On 23 January Brendan O’Neill took part in a debate about free speech on campus at the University of California Irvine. These were his opening remarks.
The most striking thing about Safe Spaces on campus is how unsafe they are. How hostile and even violent they are towards anyone who has unpopular views, or who simply believes people should have the right to express unpopular views.
Safe Spaces are spreading across campuses in the US and the UK. They’re presented as happy-clappy therapeutic zones in which students, especially minority students, should not be subjected to gruff words or prejudicial ideas.
As one student union in Britain puts it, they’re spaces in which students must be “free from intimidation or judgement” and should always “feel comfortable”. These spaces are justified in inoffensive, Oprah-like language: it’s all about providing a space in which people can be themselves without fear of ridicule.
But in practice, Safe Spaces are ugly, authoritarian places. They’re propped up by menace. They’re fortified by a simmering threat of force against any transgressors of the new cult of psychic safety and moral conformism.
Consider some recent examples from Britain, where students have built what they call Safe Spaces but which look to me more like Unsafe Spaces for those judged to hold the wrong views or to have the wrong attitudes.
Last week at King’s College London, a meeting of pro-Israel students was invaded by anti-Israel activists. They smashed windows, set off a fire alarm, threw chairs around. They chanted “Nazis!” at the attendees of the meeting. Oh, the irony of activists shutting down a meeting of largely Jewish students while shouting “Nazis”: a serious self-awareness failure.
A key justification given by student radicals for shouting down pro-Israel meetings is that such events are “offensive” or “distressing” to certain students. That is, they violate the Safe Space. So in the name of maintaining safety on campus, certain events can be violently interrupted. It’s Orwellian: war is peace, freedom is slavery, violence is safety.
On two campuses in Britain — Cambridge and Goldsmith’s — feminist students have burnt the literature of far-left groups whom they accuse of rape apologism and of contributing to a hostile climate for female students. That is, these far-left groups make women feel unsafe and therefore their pamphlets must be publicly burnt. The use of fascistic menace to make students feel comfortable — the Orwellianism continues.
At a London university last year, the Iranian secularist Maryam Namazie was harassed by members of the Islamic Society who shouted at her: “You are violating our Safe Space!”
Namazie is a stinging critic of Islamism. Some big Islamist guys turned up to her talk and hectored her, switched off her powerpoint, and created what could really be described as a hostile environment. And their justification was that they were maintaining their Safe Space against someone with problematic views. We have the Kafkaesque situation where a bunch of blokes can physically intimidate a woman in the name of saving students from feelings of intellectual intimidation.
In 2014, I was prevented from taking part in a debate about abortion at Oxford, on the basis that I am a “person without a uterus” and therefore have no right to discuss women’s bodies. As it happens, I was due to make the pro-choice case, to say that officialdom has no business limiting a woman’s sovereignty over herself.
More than 300 feminist students said the discussion would harm their “mental safety”, so they threatened to turn up to the debate “with instruments” to disrupt it. They couldn’t see the dark, twisted irony of threatening the physical safety of a campus debate in the name of defending students’ mental safety. Shamefully, the Oxford administration caved to the students’ demands and banned the meeting.
And on it goes. Things are burnt, people are harassed, and books, newspapers and songs are banned in the name of “safety”. Menace, fire and threats are used to create “safety”. Discomfort is deployed in the name of comfort. Intimidation is used to tackle alleged intimidation. Violence is safety.
Student unions in Britain have crushed all sorts of things in the name of safety. Robin Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines” has been banned on more than 30 campuses because it apparently makes female students feel unsafe. Mexican hats are banned on some campuses because they create a hostile environment for Latinos. Some unions have banned the making of sexual noises in the student bar, because it makes women feel unsafe.
On American campuses we have seen professors being screamed at and journalists being manhandled by mobs of students rallying under the banner of the Safe Space. “You make us feel unsafe and therefore we will destroy you” — that is the perverted rallying cry of today’s student radicals.
That Safe Spaces can generate so much unsafety is revealing. It exposes the iron fist of authoritarianism that lurks within the velvet glove of the self-esteem movement. It exposes the dark side to the cult of therapy and the idea that an individual’s feeling of self-worth should override other people’s right to express themselves as they see fit.
