Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Last But Not Least

The Amazing.Net video store finally opened this past December. I didn’t know about it at the time – I was away. I have not heard about any terrible secondary effects emanating from it, but then, I have not been following the local news lately, either.

I did pay it an obligatory visit and bought a video. I watched parts of the video once and have not felt the inclination to view it again. I think I’ll give it away to the “Oh My …” sensuality shop like I gave away to them X rated videos I had bought to view when I was in the midst of the porn zoning controversy here in Northampton.

Truth be told, what disturbed me about the zoning law more than the 1,000 square foot rule, was the rhetoric of the zoning law’s advocates, which was often duplicitous, hypocritical and harmful, in my opinion.

To be sure, I was very concerned that the law was merely the beginning of a more pervasive trend to restrict our freedoms here in Northampton, particularly with respect to our private lives, from both the right and the left of the political spectrum. Each has their morality which they wish to impose upon everyone else.

My free speech concerns were amply expressed in my prior blog entries, which you can view below, but what I didn’t champion so much was what triggered my reaction on a non-political level. I was personally offended by the anti-porn rhetoric of the zoning law’s supporters.

While I believe each individual man and woman is different, I also believe that generally men seem to have a more visual sexual orientation than women. Because the anti-porn advocates focused their attack upon graphic sex, that is, upon a visual sexual orientation, I felt attacked personally. That I was “bad” for just being me, how I came into this world and will leave it. I can’t change my DNA.

It deepened my understanding of how someone was has been born black, or female or homosexual may have often been made to feel and maybe are still made to feel, when they are attacked for being just who they are.

And to add insult to injury, there was the condescending duplicity of Nopornorthampton who claimed to be pro-free speech. The invalidation of me just being me as I was made by my maker and the free speech duplicity was so insufferable that I couldn’t live with myself – I literally found myself barely able to breathe - unless I took action and spoke out against it. So, I did.

Try as they might, I doubt if the anti-porn advocates will ever succeed in changing Mother Nature and how we have evolved the way we have. Men will be men; women will be women – each, generally speaking, with their differences, including men’s more visual sexual orientation. The world goes on today, much as it did before and will now afterwards.

But I do hope, aside from my free speech concerns that we become more accepting of sexuality, as we are, and not as concerned about how we are supposed to be about it. No doubt the sexual abuse and exploitation of women, children and even of men would continue, but society would become less judgmental.


I harbor this dream because, among other things, while the world will never be perfect, the world would become a warmer and safer place for you just to be you.


Peace.

I am done here.


Good Bye.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Norpornorthampton: Contemptible Hypocrites

In the post at the following link, http://nopornnorthampton.org/2007/07/14/cruising-for-sex-keith-griffith-attempts-to-use-copyright-laws-to-restrict-debate.aspx, Nopornorthampton celebrates its right to use the copyright protected material owned by others based upon the fair use doctrine, which among other things, allows someone to use excerpts of material owned by another to comment upon and/or criticize it.

Now, all that is constitutional, and fine and good in my opinion. But Nopornorthampton itself no longer allows others who are critical of their remarks to leave comments at their website, and attempts to intimidate their critics (posting critical comments on their own blogs) by, among other things, calling up employers to secure their critic’s dismissal.

Who are the real totalitarians here acting in “bad-faith … to preempt political debate”?

Its contemptible hypocrisy on part the NPN, but then, it has always been their hypocrisy that bothered me more than their many exaggerations and flawed points of view. Who has never been mistaken in their points of view, after all?

But, they prompt their critics, such Mopornorthampton.com, to behave most uncivilly, trash talking and the like, by reason of their inflammatory hypocrisies, and then criticize those very same critics for being uncivil! Adam and Jendi may evolve, but to me at this time they are the most contemptible of people.

Yours/AC

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hampshire Gazette: Shut People Up

In its editorial today, “In Our Opinion: The tragedy in Virginia,” the Hampshire Gazette mysteriously jumps from voicing concern about security on college campuses to advocating greater regulation of speech upon political and social issues.

“ … A repeat offenderMax Karson has a long tradition of offending people. Even the tragedy at Virginia Tech is not outside his reach.

Karson began publishing offensive material while a student at Amherst Regional High School. In his crude publication "The Crux," he sought to spread his insults as far and wide as possible. He got suspended from school twice, only to be reinstated with the help of the Western Massachusetts ACLU.

Karson is now offending people as a student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, where he has been distributing an outrageous newsletter called "The Yeti," which is also packed with vulgar language.

