Archive | Serious Commentary

Everyone’s Entitled to Their Opinion, Right? (SPOILER: No, You Aren’t)

Everyone’s Entitled to Their Opinion, Right? (SPOILER: No, You Aren’t)

This post is inspired by a certain post-election viral tweet by Xannie Woodard, where she says:

Please stop telling people to respect others’ opinions. That’s for things like “I don’t like coffee” not for “I don’t like black people.

***

The whole Trump thing on choices or convictions kind of reminds me of people who say ‘everyone’s entitled to their opinion!’

So, if you think the earth is flat (or 6 000 years old!) or the world is controlled by 9 foot lizard men from outer space, then ‘I’m entitled to my opinion,’ so you shouldn’t challenge it! Continue Reading

Posted in Serious Commentary0 Comments

Five Reasons Why a Trump Presidency is Not that Bad

Five Reasons Why a Trump Presidency is Not that Bad

NOTE FROM WALLACE: Our Chris (as we say back in Yorkshire!) wrote this very shortly after the recent election. It may still resonate with some people. Leave your comments if you have views on this somewhat contrarian piece from a prominent critical thinker around our parts!

***

If you were to read my Facebook feed, you would probably thing the apocalypse has genuinely happened. It may be easy to think so from the snow that appeared over night. However, I note that we are now a whole day later and all still alive. The reality is that a Trump presidency is not that bad. Here is why.

This is Brexit times 0.1

Brexit times ten? It might be for Trump? But for us this is nothing. Continue Reading

Posted in Politics, Serious Commentary2 Comments

Male/Female Sex Ratios and Neurodiversity Revisited (2/2)

Male/Female Sex Ratios and Neurodiversity Revisited (2/2)

One of the problems with this line of thinking is that similar ratios have been reported in other developmental disorders. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, intellectual disabilities, and stuttering are among those. The social problems of autism do not exist in these conditions and it would be a lot harder to hide them; a dyslexic either has difficulty reading or doesn’t, a stutterer either talks fluently or doesn’t. Continue Reading

Posted in Health, Human Interest, Serious Commentary0 Comments

Fellow Asperger’s People: ‘Society’ Owes You Nothing

Fellow Asperger’s People: ‘Society’ Owes You Nothing

Here, I am quoting some of my tweets from November 14, 2016.

You can probably guess what facets of my identity motivate these tweets.

If you have autism, ‘Society’ owes you nothing! Continue Reading

Posted in Health, Human Interest, Serious CommentaryComments Off

October Surprise from Autism Speaks: They No Longer Want a Cure? (2/2)

October Surprise from Autism Speaks: They No Longer Want a Cure? (2/2)

Last time:

After the Los Angeles Times published an op-ed piece by Steve Silberman that included the analogy between autism speaks and the NAACP that I wrote about above, Liz Feld, Autism Speaks CEO, responded urging the autism community to work together. This was years after not responding to repeated criticism by the neurodiversity movement, including that they were eugenicists whose only goal was to find a pre-natal test for autism and urge the abortion of autistic fetuses.

The essay continues:

Another significant event took place. Suzanne Wright contracted pancreatic cancer. This was so difficult for their family, that the Wright’s resigned from the autism speaks board and others took over. This made Steve Shore believe that autism speaks was now a safe haven and after some years of unsuccessfully trying to recruit him for their board of directors, he finally decided to get on board and become a team player. Valerie Paradiz who has stated that she has Asperger’s was the second autistic board member to be appointed by Autism Speaks. Valerie has not only been an opponent for a cure for autism, she stated at least according to one media source that autism is not a disability but a strength. Continue Reading

Posted in Human Interest, Serious Commentary0 Comments

October Surprise from Autism Speaks: They No Longer Want a Cure? (1/2)

October Surprise from Autism Speaks: They No Longer Want a Cure? (1/2)

WALLACE’S NOTE: Although the following story is about the ‘October Surprise’ from Autism Speaks, the decision in question may have some long term implications.

