1997-06-22 - Canarypunk: Jim Bell in a coalmine

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From: Robert Hettinga <rah@shipwright.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: a130f0e1a60c2a8b0f57c3fd21065a29e8d46d64a47dcd63582977be7148b8e1
Message ID: <v03020926afd30f8f70cc@[]>
Reply To: <Pine.GSO.3.95.970622123321.23284B-100000@ece>
UTC Datetime: 1997-06-22 20:16:58 UTC
Raw Date: Mon, 23 Jun 1997 04:16:58 +0800

Raw message

From: Robert Hettinga <rah@shipwright.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 1997 04:16:58 +0800
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Canarypunk: Jim Bell in a coalmine
In-Reply-To: <Pine.GSO.3.95.970622123321.23284B-100000@ece>
Message-ID: <v03020926afd30f8f70cc@[]>
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At 1:07 pm -0400 on 6/22/97, Tim May wrote on cypherpunks:

> "Something _wonderful_ is about to happen."
> "I have a solution."
> --Tim "Channeling Bell" May

Speaking of the dead, or at least the departed...

Has anybody local to Jim Bell's stir gone to visit our incarcerated, um,
gaming enthusiast, lately, just to see if he needs anything? Oh. Besides
*that* of course. :-).

Is Bell *taking* visitors yet? Would anyone in Oregon *want* to go visit
Bell, reprehensible opinions and all, if he was accepting visitors?

The reason I ask is, given events of the past few days, it may be time to
start standing up for our friends, no matter how unsavory their ideas.
Slippery slopes, and all that. I'm beginning to think of this as the
net.equivalent of neighborhood "policing", if you will, where the slightest
infraction against freedom by the federal law "enforcement" "community" is
met with the most determined (legal!) resistance possible. Maybe something
like Helsinki Watch, or, god forbid, Amnesty International.

Arresting Jim Bell and holding him with what seems to be an unreasonable
bail (that is, he can't afford to pay it) by a small army of nomex-hooded
kluxer-equivalents is the police-state version of drinking on a
streetcorner. "Patting down" the officials responsible, legally and
politically, might yield the functional equivalent of a concealed weapons
violation. That, in turn, would tell people who are wont to surround
people's houses with black nomex ninja-wannabes to think twice about
ordering such shenanigans in the future.

Tim was talking earlier here about how this kind of accountability should
have been held, more stringently, for the people who burned children in
Waco, and who shot them at Ruby Ridge. Maybe it's time to hold people who
commit capital crimes on the state's behalf to understand that the legal
sword cuts both ways. If so, I think the best way to start this is to do it
in manageable increments, and ratchet up the pressure from there. To have
zero tolerence for even the smallest offenses, starting with the jailing of
Mr. Bell.

That's because Bell is, however rediculous the offense or his behavior the
first cypherpunk political prisoner. He's ours, folks, like it or not. It's
time we faced it, and dealt with the problem accordingly.

To my mind, turnabout is in fact fair play. If you start busting the
constitutional public drinkers, like the interagency Boy's State delegation
who hauled Jim off, maybe the rest of the erst-fascists out there in
Uncle's employ will keep their nomex pyjamas in the closet, only taking
their costumes out for the occasional midnight constitution-burning
ceremony, instead of coming next for someone with more substantial freedoms
to defend.

And, frankly, if rejectionism is called for, now or later, we will know
that much sooner based on how well efforts like springing our canary in
that Oregon coal mine fares...

Admittedly, this is a distraction from the most important thing, which is
writing code, but I bet that there are in fact cypherpunks-who-don't-code
in Bell's neighborhood, and not necessarily even Friends of Jim, who would
be happy to personally go see how Bell is doing and come back and tell us
what happened. Think of it as part of the feedback loop for net.freedom. A
trip into the coal mine with a canary cage.

Yeah, I know. It's me making work for someone else. Nonetheless: Anyone out
there want to do this?

Bob Hettinga

Robert Hettinga (rah@shipwright.com), Philodox
e$, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
The e$ Home Page: http://www.shipwright.com/