Posts Tagged ‘censorship’

It seems like China has an amazing ability to get its own post each time I do an update. With a country that large run by a dictatorial regime so inhumane and evil, I guess I should not be surprised. And rest assured, there are no human interest stories this time, either.

First let me tell you to never forget the words “My father is Li Gang!” This phrase has apparently become popular in China after the drunken son of a police bureaucrat killed a university student with his car and then threatened security guards on the scene with his father’s name. Her name was Chen Xiaofeng. His, Li Qiming. The state tried to ignore the case at first. Once public outcry got loud enough, they made a show of arresting Li. But the satires and subversive art continued unabated, so eventually they ratcheted up the Great Firewall and disappeared the story from the internet.

These Chinese fascists are foolish to think they can do this any longer. Just like with their attempted suppression of Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel victory, they have failed to defeat the communicative power of the internet, as they necessarily must do. It is too big, too dynamic, and too popular for them to defeat it. So please, enjoy feeling like you still have power over the internet for a bit longer. Savor it. But people like you are becoming irrelevant–you can only stomp on the Chinese people for so much longer before they will stomp on you and grind your stupid, murderous regime into dust.

In other Chinese news, the regime pushed forward with the trial of dissident artist Wu Yuren, who they claim beat up some cops. Given that his friend was in the next room and heard Wu screaming, given that Wu had recently engaged in two embarrassing public protests, and given that he had signed Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08, I’m inclined to believe his story. Oh, and there’s also the fact that the people on the other side are a bunch of bloodthirsty thugs who would kill a peasant for a dollar. Nonetheless, Wu remains on trial, facing up to three years in jail. Not content with that case, the Chinese state also decided to ban human rights advocates Mo Shaoping and He Weifang from traveling. Stated reason: “endangering national security.” Likely reason: they had been invited to pick up Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel.

So let’s close things out with a trip to every modern authoritarian regime’s favorite place for dealing with dissidents, punitive psychiatric hospitals! Once deployed to deadly effect in the Soviet psikhushki, punitive psychiatry lives on in China. The NYT illustrated the system powerfully by focusing on the story of Xu Lindong, a perfectly sane farmer who spent six years in punitive psychiatric care just because he was persistent in helping an illiterate neighbor petition for a strip of land she believed was hers. Xu was inconvenient to the state agenda, so they locked him up for six years and electroshocked him 54 times. He has now emerged from the hospital, mentally and physically shattered. The people who did this to him–from the authorities who recommended he be arrested to the doctors who “diagnosed” him to the guards who kept him locked in to the technicians who shocked him–all deserve to burn in the hottest fires of hell. How many men like Xu never made it out of the hospitals after killing themselves or dying? How many emerged too insane to say anything?

But what the NYT has in illustrative power, it lacks in balls. They never really call the Chinese authorities out for being the bunch of inhumane scumbags that they are. So this is where the South China Morning Post comes to the rescue, calling Chinese psychiatry a “weapon” and directly making the Soviet comparison, along with providing other examples, like the mother Wang Jingmei who was locked up in psychiatric care lest she testify that her murderer son was insane. Or the engineer Ran Guizhen, who would not retire as scheduled and was forcibly retired to a psychiatric hospital where he eventually died.

So what can you do to fight the Chinese dictatorship? For one thing, don’t be a useful idiot. Never say something like “If only we could be more like China.” Never talk about how impressive their economy is. Never even visit there unless you have to. And when you hear a useful idiot spouting lies, shout them down. The revolution that will some day come in China is not the fight of the West, but that doesn’t mean we should not add our voices to the cries of the repressed people there, agitating against their awful government. Add our voices to the cacophony, yes, and hope for the day in which today’s butchers will be tomorrow’s ground beef.