Autism speaks has published a new mission statement:

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions.

Saliently absent is the word “cure” from their mission statement which they had in the past: Continue Reading

Posted in Human Interest, Serious Commentary0 Comments

Gitmo Vs Justice

Gitmo Vs Justice

This is my response to the following article about 5 alleged 9/11 masterminds, who have been held at Gitmo since 2002 still in pre-trial hearings:

https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/07/26/dispatches-guantanamo-9/11-case-staggers 

No doubt due in large part to lack of mainstream media attention of ongoing Guantanamo proceedings, many Americans today believe the perpetrators of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack all perished on that day. People are unaware of the fact that the US government has detained five men with alleged connection, at least one of whom is deemed to be a “mastermind.”

Continue Reading

Posted in Serious Commentary, War Zone1 Comment

Clinton vs Weiner: The Democrats Are Screwed?

Clinton vs Weiner: The Democrats Are Screwed?

Where are we and how did we get here?

I am paraphrasing the words of Jim Stockdale in the 1992 US Vice Presidential debate. Those are also the words much of the American electorate asks near Election Day.

A sure vote for corruption and expansionary political and military intervention lies on the Clinton side. We have spent two weeks learning via Wikileaks and the Veritas Project things no one wants for any candidacy.

In Mr Trump, we have a trailing opponent candidate standing strong in the face of some dreary personal failures. We had an October 1st kickoff to the insanity with NY Times release of Trump’s 1995 tax return featuring a $916 million tax loss. Trump’s grandest failure was just six days later with the Billy Bush tapes. Like this past week’s Clinton revelations, the daggers were secured by clandestine means. In this brave new world of ours, it seems few things of import remain permanently hidden even for the shadiest of operators. Continue Reading

Posted in Serious Commentary, War Zone0 Comments

Is a Libertarian Vote for Trump Unconscionable?

Is a Libertarian Vote for Trump Unconscionable?

The US Presidential Election is upon us.

Faced with a binary choice, a Libertarian would rightly consider voting for Mr Trump over Secretary Clinton. Ask yourself which of the two “candidates” has a proven track record of choosing war? Was the Libyan intervention in 2011 a war of choice? As President Obama stated at the Democrat Convention this past summer, no one ever running has been more qualified. That was a subtle statement that after the years of war, drones and regime change, Hillary Clinton is highly aware and capable of expanding the American military presence globally. She deserves no consideration from a Libertarian.

And what of Mr Trump? Continue Reading

Posted in Serious Commentary, War Zone1 Comment

The Trouble with Corbyn Voters

The Trouble with Corbyn Voters

Last month, Jeremy Corbyn won another significant victory in winning the Labour Party leadership election. He increased his share of the vote to 61.8%. This is especially notable because Labour banned any member who had joined in the past 9 months from voting. Therefore, his share of the vote is going to continue to increase for the next nine months as well.

The question still remains as to whether he can win a General Election. Clearly he is electable in almost every other situation. However, Labour trail in the General Election polls by a significant amount. How much of this is due to Corbyn and how much to the attitude of the rest of the Labour party is unclear, but it is difficult to extricate a party leader from responsibility. Continue Reading

Posted in Politics, Serious Commentary0 Comments

Conspiracy Theorists are Foolish: the ‘Hume’s Leap’ Fallacy

Conspiracy Theorists are Foolish: the ‘Hume’s Leap’ Fallacy

 

Some years ago, someone spoke with me about 9/11 conspiracy theories, and said that he ‘wouldn’t put it past them,’ or words to that effect.

This sentence from the person who spoke with me years ago, arguably shines a light on the problem with conspiracy theory nonsense, e.g. the myths of 9/11 Truthers, or of Holocaust denialists, or of those who fantasise about so-called ‘Cultural Marxism,’ ‘New World Order,’ ‘Neoliberalism,’ ‘Shapeshifting Lizards,’ ‘the Rockefellers,’ ‘the Zionist Lobby,’ ‘Eurabia,’ and so on. Continue Reading

Posted in Opinon/Editorial, Serious Commentary, War Zone0 Comments

“I, for one, am not an anti-Neoliberal!”

