Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Blasphemy Comes A-Callin

It’s never a good sign when you find yourself swearing at your computer screen before 9 a.m. It’s a jumble, it’s just a jumble.

It started with a story regarding a resolution passed by the U.N. Human Rights Council sponsored by Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that limits freedom of expression about religion. The resolution was presented as a measure to “protect the religious sensibilities of Muslims.” Look out Salman Rushdie, Madonna, Pope Benedict and you Danish cartoonists…”it” is on, the U.N. Human Rights Council says so. South Africa voted for it as well Mexico, China, Russia and of course Saudi Arabia.

The resolution says freedom of expression should be “exercised with responsibility and may therefore be subject to limitations as provided by law.” Does this mean I can’t make fun of Scientology anymore?

The next bit of cursing (taking the Lord’s name just slightly in vain) came while reading more about at&t’s plans to deliver PEG channels in a “web page” format. And with that, not even having the PEG “channel” occupy an entire web page, but be boxed up with text kinda appearing beside the box. Moreover, there seems to be no guarantee of transmission quality but instead the quality will be what is acceptable to at&t. Then of course, municipalities would have to lease T-1 lines.

I looked it up. T-1 lines can carry 1.544 megabits per second. And while I was looking that up, I saw that an OC192 line can carry 9.6 gigabits per second. In fact, T-1 lines are so far down the carriage Totem Pole at&t should be ashamed and embarrassed for even bringing it up. That’s yesterday’s technology Mr. Whitacre! Oops, I forgot, all of at&t’s technology is hopelessly retro.

The final thing that had me running for the aspirin was news of at&t’s legislative pitch in Illinois that grants eminent domain rights to Ma Bell.

“No property owner, condominium association, managing agent, lessee, or other person in possession and control of any improved or unimproved real estate located within such area shall forbid or prevent the holder of a State-issued authorization from entering upon that real estate,” and not just “entering” mind you but connecting and more importantly putting up those ugly stinkin boxes.

Now I understand that in order for me to get water, sewage, electrical, cable and phone, I allow my easement (the one I pay property taxes on) to be used so I can get those services. However, I (if I lived in Illinois) would have to allow at&t to put up their stinkin box on my property even if I didn’t want their service but maybe my neighbor four doors down did?

Oh and by the way, I happen to live in a community that is run by an association. They have some rules about how things go; you can even get fined if you have too much junk in your car port. But according to this legislation, any rules they might have against above ground utilities would be moot.

I am not 100% sure these telecom battles resonate in a world where a good chunk of the population isn’t even allowed to speak their minds or question any or all religious ideals. But I do think there is a slippery slope effect going on here. If we lose PEG (channels, funding, transmission, etc.) and the mainstream media is effectively silenced from commenting on religion for fear of reprisal (violent or otherwise), where then will a discussion either positive or negative take place? And if something I’ve worked very hard to have, a piece of dirt I can call my own, can be commandeered by a phone company, then what is it I really own and why am I working so hard to own it in the first place?

I think the U.N. Human Rights Council has gone stark raving mad, quite a bit crazier than the twenty-four knuckleheaded House members in Illinois who sponsored the eminent domain language. But then again, not nearly as crazy as at&t and its plans to force towns and cities to lease T-1 lines to carry PEG channels. Somebody needs to introduce a resolution somewhere to outlaw this kind of blasphemy.

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