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Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Lynch Mob Mentality

“C’mon boys. The sum a bitch is guilty. Let’s string ‘im up.”

“But he hasn’t had a trial yet and …”

“We don’t need no trial. We know he done it. No need ta waste money on a trial where some slick willy lawyer will only get ‘im off. 
We need to see justice done and string the sum a bitch from a tree.”
Sound familiar? It should, it’s pretty much the kind of discussion that you see across social media just about every day. This powerful and potentially connecting medium that could be used to inform and promote understanding is degenerating into little more than a lynch mob mentality by too many who scream for justice while ignoring the very principles on which justice is founded.
In Canada, the prevailing social media wisdom is that it is impossible that Stephen Harper and the Conservatives aren’t behind the RoboCon scandal. It doesn’t matter that no one knows who is behind it. “We don’t need no trial to know who’s guilty, let’s just string the sum a bitch up and get it over with.”
This mirrors the same online ‘wisdom’ that assumed it was the NDP who were behind the recent VikiLeaks website. The CPC, the mainstream media and even the Liberal Party joined with the social media lynch mob in blaming the NDP.
Oops. It turns out it wasn’t the NDP or even an NDP supporter at all. It was a Liberal Party researcher. We didn’t learn that until the Parliamentary investigation was completed but that didn’t stop the mob from presenting opinion and suspicion as fact.
You would think, if nothing else, this might slow down the rush to judgement until after the RCMP and Elections Canada have completed their investigation into RoboCon but, of course, it hasn’t. The same presentation of suspicion we saw in VikiLeaks is once again presented as evidence and accusations are cobbled together with the few facts that are actually known to draw the mob conclusion as to who is guilty.
It’s the same in democracies all over the world. The hysterical rhetoric, the allegations and the accusations go beyond debate and are nothing more than the same mob mentality that fuels riots and lynchings; the lack of tolerance and respect for law that feeds hatred and ugly things like racism and related crimes.
It doesn’t seem to matter to the people in the lynch mob that they don’t really haven’t very much real evidence, all that matters is that they’re filled with self-righteous anger which is all that’s necessary to justify lynching those suspected. They read stuff online, hear more allegations and accusations from the current target’s political opponents or from others who share the same bias and that becomes ‘evidence’. There’s no need to wait for a trial or even for the official investigation(s) to be completed. “We know the sum a bitch is guilty.”
It is not part of what constitutes a true democratic society built on a foundation of justice. In Canada and the United States, all accused are presumed to be innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. On social media, all it requires to find someone guilty is lynch mob courage where a whole lot of biased opinion, accusations, half truths and a wee bit of what is actually currently known are slung around the saloon  in advance of the lynching. The mob worries this stuff over like a dog working a bone. It works itself up until it is positively frothing at the mouth and all reason has fled.
I often wonder how many who are in such a rush to judgment would feel if they were the target of the mob. I wonder how happy they would be to see democratic fundamentals and principles of justice so quickly tossed out the window as they so easily do now when it someone else under attack.
I’ve been accused of defending the CPC. I am but not because I support them and certainly not because I’m not suspicious of the truth behind RoboCon. I defend them, as I would anyone, against uninformed mob-mentality attacks and allegations because that’s all they are, attacks and allegations. I defend them because I believe in the presumption of innocence until all of the facts are known and charges laid. I defend them because I am tired of a lynch mob mentality doing as much damage to my society as corrupt and cynical politicians.
In Canada, like all democracies, we don’t hang people based on suspicion, innuendo and opinion. Only lynch mobs unconstrained by decency or respect for the rule of law do that. I defend the CPC simply because I am tired of seeing my society, my country and my democracy undermined by a shrill, ill-informed and self-indulgent social media lynch mob.
Let the police and Elections Canada do their work. They will uncover the truth of what happened and when they do, they will determine what charges, if any should be laid against those responsible. That is how our system of justice works and it works well when given the opportunity. It protects the innocent while bringing the guilty to justice. If we had left it to the mob, it is the NDP who would have been hung from a tree for something done by a Liberal staffer. There is no justice in that.
I consider this rush to judgement and self-righteous presentation of suspicion as fact to be every bit as corrupting to our society as anything our political parties are doing; and our political parties are corrupting our political system at an alarming rate. 
Justice makes every effort to be blind and objective. Lynch mobs don’t. They are self-righteous, sanctimonious accusers led by their prejudices, their bias and speculation presented as fact. They are unconcerned with things like presumption of innocence or the rule of law, they let anger and suspicion lead them on. The argument could be made that Lynch mobs are efficient and  git ‘er done quickly, often before the evidence is in or the trial has begun but in the end, that is every bit as corrupting to a democratic society as anything the mob thinks it’s defending the society from. 
We got rid of lynch mobs many years ago when the Wild West was tamed and civilized by the rule of law and order, true democracy and allowing the justice system to do its work. Unfortunately, we didn’t eradicate lynch mob mentality.
It’s back, alive and well and spreading like a diseased virus across social media.

The Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic and mass delusion

© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

The Hypocrisy Continues. Will The Sheep Keep Following?

Oh my, my….The Speaker of Canada’s House of Commons has announced that his investigation into the VikiLeaks attack web site has been traced back to a Liberal Party staffer. I can already hear the rationalizations forming on the left.
To be fair, Bob Rae, interim leader has accepted the resignation (fired) the staffer involved and has formerly apologized to the House and to the minister the site was set up to attack. For their part, the Conservative government and the minister accepted the apology. How civilized.
Liberal MP Justin Trudeau

The usual sanctimonious and self-righteous hypocrisy that only politicians do so well quickly followed, led by members of Parliament like Justin Trudeau. Mr. Trudeau tweeted that he was ‘appalled that a Liberal could be behind such a dirty trick. You’ll note that he did not tweet that he was appalled that anyone would do this, just appalled to learn it was a Liberal. This would be the same Justin Trudeau who routinely tweeted about VikiLeaks, making sure that people knew the address of the web site. Mr. Trudeau then went on to tweet that personal attacks were unacceptable in politics. This would be the same Justin Trudeau who called a minister, “a piece of shit”, in the House of Commons.

I am struck by a broader hypocrisy though.
The Conservatives are facing their own issue with the RoboCon scandal where someone or many used Rack Nine calling service to send out false automated calls to try and disrupt voter turnout in one or more ridings during the last election.
The Liberals expect the world to believe that VikiLeaks was the work of a single, misguided staffer while at the same time making allegations that RoboCon couldn’t possibly be the work of only one or two people. They allege it must be the work of the Conservative Party. Really?
It is clear that more than a few Liberals, including some MPs used and/or directed people to VikiLeaks but they still insist that it was only the work of one person. For some reason, they are unable to grasp the same possibility in the RoboCon issue.
Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae
Bob Rae has gone so far as to now announce that as many as 27 Liberal candidates lost in the last election because of voter disruption by automated phone calls. Really? How is it that Bob only figured this out and has only announced it now? Wouldn’t you think that if there had been electoral fraud the Liberals would have been on this right after the election? Apparently not. I’m sure it has less to do with political opportunism and more to do with a thorough and ongoing Liberal investigation that only coincidentally was completed just now as the RoboCon scandal hit the media.
What does all this mean?
For me, it means that our current anger and finger-pointing at Harper is both misguided and foolish. Harper is merely symptomatic of what is really wrong with our political system. It has been hijacked by cynical opportunists and hypocrites. Harper is no worse than the rest and the rest are no better than Harper.
The ongoing anger focused on Harper merely plays into the hands of the other snakes in the grass just waiting to bite you as they and their parties have done so often in the past.
The hypocrisy will never end, the corruption will continue until people stop blaming one party or another and start blaming what politicians and their back room boys and girls have and are continuing to do to our….that’s ‘our’…..political system and government.
The question now is how many of us will continue to act like sheep and blindly follow the partisan hypocrisy that is served up as the best our democracy has to offer?
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Those Who Don’t Learn From History……

“Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”
 – Mark Twain
There is an election fraud investigation underway in Canada. Someone, or many someones, used a robo-call company to contact voters in a riding, or maybe multiple ridings, to inform them that their polling station had been moved. The intention, clearly, was to create confusion and through that confusion reduce the number of voters actually showing up to vote. It was hoped this would swing the election in favour of the party (Conservatives) polling in second place in specific ridings.