It turns out that his timing is as bad as his taste. He declared in a women's studies class this week that he could see why Cho Seung-Hui went on his violent rampage at Virginia Tech. He also said that, like Cho, he could become angry enough to kill a large number of people, even for the most mundane reasons. After students and faculty complained and expressed fears, Karson was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of "interference with staff, faculty, and students of an educational institution."

Karson thinks he's doing us all a favor by pushing the limits of free speech, but free speech is not without responsibilities. Karson has a right to his opinions, but his fellow students have a right to react to what they find hostile and offensive and to protect themselves in the face of threatening remarks.”

Arresting someone for a newsletter is a violation of the freedom of the press. One would think the Gazette cherishes that right. Apparently it does not.

I can only ask the Gazette to think deeper about what the consequences of editorials like this one may lead to. Not only was Imus shut up upon the basis of what many people deemed to be his “irresponsible” speech, (and I agree with that characterization), but it should remember that not so long ago, the Dixie Chicks were, too. Advocating “responsible” social and political regulation of free speech is harmless, so long as the views expressed by the offensive speaker seem irresponsible to you, but a clear suppression of your rights to express your views when your views are deemed irresponsible by others.

The evil here, if any, is ignorance, not a lack of social and political constraints upon our freedom of
speech, in my opinion at least
.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

What Imus said ...

was inexcusable in my opinion. Nonetheless, I am concerned. For you to understand why, I need to you first to understand how Imus would be judged under constitutional jurisprudence.

What he said constituted defamation, which can be either an oral (“slander”) or written (“libel”) statement of fact that is false and damaging to a person’s reputation. While the law has features to it intended to prevent defamation claims from chilling free speech about public and private persons, alike, the first amendment does not protect defamatory speech and speakers. There is no public good in false statements of indisputable fact.

Also, generally speaking, CBS as a private broadcaster was well within its constitutional rights to fire Imus, regardless of whatever contractual consequences it may suffer as a result if it breached its contract with him.

Nonetheless, as I said, I am concerned. What if the young women actually were nappy haired hoes? What then?

The justifications for hounding Imus out of a job used by the self-righteous Imus critics focused more upon the offensive, inflammatory and controversial character of the sexist and racist speech than it’s defamatory, that is, false character. It would not matter to them if what Imus said had been dead-on, irrefutably true, and there’s the rub.

Protecting each of us from harm by reason of a tyrannical majority because of the offensive, inflammatory and/or controversial ideas we may express (unless they are defamatory) is precisely what the first amendment is suppose to do. While Imus was fired by dint of social activism, to me there’s precious little practical difference between such marshalling of overwhelming public opinion and more subtle forms of governmental chilling, suppression and censorship of free speech. Each are highly coercive and damaging to the free flow of ideas. (See the PS below.)

To the Imus critics, chastising Imus was not good enough – nothing short of firing Imus even begins to satisfy them. Similarly, chastising Moporn by Nopornorthampton is not good enough for them – nothing short of getting the Moporn blog pulled by its ISP and its founders fired from their jobs is good enough for Nopornorthampton, for example.

Nopornorthampton equates this sort of activism with people like Gandi marshalling public opinion to bring the British to their senses, etc. But, there is a difference. What the Imus critics and Nopornorthampton want to do is shut people up. However abhorrent racist points of view might have been to Gandi, Gandi was not about shutting people up.

In contrast, shutting people up is what people like Nopornorthampton, Adam Cohen and Jendi Reiter, are all about.

Yours/AC

PS – I take limited comfort in the theory that an “independent” judiciary will protect me against the excesses of any political or social activism. Almost all of our judiciary are either elected officials themselves or appointed by elected officials, who must take into account public opinion about the (potential) judge’s opinions, and after reaching the bench, judges are still subject to elections or elected officials to preserve or advance their careers. So, while we learn mostly about the judges who have from time to time been brave enough to risk their own careers and social standing to render unpopular opinions based upon principles, the reality is that, historically, judges on balance have not been and are not immune to social and political pressures. They are not as independent of the mob as one might think. (Double entendre intended.)

