right to refuse service to anyone at any time for any reason, or
> > > even for no reason at all.
> >
> > That seems to undermine the analogy that the Internet is like an immense
> > electronic postal service, which suggests a more public than private
> > enterprise.
> Perhaps that analogy held when the Internet was supported with money taken
> at gunpoint from all us tax serfs. No more - you wanna play, you gotta pay.
> Which is as it should be.
> [snip]
>  >Unlike the people who donate their time and
> > resources to the Internet out of goodwill, and who may set arbitrary
> > limits on the services
> > they provide, in my experience, out of bad will, and who cannot be so
> > easily
> > removed, a corporation's business can suffer if it doesn't provide
> > services.
> If their business suffers because of a decision, they may reconsider that
> decision. If they don't, they'll either survive, or they won't, depending
> on if their customers will stand for it. 

My point exactly

I fail to see why charging money
> for the services one provides suddenly transforms a person into a slave,
> forced to provide service even if they do not wish to do so. 


Do you feel
> that providing a service for free is more "noble", somehow, and therefore
> more "worthy" of protection?

> > One of the good things about the commercialization of the Internet is
> > that
> > you can fire those who, instead of providing a service, are busy
> > exercising arbitrary rights to refuse services unfairly or for no reason
> > whatsoever.
> Who is going to "fire" a company that provides a service? The gubmint is
> your only alternative; the gun of the law, your only tool.

You provide the answer that I had in mind:
> If you don't like your ISP, get a different one. Spammers do it all the
> time. 

> People are whining all over the place about "exercising arbitrary
> rights", as if it were eeeeevil when companies do it. Get a grip. 

Non sequiteur. You're not responding to my point, which is a moral 
criticism of the tone of statements like 

> > > any private individual or organization,
> > > has the right to refuse service to anyone at any time for any reason, or
> > > even for no reason at all.

which seem to oversimplify matters for corporations like AOL. Of course
can repeat statements like these to its customers until it was blue in
face, but the good news is that their customers could vote with their
My criticism of your statement is that it an aethetically ugly and
hippocritical position to take, if one purports to provide mail services 
to hundreds of thousands of customers, or purports not to engage in 
editorial control, or purports to promote free speech. If ISP's want
to provide services subject to arbitary limitations fine ... I am
stating that
I find this practice deplorable, and I have not implied that I favor
regulation to correct such situations, as much as you want to believe
that I have.

> If a company kicks a spammer off their system, what recourse do you
> want them to have, other than their right to "vote with their feet" and
> find a different provider? 


> It seems you would find it favorable for them
> to go whining to the gubmint: "Waaah! He kicked us out of his treehouse!
> You go beat 'em up and make 'em take us back!"

That's an overinterpretation of my words.

> If they can seize John Adams' yacht, they can seize your beat-up old car.
> If they can force XYZ Corp to provide access, they can force anyone to
> do anything, and there is no grounds for complaint. After all, universal
> access must be provided! A chicken in every pot, and a router in every
> garage! Right?

Non sequiteur.
> > >The gubmint isn't doing SQUAT, except forcing
> > > AOL to allow the spammers access.
> >
> > Since I reject the flat assumption that corporate ISP's have the same
> > freedom as private individuals to set limits on the internet services
> > they provide  - in this case their freedom to act is limited by business
> > constraints - it's fair to ask why it's morally OK for ISP's to censor
> > junkmail, but if the government wants to step in, that's another
> > matter entirely.
> Because only the gummint can "censor". Whatever anyone else does is NOT
> censorship, unless you want to redefine words to suit your pleasure. It
> is exercising judgment and taste. Whether you find that judgment acceptable
> or not is not an excuse to impose your judgment on others at gunpoint.

What dictionary do you use?
> > I'm not in favor of the government stepping in, but I am in favor of
> > some consequences of the commercialization of the internet. A bad
> > consequence is the increased volume of junkmail. A good consequence
> > is the possibility of removing people who act as arbirary censors
> > of other people's mail or speech, who invoke their rights as private
> > individuals to regulate the services they provide for any reason
> > whatsoever, while they hold their government to a higher standard
> > of conduct, and even seek the protection of their government to
> > act like petty dictators.
> Pot. Kettle. Black.

I see you've looked in the mirror recently :) 
> --
> http://yakko.cs.wmich.edu/~frogfarm ...for the best in unapproved information
> why the dancing shouting   why the shrieks of pain  the lovely music  why the
> smell of burning autumn leaves     working on the tiny blueprint of the angle
> I must be silent must contain my secret smile  you my mirror you my iron bars

F Lengyel	[email protected]	http://www.dorsai.org/~flengyel