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Posts Tagged ‘Freedom of Speech’

UDHR under Attack Part 5

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 28, 2008

“if we start haggling with human rights we end up in a society where the only one having any human rights is the one who has deprived everybody else of theirs.”

The Sri Lankan delegate explained clearly his reasons for supporting the amendment:
“.. if we regulate certain things ‘minimally’ we may be able to prevent them from being enacted violently on the streets of our towns and cities.”


In other words: Don’t exercise your right to freedom of expression because your opponents may become violent. For the first time in the 60 year history of UN Human Rights bodies, a fundamental human right has been limited simply because of the possible violent reaction by the enemies of human rights.

The violence we have seen played out in reaction to the Danish cartoons is thus excused by the Council – it was the cartoonists whose freedom of expression needed to be regulated. And Theo van Gogh can be deemed responsible for his own death.


Freedom of expression is that right which – uniquely – enables us to expose, communicate and condemn abuse of all our other rights. Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press we give the green light to tyranny and make it impossible to expose corruption, incompetence, injustice and oppression.

This move by the Countries of the OIC is very effectively making dictatorship, Fascism, state-sponsored terrorism and genocide not only acceptable but PROTECTED by the Human Rights Council.

In space no-one can hear you scream…


Posted in Human Rights, UDHR, UN | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UDHR under Attack Part 4.5 – an example of what it means

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 23, 2008

Eleven Editors-in-Chief and one Cartoonist are expected to be indicted, in their absence, in a Jordanian Court – in the wake of the Muhammad Cartoons. The charges enumerated are blasphemy, insulting a prophet and attempt to cause a rift in Jordanian national unity.

Prosecutor Hassan Abdullat has chosen to strike one of the original charges brought against the 12 Danes – that of crime against the Crown.

Töger Seidenfaden, editor-in-chief of Politikken and Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist from Jyllands-Posten who sparked the Cartoon Controversy with his image of Muhammad wearing a bomb for a turban are among the 12 to be indicted.

Orders for arrest

It is the newly formed Jordanian movement The Prophet Unites Us that has brought the legal action against the Danish journalists. Its Secretary General, Zakaria al-Sheikh, editor-in-chief for the news paper al-Haqiqa, tells Politikken that he expects order for the arrest of the 12 editors-in-chiefs and of Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who created the movie FITNA, a 15 minute movie depicting alleged exhortations to violence in the Qu’ran.

The Prosecutor is demanding that Interpol issue orders for the arrest the implicated journalists.

The Prophet Unites Us was formed in February 2008 after 17 Danish news papers had published Kurt Westergaard’s cartoon a second time. The cartoon was originally published by Jyllands-Posten as a comment in a debate on Freedom of Expression.

Working for boycotts

The movement organizes some 40 Jordanian media-outlets and organizations. It also works for a boycott of Danish products.

The indictment is based on the Jordanian blasphemy law, which forbids any insults of prophets. The issue of crime against the Crown was raised because the Royal House of Jordan is considered to hail from the prophet Muhammad and because king Abdullah, following the first caricature crisis said that any insult to the prophet is an insult to him. (my translation -original Swedish article here)

With all due respect to the Prophet (pbuh) and every honest, devout Muslim out there – this is silly. However it is also the writing on the wall that gives an indication of the attitude behind the way the OIC has hijacked the Human Rights Council, the UN, the UDHR and ultimately Freedom of Expression.

The Jordanian attitude described by the article above would be extremely offensive, if it wasn’t so ridiculous. Denmark has never been, nor will it ever be the jurisdiction of Jordanian Court, nor does King Abdullah have any say in what happens to Danish citizens.

I could have understood this whole thing, and even agreed with the prosecutor, if the images had been published in Jordan, but they weren’t and they won’t be.

However with the amendment to the UDHR/Human Rights Council, chances are that we will see more legal actions like this.

G-d Save the Queen!

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© 2008 All Rights Reserved.

Posted in General, Human Rights, OIC, UN | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

UDHR under Attack part 4

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 23, 2008


Yesterday’s attack by the Islamists, led by Pakistan, had the subtlety of a thin-bladed knife slipped silently under the ribs of the Human Rights Council. At first reading the amendment to the resolution to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression might seem reasonable. It requires the Special Rapporteur:
“To report on instances in which the abuse of the right of freedom of expression constitutes an act of racial or religious discrimination …” (My emphasis.)

“might seem reasonable…” But why would it seem reasonable?

Because, contrary to what many believe, there are actual limits on Freedom of Speech – or rather, there is a general consensus, that if you say certain things there may be legal repercussions, because certain things might be hateful or incite to hatred, and that in turn is a violation of the UDHR articles

Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation.

Article 14.
Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.

While those articles can primarily be said to deal with how a Government may or may not treat its citizens – they are also clear indications of what we, as a Society, consider to be comme il faut between citizens.

While the amendment to the “job-description” of the Special Rapporteur seems reasonable enough, it isn’t, because it requires the Special Rapporteur to regard as non-violations those violations that may be committed by nations against their own citizens. As Ketutar said in a comment to my entry yesterday:

“… still violations of human rights, but CRITICISING and PROTESTING against violations of human rights have become violation of human rights…

I.e – Criticizing one’s own government where that government tries to infringe on Civil Liberties has become “illegal” – exactly what Freedom of Speech an Freedom of Expression was once instituted to safe-guard – the People’s right to criticize its Government without risk of reprisals.

