The War on Women

(The article originally appeared in the Seattle Chapter N.O.W.’s Nowsletter in 2007)

By Seana Sperling

The ongoing backlash against Feminism has gained momentum and the Moral Majority Neo-cons have been ever vigilant to put the ladies in their place. This backlash pits woman against woman, with the likes of Coulters and Bushs rallying the small-minded bullies to attack any woman who stands up or acts up.

While I’m no fan of the Brittanys or Paris’ of today’s headlines, I can empathize with their frustration of the media’s intense and negative scrutiny of their every breath. I’m not interested in the naughtiness of these young starlets and I believe their civil rights are being violated to provide a gossipy public with scapegoats to rip apart in their morning blogs. I also see this as a way to control women. The double standard is more apparent today than it has been in years as we don’t see the press vilifying the young male stars who are certainly indulging in the same activities. The message: Do as men say, not as they do.

Growing up I always had a strong sense that the genders were equal. As I grew I realized that women’s self esteem had actually grown stronger despite years of puritanical male tyranny. We had united and helped each other see our attributes. Nowadays I see psychological attacks on women by the media that hits them right in their vulnerable underbelly—their self-esteem.

Now we have always been inundated with ads telling us to be skinny and pretty and ladylike with flowing dresses, a can of makeup on our face and ample use of FDS, but now we are being told not to be too political or assertive. Stand behind your husband not your girlfriend.

I am a Feminist. When I state this, some of my gay friends go after me and call me a Lesbian. I thank them for the compliment because certainly I support women that support other women. Why is it that even my gay friends will react to my declaration of being a Feminist? The media has allowed them to do this.

After years of shows like Desperate Housewives, depicting women as trashy whores or angelic homemakers, the ridicule towards women comes easily, as easily as a blonde joke, which is just another sneaky way to ridicule women. For example, if you preface a joke with, “Eight blondes walk into a bar…” Do you conjure the image of eight blonde men?

In an era of Political Correctness I saw nasty little jabs at women filter in through other women. Some women, even friends of mine, would proudly state that they weren’t feminist. I generally would ask if they believed in equal rights for women or if they voted. They just didn’t want to discuss it. Their boyfriends, husbands or fathers had convinced them long ago that the fight for women’s rights was over and women had won even though the shackles still sparkled on their waif thin wrists.

Historically there are cycles in every political movement and Feminists are again being challenged. McCann’s inappropriate chuckle, when one of his female supporters trashed Senator Clinton unveiled the Rightwing attitudes towards powerful women. If women continue to follow these trends, without question we are heading for a time of horrible political oppression.

The Vilification Industry and the Surveillance State

By Seana Sperling

In the 1950s McCarthyism destroyed innocent lives. Anyone could be accused of being anti-American and have their careers destroyed because of the Watch Lists. In the New Millennium, an innocent person can be placed on the myriad of new watch lists. You could be placed on a terrorist watch list, a sex offender watch list, DEA watch-list, etc. The Community Action groups are called in, which could be VIPS, InfraGard, Neighborhood Watch, Freedom Corps, Sororities, etc. to monitor your every move as well as harass you everywhere you go.

Being under surveillance and the slander that accompanies these lists, can wreak havoc with your career and your life as I have found out. If you apply for a job, the watch team will contact the prospective employer claiming you are under investigation for something, and you will not hear back. If the prospective employer does an Internet search of your name and finds a false Police Report or false Police Record they will not call back. If you go for an eye exam, go for a haircut, the snitch groups will call them up, thus you will be treated badly.

I found a false Police Record under my name on www.instantcheckmate.com. This website claims to have “Real Records,” but is a con. I have no record and I am not a criminal, terrorist, pervert or whatever. I clicked on my name and at the top of the page that opened read: “CAUTION: This background report is very graphic. We do not censor our reports. We trust you to use this information responsibly. Please do not abuse this tool, or we could be forced to take it offline. The content of the report might shock you, so please prepare for the unexpected.” I paid the $9.95 to see what I was being accused of this time. There was no record. I contacted the site and threatened litigation and they took the slander down the next day. I called City Hall Records and said I was finding things online about some sort of Police Record and they confirmed that they had nothing negative about me.

Award winning Author, Gloria Naylor writes about this type of vilification and organized bullying in her fictionalized memoir 1996. What begins with a simple dispute with a neighbor escalates into a DEA investigation and gullible citizens are manipulated into stalking and harassing Naylor everywhere she goes. She writes of how friends turned on her and were actually aiding the bullies. She also writes of how the National Security Agency, the NSA, was using experimental surveillance equipment on her. (This technology is too terrible to think about, yet it is a reality. Her well-researched proof of the existence of this technology is listed in the Addendum of the book.)

The Neo-conservative Rightwing put the seed for much of this into place in the late 1980s. However, when the G.W. Bush Administration came to power in 2001 and after 911, they pushed through The Patriot Act and unveiled their already active Freedom Corps (citizen snitch groups). John Ashcroft then popularized this use of ordinary citizens to be the “eyes and the ears,” of the government.

The groups do more than just watch. When a person is targeted as anti-American (or whatever), the group may start a rumor campaign, which can be entirely manufactured. If the person looks white, they may tell all the people of color in the community, that the person is a White Supremacist. They may tell the ADL that the person is an Anti-Semite. They may tell the shops that the person is a thief or con artist. They may tell poor people that the person is a NIMBY and hates the homeless. The community watch group may also call in anonymous accusations to Law Enforcement claiming that the person is a criminal or crazy. They may tell Child Protective Services that the person is a known pedophile or sex offender. The bullies can accuse innocent people anonymously via the Internet or by a simple text to TIPS and then the self-righteous come out of the woodwork to stalk and punish.

The goal of the bullies is to isolate the target from any type of support. If everyone in the community hates him/her, then the Fascists have control. It is also a conditioning of the community: They unify a gullible community to hate the target and do the dirty work. This also has the bonus of chilling dissent within that community. Members of the community realize that if they do not go along with the bullies, they could become targeted as well.

The harassment directed at me may not be just politically motivated. It may also be racially/ethnically motivated by some of the primaries as my last name is Jewish and I am very likely part Roma. (The latter I was not aware of until 2000.) Unfortunately there are still hate groups in the U.S. that stalk and harass people of color, Jewish people, Roma people, LGBT, etc. In fact, recently, on Portland Indymedia, I found a list of Jewish last names that some Fascist had posted. Among these names were Spelling, Sperling and many more. It was a little shocking to see these names posted and for what, so other Fascists could hunt people with those names down? Globally Roma people are being tracked, horribly vilified, monitored and harassed by Fascists. That is overt discrimination.

