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IP: Cyber force behind protest

From: E Pluribus Unum <[email protected]>
Subject: IP: Cyber force behind protest
Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 06:59:50 -0500
To: E Pluribus Unum Email Distribution Network <[email protected]>

Cyber force 

                   By Anne Williamson 

                   What is dismaying to Democrats is a cliche to
                   Republicans; no one has done as much for the
                   Republican Party over the past six years as
                   has Bill Clinton. But Bill Clinton has
                   succeeded in making another significant
                   contribution to American political life.
                   Citizenship is back with a vengeance. If you
                   don't believe me, then just check out the
                   hottest site on the Internet, freerepublic.com. 

                   Begun by a handful of concerned citizens who
                   discovered their comments regarding Clinton
                   administration corruption were being
                   censored in an AOL political chat room, the
                   website itself is the achievement of one man,
                   Jim Robinson of Fresno, California. A retired
                   software executive suffering from muscular
                   sclerosis, Robinson marshaled his outrage
                   and his resources to establish the website.
                   With nearly 10,000 posters and over 120,000
                   daily hits, Free Republic has become a
                   phenomenon, a community and -- most
                   recently -- a nascent political force of
                   mindboggling potential. 

                   Dedicated to free speech, constitutional
                   government and the exposure of government
                   corruption, Free Republic works on an
                   interactive basis. The pretext for opening
                   debate is for participants to search the Internet
                   for pertinent news articles and post them
                   under Free Republic's many topics to
                   discussion boards of which "Whitewater" --
                   the catchall Clinton scandal header -- sizzles
                   the loudest. And then -- like a decorative tank
                   of pirhanas tossed a treat by a friendly
                   barkeep -- posters move in to dissect and
                   critique the article. 

                   What emerges by the end of the fast-moving
                   discussion "thread" no longer bears the
                   prejudicial marks of journalists belonging to
                   what FR characterizes as "the lamestream
                   media." Freepers, as Lucianne Goldberg has
                   dubbed them, employ links to other Internet
                   sites for unusual citations, contrary opinions
                   and facts supportive of their various
                   arguments. Original material found wanting
                   is received no differently. Dubious sourcing
                   and fuzzy thinking take a drubbing. In fact,
                   FR's forum is rigorous enough to have helped
                   develop several contributors' writing careers:
                   Lawyer J. Peter Mulhern went from a lengthy
                   call-in encounter with Rush Limbaugh to a
                   column for The Washington Weekly after a
                   stint as an FR regular; and David Burge, the
                   IowaHawk, whose whimsical and hilarious
                   "verbal cartoons" lampooning the political left
                   make him a FR favorite, lasted just long
                   enough to get plucked by the Conservative
                   News Network. Since the posts and
                   accompanying threads are indexed and
                   archived daily, FR's history along with that of
                   the nation is readily available. 

                   Otherwise, tinker, tailor, soldier are all to be
                   found on the Forum -- a cornucopia of
                   experience and knowledge -- who are joined
                   by White House monitors, disenchanted
                   Democrats, San Francisco "soccer moms with
                   brains," discouraged feminists and the
                   occasional liberal iconoclast. New players
                   stumble onto the site usually via a link from
                   Drudge, WorldNetDaily, Town Hall or other
                   news site while still others are tipped to the
                   political cyber-salon by a friend or relative.
                   When "lurkers," who often prowl the website
                   for months, finally emerge in discussion
                   threads, their first comments almost always
                   reflect the same relief, gratitude and simple
                   awe at the human resources assembled
                   common to most posters: "I love Free
                   Republic!"; "I can't believe what I'm seeing, I
                   thought I was the only person in the country
                   concerned about this administration!"; and
                   "Free Republic forever!"; are typical of first

                   The site's development has been fueled by the
                   Clintons' political thuggery. En masse, freepers
                   form one giant collective detective bent on
                   cracking a devilishly complicated case.
                   Relevant facts are assembled, questions asked
                   and informed speculation engaged in daily,
                   hour by hour. With an alert and articulate
                   investigative team numbering in the
                   thousands, the exercise makes for riveting
                   entertainment. Colorful villains enliven the
                   storyline; there's "Slick," of course, a/k/a
                   "Bent" and "Clintoon," there's "Hitlery" a/k/a
                   "Shrillery" and "Hildebeast," and there's
                   "Whorealdo," "CarVILE," "Sid Bluminsky,"
                   "George Steppinalloverus" and other
                   luminaries from the "Kneepad Democrats"
                   branch of the DNC. 

