The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/mcvay.ken/press/vancouver-sun.980408

Vancouver Sun, April 8, 1998 (Front page)

BC tel asked to cut off net Nazis' connection

William Boei, Sun Business Reporter Vancouver Sun
Like mosquitoes in a wet summer, the Net Nazis are swarming
again. Efforts are being made to swat them down, but there
every reason to believe they will be elusive targets.

The focus this time around is on Fairview Technology Centre,
Internet service provider (ISP) in the peaceful south
town of Oliver.

Fairview hosts a group of national and international "hate
Internet showcases for white supremacists, skinheads and
Holocaust deniers.

The propaganda they spread on the Internet rarely fails to
get a
rise from Jewish and anti-racist groups. This time, a
Winnipeg-based branch of the B'nai Brith's League for Human
Rights and Vancouver's Canadian Anti-Racism Education and
Research Society are asking BC Tel to cut off Fairview's
network connection to the Internet.

That's raising eyebrows among free-speech advocates and
veteran Internet hate fighters. They fear it will allow the
racists to lay claim to the moral high ground of free
speech, and they insist it can't possibly work.

"Pragmatically, it's a waste of time," said Ken McVay, a
British Columbian who runs the Nizkor Project, a massive on-
line archive that documents and refutes every scrap of
Holocaust denial, historical revisionism and Nazi propaganda
published on the Internet.

McVay has been fighting hate speech on the Net for six
years, compiling archives, offering to establish links
between hate sites and Nizkor's Web site, and responding to
virtually every hate post that appears on the Internet's
Usenet section.

He said the main figure behind the racist Web sites hosted
by Fairview is Marc Lemire, a key associate of Toronto
Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel.

If Fairview is shut down, "Marc Lemire is going to move
those sites somewhere else, probably south of the border,"
McVay said, "and the whole thing is going to start all over

In fact, Lemire has already placed a mirror site -- an exact
copy -- of the Oliver hate pages on a Toronto Internet
company's Web site, McVay said. More mirror sites can be
established almost anywhere in the world. So even if the
plug is pulled on Fairview, it will be business as usual for
the hate sites.

For McVay, the last few weeks have seen a little more
business than usual.

A few days after Oliver Mayor Linda Larson cancelled a March
21 "free speech" meeting in her town of some of Canada's
leading far-right luminaries, Lemire and others flooded
British Columbia Usenet news groups with dozens of lengthy

Usenet is the rowdiest section of the Internet, with tens of
thousands of news groups dedicated to everything from
technical computer issues to gardening tips, over-the-top
political debates and skinhead propaganda.

Lemire's postings temporarily drowned out most other topics
on van.general and bc.general, groups where the normal
discourse includes anything of interest to local Internet

The postings included diatribes on topics such as how many
people died in Nazi extermination camps and whether Jewish
prisoners were really turned into soap. Also posted was the
full text of The Turner Diaries, an American loony-right
novel in which white supremacists set off the ultimate
racial war by blowing up a U.S. government building with
nitrate-based explosives. The book could have served as the
script for the April 1995 bombing that killed 168 people in
Oklahoma City.

McVay did what he always does. Within 24 hours, he had
posted responses to every message.

Some of his responses countered the original messages with
factual arguments. Others pointed to pages on the Nizkor
site that deal in exhaustive detail with the topics in
question. Still others attacked the credibility of Lemire
and other posters, with links to Nizkor pages detailing
their far-right foibles.

"My whole agenda is to try and remove their market, as it
were," McVay said. "They have an agenda to sell. If, by
demonstrating that they are lying about a specific issue, I
can remove a few  hundred people from their potential market
place, then I've done them some harm."

There's no way to measure how effective his approach is.
But, he said, "I can tell you that in six years of this kind
of activity on the Net, I have yet to see an example of a
single person saying, 'Gee, I've read this propaganda and
now I'm convinced and I'm a white supremacist.'

"I suspect if someone did convert because of this stuff, we
would certainly hear about it. They'd parade him around like
an Aryan superhero."

Like their Web sites, Usenet and e-mail access used by
extremists are virtually impossible to restrict.

After last month's flurry of racist postings, some of them
Usenet regular Jason Black, several people posted follow-up
messages threatening to ask Black's ISP to cancel his
Black replied with a smirking message.

"Go ahead and send off all the complaint letters you want,"
it said. "I have several freenet accounts under various
names all over North America, I also have several Unix shell
accounts in Europe and Australia, over 60 back-up e-mails
for posting through Dejanews, and god knows how many open
NNTP servers that allow posting to Canadian news groups.

"So, get all the accounts cut that you want, all you
accomplish is delaying me for maybe, mmm, five minutes."

McVay said it has been estimated there are about 600 hate
sites on the Internet and 25,000 to 30,000 "wacko
extremists" in North America. Like the rest of the
population, they are increasingly buying computers and using
the Internet.

While McVay disagrees with attempts to cut the Net access of
white supremacists, he said he's not getting too excited
about this instance because it's being approached as a
contract issue between BC Tel and Fairview president Bernard
Klatt, as opposed to a freedom of speech issue.

Even so, he doesn't think Fairview's content is in violation
of section 3.19 of the Criminal Code, Canada's anti-hate

"There is nothing illegal about saying, 'I believe in being
proud of the white race, blah, blah, blah,'" McVay said. "It
may be silly, but it isn't illegal."

To the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which opposes
restrictions on free speech, McVay's approach makes sense.

The association holds that "the best recipe for bad speech
more speech," said BCCLA executive member Sam Black.

"We think someone like McVay is doing an invaluable service
to the community. It's just the sort of activity that the
association favours because one of the rationales for
freedom of expression is precisely that someone like McVay
will come along and force people to grapple with the best
arguments available. This way, people are actually forced to
reflect on their convictions."

B'nai Brith, incidentally, covers both ends of the anti-Net-
Nazi spectrum. It is asking BC Tel to sever Fairview from
the Net, and it collects donations for the Nizkor Project.

The Nizkor archives can be found on the Internet at Fairview's Web site is at Look for the "friends of freedom"

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.