THINK FOR YOURSELF: READING GUIDE
First off I want to say that you cannot believe everything you see, you cannot believe everything you read, and quite frankly I don’t even think you can trust everything you believe. You certainly cannot believe everything you read on the internet.
Anytime I hear anything (from a friend, from a newspaper, online – wherever) it’s always coming from a source which has some level of bias. The words you are reading right now are of course written with a bias. When it comes to current compelling issues, it is very difficult to find “the truth” without wading through a ton of bias from corporate sponsors, pundits, or even just the opinion of the newscaster or the owner of the publication (or some half-wit long-haired DJ who has found the time to type a zillion words and post them online).
I get a lot of my news from www.democracynow.org – it is unapologetic to Democrats and Republicans alike, it is unapologetic to corporate interests, and it seems to side with the well-being of the general population, as opposed to the best interests of the 1% (government, corporate elite, etc). However, this could quickly be dismissed as a hippy-dippy, liberal, socialist, commie rag. So I did not cite it or reference it for this project. Instead I chose some more mainstream sources which are in the middle of the debate, not too far left or right (CNN, BBC, even Wikipedia – which I always take with a grain of salt).
I just wanted to point that out, in case you want super right-wing propaganda (check out Fox News for a heavy conservative, pro-military, pro-Republican bias) or super liberal, keep in mind this is CNN, and they have their own agendas and corporate sponsors, etc.
So anyhow, further to the launch of our Think For Yourself campaign with Electric Forest, here are a list of comments about various issues I referenced, as well as links to where you can read more about them…
1. Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” – he is calling out every one of us, who has lazily handed over our civil rights of privacy to be “protected” by a snooping, spying, lying government. Read more about this amazing man who was an inventor, a thinker, and an activist in The American Revolution and the design of The Constitution – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin
2. Finding truth, when you’re being lied to:
Closely related to the sentiments of Benjamin Franklin are words from Al Gore in his book/film An Inconvenient Truth – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Inconvenient_Truth (an examination that pushed the envelope on Global Warming at a time when it was being flat-out denied by corporate news and corporate-sponsored government) which claims that our Constitution was designed for “an informed, active citizenry” – not an apathetic, dazed out collection of people who are jacked on pharmaceuticals and too busy updating their Twitter and Snapchat to stand up for their own rights. He basically claims that our government will not work unless the citizens remain informed and active. And in that, he echoes Ben Franklin’s assertion that if you aren’t prepared to defend your rights, you don’t deserve them.
And by the way, if you aren’t sure what I mean by corporate sponsorship (the ways in which money influences politics, health, the economy, and every aspect of your life) take 2 hours and watch this amazing new documentary called “Fed Up” – it’s a jaw dropped. …and an excellent illustration of how trusted government figures and trusted media sources willingly deceive you against your best interest, simply to make money.
3. The Patriot Act: stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” – it was 342 pages and forcefully signed into law 3 days after it was introduced, at the height of the terror frenzy involving the 911 attacks. It gives the government the authority to monitor the phone calls and emails of US citizens, without permission or a warrant! I believe this violates our 4th amendment right against unreasonable search and seizures. Read the amendments: http://constitutioncenter.org/constitution/the-amendments. If you haven’t read them in the last month or year or decade, you should give yourself a refresher 😉
One of the more contentious parts of The Patriot Act is Section 215, which allows the government to collect metadata on almost every person in the country via their phone records. It gives them the right to collect what they call “tangible things” that include the calls you make, who calls you, who you call, the time of the calls, and how long the calls last – I think this tells the government more about you than you would believe and can influence the way you act/talk/walk/etc. But the fear is that it could go much, much further to breaching your privacy with the NSA reading your texts, collecting your photos & videos, etc. Watch Edward Snowden discuss this NSA surveillance:
And now a word from our sponsor, me:
“THIS IS A VIOLATION OF YOUR LIBERTIES AND THEREFORE IT IS BAD.”
TAKE ACTION – tell your congressman that you do not want Section 215 renewed. The law will be re-voted on again by congress on June 1st! The time is now!!!!!!
Find out more about what you can do to fight Section 215 and The Patriot Act:
4. Another interesting point about the Patriot Act is its name. Not only is it manipulative, it is misleading. It’s suggesting “if you vote against the Patriot Act, then you are not a Patriot”. Yet The Act itself is an assault on every patriot’s constitutional rights, and the most patriotic thing you could do would be to vote against it. It would be like me trying to pass a law which gives anyone with long hair 5 million dollars, and calling it the “Do You Hate Your Mother Act” – suggesting “hey if you don’t hate your mother you better vote the right way on this bill, buddy!” …it may sound outlandish, but it’s PRECISELY what happens.
