Tag Archives: freedom

Happy 4th of July. Celebrate [the illusion of] freedom

4 Jul

“The illusion of freedom [in America] will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” –Frank Zappa

Happy 4th of July. Everywhere you look in America today there is something or someone espousing the attitude of “AMERICA!!!FUCK YEAH!!!!” It’s freedom this or liberty that. Yet despite all this spirited celebration, not a single brain cell is occupied with contemplating what freedoms and liberties we have. If you ask someone, they’ll probably give some answer that sounds like it could be spoken from a character out of the Idiocracy movie. “What freedoms are you celebrating today?” “Well, ah….our freedom to be free!”

You have no freedom. You have only the illusion of freedom.

You might point to the bill of rights as a clear example of the freedoms you have, but then you would be incredibly naive. Rights by their nature are absolutes. If they are not absolutes then they are not rights, their enforcement is subject to the whims of the ruling power; an illusion. The ruling power will maintain that illusion as long as it is convenient for them to do so. In cases where it is no longer convenient, they will dispense with the theater and the true nature of your “rights” are relieved.

Over the past century the US government has shown that no right is absolute. Freedom of speech, press, and assembly? That will be tolerated as long as it is the correct speech, press, and assembly. Look at the brutal crackdowns on protesters, “free speech zones” miles away from the subject of the protest, the police violence .Freedom from unwarranted search and seizures? Nonexistent. Everything you do on facebook, every phone call and text message you send is recorded by the government. You are suspect by default. Every citizen is a potential enemy of the state.

The right to due process, a speedy trial and protection from cruel and unusual punishment? Ask Bradley Manning about that. Or ask Anwar al-Awlaki, an American tried, sentenced, and executed with no due process, no trial, and no appeal. Or ask his dead 16yr old son who was executed two weeks later in the same manner. Ask anyone on the US government’s “kill list.” Ask the owners of Megaupload or any one of the other websites arbitrarily, illegally, and capriciously shut down by the government.

“But at least we’re not some third world country suffering starvation, civil war, and lawlessness!”

No. Making that argument is surrender. You are setting the bar so low that it might as well be on the ground, and yet you seem elated that you’re able to step over it. No amount of sarcasm can express my disdain for this argument. The funny thing is that you can’t even step over it, it’s more like you trip over it. Corruption, lawlessness, and starvation exist here in the US. The difference is that our aliments are better hidden. People are expecting to see starving Africans, or warlords, or guards taking bribes. Yet in America our starving people look like everyone else, or a homeless veteran under a bridge. Our warlords wear suits and drive nice cars. Our corrupt officials take bribes from corporations and sit in congress. There remains only one absolute right in the US.

Your right to remain silent.

What will it take?

17 Dec

Wow, NDAA and SOPA in one week. 220 years to the day after the ratification of the bill of rights, the NDAA passed congress and is now on it’s way to the white house where Obama has said that he will NOT veto the bill. What’s the big deal? Indefinate detention of Americans SUSPECTED of being terrorists. Suspected, not “proven guilty in a court of law.” If the government doesn’t like you, all they have to do is say the “suspect” you of being a terrorist and you’re GONE!

It’s ok, I wasn’t using my basic human rights anyways.

Meanwhile, SOPA has been being rushed through congress, despite many of the legislators not understanding what it is they are passing. The bill would essentially break the internet. Copyright holders would be able to go to Internet Service Providers (whoever you get your internet from) and demand that they censor websites they don’t like. If the ISP doesn’t censor it, they can sue them. This would remove some websites from your computer’s address book, meaning not everyone’s address book was the same. (Thus, in layman’s terms, “breaking the internet”)

Claims could be filled against anyone who uses copyrighted content in any way. Think of it this way:

It is the equivalent of copyrighting letters in the alphabet and then suing people who use those letters in writing a sentence. Think of everything on the internet that references something else, be it to comment on it, or to redesign it to express another idea. All of that would be illegal if SOPA passed.

It looked like the bill might be postponed until 2012, which is what the major media outlets are reporting, but the people in favor of the bill have quietly agreed to meet on the 21st to push it through.

I see all this and I’m beyond outraged. I’m not even shocked or surprised. THIS is why I want to leave this country so badly. It’s stuff like this.

I went to go copy the URLs to these stories and post them on facebook so my friends could see what was going on right under their noses, but then I stopped. What’s the point? Nobody is going to do anything about it. Some of my like minded friends might chime in with their outrage, but it’s ultimately just a circle-jerk.

People don’t want to hear about it. It’s not immediately affecting them, so don’t bother. But what will it take?

