John Perry Barlow was the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He died in his sleep at the age of 70 on February 7th. He was a person with whom I wish I could have spent more time. He did a great deal of good on his life.
At a time when the freedom to express oneself on the Internet or anywhere else is under attack, it is important to recall that there is an issue on which liberals and conservatives ought not to differ. Free speech is one of them.
His obituary on the EFF website says of him:
Barlow’s lasting legacy is that he devoted his life to making the Internet into “a world that all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth . . . a world where anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity.”
The late John Perry Barlow was a songwriter with the Grateful Dead in his earlier days. Here is a link to his compositions.
When one considers that free speech is now associated with speech that the Muslims and the Left do not like, with “weaponized” discourse, according to the National Post article this morning, it is more than ever imperative to recognize friends of free speech wherever they may be found.
Traditional free speech advocates are reconsidering the status quo they helped create, in which hate speech is only a Criminal Code charge that requires political approval, and so is rarely prosecuted. There is even talk of resurrecting the defunct and much maligned ban on internet hate speech, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act.
The latest example was a lecture this week by Omar Mouallem, an Edmonton journalist and board member of free expression group PEN Canada, in which he argued online racists have “weaponized” free speech against Muslims, and Canada should consider a new anti-hate law to stop them.
I have said it repeatedly, that the end goal of Islam and the political Left is identical: a fear-driven and conformitarian orthodoxy. They differ in that the ideology in Islam is constant, whereas with the Left it changes daily. I have no doubt that both are pernicious, but which will prevail is as yet unknown.
To the memory of John Perry Barlow, friend of man and friend of freedom. We need more like him. The fight is never over.