Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
I have a number of comments to make about this worldwide dust-up over the Danish cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his turban. The first comment I’ll make without making any comment at all. I’m a great believer in the power of leaving things unsaid, when the time is right, and I think the time is right here. So no commentary for this comment. Just facts.
Muslims across the globe have been organizing protests to give voice to the outrage they have over this cartoon. I have been called upon, like all commoners, by the High Priests of diplomacy and journalism, to accept the meme that Islam is a religion of peace and that those who practice terror only claim to be Muslims, but aren’t really. In the front section of my Saturday paper, an Associated Press story appeared very prominently giving me the latest news about how angry the Muslim community really is over this blasphemous misrepresentation of Islam.
Clerics in Palestinian areas called in Friday prayers for a boycott of Danish and European goods and the severing of diplomatic ties. Tens of thousands of incensed Muslims marched through Palestinian cities, burning the Danish flag and calling for vengeance.
“Whoever defames our prophet should be executed,” said Ismail Hassan, a tailor who marched in the pouring rain with hundreds of other Muslims in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up,” the protesters chanted. [emphasis mine]
Foreign diplomats, aid workers and journalists began pulling out of Palestinian areas Thursday because of kidnapping threats against some Europeans.
See? No commentary. Just facts. And yet, a representation of the Muslim faith has been made to me, and this representation has made an impression. I’ll leave unmentioned what that impression is. It should be obvious. I mean, Muslim protesters have gone out of their way to do that representing, and I feel it only fitting I should let their words speak for themselves.
Wouldn’t want to offend anyone.
Next commentary. The story continues to point out,
Islamic law, based on clerics’ interpretation of the Quran and the sayings of the prophet, forbids any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, even positive ones, to prevent idolatry.
The State Department (that’s ours, the U.S.) called the drawings “offensive to the beliefs of Muslims” and said the right to freedom of speech must be coupled with press responsibility.
“Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable,” State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus said. [emphasis mine]
My commentary is simply this. It wasn’t quite so long ago we had a groundswell of left-wing weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth that someone from the government — specifically, the Joint Chiefs of Staff — had imposed a “chilling effect” on free speech simply by transmitting a written protest about something on Department of Defense letterhead. What was being protested? A cartoon! “As the joint chiefs, we rarely put our hand to one letter, but we cannot let this reprehensible cartoon go unanswered.” This earned a widespread rebuke from the liberal blogging community, which in my opinion was articulated most skillfully by “Atrios”:
The point is there’s a big difference between someone like Bill O’Reilly saying “people should watch what they say” and Ari Fleischer saying it. Both are meant to intimidate, but one is an agent of the government and one is not. Both can have a chilling effect on speech, but only one has the official government approval on doing so. Censorship? Not quite. But creeping close to it.
Calling Atrios, calling Atrios. I’m not bright enough to get your e-mail address to work right, but you need to know about this. The State Department is having a chilling effect upon free speech…it’s complaining about a cartoon. The State Department works for the Government.
I hope Atrios and people like him wake up about this. Whereas I thought the complaint about the Joint Chiefs of Staff was laughable, and said so, I’d support a protest over this latest issue.
This is America, and when you belong to a certain religion that deplores certain illustrations, and you see such an illustration in the press, the solution is for you to cease & desist looking at that illustration. You do have the right to give voice to your opinions about why the illustration is so deplorable, and if you have children under your care who are under 18 and not yet emancipated, you can control what they look at. IT STOPS THERE.
You may not assemble with others who are similarly offended, for the purpose of coercion, especially with violent acts or threats of violent acts. Our Constitution specifically addresses this by recognizing the “right of the people peaceably to assemble” [emphasis mine]. My dictionary defines “peaceably” as “Inclined or disposed to peace; promoting calm.” I do not recognize “Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up,” and “Whoever defames our prophet should be executed,” as inclined to peace and promoting calm.
Granted, those protesting Muslims are no more bound to any interpretations of the United States Constitution than the Danish cartoonist is bound to interpretations of the Quran (ahem, ahem). But the State Department is obligated to promote the values of that Constitution in all things.
The State Department has failed in the discharge of that obligation here.
This is America. We may have kicked the world’s economic ass over the last hundred years plus, but you know what? We didn’t do it just by being mean, and we certainly didn’t do it by being fat, oblivious and lazy. Those Americans who contributed positively to the coveted posture which the country enjoys today, did so by bearing in mind the crucial distinction between “things the way I want them to be” and “things the way they are.”
