EDIT: see bottom of post for contact instructions if you want to submit an essay to this blog on censorship, gag orders, freedom of speech, or something related.
I sadly have to say that there will not be any updates here for the next couple weeks. At least, not from Mr. Spink, thanks to a gag order.
Let me explain…
There is a stipulation on Mr. Spink’s probation that states basically that he is required to be monitored when accessing the internet. I guess the theory is that his ideas are so crazy that the government must watch them in real time. While it is a condition that is arguably overly punitive in a free society, especially since he was not convicted of any information-based crime, it’s one that the courts have requested, and thus Mr. Spink has stated that he is indeed willing to work with the probation office (PO) to those ends, and has even explicitly requested that the monitoring be set up such that he could get back to his life and writings. However, the PO has dragged their feet over setting this up, which led to the situation where over the past few months Mr. Spink was forced to dictate his words to volunteers (like myself) who carpel tunnel our way to the interwebs and post on his behalf. It’s a very labor intensive compromise, but one which satisfies the PO requirements of keeping him away from whatever evil they wanted to keep him from — or so we all reasoned.
I mean, the PO surely can’t outlaw all verbal conversations in a free society, and thus this proxy work allows some light to be shed on the rather substantial lack of due process that has already happened to him and others in his situation, while still satisfying the restrictions placed on him.
Well, the plot thickened.
Apparently something he wrote here hit a nerve (possibly a recently removed name?) as Mr. Spink has been informed that he can no longer can have his words posted on the internet without being placed back into custody, nor can he be exposed to any information that originates from the internet without risk of being placed back into custody (for breach of parole.)
So… This over-reaching and ridiculous stipulation has led to these amazing possibilities:
- If you sneak up to his home and slide a printout under his door with the latest price of Apple stock on it, as obtained by a Yahoo! stock quote, he will go to prison.
- If you phone him up and he says “Hello?” and you post on the internet that he said “Hello?” he will go to prison.
- If you phone up and he says “Hello?” and you shout “The Guardian says the Cyber Attack on Spamhaus is slowing down the internet!” he will go to prison.
- If someone writes a book about him, which is excerpted or reviewed on the internet, he will go to prison.
Whether or not you believe he is a “bad person” doesn’t really matter if you pry open the potential scope of this precedent: This is a situation that is extra-legal and just bizarrely over-reaching in a free society, and — according to Mr. Spink’s lawyer — it will not go unchallenged.
This is obviously not about satisfying the spirit of his conditions any longer, but is about a seemingly desperate desire to muzzle him, for whatever reason. Which sort of begs the question, what’s so dangerous and scary about his ideas that he can’t even tell them to others???
PS: This was obviously written without the consent of Mr. Spink. I can’t even quite figure out if the scenario of his lawyer telling me that this case is happening for this reason, and my publishing this “sorry, he won’t be here for a bit” will constitute a breach, seeing as to how it did not originate with Mr. Spink, but it’s crazy-making regardless: The internet is possible to avoid directly, but is impossible to avoid indirectly.
PPS: It is my suspicion that by pushing his rights so far into the realm of farce they have opened up the possibility that within a few weeks Mr. Spink will be posting on his own behalf. There are still some people in the court system that care about freedom of speech.
CONTACT: obviously if you have read the gag order details, you know you cannot email Mr. Spink, not directly and not by emailing one of his friends or colleagues or supporters. If you email us and we say to him “hey so-and-so emailed to say hello”… he goes to prison. So that’s a conundrum. Here is what we have come up with for now: you can email one of his attorneys, Jim Turner (jamesturnerattorneyatlaw<at>gmail.com). Even Mr. Spink’s attorneys aren’t allowed to tell him anything they find on the internet (!!), but once you email Jim you can then call him and tell him exactly what you said in email, via a phonecall… at which point he can pass that along to Mr. Spink. Which really makes sense, doesn’t it? That’s how censorship works – it’s dumb.