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Spiegel: "There are lots of us too"
Der Spiegel ^ | March 9, 2004 | Frank Patalog

Posted on 03/09/2004 7:16:34 PM PST by Otto Krueger

Below is my translation (rough, don't swear by it) of Der Spiegel's latest on-line article about the Freeping of their "poll" about President Bush.

I note, Vote, capitalized, refers to an online-vote conducted by a media site. There's a difference between it and the verb "to vote" or the noun, "vote."

I apologize for the length of the body of the comment. If I knew a way to hide the bulk of it, I would do so.

An earlier thread deteriorated into a shouting match including lots of ethnic slurs on both sides, IMO. Blah.

I think these folks are objectionable enough as sanctimonious, left-wing, anti-American creeps without bringing race into it.

Otto.


TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Germany; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: bush; clickcoordinating; fr; freepthispole; freepthispoll; freerepublic; frinthenews; germany; onlinepolls; polls; spiegel; ultrakonservativen; zot; zotsaga
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"There are a lot of us, too"

The story about the Vote-manipulation by the users of a conservative U.S. website led to the manipulation of the manipulated votes -- and a massive readers response. While many greeted the "Vote War," others called for a more reasoned handling of Votes and expressions of opinion in online-journalism.

At 5 p.m. Monday, the "report card" Vote on the presidency of George W. Bush totaled 38,449 votes, 59.6 percent gave the U.S. President a "one" [the highest grade], about 13 percent gave him a "six" [the lowest].

These numbers in and of themselves demonstrated that something wasn't normal with the Vote. "Taken purely from a statistical standpoint," wrote Hans Wegener on Monday evening, "one could see that something was up with the above-mentioned survey. The division of votes with the maximum at one and six (a reverse bell curve) demonstrated that the voting had deteriorated into two groups. From this perspective, it's easy to surmise that a voting war had broken out among two extremes in the political spectrum."

That's indeed the way it looked, and, based on the Spiegel-Online article about the manipulation of the Bush-Vote by readers of the weblog "Davids Medienkritik" and the hard-core conservative U.S. website, "Free Republic," that's the way many saw it: as a challenge. "There are a lot of us too," one reader's letter declared. "We'll show those bloody Americans." [The term was "Amis," which is really the equivalent of calling Germans, Krauts.]

The results were there for all to see on Tuesday morning: At 9:25 a.m. the vote stood at 291,164, with 29.38 percent grading Bush with a "one," and 59.04 percent with a "six." We can freep too. And quod erat demonstrandum? [What has been demonstrated?]

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Stuffin' nonsense. [The idiom is "insulted liver sausage." Got me.]

Not a few readers perceived it this way: They regarded the publicizing of the Vote-manipulation as a knock-down rebuke against those who started the process. The driving motivation? Spiegel Online simply couldn't accept that a Vote would produce a result [a picture of public opinion] that didn't coincide with the "positioning " of their presumed readers. And that's OK, actually.

Others objected, saying that the whole incident demonstrated clearly that Votes are "not a serious tool," that one simply can't take seriously, are never representative -- and for that reason don't belong on a journalistic website: "What's more unspeakable? The counterfeiting of this vote or perhaps the vote itself, that could be nothing other than unrepresentative and should have no place in serious journalism?" (From a reader's letter by Stefan Kraemer.)

A minority criticized the critics of those whose behavior first led to the Vote-manipulation. In fact, they argued, the action's legitimate; you can't pre-select your readership. "Their voting didn't achieve the desired result," wrote one reader, Peter Kneer. "But to impute purposeful falsification by the voters is a sign of the leftist conception of democracy. A mature, engaged citizen is one who only carries his cross on the left."

So what's this all about?

Is it an ideological battle? About a tool, that deserves no place in "serious journalism?" About the attempt to correct a "false" portrayal of public opinion?

The overwhelming majority of letter writers were of the opinion that you shouldn't overvalue the worth of the Vote "tool." "As your 'Votes' note, I don't view this ballot as a representative picture of public opinion." (From a reader's letter submitted by Peter Kneer.)

Exactly.

