07 March 2011

Notes on the news

1) I celebrate the 8-1 decision permitting the despicable protests of the Westboro church. Laws are meant to protect everyone and free speech meant to protect free expression, regardless of whether we approve of it. Bad laws are very often made in order to punish very specific types of offensive behavior and result in overbroad interpretations from prosecutors, cops, and courts in order to punish or control more types of behavior. More to the point, we're not supposed to be having laws to try to govern and control speech and opinion. Hence the 8-1 decision (Alito continues to be one of the most inconsistent, weird, and frustrating justices in how he decides cases to me.)

I also don't understand some of the right-wing's understanding of "free speech". For example Palin's conception of it seems to be that we should have to support offensive speech when it suits her interests or those of her political allies and to suppress offensive speech when it becomes perceived as personally offensive (to her). We are required only to permit people to express themselves as is their right if they wish to do so, either as individuals or as organisations. We are not required to support their speech with money and attention, or to supply occupations to them that they may express more widely their opinions, however vile, and so on. Indeed, we are free to ignore entirely those opinions or their methods of expression.

Our "best" approach to these types of outrageous protests is to ignore them as idiotic and annoying, not to silence them as though they represent legitimate opinions posing a threat to established ideas or methods of political coercion.

2) Libya doesn't appear to be getting resolved any time soon and looks to be a very messy few months, if not years. I don't think it reasonable for us to mess with a no-fly zone, even if it were practical the insertion of Western forces gives Qaddafi some nationalistic backing, and more importantly doesn't give the eventual government as much national legitimacy (see: Iraq, Afghanistan, shah of Iran, Yemen, etc) . I don't think Qaddafi can stay in power without any significant concessions happening, nor see a means that this would happen, but he thinks he can put down a determined and armed rebellion even with 24 hour coverage of what is happening in his country. Too bad for him.
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