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Why does IMC let itself be a hate speech platform? (english)
30 Mar 2003
Modified: 04 Jul 2003
I post this article as a question. I hope to see discussion here. It's time to talk more about this issue.
There are numerous posts on this newswire with horribly racist viewpoints, many of which contain links to neo-nazi types of websites or other blatantly racist/white supremacist websites.

Thus the IMC is providing an advertising platform for white supremacist and organized racist groups to do outreach.

As far as I can tell, this is the result of the "open publishing" policy. I see that the IMC removes posts to a "hidden area", but (1) they don't remove them immediately, so they are visible for a while, and (2) the "hidden area" is not truly hidden but it only takes a couple of clicks to get there. It's more of a "less convenient area".

As a frequent user of the Boston IMC who values its positive content, I would like to hear peoples' comments about this.

============

I'll be the first make my opinion clear. It's not a "freedom of speech" issue. "Freedom of speech" is a myth of our amerikkkan culture which allows the structures of state power to defend hate groups under the rubric of freedom of speech, as long as their not actually caught "doing" any hate crimes. I put "doing" in quotes because I think speech IS an action and not some separate category that is sacred. The content of speech is critical, because speech that advocates violence or perpetuates a culture of oppression is in itself an act of violence or oppression. "Sticks and stones" or "open publishing" be damned, words are actions and can hurt people, sometimes kill people. So I think that, far from providing a platform to actually HELP white supremacists and other hate groups, a radical community has a moral obligation to OPPOSE hate groups. The first step would be to not let them use the resources we have created to commit acts of violence in the form of hate speech.

Please let me know what YOU think, whether your an IMC volunteer or an IMC user.
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response from an IMC member (english)
30 Mar 2003
Hello. I'm a volunteer with the Boston IMC collective, speaking in a personal capacity--I don't want to claim to speak for the whole group. However, I think it is fair to say at least a number of us in the Boston IMC do feel like there is a problem with the newswire. I support free speech, but I don't think that's really the issue here, since neo-Nazis can always set up their own websites. The problem is that it's really difficult to manage the newswire. We have a small number of volunteers and a large number of postings. Basically, we don't have time to sort through everything that comes over the newswire. Personally, I just skim the summaries looking for news articles for the center column and complaints like this. We plan to talk about how to address the problems with the newswire at the next meeting, but some of the solutions we've already tossed around turn out not to be technically feasible. That's probably not a very satisfiying reply (it doesn't feel like a very satisfying response), but that's what I can tell you for now.
IMC Baltimore has the Right Idea (english)
30 Mar 2003
The Baltimore IMC handles this well. Visitors to the site are allowed to rank the posts on the newswire from good to terrible. If there are enough terribles, the post dissapears. Friends of mine who are in the Baltimore IMC collective say that the only time posts are ever removed in this fassion is if they contain neo-nazi propaganda. I suggest that IMC Boston uses this technique.
See also:
nefac.net
vote (english)
30 Mar 2003
i like the ranking idea. i think something like that is better anyway, because if you get a good article on the page it gets pushed off equally as fast as a bad article, back into the mysteirous back pages of the website that you can even get to half the time. i tihnk there ought to be like 3 check boxes on the page with an article.
something like "push it up, to push it closer to the top of the line, "leave it alone" to just let it go with the flow, and a push it down to push it off the front pag emore quickly. say maybe for every 5 or 10 votes in a particular direction the article would move one place. that way only things that were really popular would stay up at the front, and things would only stay ahead of the curent as lon as they ewre popular. when people got sick of them they would drift off with the normal flow off the front page.
o ya (english)
30 Mar 2003
i defintely don't agree with the plan to just throw some stuff completely off the page. the problem with that is some people have a fit and think every friggin post is anti-semitic or anti this or that. the voting idea would let the consensus rule instead of having some jackass harass the admin's until they get rid of whatever is offending him/her.
Shut Down the Media-Money Monopoly (english)
31 Mar 2003
If Boston's IMC becomes any more censored and manipulated than it already is, it deserves to be shut down as does the The Boston Globe, The New York Times, AOL Time-Warner and the rest of the transnational media-money monopoly that manipulates "our" governments - as was obvious when they attemted to overthrow the legitimate government in Venezuela.

