Archive | February, 2014

Thinking about starting a new blog for a new life.

16 Feb

This Sunday I will achieve a goal I’ve had for ten years: I will escape the United States and move to another country. For five of those years GodlessPaladin has been my digital companion and identity. It’s been witness to my many changes and evolution as a person. It’s seen my interests wax and wane, relationships come and go, and philosophical positions mutate. There have been periods where I passionately posted many times a week and dry spells brought on by environmentally triggered depression.

As I look back at who I was when I started GodlessPaladin, I see that I am both very different and very much the same person. I’m still passionate about atheism, religion, politics, and feminism, but the specifics of such passions have shifted. Atheism, religion, and feminism, while still important to me, have taken a more muted roll in my life as of late. My politics have shifted from that of bleeding heart progressive to cynical anarchist. While still interested in gaming, I hardly have the time as of late. My passions for medieval history, once the focal point of my life, have receded to that of passive interest. In their place I’ve developed a new interest: technology and how it is used in the interactions between people and society’s power structures.

While the GodlessPaladin will always be a part of me and my past, I don’t feel that it accurately portrays how I see myself today and who I want to become. As such, I want to start a new blog to mark this milestone in my life, and to record my experiences moving forward.

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about what I wanted the blog to focus on. Many of my friends and coworkers have asked about a travel blog to document my move to another country. I like this idea, but I also want a place to talk about other things that are important to me like anarchism and technology. It would be odd to talk about my move as if it existed in a vacuum. There are reasons to *why* I am moving, and many of them are political. I was hesitant at first to mix a travel blog with a political blog, but then I remembered that I can’t let what other people think bother me. I often feel alone in the world. I don’t know too many other people who have the same views on things as me. I’m on the defensive for the vast majority of my interactions with other people. I’m sure the fatigue of long term “siege mentality” has an affect on my outlook on life. As much as it hurts, however, deep down inside I feel that this isolation is my compass. When the whole world tells me I’m wrong, when I passionately believe I’m right, I feel as if I’m on the correct path. It’s when I find myself agreeing with everyone that I become suspicious.

And so I will mix travel and politics with my new blog, just as I’ve mixed everything here. It’ll be Me v2.0. If friends, family, and former coworkers find my politics unsettling, then they don’t need to visit those pages, or come to my blog. It exists first and foremost for me.

The trouble is, I’m having a hard time coming up with a good name. I feel it’s important. I’m choosing a new public internet identity. I want a name that means something to me, something that’s relevant to who I am, who I want to become, and what I believe in. GodlessPaladin was perfect for who I was five years ago.

I don’t know what I want to be known as in the future. Perhaps that’s appropriate because a lot of my move is about figuring out who I am in the first place.

 

You can’t wear a helmet during protests

2 Feb

This ties into my previous post on the truth behind the facade.

Whenever I hear about someone trying to legally affect any meaningful change on their government, I think about how you can’t wear helmets during protests.

Why can’t you wear helmets at protests? Because it hinders the police beating the shit out of you.

Seriously. That’s the truth of it. It’s illegal to wear helmets or gas masks or anything else that might make it more difficult for the government to exercise their power [violence] on you. It baffles me how people continue to be unable to make this connection.

In our society we are raised to believe “laws” and “what is right” are synonymous. We start small: It is wrong to steal. It is against the law to steal. It is wrong to destroy other people’s things. It is against the law to destroy other people’s things. It is wrong to kill. It is against the law to kill.  From there we extrapolate the inverse of this relationship “something is illegal because it is wrong” onto more complex interactions in life. It is here where the relationship begins to break down. Is it morally wrong for an adult to do drugs in their own home if they aren’t harming anyone? Your answer to that question may differ based on your own personal values, but currently in many countries recreational drug use is illegal. He’s another example but from a different culture that hopefully expose you to the possibility of your own cultural bias in making moral/legal decisions: Is it wrong for women to drive cars if it is illegal for them to drive cars? If you are a westerner you might think this absurd, but someone in Saudi Arabia might think it’s as perfectly normal as “it is wrong to steal therefore it is illegal to steal.”

The point is: what is illegal and what is wrong are not always the same thing. It’s a very simplistic and childish mindset to see the world in this black and white “daddy said the rules are X and so those are what’s right and wrong.”

Back to helmets.

I think it is innately absurd when people overly concern themselves with the laws of their governments with regards to affecting change on those governments. It is impossible to “legally” overthrow your government within the legal framework of that government. (And I’m not talking about elections. I’m talking about real, systemic change.)

Governments are living entities of a sort and like all living entities they have a tendency towards self-preservation. Any ruling class that did not make it difficult for another class to come and overthrow them would not be around for long. Naturally then, governments make overthrowing the government illegal, along with anything else that may lead to inhibiting their ability to stay in control. This ranges from acts as grand as blowing up parliament to acts as small as wearing a helmet during a protest. The scale is drastically different, but they both are aimed at inhibiting the government’s ability to exercise control.

A few days ago the BBC published a story discussing a future in where it would be possible for police to remotely disable a person’s car. Many people immediately suggested that they could simply remove the remote control device from their vehicles to bypass the government’s ability to remotely disable their cars, but removal of this device would certainly be made illegal. Why? For the same reason it’s illegal to wear helmets at protests: It would inhibit the police [and by extension: the government] from exercising control over you.

Undoubtedly the implementation of all these devices in cars would be billed as “for the purpose of stopping criminals.” This is the favorite reasoning for all government power grabs as it is the easiest and most reassuring thing for the populace to swallow. “They’re doing it to protect us from criminals!”

But that begs the question “who are the criminals?”

I believe the general public, when asked “who are the criminals” would conjure up cartoon images of “bad guys” with ski masks stealing money from a bank. Our media in our society encourages this myopic view of crime, at least in the way it portrays “criminal” activity in news and film. Thus the idea of the government wanting increased control in order to “stop criminals” doesn’t seem so dangerous to your average citizen.

But what if the definition of “criminals” was not just limited to people in ski masks stealing from banks? What if that definition was expanded to include people who disagreed with the government? What if that definition was expanded to include protesters and political dissidents? Suddenly the government isn’t using this increased control to protect the people, but to protect itself. This is most evident in laws like those that make it illegal to wear helmets during protests. Surely it would be in the public interest for people to be physically safe while exercising their rights to free speech, free assembly, and demanding a regress for grievances, but the law isn’t about the public good. It never has been. That’s the facade. That’s the lie. The law is about the government’s good and what’s best for making sure the government is able to exercise complete control as uninhibited as possible.

So when I hear people discussing how to change the government within the legal framework set up by that very same government, I can’t help but think of helmets.

You want stronger whistle-blower protection measures? You want to end mass surveillance? You want to end human rights abuses and limit the ability of the government to exercise its power?

It’s not going to happen.

Not legally at least.

Why?

The same reason why you can’t wear a helmet to a protest.