February 1, 2005

The continued march of argument by fiat

My loss of respect for Mr. Doctorow continues apace. Not for his beliefs, and even really for his actions...I fully respect his positions on the Copyfight (and agree with many of them). I absolutely will defend his right to hold his positions. I respect his obvious passion for Eyes on the Prize, and am grateful for it. While I disagree with his support for the initial form of the Eyes on the Screen protest, that's a matter of philosophical difference between him and myself, not worthy of any public discourse.

His latest entry on the matter on BoingBoing offers yet more support for the protest (well and good) as well as - since Blackside's lawyers have shut down the availablity of illegal copies of the film through DHB's site - an alternate source. Again, while I really don't agree with him, and in fact this makes me somewhat annoyed, I understand the tactics at play here - he's advocating the use of p2p for copyfight, and this makes perfect sense. If you think the law is broken, and the law pursues you for undertaking an activity (well, pursues DHB, not you), then sure, go offshore where they can't get you as easily.

What really causes me to lose respect, though, is that he still won't acknowledge the existence of a debate - either through comments on BoingBoing, or through links to other sites respected in the field, such as Copyfight. It makes him less of a philosophical activist, in my book, and more of a hardline dogmatic tactical fighter. One of the things that I tend to look towards with respect in a champion for a cause is one who is certain enough about their cause's underpinnings that they are willing to entertain debate on the notion - one who believes that debate in public fora on their cause and their movement can only help, not harm.

Posted by jbz at February 1, 2005 11:33 AM | TrackBack


I read Boingboing pretty often, and agree with most of its writers most of the time. I really appreciated your earlier post dissecting the p2p protest against the banning of "Eyes on the Prize" for redistribution, sale, or public showing.

I chose not to participate in the .torrent download protest, very possibly because of your arguments that the legitimate legal struggle to re-release the movie could be endangered by p2p activism. At the same time I think it's abhorrent that we live in a society where history itself (as represented in the movie) could be surpressed regardless of the law.

Ultimately, we are on a different page, as I don't see the content of the movie as substantially separate from the current struggle for freedom of information. Although it can be argued that the movement for human equality is much more fundamental and essential, I think that the freedom of access to historical content (this is the perfect case in point) flies in the face of human rights, and is inextricable from global justice movements.

I'm not sure what you mean by "comments" on boingboing, as there aren't any per se, but rather some sort of auxillary forum (that I never visit). After reading your last entry, I have been meaning to write an entry of my own (and may still do so) but your arguments to me were strong enough that I personally would be unable to discount them as a meaningful part of the discourse.

At the same time I don't think that Cory's lack of inclusion of your perspective paints him as the dogmatic type. It only means that either he is unaware of the import of your perspective, or he does not believe that it has enough merit at all in the face of the greater evil which is the corporate silencing of history. I would have included your points if I were him and were aware of them, but I disagree with the conclusions you've reached about him.


Posted by: michaelm at February 3, 2005 10:25 PM

Thank you for your discussion on this topic! In the end, I think great things are going to come from the attention this has gotten--good things for "Eyes" as well as for documentary films in general.

Posted by: Yvette at February 1, 2005 3:22 PM
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