We've been quite vocal at Traverse Internet Law about the nasty habit of the far left leaning and liberal blogosphere attacking through words (and otherwise) individuals who dare disagree with their "information yearns to be free" and "hands off the web" mantra. These interests claim that our free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment protects the right to attack with impunity anyone with whom they disagree.
And most troublesome is that these groups and special interests maintain a virtual police state online. They develop intelligence, share information, and relentlessly attack the dissenters to their far left perspective, sometimes in the dark of night using anonymous and pseudonomous postings, riding off the "Streisand Effect" to create a mob attack of similarly minded fanatics (I call it a "mobosphere attack" in the Google Bomb Book).
I have often said that the left wingers are all for the right to free speech, until they don't agree with it. Time and again you'll see discussions and postings about using the Streisand Effect to retaliate against someone for offering an opposing voice. It is a policy aimed at destroying dissension, particularly in Internet legal and policy areas. "First things we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Consider the context of the statement if you don't already know and it quickly becomes apparent that this effort to bully, undermine, attack and destroy lawyers is the rallying cry for the police state...a world in which dissidents are held out to public scorn and ridicule by a vicious mob (Streisand Effect) or relentlessy attacked by masked intruders (anonymous speakers). This is the world in which we live today. Honest, honorable, intelligent, well mannered, battle worn veterans of the world rarely participate in online dialogue because of the attacks their participation invites. And so you get a very one sided, jaded, biased perspective on Internet law and policy issues. The far left liberals not only control the message, but police the web for anyone not drinking their kool-aid.
The latest dust up comes from a debate about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement that will establish standardized laws for dealing with Intellectual Property. On the one hand, the liberals complain about a number of proposed or anticipated elements like a "three strikes" law for those infringing copyright and anti-circumvention technology restrictions, all of which is far too involved to discuss in this post. It is all very complex, and the online debate is raging. What caught my attention was not the relative merits of the debate, but comments made by Dr. Mihaly Ficsor, a renowned global copyright expert and a citizen of Hungary. It is in response to Michael Geist's far left leaning attacks on the treaty and the publication of high profile and allegedly misleading claims about the treaty that Dr. Ficsor offers a perspective that we in the US cannot possibly have. Here are his words from Budapest, Hungary:
I have decided reluctantly to react to this, and then truly do not want to deal with this weird quarrel anymore. It is completely useless to present arguments against heated ideological discourse and sheer hatred campaigns trying to suppress any contrary views. I am immune against it, as someone who has survived a serious illness. In the decades through which we were constrained to live under a communist regime, this was so customary; everybody who did not agree with the collectivist ideology, there was no discussion about it; he simply became enemy and the agent of the “imperialist forces.” There were no blogs at that time; there were only newspapers and radio, but the style was the same as in these “digital activist” blogs; even the words and expressions are so familiar. Ask about this the many Hungarians who fled to Canada after our beautiful but failed uprising in 1956! We who have suffered a lot – I too as a child and adolescent as a member of a family which, together with many others, was a victim of serious persecution because my uncle bravely spoke out against the communist ideology – have become resistant. Nevertheless, at the same time, we are sensitive to those phenomena where some people try to settle disputes in the style of those “glorious” years, and we may be ready to say some words just in order that our social environment make use at least the wisdom of the saying: “Experience is a wonderful thing; it helps us to recognize our mistakes when we commit them again.”
And so, as we begin a New Year, let me propose five resolutions that we should all consider embracing. I'll call them the "Ficsor" principles:
1) Oppression: I resolve not to abuse our rights in free speech. I will be vigilant in guarding the rights of others to voice their opinions and disagree, but will never hide behind protected free speech in order to punish others for voicing their opinions.
2) Suppression: I resolve to reject the use of the mobosphere attack or Streisand Effect to influence, undermine or control online dialogue from dissenters.
3) Anonymity: I resolve to never publish anonymous and pseudonomous comments or posts that are derogatory towards someone.
4) Persecution: I resolve to voice my opinion vigorously and openly with utmost respect for the free speech rights of those with whom I disagree, and to discourage and condemn any attempts at coordinating the persecution of my online adversaries.
5) Intellectual Integrity: I resolve to only comment upon what I know after reasonably acquiring a fair, informed and balanced understanding of the issue.