Category Archives: Censorship

Irish Atheists Challenge Blasphemy Law

Here in the United States, it’s taken for granted that we are allowed to say/write more or less anything we damn well want, even if it annoys or offends someone else. ESPECIALLY if it annoys or offends someone else. Our inherent right to speak our minds is something we see as sacrosanct.* It is therefore almost unthinkable that in this current age, when speaking out against one’s government is considered almost a given, that something like Ireland’s new blasphemy laws exist, much less are to be enforced.

The laws have been in place but largely unenforced due to  nebulous wording for decades. Now, the laws have been updated and carry a hefty fine of up to €25,000, which comes to more than $35K for those of you following along in dollars.

Enter the group Atheist Ireland. They’re having none of it. On Friday Jan. 1, the day the law went into effect, the group published a list of 25 blasphemous quotes in direct response to the law that they find “silly” and “literally medieval.” I couldn’t agree more. This is something I would expect from Iran or some other overly religious state. But Ireland?  The new law states that someone can be found guilty of blasphemy if:

“he or she publishes or utters matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”

The best if Irish luck to Atheist Ireland, who are running a campaign to amend the constitution and repeal this archaic, ill thought out law.

*Please note: that right is not as all encompassing as we US citizens think it is. ‘Free speech’ addresses a very particular type of speech. It refers to the ability to petition/criticize one’s government publicly without fear of redress. The first amendment specifically addresses political speech, not your right to bitch out some asshole who takes your parking spot at the local mall. It also doesn’t apply on private property. No, it doesn’t. No really. Private property, including the internet, is not covered under free speech. Check your ToS: you spew hate speech, get yourself tossed and see how much ice ‘Freedom of expression’ cuts with the powers that be.

The AFA Blackmails Pepsi

The mob has a lovely little setup they call “protection.” The federal government calls it “racketeering,” and has laws against it.  The American Family Association, headed up by Donald Wildmon learned a lot from La Cosa Nostra; specifically racketeering and strong arm tactics.

Their most recent “project” is an attempt to boycott PepsiCo because Pepsi had the audacity to dare to donate $1M to the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG. It’s very obvious from the AFA’s Boycott Pepsi website they were truly loath to do this. They “asked Pepsi to remain neutral in the culture war, but the company refused — choosing to support the homosexual activists.” The BASTARDS! Of course, when AFA said neutral, what they really meant was “side with us,” but that’s just semantics.

Even worse, according to AFA: “Pepsi has made no effort to hide their support for the homosexual agenda!” Can you imagine the nerve? Instead of being ashamed of treating those in the LGBT community like people, Pepsi is actually PROUD of their actions! Well. Obviously, AFA took immediate action, setting up a website  to boycott Pepsi products. They’ve even got links to contact Pepsi distributorships and letters to and from Pepsi, which essentially read like a bad gangster movie.

Recently we noticed that PepsiCo gave a $500,000 donation to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.  We were indeed surprised by PepsiCo’s support of the homosexual group.  It would appear to us that PepsiCo would not involve itself in a political and culture war, especially supporting an organization seeking to redefine marriage and family.

We ask PepsiCo to remain neutral in this culture war, neither supporting nor opposing the homosexual agenda.

We would like to discuss this matter with PepsiCo.  Would you have a representative of PepsiCo contact us?

In other words: “Gee, Pepsi. This is a nice little place you got here. Be a real shame if someone were to torch it.”

Pepsi’s response was intelligent, honest and, IMO, brilliant:

’m responding to your letter to our Chairman. In 2008, the PepsiCo Foundation awarded a grant to Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays to support a national program specifically designed for workplace environments.

The initiative seeks to promote further understanding and equality in the places where people spend much of their time at work.

Among the values promoted by the PepsiCo Foundation is ensuring a work environment that is respectful and where associates are valued for their contributions.  I hope this helps  clarify this grant by the PepsiCo Foundation.

Honestly? Aside from Cherry Pepsi (for which I am an absolute fiend), I’m not much for junk food. But today? I’m tempted to go to the store and buy as many Pepsi products as I can fit in my budget.

