Friday, October 5, 2012

Debate Reform: iPads

Cross posted at

[Update: Gawker has a story about debate conspiracy theories of covert communications, including one about Romney pulling out a cheat-sheet.  My only objection to this is that it should be specifically sanctioned and both candidates should be able to communicate with their staffs. Bring it out in the open and level the playing field.]

I didn't watch the Presidential Debate Wednesday night, but from the accounts I've read, Romney lied his ass off, and Obama sat there and took it, failing to challenge or counter Romney's claims.

We've kind of seen this disregard for facts in GOP VP candidate Paul Ryan's convention speech.  It was so blatantly false that former Bush political strategist, Michael Dowd, was compelled to comment that "At some point, the truth should matter".

Monday, October 1, 2012

Free Speech & Blasphemy

Non-violent Free Speech. You're doing it right.
Cross-posted at

My last post was about the appropriate response to terrorist attacks.  Appropriate in the sense that the response would yield the most productive outcome for society.

In this post, I'm interested in discussing the free speech facet of the whole story.  

Needless to say, when content of mere images and video cause so much angst and agitation that you can only respond with random (or non-random) violence and destruction, you are seriously fucked up.  There's really no other way to put it, you may need to seek professional help.  Because you are a menace to society.  

And yet, people will still lay the blame at the feet of those exercising their free speech (however disgusting and incorrect it may be) by saying 'you should have known that people would die as a consequence of your words'.  Which is really an admission that those committing the violence are out of control lunatics.  Free speech does not, and society should not, submit to the irrationality of lunatics. 

Non-violent Free Speech? You're doing it wrong.
When thousands of people riot and 50+ people are killed because the mob objects to the content of whatever medium, there is something wrong with their whole worldview.  It is categorically insane.

And then you have those in power that want to place arbitrary limits on free speech in order to prevent such outbursts in the first place, instead of placing responsibility for such monstrous acts upon those that commit them.  PZ Myers highlighted just a few instances where this is currently happening and it is truly scary how those in power are so eager to take control over what constitutes Acceptable Free Speech:
Consider the young Greek man who has been arrested for mocking a cleric; Alexander Aan, arrested in Indonesia for denying the existence of god; Alber Saber, arrested in Egypt for linking to a stupid movie that mocked Mohammed; Rimsah Masih, accused of desecrating the Quran and facing hateful death threats; Asia Bibi, sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan; and too many others to list. Consider that the European Union has just called for “full respect of religion” and “the importance of respecting all prophets” — blasphemy laws are spreading.
"Full respect of religion"?  How am I supposed to respect a religion that willfully shelters child rapists?  How am I supposed to respect a religion whose adherents to go into a murder rampage at the sight of a cartoon?

What the fuck is there to respect?

Certainly not the religion itself.  Though I do, if nothing else, respect the right to non-violently practice whatever wacky bullshit you want.

And I can't go without mentioning the logical absurdity of blasphemy laws.  Really, just think about it.  So now we're going to give everyone the right not to be offended?  What happens when one group's mere existence and its associated ideology is deemed to be offensive by an Approved Religion (right? so there's gotta be a way to filter out all the bullshit that 6 billion people might be offended by.  So you'd have to have approved organizations - religions - that would get to file suit against a party to ensure that the alleged violation is actually offensive to a sufficiently large group of constituents... you can see how absurd this is getting already).

Oh, like how the existence of Isreal seems to be rather offensive to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as he is quoted as saying Israel should be "wiped off the map".  So who wins there?  Israel and its right to merely exist or theocratic Iran, which finds Israel's existence offensive?

This really can all be summed up in two words: Heckler's Veto.  
You have the right – if you disagree with me – to go outside and perform your protest. But you don’t get the right to come in when I’m talking and shout me down. Otherwise people can always silence a speaker by heckler’s veto, and Babel results.
I am heartened and dismayed at this response by a moderate Muslim on Facebook.  Credit is certainly due for calling out this person's fellow Muslims, but they get it quite wrong trying to play the false equivalence of blame when addressing the issue of free speech.
So apparently there is a film produced that shows the Prophet (PBUH) in a manner that is undignified and completely wrong...and as a result, the Muslim world is up in arms, destroying their respective countries, the personal properties of their fellow Muslims, and killing innocent people. This raises a few questions to think about first for my fellow Muslims and second to the people making this f

To Muslims:
1.) Can these violent outbursts undo this film?
2.) Does the existence of this film and is wrongful portrayal change your view on the Prophet (PBUH)?
3.) Have you not, by your violence alone, given a film that would have otherwise disappeared into the black hole, more prominence, where more people have seen it and perhaps bought into the propaganda?
4.) What have you gained from these violent protests? Have you with such violence and disregard for human life not shamed the work and life of the Prophet (PBUH)?
5.) Have you really done justice to your religion? To the teachings of your Prophet (PBUH)? To your fellow Muslims who have to live with your actions? To the fellow Muslims and innocent people you are killing?
6.) Would your time not be better spent, living your life in the true image of the Prophet (PBUH)? Would that not be the best way to negate all of these wrongful portrayals? How does living to the very stereotype you are objecting help protect the name of the Prophet (PBUH)?

To the producers of this film:
1.) Really??! I mean REALLY??!!!
2.) I get that freedom of speech is important..but it's important in America, and perhaps should exist in the rest of the world...but who are you to force feed your "freedom" down the throats of others? Are you not infringing on their rights in someway?
3.) You knew the kind of reaction this would have, and you did it anyway, so aren't just as responsible for the many people that have lost their lives as a result? Shouldn't your willful disregard for human life be punishable? Especially in a time where wars are being fought and lives are at stake, and emotions are high?
4.) Shouldn't freedom of speech be practiced with common sense and a regard for repercussions especially when your practice endangers not your life but the lives of others?

All of this is a poor example of basic human decency.