It's easy to manipulate some "white supremists" (including Zio-AshkenNAZIs and their CIA-Mossad agents) to post "hate speech" (regularly published against Arabs, Persians and honest Americans in corporate media as "news") and then "legitimize" more censorship.

Perhaps Indymedia should be shut down along with the rest of the prostitutes and cowards who pose as "American journalists".
See also:
egroups.com/group/JPChance
more (english)
31 Mar 2003
I tried to post this before but it didn't work...

Matt, thanks for your response and explanation. I appreciate the time and energy that IMC volunteers put into the project and I appreciate the project, especially the local journalism If it's a matter of resources to enforce editorial guidelines, I will give some of my time and energy to it as well. I plan to be at the next meeting for the IMC and meet the people involved and see what their attitudes on the matter are.

I checked out the Baltimore site, and while I think rating stories by votes is interesting, it still doesn't address the situation. That kind of voting can be manipulated / ballot-stuffed by eager supremacists. That system might be good at keeping really good articles visible for longer. However, I don't think it would work so well for blocking hate group posts.

As an alternative mechanism, maybe if there's a checkbox for "This post is hate speech" along with clear anti-oppression guidelines for posts. Then if an article gets a few such marks by readers, it can be removed from the newswire until review by an IMC editor... I know all this takes coding skills and time to implement. Until such time maybe we could find more people to spend a little time removing supremacist posts.


For "o ya" : I don't like your characterization of the process, because it's not like I'm advocating some "jackass" complaining about articles that they just "don't like" -- it's about clearly and blatantly white supremacist / anti-semitic / homophobic / sexist and other such posts which are really really obviously harmful stuff. Any editorial guidelines should be able to be very clear as to what constitutes unacceptable posts. Sometimes there may be grey area. Then people use their judgment.

For Jon Chance ... ??? How is being against white supremacist groups the same as being the myopic corporate media? If anything, it's radically different, almost opposite. Why should people who oppose oppression be obliged to provide space for groups advocating oppression?
Sigh. (english)
31 Mar 2003
I am very glad the IMCs allow neo-Nazis to publish here. Here's why:

(1) While it is easy to point to clear-cut fascism, it is impossible to draw a nice line in the sand. Is Milton Friedman a fascist? Perhaps. What about Murray Rothbard? What about overt fascists like Pound or Einzig or Eichmann or Mishima that nevertheless had something interesting to say? Having seen the endless bickering in the anarchist community (for example) over the merits of Black or Bookchin or Churchill or Zerzan--all of whom clearly add to the discussion--I am very suspicious of this kind of censorship.

(2) Again, it is easy for a person to identify Nazis; it is more or less impossible for a computer to do so. This means that the already-overtaxed IMC volunteers would need to screen every post. I think they have a great many better things to do with their time.

(3) We as a movement are stronger than they are. If someone visits an IMC and all they get from it is neo-Nazism, then let's face it, we were not going to persuade that person much anyway.

(4) Free speech scares the right. It is not an "amerikkkan myth," it is an age-old project of dissident groups. Read the Areopagitica. Read the Sermon on the Mount. There is a reason why free republic censors leftists immediately. And the more intelligent right-wing trolls always have in the back of their mind "gee, I can't do this at home..." It would be a shame to stoop to their level.

(5) There are ways to improve the signal/noise ratio without censorship. We can, for example, arrange the posts by topic rather than FIFO. Then the neo-nazis can talk to each other until they get nauseous, and we can go on with our discussions in peace.
line in the sand (english)
31 Mar 2003
Rob Freeman: We are never going to have to let you in to anything we have created. I detest what you write and say. It's idiocy (doesn't make any rational sense), it's odious (is repulsive to the loving heart), and it's violent (leads to oppression and violence and against people, with the logical conclusion of genocide). However, your ideas have some power to catch hold in the minds of people who feel powerless (even though they possess white privilege) and to turn them into tools of racial violence. For this reason, I will oppose you, with force if need be.

