Archive for the ‘Human Rights’ Category
“In Brazil the Redemption through Reading program has been created with the intention that prisoners will not only improve their literacy skills but so that “a person can leave prison more enlightened and with an enlarged vision of the world”.
— Alex Hundert
It’s bad enough that there is no longer any funding for librarians in Ontario’s public school system.
It seems to me that people in jail should have as much access to books as possible. While in jail, inmates occupied in reading may well be improving their minds, possibly improving their literacy, maybe even learning empathy. At minimum, they are occupied. I’m guessing inmates who read in jail are less likely to re-offend on release. Are Canadian jails and prisons intended to punish or rehabilitate?
The following four articles by writer Alex Hundert, a political activist currently serving time, writing from jail.
As a lifetime reader and writer, I am appalled.
Regardless, it seems nothing less than cruel and unusual punishment to deny prisoners access to reading material.
School children at least have other options. Prisoners do not.
the cart = a library trolley carrying as many as 150 books which makes the rounds through the jail to deliver books to inmates
MDWC = Metro West Detention Centre aka “the West”
[In response to TechDirt: Reddit, Trolling, Doxxing, Free Speech & Anonymity: Whoo Boy, Is This Stuff Complicated I posted a comment; which I think this is important enough to repeat a slightly modified version here.]
Free speech is *only* legally protected from government censorship.
Individuals and corporations are legally allowed to censor speech in their own premises, forums, workplaces, homes, or anywhere else.
But what constitutes Free Speech?
The written description of what was posted online:
“…surreptitiously shot photos of others, usually women, usually focused on sexually objectifying the subjects of the shot.”
Photographing private individuals without their consent?
Then publishing the illicit photos on the internet?
I’m sorry, how is this free speech?
If you climb a tree and photograph your neighbor through their window, is that free speech too?
The article goes on to explain that the photographs were “often very young women.”
The comments mention the existence of a Reddit forum called /r/jailbait ?
And then there is the teacher posting photographs of students. When an authority figure abuses the power they have over over other people, it is an unconscionable breach of trust, possibly liable for criminal charges, certainly and most deservedly, to job loss. This is not free speech.
There have been emphatic arguments in the TechDirt comments about how important it is to protect the privacy of people who take such surrepetious photographs, and moderators who were aware of such content being published on the Internet without the subjects’ knowledge or permission.
You are concerned about the protection of the perpetrator’s anonymity.
Yet precious little thought has been given to the people whose anonymity has been stripped away through the publication of illicit photographs. What about the victim’s anonymity?
The contention has been made that publishing such photographs is “free speech.” Poppycock.
Professional photographers only publish photographs of subjects when they have signed release forms, because otherwise they can be held legally liable. Even models that have been paid to pose must sign releases; if they don’t, the photographs are published at the photographer’s peril.
Because one’s image is part of the individual’s private domain.
Although public figures may be “fair game” because they have put themselves in the public eye, private individuals are accorded legal protection of personal privacy.
The face, the likeness, the identifiability of individuals is protected. Any such invasion of the personal privacy of an individual must trump any arguments of free speech.
You can think what you want. You can say what you want. You can troll all the live long day. But taking surreptitious photographs of people and publishing them without express permission is a no-no.
If you post a photo of my daughter without her permission, or mine if she is a minor, you’ll find yourself in a world of trouble. Because you will have invaded my daughter’s privacy. You made this decision, you took these actions, and the logical consequence is that you answer for it.
There *should* be laws to address this creepy crap on Reddit. But maybe there aren’t. Or even if there are, the forces of law enforcement may not have a clue how to tackle a Reddit. Or maybe they *nudge*nudge*wink*wink simply don’t do a damn thing about it.
If the law does not answer, the best way to achieve social justice is to shine a light on injustice. If the law can’t or won’t deal with something this reprehensible, doxxing seems to be a perfectly acceptable, moral and ethical recourse.
And as the TechDirt article suggests, this wasn’t even doxxing, it was a case of media reporting.
Personal privacy is a natural right. We all need personal privacy. Our own space.
The creep perpetrators invaded that space. They chose to commit bad acts.
