Wednesday, March 08, 2006
BigCityLib Becomes an Activist
My first taste of political activism came in 1996, during the first term of the Conservative government of Mike Harris. If you remember them, they took over in 1995 when the Province of Ontario was running a ten-billion dollar per year deficit. In 2003, when Mike Harris' successor Ernie Eves (pictured left ) got turfed from office--after 37 secondary teacher strikes, 14 primary teacher strikes, 3 provincial employee strikes, a half dozen environmental disasters (Walkerton, a couple of tire fires and, if I recall correctly, a plague of aphids)--the deficit stood at about seven billion per year.
Those were dark times indeed.
I was just a young Lib back then, more interested in Art and Literature than fooling around in the political arena. But during late 1995 and 1996, the Harris government reached a decision to amalgamate the various municipalities that made up Metro Toronto into one huge "Megacity". A number of fairly effective grass-roots groups had sprung up around town to protest the plan, in particular Citizens for Local Democracy (C4LD), which was led by ex-Toronto mayor John Sewell. Sitting around my computer one night in '96, feeling pissed off at the government but not knowing how to channel my frustration, I found the C4LD website, and was galvinized into action.
Now, in 1996 the American elections were in full swing just to the South of us. Clinton was taking on old Bob Dole. This was the first election in which the Internet played a central role. For example, a couple of Dole campaign staffers (a man and wife team) were caught posting messages and nude pictures to a "swingers group" on Usenet. These were forced to resign from the campaign, and Dole spent a couple of days being severely embarrassed.
And so I got thinking. My job at the time involved alot of working with search engines and doing research via the Internet. It occurred to me that a lot of Harris' new MPPs were from small towns outside of Toronto where there were (at the time) no functioning ISPs. Given the standard learning curve for new Internet users, I figured that a lot of these guys had probably spent their first six months in office downloading porn and masturbating over their computers.
(Nothing against small towns; I am talking about an experience that was almost universal for men of that era. The vast waves of middle-age white males that migrated onto the Net in the mid-90s did so for the free Filth. Guys who had never owned a PC before, who could barely type with two fingers, bought one at around this time, in search the great on-line Pornucopia. In fact, for most men of the time, the first "bad" experience on-line was when they accidentally set a picture of a naked blonde chick getting whipped by a gorilla as their background image. I knew one guy did that the first day he owned his computer. He unplugged it in panic, and left it turned it off for a week while he figured out what the procedure for resetting your background was. He told his wife the new PC had caught "a virus", and she had to leave the machine turned off or she might catch it too.
Actually, things have changed radically since then. Kids today know so much more about computers, and they get at the porn so early that by the time they're 12 or 13 its all passe to them. But in case this is still useful knowledge, here's how you remove a dirty picture from your desktop.
Go to Control Panel on your Start Menu, and open it. Go to display, and open it. Go to Desktop and look for the files given as possible background files. Change that file to something you can show the kids without them thinking dad's a pervert)
So anyway, I had this image in my mind of a couple hundred Tory's (fifty, puffy, male and white) lounging around Queen's Park with their dicks in their hands. And I thought: maybe one of these guys is a real sick fucker, but has never had a chance to express it before. Maybe this hypothetical Tory wants to bang midgets, for example, and maybe he's using his government Internet account to arrange rendevous with midgets all around the city.
And I thought: its up to me to expose this guy and help bring down the government, just like whoever caught those two campaign workers screwed things up for Bob Dole.
So, I systematically began harvesting names and emails from campaign, party, and government websites, and began running them those search engines, SpyKing, and other online surveillance tools. It took me the better part of the week, and I came up with exactly one "hit".
It turned out that one of Mike Harris' 905 area code back-benchers, who shall remain nameless (because I forget his name) had been posting messages to a Usenet group devoted to Hair Restoratives. In particular, he had been asking about how Xaonal--how effective it was, what the side effects were. Bingo! I'd found an MPP with a dirty little secret! He was going bald! Not quite what I had been looking for, but what the hell.
I surfed to the Government of Ontario website to confirm my suspicions. There was a bio with picture posted for every Tory MPP, and sure enough, my boy had a little recession of his own going on up top.
I was energized now. I sent my research off to their C4LD leadership council (MPPs picture included), and fired off the same information to reporters at all the local dailies.
But here is the funny thing. Nothing really came of it. There were no stories in the Globe, and nothing even in the TO Sun. I can only assume that these papers harbored a pro-Tory bias, or that losing your hair is no longer the scandal it once was.
In any case, that was my first taste of political activism. I've been raising hell ever since.
From the Big City, BigCityLib saying goodbye for now.