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Commentary :: Media
NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
20 Oct 2004
The Newton Tab is running this attack AND defense of Indymedia........ more attack.
The power of press, the price of silence
By Karla Hailer-Fidelman
Wednesday, October 20, 2004


This month, using the Patriot Act, the FBI served a number of subpoenas on Rackspace - an Internet hosting company - seizing a number of servers belonging to Indymedia. They were served here in the U.S. as well as in the United Kingdom, Italy and Switzerland. One of the servers seized belongs to the Indymedia outlet in western Massachusetts.

For those of you unfamiliar with Indymedia, it is a ragtag collection of voices with the idea that the power of the press belongs to those who own one and gives the opportunity for everyone to be the press.

According to what little bit the FBI released, they are providing an outlet for terrorists to communicate messages. To people like me who check in on Indymedia every so often, they are a bunch of spoiled college students who, if you don't agree with them, will shout you down as a "tool of the corporate system." The majority of kids posting there are the same kids we see walking around town after the high schools let out. Perhaps you've seen them over the years wearing jeans, T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. Sometimes they dye their hair funny colors, sometimes they don't. They may or may not have facial piercings. Most of them are intelligent students who go to off to college and are interested in social action.

Can you identify which ones are the terrorists yet or are you looking at all those kids in Newton Centre and Newtonville thinking: They all look alike to me.

There are those out there who are willing to trade freedom for security, but will they be as willing to make that trade if the FBI comes knocking on their door to turn their child's room upside down?

For those who have studied history or politics, they can tell you that the first stage of any revolution is to identify the dissenting voices and silence them. The best way to do so is to find the fringe voices that people will not object to being silenced. Seizing the Indymedia servers seems to be a calculated move that frightens me greatly because these are the fringe voices that most people won't miss.

My husband is someone who will tell you about how much I despise Indymedia. I find them to be highly biased and self-righteous, especially when you call them on their bias. I find that many of those who post to the site are spin doctors that would make people like Karl Rove or Jim Carville think about hiring such talent so they can hone them and use them in a few years.

But the site serves a real purpose. It shows us that free speech works.

I don't have to agree with the voices there, but I am not threatened by their views any more than I am threatened by Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly. We need those extreme left and right views so that we can challenge our own positions and see if we are being too rigid or too flexible as not one of us is ever entirely correct all the time.

What is truly upsetting about the server raid goes deeper. Today it is Indymedia, who cares? But would you care if a subpoena was served on Community Newspapers, cutting off the TAB and other local papers because terrorists were placing messages in the classified ads to each other?

What if they shut down NewTV because a student they suspected of subversive action was interviewed on "Tiger Magazine" or a person being investigated for possible terrorist activities called into "Newton Talk?"

Would that make you angry or would you shrug and say, "I don't watch local access cable any way?" What if they shut down a Boston station - say Channel 7 - because a reporter's source was suspected of terrorist activity. Would you be nervous then? Would you be nervous if someone showed up on your doorstep to seize your computer because of something you said in a chat room?

What would it take for you to be scared?

For me, it's the targeting of stupid voices. The majority of us don't listen to the kids who look very much like our own railing about the government because we know that one day they grow up and learn the reality of the world. It is very easy for a middle-class kid whose parents are still footing the bill to shake their fists at the sky yelling about the WTO; however, once they have to support themselves, their views often soften, grow and mature. It is the reason many old hippies have found ways to mellow with age but retain their basic values. It is why many of us ignore things like Indymedia or roll our eyes with the sentiment, "come back and talk to me when you have to work for a living."

Our government does not have the right to kick that soapbox out from underneath them without explaining themselves fully. That's what the First Amendment is about.

In the end, I keep thinking about why I know dissenting speech works. On the top of the recent nonfiction bestseller list are three books: "The Family" by Kitty Kelly; "Unfit for Command" by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth; and "America: the book" by John Stewart and the staff at "The Daily Show." While I contend all three books are more historical fiction than nonfiction, there you have three views of our government. Kitty Kelly's piece of purple prose that paints the first family as coked-out rich kids, the "truth" about John Kerry's service as told by people who never served with him directly and a book that makes fun of them all.

I am not threatened by Indymedia. I do not believe there are any more secret messages from terrorists there than there are right in front of us through more traditional sources. I do believe that if we do not speak out about any voices being silenced, we will all pay a far heavier price than we ever dreamed.

