France wins; Yahoo! rolls over.

From the above article:

The precedent has been set. Now all web sites around the world now fall under the jurisdiction of France.

Actually, it’s worse than that. Now every site has to remove everything that is against the law in any country or be subject to that country’s legislation.

I wish Yahoo! would have simply pulled all its resources from France (, etc) and ignored the French courts.

I can see that this is a bad thing when applied to all laws in all countries, but what’s so bad about outlawing auctioning Nazi material?

I, for one, think it’s an interesting case. The Internet cannot and will not be a safe haven for perverts and fascists forever. International laws or treaties to prevent this are not in place yet, so some countries are just taking care of business.

I disagree with the decision. Now that the (neo-)Nazis will no longer be shopping on the net, it will be just that much harder to track them down.


Are we suggesting that outlawing, for example, the ownership of a swastika flag, or an SS armband, are things we should do in the U.S.?

Coldfire - not sure what the laws are in the Netherlands - are such things legal, or not?

  • Rick

Well, considering that the twits in American courts already think that they can keep websites anywhere from mongering porn to the delicate eyes of Yankee children, this decision ought to be right in line.

It would depend on the intent.

A museum owning an SS emblem, obviously for educational purposes, is fine. A creepy fascist who owns an attic filled with Nazi-glorifying material is breaking the law.

An online auction of Nazi material would be breaking the same laws, I suppose, as long as it took place on Dutch territory. I know, hard to determine, in this case.

To put things into perspective, it might be useful to know that in The Netherlands (which I generally regard as one of the most liberal and free-thinking countries in the world), Mein Kampf is, to this day, and illegal book. You may not own, nor sell a copy of it.
Also, bringing the Hitler salute in public can result in a prison sentence.

Yes, we take it that serious. I completely understand that the French verdict may look somewhat outlandish from an American perspective. But just try to imagine the local factors. There are still lots of WWII victims alive. And even if there weren’t, it would still be considered important to send out the message that recent history has been very grim.

While I’m not going to shed a tear over the unavailability of Nazi memorabilia, I do believe that it is wrong for a government to prohibit these things from being sold. To me it’s a simple matter of freedom of speech. I think the Internet should be a safe haven for people of all beliefs, as long as they are not harming anyone else.

Sorry - that last post was by me, not Hamish. (We’re roomies and we use the same computer for net access.)

By the way, I disagree with France’s decision, but I think it’s a log/beam kind of routine. And Coldie: Do libraries have Mein Kampf on file?

What American judges have tried to keep porn off the internet? Last I checked, it was fairly freely available.

As for the laws in the Netherlands, that’s censorship, pure and simple. Just as I would not have my beliefs suppressed, so I would not suppress the beliefs of others, as hateful and vile as they may be. I believe strongly in the old adage that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.

Absolutely not. I think that one or two WWII museums have a copy, and the State Library has one. Behind lock and key.

waterj2: trading Nazi goodies could be harming people. The average WWII vet might freak out when they spot an SS trenchcoat on the Champs Elysées, after all.

Absolutely. And, in my view, very understandably so.

Heh. Just when I wonder if I’m being too hard on the Europeans they do something like this.

So you can go to prison in the Netherlands for holding your own arm in a particular position. You can go to prison for just owning copies of a pretty badly-written book. In France you can go to jail for selling objets d’bad taste to someone who might want to just decorate his little Nazi hovel and dream sick little dreams…

Folks, this is stupid. It is not the owning of things that is the problem, it is using things to hurt other people. It is not holding your arm in a silly posture that should be illegal, it is hurting someone else with it.

By putting the power of the law against such things, you are lending power to things that, if left alone, would just die.

That WWII vet who freaks out, should not freak out. It is not incumbent upon society to keep itself free from anything that might cause someone to freak out. We are responsible for our own non-freaked-out states.

Any of you know the parable of the old monk, the young monk and the river?

Gotta go with waterj2 on this one. This is just the kind of thing that freedom of speech is meant to protect - things that most people consider offensive. I am by no means a Nazi sympathizer, but I think the French and Dutch laws in regard to this are ridiculous.

I’m not sure what exactly they’re afraid of, either. Do they think someone is going to read Mein Kampf and be so inspired by it that they will become the next Hitler? Well, we have 281 million people on this side of the Atlantic with easy access to it and that hasn’t happened yet. Hell, we had it in my high school library. I know a few people who read it. Some were racists; others were simply interested in history.

By the same token, imagine a Jewish concentration camp survivor whose mind is flooded with terrible flashbacks every time he hears the word “holocaust.” Should we outlaw that word? As much respect as I have for veterans, we cannot base our laws on what mental illnesses or post-traumatic stress disorders they may or may not have.

Waterj2m, Screwtape et al, you’re absolutely correct - except when it comes to Nazis. For Europeans and certain others, Nazis are an exception to just about everytyhing. It’s an issue which transcends conventional logic.

Oh. Well, that’s all right, then. Gosh, I wish I’d known that I could claim “transcends conventional logic” when I run out of ammo. I may never lose another debate! Thanks!

Or, could it mean that “transcends conventional logic” means “I’m too emotionally involved to think straight”?

No. It means that in Europe, “Suppression of Nazis” takes precedence over “Freedom of Speech”.

Whatever ot means, Screwtape, it is important to note that you cannot simply judge these Dutch and French laws through an American perspective (I’m assuming that you were born after WWII), and then dismiss them as “stupid”, “ridiculous”, or “too emotionally involved”.

When it comes to a nation trying to recover from a major catastrophy, more things than just rationality apply. That may not be your prefered line of reasoning, but it certainly isn’t your place to condemn it.

And that’s a good thing?

I agree that in the long run, the various European bans on Nazi-related literature and parapharnalia are probably a bad thing.

But before my fellow Americans get all haughty, please acknowledge our history of sedition acts, McCarthy hearings and red scares and similar.

Now add in tens of millions of dead countrymen, something we haven’t seen since our own Civil War and have never seen on the scale that Europe saw.

Kind of makes things a little more understandable, no?