You have no rights. You have no freedom. Your future and childrens’ futures are being stolen from you in plain view for all to see.

What will it take for people to do something? For them to stand up and fight back? Thousands already have. The Occupy Wall Street movement has been speaking out against this immoral system of disfranchisement and thievery for months, but everyone is trying their damnedest to sweep them under the rug, to paint them as fringe with no clear agenda.

What would it take for the rest of the population to wake up?

10% unemployment obviously isn’t enough. Would 20% do it? 40%? Do we need to reach the same levels as Spain and other countries currently facing financial collapse?

The bill of rights has effectively been repealed by post 9/11 legislation and yet we do nothing. What would it take? Would people need to be round up in camps? It has happened before, but there seems to be this notion that it can’t happen again. It won’t happen again. That happens somewhere else.

I’m reminded of Hartley’s famous line: “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” While this may be true for a great many things, it is not true of political oppression. There is no comfortable distance seperating us from the horrors of the past. Surprisingly enough, MTV seems to understand this:

Sadly, history shows us that a people will not wake up to the danger of what is happening until it is too late.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Infringing on religious freedom of speech

6 Jul

Paying attention to religious news lately has made me aware of an unsettling notion some people have about free speech when it comes to religion. There seem to be some people in this country who believe that since America was founded by fundamentalist christians (according to them and not actual history), christianity is the default setting for government and thus it is only natural to have christian monuments and symbols on government property and christian language in laws. Ergo, any attempt to prevent them from putting their religious symbols and language on government property or into laws is a violation of their free speech and freedom of religion. I had a civics teacher in middle school who used to always say “My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins”, in essence, one person’s rights  ends when it starts to infringe on another person’s rights. For instance, it might be some Mormon fundamentalist’s religion to marry and rape multiple young girls, but his right to freedom of religion ends when he violates those  girls’ rights.

You have the right to practice your religion any time, any place you want, as long as you do not infringe on other people’s rights. You have the right to build houses of worship on private property and put up whatever signs you want on that property. You have a right to pray to yourself in school any time you want. You have the right to stand on public property and protest, holding religious signs. The government has no right to stop you from any of these activities, as long as you are not infringing on the rights of others. You do not, however, have the right to force your beliefs onto the government that is supposed to represent everyone equally. Erecting a cross on a public land, putting the 10 commandments in a public courthouse, or trying to brand the government with your faith is not one of your rights.

Liberty & Freedom are worthless

24 Apr

Liberty and Freedom are worthless words. The ideas those words used to represent are still invaluable, but we no longer have words to represent those concepts.

In George Orwell’s 1984 there is the important concept of “double speak“. Double speak is the deliberate distortion of language in the hopes of making meaningful discussion impossible. Controlling language, just like controlling history, is an extremely powerful weapon. If you can debase and alter the very language of a debate, you can frame it any way you want. Your opponents will become victims of their own language.

We see this happening in America today. In the past, conservatives successfully altered the connotation  of the word liberal. They turned it into something dirty, a crime, a perversion. What did liberals do? They cowered and switched to progressive. Now the right is hammering away at progressive as hard as they did liberal to try and make that a dirty word too.

Liberty & Freedom have fallen victim to the same war. What do those words mean? I don’t know what they mean now. I see them constantly being used by people who would, if elected, severely restrict who could marry who, what women could do with their bodies, where women and blacks could work and go to school, who could serve in the military, what religion the government would favor, who could enter this country in search of a better life. The people using the words Liberty & Freedom would make a lot of decisions controlling the actions and choices of other people. Is that what Liberty & Freedom mean?

There was a time when those words, like liberal and progressive meant something different. There was a time when Liberty & Freedom meant the lack of control. Liberty and Freedom were words feared by people who sought to coerce and control others. People uttering those words were to be quickly and mercilessly put down by the authorities.

Now those who would take away people’s ability to do what they please use these words to describe their cause. Liberty & Freedom are now worthless words.

Proof Tea Party not in touch with reality

17 Apr

Ok, just the other day was tax day. Obama and those damn liberals raised your taxes again didn’t they! Golly gee willikers! Turn off Fox “news” for two seconds and take a moment to actually look at the check you’re signing to the IRS. I’ll give you a moment to recover from your shock.

Ok, breathing again? Yep. You got a tax CUT!  That’s right. The damn “tax and spend” liberals CUT your taxes. Yet despite this, most Americans have no idea this happened. I blame 2 things. Poor PR on the part of the liberals, and the boundless stupidity of the American people. Apparently many believe that by hoping and prayin and wishin and willin hard enough you can actually change the fabric of reality.

