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Abbie Hoffman Would Have Loved 4Chan

Date/Time Permalink: 12/08/10 12:47:37 pm
Category: General

...and if you stop and think about it (or as I will explain in today's post), that isn't actually saying a good thing. The real title of this post should have been "Julian Assange Is A Blowhard, Ron Paul Is Still An Idiot, And There's More Important Issues In Life Than Legalizing Pot", but that title would have driven readers away without checking it out.

Because history is a dead subject in America, allow me to re-introduce the principle characters. This is Abbie Hoffman:

Abbie Hoffman flipping bird and brandishing gun

This is probably the most characteristic image that sums up the chap. Although he is brandishing a rifle, he wasn't particularly known for violence. The bird he's flipping and the F-bomb written on his forehead, however, might as well be his registered trademarks.

In the late '60s and early '70s, Hoffman led the Youth International Party, also known as the "Yippies." This is confusing, because a modern reader might see that word out of context and mentally infer "yuppies plus hippies equals yippies", but that's not the case. The Yippies were very much their own movement; they were the second wave of the Baby Boomers after the hippies and Flower Power thing started playing out.

Hoffman also wrote Steal This Book:

Not a best-seller for some reason

...and those of you modern Internet activists who equate file-sharing with civil rights have already felt a ping of kinship with him! In fact, Hoffman was a prolific author. His bibliography includes titles such as F*** the System and Revolution For the Hell Of It. He's sounding more and more like a member of Anonymous every minute, isn't he?

Oh, and here's the Yippie flag:

OK, so not the most attractive motif...

Wow, marijuana was so important to them that it was emblazoned right on their flag! And it's laid over a red star suggesting Communist affiliation, which is funny because they shoot pot smokers on sight in China, Russia, and Cuba. If you're tokin', you aren't producing "from each according to their ability", comrade!

But it just goes to show, there really were people as ignorant as Generation Y back there in history. That's actually a relief. I was worried the human race was devolving into monkeys or something. Anyway, they put pot at the front of their agenda, as if only the lit end of a joint pointed the way to liberty. Do we know any movement in modern times who does this?

Did I even have to show you?

It sounds like I'm setting Abbie Hoffman up to demonize him, but in fact, I loved the big goofy lug and was sorry to see him go. I don't agree with him, but I have to admire his spirit, or at least his soul. But let's get to the nut of the matter:

Here's a comprehensive list of everything the Youth International Party accomplished:

  1. Doodly-squat

They made a lot of noise, they got a lot of headlines. The TV news ran clips about them late in the broadcast, right between sports and the closing panda story. A few quotes from Wikipedia about the Yippies ring especially true today:

"The Yippies were the first on the New Left to make a point of exploiting mass media. Colorful, theatrical Yippie actions were tailored to attract media coverage, and also to provide a stage..."

"Yippies were famous for their sense of humor."

"The group was known for street theater pranks and was once referred to as the 'Groucho Marxists'."

"Yippies organized alternative institutions in their counterculture communities."

Yes, "alternative institutions" were "free stores" then and The Pirate Bay now.

The problem with Yippies and the modern 4chan/Anonymous legion (I hate the term "hackivists" but that looks like the name young online activists will be stuck with) is that they make a lot of noise and get a lot of attention, but they hurt their cause by generally being a bunch of kids acting like attention-seeking brats.

Let me tell you what real revolutions are made of: They are well-organized. They have clear goals. They get taken seriously. They have a plan, not just to get attention, but to win. When they achieve their coup, they have an organized political system all set to replace the old one. THEY HAVE A PLAN!

But whee, isn't it fun to pull down your pants and moon the news cameras? You can sit on the couch afterwards and laugh as the evening news recounts your latest publicity stunt. But what did it accomplish? What did it change? Oh, sorry, I forgot. The First Rule of Project Mayhem is You Do Not Ask Questions.

