Thursday, January 19, 2012

When Many Voices Come Together

Barbara: The last couple of days have been interesting politically. Here in Toronto, the local mayor presented a budget that would cut millions of dollars from sacred and beloved social services and arts. Everything from libraries to community centres to public pools as well as arts grants and funding were on the chopping block.

(This reminds me of Colin’s Facebook post yesterday: “Thanks … for this quote from Ricky Gervais in Esquire: ‘Churchill's advisors once came to him and said, "We're going to stop all funding for the arts so we can put that into the war effort.’ And Churchill said, ‘Then what are we fighting for?’ EXACTLY!!)

Anyway, here in Toronto, people were outraged, but the mayor pressed on, determined to push the cuts through. Well, the ground shifted in some deep social ocean floor and the peoples’ voices swelled, and a tsunami of protest washed over the dry hallows of city council—not destroying it, but drenching it in good, logical, responsible sense—until councilors representing many of the wards in our city did something unheard of. Going with the population tidal wave, the majority voted against the mayor. As it says in this newspaper article, this was a “stunning rejection”, and if it had “occurred at Queen’s Park or on Parliament Hill, [it] would be considered a vote of non-confidence in the government.” And yet, it happened. Because so many people voiced their outrage about this mean-spirited budget that our politicians were compelled to listen and act.

Yesterday, there was a major internet blackout (you may have noticed no Wikipedia, no Reddit, no Wordpress, etc) opposing SOPA and PIPA, two proposed American bills that would enforce copyright laws to such a broad degree that freedom of speech was close to being forever compromised (…if it's not posted on the internet, does it make a sound?...).

Now Wiki and Reddit and Wordpress, etc, are major powers and I wouldn’t just randomly support them. Also, as a writer and film industry veteran, obviously I consider copyright a serious issue. But we are at a crucial time in our history—we are now determining how we develop, how we progress, and how we communicate, and we can’t just lump our precious freedoms, rights, and innovations together and lock them behind the gates. We need to work toward finding a viable solution that protects both copyright and freedom of speech. 

But I'm not an expert here. For me, the moral of the story is this: Wiki and Reddit and Wordpress, etc. would never have been able to manifest the kind of political reversal that’s happening as we speak without millions of voices rising with them to protest. Here's what was already happening yesterday. Here's another primer, and here's an article about the new order. Special mention goes to a certain loyal blog reader for her helpful links here and for her concerned phone call to her local Rep. Maybe she'll tell her story in the comments section??? 

People, you can do amazing things!! Don’t ever forget that you can—and should—speak out.


  1. Yeah...I remember when you posted a link on facebook via Colin.....
    Gosh....I dont understand how can people be so ...I just dont know what to say...!!!
    You are right Barb !!! if we decide we can create wonders.....These things are just to crush our hopes but as long as we BELIEVE in ourselves and our power...nothing can hold us apart from doing amazing things.....I dont understand by cutting off funds.....these politicians are just making people unite more.....and unite against them ...!!!
    We have a lotta shit going on in India too....Man.....I know how you guys are feeling!!

    1. I know, Shalaka, India is a very interesting place right now. Watching with such interest!

    2. Man you have no idea....And I mean there have been a lotta things going on against corruption right now...But honestly i think rather than....asking others to do something about it.....we should start making a difference ourselves...especially with the whole eco friendly stuff..I mean...Its so cool....a few years wasnt that big...but I am sure someone took an initiative saying...I dont care about others ...But ill do what I CAN....and look how big it is now.....there are people who care about this stuff...or atleast are aware of it !!!...I mean if its bothering us ...we should start Improvement on a singular level...and Ive witnessed what happens get the satisfaction that it makes you feel better minded people ACTUALLY join in....!!!

  2. Thanks for the nod, Barbara. ;) Actually, it was both Senators and my Representative, but as we emailed back and forth about, it was the call the the Rep. where I learned the most. BTW, I put 2 more links into your email overnight.

    Yesterday was full of astounding things. And, I learned A LOT.

