Posts tagged protests
Posts tagged protests
Remember all that talk of how the supporters of SOPA/PIPA were “humbled” by the protests of January 18th, and how they had learned their lessons about trying to push through a bill without actually involving the stakeholders? Remember the talk of how they hoped a new tone could be found in the debate? Yeah. Apparently someone forgot to send that memo to RIAA boss Cary Sherman, who has taken to the pages of the NY Times to lash out at those who fought against SOPA/PIPA, chalking the whole thing up to a massive “misinformation” campaign by Google and Wikipedia. The whole thing is chock full of ridiculous claims, so we might as well go through it bit by bit.
If you’d like the full-length refutation, there you go. (Read after I’d written my spur-of-the-moment rant posted a few minutes ago.)
“The hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, amounted to an abuse of trust and a misuse of power. When Wikipedia and Google purport to be neutral sources of information, but then exploit their stature to present information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, they are duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations.”
No fan of the RIAA, much less SOPA, but this in particular is an interesting point.
Any attempt by pro-SOPA lobbyists to claim the high moral ground in the protests—which they still insist on claiming was entirely the work of a few large corporations rather than a genuine public outcry that those corporations got involved with late in the game—is absolutely, categorically bullshit, and I do not swear lightly. Let me explain:
The Wikipedia community debated this extensively and agreed that while articles are neutral, the organization can and does have political views regarding issues that affect it and its mission (and it does have a mission). The protest announcement clearly drew that distinction. Google’s search results are neutral (despite pressure from the RIAA), but the organization has a Chief Internet Evangelist and a motto that suggests that they do believe that some positions are better than others. The movie companies “just” produce movies, but they have the MPAA. The music companies “just” produce music, but they have the RIAA.
The TV networks he mentions later didn’t just stay neutral; they avoided covering what was a fairly major story in the making, which is can be in itself a form of bias. (Do we in the library world really have to be reminded of the power of censorship to stifle dissent by pretending that both the issue and the protest never happened?) When one of them did do a piece, the representative for the pro-SOPA side was the general counsel of NBCUniversal, which owned the show doing it. And need we mention Creative America? The TV companies didn’t use their soapbox because they didn’t want to draw attention to public protests against their corporate interests by acting as a corporation; instead, they tried recruiting all of their employees into an astroturf campaign.
And speaking of “hyperbolic mistruths, presented on the home pages of some of the world’s most popular Web sites, […] information that is not only not neutral but affirmatively incomplete and misleading, […] duping their users into accepting as truth what are merely self-serving political declarations,” well, there’s this link going ‘round to a misleading and misinformation-filled Op-Ed by a professional corporate advocate in one of the world’s most trusted newspapers… .
A bunch of folks have been setting up February 11th as a global day of protest against ACTA, and if the entertainment industry thought that the anger would simmer down after the SOPA/PIPA fight, they may have miscalculated again. Just take a look at the live map showing the planned February 11th protests across Europe.
Come to the London Stop ACTA Demo, one of many days across Europe protesting against the international attempt to impose SOPA and DEAct-style enforcement through anti-democratic treaty agreements. Make a donation and let us know you are coming! We are assembling outside UK Music’s offices, as many of their members have been pressing the case for ACTA. You can also let us know you are coming here.
Elsevier, the global publishing company, is responsible for The Lancet, Cell, and about 2,000 other important journals; the iconic reference work Gray’s Anatomy, along with 20,000 other books—and one fed-up, award-winning mathematician.
Timothy Gowers of the University of Cambridge, who won the Fields Medal for his research, has organized a boycott of Elsevier because, he says, its pricing and policies restrict access to work that should be much more easily available. He asked for a boycott in a blog post on January 21, and as of Monday evening, on the boycott’s Web site The Cost of Knowledge, nearly 1,900 scientists have signed up, pledging not to publish, referee, or do editorial work for any Elsevier journal.