What if, in the U.S., there is a more covert tracking and harassment of non-WASP people? There has certainly been a rise of shootings and false arrests of people of color throughout the U.S. recently and many are vilified by the mainstream news. Throughout history there have been instances when groups are turned against each other, manipulated by the wealthy elite. It’s the old “divide and conquer,” routine.

Remember that if you hear that a person is this or that: first, consider the source. Second, tell the accused about the accusation and the accuser. This is a constitutional right. Don’t be manipulated by some Fascist on the Internet. Remember that anyone can be anyone online or over the phone. What these groups are doing is criminal and un-Constitutional.

In the German film, The Lives of Others, a couple’s life is destroyed because the Stasi put them on a watch-list. They were monitored daily. A friend of theirs who was a writer had been completely blacklisted, so he could no longer find work and friends were fearful to associate with him. Social Isolation through watch lists and defamation of character was the weapon the Stasi used to chill dissent and to destroy lives. The Editor of The Progressive Magazine is calling what is currently happening in the United States, the New McCarthyism. I call it the rise of Fascism.

The Popular Liberal

By Seana Sperling

When did Liberal become a dirty word? I see all sorts of jabs at liberals online and even a search for “Famous Liberals.” brought up the haters. There were online articles that rallied the masses to “Boycott Liberalism,” to articles with titles such as, The Twenty Most Annoying Liberals in the U.S. Urban Dictionary had one post claiming that extreme liberals were selfish crazies that brainwash people. This was posted anonymously. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=liberal

What is a Liberal exactly? New York Times Columnist, Paul Krugman said, “I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it.” That sums it up for me too. So why are liberals and even the word under attack?

Aside from other issues, Liberal Media reports on corrupt business practices and corruption in politics. Liberals tend to be whistleblowers. Would we have had a Woodward and Bernstein working at F.O.X. News? Conservative media tends to gloss over uncomfortable truths about certain things because of their sponsors while liberal media exposes the facts.

Unfortunately when a term such as Liberal is disparaged, the folks who do not burrow into definitions will begin to disconnect themselves from the label for fear of becoming unpopular. In our attention-starved, insecure society, people fear being unpopular more than anything else. This makes it easy for the spinners, the propaganda artists.

The vilification of the word Liberal reminds me of when neo-conservative, Rush Limbaugh went after feminists. His infamous moniker for us was, Femi-nazi. Some began saying we were men-haters. As a result, some people became hesitant to call themselves Feminist (because they feared losing their popularity). Feminists don’t hate men and in fact many men consider themselves to be feminist. Do you think everyone should have equal rights? Then you are a Feminist as well as a Liberal.

I am a liberal, but I’m nobody. So, let’s take a look at the prominent liberals of the U.S. Bruce Springsteen, Michael Moore and Bill Maher are liberals. Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Keith Olbermann, Reverend Al Sharpton, President Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Al Gore are all known liberals. Many of these same people were also listed in the following article, 10 Liberals, Conservatives Love to Hate http://www.listosaur.com/politics/10-liberals-that-conservatives-love-to-hate/ Why the hatred? These are good people.

Here are some prominent conservatives: G.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, the Koch Brothers, Sarah Palin, Paul Ryan, Scott Wilson, and Ann Coulter. Now here’s a conundrum. My guess is that these people would say they believe in equal rights for everyone. Therefore, shouldn’t they be calling themselves Liberals and Feminists? (They should, unless of course they do not, “practice what they preach.”)

There are many liberals from U.S. History as well, both Republican and Democrat. Interestingly, these historical figures are not targets of hatred. George Washington, John Adams, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Florence Kelly, and Theodore Roosevelt were all liberals. So, if America is supposed to be a conservative republic and Liberal is such a dirty word, then why were the framers of the Constitution and defenders of Democracy primarily liberals?

Remember back in Junior High, when one group decided to go after someone with ridicule and slander? As a result of the ridicule, others would either pack up against the person or just shun them for fear of becoming unpopular. The same type of schoolyard behavior seems to be taking place at a grander level in this country. Some people can be manipulated into believing that liberals are evil and that the world is only 10,000 years old.

It’s all about Spin. It’s all about vilifying one thing to gain popularity for the opposite. Those who fear losing their popularity because of the label of Liberal bend to the whims of the spinners. Be careful. I hear that popularity is the gateway drug to acquiescence.

Shaking Voices

By Seana Sperling

Since the beginning of the new millennium some people have been guarding their words as if they were in a Communist country. When George W. Bush came into power in 2001 and after the tragedy of September 11th, we became engaged in another war. Mainstream media was almost completely silent on the negatives of a War on Terror.

I have always been anti-war and I viewed this War on Terror, as so reactionary that I could not be silent, but I noticed some other generally outspoken people were being careful about criticizing Mr. Bush and the military strikes in Afghanistan. I also noticed how few people were showing up at Peace Marches. I suppose some were afraid of the Hawks screaming at them, “Support our Troops!” I think a good way to support them is to bring them home, alive.

In 2002 I took an Adjunct Faculty position at Boise State University for a few months. Occasionally, I would meet a colleague for lunch in the Student Union Building. One day I was denouncing Mr. Bush and the war in Afghanistan and she leaned in, with a look of fear in her eyes and asked me to keep my voice down. I found out later that the Neo-conservative Republicans on campus had recently gone after her close friend, who was a dynamic Professor and advocate for social justice. The Professor had been bullied out of her tenured position.

Dial up to 2012 in Seattle. I went to a meeting about our Union Contract that summer. We could speak freely about the contract, but after we finished the meeting a few of us remained because we had additional questions for our Union Representative. Oddly, one woman who was sitting next to me said, “All people involved in politics are pigs.” I responded, “Everything is political.” Then she stalked out. I’m unclear for whom she was making this statement, but I did have an Obama button and an anti-Mobbing button on my purse. It felt as if she were trying to make someone feel ashamed for being involved in politics and I’m not sure if she was referring to the Union Representative or me.

Currently at this same college, we have lost our newspaper, which was replaced with a fanzine. The Journalism Program, which was directly linked to the newspaper, also disappeared. The Publishing Arts program went away. The Film Program closed, even though the Film Program Faculty worked hard to find a way to make the program self-supporting. So many venues for creativity and free speech have shut down on our college campus. Sadly not that many people protested the closing of these programs. For the ones that said nothing, were they fearful or merely indifferent?