To Ethan Mitchel and your sigh (what is the meaning of the title "Sigh.", by the way -- what are you sighing about? the poor misdirected people who don't understand freedom of speech?):

Please recognize the logical conclusions of the policy that you are advocating. It's easy to advocate "freedom of speech". I also value the freedom to say anything I wish, but lucky for me I don't wish to say things that oppress groups of people based on their race or gender or sexual preference. If I did desire to systematically spread those sorts of ideas, then I would hope someone would shut me up. Because propaganda, even of something that may look to YOU to be ridiculous (like advocating a Holocaust-style "final solution", for example) have, historically, been pulled off. They HAVE resulted in genocide, systematic violence against members of the oppressed group. They HAVE and they STILL DO.

On a practical level, we are not going to have speech police. Nor would I want to. It also opens the doors to differences in the analysis of what is hate speech and should be banned. It also opens the doors to using restriction of speech as a means of political repression. For these reasons, on a practical level, I support freedom of speech in ALMOST all cases. On a practical level, as well, racists, sexists, homophobics, and other idiots tend to be their own worst enemies, and most people see their idiocy for what it is. However, this is not always the case, and some people have built careers on spouting hateful ideas.

And on another level, the IMC is not exactly the open air. It is a specific project built by people with generally progressive tendencies. They put a lot of time and energy into it. They create the platform, assemble the resources, put their hearts into it. Then you expect that they should open it to anyone, even those who violate everything they believe in? Sorry, but if I created a forum like this, I would not allow World Church of the Creator or VNN to publish stories on it. If you knew someone who was a direct victim of racial violence by a hate group, or if you had to live under the fear of racial violence, or violence against you based on your perceived sexual orientation or gender choices... then you might think differently about it. Maybe it is an effect of living in privilege, that you don't have to recognize the seriousness of the power of hate speech.
on censorship (english)
31 Mar 2003
One more thing for Ethan Mitchell... What you call "this kind of censorship" is not what is normally called censorship. "Censorship" is understood as prohibiting a work or set of ideas to be published or made public in ANY forum, often by using state power, or sometimes understood also as a power wielded by hegemonic esatblishment media, because of its economic and pragmatic dominance.

In this case, the IMC is an alternative media resource, certainly not the voice dominating the media field, and operating on a shoestring. This is not censorship, but choosing the point of view they wish to present.

As for your concerns on IMC resources, they are pragmatic, not normative. If it has to be ME culling through the posts then I'll do it.
Link to a good article (english)
02 Apr 2003


The Sad Decline of Indymedia by Chuck0
http://www.indybay.org/news/2002/12/1548694.php
See also:
http://www.indybay.org/news/2002/12/1548694.php
One more link. (english)
02 Apr 2003
If you want more background on Rob Freeman, please see this link:

http://216.239.39.100/search?q=cache:4L8wrX2cTfoC:www.vanguardnewsnetwork.com/index553.htm+%22rob+freeman%22+%22new+london

You will easily see what a despicable racist this man is. What he means by "racially aware" is "filled with hatred and violent tendencies toward non-Whites". Which is scary. Which is fucked up. Which is White Supremacy. Which must be smashed to pieces wherever it raises its monstrous head, so it does not grow.
to 'not a cog' (english)
03 Apr 2003
i found the fascist's post to be informative and interesting. i don't mean i want to go out and slaughter the jews or something, but it gave me some context in this debate, and gave the discussion some sense of representing all viewpoints, including ones which i find reprehensible.
now, should this be something which imc is expected to hide? what purpose would this serve? are not we each mature, rational adults, capable of deciding what's most in each of our interests, and rejecting what is against our consciences? and isnt this one of the beauties of the open publishing feature on imc- that anyone can post anything, but the price is that their post is subject to scrutiny by everyone who reads it? people without their own minds already made up can choose from the 'marketplace of ideas,' -- if we expect imc to be policing the posts, certainly we can be expected to post comments of our own exposing the hate speech too.
i agree that some types of speech can be harmful because it incites violence or is so intimidating that it constitutes a harm to a free and democratic society, and therefore should be officially denounced. but it seems paternalistic to try to shield others from it, especially here on imc where it's obvious we are committed to racial justice, and there is no threat from nazis against anything. to censor/destroy things which have been said, no matter how offensive, just strikes me as wrong- i'd be with the person who supported hiding it rather than removing it forever (i think the current software doesnt actually permit permanent removal??). the tough thing will be deciding just where to draw the line on dangerous speech.

