“FReepers” Target Activists
By Michael I. Niman ArtVoice
The Cayuga Coalition for Peace meeting had just gotten
under way at an
Beneath the surface, however, lies a colorful history.
And it should also come as no surprise that this peace
movement would wind up in the crosshairs of a new pro-war movement intent on
frightening, harassing and disrupting grassroots anti-war activism.
The stalker eavesdropping on the Cayuga Coalition for Peace turned out to be a postal worker from nearby Port Byron. Within moments he managed to adequately disrupt the coalition’s meeting, making himself the center of attention as a mix of angry and frightened attendees debated about how to handle the interloper. Lost was any discussion of the impending war and the upcoming votes on the pending anti-war resolutions.
With the minister asking him to leave the church, the mailman opted to use an old anti-war protest tactic, committing civil disobedience by refusing to move. He later described the coalition members and minister as “godless heathens,” who by opposing the war had declared “treason,” thus forfeiting all of their property rights. The minister called the police and the meeting ended in chaos – reconvening later in a private home.
The mailman turned out to be part of a national movement
associated with the
The vast majority of actions in their current campaign, “Operation Infinite FReep,” are peaceful protests by citizens exercising their constitutional rights – usually in the form of small counter-demonstrations at peace rallies. In this sense, the organization and its FReepers represent a rather benign part of this nation’s political tapestry. Americans have a right to protest, no matter how repugnant their particular cause.
The Port Byron mailman, however, represents the dark dirty underbelly of the FReeping movement – a movement dedicated not to the free expression of ideas, but to harassing others who are trying to exercise their constitutional rights. These are the creepy FReepers, and they might be coming to a church basement near you.
After leaving the
The post kicked off a lively on-line discussion, with FReepers from around the US chiming in to congratulate their new comrade on a successful FReep, and to offer ideas for future actions against the Auburn activists, such as using a hidden tape recorder instead of a note pad, and bringing reinforcements before encountering the “godless [church] commies” again.
The obsessive use of the term, “commie,” and various
related misspellings, is about as accurate as the term “godless,” which
FReepers repeatedly use to describe clergy and church-based activists who
disagree with their views. To the
FReepers, anyone opposed to George W. Bush’s policies, whether they are
Democrats, Conservatives, Greens or Republicans, is a “commie.” Hence,the
word takes on a new meaning – having nothing to do with Karl Marx or any
related economic theory. It
represents, instead, a rather Neanderthal political theory, probably inspired by
Bush’s “you are either with us or with the terrorists” line.
In this case, the Auburn FReeper writes, “Let everyone in our nation
stand and be counted. American or
communists. No gray areas, no
compromise.” Such is the depth of
political discourse in the “
The blanket use of labels and identifiers such as “commy
# 3” to identify human beings serves another purpose – one more ominous than
the simple debasing of political discourse.
It strips people of their humanity, reducing them to faceless objects or
infidels, thus making it easier to dismiss their ideas and to allow violence to
be committed against them. This is
an aspect of the same murderous fundamentalism that fueled the terrorist attacks
against our nation.
In this light, much of what the Auburn FReeper and his comrades wrote in the hours and days after the Cayuga Peace Coalition meeting is quite disturbing. Egged on by fellow FReepers, the Auburn FReeper posted a late night statement reading, “It is time for confrontation. Treason cannot go unchallenged.” Confusing the Cayuga peace activists for the mostly Saudi 9-11 hijackers, he wrote, “They fired the first shot. We will fire the last.” Six minutes later he felt compelled to add another post, writing, “Read my previous. I am serious not a nut [sic.].”
Whether he is seriously not a nut, or not a serious nut, or
whatever he is trying to say, once thing is certain – the Auburn FReeper is
not an anomaly in the
Another thread targeted the Women in Black – the
international movement of silent women’s protests against war and human rights
violations. There, amidst a plethora
of misogynist comments, such as, “Those women disgust me,” and “I hate
their hairy legs,” were a few strategies for confronting the non-violent
vigils, such as attacking them with giant red, white and blue painted rubber
penises. In another thread, a poster
While the individual FReepers may not be a sophisticated
In this light, the Auburn FReeper’s online boasts, where he places himself in a National Guard Armory and a VA office, working with on-duty personnel drumming up support for political initiatives to oppose anti-war resolutions, is particularly alarming. He combines contacts with mainstream government officials and representatives from political parties, with a darker terror-based strategy. The Auburn FReeper is not a lone anti-social stalker, but part of a growing national movement – one that hopes to threaten and stifle the political discourse that is a democracy’s life blood.
Dr. Michael I.
Niman’s previous columns are archived at http://mediastudy.com.
Recent columns are also available as PDF downloads at http://coldtype.net.
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