Enter Stage Right hands out its monthly awards...

The December 1998 Earth is Flat Award

A celebration of the inane, insipid and asinine...

It's a myth that the Internet was created by the U.S. military establishment in such a way to survive a nuclear war because of its decentralized design. In the early days of the Internet, when it was largely confined to a few American universities, research institutes and military organizations, the Internet was small enough that simply destroying America's infrastructure would have put it to a quick end.

That myth has caused many people say that if one tried censor the Internet, the attempt would be treated as damage and the information would simply be rerouted around the affected area.

A nuclear holocaust and censorship are hardly the same thing, perhaps the reason that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, Canada's broadcast and telecommunications regulatory body, has decided to see if it can regulate the web...at least in Canada.

On November 23 the CRTC began public hearings to see whether it should regulate the Internet for the promotion of Canadian culture or sweeping the loosely defined offensive material off the information highway.

The CRTC will tell you that it has made no decisions about regulating the Internet, though it's no secret that the Canadian government released a study paper a few years ago which effectively called for regulation. Ministers with the Chretien government have previously hinted that it may be necessary for some kind of regulation to make the Internet "safer." It's hard to believe that no one at the CRTC read their political master's thoughts and decided to do something about it.

Canadians have an odious habit of forcing their radio or television programming down their countrymen's throats, a prime example being the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the government run nationwide television and radio network. CRTC guidelines also enforce a minimum level of Canadian content for radio and television.

In questioning at the hearings, the CRTC has tried to bait witnesses into admitting that the Internet is a broadcast vehicle just like television and radio, effectively proposing that it should come under the power of that body.

And surprisingly, television and radio networks -- who have long complained about regulations enforced by the CRTC -- are calling those same regulations to be extended to the Internet. Some content providers also told the government agency that they need money to get their message out, arguing for a service charge for every Canadian Internet user to fund the on-line equivalent of Anne of Green Gables.

Will the CRTC regulate Canadian content on Canadian web sites? Will they charge Canadian Internet users a fee so that they can learn more about whale hunting in the Arctic, even if they don't want to?

It's hard to believe that a national body like the CRTC, which desperately needs to justify itself in a world where regional and national networks are being supplanted by global ones, won't make some kind of power grab over the medium of the Internet. Any regulation -- whether the silly nationalistic and authoritarian desire to promote Canadian culture or an attack on free speech by attempting to eliminate racist web sites -- goes completely against what the World Wide Web stood for during it's "early" heady days of libertarianism.

It's generally a bad idea to predict any potential course of action by a government agency, but it is safe to assume that if the CRTC decides to hold public hearings about the future of the Internet, that they have an ulterior agenda for doing so.

Not only will Canadians lose if an attempt is made at regulation, they will get to pay for it out of their own pockets as well. Free at last. Free at last.


Time magazine has long not been a friend of capitalism and an issue on newsstands during the first week of December proved it.

The magazine set out to list the 20th century's most influential business geniuses. The list was largely predictable with names like Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Sam Walton and Thomas Watson Jr., but with a few surprises like Estee Lauder, Willis Carriere and Pete Rozelle.

Any list like this is bound to be largely subjective and useless, especially considering who picked the finalists: "Time editors in consultation with CBS News, public figures, academics, journalists, political analysts and others," according to a CNN report on the list. After all, any real list "business geniuses" would hardly include a union leader like Walter Reuther.

Be that as it may, one name which was included on the list betrays exactly what at least one person on the selection committee thinks of capitalists. That name was Charles Luciano.

You might know him better as "Lucky" Luciano. On a short list of notable accomplishments for Luciano are: the boss of all bosses for America's Mafia, the large scale importation of cocaine into the United States, murder, prostitution and racketeering.

This select group, which included "public figures" and "others," apparently feels that a murderer is the same as a capitalist. If you can forget that capitalism presumes an exchange between two people in which violence has been removed, then you can agree with Time.

If Luciano is the same as Walton, then that explains on those rare occasions that I do bother to read Time why I do it in the bathroom.

The December 1998 Vinegar in Freedom Award

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.

On the night of November 3, a whole bunch of uneducated young males managed to make political history. They managed, by the sheer weight of their numbers, to get their candidate elected to the highest office in the state of Minnesota.

That, at least, is what CNN's Jeanne Meserve thought of the election of Jesse "The Body" Ventura as governor of Minnesota.

According to someone as intelligent as Meserve, who sits behind a desk at CNN reading someone's copy, Ventura was elected because dumb folks -- people like me and you -- remembered Ventura when he used to stalk around the squared circle "fighting" men like Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper during the 1980s. We voted for him because he had the really cool cannon in "Predator".

Or could it be that the uneducated people of Minnesota, and the whole state has to be blamed since uneducated young male voters really don't have the electoral strength to get their favourite sandwich named at the local deli much less the governor of their state, saw in Ventura someone who was like them. While he might have appeared in a few movies and wore boas as a professional wrestler, he sounded like them. He stood against a tired political establishment by preaching a few simple messages: Reduce taxes. Reduce the size of government. Give people their freedom back. Get out of the way of the average citizen. Tell the truth.

Its an intoxicating message because few candidates for any level of office actually say these things out loud or in when they are alone. To actually hear someone say them sincerely, and have a reasonable degree of certainty that they'll follow through, is a rarity in politics.

Let Meserve and all of the other talking heads of the establishment elite titter at Ventura and the people of Minnesota. I for one am jealous.

And that he was cool in "Predator".




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