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Florida Reduces Penalties For 'Sexting' Teens 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the more-time-to-work-through-their-shame dept.
SonicSpike sends word that Florida has changed how law enforcement deals with teenagers who send racy pictures to each other over their phones. Quoting CNN: "Before Saturday, a Florida teenager who sent or received nude photos or video could have been charged with a felony and forced to register as a sex offender. But a new law, recognizing the proliferation of cell phones and computers, eases the penalties for 'sexting' infractions. A first offense is punishable by eight hours of community service or a $60 fine; the second is a misdemeanor and the third is a felony. ... Under House Bill 75, teens who receive explicit images won't be charged if they took reasonable steps to report it, did not solicit the image and did not send it to someone."
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Florida Reduces Penalties For 'Sexting' Teens

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  • by bhcompy (1877290)
    How very pragmatic. Guess the sponsors will be voted out next election, since pragmatism is anathema to politics these days.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by durrr (1316311) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @02:13AM (#37581958)
      Did you miss the part where they have to report it? Meaning you have to share it with the law enforcement or you might get in trouble.
      Whoever made that law is a huge wanking pervert.
      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Informative)

        by DJRumpy (1345787) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @07:20AM (#37582744)

        This whole law is fucking retarded in regards to teen sexting. Kids are going to be playful, curious, and they are going to send nude pics of themselves, and it's ridiculous to call it a crime. If the pics they send are of themselves, then it's none of the governments damn business. Leave it for the parents to take care of. Classifying it as a crime with tis graduated 3 strikes rule is over the top. What exactly is it suppose to accomplish. It is a distortion of the law to call it child porn to begin with. Instead of making exceptions for self pics from teens, they have again done the wrong thing, albeit it to a very slight lesser degree, instead of just putting an exception in to begin with.

        • by mikael (484)

          It was intended to stop trade in child-porn - they thought a simple "the creation, distribution or acquisition of any semi-naked image of a juvenile under the age of 17" law should result in both the photographer and the customer being sent to a high-security federal penitentiary for life.

          That was when you needed expensive professional camera equipment, access to commercial CD manufacturing, print facilities to make and distribute any kind of static or moving imagery.

          They didn't quite think that Tammy the c

          • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

            by DJRumpy (1345787) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @09:15AM (#37583102)

            Yes, but the problem is that now that they DO know that this is what happens, and it's relatively harmless, they refuse to fix the law with a little sanity and instead seem totally incompetent and out of touch with reality.

            • by tmosley (996283)
              Less incompetent, and more vicious, cruel, and evil. The prosecutors could choose not to prosecute cases between teens, but they do, and with gusto, because it helps their careers.
      • by Tom (822)

        Yes, and he just created a law that would (if it would work, which it won't) supply him with an endless stream of new stuff to wank to.

      • by Kreigaffe (765218)

        Did you miss the part where the penalties if you don't report it are very very minor?

        Did you miss the part where currently those penalties involve registering as a sex offender because you're in possession of and/or distributing child pornography?

        The hell dude. The hell. You don't even need to RTFA, you just need to have half a fucking brain. This is a good law.

        • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

          by BitterOak (537666) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @02:42PM (#37584606)

          Did you miss the part where the penalties if you don't report it are very very minor?

          Does it matter that the penalties are minor? If someone sends you an unsolicited pic, and you delete it right away, why should there be any penalties at all?

        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dahamma (304068) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:09PM (#37585150)

          But if a 16 year old sends a photo to another 16 year old with the consent of both, what business is that of law enforcement and how in hell should either be guilty of *any* criminal offense, whether it was the first, second, or third time? The new law is still absurd.

    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @03:45AM (#37582200) Homepage Journal

      Pragmatic? You're asking for a pragmatic approach?

      Accept the fact that teen's bodies are flooded with hormones, and they only think of sex for about 36 hours each day. (Yes, I know, for children and adults, there are only 24 hours in each day - teens live in a different continuum!) The little bastards are always going to be thinking of sex, they speak sex, they look sex, they breathe sex. Pragmatism dictates that we leave them the hell alone, to deal with their own demons, in their own way.

      If YOU don't want to see pictures of naked teens, then DON'T LOOK AT A TEEN'S PHONE!

      Dumbasses . . .

      • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:18AM (#37582302) Journal

        Oh the whole "save teh childrenz!" thing is royally fucked and we have been way past sane for quite awhile. Some examples include the guy who wrote the "pro pedo" book that is now rotting in jail. Nobody accused him of touching anybody, no pics or anything, just his thoughts and opinions on paper. I seem to remember someone writing about a time when people could be arrested for their thoughts. There is also the guy doing prison time for writing his fantasies in his journal which his shrink told him to do, another thoughtcrime. Then there is the guy who went to jail for dirty Jap cartoons, again no kids, just pen and ink. as a friend that works in the state crime lab told me these laws are so badly written you could draw a stick figure and scribble "nekked kid" on it and theoretically be guilty of child pron!

        For one a little closer to TFA how is THIS for fucked up: In several states I can marry a girl as young as 14 with their parents permission. I can marry her, bang her any way my little heart desires, again completely legal, but if I take a picture of my wife naked I'd be a child pornographer!

        This whole damned thing has become another red scare, only instead of commies we see pervs behind every tree. what we seriously need is some common sense laws but sadly politicians have learned they can stir up the rabble and get more votes by pushing the "save teh childrenz!" button.

        • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

          by WillDraven (760005) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @06:02AM (#37582542) Homepage

          The other terrible thing about the sex offender registries is all the horrible regulations one has to live with if you end up on the list. My dad has a friend who lost the lawyer lottery (and admittedly wasn't smart enough to realize it at the time) and was advised to plead guilty to a sex crime when his ex wife convinced their daughter to claim he had touched her inappropriately in the middle of their ugly divorce. He now isn't allowed to live within 5000 yards of any schools or daycare facilities. He just rented an apartment and was told after moving in that somebody living nearby is running a daycare in their house so he has 10 days to find a new place to live. There is a database of daycares you can check before you move somewhere, and the database said his new address was in the clear. It was only after he paid his non-refundable deposit and moved all of his stuff into the place that the sheriff came by and said "Oops, turns out there IS a daycare nearby. Too bad, get out within 10 days or you go to jail for a felony. have a nice day!"

          Terrorist watch, no-fly, felony, and sex offender lists are the new yellow stars. Anybody who claims America doesn't have classes or a caste system is either misinformed or lying.

          • Re:Wow (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @08:54AM (#37583032)
            A lot of districts make those laws to be deliberatly impossible to obey, with the intention of driving sex offenders as far away as possible.
        • I said it before, I say it again: People who think about the children so much are more likely than not pedos themselves. Else, why'd they think so much of the children?

  • Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nialin (570647) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @01:28AM (#37581820)
    What about persons previously convicted? I doubt they're gonna retroactively "fix" those kids' lives.
    It's still pretty fucking stupid to charge them in the first place.
    At least it's a step in the right direction, albeit a small one...
    • Generally, when a penalty for a crime is lessened it is a lot easier to get your sentence reduced to the new levels. Or, if something is retroactively made legal you are supposed to be released from your punishment. Sometimes the justice system needs a little prodding from lawyers for this to actually work correctly.

    • Re:Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 (559740) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:37AM (#37582348)

      It's still pretty fucking stupid to charge them in the first place.

      That's the real problem with this country. Somewhere along the way we became infatuated with law and not justice. If anybody in the chain, from the police to the prosecutor to the judge, dare to actually question whether ruining somebody's life over something stupid is the right thing to do they are labeled as "activist" -- codeword for not believing that some politicians somewhere that you've never met and who know nothing about the incident in question know better than you what's right.

      If we could trust our public servants, if we could trust that the police and prosecutors and judges would exhibit common sense and consider justice for all parties, including the accused, then I would support laws like this. It would allow, for example, two 16-year-olds to exchange naked pictures if they want to without fear of having their lives ruined by the state and without some truly absurd requirement that they report each other to the authorities, while at the same time providing for consequences if they break up and decide that an awesome way to hurt each other is to start posting those pictures all over Facebook.

      We can't, of course. Laws like this are proof enough of that. "We recognize how terrible our last law was so we'll give you a warning before we ruin your life for the exact same thing." That's moderation in our society, and I see no signs of it changing. The right thinks this is the greatest thing ever and the left lacks the balls to stand up against it.

