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vintage cpunk



Great repost. May is unique. And well armed and bunkered, physically,
philosophically, politically.

At 01:27 AM 4/26/2016, you wrote:

> From "Timothy C. May" <[email protected]>
>Date: Sun, 2 Feb 1997 19:25:50 -0800 (PST)
>To: [email protected]
>Subject: My Departure, Moderation, and "Ownership of the List"
>
>
>
>A couple of people have sent me pinging messages, asking about my
>status on the Cypherpunks list....apparently it has taken several weeks
>for folks to notice my absence! :-}  This may speak volumes about why I
>have left the list, and what the list has become.....
>
>I chose not to write a "departing flame" (or message, but some might
>call it a flame) when I unsubscribed several weeks ago--within an hour
>of reading that John and Sandy had decided to make "their" list a
>moderated list, by the way--as I saw little benefit. I was also fed up
>with things, and saw no point in wasting even more of my time arguing
>against the New Cypherpunks World Order, as the NCWO was clearly
>presented as a fait accompli, not something ablut which opinions of
>list members (or even list _founders_, at least not me) were being
>sought. It's my nature to just say "Fuck it" and leave when I feel I
>have overstayed my time, or things are no longer fun, or I am made to
>feel unwelcome.
>
>But since several people have pinged me, asking about my status, I'll
>take some time to say a few things. I've had access to the hks.net
>archive site, and/or the Singapore site, to occasionally see what was
>being said on the list (old habits die slowly, so I sometimes drop in
>to see what you people are flaming each other about...not
>surprisingly--in fact utterly predictably--I see vast amounts of
>bandwidth consumed by arguments about moderation, about the putative
>biases of the Moderator and Director of the New Cypherpunks World
>Order, about alternative moderation strategies (which is stupid, as
>John and Sandy announced what they were going to do, not just some of
>their preliminary thoughts), and so on. I've also noticed fewer
>substantive essays. With no false modesty I tried awfully hard to
>compose substantive essays on crypto-political topics, often more than
>one per day. (Others did too, but they seem to be tapering off as well,
>leaving the list to be dominated by something called a "Toto," the
>"O.J. was framed!" ravings of Dale Thorn, the love letters between
>Vulis and someone name Nurdane Oksas, and the occasional bit of crypto
>news. Ho hum. I'm glad I'm not reading the list in e-mail, and thus can
>easily avoid replying to these inanities...which would probably not be
>approved for reading by Sandy, so why bother anyway?)
>
>
>Rather than compose a traditional essay, I'll take the  easy way out and
>list some bulleted points.
>
>* First, I don't argue that John Gilmore is unfree to do as he wishes
>   with his machine, toad, which has been the major machine host for the
>Cypherpunks list. John can tell us we have to write in Pig Latin if he
>wishes. Much of the debate I saw in the archives was debate that missed
>   the point about what John could and couldn't do. No one can seriously
>   question the right of the owner of a machine, or the owner of a
>   restaurant, etc., to set the policies he wishes. The owner of a
>   restaurant is perfectly free--or used to be, and still is to anyone
>   with even slightly libertarian or freedom tendencies--to set the
>   rules of his "house." He may insist that shirts and shoes be worn, or
>   that smoking is not allowed (or even is required, in theory), etc. He
>   may say "All those eating in my restaurant must wear funny hats and
>   have their costumes approved by Sandy Sandfort." This is
>   unexceptionable.
>
>* However, anyone who disputes these rules (disputes in the sense of
>disliking or disagreeing with them, not legally challenging them) is
>   free to leave. Those who don't like crowded, noisy, smoke-filled
>   sports bars are encourgaged to leave. And so on. Again,
>   unexceptionable.
>
>(The more complicated case of contracts, verbal or written, and
>"changing the rules," does not apply here. No one had a contract with
>John, or Sandy, or Hugh, etc., so this is not germane.)
>
>* But the really important issue is this: is the _physical hosting_ of
>   the Cypherpunks mailing list coterminous with the "Cypherpunks"? If
>   the list was hosted by, say, UC Berkeley or PGP Incorporated, would
>   we consider these hosts to be the "owners" of the Cypherpunks group?