what else? oh ya, censorship isnt limited to just the oppressors- it can be done by anyone who has power against anyone who doesn't have the same power, for ex by imc admins against posters. one of the fundamental aspects of imc is its open publishing feature- this is a precious and empowering thing, which separates us from the undemocratic media, and which we must defend against attempts to sabotage it.
never forget! (english)
04 Apr 2003
ok, i'd like to think some of this through out loud, if nobody objects.

now, it's important to learn from mistakes, including other people's, and to remember these lessons. forgetting them means having to learn them all over again. and some lessons are so painful or destructive that we are obliged as members of loving, constructive societies to make sure we never forget them. like genocide, and systems of domination based on supremacy of race, class, etc.

but how are we to remember these lessons and pass them on to our young ones if we constantly shield ourselves from them, afraid that we might contaminate ourselves or others with them? even the ugliest truths are truths, and at some point, if we are to overcome our fears, we must confront them. this applies here i think.

like, when there's a revolution for a better world(and we better get ready cuz it's around the corner people)-- it seems like an invitation to disaster to simply celebrate a victory and prevent capitalist greedheads from ever rearing their heads again in society. just because we exclude and censor them doesnt mean they will feel any differently or stop trying to be better than everyone else- they still are going to hold the same beliefs, except now we actually risk turning them into martyrs!

look at cuba- their crackdowns on political dissent against the official ideology only serve as a pr boon for the gusanos in miami. instead it's important to provide these ideas with forums in which to play themselves out on a regular basis. thus, after the revolution, we might organize one or two days a year where the entire society has to relive what madness it was when we lived under patriarchy, capitalism and terror, so we never forget- like many young folks in cuba today who have forgotten, and who often see the shiny, happy, mtv usa as being the promised land, instead of as the belly of the beast.

this might sound crazy- but if fascist shit is posted on imc for example, what better place for it to be exposed and publicly discredited in a mature, well-reasoned manner by committed anti-fascists? people aren't born fascists- they are conditioned to believe they are, like jocks and tv addicts and cowboy presidents. pretty soon, assuming we are confident in the strength of our anti-fascist ideals, we might actually have the fascists coming around to the truths we believe are self-evident.

admittedly our goal shouldn't be to spend our time debating assholes and trying to convert them. but we all have some degree of baggage to work through. so who gets to decide what behavior is acceptable or not? it seems like a matter of deciding who is sincere and earnestly searching for the truth, as opposed to people who are not willing to work cooperatively or even admit if it becomes apparent that their beliefs are flawed.

yet if fascism as an ideology has been discredited many times over and is vilified by most people on the planet, then isn't this a lesson which has already been learned by us collectively? so why does it continue to hold sway over some people? is any part of these supremacist ideas still plausible, in the 21st century ce, to frightened people who feel threatened by what they cannot control? or are these professions of fascist revelation on imc simply naked acts of sabotage against our collective memory, by a small group of selfish, bitter people twisted grotesquely by this selfish, bitter world? if so, do we simply exclude them as nuisances, or do they pose such a threat to our beliefs in democracy and freedom that we must allow them into our own places in order to counter them?

total censorship- permanent rejection/destruction of a person's statement- seems akin to shooting them in the head. it's a way of saying with finality: "i have no more faith in or use for you as even a potentially worthwhile human being." and this is a very difficult thing for a loving person to do.

hmmm, all this talking, but just more questions...
okay, thanks.
Down with Red Facism! (english)
04 Apr 2003
Okay, not a cog, fine, let's suppose - hypothetically - that we do like you say and we ban from the newswire all those people who support mass murder.

Well, then we'd lose a helluva lot more people than just Nazis and racists, wouldn't we? We'd lose all the Spart posts, all the Maoist/RCP/MIM posts, all the ANSWER posts, all the ISO posts, too.

After all, all those "leftists" fully support the mass murdering "leftist" regimes, so long as they fit their own version of authoritarian statism. In reality, the Stalinists, for example, support regimes that have killed at least 30 million and, for example, the Maoists recommend the death (re-education) camps to treat the "diseases" of pornography and homosexuality. Red Facists have AT LEAST as much blood on their hands and AT LEAST as evil intentions toward others as the Nazis.

