A Brutal Misinformation

I’m cautiously cynical by nature, so I find it hard to believe much of what I see online and on TV at face value. As cynical as I am, I also prefer to do some research to legitimize my cynicism or prove it wrong, too.

A video has been burning up online today after a strange delayed viral effect. The video is of an event in May 2011, but given the latest sharing activity and comments you may have read, you’d be led to believe this just happened and is just another event in a string of highly-publicized events from the Occupy camps and their press machines since September 2011.

Before we dive into the video and why events like these are moving us into increasingly difficult times, let’s watch it together. Just be sure to read on after you’re done for the full story.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zhDQkSqii-E?rel=0]

Angering, isn’t it? If you’re like any of those who shared this today adding to the viral distribution, you’ve lost a little more faith in any sense of authority and government, provided you had any left. It’s disgusting, an abuse of power, brutality where brutality wasn’t necessary. After all, the people in this video were just dancing. Right?

The video was, again, from a flash mob in May 2011 as Huffington Post reported, an organized event by people looking to stir up trouble. But the user or group behind this YouTube upload didn’t want you to know that. They didn’t want you to know that this actually was a legitimate demonstration against an appeals court that upheld a previous ruling stating that “the conduct was indeed prohibited ‘because it stands out as a type of performance, creating its own center of attention and distracting from the atmosphere of solemn commemoration.'” That wasn’t included in the thousands of new shares that hit Facebook and Twitter today. None of the details were. You just saw dancers being arrested with force. Sad.

A coworker mentioned on one of the Facebook shares today:

Almost every major problem (political/social) is introduced to the masses by seemingly small and harmless laws and restrictions being passed frivolously.

He’s right, and to quote a very relevant line from Jurassic Park III, “Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.”

That is definitely true, but the story behind this video is that the people purposefully planned to go to the Jefferson Memorial knowing full well what was going to happen, and invited cameras and local media and locals to join with them in the literal demonstration. They live-tweeted it, they streamed it as it happened, they blogged about it.

For the video, however, they played dumb on camera (obviously for editorial effect) and not one person shown seemed to know why they weren’t allowed to do what they were doing. Off camera = they knew exactly why the police said to stop, on camera = they were aloof as if everyone just happened upon it and was curious. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

The point is, if someone wants to fight seemingly small and harmless laws and restrictions, they do so by going back to the courts and getting others involved. They get involved by running in a government election, and get like-minded individuals on their side to support them; they don’t go to break laws just to break laws because you simply don’t agree with them. After all, at that point, they’re just a criminal, regardless of the offense.

If you want to go seeking trouble, trouble will find you.

The people in the video who were arrested were released almost as soon as they got to the station. But you never would have known that if you didn’t hear the back story or look for it yourself, a story either never included in the links appearing all over Facebook today or never looked up by those sharing it.

Misinformation and those who spread it only lead to seemingly small and harmless laws and restrictions, just like the Protect IP and SOPA commercials you see on tv now where it is portrayed as incredibly good and helpful to everyone! It’ll protect American jobs in these tough times! It’ll uphold the quality of services and products you buy and rely on! Sounds great, right?

If you think the above video was oppression in the worst ways, you haven’t seen oppression like the kind we’ll experience if Protect-IP and SOPA get passed. It’s so serious, the biggest internet companies and free information sources like Wikipedia are strongly against it, going as far as threatening to pull all content down in protest.

The scariest part about sharing these events and videos and sound bites without context is: they all get a lot more attention than some of the most frightening bills being discussed, proposed and approved by our government recently.

After all, it’s popular and easy to share smartly-edited clips online and share your anger at authority. Much easier than picking up your phone and contacting your representative or getting involved with government or running for office to actually make a difference.

Some of the worst things imaginable have been done with the best intentions.