Oklahoma State Legislature Jumps the Shark, Film at 11

Recently, the University of Oklahoma to speak at their celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday. Dawkins’ talk focused on “seeing purpose all around by looking at the differences between the appearance of purpose, as seen in evolutionary development, and true purpose, being the product of the mind.” All went well, and Dawkins was greeted like a rock star.

Sadly, Rep. Todd Thompson was so threatened by the very thought of the brilliant biologist speaking and discussing evolution at a public university, he went and wrote up two resolutions, one of which stated:

THAT the Oklahoma House of Representative strongly opposes the invitation to speak on the campus of the University of Oklahoma to Richard Dawkins of Oxford University, whose published statements on the theory of evolution and opinion about those who do not believe in the theory are contrary and offensive to the views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma.

Rep. Thompson, how dare you? How dare you attempt to enforce what can only be called censorship and hide behind the people of Oklahoma? And how dare you use something as transparent as argumentum ad populum to hide your repugnant and ignorant views? Once the “views and opinions of most citizens of Oklahoma” have a say in what can and cannot be taught at the UO, then that university will quickly top the list of “schools not to attend.”

The University of Oklahoma is not a religious university.  It is a state institution, and as such is subject to the laws not only of the State of Oklahoma but also the United States. Censorship is a crime, and your resolution is censorship, Mr. Thompson. It is to be hoped that the rest of the state legislature will recognize the harm that would be done not only to the university, but to the state should these resolutions pass. The university will slide further behind the national average and lose students, tax dollars and prestige. The state in turn will become that much less competitive and functional and more deeply entrenched in economic stagnation.

This is precisely why religion should never be allowed control of the state. In every instance, ignorance triumphs over learning.

Education Doesn’t Make You Elitist, Dumbass. It Makes You Less Dumb.

And “elites” have not been “telling normal people how to run the country for long enough.” “Elites” haven’t run this country for a long, long time, “normal people” have. And they have run this country into the ground.

Now, I’m going to rant. You’re likely not going to like it, but I need to get it out of my system because reason and logic just aren’t working. So if you don’t want to read it, that’s fine, you’re not required. Just be forewarned, it’s about to get ugly.

Know what? I’ve had it. I’ve said for years, we should reach out to people and try to explain to them and listen to them, because they’re scared and if we just communicated, things would be different. But you bozos aren’t interested in midddle ground. You want to cradle your insecurities and your ignorance to your breasts and pretend you’re hard done by because someone else worked their ass off and put themselves through school and has more than you.

You want things you can’t pay for, like a big ass war where you can shoot all the evil brown people who believe in a different god than you and who are no more fundamentalist/extremist than you are, but you don’t see that because you go to a REAL church.  But you don’t want higher taxes, because it would just be wrong to have to pay for something you should get for free.

You want my kids to be taught some crack pot belief with no basis in scientific fact , and are insisting it be taught in science classes because you’re not capable of understanding the meaning of the word “theory.” Gravity is a theory, too, morons. It’s a scientifically proven THEORY. Just like “the earth rotates around the sun” and evo freakin lution. Evolution is not “Darwinism.” I get that you are so incredibly entrenched in your ignorance you refuse to accept that science is not a religion, but it’s true. Evolution is a part of SCIENCE. It’s a way with which we explain our PHYSICAL world! And Darwin was a scientist, not some heretical prophet of a “false religion.” They’re all false! And no, science does not, at some point, turn into “faith.”

You want your stupid, superstitious backward belief inflicted on the entire country despite the fact the country was specifically set up to NOT have that stupid, superstitious backward belief imposed on everyone in it. NO! I don’t care. I don’t care what the founding fathers believed in. I don’t care what they practiced in their private lives. When it comes to our government, we are SECULAR! Freaking deal with it.

