Tag Archives: freedom of speech

I am NOT Charlie Hebdo

This 2010 cover of the French publication Charlie Hebdo depicts a Muslim woman with a burqa stuffed up her ass. I, for one, wouldn’t publish such unnecessarily offensive material. Because you can doesn’t mean you should. There is an awful lot that we are free to do that we probably should not do.

First, the obligatory (but sincere) opening paragraph in which I proclaim that I support free speech on every square centimeter of the globe and that of course I do not condone the slaughter of human beings over the publication of things that some (or many or even most) have found to be offensive.

I’m sure that I’ve offended many people over the years, and I sure would prefer not to be shot to death because I’ve offended some fucktard’s precious sensibilities.

But missing in the discussion that I’ve heard and read regarding yesterday’s massacre of 12 people in Paris at or near the offices of the weekly French publication Charlie Hebdo is that the publication apparently has a frat-boy mentality (I dunno: is that a French thing?), the mentality in which other groups of human beings who differ from our own group exist only as fodder for our belittling attacks against them.

I don’t see that Charlie Hebdo’s many covers apparently meant to offend and provoke Muslims in France do anything to uplift the public debate. These covers seem to be meant to provoke and offend above all else, to shock, to scandalize, and to enrage Muslims, or, at the very least, to not give a shit if Muslims become enraged (because hey, they’re Muslims!).

“Charlie Hebdo insults all religions,” the ubiquitous Charlie-Hebdo-defending mantra goes.

Really?

Here in the United States, the equivalent cartoons, if they were about Jews, would be considered to be virulently anti-Semitic.

Why, in the West, is anti-Semitism widely condemned (and so much that isn’t actually anti-Semitic nonetheless is deemed to be “anti-Semitic”), but virulent Islamophobia so often in so many places is perfectly A-OK? (That was a rhetorical question, mostly, but I’ll answer it anyway: because in the West, Christianity and Judaism get preferential treatment. They always have.)

I don’t believe in God, so I have no dog in this race. Muslims, Jews, Christians, all (the fundamentalists among them, anyway) believe in things that I think are utter bullshit, such as ridiculous dietary restrictions (well, at least the Jews and the Muslims), creationism and other anti-scientific and anti-intellectual stances and hocus-pocus bullshit (“miracles,” virgin births, resurrections, being God’s specially chosen stenographer, etc.), patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia and talking to a non-existent deity (a.k.a. “praying”).

Those who believe in God (as adults who should know better) more often that not are only going along to get along with the tribe that they were born into and/or want pat answers to all of the universe’s questions (and their religion gives them the veneer of having all of those answers) and/or they find the world to be a terrifying place to be and they find God to be the ultimate security blanket.

I disagree with them, and when theofascists piss and shit on my human rights, civil rights and equal rights (such as they did with Proposition H8) I will speak out, but, in general, I don’t see what good would come of my going out of my way to offend and provoke those who hold religious beliefs that I find to be ridiculous. For the most part, as long as the theists leave me (and my rights) alone, I can leave them alone.

Charlie Hebdo’s raison d’être, on the other hand, seems not to be to enlighten and to unify, but to offend and to provoke, especially Muslims, yet when the dog that it’s been stabbing with sharpened sticks for years now finally — and fairly fucking predictably — bites back in a big way, the rest of the world is supposed to feel sorry for Charlie Hebdo? Really?

I’m sorry that people were massacred over Charlie Hebdo’s low-brow, frat-boy content that, in my estimation, certainly wasn’t worth dying for. But it was preventable. The free speech that these people died for wasn’t very valuable speech, was it? A woman with a burqa stuffed up her ass? Mohammed thusly depicted:

Charlie Hebdo Muhammad cartoon

?

I won’t say “Je sui Charlie” (French for “I am Charlie”) because if I owned a weekly publication, I wouldn’t print shit like this, shit that causes more harm than good.

As an atheist on the outside looking in, I can proclaim that in the West, Muslims get the shitty end of the stick almost every time. The same individuals who preach about how we should respect their precious religious beliefs have no problem disrespecting Islam, and the Charlie Hebdo cartoons that I’ve seen of the pope and of Jews aren’t, in my estimation, likely to be nearly as offensive to Catholics and Jews as are the publication’s cartoons depicting Mohammed or Muslims to Muslims. (And, from what I can tell, the publication’s cartoons lampooning Islam are more numerous than its cartoons lampooning Christianity or Judaism.)

Charlie Hebdo repeatedly has poked the critter of Islam with a sharpened stick. In 2011, the publication’s (yeah, I just have a hard time calling it a “newspaper”) headquarters were firebombed, for fuck’s sake (the day after it published an issue calling itself “Charia Hebdo” and portraying Mohammed as a clown with a red nose).

What happened in Paris yesterday was predictable and preventable. And what was it for? For “free speech,” so many people proclaim, but no, ultimately it was for the freedom to continue to shit and piss on Muslims, including the freedom to offend them deeply in ways that are universally known to deeply offend them.

That is not a freedom that I believe is worth dying for. Defending against the spread of theofascism, whether the theofascists be abroad (such as the wonderful folks of “ISIS” [or whatever we’re calling them this week]) or at home (such as those who bomb abortion clinics and those who violate the U.S. Constitution and human, civil and equal rights when they do their damnedest to stop same-sex marriage), is worth dying for, but making unprovoked attacks upon others for their religious beliefs, no matter how ridiculous they might be? That’s not a defensive posture, that’s an offensive posture.

And yes, intentionally offending Muslims in the West is worse than is intentionally offending Christians or Jews in the West, because — duh — in the West Christians and Jews have greater numbers and greater power than do Muslims. Picking on the majority is not — not — the same as picking on an already-highly-picked-upon minority group. It takes a special kind of asshole to kick someone who’s already down.

