[hackerspaces] Your mission statement vs the law, re bigotry and "terrorism".

Christie Dudley christie at hackcounsel.com
Mon Jul 25 19:40:19 CEST 2016

It is a little-known fact that it is perfectly legitimate to refuse to 
comply with a law if you have a good-faith argument that the law should 
change. You would have a good faith First Amendment challenge to a law 
denying people of a certain religion a freedom others enjoy.

What I have seen in culture generally, but manifest more specifically in 
hackerspaces is the assumption that certain things are somehow law (such 
as restricting general public access to dangerous tools or police 
authority, discrimination or non-discrimination, etc.) that do not exist 
in any law, whether precedent or legislative, or that don't apply as 
generally as most believe. Yet I see many hackerspaces who believe they 
must integrate these perceived laws or rules into their mission 
statement or operating practices.

This is much the same mentality that gave the recording industry the 
foundation for their huge rulings against relatively innocent people: 
the belief that something is really illegal is inculcated into society 
then people in general begin to uphold the belief in court through the 
jury deliberation process. (As an aside, this is why we HAVE juries in 
the US - so that the sentiment of society can be reflected in court 

As hackers, we are all in a unique position to challenge the hegemonic 
tendency of culture and the sway of large organizational interests to 
change what we believe is legal, gently pushing back on what we believe 
to be right and just.

So make your rules and mission statements to be what you believe is 
RIGHT, not what you believe to be LEGAL unless you actually are a lawyer 
who practices in the area. Don't let other interests shift our culture 
away from it.

Christie Dudley

On 7/22/2016 11:41 PM, Jurgen Gaeremyn wrote:
> Just a stupid question: do you put ethnicity and religion as 
> questionnaire fields in your registration form?
> If you don't ask, you don't know. And if you have no indication to 
> suspect "such dangerous behaviour as being muslim" (sic) ... there's 
> no indication to ban them from whatever course. It has never been your 
> job to do an identity check, and even the act of asking... I don't 
> think you even have the right to investigate their answers.
> Obviously, you could put a waiver in your registration form that 
> members are not allowed to apply their skills developed in this 
> hackerspace to engage in terrorist or other forms of illegal activity. 
> You could even have fun in writing it in such a broad or silly way 
> that lawyers would have a hell of a time applying it in court...
> If anyone ever comments on the validity of this, just ask the question 
> how you should validate if one is muslim? (just as a pun: according to 
> those muslims that engage in terrorist activity, all other muslims are 
> not true muslims, and it is allowed to lie against "kufar" - so the 
> muslim not respecting you will deny being a muslim and you will 
> stigmatize the honest ones with no malintentions)
> Just my thaught
> Jurgen
> On 22-07-16 23:05, Sparr wrote:
>> I've been on the losing side of lighter versions of this argument a 
>> few times over the past ten years, at various hackerspaces. A lot of 
>> people claim that they think that the law trumps a space's charter or 
>> mission statement.
>> Here in the USA, we're looking at a future where it is scarily 
>> plausible that some segment of the population will be banned from a 
>> lot of activities, which might include things such as "taking machine 
>> shop classes" or "working with explosive gases".
>> When your state or federal legislature passes a law, or your 
>> president issues an executive order, that says Muslims (or some 
>> ethnic minority) can't do those things, where will you stand on 
>> whether your space follows that law or not?
>> _______________________________________________
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