The Liberty Tree
by, 04-05-2012 at 08:50 PM (3623 Views)
Once upon a time, there was a land called Ron Paul Forums. There was no "Liberty Forest" yet; the entire thing was a seedling, sprouting up in a bad neighborhood called the Internet. Surrounded by pornography, cute kitten photos, and videos that people mostly created by aiming a camera at their television, a website grew a little bigger.
I came to RPFs out of anger. At the time, I had my own Ron-related venture, or at least a stake in it. As VTV and DrSteveParent and Rayzer42 and a host of other interested parties waged war on Ron Paul Radio, I barked back. When I stopped to look around, I found myself in a land of opinions and philosophies and --- here's the amazing part! --- people doing things. People were raising money to go to straw polls, or to print shirts, or for campaigns. There was talk of blimps, and oddly enough also of monkeys and racecars and news stations. There were snowballs thrown at Hannity, and there were arguments about how feasible it would be to populate an area out in the dusty part of Texas. There were concerts and gatherings and "meetups" and Money Bombs and all around me this was materializing out of the fog.
I stayed at RPFs among kindred spirits. There were several times where I was hurt or bothered by what I read, but it always came back to a few whose views I respected. I had to live with the idea that some folks would have considered my death okay or even a good thing if it helped starve the beast. If I was working for the Government, I was asking for it. I came to understand that saying I had positive experiences with police and military would not always be greeted with anything but contempt. Through all of that I realized that I was among people I could at least understand. There was a whole lot of logic running through most of the threads. There were crazies, but they were obvious crazies. They were OUR crazies.
I embraced RPFs even as Ron Paul Radio had its drama, and even as I didn't eat so that I could be a delegate to the WV State Convention. I was proud of our little group, and how strong we were. I could see potential, even though we were hardly mentioned by the media, and some forumgoers busied themselves telling us how we had done everything wrong. As each fair-weather supporter turned away and mumbled and shook their fist at whatever culprit they decided was to blame, the few that stayed behind attempted to keep things together. The Liberty Tree was filling out.
I clung to RPFs during a very dark time in my life. I had no internet access for awhile. As 2008 drew to a close, I was not sure where I would be once 2009 showed up on the scene. I had gained health problems and scars and lost more than a few friends since the year had begun. I no longer lived in the beautiful West Virginia home that was built in 1898 atop a hill from which you could watch the fireflies in one direction, and the equally bewitching lights of the city in the other. I no longer held or was held by my husband, who finally realized what I'd figured out a long time ago: I'd grown up, and he had not. I endured a lot of things that I will never actually reveal to anyone, because no one's ever going to understand them. The scabbing and tape and shame all itched terribly.
I returned to RPFs to see that candidates were beginning to stumble forth on wobbly legs in the shadow of Ron's defeat. They had the password of "Ron Paul" to whisper, and while some failed, some succeeded. People began to get involved. The idea of being a part of Government to take down Government was not so repulsive. People still went to straw polls and other events. Names like Kokesh and Schiff and Bradley and Massie and Medina swirled around through a new series of subforums. The Liberty Tree was bearing fruit.
I watched RPFs stretch and attempt to recapture the excitement of its youth. I became vaguely aware that I was a part of its growth and history, and tried to answer questions and help new folks figure out how they could help. The years trotted onward. I began to see the leaves turning, and good friends that people hardly noticed would shake their heads and walk away. "How can you stand to stay there?" was usually the jist of it. Little dramas began to stir up more often. Arguments over minutae were no longer the intellectual pursuits of the few who weren't working on bigger things. They were everything. You no longer really needed to register to vote, or even know how the delegate process would work. No, you needed to have access to a lot of good memes, and know how to make a poll, and also you really needed to know how to put down women in such a way as to get a lot of compliments from your fellow internet denizens.
I saw all that was ugliest come forth, while the activism, the excitement, the hope, the tenacity... those qualities began to flag badly. I remember being excited about some ideas, and wanting to help. I recall the guy who was running in his foot-shaped sneakers for Ron, bringing back echoes of Michael's bike rides. I saw conversations about where and when and how to make huge signs and billboards. I saw brochures proposed and printed. I saw promotional palm cards brought into being and distributed widely. Yet each project either saw the originator run off, shrugging, or had such major doubts and errors affiliated with it that it became widely unpopular.
The tree began to split, to become knotty, to house vermin and termites. It began to hollow itself with problem after problem. The mods were to blame, or the admin, or whoever else. It became sport to derail posts, or to work together in well-planned rep circles. It became a badge of honor to be banned. It became passe to have read the Mission Statement, and anyone referring to it was mocked and laughed at. It was the height of fashion to discuss lesbians and women deserving this or not deserving that, and then to claim a pious and demure nature. It was the absolute best, though, to personally insult people and then hide behind the fact it's the internet.
I must have missed the part of the Bible that, in tiny print, lets you know that your Christianity ends at your keyboard.
This tree is no longer safe for the climbing. I'm not going to lie and say I'm gone, because I'm not. I can't resist the urge to keep doing something, and this is still the place where I can count a dozen friends who might still need a bit of money, and who might lend me a little time. Some of them might even lend me their good name and run for office in my stead.
I've enjoyed so much, and that's what makes looking around lately so impossibly difficult. There are wonderful people who give so much, but they are now so outnumbered by the chattering, mocking idiots we used to be fighting to get away from. I just can't do it anymore.
Give it a little longer, and I'll be saying "How can you stand to stay there?" with the rest of the ghosts.