The distinction between social activism on the part of the public and governmental regulation of speech is more illusory than real. They are not so separate, but instead exist side by side upon a continuum of social and political regulation. So, the willingness to stand up to social pressure to suppress, chill and/or censor expression can be at times just as important as standing up for the supremacy of the first amendment, in my opinion at least.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Playboy In Indonesia

Playboy Indonesia displays no naked women, nonetheless, as related by a Wall Street Journal guest editorial, “… Erwin Arnada, the beleaguered editor of Playboy Indonesia, faces a two-year jail term for breaching the country's indecency laws … Earlier this month, about 100 belligerent Islamists, bearded and skull-capped, packed the courtroom shouting "hang him, hang him!" … … The Playboy affair captures the world's most populous Muslim country's steady slide toward intolerance … … Last April … Headscarved women picketed and harassed the magazine's models. The government buckled under the pressure and took Mr. Ernada to court... Indonesia used to be considered immune to fundamentalism …”

The editorial is critical of Islam, and, to put it pejoratively, promotes the most vacuous aspects of American society as the remedy. But, in my opinion, the truth is about neither. In reality, it’s all about power. Power to control society by controlling what the mainstream public may see, hear, say and think, all wrapped up, in Indonesia’s case, in religious doctrine to justify itself.

In western society the totalitarian among us seek power in a similar manner. They link litanies of social ills (e.g, “secondary effects,” “hate crimes,” “sexual abuse,” etc.) with expression they label “inappropriate” or “harmful” or “hurtful” or “unhealthy” or “sinful” etc. and then argue that the pervasiveness and/or severity of these social ills justify curtailing our freedom of speech. (See below, e.g., "In Defense of Trash Talk.")

They sway mainstream public opinion with pseudo science, simplistic interpretations of religion, confusion of fantasy with fact, and fear, among other things. (See, e.g., Nopornnorthampton.org.) Weak links, indeed. Often they advocate these little infringements upon our rights to “protect” vulnerable segments of society, particularly minorities, women and children. (See below, e.g., "In Defense of Trash Talk.")

Power in the political system and through the law are not the only means by which they seek to achieve their aims, of course. They seek to achieve their ends by creating a social tyranny of peer pressure, too. A social tyranny of the majority, if you will.

The totalitarian and social tyrants among us do not think of themselves as such, of course. Few among them understand that they ask us to accept an “abridgement of the freedom of speech, or of the press,” in one respect or another. Fewer still understand their totalitarian or tyrannical tilt; they just want a free society and free speech where everyone in the mainstream thinks and acts not too differently than they do. Never mind that this sometimes means infringing upon the most intimate details of our private lives, however free and consensual these details may be.

Probably every political or social movement has its factions with a totalitarian and tyrannical tilt – liberals who call conservatives “fascists,” may understand what I mean here. But, conservatives are no more totalitarian than liberals. I call one of my brothers a “fascist liberal,” for example. Not necessarily because of his views – I happen to agree with a number of them. It’s his righteous intolerance of others who may not think, act or express themselves among themselves as he believes they should that causes me to label him such.

Men often use the term "feminazi" to describe feminists who appear to them primarily to focus upon controlling how men think, act and express themselves, in contrast to those feminist who appear primarily to focus upon realizing their own, full potential, regardless of how men happen to behave. Women often label men who appear …

I’ve observed nothing in common between all the aspiring totalitarians (again, found within just about any social/political movement) except their conceit, desire to dictate AND intolerance for – you guessed it – pornography!

No only is pornography the weakest link in what the public will support in terms of protecting expression – it appears to be nothing more than entertainment for sex obsessed men, after all – but pornography is also probably the most universally undermining expression politically that there is.

Laden with “anti-social” messages, porn is very threatening speech, politically. In short, it’s Wild! Totalitarians want and need a lot of control. By controlling how the mainstream thinks, they control us. If our internal shame censors don’t “correct” us, then the public authorities or our social peers surely will. By evoking the Wild – the free – within us, porn is therefore is very upsetting to them, like happy yellow dandelions popping up in the carefully totalitarian manicured lawns of our minds.

Reflect upon the sequence of events in the novel “1984,” if you have read it. For Big Brother, unregulated sex really screws everything up, and must be severely dealt with … George Orwell understood my point. I wonder how often serious efforts have been made to ban, in whole or part, “1984” in schools and libraries here and elsewhere in the world.

A free society may not need pervasive pornography to be free – I really do not know – but I suspect that if pornography is readily tolerated in a society, that society will be probably more free, than totalitarian, more truly “liberal” in the classic sense of the word, than tyrannical.

No one can claim to be truly liberal, in the classical sense of the word, if they would abridge our freedom of speech, as Nopornorthampton would have us do, with so-called “reasonable” regulations of pornography that would amount to its banishment, as a practical matter.

As the Wall Street Journal guest editorial summed it all up:

“The idea of a woman [or man] dressing or undressing as she [or he] pleases, or that you may personally disapprove of the Playboy bunny [or Cosmopolitan beefcake] but respect your neighbor's right to fantasize about her [or him], undermines the very core of Islamic [any other form of] totalitarianism.”

Nothing, absolutely nothing, upsets the totalitarian and tyrannical factions more than their cultural version of Girls Gone Wild!