The motor of campus censorship is a profound feeling of psychic vulnerability among students. They see everything as a threat to their mental security. Statues of old dead white men, novels that feature sexual violence, pop songs… everything is considered potentially wounding.
This is best summed up in the idea of microaggressions, where even innocent, everyday conversation is reframed as a peril. The Oxford students currently trying to have a statue of Cecil Rhodes taken down describe the statue as an “environmental microaggression”. Even inanimate objects are experienced as an attack on the self.
This extreme psychic vulnerability confirms that we’re entering a new and quite terrifying era of censorship. Once we had ideological censorship, designed to elevate a particular political outlook by suppressing others. We had religious censorship, designed to protect a certain belief system through crushing blasphemy. Now we have therapeutic censorship — censorship which aspires to squash or at least demonise anything that any individual finds aggressive, uncomfortable, or wounding to their worth. It is a tyranny of self-regard.
This censorship is more insidious than the old censorships. It is vast and unwieldy and can turn its attention to almost anything: magazines, clothing, monuments, jokes, conversational blunders. It’s as if students feel they deserve their own personal blasphemy law to protect them from scurrilous comments or images or objects. We have a generation of little Jesuses, threatening menaces against anyone who says something that stings their psychic health.
Campus censors can’t be held entirely responsible for this therapeutic censorship. In fact, in many ways they are the products of a culture that has been growing for decades: a culture of diminished moral autonomy; a culture which sees individuals as fragile and incapable of coping without therapeutic assistance; a culture which treats individual self-esteem as more important than the right to be offensive; a culture that was developed by older generations — in fact by the fortysomethings and fiftysomethings now mocking campus censors as infantile and ridiculous.
Yes, we should mock these little tyrants who fantasise that their feelings should trump other people’s freedom. But we must go further than that. We must remake the case for robust individualism and the virtue of moral autonomy against the fashion for fragility; against the misanthropic view of people as objects shaped and damaged by speech rather than as active subjects who can independently imbibe, judge and make decisions about the speech they hear.
The Safe Space is a terrible trap. It grants you temporary relief from ideas you don’t like, but at the expense of your individuality, your soul even. If you try to silence unpopular ideas, you do an injustice both to those who hold those unpopular views, and also to yourself, through depriving yourself of the right and the joy of arguing back, taking on your opponents, and in the process strengthening your own mental and moral muscles. Liberate yourself — destroy the Safe Space.
These are comments Brendan O’Neill made at the conference “What Cannot Be Said” at the University of California Irvine on 23 January.
Sorting things out, providing grist for the grievance millers; a few might see the medicinal spirit here, but the adult adolescents most in need of the medicine will foreseeably emote with more blind defensive rage at the man holding the mirror.
What should matter is what you show people – the intentional connection offered and objectively accepted – an orderly social transaction based in reality, and manageable by both giving and receiving parties. And perhaps most people still operate this way. I’m not talking about them.
I’m talking about those for whom the inferences 3rd parties make are more important. People governed by this standard must be seen to process the culture around them appropriately and in a good light.
Social media probably empowers the mechanism, however, societal approval was never intended to mask content problems in the general culture. Everything got tolerable when the most important objective became to look good. Things are way out of balance now.
I’m talking to those who are not shy about telling you what looks good, what you may acceptably talk about, respond to, and engage. Young people and the perpetually adolescent will express social correctness about politics, life styles, entertainments, and psychoactive substances, but no subject is safe from the socially correct.
Speech outside of their bounds will cause shunning, taboo, ostracism, ritual condemnation, and vicious attack. Social correctness is political correctness on steroids.
Intrinsic value, durability, and objective worth, don’t weigh heavily in the analysis because those things require agreement. They can’t be imposed by one party over another. Social correctness is about power.
Social correctness is relative, adaptable, subject to fresh interpretation each time it is used. It is an ad hoc device, made up on the spur of the moment to transfer power from one person to another under the color of social justice. But unlike social justice, true justice is an objective evidentiary process.
In Seattle the 12th man is the crowd who help the team on the field. At least the 12th man is an objective expression everyone can see. But social correctness is like an invisible third party monitoring every exchange, who is completely subjective. Outsiders can’t see the structural barrier to real communication between them and the socially correct. But that’s okay since the socially correct will inform them.