Canadians are angry and justifiably so. This kind of manipulation is not only dishonest; it undermines the very principles on which a free and open democracy functions. But that anger has turned from indignation to ‘knowing’ accusation.
The simple truth is that we don’t know who is behind this. We have suspicions and opinions but we don’t know….yet, which is the reason why I qualified who might be behind this in my opening paragraph.
Both the RCMP, Canada’s national police force and Elections Canada are investigating and there is little doubt they will uncover who is behind the fraud, if for no other reason than because it was so simplistic and unsophisticated. Even a newspaper was able to track information that led to one of the key ‘persons of interest’ in relatively short order.
This hasn’t stopped many Canadians from already deciding who is guilty and the rush to judgment is one more nail in our democracy’s coffin.

The national media have assumed it is a Conservative conspiracy and the CBC went so far as to publish a list of all Conservative candidates that had used the same company, including the Prime Minister. They didn’t bother to include the notation that there was no evidence or complaint of election fraud in any of the ridings represented by those on the list nor did they bother to identify the robo-calling companies used by the other political parties. Why spoil a good insinuation with facts? This is professional journalism after all.

Liberal PM Trudeau
For decades, political parties and their strategists have worked hard to undermine the integrity of our democracy with an overwhelming and cynical lack of integrity, vision or anything even close to approaching good governance.

In the 70s, the Liberals under Pierre Trudeau ran on a promise not to implement wage and price controls. The people voted in favour of that promise and six months after the election, wage and price controls were implemented. So much for the voice of the people.

In the 80s, the Mulroney government while keeping its major promises, climbed into bed with people like Karl Heinz Schreiber. Mr. Schreiber is currently enjoying the hospitality of the German government on charges of tax evasion and bribery. The government’s association with him eventually led to yet another Public Inquiry that eventually even touched former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
Former PM Mulroney (left) and
Karl-Heinz Scheiber
In the 90s, the Liberals under Jean Chretien campaigned on a promise to repeal the Goods and Services Tax. Once again, the people voted and once again, the promise was broken.

Later it came to light that the Liberal Party had been engaged in illegal acts, using tax payer money, in an attempt to sway votes in Quebec. It was a sleazy business involving Liberal backroom boys carrying around money in brown paper bags which they dispensed in diners. It was correctly labeled ‘small-town cheap’ by Chief Justice Gomery during the subsequent public enquiry. Some Liberals went to prison as a result and none of the tax-payer money has been repaid to the government by the Liberal Party.

Left to right: Joe Volpe who had
a number of dead people listed
as donors to his campaign. Former
PM Paul Martin who slashed
health care transfers while Finance
Minister, Alfonse Galiano who
was accused of misuse of his
office as a cabinet minister and
former PM Jean Chretien who was
prime minister during Adscam.

While decrying the election campaign tactics of their opponents, the Liberals gleefully released an ad depicting the new leader of the Conservatives, Stephen Harper, as someone who would instantly put military troops in our streets upon being elected. I always thought this a strange claim to make considering the Liberals are the only party to have ever proclaimed martial law in this country, stripping away the civil rights of Canadians virtually overnight, arrested hundreds without warrant or charge and put military troops on the streets of major Canadian cities to enforce curfews.

Now we have the Conservative government of Stephen Harper who campaigned on openness and transparency but has delivered anything but. Instead, we have yet more of the same anti-democratic nonsense of previous governments on both sides of the political divide.

This is a government that prorogued Parliament in order to avoid being defeated in a non-confidence vote, routinely attacks its critics with negative ads even when there is no election looming and has a number of ministers of the crown with hoof in mouth disease. It is a political party that had a somewhat flamboyant interpretation of Election Canada’s campaign spending laws and a significant disregard for things like protecting consumers. That became self-evident in the case of the Consumer Cell Phone Plan Comparison Calculator project cancelled by then Consumer Minister Tony Clement after Mr. Clement met with the big cell phone service providers and opted to address their concerns for profits rather than protecting Canadian consumers.

This is the same Mr. Clement who donated $50 million infrastructure development in his riding, a little more grand than Jean Chretien’s pork barrelling in his riding but only in terms of cash outlay, not attitude.

In the end, it doesn’t matter which party is in power or trying to obtain power. The promises, the tactics and the focus are the same. It has little to do with serving the people or respecting democracy and everything to do with winning power.
NDP candidate Ruth Ellen Brosseau
who  managed a Carleton Universyit pub

 in Ottawa was recruited by the party
 to run ina French-speaking. Quebec riding
She didn’t speak French and had never
seen the riding before.

She spent part of the election campaign
on holidays in Las Vegas.