>   Would we think that a corporate host, say, would have the authority
>   to direct what we could say on the list? (Again, not disputing their
>   corporate property rights...as a libertarian, I cannot. Other issues
>   are what I'm getting at.)
>
>* If a Boy Scout troop meets at a local church, and has for several
>   years, continuously, would we consider the church to be the owner of
>   the troop? Could the church insist on avoidance of certain "cuss
>   words" and demand that prayers be said before each gathering?
>   Certainly the church could tell the troop what policies were to be
>   followed if the the facilities were to be used, etc., and the troop
>   could leave if it didn't like the terms (or, in parallel with my
>   situation, any troop member could choose to leave....). This is what
>   we mean by "property rights": the legal right of a property owner to
>   do with his property as he wishes, modulo prior contractual
>   relationships, criminal laws, etc.
>
>* How did the mailing list for the group, now called Cypherpunks, get
>started, and how did it end up being run off of John's hardare? Hugh
>   Daniel got the actual mailing list rolling, based on a discussion
>   Eric Hughes, Hugh, and I had the day after the first physical
>   meeting, in September 1992. We thought the group we had just spent
>   the day with ought to be able to stay in touch, and that a mailing
>   list was the right way to go. There was talk of siting it on the UC
>   Berkeley computers (actually, the Undergraduate Association
>   computers, a la the Cypherpunks archive site at "csua"), but Hugh
>   thought he might be able to use "toad," and this is what happened. (I
>   have not heard from Hugh on his views of this New and Moderated
>   Non-Anarchic List.)
>
>* I think we should all be very grateful to John for agreeing to let it
>   run on his hardware, but not let our gratitude turn into some sort of
>subservience and blather about how John "owns" the Cypherpunks group.
>
>* Again, is the "Cyherpunks community" the same as the mailing list?
>   And is the mailing list, hosted at toad, the "property" of John
>   Gilmore?
>
>* In my view, neither John nor Sandy in any sense "own" our group. It
>   is a virtual community which sometimes has physical meetings at
>   various places (including corporations, restaurants, and bookstores,
>   none of which are even partial "owners" of the group) and which has
>   had several instantiations on the Net, including sub-lists not
>   connected to toad.com in any way. While John is of course free at any
>   time to suspend his hosting of the list, I think it a serious
>   misapprehension of the basic nature of virtual communities to accept
>   the claim that John should decide on what is appropriate to bear the
>   "Cypherpunks" list imprimatur and what is to be consigned to the
>   flame list.
>
>* The mechanics of the announcement troubled me greatly. To be blunt, I
>   was seething with anger. I was mightily annoyed to read that John had
>   made a decision to appoint Sandy as his Moderator, with no discussion
>   on the list. I don't know if Eric Hughes and Hugh Daniel were asked
>   their opinions, but I certainly know I was not. I feel that as one of
>   the two or three founders, depending on how one is counting, and as a
>   frequent contributor to the list since its inception, and so on, I
>   (and others) should at least have been told of this plan. Better yet,
>   have the plans discussed on the list, as some good ideas may have
>   been generated.
>
>I'll have more to say about my problems with how things were handled.
>Frankly, it smacked of the same kind of fait accompli decision John made
>with the unsubscribing of Vulis. While John had (and has) every legal
>right to do with his property as he wished, the effect was very
>negative. First, Vulis found other ways to post (duh). Second, the list
>was consumed with flames about this, many from Vulis, and many from
>others. Third, journalists (who love sizzle over substance any day of
>the week) lept into the fray with articles which gave Vulis the
>publicity he craved. Fourth, it sent a message to enemies of liberty
>that "Even the Cypherpunks have found it necessary to abandon their
>anarchic ways."
>
>(I'm well aware of the issues with pests like Vulis, who seek to destroy
>virtual communities like ours. But the solution John used did not work,
>and generated more crap. As you all should know, it was John himself
>who coined the wonderful saying, "The Net interprets censorship as
>damage and routes around it." A delicious irony.)
