January 6th, 2010

Godzilla, default

On Freedom of Speech:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/05/world/europe/05march.html?hp

In the article a group of Islamists are protesting the war in Afghanistan by honoring the corpses of British soldiers killed by other Islamists over in the Middle East. There is a movement of sorts to ban it. Now, personally, I find such behavior disgusting and repulsive, and bordering on barbaric. I do not see it, however, as worthy of being repressed.

In the USA Fred Phelps behaves like a douchebag to everyone because he is constitutionally able to do so. In the UK, it is the same way, one pays the price for Freedom  of speech by tolerating douchebags, though freedom of speech does not equal to a mandate to listen to or agree with such speech either. If Fred Phelps and his band can behave like douchebags here, then by the same token these Muslim real-life trolls should be allowed to do the same. It could even be argued that by being allowed to do so it discredits any appeal to persecution on the part of the authorities and gives them enough metaphorical rope to hang themselves.

What do others think? Does the right to freedom of speech mean that Fred Phelps or these Islamists should be as offensive as they wish? Or should people simply censor the unpopular beliefs of these people in order to "secure public decency" as the old euphemism used to be? In my opinion the right to offend trumps the right to censor always, so I wonder what others think.

A realist in an ideological age.

For anyone interected in foreign policy, Stephen Walt's blog is a must-read.

Here's a particularly sound take on the recent Crotch Bomber controversy:

"In particular, I'm struck by the inability of most Americans to connect the continued risk of global terrorism with America's highly interventionist global policy. One can have a serious debate about whether that policy is the right one or not; my point is that we are kidding ourselves if we think we can behave this way and remain immune from any adverse consequences. As a society, we seem to believe that we can send thousands of troops to invade other countries, send Reapers and Predators to fire missiles at people we think might -- repeat, might -- be terrorists, and underwrite the oppressive policies of a host of "friendly" governments, yet never pay any significant price for it back here at home. We are a nation of swaggering sheep: eager to impose our will on others yet terrified that doing so might inconvenience us, let alone put U.S. civilians in real danger.

I'm not for one minute justifying what groups like al Qaeda do; my point is that we shouldn't be surprised by it. When a very powerful country spends a lot of time interfering in other’s affairs, and sometimes backing obvious injustices like the Gaza War, then it ought to expect some people to be very angry about it. And because there’s no such thing as a perfect defense, sometimes those angry people will hit back. They won’t do as much to us as we’ve done to them because they’re a lot weaker, but occasionally they will draw blood."
http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/01/04/a_nation_of_swaggering_sheep

Americans take a very insular view of their place world. The view from outside of the country sees the United States as overreacting yet again. Using the measures that the United States does to fight terrorism is like using a grenade to kill a fly. And it goes without saying, as Mr. Walt points out, that the root cause of terrorism is America's appalling record in the Middle East and unwavering support for Israel.
vader

(no subject)

Silly question. Well, not really. Simplistic perhaps.

How do y'all feel about minimum wage laws?
What do *you* think the minimum wage should be? (if anything)

Better yet, what do y'all feel about living wage laws?
Here in NYC it's $11.25/hour, to my knowledge. Which, given the cost of living here, seems reasonable to me. What do you think?