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Fahrenheit 2016

Secrets seldom stay hidden, because their nature, as a form of information, is to be free, open and available to those who seek that knowledge. History shows that those who strive to censor and suppress information might succeed with temporary tyrannical wins, but ultimately lose to the will of humanity to learn, grow and evolve. Both people and information strive to be free.

Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 spun a tale of a dystopian future, where books are illegal, rounded up and burned. Bradbury paints a portrait of a government involved in perpetual war, seeking to keep dangerous ideas of liberalism hidden in books from the general populace. As we venture into the year 2016, politicians and media corporations want to limit freedom of information through the Internet, be it through limiting access through a war on net neutrality or by using fear of terrorism as an excuse to censor the information superhighway. Perhaps this classic novel, once required reading in high schools across the United States, needs revisiting.

“With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I am not the sort who makes New Year’s resolutions, not for lack of resolve, but because I believe that everyone should strive to constantly be aware of the things they need to work on, endeavor towards the changes they can make, and make note of the changes out of their control so should they become within reach, they can be accomplished. Personal evolution is both the right and responsibility of everyone who possesses free will.

It is because of free will that I’ve believed that media cartels and politicians would continue to fail at limiting net neutrality and open access to the Internet. However, the constant fear mongering from news networks and presidential candidates from both parties alike, who claim encryption to be criminal and advocate for limiting free access to the Internet to battle terrorism, has forced me to reconsider my previous stance.

“A book is a loaded gun in the house next door…Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?” ― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

I may not make New Year’s resolutions for myself, but if someone I love offers me a suggestion towards a resolution I should address, I certainly consider that prospective pursuit. I love my country, so I resolve to use this missive to offer suggestions for resolutions to each of us, and specific others, in hopes that the New Year brings these United States a new era of enlightenment and growth.

Primarily, we as citizens must resolve to resist the beating war-drums and clamoring propaganda of fear that serves as distraction to limit our access to information. The citizenry must acknowledge that a handful of corporate cartels control a majority of our media and dole out information as they see fit to develop a narrative they want us to believe. That narrative rarely contains the whole truth, and so help me God, sometimes their propaganda offers little truthful content at all.

If proponents of internet censorship succeed, access to research and truth-seeking will be impeded. Independent journalism is usually considered a threat to the establishment, and we must protect free speech at all costs. The Internet is the free marketplace of thought and opinion. We must not let the government or corporate entities dictate our access to that marketplace.

We must resolve to protect our rights to privacy and our information through encryption. We’ve all seen the damage identity theft, leaked cell phone photos, and more can do to an individual. We must not sacrifice the safety of our digital existence in a moment of fear. The first amendment has stood strong against much larger threats than a death cult utilizing YouTube. Experts say that encryption rights have no bearing on the war on terror.

As the media cartels and politicians from Hillary Clinton to each of the GOP front-runners advocate limiting our access to information, we must fight back by demanding MORE clarity and freedom to information. We should resolve that whenever NBC or CNN does a story on net neutrality or encryption, those networks should have to disclose that they are owned by Comcast and Time Warner respectively, which creates a conflict of interest and inherent bias on these issues. Each of those corporations have lobbied to limit free and open access to the internet.

Similarly, each time CNN reports on the Democratic primaries, they should have a disclaimer on screen stating that their parent company, Time Warner, is Hillary Clinton’s seventh largest donor. When they host a debate or critique her opponents, it should be mandatory that the public is informed of their bias.

I’ve always liked that Bernie Sanders, and I am quite fond of the fact that as a candidate, he continues to advocate breaking up the banks and auditing the Federal Reserve. As a supporter of his, I resolve to write him often in 2016, thanking him for that, and for his criticisms of the media. I resolve to beg him to look into breaking up the big media cartels as well. The fourth estate is of little service to the public if it’s only in control of a few corporations. I will also thank him for his constant support of a free and open internet. I don’t see that from the Democratic “frontrunner” he is challenging, who consistently comes out in support of censorship and spying.

We must all resolve to demand sanctuary and safety for whistle-blowers who leak information in hopes of protecting and informing America. It is criminal that David Petraeus can get paroled for leaking security secrets to a mistress but Ed Snowden lives in exile for teaching us how our right to privacy has been stolen. The establishment seeking to cover up their crimes offers no excuse for protecting actual espionage while demonizing actual patriotism.

“Do you understand now why books are hated and feared? Because they reveal the pores on the face of life. The comfortable people want only the faces of the full moon, wax, faces without pores, hairless, expressionless.”
― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

Despite 80% of Republicans, 90% of Democrats and 84% of Independents agreeing that campaign finance reform is needed in America, the networks remain silent and the politicians do not act. The mainstream media cartels would rather keep us distracted with Kardashians and Donald Trump than to report on how income inequality is worse in America than it was in 1774. We need an American resolution to demand better.

The American Revolution was fought to stand up against taxation without representation. As we turn our calendars to 2016, corporations who pay little or no taxes control our media, buy our politicians and dictate the American way of life. Meanwhile, the citizenry, who pays their taxes, are losing access to information, to the democratic process and to a free and open society. Again, we need an American resolution to demand better.

The ability to speak truth to power may be under attack, but we, the citizenry still have it for now. We must resolve this New Year to fight for our rights. We must do so with our votes, voices and dollars. We must make it clear that attacks against a free and open internet are akin to book burning, and that the populace will not tolerate that sort of censorship and tyranny. Once again, this New Year, we need an American resolution to demand better.

Originally published for TheElizabethian.

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