Archive for the 'Speech' Category

06
Aug
12

Six Reasons You Blew It On The Chick-Fil-A Argument

Mitt Romney saying corporations are people

(Above: Mitt Romney assures us that corporations are people. Not pictured: Millions of liberals agreeing.)

The 1st Ward community that stopped Chick-Fil-A from opening its 1,600th restaurant was 100% right to do so, had the legitimate power to do so, and in no way cost anybody their freedom of speech nor of religion.

Because a business is not a person.

Chicken CEO / bigot Dan Cathy is not Chick-Fil-A. Chick-Fil-A is a legal construct distinct from any person.

I expect libertarians and mainstream national politicians to get this wrong, funded as they are by corporate boardrooms who directly benefit from this now-classic ruse.

But watching so many liberals knee-jerk against the Alderman this week on the basis of “free speech” and “government overstep” has taught me a few things, none of them good news for the average liberal’s state of civic literacy.

I have learned:

  • That a whole lot of people have never seen up close what it looks like when a business asks for permission to open.
  • That it’s news to a whole lot of people that it is no longer 1830 and commercial entities have to ask permission to open in a densely populated area, and that it’s a very good thing that they do.
  • That lots of people apparently believe any community should allow any legal business to open in their backyard because being legal is the only standard that exists, everywhere.  Even though a perfectly legal business can legally kill and sicken its neighbors for decades.
  • That Chick-Fil-A is already in business in Chicago, yet somehow I keep reading over and over about how Chicago banned it.
  • That the right of the 50,000 residents in the 1st Ward to petition their duly elected representative to shape their area’s economic life is called oppression, while opening a 1,600th restaurant over the wishes of the locals is called liberty.
  • Most disturbingly, I’ve learned that lots of people can mistake the sacred and monumental protections a CEO has for the things that he says and believes with some kind of weird magic protection for the things the CEO’s business does, such as occupy land, use access, obtain tax breaks, use city services…and of course, discriminate, exclude, and fund hate groups.

People who I respect have actually fallen hard for this nonsense, countering me by pointing out I wouldn’t support a community blocking of a permit if a business pronounced pro-gay tendencies. To which I reply something I once thought was obvious: If a proposed business had announced it preferred to hire gay people, and had been in court repeatedly because it puts its employees and franchisees through tests to make sure they were gay enough, and had funded psychos who deprogram sexual preference — which is the only set of conditions that matches what Chick-Fil-A does — you’d better believe I would tell my Alderman that such a place and its practices was not welcome in my neighborhood. and that the Alderman would lose my support next election if he didn’t reflect my view.  The central issue is corporate practice, not a CEO’s idiotic, discriminatory views nor LGBT equality per se.

Truly, this is a post-Citizens United world when we can get it this wrong. We laugh at Mitt Romney when he stands on a 18″ hay bale and sneers “corporations are people”, but when we mistake chicken bigots (protected) for their corporations (not protected, and subject to our standards), we have no right to laugh at Romney — we’re loudly agreeing with him.

28
Jun
10

Enormous Magician Terrified

Penn Jillette: entertainer, commentator, libertarian. The vocal half of the Penn & Teller magic team might to some exemplify a sharp-witted, laudable North Americanism in the face of nonsense – part Mark Twain, part James Randi.  Despite Jillete’s simplistic libertarian civics, his show Penn & Teller: Bullshit! does its bit to roll back credulous mindlessness of many sorts.

But when Penn’s subject turns to a faith called Islam,  the bravura evaporates.  Mention a mosque and the clever iconoclast vanishes into the sea of  tens of millions of flabby, terrified morons convinced of their impending doom at the hands of jihadists – the tiniest minority among a tiny minority.

From the June 24th Issue of Las Vegas Weekly:

Are there any groups you won’t go after? We haven’t tackled Scientology because Showtime doesn’t want us to. Maybe they have deals with individual Scientologists—I’m not sure. And we haven’t attacked Islam because we have families.