I am not Charlie Hebdo, no matter how fashionable being Charlie Hebdo might be in the West right now.

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NBC, CNN should call Rethugnicans’ bluff

Reports The Associated Press:

Washington — The Republican National Committee charged [yesterday] that NBC and CNN are promoting a potential presidential candidacy by Hillary Rodham Clinton, threatening to blackball [the two networks] from future [Republican Party] primary debates if they air upcoming programs on the former secretary of state.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus called a planned NBC mini-series on Clinton and a CNN documentary on the first lady an “extended commercial” for a future Clinton presidential campaign. In separate letters to the networks, he urged them to cancel “this political ad masquerading as an unbiased production.”

Clinton has not yet said whether she’ll run for president again in 2016, but her future remains the subject of wide speculation in political circles and beyond. The primary debates typically provide a ratings boost for the networks and are highly coveted as the presidential campaign unfolds.

In making the charge, the RNC was raising a common complaint among Republican activists that news and entertainment industries favor Democratic candidates. Republicans have also used a potential Clinton campaign as a fundraising tool in recent months as both parties begin to assess the crop of candidates to succeed President Barack Obama.

CNN Films is planning a feature-length documentary film on the former first lady, looking at her professional and personal life. It will be led by Oscar-winning director and producer Charles Ferguson and is expected to air in 2014.

NBC has announced a miniseries called “Hillary,” starring actress Diane Lane. No air date has been announced but it is timed to be released before the 2016 presidential election. NBC has said the four-hour miniseries will follow Clinton’s life and career from 1998 to the present. …

The RNC gets to dictate the networks’ programming?

Really?

And it’s hilariously ironic, because it was Repugnican icon Ronald Fucking Reagan who killed the so-called “fairness doctrine” in 1987, allowing CNN and NBC to air programming about Billary Clinton if they so choose.

But when the results of Reagan’s action aren’t favorable to their party, the Rethugnicans cry “foul.”

Love her or hate her — and I don’t much like her myself — but Billary Clinton is a public figure of significant public interest, which makes her an appropriate subject for a documentary or even a mini-series. And the networks have the First-Amendment right to produce such programming if they so fucking choose.

NBC and CNN should tell the blackmailing Rethugnicans to go fuck themselves and proceed with their programming.

Who, after all, really needs whom? 

Billary Clinton thus far is beating all of the potential 2016 Repugnican Tea Party presidential candidates in nationwide polls, which apparently has Reince Priebus (that’s “major prick” in Greek) & Co. shitting their pants. If she weren’t such a threat, I can’t see them trying to dictate the networks’ programming in the Repugnican Tea Party’s favor.

The AP article linked to above claims that coverage of the the Repugnican Tea Party presidential primaries is ” highly coveted,” but aren’t the votes of the American people in a presidential election also highly coveted? Would the Repugnican Tea Party not shoot itself in the foot by disallowing any of the networks to cover any one of its presidential primary debates?

Are the party’s presidential primary debates not also “political ads,” to use Priebus’ own words?

Again, CNN and NBC should ignore the Rethugnican Party’s pathetic, desperate, anti-democratic blackmail attempt and proceed as they wish.

If the Repugnican Tea Party can’t win the war of ideas, then too fucking bad. It has no fucking right to try to manipulate and rig the marketplace of ideas itself.

P.S. Further on the topic of Billary, while it certainly is possible that “Billary fatigue” might harm her campaign, should she decide to run for president for 2016, unless another high-level Democratic candidate emerges, I still think that the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination is Billary’s if she wants it.

It would take someone like, say, Al Gore or Howard Dean, I think, to give Billary a run for her money for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, as Barack Obama did in 2008, and thus far we’ve had no indication that someone on that level has any intention of running for 2016.

Whether or not Billary could win the White House is another story, of course.

Recent nationwide polls put Repugnican Chris Christie from 4 percent to 6 percent behind Billary, a lead that Christie, should he decide to run (and I’m pretty sure that he will), might not have such a hard time erasing, especially if (when?) “Billary fatigue” fully kicks in.

But could the so-called “moderate” Christie make it alive out of the Repugnican presidential primary season, which is much ideologically purer (that is, much more right-wing) than is the presidential election itself? Will the Repugnican Tea Party traitors have the sense not to nominate their party’s biggest fascist, but to nominate their party’s candidate who has the best chance of actually winning the White House?

It’s too early for all of this, I hear some readers groaning. My response to that is No, it’s not too early to prevent control of the White House from reverting back to the Rethugnican Party in 2016.

Barack Obama hasn’t done nearly enough to get us out of the abyss that George W. Bush & Co. left us in, but another Repug in the White House will only dig our hole even deeper.

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HELP MEEE!!! I’m DROWNING in all of this FREEDOM!

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro greets supporters as he arrives for a national assembly in Caracas

NSA whistleblower Snowden, an analyst with a U.S. defence contractor, is interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters images

To smug Americans for whom freedom is only a word and for whom “freedom” is defined by our corporate and plutocratic overlords, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and American patriot Edward Snowden are easy targets to bash in order to feel better about their small, pathetic selves, so should Venezuela take Snowden in, predictably, the hypocritical rhetoric about how “free” and “good” the United States is and how “unfree” and “bad” Venezuela is will freely flow.

My best guess is that “Public Enemy Number One” Edward Snowden will end up in Venezuela, which, predictably, is going to result in a maelstrom of even more Venezuela bashing here in the United States. (The government of Venezuela, you see, has the audacity to govern the nation as a sovereign nation and not as a satellite of the United States, as a “good” nation “should.”)