People who are photographed secretly, and then had the photographs published, have chosen nothing. They have been victimized by the acts of the perpetrators. Whether or not the law has defined this specific behaviour as assault, that is exactly what it is: an invasion of a human being’s personal space, and an assault on privacy.
A friend shared this list on Facebook, and at first it sounded right, but then it didn’t.
5 Simple Rules For Happiness
- Free your heart from hatred
- Free your mind from worries
- Live simply
- Give more
- Expect Less
I wish I could go along with it, but I can’t, really.
Because, you see, I did all of these things so I could stay home to raise the world’s greatest kid. And I did (and it was worth it!) But in that short time when I wasn’t paying close attention to the world, or allowing myself to worry about the things I couldn’t change, the world has gone to hell.
Although a lot of people date the problems we face now to the fall of the Twin Towers, I think we were on this path long before. The Twin Towers simply offered an excuse to suspend the rights and liberties people used to have. I think that the real problem for the west began with what should have been a good thing: the fall of the Berlin Wall and everything that went with it. That seems to have freed up our supposedly democratic western governments to cease to even pretend to serve the the people.
- Free your heart from hatred ~ YES: this is unproductive
- Free your mind from worries ~ NO: if we bury our heads in the sand, we can’t correct the problems that should worry us
- Live simply ~ YES/NO not at the expense of living fully
- Give more ~ YES: to family, friends, society, those without ~ NO: to corporations
- Expect Less ~ WRONG!
If we expect less, we will get less.
We deserve *more*
including (but not limited to:
- more clean air,
- more clean water,
- more responsible environmental stewardship,
- more government transparency, accountability and responsiveness,
- more protection of our civil rights,
- more accessible education,
- more inclusion,
- more understanding,
- more empathy,
- more privacy,
- more culture,
- more choice,
- more dignity,
- more respect
- more tolerance,
- more sharing,
- more kindness,
- more protection of society’s weakest members
If we all expect less, our government allows big corporations to continue to take more and more,
- poisoning our environment,
- tossing aside human rights, and
- bankrupting our economy.
We need to insist on MORE, because our kids are worth it.
“Bill C-11 contains an “enabler” provision which currently states, “It is an infringement of copyright for a person to provide, by means of the Internet or another digital network, a service that the person knows or should have known is designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement if an actual infringement of copyright occurs by means of the Internet or another digital network as a result of the use of that service.“ — Russell McOrmond Is Bill C-11 related to SOPA/PIPA?
If it’s an infringement to provide a service the person knows or should have known is designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement IF AN INFRINGEMENT OCCURS…
Wait: does that mean it isn’t an infringement if no one actually infringes?
Hum. It appears that Bill C-11 is straying pretty far afield for copyright law. And sounds pretty dependent on what other people do.
But I would not be liable if someone else’s dog bit the letter carrier.
Or what about “the person knows or should have known” …. Well. We all make mistakes. Who can know what anyone else will do?
If rent out a building to a tenant who cooks up methamphetamine in the basement, or takes pot shots at passersby out the window… is this then my responsibility? After all, it’s my building. It’s in a bad neighborhood so I should have known renting it out might make it possible for badguys to do bad things.
Think about it.
“…the person knows or should have known is designed primarily to enable acts of copyright infringement…” If the design of the thing is to primarily enable bad things… why don’t we make laws like that for anything in the real world?
Many perfectly respectable stores like Canadian Tire sell guns. In a pinch, you could use your handgun to drive a nail, but that isn’t what it was designed for. A gun is a weapon that is clearly designed to put holes in things. Quite often, guns are used to put holes in people. And guns can and are used in a commission of a crime far more serious than copyright infringement.
Yet no one is suggesting gun manufacturers be held responsible for crimes committed with the guns they made.
In the real world, this kind of preventative lawmaking is not the practice in Canada.
Recreational drug use has been illegal in Ontario throughout my life, yet there are whole stores devoted to selling the attendant paraphernalia. It is perfectly legal for “head shops” to sell hookahs and bongs openly on the main shopping street of law abiding cities like Waterloo. And these devices are most certainly designed to enable acts of illegal drug use.