The consequences of this “amendment” to the UDHR article 19 are far-reaching. Not only does it make it impossible for citizens in religiously rigid societies, such as many Islamic Countries ruled by Sharia Laws, to voice their discontent with their Government. It also makes it possible for said countries to arrest, restrain, expel, gag any Human Rights Organizations that wish to monitor or investigate human rights violations in OIC countries, with impunity – this would include the UN and the Human Rights Council itself.

Freedom of Speech is the back-bone of any democracy, and where Freedom of Speech is restricted in regards to critical analysis of one’s government, there can be no democracy. The OIC has clearly told the world that they disagree with democratic principles and democratic government.

Posted in Human Rights, UDHR, UN | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

UDHR under Attack Part 3

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 23, 2008


There has been a seismic shift in the balance of power in the UN system. For over a decade the Islamic States have been flexing their muscles. Yesterday they struck. There can no longer be any pretense that the Human Rights Council can defend human rights. The moral leadership of the UN system has moved from the States who created the UN in the aftermath of the Second World War, committed to the concepts of equality, individual freedom and the rule of law, to the Islamic States, whose allegiance is to a narrow, medieval world view defined exclusively in terms of man’s duties towards Allah, and to their fellow-travelers, the States who see their future economic and political interests as being best served by their alliances with the Islamic States.

I am not sure the shift is seismic – I think it’s a pretty predictable shift. Since the Nations that formed the UN and the the UDHR in the wake of WWII have abdicated from whatever moral high ground they might have had, by accepting and enforcing all sorts of restrictive laws that too are in and of themselves violations of the UDHR. Legislation like the Patriot Act and other “anti-terrorist” legislation adopted by the US and her allies in the “war on Terror”. Laws and Legislation that are specifically targeting Arabs and Muslims, as sure as the Nuremberg Laws were targeting the Jews.

It is not surprising then that when given a chance, the OIC will step in and do the same. Really. The leadership has not moved, it was abandoned way back, and the OIC picked it up.

It doesn’t make this stunt pulled by the OIC ok, moral or defensible in anyway, but it sure explains why there might be the misunderstanding that violating Human Rights is an ok thing to do.

If the West clearly says that it’s ok to violate Human Rights when Arabs and Muslims are involved, then how could the West possibly point at the OIC and say: “No, no, – we we the only ones who may torture, maim, kill and persecute your citizens…” and expect them to accept this?

Reverend Wright said one very true thing in the wake of 9/11 2001: “America’s chickens have come home to roost”. From the point of view of the OIC this macht übernahme in the Human Rights Council is just another chicken hatching.

End of Part 3

Posted in Human Rights, UDHR, UN | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

UDHR under attack Part 2

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 22, 2008


Three years later Annan’s dream lies shattered, and the Human Rights Council stands exposed as incapable of fulfilling its central role: the promotion and protection of human rights. The Council died yesterday in Geneva, and with it the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary we were actually celebrating this year.

That is what you get when you consider something as important as Human Rights to be a matter of politics. It reminds me of how the USONA manipulated, rail roaded and blackmailed the world into believing their lies about Iraq. Today we know that there were no WMDs, today we know that there were no Iraqi ties to Al-Qaeda. Hans Blix of the IAEA were right.

Where’s the connection? – in its underhandedness. Muslims are being portrayed as the ones that are being persecuted through malicious lies about the Qu’ran and Islam, and therefore non-Muslim assertions, opinions and replies to the Qu’ran must be labeled “abuse of Freedom of speech”. That’s not saying that malicious lies about the Qu’ran are not being circulated, but the likeness to the Coup the US pulled over Iraq is till there, as there was nothing to say that individual Iraqis had connections to Al-Qaeda

While I certainly understand the pain and frustration one experiences when one’s Holy Books are being misinterpreted – just ask any Jews how many lies about Torah and Talmud are out there being disseminated to a larger public who have little to no knowledge of what Torah or Talmud is – using the UDHR to stop people from reading and understanding as they will is unethical at best, immoral at worst.

Then, when one digs a little deeper, and realizes that the OIC is not at all concerned with the persecution of Muslims via malicious readings of the Qu’ran, they might not like those readings, but they accept it as part of being in this world – they are concerned with not having the right to jail, kill, abuse and persecute their own citizens. Citizens who object to Qu’ran based legislation. By inserting this amendment the nations of OIC have made it impossible for the Human Rights Council, and in extension the UN to demand that they honor the UDHR and all it’s articles. The nations of the OIC can continue to stone women, hang gays, marry children, mutilate and maim people over misdemeanors etc, and do so without it being a violation of human rights.

It’s ingenious in its evilness.

End Part 2

Posted in Human Rights, UDHR, UN | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

UDHR under Attack Part 1

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 21, 2008

International Humanist and Ethical Union carried an article on March 30, 2008.

Eleanor Roosevelt with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“With the support of their allies including China, Russia and Cuba (none well-known for their defence of human rights) the Islamic States succeeded in forcing through an amendment to a resolution on Freedom of Expression that has turned the entire concept on its head. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression will now be required to report on the “abuse” of this most cherished freedom by anyone who, for example, dares speak out against Sharia laws that require women to be stoned to death for adultery or young men to be hanged for being gay, or against the marriage of girls as young as nine, as in Iran.”

The entire idea is silly, because Religious Freedom and Protection of honor and reputation is already guaranteed by the UDHR (articles 12 and 19), so it seems the OIC is somehow overshooting.

