Dogs and Other Cool Things
All Proceeds to Benefit FAFO.
A lot has happened since I last wrote. Lane and I have been working on coordinating petitions for writs of certiorari (requests that the United States Supreme Court review the lower-court judgments) on the harassment cases (Barton and Sanders out of the Court of Criminal Appeals; Moore and Chen and probably others out of the intermediate courts of appeals).
At our request, the Floyd Abrams Institute for Freedom of Expression at Yale Law School has taken the lead on the Barton and Sanders petitions, but printing these petitions is ridiculously expensive—several thousand dollars per petition. (Here’s a guy who tried to do it himself.) We are pro bono on most of these case, and our clients can’t afford the printing, so we could file IFP, in forma pauperis, but IFP petitions reputedly have less chance of success (success being “the Supreme Court takes the case”) than paid cases.
So we need printing money. I put out a request on Twitter, and quickly raised enough for the printing of the Barton and Sanders petition, with something left over for other cases.
And the First Amendment Funding Organization (“FAFO”) was born.
The idea of the FAFO is that there are criminal free-speech cases that should be taken up on cert, but that, for want of either a) counsel or b) money, are not. FAFO will raise funds, and will distribute them for filing fees and printing costs to lawyers representing indigent people filing cert petitions in criminal free-speech cases.
For right now, Lane and I have enough cases ourselves, and FAFO has little enough money, that we’ll use the money for printing costs and filing fees in the cases that we have been shepherding through the Texas courts, but once we get rolling I hope that we will be able to take applications and choose the best potential cert petitions to support. We’re going to have 501(c)(3) status, and a website where people can contribute and can propose cases worthy of our assistance. We may even have a forum for contributors to discuss and vote on the proposals.
Lane and I have been donating all of our Substack fees to FAFO, and will continue doing so. So by subscribing not only do you get our sporadic writing, but you also support a good cause. Thank you.
A Dog Story.
Our dogs are trained to ring the sleighbells hanging from the back doorknob when the need to go out. Both of my primary dogs learned to game this system.
When Indy was about 6, we got a second Ridgeback, Lucy. When Indy got tired of puppy behavior, he would ring the bell, and Lucy would race him to get out. He'd stay inside, we’d close the door, she'd be out. Puppy problem solved.
Now we have a screened porch, so there are two steps to getting outside. Ring the bell, and the house door opens. Stand by the screen door, and wait for Dad to open it, giving you a scritch on the head in the process.
It didn’t take Eiger long to figure out that he could get a moment alone with me, and some head-scritches by ringing the bell and standing by the screen door. No need to go out, just wanting some love.
The weather is beautiful this morning, so when I realized that he had once again lured me outside for alone time, I lay down on the back-porch sofa and he came over for my full attention for a minute or two. Then we went back in, and a couple of minutes later he rang the bell again. We went out on the back porch, I asked him if he needed to go out, and he looked over toward the sofa.
So apparently we’re not even pretending anymore.
(Of course I complied.)
Free Speech or the First Amendment
The FAFO is intended to help protect the First Amendment, which in theory serves to protect against government censorship. But there’s another side to free speech: censorship by non-government agencies. This site, Substack, seems pretty good about resisting “content moderation,” to the chagrin of many who write for moderated media, and think that moderation should be the norm. Moderation, here, is a kind name for censorship.
I am always embarrassed for people who create art but support the private censorship of others’ work. Not being able to see how the underlying principle (some art should be censored) could be turned against them—not being able to conceive of making art some day that transgresses against those then in power—is a huge failure of imagination.
Campbell’s Law says:
The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.
If the test of the social process of censorship is whether it is the state engaging in it, the state will find ways to use non-state agencies to do its censorship: