Tag Archives: freedom

Be Excellent To Each Other

The “Injustice-Hack”, and How It Will Destroy Us If We Let It

Humans will kill people for anything, once they can come up with a justification for adopting a┬ádehumanizing out-group dynamic about it. Dr. Seuss was right…it’s Butter-Battles and Sneetches (with star-bellies and without) all the way down.

And that dehumanizing trick is almost always some variation of the “injustice-hack”, a social and psychological manipulation that invites both designated victim and interested onlookers to believe that an injustice is being committed, thus hijacking our empathy and getting us to adopt the one mode of thinking that, to humans, justifies any obvious atrocity: “doing the right thing”, “righting a wrong”, “fighting the good fight”, “being a hero”.

And we LOVE those situations. Shows like 24 are all about getting us high on “hard choices”, where we are invited to be monstrous and indulge all of our cruelty, but it’s really “good”, and instead of being bullies, we feel like heroes for doing the horrible thing our monstrous little ids wanted us to do anyway.

Think about the entirety of the SJW trip and methodology, consider both sides of GamerGate doxxing and swatting each other, etc…both are firmly convinced they are the victims and that their own victimizing actions are therefore justified. And people are getting high off of it…the joy of “justified” cruelty and battle is what has driven much of the culture of the online world, and the only thing that can explain that is that people get off on it. Even without governments, we’ll “go to war” at the drop of a hat…just convince us that someone kicked a puppy, and we will cook a million puppies alive to “right the wrong”.

We are invited to ignore every normal ethical boundary we observe the minute the injustice-signal is sent up. As long as we can convince ourselves that we’ve–or the object of our “support”–has been “hard done by”, ANYTHING, up to and include massive wars and the murder and torture of innocents, can and has been justifiable to most people’s minds.

Right now, ISIS/ISIL are using the inujustice-hack to gain support all over the Middle East, as did their forebears, while the US government and that of ally nations post-9/11 did the exact same thing, using the injustice-hack to get most of the country–and several other countries–to finally sign off on things they had wanted to do anyway for decades. Neither side are good, and in fact have committed most of the injustices in the situations they have been involved in…but goddamn, that injustice-hack just seems to make it all go away, doesn’t it? All those facts just disappear in the warm glow of feeling like a hero.

IRL, almost nothing is ever so simple. Almost no situations that ever exist have heroes and villains, victims and victimizers. Most stuff is just people doing their own things, and most of that consists of behaviors that are orthogonal to the entire paradigm of victims, heroes, and villains. Worldviews–and they are many–that attempt to break down all of history and human life to exploitation, war, and struggle are being disingenuous in an effort to use the injustice-hack for themselves.

It will win few friends and lose many to refuse the tribalism implicit in adopting one victim group or another, but if we are interested in stopping the damage caused by these sorts of conflicts, we must forgo the natural highs of responding to an injustice with more injustice. We must maintain that the same ethics apply to defense as offense, because as long as we let them differ in practice, we will just keep up the constant wars, cultural and physical, until that really is all we do…commit new injustices as get-backs for old injustices.

“The War on Consciousness” – Banned TED Talk

This is one that’s been making the rounds and I wanted to share it with everyone:

Needless to say, I support the freedom for everyone to use their minds and bodies as they will. As some people know, I’m a Thelemite, and for me it’s quite simple: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law. Almost all of the world’s problems consist of people meddling in the affairs of others. For too long we’ve simply accepted the notion that the role of government and law is to govern our use of our own bodies and minds. This is a holdover from monarchy and “divine right” government. It creates a naturally adversarial relationship between the state and the citizen that has no place in a free society of equals. So long as this is the case, we can never truly feel like we are on the same side as our government…they feel like someone out to get us.

And of course, this makes perfect sense. Because–so far as I can tell–they are. The recent “revelations” shouldn’t be a revelation at all…it was clear what the Patriot Act and all of its precedents and descendants were going to do, each and every time they are proposed. Each time, people have “worries” and “concerns” about civil liberties. And then the law, or signing statement, or executive order goes through anyway, and people forget all about it. And it makes sense, I suppose…what are we really supposed to do? As we allowed our government to get more powerful and dangerous, we hit a certain point where, as a culture, we realized that nothing we could ever do would change the situation; if we were to continue to enjoy our “rights” and “freedoms”, it was going to be out of the kindness and honor of whoever happened to be running the government. And once that was the case, the rest has been inevitable.

Within a democracy, with a government created, controlled, and enacted by the will of the people, it makes no sense for our government to behave in any way that coerces the people unnecessarily. Note that, unlike some of my colleagues amongst the Libertarians, I do not argue that finance and economics is one of the places coercion is unnecessary. It is clear, from observations of both history and present circumstances, that people will not behave honorably about finance and economics. We might be able to encourage them to do so, but that will only work if we can all agree that doing the dishonorable thing is still dishonorable if you make a lot of money doing it. Until then, people cannot be trusted to either understand the larger economic system within which they act, or care about the results of their actions.

