How Esther Dyson Quoted Me in 1999
In 1998 I wrote Esther Dyson several emails in reaction to her television appearances promoting her book, Release 2.0. In the revised paperback edition -- naturally called Release 2.1 -- she quoted from one of them:
I wish you would extend your analysis of morality and the web, and get onto more sophisticated and defensible ground. You said that there were healthy communities on the web that were nevertheless "immoral," such as Nazi hate groups. I would restrict the application of the term moral to acts and interpersonal behaviors, not ideas and words by themselves. If you really believe that races are unequal, I don't think it's immoral for you to say so. If we silenced the ignorant, how could we teach them? How would we know whom to teach, or what most needed to be taught? I'd rather know where the Nazis are and what they're saying than try to suppress them and force them underground where their resentment could build. I also want children to know that grown-ups can be more ignorant than they are and that they have to learn to block out falseness even if people are allowed to speak ugly nonsense.