This work is in the public domain
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Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
20 Oct 2004
Karla Hailer Fidelman has never contacted Boston Indymedia. Obviously her article is biased and unsubstatiated for this fact. This is journalism at its laziest and worst.
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
20 Oct 2004
We called the editor, he is willing to "try" to print a response from us in the next issue of the Newton Tab. Stidman's taken the task of writing it.
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
20 Oct 2004
Though I never trust women of no royalty or accomplishment who have hyphenated last names, Karla Fidelman's description of IMC is accurate. I don't think she passes for a centrist though. Personally, I would be amused if a local TAB was shut down, since it is just an organ for the local peddlers, though I can't imagine anyone there doing anything of a terrorist nature.

I am from Allston, so all Newtonians DO look alike to me, me being a renter of property.

I look forward to the IMC response to the Flame war which is spreading to the TAB. Please advise us when and which issue it will appear in.
Interesting article. I want to read Indy's response.
20 Oct 2004
The article was obviously an attack on Indymedia, but written in defense of Free Speech. In essence, she is saying: "I hate Indymedia, but Im more worried about the action against the free press than the suffering of Indymedia as a result of the FBI actions.

I look at it this way: Indymedia has stuck its neck out there and supported many known (or later accused) dissidents who were breaking the laws. There HAVE been communications from persons the government deems a threat or are on the government lst of "enemy combatants". The unwavering support of anarchists and communists by Indymedia is also a factor.

Karla said this, and it pretty much echoes the sentiments of many of the Right (myself included):

"For me, it's the targeting of stupid voices. The majority of us don't listen to the kids who look very much like our own railing about the government because we know that one day they grow up and learn the reality of the world. It is very easy for a middle-class kid whose parents are still footing the bill to shake their fists at the sky yelling about the WTO; however, once they have to support themselves, their views often soften, grow and mature. It is the reason many old hippies have found ways to mellow with age but retain their basic values. It is why many of us ignore things like Indymedia or roll our eyes with the sentiment, "come back and talk to me when you have to work for a living."

Squelching Free Speech is wrong, but allowing free speech to cross the boundaries of sensibility (publishing articles calling for hackers to electronically disrupt the RNC and the DNC?) is irresponsible, and draws the wrath from the "powers that be". Editors must take a look at the BIG PICTURE and realize that there are rules and unwritten rules which must be acknowledged. Great examples can be found in history:

Earth Kitt blackballed by Hollywood because in 1968 at a White House lunch hosted by Lady Bird Johnson, Kitt famously spoke out against the Vietnam War. For an actress or actor, blackballing is like receiving a prison sentence. Hollywood is not the government, blackballing is not the court system.

Indymedia needs to identify its liabilities and act to limit them as much as possible. It does not mean that you cant print what you want, it means that some things need to be deleted. The alternative is to allow rebuttals from the Right to those most incendiary articles. If you capriciously delete a well written rebuttal to an issue from an opposing Right wing source, you may piss that person off enough for them to "drop a dime" and "arrange" distasteful actions such as the server seizures. Such actions are not difficult to initiate if one is well connected.

Indymedia is a sovereign entity, living on a non-sovereign infrastructure (the internet), and controlled by ISPs and web hosts. Indymedia will only be TRULY independent when it owns an ISP.
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
20 Oct 2004
You miss the point about what Indymedia is. IMC isn't some group that decides to support anarchists and radicals, but rather many people in Indymedia are anarchists and radicals. The entire point is that there is no entity favoring one group or another, but instead everyone is supposed to have a say.
about the article. it doesn't matter if her overall point is good. she is an awful writer: I could write better than that years ago and I haven't gone to college. Besides that this isn't journalism, it isn't accurate. Everyone involved with IMC isn't a rich Newton kid who looks differently. Anybody who understood the layout of IMC would figure that out.
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
20 Oct 2004
I met you guys before and I think the sterotypes are accurate.
Re: Owning a website and posting on others
20 Oct 2004
If the good lord Jesus Christ had not intended us to own one thing and use another, he never would have invented two-car garages.
Now that's what I like to hear, Matt and Flipside!
20 Oct 2004
I have to agree with Flipside when he says that most of the members of the IMC collectives fit the stereotype. "The majority of us don't listen to the kids who look very much like our own railing about the government because we know that one day they grow up and learn the reality of the world. <b>It is very easy for a middle-class kid whose parents are still footing the bill to shake their fists at the sky yelling about the WTO; however, once they have to support themselves, their views often soften, grow and mature.</b>"

And then Matt admits it as well...

"Once, I may well have fit Ms. Hailer-Fidelman's stereotype of a young, dogmatic radical."

