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  Post #1 (permalink)   03-12-2008, 09:51 PM
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This is not something that I am planning on doing, but rather something that I have recently experienced and I was wondering as to the legality of such action. The forum in question will not be named, but is the community end of a business. The business owner has publicly spoken out against a particular religious group and is making life difficult for them, banning members at the drop of a hat for no violation of the published rules.

Sure, the site belongs to him and he is the business owner but this is religious discrimination. Is there any recourse available here?
 
 
 


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  Post #2 (permalink)   03-13-2008, 02:34 PM
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I'm not sure about the legalities. It sounds like he's just begging for trouble and a gigantic PR nightmare for his business, though. (On the other hand, people are funny. Maybe this will serve as a lightning rod to attract other zealots of whatever creed he follows, and they'll all congregate there.)

If that's the primary avenue for support, and the person is effectively saying that paying customers of theirs cannot use those forums because of their religion...then I think there's legal ramifications involved and the person has done something very, very foolish. If the forum is a community but not firmly attached to the business, and/but the people he's banning are not paying customers...the case against the person's actions may be harder to build.

Sounds a bit slimy, from what you've posted. I can see banning people who are actively abusive to sysadmins or other forum personnel, or trolling/flaming, or promoting illegal activities like theft, violent protests. But even if someone's discussing something wildly off-topic, if they're not being abusive or promoting illegal activities, it's kind of difficult to find a cogent reason to ban them.

Contact groups specializing in cases of religious discrimination, and find out how familiar they are with online laws and discrimination. That would be my first step. Print out and/or get screenshots of any post you think may support your case - because if this person's banning people of a certain religion for no reason other than their religion, they may start pruning forum content if they get word that someone's going to push back.
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  Post #3 (permalink)   03-14-2008, 05:28 AM
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Common sense would normally tell a business person NOT to alienate a good part of his customer base by being discriminatory but apparently the gentleman you mention does not possess common sense. Not only will he anger the members of the particular religious group, he is also disturbing to the customers like yourself who are appalled by his behavior.

I don't know the legalities of the situation but I believe he will regret his actions when he sees the negative effect on his business as time goes on.
 
 
 


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  Post #4 (permalink)   03-14-2008, 06:11 AM
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Are the ones being ban also workers of this person?

(I use the word person as "gentleman" is surely not what this guy is)

I don't think anything legal can be done unless he has them as workers and more than just a ban is going on, maybe he is telling them they can not work certain jobs and so on b/c of their faith. This is a tough call to make and I'm not really sure, but if its just a member of his forum and nothing more, its possible he could get away with it.
 
 
 


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  Post #5 (permalink)   03-17-2008, 03:45 PM
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It is just a community, but it is profit making and attached to a business like I say. The people have been banned on trumped up charges basically, one of whom had just had a miscarriage and the community was her main support system.

His speaking out has shocked a lot of people (and yes me included), but I was afraid that this might fall under some kind of messed up freedom of speech thing.
 
 
 


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  Post #6 (permalink)   03-17-2008, 05:09 PM
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My advice would be act now, contact some legal representation groups who are familiar with online laws, censorship, and discrimination. Tell them the details and ask if there's a case here. They'll know much better than I, if there's a legal case against this individual's actions.

Freedom of speech is definitely a sword that cuts both ways: it can protect against you being silenced unfairly, but those same protections can also be extended to someone whom you think is absolutely in the wrong. You haven't really provided too many exact details here, and that's what so many freedom-of-speech cases turn on: the details. Provide those to a legal advisor who will advise you if there's a case or not.

It isn't possible to legislate common courtesy. However, that does NOT mean that you shouldn't check with a legal professional and see if this is a violation of civil rights, or of the laws of the country in which the community operates. If it is a violation of civil rights, then the perpetrator should be stopped.
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  Post #7 (permalink)   03-19-2008, 12:43 PM
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Thank you for the help and advice. As an active member in good standing over there I did not want to give details that could link me to that site, given the circumstances.

I realise the irony that can be freedom of speech laws, but I really do find them unfair sometimes! Hate speech, and hate crimes, should not be protected-but hey that's a matter for another place!
 
 
 


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  Post #8 (permalink)   04-06-2008, 05:30 AM
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I don't think there is much that he can get in trouble for here legally. He may not realize he's opened a bit of a Pandora's Box for himself though. He has offended not only members of the faith he obviously detests but there are others like yourself that are also offended. He may also find that he will attract unsavory individuals that have a more extreme version of his own view.
 
 
 
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