Engage on a taboo subject, or bring up a non-prescribed inquiry that could expose a vulnerability, and you’d better brace yourself for hysterics and emotional terrorism. Speak correctly or deal with a freak-out.
Everyone has vulnerabilities, makes mistakes, has stories of personal foolishness in their lives. Enjoyment of our human foibles is a substantial source of humor for secure adults. But the socially correct see foibles as a first step down the path to a judgment, and a judgment could lead to the whole socially correct lattice coming under scrutiny. Scrutiny could lead to loss of control, power shifts, and decloaking the cultural icons that define intolerance. We’re talking substantial disempowerment of the socially correct.
Boundless tolerance requires strict intolerance to keep it up. It couldn’t be more hypocritical. It also couldn’t be more subjective and passive aggressive. This is a tool which makes everyone but the speaker of socially correct truth into a loser.
I wish I could turn the clock back to the time before people got their heads so full of this stuff – a nicer, more humorous, not so super sensitive time. But the cults have grown, and their subjects appear quite comfortable in their blinders hauling those heavy wagons of social correctness around.
Hopefully these pathologies will self-limit over time once natural selection has killed off all the hosts.
Hermann Rorschach died on April 1, 1922, of peritonitis, probably resulting from a ruptured appendix.
That he died on April Fools Day could have been taken as a warning that his inkblot test should not have become the modus operandi for much of today’s internet traffic.
We now possess the technology for every human being to globally publish their instant interpretation of every event they observe. Now we’re awash in ready reductive digestions of millions of essential symbolic regurgitations about every little thing. The internet gave us an endless supply of inkblots and psychiatry gave us the license to interpret them all.
The 1st Am. guaranteed that America would keep writers free to write, but it didn’t guarantee they would learn the skill of self editing. So here’s to the self editors of the internet. May they blaze a finely crafted content-rich trail for posterity to follow.
Responding to Viewpoints, in the order presented in the print edition of the New Plains’ Prairie Times:
- In a Rodney King “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along” moment, Jerrry Bishop laments our divisions, and wishes they’d all just go away. Of course he’d never go so far as to allow that Leftist societal ratchet to slip back a notch or two.
- Ric Morgan wants to bring federal and state grant money into the county, and seeks donations from water districts and agencies around the state, as well as some Elbert County revenue, to study water levels. He sees this as a political question. It would be better if it were a question the private sector wanted to take up, which apparently, currently, it is not.
- In the first of two political smears disguised as news, Susan Shick thinks commissioners spend too much on vehicles of all sorts, and she’d really like to see a reallocation of funds toward securing the water study grant.
- John Dorman uses his 1st Am. right in a letter to the editor to assert his Republican nature, dump on the local Republican elite, and frame his pro-planning, no-growth, no-oil&gas activism in the county as proof of his Republican values. Hehe. Yeah. That’s a good one John.
- In another letter, Paul Crisan hopes we haven’t lost the ability to work for the common good. But don’t forget Paul sat on the Elbert County Planning Commission for years dictating just what that common good would be. That’s the trouble with the common good, there’s always a dictator telling us what’s in it.
- Turning the page, Susan Shick lets no one forget for a moment the visceral hatred she harbors against Commissioner Schlegel. And oh yeah he won’t fund what has now become her pet water grant project. “He denies them funding.” There is no greater sin to a Democrat.
- Moving on, it’s all Leftist politics all the time as Jill Duvall focusses her rhetoric on Robert Rowland, using various Alynsky techniques designed to demean and disgrace. Two pages of that stuff, yeah that’s fun to read.
- Which brings us to the crescendo, the top card duo of Thomasson and his wonderboy Bailey each weighing in. Thomasson’s bitch is high art because after reading his complaint, you have no idea about what he wants. His abstract discontent, presumably, allows him to jump in any direction as circumstances develop. Why commit? Keep your options open Robert.
- And then Bailey, donning Roberto the Amazin’ Psycho‘s turban, darkly warns that “dubious plans are afoot.” No doubt, and the above ringleaders are in the kitchen, with the wrench.
Yesterday, in a review of the recent meeting held by Commissioner Schlegel with representatives from Elbert County water districts, Bill Thomas wrote that “no public comment” was permitted, “even though it was a public meeting.”
He repeated his objection later in the piece where he said, “He [Commissioner Schlegel] did not allow questions or comments from the spectators, even though it was, in his words, ‘a public meeting.'”
