Blog / 2021 / Naive and Proud of It

November 11, 2021

“So naive!”

The moment that the director of the Visual Arts and Galleries Association* Robert Panzer said that to me, I should have ended the webinar. I’d agreed to be the voice of copyleft in a cordial debate about intellectual property and artists, but this personal attack on top of Panzer’s constant interruptions was an excellent out. Today, I’d almost certainly have told him and the little-moderator-who-couldn’t that they clearly needed a timeout to chat about whether they actually wanted to have a civil discussion on the subject or not.

And it would have been a shame. When I look back at that webinar, I’m proud that I kept trying to engage with Panzer despite his rudeness. I want to be that person again. I want to call out bad behavior with a smile and continue to encourage conversation, and I want these things because of this book.

Humankind by Rutger Bregman
Humankind by Rutger Bregman, photo by Gwenn Seemel

Rutger Bregman’s 400-page argument that human beings are basically good has healed some of the hurt of the Trump years for me. It’s made me see that, while I never stopped insisting that the more MAGAlicious among us were hypnotized rather than actually evil, I did lose hope, and I don’t want to live that way.

Through the Trump Times, I never stopped putting all my art directly into the public domain and I never stopped advocating for artists to learn about copyright and maybe even question it, but I did forget why I became an uncopyrighter to begin with.

Kindness is contagious: people behave better when they see you being generous.

Bregman’s book reminded me of this. Interestingly, part of his argument for our innate goodness even centers on our obsession with copying each other, which is a huge part of my uncopyrighting argument as well. In other words, Humankind is a covert copyleft argument or an overt celebration of our overall goodness. Either way, it’s well worth a read.

*As far as I can tell, Visual Arts and Galleries Association, which was originally founded in 1976 as a royalty collecting organization for haut monde fine artists, has now been absorbed by Artists Rights Society. ARS was established in 1987 with the same goal as VAGA.

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