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Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

This week, following the huge overreaction of Canadian telecoms to the site TVAddons, some commenters expanded on the ways in which this is not truly about piracy. Ryunosuke was one such commenter, and his explanation won first place for insightful:

I agree, Piracy, like a black market, is a symptom of a system that is not working. Something that is in demand is not being properly vented, in this case, entertainment. Between high costs and bloated legacy channels, and the general asshole attitude of the gatekeepers like this entire article points out. People are looking for… alternative methods of consuming entertainment and culture.

Meanwhile, after a federal court stripped immunity from a sheriff, That One Guy won second place for insightful by mildly celebrating while pointing out how depressingly low the bar appears to be right now:

*”[A]s an officer charged with enforcing Louisiana law,” Sheriff Larpenter “can be presumed to know the law” … More to the point, “[p]olice officers can be expected to have a modicum of knowledge regarding the fundamental rights of citizens.”

Now if only more courts were willing to apply such a standard, things would be ever so much better.

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we return to the first post for another comment on the real reasons beyond piracy, this time from an anonymous commenter:

It more a case that any hint of copyright infringement gives them an excuse to destroy a legal competitor. Piracy is not the real problem, but rather the increasing number of self publishers, and the technology that makes finding and viewing that content easy. If somebody is watching self published content, they are no longer eyeballs to be counted for the purposes of gaining advertising revenue.

Next, we head to our post about North Carolina’s weird and misguided “Restore Campus Free Speech Act”, where a surprising number of commenters failed to see that the law was a far greater attack on free speech than any of the behaviours it supposedly sought to correct — but Stephen T. Stone offered a refreshingly nuanced and levelheaded look at the situation, responding piece-by-piece to one such comment:

One of the issues is that free speech has turned from stating your opinion to yelling down the opinion of others.

That is still protected speech, though. And nothing is legally preventing the shouted-down from shouting back or expressing themselves through other avenues of expression.

Free speech use to be a positive. Haul out your actual soap box, stand in the middle of the park, and yell out your opinion as loud as you like. People might laugh, people might point. but you could do it.

You still can. The only thing stopping most people is the fact that complaining on the Internet offers immediate satisfaction and fewer consequences than does going out in public and yelling in the middle of a public park.

Now you try to bring your soap box and people beat you up for showing up and expressing an opinion they don’t like.

In fairness, the opinions that get people punched often resemble the kind of rhetoric that would go over well at a Klan rally. Justified? No. Understandable? Hell yes.

People seem to have confused unpopular speech with illegal speech. Instead we have a mob rules problem.

Admittedly, yes, heckler’s vetoes and whatnot are a legitimate threat to the freedom of expression. That said, not all speech is “equal” in terms of having legitimacy—e.g., racist propaganda, screeds about how women are biologically inferior to men and should thus leave tech jobs to men—and protests against such speech should be protected.

I also respect her rights to express her opinions – providing that those opinions are legal.

Holding any given opinion, even ones about illegal activities, is legal. Acting upon opinions about obviously illegal activities, on the other hand…

That universities have to cancel her legal speech because of mob rules is a really sad thing.

We could have a nuanced discussion about whether universities that receive public funding should have the right to exercise discretion when choosing who to invite on campus as a speaker. That said, universities should also be able to consider factors such as student safety and the overall legitimacy of a person’s ideas and opinions before allowing that person on campus to speak. How much would you really fault a university for disinviting, say, an advocate for the revival of racial segregation?

Yes, the mob is expressing their opinion. But their free speech ends where it impinges on the free speech of others.

Being denied a platform—or being protested while on that platform—does not necessarily infringe upon the free speech rights of a given person. That person can go find another platform and speak there.

When the schools have to shut down events because of threats of violence and destruction of school property, something is really wrong.

Inviting speakers who advocate for horrible ideas (e.g., advocating for legalized rape) and threaten the safety of other students (e.g., outing a trans student against their will) is just as wrong.

Over on the funny side, our first place winner is DannyB with a response to Bob Murray’s argument that the ACLU is too biased to file a brief in his lawsuit against John Oliver:

John Oliver should move to dismiss the case on the grounds that Bob Murray is too biased to bring this lawsuit.

In second place, we’ve got a response from Thad to a bizarrely angry commenter on our post about the latest developments in the monkey selfie case. I won’t try to offer the entire context of the very long thread, but suffice to say Thad noticed something about one angry comment in a long string of angry comments:

…did you just misspell your own name?

(The answer is yes. Yes he did.)

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we start out with a comment from Roger Strong that racked up lots of insightful votes as well, posed as a mock conversation illustrating the fragmentation of digital content:

Question: I’m already paying for cable, including several CBS channels. Does this mean I’ll get Star Trek: Discovery?

Answer: No. They created a CBS streaming channel for that, “CBS All Access.” Outside the US it’s available on Netflix.

Question: Cool! So I can just pay a bit extra for Netflix and…

Answer: No. It won’t be in Netflix in Canada.

Question: Oh. That must be because CBS All Access has announced that they’re coming to Canada. So if I pay for a subscription to CBS All Access, I won’t have access to a library like the one on Netflix, but at least I’ll get Star Trek: Discovery?

Answer: No. In Canada CBS sold the rights to a specialty channel, so it won’t be on CBS All Access. You’ll need to pay an extra $80 a month – nearly $1000 a year – above and beyond what you’re already paying for cable.

Question: Oh. Well I’m already paying for streaming access to the Star Trek library via the Shomi account that came with my cellular service. It was one of their big selling features. It’ll be available there, right?

Answer: No. The cable/cellular companies shut down Shomi, and you know it. They still charge you for it because you’re on contract.

Question: Does this cartoon by The Oatmeal mean anything to you?

And finally, we’ve got a brief but pointed comment from Radix about Eric Bolling’s lawsuit against Yashar Ali, responding specifically to the demands for “relief as is just and proper” and “not less than $50 million”:

Pick one.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Author: Leigh Beadon

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