Cyber-Bullying, Hacking, Guns, And Our Freedoms

Some states in the United States have implemen...

Some states in the United States have implemented laws to address school bullying. Law prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation and gender identity Law prohibits bullying of students based on sexual orientation only School regulation or ethical code for teachers that address bullying of students based on sexual orientation Law prohibits bullying in school but lists no specific categories of protection No statewide law that specifically prohibits bullying in schools (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

English: Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I happened to be listening to WHYY‘s Fresh Air with Terry Gross last night in the kitchen as she interviewed Emily Bazelon, senior editor of Slate, who wrote a book entitled, Sticks and Stones. (Yes, I was totally ignoring Beau in his attempts to play while I was listening. Guilty as charged!) In the book, Ms. Bazelon explores bullying, and how the rise of social media has moved the bloody sport into cyber-space.  Hence, the much dreaded and I would say, pestilential phenomenon parents far and wide dread:  Cyber-bullying.  This has caused many a tear-filled agonizing night, dreaded school attendances, and even the further descent of victimized adolescents into the depressive abyss, not to mention some significant suicides.

Then, this morning, I listened to Forum, hosted by Rachel Myrow, the well-paneled conversation was about how government-backed Chinese hackers have successfully broken into not just major US industries and banks to steal proprietary information, but now, into our most vital infrastructure such as our power grids, train systems, and water works, to name a few.  The cold war has gone from nuclear one-upmanship to cyber-espionage. Really dangerous stuff.  It’s no longer posturing and peacock-strutting during summits, on the airwaves or print.  It’s like pests entering your house through the crevices of your walls, along your pipes, above your ceiling or into your crawl space.  Creepy!

How does the US respond?  Tit for tat?  That’s a delicate question and one that can be fraught with dire consequences if the US acts irrationally or impulsively.  However, the US can’t be sitting on its hands forever about this either.  And it’s not as though the hackers are easy to find and shut down.  They normally hide behind three or four hops before you can even find them. And most of these dummy landings can even be traced to IP addresses within US soil.  What legislation can one enact that will not unfairly restrict such organizations like Anonymous or WikiLeaks, thereby severely trampling on our civil liberties?

What about the Cyber-bullying?  Do you bully back on Facebook?  Like the high school student who posted that a fellow student had a Herpes infection.  She admitted that this was a purely manufactured inflammatory accusation on social media, for the public to view and comment on.  How does the victim respond?  How does the victim’s parents treat this? Child-play?  What does the school do?  Shake their heads dismissively and look away?

Hacker attacks DOT website

Hacker attacks DOT website (Photo credit: James Sarmiento (old account))

A lot of pundits, naysayers, and paranoids have been flooding chats and blogs with conspiracy assertions of the government’s designs at furthering its control over its citizens,  painting an Orwellian conspiracy to justify a Big Brother mass surveillance and control.  Then there are the pathetic cries from the self-absorbed for preserving first amendment rights to its fullest and even most extended extent.

gun control advocates on the day of the Newtow...

gun control advocates on the day of the Newtown shooting (Photo credit: chrisbchester)

I am all for the freedom of speech that I can express myself and my opinions, even in this blog. And you don’t have to read it if you don’t agree. That’s okay. But when you tell me that falsely accusing someone of being herpes-infected (a sexually transmitted disease with all its salacious and banal implications) is an expression of freedom of speech, I indefatigably disagree!  When you tell me that a hacker is only expressing his/her freedom of expression to have a livelihood by hacking (it’s a job, nothing else, ya?)  into our most vital infrastructure and thereby endangering the entire nation, I will stand before you with my most indignant stare!

Just like the NRA and its loyal members have stubbornly held on to their age-old beliefs and cling to their second amendment rights to bear arms no matter what, I find this all too ridiculous for words.  What? So you can sit on your front porch and watch the sun set while you fondly run your hand through your rifle?  The second amendment was written when the cumbersome muskets and canons were de rigueur.  There were no semi-automatic weapons back then with multi-round clips, similar to those that have been used in the recent tragic incidents all over the country (Think Newtown, Tucson, Webster, Aurora, to name a few).  (Do you really need these sophisticated semis to hunt in the woods?)

