Why I should really stay away from random online discussion about protests or politics

Ugh. I’ve been to my share of protests.  I gave up on them because they’re ultimately useless in a world where leaders are so far removed from every day people that they can ignore any of us at a whim.  But before I came to this conclusion, I took part in waaaay too many online debates about politics and protests.  Now I remember why I stepped away.  Earlier today I saw a video on Google+ that started immediately with violence committed against protesters by NYPD.  I replied to it, asking for context–where was the footage shot? When was it shot?  I then explained that posting a video like this without any context of any kind just riles people up without informing them.  He replied and just made me frustrated, so what follows is my reply (the bits inside quotes are his reply):

You illustrate my point exactly.

“Saturday 9/24 @ 3PM EST. Not sure the street location. But obviously NYC.”

NYC is a big place. There have been protests elsewhere on other days, months and years ago.  During the big mess in Iran a couple years back police-violence videos from other countries were being linked to on Twitter.

“As far as riling people up. I’m not doing anything to you, if you got riled up, then that was all internal.”

So, when Fox News misinforms, partially informs and only shows footage of rabid protesters, you think that’s not riling their conservative viewers up?  It’s called misinformation and it’s wrong regardless of whether you’re for or against the protesters.

“But I would agree, its brutal what the cops are doing.”

Who are you agreeing with?  I didn’t say what they were doing was brutal, I didn’t say it wasn’t brutal.  It seems brutal from the footage, but often the footage only tells part of the story.

“The crowd was not being overly disobedient or anything.”

So, you know that how?

“The cops instigated the whole thing from what I saw on this video and several others from the past two weeks.”

And that is clearly illustrated in which of these videos? All the videos I’ve seen cut to the cops being brutal. No or little context. The footage is enough to be concerned, but before you let yourself get riled up, think about what you are and are not seeing.

“The cops are supporting wall street. That is all that needs to be understood.”

Really? That’s it?  Don’t you think that’s an overly simplistic viewpoint?

“The cops are not supporting the people’s right to assembly.”

You really think it’s that simple? There’s so much more going on here. Cops have to follow orders or they could lose their jobs.  If their orders are to enforce the law then that’s what they’re going to do.  If the laws are unfair, then that’s something different. As unjust as it seems, there are laws against assembly without a permit.  Get a permit, and everything’s cool. If they can’t get a permit, then don’t blame the cops for arresting people when they’re ordered to arrest people.  The real problem isn’t cops doing their jobs it’s that the laws are bought by corporations and bankers.  Cops on the ground think they’re protecting their communities.  They’re not, of course, but it’s very likely that they don’t understand that.  They’re victims just like the rest of us, so posting partial info about police brutality and painting cops as bad guys is doing just what Fox News does, only about the opposite types of people.

“How does that degrade your view of 100% support of the protesters.”

Because I can’t trust what I’m seeing.  Liars (even unintentional liars) live on both sides of the political spectrum.  I don’t want to support protesters who are breaking laws (even unjust ones).  I don’t want to support brutal cops, either.  Of course, if I don’t get context or as much information about the incident as I can, I don’t have enough information to go on.

We all have our points of view and we need to make sure those points of view don’t bias us against the truth.  When you witness violence first hand, it’s easy and natural to see threats.  But to be sure, we need a bigger picture.

“If anything I’m even more invested in supporting the people now. Does anyone have a different experience viewing this live unedited video.”

Which is why you shouldn’t trust videos like this, because clearly they’re enough to get you riled up without providing the entire picture.  Hence my point.

I don’t know how he’ll reply back and honestly, I don’t have the time to care. I’ve got things I’m trying to do with my life that will hopefully make the world a better place.  I don’t have the patience to deal with people who think about everyone else’s behavior much more than they think about their own.

It’s just like I posted on Website666.com earlier today.  People who just spout off about things before knowing the full picture do everyone a disservice.  I’ve been down this road before and have been misled about protests, online videos and more, and I’ve been misled by people who I’ve trusted and who honestly did have my best interests at heart.  But good intentions don’t guarantee accuracy.

Only questioning the conservatives isn’t enough.  Only questioning liberals isn’t enough.  Question everyone, always and often.  Yes, question even me.  Does what I’m saying make sense to you? If it doesn’t, then please ignore it.

Look at these kids, sitting here with their Apple computers,” he said. “Apple, one of the biggest monopolies in the world. It trades at $400 a share. Do they even know that?

Look at these kids, sitting here with their Apple computers,” he said. “Apple, one of the biggest monopolies in the world. It trades at $400 a share. Do they even know that?

Protesters Are Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim – NYTimes.com

Or how today’s young protesters are less knowledgeable, a true shadow of social activists from decades past.

(via friendlyatheist)

Actually, them using Apple computers *is* smart.  Faulting them for it isn’t. I mean, what’s the alternative? Using virus-ridden, craptops with a 10+ year-old version of Windows on them?  Seriously, it’s this kind of cynicism that really pisses me off.