    But, it'll be much later today or tonight before I sit down and comment at length. I only got about 3 hrs. of sleep the past 2 nights. And, I woke up with a chest cough this morning. On top of trying my hand at activism (who knew?!?), I'm walking through some icky things with my son. Poor little guy is having a really rough week. So, I'm worn out and weak. It's time to back off for a little while and get my strength back. Let me get some rest and hot tea in me before you expect me to be articulate, please.

    I do want to show y'all this real quick, though. This is my Senator. And, yes, I helped vote him into office (voting the despised incumbant out! yay!). And, yesterday, he made me so proud and happy. <3

    Anyway, if anyone cares (surprisingly, there seems to be at least a handful of y'all... cool), my Cat-a-Day project blog is back up after the blackout. lol

    I love y'all. So grateful for this bloggie family.

    1. Take some rest honey...I hope you'll feel better really soon !!!

    2. Rigel, thanks soooooo much!!! I wasnt' sure if I could link to you, but you know I love and appreciate you! You are a hero.

  3. Replies
    1. Best thing about you, Madge!

    2. Madge -

      I don't know how you do it! This week has been so intense that it completely drained me. I don't know how you stay so politically active without burning out! Amazing! *hugs, hugs, hugs*

  4. YES!!! Together we CAN make a difference! I was really pleased yesterday when I found out my calls and petition signing campaigns had worked. Keystone XL and SOPA had been shelved, even if only temporarily. People had grown lackadaisical about politics here. I just hope with these two wins under our collective belt that we can continue to take some of the control back from the 2%.
    Hooray for the lovely people in Toronto for taking a stand and being heard!
    Hugs & hip hip hoorays,

    1. Karen! So excited that you were part of this too! It's all the lackadaising that gets us into trouble (even finding out the facts too late can be detrimental). So we need to keep stoking our own and each other's flames. Go girl!! (and thanks for the hugs and hoorays :) )

  5. America...really the "best" country? I think we can do better, honestly...

    Sorry all, super tired. This crazy nursing school thing is keeping me on my toes. I hope that the Toronto government can come to their senses and think about all of the good some of the services you mentioned are so beneficial to its populations that they serve.

    Rigel, I'm so sorry you're feeling yucky. My friend called me on the way home and she's feeling pretty miserable as well. LET'S GET BETTER! :]

    1. Thanks, Kelly. And I must have missed the "best country" stuff because that's not ringing a bell, oops. Anyway, I join your chorus of "GET BETTER!"

  6. I have to admit that I don't really know what's going on over there. Cutting the fundings for Art is so wrong. I'm glad people were heard and could change something.

    It's always fascinating what people can do, when they stand up and resist. That's how "we" overcame the German Democratic Republic. And I admire all the people that resisted against the Nazi regime. They are all heroes.

    Some nasty stuff is going on here in Germany as well. Speaking of copyright...
    Our former minister of defense copied his dissertation. He lied. He denied it, although it was pretty clear what he had done.

    Our President is lying and denying things, too (like the stupid Captain of the Costa Concordia).

    I hate that. If you make mistakes, have the courage to be honest. But those who have great power always abuse it...Especially people on whom you usually want to trust and rely on.

    Makes me sad and angry.

    1. sadly lying politicians are not unusual . same here in Ireland too .

    2. Becki, I think it's normal to feel sad and angry, which is why it's so empowering to do even small things toward positive change. Demanding honesty and (as opposed to the Captain) courage is Job One for the public vis a vis their politicians (and their job to fulfill).

    3. It's always better to actually do something.

      The NPD (basically neo-Nazis) wanted to do their march in my hometown.

      There were several organisations and people, who created the alliance: "Schweinfurt (that's my city) is colourful."

      They made a demonstration on the same day. More than 10000 (we have round about 50000 inhabitants) people came (I was there, too) and showed that we don't want the Nazis in our city.

      It was an amazing feeling.

  7. Kelly i think everyone thinks the country they live in is the best country in the world . whether it is or not i can't say . reminds me of an argument i had with a very right wing patriotic American friend. i had read a quote which was something along the lines of if you weren't born in the country you were would you feel any patriotism towards it ? i posted on my Facebook page as i liked the quote and she got very angry about it ,saying things like i would always love America.

    sadly Ireland is in the same position as Toronto , we are undergoing sweeping cut backs , we have totally bad politicians , you all know the story . as a nation though we are not big on protest . we do have a small occupy protest known as occupy dame street in the ground of the Irish central bank . i don't know if it is still there though as it was a lot smaller then it had been the last time i saw it .

    i wish we could protest more over the way we have been treated by our government(s). it seems the people of Ireland are being punished for the failings of the banks , property developers and the higher ups in Irish society . my dad and i ran a small business until last year we finally gave up . to see badly run banks getting propped up is horrific .i hate the thoughts of rewarding bad business practices ( this month another 700 million euro was given to bond holders in the banks . i am just thinking of an headline i read in the paper a few days ago , elderly people have to chose between heating and eating. say no more )
    if you are interested in knowing about the collapse of the Irish economy this article is well worth a read . it dates from march 11 and is called when Irish eyes are crying .
    things have changed a little since this article but this will give you a good view of how the rot started here .

    quick update on moms health : i managed to talk to her orthopedic surgeon today and got a slightly clearer view of things . she will not be coming home until her test results are confirmed . we are looking at Tuesday at the earliest . that also depends on whether she has myeloma or not . she may be kept in longer for treatment . mom is due for a bone marrow biopsy tomorrow . they will stick a needle into her hip and withdraw some bone marrow for analysis . the results of the first round of blood tests have come back . she has been found to be lacking in calcium , potassium and sodium and she is anemic . this evening she was put on a saline drip to increase her sodium levels . we had the comedy of errors with the drip pump every few seconds it was jamming up , tuned out the pump was not working properly . in had to keep getting the duty nurse to see what was wrong and she was in and out of moms room every 30 seconds trying to re set it . in the end she showed me how to switch it on and off to re set the darn thing .

    1. Linda, thanks soo much for updating us on your mother's sitch. I hope she stays comfortable til Tue and that all goes well. Thank god she has such a strong support system in you. Thanks also for sharing your Irish perspective -- now how do we shake apathy??? Of course it'll be hard to stay apathetic if the house of cards tumbles.

    2. my manners have deserted me over the last few days .i should check that it's OK to talk about my moms medical problems here . i am presuming it is !

    3. this is something i meant to add to my last comment !

      i don't think it is apathy so much that keep the Irish people from protesting . any time i hear people , apart from politicians , discussing the cut backs you can hear the anger in peoples voices . it is a feeling more of what can you do. our government will not listen . one of the main reasons is our last government (not the one in power right now ) took out a loan for something in the region of 85 billion euros form the international monetary fund to prop up the bond holders in the banks . paying back that loan comes before doing anything for the benefit Irish people and will do for some time . ( i hope i am making sense )

      also i think we are used to being told what to do . we are still trying to shake off the last bits of influence of the catholic church in our country. my parents are in their late 70's . they were never brought up or educated to question anything as i was . so if a minister in the government or priest on the altar says something is so it must be so . thankfully though at least that is changing now .

  8. Why would anyone want to cut funding toward libraries and the arts?!?!? That's just plain crazy to me.

    I'm sorry, but I think that the arts are crucial, in all their forms: they help us grow as a community, country, and world. They help keep cultures, virtues, values, and traditions alive.

    Libraries offer so many resources that help so many people. A lot of what they provide, such as computer access and books, would cost a lot of money and, although some people seem not to be able to understand this crucial fact, not everyone can afford it.

    If anything, they should be INCREASING funding toward these areas. COME ON PEOPLE!!! Think about it!

    "The reflections and histories of men and women throughout the world are contained in books.... America's greatness is not only recorded in books, but it is also dependent upon each and every citizen being able to utilize public libraries." — Terence Cooke

    Loved the quotation about Churchill, by the way!

    1. One of my favorites about reading/books:

      "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." — Groucho Marx

      Just wanted to share it with you all!


    2. Okay, one more and I'll stop! ;)

      "A good library is a place, a palace where the lofty spirits of all nations and generations meet."

      Can you tell I love libraries just a little?

    3. Oh, Steph, I LOVE these quotes!! And you know I agree with you.

  9. Is this similar to the CBC's difficulties in getting funding from the Canadian government? I'm glad to see it's been turned around on a local level, and it demonstrates that "the powers that be" can be made to listen. The louder the voice, the tougher it is to not listen.

