Monday, August 30, 2010

Freedom of expression at Ground Zero is about more than a liberal cause du jour

(Previously published by Blogcritics)

Sometimes, just sometimes, Democrats impress me. John Kerry holding the Scottish government's feet to the fire over the release of Abdul al-Megrahi, for instance. Kerry doesn't buy the argument that it was right to show mercy to the PanAm flight 103 bomber given his (supposedly) terminal illness, as you would normally expect a bleeding-heart liberal to do. I also respect Dianne Feinstein for approving of the Patriot Act, supporting the death penalty and running San Francisco as a centrist during her tenure as mayor of that normally loopy, hard-Left city. I like Joe Liebermann, of course, for several reasons.
Add to the list Harry Reid and the recently defeated Senate candidate Jeff Greene. Why? For their opposition to the location of the proposed Ground Zero mosque and for criticizing the Messiah's thoughts on the matter.
President Obama's main premise, that we have freedom of worship, is correct. But, as Greene noted, he's got it all wrong. What gets conveniently lost in the liberal-Left's argument in favor of the mosque is that American citizens have a Constitutional right to voice their opposition to it. What about our First Amendment rights?
Like Reid, one of the highest ranking Democrats to oppose the mosque's location, I feel that this isn't a matter of religious opposition. It's simply the mosque's proposed location, and the powerful symbolism it carries with it, that bothers me. Muslims don't like it that we are focusing on the religion of the terrorists that killed 3,000 people nine years ago. But how would they like it if we erected a monument dedicated to the Crusades in a place that carries significant symbolic sentiment to them?
The Constitution should not be wielded as a tool to trump popular opinion in this matter. I have heard so much blather with regard to "good, law-abiding Americans who just happen to be Muslim" wanting to build their Islamic community centre at the Ground Zero location. But are they really thinking this one through?
If the Muslims who sought permission to build at the Cordoba Centre are that respectful, wouldn't they have backed down after realizing how their fellow Americans, assuming they consider us as such, agonized about the symbolic importance of their decision? If they're moderates, as the Left is assuring us they are, can't they understand that it would please everyone if they simply looked elsewhere to erect their place of worship? I think it's an affront of the highest level to blame the average American for his or her "bigotry" when it's the mosque-builders who are being intractable and intransigent.
Consider this, dear reader: the Islamic community centre's imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, described U.S. policy-making as "an accessory to the crime" of 9/11, and asserted that all the "attention is a sign of the success of our efforts." As Toby Harnden of The Daily Telegraph wrote, that assertion from Rauf is "an utterance that shows he is stupid, mischievous or worse. Even if the aim of building the centre there was to encourage religious understanding, that is clearly no longer a possible outcome. So what kind of success was Rauf referring to?"
My thoughts exactly. Though, I suppose I must give Rauf some credit for calling 9/11 a crime. He earns a point from me for that, but nothing more.
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg—a RINO (Republican In Name Only) if ever there was one—isn't exactly trying to smooth things out, as you would expect him to do. He condemns the opposition, opining that they "ought to be ashamed of themselves."
Honestly, why is it so difficult to understand that there is a line being crossed here, a basic level of civility and respect that is being ignored? But, alas, I forget: Even if you slashed the throat of a Leftie's loved one, he'd still think, "Hmmm, what's wrong with the person who just killed my brother? Is he hurting? Is that a cry for help? Maybe I can help him. Golly gee ..."
To tell you the truth, for me, that's what this whole debate over the Ground Zero mosque comes down to. We're all getting our throats cut in a metaphorical sense, and we're still expected to understand "the other side."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A cat, an animal abuser and selective free speech

