Helping and not helping: Austin Heap and Quincy City Council

Britten Fay

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Helping: Austin Heap

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was “re-elected,” the violence of the Iranian regime was personified through the viral video of protestor Neda Soltan’s death by armed militia and police.

Ahmadinejad figured a reasonable solution was total internet censorship. But Austin Heap, a 26-year-old programmer from San Francisco, had other plans.
Heap created Haystack, software which encrypts a user’s data and hides it to look like normal surfing and nothing a censor might deem dangerous.

Now, I’m not endorsing direct outside interference with regimes infamous for human rights abuses (yes I am), but imagine if you were unable to speak freely to your family.
So, Austin Heap: For using good old American nerd power to defy a corrupt Middle Eastern dictator, you, sir, are helping. Keep up the good work.

Not Helping:
Quincy City Council

Authorities in Quincy, Illinois arrested Jonathon Schoenakase on July 30 for offering a ride home to someone who perhaps had too much to drink. He operates Courtesy Rides, a free service he began after a friend was killed by a drunk driver. Local taxi companies discovered his plot to undermine their profits and filed complaints against him. In response, officials closed a loophole in city ordinance to make Schoenakase’s service illegal.

Now, this is not the sort of act that begets a wildfire of humanity that would in any way threaten the pocketbook of a taxi business. I sure as hell don’t feel compelled to cart drunks around in my truck.

To the Quincy City Council, for valuing human life so cheap that you sold out to the taxi-cab lobby, you are not helping.