|Enter Stage Right hands out its awards...
The Earth is Flat Award
A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...
web posted July 22, 2002
Remember those halcyon years of the World Wide Web just ten years ago? We were promised unlimited information that was free of censorship. No government, the prevailing mantra went, would be able to stop the free dissemination of ideas. Of course, when you've got Yahoo! who needs the government?
A spokeswoman for the Internet Society of China reported last week that more than 300 companies, including Yahoo!, had signed a voluntary pledge to purge the Web of content that China's communist government deems subversive.
While some of the pledge agenda is appropriate -- promotion of Internet use, prevention of cyber crime, fostering healthy industry competition, avoiding intellectual property violations -- others are less so.
Those who sign the pledge must refrain from "producing, posting or disseminating pernicious information that may jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability." The prohibition also covers information that breaks laws and spreads "superstition and obscenity." Members must remove material deemed offensive or face expulsion from the "Public Pledge on Self-discipline for China Internet Industry". Signers also pledge to monitor content of foreign-based Web sites and block those containing unspecified harmful information.
In the end the Internet's famed ability to route itself around censorship proved to be less than touted. By taking on the role of censor, Yahoo! essentially absolves the Chinest government blame for any attacks on Internet freedom for Chinese web surfers, making no it different from the government. By the way, "Enter Stage Right" can't be found on Yahoo! China or in its supplementary search.
There is an old Serbian proverb that says vinegar in freedom tastes better than honey in slavery. This award is meant for events and people Enter Stage Right considers to be positive.
web posted July 22, 2002
Since we likely won't have long before James Traficant is expelled from the U.S. House of Representatives, we here at Enter Stage Right would like to take the time to grace the Ohio Democrat with an honorary Vinegar in Freedom Award for services rendered to his nation.
Like Paul Weyrich mentions in his essay this week, we don't know if Traficant is being punished for his outspoken brand of politics. Being convicted of bribery, racketeering and tax evasion seems to suggest that the man was guilty of the ethics violations that he was accused of and yet this wouldn't be the first time someone was persecuted for attacking the established order.
That said, Traficant was a rare bird in politics. He said it like he saw it, something that earned him some measure of fame for his "one minute speeches," ones always contained a near exasperated "Beam me up!"
For example, addressing the Federal Aviation Agency's proclivity to mailing pilots licenses to people in Iraq Traficant stated:
Or on China's alleged double dealing:
Or a Clinton era slap against trading with China:
Of course, we could sit here all day and quote Traficant's one minute speeches but you can read them for yourself at his web site while they are still up. Traficant's contributions to American politics are more important than impassioned speeches. He was a politician with a rigid belief system, something that earned him the enmity of Republicans and Democrats alike. While he wasn't always right, Traficant at least had the guts to fly the flag of his convictions without embarrassment, something that few politicians seem capable of today. That's why he was so popular among his constituents and many watchers of the political scene. You knew when James Traficant opened his mouth you were going to hear something entertaining and heartfelt.
Good luck James.
Have someone you want considered for the Earth is Flat Award or the Vinegar in Freedom Award? E-mail ESR with your candidates!
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