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  • Via Andrew Sullivan, n+1: a useful idiot freelancer writes humorously of her time as a paid hack of the Chinese regime. Read this bit and cry: “Some might have considered it ethically fraught to shill for an organization best known for driving tanks over students. I thought it was wonderful. I felt like I was at the center of the world, the spot where all eyes were turning. Though a humble conduit for bureaucratic cant, I embraced what seemed like proximity to power.” You rotten waste of space. This is not a laughing matter.
  • NYT: Guess what, the State Department’s travel alert for Europe is getting panned for being too vague. American tourists are being warned that “tourist infrastructure” and transport throughout the whole of Europe could be at risk. That narrows it down. Stop listening to these State Department hacks, people. They’re just like the rest of the U.S. government–they are deeply invested in making sure you live your life in fear and seek their “protection.”
  • New Humanist: ooooh, it’s the Muhammad cartoon preemptively spiked by 20+ U.S. newspapers last week. Spoiler: it’s boring and not controversial at all. Still worth clicking through just to make a jihadist cry.
  • William Grigg at LewRockwell.com: telling the story of an 11-year-old Brooklyn girl who may in part have died because an NYPD officer blocked in her mom’s car to write a parking ticket as the asthmatic girl fought for life in the back seat. I hope you never sleep a decent night again, Ofc. Alfonso Mendez.
  • NYT: meet the families of the innocent Afghans killed by the 5-man murder squad in U.S. Army employ. If we weren’t in Afghanistan, this wouldn’t have happened. No matter how rogue these men were, the blood is still on our hands.
  • NYT: putting the 5-man murder squad case in the context of recent U.S. abuse cases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why does there need to be a context? They are all evil and despicable.
  • Free Keene: a guy in Keene gets police to accept his privately-issued ID as valid. Also worth looking at is the comments thread, where one guy mentions the World Passport. I’d never heard of it before, but if you really want to chuck your present passport and jump through a lot of visa hoops every time you go abroad, it’s worth checking out.
  • South China  Morning Post: a profile of Liu Xiaobo, Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize contender. I’ll quote my remarks on him from last week: “The Peace Prize should be reserved for heroes like this guy, not spineless, war-perpetuating cowards like Obama.”
  • NYT: NYPD pump a knife-wielding man full of lead, seven times over. He was tased, he wouldn’t drop the knife and he was advancing towards them, but isn’t there something else you could do? Pepper spray him? Shoot him in the leg? Did you have to kill the guy? I don’t know what it is about being a cop that requires you to turn your humanity off.
  • NYT: headline–“More States Allowing Guns in Bars.” They sort of discussed this issue on Thinking Liberty last week. I’m not a gun owner and I don’t particularly like the idea of getting drunk in a room full of people carrying, but that doesn’t mean others shouldn’t have that right.
  • The Globe & Mail: If you thought underwater McMansion mortgages were bad, how about an entire underwater Olympic Village? Welcome to Vancouver, where a private developer financed by city authorities is underwater to the tune of $150-200 million. At least it probably won’t be as costly as Canada’s last great Olympic blunder, Olympic Stadium in Montreal.
  • National Post: a bill is introduced to the Canadian parliament that would make public the salaries and expenses for top First Nations (Native American) authorities. Oh, and what do you know, top First Nations authorities don’t like the idea. It’s good to be king.
  • Liberale et Libertaire: debunking the statist Left’s grasping-at-straws attempt to conflate the South Fulton Fire Department incident last week with life in a libertarian state.
  • The Independent: a British man goes to jail for four months for refusing to give police his encrypted, 50-character computer password. It looks like he might have been under suspicion for “child sexual exploitation,” but this remains a bizarre and upsetting case.
  • Moscow Times: “Advertising by psychics, fortunetellers and others who promise medical cures and to bring back loved ones from the dead will be banned under legislation approved by the State Duma in a first reading Tuesday.” Ugh. And the Russian Orthodox Church is totally on board with it. This sort of manipulation of statism is a perfect example of why Tolstoy the Christian dissociated himself from the ROC.
  • NYT: profiling the Karzais and their private fiefdom that is the Afghan government. You already know about Hamid the Mayor of Kabul, Ahmed Wali the dope baron of Kandahar and Mahmoud the banker, but how about Taj Ayubi, a cousin of the Karzais and former American thrift shop owner who is now the “senior foreign affairs adviser” to the president. Our soldiers are fighting, dying and killing for scum like this. Bring them home.
  • Daily Anarchist: envisioning how a society with privatized roads would work.

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Iranian-Canadian Hossein Derakhshan, known as the “Blogfather” for his immensely influential role in helping kick off the Persian blogosphere, has been sentenced to 19.5 years in jail. Derakhshan was first jailed in 2008 just two weeks after returning to Iran. He made his name as an opposition blogger, but things got weird with him doing some pro-regime apologism from 2006 forward. I don’t care what he believed or with whom he associated, no one deserves to be locked in a cage for writing or saying anything. Not even for a day, let alone nearly two decades.

Don’t forget this man’s name. The Iranian regime is capable of being embarrassed and shamed into doing the right thing. Macleans runs down some good CBC coverage of the case here.