>
>* In the archives, I did see a bunch of "I support Sandy" and "John is
>   our leader" comments from reasonable people. The obvious noise of
>   Vulis and his cohorts like Aga made a "Do something!" attitude
>   somewhat understandable. I don't think the decision made was a wise
>   one, and I strongly doubt it will work to make the list a better one.
>
>* The proper solution to bad speech is more speech, not censorship.
>Censorship just makes opponents of "speech anarchy" happy--it affirms
>   their basic belief that censors are needed.
>
>* "Censorship" is another overloaded term. I don't think the
>   "Definition 1" of dictionary definitions, about _governmental_
>   restrictions, is the only meaningful definition. Everybody knows what
>   it meant when we say that "Lockheed is censoring the views of
>   employees," even though we know Lockheed is not using government
>   power. A censor is one who censors. And even my "American Heritage
>   Dictionary" gives this as its "definition 1":
>
>"censor n. 1. A person authorized to examine books, films, or other
>material and to remove or suppress morally, politically, or otherwise
>objectionable."
>
>(Other dictionaries of course give similar definitions. The notion that
>censors are confined to being government employees is a misconception.)
>
>* OK, even given that John had decided to censor "his" list, what about
>   his choice of Sandy Sandfort as the censor? I've known Sandy for
>   several years (I was the one who invited him to the second
>   Cypherpunks meeting), but he's a poor choice as a censor, moderator,
>   whatever. First, because he has so often gotten involved in
>   protracted flame wars, such as with Vulis (remember the dozens of
>   messages about the "bet" to bring Vulis out? I stayed out of the
>   charade completely.), with Hallam-Baker, and with others. Second,
>   because he has not been actively composing essays for a while,
>   perhaps because of his job with Community Connexion. Other reasons,
>   too.
>
>(I count Sandy as a friend, but I'm just being honest here. Sandy is
>just not a "Peter Neumann" (moderator of the "RISKS" list).
>
>* Nor do the announced criteria make any sense. While the inane one-line
>scatological insults have been filtered out, many "flames" make it
>   through, based on what I've seen in perusing the hks archive site.
>   And some reasonable comments get dumped in the flame bucket.
>
>* As expected, those who only want to talk about cryptography (but who
>rarely do, themselves, also as expected) waste bandwidth saying the
>"anarchist" and "libertarian" stuff ought to go in to the "rejected"
>   list. More bandwidth wasted, as each group lobbies to have its
>   ideological opponents censored by Sandy.
>
>* I would have had no problem had John announced that he was creating a
>   new list, the "Good Stuff" list, with Sandy has his Chooser of Good
>   Stuff. After all, both Eric Blossom and Ray Arachelian already offer
>   just such lists, and more would not hurt.
>
>But by making the _main list_ the censored one, this skewed things
>considerably.
>
>* (Frankly, one of my considerations in leaving was the feeling that I
>would never know if an essay I'd spent hours composing would be
>   rejected by Sandy for whatever reasons....maybe he might think my
>   essay was off-topic, or used one of the Seven Deadly Words, or was
>   "too flamish." Whatever. I realized that life is too short to have
>   Sandy Sandfort deciding whether my essays should go out to the main
>   list (which is really just a list like Eric Blossom's best-of list,
>   except it is be edict now the main list) or be dumped into the flames
>   list, to be read by a handful of people.)
>
>* Why, many reasonable people may ask, did I not simply unsubscribe from
>the "Cypherpunks" list and subscribe to the "Cypherpunks-Unedited) (or
>whatever it is called) list? Because of my overall anger with the issues
>raised above. The imperiousness of the decision, the notion of favoring
>Sandy's tastes in a more "first class" way than, say, the tastes of Eric
>Blossom, Ray Arachelian, or, for that matter, me.  "Some censors are
>   more equal than others."
>
>* The decision to "moderate" (censor) the Cypherpunks list is powerful
>ammunition to give to our opponents, and Vulis is certainly gleeful that
>his fondest wishes have been realized. And it won't work. People are
>consuming even more bandwidth arguing the merits of John's decision, the
>traffic is presumably being slowed down by the need for Sandy to wade
>through the traffic and stamp "Approved" or "Rejected" on what he
>   glances at, and people are "testing the limits" of what they can say
>   and what they can't say.
