Tag Archives: Brothel Rule

Tweeting About a Revolution

30 Jan

A central focus of media coverage for the ongoing Egyptian protests against the repressive government of Hosni Mubarak, as well as the recent reordering of the Tunisian government and unrest in Yemen, has been on the power of internet-based social media to unleash popular resentment against authoritarian regimes. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and numerous local blogs have been essential tools for organization and communication among protestors, as well as vital sources of information for observers. Mubarak implicitly recognized the influential clout of the Internet when he shut down Egypt’s Internet and temporarily cut off Egypt’s cell phone service.

It is difficult to grasp the social and political implications of social media that we take for granted so easily. As the New York Times put it, there is a rising notion that, “The same Web tools that so many Americans use to keep up with college pals and post passing thoughts have a more noble role as well, as a scourge of despotism.”

But it is also just as easy to give the Internet’s social networking tools far too much credit when it comes to facilitating political unrest.

As great a resource as the internet can be, websites like Facebook and Twitter rely on the actions of their users in order to be effective. The “Day of Anger” of January 25th might not have been organized without Facebook, but it was the 15,000 protesters in Tahrir Square that shook the country, representing a national revolt against a repressive regime that embodies Egyptian frustration with unemployment, police brutality, corruption, and lack of freedom. Protesters in the streets of Cairo burning down the walls of the National Democratic Party Headquarters, not users on Facebook looking at profile walls, are the agents of change. Twitter is merely a source of instantaneous reporting, albeit an exceptionally valuable one.

Think of how pissed you'd be if they got rid of hot cookie bar. Then multiply that by 2,000.

Social media can even be a dangerous receptacle of information that can be used against virtuous protestors. The same New York Times article mentions numerous oppressive regimes, like Russia, China, and Iran, who exploit the Internet for their own antidemocratic purposes by mining the web for pertinent information. We must keep in mind that the Internet, once thought of as the paragon of freedom and democracy, can just as easily be used for more sinister purposes.

Wait, you're telling us that Arcade Fire AND The National are coming in April!?

Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker article “Small Change: Why the revolution will not be retweeted” examined the role of social media in the political turmoil of Iran’s “Green Revolution” and the 2009 Moldovan protests. Compared to the American civil-rights protests of the 1960s, Gladwell concluded that the weak ties formed by social media networks are relatively ineffectual at promoting high-risk activism. Simply liking a Facebook page involves a lot less commitment than facing the physical and psychological brutality that the Civil Rights movement encountered, just as reading the tweets of Mohamed ElBaradei involves less action than protecting your neighborhood from looters, armed solely with a baseball bat. Social media has its necessary place in activism, but it certainly does not lead to the kind of high-risk activism and popular revolt that is threatening the 30-year reign of President Mubarak.

We can only speculate how exactly he convinced them

The difference between participation in activism, which social media encourages, and action, which requires motivation derived from human will, can be seen here in Evanston. When Evanston officials decided to begin enforcing the so-called “Brothel Law,” students rose up in protest. Although Twitter and Facebook were valuable forums for information and displays of discontent, the 500 students shouting at Howard, Burns, and Murphy seemed much more effective at convincing Morty Schapiro to rise up and strongarm the Evanston authorities into submission.

Northwestern’s Associated Student Government Facebook page has 1,216 “likes,” while the Living Wage Campaign has only 614. Despite this disparity, the Living Wage Campaign (regardless of how you might feel about their position) has been one of the most vocal and committed groups on campus, while the ASG has been unable to effect virtually any substantial change on campus. I have 87 Facebook friends who are among the 1,182,016 people who clicked on a link to join the cause to “Save Darfur.” Yet as far as I can tell, they have miserably failed at their cause, and have only raised 8.7 cents each.

It takes true motivation and commitment to change the world. Social Media, although an exceptionally helpful tool for communication and organization, does not effect change on its own. We must be wary of commentators who over-hype the role of social media in instituting change. The tools of the Internet are the tools of revolution, but it is the actions of the people, not the tools, that bring about change.

Patrick Henry on Evanston’s Brothel Rule

26 Jan

Dear Fellow American Patriots,

When I was abruptly raised from the dead and brought to Evanston last night, I was astounded and amazed by a number of recent developments. First was the taste of menthol cigarettes, which I find absolutely delightful. Second was my surprise that, somehow, a slave had become President, while a martian that looks like the progeny of Snooki and the Cheetos mascot was serving as the Speaker of the House.

But what really got my pantaloons in a bunch was the totally bullshit nature of Evanston’s recent decision to enforce the so-called “Brothel Law.” My fellow patriots and I did not fight the entire fucking British Empire just so a handful of bitch-ass aldermen could restrict the number of unrelated people living in an apartment in retaliation for a couple of drunkards’ tendencies to shout about their love of blowjobs. Speaking of which, I could really go for a blowie right about now. Whatever happened to Jefferson’s Sally chick?

Patrick Henry be orating and shit all up in this bitch

Yet I digress. If there’s one thing that really pisses me off, it’s when an unrepresentative government passes legislation that curtails the historic rights of man. Besides shredding Northwestern’s sense of community, placing undue stress on the economic well-being of both students and local Evanston businesses, and perpetrating Evanston’s repressive and boring nature, this Brothel Law is going to make it a total bitch for me to live with all of my slaves and PIKE brothers at our apartment on Ridge. And if you think I’m moving to Wilmette, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

I’m not saying that the ability to throw a triple-kegger is a civil right afforded to all citizens. I’m saying that it’s a goddamn motherfucking natural right, a divine God-given inherent right found in all men, so inalienable that not even the concerted actions of Chuck Norris and Bear Grills could ever take it away. Evanston residents who support enforcement of this law should probably spend more time focusing on removing the gerbil stuck up their collective arses, and come accept all the consequences that come with the benefits of living next to one of the greatest universities in the country.

When I said, “Give me Liberty, or give me Death,” I fucking meant it. If Northwestern students are as indignantly pissed of as I am, then they ought to start doing something about it. I’m not talking about just some peaceful petition either. I’m talking about real politicking, showing the muscle of the student body here. Let’s piss on Jeffrey Murphy’s lawn, shout about bl**jobs in front of Betsi Burns, and streak through Burgie Howard’s office on our way to the January 31st City Council meeting. That’ll get the point across, I’m sure.

That’s all of the fiery writing I can supply for now. I really must get going and figure out how to get back to 1793. That bastard Hamilton is in desperate need of a patent Patrick Henry verbal facial, and antifederalism needs passionate defending. So long for now, but I wish you luck in fighting for your right to party against the tyranny of Evanston’s repressive anti-fun laws.

Patrick Henry