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Philippe Kahn on Freedom

Monday, February 26, 1996 by Dave Winer.

Philippe Kahn, philippe@aol.com, is the CEO of Starfish Software, and the founder of Borland International.

He wrote an essay for the 24 Hours project.

Here's what he wrote:

During the German occupation, the French sometimes had been more diligent promoters of the Holocaust than the Germans themselves. Few Jewish families survived.

In the 60s Jewish Children weren't welcome in French Schools. In my school most of the parents of the Jewish children were hard working cabinet makers, tailors or carpenters. They worked to get their children an education.

For most of the Jewish families, France had been their homes for no more than a generation. At the turn of the Century, they migrated from Eastern Europe, usually arriving with no more than a shirt on their backs, their violins and clarinets. And the great hope from a new lease on life. It lasted a short while.

In my school,in the heart of Paris, out of several thousand kids there were a handful of us. We were different. We were kept apart. The neighborhoods were pretty rough. We got together and practiced boxing and martial arts. It was self defense.

Often we'd come home bruised, our clothes ripped.

One day they had posters in the neighborhood, inviting kids to join the "keepers of the Great Aryan Principles". About ten kids, part of a neo-Nazi group, were holding a meeting and explaining how the Holocaust never happened and why it was another fabrication of the Jews.

That was too much. Three of us decided to go and present a counter-argument. They didn't see it that way. They beat us up with steel bars and kicked us with their combat boots.

I came back home with a broken nose, limping and bruises all over my body.

When my Mother arrived, I was furious. I told her how it was unbelievable to see people expressing such lies and insults. How they should not be allowed to publicize their opinions. How we should appeal to the highest authorities to stop them from publicizing those lies.

She looked at me, listened. As she sat down at the table, I stared at the tattoos on her forearm: Unerasable memories of the years she had spent in the Death Camps and that she had miraculously survived.

She looked me straight in the eyes and said: "For Centuries our people have been the victims of intolerance. The price of our freedom is the burden of having to accept the worst in public expression. For he who starts censorship will never know where and when to stop."

Thanks Philippe!

A comment...

It's interesting that many of the essays from adults tell stories from their childhood. And we got lots of stories from children.

I like this because the opposition in this argument has effectively used children to alienate people from the Internet, inaccurately painting it as an indecent land of pornography. The truth is that children participate on the net. We get to hear what's going on, and we're interested!

How are kids supposed to interpret the rules of the Telecom Act? Hmmm.

Congresspeople, the President, with all due respect, how would you explain this censorship to *your* children?

Regardless, the truth is clearly visible thru the essays of the 24 Hours of Democracy project. Please read the essays, you won't be disappointed.

And many thanks to all the children and former-children who choose to participate in their future.

More thanks Permalink to More thanks

I'd also like to thank the US Congress and the President for enacting this law.

It has pushed us to invent new technology.

And it has created some great art!

Lesson learned.

Thanks, again, with no sarcasm.

I mean it.

We've enjoyed the growth.

Now, let's kill this law.


It's a horror show.

Science fiction.

But it's real.


Stop it.

Dave Winer

PS: Webmasters: "I Want You!"

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