But people use their substances of choice and, so long as they are responsible (admittedly not as common a phenomenon as one would hope, but still the majority of people) there are seldom any issues. The hysteria about drugs is completely out of proportion to the actual damage they cause, and the moral and psychological damage of prohibiting them easily exceeds the dangers. We need to train our citizens to be personally responsible for their own behaviors, which will help everything, across the board, rather than trying–usually with no success–to use transparent lies to instill fear. The moment a kid learns to use a search engine, the lies are revealed, and trust is broken…about drugs and everything else.

My Stance on SOPA and PIPA

As an author, I’ve had my work stolen. That’s lost money…people who stole an article or short story or novella and put it up on their site, denying my publishers the money they deserve and (sometimes) denying me the advertising revenue cut that makes up online royalties. That’s money in the bank.

So what a law like this is trying to convince all of us is that I should be willing to trade my internet freedoms, and the freedoms of everyone else in the world (that’s right…the world, because the bill specifically is set up to go after people in other countries, too) for money. Cold hard cash. Anyone supporting this bill is saying that they will trade freedom, for them and everyone else, for cash. That makes them traitors of the highest order…traitors to not just any one nation, but the species as a whole.

I’m not saying that the current state of online piracy is acceptable. But the market itself is dealing with this problem. Services like Spotify and Hulu allow all the convenience of piracy, but actually charge reasonable prices and allow for a return for the creators. There is no way to pirate or steal this content because of the way the systems are built. A system like this for books, articles, and stories would finish out the problem for writers, and a similar system for graphical art would serve in the same capacity for artists.

Now, there are complaints about such systems, in that they are not going to give the various industries involved the same kinds of profit margins that they have become used to over the last century or so. That’s tough. As an author, I am one of those people. However, if it comes down to either getting nothing, because it’s all being pirated, or making something by charging prices for content that people are willing to pay, I’ll take something any day.

Publishers, the RIAA, and the MPAA need to come to terms with this. They no longer have the control. They don’t get to dictate terms. If they won’t be reasonable, they’ll be pirated into oblivion. If they will be reasonable, however, they can continue to exist. The consumers of content and the industries producing that content are in an adversarial situation so long as the industry is determined to charge unreasonable prices. People pirate movies because it costs an unreasonable amount to see them in the theater. People pirate music (less now) because it costs an unreasonable amount of money to buy music. And people pirate books because it costs an unreasonable amount of money to buy them. This isn’t all producers and publishers…but it is the majority of them.

For a very long time, these people had the public over the barrel, and they took advantage of that, creating this adversarial situation. They knew they had all the power in the situation because they controlled the means of production and distribution. Now anyone with a computer can publish and distribute for so close to free as to be negligible. So far, the middle-men of the industry have done their best to maintain their control, acting as gatekeepers to keep self-produced and self-published works from being take seriously, but that is working less and less. What it comes down to is that if the industries won’t adapt to the new situation, and the lower profit margins, then they won’t have any profit margins at all.

So right now, and for the last decade or so, these industries have been trying to use the law to maintain their power over the situation. For the most part, they have failed. But now they find themselves hand-in-hand with an increasingly authoritarian government, who will embrace any excuse to make more laws that give them more power. And SOPA and PIPA are the outcome of this unholy collaboration between those who would turn this country into a fascism and those who want to keep control of the means of production within the art and entertainment industries.

So understand this, people: when you support SOPA or PIPA, you are not protecting the rights of creators to profit from their creation. You are saying that money is enough to buy your rights, and the rights of people in other countries all over the world. This isn’t about cash, this is about freedom.

So look around. Think about how many atrocities have been justified with “they’re fighting to protect our freedoms”. The enemy tries to take away our freedoms…that’s what makes them the enemy, and if those people are within our own country, that makes them traitors to everything this country is supposed to represent. So remember what we are supposed to do to those who would threaten the freedoms and liberties of American citizens. We haven’t had a real enemy who could do that militarily since WWII…now we do, and they are our own legislators and the greedy, self-involved organizations determined to maintain their profit margins, no matter what it costs.

Ask yourself this…can you trust the government not to misuse and abuse the powers given to it? Honestly, no matter your stance, Left or Right, ask yourself that question. Can you trust them with the power they are asking for…the power to control the most powerful tool for education, free speech, and free assembly to ever exist? Look around…there is really only one answer to this question, and it’s “no”. It’s not a question of will SOPA and PIPA be abused to control the flow of information and interaction through the internet; it’s a question of how.

Don’t allow this trade of our liberty for money (or rather, the promise of money). Oppose SOPA and PIPA in every way possible.