Any tool can be used for good or ill, as Cory Doctorow recently pointed out with his suggestion that wheels should be outlawed since wheeled vehicles allow criminals to flee from the scene of the crime. A hammer is a wonderful tool for driving nails, and yet a simple hammer can double as an effective weapon since it is easy for anyone to wield.
In the real world, we don’t arrest people for thinking dangerous thoughts or manufacturing goods or creating a service that someone else might use to break laws. We don’t hold innocent people responsible for the crimes of others.
The legal standards for citizen protection must be the same both online and off. Yet Bill C-11 lowers standards for citizen protection in Canada.
And that’s wrong.
gun by Whizzer released under a creative commons Attribution 2.5 Generic (CC BY 2.5) License
All other images are my own, released under a Creative Commons Attribution license by laurelrusswurm
Or the sciences? I just listened to my first “Free As in Freedom” podcast which turned out to be a conversation between two free software legal eagles @bkuhn and @Kaz discussing gender inequity. I was surprised to learn that Karen Sandler feels insecure about public speaking, since this amazing woman gave one of the most powerful free software talks I’ve been privileged to see, “Free Software on Medical Devices: Unchain My Heart”
What happened to the world I grew up in?
You know, the one I’m talking about, the one that was ushering in gender equality?
As a teen I felt empowered by the classic Marlo Thomas television special “Free To Be, You and Me” My high school drama department class even mounted Free To Be You and Me as a show.
When I was a kid, my favorite team sport was soccer, and that turned out to be the sport my son wanted to participate in. He loved the game, and played for fun in the co-ed “house league” throughout his public school years. But when he was in high school, the league began segregating the younger teams according to gender. I asked why, and was told it was to make sure that girls got to play as much as the boys.
That’s a shame.
I don’t think such a policy is particularly good for either boys or girls. Some of the best soccer players my son played with were girls. As a parent watching all the games, I always saw at the beginning of each season, there were always some boys and some girls who seemed a little uncomfortable playing together. Boys wouldn’t pass to girls, for instance. And maybe some of the girls lacked the confidence to fight boy players for possession of the ball. But by the end of every season, every year, the boys and girls were working together. It was necessary if your team was going to have a shot at winning. And the one thing that the boys and girls had in common was the desire to win.
Segregating the teams by gender might make it easier for girls to play the game, but does them no favors for later. There are few career paths available to women that are devoid of men, outside of nunneries. From my perspective, the most important thing to come out of co-ed soccer was an opportunity for boys and girls to work together and discover they are all people.
Maybe if we had more of that in the places where we socialize our kids, we would have more women in politics.
When it comes to online social networks, particularly the ones seeking to bring about social justice, there certainly seem to be at least as many women fighting for change than men. Maybe more. When you look at any political party, how many of the rank and file, the volunteers, the workers, are women? So why aren’t women more involved in making policy and governance?
Capital “F” feminism
I used to consider myself a feminist, until I became disillusioned when the feminist movement seemed to be less about gender equality and more about a power reversal to seize the power that men traditionally held. So I stopped thinking of myself as a feminist, even though I think that everyone should have equal rights, regardless of gender, skin colour, sexual orientation, or planet of origin.
Every human should have equal rights, no matter what our differences. Period. Does that make me a humanist? Human, anyway. But today I’m considering gender. I realize now I was lucky to grow up in a large family where the girls and boys were treated pretty much equally, with a father who was very supportive of whatever any of us wanted to do or be.
Men and women are all people, we all make mistakes, and you can’t generalize about an entire gender. Sometimes men behave badly, but women aren’t any more perfect than men. Blaming everything that’s wrong in the world on one gender or the other doesn’t help. Blaming doesn’t generally fix anything. Clearly some of the women who have become political leaders have been terrible, just like some male political leaders. It’s even possible that women might screw up even worse that men when it comes to governing nations, maybe because of the way we have been socialized or simply because we lack experience. I don’t know.