For example, there is a national organization called the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) whose primary purpose is to protect the environment. They are responsible for regulating corporate interests and siding with the protection of the natural environment over the potential money to be made by corporations. One act in particular, which was “designed to control air pollution on a national level” was called “The Clean Air Act” ) – in this case it was not a manipulative title. It genuinely existed to protect air quality. However, in typical form certain members of the Bush administration (who largely supported financial elites, as well as military and corporate interests over the interests of the general population – http://www.georgewalkerbush.net/bigbusiness.htm) designed a counter-act, which was called “The Clear Skies Initiative”. This absurdly dishonest and misleading act existed TO REPEAL the Clean Air Act, yet they chose a deliberately misleading name so that anyone who wanted clean, clear air in the sky would say “YES! I AM IN FAVOR OF THE CLEAR SKIES INITIATIVE!” and by voting for it, they repealed the Clean Air Act.
Another way this kind of issue can be studied is by taking a critical look at the term “Obamacare.” Originally, this was an amazing idea!!!! It was beautiful, and by no means a negative thing, (and it was not called “Obamacare”…that’s just a derogatory nickname given to it by people who want to trick you into thinking its bad….because they want to go back to making money off you). It was an attempt to overturn privatized health care and join the 21st Century by providing universal health care to all tax-paying citizens. This had never been accomplished in America due to manipulations by the Pharmaceutical & Insurance industries – http://univsalhealthins.blogspot.com/. These massive corporations were preventing honest citizens from affording health care (like your gramma, your mamma, and eventually your kids). Most modern, progressive countries (including Canada and much of Europe) already provide this, but there was a direct and aggressive attack on this in America – sponsored by the large corporations who stood to lose money. They funneled their propaganda through the Republican government whom they had financially bought off, and through the news which they controlled (and those members of the government worked hard to serve their masters, and protect profits over people). The result was unsuspecting citizens in the Heartland, hearing about “how terrible that Obamacare is!” when in actuality it was there to give healthcare to them and their loved ones. Read more about universal health care here – http://healthcare.procon.org
5. The Rave Act. In some cases this law had very understandable intentions. By the late 1990s “the rave scene” in North America was largely comprised of illegal gatherings in unpermitted warehouses across the country (I personally attended many of them, and had a great time!). Many of these were the result of breaking into an abandoned warehouse, which was understandably deemed unsafe. They were criticized as unmonitored places where injury, violence, and other crime could easily occur. Additionally drug use and the sale of illegal street drugs could happen there. So in a sweeping effort, The Rave Act was created which not only made raves (and rave music) illegal in a public broadcast, but it actually associated attending or throwing a rave with the sale of Ecstasy, which was and still is a felony. One particular rave in Utah was busted by a SWAT team descending from the sky (watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX_p8mtD5vg) and in an ironic twist of fate, I was actually booked to be playing at that time slot, but made a last minute switch in bookings. One mainstay of the rave scene known as Disco Donnie was actually arrested and put in jail. The problem with The Rave Act is that it was sweeping and inaccurate, and forged in fear instead of educated common sense. Instead of making public events safer, it criminalized something which isn’t criminal: music and dancing. And it could happen again.
6. Corporate Personhood – This issue goes all the way back to 1819 when Dartmouth College (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dartmouth_College_v._Woodward) was allowed to use a charter given to them by King George III of Great Britain as a contract to keep their institution private, citing that the contract is protected by an individual’s property rights (similar to the ones you have as a citizen). Its most aggressive form came in 2010 when the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling gave corporations the same rights as humans, thus protecting them from legislation which might curtail their endeavors (their ‘endeavors’ were, of course, solely to make money). Some of the more frightening results of this are large super-corporations like Monsanto, who have in many cases purchased patents on seeds in an effort to not only own the farming industry but to actually attempt to own the genetic principles of nature: seeds.
Check out more information on Corporate Personhood here:
Read more about Monsanto here:
7. Legislation amendments and sneaky bills: ever wonder how some seemingly preposterous laws are passed? In many cases they are literally snuck into other unrelated legislation, often written into a massive bill which is being rushed through congress and which has an urgent need to pass. In these cases many senators may not be aware of its inclusion, or they are afraid to vote against the larger bill because of public outcry – it happened with The Patriot Act, Net Neutrality, and numerous spending budgets.
Net Neutrality was created to protect everyone’s rights and access to a free and open internet. Yet time and time again, unconstitutional legislation is presented (often snuck into other legislation) and the onus is on US to assemble and rally against it. Learn more about Net Neutrality here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p90McT24Z6w
To me this is preposterous. I think it should become illegal to attempt to pass unconstitutional legislation, and the onus for clearing the constitutionality should be on the presenter of legislation not the general public. If we say no a certain amount of times and it keeps being brought back by mega corporations like Comcast or Verizon (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/technology/path-clears-for-net-neutrality-ahead-of-fcc-vote.html), then some sort of accountability is in order. What do you think?
8. Edward Snowden, whistleblowing and defamation: many times when someone has the courage to speak out publicly against the government, that person’s public life is destroyed in an effort to discredit them. Names like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Aaron Swartz should ring a bell here! When Snowden attempted to show how dangerous and dishonest the NSA was, he was basically forced to go into hiding in Russia. Should he be allowed to return to the US? Do you think he will be safe from the government?
Watch Edward Snowden’s TED Talk:
9. Click here to read more about the NSA, wiretapping, government spying, and why you should be aware:
10. Click here if you want to speak out against The Patriot Act, and prevent it from being renewed: