Tuesday, February 28, 2006

A Certain Internet Search Company again

We read on Officialwire about how a certain internet search company deleted a video it was hosting on one of its services because the video promoted holocaust denial. But that's not the end of it. Apparently Officialwire itself has now been censored too. As in totalitarian countries, you are not even allowed to REPORT censorship! That is why I am not using the name of the search company here.

The editor of Officialwire at least got the search company to explain why they no longer index Officialwire. They wrote: "We do not allow articles and sources expressly promoting hate speech viewpoints"

The Officialwire editor comments: "Hate speech? I had to read it a couple times before it sunk in... I mean, I'm a Jew, for Christ's sake! I am fairly confident that I have never written what might be considered "Hate Speech". Hate Speech?"

He goes on: "OfficialWire's dedication to Free Speech requires me to permit even those who's opinion I may disagree with the opportunity to express themselves.... The truth doesn't need to threaten or bully. The truth does not need to jail or denounce.

There is no doubt that some of the stuff on Officialwire is well out of the mainstream and there is heaps on the site that I personally would disagree with but it is precisely such content that needs to be defended on free speech grounds.

Fortunately, however, this particular case of censorship is not government censorship and the company is perfectly within its rights to choose what it allows and what it does not. But readers here might be wise to consider using more comprehensive search engines -- such as MSN Search for their everyday searches.

Leftist Enemies of Free Speech again

How often do people have to tell these Leftists that it precisely unpopular speech that must be defended?

"The Hyatt hotel chain has come under fire for agreeing to host a conference this weekend sponsored by a white supremacist group. The conference in the Washington suburb of Herndon is sponsored by the Oakton, Va.-based New Century Foundation, whose leader says the white race is losing its identity in the United States because of multiculturalism and immigration. Students at George Mason University organized a phone campaign to urge the Hyatt to shut its doors to the conference, which it has hosted in previous years. "We're not taking away their freedom of speech. We're letting people know that Hyatt is supporting these people," student activist Tariq Khan said".


And denial of doing precisely what they ARE doing is SO Leftist! There is no Freudian defence mechanism that Leftists do not use. Though "projection" (seeing their own faults in others) is their favourite.

The Red Ken Affair in London

A free speech issue that is getting heaps of attention on the blogs at the moment is the suspension from office of "Red Ken" -- Kenneth Livingstone, the Lord Mayor of London. Excerpt:

"London's mayor has been suspended from office on full pay for four weeks for comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard. The Adjudication Panel for England ruled Ken Livingstone had brought his office into disrepute when he acted in an "unnecessarily insensitive" manner. The ban is due to begin on 1 March and the mayor's deputy Nicky Gavron will stand in for Mr Livingstone. The mayor said: "This decision strikes at the heart of democracy."


Given my loathing for antisemitism, I was at first inclined to say that Red Ken got what he deserved but that is a gut reaction. Red Ken is undoubtedly antisemitic, like the far-Leftist he is, but he WAS democratically elected. Surely it is only the London voters who should be able to remove him.

And even if he had been merely fined (for instance), should he be punished for exercising his right to free speech? My own feeling is that what he did was personal abuse and defamation rather than an exercise of free speech but I am going to leave it to readers to discuss it in the Comments section without my saying anything more. I am going to be a bit wishy-washy on this one.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Lipstadt on Irving and Holocaust Denial

Deborah Lipstadt was prosecuted by David Irving and had a famous legal win against him. So what was her reaction to his imprisonment for holocaust denial? Did she cheer? No. She has just published her reaction and it is much the same as mine. A few excerpts:

"The violence accompanying the publication of the Danish cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad have caused many Europeans to wonder whether those doing the protesting (and particularly those calling for the death of the cartoonists) understand the nature of democracy and free speech. Like many, I winced when other European papers republished them. But they had every right to do so. To jail someone for denying the Holocaust, while supporting the right of the cartoonists to lampoon other religions, smacks of a double standard.... would it not be more effective if they shunned and marginalized those who glorify Hitler or deny his wrongdoings, rather than banned them? I countered Irving's hate speech-for that is what it is-with honesty. In court we proved that every one of his claims was bunk.... Instead of looking to the law, let those with a fidelity to historical accuracy fight these liars and haters using facts and genuine research as their weapons."


Flemming Rose Explains Why he Published the Cartoons

Flemming Rose was the Danish editor who first published the now famous Mohammed cartoons. I thought readers might be interested in a quick look at the reasons he is giving for doing so:

"I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out. The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter. At the end of September, a Danish stand-up comedian said in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he had no problem urinating on the Bible in front of a camera, but he dared not do the same thing with the Koran. This was the culmination of a series of disturbing instances of self-censorship".


