Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jan 10 and 1/2: The two big stories.

One of the big stories in the Irving press now is, of course, the shootings in Paris. And the reports are stuffed full of rage at what they call an attack on free speech.

The other big story is about the Professor at UNB who is alleged to express racist opinions. People want him fired.

Think about that.

An attack on free speech is dreadful when it's done by Muslims. But it makes perfect sense when so many of us want it done at UNB.

There's a vigil in town for those who were killed by Muslims in France. All the best people will be there,  I'm sure.

I'm so sorry I missed what must have  been huge vigils when the US was murdering Vietnamese, Guatemalans, Itaqis, Libyans and many others by the millions.

Of course, the Paris killings were worse because they were attacks on free speech. I mean, we really believe in free speech. That's why, if I were walking down a crowded main street and shouted to a man and his wife that she was a diseased whore, and he hit me,  the courts and the public would be with me all the way.

So these people really think the US was murdering Vietnamese right down to babies by the millions in order to protect free speech? Do they actually think the US even allowed free speech in Vietnam? or Guatemala? or Iraq?

In the US some 50 years ago, an American Senator named McCarthy destroyed the lives of many people simply by accusing them of things that made him think they were communist. Often, there was no evidence. Certainly, there was no evidence they had ever done anything communist or had in any way endangered the US.  There was just rumour - started by McCarthy. But it was enough. They were destroyed. Many of them had been had been Hollywood stars. And that scared the bejesus out of gutless wonders like Ronald Reagan.  Reagan and his ilk scrambled to the committee hearings to save their skins by offering to volunteer the names of people they thought might be communists.

Free speech is severely restricted in both Canada and the US - sometimes by law, sometimes by other means. You want to test that? Okay. Go on radio to freely express a severely critical view of Israel. And it isn't just a matter of law.

Newspapers and private news media across North America broadly express the same views about just about anything. They are not designed to promote free speech or free thought. They are designed as propaganda.

Then there are the social pressures. Here in New Brunswick, early in Alward's term as PM, Irving announced in an op ed piece that he was in coalition with the government. Coalition. That means he was a member of the government - without even getting elected. And he announced that he would be planning the economic future of New Brunswick (which is what I thought was had just elected a government to do.)

Nobody, no news medium, no speaker, nobody said a damn word. You can kill freedom of speech without laws, and without guns. All you need is power, and people who are afraid to use free speech. And we certainly didn't see any freedom of speech about this in the Irving press. Here, in a province of hundreds of journalists -editors, reporters, commentators,  nobody had the nerve to say it was illegal and unconstitutional for anyone to just declare himself a member of the government.  Or none of them had the brains.

Conformity and lack of free speech in the US is so common that both of the political parties are far right. It's safer that way. And that may explain by more than half of American voters don't bother to vote.

The US has recently been caught, with lots of evidence, of disgustingly illegal practices in torture. So - where's the big news media coverage? Where are the calls for judicial action? Nothing has been done. Nothing is going to be done. And nobody is going to say a word.

We also know, according to the report, that Canada was involved. But most of the Canadian news media didn't even mention that.

Have you ever seen a criticism of capitalism in our news media? I never have. Gee! It must be the most perfect system ever developed in all of human history. Ever see a criticism of anybody rich in the Irving press?

A deranged young man kills three police. He's arrest, tried, sentenced within a few months. Long before that, a rich man in Nova Scotia was arrested and charged with killing his father. Ain't nuthin' happened yet. The first story, here in Moncton, is still being written up as a tribute to the spirit of the people of Moncton. Okay. And what does the other case tell us?

Now, both Canada and the US have secret police to record everything we say or do or read or think. And it's admitted that this information is handed over to a national council of CEOs.  Boy! Talk about being confident of our right to free speech.

But something else is happening in the Paris shootings. We are getting lots of hype about how this in the news media - how this is especially terrible because it's a threat to free speech around the world.

Sorry, kids. Free speech around the world went out the window a long time ago. Obviously, this is being used to increase our hysteria and fear about Islam.  Why?

Well, that's what happens when somebody wants a war. Somebody drums up high levels of fear and hatred and hysteria. The   question here is who and why?

