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Re: more ideas on anonymity
FROM THE VIRTUAL DESK OF SANDY SANDFORT
Today, Theodore Ts'o raised the specter of libel and slander to
justify some forms of censorship for anonymous remailers. He
assumed, rhetorically, that if you believe in total freedom of
speech, than you must not believe in libel or slander.
He is correct, of course. Nevertheless, his implied conclusion
is in error. He would have us give up free speech to uphold
libel and slander. I say, let's give up the artificial concepts
of libel and slander and uphold our freedom of speech.
Can people be harmed by speech? Maybe yes, maybe no. But if so,
that is the price that must be paid to avoid a far greater harm.
Damnum absque injuria--there are some loses for which there is no
remedy at law.
If your girlfriend impugns your manhood, there may be harm. But
should her speech be ILLEGAL? I think not.
I'm sure that what NBC did was NOT libel or slander. It may have
been fraud, though. In any event, if a free society chose not to
make what NBC did illegal, that in no way implies that NBC was
"perfectly justified" in faking an explosion. It just says
society takes any remedy out of the hands of the state. Of
course, NBC's acts have already damaged its own reputation karma.
Serves 'em right, too.
One last note about practicality. We live in a world with pay
telephones, which anyone may use to threaten anyone else,
anonymously. Shall we eliminate pay phones? Today in the United
States, a uniformed agent of the government will deliver your
anonymous threat to your victims door for only US$0.29. Shall we
eliminate the Postal Service? (The answer is "yes," but for
other reasons.) So what's the point? Why should we be any
harsher on the networks than we are on all the other anonymous
There is only one realistic and moral solution to threats of
violence. Punish the perpetrators, not the messenger. Even in
today's world, crimes are rarely solved by wiretaps, forensic
science or any of that. Perps gets fingered by someone they
know; perps confess; perps screw up and accidentally give
themselves away; or the intended victim blows the perp's head off
during an attempt to carry out the threat. Again, punish the
perpetrators, not the messengers.
S a n d y [email protected]