Enough, already. I am tired of being told that my degree in nursing automatically makes me a part of some out of touch tower dwelling race that doesn’t know what’s going on in the “real world.” Screw you. I live in the real world every damn day. I care for people who probably can’t afford the medical bills, but don’t have any choice but to get help. I see teenage girls who are totally clueless about what’s in store for them because their parents won’t teach them anything about sexuality beyond “don’t do it,” and are scared and worried and asking me what to do, even though I cannot make their decision for them. I see small children who, were it not for funding that assholes like YOU want to cut, wouldn’t be getting the immunizations I give them. I see women who, til a couple years ago, had never even heard the letters “HPV” put together as a disease, and are now terrified for themselves and their daughters. But by all means, let’s not do any research on those vaccines or insist that insurance companies cover them, because instead of preventing every single type of cancer women contract, it only prevents a little over half, and that’s just not good enough.

How dare you sit there and pretend superiority over the very people who actually have a hope in hell of FIXING this damn huge hole we’re in the middle of? You would really rather sit there and let the entire country go to hell, just so you can say “your guy” got over on the “elitist libruls.” You. Moron. There are no words for how stupid you are. That you refuse to educate yourself on the facts and are more than happy to accept something some guy on the internet heard from his sister’s boyfriend’s best friend instead just shows how completely unworthy you are of something as precious as a say in our government. I sincerely wish there was a better form of government than representative democracy (HINT, DOOFUS! REPRESENTATIVE democracy! That means someone represents a group of people. Different from a warm body democracy. Read a book, dammit!), but currently it’s the best thing we have going. If only what was being represented wasn’t stupidity, greed, xenophobia, racism and willful ignorance.

5th Grader Suspended for Political TShirt

Don’t you just love irony? Is it not delicious and tingly and affirming? Let me tell you a rather ironic little story.

Some time back, during Alberto Gonzales’ speech addressing several hundred people at Georgetown University, several students stood and raised a sign bearing the slogan “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither,” a classic quote of Benjamin Franklin. Conservatives, right wing bloggers and pundits at Faux News were outraged (you can read Bill O’really’s righteously indignant comments here.)

Fast forward three years to a Colorado grade school. A fifth grade student, Dax Dalton (where DO conservatives get these interesting names for their children?) wore a Tshirt he had hand-decorated. The slogan? “Obama: A terrorist’s best friend.” At least it was spelled and punctuated correctly. Interestingly (at least to me), the same Faux news crew that was so horrified and outraged by the group of students who DARED speak out against a member of our government are now (okay, predictably) horrified and outraged that the grade school the 5th grader attends had the gall to ask the boy to either turn his shirt inside out or be suspended.

Ah, sweet irony…. D’you think if we keep pointing out the hypocrisy of these self-appointed protectors of all things American, they’ll eventually just shut up? We can but hope they’ll keep going…. how else would we know what NOT to do?

FBI plants informants, conducts raids on protesters.

After all the exposed graft, corruption, lies and scandal….the outgoing administration has still not learned their lesson.

In a progressively excessive chain of events, it has come to light that the FBI has planted several informers and pre-emptively arrested protesters on the suspicion of being liberal. These protesters were, indeed, planning on protesting the RNC. They had not committed any crime. Yet there is an attitude of “they deserve it!” among the general populace…that protesting, once considered a right more sacrosanct than our right to semi-automatic weapons, SHOULD be rewarded with detention and imprisonment.

If these people had committed a crime…that would be different. They would be charged, and I would agree that charging them was within reasonable action. But they didn’t. They disagreed with actions taken by our government and planned to protest to that government to redress grievances. That, my fellow citizens, is not just our right. It is our responsibility as Americans. And that we are now so programmed to see any vocal civil action against our government is not just sad….it’s scary as hell.

Are we really turning into such sheeple that the most we’ll do when unhappy is sit and whine behind the privacy of our computers? And how long til even that isn’t safe? Til the government petitions groups like Google and Yahoo and Time Warner to release private information about subscrib…..oh. That’s right. That’s already happened. And yet we do nothing.

StumbleUpon and the Magically Disappearing Blogs

Let’s discuss censorship.

A friend once told me my usage of the word was incorrect. That true censorship is the forced cessation of circulating ideas via media by a government. I think that, while his definition was likely true at one time, it needs to be refined. Today, it seems we give many corporations a vested say in government. Just look at Rupert Murdoch, fercryinoutloud. 

And now we have eBay, which seems bound and determined to drive SU into the cellar as fast as it can say “sold for $.50.” 

