Before I just jump into a political tirade I’m gonna bring you up to speed so your not left wondering “hey isn’t this a sex blog?”
A few years ago I wrote a research paper on the privatization of public space. A month ago I was blocked from Collar Me, a kinky dating website, for no apparent reason. A couple days ago my Craigslist account was frozen. After the frozen craigslist situation I found myself wondering how and why people are blocked and deleted from myspace. I asked people on Max Fisch and MySpace if they had been censored. The response I got was pretty pathetic. Bhaa Bhaaa Bhaa is what I heard as I opened the thirty or so messages, read the few threads on the forums, and followed links that people sent my way.
Not one to give up so easily I opened the bibliography from that research paper. I found myself at Steve Macek’s website. He is an urban geographer who you might like to try if you have any interest in urban politics, media, the poor, and the con that Big Brother would like us to fall for. He is great.
That said, I saw a little banner on his site that said “save the internet,” I clicked it and found what I was looking for. It’s not MySpace and Craigslist and Collar Me that are the problem. Censorship of any kind is the problem.
On the 17th of April all five members of the FCC are leaving Washington to attend a public hearing on net neutrality. “What is that?” I hear you wondering and probably fumbling with the pronunciation. Net Neutrality is the idea that we have freedom to view the internet. Your ISP is guilty of spying on you, slowing your connection, and freezing your downloads. Many of you know this, I hope.
Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and the other big wigs of the high speed broadband service that we all have come to rely on want to slow us down and censor the websites we can view. “ya right” I hear you saying to yourself. Really. Congress is actively considering a bill entitled the ‘‘Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008.’’ It prevents providers “from blocking, thwarting, or unreasonably interfering with the ability of consumers to access, use, send, receive, or offer lawful content, applications, or services over broadband networks.” ( http://markey.house.gov/docs/telecomm/hr5353.pdf )
I find it hard to believe that you don’t have any understanding of big businesses privatizing our nation. I know you have heard about public schools not having enough money to operate so they have to take money (and ads) from Pepsi, you might not know that California prisons have been turned over to private companies and that AT&T uses prisoners as their customer service operators. That might explain why they don’t seem to care. They are being paid $2 an hour and serving 20 – life. Hmm. I hope you have an idea that almost every media outlet in this nation is owned and operated by Rupert Murdock. I sent him a friend request on MySpace. He denied it.
“So what does all this have to do with dominatrices being deleted from myspace?” I hear you wondering. Censorship sucks. MySpace is a privately owned website yet we treat it like a public place. Before MySpace, prior to the advent or even invention of the internet people gathered to discuss things in public spaces. In the last decade the internet has taken the place of the public park and the public park has begun to privatize. When people want to hear the opinions of others they look to the internet. When people have something to say, or they want to rally people for a cause, they go online. I think this is a huge mistake. The censors are beginning to shut down opinions that they disagree with. At some point we all began to take free speech for granted. We are still protected by the first amendment, theoretically.
So what happens when the opinions you hold are not opinions you can get seen online. According to a few of the people who responded to my Max Fisch post anyone involved with the BDSM community should realize that we don’t belong on MySpace and we should pack it up and leave. This seems a bit like saying “why do the coloreds have to use our toilet? They have their own.” Seriously why should your art, lifestyle, and opinions be any more valid than someone else’s?
Why we are all so willing to look the other way when it comes to the privatization of space? Most of the kinky people I know would rather hang out in a kinky bar then a straight bar, even if they have to drive an hour and pay twice as much for a drink. People on these web sites say “It’s cool – we shouldn’t be here” WTF? Why shouldn’t we be here? Do my ideas, sexual preference, politics, or skin color offend you? Maybe I should leave.
Why are dominatrixes being deleted from MySpace? Inappropriate content. What does that mean? Politically inappropriate? Socially inappropriate? Offensive to someone? Who? Who makes that call and how come they can get away with it?
MySpace was started by a guy named Tom in Santa Monica, CA. He started it as a way to network local music. Yesterday I was reading the text on kumi monsters MySpace page. She is a fetish model who has a raging anti band comment “I don’t want to listen to your band, I won’t support your band, I’m not interested in your band …” MySpace was designed as a place for bands to get noticed – not for the rest of us to bitch and moan.