Even so-called members of the so-called U.S. left wing mindlessly engage in Venezuela bashing, as though the United States — with its stolen presidential elections, its bloated-beyond-belief military-corporate complex and its bogus wars, its killer drones and its extralegal executions, its Abu Ghraib House of Horrors (and other acts of torture and crimes against humanity), its ridiculous income gap between the rich and the poor, its right-wing Supreme Court that routinely rules against the people and for the plutocrats (gay marriage doesn’t harm anyone’s profits, you see), its bought-and-paid-for-by-the-corporations Congress, and its government’s gargantuan electronic storage of the records of much or most or even almost all of our phone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, and even our snail mail — were the paragon of a truly free and open nation.

Salon.com, for instance, in “seriously” examining Edward Snowden’s options for political asylum, helpfully notes that on a scale of 1 to 7, with 1 being the most free and 7 being the least free, Venezuela ranks only a 5, according to some organization called Freedom House, which conveniently gives the United States a 1 for freedom.

Wow. Especially after I just learned that apparently all of the snail mail that I receive is photographed* and the images of my snail mail are stored by the federal government (along with my phone-call records, e-mails, Internet activity, etc.), I, for one, don’t feel that the U.S. is No. 1 in terms of freedom. (In Freedom House’s defense, maybe they gave the U.S. a 1 for freedom before NSAgate broke, but I am confident that they’d still give the U.S. a 1, regardless.)

I wonder if Salon.com’s writer even bothered to look up Freedom House on Wikipedia, for fuck’s sake. Wikipedia notes of Freedom House (all emphases are mine):

Freedom House is a U.S.-based non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on democracy, political freedom, and human rights. Freedom House was founded in October 1941, and Wendell Willkie and Eleanor Roosevelt served as its first honorary chairpersons. It describes itself as a “clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world.”

The organization’s annual Freedom in the World report, which assesses each country’s degree of political freedoms and civil liberties, is frequently cited by political scientists, journalists, and policy-makers. Freedom of the Press and Freedom of the Net, which monitor censorship, intimidation and violence against journalists, and public access to information, are among its other signature reports.

As of 2010, grants awarded from the U.S. government accounted for most of Freedom House’s funding; the grants were not earmarked by the government but allocated through a competitive process. Freedom House is widely regarded as a reliable source. Nonetheless, some critics have accused Freedom House’s reports of bias or of promoting U.S. government interests abroad.

Well, yeah. Duh. If the U.S. government is funding you, could you give the U.S. government anything but the highest mark possible? I mean, who is going to pay for a report that is unflattering?

That and we need to define “freedom” and truly examine how much freedom a nation’s citizens actually have.

Freedom of the press, for instance — sure, Americans at least in theory have freedom of the press, but unless you are very wealthy, how can you possibly even remotely compete with the corporate media machine, which pumps out pro-corporate and pro-plutocratic and pro-status-quo messages relentlessly? Sure, at least in theory, you can say whatever you want — but who will ever hear you?

Democracy, too — sure, in theory you could run for political office, even for the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate or even for U.S. president, but, regardless of how bright and talented you are, how successful are you actually going to be in your quest for political office without a shitload of money?

About half of the members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives are millionaires. The median net worth of the typical American household, by comparison, is not even $70K. (And if you think that the Democrats are on your side, know that the typical Democrat in Congress is even richer than is the typical Repugnican. Really, you’re so fucked. We’re so fucked.)

So — can the average American really run for political office? Or, like freedom of speech is, is it a rich person’s game? Are hundreds of millionaires in D.C. truly representative of the average American’s interests?

What we have in the United States is the veneer of freedom. “Freedom” is defined for us by the plutocrats, and so therefore in the U.S., “freedom” is pretty much synonymous with “capitalism.” We Americans are free (if we have the money) to buy shit that we don’t need. We are free to go into debt (if the all-powerful credit-reporting agencies deem us worthy enough) in order to buy shit that we don’t need. We are free to pick a wage-slave job (McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, etc.). We are free to go to college in order to be in student-loan debt for life while there aren’t any jobs for which we can even use our college degrees for which we can’t afford to pay. We are free to be inundated with corporately produced propaganda telling us how “free” we are, and we are free to vote for pro-corporate candidates, at least around half of whom are millionaires.

So much fucking freedom!

It’s a fucking joke to hear and read Americans boasting about how free and wonderful the United States of America is when there are mountain ranges of evidence to the contrary.

I don’t maintain that other, Latin American nations that even a supposedly left-wing website like Salon.com has bashed recently, including Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, are perfect nations, are Utopias, but so smug are we Americans, the planet’s biggest fucking assholes, that we apparently are completely oblivious to our own glaringly obvious flaws while we (even those of us who call ourselves “liberals” or “progressives” or the like) gleefully bash other nations as supposedly being less free than we are (“free” according to our plutocratic overlords, of course).

Sick fucking shit.

Venezuela is looking pretty fucking good to me right about now.

P.S. In case you are wondering, on the so-called Freedom House’s “freedom scale” of 1 to 7, I’d give the U.S. a rating of 3.5, maybe 3.0, at best. And from what I know of Venezuela, I’d give it no worse a rating than the U.S.

*We’re “assured” that our snail mail isn’t ever actually opened without a court order allowing it, but that only the outside of our snail mail is photographed. I, however, don’t trust “my” government at all. Human beings tend to abuse their power whenever and wherever they can get away with doing so, and Edward Snowden’s biggest “crime” is exposing such ubiquitous abuse of power here in the land of the so-called “free.”

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Mittens: ‘No apology’ for Terry Jones, whose Islamophobia has killed again

Dove World Outreach Center church pastor Terry Jones

Reuters photo

Presidential wannabe Mittens Romney defends the likes of Florida “Pastor” Terry Jones, who is banned from entering the United Kingdom because of his anti-Islamic hate-mongering.  Jones is pictured above promoting his “International Burn a Koran Day” in 2010, and today Jones is promoting the incredibly bad, anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims,” which has cost even more lives in the Middle East — but this time, American lives.

