Category Archives: Essays

The War Against A Free Internet

Here’s an essay I wrote last semester. Let me know what you think.

The War Against a Free Internet

There is a war ongoing that far predates our current conflicts in the Middle East and the proxy wars that engulfed the previous generations. In fact, this war is as old as the reigns of empires and nation states: the war against free communication. Communication of non-popular beliefs, conspiracy, and secretive information have been the target of big-government throughout the ages from the burning of the library of Alexandria, to Roman iron-fist legislature, and Nazi-book burnings the control of information is a keen objective of the eras elite and the internet, the most current iteration of information sharing does not escape the wondering eye of government. Over the past year the House of Representatives and the Senate are proposing legislature that will allow the government to monitor, terminate, and control any website or database that possesses any copyrighted material (H.R. 3261) To many, this is a slippery slope that will lead to complete government censorship of the internet and the end of the last free medium of speech (Zuchora-Walske 9). The internet should remain a free tool for enterprise, communication, and exchange of free thought without any government intervention.

In 2010, the House of Representatives attempted to pass the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), but it failed to pass. A year later another bill would be drafted in the Senate: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act or ProtectIP Act. With this act the government would be targeting any website or database that features any copyrighted content (Newman). Now this seems innocent enough, however, when one looks at the websites that promote and use copyrighted material the impact of such legislature is drastic due to the powers granted to the government. Youtube features millions of copyrighted tracks uploaded by users for free entertainment, Google lists every website on the web including those that promote such content, and even on Facebook users post song lyrics, videos, music, and other copyrighted medias. With PIPA, each one of those websites and hundreds more would be subject to control, speculation, and complete deletion from cyberspace.

Soon after, the House of Representatives created a companion bill the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) which expanded the ability of law enforcement and government officials to pursue those who break international and domestic copyright and counterfeit laws. This legislature bears the risk of potentially destroying the internet and its values to the consumers and users of the world. The capabilities of recording a damning factual video of a government official or corporation to educate the people of wrong-doing is one of utter importance that has been lost on other media like television and mainstream radio. However, the internet allows any individual to voice opinions and make statements both correct and ridiculous. This power of freedom is being threatened under the guises of copyright protection and of influencing the growth of creativity and private property.

This sudden lust for control of the internet is not a new venture by big-government, in fact, in other nations strict censorship has already ruled their Internet Service Providers for nearly two decades. North Korea, Vietnam, Iran, The Peoples Republic of China, and Syria are some of the most powerful contenders that restrict their peoples from content on the internet that is deemed inappropriate or that demonizes their current governmental infrastructure. While strict internet control has not fully settled in the Western world as of yet, the East has long since seen such control and thousands of bloggers and internet-deviants are imprisoned every year in China due to evading such censorship. Since the explosion of the dot-com bubble and creation of social-networking sites the government has been keen to achieve some sort of control of the information super highway. In 2009, a bill was proposed that would give the president of the United States emergency control of the internet in case of a “cyber-security emergency” (McCullagh). What sort of emergency could warrant such martial-law of the inter-webs?

In late February, the FBI threatened to shut down a number of DNS servers due to a malicious virus effecting government servers. The shut-down was scheduled for March 8th, but was successfully averted without causing mass hysteria for millions of users without internet access. The “culprits” to such a powerful virus were six Estonian men.(Couts) Other emergencies which may deem a tyrannous response by the United States government may arrive from accused cyber-terrorism outfits like Anonymous and Lulzsec which have been responsible for the web take-downs of giant corporations like Visa, Sony, MasterCard, and the CIA (Jenkins A11). Some internet journalists like Alex Jones even speculate that much of this “cyber-terrorism” is merely a series of false-flag attacks to sway the public opinion to accept such ludicrous bills and allow government to seize the internet. Others take it even farther that the government is waging “media-wars” to attempt to stop the viral-Ron Paul Campaign that has garnered him supporters across the nation and any future candidates that oppose the status-quo (Holland).

However, stealing the intellectual and creative property of any person is against the law and replicating or sharing said content for commercial gain is immoral, unethical, and generally no different than theft in “the real world”. From face value the proposed bills by Congress seem nothing more than a catalyst to protect and secure the properties of citizens on the internet (Kizza 161-163). Maybe that’s what it really is and the over-hype and speculation is simply the product of over-active imaginations and fear-mongering. No where in any of the bills does it state that the government has the intention or the ability to limit the flow of ideas and free-speech and all text revolves around copyright infringement. All assumptions and speculations are derived from the study of history and from eye-witness testimony of the elite and their plans of internet control.

The internet is a place of bountiful knowledge so great that no other medium before it or after will ever carry such a significance for the world. Inside its cyber-walls anyone may reveal secrets, conjure others to revealing conspiracies, and even overthrow a corrupt government. With such limitless access, the government is attempting to keep the power from the people and to quiet the online whispers. Like Edmund Burke said, “All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”. If the people of the United States and our brothers and sisters across the pond sit idle as immoral legislature dictates our ability to be honest and on-point then we will fall victim to ignorance and foolishness and be nothing more than cattle to those who hold the prod.