A dominatrix on Max Fisch suggested that myspace was for children, that it was like a kiddy version of Facebook. MySpace was created for alternative bands and the people who wanted to find them, buy their music, and go to their shows. Facebook was created for college students, by college students and until recently you couldn’t even register for the site without an email ending in .edu
Do you have a strong opinion about something? Go ahead tell me what it is just as long as it falls into the acceptable opinions here on this page. Does your opinion offend someone? Does it offend Fox? Murdock? Does he find you to be a nuisance? Is it worth censoring you? If it were would you have something to say about that? Where do you think you would try to say it?
YOUR OWN WEBSITE
I have come across a lot of people saying things like “I’ll just put it on my own website.” That’s nice. I have two of my own websites and I frequent social networking sites a lot more. They let me keep in touch with all of my people, my fans, my rl friends, and encourage people from the past to spring up unexpectedly.
Social networking sites are not the enemy. The enemy my friend is the willingness we have to say goodbye to our rights in the name of safety. Everywhere I look some authority is selling another story of safety. If you just give up your fourth amendment right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure children will be safe from pedophiles and copyright holders won’t have to starve to death. Really? Hmmm.
When big business tries to sell me on the idea that I don’t belong somewhere I start asking myself why not. I’m the first person to stand up and say “everything I know is wrong … I’m an American .. I’m an asshole.” Why are we all so terrified of our own shadow that we are not willing to fight for our rights?
There are plenty of reasons to avoid MySpace all together but saying “yes I don’t belong here,” if you want to be there, is silly. Why would you choose to leave? Do you really think that you are offensive? Maybe you are. But what about the rest of us? The people who are legitimately trying to connect with people because we are artists? Offensive artists included. Are we supposed to censor ourselves to fit into the box as the box continues to shrink smaller and smaller?
Keeping yourself on your own website is fine if that is your choice. If you are trying to get a little face time it is less than wise. In this land of “look at me” why would anyone sulk away and hide? If you are willing to post pictures of your summer vacation, your pets, and your new boyfriend on the internet you should be willing to ask yourself what the internet means to our freedoms.
When people are happy to stay on their own turf no one learns new things. People don’t change society, no one is forced out of their comfortable bubble of life, you won’t have to see people who look different, sound different, or think differently. Life is not about being comfortable. Comfortable is boring. Americans have forgotten this.
The fight for public space is an important crusade. Los Angeles is a massive sprawling city. It has very few public parks. When the privatization of park space occurs we all suffer. Through the pseudo-public space anyone undesirable can be removed. One would almost have to ask “why bother coming to this park if all I get is a corporate sameness?”
The hegemonic model of society has tricked us into believing that a place that is clean and well maintained is a “pleasant experience.” We have been trained to desire a sterile feeling of sameness. A cookie cutter culture that represents the privatization of everything. It is time we wake up and take notice of the developers and the damage they are doing to society by keeping people out. It is important to see people who do not look like you. It is important to hear other people’s opinions about the world, even if they disagree with your own – especially if they disagree with you.
Why have we blindly accepted this new model of society? This strip mall culture where we are not allowed to walk a certain way, talk about certain things, or see certain people should infuriate every one of us. Instead it makes us feel safe. What hogwash.
I’M NOT OFFENSIVE
If your opinion of MySpace is a cheery one and you are willing to not offend with your content (I know several people who have had profiles deleted for political opinions) I might hear you say “oh well they need to follow the rules” but what if it is you? Would you want to get the message out that you have nowhere to be heard?
You can’t go to the park anymore. The city of LA has fewer public parks than any other metropolitan area in the country – including Detroit. And if you are speaking your mind in public space how do you know you won’t be silenced? You might be. The USA has turned into a police state.
Everywhere I look the censorship is getting more and more obvious. Why do we all continue to post our lol cats instead of our opinions of the Orwellian world that we have created for ourselves?
SAVE THE INTERNET
“So what am I supposed to do?” I hear you wondering. Come to the summit on the 17th of April with me.
Everything you love about the internet is gonna get all fucked up if you don’t help to save our internet freedom. Protect Net Neutrality. Visit this website, write to congress, and come to this summit with me. I’ll be in a rubber dress with a camera and a lot of questions. “People need to control their ability to speak out, innovate and spread new ideas without the fear that a company like Comcast, Verizon or AT&T will yank the cord.” (savetheinternet.com)
We have to stop big business before they stop my download.