A note on bravery

A lot of people have been posting on twitter or sending me email thanking me for bravery in opposing SOPA. That’s a very very kind sentiment, and I really do appreciate it!

But I want to push back a little bit on it and reflect on where the real bravery is in the fight for free knowledge for everyone. I live in a country which respects the freedom of speech. I am at no risk of prison or physical violence or monetary fines for my views. If the worst that gets thrown at me is MPAA head Christopher Dodd saying that an Internet uprising is an “abuse of power” then I will survive just fine. :-)

Hossein Derakshan, a personal hero

Hossein Derakshan, a personal hero

I know of Wikipedia volunteers in authoritarian countries, though, who are incredibly brave.  Hossein Derakhshan is a young man I first met at Wikimania 2005 in Frankfurt.  A Wikipedia editor and blogger, he is serving a 19 and a half year sentence in Iran for his writings on the Internet.

I know of a Chinese Wikipedian who was visited by the police for setting up a mirror of Wikipedia multiple times during the era when China banned Wikipedia.

There are many more like them, all around the world.

These, and people like them, are my heroes.  They are the people of true courage.  I’m a very fortunate man in life, and I’m proud to stand up for freedom of speech and the right to access to knowledge in every circumstance that I can.  But my courage, if it is courage, is nothing compared to the courage of those who are really risking life and limb to speak truth to power.

Let us take a moment today to honor them.

22 comments on “A note on bravery

  1. I like how the MPAA can say what you and other sites did is an abuse of power, but the SOPA and PIPA bills are somehow not an abuse of power. Very hypocritical. It’s a shame that people in other countries get thrown in prison for writing things on the internet. I hope that our country will not turn into that one day.

  2. True courage is not to only risk your life, but also to be able to stand up for what you believe in.

    Like a beacon of light in a dark world you and Wikipedia are shining and enlightening the world with knowledge.

    Thank you Jimmy and thank you all Wikipedians.

  3. Brave or not the coordinated blackout certainly was effective! A new model of public protest has been unearthed! Can you coordinate with google, facebook and other influential sites to bring attention to the abuses in Citizens United and National Defense Authorization act? I wrote my congressman yesterday and i certainly wouldnt have it the links hadnt been right there on your site. Thankyou and please consider doing this again for the two acts i mentioned…..

  4. all I can say about americqa is we hell and holler and that includes our politition (them more then any when trying to get elected ) that some peple are trying to turn our country into a comunist os socialist state or a monary orsome sort of government owned country when most in politics would love it that way because then they would not have to listen to the people and they can hide what they are doing from most of the people this is the reason why they wish to pass these laws and if we alow them to silace us here in america it will only cet worsebecause those in power will then have the freedom to silance us anyplace they wish yes we have people out there publishing falshoods on the internet and throughing it around like the truth (ie the orangen of birth of Obama ) but then we have those who are free to push back and tell the truth but if they are alowed to sensore what we say on the internet then they can through out any government radicalist lie they wish and no one would be able to push back and our puplic would then be silanced an illiterate uneducated people are more easy to control then those who seek you the facts and the truth and listen to all sides of the story lets not alow america to become a monarky were the people’s words do not count and no mater how true there words are they are silanced stand up and let your words be heard because some times our own words and thoughts are all we have so don’t let them take that away from us or they will be free to take more untill all our freedoms are gone

  5. La liberté tant mise à mal de nos jours, emprisonnée, bafouée, assassinée. Il est de notre devoir de trouver les moyens de la défendre et d’honnorer ces héros. Un jour si j’en ai le courrage, je pourrai dire, ce sont «mes» héros… mais pour cela, nous devons tous faire un effort pour entrer dans le grande parti pris de la Liberté. Le prix a payer: faire quelque chose qui fasse plier le monstre, l’absolutisme, les geoliers et fanatiques, et qui fasse gagner un peu d’espace à l’Esprit Libre et à la créativité. Je vais donc réfléchir à la manière la plus eficaz que je puisse trouver pour avoir droit à faire partie de la grande, immense confrérie des Amis de la Liberté. Merci Jimmy Wales.

  6. “Abuse of power?” He hit the nail on the head, I mean that at least he knows what the real issues are (even if he’s attributing the actions to the wrong people).

    • Liberty of speach has no previous conditions. The public debate resolve your reserves and opinion diferences. Censureship violates causality: it presume the future to justify violence again some in the present. Public transparent and fair debate is the answer to all extremism.

  7. Dear Jimmy,

    This is Hamed Derakhshan, Hossein’s brother. I’d like to thank you for writing about him. Hossein has been in prison for over 3 years now. We’re doing whatever we can to make sure he is not forgotten and they realize that keeping him for longer is not worth it.
    I would realy appriciate it if you can help us with that by attracting more members to our “FREE HOSSEIN DERAKHSHAN” page on face book and generaly spreading the word about him and his situation.

    Thank you


  8. I searched “Jimmy Wales hero” just to find other people feeling the same thing about you. I’m an American, one who lives abroad in China actually, and I can empathize with your sentiments that people abroad living in totalitarian regimes are bigger heroes than yourself… but to counter that, everyone has their hand dealt to them in life, and what you’ve done with yours, sir, are inspirational. Your recent comments on Chris Dodd, scumbag corrupt soulless husk that he is, had me cheering for you, and nodding my head up and down in silent agreement. I’m sure many others had similar sentiments.

    An article you may find interesting, from one of my favorite sites, LeeRockwell.com:

    Keep fighting for liberty. The vast majority of us are rooting for you.

    Thanks, from Guangdong, China.

  9. “I live in a country which respects the freedom of speech. I am at no risk of prison or physical violence or monetary fines for my views.”

    This is still largely true and stopping things like SOPA will help protect what’s left of that freedom, but it is not universally true. Sadly, there are millions of peaceful people currently caged in US. Many are imprisoned for their choice of medicine. Many have been imprisoned for their expression.

    For example, the city of Orlando, Florida has caged people for giving food to hungry people, passing out flyers on a public sidewalk and filming police work.

    Bernard von Not Haus may be sentenced to over 20 years in federal prison for minting a private silver currency. There are many other examples.

    Free expression is in no way guaranteed in the US. The freedoms we do have are under constant attack. Thank you for doing your part to fuel the information revolution.

  10. Dear Jimmy
    it’s so great you keep thinking of the people of other nations , One Day Our Change Will Come.there will be no colour difference no nationality difference, there will be just love and peace, no religion difference , maybe you will see that maybe your son maybe your grandson ..
    with love

  11. CISPA is just as bad as SOPA minus the DNS stuff. To think that its just slipping under the radar is terrible. An unnecessary, very vague “cyber security” law that says corporations and the government can share whatever information with each other they want… so much for “privacy policies”.

    This is like the Patriot Act for the internet.

    Wikipedia really needs to go black for a day for CISPA as well.

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