Lastly, Thomas referred to the meeting as an “Open/Closed Meeting of the Water Districts,” implying that because local Leftist spectators at the meeting asked to speak and weren’t given the floor, the meeting was “open/closed” – presumably a pejorative characterization.
The Colorado Sunshine Law requires that meetings between public officials be open to the public. No requirements in state law exist for public officials to conduct forums for public speech during their public meetings.
The 1st Am. guarantees the Left a virtually unlimited right to present their ideas to the public through various publication venues, just as it does everyone else. Leftists in Elbert County generally use that right to dump on and disparage everything non-Leftists do. But there is no 1st Am. guarantee for individuals to input their free speech into meetings of public officials.
Characterizing an open meeting of public officials as tainted because Leftists were not given an opportunity to make their opposed positions heard in the meeting is simply gratuitous whining.
If Leftists put more energy into developing and publishing creative solutions to the challenges that public officials are tasked to lead, public officials might welcome their comments at public meetings.
But everyone knows what the Elbert County Left is going to say before they open their mouths. It’ll be mudballs, character assassination, impossible environmentalism, and hyperbolic images of their fantasy fears. Their cases are never realistic, just terribly frightful.
Bill Thomas is a good reporter and I appreciate his diligence. But it’s rare that he doesn’t also include a few tips of the iceberg of his Leftist agenda. Perhaps Mike Phillips requires that everyone he publishes on New Plains must also throw in some feints to the Left, an agenda tax if you will.
But the New Prairie Plains Times crowd is fiddling while Rome burns – and it’s not about the petty stuff they like to complain about – like how many miles get logged to company [county] cars, or which commissioner didn’t use his magical xray vision to foresee a water pipe break at the old courthouse, or how the Colorado Sunshine Law is really supposed to provide an open forum for the Left to hijack every meeting of public officials.
Renewable water is the holy grail of sought-after solutions in Colorado. An awareness of this problem is probably coded into the DNA of everyone born here. And considering how much rain falls throughout the state, the market can solve this problem provided people, acting in commercial organizations, are allowed to aggregate demand into economic units, and buy and sell water properties to satisfy that demand.
That’s exactly what markets do – they efficiently and fairly allocate scarce resources.
But oh wait. The Left doesn’t trust markets. The Left trusts dissent, utopian visions, social justice, and progress toward the agrarian villages of Tolkein’s Shire. The Left distrusts economic growth, technology, production, and capital accumulation. Despite hundreds of years of material advances in the quality of life throughout the world enabled by allowing individuals to accumulate capital and leverage their property in markets, Leftists persist in the erroneous belief that they can plan a better society.
After every one of the Left’s utopian experiments has increased oppression, suffering and even mass death in some cases, you’d think it would give them pause. You’d think.
Evidently the Elbert County Left have decided that renewable water in Elbert County threatens their utopia, just like oil & gas, industry, a job base for local citizens, and non-utopian elected officials do.
But the poverty and lack of opportunity we live with in this planned economic backwater they want to preserve won’t go away under the terms of the status quo. We must embrace progress in the form of real economic growth if we’re to have any chance at long-term viability in Elbert County.
Elbert County commissioners have correctly perceived the challenge and appear to be doing what they can, which involves removing the obstacle of local government and allowing the private sector to grow the economy.
This apparently frightens the Left. It shouldn’t. They stand to benefit despite themselves.
If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals simply in the name of “academic freedom”?
…I would happily organize with other feminists on campus to stop him from publishing…
People on the right opposed to boycotts can play the “freedom” game…
if we give up our obsessive reliance on the doctrine of academic freedom, we can consider more thoughtfully what is just.
All these tens of thousands of years humanity thrived on nothing more than a mere assumption of normalcy. How serendipitous! I expect heterosexuality is only one of many obsolete norms Komrad Korn would purge from our thoughts.
A Harvard education isn’t what it used to be.
With much hoopla, [Read more…]
The digital information tools for citizen journalists today enable us to effectively pull the covers off the sordid details of public malfeasance, corruption, the self-dealing and aggrandizement of public officials, and the broken state of traditional media.
Conservatives, by the hour, chronicle details of the broken, politically captive and insular mainstream media. Alarming as this is, why do we assume that the mainstream media was ever objective, non-political, or an effective 4th-estate check on government power?