And for that reason, this isn't about the correcting an account of some public opinion that the editors presumably couldn't accept for ideological reasons.

In online-journalism, these sorts of votes are an element of communication or interaction with the reader -- admittedly on a very formalized level. Many Votes are the kind of thing you'd see in the tabloids and send a signal that they're really not trying to be a representative survey of public opinion. They're "part of the fun." For a lot of people, this informal approach is too casual: One reader criticized a Vote, in which George W. Bush received school grades, for "reducing the president to the level of a schoolboy."

You can take it that way, but that's not the intention. In Germany, it's not unusual for surveys to rate politicians according to the system of report card grading. It has nothing to do with lack of respect, but rather with an uninhibited approach toward so-called authorities. Why should "all those people up there" be protected from having their achievements measured by their employers, the citizenry?

The basic question is and remains, why would one publicize a "vote manipulation" at all, or in the form of an article. "Can't you simply prevent this kind of manipulation?" many readers asked.

Of course you can.

You can factor out multiple votes that come from a single ISP number. You could simply filter out any votes that came from certain ISPs. You could attempt to ascertain where the voter came from before he set his hooks -- Davids Medientkritik and the Free Republic linked not to the original article, in which the vote could be found, but rather direct to the voter-interface. Spiegel-Online could have easily minimized the "false picture of opinion" and replaced it with a supposedly "desired one."

"Just ask yourself seriously this question," challenged reader Thomas Schröder. "How would you have reported it if Bush opponents had similarly rigged a survey on the White House or Fox's homepage?"

The answer to that is simple: Either exactly the same way or not at all. For there are only two notable thing pertaining to the topic we reported.

First: The fact that there are political groups that take things like Votes so seriously that, in service of their goals, their will reach out around the world in order to "make public opinion."

Second: The fact that these sorts of things happen, and can happen, with Votes -- and what sort of implication that has for their use in online-journalism.

The first point deserves journalistic coverage, yes, even if it were to affect another website (and yes, even if "left-wing" groups had "attacked a "right-wing" publication in the same way).

The second point one is more likely to address when it affects you directly. Those who sit in glass houses, shouldn't throw stones. To admit your vulnerabilities against it is, in fact, legitimate.

The "attack" of the Freepers on the Spiegel-Online vote has, with exagerrating it, news value. If it were just this one case of one Vote, that news value would be limited. But in the case of the Freepers, it's about an organized group that engages in a massive undertaking, whereever they can, to manipulate "expressions of public opinion" like Votes.

"Manipulative handling of the Internet for political purposes must be made public," reader Hans Wegener observes.

We agree entirely.


1 posted on 03/09/2004 7:16:34 PM PST by Otto Krueger
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To: Otto Krueger
Whatever it takes to piss off Der Spiegel has my blessing.
2 posted on 03/09/2004 7:19:46 PM PST by Bismarck
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To: Otto Krueger
FReepen der polls? I'm shocked! Shocked I tell you!
3 posted on 03/09/2004 7:22:48 PM PST by Jim Robinson
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To: Otto Krueger
Bump!
4 posted on 03/09/2004 7:23:16 PM PST by The Mayor (There is no such thing as insignificant service for Christ.)
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To: Bismarck
You preview and preview and preview, and .... Antepenultimate paragraph should read:
The "attack" of the Freepers on the Spiegel-Online vote has, without exagerrating it, news value. If it were just this one case of one Vote, that news value would be limited. But in the case of the Freepers, it's about an organized group that engages in a massive undertaking, whereever they can, to manipulate "expressions of public opinion" like Votes.