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan saw the writing on the wall three years ago when he spoke of the old Commission on Human Rights having “become too selective and too political in its work”. Piecemeal reform would not be enough. The old system needed to be swept away and replaced by something better. The Human Rights Council was supposed to be that new start, a Council whose members genuinely supported, and were prepared to defend, the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Yet since its inception in June 2006, the Human Rights Council has failed to condemn the most egregious examples of human rights abuse in the Sudan, Byelorussia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and elsewhere, whilst repeatedly condemning Israel and Israel alone.

Considering that we have 22 Arab Nations, a bunch of Islamic Nations, and Russia, Cuba, China involved as well as the usual abstentions one might be allowed some skepticism. If the old Commission didn’t work because of WHO are the members and the incessant politicking around who votes for because another votes against, one can hardly expect a Council to make much head way, if the same members are allowed to influence the work.

It’s like the debacle with the UN Resolutions – they will always be slanted against Israel, because there will always be 22 votes against her, plus the allies of those 22 votes…and the allies of those allies…

The whole idea of nations being members of UN Bodies is ridiculous, especially in Bodies that should have no political agenda at all, such as the Human Rights Council. Human Rights, Children’s Rights etc are non-political, so the people in UN who deal with those Rights should not be political either – i.e members of the Human Rights Council should not be nations and they should be separated from their Nationality when they assume their duties on the Council. They should also be required to swear that they will maintain their neutrality for the duration of their service on the Council. Any amendments to the various UN Charters and Declarations should be made by those neutral council members and not be voted on out-side the Council.

End Part 1

Posted in Human Rights, UDHR, UN | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Anglo-European Standards rule our World 3

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 20, 2008

Anglo-American Flag

“…you are obviously very intelligent and well educated and so if you side-step my point or expand the realm of an example into areas it wasn’t meant to encompass, I’m going to assume it’s deliberate. Fair enough?”

You are obviously intelligent as well… so what about remembering that there are several different ways of understanding your words and my take on them is one of them.

If I am pointing out that there’s a variant interpretation of your words, or taking your point and running with it in a direction you did not foresee, it’s because that’s what I see through your words or your points. Not some “now I am going to distort the meaning of D’s points here, and side-step and expand on his example…” Nothing deliberate, nothing sinister, nothing malignant. Just my understanding of what you have written.

I understand your first post to mean “OIC is not to be blamed for anything, because everything is USA’s and especially Bush’s government’s fault and we can’t point fingers at OIC before we are perfect ourselves, besides as OIC is a bunch of religious fanatics living in tents 800 years ago, it’s understandable and excusable what they are doing. We (USA, UK, Australia) on the other hand are NOT such barbarians but civilized and exemplary bringers of peace, freedom, democracy etc. etc. so it’s shocking that these Beacons, Saviors, Liberators have fallen and become monsters…”

Arguing for the sake of argument I take to mean launching into an offensive position and getting personal, which is what you have done. You are basically attacking me without any friendly discussion, which I consider to be a damn shame. Your “hot air” opening is your words not mine, nor was it my meaning.

Now, you seem to think I have taken an offensive position and getting personal, which is not what I am doing. I am discussing YOUR WORDS, not your persona.

You have one take, I have another take. The only thing I have to go on in this discussion, D, is your words. In my world, if you say that you do not want to “argue for the sake of argument”, you are saying that you somehow see what I have said as “an argument for the sake of argument”, i.e that I am arguing only to argue, not that I really have anything to say.

“We all know that arguing for the sake of arguing is a pointless waste of time”. It seems that I am not alone in understanding “Arguing for the sake of argument” to mean “so much hot air”.

IF you had wanted to point out that you think I am getting personal, then there would have been far better ways of communicating this. You could for instance have just said, “I think you are getting personal…” You didn’t. Don’t assume that your understanding is the only one possible.

The next point: I could sum it up as “since the Bush administration, things have not gotten worse. There has been no global shift to the right. It is as it always has been.” Have I got it right? I introduced “corporate” because I believe that corporations and their lawyers are largely responsible.

No, you haven’t got it right. I got that you think that “corporations and their lawyers are largely responsible” for what you see as a shift to the right. I disagree with this, hence my point about the CCC being as old as human civilization and perhaps actually a intrinsic part of human civilization and it not being a trend that just popped up with the Bush Administration. Your perspective is short, my perspective is longer (without any value on either) -I am viewing into the past for the reason you seem to the present. I think your making corporate lawyers responsible and me claiming that it’s older than that, is like viewing an ice-berg – beneath the surface (corporate lawyers) is a lump of ice (human civilization) 100 times bigger than the tip sticking up over the water.

While I agree that this shift to the right has been ongoing for many years as a gradual process and only in this century is it coming home to roost in my town whereby the rights we believed we had are being flushed down the toilet. Still, the audacity of our leaders to no longer heed the electorate with comments like “So?” is a marked difference and so appears as a trend.

Note that I am not arguing with your assertion about the state of things, I am just extending the perspective – reading the present in the light of the past, as any good historian would tell you to do.

Or, are you saying that there has been no change at all? I certainly understand this point given world history. I can imagine some guy in Africa who has watched civil war and genocide ravaging his homeland for the last 30 odd years and not noticed any recent difference. I certainly makes for a good topic of conversation but it just wasn’t the topic I raised.