As a woman, I’ve tended toward female medical professionals whenever a choice is possible. The wonderful Toronto Women’s College Hospital came into existence to ensure women received proper medical treatment; but the female obstetrician who worked out of WCH was more paternalistic than any male doctor I’ve ever seen. When I asked her questions – pregnancy was a new experience for me – she ordered me to stop reading and to just do as I was told. So in my third trimester I switched to a male obstetrician (and this is unheard of) to make sure I would deliver my child across the street at Mount Sinai.
Men and women are different.
Well, of course we are. People are different. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. We don’t always have the same goals, we often want different things. There are some things men seem to do better as there are some things women seem to do better. And it’s hard to know what gender differences are due to nature and which are due to nurture. But a lot of those things are from the the way we socialize our children.
Democratic government is all well and good, but in order to be truly representative, a democratic government really should come close to reflecting the populace. If you look at the Members of Parliament who are supposed to represent us at the federal level, that isn’t anywhere close to the case gender wise. Although the Canadian population is slightly more than 50 percent female, the House of Commons is barely managing 25% women. Well, 24.7 since the most recent Federal election.
What Canada actually has is a Conservative Party majority government. Yet only 17% of Conservative MPs are women. Lets look at the breakdown within each party:
In total, Canada currently has 76 (or 24.7%) women sitting in the House of Commons.
- 40 of them (or 13%) are from the NDP,
- 28 of them (or 9%) are from the Conservative Party,
- 6 of them (or 2%) are from the Liberal Party,
- 1 pf them (or 0.3%) is from the Bloc Québécois, and
- 1 of them (or 0.3%) is from the Green Party.
So although the numbers are up for women in government, only 9% are in the majority party. And of the five national political parties represented in our government, only the Green Party has a woman leader.
Canada has only had one female Prime Minister, whose term ran for mere days as she was appointed and left holding the bag for Brian Mulroney’s misguided policies. Campbell would probably have done a better job than Mulroney had she got the position at the beginning rather than the end. (Admittedly, my cat could have done a better job than Brian Mulroney…)
Fairvote Canada‘s Anita Nickerson told me that Canada has “basically been at a “glass ceiling” of 20-22% women for the past 20 years.” What changed in the last Federal election was that the “Orange Crush” bumped up our gender numbers dramatically up from 22%. The NDP commitment to gender equality has led to policies that have resulted in more female candidates, and thus more women in our government. During the last provincial election I learned that the NDP will only run a male candidate if there are no women willing to take on the riding. Yet even with this policy, it is clear that the NDP has only managed 40%.
Personally, I wouldn’t vote for any candidate based on gender. You can have good or bad candidates. My goal in voting in any election is to vote for the person I believe will do the best job, so I would certainly never vote for a woman who did not inspire my confidence.
But still, it is a problem. If women aren’t represented in our democratic government, the laws made by that government are unlikely to be in our best interests. That is a problem.
On Thursday I’m attending the screening of a documentary hosted by the Fairvote Canada Waterloo Chapter:
What: Documentary (see the trailer at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoLWSzq2v74 )
When: Thursday January 26, 7 PM
Where: Lyle S. Hallman School of Social Work Auditorium Room 301
(located behind Kitchener City Hall, across the street in the Laurier building)
Looking at the Senate for the Oh! Canada blog, I was struck by the much higher percentage of women serving on the Senate than in the House of Commons. Where we’re barely managing a quarter of our representatives in the House of Commons are women, the Senate boasts more like a third. This is a problem.
Perhaps the film will shed some light on the disproportionate lack of women representing us in Parliament.
Marlo Thomas photographed by Alan Light and shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) License
Today is Julian Assange’s birthday.
Assange thinks human beings have a right to privacy, but democratic governments owe their citizens transparency.
Julian Assange isn’t an ordinary guy, but an innovator. Not mired in preconceived notions, he is a prime architect of WikiLeaks, the first Stateless news organization. WikiLeaks was designed to anonymously accept, vet and publish information that the public should be privy to.
It appears that elements of the United States government prefer to operate without citizen oversight. Some decades past, US government leaks given to Woodward and Bernstein brought criminal behavior in the Nixon government out of the shadows and into the open. For this service to their government and their nation, Woodward and Bernstein were lionized.
