Saturday, September 29, 2012

Free Speech Means Free Speech, at least in America

Great article on Slate about Free speech vs. hate speech.  I agree that it is hypocritical of many European countries to outlaw hate speech about the Holocaust or Jews or communist atrocities, but allow the denigration of Islam.  Which is why I think America has the best model - Free Speech for all.  You can make fun of anyone here.  You can hate anyone here.  Now, depending upon whom you are hating or making fun of, you may be ridiculed yourself.  But at least you have that right.

Americans have fought long and hard for these freedoms.  Because we realized that stopping these freedoms can start small.  It may sound like a good idea to make it illegal to use hate speech about Islam.  But if you include Islam, don't you have to include other religions?  What about  Baha'is?  In many Islamic countries Baha'is are discriminated against.  How many Muslims would support a law making hate speech against Baha'is illegal?  And it we outlawed hate speech against religions, then what about hate speech against our leaders?  Surely that would come next?  One of my favorite rights of being an American, is that if you hate the president, you can come right out and say so.  You just can't threaten his life.  As soon as you start curtailing such a simple right as what someone is allowed to say or think, you start down the road of telling them what they are allowed to say or think.  So think about that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Top Stories September 24, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Prince Miteb: National Day instills spirit of hard work - A celebration of Saudi Arabia and King Abdul Aziz.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Internal opposition seeks Syria transition - The Free Syrian Army claims to control much of Syria, and wants to take Damascus.  The National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria met in Damascus to encourage a peaceful takeover, and are somewhat at odds with the rebels doing the actual fighting.  They worry about the influence of Turkey and the Gulf states.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israel working to avert collapse of ailing Palestinian economy - Israel is worried about the economy in the West Bank.  Hmm, I wonder why the economy could be so bad? [This is another article that requires registration.]

Turkish Daily News:  Deal for Cyprus not possible: Archbishop - The Greek Archbishop says that the Turks and Greeks on Cyprus want different things.  He says the Greeks want a unitary state, but the Turks want more power.  I don't see an end to this any time soon.  I've met Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and both of them told me how horrible the other side was.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What the Hell is going on in Bahrain?

And why isn't the American media covering it?

Juan Cole has an article on his site called America's Hypocrisy in Bahrain, written for TomDispatch.  It's very disturbing.  I had no idea that the situation in Bahrain had deteriorated so much.  That so many protests were still going on and people were being attacked and arrested and tortured for them.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Safer America: An 18-year-old and a bomb

There have been a number of these cases over the last few years.  Cases where the FBI foils a terror attack and saves America.  But a lot of these cases also seem a bit odd.  In this one, an 18-year-old kid tried to set off a car bomb in Chicago.  But he got the fake bomb FROM the FBI.  AFTER the FBI contacted him and helped stir him up.  Which begs the question: Would this kid have ever actually done anything WITHOUT FBI help?  Or would he be just another impotent wacko spouting off on the Internet?  Is the FBI actually helping stop terror attacks, or is it creating stoppable terror attacks to prove its worth?

Top Stories September 17, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Turkish defense ties explored - There is not much in this article, except for a meeting between Prince Salman and the Turkish president's senior adviser.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Pope sends farewell message of unity - The pope spent 3 days in Lebanon and held a mass for 350,000 people.

Haaretz (Israel):  The intricate web of relationships that is Iran's leadership - This is another one that requires registration.

Turkish Daily News:  Armenia hosts drill as tension continues - They are in the middle of 5 days of war games.  Armenia and Azerbaijan are having problems because an Azerbaijani soldier who killed an Armenian was extradited then pardoned.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Anti-Muslim Movie Part 2

By now you've probably heard that everything we knew about the maker of the movie is wrong.  He's not an Israeli Jew, but now claims to be a Coptic Egyptian.  He has been in jail for fraud.  And the actors in the movie had no idea what was going on.  They filmed a movie set a few thousand years ago, and this guy dubbed over their voices to make references to Muhammad.

This brings me to a great little article on Slate called: Don't let Internet videos drive you to violence.  No matter who you are, somewhere out there is a person or group who just doesn't like you.  And they may post videos just to upset you.  Hoping that you'll go crazy and even turn to violence.  Don't let them get away with it.  It's what they want.  Don't let them win.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Anti-Muslim Movie

I want to start by condemning the attacks in Libya, that resulted in US deaths.  There has also been violence in Cairo

What set off these attacks is a movie called "Innocence of Muslims."  The filmmaker is Israeli-American and says he made the film because "Islam is a cancer" (quoted from article).  The film was recently subtitled in Arabic, and started being mentioned on Egyptian television.

I don't condone the violence and deaths, but I can understand why people are so upset.  This is another one of those situations that I've blogged about before: Yes, in America we have Freedom of Speech.  But just because you CAN say something does not mean that you SHOULD say something.

If a Muslim made a movie about Jesus, and depicted him as a womanizer and pedophile, there would be boycotts and mass demonstrations, and probably even some violence in America. [I'm saying this to make a point, because most Americans don't realize Jesus is a Muslim prophet.]  The relationship between America and the Middle East is so tenuous at times, and historically rather rocky, so it's very easy to offend people.  My current concern is backlash over the backlash, as some Americans may become more Islamophobic and think that all Muslims are ultra-religious and violent.  Let's hope the situation cools off quickly.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Top Stories September 10, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Time to make 'real investment' in health - An international conference on non-communicable diseases started on Sunday.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Car bomb kills 27, wounds 64 in Aleppo - The bloodshed in Syria continues.  Total deaths so far are estimated at over 27,000.

Haaretz (Israel):  Israel to compensate Palestinian family whose sons were killed in Gaza war - The sons were killed during a truce in Operation Cast Lead.

Turkish Daily News:  PM calls on judiciary to nix BDP immunity - This is a continuation of the BDP meeting (intentionally or not) with the outlawed PKK.  The BDP currently has parliamentary immunity, which Erdogan wants removed.  The BDP has threatened to leave parliament if that happens.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Top Stories September 4, 2012

ArabNews (Saudi Arabia):  Tough warning to Assad over chemical arms - The US and Europe are saying they will take action if Assad uses chemical or nerve agents.

Lebanon Daily Star:  Nasrallah: Cabinet's fall would rock stability - Nasrallah is the leader of Hezbollah.  He says Lebanon must keep the Cabinet, to avoid worse problems.  And that Hezbollah can defend Lebanon against Israel.

Haaretz (Israel):  Former CIA chief tells Haaretz: Decision on Iran strike can wait - Iran won't have nuclear capability until 2013 or 2014.  This article require login.

Turkish Daily News:  Terrorism abusing freedom: Top judge - The head of the Supreme Court of Appeals said that terrorists are taking advantage of freedoms.  He also condemned the media for influencing judicial cases.

Note: Monday was a holiday in America.