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Works Cited

Couts, Andrew. “FBI could take down Internet for millions on March 8.” Yahoo. Yahoo, 16 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. ;.

Holland, Ron. “The Secret Media War of 2012.” Prison Planet. Alex Jones, 28 Feb. 2012. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. ;.

Jenkins, Holman W., Jr. “Worry About the Hackers You Don’t See.” Wall Street Journal 21 Mar. 2012, sec. A: A11. Print.

Kizza, Joseph Migga. Civilizing the Internet. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company Inc. Publishers, 1998. 161-163. Print.

McCullagh, Declan. “Bill would give president emergency control of Internet.” Cnet News. N.p., 28 Aug. 2009. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.

Newman, Jared. “SOPA and PIPA: Just the Facts.” PC World. PC World Communications Inc., 17 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. ;.

Stop Online Piracy Act. Pub. L. 107-H.R.3261. Fall 2011. Library of Congress. United States government, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2012. ;.

Zuchora-Walske, Christine. Internet Censorship Protecting Citizens or Trampling Freedom? . 9. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2012.

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Santa Claus, Panties, and Fifty Bucks.

Figured I’d share a short essay I wrote for class. I think it’s worth a chuckle or two. Let me know if you’d like me to post more nonfiction like essays, instead of just fiction and poetry

 

 

 

Santa Claus, Panties, and Fifty Bucks

 

It’s funny the trail that life takes you on over an honest mission of finding a job. The recession struck hard, and at fifteen years old, I learned how hard it truly hit when I smelled the putrid odor of vomit on a polyester beard and found myself staring at Chris Cringle in a mildewed backroom mirror. Now, it would have been slightly justifiable if I were a mall-Santa Claus, or even begged for change somewhere out in the city, but here I was holding sales signs in front of Fashion Bug next to Highway 35 for a lousy fifty dollars. Though the humiliation, sweat, and strange odors throughout the day kept me down, this day from hell would teach me a valuable lesson and would reward me my first paycheck. I wish this were a nice story, or even a clean one, but it is not; it’s the truth and it sucked.

I guess this tale really starts a year before, when I first started applying for jobs around every typical hotspot for kids: fast food joints, supermarkets, paper routs and even a sweat shop or two! But unfortunately, no one was willing to risk the chance of hiring a fourteen year old in their fine establishments. I was desperate for a job, yet not too desperate to go door to door for lawn mowing or shoveling snow (I find that vaguely humiliating). My mother was an Assistant Manager at the local Fashion Bug. One day, she brought word from her boss of a Christmas promotion that involved some naïve fool to adorn a wool suit for six hours in the warmest winter since the Jurassic Period. Well apparently I missed some memo and offered to take the job.

I remember being excited as I stepped through the twin glass doors, freshly cleaned and I saw my reflection in their panes as I made my way into the store.  Of course within an instant, I spotted two girls I attended school with and they worked there. So now, I would have to pull the fat-old-guy-who-sneaks-in-your-chimney-to-give-your-sleeping-children-presents look off in order to avoid appearing like a total tool, I was willing to accept such a viable challenge. I made my way into the bathroom where I found a package containing the suit. Little did I know it had been worn before and unwashed-several times or so it appeared.

I began to put the suit on with all the elegance of a drunken elephant in a circus tent, thrashing around the tiny bathroom and knocking over the brooms and mops, which lined the wall. As I pulled the beard over my face, I soon learned that someone must have puked on it sometime or another during its experienced life; smelling human bile would be on my agenda that day for six hours. I also didn’t expect to spot the homecoming queen or even better, the girl I was deeply into. With those two run-ins slowly destroying any self-esteem or standing within freshman year that I possessed, I was then given a sign to hold which advertised panties, thongs, and accessories. All I wanted was the fifty bucks.

At the end of the day, I hung my suit up and found myself sitting in the center of the plaza waiting for my mother to give me a lift home. I appeared no different then when I walked into the little shop of Christmas horrors, but in my pocket I held fifty dollars and pride that no event could tamper with, not even demeaning jobs or working with a thrown-up covered beard for six hours, because now I was paid. No longer would I be a typical boy who relied on his parents for his money, but I would earn it myself. Months later, I would score a job at Stop n Shop, which if you don’t know, is a mere step above slave labor, and I’ve been there for close to three years.

Though I hope to turn writing into my profession and career, small jobs are necessary until I can sustain myself from the craft. People rely too much on one another and independence seems to have almost been lost in my generation because young adults still ask their parents for money. Getting a job seems to get harder and harder. I will continue to pave my own way whatever way possible and no matter how dark the time, I will look back to the time I played Santa Claus for fifty bucks on a Saturday morning to get paid, but somehow I feel there was something deeper in all of that, somehow I began to find my way towards something more. I guess I began my own path early, now let’s see where it takes me.


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