Archive for the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ category

The Pope’s Words – Close But Wide Of The Mark

January 16, 2015

Pope Francis spoke yesterday about the tragedies at Charlie Hebdo and the Kosher market. His common sense message was quite simple… if you insult someone else, don’t be surprised if the other person smacks you in the nose… The Pope’s words were meant to ease the tension while still condemning the murders that took place. The Pope emphasized that killing anyone in god’s name was simply wrong. Hmmm.

The Charlie Hedbo incident is far more complex than one might think. Most everyone would find fault in the use of deadly force to rectify an insult… but to many, especially those from tribal communities, honor killings are an accepted part of life. It’s not so long ago that such events took place in the US too. Remember Arron Burr and Alexander Hamilton?

But Charlie Hebdo is much more the righting an honor grievance.   This incident exposes what constitutes free speech. In America, most anything goes in public discourse. In Europe, however, many countries have enacted “hate speech” laws which make it illegal to “incite” racial hatred. Recognizing Europe’s past, one can understand why they might choose to limit free speech.

The publication, Charlie Hebdo, has no sacred cows, all religions, governments, and political parties are subject to cartoons when they acted hypocritically. So is calling a group out for hypocrisy an insult or just treatment?

Holding the Koran or Allah as unmentionable when some people committing terroristic or just plain sadistic acts do so under the false justification that the Koran or Allah, himself, welcome these acts, is just plain ridiculous. Depicting this hypocrisy seems quite in order.

Charlie also has lambasted Israel and Judaism. The conduct of the Palestinian-Israel conflict has provided many opportunities to call into question Israel’s real intents, ample material for cartoons. Consider this recent event.   While many of the world’s leaders were marching arm in arm in Paris this week, the inspirational photo got a little touch up in an orthodox Israeli newspaper. The picture the rest of the world saw which included who were actual in the march was “photo-shopped” and all women, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, were removed. The Israeli newspaper published an all male picture.

Hmmm.

The Pope and the catholic church have found themselves in number of hypocritical situations. The church’s death grip man made rules (they call dogma) acts as if these policies were divine in origin.  This dysfunctional behavior has set up many contradictions. Women, homosexuals, and all too often those who are not catholic have been set up situation which deserved to be called out for obvious hypocrisy.

We should remember that there are in each generation anarchistic behavior. ISIS, al Qaeda, and those responsible for the recent murders in Paris were principally anarchists. Their goal has its foundation on overthrow of the established order. Nothing more, nothing less.

Free speech, however, is a far more important principle than the Pope’s remarks would indicate. All major religions, if sheltered from free speech criticism would head rapidly back to the dark ages. They would seek conditions which ensured their control over enough people to maintain their bureaucratic structure.

Free speech has other enemies too. Just think about what life would be like if the George W Bush Administration had been able to suppress the facts surround the invasion and occupation of Iraq, for example. If Bush (or Dick Cheney) had been able to write the Iraq war history without a secular free press, what do you think the public would be told?

Free speech comes with responsibilities too. Slander, incitement to riot, and use of surrogate targets (like ridiculing a politicians uninvolved family in order to attack the politician) are generally out of bounds and inconsistent with free speech.

The Pope’s words suggested the free press, like Charlie Hebdo, should lay off criticizing Islam (and by extension, Judaism, Christianity, etc).

I think the Pope was wide of the mark.

Making The News

January 7, 2015

When a home town resident makes the national news, like on TV or in the major newspapers, most people sit up and say “Wow, he/she is from where I live”. I suspect our subconscious also thinks, “next time it could be me”.

This may not be the distinction we think it is. Making the news is not only about having our name mentioned in an article, sometimes the news is constructed with public interest in mind and our names are just props to add a dimension of realism to the “news”.

For example, consider these three news reports from today.

XL pipeline. The GOP has been saying for weeks that one of its first pieces of business in the 114th Congress would be to pass a XL pipeline piece of legislation. The GOP claims that if the President vetoes the bill it will be clear who is responsible for a non-productive Congress. This week the White House weighed in with the statement that the President would indeed veto a XL bill if it was passed before the State Department completed its review.

The news media could be clear that the XL pipeline is a “nothing” issue. They could point out that it will make no difference if the Pipeline is built or if it is not. The pipeline won’t create in total jobs nor will it cause environmental catastrophes. (or they could publish the data that refutes this “nothing” claim.) But you would never realize data existed from reading or listening to the news. The news business is, instead, hyping this probable veto as a declared war between the White House and Congress. OMG.

It is far more probable that the XL is just a pawn. The President will hold it hostage until there is something (in his opinion) worth trading for in return for XL’s passage. This prediction, however, is not as newsworthy as a fight. Hmmm.

Charlie Hebdo. This morning (6 hours later) the news media is abuzz with reports of the alleged terrorist shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine. The news, of course, is that the shooting took place, that many innocent people were killed, and that it took place in an area near the American Embassy in Paris. But that does not take much time to share.

Making the news has already taken over. The media is reporting how ISIS is behind this attack and that other major cities around the world are on high alert for similar attacks. One reported asked the White House spokesperson whether the TSA would tighten its airport security procedures is response. Hmmm.

Clearly the shooting must be thoroughly investigated and those responsible identified. Clearly in the process of the investigation the scope of the conspiracy will be determined and it might be ISIS. It is even more probable it will not be directly connected to ISIS but rather to groups espousing the same or similar ideology. But waiting isn’t as flashy as asserting right now. If news organization were to act prudently, the 24/7 listeners would move their attention on to something else.

Falling Oil Prices. Yesterday the stock market fell for the third straight day. News reports lamented claiming investors had lost confidence and fear was taking over the markets because oil was now $50 a barrel. “Investors are worried” market reports spouted. “Their will be consequences to this sudden drop of oil price and we do not know what they all will be”, the “news” deliverers said.

Try for a moment to remember only a few years back when the only direction oil prices went was up. The same prognosticators cried then that rising oil (and gasoline) prices would strangle the economy. Woe is me.

Of course there will be consequence to such a precipitous drop in oil price. Some producing countries will see the major part of their economy disappear. The entire oil exploration sector will take a holiday until supply and demand begin to catch up. Isn’t that how capitalism is suppose to work?

A far more likely explanation for the stock market drop is the hidden market makers churning the relatively high stock valuations (of all sorts of businesses) to make money while the market drops and then buy back and make money while the market rises.

Hmmm. Who wants to report that? Fear and doom make much better news.