5 posted on 03/09/2004 7:24:04 PM PST by Otto Krueger
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To: Otto Krueger
---and the hard-core conservative U.S. website, "Free Republic---

They've got our number.
6 posted on 03/09/2004 7:26:21 PM PST by claudiustg (Go Sharon! Go Bush!)
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To: Otto Krueger
They take their silly little feature VERRRYYY seriously.
7 posted on 03/09/2004 7:26:40 PM PST by DManA
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To: Otto Krueger
They still don't get it. They think we're simply trying to manipulate the vote. I'm glad it was publicized. Maybe they'll take the hint.
8 posted on 03/09/2004 7:27:23 PM PST by stands2reason
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To: Otto Krueger
I am afraid the Euros will never understand what Free Republic truly is. That's why they're over there, and we're here in the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave.
9 posted on 03/09/2004 7:28:12 PM PST by Spruce (Pres. J.F.Kerry would be an absolute disaster for western civilization.)
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To: Otto Krueger
For those who want to view the original webpage via the Google translation, click here:

http://216.239.39.104/translate_c?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&langpair=de%7Cen&u=http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzkultur/0,1518,289701,00.html&prev=/language_tools

10 posted on 03/09/2004 7:29:47 PM PST by BCrago66
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To: Otto Krueger
Ve vill keep countink das voot oontil das voot ist vhat VE vant!
~ Al Gore, 2000 Election
11 posted on 03/09/2004 7:31:29 PM PST by DoctorMichael (What the %$#&!)
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To: BCrago66
Wow - google translation is pretty choppy, it turns out.
12 posted on 03/09/2004 7:33:53 PM PST by BCrago66
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To: Otto Krueger
Wow, Freepin' around the world.

gave the U.S. President a "one" [the highest grade], about 13 percent gave him a "six" [the lowest].

Cute. They're using the grading system from German schools. Spiegel's not a bad magazine actually -- they don't pull many punches for their own politicians.

The term was "Amis," which is really the equivalent of calling Germans, Krauts.

"Amis" is not always a derogatory term. It totally depends on the context and attitude of the person saying it.

13 posted on 03/09/2004 7:33:55 PM PST by antiRepublicrat
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To: DManA
They take their silly little feature VERRRYYY seriously.

Yavoll!! Ve must haves Strriccct Totalitarain control ova zis internet !!

14 posted on 03/09/2004 7:36:15 PM PST by mylife
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To: Otto Krueger
I'm shocked to find out that they 'played' the freep for publicity for their poll, shocked!

It's been fun, too bad they won't 'get it'. But they never do.

15 posted on 03/09/2004 7:37:09 PM PST by mrsmith ("Oyez, oyez! All rise for the Honorable Chief Justice... Hillary Rodham Clinton ")
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To: Otto Krueger
I've rarely if ever seen a domestic article refer to us as "Freepers" - but this has to be the 1st foreign mention.
16 posted on 03/09/2004 7:38:32 PM PST by BCrago66
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To: Otto Krueger
All your votes are belong to us!
17 posted on 03/09/2004 7:38:37 PM PST by Incorrigible (immanentizing the eschaton)
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To: Otto Krueger
How smelly..is this european? The people that don't clean good after...nevermind...
18 posted on 03/09/2004 7:40:16 PM PST by whereasandsoforth (tagged for migratory purposes only)
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To: antiRepublicrat
"Amis" is not always a derogatory term.

Agreed. It can be the equivalent of Yanks. In this case, I think it was intended in a derogatory fashion, but I could be wrong.

19 posted on 03/09/2004 7:42:32 PM PST by Otto Krueger
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To: Otto Krueger
Oops, forgot the most important thing IMHO: thank you for translating this!
20 posted on 03/09/2004 7:45:10 PM PST by mrsmith ("Oyez, oyez! All rise for the Honorable Chief Justice... Hillary Rodham Clinton ")
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To: Otto Krueger
"Just ask yourself seriously this question," challenged reader Thomas Schröder. "How would you have reported it if Bush opponents had similarly rigged a survey on the White House or Fox's homepage?"

Happens all the time. So what.

I haven't been following this whole brouhaha but what is the crux of the problem here? That right-minded Internet users expressed their opinion by way of an online poll? Of was the poll mechanism itself susceptible to a user voting numerous times?
21 posted on 03/09/2004 7:48:45 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Otto Krueger
"The "attack" of the Freepers on the Spiegel-Online vote has, without exagerrating it, news value. But in the case of the Freepers, it's about an organized group that engages in a massive undertaking, whereever they can, to manipulate "expressions of public opinion" like Votes."

