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Canadian “Human Rights” Tribunal 14 January 2008

Posted by Todd in Cultural Critique, Democratic Theory, Islam, Journalism, Judaism.
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The more I read the opinions of Ezra Levant, former editor of Canada’s conservative magazine Western Standard (à la Weekly Standard…get it?), the more I disagree with him and nearly all of his wrong-headed politics. However, I stand with him on the issue of freedom of speech, expression, and conscience as foundational to a liberal society and to a functioning cultural democracy. Even if I conclude that he had unethical motives for publishing the cartoons of Muhammed from the Danish magazine, his intention should have no bearing on whether or not he should be free to publish them. The more I see Canada’s ridiculous “hate speech laws” in action (not to mention England’s and Denmark’s and Holland’s), the more convinced than ever I am that this kind of  multiculturalism, although perhaps well-intentioned, when taken in the wrong direction can be a grave threat to liberal democratic values and, ironically enough, cultural diversity itself. Here’s Levant’s opening statement to Canada’s sham of a “human rights” commission in Alberta Canada from last week. Hear! Hear!

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Right Wing Propaganda and Poor Children 13 October 2007

Posted by Todd in Democracy, Inequality & Stratification, Journalism, News, Political Commentary.
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Hopefully, many of you already know that Pres. Bush vetoed the S-chip program which provides medical care to poor children through state mechanisms. The Democratic response was to deliver a plea to Pres. Bush through a 12 year old boy, Graeme Frost, and his sister, who had been severely injured in a car accident. The right-wing blogosphere got a hold of the story and began a smear campaign against the Frosts and their children, trying to discredit the Democrats. It turns out that none of the Republican claims about the Frosts is true, and yet the MSM continues to report the story as if there is doubt or the Frosts are tainted or the Democrats are bumbling idiots, even though it was the Republicans who got all the facts wrong and engaged in a smear campaign of a disabled 12 year old child.

It is amazing to me the utter lack of anything resembling ethics on the right side of the aisle over the past 20 years. The depth of Republican cynicism about democracy, truth-telling, debate, science, and let’s face it, human life is jaw-dropping. Even more distressing, however, is the utter lack of integrity in the MSM. Is journalism really dead? Can journalists not actually check the facts on the press releases coming out of party headquarters anymore? Has the function of the 4th Estate devolved into a mere delivery system for party and corporate PR?

Paul Krugman has an excellent analysis in his column today (hat tip to Salon.com’s Joan Walsh) of the whole Frost affair. Warning: read on an empty stomach.

American democracy in a state of total decay.

Reclaim Your Right to Criticize Religion 15 May 2007

Posted by Todd in Commentary, Democracy, Democratic Theory, Ethics, Islam, Journalism, Religion.
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When will we get past this notion that public critique of religion is somehow discrimination or an abridgment of rights?  A religion’s truth claims are legitimate targets of inquiry and even ridicule. A religion’s actions are legitimate targets of judgment and moral critique. Are we really saying that the right to practice whatever religion you want to means that you are protected from being offended by people who disagree with you?

If free speech means anything, it must mean the right to vet the cultural practices, including religious, of those around us. Tufts university’s recent ruling on a newspaper ad criticizing Islam reveals the utter depravity of the misguided notion that religions must be protected in their practice and beliefs from outside criticism.

John F. Kennedy on Secrecy and Security 8 September 2006

Posted by Todd in Democratic Theory, History, Journalism, Politics, War & Terrorism.
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Although he had his faults, like all men and women, he was a believer in democracy and freedom. His words stand in stark and alarming contrast to the cynics who run our country today. Thanks to whoever posted this speech to YouTube and to Mike the Mad Biologist for spreading the word.