Tuesday, November 6, 2012

If Money Equals Speech ~ What Does Free Press Mean?

TRC founder/editor Gabrielle Price

"Let each man say what he chooses; if because of this I am criticized by the ignorant, I shall not be chastised by the learned." - Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605-15)


We're approaching the end of election day here in the United States.  Whether we're actually united or not is difficult to assess if we're to rely on mainstream media as a snapshot of the public sentiment.  We can't, of course, rely on status quo media when polls are skewed, numbers are fudged and the largest amount of money ever spent on an election is louder than the American public it claims to serve.

Money buys a lot of things -- like the press.  Those who own the press control its message -- which means there there are no checks and balances left in mainstream media.  They aren't paid to protect the democratic process, they are paid to push political agendas.  Part of the reason this is the most expensive election in history, is because media monopoly has the ability to keep the cost of advertising so high that only candidates with the biggest corporate coffers [the 1%] are able to compete in their farce of a 'public forum'. 

The actual information that citizens require to make any informed decisions, is available online, if one is inclined to use it to its full advantage. I'm a firm believer that ignorance is a choice in the age of information.

I've been raised around computers and computer geeks my entire life, which made me savvier than most considering the advice was everywhere if I cared to ask for it.  When the internet first came into my abode -- it was 1995 -- and I was thrilled to dive in and surf the information waves on a piecemeal PC and slow as molasses dial up connection.

For an information junkie and avid reader -- the thought of the 'world wide web' was exciting to me.  A new frontier that could be used for amazing applications toward the greater good.  My mind would spin at the idea of being able to connect to sites in Europe, to virtually tour museums and libraries, perhaps even read from the pages of a book older than the state I lived in -- even a book older than my country.  One of the amazing things I've learned through this technological gift, was more about my family's ancestry.  This was knowledge that had a profound effect on me personally and may never have come to light in my lifetime, if not for this technology.

Later in 1995, I decided I wanted to study programming, with the goal of aiding investigations of child predators online.  As much as I saw the internet as a wonderful tool for learning -- I also saw the potential of it being misused in a very sinister way.  Little did I know...

Needless to say, my education took me in an entirely different direction than I'd set out on initially.  The internet evolved so quickly that the programming side seemed to make me feel 'held back' from riding the best part of the surf.  Programming made me feel like I would forever be paddling to reach the wave.

It's been quite an experience since, especially with the advent of social media sites which started with Friendster for me [then Myspace...then Facebook].  The most interesting thing I see now, with the rise of groups like Occupy and especially Anonymous, is the internet almost 'devolving' [in a good way] back to its roots in programming language, most notably open source, which leaves me with a twinge of regret for not hitting those books just a little harder.  Now we have "For Dummies" books on everything from Linux to social media -- marry that with the internet and it is like an underground college.  The best part is that this college is literally free.

And like free speech, I highly suggest we use it or lose it.

I personally look forward to something that competes with Facebook as a social hub in future, now that it has become a spying mechanism for corporate government.  The programming it takes to avoid the pitfalls of keeping the internet 'free and open' yet also secure, has been worked on in this 'underground college' for longer than you care to imagine.  I'm delighted about that.  You should be, too.  I find myself paddling to keep up yet again.

The most notable thing about open source is the vast amount of communal work that goes into building these secure infrastructures, yet many of these tools are absolutely free to use.  It's almost always been this way.  The folks who do this work have truly developed a virtual gift economy that works, because they do the work out of a sheer love of the technology and respect for free speech -- not to mention the privacy of anyone who wishes to exercise it without feeling exposed to a nosey narc of a co-worker or an authoritarian police presence. Let's face it -- the largest social media companies are getting worse.  The corporate monopoly is getting smaller every day.  And when you can't tell the government apart from corporations, we're deep in Orwellian territory.

Now we have a government that spends vast amounts of money on the largest security hammer and soon every voice of dissent against corporate rule will look like a nail.  The passage of the NDAA makes many who would normally speak out, cower and hide behind the pleasant visage of the current Big Brother.  Whatever happens today after the polls close is simply a continuation of Empire -- a 'changing of the guard' tourist attraction outside the military industrial complex and nothing more.  America seems content to go through the motions, feeling that this is their only weapon in the fight against an evil 'other' -- and this applies to both parties, by design.  It's what Chomsky calls Manufactured Consent.

Corporations have spent historic amounts of money on this 'pick the least annoying fascist' election in particular. Of special note is the ballot initiative in California to label GMO foods -- the level of disinformation to confuse voters on this issue was staggering.  Most would imagine that just labeling the damn food would be cheaper at this point.  The fact is that these food [and chemical] companies are well entrenched in government and have already spent obscene amounts lobbying to get exactly where they are.  But to avoid the simple act of labeling products when the majority of other countries already do should be enough to make anyone rethink what they're eating, let alone who they vote for. To fight your customer base by spending AGAINST what they obviously want should be a huge warning flag. And it was -- Monsanto and Obama failed to forget that we can Google that. Now we know who sits at the helm of the FDA and who put him there.

Propaganda is the tool of corporations -- they call it PR. What it really amounts to is whitewashing, or the ability to hire high paid bullshitters to convince the public that they work in their best interests.  Meanwhile lobbyists are busy massaging the law to work for them by greasing every open palm in Washington to ensure those laws that result in the biggest profits or contracts are the ones that get passed.  The public 'need to know' and thus, the public good is secondary.  We don't have lobbyists -- and they think all we have is a vote.  They fail to see that the internet brought a different democratic process -- one the public realized it had been missing for far too long. 

This was globalization they never counted on -- our voices and a free and open internet in which to address grievances, organize and mobilize.  The globalization of information also brought news of atrocities that our own country had wrought on other shores -- some also happening here now -- which are creating personal connections between all those effected.  We found common bonds with others around the world and realized we were not enemies...but that we shared a common enemy.

The day the SCOTUS opened the floodgates for more corporate money to flow uninhibited into what was left of the democratic process -- was the day I saw democracy thrown overboard to drown in a sea of propaganda.  Both parties took on the same hue by equally [and shamelessly] kissing corporate backsides.  Many people have tried to revive democracy since the SCOTUS decision but it has since been waterboarded, wiretapped, pepper sprayed, irradiated, fracked, droned, drilled, foreclosed on and sold to the highest bidders -- the disaster capitalists and the banking cartel who spent on BOTH candidates in this election and of course, Wall Street, the bookie who bets against this country because the house always wins.  It gets taxpayer bailouts and the country gets austerity...complete with mafia bully tactics if you dare to protest against your serfdom. [Sound familiar? See: Greece]

Realize this corrupt system isn't too big to fail. In fact, ancient history, hubris and physics dictate that it must collapse.  Today, Americans decided who would be in charge of overseeing it.  I still contend that it is important to vote locally, where leadership will count the most as it will impact you where you live.  I'll be watching the skewed poll numbers come in, making note of whether the Green Party made a dent in the race, if GMOs will be labeled despite the horrible disinfo campaign to stop it, still glad to have heard the third party debates delivered to my laptop [from foreign lands] and hoping that America starts thinking outside the idiot box and past the ballot box hangover tomorrow.  Free press needs your support more than ever.

When you hear it repeated by mainstream media that this is the most expensive election in history, please remember you live in a country where the Supreme Court says that money now equals speech. The media monopoly has simply insured that the biggest liars have to spend the most, which makes them easy to spot and keeps journalists like me rather busy calling all the bullshit.* 

 *In fact, I'm getting carpal tunnel, so I'm working on launching radio programming with some comrades and video updates -- announcement coming this week!


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