Monday, 21 November 2011

OCCUPY, ARAB SPRING, SOCIAL MEDIA: THE LIMITS OF FREE

Free. Like this blog. Our Man is free to write what the hell he wants and you are free to take it or leave it, at no cost. Free, right?



Free for all to see - the inhumanity of the University of California at Davis. A horror? Yes. An aberration?  No, not by a long stretch. Forget for a moment the heavy-handed police response that is official policy now in much of the Free World to deal with dissent, or the full-body X-ray scanners in US airports and other acts in the security theatre that we are but players, not to mention the Collateral Murder video (oh, but we don't mention that now because the messenger is an arrogant arse, so we are free to disregard the message)... this was on American soil, dammit.

Soil that is not fit for tents, which are a health and safety hazard, according to the university chancellor, thus warranting the sending in of the campus cops in riot gear. Well it was for the students' own good, that pepper spraying. Pepper is a vegetable, after all. Like pizza.

Our Man watched the two longer videos at Boing Boing, and was struck by three other thoughts.


  1. He gets the "Shame on you" chants but not the "Don't shoot children" ones. If you want to effect real change, to be taken seriously as a force for good, why would you willingly put yourself down as being just children? Unless you want special treatment.
  2. What  a lot of students taking pictures. But only a dozen or so martyrs protesting. Our Man would like to think if he were there shooting a video, he'd bloody well sit with the protesters. If not, it's just protest theatre, as meaningless as the 100ml contact lens solution limit to protect us from terror at airports. Unless these band of brothers, these happy few, actually wanted the cops to overstep the mark and be filmed doing it? Gosh, perish the thought.
  3. The cops. My god, Our Man watched Mr Donut's finest surrounded by chanting students shortly before Pike sprays the vermin and he saw not the jackboot of authoritarianism (although they were all wearing black and had those Nazi/Alien helmets) but the amateurism of privately paid mall cops.

Is Our Man siding with the forces of oppression? Well, not if he can help it, but something strange does come over you when you hit middle age. It started in his 30s and now is rampant in his second score of years: he, er, finds he has more in common with the powers that be than the revolting students. Speaking of which, according to this petition, the whole demonstration was organised by a university teacher who wants the chancellor's head.

But, all that is by the by. It's free speech, right? As American as Hawaiian cobblers:



Perhaps we should look elsewhere for moral leadership. How about Egypt? Our Man certainly enjoyed looking at Aliaa Magda Elmahdy's website here, but after he and three million other "readers" checked out the entirely liberating nude pics of a 20-year-old girl, he did finally get it. In the land of the veil, to go nude is a radical statement of free speech. And terrifyingly brave. Sorry, no shot of her courageousness, you'll have to brave the NSFW link yourself. Oh, but here are her words (that's all you were really interested in, right?)


Words. Which brings Our Man to Social Media. That means Facebook and Twitter and a whole bunch of other bollocks that don't cost a thing (in cash, not necessarily in time or sanity). Free, right?

We've long known that Facebook was evil and is selling every link you click on to advertisers, whether you are logged in or not, but now Twitter is joining in the snoop-a-thon with that bloody stupid activity bar. You can now snoop on all activity of your followers, a power Mubarak could only dream of.

But don't worry, it's all free, isn't it?

1 comment:

Dan Ryan said...

You seem to be suggesting that we are willing participants in our own intellectual captivity and the erosion of our own rights.

And I can't say I disagree with that assertion.