      • Public servants aren't allowed to exercise common sense because if they call it wrong they will be crucified by the media, the public and politicians. That's why everything's so heavy-handed: people are terrified of making a mistake and losing everything.

        • Re:Curious (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @02:02PM (#37584398)

          this is a very good reason for why jury nullification is so damned useful!

          it lets people follow their hearts and not some hard-and-fast cold set of rules and if they made the right judgement call, DAMN THE LAW.

          LAWS ARE GUIDELINES. stop being robots and value each decision. see if its worth following; not every law in every case, is.

          encourage individual thinking. we are not robots and should stop acting like we have zero judgement ability in ourselves. in fact, the average person is just as qualified to judge issues of 'right and wrong' as any judge or laywer. its not hard. if its hard, you're doing it wrong.

          • in fact, the average person is just as qualified to judge issues of 'right and wrong' as any judge or laywer. its not hard. if its hard, you're doing it wrong

            I have to disagree with you there. Ethics is extremely difficult because often times a logically sound argument can be made for either side of an issue. Oftentimes it requires a lot of nuance that a lot of people just don't understand. Only extremely basic moral issues have intrinsic answers that require little to no nuanced deliberation.

            Think about it this way: the most common degree for a politician is law. Politicians are the ones who write (well, at least pass into law) these dumbass immoral pieces of l

  • Where's the "suddenburstofcommonsense" tag for the story?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Since there are penalties there... still no common sense.

      • Re:So, where's... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @01:39AM (#37581870) Homepage Journal
        So teenagers with breasts are not allowed to, well, be teenagers; but parents are still allowed to push their pre-teen kids into beauty contests complete with swimsuit competions and prostitute dress-ups? [dailymail.co.uk]

        The types of people who villify sexting are the dirty old men-types who jack off to teen porn and pop boners watching their daughters play in the pool while being pissed that they couldn't have the same fun when they were younger, then spend the rest of their time praying for forgiveness and validating their perversions by projecting them onto others.
        • by kayumi (763841)

          I don't know why you were modded down. I am not sure whether you are right in each and every detail but there is an incredible amount of hypocrisy in all attempts to suppress and control teenagers sex drives. I especially like the fact that all pictures have to be reported. I am sure that the number of job applicants for clerical police work will increase.

        • Re:So, where's... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by shentino (1139071) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @06:33AM (#37582624)

          Someone getting nailed on kiddie porn charges for THEIR OWN PICTURES is what is ridiculous.

          You can't get much more victimless than that.

  • ok, that's great it's not a crime and all, but.........

    A) Why is this even an issue? Are there really that many kids out there sexting each other?
    B) How exactly are the police finding out about this? Isn't it somewhat disturbing to think that the police have people dedicated to watching out for kids sexting each other?
    • A) What happens when you take the teenage libido and give them all camera phones? Then just stir in some of the drama typical of first relationships, when every crush feels like true love.
      B) Usually someone eventually reports it.
    • by Ixokai (443555)

      Uh, its kinda weird that it has to be said but...

      A) Yes. Absolutely, yes. Welcome-to-the-internet-in-your-hand-at-a-whim, yes.
      B) One kid unthinkingly sends image to another kid. Other kid unthinkingly forwards it to friend. Other kid unthinkingly mass-mails. People get upset. Someone calls police. None are even vaguely capable of fully understanding the consequences of their actions, or more importantly separating the dramatic emotional effect of the moment from the real-life long-term consequences of said

      • by Kjella (173770)

        B) One kid unthinkingly sends image to another kid. Other kid unthinkingly forwards it to friend. Other kid unthinkingly mass-mails. People get upset. Someone calls police. None are even vaguely capable of fully understanding the consequences of their actions, or more importantly separating the dramatic emotional effect of the moment from the real-life long-term consequences of said act... because they are /kids/.

        Before, we charge kid with making, distributing, or simply receiving child pornography-- this has happened several times. Kids life is ruined.

        The only way the system makes sense is if you turn it upside down, it's not to protect teenagers from sexually exploiting themselves, it's to keep the sexual teenagers from corrupting the "innocent" teenagers. The producers who generate the idea of teen porn are the worst, then those who help spread it next and finally all that seek it and contribute to a teen sex culture. All people that should be put away so the rest won't think of sex before they're 18. They've just realized penalties aren't working beca

    • It's ok. The police have set up official websites run by private contractors so that you can upload and register the pictures when you receive them, and there's even a facility for monitoring duplicates in case you accidentally upload something one of your fellow victims received already. To make it even easier to remember, the police have reserved a special domain called .XXX for those websites (three stick figures saying NO PICTURES!).
  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @01:33AM (#37581850)
    "....teens who receive explicit images won't be charged if they took reasonable steps to report it"

    Seig Heil !
    • Yeah, a better law would have been:

      "....teens who receive explicit images won't be charged if they took reasonable steps to delete it"

    • by Kjella (173770)

      I'd be worse if they made one side of it legal and the other illegal. You send a sexting message to your gf, she can now get you charged later when she's your ex-gf. This way if you were both in on it you're both guilty, if you didn't want the sexting messages you have to report it. Which might be a good idea if someone sends you sexual messages you don't want anyway.

    • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday October 02, 2011 @04:01AM (#37582236) Journal

      Wee bit of a fifth amendment problem there... You can't compel anyone to report a goddamned thing if it might incriminate them.

      -jcr

      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        Since when did we start considering teens to be actual people with rights? I thought they were just mouths to feed and do manual labor around the house.
        [/sarcasm]

        • by yuna49 (905461) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @10:10AM (#37583370)

          While your comment is meant to be humorous, the question of minors' First Amendment rights was a core aspect of the Supreme Court's recent decision striking down the California ban on violent video game sales to minors. For example, Scalia writes in footnote 3 of the decision [supremecourt.gov] (PDF):

          JUSTICE THOMAS ignores the holding of Erznoznik, and denies that persons under 18 have any constitutional right to speak or be spoken to without their parents’ consent. He cites no case, state or federal, supporting this view, and to our knowledge there is none. Most of his dissent is devoted to the proposition that parents have traditionally had the power to control what their children hear and say. This is true enough. And it perhaps follows from this that the state has the power to enforce parental prohibitions — to require, for example, that the promoters of a rock concert exclude those minors whose parents have advised the promoters that their children are forbidden to attend. But it does not follow that the state has the power to prevent children from hearing or saying anything without their parents’ prior consent.

          (In the 1975 Erznozick decision Scalia cites, the Court struck down a Jacksonville ordinance that banned drive-in movie theaters from showing films with naked breasts and buttocks. One argument was the protection of minors from such displays.)

          I can see legal arguments being raised against anti-sexting laws based on this line of reasoning on the Court. There's now a pretty solid majority of First Amendment absolutists on the Court. It's not hard to imagine a law against teen sexting being struck down on the claim the both the sender and the receiver of such images have First Amendment rights.

      • Wee bit of a fifth amendment problem there... You can't compel anyone to report a goddamned thing if it might incriminate them.

        No, but you can forgive them the crime of possession of child pornography if they do report it. The legislature could (and did, in the past) make any possession of child pornography a crime period -- instead they made it a crime but included an exception in the case. The greater power to ban it in all circumstances whatsoever ought to logically include the lesser power to ban it except when duly reported.

        So yeah, the State cannot compel you to report a goddamned thing. On the other hand, they can brand you

    • Blaming the victim is very convenient, because it allows you to victimize anyone you want and then lie about it.

  • It may be 2011 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Sunday October 02, 2011 @01:41AM (#37581874) Homepage Journal

    But Puritanism is alive and well in the United States.

    I find it ironic that some of those complaining loudest about the impending Sharia Law in the US and Europe are among those most likely to demand various Levitical Laws in the US.

    • To be fair, sexting often ends badly for kids. Of course when the hysterical minority who expect the government to solve every problem and the legislature which has nothing to do except constantly write new laws get together, things end up even worse.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      I think it comes down to whether you think the law shapes society or society shapes the law. Most of us believe in individual freedom and the law should in very little degree dictate how others should live. The same fundamentalists who want to impose their religion on others by law are those most afraid to have another religion imposed on them. I guess the more you look on the law as a hammer, the harder it swings both ways. And if you then think there's a "right" way and a "wrong" way, well they'll be the

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Most of us believe in individual freedom and the law should in very little degree dictate how others should live

        I don't think that's really the case. Most of us are fairly comfortable, fond of strict rules, norms, and limitations of society which shaped us, in which we grew - and when we're quite content with it like that, we call it "freedom" (what, you forgot about strict rules, norms, and limitations? Yeah, exactly...)
        It's largely a spectrum, not "most vs. fundamentalists" - the latter are largely just a bit further along (and they are typically given power, influence, thanks to how too many people believe the be

  • If they had had any sort of group awareness and organisational capacity they'd ALL have done it, then ALL turned themselves in. Let every single teen in Florida be registered as a sex offender.

