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User Journal

Journal: Extremism is mainstream on the internets. 1

Journal by yoder

The web is a great place for free political speech. It is also a beautiful informational tool. But if you are looking for total anonymity, the internet is not great. It does, however, give people the feeling of total anonymity and that is the perfect environment to see people as unfettered, morally unrestrained, emotionally spastic versions of their public face.

Six months ago, while talking about gun control legislation on a Minnesota based forum, I made the mistake of saying that we need tighter restrictions on who can get a handgun. I'm not anti-handgun and even said so on the forum, but do not own one and will not have one in my home. This was not good enough for several individuals who then said that I should "have to watch my wife get raped by a man with a gun" because that would change my tune and I would allow guns in my home.

A month ago I was on a tech forum talking about corporate regulation. Once again I'm not anti-corporate, but made the mistake of saying that large corporations have been lacking in responsibility lately. I named two corporations as well as two well known industries that have been embroiled in ethical and legal issues. An individual felt a driving need to tell me that he should "tell my neighbors that I'm a child molester" so I could understand how these corporations feel when people talk about them.

Recently, I've had people threaten over posts about nuclear energy, bamboo flooring, and my hybrid car. I've noticed that when these people think they are anonymous with their oh so clever screen names, they feel untouchable. They feel that their voice, their opinion should be law. They feel that any other opinion should be punished. And since no one can ever find out who they really are, then why not put the fear of god into this person who dares to disagree with them? This belief they have that they are untouchable on the web makes them many times more pathetic and annoying than they would normally be. It also makes them many times more dangerous, because it is just that belief (I'm untouchable) that makes people do inhuman things.

Sometimes it makes me rethink my support of free speech and internet anonymity.

User Journal

Journal: I've just been annoyed! Where's my damn lawyer!

Journal by yoder

I'm not sure when I first noticed this, but I've found that the amount of annoyance a person feels is in direct proportion to how far right they sit on the political spectrum. Fundamentalists tend to be hypersensitive to any form of annoyance, where progressives seem to expect it and therefore live with it. This tends to be magnified online, I would guess due to the anonymity of message boards and forums. This is not to say that progressives do not get annoyed, but the annoyance does not tend to turn violent in nature. Political forums are by far the worst, and I have actually been afraid for my family's safety at times when confronted about my aversion to our esteemed leaders. On the other hand I have read posts that threatened Clinton with physical harm for getting a blowjob. My annoyance at that is more at having to deal with such puerile knobs on a daily basis. If they want to shriek and wail after all these years about a Presidential BJ, I guess that says more about them than me.

User Journal

Journal: Sometimes straddling the fence should hurt.

Journal by yoder

I've been reading posts here and on some other forums with people who say they are "skeptical environmentalists" and then go on to say that the jury is still out on Global Warming. There are those who say they just don't have enough information to make a decision about Global Warming. And that is fine, more power to them in their quest for that last bit of missing evidence, that huge red blinking neon sign that covers the sky from horizon to horizon that says "Global Warming is real. It is being caused by humans. Start fixing it now, because you might already be too late."

I'm not a scientist, but I play one on tv (not really). I need to take my science in bite sized, easily digestible morsels. Even so, I take the time to read as much as I can about a subject that could very well affect not only me and my family, but my descendants for hundreds of years. So far in my readings I have come to realize that this is a subject that has been heavily censored by the oil and coal industries. Results of scientific observation and experimentation have been removed from reports. This is not new, but has been happening in one form or another for at least 30 years. Many hundreds of millions have been dumped into the political arena to ensure that politicians who do disagree with the oil industry either do not get elected or are sufficiently beholden to their campaign contributions that they will not publicly speak against the oil industry.

Now what does this have to do with science or scientific observation? Nothing, and everything. Non scientists are making scientific policy based solely on massive lobbying and campaign contributions. Scientists are being fired for doing (gasp) science. Politicos act hurt, betrayed and surprised when scientists come up with evidence that does not fit their political aspirations. This is nothing new and goes back to Galileo and Pope Urban VIII. Since this has been happening for so long, why should we expect anything different today? I mean hell, if censorship and house arrest was good enough for Galileo it should damn well be good enough some no-name scientist buried deep in the bowels of the FDA, EPA, NOAA or NASA.

Now would oil industry executives put hundreds of millions of their own hard earned dollars into censorship and lobbying if the science already said humans are not to blame for Global Warming? Why not just put $50,000 into one ad campaign that says "Listen to the scientists, they know what they are talking about."

