Aside from the sensationalism surrounding the Chinese brick-making slaves, the most notable aspect of the story to me is that Chinese peasants used the internet to force the Communist bureaucracy to heed their complaints.

The scandal surfaced last month after about 400 distraught parents posted a plea on the Internet about their children who had been sold into slavery in China's northern Shanxi province and neighbouring Henan.

They made their case public after police and local authorities refused to help find their children.

After the Internet postings prompted action from police and attention from the state-run press, disturbing images were broadcast of abused and emaciated workers being freed from brick kilns, with some young men too weak to stand.

I bet the Communists were surprised to find their iron boots slipping off the necks of their subjects. There's still some concern that government officials may have been involved in the slavery, but I bet those facts will come to light eventually, too.

However, human rights groups and some ordinary Chinese citizens on the Internet said those convicted could just be scapegoats, and accused the ruling Communist Party of trying to ensure that corrupt officials were not implicated.

Even the Luddites who oppose technology and civilization should cheer this victory for internet-empowered peasants.

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