June 07, 2003

Neil Schwartzman, "spam political correctness"

[I wrote this in reply to the message Neil Schwartzman on political correctness: blacklists vs.blocklists on Dave Farber's list, a little while ago, but it didn't make the cut]

> Neil Schwartzman [on "blacklist" vs. "blocklist"]
> I have a strong notion that this started at a company that publishes
> blacklists during a time when they were being sued into complacency ...
> and in an attempt to softsell what they were doing to a judge, they coined
> this horrid new term. However, this perversion of the English language is
> just sad, under any circumstances.

If this is referring to Media3 v. MAPS, just on factual terms, I don't see it. They've had their main product named the "Realtime Blackhole List" http://mail-abuse.org/rbl/ for a long time. And the judge called it by that term, which seems fair.


"Nonetheless, in the case at hand, MAPS has done more than merely setting up a Website with allegedly tortious content. It has acted purposefully and successfully to sell and distribute its product, the blackhole list, in Massachusetts. It has directed its staff to encourage Massachusetts companies, over the telephone and through email, to discontinue spam-neutral and spam-friendly websites. Accordingly, I conclude that the exercise of this court's jurisdiction over MAPS is reasonable, and is authorized by the Massachusetts long-arm statute and the United States Constitution."

I think, for spam, aversion to the term "blacklist" doesn't have anything to do with McCarthyism in specific. But rather, my sense is it's a product of some people wanting to "have it both ways". That is, the list is intended as a tool of "disapproval/suspicion/penalized". But there's also at times a contradictory impulse to disclaim the moral implications which flow from that intent. Which leads to some very strange writing about these lists on occasion, as if they just fell from the sky and were published as curiosities.

Besides, if anyone was attempting to softsell what they were doing, as a PR tactic, they'd call it a "filter list", as the censorware companies call their blacklists :-).

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in spam | on June 07, 2003 11:59 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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