Now just because the oil industry hates scientists, doesn't mean Global Warming is real, but when a large majority of scientists from around the world can come to a consensus about something like this, it should not be ignored. It does not mean that they cannot be wrong, but it does mean that there is a preponderance of evidence to support the consensus. And when it comes to our future and specifically my kids, grandkids and great grandkids, I would rather be safe than have my name taken in vain by many generations as something nestled between Australopithecus and Neanderthal.

At the very least, humans have done just enough damage to our environment to muddy the waters. All this means is we have given the oil and coal industry all the ammunition they need to throw some FUD into the mix and make it stick. At the most we have caused or accelerated the warming of the earth to the point that even if we stop our greenhouse gas emissions now, what we have already done will continue to worsen until a significant percentage of the globe is uninhabitable.

I've mentioned on forums that the ice at the North pole is disappearing and have had people tell me this is hyperbole. I've had people tell me that new industries built to replace oil and coal will harm our country. I've had people tell me that as long as we keep polluting the atmosphere with soot that it will counteract the greenhouse gases and we will live in peace and harmony for ever. I've also had people tell me that it is America's right to control the world's oil for our own use and to dole out to other countries as we wish. I've heard people say "Other countries are polluting, why can't we?" And I've heard people who seem to be incredibly frightened of change lash out and attack anyone who even hints at change or sacrifice.

I have my prejudices about those who argue vehemently against environmental responsibility because I see it as incredibly short sighted. I see their misguided attempts to sabotage environmental discussions as destructive to our economy, our society, and our future. I pity them, but despise them, because their actions are harming my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

History rarely treats the ignorant, malicious or greedy with kindness.

And Karma is a bitch.

The Almighty Buck

Journal: It's the economy, stupid!

Journal by yoder

I work for a regional telecom company so I am acutely aware that sometimes I bite the hand that feeds me. That does not, however, change the fact that watching state and federal representatives fall all over themselves in a rush to give out more cash to corporations is sickening. My state (Minnesota) is usually a moderate to slightly left leaning state, but recently there was a backlash after Jesse Ventura and we are now in the grip of a Republican governor as well as House. Like just about every other state in the country right now we have a deficit that needs to be balanced. Minnesota has a high standard of living and a strong upper class which has raked it in hand over fist during the good times. Now, our governor is saying that during the bad times the rich and the corporations need to be protected from this hardship. Tax cuts to the rich and tax incentives to corporations are being coupled with massive cuts to higher education, lower education, the arts, and more than anything else support for the elderly and poor. These freaks then -straight faced- say "Everyone must sacrifice during these trying times." The local republicans are in lock step behind Jr. and the White House mafia, feeling all but invincible and hoping for another "tragedy" to occur so they can ride that wave of violent jingoism through the next elections. This country is capable of being a good world leader and a good example to others. We are not even trying to be that now. We are too busy making money at any cost, no matter who gets screwed in the process.

Yay team............

Privacy

Journal: Tech and politics

Journal by yoder

Up until recently I was like the vast majority of Americans out there. I had definite opinions about corporate and fundamentalist interests infringing on the people's privacy with draconian legislation pushed through congress by "bought and paid for" legislators. I had a point of view that I thought was not being heard, but I thought "What good will it do? I'm just one voice and I don't want to stand out because it will just attract those right wing extremists who terrorize those who disagree with them." Hell, I have a family to think of and just the idea of having some pro-life group singling my family out to make me pay for believing differently kept me from speaking out. Then I discovered the internet (actually, I invented it--just kidding) as a tool to communicate with like-minded individuals. Being able to get together with others to make your collective voice heard makes all the difference in the world. Right wing extremist groups are like high school bullies, they pick on the weak and those who are not well represented or a part of a well organized group. Another benefit of speaking as part of a group: local, state, and federal officials will pay more attention to a small well organized group than they will a single well organized individual. And when you find that your left wing long-haired hippy communist idea is actually shared by soccer moms, accountants, farmers, and of course long-haired hippy communists, you feel more comfortable speaking your mind.

The internet has been an extremely powerful political tool when utilized by the grassroots organizations. I believe the success they have seen is the main reason for corporate and right wing attacks on internet privacy. Communication and the right to communicate is so valuable that fundamentalist groups will go to extreme measures to quiet opposing views. I have come to realize that my voice is needed and that this will be an ongoing debate because there will always be those who would try to quiet opposing views by any means possible.

I am much more active in my government now thanks to the internet and the freedom we have to gather online and question those who should be serving us in government.

"Neighbors!! We got neighbors! We ain't supposed to have any neighbors, and I just had to shoot one." -- Post Bros. Comics

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