Even the New Democratic Party, much vaunted for being the ‘conscience’ of Canadian politics, flooded the last election with candidates in Quebec many of whom  neither lived in nor had even been to the riding they were now running to represent. In other words, the party was less concerned with democratic representation than winning seats. How is that serving the people? The NDP and their supporters, of course, rationalize this in various ways but that simply makes them the same as the other parties and no better than those they oppose.

In Ontario, Canada’s largest province, the government of Dalton McGuinty broke 75 election promises within six months of winning his first election. He won his second mandate by playing on racist fears of what would be taught in religious schools if full-funding was extended to them as it was to the Catholic school system. It was a strategy not only successful, it was bragged about by some of his strategists following the election.

Six months ago, Mr. McGuinty won his third election on a campaign of a stable and growing economy which has now been revealed, thanks to the Drummond Report, to be nothing but one more deliberate and cynical election campaign lie.

The list is endless and no political party has clean hands in what can only be called the erosion of democracy.

Why is any of this important? It is important because we fail to learn from our own history.
I had a conversation with someone recently about this and her position was she only dealt with the present because she couldn’t do anything about the past. I beg to differ. We can learn from our past and stop making the same mistakes although I see little evidence of that happening.
Anti-Haprer poster
An example of the failed belief that it is only the
current government that is ever the problem

Today, in Canada as in other democracies, the belief is that if we only change the current government, everything will be better. We’ve clung to that belief for decades but it hasn’t proven to be true and political parties count on us continuing to cling to that belief.

So cynical has politics become that it isn’t simply dirty tricks at election time that is a disgrace, it’s what happens in Parliament after the election.
The Liberals attack the Conservatives for the F-35 fighter jet contract even though it was the Liberals who initiated the procurement of these jets when they were in power.
The Liberals put Canada into Afghanistan only to demand Canada withdraw once the Conservatives were elected and then demand that we stay once the government announced a ‘pull-out’ date.

The previous Liberal government slashed health care transfers to the provinces, the Conservatives increased transfers so the Liberals now in opposition, criticized the Conservatives for not increasing them enough.

The Conservatives, for their part, go out of their way to offend as many people as possible with a self-righteous hypocrisy that they never seem to learn from no matter how often it blows up in their face. They promised less government but delivered more.They promised fiscal prudence but have spent like Liberals at a vote-buying flea market.

In opposition, the Conservatives under Stephen Harper tried to form a coalition with the other opposition parties to defeat the Liberal minority government and then govern in its stead but was highly critical of the opposition doing the same thing once he was elected to lead a minority government.

At the end of the day the only difference from one to the other is that the Liberals masquerade their arrogance behind a mask of self-righteous social conscience while the Conservatives masquerade theirs behind a mask of self-righteous indignation. The NDP doesn’t pretend, it knows it’s righteous regardless of how absurd their policies or hypocritical their politics.

It is no different in the United States where the only difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is about where the tax money goes and in Britain between Labour and the Conservatives it is almost impossible to tell what party is actually governing after it is elected. Regardless of the campaign platform, the policies all look the same after the election. Indeed, the Tony Blair Labour government looked suspiciously like a mild conservative government during its term in office.

All of that to say that simply blaming the current government and believing that by replacing it everything will be different is absurd.
When a political system is only about winning power and not about serving your country, it really doesn’t matter who is in power, nothing will change. If all parties bring lies and cynical and hypocritical self-interest to the table, the people lose and democracy is undermined. The only difference between Canada and some third-world countries is that Canadian politicians don’t shoot their opponents……..yet.
One thing is certain. Continuing to blame only one party or politician simply plays into the hands of the backroom strategists. They count on it and use our anger and frustration against us by feeding us bromides and empty promises during elections in an attempt to win power.

God alone knows why they want power when all they intend to do with it is pretty much what their opponents would have done.

It is this environment that breeds bright young minds who believe that it is acceptable to use automated, fraudulent phone calls to mislead voters during an election because winning is everything……isn’t it?
Certainly, that’s what the politicians believe……and we’ve been supporting and encouraging that belief for decades. As the old adage goes, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”
It appears that in Canada, just as in the United States and virtually every democracy in the world, we haven’t learned very much at all.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

Who Speaks For These Children?