So we are in the rather strange position where it is not governments limiting what we can do, write, draw or say but rather a hate-filled minority. Thank goodness someone had the guts to stand up to the thugs.

Coercion and Abortion

I am going to dip my toe into some very hot water here so please don't shoot me over this post. For a start, let me say that the very idea of abortion horrifies me. The deliberate murder of the totally innocent and defenceless is to me just about the greatest of crimes and I cannot for a moment comprehend the mentality of the doctors who do it. But I do NOT believe that we should TREAT it as a crime. We tried that once and it did not work. It just killed a lot of women as well as babies. What I think is that we should take a positive approach. We should do everything possible to encourage the mothers to have their babies -- including paying them if that is what it takes. And there are a few oddballs around who agree with me -- people like President George W. Bush, His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney and Australian Prime Minister John Howard. Australia now pays ALL mothers to have babies. And the Australian birthrate has shot up, funnily enough.

Anyway, that's just a preamble. It is this news item that is bothering me:

"Abortion pill RU486 will not be freely available to Australian women, despite this month's emotional Federal Parliament debate. Major pharmaceutical companies have informally advised their peak industry group, Medicines Australia, they have no intention of importing the drug. They have decided the move would be too costly and controversial.... Well-placed sources said the decision not to import RU486 was based on two factors. The first is that the market is limited and the elaborate approval process would not make commercial sense. But the second reason is more important. Pharmaceutical companies understand that their industry is not particularly well regarded by the community and they believe it is not worth stirring up a high-profile campaign against them by the pro-life movement".


So although this issue has got nothing to do with free speech, the same principles as those affecting the Mohammed cartoons apply. People are refusing to do what they have a perfect legal right to do basically because they have been terrorized over it. As noted here, the main reason why hardly any of the U.S. print media reproduced the Mohammed cartoons was out of fear of Muslim attacks on them.

It is fairly unlikely that attacks on the drug companies would take physical form but it cannot be ruled out. Anti-abortionists have killed American abortion practitioners in the past. So, like the good libertarian I am, I deplore ALL attempts at coercion and am sad that we live in an era when it seems that small minorities can impose their will on the majority by terrorism.


Well, as I expected, that post brought down a hail of fire on my head from all sides. The topic is really far too big for a short post, basically. I hope to reply to all the emails I got but if I do not at least be assured that I have read them all.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ireland Sets the Example

Having plenty of Irish blood in me, I am delighted to report this story. Few conflicts could be more bitter than the Protestant/Catholic hostilities that have plagued Ireland. Yet the government of the Catholic South recently authorized a parade of Northern Protestants right through the heart of Dublin! IRA fanatics of course attacked the police who were protecting the parade and thus forced it to be cancelled. But I liked the response of the Irish Republic's Taoiseach:

"The mayhem forced Protestant hardliners from the Love Ulster campaign to abandon their plan to parade through Dublin, which the Irish government had supported in a gesture of reconciliation. It would have been the first parade in Dublin by pro-British Protestants since Ireland's partition into a mostly Protestant north and mostly Catholic south in 1921. Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said Protestant "unionists", who favour Northern Ireland's union with Britain, should have enjoyed freedom to demonstrate their views. "There is absolutely no excuse for the disgraceful scenes in Dublin today," Ahern said. "It is the essence of Irish democracy and republicanism that people are allowed to express their views freely and in a peaceful manner.""


The Irish government could teach the Muslims a lot.

Illegal to Insult Religious Beliefs?

Looks like half of America's Left would be locked up if the U.S. had the same laws as Germany:

"A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word "Koran" on toilet paper and offering it to mosques. The 61-year-old man, identified only as Manfred van H., was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, a district court in the western German town of Luedinghausen ruled..... The maximum sentence for insulting religious beliefs under the German criminal code is three years in prison".


Wait! Silly me! I forget that you can insult Christianity all you like. It is only OTHER religions that you are not allowed to insult. So America's Left would be OK under German law after all.

Vicious Croat politically correct?

Although I am an unwavering and lifelong supporter of the State of Israel (I think modern Israel is one of the great adventures of the human spirit), I have often set out my view (e.g. here) that freedom of speech has to include freedom to deny the holocaust. I would be a pretty odd libertarian if I did not have that view. But it irks me if only SOME holocaust denials are penalized and condemned. If you are going to condemn holocaust denial, it surely should be ALL holocaust denial that you condemn. But it seems that some denials are more correct than others.

