North Carolina is so much better than this.

I love North Carolina.  I am a North Carolinian by choice, not by birth.  I chose North Carolina because of its Quaker values of faith, tolerance, and freedom.  North Carolina and the people of North Carolina have been very, very good to me and my family.

We have achieved amazing business success and made lifelong friendships and raised a wonderful family.  All while enjoying the great weather, spectacular beaches, majestic mountains, world class universities, the South’s best pulled pork, and the nation’s best college basketball teams. 

We chose North Carolina because of its welcoming culture and people.  20 years ago we packed up and did, what our friends in Connecticut referred to as, “a reverse Beverly Hillbillies”.   But the joke was on them.   We have not only enjoyed 20 years of much better weather, but unimaginable business success with first Red Hat Inc, and now Lulu.com. 

Now my adopted state has chosen to turn its back on its tradition of welcoming immigrants, and of tolerance and freedom to all its citizens, with a proposed amendment to the NC State Constitution no less, that hangs a great banner across the entrances to the state saying to a whole bunch of American citizens: You are not welcome here. 

This Amendment One, and for more information just google “NC Amendment One”, is against the spirit of what makes North Carolina great.  It is against everything North Carolina stands for.   North Carolina stands for freedom for all its citizens, young and old, black and white, handicapped and able bodied, gay and straight, married and unmarried.   

Let me confess my ulterior motive to blogging on this topic:  I build technology companies.  That’s my profession.   Building a successful technology company requires recruiting the best and the brightest young people our great nation graduates from its best schools.  Amendment One is the single worst thing the North Carolina legislature could have done to alienate this generation of bright talented young Americans from wanting to invest their careers and raise their families in North Carolina, and here’s why: 

This generation of Americans is just plain better than my generation.   They are more tolerant, more freedom loving, more intelligent and more creative than us old geezers.  Trust me, I know this.  I get to work with them every day.  They have more energy and enthusiasm than any prior generation of Americans.  They care more about making the world a better place than any previous generation of Americans ever have.  All we (all of us born before 1970) have to do to make the world and America a better place is to avoid stopping them. 

This proposed amendment to our state constitution is specifically telling them we don’t want their friends and fellow Americans to come here.   We need these talented, intelligent young Americans to come to North Carolina to help our technology industries succeed, but they have choices.   They can go to states with mottos like “Live Free or Die” instead of states that attempt to tell them how to live their lives, such as this Amendment One does.  And trust me, these bright young Americans can and will chose to join my competitors in Seattle, or San Jose, or New York.  

If you love North Carolina too, on May 8th please join me and run, don’t walk to your polling place to vote for the North Carolina you want.  Let your friends, family and neighbors know this is not some unimportant primary election. Let’s tell the world North Carolina is still the welcoming and tolerant and freedom loving place that drew me and my family here 20 years ago.  Vote NO to Amendment One. 

Your fellow Tar Heel,  Bob Young.  

Bob Young, born 1954, Hamilton Ontario Canada.  Founder of several tech companies, the most famous of which is North Carolina’s Red Hat Inc.  Currently founder/CEO of Raleigh NC-based Lulu.com. North Carolinian by residency and choice.

Read NC Amendment One in full here  


 

Paypal, Internet banker, as content censor?

Paypal is having a discussion with our friends over at Smashwords.com.  It sounds like a civil conversation about what kind of content crosses the line from being harmless fiction to being socially-damaging advocacy of criminal behaviour.

http://www.smashwords.com/press/release/27

The odd thing about this discussion is why  an innovative ebook publishing platform, is having the conversation with its bankers at all.

The world has come to an odd place that we are entrusting our bankers to defend society from the dangers of advocating thoughts or behaviours that might harm us.  In most advanced democracies we leave it to our politicians and Judges to have public debates on the pros and cons of where we, as a society, chose to draw these lines.

I can see where Paypal might have to tell Smashwords that they, Paypal, will have to inform “the authorities” of content Smashwords’ authors might be trying to sell - if that content advocates blowing things up, or advocates dangerous behaviors, or otherwise contravenes publicly debated and adopted laws of the land.

The authorities can chose, or not, to level criminal charges and then we’d have an investigation, a trial, and a public ruling.   All open to debate, comment, and appeal.   The way our open system of democratic government is supposed to work.

But that is not what Paypal are doing.   They are privately telling Smashwords what the standards are.   Smashwords is then required to police what their authors and readers do on their site against rules that Paypal has set.  Rules that are not open to public debate, discussion, or appeal.  If Smashwords does not enforce Paypal’s rules Paypal will then punish Smashwords by withdrawing an important service their authors and readers rely on to transact private business.

Paypal’s rules may be good ones, that is besides the point.   The point is: what the hell is Paypal, and the nice bankers who run Paypal, thinking - allowing themselves to play the role of community censor?   That isn’t their job.  They are bankers.

For more on this issue:

+ http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/publisher-news/article/50946-smashwords-books-threatened-by-paypal.html

+ http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/bernard-oleary/paypal-banned-books-the-books-banned-by-paypa_b_1314953.html

+ http://selenakitt.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/19/slippery-slope-erotica-censorship/