Julian Assange is a Groucho Marxist. Wikileaks is simply taking the place of the old "The Memory Hole" website, which used to publish leaked documents twice as revealing with one-tenth the noise and fuss. Wikileaks, as has been demonstrated today, can run just fine without Julian Assange. He wasn't arrested; he turned himself in. He isn't being tried for anything to do with Wikileaks, but for some misdemeanor-level sex charge (not rape!) that is only illegal in Sweden and only carries a fine of $750. So while he's dodging from country to country with police kinda-half-heartedly chasing him like a global game of Pac-Man, he shoots off a bunch of leaked documents (with two months' worth of teaser statements beforehand to be sure everybody's watching) to make it look like he's a Superspy Anarchy Activist being taken down by The Man instead of a working-class shlub dodging the sex-law equivalent of a traffic ticket.

Oh, one more parallel between Abbie Hoffman and Julian Assange: At age 16, Assange got his feet wet cracking into computer systems and exploring and sharing the data he found. This actually led to an Australian arrest, to which he pled guilty and was fined $2100 AU. The point of comparison is that while doing so, he, together with some of his script-kiddie friends, formed a group that was actually called "The International Subversives". I guess he didn't know about the "Youth International Party" or felt that he was 20 years late for it.

Need I go on? [ Edit - I'll let this guy at ABC.net.au go on for me, in a very intelligent and clear assessment of the Wikileaks situation. ]

Now Ron Paul, who simply cannot order breakfast these days without delivering a speech in support of Assange, has already been a subject of this blog before. I'm sure we all remember the blimp and the "Re[3V0_|]ution" and characters like this invading my home town of Des Moines, Iowa, in 2007/2008, right around Caucus time:

I know this guy.

What I'm getting at is, Ron Paul is also a Groucho Marxist. Remember his nickname, "Dr. No"? He got that nickname from often being the lone dissenting vote in the US House of Representatives. Stop and think about that. The lone dissenting vote. There are 435 voting members of the US House of Representatives. So Ron Paul is famous for coming out on the losing side of vote tallies that look like this:

Ron Paul Everybody Else
Nay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay Yay

That's great, you made a symbolic protest. It reminds me of those protest votes for Ralph Nader. But, ladies and gentlemen, does Dr. No LOOK LIKE A SUCCESSFUL POLITICIAN??? No, he looks like he LOSES a lot! When you lose a lot, they have a name for you. They call you a "LOSER". Have you heard about the lonesome loser, beaten by the queen of hearts every time? Have you heard about the lonesome loser; he's a loser, but he still keeps on tryin'?

[ Edit A few days later, by coincidence, Wikipedia made "Ross Perot presidential campaign of 1992" their featured article of the day. Once again, we have a third-party candidate, a grassroots movement, lots of noise, he was provided with a free soapbox to the point where some days it seemed like Larry King was a regular guest on Ross Perot Live, and lost anyway. Just fell apart, didn't take the job seriously enough, kept changing his mind on whether or not he even wanted to be president. Ross Perot is another example. ]

SUCCESSFUL politicians get other politicians to go along with them. People like Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Barrack Obama have fought for the same causes that Groucho Marxists advocate for, but - THEIR BILLS GO THROOOOOOOOUUUUUGH! Their measures pass, their activism groups win, they change things, they get elected to higher offices than Representative. They win win win win win win win win win win. Maybe not every time, but they at least have a few notches on their rifle stock.

I'll tell you what they don't do: They don't dress up in screwball costumes, they don't go out and do performance art comedy pieces, and they don't run around blowing pot smoke in everybody's faces and then giggling at how annoying that is.

This is the worst 4chan can do: make your website run kind of slow for a day - an activity which is roundly condemned by 2600 Magazine, bless them. And when "hacktivists" make a website run slow, they aren't "just getting warmed up". That's it, that for them is a victory. The story makes the news, they retire to their bongs on their couches and giggle as they watch all the attention they're getting. And tomorrow, nothing is changed.

