Archive for March, 2014

Are there consequences to free speech?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Free speech.  It’s one of the most important rights we have as Americans.  It is a foundation to which others strive to achieve in when building a new democracy. 

In this country, most don’t understand what it means. They lose sight of the fact that protecting speech is to protect unpopular speech, not just particular views and popular public sentiments.  All speech of all types, must be able to be shared both publically and privately, from individuals who want their thoughts and ideas heard.  Period.   

There are of course, exceptions to this rule where speech can endanger the lives of others…  I get that. And in most cases it’s a very valid point. You shouldn’t go around screaming “FIRE” in crowded areas where people could possibly be trampled to death.  That’s just common sense.  So yeah, that’s out.

Dangerous exceptions aside, I wonder about the other forms of speech. 

Now,  let me give you a little bit of context of where this is coming from, so you may better see where this is going.  Most of you are familiar with The Westboro Baptist Church, and their pension for spreading the word of HATE wherever they go, picketing fallen soldiers funerals and such…  I know you know them.  I mean, they are the ultimate Trolls, hands down.  Now, I know logically the best way to deal with a Troll is to simply ignore them, they hate that, but what if I didn’t want to?  To what level does an opposing force of speech have the right to push back against something that they find offensive?  I don’t mean to use violence.  No forms of speech justify the act of violence. EVER.  It’s simply not negotiable.  But does that mean that hate speech is free of consequence of other speech?  Let me clarify…

If abortion protesters hold up a picture of a partially aborted fetus, I find that gross and offensive.  But if opposition protesters hold up a picture of two people having sex, why is it that they can be arrested? I find one GREATLY LESS offensive than the other, and I could make a convincing argument that would back up the fact that most people would agree. Yet in this country sex is still taboo  (heads up their asses). 

Anyway back to what I was saying. Consequence of your actions, in this case hate speech.   Is it free? Yes, and it should be.  Should it have a consequences?  I don’t think it’s a matter of should it have consequences, rather it should be more like, what are the legal rights of opposing speech?  Should I not be allowed to use the same methods of speech as then next person?  Wouldn’t a half aborted baby be justifiably combated with an equally extreme porn scene of Jesus and Mary?  At what point is that line drawn?  If I were to go to one of these Westboro lunatic protests and surround them with Mapplethorpe Images, would I be the one in trouble?  As it sits now, yes.  I would probably be arrested.

But what is the consequence for hate speech?  There are consequences for everything we do, everything we say… regardless of whether or not the speech is protected.  Yes you may absolutely say whatever you like…  but shouldn’t you also be prepared to be held accountable to the words you say and suffer the wrath of the people you attack?  This is my problem.  I’m not sure.  My guttural instinct says, “YES! They should be accountable and face whatever punishment comes to them by hands of those they speak against!”  While the logical side of me says, “Let them be. This is why the freedom of speech is so important. So that we may speak our minds without fear of reprisal or punishment.”  This tears at me.  I know the logical side is right, and I try to apply this to a scenario in which I am the one benefiting from free speech.  I should be able to speak my mind without fear.  That is the entire point.   But man… sometimes.  Sometimes I just want to go over there, surround them in gay porn and blare the most offensive music I can think of, directly at them. All Day Long.  Shouldn’t they understand that some of the things they say may come back to them?  Shouldn’t they expect a level of consequence to their actions?  I dunno, nor is it for me to judge.




Security; Nobody will do it for you.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

After Edward Snowden’s address (yet somewhat over-dramatic) to the small crowd at SXSW, and on this the 25th birthday of the World Wide Web, it’s important to reiterate that your security/privacy is YOUR responsibility.

Tim Berners-Lee insisted the web be a neutral and open place of connectivity when he proposed the Mesh (World Wide Web), and to this day he’s still having to fight for its neutrality and privacy. 

Since its conception, a lot of things have happened. Berners-Lee, and many others have come to the same conclusion; that we cannot afford to wait for our legislatures to protect our privacy on the web. Conflicts of interest, powerful corporate lobbyists and a government bent on total domination over our minds and actions have corrupted the very canvas on which the web was painted on.