“Ohhh, look how hypocritical they are! They hate corporations but they’re drinking Starbucks.”

Right because I’ve got a thousand things going on AND I’m trying to help the world be a better place by going to a protest and YOU’RE pissed because I didn’t have the time to find a non-corporate coffee house when there’s a fracking Starbucks on every goddamn corner of NYC.

“Oh, look at those idiots—they’re protesting oil drilling yet, how did they get here? By their car, right? HA! HYPOCRITES.”

Right, because it was clearly the choice of every car owner that the overwhelming majority of cars have internal combustion engines in them.  Why, the last time I bought a car (well over ten years ago) I walked RIGHT into the car dealer and let my demands be known: “I WANT A CAR AND I ONLY WANT ONE WITH AN INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE IN IT! NO OTHER KIND OF ENGINE WILL DO, DAMMIT!!  YOU HEAR ME!?!?!  NO OTHER KIND!”

I remember years ago, when I went to see “The Corporation” at the Nuart theater in Los Angeles, I went to pay for tickets and the guy in the booth was like “Ohhh, you’re using a credit card to buy tickets to see ‘The Corporation’? Shame on you.”

I furrowed my brow and said simply: “Um, what?”

He shrugged and just handed me my tickets and my credit card back.  Of course, I didn’t tell him what I was thinking which was this: “Using cash is no different, sir.  The Federal Reserve is pretty much the same thing as a corporation and along those lines, I would ask you this: what would you have me pay for my tickets with, shells like on the Flintstones? Should I transfer my cash into another debt-based currency like the Euro or something? Or should I trade you some fucking cattle?” 

The next time you’re about to say something glib that would end in the phrase “oh, the irony,” STOP.  JUST… stop. Then, think for a moment and realize what you’re doing:

1) you’re being stupid and judgmental.

2) you’re looking for a reason to write the person off and not trying to understand who they are, what they want or where they’re coming from (only then can you legitimately write them off).

3) being a douchebag. I’m sure I wouldn’t approve of all of the choices you made today, either, but you don’t see me going around saying “OH, LOOK AT THAT GUY, HE’S BEING CRITICAL OF SOMEONE ON THE INTERNET. WHAT A LOSER!  I’M SO MUCH BETTER THAN HIM BECAUSE… um… because… I’m BEING IRONIC ABOUT IT.  HA!  SEE?  I’M STILL BETTER THAN HIM!”

OH, THE IRONY.

Taxpayers Subsidizing Junk Food?

Taxpayers Subsidizing Junk Food?

natalia-saves-the-world:

From 1995 to 2010, the government handed $16.9 billion in farm subsidies to people involved in making four common junk food ingredients: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn starch, and soy oils. Over the same time period, $262 million went to subsidizing apples. ”

CALPIRG did some math: “If these agricultural subsidies went directly to consumers to allow them to purchase food, each of America’s 144 million taxpayers would be given $7.36 to spend on junk food and 11 cents with which to buy apples each year,” CALPIRG said in its statement. That’s “enough to buy 19 Twinkies but less than a quarter of one Red Delicious apple.”

Yet another one to file under “No Shit, Sherlock.”

And we subsidize these assholes directly by buying this unhealthy food.

I’m so happy to see a slow but definite emergence of a kind of “common sense.”  We’ve still got a long way to go, but perhaps one day we’ll all be able to understand how any system taken to the extreme (like capitalism) is a bad thing (sure, you and I know how obvious this is, but most folks? CLUELESS).  For years I’ve been hearing about how companies have a right to do what ever they want because they’ve got to earn a living.  

“Hey, the government is giving handouts to farmers? They should take ‘em! I’d take ‘em!”

“Outsourcing jobs and salaries to other countries? Good for them! Companies need to make as much money and save as much money as possible!”

“Companies can give as much as they want to political campaigns?  Why not? They’ve got as much a right to representation as we do!”

I could go on, but I really really don’t want to. :(

Obama (O-bomb-a?) OKs the sale of bunker-buster bombs to Israel #SIGH #WTFObama?

From a 9/23/11 article at Ynetnews.com:

Obama sold special bombs to Israel
New report claims US secretly approved transfer of ‘bunker buster’ bombs that could be used in attack against Iran just months after Barack Obama took office, even though Bush administration had previously blocked deal

Well, at least we’re not going to war against Iran ourselves.  And I suppose using bunker-busters against Iran is better than using them against Palestinians.  Regardless, I’m getting tired of this whole “war” thing.  Remember the 90s?  There was almost no war that we were directly involved in.  Our economy was booming and the worst thing going on was Monicagate.  Seems like war doesn’t always help the economy.  Maybe, once again, we should give peace a chance? ;)

Still, I’ll never understand the whole Israel thing. I’m not against the country existing, but I’m just completely confused at how it’s policy of occupation and continuous need for support from the US is acceptable to so many.  I mean, how long have they been a country?  Can they not stand on their own by now? And what the hell are they doing with Palestine? What’s their goal?