No, I am not saying that there has been no change at all – I see the change, however I don’t think it’s really as marked as you do. I see the same imperialistic, corporate, capitalist and conservative attitudes operate in today’s US and the World as operated in the Roman Empire, The Babylonian Empire, Egyptian Empire or the Ottoman Empire. To me the Bush Admin is just the latest addition to Imperialistic Regimes ravaging the World. I also see where the Bush Administration’s attitude comes from – from an Anglo-American adaptation of the Anglo-European mind-set. 30 years ago, the US would not have managed to make military allies out half of Europe and Australia to go chase down insignificant illegal combatants all over the globe or launch an invasion on a country on the mere suspicion that they might have certain military capacities. The US made an attack on the US into a Global Issue, partly through interesting little lies, partly through coercion and partly through blatant bullying and threats. This [9/11] could have happened under whatever American President you want – pick one – anyone – however, only now could the USONA have succeeded in getting World support for their cause. Why? Because only the Bush Administration would have used all means necessary to get that support, including the immoral ones. Now do you see that rather than disagreeing with you on the basic point of your assertions about the US, I actually agree – I am just extending the perspective on where it comes from.

The only thing I disagree with you about is the Worldwide scale and importance of it. To me it’s just another Country on my Human Rights Black-list, nothing else.

The Declaration of Independence wasn’t irrelevant but how it came to be, while fascinating, was not a negation of what I said even though you presented it as such.

But it [my analysis of the role of the DoI] is a negation. It is also very much relevant, because it [the DoI] is the very foundation of the idea as the US as “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy”.

I used the Declaration of Independence to explain where the idea of “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy” comes from – if you look at your first post, you will see that you do not question if the USONA is “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy” – i.e you represent as if you actually agree that it is – I disagreed with the idea that the USONA would be “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy”, and then referred to the history of the Declaration of Independence to put the actions of the US into a historical perspective.

I’m well aware of the hypocrisy of the USA – its history is a series of wars and atrocities that revolve around land acquisition. However, my point was quite simple: the USA, regardless of where they got it launched on a grand experiment to put the ideas and philosophies of the time into law to try to create a non-classed-based democracy that would lead the way for humanity. I did not say they had succeeded.

You didn’t say that they hadn’t succeeded either. In fact the point was represented in a way that could very well be understood as if you thought that they HAD succeeded, and now the Bush Administration is tearing it all down, which was the foundation for my assertion that “U.S.O.N.A. isn’t “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy” either, and if I know my history correctly, it never was.”

However, since they have taken up the baton, taking every opportunity to tell the world how they are the “home of the brave, land of the free, and the bringers of democracy” I chose to ignore their obvious failures and allow them to claim just intentions. In so doing I am justified in demanding that they live up to their boasts.

Justified perhaps, but it is questionable if it’s wise, at least without some sort of indication that you are ignoring what you yourself seem to give such importance. It sort of becomes a contradiction within a contradiction, to make a big affair of the Human Rights Violations of the USONA, and then expect people to understand that you are actually choosing to ignore those violations only so you can hold them accountable.

Nevertheless, regardless of where we lay the blame, or what our historical perspectives may be, the fact remains that the UDHR are is under attack.

The point I tried to make already in my second post here was that if we do not expect that everyone respects the Freedom of Speech as put forward in UDHR article 19, we cannot expect anyone to respect it.

If we start making excuses for the OIC, because we think their anger is righteous and justified (which I do), condemning the USONA without any consideration to their historical, social and political reasons, is nothing but hypocritical and another of those Anglo-European attitudes that feeds the anger of OIC.

I put considerable effort into a reply that has disappeared after posting.

I am sorry Cyberspace ate your post. If it’s any consolation, I have my posts eaten by gremlins frequently, which is why I have gotten into the habit of writing all my posts in NotePad or EditPad and copy and paste – that way if gremlins get hungry, I have back-ups.

The crux of it was to outline how I have been maligned in this thread. One example, I recall was SOB’s statement:

Again, I am not assuming. It’s there in your own words. I am not saying that you INTEND it to be. I don’t think you do. It doesn’t change the fact that by saying:

“even if we disagree that a man who sees women as chattel may live in a nice home but his consciousness is 800 years old and still in a tent.”

in a context of Islam, and this thread is that, it becomes derogatory of and insulting to Islam, because you do not clarify what kind of Islam you are referring to.”

Obviously, I’m referring to ANYONE who sees women as chattel and later extend this to anyone who burns people for heresy. To say that I don’t clarify what kind of Islam I’m referring to is more than deliberately misleading, it’s dishonest. I do not propose that SOB sees my comments as insulting to Islam because he believes that all Muslims treat women as chattel because that would be equally underhanded.

The thing is, D that it isn’t obvious that you are referring to ANYONE – what you say in your first post, which I take to be a response to the article ABOUT the OIC’s attack on the UDHR, becomes a statement WITHIN the context of a discussion about Islam, and more specific an Islamic attack on the UDHR. There is no “ANYONE” here. I would also like to turn your attention to what you said in the post one day ago:

“Without moral credibility, how can our criticisms of the OIC be interpreted as anything but an attack on Islam and result in a world far worse than it is right now.”

You were fully aware that this thread was addressing the OIC, and you even admitted that any criticism of it would be interpreted as criticism of Islam. So your “I’m referring to ANYONE who sees women as chattel and later extend this to anyone who burns people for heresy.” falls flat as a defense or assertion that referring to the OIC as “people living in tents and 800 years in the past” is not an attack or insult of Islam.

