A dream and a voice 

The holiday honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was Monday, with downtown Little Rock and the Birds**t Lot where we dock the Mobile Observatory every morning a ghost town.

The Observer, like a lot of Americans, has long been an admirer of King, one man who changed a whole country (and maybe even the world) for the better just by the force of his will, the power of his words and the resolve of his mind. On the cluttered Wall of Fame and Shame beside our desk, among the complaint e-mails and the thank you cards, The Observer keeps a portrait of Dr. King. It's actually a ragged and torn church fan, the stick ripped out and discarded, the paper worried and creased almost to the point of disintegration, as if some poor sinner folded and unfolded it a thousand times while the preacher bore down on him or her with the Wrath of Judgment. We found it in the back pew of a church down in East Little Rock some years back while visiting a service there for a story — the first and last time in a good 15 years that we've darkened the door of a church on Sunday. We didn't figure anybody would miss it, and besides, we've got a lot more use for "A Letter from Birmingham Jail" than we ever had for any of the sermons we dozed through as a kid, in our best shoes and slicked-down hair.

For several years now, Dr. King has hovered over our telephone. "Courage," he says. "Faith and courage." As we tell anybody who comments on our portrait of the Good Doctor while visiting our desk: It's MLK Day 24/7/365 up here, friends.

The Observer didn't feel too hot last weekend. Sitting on the couch wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, hostage to a stomach bug, we logged onto YouTube, looking for a sweet tune to brighten sickly spirits. What happened next — well, we've all been there: the "copyright infringement screen of death." We're all seeing a lot more of it these days, it seems.

Only after five attempts did The Observer finally wave the white flag at the YouTube angels, surrendering to the message of the Corporate Gods who own them.

Intending to avoid the inevitable brain aneurysm, The Observer had just opted for the "Can you feel the good vibes radiating?" playlist on our Kindle when the loud "Breaking News Alert" chime interrupted the momentary escape. Pausing, first, to take another swig of Emergen-C and to pop a few gummy vitamins, The Observer was relieved to see that President Obama had just pledged his administration would not support the current forms of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) currently being debated in Congress.

The Observer had initially become familiar with these bills thanks to posts by friends and advocacy groups on Facebook. After some research, it became clear that both pieces of legislation have the potential to change the Internet as we know it. While PIPA would afford the government and corporations the ability to take legal action against any site deemed an "enabler" of copyright infringement, SOPA simply lays the groundwork for a "black list" of sites, with the added bonus of legal authority to block any and all financial support to those sites. Not surprisingly, SOPA and PIPA are opposed by Google, Facebook and Reddit. Less surprising? They enjoy the support of Time Warner, Comcast, Disney, and the Motion Picture Association of America.

In many ways, the technology of today has rapidly become the technology of The Observer's generation — not because we invented it, but because we built upon the technology we inherited. Yet, for all the ways these innovations have empowered us to have more control over the lives we lead, there are those who aim not only to stifle this technological progress, but to force us all two steps back into technological history — into a world robbed of the open Internet we took apart and reassembled into something more powerful than any government or corporation: a global voice.



Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Every secret thing

    The Observer came into the office on Tuesday morning, not quite bright-eyed or bushy tailed thanks to Daylight Savings Time jetlag, to find our colleague Benji Hardy conked out asleep in yet another colleague's office, Benji having pulled an all-nighter to bring you, Dear Reader, this week's cover story.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Casting out demons: why Justin Harris got rid of kids he applied pressure to adopt

    Rep. Justin Harris blames DHS for the fallout related to his adoption of three young girls, but sources familiar with the situation contradict his story and paint a troubling picture of the adoption process and the girls' time in the Harris household.
    • Mar 12, 2015
  • Addendum

    he Observer has our regrets, just like everybody else. For example: last week, Yours Truly published a cover story on the increasingly ugly fight over Eureka Springs' Ordinance 2223, which is designed to protect a bunch of groups — including LGBTQ people — from discrimination in housing, employment, accommodations, cake buying, browsing, drinking, gut stuffery, knickknack purchasing, general cavorting, funny postcard mailing and all the other stuff one tends to get up to in the weirdest, friendliest, most magical little town in the Ozarks.
    • Apr 30, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in The Observer

  • Playing catch-up

    What with the big, clear-the-decks Road Trip issue last week — which we're sure you stuffed immediately in your motorcar's glove box, turtle hull or catchall, for when you get a hankerin' to gallivant — The Observer has had two glorious weeks to Observe since the last time we conversed.
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Old Gray Lady rides again

    There was a reunion of Arkansas Gazette employees last Saturday night, nearly 25 years to the day it was shut down.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • Thrifty

    The Observer is a known and incorrigible haunter of thrift stores. Some weekends, with Spouse in tow, we'll make the rounds of every Goodwill store in three counties, driving them on a carefully pre-planned circuit so we can stop midway and get coffee at our favorite little place.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Searching for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

A venture to this state park is on the must-do list for many, the park being the only spot in North America where you can dig for diamonds and other gemstones and keep your finds.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Youth movement

    • Best of luck. Will look forward to watching the results with high hopes for him.

    • on October 24, 2016
  • Re: Arkansas's ballot questions

    • This is amazing. Please do more of these in the future. Thanks so much for…

    • on October 24, 2016
  • Re: Trump, Christianity and decency

    • At least Debbie Pelley isn't running for anything.( probably proslyetizing those communist bike trails),

    • on October 22, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation