Re: Cyberprotest: Peace,Justice,Human Rights, Humanity OUT LOUD (fwd)

P. Myers (mpwr@u.washington.edu)
Wed, 29 Apr 1998 12:58:02 -0700 (PDT)


a response...not mine...found on a newsgroup...to a somewhat less
enthusiastic sense of the possibility of the use of internet for community
building and activism.  Pat Myers...still convinced.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: 28 Apr 1998 03:21:33 GMT
> Subject: Cyberprotest: Peace,Justice,Human Rights, Humanity OUT LOUD
> 
> PAPER      The Vancouver Sun
> PDATE      Friday, April 24, 1998
> EDITION    Final
> SECTION    Editorial
> STOTYPE    News; Analysis
> ILLUS * Graphic/Diagram: Zapatista Net of Autonomy & Liberation
> LKW COMPUTER NETWORKS; PROPAGANDA; FREEDOM OF SPEECH; LAWS & REGULATIONS
> 
> HEADLINE   The Electronic Revolution: The Internet is an unfiltered
> megaphone for rebels and angry young men. But its success at
> relaying their messages raises fears that restrictions will soon
> follow.
> 
> BYLINE Ian Mulgrew
> SOURCE Vancouver Sun
> 
> Cyberprotest is raging. Every moment, someone's uploading
> more.  Billions of bits and bytes of bilious assaults on the system.
> Any system. Calls to Action. E-mail for Anarchy. Around the world,
> the Internet is fanning the flames of discord.
> 
> It's all there by the gigabyte: press releases commemorating the
> Kent State Four site, letters to forward to politicians to stop
> desecrating native graves, calls for protests to prevent another
> Timorese massacre.
> 
> In its own salacious way, the Monica Lewinsky affair brought home
> the point: Anyone can be a cyberpublisher.
> 
> Commentators such as Slate magazine editor Michael Kinsley suggest
> Zippergate -- whose most egregious revelations occurred on web sites
> run by everyone from the Dallas Morning News to Matt Drudge, the
> most notorious e-gossip -- has done for the Internet what JFK did
> for television in general and Saddam Hussein for CNN in particular.
> 
> The Internet now renders it impossible for governments and the
> corporate media to be gatekeepers of information. Anyone with access
> to the Net can broadcast to the world.
> 
> Even the smallest band of rebels and the angriest young man can
> make themselves heard and their dyspepsia known. And they are.
> Last December, when 45 peasants in southern Mexico were murdered by
> irregular para-militaries with ties to the Mexican government, few
> were following their struggle. Today, the Zapatistas' collective
> voice carries far beyond their home and their use of the Internet
> has become a harbinger of the future of dissent, protest, revolution
> and heresy.
> 
> Wired magazine calls them perhaps the best-organized and most
> dynamic Net presence of any political group anywhere.
> 
> The Che Guevera of cyberspace is a man whose nom de guerre is
> Subcommandante Marcos. The Subcommandante, a cross between Noam
> Chomsky and Jonathan Swift, has an electronic presence and the
> success he has achieved using the Internet is astounding.
> 
> Forget about the Five W's -- who, what, when, where and why -- the
> proverbial elements of mainstream reporting.
> 
> The Subcommandante uses poetry, humour, scholarship and parables to
> engage people in dialogues about issues of power and authenticity
> that would make a deconstructionist weep.
> 
> ``Public space has been commodified and mainstream news has been
> reduced to info-tainment,'' according to Tamara Ford, who works with
> Accion Zapatista and ZapNet Collective, Texas groups that jointly
> facilitate some of the Zapatistas' major electronic operations.
> ``The Zapatistas have been able to rupture that space, in part via
> Marcos' skill as a performance artist.''
> 
> Others also have been quick to seize upon his strategy and this
> unexpected vehicle for rapid communication and mobilization.
> In B.C., for instance, despite universally nasty media, the
> aboriginal rebels involved in the 1995 standoff with RCMP at
> Gustafsen Lake have used the Net to win support.
> 
> The Green Group of the European Parliament, the Canadian Alliance
> in Solidarity with the Native Peoples, the Council of Canadians
> (Victoria), Moloqil Tinamit and other Mayan organizations in
> Guatemala, For Mother Earth Belgium, the Black Community Collective
> & Black Autonomy International - Canada, the Afrikan Frontline
> Network, Te Ropu Maori, Support for Native Sovereignty, the Tasmania
> Human Rights Group, and Ramsey Clark, the former U.S. attorney
> general known for his love of lost causes, are just some of the
> voices now calling for a public inquiry into the standoff.