So, not a cog, let's say we go with your idea, eh? Let's get rid of all these hate-mongering, genocidal, authoritarian fucks. I'm all for it. Somehow, though, I get the feeling that you actually see no problem with letting genocidal, mass murdering facists post to IMC as long as they happen to wave red flags. Now, why is that?




"If the 'left' is understood to include Bolshevism, then I would flatly disassociate myself from the 'left'." - Noam Chomsky
thoughts (english)
06 Apr 2003
Wow. I am glad to have more voices on this board than me and Open Publisher.

Especially "student" - thanks for writing all those thoughts. Good dialogue leads to more questions, as we explore the topic.

I want to respond directly to your post on a few points:

If total censorship is akin to shooting someone in the head (in some dialogic sense) then so be it. Some people need to be shot in the head (in this dialogic sense). If someone had shot Hitler in the head, in any sense of the word, it would have prevented a lot of other people being shot in the head.

I appreciate what you said about all of us having baggage. We can't be worried about that, we have to accept that we all have various kinds of baggage and residues of racism, sexism, and all kinds of other fucked up thinking, from living in this dominant oppressive culture. I am the first to admit this too. However, that's different from being an extreme white supremacist in an organized white supremacist group whose purpose is to recruit others and grow that into a movement, meanwhile intimidating and terrorizing nonWhite people or queer people or whoever their target group is. (And on gender lines, let's not forget that this is the current state of affairs with patriarchy.)

You ask why if fascism has been discredited so many times, why does it still take a hold over people. Meaning racialized forms of fascism, white supremacy. Well one of the reasons it still takes hold over people is because it's defended by the law, to an extent, under the guise of "free speech". And this is no philosophical stand, although that is how its disguised. It's a product of the racial history of this country and how the KKK was accepted by people in the "justice system" as a means of terrorizing black people even after the end of legalized slavery, a means of "keeping them in their place". The judges who ruled and interpreted the legal concept and reach of "freedom of speech" were not those who experienced the oppressive end of the KKK. Instead they were white people who had some sympathy or outright support for the racist platform of the KKK and other such organizations. It's another case of those in power creating the rules in such a way that it benefits them. Who becomes judges? Who becomes legislators? Who do they serve?

So why should an IMC which exists to counter these forces and dynamics, as a people's voice, feel obliged to obey the precedents created by such a racist judicial history?

I hear what you say, and your desire to allow fascist and racist posts so they can be refuted by anti-fascist and anti-racist activists. But I think it's in principle more important to claim the power we have by the creation of this IMC as a progressive, anti-racist voice, and use this power to block those posts in the first place. We are not stopping their websites (I would if I could), only stopping them from posting on out websites. Besides they can post all day and we could post a response to every single one of them, explaining point by point why each one is wrong, but (1) we don't have that time and (2) people aren't 100% rational and sometimes people are primed to believe in their powerlessness someone who gives them an "evil" to blame for their angst, and they won't be reading the replies carefully, people hear what they want to hear sometimes. I believe to create a healthy mental environment it's okay to control what we choose to have here.

It's not a slippery slope into censorship. I trust those I am involved with in the progressive/anarchist circles to have respect enough for most people to respect their dialogue even when they disagree with it. And to realize that we all have baggage and we all learn from the dialogue. I am the first one to say that I have fucked up ideas, and I learn a lot from reading dialogues in places like the IMC or newsgroups and in 'real life'. Lots of unlearning to do. But if you want to hear what Rob Freeman thinks, just go to his website and dissect his sick mind. But he is so far gone that it's no use to debate with him. You can't debate him away from white supremacism, I don't believe. He's dogmatically addicted to it. If you can do it, then I would love to see it and more power to you!
Come on (english)
20 Apr 2003
If you want to see Nazi and white supremacist material in order to educate yourself about what they're up to, you are quite capable of finding it on those groups' websites. It's all over the net. There is no reason to give them another platform on Indymedia.
removal of Rob Freeman and white supremacists (english)
21 Apr 2003
Rob Freeman's posting, which some people in the thread above were responding to, has been removed 1) because of its explicitly white supremacist and anti-Semitic content and 2) because it contained a link to his white supremacist website.

