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HBO Docu Explores Hate on the Web

A documentary on how white-supremacist groups use the Internet to rile up their followers, Home Box Office'sHate.com: Extremists on the Internet
doesn't offer too many surprises to folks who read up on such matters in the press.

It's no big secret that groups like Aryan Nation and the Christian Identity movement are using the World Wide Web to pick up their recruits, as the documentary, co-produced by the Southern Poverty Law Center and narrated by co-founder Morris Dees, sometimes attests.

What does surprise is that the hate-group leaders profiled in the piece-Stormfront.com founder Don Black, World Church of the Creator founder Matt Hale and
Turner Diaries
author William Pierce, among others-are featured in very candid interviews, espousing their views.

Maybe the interview subjects didn't know who was interviewing them, or why, or maybe they just didn't care. But their words are more damning than any of the rhetoric in Dees' narration-particularly in the sequence where passages from
The Turner
Diariesare transposed with grisly footage of the 1996 Oklahoma City bombing.

The "Rev." Hale is perhaps the bluntest, and most frightening, figure of all. A clean-cut, law-school educated 29-year-old, Hale actually goes as far to say that he feels no sorrow when non-whites die and that "other races should thank [white people] for what we've given them."

It was the Illinois Bar Association's decision to deny Hale a law license that prompted one of his followers, Benjamin Smith, to go on a Midwest-wide killing spree that took the lives of former Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Birdsong and several Orthodox Jews.

And there are other-potentially more disturbing-aspects of hate groups' use of the Internet that go unexplored, such as the way Stormfront.com and other sites target kids.

Hate.comdoes a good job in recounting the danger of well-publicized incidents, but it also missed an opportunity to delve deeper into the dark recesses of the extremist's mind-set.

The documentary bows today (Oct. 23) at 10 p.m. with replays throughout the month.

Mike Demenchuk has served as content manager of Broadcasting+Cable and Multichannel News since 2016. After stints as reporter and editor at Adweek, The Bond Buyer and local papers in New Jersey, he joined the staff of Multichannel News in 1999 as assistant managing editor and has served as the cable trade publication's managing editor since 2005. He edits copy and writes headlines for both the print magazine and website, wrangles the occasional e-newsletter and reviews TV shows from time to time. He's also the guy to bother with your guest blog, Fates & Fortunes and Freeze Frame submissions.