Although Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks were well thought of for their efforts in support of freedom in repressive regimes, the U.S. government attitude changed abruptly with the release of the the “Collateral Murder” video where military personnel cavalierly used unarmed civilians for target practice. As far as I know, no attempt has been made to address this problem. The war criminals implicated in the video don’t even appear even to have been reprimanded.
However, Bradley Manning, the young intelligence officer accused of being the WikiLeaks whistle blower, (the modern day equivalent of Bob Woodward’s “Deep Throat”) has been isolated, incarcerated, and held in conditions that suggest attempts to “break” if not “brainwash” the young man. It must be noted that Bradley Manning’s extreme loss of liberty has been effected even before he has been convicted of anything.
Wikileaks, and anyone associated with it, has also come under fire.
Julian Assange, as “the face of WikiLeaks,” has drawn the lightning. Various powerful people have leveled threats against Mr. Assange, including Canada’s own Tom Flanagan, reputedly a friend and mentor of our sitting Prime Minister, who advocated assassinating Julian Assange on Canada’s national public broadcasting network, CBC Radio-Canada. The video of Flanagan’s crime (counselling to commit a crime is in itself a criminal offense in Canada) has been seen around the world. Yet in spite of citizen complaints, petitions and public pressure, no Canadian police force will even bring charges against this well connected Canadian.
Currently, Mr. Assange is being held in the United Kingdom under house arrest, with an electronic surveillance ankle bracelet and draconian terms of “bail.”
Ostensibly, this is because Mr. Assange is fighting extradition to Sweden, where prosecutors wish to question him. They had previously questioned him, and declined to bring charges. Many people believe the real agenda for Mr. Assange’s extradition is simply a sham to keep him “on tap” until the American government manages to find laws under which to charge him. Failing that, existing American laws, which currently allow protection to news media when publishing material that may have been obtained illegally by whistle blowers, may be changed.
So today, on his birthday, Julian Assange remains a prisoner.
House arrest may not be as bad as incarceration in an actual jail, but it is, nonetheless, a deprivation of liberty.
In spite of this, I hope Julian Assange can have a good 40th birthday, and take heart that many ordinary people around the world support the cause of freedom, and we do appreciate his efforts.
Julian AssangeThis photo by New Media Days / Peter Erichsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Free Bradley Manning photo by Steve Rhodes released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No derivs License
Thanks to my brother, humor columnist, Larry Russwurm, for spotting and photographing the graffiti below in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada, and releasing the image under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
“Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.”
This clause is often understood (erroneously) to refer to copyright, but it is not copyright. Rather, it refers to what is called:
Natural rights, also called inalienable rights, are considered to be self-evident and universal. They are not contingent upon the laws, customs, or beliefs of any particular culture or government. Legal rights, also called statutory rights, are bestowed by a particular government to the governed people and are relative to specific cultures and governments. They are enumerated or codified into legal statutes by a legislative body.
Moral rights pertain to intellectual work; a perpetual right to identify themselves as the author of their original work (that involves no copy, just the original). The author has natural dominion over the original work; and is free to lock it away, or share it, or sell it; but even if sold, the creator is forever the creator. The offense against the author’s moral right is plagiarism. This is what is recognized in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
A right is a right no matter the locality and it lasts forever; a privilege like copyright only exists for the period of time set by the law of the land. Copyright is a state granted monopoly wherever it exists, but of course sovereign nations have different laws. That doesn’t change the fact that it exists only because it is imposed by statute.
American Copyright History
The framers of the American Constitution did recognize the natural human rights of creators, and secured these rights, but again, that was not copyright. After all, the 1787 Constitution certainly didn’t recognize the US Copyright privilege that was based upon itself and not enacted until two years later in 1790.
Copyright = Monopoly
Published works lie outside of an author’s human rights, so the state grants exclusive reproduction privilege — a monopoly — over the reproduction of published works. That is copyright.
The printing monopolies predating the Statute of Anne in England were privileges granted printers, and so are even less beneficial to creators than copyright, and so not the same thing at all.
Public domain image From Wikipedia Printer in 1568 by Jost Amman (1539–1591)
Again, this article came from the comments on BuzzMachine.