On the contrary, a better case exists for the proposition that the essential nature of mainstream media is unchanged today from in the past. Organizational cultures simply don’t invert their behavior over time. They tend to persist in the characteristic behaviors of their organization.
Rather than get overwrought about how wrong the mainstream media is, and thereby lose focus on solvable mainstream issues, perhaps we should just admit that the mainstream media is as it always was, and that we’re just coming to see it in a more objective light for the first time.
Alternative media showed that traditional media did not live up to the potential the Founders gave it in the Constitution. Now we can move on and consider what the Founder’s were actually trying to accomplish.
The Federalists contemplated a constitutional objective for the country to have a legally protected free press, and this became the 1st Amendment. As we have seen, allowance for it did not guarantee it would be practiced. A free press, apparently, remains an ideal objective today.
The order of freedoms protected in the 1st Amendment – religion, speech, press, assembly, petition government – is significant. Subsequent rights build on preceeding rights. God gives us our fundamental rights, and from there the Constitution guarantees our rights to speak, to publish our speech, to get together publicly to discuss our speech, and then to take our conclusions to the government.
Nothing within the 1st Am., however, guarantees the quality or content of that protected speech. Nothing protects us against ignoble motives of a speaker. Nothing protects us against speech that promotes the interests of one, a few, or a subset of citizens, at the expense of the majority of citizens. Nothing protects us from organizations, whether it’s the press or other groups, who promulgate self-interested speech at the expense of the majority.
Sound speech is the only means we have in America to offset unsound speech. If we don’t practice it, we have only ourselves to blame for the tyranny that will ensue, and has ensued.
Absence of hyperbole, adherence to generally accepted facts, absence of personal attacks and diminutions, adherence to observable causation, language that narrows into rather than leads away from both the intent and form of the subject, these are some indicators of sound speech.
The supported conclusions that come from fairly represented facts fed through the prism of logically sound reasoning, are for us to discover, not dictate. The Left is as subject to founded conclusions as the rest of us, and that’s the reality the Founders intended for Americans to practice. Ultimately, it’s not a politically determined reality, it’s a reality discovered in the nature of all things.
The Founders were essentialists. The Constitution protects the essence of matters, in this case, the essence of public speech. They gave us a legal framework for us to accurately discover and respond to the true nature of reality. They avoided the hubris of determinism. They knew that freedom would serve us much better in our self-government experiment than a futile mechanism for one group to control another. They’d had enough of that sort of government.
Today, however, the Left never stops working to replace the Constitution in America with political action. The Left think that politics can and should determine reality. This unrealistic, reverse causal direction of theirs — that attempts to dictate the nature of things rather than respond to the nature of things — never seems to give them a moments pause as they control, regulate, modulate, temper, fund, defund, and serve the higher masters of their agenda.
But it’s a free country. If the Left want to blind themselves to the true nature of reality with a blizzard of determinism, they are free to do so. Fortunately, the rest of us are free to avoid those pitfalls.
For too long the Left dominated public speech in America. With a complicit media they’ve built massive bureaucratic and regulatory structures at every level of local, county, state and federal government in America. Across the land thousands of pages of new regulations get added to the books every day by a cadre’ of lawyers, bureaucrats, public servants and assorted do-gooders — a happy class of jovial elites ever ready to congratulate each other on their magnificent regulatory creations.
The Founders gave us a tool to change all that, to unwind this enormous Gordian knot, to take back our lives. All we have to do is use it.
Prairie Times Editorial Policy:
“Be respectful: stick to issues, not personalities. Name calling is not allowed. We want considerate, respectful dialog. You can disagree without being disagreeable.”
Except Jerry and Susan Bishop, two of our not-so-faithful Republican Committee people, will print anything our local leftists have to say — and whether or not they used their real names to say it.
The Editors of New-Plains.com writing in the 8-1-2012 Prairie Slimes:
- “…or their verbose blogging bloviator, Brooks Imperial.”
- “Blind faith and ignorance may loom larger than it should among the voting public. If the uninformed citizen….”
- “…Party officials….a bunch of two-year olds…”
- “…GOP….jaded old crocks….”
- “…and kudos to the judge for not bitch-slapping Schlegel for stupidity.”
