8.31 Intro

In response to

  1. A counterpoint, Bart Cell Tower
  2. Counterpoint, Pair jailed for using Facebook to incite violence

A Counterpoint, Bart Cell Tower

“Counterpoint” talks about an situation that occurred this summer on the BART, the subway line that runs in San Francisco. BART was informed that the riders of the subway were organizing a petition and were informing people about it over their cell phones. Subsequently, Bart shutdown all the cellular service on their trains as people made their way in and out of the city. Many riders were outraged that BART would turn off cell service on the trains; they saw it as an attack on their civil liberties. BART stated that the reason that they shutdown the cellular access on the train was that the were worried about illegal behavior that could lead to violence and danger to the public. Bart also claimed that civil disturbance during commute times could lead to platform overcrowding and unsafe conditions.

BART’s mission is to provide a service that allows passengers to travel safely from one place to another in a timely fashion so I understand BART’s concern for the safety of its passengers. If BART hears about an event that will disturb the journey then they can act to prevent any foreseeable problems. Here’s an analogy: If Amtrak decided to turned off their wireless internet service during a train ride because there were suspicions of portending riots on the train, that is a perfectly legal and acceptable thing to do. Amtrak (although supported by the government) is a private company and their decisions about the services they provide are in their control and as it is with BART.

I think that it is very unreasonable that BART did not give the subway riders a fair warning before they shutdown service. BART has a responsibility as a company to inform its patrons of a major service change. If the people were warned that service would be shutoff because of threats to the safety of the passengers, a lot less people would have been angered.

If the US government (obviously not a private company) decided to shutdown internet service or cell service in a public landscape, then that would be a huge problem. It would also be a huge violation to constitutional rights. BART cell service technically exists in a private space although it is available in public property (San Francisco, the city) but BART shutdown the service on their own private property.

A important point in the article “Counterpoint” is that this time period in our lives is the golden age of the first amendment. Americans have the constitutional right to free speech, that means a lot in this day and age.  We have to reconsider how we define free speech because of the new forms of technology that have been invented to help facilitate speech such as the internet, skype, text messaging, and cell phones, etc. We need to be constantly examining the rapid developments (and the popularity) of online social communication and information technology systems and consider how the constitution affects the way we use these services and where we can use these services.

Response to: A pair jailed for using Facebook to incite violence

Interestingly enough, I was living in Savannah, Georgia during the time of this riot. For a New Yorker, Savannah is a very weird place to live in because the housing distribution illuminates the large gaps of wealth inequality in relation to race, particularly between Caussciuans and Black people. Very affluent white families live downtown in the fancy historical district, whereas, within a 10 block radius, Black families live in housing projects.

Right after the London riots, there was a big flash mobbing cases in Philadelphia, which is my hometown. Just like Savannah, Philadelphia has a very large Black population and the wealth inequality in relation to race is very apparent in Philadelphia as it is in Savannah, Georgia. It definitely worth pointing out that in the Philadelphia flash mobs this summer, there were very few White protesters as compared with the Black protesters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoxQbnVx4TU

This summer 2011, 1000s of young Black kids in Philadelphia organized a flash mobbing on South Street. The flash mob was arranged by users of Facebook.

Video clips on youtube show kids terrorizing store tenants and pretty much rough housing and creating a lot of hustle and bustle on the streets. The mayor of Philadelphia, Major Nutter, was really dismayed by this. He instigated a curfew on the youths of Philadelphia.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4WOYMWp29g

 

Although I agree with many of the things Nutter said, I don’t think that a curfew will solve any of the problems that caused this riot. (And anyway, the internet is a 24 hour service, kids are going to using it to do want they want, no matter the time of day.)

Personally, I think the riots in Philly started as a result of boredom. When kids are bored because of a lack of summer activities or lack of jobs or money, that leads to restlessness, which can result  in an event like this.

The story of the teenagers in London arranging riots over Facebook also make me think about an article that I had read on CNN. It was about how Facebook status updating leads to real life arrests. In this case, I thought the London boys sentence was a little harsh. C’mon, 4 years (or something), just make them do community service or something, poor anarchists! But at the same time, next time they think of putting up something something very attacky on the internet,  they will think twice about it rather than doing it on a whim. I say, if kids are status updating threats or inciting violence on Facebook then they deserve to be arrested if they are willing to post something like that and tie it back to their names.