Archive for August, 2018

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Thursday, August 2nd, 2018

I don’t know a lot of Russian, but I know how to say “Hi.” That’s ironic because I seem to have been mistaken for a Russian troll. I’ve been highly critical of “our cherished democratic institutions” and have for years been pointing out deficiencies in our systems and in ourselves. Yesterday I heard a gaggle of US senators saying it’s Russians that are doing this, and they’re posting this stuff on Facebook. I quit Facebook a couple of months ago, but I was doing exactly the same thing right up till the day I closed my account. 

Facebook says it shut down any number of accounts that were “meant to create political discord” in the populace and claims it edited out some of the most dvisive stuff. I have no way of knowing whether any of my posts were censored, but what I posted was invective. By definition, I’m a sower of discord. I’d like full credit for that, and I’m not happy to share the credit with unnamed Russians.

According to the senators, Vladimir Putin is pulling the strings behind an orchestrated campaign to bad-mouth the USA, with harsh rhetoric on stuff like racial prejudice, environmental pollution, mass murder, suicide, drug addiction, domestic abuse, a permanent state of war, corrupt politicians, material inequality, etc. Sure, we have all this stuff, but talking about it is just divisive. It makes us angry with each other, and we don’t want that.

Facebook has a right to censor my remarks. It’s a private company, and private companies don’t have any obligation to respect my freedom to comment. Government, in contrast, is forbidden to censor me. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution says “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech . . . ” Interesting that none of these moronic senators made mention of that detail. Notice that the provision doesn’t confine itself to U. S. citizens. Russians are allowed to express opinions, too. Facebook may have a right to censor objectionable political opinion, but Congress has no authority to tell Facebook what discordant rhetoric to allow and what to censor.

You want to see some political discord, take a look at the abolitiionist rhetoric of 1855. If it hadn’t been for the divisive rhetoric of those days, dark skinned people would still be in chains. The divisive rhetoric of 1900 ended child labor and eventually produced gains in the rights of workers. Divisive rhetoric a generation later gave us Social Security and rural electrification. Politics is divisive rhetoric, and any senator or news-reporter or voter that doesn’t recognize that is an idiot.

Oops, there I go being divisive again. Making people angry. If somebody says to you, “I think we ought to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of Arizona,” don’t get mad. Best not to say anything. If somebody comes into your workplace and announces that Trump is making America great again, don’t call him shit-for-brains. Don’t be uncivil to people who don’t agree with you that cops ought to stop shooting black kids. And don’t criticize our electoral process, like the Russians do. You wouldn’t want to upset the system that gave us two corrupt rich people as presidential candidates in 2016. The system that, in its mass media component, suppressed all news about the most popular political figure in the USA and gave us nonstop coverage of the two candidates who put out the best buffets for reporters.

If Putin did what the senators say he did, we should be thanking him. For sure, our own leaders won’t be acknowledging racism, corruption, war-mongering, or injustice, because, once conscious of these problems, they might have to do something about them. Instead, they’re going to crack down on dissident opinion.  For purveyors of invective like me, that’s bad news.