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Businesses The Internet Technology

No Cash For Hate, Say Mainstream Crowdfunding Firms (reuters.com) 396

An anonymous reader shares a report: Online fund-raising sites are turning their backs on activists looking to offer financial support for James Fields, the man accused of driving his car into counter-protesters at a white-nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday. GoFundMe, Kickstarter and other mainstream crowdfunding firms have policies that prohibit hate speech or abuse, the latest example of technology firms making it harder for far-right groups to organize online. Fields is accused of killing one woman and injuring 19 others on Saturday after the rally in Charlottesville turned violent. Supporters of Fields, who was denied bail at a court hearing in Virginia on Monday, have turned to the internet to raise money for his legal defense. GoFundMe, one of the two leading crowdfunding firms, said on Monday it has removed multiple fundraising campaigns for Fields, because the company prohibits the promotion of hate speech and violence.
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No Cash For Hate, Say Mainstream Crowdfunding Firms

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  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @02:26PM (#55019659) Homepage

    Some day an innocent man is going to set up a crowdfunding campaign for his defence and is going to get it shut down because he's been pre-emptively judged guilty. It's that old "first they came for the (x)" story, except this time they came for the Nazis, and it's all that more seductive because the Nazis deserve it.

    • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @02:35PM (#55019729)

      THIS!

      We all need to be guarding the other's rights no matter how repugnant the other's opinions (or actions) are to us. A right to speak, A right to fair trial, even being treated as innocent until convicted should NOT be abridged. If we don't slow down and realize this, we are going to have no real justice, no real democracy. It will be mob rule, where those who are the angriest and most violent will rule with impunity, in short anarchy will rule with all it's violence and fury and bring with it death and destrcution.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by skids ( 119237 )

        A right to speak, A right to fair trial, even being treated as innocent until convicted should NOT be abridged.

        Nobody is stopping his supporters from writing stuff on a cardboard box and standing at intersections. I don't see a problem here.

        • by skids ( 119237 )

          Oops.. meant to add: "with a tin can"

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          They're stopping people from providing funds for a lawyer. Perhaps you'll understand some day. Ass-hole.
          • by fightinfilipino ( 1449273 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @03:18PM (#55020151) Homepage

            They're stopping people from providing funds for a lawyer. Perhaps you'll understand some day. Ass-hole.

            no they're not. explain to me how supporters are blocked from sending this guy checks or cash. or sending whoever the attorney is checks or cash. answer: they're not.

            also explain to me why GoFundMe et al should be forced to facilitate the funding of a murderer? answer: why the fuck should they be?

          • by skids ( 119237 )

            Yeah, we'll see about that when Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission reaches the Gorsuch's desk.

            Of course it also depends on where GoFundMe et al falls vis-a-vis the definition of "public accommodations", but if some guy can deny gay people a wedding cake, there's no way anyone is going to force crowdfunding sites to do anything whatsoever. Delicious irony.

        • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @03:18PM (#55020143)

          A right to speak, A right to fair trial, even being treated as innocent until convicted should NOT be abridged.

          Nobody is stopping his supporters from writing stuff on a cardboard box and standing at intersections. I don't see a problem here.

          Way to miss the point. Are we committed to the US constitution with it's bill of rights or not here? Perhaps the ends (silencing repugnant speech) justifies the means (ignoring the bill of rights)?

          I'm not saying the "crowd sourced funding" companies don't have the right to refuse, I'm just pointing out that we just might letting the camel's nose into the tent by just accepting the idea that the accused don't deserve to ask for help with their legal costs. We need to error on the side of caution here and stay as far away from acting like a lynch mob rushing to judgment as we can. I've heard that there *might* be some undisclosed circumstances in play here as well and we need to whoa up and let law enforcement do their jobs, bring the appropriate charges and prove them in court, while letting the accused have the benefit of being presumed innocent until convicted. After all, this IS how the US Constitution says this works... One doesn't get tried in the court of public opinion and condemned by the mob in our system.

          • Way to miss the point. Are we committed to the US constitution with it's bill of rights or not here?

            I am. But what about the right of free association?

            I can see being upset at the crowdfunding sites. I can see boycotting them as a result. But their actions are well within their Constitutional rights, and they are not infringing on anyone else's rights.