Feisty Scottish blogger, Neil Craig has had a letter published in The Scotsman which points that out:

"David Irving is sentenced to three years in jail for denying the Holocaust. The late ruler of Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, also denied the Holocaust, but this did not prevent us helping him to get his own country and ethnically cleansing 560,000 Serbs, 240,000 of whom are still "missing". Nor did it prevent him being invited to the United Kingdom's celebration of the defeat of Nazism in Europe. Just as there are some Holocausts which may not be denied and some which may, there are clearly acceptable and unacceptable Nazis".

Neil Craig takes a line broadly opposite to the Clinton one -- he favours Serbia and deplores Croatia. There is no doubt that the Croats of WWII were appalling. They even sickened the Nazis. Gouging people's eyes out was their specialty. But I think I am like most Westerners in saying "A pox on both their houses". I think they deserve one-another. But that does not mean that we should condone their misdeeds.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wrong approach

Banning this and banning that is no solution to anything. Free speech is the solution. We read:

"In Europe's latest entanglement over free speech, German officials and Jewish leaders are calling for a ban on a Turkish action film that demonizes Americans and Jews. On Wednesday, Cinemaxx, Germany's largest theater chain, was the first movie house to respond, announcing that it would strike the film from its program immediately."


Banning things just gives them an air of being probably correct. The wise approach would be to allow the film concerned to be shown and also to allow films criticizing Islam to be shown. That would provide a balance. And if Muslims threaten or carry out violence against any such films, they should be locked up by the normal processes of the criminal law.

In South Africa, an accusation is enough

South Africa has a lot of Muslims of Indian origin and a lot of them are in business. In this story we read that a black African accused his Muslim employers of calling him a "Kaffir" (the South African equivalent of the N word). Both the accused denied it and there was apparently no corroboratory evidence in support of the accusation. But a court still awarded the complainant damages of 3,000 Rand.

Friday, February 24, 2006

"Yahoo" Panders to Muslims

We have all heard of a certain search engine company that panders to the Communist Chinese while defying the Bush administration (does that tell you anything about their politics?) so I thought I might remind readers that they are not the only "evil" search engine company around. "Yahoo" does its share of political pandering too. There is a story here noting that the words "allah" "binladen" "osama" and "raghead" (among others) were not allowed as part of Yahoo usernames -- until that got adverse publicity.

And appeasement is working its usual magic. The Chinese now want even more "co-operation"

I myself use MSN Search. In my experience they are the ones who find most hits anyway.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Latest French Grovel

Now we have discriminatory soup:

"French authorities have begun closing down soup kitchens run by anti-immigrant groups that serve pork because the practice is offensive to Muslims, who cannot eat pork. In Strasbourg and Nice, food handouts have been banned because they could lead to "public disorder." "Schemes with racial subtexts must be denounced," Mayor Fabienne Keller said.... The scene has been repeated all over France in recent weeks after complaints that right-wing groups have been serving "racist" food. The groups giving out the soup say it is nothing more than traditional French cuisine. They say that hundreds of homeless people will go hungry".


Why French people cannot give away what they want to whomever they want seems incomprehensible to me but I am not a babyish Muslim who is perpetually offended.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Non-Grovelling University!

Good news for a change: The "Badger Herald", described as the "online version of the University of Wisconsin-Madison newspaper with news, sports, opinions, comics, and classifieds", has published one of the Mohammed cartoons. And this time there seems to have been no back down or apology. The Chancellor's statement is properly respectful of all concerned but it included this:

"But any review of these disputes demonstrates a common finding: that the public controversies which ensued represent, together, a perfect embodiment of unrestricted speech in a free society, in which all views on a given subject were given equal weight and attention, aired so that every individual could form his or her own opinions. Then, as now, it should never be routine to recall that this university has for more than 100 years championed the cause of free and open debate, the "fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found," and that an increasingly complex world requires this standard more than ever.

I thought American universities only paid lip-service to such ideals these days. I am delighted to find that odd corners of integrity do survive on America's campuses. It would have been much better for them to have printed ALL of the cartoons but these days we have to be thankful for small mercies.

Another Racist Whiner

We read:

"A recent incident in the Bethlehem Area School District illustrates how far we are from achieving Dr. King's dream about racial equality. On Jan. 9, BASD directors voted 5-3 to fill a vacancy on the school board with William Heske. Mr. Heske, a former director who lost a bid for re-election, was selected over several Hispanic applicants who were bidding for the job. The selection of Heske has roiled the Hispanic community in the Lehigh Valley. I always suspected that Hispanics encounter a great deal of prejudice in the Lehigh Valley, and this incident only confirms my worst fears".


This guy did not even THINK about whether or not the best candidate for the job was selected. Only the candidate's race mattered. It seems that a very appropriate, qualified and experienced person was chosen but that did not matter. A kneejerk accusation of racism was all that was offered by way of comment. The comment needs to be treated as the ignorance and malevolence it is.


A reader advises:

"The Hispanic lady who failed to win the BASD board seat has stated in the past that Puerto Rican terrorists are national heroes. A local newspaper columnist, Paul Carpenter stated time, places, and such. The easy scream is racism but the truth is unqualified".

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Some Courage Left in Canada

I have just put online here an interesting email from Canada's "Western Standard" newspaper. Apparently they published the Mohammed cartoons and are under attack over it. They must be the first Canadian newspaper to have the courage of their convictions.

Update: Good comment from a reader below

"Congratulations to Western Standard on their courage. Too bad most of the media in Europe and even in the United States have allowed themselves to be so intimidated by Islam. Religious freedom means to practice your religion as you see fit, not to force it upon the rest of the world through intimidation and death threats. One has to ask how much of the world which is now under Islamic control would be if not for the threat of violence and death. And the assertion that only radical fundamentalists hold this view does not set well with me when I see hundreds of thousands of Muslims around the world violently demonstrating. Are we to believe that they are all mindless sheep being led by a radical few?

In regards to the Palestinians, to whom we give millions every year in financial support, I wiil never forget the images of Palestinian men, women, and children dancing and singing in the streets after 9/11".

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Latest from Denmark

I have just put up here an English translation of the latest article -- "Rejsende i islam" -- from Denmark on the cartoons issue. The article is from the now "infamous" Jyllands Posten itself. It gives a fairly detailed account of how the uproar was provoked by Denmark's Imams -- with enthusiastic help from peak Muslim bodies in Arab countries.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Muslim Cartoon Rioters = German Police Chief?

German police say they will use sweeping powers to arrest England fans doing Basil Fawlty-style Hitler impressions or giving Nazi salutes at the World Cup soccer match coming up in Nuremburg. Offenders can be held for 2 weeks without trial and may be jailed for up to 3 years.

An obviously very confused police chief Gerhard Hauptmann, said recently:

"We will come down hard on people who use insulting behaviour or make trouble. We are very sensitive about our history. England football fans should be aware that the Nazi salute and provocative behaviour like goose-stepping in public will be punished. We will offer the warmest welcome to true football fans. But anyone glorifying extremism here risks arrest. We are prepared to use our police powers to hold fans for up to two weeks without charge if we feel they are a threat to public safety and order. This used to be the city of the Nazi rallies but is now famous as the city of human rights. We do not live in the past."

The German conception of "human rights" has obviously changed little since Hitler. The right to make political jokes is clearly NOT included. The Muslims protesting against the Mohammed cartoons would understand and agree with Herr Hauptmann.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Easter Buns Under Fire Again

This time Jehovah's Witnesses have been wheeled out to justify the ban. Makes a change off Wiccans and the ever-reliable Muslims, I suppose.

"The UK's mania for political correctness has struck again where a school has banned hot cross buns, a traditional sweet pastry associated with Good Friday. A representative of Oaks Primary School in Ipswich, said the buns, which include two strips of decorative icing intersecting in the middle, might offend Jehovah's Witnesses who attend the school."



When I said above that JWs had been "wheeled out" to justify the ban, I was of course implying that the ban was not their idea. The following email is therefore of interest:

"I am a JW and just wanted to add my 2 cents. The school didn't say that JWs were offended. It said they might be. It didn't say any JWs complained. It said they might. This is no different then the Florida Seminoles controversy. The problem wasn't that the Seminoles were being oppressed. It was that the football association was telling them they were being oppressed and that it was being fixed for them.

When I attended school I politely bowed out of any activities that I felt I shouldn't be involved in. I respected others' beliefs as I expected them to respect mine. All JW children are taught the same thing, and if they are not, it is the parents' fault, not the religion's.

If my children's school made this decision I would personally protest. I don't need someone to stick up for my children's or my beliefs. I will let you know when I am offended, and to be honest, telling me when to be offended is about the only thing offensive about this whole situation.

To the people that said bad things about the JW religion: I just think that before you go making sweeping accusations against an entire religion because of one hare-brained decision (by a school, not the religion) it might be good to keep an open mind."

