The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the responsiveness of MoveOn.org Political Action in removing anti-Semitic messages that had been posted on the Action Forum on their Web site.
In response to a letter of concern, Eli Pariser, Executive Director of MoveOn Political Action, has been in direct contact with ADL. He indicated that MoveOn.org found the comments abhorrent and had them removed.
ADL is pleased with Mr. Pariser's responsiveness to our concerns and believes the matter has been resolved satisfactorily.
August 31, 2006
MoveOn Political Action
Dear Mr. Pariser:
We have received complaints that anti-Semitic messages have been posted on the Action Forum under the auspices of MoveOn.org. Some of the examples are "media owning Jewish pigs," referring to Senator Joseph Lieberman as "Jew Lieberman," "Zionazis," and "why are the Jews so Jew-y?"
We recognize that the Action Forum is an open forum intended to foster the free flow of ideas. Nevertheless, since such profoundly offensive content is appearing on a board clearly linked to MoveOn.org, we believe you should assume some responsibility to respond to this hateful content. Specifically, we would urge you to exercise your own First Amendment rights and issue a statement making it clear that your organization finds such messages abhorrent.
The First Amendment free speech guarantee allows all of us to speak our minds, and, like you, we treasure that freedom. It has long been the Anti-Defamation League's position that the best response to bad speech is not censorship, but good speech. However, the First Amendment carries certain obligations with it. The primary obligation of responsible citizens and organization is to speak out and to condemn bigotry, anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. Haters may have the right to express their hate, but that hate should not go unchallenged. Most importantly, those who allow hate to rear its ugly head under their auspices bear a special responsibility to distance themselves from that hate, and to speak out against it, as loudly as possible.
Abraham H. Foxman
Dear Mr. Foxman,
I'd like to bring to your attention the statement (attached below) that we issued today and posted on our website in response to your letter.
I'd appreciate an opportunity to follow up.
MoveOn.org Political Action
Statement from Eli Pariser, MoveOn.org Political Action
"MoveOn's ActionForum is an open forum where members of the public and MoveOn members can post their thoughts regarding important political issues.
Once in a while—as in any public forum—inappropriate material is posted. Recently, a few of the thousands of comments that are posted every week contained anti-Semitic language.
The comments that were posted were abhorrent. We were dismayed to see them, and removed them as soon as they came to our attention 17 days ago.
Many of the comments identified were not, in fact, made by MoveOn members. We are working to discern whether they were made as a part of a right-wing campaign to target the organization. Clearly, any attempt to tie MoveOn's 3.2 million members to the hateful comments of a few non-members on an online public forum is wrong.
We were pleased to see that so many MoveOn members rose to sharply criticize the hate speech that was posted – even before it was brought to our attention."