    Act like a sheep, get treated like a sheep.

    • Why don't adult people in Florida have any sort of group awereness and vote on a presidential candidate who is not D or R?

      • There are a significant proportion of people for whom the status quo is more than good enough. House, food, basic entertainment, safety, the freedom to babble - most people don't want much. It might not be sustainable for more than another few decades, but for a good proportion of people mortality makes that irrelevant.

  • Still Very Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @01:57AM (#37581928) Homepage

    A fine step from very evil to ... less evil, but still very evil.

    Under House Bill 75, teens who receive explicit images won't be charged if they took reasonable steps to report it, did not solicit the image and did not send it to someone.

    So let me get this straight: A 16 year old's girlfriend sends him a picture, he is guilty unless he reports her to the police?

    First, bite my shiny metal ass.

    Second, good luck upholding that when it goes to a court above the Florida level.

    Third, to expand on item one; holy shit are you a bunch of nasty assholes. Up until a circuit or the Supremes knock this foul law flat on its ass, it is going to put a lot of kids in really nasty quandaries about their obligations to the people they care about versus the state. Honestly, I figure it's safe to assume you will be creating thousands of anti-authoritarians in one stroke of your pen. I'm sure the year 2021 thanks you for the increase in civil disobedience you are creating.

    Fourth, they're just body parts. They can't hurt you. How does it make sense to put kids into the ironically named "correctional system" because they received a picture of a breast? You think they are going to come out better people? That it will improve our future? You are bat-shit-looney if you believe that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      people in favor of such 'laws' are not *thinking*.

      they are 100% guided by that so-called 'good book'. once the good book speaks, mind is closed and there's no hope of getting thru.

      jesusland, usa. all over the fucking place, even in progressive states.

      the 60's gave us a step forward. reagan and his cronies began the back-step into the middle ages again and other than a short pause (about 10 yrs or so ago) we've been marching more and more toward jesusland, usa.

      all the whole, making fun of the muslims who

    • Re:Still Very Evil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @02:08AM (#37581950)

      That's how child porn charges work and that's why this area of law desperately needs reform. You're guilty of possession of child porn if somebody sends you a photo whether or not you see it and worse whether or not you solicit the image. Child porn charges without a mens rea requirement are just an incredibly easy way to frame somebody for a felony if you've got some reason for wanting them sent to prison.

      Supposedly, if you accidentally download some, you should report it to the FBI, but I don't think anybody in their right mind would do that.

      • This is classic Government-Think: destroying the village in order to save it.

        It's disgusting.

        Protecting our children from predators is in everyone's best interest, as long as it is done within the boundaries of the Constitution; but when we need to protect our children from their protectors, we have gone too far.

    • by shentino (1139071)

      What I don't get is how CP charges can come from someone making photos OF THEIR OWN BODY!

      • by bryan1945 (301828)

        Oh, you can take as many pictures of yourself as your want. You just can't distribute them. No, it still makes no fucking sense. Teens can get together, get naked, have sex no problem. Send a pic- big problem. I can't even think of a word that describes this lunacy properly enough. (no, lunacy does not go far enough)

  • It all sort of raises the question of why the state needs to be involved at all when teenagers send pictures of their private parts to each other. This is something the parents ought to deal with - it doesn't require the heavy hand of the justice system.
  • From the summary, this still sounds ridiculously difficult. It's a crime if you don't turn in your girlfriend?

  • Like when kids in school get caught passing notes, and the teacher reads the note out loud in front of the class. Embarrassing for the note passers! Or when the local newspaper prints lists of folks arrested for drunk driving.

    Bring back the village stock, I say!

    Oh, and to answer Slashdot's question, "You are number 6! Who is number one?" . . .

    "You, are, number 6."