When Florida “Christo”fascist nutjob “Pastor” Terry Jones threatened to burn copies of the Koran in 2010 on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 — on what he called “International Burn a Koran Day” — more than a dozen people died during the protests that he sparked in the Middle East and Asia.

Americans didn’t care too much then because none of the dead then was an American.

Jones backed off on his threat to burn any Korans in 2010, but then in March 2011, he did burn a Koran in his Gainesville “church” after he had “put it on trial.” In reaction, dozens more people were killed in protesting in Afghanistan, including seven United Nations workers.

Americans still didn’t care too much then because none of the dead was an American.

This time, however, angry Muslims in Libya slaughtered the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three American staffers in a rocket attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi.

American officials posit that the attack on the American embassy might have been planned already, but in any event, the stated reason for the attack, apparently, is a “low-quality” and “extremely amateur” anti-Islamic film called “Innocence of Muslims” that reportedly portrays “the Prophet [Mohammed] as a homosexual who endorses extramarital sex and pedophilia.”

Even flattering depictions of Mohammed are considered blasphemous in Islam, so this

There is an apparent clip from the “film” on YouTube in which the actors portraying Middle Eastern Muslims appear to be white people wearing badly done brown makeup. (Disclaimer: I could not watch more than a few minutes of the clip, it’s that bad.)

Reportedly the said director and/or producer of the incredibly bad “film,” a “Sam Bacile” of California, is in hiding as a result of the reaction to his “film,” but also reportedly, no one can find evidence that a “Sam Bacile” actually even fucking exists. (The film could credibly be credited, however, to an “I.M. Bacile.”)

What is known, however, is that “Pastor” Terry Jones has promoted “Innocence of Muslims” and that Jones screened at least a trailer for the “film” for his followers in Florida yesterday, the 11th anniversary of 9/11, which he dubbed “International Judge Mohammed Day,” and Reuters reports today that

General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke with Pastor Terry Jones by phone [today] and asked him to withdraw his support for a film whose portrayal of the Prophet [Mohammed] has sparked violent protests — including one that ended with the death of America’s envoy to Libya.

Now, would the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have called “Pastor” Jones if he didn’t feel that Jones’ actions were putting American lives at risk?

I’m an advocate of free speech, but the problem with Terry Jones is that every time the self-promoting bigot publicly bashes Islam, people tend to die.

Knowing this, it’s harder to protect Jones’ brand of free speech.

Is a worthless piece of shit like Terry Jones worth it?

Jones reportedly proclaimed in a statement today that “The film is not intended to insult the Muslim community, but it is intended to reveal truths about [Mohammed] that are possibly not widely known,” adding that the violence in apparent reaction to the film only shows the “true nature of Islam.”

Bullshit. Of course Terry Jones, with “events” such as “International Burn a Koran Day” and “International Judge Mohammed Day,” is doing his very fucking best to offend Muslims.

Terry Jones does not get to intentionally outrageously offend Muslims, which quite predictably results in violence, and then say, “See what I told you? They’re violent!”

That’s like repeatedly poking a dog with a sharp stick and then proclaiming, when the dog finally bites you, that the dog was inherently prone to violence. (Um, I’m not comparing Muslims to dogs… I’m saying that you don’t get to provoke violence and then fault the violent reaction that you have caused.)

The best thing that can happen is that some jihadist takes out Terry Jones. Seriously. A hundred Terry Joneses aren’t worth a single human life that his inflammatory speech — his hate speech, which, I could argue easily, is not speech that is worth protecting — has snuffed out.

And Mittens Romneywhat the fuck?

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, reportedly fearing for possible violence there apparently related to “Innocence of Muslims,” issued this statement yesterday: “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

Team Mittens pounced on this statement as part of its bullshit narrative that the Obama administration is always “apologizing” for the United States abroad. Mittens proclaimed today in Terry Jones’ Florida that the Cairo embassy’s statement “appeared to be an apology for American principles.”

(See, this has to fit in nicely with Mittens’ book that is titled No Apology, which, when it was first released in 2010, was subtitled The Case for American Greatness, but which, when it was released in paperback last year, was re-subtitled Believe in America, which just coinky-dinkily is Team Mittens’ 2012 presidential campaign slogan.

It’s funny, because not only is the vulture capitalist multi-millionaire Mormon baby-boomer asshole Mittens not a part of “American greatness” in any shape or form, but who, exactly, is “apologizing” for America?

There are some things that we Americans should fucking apologize for, such as the illegal, immoral, unprovoked and unjust invasion of Iraq by the unelected George W. Bush administration in 2003, and the American-perpetrated torture and other assorted crimes against humanity that followed 9/11 and the wholly-unrelated-to-9/11 Vietraq War, including the Abu Ghraib House of Horrors, and for the continued slaughter of innocent civilians in the Middle East by U.S. drones like something out of the fucking “Terminator” movies, but who the fuck, in general, “apologizes” for America?)

Now, would Mittens object to the condemnation of “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of” Mormons?

Seriously — how would Mittens respond to an anti-Mormon film? Much more is known about the personal lives of Mormon cult’s founding fathers than is known about the personal life of Mohammed, that’s for sure, and there are plenty of unflattering things that we could say about Mormonism’s polygamous, patriarchal, misogynist founding fathers, aren’t there? How about a hate-filled film called “Innocence of Mormons”?

How would Mittens feel about that?

I see nothing wrong with the Cairo embassy’s statement. Sure, there is the First Amendment — but at the same time, you don’t have to be a mega-dick and intentionally inflame, with your hate speech, the passions of religious inherents who in the past have become violent when their religion has been quite intentionally disrespected.

