Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Free Speech and Islamic Outrage: What Was Said, What Should Have Been Said

What was said -

@USEmbassyCairo (Tweeted 9/11/2012):

“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

"The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message.

To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.

I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day. I would note that in today's world, with today's technologies, that is virtually impossible.

But even if it were possible our country does have a long tradition of free expression which is enshrined in our Constitution and our law. And we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be."

Commentary by walford

She reiterated the point that the U.S. government had “nothing to do” with the “offending” video as she gave a speech while the bodies of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were later being unloaded at Andrews Air Force Base.

President Barack Obama (9/25/2012):

“In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening; in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask how much they are willing to tolerate freedom for others.

That is what we saw play out the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world. I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity.

The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam."

He later gave a speech before theU.N. General Assembly saying that no religion should be denigrated, even allowing this for Christianity. This is an improvement for him, but it misses the point and thus leaves ambiguity for those who mean us harm to interpret to suit their own intolerant -- and self-serving -- needs. Our freedom of speech should have been at the forefront and our resolve to defend it unequivocal.

What should have been said -

This is what any President who has sworn to protect the US Constitution should have said on the day the rioting started and repeated ever since -- especially in front of the UN:

"The United States of America is a free country with free speech. That is what makes our country great. That is what makes our country prosperous. People who are free to express themselves without fear have their creativity unbound to the benefit of all. There is no individual and no group in our country who is too powerful to be exempt from robust and uninhibited criticism. And this right of free expression is extended to everyone, regardless of connections or lack thereof.

People who suffer under oppression and poverty owe their condition in great part to their lack of free speech. We in the United States will certainly not emulate this to appease those who will resort to violence because of speech that offends them.

Our government is not in a position to endorse or undermine in any way the free speech of private individuals. Our government has a responsibility to defend it, however. Specifically with regard to speech supporting, glorifying, lampooning or criticizing a particular religion, that is not prohibited in our country.

We understand that picturing or discussing the Prophet of Islam in a way that is not in accordance with Islamic teaching and scriptures is prohibited under Shari'a law, under penalty of death. We do not have Shari'a law in the United States of America. We have a Constitution which we are sworn to defend, even if that means with blood.

As President of the United States, I am prepared to defend our freedom of speech using all the means at my disposal. Those who would threaten or harm Americans lawfully expressing their freedom of speech should know unequivocally that they do so at risk of their very lives."

Monday, September 24, 2012

GOP's "War on Women" vs DNC's "Choice"

Risky Choice
The Democrats double down on abortion

National Review October 1, 2012 Issue

By Ramesh Ponnuru

Watching the Democratic convention in Charlotte, at least in the hours before the networks started covering it, one might have gotten the impression that the chief threat to the common good in America is that some people want to restrict what was variously called “reproductive health care,” “the right to choose,” and, most simply if least frequently, “abortion.”

This subject was the theme of speeches by Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood; Nancy Keenan, the president of a group called NARAL Pro-Choice America; and activist Sandra Fluke, famous for having been called a slut by Rush Limbaugh. Maria Ciano, addressing the convention as a former Republican, endorsed the right to choose. So did Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and San Antonio mayor Juli├ín Castro. Caroline Kennedy, herself famous for being the daughter of a former president, said that she was especially concerned about reproductive health care “as a Catholic.” Actress Kerry Washington mentioned the right to choose in her speech. The president did as well.

Commentary by walford

The National Review article notes that several pro-abortion speakers addressed the DNC this year, increasing the prominence of the issue. The Republican Party's position on this issue has not changed and GOP candidates have not addressed it unless asked.

It was the Democrat Party that decided to make abortion and contraception synonymous with "women's health." In campaign ads, one of the things that is cited against the Republicans is that they oppose forcing employers and taxpayers to pay for abortion and contraception. That is true.

The Obama administration certainly cannot run on its economic record, so I can see how it would be tempting to divert attention elsewhere by fanning the flames of fear by showing videos of a Republican pushing an old lady off the cliff or implying that they will, as Obama had said, see to it that girls like his daughters would be "punished with a baby" should they "make a mistake."

Republicans object to controversial social issues like these being settled in the courts, understanding that the American people are divided and that their perspectives change over time. Law should only be made in the legislatures by our elected representatives, subject to revision and review.

In that arena, we can debate whether unlimited abortion and contraception are actually in women's interests [as well as society at large] and whether it is proper to force people to go against their conscience and/or religious principles -- in direct contravention of the First Amendment to the Constitution -- by paying for these things. If Roe vs. Wade was overturned, the issue would revert to the states wherein multiple approaches would be tried and changed as is determined by the people themselves.

It is clear, however, that the dominant view in the Democrat Party, is that some issues are too important to be trusted to a popular mandate. They prefer that a non-elected coterie of berobed Philosopher Kings settle the issue once and for all.

So which party is actually "pro-choice" and which is not?
The Constitution does not guarantee abortion, but it does indeed explicitly address the right to life.

It is one thing to say that the government should not be involved in the removal of a liver or kidney -- which would make the argument that a woman should have the right to determine what is done with her own body. Secular humanist Utopians, in their self-serving hubris, seem to regard the fact that women of child-bearing age are vessels of life as some form of male-conspiratorial oppression. There is a palpable sense that they hold that the child developing in the womb is some sort of STD and should be treated as such.

Slavery, denying the vote and other forms of oppression were made legally possible by defining a certain class of people as second-class citizens -- if not as sub-human.

Many of the arguments in favor of killing an innocent baby in the womb can also be made in favor of a child who has been born.

Princeton ethicist Peter Singer advocates killing babies as long as a year after being delivered if the infant is determined [by whom?] to be "defective." And let us remember that Planned Parenthood was founded as a eugenics organization whose mission was to rid the world of undesirables [viz. people of color] and the disabled. One could argue if a mother had sex with her husband and was subsequently raped, the baby could be subject to execution if the child is determined to be the rapist's offspring.

These are the sorts of things should be subject to debate, revision and review according to a popular mandate. Neither those who are inconvenienced by someone's existence nor a panel of judges are qualified to resolve this issue on a personal level nor in issuing the Law of the Land, respectively. The defining of human life and whether someone is entitled to the protection under the law is much more than a personal choice. Society at large is affected and invested, therefor this essential human rights issue.should be subject to open and continuous debate.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

To Our Vegan/Vegetarian Friends

 Commentary by walford

If our ancestors did not eat meat, we would not be sitting at our keyboards arguing this point at all. Period.

After the australopithicines diverged from the genuses that later became the apes [we are not descended from apes; we are related, via a common ancestor] there was a split in the evolutionary tree.

One of these was Homo, which later became man. The other was Paranthropus, which was a strictly plant-eating anthropoid. This creature had a crest at the top of the skull, much like the modern -- and herbivorous -- gorilla.

This cranial structure served to anchor the jaw muscles necessary to be able to chew on raw plant matter. These muscles, however, limited the possibility for brain development.

The Homo genus on the other hand, was omnivorous and had to develop brain capacity to overcome its physical disadvantages in order to take game -- oftentimes much larger than itself.

The physical difference between Paranthropus and the gorilla is that the former had a human-like body, with an ape head, while the latter was many times more powerful. Put simply,
Paranthropus was stupid, weak and slow.

Consequently, this was a failed experiment and Paranthropus left no progeny that carried on into the present day. It was a genetic dead-end.

So if you wish to emulate this extinct species to make you feel better about yourself, know that you are being just as stupid. Now if you'll excuse me, I have steaks to put on the grill.