Internet harassment of Democratic or progressive political activists is a seriously problem that seems to be growing in scale and scope. Many Internet active Democrats have long been aware of organized harassment campaigns from large groups of Far Right Wing Republican cyber terrorists.
These tactics and harassment campaigns have created the terms "freeped" and "freeper" because it looks like many of the extremists involved seem to rally for the attacks with individual of a similar political bent at Free Republic.com. Everyone active at Free Republic.com are not involved in the "freeper" attacks. The terms are now applied to Right Wing extremist who use the harassment tactics but are not necessarily associated with Free Republic.com. The terms have become generic.
"Freepers" attack open message boards and blogs with smear campaigns in which they use profanity and obscenities, racist language, character attacks and false accusations. Every idea that is moderate, liberal or progressive is labeled communist or socialist. Anyone who does not completely follow the line of the Republican Far Right is called a traitor or supporter of terrorism.
These "freepers" attack the idea that the United States is or should be a democracy with venom. They often falsely claim to be independents or Libertarians while pursuing a completely Republican Right political agenda. They often attempt to infiltrate Democratic or progressive groups by claiming to be Democrats or progressives to stir up conflict or give credence to stereotypes of their opponents they wish to promote. Fundamentally, these "freeper" tactics are fascist in nature or worse.
Sometimes, their tactics appear to cross the line into criminal behaviors. Emails with viruses are sent. Websites are hacked and vandalized. Faked emails are sent with insulting or obscene content that seem to be coming from prominent Democratic or progressive Internet activists but are really being sent from "freepers."
Some individuals who have been active in the past at sites like Free Republic.com have been connected to acts like the mailing of anthrax hoax letters. There is some Internet speculation that the deadly, real anthrax attacks shortly after 9-11 might have come from people who share political values with the "freepers" or who might be "freepers." Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has still not solved the Anthrax Attack case.
Democratic Talk Radio has been victimized by "freeper" attacks of all sorts. In one week, we received over 10,000 pieces of hate mail. Our message board at Democratic Talk Radio.com has been filled with thousands of obscene messages until open posting was closed. "Freepers" have infiltrated our message board for Democratic activists to sow conflict. We have received anthrax hoax letters, emailed death threats, etc.
Recently, we are finding that thousands of pieces of spam are being sent that claims falsely to be coming from various fake names @democraticTalkRadio.com when no emails are ever sent from addresses using @democratictalkradio.com. Our mailbox is being flooded with undelivered spam being returned so real email does not always get to us.
Critics are complaining to AOL about receiving our Democratic Voices columns which are normally received by many local Democratic activists, union leaders, journalists, progressive websites and bloggers. AOL has disrupted our email access in acts of blatant political censorship and harassment based on politically motivated complaints.
AOL seems to think that their Terms of Service trumps the US Constitutional guarantees of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Assembly. Anyone who does not want to receive our Democratic Voices opinion column can individually request to be removed by replying to our emails. You can block any sender from sending you email. The politically motivated Terms of Service complaints are crude attempts to keep our opinion columns from being received by the opinion leaders who currently receive them by individuals who disagree with their content.
Political emails are not commercial spam. AOL and other Internet providers are violating Constitutional rights when they attempt to block them from being sent when the emails do not contain profanity, obscenities or threats.
The Internet should work like our American Democracy. We should not try to restrict the rights of others to freely express their views. Political harassment, corporate control, censorship and dirty tricks have no place in our national tradition.
Written by Stephen Crockett (co-host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio.com .) Mail: P.O. Box 283, Earleville, Maryland 21919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org . Phone: 443-907-2367.
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