Hackers stand up against news site defacements

Wired is reporting in this article that a number of well-known hackers (mostly white hats), are standing up against the people who hacked the Al-Jazeera site, on the grounds that it is tantamount to the same kind of censorship of unpopular speech that are promulgated by those who seek to repress the thoughts of the people of Iraq in the first place.

Regardless of whether you are for or against the war in Iraq or whether you think that the folks at Al-Jazeera (many of whom are formerly of BBC Arabic) are either pawns of the Iraqi regime or firmly supporting Saddam, there are serious questions about the tactics of the crackers or script-kiddies who have defaced the Al-Jazeera web sites.

At the fore is the question of whether it is right for a nation that stands for the freedom of speech to encourage the repression of views, no matter how unpopular. Freedom of speech is a messy business. It has led to the continued operation of sites that have very hateful messages and which speak of conspiracies that sound rediculous to most people.

However, it is still important that this speech be protected so that reasonable people can see the speech for what it is and decide consciously not to agree with it. It is important that all voices, no matter how seemlingly rediculous or "evil" be allowed to speak as they will find an outlet one way or another, and underground speech is much more divisive and harmful than free speech.