In 2006, Simon Shiao Tam founded the Asian-American band The Slants. As the group became increasingly successful, Tam opted to pursue federal trademark protection for the band name. Trademark protection is important for both producer and consumer; the producer can feel confident that no one is unfairly capitalizing on the fruits of their labor, and the consumer can be sure that the product that they are purchasing is the one that they intend to purchase; they can be sure that it is not a product produced by an imposter using the same name. If granted the trademark protection, Shiao’s Asian-American band would own exclusive rights to the name The Slants.
Censorship on Social Media
It’s no secret that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has been known to write inflammatory posts on his social media platforms. Facebook employees have been questioning how to deal with these; some say that Trump’s posts calling for a ban on Muslim immigration “should be removed for violating the site’s rules on hate speech.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg definitively halted this talk when he said, “we can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate.” A Wall Street Journal article uses this as a stepping stone to discuss whether or not presidential candidates should have more wiggle room when it comes to potentially damaging post than an average Joe. Regardless of who is posting, however, such incidents raise the question of, to what extent is it appropriate for social media platforms to censor posts at all?
The Context of Colin Kaepernick’s Protest
During a preseason game between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers on August 26th, people finally noticed what 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick had been doing all season: sitting during the national anthem and presentation of the flag. In a press conference with the media, he proclaimed, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”
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Can You Wear Medals You Didn’t Earn?
A California court ruled in favor of a ex-Marine who was wearing military medals that he did not earn. The ex-marine, Elven Joe Swisher, has the right to wear the medals, the court says, even if they were not earned during his service. This on the basis that denying him the right to wear the medals is in violation of his free speech guaranteed in the constitution.
Mein Kampf and German Censorship
Part of Post-World War II policy in Germany was to ban Nazi propaganda and symbols from being displayed. This includes propaganda from the Nazi regime that we commonly see in museums or is shown in history classes. While I found German Holocaust and history museums to be largely well-done and factual despite the restrictions, containing acknowledgment of wrongdoing, one has to wonder whether the ban may actually go too far and be detrimental to education. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and the accepted way to prevent this repetition is to educate the next generations about the past. Germany’s policy is now confronted with that educational and moral dilemma over Nazi texts from an academic perspective.
In Defense of the Unpalatable: Protection of Hate Speech
On Wednesday, a group of fundamentalist Christians picketed the DePauw University campus, holding signs decrying the sins of “masturbators”, “feminists”, “pot-heads”, and “baby-killers”, while shouting at pedestrian women to “stop being whores” and to accept that “your sins are your fault, not your boyfriends.”
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Is Reddit Run By Angry Warlords?
Reddit is heralded as “The Front Page of the Internet”, but is now coming under increased scrutiny. T.C. Sottek writes.
As Reddit trips over itself trying to contain its stolen nude photo problem, CEO Yishan Wong finally addressed the controversy on Saturday by releasing a remarkably clueless manifesto. Reddit, he wrote, is “not just a company running a website where one can post links and discuss them, but the government of a new type of community.” So, then, what type of government is Reddit? It’s the kind any reasonable person would want to overthrow.
What’s the nude photo problem? During the celebrity nude photo leak, a redditor named “John”, created a sub-reddit to serve as a repository of these nude photos. Reddit refused to take the photos down in the name of Free Speech and not compelling virtuous behavior. When The Washington Post published information about the creator of the sub-reddit in a scathing expose , the redditor screamed privacy violation. Many redditors rallied to John’s defense. Which is why Sottek, says that Reddit’s Government is a failed state. It’s “a weak feudal system that’s actually run by a small group of angry warlords who use “free speech” as a weapon.”
The whole situation raises a host of interesting ethical issues.
- Is the value of free-speech so important that people should be entitled to post private, stolen images? (That seems to be the Reddit position)
- Did the Washington Post do something ethically wrong when they posted their piece criticizing John and divulging his personal information? (that’s something this article suggests)
Let us know what you think.