Meaning, you won’t attack Islam because you’re afraid it’ll attack back … Right, and I think the worst thing you can say about a group in a free society is that you’re afraid to talk about it—I can’t think of anything more horrific.

Of course, it might please some Islamic fundamentalists to hear you say that you won’t talk about them because you’re afraid … It might, but you have to say what you believe, even it if pleases somebody you disagree with—that issue comes up all the time in moral discourse.

Moral discourse?

Not to further terrify Mr. Jillette, but it should be pointed out that there are problems in his bringing that up.   Moral discourse as suggested by the theories of Lawrence Kohlberg features the concept of stages of moral development, placing the highest stage as a person’s conforming to a set of morals to avoid self-condemnation.  This is as opposed to lower stages avoiding the condemnation of others, or of institutions, of of sky beings.  The very lowest stage of moral development?  Conforming to avoid punishment.

Which is exactly what Penn’s childish (and very popular) panic indulges in.

In this astoundingly lame justification for avoiding discussing Islam, the big, burly libertarian at once wets his pinstriped trousers while simultaneously validating the current, driving and interchangeable enemy myth of the military-industrial complex.   We are treated to another twist of that meat grinder’s handle, as if it was really needed.  What stance could be more reactionary, or more embracing of pernicious bullshit than to blubber thus over the infinitesimally small threat individuals pose to a superpower?

You know, libertarians just don’t get it. We live in a world where political and economic realities of our own making exist that cannot be expressed adequately (or at all) in terms of the individual.  A system is running.  Our parts to be played within it happily include many of our own choosing, but the lingering, aggregated effects of these choices are mainly external to us as individuals. That means that the libertarian ethos – calibrated as it is to the individual’s freedom –  is spectacularly ill-suited to oppose a system it cannot even see.  Theirs is the philosophy of the spreadsheet cell, in denial of the spreadsheet’s existence.

The horrifying irony is that libertarian blindness has always served as the perfect cover for the corporate enfeebling of the individual. The libertarian credo – personal freedom – is totally at odds with this state of permanent war and war economy.  The evidence is unambiguous: freedom after freedom is lost to this permanent war as the years drag on.  The only way this system can be countered by individuals is by exercising their sole advantage over the inhuman: adherence to moral or ethical principle.  And these should be of the very highest grade, not the lowest.

03
May
10

Amplifying Weakness, Or The Wrong Way To Handle A Guy On A Stepladder

Dear United Kingdom,

Pluralism. It’s good. It helps. It’s better to preserve it, and maybe even export it by means of good example.

Now can you please stop crapping all over it?

How sincerely should the world take western notions of pluralism when the UK sees fit to jail someone on the basis of expressing their childish beliefs?

Dale McAlpine was charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a homosexual police community support officer (PCSO) overheard him reciting a number of “sins” referred to in the Bible, including blasphemy, drunkenness and same sex relationships.

The 42-year-old Baptist, who has preached Christianity in Wokington, Cumbria for years, said he did not mention homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the word of God.

Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.

Surely, United Kingdom, you’ve heard this criticism before.  I can’t be the first.   Yet, it bears repeating:

When, in the west, someone climbs a stepladder on a streetcorner to advocate bigotry on behalf of their preferred sky-illusion, they do so not because their team is winning.  They do so because their shit is weak, as the kids say.

The dead giveaway there is the stepladder. See, typically, your more formidable foes of society adopt techniques, strategies and tactics that do not utterly rely upon modest elevation to work.

So that’s Mr. McAlpine’s problem.  What’s yours, UK?

Sadly, something very similar.

What’s behind Climby McImpotent’s show of weakness is exactly the same thing that lurks behind your arresting a mental toddler for the crime of speech.  When your state does this, it is not because your state is strong and correct.  Quite the opposite; it is done because something in your character as reflected by the state is weak and nervous.

Scared of a dumb guy on a stepladder.  A dumb guy on a stepladder who thinks a clerk in the sky needs him to carry news of His displeasure.

From three feet off the ground.

Grow up, both of you.




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