This book is primarily intended to update the vision in Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back (1997, 2000) given the new challenges to liberty posed particularly by terrorism and now corporate scandals, as well as the growing understanding of the legal and ethical problems that accompany the opportunities presented by the Internet.
In 1998 I wrote a short booklet, Our Fundamental Rights and How We Can Reclaim Them as a lay person’s conceptual guide to individual rights. This little work was intended as a high-level summary of the material in Do Ask, Do Tell. In 1999 I wrote a more formal proposal with an essay, “Bill of Rights II,” and that has been posted on my hppub.com website since then. In September 2002 I printed that essay in a monograph Bill of Rights 2 and Other Topics. This new book replaces that 2000 publication with a brief work that I believe necessary particularly in the aftermath of the 9-11-2001 tragedy.
The long essay on terrorism is intended to review the breach in the “firewall” between government and civil liberties that I had spent these years proposing. The remaining essays explore various aspects of liberty and self-expression as they have evolved in the past few years. The chapter on the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), against which I am a litigant, discusses balancing Internet freedom of expression and protecting children. The discussion of self-publishing explores the potential ethical and legal problems as new writers and artists take advantage of the new technologies to express themselves while bypassing many of the old obstacles. The discussion of information technology, in which I spent most of my “professional career,” explores the changes in workplace economic security that would be essential to freedom. The essay on narcissism is one of the most often visited on my web domain and pins down the psychological issues of new expressive freedoms.
This book is structured as an anthology of stand-alone essays that may be read in any order. Some material may be repeated among the essays. Therefore no major attempt in editing has been made to force the essays to fit into one single-threaded argument.
As I have indicated on my hppub website, I am interested in collaborating with other writers and publishers to produce a larger work dealing with the balancing of civil liberties with national security and general welfare. Such a work should objectively examine practical, military, legal and constitutional questions involved in striking this balance in a systematic, well-organized manner, and would be a compelling item for any reader concerned about this balance. This monograph stresses the areas in which I have my own targeted comments and knowledge. The issue is grave and not one that simply yields to propaganda on one side or the other.
I should mention my use of the phrase “Do Ask, Do Tell” in the title. As of this writing, no other published book that I can find starts with this title. Various web sites have mentioned it in connection with such subjects as psychological counseling, talk shows, local history, and particularly AIDS and STD prevention. It seems likely to me that the phrase would appeal to a studio as a film title. There was one attempt to trademark this phrase in the middle 1990s for use in selling memorabilia, book-promotion materials and clothing; but that attempt was abandoned. I do not believe that this phrase, because of its common use and political connotation, is appropriate for “strong” commercial branding in the sense usually required by trademark law.