Are we not allowed to express our public opinion too? This reminds me of the BBC headline from the other day about an election in Europe that read "Conservatives seize power" [sorry but I forget the exact country].
22 posted on 03/09/2004 7:53:01 PM PST by Texas_Jarhead
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To: Bismarck
OK. Now Der Spiegel is doing a poll on whether online polls are accurate.
Middle of page

http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/netzkultur/0,1518,289701,00.html

Votes in the on-line journalism: Yes or no?
Votes are with Machern and readers like. In addition, they are susceptible to falsifications. Should a journalistic offer use the means of the Votes or not?



Yes: It belongs to the attractions of the InterNet for Medienmacher and readers that such communication forms are possible. Votes are "part OF the fun". One must make clear that they are not representative

No: Votes obtain the impression of respectable opinions, are however falsification-endangered. They do not have to look for anything in journalistic offers


Undecided, no opinion
23 posted on 03/09/2004 7:54:23 PM PST by philetus (Keep doing what you always do and you'll keep getting what you always get)
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To: mrsmith
You're welcome. I try to keep my German fresh by reading and translating, but the spoken language has gone all kaput. The man I honor, upper left.
24 posted on 03/09/2004 7:56:26 PM PST by Otto Krueger
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To: Bismarck
Whatever it takes to piss off Der Spiegel has my blessing.

Der Spiegel should, um, look in the mirror.

25 posted on 03/09/2004 8:02:54 PM PST by Eala (Sacrificing tagline fame for... TRAD ANGLICAN RESOURCE PAGE: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican)
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To: Otto Krueger
Medienkritik, who started this all, has a translation of a FAZ-NET (online Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) commentary about the Internet sputterings over the Spiegel survey.
The Conservative Click Guerilla This is serious, and the tone that Spiegel uses to report on it is serious… “Help drive the left crazy,” is what the blog entry on the site “Little Green Footballs” called it, and David Kaspar of Davids Medienkritik is pleased: “The Bush-haters at “Spiegel Online” will have a heart attack tomorrow morning.” The editorial staff of “Spiegel Online,” that spearhead of the German left, has yet to report any health problems. … There they are wrinkling their foreheads – and writing not only about dirty tricks such as replacing the placards of one party with another by night while disrupting their public rallies by day with boos. Instead – “and not any less significant” – the falsification of internet polls. Such activities are apparently called “freeping” in America and “Spiegel Online” reports on these subversive activities with great seriousness and detail. At the same time, “Spiegel Online” certainly could have won-over some American supporters with a “ha, ha, okay you guys got us!” for an answer and left it at that.
Reasonably enough. P.S. FAZ is pretty conservative by German standards. A finance-oriented publication, with a cooperative agreement with the Wall Street Journal last time I looked.
26 posted on 03/09/2004 8:04:23 PM PST by Otto Krueger
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To: Otto Krueger
Garbage in, garbage out.
Basic immutable law of computing.
Traditional journalism is having a difficult time adjusting to the internet induced Age of Knowledge.
Reaching back in history, it seems somehow related to the invention of mechanical print technology.
The scribes all lost their lucrative jobs and carefully cultivated powerfull influences!
Well, except for those few scribes who could adapt and compete in a new environment.
Knowledge is power!
Gasp! Whatever will the "masses" (normal people) suddenly so empowered with such a dangerous thing as knowledge do with their new powers?



27 posted on 03/09/2004 8:08:34 PM PST by sarasmom ("I'm a redneck and Charles Bronson was a sissy".(Permission to use as tag granted by The Toll)
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To: Otto Krueger
Thanks for translating and posting this.

A minority criticized the critics of those whose behavior first led to the Vote-manipulation. In fact, they argued, the action's legitimate; you can't pre-select your readership.

Not on the internet, you can't.

"Their voting didn't achieve the desired result," wrote one reader, Peter Kneer. "But to impute purposeful falsification by the voters is a sign of the leftist conception of democracy. A mature, engaged citizen is one who only carries his cross on the left."

