Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Speak Easy?

I've always gotten a big kick out of free speech. Free speech is great, but maybe there should be a required class or training session that a person needs to take before being deemed "qualified" to exercise this "right". Some people may find this pretty offensive, and if you do, I recommend hitting Alt-F4 right now.

Moving right along.

Here are a few topics I would cover in the class:

  • "Rights" Issues

    People like to pay a lot of lip service to "human rights," but let's be honest. The entire concept of human rights is a [relatively modern] social construct, and if history is any bit of a lesson, contrary to regular human behavior. Your society may deem that you have a "right" to do or say something, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the society you live in can protect you from the actions of people who disagree with you. They might be able to punish those actions of reprisal, but that's a pretty shitty deal if it means you die for saying something.
    Rule of thumb: Moral high ground is nice, but you only live once.
    Rule of pinky: Anything that you have can be taken away. Anything.

  • Responsibility and/of Freedom

    Not everyone in the world has freedom of speech. With most "western" countries, it is a privilege given to us as a citizen, so most people totally take it for granted. As with most things that are "given" to us, no matter how awesome they are, people tend to treat free things like crap. When you have to work for something, you tend to value it more and treat it with a little more respect. I'm not going to talk about "gaining citizenship rights" because I wrote about that before. Anyway, when granted something, it is yours and it's important to be responsible with it, It is also important to understand that using it will have certain effects/consequences. "Bearing arms" is a right, but most [reasonable] people understand the responsibilities and possible results of having a gun, and a lot of effort is put forth (by society) to make sure that people understand that guns can be harmful. Why should speech be any different? Most people would agree that words can be more powerful than a 9mm.

  • Accountability of Freedom

    Here's the big one. Yeah, it's a "free country." Many of the things we do don't have any repercussions from the government, but that doesn't mean that your actions might piss off other entities, for example other governments or, urm, Muslims. The rights extended to you by your government are certainly not universal, and the ideas of freedom held by many of your countrymen certainly aren't universal.

    I think by now most of you have figured out that I'm talking about the Mohammed cartoons. The main reason I'm talking about this stuff is because of the supposed reason behind why the Danish newspaper printed the cartoons, as seen here:

    Rasmussen called it a matter of freedom of speech, echoing the reasoning of the newspaper at the center of the row. Jyllands-Posten had said it wanted to test the limits of free speech at a time it was under threat because of the influence of radical Islam.

    Good "test". Well, I hope you're satisfied with the results. I wonder what his hypothesis was prior to administering this test.. He should have called me, I could have told him what would happen. Here's a simple equation that I encourage anyone to use in similar situations:

    Test: I am thinking about doing/writing/saying [something that Muslims *might* take offense to].
    Result: Outrage, rioting, kidnapping, bombing, death.

    Pretty simple.

    In response to the cartoons, Iran has decided that it too wants to test the limits of free speech:

    Hamshahri invited foreign cartoonists to enter the competition and said it wanted to see how open the West was to caricatures of the Holocaust.

    "Does the West extend freedom of expression to the crimes committed by the United States and Israel, or an event such as the Holocaust? Or is its freedom only for insulting religious sanctities?" Hamshahri wrote, referring to the Prophet Mohammed cartoons, in a short article on its back page.

    Apparently this guy doesn't read too many American newspapers or magazines or browse internet sites, because he hasn't seen caricatures that people draw of the president, government officials, etc.. I can cruise around Washington DC with a shirt that says, "HE AIN'T MY PRESIDENT!!" or a picture of the President's head on top of Hitler's body and I'd probably get a few High-5s. I certainly wouldn't be thrown in jail.

    But let's go back to the whole "Accountability of Freedom of Speech" issue. I think it's lovely that Iran is looking to try out this new found liberty, but had they attended my mandatory Freedom of Speech Seminar, they might learn that when dealing with a country like, say, Israel, the rules are a lot different than in more liberal countries. I wonder how this is going to play out. I think a lot of these fanatics have taken for granted the fact that the USA, unlike other countries, is willing to hamstring itself to protect human rights, even if it means extending human rights to terrorists and other human-rights-ignorers to err on the side of "justice".

    So go ahead, Iran, have your contest and administer your own little "test", but don't pretend that it's something other than what it really is, i,e. anti-Semitism, and don't be surprised if you get some unfavorable "test results" of your own. Maybe you'll get to deal with Israel, which may prove a lot more painful than thumbing your nose at the USA.

    Either way, it would blow my mind if a war was started over a cartoons published in Denmark. Funny how things work. Like I've said before, I'll be here in Japan, where it's safe. =)

    I'll leave you with this picture, which I thought hit the nail right on the head.