It is not just our campus however. Free Speech venues are disappearing on so many college and university campuses and in many cases these are not even private schools, but State-run institutions. How can you have education without diversity of opinion and forums to express them? Expanding your knowledge and questioning ideas and mores defines education. There can be no increase in knowledge without testing, questioning and analysis. If criticism and questioning authority is dampened, then you have nothing better than indoctrination. Frankly I had enough of that in the parochial school I was forced to attend as a child.

People are easily silenced if they are uninformed and fearful. That is why the Fire and Brimstone teachings of the Old Testament were so successful. If you threaten people with death in a river of fire unless they are obedient, the believers will stay the line. This is Gaslighting.

We are constantly being Gaslighted by mainstream media, the corporate-controlled media, into worrying about terrorists, the damaged Economy, the threat of lethal viruses, etc. The description of Gaslighting is: “deliberately frightening or confusing someone.” Gaslighting is a propaganda tactic that was used by the Stasi, the Nazis, Communist China and Soviet Russia and this is currently being implemented in the United States.

If we are constantly gaslighted and cannot look beyond the mainstream reports, then we cannot make informed decisions. If you are bombarded with reports of stabbings and violence in the downtown Seattle area, then you may fear going downtown. I go downtown a lot and I have not been stabbed. We are also constantly gaslighted about sex offenders on the nightly news as well. Is this to make women and children fearful of their every move?

I see the Gaslighting that is being spread by mainstream media as a kind of conditioning. Create a scenario that there is a menace everywhere, so people will want more protection and may give up more of their rights for the perception of safety. Loss of rights does not make you more secure. It just makes you more of a silent serf.

We have incrementally lost more and more rights over the last decade. Privacy is a huge one. John Ashcroft unveiled Freedom Corps in 2002, which included Senior Corps, and other groups that were designed to be the eyes and ears of the Government. Their Patriotic mission was to watch for unusual behavior from their neighbors. Ashcroft’s Freedom Corps established under FEMA empowered civilians to watch “anti-American” types that were critical of the Bush Administration and the war. Even sororities were called upon to keep watch on college campuses. (I had an Impeach Bush sign in my window from 2003 –2005 and some of the Neo-cons in the neighborhood complained about it to some of my closer neighbors who told me. My sign was really none of their business. Currently some neighbors do not like my No War sign.)

This surveillance strategy can turn naïve people in the community against any activist that Corporate America or the Neo-conservative Republicans do not like. Anyone can appear on a Watch List and be followed around and harassed by VIPS or Freedom Corps Members. You have to wonder what sort of credentials these volunteers have and what kind of training they receive. Also, just who are they policing? Are they policing real threats (because this would seem to put the volunteers lives in danger) or are they just policing activists or so-called “anti-American, “types? I see it as another way to chill dissent.

Thus far the majority of U.S. citizens have been Gaslighted into giving up privacy by accepting these highly touted surveillance campaigns and devices (which are not making us more secure, but just more oppressed). Sadly the majority of citizens are not speaking out against this abuse of The Bill of Rights. Even now with the recent reports of the massive NSA spying program, the majority of people remain silent.

When I was in Peace Corps in the former Soviet Union in 1992/1993, I experienced many cultural differences between Estonia and the U.S. In the very small town where I was living, many people walked with their heads down. If I said, “Tere,” (Hi) to them some would regard me with suspicion. (I was the lone foreigner in town, so I knew they knew who I was.) Even in the large cities, most Estonians were almost completely silent on public transportation. Freedom of Speech didn’t seem integral to the system and people seemed fearful and suspicious in general. According to Estonian friends of mine, they had formerly lived under a system where Party Members would snitch on them for anything and even for observing Christmas in their own homes. I hope things are much better for them now.

Back here in the land of Democracy, non-public figures that are Peace, Environmental, and anti-Nuclear activists and scholars have been spied on, harassed, wrongly arrested and some are harassed everywhere they go. Some have been experiencing abuse from even members of their communities since 2001. An Instructor at the college where I work, was sent hate mail and death threats because he made a statement against the wars in one of his classes.

A Filmmaker and Instructor on campus also mentioned that she felt she had been targeted for activism in her Union according to an interview she gave to The Warren Report. (Coincidentally, she has also made several films about Human Rights issues, including a film about oil production in the Niger Delta called Sweet Crude. During production, she and her crew were incarcerated for hours on ridiculous charges in a Nigerian Prison.)

There seems to be a trend to punish those who would stand up and challenge authority as well as the growing trend to remove forms of personal expression and critical thinking. The fact that it is happening so much in Higher Education should set off all sorts of alarms, however, most people have their heads buried in their cellphones and their brains are on Autopilot or they are just plain fearful to say anything.

Mainstream media is also playing a role in silencing dissent and the surveillance society. Some outlets of mainstream media are airing stories that demonize people that speak out. We also have vilification via the Internet and the Trolls really go after outspoken women.

I have been accused of every evil under the sun by anonymous posters on various websites for speaking out against war, the corporate take-over of America, racism, rent-gouging, organized bullying (Mobbing) and other social justice issues. On www.rotteneneighbor.com I was accused of being a child molester, prostitute, redneck, etc. I made the Webmaster take it all down. Most recently an anonymous comment under one of my articles, The Punishers, instructed me to, “Shut up and take the blue pill.” I have also had anonymous death threats from online trolls. One suggested that I should be “put down.” Another said was a good candidate to take, “a leep (sic) off the Aurora Bridge.” The bullying went offline years ago and perhaps once a month I’m called the C-Word, the B-word, the W-word on the street by complete strangers either jetting by in a car, or on a bicycle or from a safe distance. I have even been spat at and upon over the years. (I believe some of us are being used as scapegoats/examples to chill dissent. It ain’t fun, but we cannot remain silent and fearful. A silent society is an oppressed society.)

We have to remember this is not new and that when a public figure, Jane Fonda took a stand against the Vietnam War, some people began calling her the W-word and saying she was anti-American. Fonda was following her conscience, but this made the Hawks very unhappy, thus they wanted to punish her and attempted to destroy her reputation and career. John Lennon and Yoko Ono were also vilified and followed around and harassed for their stance against the War in Vietnam.

The late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Dr. King was fearless and dealt with Cointelpro harassment for years, yet did not remain silent. (Read, The Cointelpro Papers.)