The message is clear. Do it Yourself.  Well almost.  The call is out for the people in the Web industry to do the tasks needed to secure the privacy of the users and for users to take measures into their own hands when it comes to their information.  The people we look to for protection, aren’t protecting us.  They’re herding us. Like a shepherd herds his flock.   He protects them… so that eventually he can use them.  And so goes it with our legislators. 

So keep demanding that your representatives follow your wishes. Maybe someday they will listen?   But until then, take time and care to see that YOU do everything in your power to keep yourself safe. Let Subversion, Misinformation, and Activism, be your standard mode of conduct.  There are tools out there to help you thwart the system, use them. There are no limits to the aliases you can use in your personal ventures, explore your imagination. And above all else, be your own advocate for your privacy, encrypt your data, deny your information to anyone that asks for it, and be loud about it.

Why am I here?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

I recently had a friend ask me, “…you’re so paranoid about the government having your information, then why are you on Facebook, and use Gmail?  Shouldn’t you be off the grid, and not all over it?” 

It’s a fair question. And from just about every perspective it makes complete sense.  My usual answer is, “Because the only information they deserve, is misinformation.”

I thought maybe I should expand on this answer, because he kinda looked at me weird and didn’t seem to understand the response.  So here goes.

Our information is out there.  People… very smart people, have tried very hard, to go off the grid and have failed.  Short of completely isolating yourself out in the desert somewhere living off the land and pooping in a hole you dug with your hands, YOUR information is out there.  Isolation doesn’t suit me. For one, I hate camping. For two, I, no matter how much I hate being a part of it at times, am a part of society.  I enjoy the creature comforts like air conditioning, TV, video games, and the internet.  Okay, TV and the Internet are horribly evil… I get it. But I like them.  I enjoy the connectivity, the information, the wonders of world being flashed in my face at supreme ADHD speeds. Isolation has its price, and it’s not one I’m willing to pay.  Not when I’ve been waiting for these advancements since I saw my first Sci-Fi movie.  No way was I willing to give it up.  Nor was I fully aware of just how it would be turned against me, and all of us… Never understanding the Orwellian undertones to each technological advancement.

It didn’t take me too long to wake up, thankfully.  But as you can imagine, there had already been more damage done than anyone could have guessed.  I rented apartments with my real name, I opened bank accounts in my real name, I’ve gotten loans, bought houses, and once I even signed up for Publishers Clearing House, all with my real name.  Most of us have, not fully understanding what happens behind the scenes.  It’s just something that we used to do.  I mean, you can’t win PCH with a fake name. Right?

After I figured some things out, I tried to manage my information.  I would remove myself from lists and spend countless hours scouring for traces of my life that I could remove.  After a few years of “information management” I realized just how little of an effect I was having.  The information gathering tools had become more sophisticated and in-depth  than I was able to keep up with.  Things that I had done years ago would spring back to life and pop up in the information funnel again, and again. So, I changed the way I approached the problem.

If removing all traces of my existence, or even reducing it by significant amounts, was a failing endeavor, I decided the best way to combat it was to ALTER the information that was competing with it.  As much as the companies valued my old data, they CRAVED updated data even more. 

There was data already out there, things I couldn’t remove.  Official documents and such that simply got somehow lumped into the grand database somewhere.  I spent a lot of time trying to remove it… but what I needed to do was alter the perception of exactly who I was. This could only be accomplished through a campaign of misinformation.

My name was already out there, with legitimate information attached to it, so what I needed to do now, was attach conflicting information to my name.  This involved using my name MORE, not less.  Hence my existence on FB and Google Plus, in FULL.   I still keep some aspects of my information in tact while conflicting others.

While this is not a solid solution, it is my experiment, and I’ll be the one to measure it’s effect. I’ve come to the conclusion, that for most of my information, it’s a lost cause.  And that has been the experience of a LOT of very talented people who have tried their very best to erase their footprints. So this is my best attempt to muddy the waters that surround my life.

I wish you the very best of luck.

PS. And for the record, it’s not paranoia, it’s Acute Awareness Disorder. :P