The company has sinned in three areas, according to the boycotters: It charges too much for its journals; it bundles subscriptions to lesser journals together with valuable ones, forcing libraries to spend money to buy things they don’t want in order to get a few things they do want; and, most recently, it has supported a proposed federal law (called the Research Works Act) that would prevent agencies like the National Institutes of Health from making all articles written by its grant recipients freely available.
» via The Chronicle of Higher Education(Subscription may be required for some content)
If you check out the boycott’s webpage, you’ll notice that the number of pledges is up from “nearly 1900” to “over 2900.” Any of my readers who are in college, you might want to ask your professors to join in on this. The boycott pledge page is at thecostofknowledge.com. If you want to read up on the issue, there’s a massive page of links and information linked to from the boycott page.
Academics have protested against Elsevier’s business practices for years with little effect. The main objections are these:
- They charge exorbitantly high prices for their journals.
- They sell journals in very large “bundles,” so libraries must buy a large set with many unwanted journals, or none at all. Elsevier thus makes huge profits by exploiting their essential titles, at the expense of other journals.
- They support measures such as SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act, that aim to restrict the free exchange of information.
The key to all these issues is the right of authors to achieve easily-accessible distribution of their work. If you would like to declare publicly that you will not support any Elsevier journal unless they radically change how they operate, then you can do so by filling in your details in the box below.
For more information, please see the PolyMath journal publishing reform page.
From Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech of April 14, 1906, I present to you a carefully cut version relevant to our current social, political, and economic conditions, in the hopes that we may learn from those aspects of the past which we are now repeating:
One of the chief counts against those who make indiscriminate assault upon men in business or men in public life, is that they invite a reaction which is sure to tell powerfully in favor of the unscrupulous scoundrel who really ought to be attacked, who ought to be exposed, who ought, if possible, to be put in the penitentiary. If Aristides is praised overmuch as just, people get tired of hearing it; and overcensure of the unjust finally and from similar reasons results in their favor.
Any excess is almost sure to invite a reaction; and, unfortunately, the reaction, instead of taking the form of punishment of those guilty of the excess, is very apt to take the form either of punishment of the unoffending or of giving immunity, and even strength, to offenders. The effort to make financial or political profit out of the destruction of character can only result in public calamity. Gross and reckless assaults on character, whether on the stump or in newspaper, magazine, or book, create a morbid and vicious public sentiment, and at the same time act as a profound deterrent to able men of normal sensitiveness and tend to prevent them from entering the public service at any price.
At the risk of repetition let me say again that my plea is, not for immunity to but for the most unsparing exposure of the politician who betrays his trust, of the big business man who makes or spends his fortune in illegitimate or corrupt ways. There should be a resolute effort to hunt every such man out of the position he has disgraced. Expose the crime, and hunt down the criminal; but remember that even in the case of crime, if it is attacked in sensational, lurid, and untruthful fashion, the attack may do more damage to the public mind than the crime itself. It is because I feel that there should be no rest in the endless war against the forces of evil that I ask that the war be conducted with sanity as well as with resolution.
If the whole picture is painted black there remains no hue whereby to single out the rascals for distinction from their fellows. Such painting finally induces a kind of moral color-blindness; and people affected by it come to the conclusion that no man is really black, and no man is really white, but they are all gray. In other words, they neither believe in the truth of the attack, nor in the honesty of the man who is attacked; they grow as suspicious of the accusation as of the offense; it becomes well-nigh hopeless to stir them either to wrath against wrong-doing or to enthusiasm for what is right; and such a mental attitude in the public gives hope to every knave, and is the despair of honest men.
To assail the great and admitted evils of our political and industrial life with such crude and sweeping generalizations as to include decent men in the general condemnation means the searing of the public conscience. There results a general attitude either of cynical belief in and indifference to public corruption or else of a distrustful inability to discriminate between the good and the bad. Either attitude is fraught with untold damage to the country as a whole. The fool who has not sense to discriminate between what is good and what is bad is well-nigh as dangerous as the man who does discriminate and yet chooses the bad.