Yours/AC

PS -- You know, girls and guys acting like Bonobo Chimps; see "Heaven Forbid ..." below.

Heaven Forbid Their Thoughts Wander to the Wild Side!

As Nopornorthampton often points out, expression often successfully misleads us for the worse, particularly when we are young or vulnerable. Certainly there are certainties we can all agree upon to protect them from? Probably so, but the scope of these certainties are narrower than most in the mainstream believe, I suspect, even with respect to sex and what may be viewed as sexually stimulating materials.

The trash heap of history is littered with the discredited certainties of times past. So, who knows? Pervasive promiscuity may be good for us.

Let your mind take a walk on the wild side with me to the Congo, and go out, far, far out on a limb, literally.

What do we find? Well, we might find the renowned Bonobo Chimpanzees, a very close relative of ours on the evolutionary tree. As portrayed in a PBS documentary I saw (more than once) and related in Wikipedia: "The species is distinguished by an upright gait, a matriarchal and egalitarian culture … [Common] Chimpanzees and Bonobos both evolved from the same ancestor that gave rise to humans, and yet the Bonobo is one of the most peaceful, unaggressive species of mammals living on the earth today.”

“They show us that the evolutionary dance of violence is not inexorable ... Females are much smaller than males but can be considered to have a higher social status. Aggressive encounters between males and females are rare, and males are tolerant of infants and juveniles. The male's status reflects the status of his mother, and the son-mother bond often stays strong and continues throughout life. While social hierarchies do exist, rank does not play as prominent a role as it does in other primate societies.”

Sounds like they’re a bunch of politically correct men and women, to me at least. Indeed, the Noho utopia many dream of. But Bonobo’s are not renowned for being tree hugging liberals and dyed in the wool feminists. No, they are renowned because in Bonobo society casual incest, heterosexual, gay and lesbian sex is the rule, not exception. They have sex like in greeting each other men traditionally shook hands and women hugged. They have sex even more pervasively than that, really. There is no shame … (See, "Shame Me, Baby, Shame Me" below.)

Go to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonobo#Name to learn more, if you wish.

Could it be mere coincidence that it seems to me that the most patriarchal, violent and oppressive human societies tend to be also the most puritanical societies? May be the Bonbos are on to something. Bonobos certainly live among themselves better than most of us relatively puritanical humans live among ourselves. Indeed, “Bonobos, … are generally held to have superior intelligence to Common Chimpanzees.”


Humans, too??? Would we have something to learn from Bonobos that we should teach of kids, if we wish for them to live in a more peaceful and egalitarian world ...? Just wondering. :)

You never know ... “[t]he trash heap of history is littered with the discredited certainties of times past …”

Yours/AC

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Shame Me, Baby, Shame Me!

I was reminded about the shaming thing again tonight when I noticed
NPN's reference to it in their responses to Mr. Gorrie's comments published at their website. (
http://nopornnorthampton.org/2007/03/28/how-the-supreme-court-reconciles-adultuse-zoning-with-the-first-amendment.aspx#Comment.) Shaming others or ourselves, aside from being sexually exciting to some, may serve a good purpose at times, but shame is not always a trustworthy guide to what is right or wrong, and healthy or unhealthy. In fact, listening to our shame as a trustworthy guide to what is healthy, as NPN instructs, is often tragically wrong. Frequently, it perpetuates cultural norms that are very unhealthy and harmful. There are women in Africa shamed and who actually feel ashamed if they are not circumcised, to point out just one instance where it is unhealthy.

May be the reader can think of other examples?

Yours/AC

Friday, March 23, 2007

In Defense of Trash Talk

Trash talk on the internet has been a hot issue lately, not only here in Northampton because of Moporn, but nationally, too.

The March 7th edition of the Washington Post ran an article about AutoAdmit, a popular on-line law school discussion board. (
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/06/AR2007030602705.html.) It slammed AutoAdmit for failing to remove trash talk that anonymous posters left. It focused upon the stories of a few women who are (or were) Yale Law School students that held the trash talk responsible for their failure to obtain any job offers, for becoming uncomfortably self-conscious of their appearance in public and even for jeopardizing their personal safety. Truly, the trash talk went to the depths of depravity, to say the least.

Then this Monday I noticed a March 19th guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Elizabeth Wurtzel, the author of Prozac Nation, etc., and now a Yale Law School student. (
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB117425870594940896-search.html?KEYWORDS=trash+talk&COLLECTION=wsjie/6month.) She, too, was upset about how these classmates had been wronged by anonymous posters at AutoAdmit. The trash talk had been indeed responsible for preventing at least one of these promising students from securing employment, or so she said.

