Big Smoke

'cause it's hard to see from where I'm standin'

Speech? What speech?

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I’ve been wrestling with a rebuttal to Gleen Greenwald’s views on the Supreme Court ruling banning any campaign finance regulations. He’s decidedly liberal and takes no prisoners on either side of the debate, which is why it surprised me that he would defend the rulings that, in my view, threaten to destroy once and for all any vestige of democracy our Republic has. Clearly, I believe he has it wrong; specifically, that framing the argument as a constitutional one based on the First Amendment is the wrong way to go at it. It’s not a speech issue – even if the specific reason for the First Amendment was to protect political speech – it’s a commerce issue.

Luckily, Lawrence Lessig, professor of Law at Stanford and formerly Harvard took him down a notch on the Huffington Post, arguing that he’s gone down a dangerous line of reasoning in his zeal. I’d argue, though, that claiming corporations and other corporated organizations like unions and political parties are considered “people” because they are protected from government search and seizure is a disastrously liberal (in the small ‘l’ version of the word) interpretation of corporations as legal entities. They have protections for property and legal liabilities for debt: They do not speak, especially not politically. Their constituents speak, and have protected speech, but they do not.

The argument for Free Speech flies straight in the face of what Greenwald and everybody else who has a brain pretty much understands: That what this ruling entails is taking the kid gloves off for corporate oligarchy, destroying the political Free Speech of the great vast majority of the US population and thus destroying our collective Human Rights. Simply put, either we should all have equal time on the airwaves or none of us does, else we should drop the pretense of egalitarianism when it comes to speech. As it stands, what we have is a situation where the only “message” that gets out – and Karl Rove would be proud of this – is the one whose purveyors have the economic means of conveying it. Money isn’t necessarily speech, but it becomes the gatekeeper to speech.

Arguably, the Founding Fathers accepted this, considering the United States’ original restrictions on voting to land-owning white males, and as such this current monetary restriction – namely, who can afford campaign ads – is not without precedent, but it is certainly regressive in the extreme. But that said, this is not a speech issue. This is a commerce issue. This is the protection of property run rampant: When property is so encompassing as to include media rights, and its protection so immutable in the eyes (and guise) of the legislature, democracy falls hollow. The fundamental human right to Speech has fallen before the commercial right to Opportunity.

The corporations have bought themselves so many human rights they’re the only humans actually recognized.

Oh really?

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Clark Hoyt, the Public Editor of the New York Times defended, today, the paper’s publishing of gory pictures from Haiti.

He acknowledges the criticism and makes the argument that the bereaved want the pictures taken of the dead. However, he doesn’t interview one. He interviews three photographers instead.

He says the scenes present the paper “with the challenge of telling the unsanitized truth without crossing into the offensive and truly exploitive” but doesn’t define what truly exploitive is.

Sir, if you believed in not crossing that line – that you had your finger on what news was Fit to Print – you would have fired David Brooks a long time ago. The argument can be made that what stops you from publishing similar pictures from disasters in California or New Orleans is the threat of lawsuits, which you don’t fear from Haiti.

This goes hand in hand

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with the supposed “looting” going on in Haiti. Ten thousand US troops are in Haiti. Ammunition is in abundance. Food, not so much. There are still only four distribution points in all of Port-Au-Prince – a city of two million – and food and supplies languish behind military checkpoints. To wit:

“An airdrop [of food] is simply going to lead to riots,”

said Defense Secretary Robert Gates, four days before they decided to airdrop the food they let pile up behind fences.

“Everything‚Äôs just 100 metres away. We can look at the supplies sitting there.”

said Alphonse Edwards, coordinator of the Port-Au-Prince General Hospital, unable to actually use said supplies.

The hold-up is supposedly because of security: They’re worried, like in New Orleans, at what Black people would do when desperate; hence the hang-up with “looting.” Or, to quote David Brooks of the New York Times, the problem in Haiti is

“…a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized.”

So let us beat civilization into these lazy, stupid primitives. Let us teach them that this tragedy is the fault of their own doing, and let us withhold supplies until they get the message. After all, America abhors giving free handouts: It’s capitalism for the poor all the way!

To speak of the vagaries of capitalism, Royal Caribbean Cruise lines have returned to stopping at Haiti’s ports of call so that their revelers can partake in its “pristine beaches,” defended by armed guards, while its people starve. Ahh, the new Gilded Age.

But honestly now – since Voodoo was mentioned – if we’re gonna be totally prejudiced and bigoted, why don’t we look at the Protestantism and charity: You know, the part where a “good person” is one who succeeds with money, begging is abhorred and charity is done by giving to “charitable organizations” instead of directly to those in need? Like how we’re right now doing everything in our power but directly help people – just as Royal Caribbean Cruises donated a million dollars to ease their corporate conscience while they continue to exploit those same people?

Would I go so far as to say that David Brooks is proposing that these people drag themselves up from grinding poverty, worldwide disdain, rampant racism and a huge natural disaster by their bootstraps because of the intolerance of his religion? NO! He’s just a fucking jerkoff!

We’ve Been Here Before

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The State Department got involved with Google’s issues with China, and China took note.

Setting aside the sovereignty issues of imposing what they view is an explicit attempt by America to undermine their media control – in that the US views Twitter, Google, YouTube et al as tools to encourage citizens of the world to clamber for freedom of press and expression – they simply point out that only once in their history has a foreign power succeeded at breaking into the Chinese market.

So the question I suppose is, is internet addiction as powerful as heroin?

The Best Government Money Can Buy

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Another for the

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post-racial world.

Augusta may be one of twelve cities chosen to host an all-white no-foreigner basketball league. To wit,

[All-American Basketball Alliance Commissioner Don] Lewis said he wants to emphasize fundamental basketball instead of “street-ball” played by “people of color.”

“Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?”

To that I respond, have you watched a game of hockey recently?

To prove the callousness and utter inhumanity of racists, a Facebook group has started, titled “fuck Haiti,” arguing, like Pat Robertson did, that they deserved it, and included such gems as,

Ariadne Polydoris: “I don’t give a shit. Millions of people die everyday, why should those fuckers be any different?”

Perhaps you’d like to be one of them.

It got hundreds of members. It’s since been taken down, but others have taken its place. This isn’t to say that there isn’t a faint glimmer of hope in the great Internet Hate Machine, but Keith Olbermann sums it up quite well: Fuck Haiti? Fuck you.

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