Monday, December 15, 2008
The Loudmouths Doth Protest Too Much
June 11, 2009 will be my third SL rezday. I don't really have a history of sticking with anything this long, so that's a miracle all by itself.
Sometime in the last year or so, a friend invited me to join her at a welcome area. I'm an SL mentor, though I'm usually silently so. If someone appears to need help, or asks outwardly, I'm happy to do what I can. If I'm in a mood (hard to fathom, I know), I might think twice before jumping in, but most of the time, I'm willing.
The welcome area, at the risk of sounding uncharitable, doesn't live up to its name. It's like the Wastelands, without the creativity or purpose, a sort of nihilistic jungle where survival of the loudest prevails. Don't put on your headphones unless you want to be assailed with the most testosterone-charged (yeah, even among the 'women') vitriol you would ever want to hear in a 'game.' If you're a Jew, gay, liberal or, perish the thought, all three, you are guaranteed an earful of some of the most vile crap this side of Hitler's bunker.
Now, before you scream Godwin's law, please hear me out.
On the night of December 14th and early morning December 15th, I was bored and tp'd to the WA. Sometimes I don't cam beyond the person with whom I'm speaking, so there could literally be a war going on in front of me and I wouldn't know it. I use a viewer that, in its current iteration, has no sound, but even when I use the standard SL viewer, I usually mute my computer because of shared living space and my penchant for doing ten things at once: SL, reading the web, watching TV, listening to my own music, (not to mention frequent trips to the kitchen to perform flipping and stirring duties).
When I went to the WA last night, I was using the Imprudence viewer. I could tell by the conversation in main chat that people were replying to voice. I cammed to the center of the quad to see a protest in progress. I couldn't read the signs due to rezzing problems, so I im'd one of the participants to ask what it was about. I was told it was a protest in solidarity with the workers and students in Greece who, for the past week, have been protesting the shooting death of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. You can Google his name to see the circumstances of his death. The murder occurred in the wake of a major youth resistance movement against privatization of education that has rattled the right-wing government of Greece's Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis.
Back at the WA, I quit out of Imprudence, signed back on with the standard SL viewer, grabbed my earbuds and enabled voice.
A young Romanian woman was effectively making her case in voice, being shouted down, cursed and insulted by the bullies of Ahern. None of them were able to dismantle any of her arguments. She was a calm, reasonable voice, coming from a place both physically and mentally that I suspect has given her a greater amount of at least experience, and possibly expertise, when it comes to fighting for civil rights.
Because, frankly, how many Americans in SL (and it was mostly Americans railing against this woman in particular, and the protesters in general) have ever had to leave the comfort of their couch or living room to march or fight for civil rights? The rights of most Americans were won by someone else. Someone else did the dirty work, took the risk, made a stand, so those after them could sit behind the safety and relative anonymity of their PC microphones and call a woman a 'cunt' simply because she defended people standing in solidarity with those fighting for liberties halfway around the world.
And for all this? She was banned. A quick check of the SL police blotter revealed numerous warnings and bans for harrassment, repetitious spamming, impedence of movement, none of which this woman did. I suppose it depends on who reported her, but I assure you, she did nothing that warranted a ban.
It's not clear how effective an online protest is. I can say with some certainty that protests have brought about change throughout history, despite the words of one resident who insisted that "protesting has never brought about any changes." (When I rebutted that, i was told by one of the Ahern regulars to shut my fucking mouth and get back in 'my' corner.)
To say that protest has never brought about change is so ignorant and absurd on its face that it hardly bears arguing. But I suppose there's a possibility that some of the Ahern loudmouths may have been absent or otherwise not engaged when the history of non-violent protest was covered in school.
How about Gandhi, whose nonviolent action led to the independence of India?
Or the marches against the Vietnam war that turned the tide of public opinion in the US and led to the end of that war, albeit years too late?
Tiananmen Square, though quashed, turned the eyes of the world on the human rights abuses in China (nearly forgotten during the recent Olympic lovefest).
May 1968 saw a series of student protests and a general strike that caused the eventual collapse of the De Gaulle government in France.
Strikes led by Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement, led directly to the overthrow of communism in Poland.
In 1981, Bobby Sands and nine others starved to death to gain Irish prisoners political status in British prisons.
The Civil Rights movement in the US is too vast and too storied to fit in a sentence or paragraph or even an entire blog.
And if you would repeat after me two simple words: FRENCH REVOLUTION.
Admittedly, these examples mean little to small minded people shouting 'cunt' and 'faggot' into a microphone. They're not likely to even read this.
The Second Life welcome area has become a cesspool, filled with people who claim it as their turf and their private space. It is not. No one is paying tier on Ahern, Bonifacio, Dore or Morris. This is public land, owned by Governor Linden, and open to all. I don't care how long you've staked out your place on the stoop, how many hours you hang there, how many followers you have or how loud you can shout into your microphone. As a dear, dear friend of mine on SL often says to me, in his THIRD language, "they need to STFU."
Linden Lab has turned a blind eye for too long, allowing a small group of bigoted, bullying bigmouths to run roughshod over a PG area with their vulgar, racist, homophobic nonsense. It's time to reclaim this public space as a safe haven for residents, new and old alike.