                   But FR is not just conservative angst and sly
                   mockery. The site was instrumental in the
                   quick exposure of CNN's fraudulent report
                   regarding the alleged use of nerve gas against
                   U.S. deserters during the Vietnam War, in the
                   overturning of Clinton's attempt to negate U.S.
                   federalism with Executive Order 13083
                   (signed when he was in Birmingham,
                   England) and in achieving a moratorium on
                   funding for a national identification card and
                   for re-examining the desirability of a national
                   data bank of all citizens' private medical
                   records. Emboldened by success, it was
                   shortly after the CNN fraud was revealed that
                   Free Republic evolved yet again; organized
                   political protest was undertaken by members
                   of the regional chapters which formed rapidly
                   over the summer. 

                   Ever since Labor Day, Bill Clinton has had
                   nearly every public appearance in the course
                   of his nonstop fundraising dogged by
                   determined freepers waving protest signs and
                   shouting stinging chants ("He's late, he's late,
                   he musta had a date!"). Consequently, Barbara
                   Boxer, Carolyn "Mostly-Fraud" and other
                   endangered Democrats have had to resort to
                   playing hide and seek with freepers. 

                   Some freepers suspect their growing
                   effectiveness tipped the Los Angeles Times
                   and the Washington Post to file suit several
                   weeks ago against Jim Robinson and Free
                   Republic for violation of their property's
                   copyright based on freepers posting entire
                   articles from their respective publications.
                   FR's position is that the postings and
                   discussion threads compare to neighbors
                   mulling over the daily newspapers around a
                   kitchen table and are therefore allowed under
                   the fair use doctrine, which permits the
                   nonprofit use of copyrighted material for
                   purposes of public discussion. 

                   The courts must sort it out but if I were
                   writing the script, I'd pursue Free Republic's
                   defense on the "creation of something new"
                   aspect of the fair use doctrine. The website is
                   unlike any other venue in American life; the
                   newspaper articles alone are just so much
                   fishwrapping for tomorrow's garbage, but the
                   archived material is the unique product of an
                   informed community of engaged citizenry;
                   the very purpose the founders intended free
                   speech to serve. 

                   This week Free Republic is undergoing
                   another evolutionary leap, an unintended
                   consequence of intoxicated Teamsters having
                   roughed up demonstrators earlier this month
                   in Philadelphia. After viewing television
                   footage of the incident, Jim Robinson
                   determined he'd had enough. He would, he
                   posted to the forum, travel to Washington
                   while the weather was still warm enough for a
                   lone man in a wheelchair to spend the day
                   outside the White House holding aloft a
                   protest sign. 

                   Within hours, several hundred people
                   determined that Jim Robinson wouldn't be
                   making that journey alone. Now the
                   protesters number in the thousands and Free
                   Republic's "March for Justice" has been
                   moved on account of its growing size from
                   Lafayette Park to the Ellipse and from there to
                   the Washington Monument. 

                   On Saturday, literally thousands of average
                   Americans -- people who look like your
                   neighbors because they are your neighbors --
                   from across the country, many of whom never
                   gave a thought to political protest before in
                   their lives, will have descended on America's
                   national home in order to participate in a six
                   hour grassroots protest funded out-of-pocket.
                   They will be standing with one man in
                   support of just one idea; the idea of one
                   nation, under God, with liberty and justice for
                   all. Eagles up, America! 

                   Anne Williamson, a WorldNetDaily contributor,
                   has written for the Wall Street Journal, The New
                   York Times, Spy magazine, Film Comment and
                   Premiere. An expert on Soviet-Russian affairs, she
                   is currently working on a book, "Contagion: How
                   America Betrayed Russia," a chapter of which can
                   be read online. 
       E Pluribus Unum            The Central Ohio Patriot Group       
       P.O. Box 791          Eventline/Voicemail: (614) 823-8499  
       Grove City, OH  43123                                      

       Meetings:  Monday Evenings, 7:30pm, Ryan's Steakhouse         
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http://www.infinet.com/~eplurib          [email protected]     

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