. . . and he'll take a yard - and he won't give it back, either. Two news items caught my eye this morning to confirm that.
First, on a smaller scale, courtesy of a link at Joel's place, we learn of a town council that seems to have arrogated to itself far too much power. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
The city [of Columbiana] is not out to take away your freedom. To think so is “ridiculous,” according to Mayor Bryan Blakeman.
Blakeman made the statement during last week’s council meeting in response to a Facebook post by resident Tony Dolan which indicated that legislation pertaining to gardens is another step by the city to encroach on personal freedom.
“It has been frighteningly apparent that we in this city have given our freedoms up in ways that we never really saw coming,” Dolan wrote in the Columbiana for/against Chickens Facebook page.
. . .
The city had no laws pertaining to residential gardens, which means they were technically not allowed.
According to the city’s laws, if something is not permitted it is prohibited.
“Right now, if there is not something expressly in this code that says that you can have one, you technically can’t,” Blakeman confirmed.
There's more at the link.
Just who the hell do those councillors think they are? That report makes them sound like Big Brother in Orwell's 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'! And how the heck did the citizens of Columbiana allow themselves to be dragooned in that way? Were they asleep at the wheel when it came to voting in their councillors? One hopes they'll read that report, realize the depths of their predicament, and vote in a new town council, one that will undo the damage before it's too late.
The second report is on a much broader, even global scale - but it could (and probably will) affect all of us. Pew Research Center undertook a large-scale survey titled 'The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online'. Once again, bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
Anonymity, a key affordance of the early internet, is an element that many in this canvassing attributed to enabling bad behavior and facilitating “uncivil discourse” in shared online spaces. The purging of user anonymity is seen as possibly leading to a more inclusive online environment and also setting the stage for governments and dominant institutions to even more freely employ surveillance tools to monitor citizens, suppress free speech and shape social debate.
. . .
Those who believe the problems of trolling and other toxic behaviors can be solved say the cure might also be quite damaging. “One of the biggest challenges will be finding an appropriate balance between protecting anonymity and enforcing consequences for the abusive behavior that has been allowed to characterize online discussions for far too long,” explained expert respondent Bailey Poland, author of “Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online.”
The majority in this canvassing were sympathetic to those abused or misled in the current online environment while expressing concerns that the most likely solutions will allow governments and big businesses to employ surveillance systems that monitor citizens, suppress free speech and shape discourse via algorithms, allowing those who write the algorithms to sculpt civil debate.
Again, more at the link.
That's the problem with trusting, or allowing, governments to shape and control the exchange of information. They love the idea. They're staffed by bureaucrats and power-hungry politicians, so 'control' is in their genetic make-up, as it were. They aren't interested in individual rights and liberties, except for controlling them.
President Gerald Ford famously warned: "A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have." If we look to government to solve the problem of online trolling and bad behavior, we should not be surprised if (when) that government seizes the reins of the online environment and refuses to let go. Further, we should not be surprised if (when) that government solves the problem to its satisfaction, rather than ours. After all, who's in charge here? Certainly not us!
More and more, in every area of life, we need to vigilantly defend, safeguard and be aware of threats against our freedom, privacy and discourse. If we let them go by default, history shows us that we're unlikely to get them back again without a fight . . . so, rather than do that, with all the cost and effort it involves, why not hold onto them firmly in the first place?