Were the killers trying to start a war? I don't see why. They already have one. Does the Muslim world gain anything from the attack? Well, shooting cartoonists is hardly likely to defeat the western world. Was it the act of just those individuals? Quite possibly. And shouldn't our news media be checking that before they whip up an orgy of hatred and fear?

Is it somebody else who wants a war? Quite possibly. No country ever calls itself an aggressor or greedy or murderous. Never. Any country that wants a war first puts up what's called a "false flag". When Bush wanted to invade Iraq, his "false flag" was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. (Why did nobody mention that lots of countries, including the US, have weapons of mass destruction?) If you read the history of any country, especially the history books written for schools and the popular ones that become movies, you'll find that every country that ever went to war did it because it was forced to. Right. The British had to invade a fifth of the world because Nigerians were threatening them. The US had to invade every country in Central America because each of them was a threat to American citizens. Oh, and it had to overthrow democracy in Haiti so it could bring democracy to Haiti.

What they all do is to play up an incident that can justify a war or justify it in the press, at least. Is that what is happening now? It's very possible. The time for US corporations to make their bid for world domination is running out fast.

This could, for example, be preparation for an assault on Iran to knock out a major ally of China and
Russia. If so that would almost certainly force Russia and China into a nuclear showdown.

Or it might be an excuse for a massive assault on Islamic Africa and the middle east. Either reason would be insanity - but greed and power do that to people.

Meanwhile - I think I talked in a blog about how nations come to a stage in which their societies break down. Certainly, it's happening in the Islamic world. That's why we're seeing the rise of what we call extremists. And it looks as though it could be happening in the US and much of Europe. And I prefer not even to guess where that takes us.

2015 is shaping up as a very dangerous year, perhaps the most dangerous this world has ever seen.


  1. I think you are pushing the envelope comparing the murder of journalists for expressing their right to employ edgy political satire in print and expressing strong disapproval when a teacher in a university setting voices racist opinions in a classroom.

    In the U.S. and Canada we are pretty much able to express ourselves in public; in print, media or on a soap box without fear of recrimination. The one thing we can't do is publicly indulge in hate mongering, that we will be prevented from doing.

    And it might be worth pointing out that whether you are standing on a soapbox in the park or merrily blogging or tweeting hateful misogynistic or racist sentiments makes very little difference.

    1. uh-uh-uh..

      I see. So people who use something they call satire to generate hatred are good. Of course, anyone who are misogynistic or racist are evil. So if I wrote something that made fun of women's rights or native peoples, that would be okay because it would be satire.
      You say you love satire and condemn hate speech.. Is it your opinion, then, that a cartoon of, say, Jesus, urinating on Muhammed would be hilarious?
      When we do it, it's satire. When they do it, it's hate speech.

  2. Yes...who benefits indeed? The same monologue of demonizing Muslim boogeymen in order to achieve certain public perception outcomes as happened since 9/11, continues into 2015.

    As usual, has several interesting articles suggesting a different reality than the one heavily promoted by an owned, and controlled western media.
    See also:

  3. All I can say is that satire pokes fun, it does not generate hatred.
    Perpetuating misogynistic and racist stereotypes is hateful.
    Jesus urinating on Muhammed wouldn't be funny or clever, so it wouldn't be satire (it would be bad taste, but good satire avoids this).
    "They" don't do satire, they just kill people who don't believe what they believe and have the audacity to mock their religion.
    I agree with all that you say about the West perpetrating unspeakable cruelties on vulnerable peoples all over the world, it's true. It's not an issue of "they" are wrong and we are right, it's about the right to engage in satirical free speech and it not being a hanging offence.
    ATD, agree to disagree?

  4. Um - satire does generate hatred. Satire is making fun of things some other people think important. I have done satire. I have a good friend who has had a good career as a stage satirist. And we agree -- Satire works only with an audience that already agrees with you.

    There's nothing witty or thought-provoking about the cartoons in Charlie Hebdo. They're designed to appeal to bigots and racists, and to create hatred.