You might recall, dear reader, that back in July I was outraged at Facebook's refusal to take down a page dedicated to the killer Raul Moat because it was very inflammatory—a place for hordes of brain-damaged people to jot down their violent fantasies of cop-killing anarchy and the overthrow of society. It was also highly insensitive. Even the Prime Minister, David Cameron, demanded that Facebook remove the page; they refused on the grounds of free speech.
But apparently free speech doesn't apply to those outraged by animal abuse.
Mary Bale, a bank worker, was on her way home from work when she stopped to pet Lola the cat, owned by Stephanie and Darryl Andrews-Mann. After stroking the cat for a few seconds, Bale picked her up by the scruff of her neck, threw her in a large wheeled garbage bin and walked away. Footage of Bale grabbing the cat, throwing her in the garbage container and closing the lid was caught on the Andrews-Manns' CCTV security camera, and they uploaded the video to YouTube to try to identify Bale.
When she was identified and questioned about it by reporters, and unaware of just how furious the reaction was to her vile act, Bale shurgged it off. "I really don't see what everyone is getting so excited about. It's just a cat," she remarked. Only after she started receiving death threats did Bale do an about-face.
Bale reckons she had "a split second of madness" and cannot explain why she did it. She apologized to the couple and to cat-lovers in general. Her apology is worthless; only because she was threatened to the point of needing police protection did she claim she was sorry.
Understand, dear reader, that this was no harmless joke. The rubbish bin in question is four feet tall. The bin was empty. A small cat could not jump out of there even if the lid was open. And Bale had closed the lid. Lola was trapped in there for fifteen hours. If it had been a hot day—an absolute rarity here in Britain, I grant you—Lola could have suffocated in the heat. Realistically, if the outside temperature had been above 75°F, Lola might not have survived. Plus, the obvious scenario of being emptied into the rubbish truck and crushed by the packer cannot be ignored or discounted if the trash collectors had come by at any point during those fifteen hours.
People have boycotted the branch of the bank at which Bale works, so she's likely to be fired. It's also likely that the RSPCA will prosecute Bale for animal cruelty.
Now, I can understand why Facebook would take down a page entitled "Death to Mary Bale." I don't think Bale deserves vigilante capital punishment for her act. But I doubt whether most people making threats against her were serious about it. It was intended to make Bale realize how despicable she is. I agree whole-heartedly with one man who'd written, "Mary Bale needs to be head-butted several times." Bale is the sort of po-faced, arrogant-looking person who should be head-butted on general principle, but for trapping a cat in an enclosed space and disrespecting the cat's owners in the process? Most definitely. Head-butted, sucker punched, a brick through her window: whatever works, karma-wise.
Now then, if Mary Bale crossed the line with her "joke," so did some of those who were rightly outraged by it, and that's a valid argument.
My problem here is with Facebook for being hypocritical. If free speech was so paramount that they allowed the Raul Moat dedication page to flourish—it was eventually taken down by the page's creator, not Facebook itself—and did not see the violent threats inherent there, then how exactly do they justify taking down the anti-Mary Bale page? Discussing the decision to remove the page, a Facebook spokeswoman said that moderators would remove anything deemed to be a "credible threat."
So exactly how was the Raul Moat "Legend" page any different? How the hell did that not constitute a "credible threat"? Did they not notice the surfeit of threats against the cop that Moat disabled?
It's enough to know that Bale will pay a severe price for her horrible behavior at the hands of her employers and the RSPCA, and that's how the Andrews-Manns want it as well. "Now that the police know who she is, I think people should leave it to them and the RSPCA and not take matters into their own hands ... I don't like her, but it needs to be dealt with properly," said Stephanie. (The RSPCA will probably act, but the police certainly won't because they're useless.)
Fair enough. But I just have to wonder if a fan page dedicated to Josef Fritzl is doing fine and dandy under Facebook's selective free speech policy. Again, I'm too afraid to look for myself.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Civil rights outrage

At the Lincoln Memorial today, conservative commentator Glenn Beck is to kick off a rally entitled Restoring Honor. Tea Party devotees have flocked to Washington, D.C. in their thousands to hear Beck's speech and participate in the rally.
But, lo and behold, a little something a rally-supporting blogger wrote has caused a stir. The "Tea Party: One Lump or Two?" blog cautioned rally attendees to avoid certain areas and subway lines in Washington and asserted that certain immigrants in the city, such as Arabs and Africans, should not be engaged in conversation.
Bruce Majors, the blogger in question, responded to charges of racism by asserting that all he did was post links so people could get an idea of what areas of Washington should be avoided. "My suggestion to any visitors to DC this weekend is to check these URLs and learn what is safe and what is not. All the Liberal hatemongering aimed at visiting citizens to DC is crap. Even the DC police think the Green Line is dangerous," Majors wrote.
Also, it seems that the point behind mentioning the African immigrants in Washington, despite what those civil rights activists currently crying foul have to say, was about respect for their sensitivities rather than fear-mongering.
"As a rule, African immigrants do not like for you to assume they are African-Americans," Majors wrote, "and especially do not like for you to guess they are from a neighboring country (e.g. Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia) with whom they may have political or military tensions." Majors' point would appear to be that well-intentioned people sometimes say things in ignorance that can be deemed offensive, so conversation with certain immigrants, who don't yet understand the average American's puppydog-like curiosity, should be kept to a minimum.
It's hard to fathom how either piece of advice could be considered racist. But, of course, as far as the liberals are concerned, if we don't give an African immigrant a friendly slap on the back while saying, "Hey, my brother, where you from? Somalia?" or if we're not willing to place our total and complete trust in our fellow human beings no matter what sort of neighborhood we find ourselves traversing, then we're racist and a threat to civil rights.
Because you do realize that if you're not skipping down the street in a "disadvantaged" neighborhood, handing out lollipops to everyone you see on the street, you're as bad as Hitler? Don't you?