Apparently, presidential wannabe Mittens Romney believes that in the likes of Terry Jones, we Americans have nothing to apologize for.

Those are some great fucking values there, Mittens!

And great attempted use of the violent deaths of four Americans for your own petty political gain!

Expect Mittens’ poll numbers to continue to slide.

The Gallup daily tracking poll for months had Obama and Mittens neck and neck, with both of them at 40-something-percent each, but now has Obama at 50 percent and Mittens at 43 percent.

And an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken from September 7 through 9 showed Obama with 50 percent to Mittens’ 44 percent, and a CNN/ORC poll taken the same dates showed Obama with 52 percent to Mittens’ 46 percent. Even a Faux “News” poll taken September 9 through 11 showed Obama five points ahead, 48 percent to 43 percent.

Maybe this is Obama’s post-convention bounce, but I expect Obama to maintain a lead of at least 4 percent or 5 percent from now until Election Day.

All that Mittens has to do to ensure Obama’s re-election, it seems to me, is to continue to open his fucking mouth.

Next month’s three presidential debates should be great fucking entertainment.

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Ozzie Guillen guilty of telling the truth

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen listens to a question during  a news conference at Marlins Stadium in Miami, Tuesday April 10, 2012. Guillen has been suspended for five games because of his comments about Fidel Castro. He has again apologized and says he accepts the punishment.  (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Associated Press photo

In a nation that only claims to value the freedom of speech, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended for five games for having made comments to TIME magazine that (gasp!) offended Miami’s right-wing, pro-plutocratic Cuban Americans. Guillen is pictured above apologizing at a press conference in Miami today for having voiced his opinion on a politically charged matter, something that in a truly free nation he should not have been pressured to apologize for.

Before today I hadn’t heard of Ozzie Guillen, who is the manager of the Miami Marlins. Before today, I wasn’t even sure what type of sports team the Marlins is (um, it’s a baseball team).

While I am not big on sports (although I’m OK with men’s diving…), I am big on politics, and Cuba and Venezuela and the socialist revolution that has swept many of the nations of Latin America (since the United States has been meddling in the Middle East for the past 10-plus years instead of in Latin America, which for decades had been the target of the Eye of Sauron, which sits atop the Pentagon) are of great interest to me.

Ozzie Guillen made the mistake of exercising his right to free speech in Miami, Florida, you see.

Apparently Guillen recently told a reporter for TIME magazine, “I love Fidel Castro,” but then amended that comment: “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years, but that motherfucker is still here.”

TIME also reports that Guillen, a native of Venezuela, has stated that he has respect for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as well.

Guillen might have realized that praising or even appearing to perhaps be praising Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Miami — which is home to the Ritchie Riches (would that be los Ricardos Ricos?) who fled Cuba when Castro’s revolution ended the capitalistic orgy there, and home to their brainwashed progeny — might not have been the brightest thing to do, politically speaking, but the Cuban Americans who want his head on a pike — here is a mob of them outside of a press conference that Guillen held in Miami today to apologize for words that he had no reason to apologize for:

Protesters

— are telling us a lot more about themselves than they are about Guillen: Namely, that they’re fucking hypocrites, that while they criticize Fidel Castro’s regime for stifling political dissent, they feel no hypocrisy or shame in doing the same fucking thing themselves.

It’s always perfectly OK to stifle left-wing political speech, you see, but it’s never OK to stifle right-wing political speech. Speech that is free only when you agree with it makes the whole idea of free speech moot, but that point is lost on the right-wing nutjobs, who by definition are hypocrites.

I don’t know everything that Fidel Castro has done, and therefore I don’t give him my 100 percent approval, but the fact of the matter is that, whether you love him or hate him or are indifferent to him, despite the United States’ decades-long attempt to cripple Castro’s rule — hurting the people of Cuba more than it ever hurt Castro himself, I’m sure — the fact of the fucking matter is that Fidel Castro indeed is one tough cookie to still be standing after all of these decades.

Hugo Chavez, too, is one tough cookie, having survived a blatantly treasonous and anti-democratic right-wing (and probably CIA-and/or-otherwise-unelected-Bush-regime-assisted) attempt to overthrow him in 2002 and replace him with an unelected, pro-plutocratic, right-wing usurper. That’s just a fucking fact, whether you love Chavez or hate him or are indifferent to him.

But Guillen’s biggest “crime” here, it seems to me, is that he hasn’t bowed down before the statue of the golden calf that is capitalism.

It is interesting that capitalists won’t shut the fuck up about “freedom,” yet they wish to deny everyone the basic fucking freedom of praising — indeed, even just discussing — any other economic system than capitalism, in which the goal is to become filthy rich yourself by fucking over everyone else.

I tell you fucking what: Mittens Romney, to name just one multi-millionaire, did not do multi-millions of dollars’ worth of work.

No. The only way to make that kind of money is to exploit others. You “win” in capitalism by paying your employees as little as you can get away with (including fucking them over on benefits, of course, and doing such things as firing them just before they can retire and collect retirement benefits, and by shutting their factories down and getting cheaper labor elsewhere, as Mittens can tell you all about) and by overcharging your customers for your product or service as much as you possibly can. You also “win” in capitalism by despoiling the environment in your insatiable quest for ever-increasing profits. In health/wealth care, the idea is to charge as much as you can for health insurance coverage, yet to deny as many health insurance claims as possible in order to increase your profits. Just like Jesus would do! Gooooo capitalism! (Indeed, the right wing loves to intertwine Christianity and capitalism, when even a grade schooler could read the New Testament and tell you that Jesus Christ, according to his own words, was against the rich and for the poor and was dead-set against shameless profiteering.)