- “…a bloviating blogger…”
If you happen to miss a defamatory article on the New-Plains on-line website, don’t worry, Jerry reprints most of their work in his advertiser-funded fishwrap he mails out to all property and business owners in the area. Now that Jerry’s established his paper as the print version for the New-Plains left, I wonder how long it will take for his advertisers to get hip to the yellow journalism readers may now associate with their products and services.
Take a good look Elbert County. These are the people you elected to run things around here for the next 4 years. They’re going to give me way too much to write about.
I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now. Before that I wrote a fair amount on Yahoo groups, various email lists, letters to fishwrap editors, etc. The 1st Am. has had its use-it-or-lose-it hooks into me since college. If we don’t write it, it won’t get written, and the country will be poorer for it. I figure it’s a duty of American citizenship. I’m sure the paper trail I’ve left will come back to haunt me in my dotage. Like the previous blog item — which haunted me for a while before posting, I expect I’ll take some heat just as I took heat over posting the Coffman comment.
But when it comes to these matters, what other reasonable choice is there? [Read more…]
A friend asked to do some guest blogging here and that sounded like a good idea. She will sign any posts she creates with her user name. This is really a first for this blog as everything heretofore has been from me, and most people know who I am. This version of WordPress doesn’t appear to provide user name tags under blog posts so we’ll have to put that information in the body of each post going forward.
Non-anonymity of posters should keep things reasonable and presentable. [Read more…]
A Warning to America
Geert Wilders speech, Cornerstone Church, Nashville, 12 May 2011
Dear friends from Tennessee. I am very happy to be in your midst today. I am happy and proud to be in this impressive church.
My friends, I am here to speak words of truth and freedom. [Read more…]
Consider the effect computers have had on the insurance industry, and consequentially, on all of the risks (health, life, fire, accident, loss) funded by the insurance industry. Prior to computers, the historical price for an insurance provider to cover a beneficiary was the product of static market conditions. Insurance is a financial service product based on knowledge of risk, and the knowledge of various risks to beneficiaries had been stable for many years. With the advent of computerization, beneficiaries and risk could be correlated in the machine so that insurers could now choose which beneficiaries were least likely to cost them benefits. Computer correlation of beneficiary data fundamentally shifted the bargaining power between insurers and beneficiaries, and as we can see with health insurance, the consequences to this radical shift are still playing out in a myriad of market and government reactions. [Read more…]
It is passing strange, to use one of George Will’s expressions, that so many voices trumpet the rule of law with espionage charges against WikiLeaks, while remaining silent on the constitutional 1st Am. protection of the free press to publish in America. Their silence on the fundamental constitutional question speaks more loudly than their proposed enforcement of the rule of law over the very narrow espionage charge.
The taboo lies in the unsubstantiated conclusion that America’s interests have been harmed by these leaks. This is not a proven conclusion. It is unsubstantiated fear mongering. Sure, diplomats feelings have been hurt. America’s true interest lies with informed citizens who now have an opportunity to see the world their unfettered executive branch diplomats have been screwing around with overseas. Diplomats are embarrassed by this disclosure and they should be. The solution is not to censor the internet, as the executive branch has now begun doing. It is not to fortify and further enable a secret domain where unelected functionaries pursue their personal prescriptions for America’s interests, as this Post article calls for. The solution is to raise the bar – the standard against which diplomacy is measured, and hold the executive branch to that higher standard in all diplomatic matters.
