Friday, November 06, 2009

First, they came for the...

This is shaping up to be a bad week for civil liberties, and it's really getting me down. I've been kicking ass these past few days, so this bad news tempering my excitement? NOT appreciated! I refer primarily, of course, to the complete and utter failure of the state of Maine to uphold the right of same-sex couples to marry. I know only two people from Maine (and only one of them well at all), but I wish that as a sample they had proved to be more representative of the whole (they were both decidedly against the same-sex marriage ban)! My position on marriage is surely well-established by now, so I'll keep any reiteration short and to the point: I...I do and do not understand the idea that same-sex marriage could be threatening or offensive to a person. I mean, sure it might be against the tenets of your religion or something, but did you forget to read the damned bits of your constitution that address the separation of church and state? I mean, yes you could find an idea repulsive on a personal level, but I'm pretty sure that's not how laws work (well, it shouldn't be anyhow). I mean, Etarran hates zucchini, but I can at best imagine him joking about a legal crusade to outlaw its cultivation!

No, the whole miserable business is indefensible. One cannot pretend to live in an open and free society whilst all the while denying his or her countrypeople the same rights he or she enjoys. At best, that can be called hypocrisy. I think I call it tyranny, which is a good segue into another troubling assault on personal freedoms: the recent ban on violent video games in Venuzuela. This has also been an issue in the US, and I guess that it is fitting for a country which is more at ease with making war than making love that their citizens and courts should uphold the right of citizens to simulate all manner of slaughter, but not to marry whomsoever they choose. Wonderful, isn't it?

There's a wonderful essay written by a Venuzuelan on the topic, which can be read here. I'm not sure if I agree that banning violent videogames is tantamount to making protest illegal (although making the expression of views contrary to those of the government a crime? Yeah, there we go!). I think it might be something different, something more than just silencing protest. I think it's entirely possible that the Venuzuelan government is trying to silence an entire generation, regardless of what it is they are saying. If you're incredulous, simply imagine [insert your government here] bans text messaging, facebook, or twitter (hey, wait, hasn't that HAPPENED ALREADY SOMEWHERE?) It could be - at least on the surface - a move to silence particular voices of dissent, but you would realize soon enough I think that the real effect of such a ban would be to effectively evict our generation from home turf. "oh, POOR YOU, you'd have to resort to communications in person, how terrible!" I hear the parents droning sarcastically. No, for serious: That was your way, we have our own way now! It would be like taking away paper and quills before people had phones in their houses, or killing all the troubadours in medieval Europe. Back to videogames, though: I don't think they really express "dissent" of themselves, but they provide our generation with cultural anchors of a sort. Weirdly, I think that the backlash from gamers might be the source of more dissent than games themselves could ever be.

I think that for too long I assumed that 'socialist' meant 'good', and that Hugo Chavez was simply the victim of the kind of slander you're liable to hear about socialists when you live next to one of the most heartless capitalisms the world has ever known. Now, I'm not so sure what I believe. It would be too easy to say "well, now I know the opposite to be true", but I don't think that would actually bely a better understanding of the situation. What I do know is that I want to live in Venuzuela even less than I did before...

...and there's the rub. This is all very well and far away for me, but it's terrifying to think that it IS TRUE somewhere. My hard drive and collection of optical disks? VENUZUELAN CONTRABAND?!?! Weird stuff!

I wonder if there are any gaming speakeasies already in operation in Venuzuela?


1 comment:

Daydream Believer said...

I'd like to point out to all those sarcastic parents that I'm more or less incapable of interacting in person with anyone from previous chapters of my life, since at the moment, a ginormous expanse of water and land separates us.
Socialist doesn't have to be bad... as long as the tyranny bit is left out.

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