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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

Beatrice Rangel: The New Internet Inquisition
Former Venezuelan Minister of Ministers Beatrice Rangel on political divides and vicious internet herds.

By Beatrice E. Rangel

When the U.S. Department of Defense created the Internet, it was supposed to be a tool for liberation as it intended to be a communication system that could withstand a nuclear attack against Western Democracies.

It followed that once communications could be secured, the defense of democracy would be assured and the world would bounce back to freedom.

No one ever thought that the net could become the means to deploy a modern day Inquisition.

As the world deepens digitalization and human interactions shift from personal encounters to digital halls, political stands, learned opinions on political matters; ideological persuasions or scientific findings are shared in social media, blogs and in the more private electronic mail.

And as soon as anyone -- no matter how qualified -- takes a stand on any issue, a herd of digital hyenas goes after that person's throat attempting intellectual murder. For hours a tide of aggressive messages that touch upon the truly barbarian drown digital destinations of those who venture to share their views about a particular event, present a political persuasion, or disseminate scientific findings that might prove wrong about widely held positions on global matters such as climate change.

The fierce digital battle lasts about 48 hours to then move to another direction to stage an equally aggressive feud at another cyber address.

And while the exchange does not serve the purpose of clarifying, weakening or strengthening the fundamental assumptions supporting the post, it does impact the receiver's digital footprint that ends collecting a palette of insulting descriptions about the author that impact his or her public image.

In short the internet has created a Modern Inquisition that in seconds is ready to punish heretics defined as those that think different from mainstream lines of thinking.

As a result fewer and fewer people of knowledge and expertise venture into the poisoned waters of the social media and those that do don't participate directly but through aides and staffers that clean every post from potentially attractive arguments that could unleash the ire of modern inquisitioners.

This truly sad development runs counter to the much publicized virtue of the internet which is to make knowledge accessible to every human being, thereby distributing the single most important input for success in our digital age.

But in practice the reverse is the truth. More and more think tanks, NGOs, and learned individuals are exchanging knowledge among closed communities and resorting to social networks to exchange post cards, videos and photographs of precious personal moments.

For anyone who read Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose", the current persecution of those considered heretical resembles the quest to clean the Catholic Church of heretic depravity by Bernard Gui.

No matter whether one confesses or refrains from confessing the sin of not abiding by any of the mainstream political postures and visions, hundreds of Bernard Gui's from all over the world go after you to punish your insolent standing.

In the process the world is painted in black and white, losing its attractive shades of grey and other colors that have been the flavor of life.

As we approach the U.S. elections, it is expected to see or suffer from an enhanced activation of the New Inquisition.

The blue herd will paint the current administration in the most somber shades without admitting any single virtue. The red herd will paint its opposing camp as direct descendants of Karl Marx.

And in the process we the majority of citizens will never know whether any contestant has a real plan to deal with upcoming challenges such as rebuilding the supply chain, restructuring our health care system, and retraining our people to acquire digital skills.

The only thing we are sure of is that their leaders will be duly executed in the digital fire.

Beatrice Rangel is President & CEO of the AMLA Consulting Group, which provides growth and partnership opportunities in US and Hispanic markets. AMLA identifies the best potential partner for businesses which are eager to exploit the growing buying power of the US Hispanic market and for US Corporations seeking to find investment partners in Latin America. Previously, she was Chief of Staff for Venezuela President Carlos Andres Perez as well as Chief Strategist for the Cisneros Group of Companies.

For her work throughout Latin America, Rangel has been honored with the Order of Merit of May from Argentina, the Condor of the Andes Order from Bolivia, the Bernardo O'Higgins Order by Chile, the Order of Boyaca from Colombia, and the National Order of Jose Matías Delgado from El Salvador.

You can follow her on twitter @BEPA2009 or contact her directly at BRangel@amlaconsulting.com.


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