Thursday, January 15, 2015

Boko Haram terrorists slaughter hundreds--perhaps thousands--of Nigerians; US cable news too busy in Paris

Photo via The Telegraph

Here are terrorists brutally murdering--burning alive!--not just dozens, but as many as two thousand human beings in Baga, Nigeria. Same week as the AQAP attack in Paris. Just more deadly by orders of magnitude (and they're busily wiping out people in Cameroon now).

And yet... Did you see 24/7 cable news coverage of this horrific slaughter, as we saw of the Paris murders?

Can you guess why? Go on, guess.


Amnesty International has details. Awful, sick-making details. And satellite shots that give one a clearer appreciation for the scope of these shocking attacks (click to enlarge):

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Whiter Shade of Male: Meet the GOP's 2016 Presidential Lineup 1.0

From Sean Hannity comes the January 2015/FOX News version of the GOP's 2016 Presidential Offerings, fondly referred to--among lefty wags, at least--as The Clown Car.  It's early still, and the thing is not quite ready for market--call it a Concept Clown Car.

For one thing, Rand Paul, Dr. Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Allen West seem to be missing, though you'll often hear their names bandied about the blogosphere and Twitterverse. And where is Marco #DubiousRubio Rubio, Mr. Hannity? Do you have something against Floridians? Harrumph.

Which Republican do you want to be president? Hannity asks brightly.

No, there's not a woman in sight, but Hell's bells, people, look at all these choices! You've got:

  • Overweight White Guy
  • Wealthy White Guy From Political Family
  • Generic White Guy
  • Generic White Guy with White Hair
  • Another Generic White Guy
  • White Guy With Indian Name Who Changed His First Name To Sound More White-Guy-ish
  • White Guy with Glasses and Felony Indictment
  • White Guy With Strong Religious Convictions and Simmering Woman Issues, and…
  • Wealthy White Guy, Also With Religious Convictions, Also From Political Family, Also With Simmering Woman Issues (binders full of 'em, in fact).

Never let it be said that the Republican Party isn't all about the diversity.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Thoughts on Paris #JeSuisCharlie

To arms, comrades! #CharlieHebdo
By Chilean political cartoonist Francisco J. Olea

Writing, drawing, and publishing criticism of people's religion--and doing so in a deliberately crass, offensive, and even obscene way--is not something that I personally would engage in. Even if it was not, in today's environment, the equivalent of poking at a wasp's nest or splashing kerosene on smoldering coals, I simply wouldn't do it. Not in that manner.

I don't belong to any organized religion. But some of the people I love, do. To them, and to people I don't know and may never know, but whose rights to believe as they see fit I nonetheless recognize and respect, it is my custom to extend the courtesy of not mocking their religion. Of refraining from questioning tenets of their faith, no matter how silly I might consider them, until and unless they affect me personally or affect public policy. And even then, I would challenge their beliefs only inasmuch as they restricted the freedoms of others; I would do my best to avoid being nasty or sneering. TL;DR: I'm a nice girl, and being a provocateur is not my job.

At the same time, though, I not only wholeheartedly support the right of citizens and members of the press to write, draw, and publish criticism of people's religion--even highly offensive criticism--I'm also moved to reiterate the absolute necessity of them doing so in a free society, and to oppose any and all notions that the state should somehow restrict the free expression of religious criticism.

To invoke Frank Zappa: Words. Just Words.

I sometimes get offended by things I see and read. But I am not harmed by them: instead, they provoke me to examine my thinking, at which point I may be offered, as Mill once said, "the opportunity of exchanging error for truth", or else "the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

Moreover, I have the freedom to click away; to turn my head from the television; to not buy the magazine; to ignore; to forget.

When power--be it in the form of traditional government or self-appointed or state-sponsored terrorist forces--gets involved in restricting free speech, we no longer fully have those opportunities, perceptions, or rights. Because the end result of the restriction of speech by power is violence, as it was in Paris yesterday. And when people wind up dead, we no longer have anything at all--neither freedom, nor rights, nor, ultimately, breath.

Je suis Charlie.