            They are not, as many commenters here are claiming, stopping people from offering financial support. They are just refusing to allow their platforms to be the mechanism. There are myriad other mechanisms still available to everyone.

            • I am. But what about the right of free association?

              GoFundMe is a company. They gave up the right of "free association" when they formed a company that allows anyone to use their services for fundraising, at least according to the public accomodations law in Colorado and many other states. That's why there's now a case in front of SCOTUS about this issue.

              But their actions are well within their Constitutional rights, and they are not infringing on anyone else's rights.

              It is within the constitutional rights of the baker in the Colorado case to believe that same sex marriage is wrong, and it does not violate anyone's rights when he refuses to bake a cake for a same sex coup

          • by DRJlaw ( 946416 )

            A right to speak, A right to fair trial, even being treated as innocent until convicted should NOT be abridged.

            Nobody is stopping his supporters from writing stuff on a cardboard box and standing at intersections. I don't see a problem here.

            Way to miss the point. Are we committed to the US constitution with it's bill of rights or not here? Perhaps the ends (silencing repugnant speech) justifies the means (ignoring the bill of rights)?

            The bill of rights prohibits the government from infringing upon a number

        • actually in many places around the country you do need a permit to do so.....
        • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @03:35PM (#55020325)
          The question here is how much leeway businesses have in refusing service. The left has already established that they believe a business may not discriminate at all, and must treat everyone equally in terms of business transactions. That's why they believe a Christian owner of a cake shop must produce a cake for a gay wedding even if it personally offends the owner to produce decorations for a gay wedding.

          Well, now we have a case which flips the left/right spectrum. If you are running a business offering a service to the public, can you deny that service to white supremacist customers because you personally disagree with white supremacy?

          Now, I personally believe the cake shop owner has the right to refuse to make a cake decorated for a gay wedding (but not to refuse to sell a generic cake which the buyer may decorate as they wish). So I have no problem with GoFundMe, Godaddy, etc. denying these Nazis services since it requires "their" equipment to propagate white supremacist materials. But I'm curious though how those on the left justify denying business owners the right to refuse a customer in one case, but having no problem with it in this one.
      • Sure, what does that have to do with crowdfunding?
      • So what makes you decide to donate money to a crowdfunding site to raise money for those that cannot afford a good lawyer is a white supremacist like James Fields Jr., and, not say the tens of thousands of minority accused who make up the lion's share of people who are forced due to a lack of money to pay for their own attorney? All of sudden, being stuck with a private defender is a big problem when it's some white Nazi who can't afford a lawyer, but it never bothered you before?

      • We all need to be guarding the other's rights no matter how repugnant the other's opinions (or actions) are to us.

        Here's the thing: we certainly should fight for the rights of those with whom we disagree, but we must also never allow ourselves to be convinced that it's a violation of their rights if we exercise our right to not associate with them. By my count, exactly zero of his rights are being violated.

        In fact, if we were to compel the various online services to serve those people, we'd be violating their right to associate (or not) with whomever they choose. As private individuals and companies, they have a right

    • by michiganbob ( 1136651 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @02:36PM (#55019747)
      Since when has crowdfunding been a requirement for justice? These sites can deny service to whomever they like. If people don't like it, they're welcome to create their own crowdfunding site.
      • These sites can deny service to whomever they like.

        While you're legally correct, that view is morally reprehensible. Once a business becomes large enough to wield more power than some governments, they need to be held to a higher standard. In a society where money equals justice, large crowd funding sites become one gatekeeper of said justice.

    • Each of those sites can do what they like---and if they have rules prohibiting racial discrimination, violence, or hate crimes, then they are behaving in a reasonably consistent fashion.

      Nothing is stopping neo-Nazi sites from starting their own funding campaigns. If you're worried about their freedom, remember this: They are perfectly free to collect and distribute funds on their own.

  • nobrainer (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @02:27PM (#55019671) Journal
    It's an easy call to make for a corporation:

    On the one hand, you get free publicity, and most people give you credit for being moral.
    On the other hand, you might alienate the few remaining Americans who support racist violence.

    In terms of raw numbers, the choice is easy. On the other hand, you'd like these funding things to be apolitical, not appointing themselves judges. It would be kind of interesting to see how many people actually would be willing to donate to his defense fund. Does that fool actually have any chance at all in court?
    • Re:nobrainer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @02:36PM (#55019735)

      On the other hand, you might alienate the few remaining Americans who support racist violence.

