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Member since: Thu Sep 25, 2008, 03:38 PM
Number of posts: 1,649

Journal Archives

On the Visual Subtext of Bush's Self-Portraiture

On Hate Speech and Putting the Westboro Baptist Church To Flight...

Isn't it rather enjoyable to see the Westboro Baptist Church flee from one of their hateful "peaceful protests" as they are overwhelmed by the threat of the greater numbers of their opponents? Doesn't it feel good to see those vermin, those cowards, those morons be put to flight?

As good as it may seem to feel at first, it is fundamentally wrong to accept and to celebrate the tactics that were displayed in Moore, OK. These tactics rely on an implicit threat of violence to displace and, thus, to silence voices that speak a minority opinion. A loud, voluminous counter-protest is a thing to be commended. A frontal assault across a no-man's land that is under-manned by police is not consistent with the ideas behind the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

For those who may think that what has been written above is ludicrous, the ACLU offers an article in defense of the First Amendment on their website. Though their article refers to a campus setting, their argument is generally valid as is the First Amendment:

Hate Speech on Campus
December 31, 1994


Many universities, under pressure to respond to the concerns of those who are the objects of hate, have adopted codes or policies prohibiting speech that offends any group based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

That's the wrong response, well-meaning or not. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Speech codes adopted by government-financed state colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. And the ACLU believes that all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society.

How much we value the right of free speech is put to its severest test when the speaker is someone we disagree with most. Speech that deeply offends our morality or is hostile to our way of life warrants the same constitutional protection as other speech because the right of free speech is indivisible: When one of us is denied this right, all of us are denied. Since its founding in 1920, the ACLU has fought for the free expression of all ideas, popular or unpopular. That's the constitutional mandate.

Where racist, sexist and homophobic speech is concerned, the ACLU believes that more speech -- not less -- is the best revenge. This is particularly true at universities, whose mission is to facilitate learning through open debate and study, and to enlighten. Speech codes are not the way to go on campuses, where all views are entitled to be heard, explored, supported or refuted. Besides, when hate is out in the open, people can see the problem. Then they can organize effectively to counter bad attitudes, possibly change them, and forge solidarity against the forces of intolerance.



For those who have not seen the event:

Lastly, and for the record, I do not support the Westboro Baptist Church or their ideas, but they do have a right to state them - however distasteful those ideas may be.

March 12, 2014: It Is Now One Year After DNI Clapper Lied to Congress...

In this video, DNI Clapper lies in response to Senator Wyden's question. The exchange occurs after about 6:37 in the video.

One thing that is quite clear from this event is that President Obama condones lying to Congress.

The NSA Overreach: Parallels between the Treatment of Thompson and Snowden...

Recently, Chris Hedges wrote a piece extolling Edward Snowden's moral courage and, in that piece, he mentions others who have exhibited what he considers to be moral courage. It is interesting to see what Hugh Thompson stated (in his own words) about how he was treated after his act of moral courage. There are parallels to how he was treated and how Edward Snowden has been treated:

Edward Snowdenís Moral Courage
Chris Hedges

Last Thursday Chris Hedges opened a team debate at the Oxford Union at Oxford University with this speech arguing in favor of the proposition ďThis house would call Edward Snowden a hero.Ē The others on the Hedges team, which won the debate by an audience vote of 212 to 171, were William E. Binney, a former National Security Agency official and a whistle-blower; Chris Huhne, a former member of the British Parliament; and Annie Machon, a former intelligence officer for the United Kingdom. The opposing team was made up of Philip J. Crowley, a former U.S. State Department officer; Stewart A. Baker, a former chief counsel for the National Security Agency; Jeffrey Toobin, an American television and print commentator; and Oxford student Charles Vaughn.

I have been to war. I have seen physical courage. But this kind of courage is not moral courage. Very few of even the bravest warriors have moral courage. For moral courage means to defy the crowd, to stand up as a solitary individual, to shun the intoxicating embrace of comradeship, to be disobedient to authority, even at the risk of your life, for a higher principle. And with moral courage comes persecution.

The American Army pilot Hugh Thompson had moral courage. He landed his helicopter between a platoon of U.S. soldiers and 10 terrified Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre. He ordered his gunner to fire his M60 machine gun on the advancing U.S. soldiers if they began to shoot the villagers. And for this act of moral courage, Thompson, like Snowden, was hounded and reviled. Moral courage always looks like this. It is always defined by the state as treasonóthe Army attempted to cover up the massacre and court-martial Thompson. It is the courage to act and to speak the truth. Thompson had it. Daniel Ellsberg had it. Martin Luther King had it. What those in authority once said about them they say today about Snowden.



Here is page 27 of the abridged transcript of the Fall 2003 William C. Strutt Ethics lecture, given to the community of the US Naval Academy:


You said you felt a lot of negative peer pressure. While you were
acting that day, did you feel any sense of regret?

Mr. Thompson
"No, I never felt any sense of regret. When I confronted the
lieutenant and trained the weapons on him, I do remember
thinking that youíre going to spend the rest of your life at
Leavenworth, and to me, I guess it was worth it, because I went
ahead and did it. It wasnít something I planned to do. It was
something I had to do. Believe me, I had tried to help. I tried
talking. You know, I tried everything. I felt like a damn animal
in a cage, being pressed further in the corner. It was time
something had to be done.

