There is no source on earth more informative than the internet. Unfortunately the dark side of that is there is also no place more vile, more abusive, and more unrelentingly ugly than the very same spot.
Think of it. Everything I write here can be accessed and commented on by any human being on the planet so long as he, or she has a computer. Not only that, but every photo that someone posts on the net will last forever, or at least until the electrical grid crashes, or the great comet comes slamming into our blue ball. Yes, all you beered up spring break hotties should realize that every one of those "Girls Gone Wild" moments will be available for viewing to all the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren you'll ever have.That is right, as long as this incredibly surreal world exists, you're going to be seen taking off your clothes in exchange for some two bit tee shirt that proclaims you did it.
Hey, I'm not saying I'm without sin, that I'm some sort of modern day monastic, or a twisted up puritan. You aren't my daughters so you bet I look every now and then. I will also confess that, in my humble judgement, the girls with the greatest looking breasts seem to come from the Southeastern Conference, although they also appear to be the most hammered, not to mention linguistically incomprehensible. Well, if you're stuck in Baton Rouge for nearly a half a decade what else are you going to do?
But I digress.
Here is what really matters. NBC News is reporting that about ten years ago a young man named Adam Holland drew a picture, held it up and had his picture taken. Adam Holland has Down syndrome. He is also a huge Tennessee Titans fan and his artwork was urging his team onward. His gaping grin is a wonder of innocence and exhilaration. He was supporting his team.
About a year ago the finely tuned wits at a radio station in Tampa, WHTP-FM, found the photo on the web and began using it on their site to introduce what they called, "The Retarded News." According to the program manager, that section of their site had nothing to do with people with disabilities, but rather to highlight odd and unusual news stories. Right. Explain that fine point to a certain Titans fan and his parents. Not long after the photo went viral the article's author, Helen A.S. Popkin pointed out other people began to use Adam's photo for their own entertainment.
In short order, what Popkin describes as a "user generated" meme website offered the photo of Adam in it's subtly named, "Retarded, Handicapped Generator." Countless reprints of Adam's photo began to appear on the web with all sorts of superimposed messages on his art work.
The Hollands have finally had enough. They are suing. The defendants are Cox Media, who owns, WHTP-FM, the meme site, and some asshole Flickr user in Minnesota, whose derogatory depiction of Adam took 31,000 hits. They are asking for $18 million from all the parties.
There are other cases such as these. A meme of a Down syndrome girl in the U.K. went viral. The text said, "I can't count to Potato." In 2006 the photos of a girl in California who died in a car crash was leaked one way or another to the web by the California Highway Patrol. A fake tribute page was set up on MySpace which included graphic crash scene photos. The family immediately began receiving emails of the worst sort regarding her death. The photos are still floating around. These cases were documented by Popkin.
I personally believe in evolution. I have this fantasy that it is all part of God's Great Plan. However, every now and then I begin to doubt that belief. In fact sometimes I seriously wonder if we're the most civilized, or even the most intelligent species on the planet. Oh sure we came up with the internet, but all that did was enable us become the crass, hateful, and anonymous animals we really are deep inside--that werewolf that doesn't maim and kill to eat, but does so just for the joy of maiming and killing. The truth is de Sade would drool with excitement and have a constant erection if he had access to this medium.
Well what should I expect in a world where a guy like Rush Limbaugh is a radio star because he says things about African Americans like, "They're 12% of the population. Who the hell cares?"
We don't have a civilization. Civilized people don't treat each other this way.
We have, as Hunter Thompson once said, sunk to the level of dumb beasts. Privacy and decency have, sadly, gone the way of the Dodo.
Sleep well. Just pray someone hasn't posted a photo of you out there, because there is no telling what someone else will turn it into. Obviously, cruelty knows no bounds.
The truth is everyone is watching, but very few have a soul. Just ask the family of Adam Holland.
sic vita est