Mercer's Poems
More Arrests for Tweeting!?

I think most of us (at least those with sense) would agree that racism is a terrible thing. The deliberate prejudice against another human being based on aspects such as country of origin, skin colour, religion etc. is utterly pointless, base, and serves no purpose in our modern world other than to create discord and separation in communities. So why, then, can the world’s media - for example - paint an implicit picture of…say…Muslims as being evil, and be wholeheartedly supported in their endeavours by the government, when the people can be arrested merely for tweeting something offensive?  

As I have said, I do not agree with racism, but nor do I agree with censorship. But it seems a few people complaining about the opinions you hold is enough to justify the police coming to your house and arresting you. What this chap said may have been utterly disgraceful and disgusting and deserved complaining about - but arrest!? For a tweet!? An outward expression of a thought in 140 characters or less justifies using police resources for!? And this is not the first time, individuals declared to have been ‘inciting’ rioting on twitter and facebook during England’s riotous period last year were investigated and arrested. Many of them young people probably merely showing off and/or trying to be funny. The sentence if you are convicted of merely saying something vaguely inflammatory that may or may not have been a joke (even if one in incredibly poor taste)? FOUR YEARS, at least for these two chaps. 

This article from The Metro suggests 11 people were arrested for tweets or facebook messages that could be interpreted as ‘inciting riots’ - But who decides what inciting a riot is!? Surely that is something a jury of peers should decide, and not some stuffy, snooty, upper-middle-class magistrate!? Well no, thanks to tyrannical measures introduced post-riots, magistrates were given the power to fast track cases (before a decent defence could be made) and hand out hefty sentences (so that justice becomes not a consistent doling out of punishment per offence, but an ‘example’) and so that some people can sleep easy at night thinking they are safe while their freedoms get slowly eroded before their eyes. There were even apparently two guys from Folkestone - my home town - who were arrested. Let me tell you the people around here are about as capable of rioting as I am capable of jogging to the sun!

YOU SHOULD NOT BE ABLE TO ARREST SOMEONE FOR A THOUGHT, A COMMENT, AN IDEA, A TWEET, A FACEBOOK MESSAGE OR ANY OTHER MODE OF EXPRESSION - MENTAL OR VERBAL! 

This is tyranny - to not be able to speak your mind (no matter how little of one you have!) for fear of arrest is tyrannical. For now you may be thinking “Well, it’s just some rioters and racists!” But - There is no evidence the people who tweeted or facebook messaged about the riots ACTUALLY rioted. There is no evidence that this ‘racist’ is actually racist and isn’t just some wanky show-off trying to ingratiate himself with a group of idiotic friends - and there is no evidence that they harmed anybody beyond offense! And offending someone is not a crime, nor should it ever be! For now, it may just be the daft and ignorant but are you honestly telling me you are not subject to moments of daftness and ignorance!? That you say nothing to offend anyone EVER!? What about if you have adolescent children, 16-18 maybe? Trying to be popular, trying to fit in? One comment out of place, one tweet someone takes a dislike to, one facebook message that causes offence and they could be arrested. 

We set a dangerous precedent if we allow this sort of thing. A dangerous precedent indeed and I think we need to make measures now to try and stop it. You only need look up ‘twitter arrests’ or ‘facebook arrests’ to see how people’s outward expressions of their inward thoughts are being used to brand them as criminals. You can see how it is used as a tool in other countries to punish dissidence and criticism of governments. I do not condone what the gentleman did - and racism should be fought. But it should be fought with reason, and logic and not with draconian measures of silence, that create wider problems in the future. Otherwise you will not get rid of the problem - but merely hide it under an oppressive veil of silence.  

SOPA, PIPA and Copyright Oom-Pa-Pa

Today, people may be waking up to find little corners of the web inaccessible to them. This is in protest of the US House Bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, for short, and it’s sister act, PIPA or Protect Intellectual Property Act (rather Orwellian in its name) 

"Online piracy!" You say, "I am firmly against it, good for them!" Well, actually think twice. Most people would agree that stealing another’s intellectual property is wrong (those people are partly wrong themselves but that’s a whole different blog there…) but, SOPA blurs the lines of what could be considered piracy, and tips the balance of power out of the hands of individuals and further into corporate interests.

Piracy is already a crime, that much we know, but the problem is that the internet provides such a free platform for expression, in ways so difficult to control, that it is easy to get away with. Those ‘professionals’ who generally make obscene amounts of money, and continue to make bumper profits year on year are suggesting that the freedom of the internet should, in effect, be restricted because their profit margins would be a lot higher if it were. A debatable point. They make note of how industries so horrifically blighted by piracy that, even in this economic climate, they still furnish bullshit authors providing little to no originality, movie makers interested in style of substance, and movie stars interested only in style and substances, are being damaged by piracy. They ask for mercy on the small business whom these self-same industry executives rob on a daily basis. They say “AMERICA! It is fine for us to take from the mouths of your children, because we do it from very high up in office blocks where you can’t get us!”  

