Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Freedom Relies On More Than One Oar

There is a fellow commenter who visits a blog I also visit on occasion. He is a regular. Me, well I breeze through once in awhile. This fellow's user name "free" is followed by a series of numbers that must have significance. Serious people like him do not assign themselves user names that mean nothing more than an avenue to a website. His clever use of small numbers as bookends for larger numbers indicates some special secret handshake kind of handle. I consider him serious from his name to his comments. He is sure of his view and even more sure that my view and anyone else's view that falls outside the tolerances of his tightly woven box are as far wrong as he is far right. "Free" takes his Right Wing "I own freedom" notion very seriously. He is not a foaming at the mouth Freeper. But he is hardly what I would call open minded.

I know it is not terribly open minded of me either to pigeonhole folks like I just did based on superficial garbage like someones user name. After years, no, make that after many years of dealing with people using aliases on the Internet, I have determined through exhausting assumptive research, that when someone uses the word "free" in their handle, they are less likely to tolerate the freedom of others they feel are outside their narrow view of what Freedom should be. It does not seem to matter which side of the aisle they spit from either. If they use "free" anywhere in their name, my red flags start waving.

To be fair to the "free" dude who I held up to ridicule in the beginning of this post, I would have to say he is one of the more tolerable intolerants. He is usually civil and will respond with the appropriate level of acrimony that suit the various comments. He is not mean. But he is not willing to concede even one inch to any side he views as being the opposition. Of course given that the blog we both visit is authored by an unashamed Left Wing Partisan, I would guess "free" comes armed for combat.

I know. I know. I should be more open minded myself. I should be less judgemental and more inclusive. And I do try to be. I at least do not tear apart every aspect of another's comment every time I visit. I more often than not just read the variety of takes and maybe add my own. Then I move on. But being only a couple synapses shy of also wanting to include "free" in my various Internet nicknames, I will often allow my own blinder predispositions to override my attempts to live and let live. At some point I will make a snarky comment. Thus proving I am no better than the person I have decided is brain dead. Hey, it takes one to know one.

To me Freedom is not something you talk about. Or brag about. Freedom is something you practice. To me Freedom is not handed down from some faceless bureaucratic/political machine. It is something I take for myself. Blind allegiance to an idea or political structure is not Freedom. It is subservience wrapping itself in a disguise of patriotic hogwash or monolithic ideals. The narrow confines of which often stifle any real ability to practice freedom as it is defined by Webster. To align oneself completely to a certain political direction is in my opinion limiting one's freedom. Assuming one side has all the answers is shackling oneself to but a single oar. It often ends up with the afflicted rowing in circles and mumbling about how free they are. In the end all that happens is the environment that they feel free (safe) in becomes ever smaller and more constrictive.

So now every time I meet someone sporting the word "free" in their secret Internet identities, I always chuckle at the irony. Because nine times out of ten, it seems they are never as free as they pretend to be. And often they would love to limit my freedoms to somehow bolster theirs. At the same time put me in the boat that only has only one oar.

Okay, who's got my other oar.......................

(709 / 6220)


PipeTobacco said...


I enjoyed your essay about usernames greatly. It would perhaps be an interesting small essay or a comment here to have you write about your opinions of some of the myriad of other user names you come across in your daily Internet travels. Or perhaps just of the regulars in your list of commenters?

Just a thought,


Jack said...
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Randal Graves said...

Freedom isn't free. Internets commenters pay for it.