    I'm a tad too pessimistic tonight to be saying anything else, so I won't. Enjoy the victory, kids.

    1. Sorry you're feeling down tonight, but your insight is always welcome. And, yes, this is kinda like the CBC thing -- a certain stream of Canadians (and government) really doesn't understand how fundamentally important our arts sector is to how we live and understand and enjoy our lives...

    2. To cut off funding of the arts is to invalidate the importance of the lives it has both literally and figuratively saved. I don't believe for a moment the mayor can deny he benefited from libraries, community centers, and any number of arts programs in school. Maybe he didn't do well in those art programs, for he surely couldn't wrap his mind around what a disservice he was doing, and lacked the ability to imagine what the cuts would do to the people of his city.

      (Politics, elections, issues... I'm going to have a background headache til next November.)(My mother's side of the family is from/in Newfoundland. I might be researching my roots within the next year, and maybe writing "the lives and times of the Moores'/Prince's. Hmmm, that could take upwards of 4 years to finish.)

    3. After all, I can really write about something like that without actually delving into and experiencing what they did. Yep, definitely requires an actual stay while researching and writing. Oh, darn. :)

    4. Ugh. That's supposed to be CAN'T write, which I obviously can't anymore tonight.

  10. I'm still a little under the weather so I don't have much constructive commenting. But all I can say is that cutting libraries and fine arts is a TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE idea!!!!!!!!!!

    Let's get better! :D

    1. Not too sick to be CUTE apparently :) (GET BETTER!!)

    2. i hope you feel better soon holly .

  11. DAMMIT!!!

    I wrote a really long comment, and the blog ate it!!! It posted. But, now it's not here anymore.

    I can't rewrite it tonight. I'm going to bed.

    *stomps off*

  12. Hey all, Rigel wrote this thoughtful comment yesterday and our blog ate it because it was too long! Luckily I have it on my email so am going to try and copy it here in two replies. So this is
    Weirdly, it's only 10:30pm, but night owl me has already reached the stage my son and I call Zom-mom-bie. So, sorry, no big, complicated, explanatory comment tonight. I'm typing this, posting a cat on the blog, and sacking out. There's lots I could say about the past 3 days, but I've only got it in me to get the single most important point across.

    The big thing I learned yesterday is that, if you are going to call your Congressional folks, have your duckies in a row first. Be polite. Have what you are going to say planned out before you pick up the phone. I spent a good stretch of yesterday morning practicing my bullet points before I started calling. This paid off in all 3 calls but, especially, the 3rd one. When I called my Representative's office, the aide I spoke with said that he is undecided on SOPA. I talked to her about a) I am a constituent (gave my zipcode) and am calling to log my opinion with my Representative. I am calling regarding 2 bills that are currently before Congress, SOPA and PIPA. I am 100%, absolutely, utterly opposed to these bills. b) I'm not condoning piracy. I understand the need to fight piracy. But, these bills contain some very dangerous provisions that step beyond that goal and enter into censorship and denying people the right of due process. These bills are the wrong tool for the job. c) Would the Representative please be open to sitting down with some techy folks and learning more about the problems in these bills and their ramifications? (I recommended the EFF and folks.) I asked that Rep. Crawford please be willing to listen to the other side of the argument, not just that of the people who helped write the bill and are pushing it. No offense, but he is not a technology or internet expert. There are folks who are who need the opportunity to speak with Representatives and Senators and discuss the bills with them. d) When election time comes around, how someone has voted on SOPA or PIPA will be the single most important issue I look at when deciding whether or not to vote for someone. e) For all the reasons I am talking to you, the overwhelmingly most important one is that I am fighting this fight for my 13 year old son, for the internet that he will grow up with, for his education, for his exploration of the world. I am also doing this to show him his rights as an American to shape government and policy.

    There was some other stuff, but you get the idea.

