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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Forget Big Brother, Facebook and Twitter are Watching!

  Usually, this week I would be writing to say Merry Christmas to all of my loyal readers. I still want to do that, but I think I have found something else to say first.
  The whole world it seems has been glued to the Duck Dynasty "controversy". Recently, in an interview with GQ Magazine, Robertson family Patriarch Phil Robertson made some comments regarding homosexuality. A&E, the cable network that carries the most popular reality show on television, promptly put Phil on "indefinite hiatus", whatever the hell that means. Millions of Duck Dynasty fans have come forward on social media not to necessarily defend Phil's comments, although some have, but to defend his right to say them. What he said was based on his beliefs as a Christian, and at least the last time I checked, we still enjoy the right of free speech in America.
  This past weekend, New York based public relations executive Justine Sacco was on her way to her native South Africa when she decided to tweet this little ditty, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding! I'm white"! Whether she thought this was cute, funny, edgy, who knows. But what is known is that while Justine winged her way to her native land, that tweet went viral and the hashtag "#HasJustineLandedYet" quickly began to trend on Twitter. Could such a hashtag be interpreted as a threat? Quite simply, yes.
  Here is the problem. If you do not agree with Phil Robertson's beliefs, and you also think what Justine Sacco tweeted was inexcusable, that's fine. God(dess) bless America. What is not fine is the self-appointed Internet Police. It is a phenomenon that has sprung up with the advent of social media. People post comments and/or thoughts, and within a nanosecond, an entire group of nameless, faceless people have deemed what was posted acceptable or unacceptable. No one will condone the senseless disgusting remarks that Justine Sacco made, but within the span of time it takes to fly from New York to South Africa, her life was ruined. Some may say she brought it on herself, but that argument could be made about many things that many of us have said during the course of our lives. Facebook and Twitter allow a certain amount of anonymity. You can use any name you want, create any persona you want. And with that anonymity comes a certain amount of power. But should it be enough power to destroy lives with a keystroke? Justine Sacco's is certainly not the first life to be summarily judged and targeted by the Internet Police.
  So I guess my question is this. Who are these people?! Who do you think you are that you can, with a swipe of your magic wand, in the form of a keyboard, make some one's life miserable?? If you do not share Phil Robertson's beliefs, you have the right to change the channel. What you do not have  the right to do is to silence him. If you do not like what Justine Sacco tweeted, delete it. What you do not have the right to do is to destroy her life for something stupid it took her all of 5 seconds to tweet on the Internet.
  During this Christmas season, maybe one of the things we as Americans should be eternally grateful for, is the right to speak our minds where and when we want. With the acception of Western Europe, and a smattering of countries around the world, no other people on Earth enjoy the right of freedom of speech to the extent that we do. It is so precious, and can be eroded so quickly,
before we know what happened. Let's also remember the men and women all around the world, far from home and their families, who are keeping guard on our freedom of speech, and all of our other freedoms we hold so dear.
  And very quickly, to the Internet Police? Here I am. I will say what I want, when I want, and how I want. If you don't like it, don't read it. If that is a problem for you, then all I can say to you is, bring it.

Merry Christmas from The Conservative Cauldron!          

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