Well, he's half-right. The desired result was definitely achieved, in my opinion. Kudos to those who participated! LOL

I'm a little distressed that I was left out of this "massive manipulation effort", though; I didn't even see the thread with the poll until after the German trolls had found it.

28 posted on 03/09/2004 8:08:42 PM PST by hellinahandcart
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To: Otto Krueger
"The term was 'Amis,' which is really the equivalent of calling Germans, Krauts."

The word "Amis" is short for an expression that included a more vulgar word before "Amis" during WWII--"sch***s Amis." "Sentimentality" was seen as a weakness in Germany and Italy then.
29 posted on 03/09/2004 8:08:53 PM PST by familyop (Essayons)
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To: Otto Krueger
Gee, are they aware that FreeRepublic has over 100,000 registered members and probably twice that amount as lurkers?
30 posted on 03/09/2004 8:11:20 PM PST by McGavin999 (Evil thrives when good men do nothing!)
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To: Otto Krueger
Amis is a phonetic spelling af armee. I derives from our troops being stationed there. The Question, "Sind Sie in Die Americanisher Armee?" Received the answer, "Ja ich bin Armee." Since almost all Americans the Germans met were in the Army, a slang shorthand grew in which all Americans were "Amis." Being of German descent myself, It never occured to me to think it any more derogatory than us calling them Dutchmen.

Anything can be an epithet when we try hard enough. So, "smile when you say that pardner!"
31 posted on 03/09/2004 8:12:30 PM PST by rock58seg (Broken Glass Conservative, I'll even vote for a moderate if he's the most conservative candidate.)
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To: Otto Krueger
Did all the Germans with a sense of humor immigrate to the US? I have a number of German friends and they have a delightful sense of humor. The people reflected in these articles just don't seem to get it.
32 posted on 03/09/2004 8:14:46 PM PST by McGavin999 (Evil thrives when good men do nothing!)
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To: rock58seg
Spiegel p***** me off. Smug, anti-American, tendentious, and clueless. Did I mention smug? Really, more smug and lecturing than leftist.

They must have been outraged to have been screwed with.

As for "amis" and translations, I used "bloody Americans," 'cause it sounded foreign and only mildly insulting. Some things you can't translate exactly.

Anyway, hope to screw with 'em in the future.
33 posted on 03/09/2004 8:20:38 PM PST by Otto Krueger
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To: Otto Krueger
This "story" has been, if nothing else, a great source of tag-lines!
34 posted on 03/09/2004 8:21:52 PM PST by Redbob (ultrakonservativen click-guerilla)
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To: Otto Krueger
I only voted 20 times, the same as any Democrat. I think I've been disenfranchised.
35 posted on 03/09/2004 8:22:24 PM PST by MARTIAL MONK
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To: Otto Krueger
Has anyone told the widow Vivian Freep about this?
36 posted on 03/09/2004 8:28:49 PM PST by Chesterbelloc
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To: mrsmith
"It's been fun, too bad they won't 'get it'. But they never do."

Of course they don't "get it" - they don't "Get" anything having to do with this democracy, individual responsibility, rights-of-man thing. While English-speaking philosophers were honing these concepts, Germans were perfecting (or at least thought they were perfecting) their mass-marching, goose-stepping drills.

And the goofballs at Der Spiegel are one short generation removed from that mind-set.

37 posted on 03/09/2004 8:30:04 PM PST by Redbob (ultrakonservativen click-guerilla)
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To: Otto Krueger
First: The fact that there are political groups that take things like Votes so seriously that, in service of their goals, their will reach out around the world in order to "make public opinion."

Am I to understand that this teutonic trailer-trash author has only now realized that political agendas know no boundaries? Rubbish. One only needs to look in the direction of Moscow to recall the insidious and evil reach of the left in the 20th century.

