Created by special directive from J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI's COunter INtelligence PROgram was in its heyday in 1968. The aim of the program was "protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order."
In time, most of COINTELPRO's covert methods have been revealed to be illegal, as Bureau resources were used to disrupt and suppress the free speech of peaceful protest groups, like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
, or, via the mass media, to launch complex misinformation campaigns against groups like the Students for a Democratic Society
, or the Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam
. Individuals were also targeted, like Martin Luther King, Tom Hayden, and Dave Dellinger.
Scenes like the one here on PAGE TWENTY-FIVE were not uncommon for the targets of the FBI's counter intelligence. The Bureau would conduct warrantless searches, "black bag jobs," intended to gather information and harass political dissidents.
"...Maintaining the Existing Social and Political Order" --
It's no secret that our media landscape is changing before our very eyes. You webcomics readers are probably more aware of this than anybody. And among the many new ways of obtaining information, I think it's fair to say that right along side Google, Wikipedia is a tent pole of the New Media circus.
Wikipedia and webcomics encounter similar obstacles to legitimacy when they come against some of the still striving standards of "Old Media." For instance, Wikipedia isn't accepted as a valid reference source for school papers or scientific journals. It's the user-generated, wide-open frontier-like atmosphere of the web that makes the gate keepers of "Old Media" nervous about Wikipedia and skeptical about the validity of webcomics. Seems most folks still need to see something in print before they believe it's "real."
Despite thier similar goals - to bring entertaining and/or informative content to the web in ways traditional media can't - and the shared prejudices most of "Old Media" seems to have against both of them, I was surprised to learn that Wikipedia has a strange vendetta against webcomics, and it's apparently been going on for a while now. Believe it. It's true
Wikipedia is, in fact, notorious for deleting entries for webcomics, even frequently visited sites with thousands of hits per day, or, as in my case, webcomics hosted by major publishing companies. These entries are often deleted for failing to meet their standards of "notability." According to Wikipedia, comics on the Internet are not notable in and of themselves simply because they are distributed via the Internet. In other words - WIKIPEDIA JUDGES WEBCOMICS AS IRRELEVANT BY THE SAME STANDARDS THAT CAUSE MANY OTHERS TO JUDGE WIKIPEDIA AS IRRELEVANT.
Seems ironic to me that Wikipedia, the very institution responsible for pushing media, information and encyclopedic knowledge forward into the 21st century, would be so concerned with "maintaining the existing social and political order" that they would indulge in some "counter intelligence" of their own. Wikipedia paints webcomics and blogs and youtube videos with the same broad brush that the FBI painted communists, student activists and civil rights leaders. Perhaps, one day, we shall overcome.