Sunday, October 30, 2005

Those intolerant Christians are forever an annoyance to the culture. Let's recall the ferocious defense offered for Terrence McNally's 1998 gay-Jesus play Corpus Christi:

...its premiere in the fall of 1998 at the off-Broadway theater, The Manhattan Theater Club. On May 1, 1998, an article in the New York Post headlined, "Gay Jesus May Star on B'Way." The article claimed that the play featured a Jesus-like figure "who has sex with his apostles." This instigated wide protest from the Christian right community, notably the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. They called the play "insulting to Christians" and vowed to "wage a war that no one will forget" against its production. President William A. Donahue sent letters to numerous public officials demanding "an immediate halt on public monies that support the Manhattan Theater Club."....Freedom of speech advocates, including NCAC, National Campaign for Freedom of Expression, New Yorkers for Free Expression, PEN American Center, People for the American Way, Visual AIDS, playwrights Christopher Durang, William Hoffman, David Henry Hwang, Tony Kushner, and author Judy Blume collaborated on a letter urging the Manhattan Theater Club to not cave in to terrorist-tactics.

A Madison, Wisconsin production of the play produced more opportunities for grandstanding on behalf of the sacred First Amendment:

McClurg said he could understand why protestors could see the play as offensive, saying it presents issues that pull away from their traditional views...."It makes them feel uncomfortable, it is not the vanilla God that they are used to,” McClurg said, adding Madison may have been chosen for this play because there are a large number of Catholics in the area. Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has received somewhere between two to three thousand mass produced post cards protesting the play, according to his communication director, Melanie Conklin.

“The more postcards we received, the more curious he [the mayor] got to see what the play was all about,” Conklin said.

Cieslewicz and City Council President Mike Verveer are planning on attending tomorrow night’s opening performance.

“No matter what the topic, he is not going to shut it down,” Conklin said. “It’s theater and the first amendment right.”

Then there was the famous Chris Ofili Holy-Virgin-Mary-in-elephant-dung art object exhibited at the Brooklyn Art Museum in 1999. The museum ponied up extra taxpayer dollars to protect this particular item

behind Plexiglas, with a velvet rope in front and a guard standing by to protect it from any angry viewers.

Now surely these stalwart defenders of the sacrosanct First Amendment, these impassioned guardians of our right to see what we want, are equally devoted to art that offends Muslims?

Well, as you may have guessed, they aren't.

An art exhibit that included photographs of nude Muslim women wearing only a head covering was taken down Thursday afternoon just hours after opening for public viewing at Harper College in Palatine.

Muslim students at the college protested to officials about the pieces on display in Building C.

Several students say the pieces — some showing young Muslim men with machine guns — were downright offensive.

“I think they should rip this down,” student Matt George said.

Another student, Hussein Ali, says a number of Muslim students at Harper now are thinking about leaving.

“The Muslim students are thinking about boycotting Harper because of this,” said Ali, 23, of Schaumburg.

Ahmad Basalat, 21, of Bartlett said the exhibit expressed hatred toward Muslims.

Salma Habed, 20, of Hoffman Estates said some of the pieces continued with the stereotype that Muslim women are oppressed.

“We go to school. We have careers. It’s not like we’re oppressed like some people feel for some reason,” Habed said.

Before the opening of the exhibit, neither Johnson nor other Harper officials had an opportunity to view the images.

Johnson and school officials ordered the removal or covering of the images until further notice because of the uproar.

“It was not the show that we thought we were going to get,” Johnson said, adding that he stands by Normandi’s artistic freedom....“We struck a reasonable compromise that we will temporarily cover the images,” Johnson said.

The question is: Why the culture's double standard? Why is art that offends Christians inviolate, but not art that offends Muslims?

It's a combination of things, I think. It's a genuine, ingrained, knee-jerk hatred of Christianity and its practitioners--which in turn makes all fellow haters of Christianity into allies. And, as well, I think there is a little bit of fear. Christophobes love to imagine (and portray) themselves as heroic figures risking "it all" against the troglodytic "fundie" hordes. But the confrontation with Muslims reveals this fantasy as nothing more than a pose. For all the culture's ubiquitous images of "violent" Christians--it's an almost iron rule that any television drama that includes both a self-identified Christian and a murder will inevitably reveal a cause-and-effect relationship between the two--everyone understands on the most primitive reptile-brain level that offending Muslims can get you killed, and not just television dead, but real dead.

Monday, October 17, 2005

And now the Guardian has published a different story that completely contradicts their previous story that the US would "have to give up" their control over the Internet. All of a sudden, there was no more question of "force'; instead there was a "battle":

The European commission is warning that if a deal cannot be reached at a meeting in Tunisia next month the internet will split apart.

The discrepancy between the two stories is concisely explained by a comment on Wretchard's blog:

The most extraordinary thing about this kerfuffle was the way the press in Europe reported on the 'pressure' the US was under on this issue, and how it was going to be 'forced' to give way following various votes. I noticed that they gave zero details on how this 'pressure' would apply, or how the 'force' operated. Now it turns out the whole scenario was just wishful thinking. [Emphasis added]

Friday, October 07, 2005


Again, life increasingly resembles an Ayn Rand novel.

Today's Guardian has a genuinely evil article about the UN "taking control" of the Internet.

Hendon explained the EU had decided to end the US government's unilateral control of the internet and put in place a new body that would now run this revolutionary communications medium.