[Seems my Buzz Machine: Clinton and the freedom to connect comment has gotten out of hand again. Thing is, it's an incredibly important issue, so here are my further adventures in windmill tilting. ]
Intangible concepts are often the ones that matter most.
What is the Internet? It is not analogous to a house. But you folks want tangibles, so lets talk tangibles.
A house occupies a finite amount of space. A house anywhere in our world is most likely to fall under the specific jurisdiction and laws of the nation in which it stands. Under the laws of the land, it is usually straightforward to determine who holds title to the house. In most cases only the owner has the rights to alter or amend the structure of the house.
The Internet, on the other hand, spans the globe. This means that there are bits of infrastructure residing in many nations and under many different legal systems. And if Fred in Topeka sends an email to Mary in London, the email it is broken down into multiple packets which are sent independently — part of Fred’s email might go in a relatively straight line from sender to destination but part of it may be rerouted via Sri Lanka and another through Iceland.
The “infrastructure” is neither finite nor static, and many different people in many different places control many different bits of that infrastructure. There are Internet backbone peers, and Internet Service Providers and the satellites, wires, cables and routers connecting everything together in a multitude of different ways.
At the ends of the Internet are the users and content providers, who connect to the internet via their own bits of infrastructure. People connect and both upload and download content via devices that are only sometimes connected to The Internet, sometimes by wire and sometimes by WiFi. When my cell phone is turned on, I can connect to the Internet with it. When I turn it off, that’s no longer possible. Private individuals and companies can host their websites on their own computers– and they own that piece of Infrastructure. These network connections that make up the Internet fluctuate moment by moment.
You’ll have noticed that people have been referring to “information highways” and “pipes” for as long as we’ve been trying to understand the Internet, because, although the infrastructure is part of the Internet, it is not The Internet.
The Internet is a peer network that exists to share content. Unlike traditional television broadcasting networks, only rarely is Internet content provided by Internet Service Providers (with the exception of some jurisdictions that allow anti-competitive corporate conduct). An enormous amount of the content available on the Internet is not the property of the ISPs who own the Infrastructure, but is instead is freely put there by users. People and organizations are releasing extraordinary quantities of photographs and artwork and music and movies under creative commons licenses, and blogs, microblogging, self publishing and citizen journalism are on the rise. It would clearly be a tangible and grievous error to award ownership of this great human outpouring of creativity to those who own segments of Internet infrastructure.
Although there are tangibles, it is the intangibles of The internet that draw us in. If you really need an analogy, a house doesn’t do it. Try using a community.
We all own the Internet.
Image Credits: Map of the Internet – photo by the Opte Project
The Internet does belong to *me* — and all the other self styled Citizens of the Net.
Corporations may own bits of wire and pieces of equipment, but that isn’t The Internet.
Any more than a handful of soil scooped up from the nearest garden is your country.
That pile of dirt may be a fractional portion of your country, and those bits of technology may be segments of Internet infrastructure, but they are neither the sum of your country nor the entity we call The Internet.
Please note: there is but one Internet, which is the sum of a whole mess of interconnection.
Networks. Computers. Cell phones.
The Internet is one thing — a network — that exists in many countries spread all over the world.
It is the very connectivity which confers value.
Those of us who contribute to it, use it, work with it, learn from it and share it do have rights.
Because the Internet would not exist without us.
All of us.
It has been suggested that the Internet would exist without me, and further, if I’ve only come online in the last decade, it existed before me, and will exist after me.
That may be true in a very limited sense: as an individual, I am only one small atom of The Internet. Just as an individual citizen of any democracy is simply one small part.
But the point of the Internet is that we are all put together. The Internet is the sum of its parts.
Not just the brilliant folks like Tim Berners Lee
who wrote the IP protocol that makes it function, but all the users, whether they can create a website or barely manage to reply to an email.
It wouldn’t BE The Internet if we all pulled up stakes and moved on.
It would simply revert to being a mess of wire and hunks of equipment.
Internet = Interconnected Networks.
Just as the citizens of a country make up the democracy, it is the users who comprise “The Internet.”
It’s been further suggested my opinion about The Internet doesn’t count unless I played a ‘key role’ in DARPA.
