Howard RheingoldCyber Rights Crowd

Netizens! Rally Against Censorship

Geeks unplug and meet in meatspace? Todd Lappin, cyber-rights editor at Wired Magazine, put out the call for a rally. The Electronic Frontier Foundation spread the word.

On December 14, rallies were held in New York, San Francisco and Seattle.The San Francisco rally was held in South Park, the heart of multimedia gulch. The word had spread through the net, and the neighborhood was plastered with posters. Most important of all, Wired and HotWired emptied their offices, which created an instant crowd of around 200. I'd estimate the total crowd as 400-500.

Before the rally, the speakers assembled at the Wired offices. No prayers were said. Clockwise from the left, are: Audrie Krauss, Executive Director, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, EFF co-founder John Gilmore; Wired Publicity and Promotions Director Taara Eden Hoffman; journalist, gadfly, activist Jim Warren; Wired Publicity Assistant Amy Esken-Meland; Wired Staff Editor Todd Lapin, EFF Staff Counsel Mike Godwin; the back of author and columnist Cynthia Heimel; and the very curly back of the head of Jonathan Steuer, former Online Tsar for Wired and one of the founders of HotWired, now Grand Poobah of Cyborganic.

Assembling at the Wired Office
Mike Godwin

Todd Lappin opened. His most memorable image: the prospect of a "Million Geek March." Mike Godwin followed with a passionate speech. In this picture, he is ripping up a printout of the First Amendment.

Next was my chance to rant. Note the FBI agent in the trenchcoat in the lower left corner. I exhorted the assembled PhotoShoppers, webmasters, interface designers, CD-ROM publishers, what Will Kreth called the "South Park, 94107" crowd, to disperse and organize and talk especially with their un-wired friends about the threats to our freedom.

Howard Rheingold
Jim Warren Jim Warren, always a fine ranter, pointed out that the religious right has probably made more money off pornography than the pornographers have, without having to pay taxes on it. He pissed some people off by declaring that the radical left was as eager to censor the politically incorrect as the radical right was eager to censor everything that you wouldn't want to say in front of eight-year-olds.
John Gilmore started by playing Frank Zappa's immortal "What's The Ugliest Part of Your Body?" and declared the EFF's willingness to take the fight to "the Congress, the President, and the Courts. And if that doesn't work, to the streets." Note that the FBI guy is laughing in this pic.

HotWired reported on the event, of course. What's New In Activism covered the protest, as did the Netly News Mediacast has QuickTime clips of the rally, more straightforward pix of the speakers, and RealAudio files of the speeches.