We don’t obsess over the word “must” here. And we damn sure don’t tolerate our government giving European-style “must, ought, should, gotta gotta gotta” directives to the PRESS, whether that press is based here or somewhere else.
This is a very subtle distinction. A razor-thin distinction. The State Department could have issued a statement calling out the danger that has been imposed upon foreign nationals, particularly Danish foreign nationals, traveling in predominantly Muslim countries at the time the cartoon appeared. It could have issued a statement urging the Danish newspaper to express regret over publishing the cartoon. It could even have done what the Joint Chiefs of Staff did with that other cartoon, perhaps even blatantly ripping off their material, saying the newspaper and cartoonist “have done a disservice to readers and to [their] reputation by using such a callous depiction” of the prophet.
Instead, by using that highly charged word “must,” the State Department has sought to appease the Dynamite Muslim community — hey, now there’s a useful phrase — by jettisoning American values, in favor of theirs. The State Department has borrowed the Dynamite Muslim community’s “MUST”. Of necessity, therefore, the State Department has kept silent on what will happen if the Danish press refuses the counsel offered — as you always have to do, when you throw around that word “must.” That’s the whole problem with the word. It short-circuits any discussion of alternatives. It’s a my-way-or-the-highway word.
Well, here is my discussion of alternatives. The War on Terror, as much success as it may realize in the arena of good-guy casualties versus bad-guy casualties, or in the arena of taking control of land and countries, is at a critical juncture in the arena of ideas. Does the little guy have the right, anymore, to think for himself? Can he enjoy that unmolested right, Thomas-Jefferson style? The people our servicemembers are fighting, would like the ultimate answer to that question to be a big fat “no.” They would like a worldwide system of government to be adopted where, when a man marches toward the edge of a cliff, and his government tells him it’s safe to keep on going, he goes.
And that really sums up the alternatives. Who decides what reality is? The guy who will profit or suffer based on decisions based on that reality — or the ruling class to whom he owes some kind of fealty? Do individual cognitions matter? Does the little guy collect facts, form opinions, gauge his confidence in those opinions, and make decisions based on them? Or do High Priests tell us what to think?
What does it mean to be free, here in America? Are we sovereigns, or vassals? Grown-ups, or virtual-kids?
I’d like an answer to that question. Because I think everything depends on it.
And I’m looking at a news story where “Muslims” say they’re peaceful and then, in the very same breath, say Denmark ought to be blown up. My High Priests in journalism and in government are giving me these commands that I am to keep in mind the former, and not the latter. They’re telling me what to conclude about what I have seen; and these pre-digested opinions being pushed on me, are quite out-of-step with what I think common sense leads me to believe.
I’m pretty unimportant, so the directions being given to me, are being given to everybody.
This is America. We believe in the brains between our ears, here. We are supposed to believe in what we see and hear, subordinating our own senses to the authority of no one else, no matter what their station. Is that still the way it works today? Or has someone from half-a-world away, quite deliberately changed that for us?
The only other comment I have to make is that before we throw out newspapers for good and resolve to get all our news from the innernets, we should look well on this episode. A cartoon appearing on the innernets wouldn’t cause this kind of trouble because when the heat got above a certain temperature, down that cartoon would go. Already, with regard to this particular cartoon, I can show you one web location where it is right now and six more locations where it used to be but no longer is. Is that freedom of the press? Similarly, there are all kinds of hot-spots on the innernets dealing with news stories about how outraged the Dynamite Muslims are, but very few of them include this bit about executing whoever defames the prophet, or blowing up Denmark. I had to type in that little gem by hand from my printed copy.
Perhaps there is a copy of such problematic comments floating around in electronic form. But after a handful of fruitless Google searches, I have no reason to think so. What I have reason to think, is that it would be very difficult to overestimate the abundance and aggressiveness of “cleansing agents” out there sanitizing news we collect from other countries. And it’s the duty of every free man and woman to collect what news they can collect, as “raw” as that news can possibly be, and make up their own minds.
Their own minds. That is the key. I have so much more respect for someone who forms their own opinions based on what they can learn, even if they completely disagree with me, than I do for someone who deals with mindless High-Priest-to-pauper talking-points…whether they disseminate the talking points, absorb them, or pass them on.
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