Have you ever wondered why “our” women aren’t seen as chattel? My wife said that if she was your wife and thought that you saw her as having a nomadic, medieval woman’s mind set, she’d had YOUR hide, not mine…

It is not because of Islamic culture (as if there was one homogenous such), Islam, Arabic culture, Semitic culture, Nomadic culture or what ever, that there are men within those cultures who see the female part of their people as things to be owned… it’s because feminism hasn’t had a reason to exist in some parts of the world. In Europe men have spent most of their adult lives trading, hunting, exploring and warring, and left their women at home to take care of things. Not so in most parts of the world.

African women look down on Euro-USonian feminists trying to bring their words, values and attitudes to the “undeveloped” countries, because they HAVE words, values and attitudes that could be used, but the Euro-USonian feminists are so convinced of their own superiority that they don’t even THINK there MIGHT BE something DIFFERENT but just as valuable.

I am not thinking in short terms, nor am I thinking of the World as tiny, isolated pieces, but one big organism. Nations are like beings, “growing up” just as every human is individual and work on different characteristics of their personalities, have different priorities, and so on and so forth, Nations function similarly.

Saying that men who see women as things are living in tents 800 years ago is ignoring every other aspect of their lives. Besides WHO lived in tents 800 years ago? Not most Europeans, Africans, Asians nor Muslims… Nomads did. Nomads like the Sapmi people in the North of Scandinavia, some Native Americans, Bedouins… You are obviously not speaking of Native Americans nor Sapmis, Mongols or any other Nomads, so you must be referring to Bedouins… Or did I misunderstand you? *sardonic*

Posted in Human Rights, UDHR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Anglo-European Standards rule our World 2

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 18, 2008

I don’t want to spend all my time arguing for the sake of argument.

Thank you for telling me that you consider this discussion, and especially my part in it, something you really cannot be bothered with and something that is said, not to engage in friendly discussion, but for the sake of argument, basically what I have to contribute to the discussion is of no consequence other than as so much hot air.

While your generalized observation that a movement towards the right has been with us since the first paddock was fenced off, it isn’t relevant to my argument.

Actually, you were the one entering the generalized observation “corporate trend”. Considering the general understanding of the word “trend” as craze, fad, furor, mode, rage, style, vogue, trend and bias, cast, disposition, leaning, partiality, penchant, predilection, predisposition, proclivity, proneness, propensity, squint, tendency, turn, trend – i.e something rather limited, but not specified, your specification of it through the use of “corporate”, a word that did not gain its general meaning “business” until far into modern history puts it into a modern context – what I did was simply pointing out that we are not dealing with a trend – something rather short-lived or recently “invented”, but with a rather essential part of human civilization – barter. Nor can it easily be called a movement, since owning, selling and buying is The Right – i.e Capitalism, i.e Conservative.

If you didn’t think this “corporate trend” is relevant to your argument, why did you enter it into discussion? It could very easily be read as if you wanted your generalized interpretation of the expression “corporate trend” to stand without elaborating argument, such as I offered, in which case your “argument” becomes propaganda. Nice and quiet propaganda, but nevertheless propaganda.

Since the invasion of Iraq, rendition, black sites, torture, private security firms that look a lot like the SS, blatant media suppression, anti-terror legislation that gives no guarantees of due process for any of us and where dissent itself can be dangerous, I would say that the facts speak for themselves.

If we cannot agree on this point then we really should leave the table and agree to disagree.


Since the invasion of Tibet, rendition, black sites, torture, State police that looks a lot like the SS, blatant media suppression, legislation that gives no guarantees of due process for any of us and where dissent itself can be dangerous, I would say that the facts speak for themselves.

D, what is happening in the USONA has been a reality of human existence and human history since one man decided that he was best suited to rule the local tribe and killed, maimed kidnapped and raped the family of whom he considered his rival – rulers have always used their power to gain control over their subjects and over whomever they consider their enemies. This is nothing new.

I would suggest that the reason all this is possible in the USONA is because it is a young nation that is still in the midst of its evolution as a nation. This is something the USONA has very much common with f.i China, which is why I used China in my example.

I did enjoy your analysis of the Declaration of Independence even though it was irrelevant to my point. As for the monarchies being Elected… That’s a stretch. Not by commoners, they weren’t.

My analysis of the Declaration of Independence is very much relevant to what you said:

“So in terms of America being the defenders of democracy, they were in the sense of the prevailing myths of the time. Other than France, every other developed nation was a monarchy that did not have any power in the hands of the people. America was the ‘grand experiment’ for which the peoples of the entire globe held out hope.”

You introduced the concept of USONA into the discussion as “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy” – words that are almost directly quoted from the Declaration of Independence, as semiotician you must be aware that such words have very high symbolic value in the minds of most people, especially since it has been hammered into the general world population since USONA was declared independent from the British. You claim that the current actions of USONA is “shocking” exactly because it is considered, TODAY, not in the past, “the holder of the torch of liberty and the defender of democracy”. Then you claim that this too is irrelevant?? If it is irrelevant to what you wish to say, then why enter it into discussion? That is the third point in my argument you reduce to an insignificant portion of hot air, and I am very much inclined to believe that you do this because your favorite pet-peeve met with some resistance. Whether you enjoyed my analysis or not, however, is irrelevant to the discussion, and I suspect that it’s just another rather condescending royal gesture on your part.