Hysterical sensationalism is the very poorest weapon wherewith to fight for lasting righteousness.
At this moment we are passing through a period of great unrest-social, political, and industrial unrest. It is of the utmost importance for our future that this should prove to be not the unrest of mere rebelliousness against life, of mere dissatisfaction with the inevitable inequality of conditions, but the unrest of a resolute and eager ambition to secure the betterment of the individual and the nation. So far as this movement of agitation throughout the country takes the form of a fierce discontent with evil, of a determination to punish the authors of evil, whether in industry or politics, the feeling is to be heartily welcomed as a sign of healthy life.
If, on the other hand, it turns into a mere crusade of appetite against appetite, of a contest between the brutal greed of the “have-nots” and the brutal greed of the “haves,” then it has no significance for good, but only for evil. If it seeks to establish a line of cleavage, not along the line which divides good men from bad, but along that other line, running at right angles thereto, which divides those who are well off from those who are less well off, then it will be fraught with immeasurable harm to the body politic.
It is important to this people to grapple with the problems connected with the amassing of enormous fortunes, and the use of those fortunes, both corporate and individual, in business. We should discriminate in the sharpest way between fortunes well-won and fortunes ill-won; between those gained as an incident to performing great services to the community as a whole, and those gained in evil fashion by keeping just within the limits of mere law-honesty.
Of course no amount of charity in spending such fortunes in any way compensates for misconduct in making them. As a matter of personal conviction, and without pretending to discuss the details or formulate the system, I feel that we shall ultimately have to consider the adoption of some such scheme as that of a progressive tax on all fortunes, beyond a certain amount either given in life or devised or bequeathed upon death to any individual-a tax so framed as to put it out of the power of the owner of one of these enormous fortunes to hand on more than a certain amount to any one individual; the tax, of course, to be imposed by the National and not the State Government.
The men of wealth who today are trying to prevent the regulation and control of their business in the interest of the public by the proper government authorities will not succeed, in my judgment, in checking the progress of the movement. But if they did succeed they would find that they had sown the wind and would surely reap the whirlwind, for they would ultimately provoke the violent excesses which accompany a reform coming by convulsion instead of by steady and natural growth.
On the other hand, the wild preachers of unrest and discontent, the wild agitators against the entire existing order, the men who act crookedly, whether because of sinister design or from mere puzzle-headedness, the men who preach destruction without proposing any substitute for what they intend to destroy, or who propose a substitute which would be far worse than the existing evils-all these men are the most dangerous opponents of real reform. If they get their way they will lead the people into a deeper pit than any into which they could fall under the present system. If they fail to get their way they will still do incalculable harm by provoking the kind of reaction which, in its revolt against the senseless evil of their teaching, would enthrone more securely than ever the very evils which their misguided followers believe they are attacking.
Authorities in Russia are investigating the legality of a “doll demonstration” demanding “clean elections” in the Siberian city of Barnaul, and looking for the humans responsible.
Russian news agency RIA Novosti reports that Russia’s police “[arrest] anyone, young or old, who takes part in an “unsanctioned” opposition rally”—so, some citizens in Barnaul created a protest tableau composed of dolls, instead.
Some of the most creative speech art comes from people getting around government censorship.
It’s almost as if Rahm Emanuel was lifting a page from Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine – as if he was reading her account of Milton Friedman’s “Chicago Boys” as a cookbook recipe, rather than as the ominous episode that it was. In record time, Emanuel successfully exploited the fact that Chicago will host the upcoming G8 and Nato summit meetings to increase his police powers and extend police surveillance, to outsource city services and privatize financial gains, and to make permanent new limitations on political dissent. It all happened – very rapidly and without time for dissent – with the passage of rushed security and anti-protest measures adopted by the city council on 18 January 2012.