We need to come to our senses about all this.  No one is preventing people from expressing their inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  To express opinions freely. To bear arms. To have a livelihood that pays the bills.  But the edicts that clearly a loud minority cling so literally and desperately to need to be brought to relevance in the 21st century.

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6 Responses to Cyber-Bullying, Hacking, Guns, And Our Freedoms

  1. djmatticus says:

    My argument will always be – if my government has access to something, I should have access to that thing as well. (Within limits, of course – I don’t need a tank, or a bazooka, or a Stealth Fighter Jet – items that requring years of training and potentionally full of trade/military secrets for national security). But, the 2nd amendment is there so “we the people” can protect ourselves from our government.

    As for the first amendment as it applies to cyber bullying… there is fine line between freedom of speach and slander…. As a victim of bullying a few years before the internet really took off, this is a subject that I’m very intrested in and very concerned about. Especially as my wife and I are getting ready to welcome our first child into the world. How will I respond if my kid is bullied online? Will they be bullied like I was? Should they fight back? I don’t know the answers to any of those yet… I wish I did.

    I will say that we have so much seperation built into the system for rules for adults vs. rules for children, that perhaps would should be able to censor what kids are posting online… They don’t yet have the full understanding of the power of their words, or the consequences of their words. Why shouldn’t be protect them from themselves in that manner like we do in so many others? Normally I’d say that responsibility should fall on the parents, but people actually “parenting” these days seems few and far between.


    • likeitiz says:

      I don’t think there is any argument about the right to bear arms. But why can’t we have full background checks, exclusion of convicted criminals and anyone with a psychiatric condition, or limits to sophisticated war-type arms that are not relevant for hunting or protecting your household?

      Something tells me you will be that parent who will coach his kid to be assertive, to know his rights and the responsibilities that come along with it, to respect his fellow human beings as much as he wants to be respected, or walk away from a situation that he/she cannot negotiate. And run to dad and mom when he cannot handle what’s happening. Ya, you’ll do the right thing by your kid. Promise to tell us about it.


  2. this was a very timely post for me. hackers who are motivated by greed and power or the pure meanness of cyberbullies, are, as you say, very different from hactivists who are working to ensure that the control of the free flow of information remains with the people. Both lawmakers and citizens have to educate themselves in order to understand what is at stake and how best to protect it. i started supporting Demand Progress when the SOPA & PIPA laws were working their way through Congress and have learned a bit a long the way. I find that i have been unable to let go of the suicide of Aaron Swartz. Most of his accomplishments, i don’t even understand. I look at the RSS feed on the side of my computer like i look at the banana spiders in my garden whose webs are six feet in diameter. i know they won’t hurt me but i give them a wide berth. Having worked for the US Attorney’s office many many years ago as a legal secretary I knew many lawyers who didn’t think compassion and justice worked at cross purposes. i have no doubt that both Carmen Ortiz and her henchman should be forced to resign for the persecution of Aaron Swartz. I am rambling here and I apologize for that but i thought you might be interested in Larry Lessing’s Harvard Law Lecture on “Aaron’s Law”. I learned a lot and I was moved by it as well. Skip the introduction as it’s a little on the long side but his lecture is worth watching. I found it through boingboing on twitter but it’s on you tube as well. as a side note, when the Westboro Baptist Church was planning on going to the funerals of the children killed in CT because they believe it was “God’s hand that moved the gunman”, it was Anonymous who hacked their site, published their members information and stopped them in their tracks. I celebrate these hactivists – even if i don’t understand how they do it. thanks for this post.


  3. munchow says:

    I like you thoughts on freedom of speech. It’s quite a delicate theme though. All democracies say they have freedom of speech, but there is always a balance between this freedom and the protection of others in a society. It’s a delicate balance. While it’s not acceptable to limit freedom of expression because one disagrees, on the other hand the use of this freedom should not harm others. But then there is the question, what is harmful expression? Offending someone? Stopping others in there freedom of expression? It’s really not easy.


    • likeitiz says:

      Yes, we should however, continue to reassess our definitions and exercises of freedom as our world changes so that we continue to see relevance in these precious rights without trampling on others.


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