Thursday, September 13, 2012

Embassy Attacks

Attacks were made against U.S. property in Libya and Egypt and U.S. citizens were murdered. Instead of condemning these monstrous acts, many are condemning presidential candidate Romney for his criticism of the initial statement issued by the U.S. government, calling him wrong for saying the statement amounted to an apology to the terrorists - an apology for daring to allow U.S. citizens, engaging in their right of free speech, to make a nasty video offensive to Muslims.

I was by directed by another to an article detailing fact checkers where it was stated:
"PolitiFact asked four apology experts whether those words constituted the sort of regretful statement that qualifies as an apology."

Apology "experts"? Seriously? So because these so-called experts say a statement does not constitute an apology, that makes it a fact?

The original statement this issue is about "condemns" and "rejects" those that use their free speech to *hurt the feelings* of Muslims. Is there really a significant difference between using those words and saying "we are sorry" for hurting their feelings? I guess that depends on what the meaning of "is" is, as Clinton would say.

This statement was issued in response to violence against the embassy - allegedly as a result of someone producing a nasty video. Speech never justifies violent acts. Thus the ONLY proper statement that should have been made would have been along the lines of:

"While we do not condone those that deliberately insult others or their beliefs, we stand firm in upholding the right to free speech EVEN WHEN IT OFFENDS and we categorically condemn the violent actions of those taking part in the attacks on the embassy and wholly reject any attempt to hold the speech of others as a cause or an excuse for such acts."

In other words, the ONLY condemnation and rejection should be against those using violence. Free speech, even by those intending offense, should NEVER be condemned. Doing so implicitly grants the enemy the link between their actions and our speech, giving them license to commit more violence in response to speech in future.

And note that this entire issue is based on the fact that the MURDER of U.S. citizens was not yet known. Once that was known, any statement coming out of the U.S. government should have been far harsher and backed with action.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Iranium: The Movie

Iranium is a movie that Iran has recently attempted to have banned in other countries. It was to be shown in Canada and its showing was initially cancelled due to government cowards bowing down to Iranian diplomatic demands. Fortunately enough in government had enough sense to make sure it was rescheduled and shown.

For anyone that has been paying attention over the years, you already know much of what is documented here. What this movie does by putting it altogether into a comprehensive whole and "connecting the dots" is greatly increase the impact.

It shows clearly that Iran has and is following a very organized and deliberate strategy to achieve its goals, and it is succeeding because of the constant appeasement, self-abasement, and outright cowardice of the western nations to stand up to every aggression for more than 30 years now.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"Money for Nothing" lyrics banned in Canada

Update: Some months ago the CBSC decided, no doubt due in some measure to the outpouring of criticism for it, to repeal its decision on this song. Radio stations can once again freely air the original track.

After being continuously aired for more than 25 years, the Canadian Broadcasting Standards Council (CBSC) has declared the original lyrics of "Money for Nothing", containing the word "faggot", is now verboten. All members of the council are required to obey this ban, thus all radio stations must now air a censored version of the song.

Is the word "faggot" offensive to some? Of course! Is it "insensitive"? That depends on how and why it is used! If one reads lyrics as simply a stream of words or disparate sentences, then it is possible to take offense at a lot of words in the English language. But that is not how any text, whether song lyrics, or classic stories such as Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, are to be read. They must be read in the context of the story or article or song as a whole, including the context of the time those words were written.

Attempting to sanitize history, whether of 25, 250, or 2,500 years ago, is to destroy it - to erase or lessen the impact of lessons that can be learned. In Twain's time, the word "nigger" was in common use, but Twain's stories, using irony, sarcasm, and humour, were all about pointing out the ignorance and stupidity underlying racism. Pretending that people did not talk that way at the time is to pretend they were not quite so ignorant - and thus not quite so racist. We need to remember that they did talk that way and the reasons they did so!

Mark Knopfler, in writing "Money for Nothing" was commenting on a conversation he overheard. He was using it to show in song what some people felt - he was exposing it much the way Twain was exposing racism. Sanitizing his lyrics loses its impact.

Defense of this decision includes citing the fact that some stations have voluntarily aired an edited version of the song for some time already, and that even Knopfler himself in concert has not used the word for some years. But that evades the issues: voluntary action versus forced censorship; and changing one's current actions versus revising history.