>
>* It also sends a message that people are incapable of filtering out bad
>speech, that they need a censor to do it for them. (Again, I have no
>problem with competing "screeners," a la having Ray, Eric, or David
>Sternlight filtering what they think is OK and what is not. Let a
>   thousand filtering services bloom.) But the clear message by having
>   Sandy censor the main list (the default list, the list name with the
>   main name, the list we all know about, etc.) is that Cypherpunks need
>   Big Brother to shelter them from Bad Thoughts, from Naughty Words,
>   from Evil Flames, and from Impure Desires. Foo on that.
>
>* Psychologists might point to random reinforcement, even to the
>   effects of terror. How many of us are likely to write controversial
>   posts knowing that Sandy might wake up having a "bad hair day" and
>   thus reject our posts? How many will begin to skew their opinions to
>   match those of Sandy? (I would venture a guess that a Duncan Frissell
>   would almost certainly get a libertarian rant past Sandy while a
>   Phill Hallam-Baker might easily fail to get a leftist rant past him.)
>
>* Those who want "less noise" should subcontract with the filter
>   services of their own choosing. This is the "Cypherpunk Way." Having
>   Sandy as the censor is the easy way out.
>
>* By the way, the moderated list "RISKS"  works pretty well. But it is
>   not a _discussion_ group. It is, rather, a digest of news items
>   related to computer and technology risks, with some discussion by
>   various contributors, and with a long turnaround time of a few issues
>   per week, tops. Peter Neumann also devotes a lot of time to making it
>   run smoothly and bases part of his professional career on running it.
>   I surmise that Sandy is not prepared to do the same. Nor would this
>   be a good idea, as this would kill the spirit of the debate.
>
>* Had there been a debate about the policy, I can think of several
>approaches I'd like better. But inasmuch as John made it clear that
>   there would be no debate (and, perhaps as part of the "problem," John
>   has not really been a active member of the mailing list, in terms of
>   participating in the debates), this is all moot.
>
>In any case, my several years with the list have taken a huge amount of
>my time. Given the way this whole thing was handled, and the way the
>list is degenerating even further, it looks like it's good that I'm
>moving on to other things.
>
>
>* To summarize:
>
>- the decision to censor the list was made without any discussion on the
>list, without any discussion with at least some of the longterm core
>contributors, and was presented as a "fait accompli."
>
>- while John has every right to do with his hardware as he wishes, he
>   does not "own" the Cypherpunks group (though whether he owns the
>   "list" is a semantically debatable point)
>
>- whatever our group once was, or still is, is not dependent on having a
>particular mailing list running on someone's home machine...and it
>   cannot be claimed that any person "owns" the Cypherpunks group.
>
>- there is some talk of creating another Cypherpunks list, on other
>machines; I don't know whether or not this will fly, or if I'll devote
>   any time to such lists.
>
>- the effect of censorship, such as I have seen it so far, is not
>   producing a better list. In fact, as I would have expected, it is
>   producing a more boring and sheltered list.
>
>
>And so there you have it.
>
>I had no plans to set down my views, feeling it was a waste of my time
>and your time. Rather than foam and rant the way some did (and Vulis
>must have posted 100 messages on the subject), I chose to simply make
>my exit, quickly.
>
>But as I have recently seen several mentions of my absence (including a
>particularly complimentary comment from Asgaard--thanks), I do feel I
>owe it to you all to explain my views.
>
>Which I have done. Have a nice year, and a nice millenium in a couple
>of years.
>
>
>--Tim May
>
>
>
>
>Just say "No" to "Big Brother Inside"
>We got computers, we're tapping phone lines, I know that that ain't
>allowed.
>---------:---------:---------:---------:---------:---------:---------:----
>Timothy C. May              | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital
>money, [email protected]  408-728-0152 | anonymous networks, digital
>pseudonyms, zero W.A.S.T.E.: Corralitos, CA  | knowledge, reputations,
>information markets, Higher Power: 2^1398269     | black markets,
>collapse of governments. "National borders aren't even speed bumps on
>the information superhighway."