I saw a great bumper sticker a few years ago, “Speak out, even if your voice shakes.” We have to speak out. This is what being a United States Citizen is all about. This is a country rich in diversity of cultures, ideas and invention. We have to get away from thinking that we have to “Go along,” with the bullies to, “Get along.”

Fear and Free share many of the same letters, however they are quite different in meaning. In fact you cannot have freedom if you are a fearful person. So why is it that in the “Land of the Free,” there is so much fear about speaking up about injustice?

The Age of the Allegation

By Seana Sperling

In the new millennium we have the Internet where herds of people can spread libel online about anyone they wish and they can do this anonymously. If a self-righteous mob forms online, some may feel bold enough to go offline with their innuendo. I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) on Friday morning August 23, 2013. The story was about San Diego’s former Mayor Bob Filner, a Progressive Democrat, who was accused of sexually harassing 18 women. As a result of the allegations, a petition to recall him went viral and he was forced to resign.

There has been no actual trial for Filner. In fact his lawyers claim that he cannot get a fair trial in San Diego according to an MSN report. However, the accused has been forced to resign and has to live with these allegations. (In some cities vigilantes follow around “accused,” individuals and harass them wherever they go.)

It seems that Due Process is a thing of the past and you can be tried and convicted by an online jury of Internet Trolls or on the Nightly News. Is he guilty? We can’t know that unless there is a fair trial.
These people have accused him, but have any of the accusers been given any scrutiny? Mainstream News interviewed two women who claimed to be victims of Filner. While one seemed sincere, the other did not. In our gossip-lusting society, if many are making the same accusation, people will believe it. It becomes a popular belief and the self-righteous gang-up on the accused. Is there an agenda? Are the accusers Neo-conservatives? Certainly Filner had angered many in his San Diego community.

Anyone making a serious accusation against another should have to take a Voice Stress Test at the very least. It is similar to a polygraph, but much less expensive and can even be done over the phone. While lacking 100% reliability, if an accuser were at least aware that they would have to take this test, it might deter many false accusations. Even some news websites require that a person register before commenting on articles. This deters Internet Trolls from anonymous libel or harassment of the authors or commentors.

At some point everyone has been accused of something (and sometimes falsely). It could be as simple as a childhood incident where the playground bully knocked you down, but told the Teacher you started the fight and if the bully’s friends were standing around, they could confirm the story. An extreme example would be the Internet Troll that tells all his/her FaceBook friends that you are a pedophile or sexual deviant. Then the accusation goes Viral. Some may say “Sticks and stones,” however, in the present day, the accusation can be aired publicly via the News or the Internet and the accused can be harassed and ruined as a result.

The Filner NPR story I listened to was quite different from Mainstream Media’s spin. NPR’s report revealed his progressive background as well as the fact that he had denied the sexual harassment accusations all along (even though he admitted to some of the other accusations). Mainstream Media said nothing about his importance to the Progressive Democratic Community in San Diego and his past progressive activism. In fact, Mainstream Media cherry-picked comments from Filner making him appear to admit guilt to the accusations of sexual harassment. They also interviewed a couple of his accusers, but had no comment on the interviews from the accused. This was hardly balanced reporting.

18 women accused Filner of sexual harassment. I don’t know if he is guilty or not, but it seems that the accusations have ruined his life. There is a Talmudic saying, “If everyone stands against someone accused, release him, for he must be innocent.” The Talmud is referring to Mobbing or Scapegoating. Like the Witch Hunts of the past (McCarthyism for one) an accuser comes forward and others get caught up in the hysteria, scrutinizing and distorting everything the accused did and said as a way to prove the accusation. Sometimes this can involve set-ups.

Two Whistleblowers: Julian Assange of Wikileaks and the Former Head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominic Strauss-Khan seem to have been targeted with false accusations. (Khan had presiously given some damaging testimony about the banks and derivatives when he was interviewed in the film Inside Job.) They were both accused of rape. According to Mainstream Media, in the case of Assange, the two accusers claimed it was rape because he did not use a condom. In the case of Strauss-Khan, a hotel maid alleged that he raped her while he was staying in the United States. Is it true? Strauss-Khan spent time behind bars in the U.S. while his innocence was being sorted out. Assange is still in exile.

Hopefully everyone remembers what happened to ACORN and Planned Parenthood a few years ago. Neo-conservative Christians played dress-up, posing as pimps and prostitutes and set-up both organizations, later releasing a hidden video recording to shame the organizations. ACORN is no more and Planned Parenthood is constantly under attack.

Where is the accountability for people that make accusations or use set-ups? In our “See something, say something, “ surveillance society anyone can be accused of anything and anonymously. This is a blatant abuse of the Sixth Amendment to The Constitution.

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”

The Framers of the Constitution knew very well how a Whisper Campaign could destroy an innocent person and this is why the Sixth Amendment is so important. Why is there so little protection against false accusations in the new millennium?

Democrat Anthony Weiner foolishly fell for what I would call a set-up, a few years ago, letting his ego come between common sense and fidelity. However, who was this young woman who did the reporting about Weiner? Was she just some innocent co-ed? Certainly she had been flirting with Weiner, a married man, yet all eyes were on Weiner and not on the accuser. Was she a Neo-conservative? (Now it appears that Weiner is being stalked and cyberbaited by Neo-conservatives that want to ruin him.)

Many have been falsely accused including myself. It seems that self-righteous, Neo-conservatives can accuse anyone of anything and can also use set-ups, and no one even blinks at this abuse of the law and the constitution. No. No. That would not be popular.

Whatever Happened to Daily News?

By Seana Sperling

The Daily News has changed so much over the last two decades. Newstainment: heavy on soft news and gossip, spiked with violent incidents (public beatings, vandalism) just to keep the public on edge. There is the hot news; gossip/allegations of suspected sex offenders, murderers, robbers, etc. and soft news; lion cubs at the zoo. The largest concern however, is the fact that accusations are aired copiously with little concern about what impact it will have on the accused.

Sex scandals are the latest witch-hunt. As during the McCarthy era, an accusation alone can ruin a person’s reputation and their community may harass them as a result. On KIRO 7 News 7/18/13 there was a story about a Professor at the University of Washington who had allegedly been caught looking at Child Pornography, then they flashed to an earlier report of yet another professor who had been accused of the same thing. They interviewed one of the latter’s colleagues who stated that, the accused should be assumed innocent until proven guilty. That is due process. (At least they let the colleague speak on the accused’s behalf. This story was a little more balanced than most I have seen on other stations.)