Certainly, DARPA’s Internet — an earlier incarnation of the Internet that existed before it was open to the public — was a very different beastie.
But that isn’t The Internet that exists today.
When DARPA controlled the Internet, they wouldn’t have needed to lobby for legislation of Internet Backdoors.
The Internet is not static, but dynamic.
The Internet has evolved.
The Internet of today has evolved enormously precisely because of the interconnection of humans.
It is this international assembly that has so attracted marketers and governments, all of whom seek to co-opt and control the Internet, in order to profit and/or govern the citizens of the Internet.
I certainly didn’t play a key role in DARPA. I had to google DARPA and read about it on Wikipedia to even know what it is. Because I’m nobody. An Internet user. Heck, I’m not even an American.
But the Internet is mine just the same.
Because the thing we all know as The Internet today is a network of parts. Without the people who use it — the citizens of the net — it would not be anything like it has become. Like it is. Because of the things that the Internet makes possible, the world is changing. Ideas are changing. Methods of doing things are changing.
On DARPA’s Internet, the precursor to *my* Internet, it was inconceivable that total strangers from all over the world would come together to produce a free and accessible encyclopedia, much less one that would come to be accepted as reputable.
The point is that Internet is no longer the creature of DARPA.
That may be a key part of the reason the American government
is so testy. Every time the United States filters out a chunk of the Internet, they are building their own “Great Wall” and locking their own citizens behind it. Yet if the United States chooses to gather up its marbles and go home, the rest of us will still be online.
Because the Internet belongs to the whole world —
to everyone who connects to it.
If all of the Citizens of The Internet were to log off, the hollow shell remaining in DARPA’s grasp would hardly be recognizable as anything but a memory of the entity we today recognize as The Internet.
So you see, the Internet is mine. And yours. It’s ours.
And we are Spartacus.
[This is an expansion of my comments on Buzzmachine: Clinton and the freedom to connect]
Image Credit: “Paris – Jardin des Tuileries – Le Serment de Spartacus – Ernest Barrias’ Le Serment de Spartacus (The Oath of Spartacus)” photo by Wally Gobetz wallyg under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) License
Earth from space, Apollo 17 mission. Copyright and Credit NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Scientific Visualization Studio, released under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) License.
Parents protect their children. As a parent, I censored what my child was exposed to.
I protected my child from the information or reality that he was not able to handle.
He was probably in the first grade the first time he saw the classic movie
“A Christmas Story.”
Naturally, it made him desperate to know what Ralphie’s “F-word” was.
Once known, this word of power might be used inappropriately.
At school, say.
Or at Grandma’s… She would be horrified.
And when Grandma asks where he learned this word, he would have to say:
“Mommy taught me that word”
I don’t think so.
he just wants to know.
He will not use it inappropriately. In fact, he promises faithfully never to say it, if only I tell him.
Was he mature enough to abide by this agreement?
My greater life experience inclined me toward disbelief.
So I told him the word was
Having just vowed to ‘never’ use the word,
naturally the first thing out of his mouth was “Frankenweenie.”
So there was some vindication in my decision to censor.
(He did, of course, learn how to both say and spell the actual “F word” when it was spray painted on the wall of his elementary school a year later.
Only then was it safe to show him the Tim Burton classic Frankenweenie film.)
But as a parent, there were things I knew would disturb him. Being in tune with my child, I was uniquely positioned to have a good idea what protection was necessary. For instance, in the early years, good guys could never die. As he grew and learned acquired the ability to protect himself, the terms of censorship changed. Before he was 18 he had acquired enough maturity that external parental censorship was no longer necessary.
Of course I never did show him Old Yeller, a film that traumatized me as a child. Just seeing a commercial for it makes me burst into tears to this day.
rewriting history is a bad idea
Although there is a time to protect children, I thoroughly disagree with the practice of rewriting literature to “protect” children.
The portrayal of the Jewish moneylender Shylock caused offense to a great many forward thinking people. In an era of political correctness many schools banned the play from the curriculum.
The “N-word” caused the same fate for Huckleberry Finn. Even worse, liberal minded people thought a reasonable compromise was to change the text. Rewrite it to make it ‘suitable’ for children.