Two weeks ago, two little boys were murdered by their father, hacked to death with an axe and then burned in the house he torched to take his own life along with theirs. Now it’s a little girl, who is dead and those responsible appear to be her own family.Savannah Hardin, just 9 years old died after her step-mother and her grandmother forced her to run outside their home for three hours. It was punishment for lying about eating candy. The little girl became dehydrated and later died of a seizure.
It’s easy to be outraged over something like this when it happens but what disturbs me is how quickly that outrage passes and we go back to our endless debates and arguments about politics and other trivia.
There was intense outrage after the Penn State scandal erupted. Where is it now? Occupy had a litany of sexual abuse of children, who cares? It didn’t stop those with an agenda from supporting Occupy. Every day all over the world, children are abused, turned into child soldiers, indoctrinated, raped, sold, sexually exploited by pedophiles and killed.
Who speaks for these children?’

Every single day, children the world over go missing or die needlessly from neglect or violence or both. Who speaks for them?

It isn’t our politicians. Not one of the current candidates for president in the GOP or the President have uttered a peep about protecting children even though 4 children die from abuse every day in the United States.

It’s no different in other countries, including my own, where politicians and their strategists remain focused on playing the game rather than making the safety and well-being of our children a national priority. Even the current government’s labeling of its Internet regulation as the Anti-child Pornography Bill was nothing more than cynical and sanctimonious opportunism.
In the meantime, more than 60,000 children are missing in Canada and more than 800,000 in the United States.

It isn’t the media who will cover the stories as they appear but will devote little time to pressuring government to actively do anything. Not one media interview, commentary or question during a political debate deals with the issue of child abuse.

It isn’t the greater society on social media, everyone is too busy buying stuff on ebay or promoting their latest book on Kindle. They see the news story, make a quick comment and go back to arguing about whatever it is they’re arguing about.

Who speaks for these children?

How long do we ignore the fact that children go to bed hungry every night in some of the richest countries in the world? We fret abut bullying, form committees and pat ourselves on the back but who speaks for the abused and murdered child?

We’re too busy. We have no time other than in the abstract to deal with children and their security. We pay lip service to it but when was the last time you saw a protest march to protect our children? We’ve had them to get free university tuition. There was such a march in Montreal, Canada today where university students protested what they consider to be the high cost of tuition.

No one has time or even a thought to march in  support of protecting children.
The GOP has now had 20 debates and there has never been a word about children other than the candidates using their own children and grandchildren as props in an attempt to portray themselves as great family people.

There is more talk and outrage on social media about birth control and abortion, debate over unborn children, than there is about protecting living children. Have we really become that jaded a society? Do we really care that little?

What kind of a society frets more about online regulation on the Internet than it does about the welfare of its children?

What kind of a society indeed!

A step-mother and a grandmother stand accused of killing a little girl because she lied about eating candy. It is a terrible tragedy and for a moment many will stop and cluck their tongues and express their outrage or sadness before going back to whatever it was they were doing or were upset about online.

No group will come forward to mobilize the society to force government to act. No political party or individual politician will step up and make the welfare of children a priority plank in their election campaign. University students won’t march to protect children and even Occupy, who recently stood in solidarity with prisoners in San Quentin, won’t occupy anything or protest to protect children like Savannah Hardin.

More people will share the latest Lady Gaga or Justin Beiber video today than will give thought to children, our children, at risk. It makes you wonder who speaks for these children doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t appear to be too many of us.

© 2012 Maggie’s Bear

Follow The Bear on Twitter: @maggsbear or send me a friend request on Facebook: Maggie’s Bear

My Days On Twitter

And so it’s just another day on Twitter….
It starts with the usual slew of Direct Messages from people thrilled that I am now following them, so thrilled in fact, that they can’t wait for me to also visit their website, buy their new self-published novel or contact them immediately if I have any questions at all about Internet marketing, social media, want lots more followers or am in need of personal development.
Most of the messages start the same way. “Thank you so much for following. Check out my….”. I often wonder at the expertise of these online marketing experts who think that the best way to develop a new client is to whack them over the head with the sales pitch while they’re still shaking your hand during the introduction.

Even more are so excited that I am now following them on Twitter, they can’t wait for me to become their friend on Facebook and imagine, we only just met.

