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Tag: protest

The Fight for Internet Freedom

It was only one year ago this past week when the “broadest, most powerful political protest ever orchestrated on the Internet” convinced the House to kill the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Over 115 million websites, led by Wikipedia and Reddit, went dark for one day to help educate their users about the risks to the integrity of the web posed by the legislation.

Lots has been written about both the bill and the protest (the Wikipedia article linked above runs about 17 printed pages by itself), but if you want a excellent summary of what happened and what Congress has learned (and is still clueless about), listen to the most recent edition of Decode DC.

Then subscribe to the podcast. Presented by former NPR reporter Andrea Seabrook, the project is her attempt “stop re-playing soundbites of those political attacks, and start talking about what’s wrong with Washington — and what are the solutions”.

This is the kind of intelligent reporting that’s missing from most of the so-called news organizations in the US and deserves to be supported.

While you’re at it, go join the Electronic Frontier Foundation (or at least subscribe to their RSS feed) and also support their efforts to fight the next edition of SOPA.

Because it’s clear that big copyright owners and their pet Congress critters are not finished trying to restrict our rights to free speech, fair use, privacy, and equal access on the web.

Two Quick Thoughts on the SOS March

I wasn’t able to attend the Save Our Schools rally in DC last Saturday, and I had nothing to do with planning it, so I don’t have much credibility to criticize. But, after reading some of the news coverage and commentary, I do have a couple of observations to add to the stream.

One has to do with Matt Damon’s five minute speech linked to in many of the reports. Great talk. He said many of the things about teachers and public education that the audience wanted to hear.  However, many educators (myself included) have been very critical of the celebrities advocating on behalf of Race to the Top, charter schools, vouchers, and other “reform” efforts.

Having a high profile actor with news cameras in tow speak to the issues is nice but it’s not a good idea to have celebrities become spokespeople for the push back against all the crap being inflicted on public education and educators these days. The effort needs a wide variety of authentic voices, especially parents and kids.

Then there’s the matter of what happens now? What is done with the attention (how ever large or small) that came from having a few thousand teachers and some high profile speakers marching in front of the White House on a hot summer afternoon?

The leaders of the Save Our Schools event (and I’m not especially fond of the SOS connotation…) are considering what happens next but I’m afraid that altering the path that the school “reform” movement is currently on will take much more than some Washington marches and intelligent speeches, not to mention a far larger body of participants than just teachers.

Hypocrisy Overload

Washington DC is commonly used as a metaphorical punching bag by a wide variety of critics, both in and out of politics, and that’s to be expected considering this is the national capital.

But once in a while there comes instances of massive hypocrisy spouted by critics that sound like something straight out of The Onion.

For example, this past Saturday a crowd of people (one much smaller than claimed by supporters) staged a protest on the mall in front of the Capitol.

Nothing unusual. The city gets dozens of manufactured events every year, and those of us who live in the DC area always know to check the papers to see what kind of mess they plan to make of travel in and out of the city.

This particular group was rallying against “big government”, “government spending”, “excessive taxation”, and an assortment of other whines that were in their script.

However, it seems one of their pet congress critters is unhappy with Metro, our local transportation system, saying they didn’t provide enough subway cars to get everyone to the demonstration on time.

A PUBLIC transportation system, paid for by an inadequate amount of TAXES, run by the GOVERNMENT didn’t live up to his high expectations.

Let’s face it, Metro is far from perfect, and the system has been deteriorating lately due to lack of support.

But overall they do a good job of not only transporting hundreds of thousands of locals every week but also millions of tourists who visit every year. And by all reports, ridership last Saturday was not much higher than most weekends this time of year.

So, if these people who hate government programs and their government-paid representative don’t like the public transportation system around here, and don’t like waiting on the platform like the rest of us, maybe they should either walk or take a cab.

Oh, yeah. That same fine representative, who is now demanding a GOVERNMENT investigation of Metro, thought that using private transit was a bad thing.

And then there’s another congress critter I ran across on some program who regurgitated what he called “the old line” about Washington being “100 square miles surrounded by reality”.

Obviously this clueless character has never made the very short trip from his cozy House chambers to Southeast DC. Or many parts of Northeast. Both well inside his 100 square miles.

Plenty of stark reality going on in those neighborhoods, reality that has NO representation in Congress and is largely ignored by most of the idiots like him working inside that irony-free zone of hypocrisy perched on Capitol Hill.

Protesting Education

More than 20 thousand people gathered yesterday in central Paris to challenge cuts in education programs proposed by the French government. Teachers are also planning a nationwide strike on Thursday.

I have no idea which side is right in this dispute. But can you imagine even half that many showing up anywhere in the US to complain about anything to do with education?

I can’t.

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