A Brief Note on Ad Hominem Attacks on the TLF

by on May 8, 2007 · 18 comments

Crosbie Fitch, Scott Carpenter & Enigma_Foundry.. I don’t know exactly what it is you have against open debate about IP issues, but as someone who both works at PFF and who gave birth to this blog many years ago while at the Cato Institute, let me at least try to briefly dissuade you (and others) of any nonsensical notion that there is some sort of grand conspiracy going on here by PFF / IP Central people to control the Tech Liberation Front.

First, if you’d bother reading the “About Us” note at the top of the TLF, you’d notice that this blog is not a one-man or one-issue show. It’s intended to be a clearinghouse of ideas to give the world a flavor for what various libertarians in a wide assortment of think tanks are thinking and saying about technology policy.

Second, libertarians have deep differences over copyright policy. Obviously, Tim Lee and Solveig Singleton stand on opposite ends of the spectrum. I’m somewhere in between. And everyone else who contributes to this blog has his or her own opinion. As I wrote in a 2002 Cato Institute book I edited on this subject (“CopyFights”), there is no clear “libertarian position” on copyright and IP matters. The movement is all over the board on the issue and this blog features contributions that reflect that intellectual schizophrenia.

Third, I would greatly appreciate it if you would refrain from engaging in vicious personal attacks against those who contribute their views on these matters. Despite the alleged, neo-conspiratorial “strange web” you guys speak of between the TLF and PFF, the reality is that PFF has no control over the TLF. Zero. Zip. Nothing. Nadda. Every scholar and commenter is free to post whatever they want here. Tim’s view’s on copyright, DRM, and DMCA certainly dominate here because he writes the most on the issue and he is the most aggressive of all our bloggers. Nothing that Tim says on the matter is ever edited or censored in any fashion. Nor are the comments you guys and many others make edited or excluded. Then again, neither are the opposing views of Solveig or anyone else. Do you think we’d be better off stifling all debate on this issue and telling Solveig or others with conflicting views to go buzz off? Why can’t we debate these things here on the TLF in a mature, adult fashion?

I hope you guys (and others) will take what I have said seriously because we certainly welcome your contributions to the TLF, but I would hope those contributions would not be done in such poor taste in the future.

  • Doug Lay

    Tim isn’t at one end of the spectrum. He’s pretty moderate as far as copyfighters go. I’m pretty sure he believes copyright should continue to exist as a legal concept (I reluctantly agree) and he’s even defended the Supreme Court’s Grokster decision (I disagree on that one).

    I don’t think Solveig is an extremist either, at least not in demeanor. She makes her points rationally, as opposed to the sentimental tough guy posturing of folks like Patrick Ross and Chris Castle. I do think Solveig’s credibility (and PFF’s credibility in general) is harmed by the association with Jim DeLong, whose recent writings seem increasingly crackpot, drifting off into police-state fantasies about government-mandated deep packet inspection, which apparently the public is going to rise up and demand on an internet-wide basis. Yah right.

    You are absolutely right about the “honeypot” theory regarding TLF. It’s ridiculous. This is a great blog, great place for discussion.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Well said, Adam. We ought to be able to discuss these issues rationally without resorting to personal attacks.

  • Doug Lay

    Tim isn’t at one end of the spectrum. He’s pretty moderate as far as copyfighters go. I’m pretty sure he believes copyright should continue to exist as a legal concept (I reluctantly agree) and he’s even defended the Supreme Court’s Grokster decision (I disagree on that one).

    I don’t think Solveig is an extremist either, at least not in demeanor. She makes her points rationally, as opposed to the sentimental tough guy posturing of folks like Patrick Ross and Chris Castle. I do think Solveig’s credibility (and PFF’s credibility in general) is harmed by the association with Jim DeLong, whose recent writings seem increasingly crackpot, drifting off into police-state fantasies about government-mandated deep packet inspection, which apparently the public is going to rise up and demand on an internet-wide basis. Yah right.

    You are absolutely right about the “honeypot” theory regarding TLF. It’s ridiculous. This is a great blog, great place for discussion.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Well said, Adam. We ought to be able to discuss these issues rationally without resorting to personal attacks.