Ebonics Incorrect?

As a poor ignorant Australian, there is a lot I don't know about the USA but I gather that American blacks use the word "Ho" rather freely. It is the "Ebonics" version of the old English word "Whore" of course but is often used for just about any young woman as far as I can gather.

It seems however to be another of those words that whites use at their peril. A college fraternity (the Theta Delta Chi fraternity, at the College of William and Mary) hosted a party and themed it as an "EskiHO's" party. Not everyone was offended but a few apparently were. If you want to read a really sickening grovel from the fraternity head about this awful misdeed, click here

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More Islamic Sex Doll Trouble

Apparently you are supposed to wait for your 72 virgins until the afterlife. No shortcuts! From the United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf (Whoops! Arabian Gulf) we read:

"A shop selling sports goods was found plying equipment with a twist in recreational possibilities. A raid by officials from Ras Al Khaimah Economic Department found that the shop was renting sex dolls to its clients, mainly teenagers. Sources from the department said the shop was immediately shut down."


More Hurt Muslim Feelings

You've heard of the Islamic Barbie Doll. Well there's another doll in trouble: A blow-up doll from a sex-toys firm called Anne Summers. Apparently they are putting out a blow-up doll for women. An interesting idea. But the called their new doll "Mustafa Shag". I guess they thought "Mustafa" sounded sexy. BUT:

"Unfortunately, Mustafa was one of the names given to the Prophet Mohamed. Bestowing it upon, in the words of its catalogue, "an inflatable escort for your hen-night adventures" is considered highly offensive. The Manchester Central Mosque has already written to the firm, calling on it to withdraw the product, right. "You have no idea how much hurt, anguish, and disgust this obnoxious phrase ["Mustafa Shag"] has caused to Muslim men, women and children," reads their letter".


No doubt the firm will bow down before Islamic correctness.


A reader has suggested "Clinton Shag" as a better name for the said doll.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Scantily Clad Black People Incorrect

We read:

"The public relations manager for the Golden State Warriors was fired Wednesday for inadvertently sending out a racially insensitive e-mail titled "Ghetto Prom" to the team's entire media distribution list. Eric Govan, the No. 3 person on the Warriors' media relations staff, sent the e-mail featuring 17 photos, many depicting scantily clad black people in formal attire and commentary on the outfits


It seems that the email was intended as a humorous one but no prizes for guessing that we are not going to see what it actually said. But: Scantily clad white filmstars are all over the media -- and some of them sure wear strange attire -- but that is OK. So what is wrong with blacks? Are we to assume that they are too ugly to be seen much of? If so, who is it who is being "insensitive"? Or are we not allowed to mention the word "ghetto" these days? I guess not.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Virginian Troubles about their State Song

Virginia has been without a State song since 1997 -- when "Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny" was tossed out as too racist. They have reviewed around 350 songs since and NOT ONE has so far been found which passes muster. If that's not carrying "sensitivity" to the point of being struck dumb altogether I don't know what would be. There is however now one proposal up and running. We read:

"Sen. Charles J. Colgan, D-Prince William, wants to make "Shenandoah" the state song, even though it doesn't mention "Virginia" by name. "You mention 'Shenandoah' and people think of Virginia," Colgan said.


It's a while since I have listened to Shenandoah but isn't it something about Indians? And if you are not allowed to name sporting teams after Indians, what hope has a State got of "appropriating" something about Indians to itself? I'm predicting that the the search for a politically correct song for Virginia has still got a long way to go.

Attractive Women Definitely Incorrect

We read:

"The yearly Electronic Entertainment Expo show is known for cutting edge game announcements and outlandish costumes, but in recent years companies have been using scantily clad models to lure attendees to their booths. Now the Entertainment Software Association, the organization that runs the event, says that these "booth-babes" will be banned. Companies will be given on warning and then face an immediate $5,000 fine for further violations.


We can admire beautiful paintings and scenery. Why not beautiful women? I suspect that it is mostly jealousy behind this. I don't think there is any risk of any feminists being put out of work by it.


The blogger at Dicklist has drawn my attention to this. It seems that the regulations haven't changed this year. Some people just read the regulations for the first time and overreacted.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A small victory for free speech in Britain

The prosecution of two British National Party men for hate speech has failed. The jury acquitted them on some charges and failed to agree on others. It seems that you may now say critical things about Islam in private conversations in Britain. It's not much and even that limited freedom is still under attack: The British government says it is going to try the men again on the charges that the jury could not agree about. There is an extended comment on the case and the verdict at Majority Rights.