Some recent personal tragedies have prevented me from keeping some promises I made about topics I’d planned to post a whole lot sooner; I’ve always written during difficult times but I simply couldn’t get riled up about the issues that affect the civil rights of humanity. So I wrote and healed in my private journals and am feeling like it’s time to take up the mantle again.
So I accept that I might have lost all 2 or 3 of my followers, but the good bad news is that there’s plenty of information for a quick recap to get us (or me, anyway) back in the mood to rant. So many juicy topics, too: privacy policies, tracking cell phone data, a bunch of ridiculous hoopla about library after library caving to the banning Fifty Shades of Grey, (though to be fair, it’s usually against their wishes and is dictated by clueless school board officials) which only–what have we learned, people?–gives it far more publicity and a larger readership! Keep on being stupid, those of you determined to tell the rest of us what we can or can’t read. The authors (and publishers) thank you. Continue reading
A few days ago I said I was going to delay my Self-Censorship post because we were in the middle of Choose Privacy Week. Then I said I was going to be back each evening with more examples of how our rights to privacy are being trampled, but I didn’t do that, either. Am I unreliable? I try not to be. Am I trying to make a super-good impression at my new job that I got after being unemployed for 18 months? Yes, yes and yes. So I decided to wrap up Privacy Week with a few thoughts and some excellent articles related to the advancements made (yes, really!) in keeping privacy intact. For now.
A person’s right to choose what s/he wants to read, say, write, follow the religion of his/her choosing OR NOT was so high on our founding fathers’ list of the amendments to the Constitution that they made it–everybody?–the FIRST Amendment. Right to bear arms? Protection against unwarranted search and seizure, right to speedy trials? Yes, ok, we’ll talk, but only after we make sure to protect our right to free expression. And our freedom to believe in a higher being of our choosing. And our right to be protected in our selections, first and foremost.
Did the right to free expression encompass the right to privacy? No; whether or not you remember your high school history class, the Fourth Amendment is where we get the closest because it guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, along with requiring any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.
But whether or not we ever vote to amend the Constitution to define and lay out the boundaries of the basic human expectation to privacy and confidentiality on the computer in his or her home, every case that comes before the court is going to have references to what I call the 28th Amendment: It Depends. Continue reading
I’ve been putting some thoughtful attention into what is going to be the second part of my post about the evils of censorship, but I’m going to set that aside for now and let everybody know that Choose Privacy Week is going on right now, May 1 – 7. Several bloggers and privacy organizations (such as the Office of Intellectual Freedom blog, Electronic Freedom Foundation and the very vocal people behind the fight for privacy at www.privacyrevolution.org. The blogs of these tireless defenders who are making sure your privacy and your children’s privacy is protected before we turn into the world from 1984. Just one of the things these organizations are doing is fighting to keep us free from under-the-radar surveillance in just about everything that collects our data. I’m talking to you and your “data usage policy”, Facebook.
In honor of, well, the rest of Choose Privacy Week 2012, I’ll post some of the best, most thought-provoking and, frankly, some of the most frightening blogs that I can fit into one page. Anything you find that talks about freedom of expression, privacy, intellectual freedom and censorship are worth reading. We’re all used to a little data mining here and there–after all, how else do department stores market to us–but the under-the-radar threats to online privacy will scare the crap out of you. And it should–get made and join every campaign you can find!
I’ll be back tomorrow to introduce some of the best blogs I’ve seen this week so far. Even if you don’t read any of them, embrace all the activity going on in the name of the protection of privacy. Your privacy.
I thought about amending the old saw, “Nothing is sure but death and taxes,” to ”Nothing is sure but death, taxes and the neverending quest for certain groups to remove all offensive material from libraries and schools.” I guess that’s a bit of a mouthful; maybe I can come up with something catchy, a weekly roundup of the most outrageous and egregious (and sad, really) reasons for challenging books, not to mention a direct correlation of increased sales for books being challenged. Publishers are grateful for the free publicity. In fact, here’s a comment from the London Daily News about the latest book charged to be “too dirty” for the safety of our children’s morality: “We expect interest in the book to skyrocket. That’s usually what happens when a book is subjected to erroneous censorship, which is what we see happening here.” This reporter is speaking of the recent victory of would-be book burners to get a sweet-natured, G-rated, cleverly illustrated book off the shelves of their elementary school. In the book, The Dirty Cowboy, is taking his annual bath, the witty content and clever illustrations of which helped it become an award-winning bestseller. Amy Timberlake, the book’s illustrator, provides this droll observance:
“During my entire time of growing up, no one expressed shock at the fact that the cowboy removed his clothes in order to take a bath. Yup, that was part of the fun. I have heard (and have tended to believe) that bathing without clothing is a common occurrence,” Timberlake wrote.
Yup, that was part of the fun… Continue reading
Some time ago, sitting in a coffee shop waiting for a friend, I picked up the local paper and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d read the A section all the way through. Usually all the death, torture, imprisonment, politics and general stupidity (the last two can go together–you decide) put me off. Sometimes I need a break from Internet news for the same reasons.
The worst disasters and most egregious blunders make it above the fold; no surprise there. Below the fold, slightly less egregious blunders and not-as-tragic disasters are printed. Inside the first page I could see world headlines and decide if I wanted to continue reading. That was easy–no. Bloodshed, bombings, poverty, earthquakes, no medical resources for regions most in need, religious persecution, soldiers returning from war zones having seen and done things that will change them forever–I didn’t want to get up close and personal. In the interest of being more knowledgeable about world events, however, I read each story as my stomach tightened, my coffee grew cold and my pumpkin bread dried out. A barista came over and checked on me, her brow crinkled with concern and, probably, a little trepidation. Continue reading
I feel like I’m writing a eulogy for not only the continued attempts to destroy women’s civil liberties, but for the collective loss of reason and logic that clearly has plagued those who seem thrilled that they’re turning women into the pitiful birth-captives portrayed in Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale. I was collecting news to rant about free speech and privacy violations, which are every bit as important to opine about. But since I’d just written the previous post, “Was It Just a Matter of Time Before Breast-Feeding Became Obscene?” and birth control was coming under fire, I thought I’d go that way.
Before I go any further, here’s a quick definition of the word “absurd” (courtesy Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10e–that’s a book, kids):
ab-surd, adj. 1: ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous; 2: having no rational or orderly relationship to to human life