StumbleUpon  has recently added a “flag this user” button. The “flag this user” works in a very interesting way; you can give both positive and negative feedback. Those flags are labeled

In any other universe which did not contain humans, this would probably be a good thing. But as I have stated repeatedly; most people are bastards. Bastard covered bastards with bastard filling. Don’t like a person? Did they say something in the fora that offended you? Did they give you a negative review? Point out that you’re a spammer or have horrible grammar and can’t put two sentences together without a flashlight, map, and Tenzing Norgay (not that that unfavorably reviewed person even knows who Tenzing Norgay is, other than some dude with a funny name)? Did they offend you because of their political/religious beliefs or sexual content on their page? No problem! Just hit “flag this user,” and you have your revenge! The person’s account is suspended, and they are placed under review.

Here’s where the fun censorship bit comes in. Once an account is suspended for review, the suspended member is able to appeal. However; according to at least three Stumblers I have corresponded with via email, you can wait for months before that review actually happens. One has been waiting since March and still has not received a determination. There is no actual timeline given. Should any of those users open a new account under a different name, they are automatically in breach of the ToS, and both accounts will be banned from SU. ‘S brilliant, innit? The user doesn’t actually HAVE to do anything wrong, per se, the devs at SU just have to wait it out til the user gets bored and really wants to come back, then they can justifiably ban them. As I said; bastards.

Now, some say “after all, it’s SU’s site and we just use it; we should be happy it’s here and all obey the rules and be good little sheep and everything will be fine.” To which I naturally reply: “screw you.” We the users provide the content on SU; without those users, there would be no SU. Not to mention, many people pay for the “privilege” of stumbling. When did the concept of “the customer’s always right” disappear? I realize customer service is something of an anomaly these days, but the concept is still there. “Here, pay us, and you’ll get what we decide to give you!” Not the best of clever advertizing slogans, but it certainly seems to be what we’re reduced to of late.

StumbleUpon is much like television. If you don’t like what you’re seeing….CHANGE THE DAMN CHANNEL!! NO, you do not get to have it removed for you because you’re too damn lazy to think. NO, you do not get to dictate what other people consider interesting just so your 16 year old baby won’t see Janet Jackson’s nipple on the screen for 1/10th of a second during churc….er, the Super Bowl. NO, you do not get to take away my right to demand questionable content. Because that’s where the truly interesting information lies.

Obviously, something sparked my post this morning. Last night, one of my friends was put under review. I’ve actually known her for quite some time; we’ve corresponded and exchanged dog photos and laughed back and forth. What was her unspeakable crime? I’ll tell you. She made fun of another stumbler. “Say it ain’t so!” You gasp, in mock horror. “Someone on the internet made fun of someone else?!?!?!”  “Well, yes.” I reply, my brow furrowing some over your extraneous use of punctuation. “Unfortunately, the person she made fun of is a rather well-connected stumbler, one who has sucked up to the devs and befriended them and essentially can get people banned because she’s just that spiteful and can’t bear to be laughed at. As most people can’t.”

See, kids; this is the internet. Not a fifth grade playground. Although there are similarities. Someone saying “tee hee, you write funny poooooeetryyyy!” (and yes, that is what she said that got her suspended) is not harrassment. Or stalking. It’s a single comment that most adults with any amount of intestinal fortitude should be able to look at and say “you don’t like my poetry. Big fat hairy deal.” instead of running off to mommy to make the mean lady go away.

Am I frustrated? Obviously. Am I angry? Bet your ass. Because it isn’t just this one person, it’s happening all over SU, and usually because the person doing the reporting doesn’t have a good reason (okay, list of good reasons: child porn, spam, ACTUAL harrassment) other than they just don’t like that person. And it shouldn’t be that easy. KnowwhutImean,Vern? Unfortunately, unless people complain where it’s likely to be seen (read: somewhere OTHER than SU), it likely won’t get remedied. That’s where you and I come in. Hopefully, if the devs see that this is being discussed on sites other than theirs, they’ll get their act together and clean up their policy. So do me a favor; if you’re on SU and have a blog elsewhere, start talking about it.

Thanks.