Sometimes it seems that little has changed since the days of the Stonewall riots and anti-war protests in New York City.
Yes, police brutality is apparently back in style on the streets of the city as peaceful protestors are beaten and young women sprayed in the face with pepper spray simply for expressing an opinion.
However, this clearly isn’t the ‘60s anymore. Law enforcement officials are facing a new generation of disenfranchised, yet tech savvy youth who maintain a distinct advantage in the digital realm.
Well, because incriminating videos will be uploaded to YouTube, while brutal cops are named and shamed. Poorly secured servers are also likely to be raided, with their contents inevitably dumped or slowly leaked on the ‘Net either by internal whistleblowers or hackers.
Clearly, the rules of the game have changed. Inquiring minds are no longer bound by the confines of insipid networks and cable channels that choose the route of self-censorship and shamelessly elect to ignore certain inconvenient stories.
It certainly isn’t 1968, when poet-activist Allen Ginsberg told William F. Buckley that the average American was unable to fully comprehend the issue of police brutality against civil rights activists – because of the way U.S. networks chose to selectively broadcast coverage of protests and demonstrations.
“One of the problems is, politically speaking, no one can understand the problem of police brutality in America, or the police state scene that we’re going through without understanding the language of the police,” Ginsberg opined way back when.
“The language that the police use [against protestors] is such that I can’t pronounce it to the middle class audience. So the middle class audience… doesn’t really have the actual data or some portion of the data to judge the emotional situation.”
And that is precisely where Anonymous and WikiLeaks fit in. The average citizen likely has some kind of access to YouTube and can choose to watch disturbing clips of police acting badly, complete with violent images and uncensored audio.
People can also choose to search through gigabytes of data, as decades of corruption and incompetence are exposed for all the world to see.
Yes, both options may be hard for some to sit through, as the videos and leaked documents raise difficult questions, some without acceptable answers.
Still, we do have the right to watch, read and voice our opinions – at least for now.