One of the great philosophers who influenced my adolescence was Lazarus Long. To this day it doesn’t matter to me that he was a fictional character.
A generation which ignores history has no past: and no future. “
Rewiting history doesn’t change what has come before. It merely serves to prevent any possibility of learning from the mistakes of the past. Personally, I have always learned best from my mistakes. I was horrified to hear that revisionism was extending to Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. Seems everything that was a ‘bad influence’ was redacted. Look around. Has the world become a better place for it? I don’t think so.
Personally I never much liked Tom Sawyer. Sorry folks, I think Tom was a creep. He’s dishonest, venal, manipulative. Even his friends can’t trust the guy.
Now, Huck Finn, there’s a character I can get behind. I admired Huck. Maybe because he came from nothing, he is one of the least judgemental characters in literature. Certainly one of the most egalitarian. Yet some people wanted to remove the N-word from the world. How can you teach a book that uses the N-word to impressionable children?
Easy. You TEACH children. You talk about it.
What a wonderful opportunity to talk about what people said and did back then.
Removing the “N-word” is a small obscenity in a book that includes a big obscenity called slavery. Contrast that with the good in the book. A central part of the story is the incredible friendship between Huckleberry Finn and his friend Jim. That was unheard if in the day. Huckleberry Finn is a wonderful book capable of engaging empathy, and changing the way people think. Watering it down into a politically correct revision helps no one. Teaches nothing.
A Merchant of Venice
A smash hit at a time when Jews were prohibited from full citizenship in Elizabethan England.
Religion permeated the laws of the land at that time. Usury was illegal for Christians… that meant Christians could not charge interest on loans. The net result was that Christians with money were singularly unwilling to loan money to strangers for business start-ups or investments. This was particularly rough on the economy.
Although prevented from holding many jobs or owning land, Jews were legally allowed to lend money. Charging interest was one of the few sources of legitimate income available to a Jew in England in Shakespeare’s day.
Looked at in the context of the times, it is incredible that Shakespeare was able to write and produce a play in which a Jew could hold such an important part.
Certainly in some ways Shylock is a caricature, but everything he does and says is perfectly understandable in the historical context.
Even more importantly, he delivers some of the most powerful dialogue ever to address the issue of racism:
If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh?
if you poison us, do we not die? “
–Shylock, William Shakespeare’s A Merchant of Venice
Shylock made Jews real. You might not like him, but there is no question of his humanity. And although Shylock is the villain of the piece, his daughter Jessica is also a Jew. Of course Jessica is quite ready to throw away her heritage to be accepted in the wider world in which she lives. Just like any normal girl.
What an amazing window into history. What an incredible opportunity to discuss perception, religion, race and even human rights. What better place to deal with it but within the education system. Banning “A Merchant of Venice” teaches that it’s best to sweep what we don’t like under the carpet.
That doesn’t address problems, or overcome them. When we bury a social problem like racism, we just drive it underground.
When that happens, it is almost inevitable that it will gather force in the dark, and come back as a more resistant strain.
We need to look racism in the eye and say “that’s wrong.”
If we don’t, it grows and spreads.
How has the world changed since Martin Luther King Jr.‘s day?
I suspect Dr. King would not be happy to see so many citizen protections that existed even before his Civil Rights movement have been curtailed. I kind of think Dr. King would prefer to see a little more citizen protection. I can’t imagine he would be glad to see the erosion of civil rights he fought for.
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
- George Santayana, eire.com: QUOTES ABOUT HISTORY
Image credit: Fair use of black & white publicity Frankenweenie still portrait of named title character from the early Tim Burton short film.
A.F. Bradley’s 1909 Photograph of Mark Twain, internationally available in the public domain, downloaded from WikiMedia Commons.
From Wikipedia Public Domain engraving of William Shakespeare, Title page of the First Folio, by William Shakespeare, with copper engraving of the author by Martin Droeshout. Image courtesy of the Elizabeth Club and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.
Project Gutenberg’s preservation of the Public Domain work Huckleberry Finn provided this E.W. Kemble frontispiece illustration of Huck from 1884