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Lee Damon
Computer nerd with a theatrical bent. Into cooking and photography.
Computer nerd with a theatrical bent. Into cooking and photography.
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I don't know what to do. I am completely lost in this morass. I lack language to express just how deeply and fully I despise the ideas these people put forth yet I would no more ban the words than I would ban someone claiming to speak for their god or... But I derail myself. If we give the government the ability to ban speech what happens when Ayatollah Pence bans my ability to speak freely about homosexuality? How and where do we draw that line and keep it drawn there?
This is my country. This is my country now. This is my country, now. This is my country? NOW?

If you had ever told me, at any point after I was about eight years old, that I would one day be hearing other Americans defend Nazis and not expect to immediately be shunned, then and forever, from polite society and civil discourse, I would simply not believe you. This was true even as recently as last week.

Until Saturday, I was a free-speech absolutist and civil libertarian. Nazis want to kill me, for at least three facets of who I am, only one of which is under my control and none of which I have any interest in changing.

But still, until Saturday, I could confidently argue that Nazis had a perfect right to protest, because I believed as a bedrock principle that "the best weapon against bad speech is good speech". Because I knew Nazis would never get political power here. Because I believed my government would protect me against their desired acts, I supported their right to their repugnant speech.

I don't want to believe my support for free speech was transactional. And I don't think it is—I once stood for hours four feet away from Fred Phelps, staring into his eyes holding a sign reading "love", while he stared through me, holding a sign reading "God Hates Fags". I protested this man, I despised him, but I honestly believe that, if the police had tried to send him away for standing there peacefully with his awful message, I would have defended him.

But. But. People I have known and respected in life are defending Nazis. How can this be? How is this possible? What incomprehensibly terrible sequence of events got us here?

On Saturday, the duly-elected head of my government refused to specifically condemn Nazis. He condemned Nazis and people fighting Nazis as if they were on equal moral footing. That message was heard by the Nazis as a thinly-veiled blessing, it was received as such, and recent reporting suggest it was meant as such.

His message was met with great derision, thankfully, from both his own and the opposition political party.

But yet. Yet. People I have known, people I have respected... they defend this. They say the "antifa" "brought it on themselves". They say they "can be just as bad." That it's "coincidence" or "accident" that the Nazis, and not the other side, murdered an innocent person counter-protesting them. They say that this person was just one particularly bad apple of a bad bunch. Of a bunch. Of Nazis.

They say teenagers raising a shitfit over Ann Coulter coming to town are just as bad as Nazis. As Nazis. They say Maxine Waters and Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Maddow are "just as bad". As Nazis. And yesterday, the President released a campaign ad (a campaign ad, over three years before the election!) calling these same people, the ones who are "just as bad" as Nazis, the enemy of the people. But the Nazis aren't the enemy of the people?

What has happened? What does this mean? What does it mean to who I am as a citizen, to my politics? I know I still believe in the First Amendment's protection of the right to speech and assembly and free worship, and its protection from government's establishment of religion. But that belief was part of a civil compact. What do I do when that compact is torn asunder?

How do I go to a conference and look in the eye someone I've called a "friend" and "colleague", someone I thought I knew to be a good person, who defends Nazis? Do I ignore it so that a professional event doesn't "become political"? How do I ignore it?

Until Saturday, I never had to consider this question. I wouldn't have believed this question was plausibly part of any experience I would ever have.

And, yet.

Here I am. Here we are. What do we do next?

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Today's tea club tasted 5 teas. A good chance to get much more in depth with them. I recommend +Floating Leaves Tea if you like (or are just curious about) Taiwanese Oolongs and related teas.

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Doing some deep learning about some charcoal roast oolongs at +Floating Leaves Tea​.
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I've commented. Have you?

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USENIX Security '17 Invited Talk highlight: Ellen Cram Kowalczyk will discuss the challenges of implementing good security practices and methods for engaging people on security issues. See the full #usesec17 prgm: http://bit.ly/2rVc23J.

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I'm not teaching or doing any conference organizing this year. I will be there and I hope to see you there as well.
Wait no more: #lisa17 registration has opened! Check out the excellent training and conference programs, and register today. http://bit.ly/2umfciR

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Early Bird Registration for #SREcon #EMEA ends on Monday, 14 August, a week from today. Don't miss out on discounted pricing! The deadline to book your hotel room is also 14 August. http://bit.ly/2sEfr7h See you in Dublin.

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Waiting to see Avenue LGBTQ downstairs in a noisy bar. This will be a new experience for me.
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USENIX Security '17 Invited Talk highlight: Abhradeep Guha Thakurta will speak on his experience deploying differential privacy technology for iOS 10. See the full #usesec17 prgm: http://bit.ly/2rVc23J.
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Our first Enigma Interview has sold out in record time! If you'd still like to join us on August 23, please sign up for the waitlist, and we'll notify you if/when a spot becomes available: bit.ly/2vtTJ7V
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