Postcards from the past
Snapshots of some previous writing of mine, etc...
Last fall, I wrote a lengthy essay about writing for indymedia, "On Writing for indymedia," in which I noted that before writing for indymedia, I kept a blog on the Oregonlive.com website. I noted that the material I posted to this tiny blog may have brought me some covert attention before I ever posted anything to indymedia. These are some of the articles and content of that blog.
Written on or about April 3rd, 2003
Posted to Oregonlive.com Community Connection, Community Groups, (Clark County)
(my printout is from April 16th, 2003. Posted probably within a few days of April 3rd)
"PRESIDENT BUSH SEES SADDAM HUSSEIN AS SURROGATE FATHER WHO HE HATES
"Sources say that George W. Bush fosters a secret paternal jealous hatred of the man he is trying to destroy—Saddam Hussein. Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, is an older, taller, more experienced leader than President Bush. He is of that generation of leaders that also produced George W. Bush's father, George Bush. Hussein is both an unpredictable despot who does not have the support of his people or neighboring Arab states, AND a glowering tyrant with complete control of his people and major influence in the Middle East. For these reasons the younger Bush, who is young enough to be Saddam's younger brother, has waged a war against the man who he sees not as an older brother, but indeed as his father.
"The origins of this psychosexual world drama began somewhere in Texas. As a young man, Bush grew up in the shadows of his father and grandfather, whom he secretly wished to discredit and destroy. The helplessness of being a rich man's child, and his inability to formulate his frustration into coherent thoughts or expressions..."[end of article]
Written on or about April 13, 2003
Posted to Oregonlive.com Community Connection, Community Groups
(my printout is from April 29th, 2003. Posted probably within a few days of April 13th)
"In Baghdad, bands of marauding looters shoot it out with bands of vigilante cowboys in broad daylight. American troops are stunned as they watch the events unfold. The city, and the entire country of Iraq, are presently without law and order, and survival for Iraqi citizens depends on cunning, thievery, and brutality, as well as running, hiding, and praying. No "warlords" have emerged yet, but it is only a matter of time before armed strongmen control different parts of the country, and dictate how long American forces will stay there. These strongmen will use as their power base massive hoards of art and treasures, drugs, weapons, and people. They will be impossible to stop.
"A horrocious regime has indeed ended, and so have the lives of probably 10,000 or more Iraqi soldiers who were sent with their rifles and machine guns to confront the American wall of fire and steel. The "battles" were so one-sided that it is more appropriate to say that the Iraqi soldiers were exterminated, than to say they were killed in action. The term killed in action would suggest a certain equality between two forces in battle, a battle in which the outcome was unclear. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the enemy soldiers were "killed standing there." This war was between Iraqi soldiers, their bodies, and the most expensive fire and steel that money can buy.
"In Iraq, new markets are being opened and explored everyday now. The trafficking of priceless art and artifacts. The cornering of the medicine market. The high-stakes trading of water and bread futures."
I began posting my writing to this Oregonlive.com blog section in the spring of 2002. The earliest printouts of the web pages that I have are from May 2002. It wasn't until late March or April 2003 that I posted anything overtly political, though in the summer of 2002 I did post an opinion about the Bush visit to Portland, and the protests that greeted him. That posting, if I remember, contained very mild criticism of Bush—I mildly criticized the huge amounts of money that people paid to have their pictures taken with Bush and Gordon Smith.
The name of the blog went from "Friends of Vancouver and Fishing Reports" to "Friends of Vancouver & Portland" to "Friends of the Arts, Vancouver Chapter" to "War Diary."
The blog allowed for one image to be added to the text. From May 2002 to at least the middle of July 2002 I had a picture of a young Asian girl who is studying, with a bright smile on her face. It was an image I picked from the images available with the Community Connection site—there were images of rainbows, puppies, and such as that. Next to the image I put a quote from Heinrich Heine, "Only galley slaves know each other." I put this quote there for the sake of quirkiness and irreverence—it contrasted with the bright smile of the young Asian girl.
Later, I learned to download other images, and I put a cheetah image in that space, and an image of John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban." At one point, I put only the word "Yes" to accompany the JWL image. Again, this was meant to be quirky and irreverent. I definitely wasn't trying to express pro-Taliban sympathies. In fact, this could have been interpreted as expressing support for the arrest of JWL, (he was an American prisoner when the image was taken). But that wasn't the intent, rather, I liked the contrast between "yes" and the image of JWL who was dirty, unkempt, with bushy hair, etc...His appearance was the exact opposite of "yes." I liked the contrast between the positive and negative.
I realized at the time, around July/August 2002, that the "yes" could possibly be misunderstood if by chance anyone had even seen the blog. I changed the text from "yes" to "He fled his country. His country brought him back. This country always brings you back." A printout of the blog from 8/7/02 shows this text accompanying the image.
