Money, politics, military might, religion, community support, law, media, knowledge, and technical skills are all sources of power. More and more, those who derive power from these various sources also depend on technology to remain relevant in the modern world. Because traditional sources of power now depend so heavily on the expertise of the technologically savvy, the true power of the modern world rests in the hands of those who control information technology and the flow of information. This means hacktivists, such as the “Anons” belonging to the loosely affiliated group Anonymous, have the power to empower the oppressed or oppress those they oppose.
Although groups and movements like Anonymous are controversial, because members are more than willing to circumvent laws that shield wrongdoers, Anonymous members have helped fight the Islamic State, expose child sexual predators, and support Arab Spring Revolution protesters. Despite their shared anti-censorship agenda, they have targeted hate groups like the KKK and the Westboro Baptist Church. Where these attacks appear to have been motivated by the harm caused by these groups, not just their offensive views, the recent push by Anonymous members to attack Presidential candidate Donald Trump appears to be very close to the kind of censorship they oppose.
Throughout the 2016 Republican Primary, Donald Trump has said many controversial and offensive things. At the same time, professional media outlets and the political establishment have been more than willing to seize upon his ill-tempered nature and weak communication skills in an effort to disqualify him. This includes apparently misconstrued comments he made about blood and Fox Host Megyn Kelly after the first Republican primary. On the hand other, Donald Trump has made extremely offensive statements and proposed several discriminatory policies against minorities, including his infamous views on Mexican and Muslim immigrants. Unfortunately, his statements do reflect the sentiments of many Americans.
Clearly, there is a substantial number of Anonymous members, who thoroughly oppose Donald Trump’s views and his run for President. If their goal is to use their abilities to suppress what Donald Trump is saying, because it offends them, or cripple Donald Trump’s campaign, so he cannot become President, these Anonymous members are simply using their power to sensor and suppress the political process. Unlike past attacks on governments that focused on harmful policies and groups that have allegedly hurt others, Trump is not an elected official who has put his thoughts into action, nor is he manipulating the political system in the shadows like the Koch Brothers.
If the goal of Anonymous members is to send Trump a message that discriminatory policies are unacceptable to them, they should do so with protests, which they have organized in the past. They can also make efforts to directly contact Trump with their views on his message of hate en mass or organize petitions against Trump. However Anonymous members choose to engage Donald Trump, they need to avoid censoring him and his supporters, even if they do not like what is said. After all, this is not about Donald Trump; this is about overcoming censorship and the suppression of free will.
This is about the freedom to dissent from the community and oppose the positions of the powerful, including those who have the power to hack into someone’s computer, email account, website, and all other components of a person’s digital fingerprint. The strength of democracy stems from the ability of people to freely express their needs and wants, so the interests of the entire population can be properly addressed in a balanced fashion that enables the nation to thrive over long periods of time. Only when people are able to free express their interests and views without fear of reprisal from the powerful can society function properly. The powerful must, therefore, respect the right to offend.
Ultimately, power in all of its forms is just a tool. Like all tools, power simply makes it easier for people to act on their true nature. For those who seek to help others succeed and build a brighter future, power is a tool that can be used responsibly to the benefit of humanity. For those who wish to blindly pursue self-serving interests and undermine the interests of others for personal gain, power is a tool used to the detriment of humanity. It is only when one has power over another that their true nature is revealed. Unfortunately, many freedom fighters have a tendency to become just as oppression as those they dethroned once they become the powerful.
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