By Mr. Curmudgeon:
Authoritarians around the world are frightened. Information is not as easily suppressed as the printed word. The Internet allows information to spread like wildfire and has been used, as in the Arab world, to quickly organize protests and topple regimes. Some governments – North Korea, China and Russia, to name a few – have gone so far as to employ computer-generated assaults against opponents. According to USA Today, many rogue regimes use malicious cyber attack techniques associated with anarchist hackers. “… The new twist on denial-of-service attacks is that they often appear to be carried out by governments bent on squelching online discussions of political corruption and human rights abuses …”
Here at home, some conservative websites have been targeted by so-called cyber anarchists. Such was the case when Tea Party Community, the uncensored alternative to Facebook, debuted on Saturday. The Tea Party social networking site was hit with a denial-of-service attack that required the site’s temporary shutdown for maintenance. As of yet, it is unclear who was behind the cyber assault.
However, most so-called “hacktivists” are libertarian in their worldview. The hacker group Anonymous recently posted a YouTube video supporting the Second Amendment rights of Americans. In response to the anti-gun hysteria that followed in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Anonymous video states, “Guns have been used to save lives … Mr. Obama will tell you that he needs to get guns out of the hands of criminals, but he will be taking them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, while the criminals will still have them and will have other means of inflicting harm – and the law-abiding citizen will be helpless …”
“Mr. Obama, the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not talk about an army,” the video continued, “that is covered elsewhere in the Constitution. It does talk about a ‘well-regulated militia,’ which is made up of civilians with their own weapons. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not talk about protecting government or government resources but it does talk about it being necessary ‘for the security of a free state.’ The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not say a single word about hunting or sport. But it does say, ‘The people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.’”
Recently, Anonymous came out against what it saw as the U.S. government’s attempt to censor the Internet, saying government censorship “affects anyone that desires the freedom to browse anonymously, speak freely without fear of retribution, or protest without fear of arrest.”
Organizations – even of computer hackers – do not think monolithically. Organizations, after all, are comprised of individuals. If the denial-of-service attack on Tea Party Community was the work of hackers associated with Anonymous, it would prove that free speech is not a principle taken seriously by that shadowy organization. If the free exchange of ideas must first meet the requirements of a self-appointed governing body – as exists in Saudi Arabia, communist China and North Korea – how can that organization claim to stand for free speech?
Authoritarian regimes deploy jackbooted minions because their ideas are unpersuasive. Only brute force can sustain them.
In the end, the suppression of speech is a lost cause. The truth is not easily squelched.