      And on the third hand, you might alienate the few remaining Americans who believe that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial.

      • Re:nobrainer (Score:5, Insightful)

        by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @02:39PM (#55019763) Journal

        And on the third hand, you might alienate the few remaining Americans who believe that everyone accused of a crime is entitled to a fair trial.

        For some reason this group seems very small recently.

        • It's because nobody noticed our original legal framework was set up to make sure you can get away with your crimes.

          If you go out raping and murdering, people are going to notice. It's going to leave evidence, it's going to draw attention, it's going to put you at risk. People care, people start trying to identify who is doing all this raping and murdering, and your strange movements and behaviors start creating patterns which we can see (and which upset people).

          Let me remind you the Unabomber was cau

          • I think the structure of your comment is "main point / supporting points," with the main point being your first sentence. I'm not entirely sure how the other paragraphs in your comment relate to that, though. Could you clarify please?
      • How would crowdfunding fix this.

  • by CQDX ( 2720013 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @02:49PM (#55019869)

    The ACLU defended the Unite the Right group in Charlottesville when the city revoked their permit to demonstrate. So is the ACLU a supporter of hate speech and thus needs to be purged?

    • As a Jewish man I loathe hate groups but I realize that freedom does not only apply when it's convenient. Freedom must apply whether it is offensive or not - as long as the speech is not "yelling fire in a crowded movie theater" so to speak. If the speech isn't *overtly* advocating violence or killing, then it must be allowed to be made. Rather than counter-protesting, it would be better if everyone simply ignored the hate groups. Hate groups exists because we give them an audience. If they don't have an au
      • > Hate groups exists because we give them an audience.

        Hate groups exist because people like simple cause-and-effect relationships, and our primate brains are also wired for 'us vs. them'. In other words, we loves us some scapegoats. Didn't you guys coin that term a few thousand years ago? :)

        Anyway, when someone's frustrated for whatever reason (and this is true rich or poor, weak or powerful), they almost always look for someone other than themselves to blame. If there's a 'them' around, sometimes the

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Jesus Christ, are you really that stupid?
    • Nice try. They weren't defending what the group had to say, they were defending their RIGHT to say it. Big difference.

  • Donald Trump has already said he would pay for these people's legal fees, so the President can pick up th ebill for this guy.
  • by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Tuesday August 15, 2017 @02:57PM (#55019941) Homepage

    A dollar that goes to ensuring he gets a free trial is a dollar that doesn't fund acts of racism in public.

    I sued a telemarketer once. I did everything I could to load up their legal bill. Since the lawyer was in Phoenix and the company was in Florida, I'd send a response to the one who didn't send me the petition. If Florida sent me something, I'd mail the response to Phoenix.

    I won $300 by the end of it because they gave up. Talking to their lawyer I said "I know they paid you a lot of money. That's all that matters." Of course he thought it was funny. He got paid. It didn't matter who got the money as long as it was removed from the company.

    Removing money from racists to pay a lawyer is a much better use of the money of racists than anything else they'd come up with like idiot signs or idiot flags. Or bus fares to their rallies.

  • he needs mental help. Supposedly he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic in childhood and been on psychiatric drugs ever since.

    How about if they change "Let's raise money for James's legal defense" into "Let's raise money so this loony can be locked up in a proper mental asylum and given treatment", maybe it won't be so objectionable then.

    • Yeah. My prediction is he's going to get off the murder charges for reason of insanity. He'll still be locked up (in a mental hospital), but I suspect those hoping this will set a precedent against acts of violence against protesters are going to be disappointed by the outcome.
      • There's also a good chance that he'll claim that the initial impact was an accident and once everyone starting swinging bats at his car car he fled in defense. He might get off because of the Antifa's actions.
    • he needs mental help. Supposedly he was diagnosed as a schizophrenic in childhood and been on psychiatric drugs ever since.

      Yeah, I heard Alex Jones was pushing that new excuse. It's known as the "He's white, so he must be a lone wolf/mentally ill defense".

      The day before, he was saying that all the alt-right protesters in Charlottesville were Jewish actors paid by George Soros.

  • Not going to name names, no need to help bigots.
    But they have web sites specifically designed to raise cash for alt-right causes.

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