Wednesday, June 13, 2012

QFTD

"As a local GOP official after President Obama’s election, I had a front-row seat as it became infected by a dangerous and virulent form of political rabies. 

In the grip of this contagion, the Republican Party has come unhinged. Its fevered hallucinations involve threats from imaginary communists and socialists who, seemingly, lurk around every corner. Climate change- a reality recognized by every single significant scientific body and academy in the world- is a liberal conspiracy conjured up by Al Gore and other leftists who want to destroy America. Large numbers of Republicans- the notorious birthers- believe that the President was not born in the United States. Even worse, few figures in the GOP have the courage to confront them...

Ultimately, leaving the GOP was necessary in order to maintain my own integrity." - The newly ex-Republican from Delaware, Michael Stafford.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Section 13 Is Doomed

I'd never even heard of Section 13 until last week when, mercifully, Canadian Tories killed the provision allowing single complainants to criminalize ostensibly offensive speech (let's be honest - those with fringe or politically incorrect views were most likely of all to be caught up in 13's tuna net). Here's Jonathan Kay, eulogizing the speech-stifling subsection of the Canadian Human Rights Act:
Five years ago, during testimony in the case of Warman v. Lemire, Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) investigator Dean Steacy was asked “What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?” His response: “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”
Those words produced outrage. But there was a grain of truth to what Mr. Steacy said: For decades, Canadians had meekly submitted to a system of administrative law that potentially made de facto criminals out of anyone with politically incorrect views about women, gays, or racial and religious minority groups. All that was required was a complainant (often someone with professional ties to the CHRC itself) willing to sign his name to a piece of paper, claim he was offended, and then collect his cash winnings at the end of the process. The system was bogus and corrupt. But very few Canadians wanted to be seen as posturing against policies that were branded under the aegis of “human rights.”
That was then. Now, Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, the enabling legislation that permits federal human-rights complaints regarding “the communication of hate messages by telephone or on the Internet,” is doomed.
Good fucking riddance.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spanish Artist Prosecuted for Blasphemy


Add Spain to the disturbing trend of Western countries cowering to religious bullying. The long working Spanish artist Javier Krahe "has been taken to court by a Catholic legal association… for "offending religious feelings" - a little known offense. The Catholic association says the law has never before been applied in Spanish legal history."

And so again the supposedly established liberal value of free speech is eroded by this familiar acid, and the bullies are rewarded with propitiations and deference while the victims are punished.

Any law allowing for the prosecution of "offending religious feelings" sets up a de-facto privileged class, consisting primarily, at least in the Western world, of the two monotheisms Islam and Christianity (one cannot easily recall a blasphemy charge led by Jews).  Inevitably, that power will be abused by the faithful to threaten their way to ever more robust inoculations from challenge and insult, all the while backed and legitimized by the state. 

I'm offended by a good portion of Catholic doctrine, and perhaps even more of Islamic doctrine, but I can't sue the clergy for any offense caused to me. Nor can a rights activist sue a racist (at least not in the U.S., and rightly so), nor a capitalist a marxist.

What's obvious of the religious interests pushing for an internationally enforceable blasphemy resolution at the U.N. is one of two things. Either they don't foresee any complications by the fact that much of the three major religions are, definitionally, blasphemies against one another (will they be taking each other to court, en masse?); or that otherwise, with a wink and a nod, they agree to a sort of absurd mutual immunity to each other's "crimes."

There simply is no freedom of speech without license to offend. And the most important protections are those afforded to the offenders of Dogmas, be they of state or church. 

There exists no human right to unhurt feelings. Grow up.