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londovir- by iamsab

Check. Check. Reality Check.

I've just purchased and intend to read Anne Applebaum's Gulag: A History. Because I think current political rhetoric needs a serious perspective infusion.

I've avoided political topics in public posts in the past because I know politics is a deeply emotional, often irrational battleground given to formenting acrimony where there otherwise is none, and I would hate for political disagreements to bleed into otherwise pleasant and harmonious fandom relationships. As I said to iamsab, why get upset over politics when there's so much tentacle pr0n that still needs to be written?

But there are a few things that have been bothering me recently, and I find I can't quite keep them to myself.

First of all, I consider myself somewhat of a student of the Bill of Rights (really, all us Americans should be). And when people stretch and distort the intent of the BoR, especially the First Amendment, it grates.

Here is the quick and dirty scoop on the American First Amendment: It guarantees that you will not be punished through force of police or arms for expressing a contrary view. It does not guarantee you the following:

1. An income for expressing that view.
2. An audience.
3. Praise and support from the general public and/or government officials.

That the American ambassador in Germany did not attend a ceremony honoring Susan Sontag is not an impingement on her free expression. That Disney is now refusing to distribute Michael Moore's movie is not an impingement on his free expression. That many Americans boycotted the Dixie Chicks for expressing anti-Bush views is not an impingement on their free expression.

So far in America, we have had several large anti-war demonstrations. I have attended some of them here in the nation's capital as an observer. Yes, some demonstrators have been arrested at these protests. But, amazingly, the people on stage and thousands of their compatriots remained free and were able to gather together to enjoy an evening meal in many of DC's fine eating establishments. If in fact the current administration were truly interested in quashing the free speech rights of our anti-war commentators, then by all rights, Michael Moore, Susan Sontag, Brian Becker, Ramsey Clark, et. al. should be in prison. But they're not. They are still at large and living comfortably.

To paraphrase the inimitable Q- to be blunt, in the eyes of the Bush administration, Michael Moore is not. that. important.

It is appropriate and legitimate for us to examine things like the Patriot Act with a critical eye. But there is a vast difference between current affairs in America and your standard dictatorship. And every time I see someone play the omgamericaissoapolicestate!!!!!one! card- particularly people who don't live here- I start to doubt their seriousness as commentators. I respect your views. I respect your right to dissent and I respect your right to question my country's foreign policy. But please, please, avoid overstating matters. The omgbushistehhitler!!!!!eleven! stuff is terribly juvenile and takes the issue to ridiculous, polarizing extremes.

And speaking of examining things with a critical eye: As I said, I approve of rational skepticism of authority and elitism. But I tend to train my skepticism to all appropriate targets. For example, I find it odd that in all this examination of the power and connections of the "Bush Dynasty", there is no parallel examination of the "Kennedy Dynasty". And I find it equally odd that in all this examination of the American government, there is no parallel examination of the United Nations, which is entirely unelected (disputes about Bush aside, no one surely is prepared to argue that the Congress is unelected, yes?) and has its own issues with full disclosure. Further, why are we examining the possible economic motives of the United States and not the possible economic motives of other nations? And why are we examining the American media and not the European media? We are in desperate need of some intellectual honesty here, and it starts by recognizing that humanity is the same the world over, and that all of the world's selfishness and power hunger and corruption are not concentrated in a single nation.

Edited to correct spelling. Oh my god, I'm imperfect! Sometimes I have to write these things quickly over my lunch hour! *hangs head in mock shame*


Disclaimer: Not an American resident, but an Englishman (and as such allowed to get annoyed at the spelling of "amendment" with 3 m's...)

Difference between America and a "freedom-hating police state" right now: they're having to be subtle. They'd like to lock up Michael Moore et al, but fear of high-paid lawyers, plus that some of the Bush-supporting crowd might notice a obvious violation of BoR like locking up someone famous w/o trial is stopping them. Death by a million cuts is still death.

On the "Bush is unelected" thing, note that he's *meant* to have been elected. If a leader in a given system is meant to be elected, and he isn't, then there's something badly wrong.

We're examining the economic motives of the US 'cause you're the 800 pound gorilla. Same reasons for examining the US media, plus they're more obviously biased right now. Bigger target in other words.

Anyways... enough of a political rant. Hope you guys avoid the totalitarian theocracy that your current administration is heading towards....
You are arguing through paranoia, not rationality or evidence. But thank you for proving my point.

I would say if these people are worried, then it is rational to be paranoid.
I hate to burst your bubble, but the UCS is hardly an impartial group of skeptical scientists.
No-one is impartial, but if 20 Nobel Laurates are concerned enough about something to put out a joint statement, then it's something that should be talked about, not hidden away.
What's being hidden? It was reported in the New York Times. Even the Fox News website picked it up.

And how many Nobel Laureates in the sciences are currently living? And don't you think it's a little misleading to present the UCS as a supposed respectable scientific body when you don't even have to be a scientist to join?
There's a huge screaming argument sitting here, and if I was resident in the US (allowing a) more info to me on the current state of things b) faster communication with you in a suitable offline realm c) actually caring more about whether the country goes further towards "hell in a handbasket" situations).

However, as this isn't the case, and I've got better things to talk about, I'm going to try invoking Godwin's Law here (as the word "hitler" was buried in the initial post, this *might* work)