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  • Jacob Sullum at Reason: U.S. cops arrested 1.66 million people on drug charges last year. More than half of those were for pot, and 90% of the pot arrests were for possession. For possession of an arbitrarily-illegal product! Unless you really like violating fundamental rights, initiating cycles of stunted career development thanks to arrest records and bankrupting the penal system, there’s nothing you can like about these figures.
  • NYT: Missouri judges have the unique option of knowing how much different sentencing options will cost before they hand down sentences. Of course the prosecutors are upset–they’d rather look “tough on crime” than worry about bankrupting the system. My concern with this piece is that it’s all about pragmatism. Here’s an idea: how about judges stop refusing to sentence people who commit victimless “crimes?” How about judges stop handing down excessive sentences for the sake of grandstanding?
  • NYT: in celebration of NYC’s proposed restrictions on outdoor smoking, a NYT reporter approaches random people in parks and asks them to put out their cigarettes. I’m disappointed that people even dignified this jerk with a response, let alone the people who actually did put their smokes out. Are you really going around deeply inhaling smoke wisps from stranger’s cigarettes in a park?
  • Center for a Stateless Society: how the tobacco industry is exploiting “health concerns” to enlist government force on their side in driving e-cigarette competitors out of the market. This is how regulation works, people–big corporations use their lobbyists to help write laws that will drive their lower-budget competitors out of business.
  • The Globe & Mail: Congress is considering passing a disgusting bill that would require importers to have “an American agent with a U.S. address.” Ah yes, what better way to make domestic products seem more appealing than to introduce a new fee on foreign producers! We’re in a recession and this is the crap government is coming up with–crap that will make our dollars buy less.
  • Via Andrew Sullivan, The New Republic: right message, wrong way of expressing it–a gay U.S. soldier writes about the necessity of ending DADT, but not before having a big, fat pity party about how hard it is to be a soldier. I’m sorry your living conditions suck, but could you remind me when it was that you were forcibly conscripted into service? Oh, that’s right–you volunteered and are probably getting paid better by the military than you would in the private sector. Now kindly shut the hell up.
  • NYT: I linked to an article earlier about the Pentagon trying to buy up and destroy all the copies of a book they claim will reveal classified info. It turns out that usually they catch such books earlier and black stuff out before printing. It’s already a gross concept, made even worse by the fact that plenty of the stuff they are censoring isn’t sensitive or secret.
  • Via Jesse Walker at Reason, Montreal Gazette: Faced with a severe taxi shortage, Montreal is talking about deregulating its licensing scheme. Like many big cities, Montreal caps the number of licenses at a very low number, which means that license transfers cost around $200,000, meaning that new cabbies are priced out of the market and have to go to work through pimps dispatching companies. It’s a criminally stupid and unfair system.
  • The Globe & Mail: an elderly Alberta farmer falls and gets stuck inside his combine for a few hours, so now his family hopes this will convince him to retire. Why? This guy sounds awesome. He should be allowed to farm until the day he dies, if that’s what he wants.
  • NYT: the schmuck behind the push for more onerous food safety restrictions in Congress is a guy whose mom died from tainted food. Don’t you love it when people can’t divorce their personal experience from the life of society? Don’t you love it when people then want to legislate that experience upon other people?
  • Moscow Times: a new, weird solution for the Park 51 community center debate. The eccentric former governor of Kalmykia and current president of the international chess federation wants to buy the lot and build a chess center. It is a much more constructive solution than most of the people w ho don’t want the Islamic center built, just an incredibly bizarre one.

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Remember the case of the Indonesian pop star who could end up in jail for twelve years because two videos of him having consensual sex were leaked publicly? In case you don’t, just repeat “Free Nazril Irham” after me. Now the Indonesian government is asking ISPs to block porn sites because Ramadan is approaching. Apparently, it’s ok to violate civil liberties if you’re doing it in honor of an arbitrarily-defined period of time on a religious calendar.

If you’re the sort of religious person who wants to ban access to pornography, I can’t say that I understand your logic at all. In order for a legalistic religion like Islam to work, don’t people have to choose between good and evil? If people could only choose good, would anyone really be righteous?

That reminds me of one of my favorite H.L. Mencken quotes, his definition of “puritanism:” “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

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I saw two internet-related stories of interest this weekend.

  1. The Communist Party USA’s People’s World covered a new program called GodBlock. Ironically, the people to have expressed the most vociferous opposition to the program so far are its target audience: atheists. Money quote:

    The program, according to its designers, “will test each page that your child visits before it is loaded, looking for passages from holy texts, names of religious figures, and other signs of religious propaganda. If none are found, then your child is allowed to browse freely.”

    “I don’t like it,” David Silverman, national spokesperson and vice president of American Atheists, told the People’s World. “I don’t believe in sheltering kids from information.”


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