The kind of shit that we see committed in the economic system of capitalism is not called “stealing” or “plundering” or even “exploitation,” however. It’s called “business” and “free enterprise” and the like, and while it’s sociofuckingpathic to knowingly harm others for purely selfish, personal gain, in the United States of America it is widely considered to be quite normal — even admirable.

If capitalism were so fucking inarguably inherently and self-evidently great, however, then why do the vast majority of its adherents try to prohibit the rest of us from even discussing capitalism’s obvious weaknesses and evils and from discussing other socioeconomic systems that might work better for us?

Why do the capitalist hypocrites claim that the “free marketplace” is the only way to go, but they absolutely won’t tolerate a free fucking marketplace of ideas?

Are they afraid that capitalism — which, increasingly, is good for only a few — can’t survive in such an environment?

And Cuban Americans need to shut the fuck up already. The Cubans who fled to the United States after Castro took over for the most part were the filthy rich Cubans who were exploiting other, poorer Cubans. And these rich Cubans’ beloved right-wing leader whom Fidel Castro overthrew, Fulgencio Batista, himself was a dictator who had thousands of his political opponents slaughtered — only he supported the plutocrats, so he was a good dictator, you see.

Castro’s Cuba has struggled not because socialism inherently cannot work, but primarily because the pro-plutocratic fascists in the United States for decades have done everything in their power to cripple Cuba and then say, “See? Communism doesn’t work!”

And old-school, big-“C” Communism indeed didn’t work, but little-“s” socialism can. Democratic socialism is the ideal socioeconomic system. (Old-school Communism wasn’t democratic, its major problem.) I’d even settle for a hybrid socioeconomic system, at least for now, with the essentials for human well-being and dignity, such as as quality health care and quality education, being made available to all regardless of their ability to pay for them, with the private sector able to continue to sell non-essentials. (Indeed, it looks as though Cuba is evolving into such a hybrid socioeconomic system itself.)

Corporatism, if we allow it to, will kill us all. The right wing now assures us that even more of the same will cure what ails us. That is as sane as asserting that the cure for arsenic poisoning is more arsenic.

And the people of Cuba, it seems to me, are much better off under Fidel and Raul Castro than they would be under another Fulgencio-Batista type, a “good” dictator who sells out his nation and his nation’s people to corporations for his own selfish gain and the selfish gain of his fucking cronies, who (and whose progeny) now populate Miami.

Ozzie Guillen has my support. I support his right to free speech, and I support a robustly free marketplace of ideas.

It’s too bad that the freedom-hating, anti-American wingnuts in Miami and their sympathizers do not.

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White-trash ‘pastor’ endangers Americans

Updated below (on Tuesday, April 5, 2011)

Afghan protestors walk with sticks, as they carry ...

Associated Press photo

In Kandahar today, Afghanis protest the March 20 burning of a copy of the Koran by a fucktarded American “Christian” “pastor” in Florida who admits that he doesn’t know much about the Muslim holy book. Thus far more than 20 people have been killed in two days of protests in the Muslim nation in which the U.S. military has had operations for a decade.

Wow, is the world interconnected.

Terry Jones, a white-trash “pastor” with a congregation of only about 50 fellow white-trash mouth-breathers, burned a Koran in his white-trash “church”* in Gainesville, Florida, and thus far more than 20 people have been killed in Afghanistan in protests against the “pastor’s” desecration of the Muslim holy book.

What this is in a nutshell, methinks, is stupid upon stupid.

You have Jones, whose biography on Wikipedia indicates that he never went to college but that did use the title of “doctor,” which got him into trouble when he was living in Cologne, Germany, for more than three decades as a “Christian” missionary. Someone who knew him in Cologne said of him, “He didn’t project the biblical values and Christianity, but always made himself the center of everything.” Which sure sounds an awful fucking lot like the Jones we know here in the United States; he calls his “church” the “Dove World Outreach Center,” which certainly sounds like he’s reaching out to the world in peace, but instead of world peace, he’s bringing about only death and destruction.

Jones felt the need to “put the Koran on trial” at his white-trash “church” in Florida on March 20. The Koran was “found guilty” of whatever and its “punishment” was immolation.

It seems to me that if you are secure in your religious beliefs, then you don’t need to pronounce your religious beliefs superior and others’ inferior, but Jones and his gene-pool-polluting ilk are not secure in their beliefs. So they torched a Koran. Which proves their superiority. Or something.

When it comes down to it, logically and rationally, it was just the burning of a book. It could have been any book — a cookbook, a phone book, a school textbook. The physical world isn’t harmed by the burning of a book.

But just as Jones and his incredibly fucktarded followers put meaning into their torching of the Koran, apparently not very bright, apparently pretty brainwashed people across the globe — the apparent fundamentalist counterparts to Jones and his followers — also put a lot of meaning into that action. They could have seen the book burning for what it was: just a book burning by the pathetically small-minded. Nothing more to see here. Move along.

Instead, they very apparently believe that they have to take the book burning in the manner in which it was intended: as an affront. To the most brainwashed of them, for some obscure, podunk white-trash “pastor” to burn a copy of the Koran in the United States is something for them to die or to kill for (or both).

Terry Jones, being a “Christo”fascist, of course insists that he’s not responsible for the death of anyone (“Christo”fascists by definition never take responsibility for anything, being perfect and “saved” themselves while being surrounded by a world of “sinners”), even though he had declared September 11, 2010, as “International Burn a Koran Day,” as you can see from the news photo below.

Reuters photo

After much international media attention, Jones ultimately decided not to go through with “International Burn a Koran Day” in September, but apparently he just couldn’t take it anymore and so he torched a copy in his “church” on March 20.

Jones says that he’s not responsible for the deadly backlash — even though if he had not “put the Koran on trial,” “found it guilty” and then torched it, then no one would have died in the backlash in Afghanistan. The dots doth connect. That much is inarguable.