It is also repeatedly claimed that the CBSC is a private association (i.e. self-regulation by broadcasters)and thus it is perfectly proper for its members to be required to obey such decisions. But this is a half-truth. In fact, the operating license of many radio stations are contingent on them being a member of the CBSC. Thus such decisions have the force of law behind them.

If it were truly a voluntary association then a radio station could resign from the CBSC if it did not agree with its decisions, and continue to operate on its own terms apart from standards set by the CBSC. But in fact to do so would be to violate its government-imposed conditions and the station would have to cease operations altogether. Thus such CBSC decisions are nothing less then censorship, whether or not a particular ban was at the behest of government.

Furthermore, a genuinely voluntary council would have procedures in place for members to appeal such decisions and bring it to a vote, it would not allow a very small board to have unappealable dictatorial powers over its members!

Finally at issue is the basis of this decision - a single complaint by a single person. For the sake of avoiding offending the sensibilities of one person, every other person in the country is deprived of their right to hear the original version of this song on the radio. Once again, there are many words that can be taken offense at - should we start banning every song, movie, show, or article that uses any word that causes offense to any person? Where will that end? Might as well simply ban radio and every other type of private broadcast or media - only allow government stations instead!

Attempts to smear Tea Party groups have no basis

From the moment the recent tragic shooting of several people by Jared Lee Loughner, including U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was first reported, there has been a massive attempt to lay blame at the feet of the Tea Party groups.

As fast as emerging facts showed a lack of any such link, the smears became even more intense and desperate - citing the use of phrases such as "targeting" and the image of crosshairs on political material from Sarah Palin and others as "evidence" of the right inciting violence. That such imagery and phrasing has been used for centuries by politicians of all stripes (as well as in business) without any known links to violent acts is desperately evaded.

Even a cursory look at the Tea Party movement across the United States quickly shows that any attempt to connect them with such violence is utterly devoid of any merit. First, while most tea-party members tend to lean far more to the right, that is not at all exclusive - in fact much of the thrust of the tea-party movement is as much against the current republican status-quo as it is against the democratic side.

There are many tea-party groups, a fact of their grass-roots origin. Some have merged into larger groups or linked together, but there are still many. And with that comes many variations. Some of these groups are made up of very religious, mostly Christian, members, and some are far more secular - a natural reflection of the people in the areas they formed. Some endorse Sarah Palin, many do not.

What all these groups share in common though is a desire to re-establish limits on government power as originally intended by the founders of the republic. They advocate a return to strict observance of the Constitution which was designed to constrain the government, not citizens. It's not simply about reducing taxes, or protecting the right to bear arms, those are simply logical consequences of desiring a limited government and maximum individual freedom.

Even the most religious of the tea-party groups, whether implicitly or explicitly, accept and uphold the separation of church and state necessary for freedom - including religious freedom; they are not advocating a theocracy.

Given their advocacy of individual rights - which start with the right to one's life - an attempt to link them to murder and other violence is absurd.

There are, sadly, some deranged individuals. One of those is responsible for this latest horrible incident. Such individuals will find motivation for their evil acts no matter what anyone else does or does not do. To suppose this one was motivated by the tea party movement, directly or indirectly, is to clutch at straws.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Athiest States

The following letter to the editor was published in the Toronto Sun on December 23.

A reader writes (Dec. 16) that "Judeo-Christian based societies are hands down the most decent, fair societies on Earth today". That is true, but he has reversed cause and effect. The reason this is true is not because of religion but because of the separation of church and state and recognition, to at least a significant degree, of individual rights and the freedom that brings - including religious freedom by definition.

The citing of communist dictatorships as athiest failures is flawed because in those cases the state was not secular, rather it elevated "athiesm" to a position as a religion and demanded its citizens obey. The vast majority of people, at least in the former Soviet Union, were never atheist, they were just not allowed to publicly practice their religious beliefs - one freedom among all the others they were denied. The current Chinese government still persecutes religious minorities.

Atheism is simply a lack of belief in any god. Atheists are not the problem, the problem is always and only when people have their freedoms denied by a despotic government; it is irrelevant whether such an oppressive, and often murderous, government is secular or religious.