Vitalik Buterin discusses freedom of speech in light of #DelistBSV

17 Apr, 2019 | Updated: 17 Apr, 2019
by Richard Allen
Opinion
Vitalik Buterin discusses freedom of speech in light of #DelistBSV

With the whole Craig Wright debacle and his issuance of lawsuits against those who have denied his claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto, questions over the right to freedom of speech have been raised. Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum co-founder, has published his thoughts on the matter.

Buterin explains that freedom of speech isn’t just a law, it’s also a social principle. And the underlying goal of the social principle is the same as the underlying goal of the law: “to foster an environment where the ideas that win are ideas that are good, rather than just ideas that happen to be favored by people in a position of power.”

With that being said, Buterin explains that sometimes there is a rationale for “safe spaces” where people can congregate away from arguments of a particular type. He cites ethresear.ch, where posts are silenced for being “off topic” to keep the discussion focused. While these are relatively innocuous, they can carry a darker side. Some, for example, use the concept of a safe space to force people to conform to their private norms.

On that note, Buterin explains that at Deconomy around a year ago, he publically called out Craig Wright, calling him a scammer for claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto. He ended off his explanation with the question “why is this fraud allowed to speak at this conference?”

In his opinion, he wasn’t trying to silence Wright because a conference is fundamentally different from an internet forum.

“An internet forum can actually try to be a fully neutral medium for discussion where anything goes; a conference, on the other hand, is by its very nature a highly curated list of presentations, allocating a limited number of speaking slots and actively channeling a large amount of attention to those lucky enough to get a chance to speak.,” he explains. A conference is an editorial act by the organizers, saying ‘here are some ideas and views that we think people really should be exposed to and hear’.”

Burtin likens this with the recent #DelistBSV campaign, with some calling it an exercise in censorship. In Buterin’s opinion, however, it’s alright to support it, “but this is definitely a much closer call.”

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