1.26.2012

Politicians: "I'm Rich, You're Stupid", Picking Teams, And Being A Better Geek

Today, I've read the following stories:
  • MPAA and RIAA puppet and SOPA bill author and sponsor Lamar Smith, who would see sites and businesses that merely link to content that violates copyright having their DNS yanked (effectively shutting them down), violating copyright himself (and so I'm not accused of picking a team myself, I'll point out that PIPA -- the equally devastating bill in the senate -- was authored by Democrat Patrick Lehay)


And that's just today. In fact, it's just the past 3 hours. Every single day now, it seems there's a story about a congressperson, presidential candidate, mayor or governor who behaves in a manner that just outright shows voters they no longer give a shit about what we think or want.

It's like they're looking right into cameras across the nation and saying "I'm rich and you have no other choices. You'll vote for me and I'll do what I want. Fuck you."

With the information that's starting to come out about SuperPACs and their unlimited funding for "issues marketing" that essentially highlight a presidential candidate, it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that if you don't have the money to saturate the media with your platform, you don't stand a chance of actually being voted into office. (Seriously, regardless of your feelings about Stephen Colbert, PLEASE watch the video -- it's seriously panic-inducing):








This destroys any sense of fairness or level-headedness when coming to decisions on bills that affect the people that funded the SuperPAC in the first place. Our leaders are compromised. They lead us because they can afford to get in front of us, and they can afford to get in front of us because they're bought and paid for by corporations who seek legislation in their best interests.

So what do we do about this?

Do we sit back and take it?

Do we fill our bottles with petroleum and hurl Molotov cocktails at riot police as we storm the capital?

Is there even a middle ground at this point?

I think that these are questions that are going to come more and more to the forefront of our national dialog, and soon. In this, the YouTube generation, the outright stupidity and hubris of our elected officials is going to come to light -- it can't help but to. Everyone's got a camera on their phone. Internet access is everywhere. There's no longer a barrier to broadcast.  The same goes with writing as a platform for discourse, with blogs such as CNN iReport and Huffington Post casting national attention to the thoughts of regular, ordinary people who have opinions worth discussing and footage worth viewing.

Pretty soon, we're going to have no choice but to answer this question. And I'm afraid that the answer is going to be A, because B is too much work.
"A single leaf working alone provides no shade."  -- Chuck Page
With the number of youth these days who eschew access to the sum of human knowledge, available right from their phone, to broadcast how stupid they can be (for example, thinking that Obama shut down Wikipedia on the day of national blackout which protested SOPA / PIPA -- when they could have just read the goddamn link that was right on the front page of Wikipedia to see what the story was), I'm beginning to lose hope in the idea that they'll even understand what liberty -- honestly liberty, as in the freedom to choose who leads us; not the freedom to choose Venti or Grande at Starbucks -- even is.
That's why I wrote the opinion piece on CNN GeekOut the other day on being a better geek. I think it's up to us -- the real geeks, who actually read and research information because we have a passion for learning -- to educate these people. We have to take charge. We have to lead by going out in front of this whole mess and changing things.

Communities like Reddit have the right idea; they organized the SOPA/PIPA protest in the first place. But too often, honest discourse about issues devolves into talking-point laden political debate where people fight to be "correct" instead of being "right". It's sad that you see people taking party lines of any sort in debate. They may agree with things like improving school lunches to stem the obesity epidemic in this country, but they can't state that publicly, because it'd conflict with the Conservative talking point of choice and personal responsibility.

"If you're not with us, you're against us" -- that mentality is rampant in our nation. We've divided into teams. It's sad.

This isn't ice hockey or baseball. This is our country, our lives and our liberty at stake.

Quit letting your friends and loved ones fall prey to the concept that they have to pick one team or the other, whose platforms and opinions are paid for by the corporations that fund the mouthpieces spouting rhetoric. You may not want to run for office and take a leadership role yourself -- but you CAN exact change in this nation by being a better geek.

You can educate people, no matter how hard they fight. You don't have to sit there and take shit from them. I'm not advocating you be beaten down for trying to help, and you should know that that's going to happen if you decide to do this.

But you should at least try.

Do good. Don't allow injustice to stand. Don't let hypocrisy go unchecked. Don't let evil win. These are my mantras. They make me who I am. Call bullshit when you see bullshit; bolster and help those who deserve it.

But don't pick a team. And don't let your friends get away with doing so.