> 
> That's quite a change from the days when Ovide Mercredi, erstwhile
> national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, labelled rebel
> leader Wolverine (also known as William Jones Ignace) a political
> extremist.
> 
> During the Gustafsen Lake siege, U.S. Mohawk Splitting-the-Sky,
> a.k.a. John Hill, was portrayed by the media as a convicted murderer
> and participant in the murderous 1971 prison riot at Attica, N.Y.
> Splitting-the-Sky, who was paroled in 1979, isn't quite as good a
> performance artist as the Subcommandante, but he has his moments.
> But the Net has provided the 46-year-old Fraser Valley carpenter
> and father of four a vehicle to promulgate his beliefs about native
> rights and justice.
> 
> ``We found over a number of years in native activist movement the
> mainstream media will only cover certain aspects of any situation,''
> Splitting-the-Sky said in an interview. ``The long and short of it
> is, we don't trust the mainstream media. At Gustafsen Lake, we feel
> the RCMP used the media.''
> 
> The Internet, by comparison, has proven to be an excellent
> unfiltered megaphone, he said.
> 
> ``The Internet is ideal for people like us involved in the justice
> movement for native rights. It is a tool to put out two sides of a
> story.''
> 
> His views are echoed by activist colleague Bill Lightbown, a
> 71-year-old native with more than 40 years of protest behind him.
> ``Our experience with the media is a bad scene -- the censoring has
> been atrocious,'' said Lightbown, a founder of the United Native
> Nations in B.C. ``We learned that the only way we could get our
> story out was over the Internet.''
> 
> Another blizzard of dissent blows from University of Illinois law
> professor Francis Boyle.
> 
> ``I've been doing it since 1993 when I was Bosnia's lawyer and
> communications with Sarajevo were cut off,'' Boyle said in an
> interview. ``The only way you could get in there was with satellite
> phone to have conversations with people and that was very expensive.
> With the Internet, I could get information right out of Bosnia and I
> could get my information into Bosnia, even during wartime. It was a
> vital tool.''
> 
> Since then, Boyle has single-handedly mounted human-rights
> campaigns and become a tireless critic of what he calls U.S.
> military aggression.
> 
> ``I believe the Internet will prove just as revolutionary as the
> printing press was during the time of the Protestant Reformation,''
> he said. ``The printing press had a very important role in the
> spread of that revolution because people could put out their tracts
> and pamphlets in an inexpensive form and get them around.''
> 
> There is growing discussion about creating an intercontinental
> network of alternative communication to interlink the various
> protest movements. But governments are not so enthusiastic and the
> U.S. is leading the charge for Internet regulation.
> 
> The Mexican administration too recently imposed controls on
> gathering and disseminating information, in an attempt to hobble the
> Chiapas rebellion.
> 
> Corporate and government establishments are worried that the Net
> might also become a weapon, citing recent computer hacker attacks on
> U.S. defence sites.
> 
> As a result, many believe these days may be remembered as the
> heyday of the electronic pamphleteer.
> 
> ``I think they are going to try to [shut it down],'' Boyle said.
> 
> ``But it might be that from the perspective of the U.S. government
> that what they created is really a Frankenstein monster that they
> cannot control.''
> 
> John Shafer, a 42-year-old Victoria-based actor and radio reporter,
> is not optimistic.
> 
> Shafer established the comprehensive native sovereignty site, which
> includes the Gustafsen Lake archives, using University of Victoria
> hardware with the backing of the Vancouver Island Public Interest
> Research Group.
> 
> ``My own sense is that it would be a mistake to build things on the
> basis of this going to be here forever,'' Shafer warned.
> 
> He believes it is only a matter of time before regulation or a toll
> is imposed on Internet traffic, disguised as an attempt to eradicate
> kiddie porn or hate mongers who have also found the Net a marvellous
> distribution tool.
> 
> ``My fear is, once we get into, `We have to stop the Nazis on the
> Net,' where does it go from there?'' Shafer asked.
> Still, he added, for people who work in the peace movement, the
> anti-nuclear movement and the human rights movement, the Internet
> remains a cause for hope.
> 
> Few can afford long-distance phone calls, much less the staggering
> printing bills of a direct-mail campaign of the scope provided for
> almost nothing by the Net.
> 
> ``I used to get mad at the mainstream media,'' he said. ``Now it's
> increasingly irrelevant. I don't have to scan the pages of The Times
> Colonist to know what's going on in Chiapas. I can read the
> communiques directly.
> 
> ``You know, the other thing that's interesting is e-mail is a very
> congenial way to deal with these issues. In cyberspace, the colour
> of your skin isn't really important.''
> 
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