The issue of who should control the net had proved an extremely divisive issue, and for 11 days the world's governments traded blows. For the vast majority of people who use the internet, the only real concern is getting on it. But with the internet now essential to countries' basic infrastructure - Brazil relies on it for 90% of its tax collection - the question of who has control has become critical.

And the unwelcome answer for many is that it is the US government. In the early days, an enlightened Department of Commerce (DoC) pushed and funded expansion of the internet. And when it became global, it created a private company, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann) to run it.

But the DoC retained overall control, and in June stated what many had always feared: that it would retain indefinite control of the internet's foundation - its "root servers", which act as the basic directory for the whole internet.

A number of countries represented in Geneva, including Brazil, China, Cuba, Iran and several African states, insisted the US give up control, but it refused. The meeting "was going nowhere", Hendon says, and so the EU took a bold step and proposed two stark changes: a new forum that would decide public policy, and a "cooperation model" comprising governments that would be in overall charge.

Much to the distress of the US, the idea proved popular. Its representative hit back, stating that it "can't in any way allow any changes" that went against the "historic role" of the US in controlling the top level of the internet.

But the refusal to budge only strengthened opposition, and now the world's governments are expected to agree a deal to award themselves ultimate control. It will be officially raised at a UN summit of world leaders next month and, faced with international consensus, there is little the US government can do but acquiesce.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

There are few things that tick me off as much as these phony racialized "controversies" generated by the media. As I wrote in October 2003 about the Rush Limbaugh/Donovan McNabb "controversy,"

I would instead like to talk about form: The form that these sorts of racialized kerfuffles always tend to take.

1) They are invariably used as a political weapon against people with the wrong point of view. It goes without saying that a Robert Byrd or a Cruz Bustamante can shout the "n" word from the rooftops without any real consequences, because they are reliably socialist. That's just the way things are. In contemporary America, so much of the time, race is not about race but rather about politics.

2) The psychology at work. It is sickening to watch white people use the designated victim as a sort of Judas goat so that they can feel better about themselves. "Thank God *I* am not a racist like *that* guy." In the specific case of Limbaugh, we see the lovely spectacle of the lily-white NFL owners' club putting pressure on ESPN to fire Limbaugh for being racially insensitive.

3) I have a big problem with the appearance of the story on Tuesday. Limbaugh's remarks were made on Sunday morning. Why did the story not break until Tuesday? Why were Limbaugh's remarks "offensive" and "outrageous" on Tuesday but not on Monday?

I will answer my own question: Because the press hadn't built up enough outrage on Sunday.

A controversy like this is often the result of a sort of media push-poll: Eventually the reporters in question shoved the Limbaugh quotes in enough faces so that enough people were suitably outraged, and we were off and running.

If anything, the current Bill Bennett "controversy" is even more absurd. It's pure stupidity. The manufactured outrage is based on

A) The belief that Bennett was advocating the selective abortion of black babies. The belief is indisputably wrong, since Bennett was arguing from a pro-life position. But this hasn't stopped the moonbats from taking the one line out of context in order to paint Bennett as Hitler. American news outlets tended to avoid this kind of lunacy, but the most America-hating of the foreign press ran with it to create inflammatory headlines. It's a really, really stupid argument, and more to the point an easily defeated one. So the less stupid among the Left prefer to go with

B) The belief that Bennett attributes a higher crime rate to black Americans. There was massive wailing and gnashing of teeth over this one, but unfortunately for the lefties, this is statistically true. Wonkette says sheepishly: "...well, in a very literal sense he's not wrong."

For this--for being deliberately taken out of context, and for stating a fact--the man's supposed to lose his livelihood permanently.

Liberal interest groups, using code words--"the young and disadvantaged," "the poor," "minority communities"--instead of specific references to racial identity, have been saying the same thing for years, without one word of criticism from any self-appointed spokespeople of certain communities. The linked article is very clear: Reduced populations of minorities via abortion produces a reduced crime rate. This is exactly what Bennett said--except that Bennett is clearly horrified by the implications of using abortion for what the Nazis called "social prophylaxis," and the pro-abortionists are not; they are, in fact, delighted at the idea.

I would also point out that, once again, the "rage" over Bennett's "outrageous" remarks was slow in coming. Bennett made the statement fairly early Wednesday morning, September 28--I actually heard the remarks as he made them live in the 8-9 AM EST hour. The lefty website Media Matters posted the remarks that afternoon at 3:18 PM. But apparently the remarks weren't outrageous enough to cause anyone in the media write a single story about them on the 29th. It took a full day of the media shoving the ridiculously out-of-context quote down people's throats before, on Friday the 30th, there magically appeared, radiant and inchoate like Botticelli's Venus, a Story.

And as a final note, I would point out further still that many of the stories went out of their way to identify Bennett's past gambling problems

In 2003, he admitted he was a heavy gambler after news reports that he had lost millions of dollars in casinos.

Why, I wonder, is Bennett's What-Happens-in-Vegas-DOESN'T-Stay-in-Vegas moment--the blatant double standard makes my blood pressure rise every time one of those commercials comes on--why is this relevant to his remarks about abortion and race? Why on earth is it necessary to bring this up? Because--he said, answering his own rhetorical question--such informal "amendation" of the charges is necessary when conducting a witch hunt.

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