Let me clear up one or two points. My criticism of most historians is that they read the past through current mythologies and fail to realize that world view rather than accepted fact, regardless of whether it is right, wrong or irrelevant causes events to occur.

I am not “most historians”, D. I am the one who constantly tell people to read current events in the light of history and the shift in culture that occurs as a result of events that are in fact guided by world views of the past. My World View will not change the present, but it will influence the future. Like stars we are always “in the past”.

You assume that I have an anglicized world view simply because I point out that it was an anglicized world view that led to colonialization. I am a semiotician. It is my job to see the differing myths that ruled our past.

I don’t assume. It’s very clear that you have an Anglo-European/North American world view. One rather blatant example of this is the fact that use your education and your job “lecturing” as a tool to suggest that your point of view is better founded than mine and that in fact I am one of your students, not your equal. Very Anglo-European.

You say:

“True, if you are speaking of how language evolve over time within culture, but misleading if you wish to apply it to actual attitudes.”

Myths are the culture, the way of viewing the world and are entirely responsible for the prevailing attitudes. We read Homer now and how Odysseus slaughtered his wife’s servants and was considered by his contemporaries to be heroic for doing it. We cannot understand it when we read it from a modern perspective. Mythology plays a far bigger role than you give it credit.

Now, who did you say was assuming things here?

However, things become offensive when you assume that I am attacking Islam. I was happily married to an Islamic Iranian woman for many years. And, quite clearly, you are confusing Islamic belief with an intractable culture that has surrounded it in many parts of the world. You confuse a fundamental Islamic culture with Islam – the view that upsets most Muslims I know – and you attack me for stating that to view women as property to be bought, sold and mutilated at will is a mark of savagery. My wife would have had a piece of you. However, you don’t criticize my assertion, just the fact that I said it. You aren’t supporting the view that women should be chattel, are you?

Again, I am not assuming. It’s there in your own words. I am not saying that you INTEND it to be. I don’t think you do. It doesn’t change the fact that by saying

“even if we disagree that a man who sees women as chattel may live in a nice home but his consciousness is 800 years old and still in a tent.”

in a context of Islam, and this thread is that, it becomes derogatory of and insulting to Islam, because you do not clarify what kind of Islam you are referring to – however it doesn’t much matter how you turn this around, D, because earlier you asserted, about the members of the OIC: “That people living in tents and 800 years in the past want to burn heretics is not surprising…” You did not say “Fundamentalist Islam” or “Islamic Culture”, you said “That people living in tents and 800 years in the past want to burn heretics is not surprising.” The fact that you don’t choose your words more carefully is what I have an issue with.

I would also like to point out that what you call Islamic Culture is in fact not Islamic in origin at all, but stem from a far older, less centralized and exclusively tribal society, actually the very society Muhammad opposed. That some of the ideas from before Islam survived and is present in Islamic Culture is as natural as Easter originating in the Pagan Feast Ostara or Xmas being celebrated on the Winter Solstice. This is not to say that I agree with those elements of Islamic Culture. But I know what it means to be from a people that originated in a tribal society and have had to clean out quite a lot of “leftovers”.

The real problem here is that you appear to be saying that the fundamentalist beliefs such as a man should travel no further from his home than a donkey can travel from sunrise to sunset, represent Islam and the vast majority of Muslims. If this is true I do not regard you as bigoted or prejudiced, merely misinformed.

Appearances deceive. While I have not made any statements about Muslims or Islam, you have, and in a generalizing manner, not once but twice. I have treated the OIC without prejudice and have addressed the attack on the UDHR only, and have not made any assertions based on perceived notions of Islam. While you have actually expressed your perceived notions quite clearly.

You see, to me whether the attack on the UDHR was orchestrated by non-religious gorillas or by devout Muslims is irrelevant. You however place the reason for the attack in Islamic Culture, (800 years in the past and in a tent) well aware (or you would not have claimed that I can’t make that distinction) that your audience might not be capable of making the distinction between Islamic Culture and Islamic Belief. In fact I am inclined to believe that you counted on your audience not being able to make the distinction, most likely for the harmless reason of then “educating” them, as you attempted to do with me.

No, I did not criticize your assertion: “to view women as property to be bought, sold and mutilated at will is a mark of savagery” – I criticized this: “That people living in tents and 800 years in the past want to burn heretics is not surprising.” and: “may live in a nice home but his consciousness is 800 years old and still in a tent.”

Many cities have been built by people that held a sword in one hand and a mason’s trowel in the other, and I think that we actually can do both, D. Yes, some will view it a hypocritical, some already do, but to give up keeping an eye on my neighbor’s garden so bugs and burglars don’t get in, is to give in to what can effectively be called a hijacking of the UDHR, the only Universal Tool we have to assure some semblance of Global Civilization.

Posted in Human Rights, OIC, UDHR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Anglo-European Standards rule our World

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on April 18, 2008

This was sparked by a discussion that came as a result of this article: Document Vote on freedom of expression marks the end of Universal Human Rights by International Humanist and Ethical Union

I’m an Australian and while many Americans feel that the push into neo-conservatism is an American thing, it is not. This shift to the right is a corporate trend and is world wide.

Unless we are talking about a trend that goes back to when man first found out that he could grow and sell crops, bake and sell bread, breed and sell cattle, and generally barter anything he had in his possession for what he wanted or needed, I don’t see any trend, David.