Let me make this clear to all of the Yippies, "Hacktivists", Anonymous, and Groucho Marxists:

You're all assholes.

You hurt, do not help, but hurt the causes you advocate for. Because of you, serious people trying to make the changes that you want to have happen lose credibility. You are in fact a hindrance, not a help. Even if you could just get your message out without being assholes about it, you'd be doing us a favor. Al Gore made a movie An Inconvenient Truth. Maybe that didn't solve global warming, but at least, if you watch it, it is a dignified, intelligent argument. What's wrong with getting your message out that way? Oh, wait, I forgot...

Once you puff, you can't get enough!

...you don't seem to have the time to make a whole documentary or read a book or get elected or really change things. Once you puff, you can't get enough! Yeah, I hear that. You know, in my young days, I used to smoke weed too! Dude, really! Yeah, Penguin Pete, this brainy geeky guy who reads a lot 'n' programs 'n' draws 'n' stuff, yeah, he totally used to blaze, man! Emphasis on USED TO.

I'm for the legalization of marijuana myself. For a whole bunch of reasons, not all of them identical to everybody else's. It's just that it's way down on my agenda list; it's about the 999th most important issue to me. It's not that I officially "quit". It's been a couple of decades "dry" now, and I reserve the right to toke a plant at a distant time in the future, when I'm an old retired guy in a rocking chair on the porch. When I'm old and useless, after I've finished taking care of business. In just the same way, as I state on my "about me" page, I'm a wine fan, but drinking wine is a holiday/special-occasion thing, so I can relax and make snooty comments about the legs on my lightly chilled Pinot Griego. There's a difference between what I do and being wasted on a jug of Thunderbird every day.

You know why I haven't smoked pot in a long time? Because it got BORING! I have a built-in defense mechanism against addiction to any drug, including alcohol, because they all get BORING and I get BORED sitting around baked out of my mind TOO STUPID to understand anything and TOO LAZY to do anything!

And I have nothing but flaming contempt for any idiot who is happy to live that way 24/7/365.

So to all you slacktivists, on behalf of all of us who are struggling to be rid of useless wars, rotten economies, gay prohibition, theocracies, censorship, impediment to scientific progress, monopolies, and yes, even pot prohibition...

Please choke to death on your stupid bong as fast as you possibly can - and then go straight to hell!


Update: Exactly one month after I composed this post, the 2011 Tucson Massacre happened. The suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, could have been as good as a golem constructed from all of the folly I rant and rave against above. Tea Partier, Ayn Rand-fan, pothead, goldbug, Libertarian, and so on, wrapped around definite schitzophrenia at the core.

I'm too sick with grief at the tragedy (so far at six dead and twelve wounded) to go on arguing about it now, but I can mutely point at it in support of the above thesis. When I say "You hurt, do not help, but hurt the causes you advocate for," I'm talking about incidents like the 2011 Tucson Massacre.

Now, political interests from all camps are hopping online to deny that this guy had anything to do with their political preaching, that he was just a nutcase. Yes, a nutcase who internalized and digested and memorized all of the online "hacktivism" the Grocho Marxists spew - and then it fed his madness.

Or, as nothing less than the Department of Homeland Security put it:

"The report, which warned that the crippled economy and the election of the first black president were 'unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment,' described the rise of 'lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent right-wing extremist ideology [as] the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States,' according to a copy reviewed by The Center for Public Integrity."

Here, folks, let Representative Bob Filner tell you all about violent right-wing extremist ideology, in this shocking recent video.

A side note: One of Jared Lee Loughner's chief beefs was the "Obamacare" health bill. Ironically enough, as Huffington Post points out, more health care for the neglected mentally ill would have prevented this tragedy. Yes, please, we do need better commitment policies! When someone is disturbed enough that they're scaring people, and you can't commit them until they commit a violent act, obviously something is wrong.

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