Ms. Wurtzel complained the women’s woes were all the fault of the first amendment, “because once again, for about the 80th time in my memory and 80,000 time in the life of this country, here is an issue in which the right to free speech – as opposed to the need for everyone to just shut up – is going to overwhelm us all … the firstness of the first amendment trumps everything that competes with it.” Sound familiar?

Because we are “delicate people,” she lamented at length that the first amendment jeopardizes any effective legal means to coerce us to be civil and sensitive, and bemoaned the fact that all she could do was “plead for civility.” I couldn’t disagree more with Ms. Wurtzel’s insinuation that we should relax the protections the first amendment affords us.

This popular attitude is a very dangerous attitude for the law and society to adopt. For when we become more solicitous of the feelings of “delicate people” than the right to share, review and judge for ourselves improvident trash talk, we risk sacrificing any scraps of truth that may get thrown out with it.

What is trash talk today may very well be tomorrow’s chic political correctness. Imagine how openly gay literature and advocacy would have characterized by champions of public morality and appropriateness in our less secular past. The irony extends to trash talk of a factual nature, too. After all, there are times when the truth turns out to be stranger (and more sordid) than the fiction. JFK’s extra martial infidelities – they went far beyond a sole mistress on the side – were verboten in the early 1960s, but now…

Both articles focused only on stories of women wronged by messages left at AutoAdmit, but there’s no reason to believe men had not been wronged, too, even wasps, like me. Trash talk is very egalitarian. Recently, I was wrongly vilified on-line, too, by the most heinous insinuation one can level at a man these days. A (male) sexual predator seems to lie beneath every rock, thanks to the hysteria whipped up by the likes of Nopornorthampton. To be sure, when I read the defamatory posts, I felt as if I’d taken a cannon-ball in the gut, and it stuck there.

In my case the next day I posted a responsible response to the malicious posts, and supporters chimed in with their own responsive posts. The trash talkers beat a hasty retreat and hoisted the white flag. So, the “more speech cure for bad speech” proved to be very effective and immediate relief, and far less of a burden for me and society to bear that any law or legal action would have been.

In the case of these “delicate” law students, are they ready to be lawyers in the combative arena of law if they can’t effectively deal with this sort of trash talk by themselves? Why are they (and Ms. Wurtzel) not publishing the name(s) of the naïve law firm(s), etc. that would base their hiring decision(s) on anonymous trash talk and not take into account any responsive comments the women and their supporters posted?

Because justice is not what this is all about, clearly. Employers of Yale Law School graduates are not that naïve. All this whining (by the activists, not the people actually victimized by the defamatory comments) is about the power to control not only how we behave, but also how we think, by controlling what we can hear. The likes of Ms. Wurtzel form a confederacy of activists insidiously campaigning for the passage of laws to curtail how we may express ourselves and what we may learn, and thus ultimately how we think in more ways than one. All to protect “delicate people’s” feelings – just like Nopornnorthampton would entirely outlaw degrading and objectifying porn, and mold our thoughts, if it could.

Is this fear mongering on my part? I don’t think so. If China can control the internet, then it can be done anywhere. Don’t be deceived. While Ms. Wurtzel said, “I could never advocate censorship,” she later put her foot down and said “[The internet is] unpoliced, which demands that we be better people, gentler and more humane.” “Demands” implies coercion here, which means institutional codes of conduct and governmental regulation where the targeted conduct is expresssion. So, she’s merely paying lip service to the first amendment, just as Nopornnorthampton does, in my opinion. Though it’s possible she’s not really thought it through enough to understand this, like so many...

To refrain from and be wary of trash talk on the internet may be an advisable choice for an individual to make; but, it should be and remain your own choice, not Ms. Wurtzel’s or Nopornnorthampton’s.

Go Moporn, go!

Yours/Always Controversial

PS – About the women’s inability to secure employment: are the best law firms and other organizations who Yale Law School graduates seek to be employed by, and their sophisticated clients, donors, etc., put off by controversial behavior engaged in by the students’ themselves? At least one of the women, “Jill,” admits “ … I run a feminist blog where I curse and say all sorts of inflammatory things …” - her own trash talk. (See
http://feministing.com/archives/006649.html#more.) She complains she just can’t win because she is both beautiful and smart; men (she presumes) trash talk her and otherwise scandalize her personality on the web (probably, I suspect, in retaliation for her inflammatory rants); and, her preferred employers, feminist organizations, can’t see that trash talk for what it is – or so she believes. Well, Jill, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, I’m afraid.