Category: Society

Digital Dystopia

Back in the ’90s, when I was the captain of my own cubicle in the depths of corporate America, it was mandatory that my away message on the telephone answering system announced my status and direction so as to avoid any confusion my business comrades might encounter. If memory serves, my standard message was a delaying tactic that assured many fun hours of telephone tag to flatten the productivity curve. It went something like:

You have reached the office of [me]. I’ve just stepped out on a special assignment but can be expected to return momentarily. Please leave a clear message stating your full name, date, time, call-back number, and the detailed purpose of this contact. I will immediately respond when I return. Your call is very important to me.

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Answering the Question

images.jpgThe question was:

Would you save one 5-year-old child from a burning building, or save 1,000 embryos.

The honest answer, which reportedly has never been realized, demonstrates that so-called Right-To-Life advocates are not what they profess to be and can not in all honesty insist that others conform to their Right-To-Life demands.

But to me this question exposes a possibly more fundamental hypocrisy.

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Dissent Is Not UnAmerican!

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In the days after September 11, 2001, government-sponsored mottoes like “United We Stand” became code language for the sinister notion that to critique government policy is to be a disloyal American. In the face of a heavy-handed attempt to silence free speech, City Lights inaugurated our Storefront Banner Series (shown above in a photo from October 2001) with a bold assertion of our First Amendment right to question the policies and actions of our government, one of America’s most basic and most critical freedoms.

As we anticipate the inauguration of a president and administration whose approach to dissenting opinion may become even more heavy-handed, we intend to do our part to defend our right to read, write, gather, debate and dissent. We are convinced of the need to nurture and protect peoples’ ability to think critically, to discern truth, and to communicate knowledge, and we believe that these qualities are basic to an empowered citizenry, essential to the future of a democratic society. In this, along with you, we stand united.

— From City Lights Newsletter, December 2016