  • http://blog.actonline.org Mark Blafkin

    Amen, Brother.

  • http://www.techlawforum.net Erik Schmidt

    I’ve found plenty I agree with and plenty I disagree with at TLF, which is why I enjoy reading it so much. Free exchange of ideas without the chaff found on so many other sites is what makes it one of my favorite reads.

    I don’t care who is making them, ad hominem attacks are the last refuge of those who can’t adequately argue a position.

  • http://blog.actonline.org Mark Blafkin

    Amen, Brother.

  • http://www.movingtofreedom.org Scott Carpenter

    I think people are a little careless with the ad hominem label, and as Enigma has pointed out, it doesn’t seem to get leveled at others who make them here. (I’m thinking in particular of a certain red-baiting commenter.)

    I’m not sure how my comment qualified as ad hominem. I thought Crosbie was just being silly and having fun with the association between this site and some others, and I just picked up on that. So flame me for goofing off. I enjoy discussions here on positions I agree with and disagree with. I don’t seriously think this is a honeypot site or there is some kind of control conspiracy involved, but there’s no doubt a relationship between this site and the others, and I think it’s fair game for speculation, tongue-in-cheek or otherwise.

  • http://www.techlawforum.net Erik Schmidt

    I’ve found plenty I agree with and plenty I disagree with at TLF, which is why I enjoy reading it so much. Free exchange of ideas without the chaff found on so many other sites is what makes it one of my favorite reads.

    I don’t care who is making them, ad hominem attacks are the last refuge of those who can’t adequately argue a position.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    In the spirit of goofing off – I’d like to note that Adam misrepresented this post as brief. It’s not brief. Adam doesn’t do brief.

  • http://www.movingtofreedom.org Scott Carpenter

    I think people are a little careless with the ad hominem label, and as Enigma has pointed out, it doesn’t seem to get leveled at others who make them here. (I’m thinking in particular of a certain red-baiting commenter.)

    I’m not sure how my comment qualified as ad hominem. I thought Crosbie was just being silly and having fun with the association between this site and some others, and I just picked up on that. So flame me for goofing off. I enjoy discussions here on positions I agree with and disagree with. I don’t seriously think this is a honeypot site or there is some kind of control conspiracy involved, but there’s no doubt a relationship between this site and the others, and I think it’s fair game for speculation, tongue-in-cheek or otherwise.

  • http://www.cato.org/people/harper.html Jim Harper

    In the spirit of goofing off – I’d like to note that Adam misrepresented this post as brief. It’s not brief. Adam doesn’t do brief.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    I think people are a little careless with the ad hominem label, and as Enigma has pointed out, it doesn’t seem to get leveled at others who make them here. (I’m thinking in particular of a certain red-baiting commenter.)

    I totally agree, and that is why I don’t ever make ad hominum attacks.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    I think people are a little careless with the ad hominem label, and as Enigma has pointed out, it doesn’t seem to get leveled at others who make them here. (I’m thinking in particular of a certain red-baiting commenter.)

    I totally agree, and that is why I don’t ever make ad hominum attacks.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    I hope you guys (and others) will take what I have said seriously because we certainly welcome your contributions to the TLF, but I would hope those contributions would not be done in such poor taste in the future.

    Exactly what are you talking about, Adam?

    It seems that you are being awfully thin-skinned, and recall the rather viscous words used against me several posts ago? No one from TLF objected then, but they do now.

  • http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/ enigma_foundry

    I hope you guys (and others) will take what I have said seriously because we certainly welcome your contributions to the TLF, but I would hope those contributions would not be done in such poor taste in the future.

    Exactly what are you talking about, Adam?

    It seems that you are being awfully thin-skinned, and recall the rather viscous words used against me several posts ago? No one from TLF objected then, but they do now.

  • http://tieguy.org/blog/ Luis Villa

    If a certain righty poster who does ad hominem all the time were included, this would carry a lot more moral weight.

  • http://tieguy.org/blog/ Luis Villa

    If a certain righty poster who does ad hominem all the time were included, this would carry a lot more moral weight.

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