Bonum Certa Men Certa

Free Speech Rejected by Opponents of Free Software

Summary: Free Speech needs to be protected, but people who attack the Free Software Movement do not agree

YESTERDAY our long-timer (15 years!) Ryan Farmer wrote about Matthew Garrett [1], berating him for attacking the American First Amendment after he had become a naturalised US citizen. Mr. Farmer had accused him in IRC some days ago of moreover committing perjury by doing so. While we don't want to go into all the gory details (it's a rather long post that cites Techrights IRC a lot), we thought it would be a suitable time to bring up Free Speech and cite some examples from the past week.

Techrights not only believes in Free Speech (yes, capitalised!) but relies on it. We criticise many powerful companies and if we were based in Russia or China, we'd probably have been raided by now based on some false pretext (like some drugs planted in the home or something related to taxes, "insulting the leader", "discrediting the state" etc.).

In this post I don't want to berate Matthew Garrett (arrogant person, terrible person by the way!) or interpret what his sick mind compels him to say. Instead I'll focus on new examples of what happens in countries that lack Free Speech.

Daniel Ellsberg has just died. It was expected because of a cancer diagnosis, but I found out about his death only minutes after I said in IRC that he could die any day, even "tomorrow" (I then checked what he was up to and found out he had in fact died hours earlier!). Project Censored paid a tribute to him (we'll included many more in the next batch of Daily Links), citing [2] "part on an interview with Project Censored’s Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips on KPFA, Pacifica Free Speech Radio, The Project Censored Show, April 3, 2013."

Ellsberg used Free Speech to stop a war. The general consensus in the US is that he did the right thing, the moral thing, the necessary thing.

"Ellsberg used freedom of the press more than individual Free Speech," an associate has noten, "there was even a major court case as the result."

Now fast-forward about half a century. Axios reported yesterday [3] that "Department of Justice probe finds pattern of racist policing, excessive force in Minneapolis", stating: "Violated free speech rights of protestors and members of the press, including by physically retaliating against people engaging in protected speech."

You see where this is going? So Matthew Garrett, who pretends to be against police violence, is in fact enabling it. He's attacking Free Speech. He regrets Free Speech. He wants to take it away (see examples in Mr. Farmer's post).

Yesterday there was also a new article [4] in the Journal of Free Speech Law. There were many of those recently. Try to overcome the left/right wing barrier and focus on the core issues. Many people are too infantile to do this. Even voting machines' integrity seems to have become a 'wing' thing [1, 2]. That same journal published "Noisy Speech Externalities," by Prof. Gus Hurwitz, just 3 days ago [5]. These aren't a bunch of cranks but rather a professor or many professors with a grasp of history and why Free Speech matters, even if it can sometimes be misused as a shield by rather terrible people to say rather terrible things.

Related/contextual items from the news:


  1. Matthew Garrett Says San Francisco People “Get it.” With the City in Court Attacking Homeless Americans. Also Blasts US Constitution.
    Matthew Garrett, Says San Francisco People “Get it.” With the City in Court Attacking Homeless Americans. Also Blasts US Constitution. Matthew Garrett told me the other day on TechRights IRC that it’s unfortunate that American citizens can’t be arrested for talking about things he doesn’t agree with.


  2. On Civil Courage and Its Punishments - Censored Notebook

    Editor’s Note: The late Daniel Ellsberg’s article, “On Civil Courage and its Punishments,” was originally published in Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times, edited by Mickey Huff, Andy Lee Roth, and Project Censored (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2013), 208-13. The article was based in part on an interview with Project Censored’s Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips on KPFA, Pacifica Free Speech Radio, The Project Censored Show, April 3, 2013.



  3. Department of Justice probe finds pattern of racist policing, excessive force in Minneapolis
    Violated free speech rights of protestors and members of the press, including by physically retaliating against people engaging in protected speech.



  4. Journal of Free Speech Law: My "The Reverse Spider-Man Principle: With Great Responsibility Comes Great Power"
    Just published as part of the symposium on Media and Society After Technological Disruption, edited by Profs. Justin "Gus" Hurwitz & Kyle Langvardt.


  5. Journal of Free Speech Law: "Noisy Speech Externalities," by Prof. Gus Hurwitz
    Just published as part of the symposium on Media and Society After Technological Disruption, edited by Profs. Justin "Gus" Hurwitz & Kyle Langvardt.


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