Ideas of the Enlightenment: Their Contemporary Relevance
Towards a New Enlightenment: Understanding Human Nature
Reconciling The Traditional with the Modern in a Liberal Society
Externalities: Beyond Coase, Williamson and Ostrom
GFC: What have we learnt from the 2008-09 event? A Stocktake
Australia – A Generation of Economic Reform
New Threats to Liberty and the Private Sphere – Nannies and Busybodies,Tax Harmonisation and the Surveillance State
New Developments in Economics: A Sceptical View
Science, Scepticism and the Future
Freedom vs Authority – What Path to Development? The Story of India and China
History, Culture and the Language of Liberty
“I’m 63 and I’m Tired”
I’m 63. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I’ve worked, hard, since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there’s no retirement in sight, and I’m tired. Very tired. [Read more…]
TIMES SQUARE ATTACK RESPONSE: NONE DARE CALL IT THINKING
On May 1, 2010, when news of the Times Square terrorist attack first broke, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, on national television, as to who might have done it, “If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that, somebody who’s homegrown, maybe a mentally deranged person or someone with a political agenda that doesn’t like the health care bill or something . . . .” Bloomberg was not alone. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano declared that there was no evidence that the attack was “anything other than a one-off,” a British expression for “one of a kind.” At least the country was spared President Obama telling Americans that they should not “jump to conclusions,” as he did after the Fort Hood Massacre when the media reported that “Major Hasan . . . killed 13 and left 31 injured after he jumped on to a desk screaming ‘Allahu Akbar’ – God is Great – and fired on defenseless colleagues.” [Read more…]
Examples of the sort of internet speech Justice-elect Kagan would like to suppress. [Read more…]
“9 indicted on charges of accessing Obama records
DES MOINES, Iowa — Nine people have been indicted in federal court on charges they accessed President Barack Obama’s student loan records while employed for a Department of Education contractor in Iowa.
The U.S. attorney’s office says a grand jury returned the indictments Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Davenport.
The nine individuals are charged with exceeding authorized computer access.
They are accused of gaining access to a computer at a Coralville, Iowa, office where they worked between July 2007 and March 2009, and accessing Obama’s student loan records while he was either a candidate for president, president-elect or president.
Arraignments are scheduled for May 24.
The charge is punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.”
The veiled threats against the Comedy Central show’s creators should be taken very seriously. Islamists seek to replace the rule of law with that of commanding right and forbidding wrong.
By Ayaan Hirsi Ali
‘South Park” is hilarious, right? Not any more.
Last week, Zachary Adam Chesser—a 20-year-old Muslim convert who now goes by the name Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee—posted a warning on the Web site RevolutionMuslim.com following the 200th episode of the show on Comedy Central. The episode, which trotted out many celebrities the show has previously satirized, also “featured” the Prophet Muhammad: He was heard once from within a U-Haul truck and a second time from inside a bear costume.
For this apparent blasphemy, Mr. Amrikee warned that co-creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone “will probably end up” like Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh, readers will remember, was the Dutch filmmaker who was brutally murdered in 2004 on the streets of Amsterdam. He was killed for producing “Submission,” a film that criticized the subordinate role of women in Islam, with me.
There has been some debate about whether Mr. Stone and Mr. Parker should view the Web posting as a direct threat. Here’s Mr. Amrikee’s perspective: “It’s not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome,” he told Foxnews.com. “They’re going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It’s just the reality.” He’s also published the home and office addresses of Messrs. Stone and Parker, as well as images of Van Gogh’s body.
According to First Amendment experts, technically speaking this posting does not constitute a threat. And general opinion seems to be that even if this posting was intended as a threat, Mr. Amrikee and his ilk are merely fringe extremists who are disgruntled with U.S. foreign policy; their “outrage” merits little attention.
This raises the question: How much harm can an Islamist fringe group do in a free society? The answer is a lot.
Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim first thought to have been a minor character in radical circles, killed Theo van Gogh. Only during the investigation did it emerge that he was the ringleader of the Hofstad Group, a terrorist organization that was being monitored by the Dutch Secret Service.
The story was very similar in the case of the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoons, drawn by Kurt Westergaard, were published in September 2005 to little notice but exploded five months later into an international drama complete with riots and flag-burnings. The man behind this campaign of outrage was an Egyptian-born radical imam named Ahmed Abu-Laban.
Prior to this conflagration, Mr. Abu-Laban was seen as a marginal figure. Yet his campaign ended up costing Denmark businesses an estimated $170 million in the spring of 2006. And this doesn’t include the cost of rebuilding destroyed property and protecting the cartoonists.
So how worried should the creators of “South Park” be about the “marginal figures” who now threaten them? Very. In essence, Mr. Amrikee’s posting is an informal fatwa. Here’s how it works:
There is a basic principle in Islamic scripture—unknown to most not-so-observant Muslims and most non-Muslims—called “commanding right and forbidding wrong.” It obligates Muslim males to police behavior seen to be wrong and personally deal out the appropriate punishment as stated in scripture. In its mildest form, devout people give friendly advice to abstain from wrongdoing. Less mild is the practice whereby Afghan men feel empowered to beat women who are not veiled.
