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Jean-Louis Gassée

Damn right, Dave! I loved your piece on your grandfather.

I'm pissed, I'm sad and I'm frightened.

I came from France because I believe in the America De Tocqueville described, in the America of liberty and opportunity, in the America that saved Europe. And I found it. I got to run the engineering side of what used to be one of our country's most luminous, inspiring companies. Then, I got to start my own. Never did I see the color of my passport in peoples' eyes

But, I also progressively realized the hard, unforgiving side of our country. I came to see how the tyrannical side of virtue, the vengeful side of puritanism. I see the fear of human desires and I see the hardened eyes of politicians exploiting the fear.

I know, untamed human desires are blamed for so many ills: the destruction of families, AIDS, urban violence. But have we no shame, have we no memory? Have we forgotten history, I mean, social studies? Have we forgotten how often liberties were and still are destroyed in the name of virtue? Have we forgotten the Inquisition, the book burnings? They were called autodafe, acts of faith.

We glorify violence in movies and sports, we glorify the right to bear arms, concealed ones in some states and municipalities, but we are afraid of free speech and images on the net. I know, I have children and I'm not happy with the prospect of them facing disgusting words and images. But not more disgusting, and lower resolution than those in magazine racks. And less dangerous than a bullet.

Why downsize our responsibility, why re-engineer our role and let the government displace us?

And yes, I hear the stories about pedophiles on the net. Do we really believe it's the child abuse issue? These are the usual media games. We can control the places our children visit on the net more easily than we can control the real abuses in homes, streets and schools.

Voltaire said he'd die to defend my right to express ideas, especially those of mine most abhorrent to him. Who are we to go back and abridge freedom of speech on the net? What's next? Books, blasphemy?

America still is a beacon, but the flame flickered last week.


blueRibbon Picture This page was originally posted on 2/12/96 6:32PM. It was last built on 3/11/97; 6:15:48 AM with Frontier. Want to know about Broken Links?