One of my friends, a professor who was very active against racism and involved in other social justice issues, was accused of this same thing. Was something planted on his work computer? This is a smart person who I doubt had any inclination to look at that trash. Also, why would he view it at work where someone else could access it? Something could have been planted on the other two professor’s computers as well. We do live in the age of set-ups and smears.

The vilification of social-justice Educators, Community Leaders and Dissidents has been common for centuries. Noam Chomsky speaks of The Vilification Industry in the documentary: Noam Chomsky on the World: The Chomsky Sessions. Targets of this type of slander are generally activists, whistleblowers and change agents.
Accusations and especially sex scandals are being used to punish dissenters and chill dissent. Mainstream media seems to be moving the scandals forward. Accusations of rape against Dominic Strauss Khan (after he was interviewed in the film Inside Job), Julian Assange (Wikileaks), the stings on ACORN and Planned Parenthood by Neo-conservatives, the obvious set-up of Larry Craig (after he took a stand against war) all point to a puritanical nation obsessed with sex, punishment and scandal.

It’s not just sex scandals, however. There seem to be many other news stories that are intended to embarrass or shame certain people. There was a 2011 KOMO 4 News story about James Bible, Head of the Seattle Chapter of the NAACP. The reporter claimed Bible had embezzled funds from the organization. It was a very short clip showing him in court standing at the Judge’s bench. (Isn’t he a Lawyer? It would be natural for him to be in court.) I would not call this balanced reporting since they had no comment from the accused. I have to wonder if he even knows about this airing. The camera captures the scene and any narrative can be inserted. A simple voice-over can change the scene dramatically.

Over decades, people have been conditioned to trust mainstream news and when the News airs a story about someone accused of something, most people assume there must be some truth to it. Unfortunately, if something is on the Television News or written about in the Newspaper, most people won’t even question it.

In Soviet Russia, the mainstream newspaper was called Pravda, meaning Truth, but it was a vehicle to spread propaganda. In Nazi Germany, censorship and propaganda were both used frequently and enabled the Nazis to recruit. Propaganda was also used to pacify the public. Collaborators like Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl created propaganda films showing the public a very different reality than what the Roma, Jews, Dissidents, LGBT and other victims of The Holocaust were really experiencing in the camps. Her films showed happy people exercising, working or just going about their day.

When mainstream news strays from facts and reports on hearsay, it resembles the Yellow Journalism techniques used by William Randolph Hearst in his early years.

“Yellow journalism, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.[1] Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.[1].[2]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_journalism
It was not so many years ago that the Nightly News would not report on a mere allegation. Allegations alone were not considered newsworthy and responsible Journalists knew that allegations on the news could ignite terrible problems for the accused. Our news in the new millennium has become rather Orwellian and innocent people can be accused, have their reputations destroyed and then be harassed by citizen watch groups as a result.

It seems that Mainstream News has also popularized something akin to a Citizen Paparazzi. 7/17/13 KIRO 7 News reported that a woman convicted of drunk driving, was restricted from driving, yet had been caught driving. They had some footage of her driving along in her car. How did they know this? Perhaps her neighbors were watching and actually filmed her and sent the clip to KIRO. This is blatant abuse of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and reminds me much more of Communist Russia than a Democratic country. According to Estonian friends of mine when I was in Peace Corps Estonia, the Communists were always watching their neighbors and reporting. (Perhaps the Driver’s neighbors like to tattle. As a child I remember that no one respected the Tattletale. Now it seems that tattling is in vogue.)

Reporting on your neighbor. Many people are calling TIPS and other tattle-lines to snitch on or even slander their neighbors. John Ashcroft popularized this behavior with his 2002 speech calling for people to be the eyes and ears of the country. (The Progressive, Amerisnitch) Many, including the American Civil Liberties Union ACLU responded with alarm.

“By asking neighborhood groups to report on people who are ‘unfamiliar’
or who act in ways that are ‘suspicious’ or ‘not normal,’ our government
is unconstructively fear-mongering, and fueling the already rampant
ethnic and religious scapegoating,” says ACLU President Nadine Strossen. http://www.progressive.org/node/1572 Amerisnitch, The Progressive

What about false reporting? With modern technology, they can film the person just walking down the street and later PhotoShop them into whatever scenario they wish. Then Channel X News reports without one comment from the accused. Just because you read, see, or hear something on the news or on the Internet, does not mean this is a reality. One vengeance stalker can sew a seed to ruin a life with a “tip,” and then Mainstream News circulates the slander.

The Sixth Amendment was designed to prevent Whisper Campaigns against citizens. Obviously, The Patriot Act and other unconstitutional laws have made a shambles of our Constitution, so first we need to restore our Constitution and Bill of Rights and second, but equally important, we need Mainstream News to return to real reporting.

Punishment by the People

By Seana Sperling

In the United States, Land of the Free, online groups are being manipulated to stalk, defame and harass Peace Activists, Whistleblowers, Writers and Educators because of supposed, un-American activities. Mike German of the ACLU has spoken about Military personnel hacking Activist’s websites and accounts and manipulating content to discredit them. It’s not just the Military however. In the age of, “If you see something, say something,” regular citizens are being empowered to surveil and report on their neighbors. Some are calling this Cointelpro Two and the Editor of The Progressive Magazine is calling it The New McCarthyism.

The vilification of Activists and Whistleblowers, accompanied by mainstream media Gaslighting the public about the wars can manipulate some people into doing terrible things to others in the name of Patriotism. The general public are hand-fed propaganda from a profit-driven media and therefore anyone can be vilified. We have only to look at the high profile cases of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning for examples of Whistleblowers being demonized by mainstream media. For non-public figures, the community can be recruited to vilify the victim on something as simple as a message board or blog. Then the Netizens take to the streets to punish their target.

The cycle of history continues and we stubbornly refuse to evolve. In the 1960s the KKK used to stalk and harass Civil Rights Leaders and Activists everywhere they went. Some victims in Nazi Germany dealt with the same things some of us are experiencing today: defamation of character, stalking/surveillance, being verbally and physically harassed by members of the community and vandalism of property. www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/knacht.htm

The Eastern German film, The Lives of Others, shows the heavy surveillance and harassment the Stasi used against dissenters. Dissidents were vilified and blacklisted, resulting in complete decimation of their lives and isolation from their peers. Decomposition is the term for the Stasi’s destruction of a life incrementally. The U.S. counterpart to this is called Cointelpro Two.

