Saturday, April 17, 2010

Clinton looks back

Former President Bill Clinton sat down with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room (sounds like something out of a superhero movie) to discuss the upcoming anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which occurred on April 19th, 1995.
Among some of the commentary, Clinton expressed concern at the parallel moods in the country now and then. He also noted that back in '95, getting in touch with other extremists had to be done on a more local level, a more face-to-face scenario. These days, with the Internet, you can find people just as loopy as you who want to destroy the world.
"Then, you had the rise of extremist voices on talk radio. Here, you have a billion Internet sites." Clinton said. "The main thing that bothered us since the time of Oklahoma City was that already, there was enough use of the internet that if you knew how to find a Web site - and not everybody even had a computer back then, but if you knew how to find it, you could learn, for example, how to make a bomb."

You can also learn that from the Anarchist cook book, or the crazy kid next door who likes to stab roaches with bobby pins. While I agree with the Clinton on the unsettling fact that now extremist groups have access to the boundless reaches of the Internet, you can't blow up a building via the internet. You can't march on Washington via facebook.
I think the bigger problem is that extremist groups are allowed to flourish the way that they do. What happened to the people who shot rounds into windows or threw bricks into homes the day the Health Care Bill passed. What happens to the people who advocate grabbing your gun and marching on Washington? Do these people not get a red flag, regardless of how many hours they're on the internet?

Clinton noted that he didn't want to analogize the past and present too much, in fact "I actually love this political debate." He went on to say that groups like the Tea Party are highly political but "they're not advocating violence or encouraging other people to do it." Ummmmm...
“I’m cleaning my guns and getting ready for the big show. And I’m serious about that, and I bet you are, too.” Richard Behney
Tea Party hero and Minnesota congresswoman, said she wanted “people in Minnesota armed and dangerous." In Texas, the Tea Party gubenatorial sweetheart, reminded folks at a rally that “the tree of freedom is occasionally watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”

Yeah, that doesn't sound confrontational at all. They're not advocating violence, they just want people who believe in shedding blood in the name of freedom, armed and dangerous. Oh goody.
While I'd like to think that Tea Partiers are more like the buff guy in the gym who talks a lot and acts a little, I can't trust that fragment of hope. And the Tea Partiers aren't the only extremists out there. You've got Anarchists, Larouche crazies, White Supremacists, Communists, Islamists, and on and on.

The internet can't be blamed for the ills of political extremism. What I see this as is more of a question of free speech. Where do you draw the line? On a smaller level, it is illegal to threaten someone directly. Is that also a infringement on freedom of speech? To make threats against an entire government is ok but to one person isn't?
Where do you draw that line, and why? Extremist groups should be allowed to have a voice, so long as that voice isn't riddled with death threats.
Now, I have issues with our current government. I personally feel it's a corrupt web of corporate interests spending our money and spinning our hearts and minds into corpotocratic mayhem. However, I don't believe that killing people will get my point across.

Clinton warned that demonizing the government with incendiary language can have effects beyond just rallying a crowd. This is very true. What are your thoughts?

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