The Value of Free Expression: the Derivatives Ninja Lives!

In the words of the immortal Mark Twain, the “rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.” 

For the second time in the nearly a year that this blog has been online an attempt was made to shut it down based upon its content.  It is due to that attempt that I have refrained from posting for the past couple of weeks.  Fortunately, that attempt has failed.  It failed due in large part to the courage and common sense of a few individuals who had the wherewithal to recognize that censoring something they don’t necessarily agree with (although often the path of least resistance) is simply not the right thing to do.  You know who you are and you have not only my congratulations for standing tall, but also my gratitude and heartfelt thanks.

Although (as the disclaimer makes abundantly clear and I consistently reiterate) I write this blog strictly in my individual capacity and it represents only my own views and not the views of any past, present or future employer, I am fortunate indeed to be employed in my professional capacity (which, for the avoidance of doubt, is different than the individual capacity in which I write this blog) by an institution comprised of individuals who cherish the value of free expression and allow their employees (in their individual capacities and not on behalf of the firm) to express themselves freely—even when it would be easier to silence them.  Such individuals and institutions are a rarity in today’s world and I am honored to work for one of the best (again, in my professional capacity, which is distinct from the personal capacity in which I write this blog). 

Some have taken umbrage at the manner in which I have characterized the activities of various regulators around the world.  Others seem shocked and appalled by the fact that I’ve made colorful remarks about the activities or potential activities of large multinational corporations and banks that have been reported upon publicly.  Others still want me to focus on writing dry, boring technical pieces (don’t worry there are more of those coming). 

To all of those who don’t like what I have to say I urge you to participate in the debate and discussion.  Start your own blog, participate in the comments sections of others’ blogs.  Write op-ed pieces, give interviews, stand-up and be heard.  Remember, the best counter to bad speech (or, in this case, great speech you happen not to like) is more speech.  Censorship, on the other hand, is the tool of dictators and despots.

To those who don’t like the way I have said what I have said, ok, fair enough, I hear you.  But, keep in mind also that this is a blog and not a contract, a law firm client note or the most boring issue ever written of the Harvard Law Review (take your pick of any of them).  It is designed instead to be colorful and entertaining.  It is not supposed to be objective or balanced.  It isn’t even necessarily supposed to be very nice, particularly to certain public figures, who may or may not be doing the jobs they may or may not have been appointed, elected and/or hired to do.  Indeed, from time to time it is even supposed to be a touch audacious and outrageous.  With all of its pros and cons, with all of its flaws and wonderful features, it is my personal soapbox from whence I spout thought leadership (something greatly lacking in this space), humor and whatever else I happen to be thinking about.  

Now, all of that said, I fully recognize that just because one can say something doesn’t mean that one ought to say it, and I fully intend to keep that in mind going forward.  But, I will continue to write and I will continue to participate in the debate (and occasionally lead it).  I encourage all of you to do the same. 

Speak and be heard.  Never forget the value of free expression.  It is priceless; and, we seldom truly appreciate it until someone tries to take it from us.

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