I don't think this is really a freedom of speech or censorship issue. We are one lone website, trying to promote progressive journalism. The white supremacists and other hate-mongers have their own websites on which they are free to express their ideas. There is no need to let them do it on a progressive website. If the government began shutting down their websites, I would be alarmed, as much because the left would be the next likely target for such censorship as anything else. I think it is important to recognize that rights can conflict with each other. Racist propaganda played an important role in laying the ground for genocides in both Nazi Germany and Rwanda. I think in such cases, that a group of people's right to continue to exist outweighs the right to free speech and such campaigns should be shut down. I don't, however, think that white supremacists are at such a degree of influence now in the US that we need to contemplate this. (On the other hand, we do have a white supremacist for Attorney General . . .)

There are still good reasons to hide their postings to the IMC though. (And they are just hidden--you can find them on the hidden articles page if you really, really want.) The people who initially alerted us to the high volume of white supremacist postings were concerned about them using the IMC to recruit people. Many of the postings included links to their websites. Many of us would be totally unpersuaded by the contents of such websites. But there are probably many people who come to this site simply feeling alienated, looking for alternatives and *could* be persuaded by such websites. I don't know how likely this is, but why chance it?

Another reason for wanting to remove hate-postings (as I once explained to someone posting anti-Islamic conspiracy theories to the newswire) is that the IMC should be a safe website for people from traditionally oppressed groups. May be not every person of color, Jew, Muslim, queer, women, etc. will be alienated by white supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-Islamic, homophobic, misogynist, etc. postings, but many probably will be. Would you feel comfortable in a place where people were freely allowed to insult you in the most extreme ways? The IMC site should be a place people from oppressed groups feel comfortable participating, not one where they may feel like they can be denigrated and the people maintaining the site will do nothing about it. I don't think we should risk driving away people from oppressed groups--certainly not for the sake of white supremacists.
Either equilateral censorship or none at all (english)
04 Jul 2003
Modified: 09 Sep 2003
There is a depressing trend on indymedia with regards to hate speech. It is okay to hate white people, Jews, capitalists, the military, people who don't agree with your point of view, scientists, intellectuals, Christians, Asians, the middle class, computer jockeys, anyone in finance, and doctors. It is not okay to hate socialists, communists, black people, hispanics (except if they dislike Cuba...then you can hate them), poor people, Muslims, pagans, homosexuals, anarchists, unemployed people, and welfare recipients.

I find this troubling. Indymedia, of all places, should be the first to apply equal standards to all people and all views. Inciting violence against any group should be discouraged. Attacking ideas, not people, should be encouraged. Name-calling, especially throwing around the word Nazi, should be discouraged. There should be a sense of intelligence and not merely rabble rousing about the whole thing.

The day Indymedia takes down a kill the Jews post by a Black person is the day White Supremicist groups should be banned. Until Indymedia proves itself better than a second-rate censor, only getting rid of ideas it doesn't like, there should be no limits. Else why come here at all?
Re: Why does IMC let itself be a hate speech platform? (english)
06 Jun 2004
This is Svea, I'm also a regular volunteer at Boston IMC. I agree with each and every one of Matt William's comments, in addition to several others in this discussion.

There are, however, some very general comments in regards to "IndyMedia" that I feel are not specific to this IMC, but are generalizing anways.

Specifically, in response to Weirdo's comment above this post, I would like to point out that the volunteers at Boston IMC keep and hide posts based on a communal set of guidelines (http://boston.indymedia.org/#). We make these decisions based on our personal experience, input from the lists, e-mail and telephone, as well as other sources. These decisions are not set in stone, they are open to discussion, but they are based on our individual *collective* experience as social, environmental, political and *media* activists.

That said, both our mission statement (http://boston.indymedia.org/mod/info/display/mission/index.php), our editorial policy and our collective goal as activists include hiding hate speech of any kind. We do our best based on the resources that we have at hand, and one of the nice things about open publishing is that you can too. Input of any and all kind is considered for inclusion on our website. Obviously, since we live in the real world (as opposed to the ideal world of our hopes and dreams) there is always room for criticism.

Our hopes and goals, especially in regards to our open publishing policy, are that more people will become more involved with our process. And, in time, that IndyMedia (and society at large!) can become a platform for open opinion and free discussion, regardless of race, creed, color or whatever self-descriptive individuals feel necessary to describe themselves.