It’s interesting to see the parallels between the corporate power advocates, found at such sites as The Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or the Association for Competitive Technology and old style authoritarians, such as Fascists and Communists. Of course, they both have a common goal, which is to oppress, so it is not surprising that there is a convergence in their vocabulary. From the Competitive Enterprise Institute, here’s a post by the proto-Fascist Cord Blomquist:
Of course none of this is revolutionary, in either a pro-liberty or pro-Marxist/statist way. Instead, this is just a case of customers annoying a store owner, a simple case of hooliganism, not political upheaval. If Digg takes down 1 or 1000 articles, freedom of speech is left intact. The evidence of that, the fact that this video exists, along with thousands of other pages about the HD-DVD encryption key.
Hooliganism? What is this, it sounds like a Pravda or Red Star editorial from 1956. So what is hooliganism, exactly? It’s not illegal in the USA (at least not yet) Doing a little search on wikipedia, I find that:
In the Soviet Union, hooliganism (хулиганство) was made a criminal offence under the penal codes of the Soviet republics. Article 213 of the penal code defined hooliganism as “any deliberate behaviour which violates public order and expresses explicit disrespect towards the society.” a wide range of behaviors, such as vagrancy, stalking and foul language. This law was often used by Soviet authorities against political dissidents. Hooliganism is still covered under the criminal and administrative codes of Russia, and is applicable to persons at least 16 years old. Hooliganism is graded into Malicious hooliganism(злостное хулиганство), hooliganism(хулиганство), and Petty hooliganism(мелкое хулиганство). Petty hooliganism is “subject to administrative proceedings” (roughly equivalent to application of the civil law) and classified as roughly equivalent to an infraction. It is mostly applied to minor street disorders and fighting by urban youth. Malicious hooliganism is defined as being committed “with extraordinary cynicism, with resistance to law enforcement, with usage of arms or attempt thereof, or committed by a recidivist.”
Any deliberate behavior which violates public order. “Expresses explicit disrespect towards society”? Whoaa serious stuff here! Can we say “Orrin Hatch, please enact article 213 of the Soviet Penal code into American Law, pronto, and never mind those pesky Bills of Rights.”?
Well, then, I am guilty, as are almost all my heroes, from Thomas Paine to Jimi Hendrix to Robert Mapplethorpe to Patti Smith, and on down to Noam Chomsky. They are all potentially hooligans. I don’t think Cord and his ilk have been keyed in on little details of American Law such as the FIRST AMENDMENT, which obviously bears repeating:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And over at the ACT Blog (ACT is a front for Microsoft, see http://www.sourcewatch.org for details) Mark Blafkin is trying his best to paint the digg users as a murderous mob, comparing digg’s Kevin Rose to Maximilian Robespierre:
Digg’s Kevin Rose = Robespierre?
Suffering from insomnia brought on by someone’s 3 day packing procastination (which has now devolved into packing panick), so I’ve been catching up on RSS feeds. Over at TLF, Tim Lee is using the AACS/Digg story to rehash the same tired arguments about DRM and DMCA. We all do it, but I feel like anyone focused on that angle is completely missing the real story.
Over at Silicon Valley Watcher, Tom Foremeski is all over it. The whole thing reminds me of a story about the French Revolution’s Robespierre, who supposedly leapt from his chair as soon as he saw a mob assembling outside and said “I must see which way the crowd is headed,for I am their leader.”
We’ve just seen one of them. When you’re relying on “mobs,” well, you’re relying on MOBS.
So, unfortunately it seems that everyone wants to outlaw things like hooliganism, and forgets that what makes America work is freedom, and that the freedom of the press is not some detail that can just be legislated away. It is a deeply resilient idea that will not die.