It seems that crop growing, cattle breeding and commercial enterprise lead man to believe that he owned the land that grew his crop, fed his cattle and carried his tent.

The Three Cs – Corporate, Capitalist and Conservative – have been the rule of the day since the Dawn of Civilization. Maybe we should make it the Four Cs?

What you say about the atrocities committed throughout American history is correct but a little distorted. This distortion is due to the ruling mythology.

I disagree. I have a pretty clear picture of North American history in terms of where is came from and how it has evolved during the last 400 years.

From my point of view it seems you are the one with a slightly distorted view. The ruling mythology, as you call it, is very much Anglocentric, it is based in the imperialistic ideal that has its origin in Anglo-European expansion. An ideal that has been fed to us by the powers that be, which are basically the same now as they were in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries – unfortunately Australia is not excluded, but very much a part of this – after all Australia was once seen as nothing but a British Penal Colony. It was certainly treated as if the British came to an empty piece of land ready to be exploited. No matter that there already was a thriving Civilization there – because it didn’t have agriculture and cities it was considered irrelevant at best, barbaric at the worst, measured by Anglo-European standards.

The same Anglo-European standards that measured the Native Americans, both South and North, and found them to be child-like, less developed and steeped in savage traditions. A standard that is still operative in regards to f.i the Mexicans. It is also a standard that is used when measuring Arabs and Muslims.

As one USonian soldier expressed it here in Care2 about 4 years ago: “They are not like us, they do not think and feel like we do…”

Yet the Arabs were the ones who taught the Romans how to build aquifers while Anglo-Europe was still “barbaric”, by today’s Anglo-European/North American standards.

The Anglo-European and North American standard is inherently racist.

In 200 years time we may view eating meat as barbaric, the last vestiges of primitivism. We may equate it to cannibalism and wonder how our forefathers could have eaten the cadavers of animals – dead bodies – corpses… of course, currently we don’t use those words to describe meat and what occurs in abattoirs is largely ‘hidden’ from the general public – we don’t want to see it. Now, we call it chops, steak, roast, etc and it comes on polythene tray packs.

True, if you are speaking of how language evolve over time within culture, but misleading if you wish to apply it to actual attitudes. I am a farm boy, I grew up knowing exactly where the chops came from – they came from Fred, the pig I had fed, scratched and played with during almost a year of care and consideration. I was there when Fred was killed, I scrubbed the bristles off his dead body, and I considered it something to be grateful for. Hiding the “crude”, the “distasteful”, the “bodily” is a Victorian crystallization of the Greek division of human life into soma (body) and pneuma (soul/spirit). In fact most cultures in the world that have not been directly influenced by Anglo-Victorian/North American euphemisms for human reality have a positive attitude towards animals in terms of sources for sustenance – and not only physical sustenance, but spiritual sustenance. In many ways that is way more civilized than the attitude of “don’t ask, don’t tell” that plague the Anglo-Victorian/North American civilization. I agree that the “we do not want to know” attitude is negative, but I disagree with your assertion of where it originated – a shift to the right based in a corporate trend.

“…you cannot assign the modern acceptance of racial equality to an era where even the kind, caring and compassionate ‘white folks’ regarded peoples of other races in a condescending manner as requiring care because they were ‘less developed’, ‘childlike’ or ‘steeped in savage traditions’.”

It looks to me like that is exactly what you are doing. Exactly because the view you present is steeped in the Anglo-European/Victorian North American euphemisms, that are as you say there to hide reality. What makes me say this?

What is turning focus inward other than another “don’t ask, don’t tell”? If Human Rights were dependent on how well a nation manages to live up to the UDHR, no nation on earth could criticize another. Isn’t hat what you propose we do – turn inward?

So in terms of America being the defenders of democracy, they were in the sense of the prevailing myths of the time. Other than France, every other developed nation was a monarchy that did not have any power in the hands of the people. America was the ‘grand experiment’ for which the peoples of the entire globe held out hope.

It has been said that history is written by the victors. When it comes to USONA’s role in world history this is certainly true. The idea that USONA is the defender of democracy stems directly from the idea that other nations and peoples are less democratic, less civilized and therefore incapable of comprehending and/or upholding democratic values.

I find your assertion that “…every other developed nation was a monarchy that did not have any power in the hands of the people.” extremely offensive Anglo-centric and inaccurate. By the time USONA was a nation, all European countries were constitutional/parliamentary monarchies or republics that gave their citizens the same basic rights and privileges. I would also like to point out that all monarchies in Europe were originally ELECTIVE monarchies, i.e the monarch was elected by the people. It was not until approximately 1450 that monarchy became hereditary in Europe, and the monarch still had to be approved by the people. Without the approval of the people he/she could not assume the throne.

America wasn’t nor has ever been a ‘grand experiment’, nor has it ever represented hope to the entire globe, not even during WWII. It would like to believe this Anglocentric myth, because the myth legitimizes its imperialistic aspirations, but belief doesn’t make this myth true.

Let’s not forget WHY USONA joined WWII – it was attacked. Had Japan not attacked USONA, the isolationistic policies USONA nourished would have continued, probably to this day. Europe asked for help, Roosevelt pleaded with the American People to approve that help be sent, but USONA said “no”. The USONA didn’t join in WWII to liberate anything or anyone, but to defend its own interests. It has never been any other way with the USONA, and I doubt it will ever be – unless there’s a buck to be made the USONA won’t get involved.