Now, I’m a proponent of the First Amendment — the right-wing fascists (most of them being “Christo”fascists) would silence me in a fucking heartbeat if they could — but what happens when self-serving assholes like Jones pull self-serving media stunts like the one above (you can tell that he just hates all of that media attention, can’t you?) is that he then becomes, to millions of people in other nations, the face of the United States of America.

And I don’t want Terry Jones representing me.

And Jones has entered the gray zone of the First Amendment. Case law generally has found that your First Amendment rights end where endangering others begins. The most trite example of this is the fact that falsely screaming “fire!” in a crowded building, which can cause panic and thus injury or death, is not considered to be protected speech.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the source of the screaming “fire!” example, wrote that “The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

It is fairly predictable these days that to so publicly antagonize Muslims as Terry Jones has done is going to get someone killed somewhere.

The question then becomes: Which is more important? To protect the ability of fucktards like Terry Jones to get their rocks off by garnering media attention with their “messages” of ignorance and hatred and self-promotion — or to protect public safety?

Terry Jones is a piece of shit. He adds no value to the world. His “message” — which apparently is that the response to his Muslim-baiting “definitely does prove that there is a radical element of Islam” (which is like provoking an animal with a sharp stick and then pointing out how inherently vicious that animal is) — is not worth protecting, not when it so predictably costs lives.

You might disagree with me now, but when he costs lives on American soil, get back to me then.

*Lest you think that I’m being harsh or unfair, the AFP reports:

Don Northrup founded the church “in the living room of his home” in 1986 in Gainesville, according to the church’s website. Members raised $150,000 to build the church in its current location.

Northrup died in 1996 and [Terry] Jones took over several years later.

The church’s website encourages visitors to donate money and offers for sale coffee mugs, t-shirts and caps — all featuring anti-Islam slogans.

The website also rails against homosexuality and abortion.

Despite his beliefs about Islam, Jones said: “We’re not Koran experts.” He added, “I would not consider myself an expert on the Bible.”

Luke Jones, 29, said he and his father are “common people.”

“We’ve not studied the Koran, but we still have an opinion. We’re actually not educated. We’re common people,” said the son, who also is a pastor at the church.

“We’re actually not educated”shocker! – but that doesn’t stop them from broadcasting their anti-Islamic rhetoric to the world at a time when their nation already is involved in misguided wars in the Muslim world.

Nice.

Update (Tuesday, April 5, 2011):

I just want to make clear that I don’t agree with the likes of Repugnican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who says that Terry Jones should be silenced because Jones’ form of speech endangers our troops in the Middle East.

Our stormtroopers shouldn’t even be in the Middle East, so that argument is bullshit. The fact that our stormtroopers are in the Middle East, slaughtering civilians right and left — even being photographed with their victims, as though their victims were deer or something — alone is cause for Middle Easterners to (want to) retaliate against Americans. So let’s not let shitty U.S. foreign policy and shameless war profiteering off of the hook by blaming U.S. citizens for the blowback.

My problem with “Pastor” Jones’ form of speech is that the Muslim world has been persecuted more than enough by the United States for the past decade; his adding more fuel to the fire isn’t helpful. That and, as an atheist, I’m sick of being in the middle of religious retards’ unholy wars. Jones actually has said that the U.S. should retaliate against the recent deaths of the United Nations workers that his Koran burning caused.

You know, pieces of right-wing, theocratic, white-trash shit like Terry Jones are not worth even more loss of human life.

Jones has caused enough damage already and should shut the fuck up.

But I don’t support any formal, governmental curtailment of his First Amendment rights. Not at this time, anyway, and it’s unlikely that I’ll feel differently about that in the future, I think.

Hopefully, Jones will be made a pariah, if he hasn’t already been, and that will have the same effect. And if the sensationalistic corporately owned and controlled media would stop giving the media spotlight to fucktards like Jones — only because it’s sensationalistic — that would be helpful, too.

While I wouldn’t shed a tear if some “Islamofascist” were to take Jones out, the last thing that we need now is some sort of back-and-forth thing here at home between the “Christo”fascists and the “Islamofascists.” We have enough problems already.

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Repug thugs: Give us the head of William Cronon!



Hmmm… Commie University of Wisconsin history Professor William Cronon looks pretty John the Baptist-y to me

The Repugnican Tea Party long has has been on a jihad against university professors. It’s that these professors are anything from “liberal” to “Commie,” you see.

Actually, these professors’ “crime” is that they don’t support the political agenda of the far right. These professors, being professors, don’t embrace the utter ignorance and the outright lies — and the pro-corporate, pro-militaristic, misogynistic, white supremacist/racist, homophobic, xenophobic, nationalistic/jingoistic, pro-stupid-white-male propaganda — that the right wing expects them to.

The wingnuts scream that public dollars should not be spent on university professors who (allegedly) promote some political agenda. Of course, these very same wingnutty hypocrites don’t argue that right-wing professors also should go for the very same reason.

Nor do the wingnuts who scream against the alleged politicization of our public universities make a fucking peep about the blatant, illegal politicization of our tax-exempt churches, such as the Catholick Church and the Mormon cult, which blatantly participate in politics, even telling their members whom and what to vote for and whom and what not to vote for and more or less commanding them to give campaign contributions to specific candidates and ballot propositions and to volunteer in political campaigns.

Because that political activity, you see, benefits the right wing. Therefore, it’s perfectly acceptable.

What it comes down to when the wingnuts attack left-wing or perceived left-wing university professors — and such intellectual entities as National Public Radio — more often than not is not a case of left versus right; it usually comes down right (as in correct) versus not right (as in incorrect) and right versus wrong.

(The Nazi Party also hated, persecuted and even murdered intellectuals, but perhaps that’s a separate blog piece for another day.)