On the blog, I wrote a mock-up of a real criminal case from the Portland area, in which some youths were accused of stomping on and killing ducklings. This topic led to several articles, and was the majority of content on the blog. Here is the first article in that series:
Friends of Vancouver & Fishing Reports
May 13, 2002
Prosecutors Seek Banishment for Suspects in Duckling Deaths
In an odd twist to an already strange and unbelievable story, prosecutors in Multnomah County, Oregon are taking a vacation from all legal precedence in the case of several young men accused in the beatings and deaths of five newborn ducklings near a pond. Prosecutors are seeking banishment for the young men, ages 14-20, if in fact they are found guilty of the array of charges filed against them in Multnomah County district court.
Banishment would land the young men on a remote island off the coast of southeast Alaska where they would be forced into subsistence living, i.e. raising and farming crops, and hunting and trapping animals for food. Their life would be one of daily toil and misery, as they would have to build their own shelters to live in from natural materials on the island, and perhaps worst of all, they would have to sit and think about what they did. Occasionally, rice, beans, fresh water and reading materials would be dropped by airpland on the island.
This unusual form of punishment has been tried once before, but without much success. In a case in Seattle in the early 90's, two Native American youths were sentenced to banishment by a tribal council after they were found guilty of beating and robbing a pizza delivery man. The youths did not like the banishment, and questions were raised as to the constitutionality of such a strange punishment, so after only a few months into their five year sentences, they were brought back to a mainland prison.
In Oregon's case, it is doubly strange since none of the young men charged are Native American, and the severity of their crime is negligible and may not call for such harsh punishment. It is certainly wrong to beat and kill harmless, helpless ducklings, but banishment?--cont'd on home page
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Prosecutors Seek Banishment (cont'd)
Lewis Johnson, a psychology professor at the University of Washington, believes that complete social isolation will only contribute to mental problems that the young men may have.
"These young men need some counseling. There is a reason that they picked out a group of ducklings to torture and kill. Basically, it boils down to a domination through power equation. The young men felt powerful in striking down powerless ducklings. The risk now is that the legal system will simply repeat this cycle of abuse by making the suspects feel powerless. The second those boys get off the island, they're going to find some more ducklings to torture and kill, and they'll probably go underground or out of the country to do it," said the professor.
Environmentalists and animal rights activists are also against the banishment, noting that the young men would be forced to destroy the pristine natural resources on the island, and would have to hunt and kill animals to survive.
"They're charged with killing ducklings, right? So their punishment is going to be living on an island where they'll hunt and kill animals everyday? That's ridiculous," said Katy, an environmentalist. She watched the trial from the upper balcony of the courtroom, fanning herself with a newspaper, wearing a long flowered summer dress, flip-flops, and a panama hat.
Look in the Who's Who section of our website for northern pikeminnow information!
--Pretty harmless stuff, and kind of embarrassing actually. In follow-up articles, I described fictional courtroom scenes in which the mother of the ducklings testified for the prosecution, against the young men accused of the duckling deaths. In rereading those old articles, I realized they made light of animal cruelty and abuse, which is a serious topic, after all. But silliness was the main theme of the series of articles.
In January 2003, I posted some artwork to the blog, and this was probably the least smartest thing to post online, unless one is posting anonymously. The artwork was a simple drawing done on an MS paint-it program, and depicted two faces looking at each other on either side of a marijuana plant. It was created on or about Jan. 10, and probably posted to the blog within a few days.
In the past year and a half, I've reflected upon those blog postings and considered that they may have brought me some unwanted attention. As for the images, publicly admitting one's fondness for marijuana is kind of like going around with a chip on one's shoulder. The John Walker Lindh image, with "Yes" as the accompanying text, may have brought the blog some unwanted attention.
The brief article concerning the Iraq invasion was the first clear opinion-piece concerning the war, (or practically any other topic), that I had posted to the site. It's very pessimistic in regard to how the invasion was going. I also pointed out the lopsided nature of the two forces opposed in battle, and this may have struck anybody who read it as very unpatriotic or impolite at a time when there was still major combat. Which in turn may have led to unwanted attention.
I'm posting these articles and other content from the blog so as to give readers an indication of what may attract the attention of authorities or monitors in terms of "war on terror." I can only speculate who looked at the blog, and if or how much attention it may have received from authorities. At least one person had to read the material-- the person at Oregonlive.com charged with editing and censoring the content. I've guessed that possibly a dozen or so other people may have stumbled upon the blog. It was buried deep in a corner of the Internet where it would have been unlikely to be seen, yet maybe some keywords may have singled it out—words such as "John Walker Lindh" or "warlords" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom." I think in spite of what Gen. Michael Hayden, the NSA chief, has said, that there is a wide, broad net or vacuum out there that sucks in keywords (from the Internet).
Note--the references to fishing actually concerned fishing, in the classical sense, not intel/surveillance work.
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