Thursday, December 23, 2010

New day, new Charedi website ban

I notice that Vos Iz Neias, the popular Charedi news aggregator, has reported today on everything but the one topic that everyone is really talking about - the brand new rabbinic ban on Vos Iz Neias. Funny that.

Of course, rabbis banning VIN is like King Canute standing on the seashore, commanding the waves to advance no further; both utterly futile - because the Charedi community has clearly shown again and again that it wants to, and is going to, access news online, whatever the rabbis say - and counter-productive for the rabbis themselves, who look out of touch with their followers and weak when no one listens to them.

But then, as Dov Bear points out, the notice is not a straightforward ban on reading the website. It largely bans advertisers from advertising on it, and says that businesses that do place ads on it will themselves be boycotted.

DB thinks that this indicates that the ad was written by one of VIN's competitors (and then given to the rabbis to sign); perhaps it was. But don't forget that last January , when the Israeli Charedi rabbis came out with their major ban on Charedi news sites, they too threatened economic and other sanctions, for example that anyone working on the websites will find their children expelled from school. It seems that the American rabbis have learned from their Israeli peers that the real way to harm these websites is by threatening those who run it - not those who read it.

One interesting point. The notice presents a long list of complaints against VIN - that it publishes gossip and scandal about rabbis and Torah institutions, nasty comments, and generally promotes division and 'stirs the pot'. So far so standard. Then it adds the following line: "In addition it writes against ministers and politicians under whose protection we [live], in order to ruin their reputations [literally - in order to make them stink], and the desecration of God's name is absolutely terrible".

Who has VIN angered / offended here?

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