Tag Archives | Opinion

A Self-Styled Abolitionist’s Orwellian Assault on Sex Workers

r2hox (CC BY 2.0)

r2hox (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Self-styled abolitionist Ryan Dalton’s new tech startup, Rescue Forensics, wants to change the way the police fight human trafficking sex work by dredging up that old spectre The Satanic Panic under a new guise: Human Trafficking Hysteria.

The reality is that Rescue Forensics preys on sex workers — by selling their online activity to Law Enforcement Agencies.

A Vice’s Melissa Gira Grant reports:

Big data” and “sex trafficking.” That it took so long for someone to combine these buzz terms into one money-making venture is just one of several mysteries surrounding Rescue Forensics, a new startup.

The “big” in the Memphis-based company? Rescue Forensics claims it “archives massive quantities of data from classified advertisement sites specializing in commercial sex ads.” It gathers a lot of text, and even more nude and semi-nude photos. Then it turns all that over to the cops.

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The Fine Line Between Awareness and Fanaticism

Humphrey King (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Humphrey King (CC BY-SA 2.0)

11:32am – I checked the clock on my microwave twice before sitting down in the desk chair with my morning coffee today. It was still steaming so as I began blowing a gentle stream of cool air into the cup, I hopped on YouTube realizing I had some time to kill before beginning my day.

A good headline should be attention grabbing. It should pop out at you amidst a sea of other unrelated clutter. More often than not, if it doesn’t stand out the first time my eyes glaze over it, I won’t even know I missed it, much less give it a second chance. So I begin to skim — typical Vine compilations, foreign music videos, and news segments of world events fill up most of my screen. Then, something along the lines of, ‘How the CIA manufactured Isis.’ Posted by TheAlexJonesNetwork. ‘Oh geez,’ I think to myself, almost rolling my eyes.… Read the rest

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Can a documentary move a social issue agenda forward?

As a member of the film distribution community, most notably relating to documentaries, I have watched more than my fair share of non-fiction films, and studied over years the release patterning of even more. One thing I have learned is that there are no shortage of topics to choose from when it comes to a filmmaker selecting a theme to focus on. From a tour that guides you through Hermitage Masterpieces to a biography of Aleister Crowley (In Search of the Great Beast), films are created and released on a broad spectrum of non-fiction subjects. That was the case in 1984 when I first entered the industry, and that is the case now… 31 years later.

One area that I have seen great expansion is that of films addressing a social or political issue with the agenda of raising awareness or causing viewer perspectives to sway in one direction or another.… Read the rest

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Blasphemy Laws: A Crime Against Humanity

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Yet when it comes to disparaging the Prophet Mohammed, two additional certainties become readily apparent: first, that a wide swath of the Islamic world is immediately going to erupt into spasms of chaotic and senseless violence, and second, that their leaders will redouble their perennial efforts to have the United Nations nullify the West’s most sacred human right – freedom of expression – through the passing of a so-called “blasphemy law,” which would criminalize defamation of religion.

For the past decade or so, ever since these efforts first began in earnest, one of the prime counterarguments has been to point out how any such repressive forms of broad censorship are inevitably used to primarily punish and suppress political dissidents, or to otherwise discriminate against unpopular segments of the population.… Read the rest

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No, Astrobiology Has Not Made the Case for God

Via Lawrence M. Krauss – The New Yorker:

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published a piece with the surprising title “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God.” At least it was surprising to me, because I hadn’t heard the news. The piece argued that new scientific evidence bolsters the claim that the appearance of life in the universe requires a miracle, and it received almost four hundred thousand Facebook shares and likes.

The author of the piece, Eric Metaxas, is not himself a scientist. Rather, he’s a writer and a TV host, and the article was a not-so-thinly-veiled attempt to resurrect the notion of intelligent design, which gives religious arguments the veneer of science—this time in a cosmological context. Life exists only on Earth and has not been found elsewhere. Moreover, the conditions that caused life to appear here are miraculous.

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I Thought I Was A Feminist Until I Started Dating A Men’s Rights Activist

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Jasmine Subrata writing at Thought Catalog:

I didn’t know what a men’s rights activist was until I fell in love with one. He didn’t know I was a feminist until our First Big Argument. Every couple went through one, but I doubt any of them had one based on something as petty as ours.

My boyfriend is a cis white male of European descent. He is 6’7, barely fits through a doorframe, listens to indie music and enjoys video games more than puppies. I grew up in a third world country and am currently studying overseas, where I met him through a mutual. I am a feminist because in my country, patriarchy is rampant, child brides are aplenty, and street harassment is commonplace. My boyfriend is an MRA because after objectively comparing the issues of both genders in a first-world context, he finds that the male activists need more support in fighting for their issues.

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Take it and Like it: Corporate America and the Manipulation of Public Opinion

Brad Clinesmith (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Brad Clinesmith (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Absurd Illusions of a Shining City on a Hill by Mark Weiser at Dissident Voice:

The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There’s one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that’s contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it’s likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors.

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Death Should be Optional

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

Max von Sydow and Bengt Ekerot in “The Seventh Seal”

via H+ Magazine:

Now more than ever, the topic of death is marked by no shortage of diverging opinions.

On the one hand, there are serious thinkers — Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, Michio Kaku, Marshall Brain, Aubrey de Grey and others — who foresee that technology may enable humans to defeat death. There are also dissenters who argue that this is exceedingly unlikely. And there are those like Bill Joy who think that such technologies are technologically feasible but morally reprehensible.

As a non-scientist I am not qualified to evaluate scientific claims about what science can and cannot do. What I can say is that plausible scenarios for overcoming death have now appeared. This leads to the following questions: If individuals could choose immortality, should they? Should societies fund and promote research to defeat death?

The question regarding individuals has a straightforward answer: We should respect the right of autonomous individuals to choose for themselves.

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Op-ed: The Plot Against Public Education

By Detlef Schobert via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Detlef Schobert via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via Politico Magazine:

Bill Gates had an idea. He was passionate about it, absolutely sure he had a winner. His idea? America’s high schools were too big.

When a multibillionaire gets an idea, just about everybody leans in to listen. And when that idea has to do with matters of important public policy and the billionaire is willing to back it up with hard cash, public officials tend to reach for the money with one hand and their marching orders with the other. Gates backed his small-schools initiative with enormous amounts of cash. So, without a great deal of thought, one school district after another signed on to the notion that large public high schools should be broken up and new, smaller schools should be created.

This was an inherently messy process. The smaller schools—proponents sometimes called them academies—would often be shoehorned into the premises of the larger schools, so you’d end up with two, three or more schools competing for space and resources in one building.

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We need more focus on the women poets of World War I

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
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By Lisa Regan, University of Liverpool

Members of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. PA/PA Archive

We’ve become very accustomed to connecting World War I with its soldier-poets. And the centenary celebrations in Britain have very rightly reminded us how important key figures such as Wilfred Owen, Isaac Rosenberg and Siegfried Sassoon were to their own generation and continue to be for future generations.

But for all that I was struck by actress Penelope Keith’s reading of Rose Macaulay’s poem, Many Sisters to Many Brothers at Westminster Abbey’s candle-lit vigil. It was refreshing – not least because Macaulay is an author often edged off the literary map. But despite this I was left wondering whether this particular poem was the right poem to choose.

Macaulay’s 1914 poem expresses women’s envy of men’s freedom to go to war (service being voluntary until conscription began in 1916).… Read the rest

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