Cointelpro Two: The authorities start a rumor campaign to recruit others to ostracize, harass and surveil/stalk the victim, sometimes even to death (Bullycide). Sex Offender or Terrorist are the memes of the Vilification Industry and innocent people are being labeled.

E-Personation can be employed to set the person up to appear as some kind of pervert or a danger to the community. Craigslisting the Person: Creating a fake and defamatory advertisement in their name. A man in Connecticut created an advertisement with his neighbors name and address, inviting men to come have sex with her. Men started showing up as she was leaving for work. Was it Cointelpro Two or just a vengeful neighbor? http://www.dailybreeze.com/latestnews/ci_14936500

The bullies also employ gaslighting to destabilize the person. Gaslighting defined: “…false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory, perception and sanity.[1] …denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

Gloria Naylor’s fictionalized memoir 1996 shows in grim detail how a life can be destroyed incrementally with slander, gaslighting and constant surveillance/tracking. The technology of today, enables the bullies to persecute incrementally and covertly. Cyberstalking and Cyberbaiting are the new tools used by the zealots to punish people that disagree with their Neo-Conservative agenda.

Mainstream media should be reporting about these abuses, but they are reticent. Advertising dollars trump real journalism and if the news is unpopular, then it is suppressed. Only independent news sources even mention Cointelpro Two and The New McCarthyism.

In Nazi Germany, censorship and propaganda was used frequently and enabled the Nazis to recruit. Propaganda was also used to pacify the rest of the public. Collaborators like Filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl created propaganda films showing the public a very different reality than what the Roma, Jews, Dissidents, LGBT and other victims of The Holocaust were really experiencing in the camps. Her films showed happy people exercising, working or just going about their day.

On our local News in Seattle there is more and more Soft News, but also a focus on local crime. The Soft News ranges from Fun Runs to interviews with Sports fans. Peace marches or non-violent acts of Civil Disobedience are often over-looked. Abuses against activists seem to be completely ignored. In Kurt Vonnegut’s, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, Eliot Rosewater comes home after work and as usual his parents are watching the “Happy News.” When this book was written, there was far less Soft News aired, so imagine Vonnegut’s satirical statement on the news, if it were written today.

There are other media distractions and manipulations however. Naomi Wolf’s The Guardian UK article: Cheaters and the Sinister Normalisation of our Surveillance Society, raises a timely warning about modern media popularizing punishment, stalking and surveillance with shows like the Reality series, Cheaters. The Show’s description: “Syndicated series featuring detectives with hidden cameras staking out the wayward and amorous.” Reality shows like Big Brother also diminish the importance of privacy and popularizes bullying and backbiting. Undercover Boss is another show that appears to be making surveillance of citizens mainstream and it is also an attack on workers by deifying management and punishing the worker.

This is how some Americans spend their leisure time, by either watching or participating in the surveillance of citizen’s private lives. It’s a gross abuse of the Fourth Amendment and this departure from the ideals of Democracy shows the decline of our common sense, ethics and personal responsibility to others. The people of the world look to the United States as a symbol of Democracy, a symbol of freedom. Is it just a façade?

Mike German Youtube
www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/knacht.htm

http://www.dailybreeze.com/latestnews/ci_14936500

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

The Punishers

By Seana Sperling

In China they call it Human Flesh Hunting. In Korea they call it Cyber Violence. In the U.S. they call it Cause Stalking, Organized Stalking, Organized Bullying, Mobbing and Cyber Stalking. Defined: vigilante groups form online on Facebook, My Space and other social networking sites or message boards to vilify and ridicule someone one of their online friends is mad at.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, some former/current Military personnel are also doing similar things to Peace Activists, Social Justice Activists, Writers and Educators the vigilantes feel are anti-American. The Editor of The Progressive Magazine is calling this The New McCarthyism.

Some of these vigilante groups search for addresses, phone numbers, email, etc. to go offline to punish the target/victim with Tracking/Monitoring (using their cell phones to text the group everywhere the target goes). They film the victim, so they can let everyone know what they are wearing and what the person looks like. They may use PhotoShop to alter the image and use it to smear the Target.

Some vigilantes may also employ Cyberbaiting. Cyberbaiting defined: Taunt the victim; cut the person off; deliberately run into the victim to get him/her to react. Then a collaborator in the distance can film the reaction with their cell phone and post it online. This abuse has become recreation for many who spend a lot of time on the Internet.

If the victim goes into a store, the vigilantes will follow them in and whisper to the clerk that the person is a shoplifter, will short-change the clerk, etc. This makes the clerk fearful and distrustful of the person. Then if the person makes any kind of mistake, like accidentally giving the clerk a ten instead of a twenty, this confirms the slander.

If the person goes to an eye exam, the vigilantes call the shop (sometimes even posing as Law Enforcement) and tell them the person is a (choose whichever is most damaging) sex offender, pedophile, racist, thief, prostitute, lunatic, drunkard, etc. Then the person cannot even get a decent pair of glasses made. When the person complains the Optician promises to make a new pair, but the next pair is either worse or has not been changed at all.

In China and Korea, Law Enforcement agencies have tried to curb the abuses of these online vigilantes. Chinese Authorities worry that it is a return to a Red-Guard type of vigilantism according to: the New York Times article, Mob Rule on the Internet: The Keyboard as Weapon, by Howard French. There are many articles about this type of harassment all over the world, but the harassment against individuals in the U.S. is being widely ignored by Law Enforcement and the mainstream media.

A news article from Korea shows the extent of damage the vigilantes do to innocent people, including driving some to suicide. The International Herald Times, In South Korea, Online Rumors Hit Hard, by Sang Hun Choe www.nytimes.com/2006/08/14/world/asia/14iht-korea.2481503.html

Stalking and harassment by one individual is debilitating, but if a group is involved, it can drive the person to suicide. In some cases it seems this is the intent of the group. 15 year-old Phoebe Prince, a recent immigrant from Ireland, hung herself in 2010 after months of organized bullying and stalking by her classmates in Hadley, Massachusetts. (The Untouchable Mean Girls, The Boston Globe) After the suicide, the bullies continued to post ridicule about her online. They seemed to be reveling in their power.