Twitter is one of many social media and a social media that has all but removed the ‘social’ part from the medium. People concerned about the fact you might be a bot require you to validate yourself before they are prepared to speak to you. These are people who don’t see the irony in using a bot to weed out potential bots.
Others send you automated DMs to express their deep appreciation for having the opportunity to get to know you. I gather what they really mean is they’re happy to have you increase their list of followers while you get to know their auto-reply bot.
These are people who somehow have come to believe that the best way to ‘sociaize’ is to automate the whole process. I guess they have forgotten how many of us are frustrated by those automated receptionists that ask us to press different menu options when we call some company or our governments.
It’s not all sweetness and light. Some are quite offended if you unfollow them and have software that sends out tweets telling the world that you have removed them from your list of followers, as if the world really cares. How sad a life do these people have that they are not only personally insulted that you are not following them any longer but that they are compelled to share that with the Twitterverse?

I have better things to do than to spend time every day checking my list of followers to see if someone had the audacity to unfollow me. Besides, their indignation has always puzzled me because I  thought it was my list and I could put who I wanted on it. Apparently not.

Once we get through the housekeeping, it’s time to go out and and start browsing the current tweets.
The messages are many and varied but can usually be broken down into main categories: politics, selling and spam (which is more extreme selling), virus/hacking attachments, trivial and self-indulgent nonsense, the tragically profane trying to gain attention by shocking a world too jaded to be shocked by much, outrage, oppression-envy, humour and real conversations with people you have had an opportunity to get to know. The last two categories are the only reasons that I stay on Twitter.
Politics dominates Twitter and the great dichotomy is that most of the discourse is on the oppressive nature of government to the point where Twitter seems more like an episode of Angry Birds than social tweets. It is almost laughable how so many can be so hysterical about living under oppression even as they are free to voice that opinion and to openly criticize government. Try that in China or North Korea and see how far it takes you.
The right, when it isn’t busy trashing candidates within it’s own ranks gleefully attacks the left and any cause will do: environmentalism, activism, education, being a Democrat (or a Liberal, if you’re Canadian) while the left pontificates with self-righteous indignation about the perfidity of the right. Occupy has simplified this somewhat. They simply hate everybody.

I’ve seen playground bullying with less verbal violence and more intelligent discourse.

Many younger people step up with painfully ill-informed opinions on everything from Internet regulation to social issues, toss out a quick opinion, set up a hash tag or two (just to see if they can get a trend going) and then move on to whatever next distracts their attention.
Woven through this tapestry of what passes for political debate and discussion are the sales pitches. Buy my book, click this link for a free gift, contact me for the secrets to better online marketing. The list is endless. Almost none of it is targeted, especially from the marketing gurus which begs the question, how much do most of these self-professed experts really know? It’s more like the old direct mail shotgun approach from the ‘70s than anything approaching a real understanding of this powerful still new online environment.
Every now and then an ‘egg’ pops up with a really great offer. These eggs usually follow almost no one and have no one following them but they’re happy to provide us with a link to get a great opportunity (for which they get a small commission). Considering how few people on Twitter are unaware of the spam nature of these folks, it’s amazing so many still buy into trying. I treat these tweets like the Whack-A-Mole game at the fair and just whack ‘em with the Spam report  menu option. Some days there are so many, I try to see how many I can whack in 60 secs. My current record is 11.
People I don’t know and don’t follow, copy me on tweets they’ve sent to others, on topics in which I am not only uninterested but in which I have little to no knowledge. They become annoyed if I don’t reply and even more so when I do.

Some jump into conversations to which they weren’t invited to voice their opinion, usually rudely and become even more rude when their particular opinion isn’t considered the right opinion. Who needs this?

Some contact me to tell me I’m a idiot which may be a reasonable assessment while others tell me I’m a fascist in direct contradiction to the person before them who called me a socialist pig. Sometimes I get called a Liberal or a Conservative which apparently are two of the worst insults online, depending on which side of the political divide you embrace.
Fortunately, there are tweets by some who devote their time on Twitter to making others laugh or at least smile and I sincerely appreciate their efforts. Sometimes the humour is quite subtle, other times it is very in-your-face almost vulgar but it is almost always quite funny and usually makes me laugh out loud. Once, one of the messages was so funny, I spit my coffee on my keyboard and discovered that the quickest way to undermine technology is to expose it to moisture. I guess, technology is just like people, we all have our vulnerabilities.
But what keeps me coming back are the people I’ve met from all over the world, good people, interesting people and people who are reasonably well-informed about whatever it is they are interested in. I’ve had some great discussions and debates with these people bordering on the inane to the very serious. We haven’t always agreed but it has always been respectful, thought provoking and/or just plain fun.
It is these people who put the meaning in the word ‘social’ in social media.
These are the people who, while they may not share my opinions, share a desire to connect with others to learn, to understand and to satisfy our curiosities. These are also the people who, for the most part, remind me that not everyone in this world has lost their minds.
And here’s the thing I find most interesting.
It is these same people who remind me of what I learned in the real world, a world in which I have lived in many places both within my own country and internationally. People are people the world over. We have far more in common than we have that divides us. Too many forget that in places like Twitter where the primary buzz is usually against something or someone.

