In a futuristic American city, Firemen no longer put out blazes – they start them – and the prime target for their arson are the great works of literary history. In the society of Fahrenheit 451 people fill their days by driving recklessly, watching wall-to-wall television, and listening to music through their portable iShell’¦er’¦Seashell radio sets. The pervasive nature of vacuous entertainment is such that the citizens of this dystopian city have become wholly apathetic to the literal holocaust of the great authors carried out by Firemen. Book-burning is a repellent act and ought to be opposed by every civilised person. Not only is it a public display of censorship, something we all find offensive, but it also represents the destruction of ideas – an attempt to erase important concepts from public knowledge. No one who claims the inheritance of the enlightenment could support such an act.
Paul Chambers, a 26 year-old man from Doncaster has been found guilty of posting an “indecent, obscene or menacing” tweet. Yes, a tweet, on Twitter. In his own words, the tweet was “innocuous hyperbole”. In other words, not harmful, offensive or meant to be taken seriously. Reading the tweet, I can certainly see that. Judge for yourselves:
Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You’ve got a week… otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!
Note that this was posted in the context of the airport being closed before he was due to fly. It was not actually directed at the airport, but when found by an employee was reported to the police, who arrested him. He has been fined£1,000 and now has a criminal record. Ever the gentleman, Stephen Fry has offered to shout the fine, but the man’s life will almost certainly take an unnecessary dent* from this fiasco and I can’t help but wonder how the average British tax-payer feels, knowing how the justice budget is being spent.
I found the Judge’s words to be the most staggering part of the story:
A district judge ruled the Tweet was “of a menacing nature in the context of the times in which we live”.
Tell me, what isn’t menacing in the context of the times in which we live? Have we really made so little progress in our efforts to combat terrorism over the last decade? What good is an expensive ‘War on Terror’ abroad if we still live in terror at our computers?
More painful though, is the ironic reference to context. Since, in the context of the times in which we live, isn’t this OBVIOUSLY a joke?
*Update: It seems Paul was half-way through his accountancy qualification. The conviction will officially prevent him from graduating. That makes me a sad panda.
I’m sure most Leaguers (especially those who frequent chat) have heard of my creationist archive project FundieVideoHell or FVH for short. As the name might suppose, FVH is a treasure trove (or virtual hell, depending on the user) of creationist and fundamentalist seminars, presentations and other assorted videos.
While I had anticipated support and thanks from my fellow rationalists, I was surprised to see support from creationists too. It seems that FVH is a common ground for both sides: rationalists can use it as a resource for material to debunk (though, sadly, I have yet to see it used this way), and creationists have a source of entertainment.
So why do I spend my time and hard drive space on the opponents to rationality, freethinking, and science? The answer is simple: as long as FundieVideoHell exists, they cannot (or rather, shouldn’t) claim they are being censored by us. Well, at least they cannot claim all atheists are censoring them.
Now, I have, so far, done this entirely on my own resources. I enjoy finding out what is new and happening from the other side. But when I came across the brochure for the “2010 Creation Supercamp,” which is only a few hours drive away, I realized something. Something that deeply frightened me: I wanted to go to this conference. I want to film creationist conferences. But I also don’t want to be an e-begger like VenomFangX.
So I was wondering, should I start a PayPal so that I can take donations from those who are willing to support FundieVideoHell? And would you (the lucky readers) be able to spread the word about FVH? I think there may be creationists out there who would help support the spread of their message, both by word-of-mouth and monetarily.
As many of you may know, in addition to votebots that rate down videos there are also bots that mark all the comments on a video as spam. Although the comments can still be read when you click the “Show” button, it’s quite annoying and a direct attack against free speech. The problem would be easy to solve by simply clicking the “Not Spam” button above every comment. Unfortunately, as many things on YouTube, the button doesn’t work.
It’s still possible to unmark comments as spam by going through the page source, but that can be rather time consuming. But now there is an easier solution, a program that does this automatically.
There are, however, a few objections to using the program. For one, is it right to use a bot against a bot? Here’s why I don’t think there’s anything wrong about it:
- You can only moderate comments on your own videos.
- You can do the same manually, it only takes a lot more time.
- It would be about as fast to do manually if the “Not Spam” button worked properly.
- You are defending free speech and harming no one.
Could the program be used wrong, for example, modified to mark comments as spam in other people’s videos? Here’s what the programmer has to say:
“Only if the user has pretty intimate knowledge of decompiling/editing compiled programs. A malicious programmer could look at the source code as an example of some general principles one might use to create a spam bot, but a programmer with enough knowledge to understand my example would not need it (it’s exceedingly simple).”
What about YouTube’s Terms of Service? Section 4.H. says the following:
“You agree not to use or launch any automated system, including without limitation, “robots,” “spiders,” or “offline readers,” that accesses the Website in a manner that sends more request messages to the YouTube servers in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period by using a conventional on-line web browser.”
In the program you can set the time period between actions. In my opinion, 1 second is a reasonable period of time for unmarking comments as spam. Of course, you could set a longer time period if you feel like it.
As long as the “Not Spam” button is non-functional I see no problem in using the program. If I was hit by a creationist spambot, I would certainly use it. But this is just my personal opinion, not necessarily the official position of the League of Reason.
You can download the program here. The program should run on Windows Vista and XP. It won’t yet run on Mac OS X, except via VirtualPC. Downloading and using the program is at your own risk. Neither I nor the League of Reason can be held responsible for any possible damage caused by the program.
Even if you have no need for the program please check out joshTheGoods’s channel. He also has many great videos about evolution, creationism and atheism.