The More Problems We Find, The More Hopeful I Become

Every day some new piece of awful is uncovered by the media.  This can be quite discouraging.  Such a reaction to the latest bit of insanity is only natural.  But within each new revelation of everything our country shouldn’t be, is the kernel of everything it can be.

Mirth’s comment is what started me reflecting on this:

The dysfunction in our country is so pervasive, I don’t see much hope for us.

It reminded me of Tai Chi Chuan and Mark Twain.  How odd is that?

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years. – Mark Twain (Possibly)

This quote sometimes provokes a smile.  It is obviously the son who has changed.

In Tai Chi, one of (if not the) central goal is relaxation.  You also become gradually more and more sensitive to your own body and your surroundings.  The more you progress, the more tension you become aware of.

What is changing in America is our awareness.  We are becoming increasingly aware of each other, the news, and in particular news that actually matters.  We find small stories that would otherwise have been lost, and it filters up to more and more exposure.  Narratives of torture, abuse, authoritarianism and murderous incompetence move us in the polls.

There are many things that are wrong with this country, and our problems run very deep.

But we have to find those problems to solve them.  And we are.  I find a great deal of hope in this.

It is a sign of progress.

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Cops & Corps: Failure to Communicate

I started reading MacHall in college. Back when we weren’t all paranoid little anti-Franklins.

After the comic’s creators left college Matt and Ian have kept up to no good. Being weird and creating comics, that is.

So imagine my surprise when I heard the latest news regarding Matt. He’d been fired! For talking about guns at work:

His conversation with a co-worker about a gun he intended to buy for target shooting was overheard by someone in a nearby cubicle. As it was unfortunately the day of the Virginia Tech shootings, the eavesdropper panicked and reported him to management. That was bad enough. But when he used the comic to document the meeting where the reason for his firing was explained, he was visited by representatives of local law enforcement investigating him on suspicion of making a “terroristic threat” using the Internet. No charges have been filed. Yet. FLEEN interviewed Matt about the incident.”

Someone panicked, kiss your job goodbye. Nice!

Matt Boyd is really taking a stand on this (FLEEN, emphasis mine):

Fleen: What do you need done right now? Is this a case of having people aware of this situation is helpful, or is it better to hope it just dies down on its own? ‘Cause I gotta say, I thought it had died down, then it just sort of sprang back to life.

Boyd: Well, all I really wanted to do from the beginning was tell people what happened. And everything I say from here on out is a risk, because I still have this threat hanging over my head. (I’ve about given up on a good reference at this point.) But I can’t just keep quiet.

Fleen: Is this going to change how you work on Three Panel Soul? Make it a little less autobiographical, a little more fake autobiographical?

Boyd: No, never.

This Matt fellow is tremendous. The courage it takes to say this while the threat of charges hang over his head…

Us netrootsy folks, we’ve been really good all year, haven’t we? We deserve a nice guy like Matt to support. And lo and behold… here he is. Beset upon by the good folks of St Mary’s MD for exercising his right to free speech. All because a co-worker panicked and management was governed by fear.

He was visited by law enforcement because of the web comic.  That is what really sticks out (Diesel Sweeties Blog):

To top it all off, he was later visited by police detectives for making a comic about his experience, because it was a “borderline terroristic threat.” (Is “terroristic” even a word? Did they get that from the Colbert report?)

I’m not a lawyer or a reporter or anything, but I would recommend anyone who was one of those things to contact Matt. ( machallboyd ATZORS gmail.com ) If you’re a cartoonist or a webcomics fan, spread his story around. The more people who know about this, the better. He’s a good dude who deserves your support.

Please feel free to spread this post any way you like, including via Digg.

We can help. We can support Matt by buying wicked awesome t-shirts. We can call St. Mary’s office of the State’s Attorney: 301-475-7844. We can write them a letter. The key is to be polite, firm, polite, and to the point.

This isn’t justice, this is paranoia and censorship.

In our country, free speech is still a right.