In 2008 there were two posts on The Stranger Newspaper’s SLOG, suggesting that I “take a leep (sic) off the Aurora bridge,” and also that I “should be put down.” Prior to this I had been getting veiled death threats from bullies on the street, I had been spit on and spat at, and called lewd names. One Neo-conservative Christian colleague in my workplace suggested I commit suicide in 2006. He also made inferences that I was crazy and told female colleagues that I leered at women. The allegations were preposterous, but they did a lot of damage as my female colleagues began acting uncomfortably around me.

How do the bullies recruit so many to the cause? In many cases E-personation is employed. Defined: A person impersonates another online to either get the person into some type of trouble or to create the illusion that the person is someone that should be reviled and driven from the community. Hacking email or other online accounts is rampant nowadays. Way back in 1999 a man impersonated me in the form of a Valentine’s post in The Stranger Newspaper’s free Valentine’s Day ads. Later in 2006 and to this day I have had multiple emails regarding dating site accounts that I have never set up as well as invites to dating/sex sites for “Hookups,” and other things that I have no interest in.

The vigilantes also use set-ups to recruit. ABC News reported that Neo-conservatives dressed as Pimps and Prostitutes to set-up and secretly videotape ACORN and Planned Parenthood workers three years ago. This was an effort to shame the organizations, so they would lose community support. They gleefully shut down ACORN and Planned Parenthood is still under attack.

Our advances in technology seem to be a trade-off for our devolving sense of civility and being able to discern right from wrong. There is no regulation against vigilantes forming online to stalk, harass and even impersonate someone that they think has committed some illegal or anti-social act. The key word is “think,” these vigilantes act without any facts, but only on the gossip and photos spread via message boards. Some just go after people they think are anti-American and if you had an Impeach Bush sign or No War sign in your window, you could come under attack.

In 2006 I was living in an apartment below a white couple who engaged in one of the cruelest noise campaigns I have ever endured. They kept me up every night for months and during the day I was dealing with organized stalking and bullying from the community. One night the husband yelled down through the thin hardwood floor, “How do you like being stalked?” Going to the police did not help as they dismissed the stalking and harassment even though I had plenty of documentation, including photos. (Many Police are former Military.) I moved away from my nightly tormentors, but the slander, set-ups and organized bullying/stalking has continued to this day.

In the 1950s and 60s the KKK used to stalk and harass Civil Rights Leaders and activists everywhere they went. The technology of today, enables the bullies to persecute dissenters incrementally and covertly. Cyberstalking and Cyberbaiting are the new tools used by the zealots to punish people that disagree with their Neo-Conservative agenda.

Naomi Wolf’s, The Guardian UK article: Cheaters and the Sinister Normalisation of our Surveillance Society, raises a timely warning about modern media popularizing punishment, stalking and surveillance with shows like the Reality series, Cheaters. The Show’s description: “Syndicated series featuring detectives with hidden cameras staking out the wayward and amorous.” Undercover Boss is another show that appears to be making surveillance of citizens mainstream. It is also an attack on workers by deifying management and punishing the worker.

This is how some Americans spend their leisure time, by either watching or participating in the surveillance of citizen’s private lives. It’s a gross abuse of the Fourth Amendment.

Mob Rule on the Internet: The Keyboard as Weapon, by Howard French
The International Herald Times, In South Korea, Online Rumors Hit Hard, by Sang Hun Choe
The Untouchable Mean Girls, The Boston Globe
Naomi Wolf, The Guardian UK, Cheaters and the Sinister Normalisation of our Surveillance Society

The Power of the Union

By Seana Sperling

Unions are under attack by Corporate America and unfortunately, some people believe the propaganda against Unions. Do you like the eight-hour workday? How about the five-day workweek, vacations, sick pay, breaks? Without unions, all of that will go away. The neo-conservatives are busily defaming Unions and hacking away at our collective bargaining rights. Unions force the wealthy into being humane.

In this age of profits over people, we have seen an increase in bullying in the workplace to try and make people more productive, make them do other’s work and even taking breaks away. Also there is a tendency to try and privatize everything from the liquor stores to public schools.

In Washington State the liquor stores have recently become privatized. That was a loss of over 750 Union jobs according to one of the employees I spoke with. The employee also said that they were asked to stay on by the new owners, but without benefits, so they were looking elsewhere for employment. Another result of the privatization is that liquor costs have become higher because of added taxes and it is available everywhere, creating an easy outlet for juvenile shoplifters according to a report from KIRO 7 News.

The school bookstore on my campus was also privatized in the last couple of years and as a consequence we lost one of our best Union Shop Stewards and several other Union positions. (A couple of years earlier, another great Shop Steward was bullied out of her job by her department.)

In 1979 I began learning about the importance of Unions, the reasons they were formed and how much they improved the lives of the middle and working class. The first film I saw about Unions was Norma Rae, which was a fictionalized story about real life Union Organizer Crystal Lee Sutton. Set in a North Carolina Textile Company, where the working conditions were impacting the health of her parents who also worked at the mill, Norma Rae tells the story of her fight to organize her coworkers and their final success in unionizing the mill and getting better working conditions.

Matewan by John Sayles is another favorite film of mine. It is a fictionalized account of the 1920 battle between the miners and corporate thugs in Matewan, West Virginia, a coal mining area where men had terrible working conditions. A former IWW member arrives and begins to organize a strike and is harassed and defamed by the company thugs. (In reality, company thugs began evicting the striking miner’s families from company housing and that is what ultimately provoked the battle, according to Lon Savage’s online article, The Battle of Matewan.)

Nowadays people can’t appreciate the sacrifices that Union Organizers and the workers made because things like sick leave, vacations, coffee breaks, eight-hour-workdays have become the norm. We take it for granted, but many fought very hard and even lost their lives so we could enjoy these benefits today.

The eight-hour workday: I have seen this slip away from some positions. A friend of mine who was a nurse began working three 12-hour shifts during the week, so she could have four days off. This was her choice, however, I do not think that people can be equally sharp on a 12-hour shift as they can on an eight-hour shift. When I first heard that Nurses were doing this, I began to worry because these Nurses are Union members in the State of Washington. What if it stopped being a choice and became the norm? Has it? Many private companies will require overtime of employees as part of the job and in this case the employee has no choice. In some companies, 10 to 12 hour days are normal.

During summer my campus has a shorter week for classes Monday through Friday. My first, second, third, and fourth summer we had a choice of working our regular 8-hour, five-day week or we could do four tens. I never liked the four tens as I was exhausted by the end of the day and even with three days off in a row, it took one full day to recover. Last summer we had no choice, but to do the four tens. Some of us began to complain and because we took it to our Union, the college compromised this year. Now we can do four nine-hours and a half-day on Friday and decide to come a half-hour earlier, if we want to. Granted, nine hours is not as good as eight, but that half-day on Friday is always something to look forward to and we also have some choice.

