WASHINGTON – It’s a list of hate, 54 pages of Internet sites with names like www.ilovewhitefolks.com, aryan-nations.org and hatemonger.com.
But the state employee who maintains the Hate Direcctory on his own time defends the on-line list, saying it is intended to shine a light on the dark places on the web.
“I believe it’s important that people be aware how individuals and groups have used the Internet to promote agendas of racial and ethnic and gender intolerance,” said Raymond A. Franklin, who by day is assistant director of the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions. “It’s important that people know what’s being expressed. . .so they can respond.”
A senior researcher at the Anti-Defamation League of B’Nai B’rith is less sure of the usefulness of listing hate sites.
“We chose not to do that,” said Jordan Kessler. While the league thinks it is important to expose the sites, he said, it wants to do so without allowing people to link to them. He said parents can download a hate filter free from adl.org.
Kessler concedes that many sites link to each other and that to find one is to find many. But he says extremists love directories like Franklin’s because they provide a catalog of contacts to other hate groups.
“It’s not difficult to find these groups on-line by using any search engine,” Franklin said. Indeed, Front14, one white-supremacist internet service provider, has links to over 200 other sites.
Franklin’s site lists more than 400 groups, some with several web addresses, but it only lists 20 groups combating hate on the Internet.
The number of anti-hate groups has not gotten much larger, he said, since he started the list. While Franklin doesn’t maintain statistics on the number of hate sites that are out there, he said there has been a significant increase since 1995, when Stormfront was the only one.
Franklin said his directory, which began as a one-page pamphlet in 1996, has been used by parents, the police and the military and as an educational tool. He said the list has been used to investigate hate crimes or white supremacist presence on military bases, and to provide parents with more information about the sites their children may be visiting.
Police have used the directory to locate chat rooms where crimes may have been discussed, he said.
“These (hate) organizations go out of their way to tell us what they’re doing and what they’re planning,” he said.
Franklin said he has seen the biggest growth in the distribution of hate music, hate games and the rise of specialized sites geared toward women and children. Without the Internet, he said, “we probably wouldn’t be seeing the distribution of this `hate-core’ music,” or have a modified, white supremacist version of Doom, a violent computer game.
Police and parents are not the only ones who think Franklin’s site is a good idea. Supporters include some groups on the directory itself.
Debra Maggiore of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian at aryan- nations.org said Franklin’s list was “another way of spreading the word about us.” She wasn’t troubled by her group’s inclusion in the directory, and said her pastor, Richard G. Butler, felt the same way.
Irv Rubin, international chair of the Jewish Defense League, also supports Franklin’s efforts.
“Let people have the independence of mind. . .to decide what is hate and what is not hate,” he said. “Forbidden fruit draws people closer.”
Rubin was less thrilled when he found out his group’s web site is listed as a site that advocates separation of the races.
“I resent it tremendously,” he said. Rubin said the league does not advocate separation, and would like to be removed from the list.
Franklin said there is a 50-50 split in the complaints that he gets. Some groups want to be removed from the site and some are eager to be included.
Franklin is not the first to argue that it is more dangerous to ignore hate groups. In the eulogy for his former site, HateWatch, David Goldman wrote that hate groups “forcing their way into people’s homes via the web would have the effect of mobilizing ordinary people to join in the fight against them.”
“These self-proclaimed white warriors made moms and dads into determined anti-hate activists,” Goldman wrote in defense of his defunct directory.
Franklin cautions that he is a supporter of free speech and freedom of expression, and doesn’t think any government agency should maintain a list such as his.
“I don’t think hate speech should be restricted on the Internet. We have to be aware and educated. . .to simply censor is the wrong thing to do,” Franklin said.
The Hate Directory can be found on-line at www.bcpl.net/~rfrankli/hatedir.htm.