    I had a nice, long, lovely conversation with the aide at my Rep.'s office. She was VERY tired. She'd gotten A LOT of calls yesterday on the issue (duh!). But, what struck me most about that phone call was that she was willing to hear me out, take down notes on information, ask questions, etc., because, as she said, "Of all the calls I've gotten today, you are the most informed and articulate. Most of the calls I've been getting have been people yelling at me to 'Turn the internet back on!'" She said, with so much fatigue in her voice, "I can't do that." She was weary & frustrated. How sad is it that, given the university, the doctors & lawyers, etc. in the district, that I was her soundest call of the day out of so many? That's just CRAZY.

    1. RIGEL CON'T:

      Now, here's what's got me worried. My Rep. is undecided. Isn't there a danger that he'll be driven to favor the bill if most of the opposition calls his office is getting are, at the least, inarticulate and uninformative, and, at the worst, rude?

      Just like I don't condone tonight's Anonymous hacktivism leading to gov and entertainment industry sites being tango downed as revenge for the seizure of megaupload because this kind of behavior BACKFIRES & HURTS THE CAUSE, I also worry about the bad manners of callers BACKFIRING & HURTING THE CAUSE.

      If you are going to call, email, tweet , visit, write, etc. someone in Congress, be a) prepared & b) on your best behavior.

      Remember that old saying about flies and honey?

  13. As there were many interesting points and discussions left here after I retired last night and I now have a full day of running ahead of me, just wanted to thank you all for leaving such provocative, interesting stuff! I will weigh in properly when I get a chance later. THANK YOU!!!

  14. Oh, THANK YOU, Barbara, for coming in with that save!!! {{{HUGS}}} Thank you! Thank you!

    Soooooo, *drumroll* I am doing a victory dance this morning!!! (Be impressed. I am so not a morning person.)

    After getting only about 3 hours of sleep a night for a few nights, typing my fingers off, keeping track of a gazillion sources, making calls, being very intensely emotionally invested in all of it, etc. for the first half of this week on top of dealing with helping my son prepare for an algebra test that's gonna kick his teeth in AND his being very, very upset about something that happened at church on Wednesday night, yesterday, my body said, "Enough for you!" and I crashed. My chest, my left ear, my achy crampy legs, I was the queen of napping under the warm, fuzzy dolphin blanket yesterday. Before I checked out from the world, the total for my 2 Senators and 1 Representative for my district was 1 against PIPA, 1 I didn't know, and 1 undecided. I posted the happy, bouncy link to Boozman's statement above. Well, imagine my delight to find this out as dawn broke this morning and I rejoined the land of the functioning:

    (via the Arkansas Democrat Gazette)

    "U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Jonesboro Republican, posted a note on his Facebook page in response to the many requests for information he had received on the bill, in which he said he would not support it in its current form.

    'The free market operates best when policymakers and government agencies take a back seat, and when rules and regulations are narrowly written and carefully balanced,' he wrote.

    Arkansas U. S. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, said in a statement that the Senate version of the bill has 'too many unanswered questions and could lead to many unintended consequences. We need a solution that will protect intellectual property without restricting Americans' rights to an open Internet.'"

    3 for 3!!!! My dudes are a 3 for 3 victory!!!!! Today, I am calling all 3 again to THANK THEM for listening to their constituents. They hear all the griping all the time. Shouldn't they get to hear some good, too, when it's deserved?


    *We now resume our normal election year cynicism.* *giggle*

    1. Yeah, well, we were lucky your comment somehow made it onto my email even though Blogger ate it.

      So excited to read that your guys are all coming through. It does feel empowering to be heard, doesn't it?!

  15. BTW, on the subject of libraries <3 <3 <3, I like this sticker/t-shirt:

  16. Reid has postponed the vote on PIPA.

    *deep happy sigh*

    The word "exultant" comes to mind. :D

    BUT!!! But, but, but, the fight isn't over. Neither PIPA nor SOPA are dead. Both could be revived and likely will be. We must remain vigilant and active.

  17. Oh, a funny one from Wednesday:

    After hearing some of the digging-heels-in-I'm-not-gonna-change-my-position-these-protesters-are-stupid type comments from Lamar Smith (Texas), my son, with a look of confused disgust on his face, said, "He sounds like a 3 year old who doesn't want to take a nap."

    I busted out laughing so hard!


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