Guess what? I used to fit it too! But I was a teenager, just getting started in college and I had so many high ideas, socialistic utopian dreams and plenty of pot and beer to consume. My dad suggested that I enlist in the military because I "lacked discipline". After getting that first REAL job (over 30K a year), my values changed considerably. I began to value tax writeoffs, protectionist policies which protected my industry (IT) and any legislation which reduced my now heavier tax burden.

Here I am, over 40 and making 6 figures and paying ridiculously high income tax and now property taxes. The last thing I want to hear is that "the wealthy will be taxed", or that welfare benefits are being increased (which means MORE taxes). I dont want to hear some 20 year old grocery bagger dropout whine about benefits and higher wages. Activism and dissent are incompatible with financial success and hard work.

Matt:

"I now see how voting and working for certain types of reform can fit into a larger radical strategy--but my views are no less radical for being more nuanced."

Your views can be as radical as you want them to be. Its your ACTIONS which you have "nuanced". In essence, I am easily as radical and aggressive as I was in my teen years, but I have "nuanced" my actions to fit into the accepted structure (as a strategic advantage).
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
21 Oct 2004
what really gets me is that this article outright ignores all african, asian, and south american IMCs. it also asserts that indymedia is a singular, centralized entity. besides being poorly written and disconnected, all of my problems with this have already been posted.
The article was not written to address those other IMCs
21 Oct 2004
The United States is the origin of the IMC network. All of the others (african, asian, and south american IMCs) are lower down in the IMC hierarchy. Dont let them say there is no hierarchy, because if any of them went "rogue", or did not subscribe to the CENTRALIZED ideaology, they could be dropped from the network or simply denied the IMC 'blessing" altogether.

"it also asserts that indymedia is a singular, centralized entity."

Isnt it? Same logo, same slogan, same software (basically), same ideaology. All the same dish with different seasonings (depending what city or country your particular region dictates). If the "main" IMC site doesnt like what you do with your "independent collective", they will bring charges, pass sentence, and if they let you back in, they will put you on parole.
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
21 Oct 2004
that's funny, cabal/karla(?), because the author never specifies WHICH indymedia sites she "despises" or claims are only posted on by "the same kids we see walking around town after the high schools let out. Perhaps you've seen them over the years wearing jeans, T-shirts and hooded sweatshirts. Sometimes they dye their hair funny colors, sometimes they don't. They may or may not have facial piercings."

It is written as if to describe ALL IMCs. I don't think that indymedia is perfect- but it, like any open form of communication (see also: the internet, television, newpapers), is not necessarily "good" or "bad"- it is what you make of it. The difference between IMC and corporate media is NOT how accurate it is (they both have a strong bias), but what their bias is. I trust a news source that is written mostly from the perspective of people envisioning and trying to create a better world much more than that from people who would conquer and destroy it. Of course most indymedias subscribe to similar ideologies, what did you expect? I don't think that the central indymedia site should choose to shut out certain IMCs, yet they are a ton more accepting of diverging opinions than, say, fox news.

I'd also like to comment on your statement
"I dont want to hear some 20 year old grocery bagger dropout whine about benefits and higher wages"

Does this also apply to some 20 year old immigrant grocery bagger who doesn't have much else in terms of job options? Your statement here comes from a pretty priviledged point of view: you are basically saying that anyone who can't get a job that pays a living wage or benefits deserves to be where they are, and shouldn't try to improve the situation in their workplace. Why didn't you just outright attack the existance of unions while you're at it?
Im glad you understood my post. You got it exactly right.
21 Oct 2004
No, Im not the author of the lead article, but I do agree with her views. You said "I trust a news source that is written mostly from the perspective of people envisioning and trying to create a better world much more than that from people who would conquer and destroy it."

The function of a "news source" is to report news, not to "envision" or try to propagate dissident ideaologies. They can spin that news as they wish, and all news sources spin their stories. In that sense, the IMC network spins into VERY high rpms. An item reporting an anarchist blocking traffic in protest and then getting arrested for breaking the law becomes an IMC story entitled: "Dissident arrested for exercising Free Speech by fascist cops".

Then you said:

"Does this also apply to some 20 year old immigrant grocery bagger who doesn't have much else in terms of job options? Your statement here comes from a pretty priviledged point of view: you are basically saying that anyone who can't get a job that pays a living wage or benefits deserves to be where they are, and shouldn't try to improve the situation in their workplace. Why didn't you just outright attack the existance of unions while you're at it? "

If that 20 year old "immigrant" is an ILLEGAL ALIEN (I hate the terms "undocumented worker", and "immigrant" when used to describe ILLEGAL invaders), then that person not only should have NO job options, but should be deported. The government has money and opportunities set aside specifically for legal immigrants to take advantage of, and most do. Minimum wage IS a libing wage. Its just not going to allow you to drive a Mercedes or eat steak twice a week. Who would think that a grocery bagging job is appropriate to raise a family on? If I am living a privileged lifestyle, its because I earned it. Some
of my ancestors were slaves (Im half black). I dont believe in "affirmative action" which is reverse discrimination, and I dont believe in handouts to the lazy either.