    Click here for a gallery of images throughout histroy portraying Mohammed. I found this link on InstaPundit

    Anonymous Matthew said...

    AMEN!!! (Aameen??)

    (Could you credit the cartoon? Just a pet peeve of mine...)

    1:07 PM  
    Blogger brando said...

    I love you, Paul.

    1:08 PM  
    Blogger Paul said...

    Done -- I put a link at the bottom of the page to where I found that picture.

    1:36 PM  
    Anonymous cullen said...

    Nice post, Paul. Maybe I should've considered your seminar before exercising my whims in regard to Photoshop imposition. Did I consider the consequences? Maybe not. Now the damage is done and chances are you'll go on a maniacal rampage in hopes of tasting my blood. What have I done?!? Why didn't I temper my power with responsibility!??

    6:36 AM  
    Blogger brando said...

    I love free speech, and the ACLU.

    8:14 AM  
    Anonymous Anonymous said...

    The unknown bandito says, " Hey Kids! Wanna watch Paul hit the roof? Just tell him ( with your best slack-jawed drawl) Heeey! A word is just a word man." Then stand back while Paul makes ready the soap-box of doom!

    11:47 AM  
    Anonymous eric said...

    Your Freedom of Speech seminar might help people understand that words can be more powerful than a 9mm. I told my students recently that if they think words are just words they should try switching languages, just choose to be a native speaker of another language, you know, see what shoes fit them the best.

    None of them have gotten back to me yet.

    1:48 PM  
    Blogger Paul said...

    Oooooooooh I think I know who you are, and I think I know what you're referring to.... Could it be in Okinawa when certain members were attempting to get me to say a certain word????????????? I didn't remember you being there. All I remember is being really irritated at Dirty-D for a while after that.

    Yeah. I really like it when people sit there and not only tell me why "nigger" is "just a word," but encourage me to use it. Why would I want to say that word? Then they tell me to "lighten up" when, after 30 minutes of something resembling the following, I start getting pissed off:

    "Just say it."
    "It's just a word."
    "Quit being so niggardly."
    "stop it."
    "Niggardly's a word."
    "stop it."
    "C'mon, just say it."
    "Why not?"
    "Say it to Henderson."
    "Henderson's black, call him that word and tell me how he reacts."
    "Well, if it's just a word it wont matter huh."
    "That's different."
    "It just is."
    "C'mon man, just say it."
    "Why not?"
    "You are so niggardly, harharhar"
    etc etc etc

    ....for 30 minutes = Paul getting pissed.

    Sorry if I have to lighten up.

    Another funny thing about that whole exchange was the people who got the biggest kick out of using the aforementioned "word" were Uber-Christ-Crusaders... So naturally, in an attempt to make everyone "lighten up," I would exclaim "JESUS FUCKING CHRIST" as much as possible. You know, just wanna lighten things up a bit. what, it's just a word, right? durp..

    oh, and thanks mr anonymous. your little ploy worked. *steps off soapbox*

    1:49 PM  
    Anonymous Soren Kierkegaard said...

    People hardly ever make use of the freedom they have, for example, freedom of thoughtfulness; instead they demand freedom of speech as compensation.

    1:54 PM  
    Blogger Jinxy said...

    Have you seen this? Did you know she posed in Playboy?

    Chinese actress Bai Ling has accused bosses of the latest "Star Wars" installment of cutting her scenes from the movie after discovering she posed for men's magazine Playboy.

    The 34-year-old beauty poses with a light saber and very little clothing in the upcoming, racy spread, themed around her appearance in "Episode III: Revenge of the Sith."

    Now Ling claims her scene was cut from "Episode III" after the Playboy session, stating, "I see the human body as beautiful and not pornographic, but maybe the 'Star Wars' producers did not see what I did. I am in shock."

    Director George Lucas denies the allegations, hitting back, "She was cut out of the movie very early on. My daughter's in that same scene. My daughter was cut as well. My other daughter was in another scene and that was cut as well."

    2:36 AM  
    Anonymous Cory said...


    Was she a twilek? Holy crap, we gotta get our hands on those jedi scenes and the magazine. Can you imagine the fortune that copies of that would be worth at GenCon?

    Naked Jedi Asian/Twilek collection! Get 'em while they're hot! Only 500 gold pieces each!

    5:51 AM  
    Blogger brando said...

    I remember you used to have some silly roommates, that played Uno, that all of a sudden started calling you "Skip". You said that you didn't like it, and they kept it up. So then you picked out of em out and declared that his new nickname would be "FUCKFACE". I think that's really funny to just work into normal speech when talking to someone. "I have so much homework tonight, Fuckface. So tell me, Fuckface, what are they serving in the cafateria tonight?" Words are just words. One name is the same as any other.

    12:32 PM  

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