38 posted on 03/09/2004 8:36:31 PM PST by Prince Charles
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To: Otto Krueger
By the way, there's a political forum in German called Democracy Online 2Day http://www.dol2day.com

For any of you who has a good understanding in German: Join that community for a while and you might find out what Germans think. Hint, they are VERY heterogeneous.
39 posted on 03/09/2004 8:45:22 PM PST by Bismarck
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To: Bismarck
Help to drive the German left one into the insanity.
40 posted on 03/09/2004 8:51:49 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (22 o'clock "citizen of Berlin time")
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To: Charles Henrickson
Well, you have to be already insane to be a Leftist, regardless if you are German or American. The language and the nationality do not matter, a filhty socialist is a filthy socialist.
41 posted on 03/09/2004 8:57:37 PM PST by Bismarck
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To: Incorrigible
Votes are a fine thing, the butter on message bread.
42 posted on 03/09/2004 8:59:01 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Vote vote-pfuscher)
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To: rock58seg
I really avoid putting any crude speech on the Web in any language and dislike to see it at all, but in this case, it's not gratuitous. The point needs to be made.

If any you enters the phrase, "scheiss amis" (using English characters) in google.com, you'll see that the phrase is still around, along with much other vulgar language. During WWII, it was the common phrase used (or "Amis" in more polite circles) to describe Americans. To rephrase it and save myself the humility of also using any vulgarity directly in English it means [excrement] friends.

To take it further, "Freunde" means "friends" in German. "Amis" is the French word for the same--not German. And you can imagine how French words contributed to emphasis in Germany during WWII and more recently.

Revisionism and censorship are in the nature of much of northeastern Europe whether under socialism or not. Russia is one example.

Here's a URL for the East and West German Propaganda Archive

Nazi and East German Propaganda Guide Page
http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/index.htm

...and an example of contemporary Nazi propaganda.

**Warning**: The following is contemporary Nazi propaganda, and it is a vulgar slander against Churchill.

*******
Churchill and US Entry Into World War II
http://www.vho.org/GB/Journals/JHR/9/3/Irving261-286.html

And here's a comment excerpted from the "About" page of the same site.

http://vho.org/About.html
"It is also Castle Hill Publishers' goal to defend human rights and to combat discrimination, especially when it is directed against the German people."
*******

Getting around revisionisms can easily be a lifelong study.

43 posted on 03/09/2004 9:00:18 PM PST by familyop (Essayons)
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To: claudiustg
That did not harm the "Freep Movement." "Freep" is stronger than ever before.
44 posted on 03/09/2004 9:00:58 PM PST by Charles Henrickson ("Freeps" engage themselves also as completely normal demonstrators for the good thing.)
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To: Bismarck
"Well, you have to be already insane to be a Leftist, regardless if you are German or American. The language and the nationality do not matter, a filhty socialist is a filthy socialist."

This is very true.
45 posted on 03/09/2004 9:02:38 PM PST by familyop (Essayons)
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To: Otto Krueger
"There are a lot of us, too"

You need tons click "co-ordinating."

46 posted on 03/09/2004 9:02:50 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Nocturnal pasting.)
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To: MARTIAL MONK
So that the beautiful pressure does not diminish.
47 posted on 03/09/2004 9:07:22 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Conservative click guerilla.)
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To: Redbob
This "story" has been, if nothing else, a great source of tag-lines!


"Free Republic": Disturb,
manipulate, demonstrate
for the right thing

48 posted on 03/09/2004 9:10:24 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Ich bin ein Tagliner.)
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To: rock58seg
Thanks for the etymology. And welcome to FR!
49 posted on 03/09/2004 9:17:52 PM PST by stands2reason
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To: Otto Krueger
The "attack" of the Freepers on the Spiegel-Online vote has, with exagerrating it, news value. If it were just this one case of one Vote, that news value would be limited. But in the case of the Freepers, it's about an organized group that engages in a massive undertaking, whereever they can, to manipulate "expressions of public opinion" like Votes.

"Attacks"? "Manipulate expression of public opinion"?

These are Internet polls accessible to anybody on the Internet from Munich to Bombay. They have as much scientific validity as the daily horoscope.

If Spiegel-Online wants a closed vote, let them have log-in passwords like FreeRepublic does. If Spiegel-Online has votes open to anyone on the Internet, then we are entitled to our votes just like any others individuals on the Internet.

50 posted on 03/09/2004 9:19:22 PM PST by Polybius
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