Actually, I did attack the unions too:
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display_any/29357
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
21 Oct 2004
first of all, there is no such thing as an objective news source. I interpret pretty much any news item as you would an opinion column.

secondly

" Minimum wage IS a libing wage."

Excuse me? Where did you get this piece of bullhockey? Oh yeah, you probably made it up.

Let's do some simple math here
according to this government resource regarding the US poverty level
http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/04poverty.shtml
The 2004 Health and Human Services definition of poverty for someone living ALONE is an income of $9,310 per year.
If the minimum wage is $6.75 per hour, then a minimum wage earner working 40 hours per week, for 32 weeks out of the years makes a grand total of
$8640 per year
So even someone living ALONE cannot support themselves, according to the goverment, working full time throughout the year, without vacation. Then apply that figure to someone supporting, say, 2 children (the poverty line then being $15,670 per year), and there is NO way that they will be able to provide fully for themselves and their children.
So tell me again how minimum wage is a living wage?

Go back to your suburb.
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
21 Oct 2004
Actually, I did attack the unions too:
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display_any/29357
>>>

also, i'm glad you're consistant in your disgustingly priviledged views. Please, could you now launch into how you "worked your way up from the bottom" and everyone else who hasn't deserves to live in poverty?
Okay, then "poverty level" is not living wage...if you say so.
21 Oct 2004
Plenty of IlLEGALS make that $9300 and change go a very long way. You failed to include the myriad handout programs made available by leftist legislation over the years (food stamps, housing assistance, child care subsidies, etc.). I take it you are also 20ish and have not had to pay property taxes or file long form tax forms. Of course that is the case, isnt it? Please stay in school (or get back in if you have dropped out). Go to college, and you will never have to contemplate existence from the Minimum Wage set.

My parents were both college graduates, and I came from a two parent upper middle class household. I once had a radical streak, but it matured into sensibility when I was introduced to the reality of RESPONSIBILITY. I didnt have to "work myself up from the bottom" because I didnt start on the bottom, and I have worked very hard to insure that I would never end up there.
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
21 Oct 2004
ahaha is this a serious article?
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
22 Oct 2004
I'm surprised to see so much fuss over me on Indymedia. Since so much is being attributed to me, let me clear a few things up:

1. I'm an opinion columnist
2. I read Indymedia on a regular basis and have met many people who identify themselves as regulars associated with Indymedia
3. I'm a columnist, not a reporter
4. I was pointing out that I don't have to agree with you to fight for your right to exist free of the FBI so far up your backside that they can tell us what you had for lunch 2 weeks ago (my apologies to Jon Stewart for the paraphrasing the expression)
5. Did I mention I'm a opinion columnist?

I find it frustrating that you are so quick to stereotype me while decrying my opinion of you. I also find it frustrating that you are reinforcing my observations and opinion that the "be the media" attitude only extend to those whom agree with you.

I also love some of the motives and reasons you assign to me... if only I had thought of them.

What it breaks down to is this: I feel you people have the right to exist and express your opinions just as I have mine. I don't have to agree or like you to say you have that right as guaranteed under the first ammendment. I don't expect you to like or dislike me, but I do expect you to also defend my right to express my opinions as well. (What's good for the goose is good for the gander and all that.)

So please, send your opinions on to my editor and whomever else you may want to - it proves the first ammendment works.

Karla Hailer-Fidelman
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
24 Oct 2004
The main problem with this article is that it rests on a set of really dumb assumptions and stereotypes that attempt to supercede reality. I have plenty of personal problems with indymedia, but come on, let's be serious here. The "all radicals are a bunch of middle class kids who will eventually grow up and get a job" thing is really tired and increasingly irrelevent. And incidentally, of all of the groups that I know of, it probably least applies to indymedia.
Re: NewtonTAB attacks/defends Indymedia
26 Oct 2004
I would like to get back to the issue at hand which is the Tab. The Tab, though terrible is more powerful and better organized than the IMC. That should make the IMC jealous. I know it makes me jealous. Here are some things the Tab got that you ain't got:

five town paper circulation
advertising revenue
power to harass politicians with a headline
the jewish ear
mercantile support
regular publication schedule
production and distribution infrastructure.