Originally published on the personal blog of James MacArthur, this editorial opinion piece is republished here in it's entirety with minimal modification or edits.
17 March 2015
"Whatever you do, do with all your might."
For the most part, besides occasional updates here and there, this blog has been more or less abandoned as duties maintaining and updating numerous other websites, Facebook and Twitter pages have pretty well taken up most of my time.
|Reaching 2.2 million people is no small feat. The potential power to rapidly disseminate information is frightful to those that want to control conversations and public thought.|
While most people use social media as a great past time or hobby, for some of us this is actually a part of our job. A big part. In my case full time and then some.
After seeing over 2 million people view my posts on Facebook last week (our most viewed platform), I was truly overwhelmed and elated that my work had landed before such a large audience.
Unfortunately my celebration was only short lived.
"...in order for democracy to survive, strong alternative, opposing voices of dissenting opinion are imperative."
|Facebook failed to say when the 24 hours began.|
The implications here are pretty strong. Free speech may be guaranteed by the government, but the private mediums which make it not only possible, but effective, are under no obligation to comply.
It is critically important to understand that in order for democracy to survive, strong alternative, opposing voices of dissenting opinion are imperative. This is the necessary balance needed for things to stay aright.
As soon as a voice not in sync with the mainstream begins be silenced, it's at that very moment your democracy begins to slowly die. And you won't even notice at first.
Even this very blog, were the folks at Google (it's hosted on their servers) to decide it didn't fit inline with their standards, this too could literally vanish in an instant, never to be seen again.
But just what are these so called "standards?" Who sets them? How to do we know when they've been changed or updated?
Other social media accounts can be eliminated on similar grounds using similar rational.
In the end all the would be left is me and my voice. With phones readily disabled, disconnected, signals blocked, jammed or scrambled, even they're not as reliable as you think.
I don't often agree with Bill Maher, but on this he's spot on!
I'll never forget the Baltimore Police officer who approached me threatening arrest while I was leading a massive protest, involving several thousand cab drivers rallying for better work conditions and fair pay.
Officer Shut-Your-Mouth asked me if I had a permit for my megaphone. I looked at him and laughed. Asked him if he was serious. He informed me that in Baltimore you need a permit to use a bull horn in public.
Without going into a point by point detailed rendition of our back and forth -- including language not likely family friendly -- I'll surmise it by sharing this much:
With his handcuffs pulled out ready to arrest me, I looked him dead in the eye and stated thus; a permit implies the need for permission. As if I needed the government's permission to speak in public. I DON'T THINK SO. Not in THIS country. Not here. Not now. NOT EVER! And as such, in my eyes, I couldn't care less what the ordinance said, the concept of needing to apply for any permit of any sort to speak in public is absurd in every way.
|Disgraced former State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein may have not been indicted, but we helped him lose his reelection.|
Surrounded by several dozen angry cab drivers -- upset by his presence and his threats to disrupt the protest by taking me down -- the officer eventually relented from his position. It didn't hurt that we'd reached a police commander by phone.
My comrade Larry "Celebrity Cab Driver" Wallace stood next to me, relaying to Officer Shut-Your-Mouth every thing the Colonel was saying. Initially the officer didn't believe him. He asked to speak to the Colonel himself. Let me just say, identifying himself as a numskull directly to the Colonel on the phone didn't work out to well for him.
Freedom Must Be Fought For
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Free speech is only as valuable as our willingness to stand up and fight for it. None of us deserve any rights we're not willing to do battle for. Sometimes this means suffering. Temporary discomfort or even the ultimate sacrifice is the price many have paid in the past for freedoms we now enjoy. And should we wish to continue to have said freedoms, the price must be paid on an ongoing basis from time to time.