I Have a Dream.
[sup]With apologies to Martin Luther King, Jr.
*Inspired from his speech delivered on the steps at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28, 1963 foundhere.*[/sup]
One score and eight years ago, The Chicago Reader along with Cecil Adams, a great intellectual, in whose symbolic shadow we stand, formed the Straight Dope Message Board. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of newbie users who had been seared in the flames of internet ignorance. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of thought captivity.
But twenty-three years later, we must face the tragic fact that the newbie is still not free. Twenty-eight years later, the life of the newbie is still sadly crippled by the manacles of ignorance and the chains of post count discrimination. Twenty-eight years later, the newbie posts on a lonely island of anonymity in the midst of a vast ocean of intellectual prosperity. Twenty-eight years later, the newbie is still languishing in the corners of internet society and finds himself an exile in his own computer. So I have come here today to dramatize this appalling condition.
In a sense we have all come to our favorite board to cash a check. When the architects of this web site wrote the magnificent words of this index page and made the declaration of war against ignorance, they were signing a promissory note to which every member was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all users would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of fun, truth, and the pursuit of information.
It is obvious today, that this board has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as its’ citizens of low post counts are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, this board has given the newbie user a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of Straight Dope is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of knowledge of this message board. So we have come to cash this check – a check that will give us upon demand, the riches of vB code knowledge and the security of sought personal advice.
We have also come to this hallowed forum to remind all users of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of post count segregation to the sunlit path of board equality. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of Cecil’s children. Now is the time to lift our board from the quicksands of newbie intolerance to the solid rock of brotherhood.
It would be fatal for the this board to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the newbie user. This sweltering summer of the newbie’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of understanding and equality. The year two thousand and one, is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the newbie needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the board returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility until the newbie is granted equal post replies. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our fair board until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my fellow newbies who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of fact. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for answers by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative replies to degenerate into personal attacks. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting inflammatory posts with factual posts. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the newbie community must not lead us to distrust of all high post count people, for many of our brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny, and their pride is inextricably bound to our pride. We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of newbie rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our newbies, heavy with the fatigue of typing, cannot gain an ear in the threads of the forums and reply to the posts of other users without ridicule. We can only be satisfied as long as the newbie’s basic mobility is from small post counts to a larger ones. We can never be satisfied as long as a newbie using web TV cannot post, and a newbie in New York believes he has nothing for which to post. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from vicious flames. Some of you have come from threads where your quest for answers left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of Barbeque Pit brutality. You have been the martyrs of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to GD, go back to IMHO, go back to GQ, go back to your home page, go back to the slums and ghettos of 28 K modems, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the world wide web dream.
I have a dream that one day this message board will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these forums to be self-evident: that all users are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day in the heated threads of the Pit, the sons of former trolls and the sons of former troll bashers will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of confusion, a popular state, sweltering with the plague of ignorance and rumor, will be transformed into an oasis of information and fact.
I have a dream that my children will one day post on a board, where they will not be judged by the use of their smilies, or the number of their posts, but by the content of their submissions.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that users of all platforms, whose computer screens are presently dripping with the words of innuendo and myth, will be transformed into a situation where PC veterans and Mac veterans, will be able to join hands with PC rookies and Mac rookies, and walk together as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every reply shall be exalted, every thread and post shall be made clear, the difficult ideas will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the board shall be revealed, and all posters shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the board. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our internet home, into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to play together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to fight ignorance together, knowing that we will all be regulars one day.
This will be the day when all of Cecil’s children will be able to post with a new meaning, “My board, 'tis of thee, sweet site of liberty, of thee I post. Site where my friends reply, site of the internet’s pride, from every mountainside, let newbies post.”
And if Straight Dope is to be a great message board, this must become true. So let newbies post from the prodigious high-rises of New York. Let newbies post from the mighty mountains of Alberta. Let newbies post from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let newbies post from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let newbies post from the curvaceous peaks of the Swiss Alps!
But not only that; let newbies post from the hellish depths of AOL!
Let newbies post from the majestic coasts of California. Let newbies post from every desert and every molehill of Australia. From every internet cafe, let newbies post.
When we let newbies post, when we let them post from every village and every hamlet, from every country and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of Cecil’s children, veterans and newbies, men and women, gays and heterosexuals, Satan and Baptists, creationists and evolutionists, PC users and Mac users, trolls and moderators, will all be able to join hands and type in the words of the old Newbie spiritual, “Heard at last! Heard at last! thank Cecil Adams, we are heard at last!”