Tag Archives | free speech

The Abuse of Satire: Garry Trudeau on Charlie Hebdo and Free-Speech Fanaticism

via Gary Trudeau's Biography

via Gary Trudeau’s Biography

Garry Trudeau (author and illustrator of the long-standing comic, Doonesbury) was recently honored with the George Polk Career Award at Long Island University, and he used the opportunity to talk about Charlie Hebdo, free-speech fanaticism, and our growing culture of “punching down.” Trudeau is no stranger to controversy – his strip has been censored numerous times throughout its many decades – so it’s interesting to hear his take on these issues:

The Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against “self-censorship,” one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority—her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful.

Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful.

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Days After Free Speech Rally, France Arrests 54 People for Offensive Speech

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Lauren McCauley writes at Common Dreams:

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre last week and just days since the historic Paris unity rally when world leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder and declared their support for freedom of speech, French authorities have arrested 54 people on charges of “glorifying” or “defending” terrorism.

The French Justice Ministry said that of those arrested, four are minors and several had already been convicted under special measures for immediate sentencing, AP reports. Individuals charged with “inciting terrorism” face a possible 5-year prison term, or up to 7 years for inciting terrorism online. None of those arrested have been linked to the attacks.

Controversial comic Dieudonné was one of those taken into custody Wednesday morning for a Facebook post in which he declared: “Tonight, as far as I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”—merging the names of the satire magazine and Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who killed four hostages at a kosher market on Friday.

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Rest in peace @sweepyface

EVIL

Who is trolling who?

Dehumanisation is often the starting point of cruelty. Nazis didn’t see Jews as human, that’s how they could throw them into ovens. Slavery in America worked along similar lines, people were treated as cattle because they were labelled “niggers,” a word used to denote someone who was not quite “one of us,” not quite a person. Religions do this kind of thing a lot, in Islam it’s “kuffar”, in Judaism it’s “goyim,” in Christianity it is “heathen.”

In England at the moment the word “troll” is being used by Her Majesty’s Government to do the same. Originally “trolling” referred to a fishing technique where you slowly drag a lure or baited hook from a moving boat. In the old world of forums people would be called out for trying to “troll” for a response to their posts. Now it has become detached from its original meaning and conflated with the trolls of Tolkienesque fantasy.… Read the rest

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Egyptian Court Sentences Al-Jazeera Journalists To Seven Years

Al JazeeraTwo journalists are currently facing seven years imprisonment after an Egyptian court found them guilty of spreading false news and aiding terrorists. Don’t get up on your high horse yet, fellow Americans: For a country that has historically prided itself on the freedom of its press, we’re doing a lot to repress our own journalists.

Two Al-Jazeera journalists detained in the case known as the “Marriott Cell” have been sentenced to seven years in maximum security prison. A third journalist has been sentenced to 10 years.

The two defendants, Australian Journalist Peter Greste and Canadian-Egyptian Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, sentenced to seven years in prison were detained on December 29 at the Marriott in Cairo and had been accused of defaming Egypt and spreading false news that harms the nation’s interests.

The third journalist, Baher Mohamed, was detained a day later and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison by the criminal court.

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Peoria Mayor Uses Police Department To Raid House Over Parody Twitter Account

341px-Twitter_logo.svgAaron Cynic writes at Chicagoist:

Last week, Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis finally became fed up with a suspended parody Twitter account and enacted swift justice against his would-be social media detractors. Ardis filed a criminal complaint regarding the nefarious internet ne’er-do-well behind @Peoriamayor, who tweeted some 50 times to followers about the mayor’s unverified and supposed drug use and association with prostitutes.

Twitter suspended the account in March, which was marked as a parody a week before it ended, but Ardis understood a social media slight was comparable to lawless anarchy. Realizing a relatively unknown Twitter feed might destroy his reputation as an important civic leader, Ardis made sure the Peoria Police took care of the Internet miscreants. Peoria police executed a search warrant and raided a home in connection with the account, detained several people for questioning and seized computers and smart phones.

“They brought me in like I was a criminal,” Michelle Pratt told the Peoria Journal Star.

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How Secretive Global Trade Talk Will Destroy the Internet

Pic: Gavin Schaefer (CC)

Pic: Gavin Schaefer (CC)

Patrick Smith of the Fiscal Times lays out how exactly the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership will effectively neuter the Internet as a bastion of free expression.

Via Fiscal Times

Wikileaks got a hold of this document after the 19th round of talks held in Brunei last August. What we have is what will be on the table in Salt Lake this week.

The U.S. and Japan will propose that a product can be patented even if it is just a clever twist on other products and “does not result in improved efficacy.” Everyone else at the table opposes that proposal (Article QQ.E.1). Australia wants marketing approval of agricultural chemicals in one country to count in other countries; the Chileans and Mexicans are tough talkers on this point (Article QQ.E.XXX).

The big stuff on the IP side concerns the internet and digital technology. And it does not come out well by the look of the draft.

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Kleargear.com Bills Woman $3500 For Writing a Negative Review

imagesAfter ordering several items from kleargear.com that never showed up, the Palmers did what most of us would do: They tried to contact the company for more information. When that failed to produce any results, they took to the internet and write a review of their experience at ripoffreport.com. What happened next may inspire us all to read the fine print buried in terms of sale agreements a little more closely.

Via KUTV:

That was the end of it, Jen thought, until three years later when Jen’s husband got an email from Kleargear.com demanding the post be removed or they would be fined. Kleargear.com says Jen violated a non-disparagement clause. It turns out that, hidden within the terms of sale on Kleargear.com there is a clause that reads:

“In an effort to ensure fair and honest public feedback, and to prevent the publishing of libelous content in any form, your acceptance of this sales contract prohibits you from taking any action that negatively impacts kleargear.com, its reputation, products, services, management or employees.”

The clause goes on to say if a consumer violates the contract they will have 72 hours to remove your post or face a $3500 fine.

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Messiah or Martin? Baby Naming Conundrum a Question of Constitutional Rights

I’m generally against the idea of a government authority telling parents what they can and cannot name their children, although only a fool would fail to realize the damage that saddling a child with an offensive or unconventional name can cause in his or her life. What do you do when you have a parent who wants to name their child “Adolph Hitler“, “Mafia No Fear“, or in this case, “Messiah”? When questions about free speech and religion become involved, things can get complicated.

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An unusual name isn’t always an impediment.

Via NY Times:

Last week, when a Tennessee judge forcibly changed an infant’s name from Messiah to Martin, it was hard to decide which was more noteworthy, the parents’ grandiosity in naming their child for the one they consider their Savior or the judge’s religious zealotry in prohibiting the name.

“The word ‘Messiah’ is a title, and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ,” said Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew.

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What’s So Great About Free Speech Anyway?

Odysseus and the SirensImagine the world’s various nations are like big boats floating along the ocean. The ship’s captains demand total silence on deck, they concentrate on where they’re going and its everyone else’s job to support them by agreeing the current course is the only realistic choice.

Then one of the boat’s captains invents a mad idea called “free speech” where people are allowed to criticise his choices. All the other captains are horrified, from their point of view this was a dangerous choice, it could result in mutiny.

Oddly, over time, a number of other ships try this “free speech” idea out. Why would any of them even entertain such an idea?

In short, it’s because it took only a small period for boats with “free speech” to gain massive advantages over the others. They began to spot their mistakes and correct them. This led to a massive upsurge in scientific development enabling them to build things like factories where they produced guns, tanks, bombs and so forth.… Read the rest

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