So far gone is the treasonous Repugnican Tea Party in Wisconsin that the party is attacking an individual university professor. Never mind that for a state’s party to attack an individual is a gross abuse of power and is a gross dereliction of duty — the Repugnican Tea Party in Wisconsin should be busy at work fulfilling its (bullshit) campaign promises to improve the lives of all Wisconsinites instead of engaging in vindictive political vendettas against certain individuals.

But the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Wisconsin want the head of William Cronon, a University of Wisconsin history professor who has been publicly critical of Repugnican Tea Party Gov. Scott “Dead Man” Walker and his henchpeople’s attempts to destroy the state’s long-standing labor unions.

Cronon, you see, has a blog titled “Scholar as Citizen” and he wrote an op-ed piece not flattering of the Walkerites for The New York Times.

Therefore, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors in Wisconsin have demanded to see any and all e-mails in Cronon’s university e-mail account that contain certain words indicative that Cronon used his e-mail account for any political activity. Apparently their end game is that they want Cronon fired for alleged university ethics violations — so that they can claim the scalp of a liberal/“liberal”* university professor.

They can’t just murder Cronon (they would if they could), so they’ll do the next best thing, if they can: see to it that he loses his job. That’s one of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ favorite hobbies: to try to make people unemployed, even though they claim to care about our longstanding problem of unemployment.

Professor Cronon, correctly claiming academic freedom, has resisted the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ public records request to see his e-mails. One Repugnican Tea Party traitor called Cronon’s resistance “chilling,” but what actually is quite chilling is that we have Joseph McCarthy-like thugs in public office anywhere in the nation who think that it’s perfectly acceptable to politically gang-bang a university professor whose political views diverge from theirs.

The New York Times yesterday ran an editorial on this issue titled “A Shabby Crusade in Wisconsin.” Here it is, in full:

The latest technique used by conservatives to silence liberal academics is to demand copies of e-mails and other documents. Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli of Virginia tried it last year with a climate-change scientist, and now the Wisconsin Republican Party is doing it to a distinguished historian who dared to criticize the state’s new union-busting law.

These demands not only abuse academic freedom, but make the instigators look like petty and medieval inquisitors.

The historian, William Cronon, is the Frederick Jackson Turner and Vilas research professor of history, geography and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin, and was recently elected president of the American Historical Association. Earlier this month, he was asked to write an op-ed article for The Times on the historical context of Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to strip public-employee unions of bargaining rights. While researching the subject, he posted on his blog several critical observations about the powerful network of conservatives working to undermine union rights and disenfranchise Democratic voters in many states.

In particular, he pointed to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group backed by business interests that circulates draft legislation in every state capital, much of it similar to the Wisconsin law, and all of it unmatched by the left.

Two days later, the state Republican Party filed a freedom-of-information request with the university, demanding all of his e-mails containing the words “Republican,” “Scott Walker,” “union,” “rally,” and other such incendiary [um, “incendiary”? Really?] terms. (The op-ed article appeared five days after that.)

The party refuses to say why it wants the messages; Mr. Cronon believes it is hoping to find that he is supporting the recall of Republican state senators, which would be against university policy and which he denies. This is a clear attempt to punish a critic and make other academics think twice before using the freedom of the American university to conduct legitimate research.

Professors are not just ordinary state employees. As J. Harvie Wilkinson III, a conservative federal judge on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, noted in a similar case, state university faculty members are “employed professionally to test ideas and propose solutions, to deepen knowledge and refresh perspectives.”

A political fishing expedition through a professor’s files would make it substantially harder to conduct research and communicate openly with colleagues. And it makes the Republican Party appear both vengeful and ridiculous.

Further, the effect of the Repugnican Tea Party traitors’ McCarthyesque attempt to make public university professors fear for their livelihoods is to deprive the professors of their First Amendment rights as citizens of the United States of America.

University professors are not some special class of individuals who don’t get First Amendment rights. As the name of Cronon’s blog states, public university professors are also citizens; they are not stripped of their citizenship rights because their paychecks are paid for by taxpayers — and they pay taxes, too, which so many fucking morons forget or ignore.

It’s bad enough that in the private sector, employees are treated like property with no First Amendment rights — or any other rights whatsofuckingever. (Property, after all, has no rights.) To extend this right-wing abuse of human rights to the public sector is illegal, immoral and unfuckingacceptable.

And for a political party to attack an individual is such a gross abuse of power that that party deserves to be voted out of office. The recall of Repugnican Tea Party traitor politicians in Wisconsin has my full support — and I’ve donated money towards it. Hopefully, the Repugnican Tea Party scum who have hijacked the great state of Wisconsin, most notably Scott “Dead Man” Walker, will be swept to sea by a political tsunami no later than in November 2014.

The good people of Germany did not nip fascism in the bud when they had the chance to do so. If we, the good people of the United States of America, don’t nip this fascistic shit in the bud in Wisconsin and in the other states where the Repugnican Tea Party traitors fervently are trying to plant the seeds of fascism, we will find ourselves as the Germans did: in a hellish nation in which evils abound — and in which it is too late, because we did not do enough when we had the chance.

I live in California, not in Wisconsin, and I do not know Professor William Cronon.

But I am not so stupid and so blind as to believe that what happens in Wisconsin never could become my problem in California, or that whatever happens to Professor Cronon never could have any bearing on my own life.

The states indeed are laboratories, and the mad scientists on the right are seeing just how far they can take their evil experiments.

We allow them to succeed at our own peril.

*Cronon describes himself as “a centrist and a lifelong independent,” but to the far right, a centrist is a left-winger. The far right’s motto, after all, is the McCarthyesque “You’re with us or you’re against us,” and if you’re against them, you are, by their definition, a left-winger.

Hopefully, this offensive wingnutty overreach will serve to turn more centrists into actual left-wingers.

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