I learned some other things from my few short months on Twitter as well.

I’ve learned that there are an incredible number of frightened, insecure and even paranoid folks out there; people who fail to see the irony of living in a society with they are free to express their paranoid fear of their democratic governments. 
I’ve learned that there are many people who because they can remain  anonymous, lack the values or self-discipline to conduct themselves with respect for others or themselves. 
I’ve learned that opinion is more important than fact to many and that there is a growing intolerance that our societies once had started to defeat before the Internet explosion. 

I’ve learned that the herd mentality is alive and well with a majority of people only too willing to jump on a bandwagon without much prior thought and I’ve learned that stupidity and hypocrisy continue to thrive and spread faster than any computer virus.

I’ve also learned that there remains a lot of nice people in the world, people with values, morals, character and common sense.
It gives me cautious optimism that just perhaps, when the current madness no longer grips so many, we just may have a shot at making the world the better place most of us seem to want. We’re not going to get there through war, polarized opinion or stupidity but we just might if we remember those who understand that the true power of social media goes beyond merely shouting out opinions, demonizing those with whom we disagree  or trying to turn places like Twitter into one large flea market.
We’re only going to get there thanks to the people who brought their values to social media rather than checking them at the log-in screen  like too many others.
It is also those people who keep me coming back and I thank them for that. It is a pleasure to have met and to know them.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others

The Political Indoctrination Of Children

History is littered with the indoctrination of children by totalitarian regimes. Nazi Germany had the Hitler Youth. The Soviet Union, North Korea, China and others all moved to control their societies by indoctrinating children at an early age. Children as young as kindergarten age were educated in the ideology of the state with heavy emphasis on the state’s view of history, it’s enemies and physical training. In virtually every case, there is a strong militarism nature to the training which in many cases included weapons and unarmed combat.
The following video shows how the Nazis understood that the foundation of the ongoing success of their regime was dependent on raising a generation to believe what the state required them to believe. The indoctrination was all the more insidious in that it was often intermixed with physical and other fun activities.

We now live in the 21st century, an era when we are more reasoned, more democratic than ever before. Unfortunately, the political indoctrination and militarization of children continues. As the following video shows, there is a direct comparison between what happened in countries like The Third Reich and what is happening today in places like the Middle East, as well as, Africa and some Asian countries.
Unfortunately, this misuse of children is not limited to totalitarian regimes. The indoctrination of children is rising in some democracies where the political leadership sees its country as under constant threat by defined and sometimes undefined or constantly changing enemies of the state.
It starts with the belief that the state should control thinking and that the state is better served when people see things the way the state thinks they should. Sometimes, as in North Korea, the indoctrination is personality-cult oriented, in other places it is based more on hatred of an external enemy. 
Sometimes it is started by those who believe so deeply in a cause, like global warming or sex education or a political party, they blend their beliefs into teaching children what to think rather than teaching them how to think.
No democracy is immune to the misguided idea that there is only one way to think and that is as true in North America as it is in the Middle East.
It doesn’t matter if you support President Obama or the Republicans, Stephen Harper or the NDP, the political indoctrination of children is not just wrong, it is just one more form of child abuse. Children should be encouraged to explore the world around them, taught to be curious and to learn from that curiosity. From that should come their own, individual formulation of ideas and understanding. No state, no individual should take it upon themselves to try and indoctrinate children to one set of beliefs, especially beliefs founded on hatred or fear.
In the end, the nation is not well-served by raising children who have been robbed of their right to think for themselves. It is no different than raising a generation to believe that blacks are not equal to whites, that only The Third Reich is righteous, that Jews are evil or all followers of Islam are murderous suicide bombers.
The indoctrination of children is the continuation of extremist intolerance and it takes from them the very thing most of us thought we were fighting to protect….. the right to live our individual lives and to think for ourselves.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved
The content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others