Saturday, January 12, 2008

Lionheart Faces Arrest

A blogger is to be arrested for blogging. We know to expect that in Russia and China, and we've seen it recently in Saudi Arabia. But this one is in Britain. And he's not going to go quietly.

As an American, believing in free speech and the protection of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, I find that as intolerable in Britain as in China and Saudi Arabia — and as I would find it in Canada or here. Here are some of the reasons, in the words of some of those who write better than I do:

David Warren:

“Freedom of expression” did not develop in the West from purely idealistic motives. Nor is it necessarily a pretty thing. Like so much in civil society, we put up with it because the alternative is worse, and we'd rather cope with free speech, than with the free intimidation that results from its suppression.
Gates of Vienna (comment):
The civilized answer to speech is counter-speech, not government supression, 'holy' terror, or self-silencing via cowering intellectual (and eventually literal) suicide.
Gates of Vienna:
One cannot pick and choose freedom of speech, it either exists, in which case one lives in a democracy, or it does not, and one does not. Islam is not simply a religion; it is also a political ideology. The EU has therefore made the protest of a political movement illegal. This is totalitarianism.
James Lewis:
The solution to totalitarianism is well-known. It has been known since the European enlightenment, or perhaps since ancient Athens: It includes such standards as genuine tolerance for debate, a willingness to compete economically in open markets, a reliance on free speech and respect for the individual - because when you respect individuals there is no problem of racism, sexism, or homophobia. Goethe, Voltaire, Kant, Montaigne, Erasmus, Spinoza, Aquinas, Jefferson, Chesterton and a hundred others -- the entire enlightened ethical tradition of Western civilization -- stands ready to be used. Europe only needs to look to its own strengths to defeat today's "totalitarian temptations."

The struggle between enlightenment and the totalitarian temptation has never yet ceased, and it may never cease. Totalitarians are experts in the art of demagogy, sophistry and manipulation, but the bottom line is always destroying free speech, free thoughts and free actions. So it's not that hard to tell the sides from each other, even when the colors change from Black to Red to Green. The question is always: Can you tolerate open debate? If not, as in today's European Union, then you are at bottom a totalitarian. If yes, then you are a classical liberal --- or a modern democratic conservative.

On the other hand, let's give the devil his due. If the British want to prosecute Lionheart, and potentially give him a prison sentence longer than that given pedophiles and rapists, the we must insist on at least a pretense of even-handedness. In this context, that would require — at the very least — the prosecution under the same "hate speech" statute of all the imams from all the mosques whose hate speech was documented by Britain's Channel 4.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Last Elected President

It seems Hillary Clinton has been running around Iowa (& etc.) claiming her husband Bill was the "last elected president" of the United States. And I, myself, heard Rob Reiner on the Tavist Smiley show (on PBS) pushing the meme that Bush was "selected, not elected" to the presidency, to the approval and agreement of the show's host.

I thought this brand of Leftist insanity had been put to rest long ago — including by the independent newspapers' investigations of the Florida 2000 votes and by the investigations of the even less substantial charges in Ohio in 2004. Unfortunately, the Left's view seems to be "My mind is made up — don't confuse me with facts!"

On the other hand, maybe I should look at this century's presidential elections from their point of view. After all, if Bush has never been elected, then he is eligible to run for the presidency now and to serve two terms (eight years). That would enable him to catch up with Democrat icon Franklin Roosevelt.

That's definitely something to think about.

Fox Hunting

A friend e-mailed this picture to me. He said it completely changed his views on fox hunting.

I'm inclined to agree with him.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Rose Parade

We always like watching the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day, and today was no exception. We were watching on NBC because we liked their camera angle better. But they quit, and went to other programming halfway through the parade! (To be fair, it was more like 2/3.)

We shifted to ABC, whose coverage was scheduled for longer, but it looked like they were cutting out, too. So we channel-surfed and found that KLUZ, a local Spanish language station and Univision associate, was also covering the parade. (The newspaper didn't tell us about that!) During a commercial, we discovered ABC was still on the parade, and ended up switching back and forth between the two from then on.

We were glad we did. We were glad ABC at least continued their coverage to near the end of the parade, but they still didn't show one of the things we were particularly watching for — the float of the State of New Mexico. Named Passport to Our World and Beyond, it highlights the United States’ spaceport (which is in southern New Mexico), and has a spacecraft and some “space aliens” representing the UFO claimed to have crashed near Roswell, NM, in July 1947. Definitely a fun float.

Image at the Fiesta Parade Floats web site
Image from the 2008 Rose Parade, from Yahoo News

And if we hadn’t been watching Univision, we never would have seen New Mexico’s float here in New Mexico!