By publicizing the supposed sins of Messrs. Stone and Parker, Mr. Amrikee undoubtedly believes he is fulfilling his duty to command right and forbid wrong. His message is not just an opinion. It will appeal to like-minded individuals who, even though they are a minority, are a large and random enough group to carry out the divine punishment. The best illustration of this was demonstrated by the Somali man who broke into Mr. Westergaard’s home in January carrying an axe and a knife.
Any Muslim, male or female, who knows about the “offense” may decide to perform the duty of killing those who insult the prophet. So what can be done to help Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone?
The first step is for them to consult with experts on how to stay safe. Even though living with protection, as I do now in Washington, D.C., curtails some of your freedom, it is better than risking the worst.
Much depends on how far the U.S. government is prepared to contribute to their protection. According to the Danish government, protecting Mr. Westergaard costs the taxpayers $3.9 million, excluding technical operating equipment. That’s a tall order at a time of intense fiscal pressure.
One way of reducing the cost is to organize a solidarity campaign. The entertainment business, especially Hollywood, is one of the wealthiest and most powerful industries in the world. Following the example of Jon Stewart, who used the first segment of his April 22 show to defend “South Park,” producers, actors, writers, musicians and other entertainers could lead such an effort.
Another idea is to do stories of Muhammad where his image is shown as much as possible. These stories do not have to be negative or insulting, they just need to spread the risk. The aim is to confront hypersensitive Muslims with more targets than they can possibly contend with.
Another important advantage of such a campaign is to accustom Muslims to the kind of treatment that the followers of other religions have long been used to. After the “South Park” episode in question there was no threatening response from Buddhists, Christians and Jews—to say nothing of Tom Cruise and Barbra Streisand fans—all of whom had far more reason to be offended than Muslims.
Islamists seek to replace the rule of law with that of commanding right and forbidding wrong. With over a billion and a half people calling Muhammad their moral guide, it is imperative that we examine the consequences of his guidance, starting with the notion that those who depict his image or criticize his teachings should be punished.
In “South Park,” this tyrannical rule is cleverly needled when Tom Cruise asks the question: How come Muhammad is the only celebrity protected from ridicule? Now we know why.
Social network sites, western google, ability to post to blogs, etc., all available in Kuala Lumpur. Our last couple hours in Guangzhou, China we had no facebook or twitter, and no ability to post to blogs or upload email.
China Daily opinion of March 20-21, 2010 wrote it this way:
Google in wrong game
Chinese netizens did not expect the Google issue to snowball into a political minefield and become a tool in the hands of vested interests abroad to attack China under the pretext of internet freedom.
China’s regulation to censor the content that Google provides to Chinese Internet users has become interpreted as a breach to freedom in the virtual world. In some extreme cases, the vested interests have described the legitimate right of the Chinese government to regulate companies and control pornographic and related content as “spying” on its own people.
The magnitude of this absurdity is beyond comprehension and the motivated attacks, intolerable.
The attacks cannot be justified even if seen from Western perspective. Many countries censor the Internet to protect the interests of innocent users. Also, it goes without saying that a foreign company should abide by the laws and regulations of the country that it is operating and making a profit in.
The Chinese are enjoying unprecedented freedom in the country’s more than 5,000 years of history. All the country’s newly found wealth has been created by the hands of the ordinary Chinese. The country would not have been able to perform an economic miracle if its people were unhappy with their administration and the social and political conditions.
So if the vested interests’ accusation that the Chinese government censors the Internet to spy on its own people does not originate from ignorance then it is a white lie and a malicious attack.
It will not do any good to Google either. And by linking its exit from China with political issues, Google will certainly lose its credibility in a country that has the largest number of netizens.
With the many assorted fallacies in this analysis, I find it not at all persuasive.
The Obama media blitz to sell government health insurance to the American people, as if “sales” is an appropriate metaphor for coercion at the point of a gun, and as if the sales job ever paused for a moment, only deepens the tragic farce national politics under the left have become. At the moment you thought it couldn’t get any more ridiculous, the propaganda freight train finds a still lower gear to shift into without a breath of hesitation. The nightmare that was the American dream keeps devolving as we try to pinch ourselves awake.
The tea partyers had better have their electoral fun now because, come November, if they do anything other than to join a monolithic block to unseat these batty leftists currently in power, all the building anger against the destructive left will shift to them.