    And"they' just kill people who disagree with their religion? You think it's as simple as that? The religion is really just incidental. But people of our religion have been killing Muslims, looting their land, and destroying their societies starting, I suppose, with Napoleon's invasion of Egypt. Since World War 2, muslims have been shooting back. O, my goodness, what religious bigots they must be!
    And why didn't we hold candlelight vigils for the over a million Muslims the US killed in Iraq? Because we didn't care. Because they weren't really white like us. and because they didn't have the true faith.
    I have never said that it was right to shoot the cartoonists. What I am saying is our leaders are telling us it's okay to kill muslims. And it's not.
    I don't think we begin to realize how racist we are. Canadians had a dreadful record of discrimination against Jews before World War 2, during it,and even after it. So did the US. Our racism is so strong, that Harper could win the next election on it. That's why he's appealing to bigots by getting tough on immigration.

    By he way, I can tell you there are people who would find it funny to see Jesus urinating on Muhammed. But they're busy right now having candlelight vigils.

  5. Extremism comes in all forms. Bolshevism immediately comes to mind, and it seems Russian society was indeed breaking down at that time. A previous example is Jacobinism and the Terror. Fundamentalism - whether religious or secular - can indeed evolve into murderous extremism. You are certainly right that it takes some form of breakdown of society/culture/tradition for it to manifest so intensely.

  6. Satire does not generate hatred; from Chaucer to The Simpsons, from Swift to Pratchett, satire ridicules illogical or prejudiced thinking and behavior. The only audience that reacts with hatred is either brainwashed or willfully dishonest. Daniel Defoe exaggerated the intolerant religious attitudes of his time to advocate for religious tolerance.

    Satire, at its best, lets us see our own weaknesses and judge them accordingly and laugh while we're at it.

    It's a simple tool of writers, broadcasters and artists and suggesting that it promulgates hatred and bigotry is not fair. It is attempting to do the very opposite.

    That we have been killing indiscriminately throughout history for no good reason (racism and greed) and continue to do so today because nobody cares, is true.

  7. Yes, Real satire does focus on illogical or prejudiced behaviour. That's why I don't think those cartoons are real satire. They were deliberately intended to feed hatred. If I swear at a black person and call him a racist name, that isn't satire. That's bigotry and hate. If you ridicule the way a person dresses or looks because of his ethnicity, that isn't satire.

    Mind you, even real and honest satire can create hatreds. That's something you learn when you do it on stage. Usually, people do not see their own weaknesses. And they don't want to. That's why doing satire with a live audience can be a dangerous game - unless you know your audience really well.

    Remember the American enthusiasm for the Sony film that made fun of North Korea? Can you imagine the American reaction if North Korea had made a satirical film involving the assassination of Obama?

  8. I believe that "The Interview" is considered to be pretty lame and not very funny. Kim Jung Un is considered by himself and his people as a leader sent from God. So the movie must have been very distasteful to him and his people. I daresay that if the North Koreans had made a film about the assassination of Obama it would have been taken far less seriously by Americans than the North Koreans took the same disrespect to their leader. Maybe.

    In Canada and the U.S. we are very used to seeing our politicians made fun of, especially by cartoonists. This would never be tolerated in North Korea.

  9. Yes, The Interview is pretty lame. But the quality of it has nothing to do with it. Yes. Our cartoonists often make fun of our politicians, and that would not be tolerate in North Korea. But that has nothing to do with it, either.
    I have never seen cartoons in North American papers of politicians in other countries who are on our side. I've never seen a cartoon - or even a comment - on the Guatemalan and CIA leaders who murdered hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans. Where are the movies about US military slaughtering Vienamese by the millions? How do you think Americans would react if North Korea made such a film? Most, if not all, American films about war show american as heroic - with a strong undercurrent that they are doing God's will. The US even has special terms on it - Manifest Destiny, for example. or American Exceptionalism. The are doing God's work. Listen to the speeches of military chaplain's on Nov 11. Kim Jung Un is not the only person to believe he was sent by God.

    As well, The Interview is about assassinating Kim Jung. I'm not surprised North Koreans find that offensive. And I'm quite sure Americans would would react to a "humourous" film about killing an American president.
    The American belief that that the US is God's work, and is destined to rule the world is powerful, widespread, and has support in most of the churches. In comparison, it makes Kim Jung seem modest.