Now, one could wish that Japan never had attacked USONA, because it is my belief that the “success of the American war-effort” was what gave USONA the idea of the world domination that it has been exploring and implementing through the Three Cs ever since.

Don’t misunderstand me. I support the subject of this thread just as I support the Tibetans, the Rwandans and the thousands of other groups preyed upon by human rights violators the world over. However, before you fix a building you must do the preparatory work – build the scaffolding and sharpen your tools and after Iraq and the crimes I’ve mentioned already, our tools are blunt.

To my mind our tools are only as blunt as we make them. While is is certainly true that we need to look over our own houses, we also need to keep criticizing those others who violate Human Rights. The way I see it is that we are in this together, because in the end whatever our nationalities are, if human rights are threatened in one place there is no guarantees that human rights won’t be threatened in my place too, tomorrow or next year. So while I keep an eye on my crops and my house I also need to keep an eye on my neighbor’s crops and house, lest the bugs and burglars come to me next.

I understand the assertions in this thread and I agree with everything said about the OIC even if we disagree that a man who sees women as chattel may live in a nice home but his consciousness is 800 years old and still in a tent.

This is one of the most racist, prejudiced an bigoted statements I have read in while simply because it’s covertly so, not overtly. It sounds plausible, so people accept it, but read it again. With 5 lines you just issued the attack on Islam, that you warn against in your next paragraph. You are effectively saying that while a man may look civilized, he is still a savage, and because this thread is about the Organization of the Islamic Conference and its attack on the UDHR you are saying that Muslims are savages.

It might be your opinion, and as such, fair enough I say. But aren’t you the one who says that we cannot point out the flaws of others, unless we have cleaned out our own crap? Yet, it doesn’t seem like you have cleaned out your own crap first, because here you are asserting that Muslims are savages. Interesting, don’t you think?

My objections are purely tactical. How can we be critical about the OIC’s restrictions on free speech while the Patriot Act (and Australia’s and the UK’s equivalent), homeland security and our media does that in spades. Without moral credibility, how can our criticisms of the OIC be interpreted as anything but an attack on Islam and result in a world far worse than it is right now.

We can because we have to. The UDHR is above the inherent crime of the Patriot Act and any other legislation we as humans may come up with that violates Human Rights. Don’t be fooled, what the OIC pulled here was an attack on the very foundation of Human Rights. An attack that makes the Patriot Act is look like a misdemeanor. Without the UDHR what is and what is not Human Rights becomes arbitrary, and rather meaningless to determine or assert. Without the UDHR we wouldn’t know that the Patriot Act is a crime in itself.

The Law determines that theft is a crime. Let’s say I am a thief, I am aware that theft is a crime. I see someone commit theft. While I might not have moral credibility on the matter of theft, not to warn someone that theft is a crime punishable by Law, would be doubly a crime, because not only do I condone my own thieving, I condone another’s thieving as well. And two wrongs don’t make one right, as we all know.

Posted in Human Rights, OIC, UDHR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Freedom of Speech vs. Fear, Fanaticism and Fundamentalism

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on March 29, 2008

Fitna Removal 1
Yesterday was a Day of Victory for Fear, Fanaticism and Fundamentalism, a day when yet another voice of Fear, Fanaticism and Fundamentalism was silenced in the name of Hatred and Prejudice.
Fitna Removal 2
Lives were threatened, Democracy and Free Speech were taken hostage, and Reason Negotiated with Terror, and Lost. The Irony of it all is that one brand of Fundamentalist, Bigot and Phobic was Silenced by another. But what really happened was that, Truth, Democracy and Human Rights on Both Sides were the true Casualties.
Fitna Removal 3
Free Speech is for ALL, hatred or not. Democracy cannot exist where there is no Free Speech. Free Speech cannot exist where there is no Democracy. Free Speech is the only Human Institution that guarantee Democracy. The moment you Silence your enemies is the moment you cease to be a democratic creature. The brilliant thing about Free Speech is that as much as it gives your opponent the right to oppose you and argue for his or her case, it also gives you the right to oppose him and argue for your case. Every time a bigot, hater, fanatic, extremist or fundamentalist of any kind speaks out, Democracy is given a golden opportunity to Reply and Refute. Free Speech guarantees that opposing views, also those which are hateful, can be scrutinized and used as educational material.
Fitna Removal 4
Expose hate. Deflect hate. Oppose hate. Embrace truth. (Knate Stahl)
Don’t just expose that hate with which you disagree – anyone can do that, it’s easy. Expose also that hate with which you agree. The hatred, prejudice and bigotry that rests within your own heart. That is where all hatred comes from.
Don’t just deflect hate from those whom you love, anyone can do that, almost by nature we do that. Deflect also the hate that is aimed at your opponent, from out-side, but also from within yourself. That is where all hatred comes from.
Don’t just oppose hate in general, whether you agree with it or not. We can all talk the talk. Oppose hatred specifically by refusing to be a breeding ground for it. Don’t talk the talk – walk the walk, even if it cost you more than you think can pay.
“whoever kills a person, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he had killed all men. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved the lives of all men.” Quran 5:32
Embrace Truth. Truth is never in the extremes. Truth is always in the middle, in the grey area, in that which is not clear-cut, certain and easy to discern. Embrace Truth. Truth is never easy – always simple, but never easy.

Posted in Freedom of Speech | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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