Late in the evening of December 6th, in the Exarcheia district of central Athens, 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was out with friends. Shortly after 9pm the group became part of a confrontation with members of the Greek Police. Alexandros was shot and killed.
In the days following the killing Alexandros became a symbol of a growing frustration among Greek youth over the country’s growing economic problems, rising unemployment, and a general perception of an inefficient and corrupt Greek government.
Riots in Athens over the death quickly spread like through out the country and then through out the whole of Europe.
The speed at which the riots spread has in part been attributed to organizers using text messaging and the internet as a means of spreading their message and setting up meeting locations. In an article to the Associated Press, Paul Have wrote…
At least some of the protests were organized over the Internet, showing how quickly the message of discontent can be spread, particularly among tech-savvy youth. One Web site Greek protesters used to update each other on the locations of clashes asserted there have been sympathy protests in nearly 20 countries.
This isn’t the first time we have seen the internet become a tool of the disenfranchised as a means of organizing protests.
When California passed Proposition 8 on November 4th, a wave of Anti-Prop 8 web sites such as Join the Impact, appeared on the web as a means of directing information to protesters and to organize events such as the Nationwide protest of November 15th and upcoming December 20th “Light Up The Night For Equality“.
Even in tightly controlled China, the internet has been used to organize people to effect change in government policies and stop construction of a chemical plant.
The internet is still basically in its infancy and the genie is out of the bottle. It’s difficult to imagine just how the civil rights movement of the 1960′s would have progressed had the internet been available. Imagine watching Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech as a live web cast or if Rosa Parks could have texted all her friends to join her in sitting at the front of buses all over the country on the same day.
Often, as individuals, we feel somewhat powerless against those with power, whether it be government, or the vocal majority. We sit in our homes feeling sorry for ourselves and saying “I can’t do anything about my situation so I’ll just make the best of it.” What we don’t realize is that we are rarely if ever truly alone.
Cross posted at The Pajama Pundit
Yesterday in the senate we saw more of the political playground in action as Senators play king of the hill over power, using the lives of gay American servicemen and women as pawns. The vote on the cloture for the Defense appropriations bill, which included language for the repeal of of the horrendous military policy of Don?t Ask Don?t Tell which forces gay solders to lie to their fellows and their officers, failed on a vote of 56-43.
No Republicans voted for the bill while 3 Democrats, including Harry Reid voted against it. Reid?s, vote of course was a procedural one so that the bill could be brought up again later. And while many in the LGBT community are trying to lay the blame entirely at the feet of Republicans, they seem to have ignored the events leading up to the vote.
Jim Barroway of Box Turtle Bulletin explains?
In the days leading up to today?s vote, Reid announced that he would allow a vote on only three amendments to the appropriations bill.
Those were the only amendments that Reid would allow to come up for a vote, all of which were chosen by Reid for the political advantage they would give the Democrats in tough mid-term election campaigns. His gamble wasn?t really a gamble at all. In fact, his gambit was a win-win for Democrats, at least in how they see their strategy unfolding. If Republicans upheld the filibuster, then Reid could go home and say that it was the Republicans who blocked DADT?s repeal and immigration reform. If the Dems had prevailed on the filibuster, then Reid would have been able to get the Republican caucus on record on these two issues ahead of the November elections. Either way, what Reid actually sought to accomplish was political gamesmanship, not Senatorial statesmanship.
The Republican caucus insisted that they be allowed to bring proposed amendments up for a vote as well, a reasonable demand that in ordinary times would not have raised an eyebrow. But these are not ordinary times. Votes in the Senate aren?t about actually doing anything but positioning for the elections. I don?t know what amendments Republicans wanted votes on, but they were undoubtedly just as politically divisive as Reid?s chosen amendments. But by not even allowing debate on a very limited number of those other amendments, Reid doomed DADT?s repeal until after the election.
The LGBT community needs to take off the blinders and realize that neither party is looking out for us and that our equality will never come by way of a vote. The Republicans continue to let their party be highjacked by social conservatives who seem intent on eliminating anyone that doesn?t follow their religious doctrine, while Democrats are just using us for cash and votes.