After it broke in the United States, I was not a good guy. I was
sure not being invited to Annapolis or West Point or any other
university that Iíve been to since, because I was a traitor. I was a
communist. I was a sympathizer. I was neither one of those, I
didnít think.
I was very confused about why I was being treated
this way, because how wrong can it be helping a fellow human?
And Iím no pacifist either. You know, Iím not one of these
peacenik guys. So I was just very confused, and that went on for
about 30 years.

I became invisible. When it first broke, people thought
everybody was picking on Lieutenant Calley. Believe me,
Lieutenant Calley was very guilty. There is no way to get around
it. But we, being Americans, we cheer for the underdog, so thatís
what people were thinking. They thought the establishment was
picking on this little guy. The turmoil the United States was in
during this time was quite significant. We had demonstrations on
every campus in the United States except about three I can think
of, and I guarantee they were right outside your gate, because we
had been there too long. We were
nothing but a bunch of baby killers, you know, and it was just a
bad time for America. And Congress came after me real hard. A
very senior congressman made a public statement that if anybody
goes to jail in this My Lai stuff, it will be the helicopter pilot
Hugh Thompson.



That kind of treatment certainly seems familiar.

How Little Some Things Change: I Am The Owl...

The Dead Kennedys certainly had a lot to say:

I Am The Owl

I am your plumber / No I never went away / I still bug your bedrooms / And pick up everything you say / It can be a boring job / To monitor all day your excess talk / I hear when youíre drinking / And cheating on your lonely wife / I play tape recordings / Of you to my friends at night /



Speaker Boehner and Godwin's Law

If one identifies oneself with the Nazi's in the course of a discussion, does this act render one's own further statements irrelevant by some corollary of Godwin's Law? If so, Boehner self-godwins his own political analysis at 3:21 in the video:

Speaker Boehner: "...some of them I have to be the Gestapo...."

Liz Nichols, Occupy Portland protester, Charged $7,116 for City's Fees

Pepper-sprayed Occupy Portland protester Liz Nichols gets $7,116 payment demand from city
By Aimee Green, The Oregonian

Pay up.

Thatís the message Portland is sending Elizabeth Evon Nichols -- to the tune of $7,116.

Nichols is the Occupy Portland protester whose image became widely known for being blasted in the face with pepper spray by a Portland police officer in fall 2011. She sued the city for excessive force but lost after a four-day trial in August in U.S. District Court in Portland.

She had sought $30,000, noting the excruciating pain of pepper spray in her eyes and throat -- and the ensuing nightmares, depression and worsening eczema.



No comment.

The Irony of Australian FM Julie Bishop's Comments Regarding Edward Snowden...

The pot...

Liberal Deputy Julie Bishop 'jeopardising' security over passport claim
Michael Harvey, Herald Sun, May 26, 2010 12:00AM

JULIE Bishop should be cut loose by Tony Abbott after accusations she jeopardised national security in claims Aussie intelligence agencies used forged passports, the Government says.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith today demanded Abbott disavow his deputy.

ďShe has broken a long-standing convention, she has put our national security at risk,'' Mr Smith told ABC Radio.


Ms Bishop has been accused of jeopardising national security with her claim that Australian intelligence agencies have used forged passports.



...calls out the kettle:

Julie Bishop lashes Snowden on US visit
Summary: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has lashed out at Edward Snowden, accusing the US intelligence leaker of 'unprecedented treachery' after he unveiled Canberra's efforts to spy on Indonesia.

By AAP | January 23, 2014 -- 00:48 GMT (16:48 PST)

On a visit to Washington, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop praised cooperation with Washington and reserved harsh words for National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden, whose revelations led Indonesia to halt work with Australia to stem people smuggling, a key priority for new conservative Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Shortly before a meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden, Bishop said that Snowden "continues to shamefully betray his nation while skulking in Russia".

"This represents unprecedented treachery; he is no hero," she added, in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday.



One should remember that this situation is not about Snowden, it is about the NSA's overreach and the general and possibly continuing acceptance (to at least some extent) of said overreach by all three branches of the US government.

Whitewashing Torture: President Obama's Jan. 17, 2014 Speech on NSA Reforms

Transcript of President Obamaís Jan. 17 speech on NSA reforms

Published: January 17

President Obama delivered the following remarks on changes to National Security Agency programs Jan. 17 at the Justice Department in Washington. Transcript courtesy of Federal News Service.


And yet, in our rush to respond to a very real and novel set of threats, the risk of government overreach, the possibility that we lose some of our core liberties in pursuit of security also became more pronounced. We saw in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 our government engage in enhanced interrogation techniques that contradicted our values. As a senator, I was critical of several practices, such as warrantless wiretaps. And all too often new authorities were instituted without adequate public debate.



I suppose that both waterboarding and warrantless wiretaps start with W - nevertheless, that was both quite a leap and quite a smooth transition.

It was torture that was practiced: it was not merely the euphemistically labeled "enhanced interrogation techniques." "Not looking backwards" is not a sufficient replacement for prosecuting the officials who were involved with committing the crime of torture.

Here is a report from Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/home) which is quite clear on the issue of torture:

Here is a report from The Constitution Project (http://www.constitutionproject.org/) that addresses torture:

Here is the leaked report from the International Red Cross that addresses detainee treatment:

Neither torture nor condoning torture should be allowed to be American values. To that end, Bush et al should be prosecuted.

CNN: Because Somewhere A Dog Is Barking

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