And do you know what they propose so their industries may maintain their undeserved “Silver spoon well and truly in mouth” status? Court orders to effectively shut stuff down at will. Court orders for *********OUTSIDE US JURISDICTION************ to people, and organisations who infringe on copyright. Essentially, America want to become the internet police. Never mind the individuals, websites, and small business that can be harmed by such oppressive legislation. This is a licence for the US to start extraditing individuals at will from all over the world! Very much like what is happening to Richard O’ Dwyer. It would adversely affect the online entertainment industry. I like to watch gaming videos on Youtube (being a gamergeek) and I know of many people who get threats about their infringing copyright, despite the fact that their videos usually fall under fair use policy, which is there to allow for such wonderful things as independent, online internet reviews and commentaries etc. But if these individuals were threatened with more than just getting their video taken down, if they were threatened with a court order from the US, and extradition! That’s a threat few would be able to ignore. Even were they in the right, the proceedings may be too complex and too time consuming for the individual to go through them.

But it’s not just the individuals they want to punish. As is the wont of the legal system these days. They want to punish organisations. Effectively, one industry, the copyright industry, wants to be able to take money from other industries, i.e. social networks, video sharing sites, ISPs, by legal means! What does this mean for us, as users? Well, in terms of ISPs be prepared for oppressive restriction ‘to be on the safe side’…Imagine trying to get on Youtube and finding the message “YOUR ISP HAS BLOCKED THIS SERVICE BECAUSE OF ONLINE PIRACY” - Think it wouldn’t happen? You don’t know the law and how tentative it can make businesses who don’t have the clout to make it, or stand up to it. It gives the power to US law enforcement to shut down entire sites, and thus their ability to generate income, because of one users possible infringement and, don’t forget as I mentioned earlier, the lines of infringement are always blurred by aggressive corporations.

SOPA WOULD KILL THE INTERNET AS WE KNOW IT!  

So this does not just affect America, people. The internet affects us all, it is a platform for free expression. It is a bar of intellectual properties, all waiting to be freely mixed into magnificent cocktails. And the US Prohibitionists want it shut down!  Not only do they want to shut down the intellectual bars in their country, they want to come to your country and stop yours too! 

Effectively, it is a dangerous game for anyone who does not have a corporation backing them up, and it is just as dangerous to certain corporations whose business model relies on freedom of expression on the internet. The bill offers little or no protection for those erroneously caught up in its tangled, vaguely worded web. It gives no indication that it would protect your rights to freedom of speech and expression. And it is a further step on the road towards tyranny.

Indeed, we must think that to even propose such an act shows that that US government have the technology at their disposal to monitor us all, internationally. Think about the ramifications of this. Already, the US looks to extradite individuals who have broken none of their own domestic laws (the ones which, by rights, apply to them) but have broken US laws. These moves often get much criticism, but, sadly, never enough as an agenda laden press fail to specifically note how it is effectively a form of kidnapping! The US is probably in contradiction of many laws in, say, Saudi Arabia, but do they want the Saudi authorities to go extraditing US citizens? NO! Of course not. It is double standards. And it is dangerous steps towards further tyranny. Especially given the Patriot Act (plus extensions, thanks Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack ‘corporate tool’ Obama…Can we get the Nobel organisation to take that back from this bloodlusting, lying, scamming hypocrite?), the NDAA and other acts that are now starting to make US dissent a terrorist offence! How long before SOPA, and PIPA are used to monitor dissidents not just domestically, but internationally. How long before people are getting their doors beat down by police for an anti-government opinion online? DO NOT PUT IT PAST THE US! These are very scary, but very real possibilities. If Hitler had had the internet to deal with he would have called SOPA his Online Enabling Act!

So, in order to protest, today, many organisations are blacking out. Removing or altering their online presence such that normal service will not be available. Respect to these organisations, for recognising that this legislation could have serious ramifications for their businesses. Congratulations too to everyone protesting this. For recognising this legislation could have serious ramifications for the freedom of the people.

SOPA and PIPA are like if the government were to come and burn down a hotel complex because one person in it stole a towel. Just because it’s online, doesn’t mean it’s not real, or dangerous. 

*Apologies if this seems a bit muddled. I started writing it at around 5:30am after being awoken from a nightmare…I think that reminded me of this real life nightmare*