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The end of cyberspace?

The Shirley Sherrod debacle has jeopardized free speech and could lead to the end of the internet as we know it, writes KM Patten.

So it is today, in the year 2010, that we see our President, Barack Hussein Obama, as he lays the groundwork for what could be the demise of the last, most essential freedom: The absolute Right of Free Speech and Expression.

Obama refers to this period as “The Media Culture” – a cryptic anecdote that should only be described as condemnation for the freedom that CyberSpace can provide. If his idea proves to be part of this progressive government, it could spell extinction for the First Amendment, as well as the internet as we know it.

“Something shows up on YouTube or a blog,” Obama says in disdain, “and everybody scrambles.”

He was referring to the recent Shirley Sherrod spectacle. The 62-year old African American woman who had worked for the United States Department of Agriculture Georgia before conservative journalist and blogger Andrew Breitbart filmed her at a meeting back in March which, supposedly, showed Sherrod making reference to a racist incident twenty years ago; discriminating against a white farmer, or something to that effect.

While not a big of a deal at all, she resigned soon thereafter it appeared on the web – which ignited a firestorm of controversy that was escalated by nearly all the media outlets. The real truth is, and I’m sorry to say it: Her angst and troubles are but an afterthought in a much larger picture.

Enter TV journalist Anderson Cooper, who, like many of others, acted like a snake eating its own tail; launching a barrage of verbal attacks on the footage.

Cooper claimed the footage was “taken out of context” and lectured about how real journalists with integrity are supposed to fact-check and exercise balanced reporting whenever possible. It’s important to note that Cooper’s eyes scrolled across the teleprompter at pristine pace.

I’ve got a fact for him: Right now there is a bill sitting in our Congress that would give the President the authority to “KillSwitch” the internet.

The bill, called the Protecting CyberSpace as a National Security Act of 2010, was authored by Independent Senator Joe Lieberman, and if passed, would allow the President to shut down part of the Internet in the event of a “Cyber-Attack” for exactly 120 days, unless Congress passes an extension, in which case it’ll hold indefinitely.

Like so many instances where an unfortunate situation turns into an even worse form of tyranny, the termination of Ms. Sherrod can only be expected to make this draconian piece of legislation happen even faster.

Furthermore, Obama has stated explicitly in his book, Audacity of Hope, that he believes the Constitution is a “Living Document” – able to bend and mold to accommodate any troubles for any Day and Age.

Despite the philosophical differences that might arouse from the civil rights activists of the 1950’s and 60s, and the puritan Constitutionalists of today, Rand Paul, the latter, made a decent point when questioning the merits of the Civil Rights Act: “One reason that we have Freedom,” Paul stated, “is that we tolerate boorish behavior.” Exactly.

Putting these sentiments even further into context with the Sherrod situation; my opinion: The primary apparatus of journalism is to protect our liberties and rights, not to chastise them. It’s about protecting the First Amendment which guarantees every one of us the Right to speak, organize, write, shout, yell, protest, scream, record, videotape, and – yes! – keep our elected officials in tune with the values they espouse.

Sorry Ms. Sherrod, this encompasses even – quote, un-quote – “bad” journalism, no matter how heavily edited the clips are.

Even if cyber security-type legislation doesn’t happen for another 20 years, it’s still entirely plausible that it will happen sooner rather than later. After all, crime rates were a quick reason to take away the Second Amendment, diluting it to the point in which only criminals are in possession of firearms.

Same thing with the Fourth, with “probable cause” being the only words needed for a cop to kick a door in these days.

The Tenth? – State’s Rights – only in rare cases is that Amendment ever upheld; never with drug policy or something that might actually matter to society. It all starts with an angry person and a small disagreement. Then the erosion of liberty accelerates, not the opposite. Rand Paul would be correct on at least that.

So while this whole situation should have been a 30-second segment, and nothing more, it appears, I’m afraid, to be conflated to fodder for our backwards government, and the Media Machine that routinely propagates its message, to be dissected and used as a tool for further rescission of our rights.

KM Patten writes for the medical marijuana journal Cannabis Times. He describes himself as “a little bit progressive, a whole lot libertarian, and absolutely against the grain.” He lives in Los Angeles.


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