It’s really scary that now-a-days people are more willing to believe whatever bullshit Fox shovels them instead of actually looking at the check they’re signing.


My worst nightmare

15 Feb

Palin elected president. The United States leaves the UN, invades Iran. Israel given blank check of US support in hopes that they spark a world ending holy war, as predicted in Revelations. The teaching of evolution in public schools is made a crime (again), Bible class substituted instead. Mandatory school prayer is reinstated. Roe v Wade overturned, women no longer masters of their own bodies. “Shoot on sight” orders issued to all law enforcement officials posted along US/Mexico border.

Corporations exempted from all taxes and restrictions. Internet, TV, newspaper, and radio censors put into place to “protect the moral integrity of America”. NPR and PBS shut down. Ownership of firearms made mandatory like in Texas. People are encouraged to bring guns into schools, churches, and places that serve alcohol. Healthcare reform blocked by insurance companies who do not want competition, while more and more people go bankrupt each year, unable to pay insurance bills.

Homosexuality made a crime, anti-gay laws passed and implemented. All gays kicked out of military, regardless if they can speak fluent Arabic or not.

Research into clean energy stopped at behest of oil companies. Environmental Protection Agency closed or budget seriously cut. Protective regulations of all kinds repealed under guise of “limiting government involvement”, at the same time amendments or measures re-writing history and recognizing US as a Christian nation under Jesus Christ are passed.

That’s as big of a nightmare as I’d like to imagine right now. I wonder how many of those things will come true in the next few years if religious republicans with a doomsday complex get elected again.

Take the Tea Party seriously

8 Feb

I can’t stand those Tea bagger idiots, I don’t think the majority of America can either, yet we must not underestimate them. The represent a angry, ill-informed, “reality don’t matter” mob, but if we don’t take them head on, soon they will be in control of the government.

If they were serious about cutting government waste and minimizing government involvement then I’d be with them, but they’re not.  The poor bastards are being manipulated by very powerful corporations like Fox into screwing themselves over. Their messiah, Sarah Palin, is a complete fucking bimbo who believes Jebus is coming back in her life time, and that Africa is a country. How unintelligent can you get? Gah, I digress. I am overwhelmed with seething rage when I think of her.

What really gets me is that they claim to be against government involvement in people’s lives, yet what they really mean is “I want the government to leave my money alone, but at the same time I want it to police your bedroom, force your children to say my religion’s prayers in public schools, and generally just enforce my world views and morals on you!”

You really want smaller government? FINE. Then quit trying to legislate your religion into my life!!!!!

To be honest. I HATE the bailouts. Yeah our entire economy would have crashed, but maybe then we would have executed some of these big bankers who are still getting million dollar bonuses. Did conservatives get the message that repealing government safeguards on the economy causes this shit? Nope. This whole thing builds up under Bush and crashes on Obama’s head, and there is no way he could have come out ok. (Yeah, maybe in the long run our economy will be better for the bailouts, but I’d still sleep better at night if some bankers had been shot)

Oh, that’s another thing, they tea baggers are hypocrites. “It’s only a crime when a liberal does it!” Bush took fiscal conservatism and strangled it; brutally. Where were the tea party people when Bush took Clinton’s record government surplus and drove it straight through the ground with the multi-trillion dollar wars in Iraq (no connection to 9-11) and Afghanistan? Nowhere. They were silent because he is a conservative good ol’boy and was doing god’s will, just like Palin claims to be. Bullshit.

I also can’t stand the double speak they put out. “Freedom” is now a worthless word. It used to mean something, now it’s hollow and twisted. To the tea baggers, “Freedom” means letting pharmaceutical, insurance, and energy corporations royally fuck America. To them “freedom” means the ability to impose their social/religious views on the rest of the country. Shove gays back into the shadows, kick science out of schools, silence non christians, and enslave women in their own bodies. Sorry, but you don’t have the “right” or the “freedom” to do that.

Fighting these people will be difficult. The large majority of this country is un-intelligent, fickle, and gullible. If we could get them to agree that an idea is only as valid as how well it works in reality, then we could beat them. Unfortunately they don’t play by those rules. Has anyone ever said something so off the wall, so stupid, that you just gawk at them, speechless? That’s how I feel about the tea party people. It’s a challenge to take them on because you simply don’t know where to start correcting them. And worse, they take your speechlessness as proof they have a point!

As hard as it may be, we must meet them head on with reason and facts again and again, and constantly demand evidence supporting their positions. If this does not work then we must get out of the way and let them win. (Yeah, I know…) Things in America will then crash and the world will go to hell, but only then will the fucktards that voted them in start to make the connection that maybe, just maybe, reality does matter.