    • by bryan1945 (301828)

      Wouldn't that be a wonderful quandary of the law if the authorities posted the pics publicly? Now they are violating their own law(s), not to mention the moral outrage from, ah, everyone.

  • by skegg (666571) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @07:04AM (#37582704)

    Any teen who photographs their own body should be charged for possessing child pornography.

    And any teen who masturbates should be charged with sexually molesting a minor.

    Finally, all breast-feeding mothers should be charged with indecent exposure to a minor.

  • by Tom (822)

    won't be charged if they took reasonable steps to report it

    welcome to the "rat your girlfriend out to the police" state.

    Here's the new Florida HOWTO take revenge on your ex-girlfriend:

    a) whenever she sends you a nude pic, tell a non-existing e-mail address that looks similar to the local police about it.
    b) when she breaks up with you, suddenly notice your "typo" and send it to the real address.
    c) PROFIT - or rather, you've just reduced the number of boys she can break up with before it becomes a felony by one.

  • by Lac (135355) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @08:59AM (#37583052)

    The US thinks it is the government's business what a teen sends their bf or gf on their cellphone. The US thinks that when you travel, you give up all privacy rights. The US thinks that getting angry with a border guard is a crime. The US assassinates its own citizens, believes in torture, and incarcerates people indefinitely without a trial. And I could go on. But the amazing thing about all of this is that the US thinks it is a shining example of freedom and democracy around the world. How insane is that?

    Americans used to live in a great country, but honestly, that country is gone, now. It's a shame. They need to collectively get their heads out of their asses and learn to question the government, because it is not getting any better. I am not an American, and boy am I happy about that, because I live in a country that is actually an example of freedom and democracy, and that feels great.

    • by Lac (135355)

      I'm sorry I'm replying to myself, and so soon, but I still can't get over this. I just read TFA, and the word "privacy" appears nowhere. It is like nobody at CNN is even aware of the notion, and nobody reached by CNN. Everybody's just happy that there are three strikes now before the teen is sent to prison for having a sex life and a smart phone. This is beyond insane! Don't Americans have any rights, anymore, or are teens not Americans?

    • by bussdriver (620565) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @10:12AM (#37583372)

      Parent is spot on. I've always lived in the USA and I've seen it happening around me; somehow I'm not affected by the foolishness as nearly everybody else around me is. It is easier to see this from the outside.

      Its much worse to see this stuff happen 1st hand and have everybody think you are some sort of fanatic nut if you speak out, protest or do anything that is not sanctioned by some powerful group. ACTIVIST IS A BAD WORD. Fact and opinion are blurred; the Rove strategy of creating alternative realities is now pervasive. Admitting you spend your nights watching TV reality shows is normal; you are a freak if you do anything else. Being actually informed is no different than somebody using only sound bites on the crap TV news - in fact, they'll feel you are less informed because you don't know about the latest BS issues in the mainstream news or celebrity gossip. They'll also feel they understand something because they heard the sound bites. Being kept busy working, buying, and consuming there isn't much time; plus it seems that the only reason many issues can be followed is because they've discovered that heavy obfuscation isn't necessary; keeping secrets isn't necessary either-- just exploit information overload.

      Even the language is warped; it is hard to even discuss many issues because there is too many errors to correct first. To avoid being dismissed as a nut or creating confusion one has to severely limit conversation to such pointlessly tiny baby boring steps and work long term towards an actual issue... if you bump into some sacred cow then emotional blocks kick in and its a whole other mess. For example, both sides have been calling Social Security an entitlement.

      Crisis / Fear games - is how it often works here; people who are worried bury their heads in TV; they can't handle it. Plans are made up in advance; then crisis opportunities are created or the plans are adapted to an actual crisis which is usually amplified. A higher level of terrorism goes on continually. The trick is old as mankind but the techniques have been refined.

      There need not be some big-brother thought police (although some are bent on that angle so its coming) they have working control over the populace that produces decent results all on its own. Like some sort of social virus, it'll run, spread, and mutate on its own allowing the benefits of crowd sourcing. This modern sophisticated approach will eventually allow for all the things authoritarians have done in the past but without the black and white simplicity that leads to their downfall. Its smart social engineering at work; 1984 mirrored advanced conventions of the day (1940s) but it is just a short book with just 1 approach and things have progressed. Americans are ironically quite conformist all on their own.

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