Free Speech And Banned Books

There is a long history of banning books both here in the United States and abroad. Books that come to mind are D. H. Lawerence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, and a whole host of others. In more recent times, the Supreme Court has rejected efforts to ban books just because someone didn’t like it. See Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982)

Here is a book that you need to buy that many in the gun control industry would like to see banned. It is called The Liberator Code Book: An Exercise in Free Speech. The book is exactly what it says it is – the 3-D printing code for the Liberator pistol in book form. Think of the $15 cost of this book as a donation to the advancement of free speech.

Years ago, the US government tried to control an encryption program called Pretty Good Privacy or PGP which was freely available on the Internet for download. They started a criminal investigation of Phil Zimmerman who was its creator for exporting “munitions without a license”. Starting to sound familiar to what the government wanted to do to Cody Wilson? It should. What Zimmerman did that stymied the government’s efforts was to have the entire source code published as a book by MIT Press. The code could then be read by OCR programs and voila! While the government can and does control the export of munitions, it does not control the export of books.

Fast forward to this year. The US Department of Justice realized that they could not win a free speech case against Defense Distributed and advised the State Department to come to an agreement with Cody Wilson et al. The State Department took this wise advice, signed the settlement, and US District Court Judge Robert Pitman dismissed the case with prejudice on July 30th. Dismissing the case with prejudice means that neither party can reopen the lawsuit.

As I’ve written before, the attorneys general of 21 states are now suing in Federal court in Washington State to prohibit Defense Distributed from sharing the code. Judge Robert Lasnik granted them a temporary restraining order. However, that order only applies to the Trump Administration, Defense Distributed, the Second Amendment Foundation, and Conn Williamson. As you should know by now, a coalition of four California-based gun rights groups set up www.codeisfreespeech.com and have published the code for the Liberator and other firearms on the Internet. They have had hundreds of thousands of downloads since the site went live despite the efforts of Amazon Web Services and Facebook.

This has always been a free speech case despite what the gun control industry, the anti-civil rights state attorneys general, and the gullible media would have you believe. Printing the source code in a physical book serves to doubly reinforce that.

As Sean Sorrentino notes on Facebook, this book leaves the anti-civil rights attorneys general two arguments:

1. “Banning digital code files that can be used to manufacture and object is fundamentally different than banning a physical book that holds the same exact information.”

or

2. “We must also ban this book.”

Even anti-gun judges are not going to look too favorably upon either argument and the US Supreme Court certainly will not.

So go buy the book!


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