Unions are under attack because they help the worker stand up to corporate greed. We live in a time when corporations are vying for power over the entire country. They outsource jobs, so they can squeeze every dram of blood from the penny, by paying lower wages in countries that have a lower exchange rate. Unfortunately there are a handful of wealthy multi-national companies that are entrenched in Washington D.C. and many politicians after leaving office go to work for these multi-nationals like Monsanto. I think that some people misunderstand that these so-called American companies have no real loyalty to any one country and therefore don’t really care if their company practices are in the realm of our national ethics. To them Unions are only a barrier against their company’s efficiency and profit margins.

I watched the documentary Waiting for Superman, recently. I was appalled at the attack on Teachers and especially Teacher’s Unions and the underlying tone was that Teachers should not have the protection of Tenure or their Unions. There seemed to be an emphasis on pointing out bad or failing Teachers and subtle support of Charter Schools running through the film. There was also intimation that Teachers were solely responsible for the student’s success. (This last part reminded me of Teaching for Peace Corps in the former Soviet Union, where if a student was failing a class, the Teacher was blamed. I was a new Teacher and the only foreigner in town, so the community cut me some slack, but they didn’t cut my colleagues any. This was part of the old Soviet System.)

There was one extremely disturbing scene in Waiting for Superman that showed Teachers in the “Rubber Room.” This disciplinary action against Teachers is taking place in New York State and it seems like a way to force Teachers out of their Tenure and Union jobs. (I know the East Coast is rampant with group bullying and group stalking, but I didn’t know School Boards were using psychological punishment against Teachers there.) This discipline targets Teachers who are under investigation for “something.” If Teachers want to remain on the payroll while under the investigation, they are sent to a large waiting room where they are restricted from using computers or other electronic devices and must just sit quietly. If a student, parent or someone else accuses a Teacher of anything, the Teacher can be suspended from the classroom and sent to the Rubber Room while the investigation is taking place.

The Rubber Room seems to be another tool to vilify Teachers and the Union. The Union protects the Teacher’s jobs even if they are “under investigation.” The limiting rules of the Rubber Room allow for no productivity while in the room and Teachers are filmed while sleeping or reading and then condemned for collecting a paycheck for doing nothing. A friend of mine from New York told me that a friend of hers, a fine Teacher had been sent to the Rubber Room on false charges. Finally the Teacher was able to get work at a different school according to my friend. A good Teacher was forced out her job with psychological bullying as far as I’m concerned.

We have to remember the sacrifices made by our Union Organizers and the rights they procured for all of us. If people continue to ignore the Rightwing/Corporate attack on our Unions and thus our rights in the workplace, we will spiral into a much wider disparity between the wealthy and the poor. A handful of wealthy can control a poor population, but they cannot control a healthy middle-class that stands up for their rights.

The Information Bullies

By Seana Sperling

We live in the “over the top,” Information age, where an Internet search of your name can reveal a plethora of personal information on websites like www.Mylife.com, www.Jigsaw.com, www.Redaris.com, www.Pipl.com, www.USSearch.com, www.123people.com, www.Intellius.com and even DEX online.

This Information can range from something as personal as your date of birth to your current address. Some sites may link to articles you have written or comments you have made in blog posts. So, what happens when the information is in fact Mis-information? (I have found three different ages listed under my name, unfamiliar photographs and unrelated Cloud links on one of these sites and it’s not like my name is Jane Smith. In fact there are very few Sperlings in Seattle.)

In the new millennium, identity thieves can post your personal information on assorted sites or comment in blogs under your name. (This is called E-personation.) They can also post mis-information designed to vilify you. After all, anyone can be anyone online.

Evidently the folks managing these information-gathering sites have no qualms about collecting and distributing your personal information. Nor do they seem to care whether or not the information is accurate. It seems that they are enabling libel. (It’s possible that some of these companies are Fusion Centers contracting for Intelligence agencies or Corporate America.) Just because they can access your information gives them no right to publish it. I think it violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

If you try to get the sites to remove your personal information, you may find it’s not so easy. Their response to your request may be a request for a long list of information that you need to provide to them to prove your identity (www.123people.com) or they ask you to log into your account (which you never set up in the first place and do not have the password or login information for). You are communicating with the avatar of Corporate America and they can simply tell you that they cannot help you.

Corporate America has seized control over one of the most dominant forms of communication of our time—the Internet. They can now control our privacy and can toy with our reputations. Even though the corporations may not post the libel, they enable it since no one has to prove who they are to set up accounts and post information on these sites. A vengeance stalker can post all sorts of your personal information online and then recruit other stalkers with a sob story or slander that they post on their own web page or a common message board. Another negative factor is that, if a prospective employer does an Internet search of your name and finds something irregular then chances are they will not hire you and will not tell you the reason.

There is a larger threat however. The small information gathering sites are sustained by mega-corporations. Everyone watched silently as Faith-based Clear Channel began buying up the airwaves (radio, television, Internet). Then they saturated cities with cheap or even free cell phones and Internet service. Clear Channel is one example of a mega-corporation monopolizing the media and your information. You can be tracked on and offline with the GPS in your phone. Then your whereabouts can be tweeted, texted or posted online.

Would the Witness Protection Program even be viable in today’s Information Age? You are constantly being tracked online and people know when you move and where you move to by something as simple as the changes in the phone book. (Even when you have requested your number and address to be unlisted, that is only for one phone book and there are a variety of them out there. I found my name, full address and phone number in DEX online even though it did not appear in another phone book.)

Just like the Do Not Call List, that restricts telephone soliciting, we should have something like that for these information collection sites, such as a, “Do Not Post My Information List.” Of course I believe in Freedom of speech, but I think that the profiteers of citizen’s personal information should be regulated, as it seems to violate the fourth amendment.

Why make it easy for vengeance stalkers and Internet Trolls to find their prey or for corporations to invade someone’s privacy to market to them? Some may say, “That’s progress and you can’t fight it.” Why not? If something is clearly wrong, a violation of our privacy, of course we should say something. For too long people have been apathetic. Others might say, “I have nothing to hide. What have you got to hide?” Nothing, but I would like to retain a certain amount of personal space, without Corporate America knowing my every move.

(See the Cyberbullying and Harassment page to see what the Information Bullies are capable of.)