Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The marginalization of "free speech"

It started back at one of the Republican Conventions a few years ago. Remember how protesters were limited to designated "Free Speech Zones"? Those who stepped outside the zone were arrested.
What the heck? That's not what our forefathers envisioned for us. Jefferson and others argued the need for an informed electorate and honest debate. As I look around, I see little of either. "Debates" still occur between competing members of the 1% or those most eager to serve them. What about the rest of us?

Today, I nearly missed a protest downtown. It wasn't the first time, or even the fifth time. Building security prevents building tenants from entering or exiting the building on the side where the protestors are marching. The result is that tenants often don't even know about protests happening right under their noses.

And thus, slowly, our free speech is taken away, not through laws, but through the incremental marginalization of protest. Don't let it happen.

That said, sometimes protestors simply self-marginalize. They are too loud, too dirty, too obnoxious. Or they don't play the game well. For example, I recently and quite accidentally encountered a ghoulish group protesting healthcare - I think they were the ghosts of healthcare past or something. It was a creative protest, but it was downtown, which is nearly unpopulated on a weekend. Who were they hoping would stumble upon this?

I wish activists could get smarter. Really strategize. Who is the audience you wish to reach? Don't bother to hold a protest until you have at least some idea of your media strategy. What is the bumper sticker for your protest? What is the result you want? Don't just be "against" something - figure out what you are for.  You're against bad healthcare, but what does good healthcare look like?
There is so much worth fighting for. But life seems so short. There is so much that needs to improve. It's important to prioritize and not just complain, but fight smart. Make the case for what you want, not what you DON'T want. It narrows the options and makes your agenda crystal clear so people can decide whether they support that or not.

Blah blah blah. It's so easy to criticize from the sidelines, and I'm as guilty of that as the rest. I do applaud the passion of the people out in the streets. Even an ineffectual protest is better than none at all, and we all learn by doing, so whatever you are doing, keep at it. I just implore you to try to focus and hone your messages a tad. A beam of light will reach much further when focused. Ditto your message. The more tightly focused, the futher its reach.

I also feel compelled to talk about infiltrators. In every movement there are four types of people: people who naturally lead, people who naturally follow, people who wish to deliberately mislead (and often succeed), and those who have their hearts in the right place but their ego is in the way. If you lead for the adoration, the money, or the fame, you're doing it for the wrong reason. You may accomplish some good, so more power to you. But you may also keep others who are more competent from letting their light shine. Know when to get out of the way.

And above all, if you have the money, donate to the people who are putting their bodies, hearts and minds on the line in ways you can't, or won't. All our rights have been won through the blood, sweat and courage of protestors. Do what you can to help them out.

And don't forget writers. Those of us who research and share our learning with the rest of you deserve some special consideration as well. I've given up a lot in traditional terms in order to find more truths to share. It's been a signficantly costly journey. Personally, I wouldn't trade it. But with more money, I could tell so much more. I'd love to tell you who really killed Dag Hammarskjold, or how the battle for newly "discovered" oil led directly to WWI and the Bretton Woods agreement hammered out in its aftermath. I'd love to tell you what Watergate was really about and why Nixon had to go. It's not what you normally read on the subject. But I can't. I don't have the time because I don't have the money. I, too, am a wage slave, trying to break free so I can share more of what I know. It's a constant battle. I've given up a lot to pursue the truth. But while the truth may set you free, the truth doesn't come cheap. It takes an enormous investment of time and energy.

I haven't been posting much of late because I just can't afford to blog for free anymore. I write for places that pay me. In my "free" time, I'm working on an amazing book about the RFK case, full of stuff you've never read elsewhere. I've got some serious data to share. But I lack the time to do it justice because I have bills to pay.

I'm not asking for a personal donation. I'd love you to donate to www.consortiumnews.com, or www.ctka.net. Those are the only two sites truly devoted to giving you important information, all the time. If you have even $10 to spare, please consider making a donation. If you have a couple of thousand, please. don't waste it on a political candidate. Give it to someone who can amplify the message so the candidate must follow the will of the people, instead of ignoring it. The media is the medium by which the next revolution will or will not happen. Help it along.

Thanks, as always, for listening, for participating, for caring. It's what makes readers of Real History very special. "They" may be marginalizing free speech. But all of us have the power to support it.


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