“I, for one, am not an anti-Neoliberal!”

On the one hand, people who claim neoliberalism exists say that Hayek thought capitalism and free markets could aid democracy, but if not, well too bad!

But on the other hand, people who claim neoliberalism exists say that Hayek was predicting an inevitable slide into servitude (rather than hypothesising about potential risks).

Which one is the true one?

The reason I don’t trust the usual lines of assertion and rhetoric regarding Hayek and Friedman is that people try to have it both ways. They want to associate Hayek and Friedman with the pernicious ‘Washington Consensus’ of crony capitalism, but they also want to be taken seriously as people acquainted with the writings of Hayek and Friedman.

But everyone who has read even a little Hayek and Friedman knows that they were at best deeply sceptical, and at worst pretty critical, of continental-level or global-level crony capitalist institutionalism.

As you can see already, I am not defending this or that element of what they have written; that’s not the point here. I am merely pointing out that any association of scholars sceptical of global-institutional/continental-institutional ‘crony capitalism’ with the very same objects of their scepticism, or even criticism, can only ever stem either from cynicism, a lack of intelligence, or a lack of serious acquaintance with their writings.

And this is really not a grey area at all. Have you read the chapter near the end of ‘The Road to Serfdom’ where Hayek lays this all out fairly neatly?

Ultimately, the myth of neoliberalism risks severely discrediting intelligent and rational critics of globalist crony-capitalism; just as 9/11 Truthers, anti-vaxxers, and Ickean lizard-hunters risk imperilling the cause of non-interventionism.

The Vast Neoliberal Conspiracy is a busted spunk, and it needs to be binned, if people have the merest whit of ethical seriousness about the substantial limitations of globalist crony capitalism.

***
Adapted from my comments at the Facebook Group: Zizek and the Slovenian School. Further adapted from:
http://jonathanartsandcritique.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/i-for-one-am-not-anti-neoliberal.html

Posted in Politics, Serious Commentary1 Comment

Points scoring on tragedy attention

Points scoring on tragedy attention

Other than it being the lead story on BBC News of course.

lahore-bbc-news

What we did get to experience, was a torrent of people talking about how nobody carried about Pakistan. There was outrage. “How dare people not change their profile pictures to the Pakistani flag. How dare the media not demand that everyone change their profile picture to the Pakistani flag. No, we don’t care that the Metro published a guide on how to do it” yelled the mob, “people are ignoring this tragedy!”

This isn’t the first time such comments have been made. I regularly see items appearing in my news feed comparing the attention that news items in the West get vs news items in the East. It is a constant series of points scoring against each other as to who can be seen to care the most.

I suspect that the truth is that many people in Britain, including myself, do care more about a bombing in Paris than a bombing in Lahore. There are good reasons why:

  • A bombing in Paris is a lot closer to me. If they can bomb Paris, they can bomb Leeds. Many of the people I care about most in the world are in Leeds.
  • Paris is close by. I have visited it and I have friends that visit it. It is far more likely that a bombing in Paris will affect someone I know.
  • The attack on Charlie Hebdo was a direct attack on values that that I care deeply about and am actively involved with.

I do not think that that lives of the people I love and care about the most are objectively more important than the lives of people in Lahore. However, like all human beings, I do care more about my friends and relatives than I do about people I do not know.

I did not add a French flag to my profile picture last year. I have no plans to add a Pakistani flag to my profile picture this year. If you are doing both, then great, I am glad some awareness of both of these tragedies is being maintained. However, surely we all have better, more productive things to do than score points off each other as to who is demonstrating their outrage in correctly proportioned amounts.

http://blog.chrisworfolk.com/2016/03/28/points-scoring-on-tragedy-attention/

Posted in Serious Commentary, World News0 Comments

A Mini Manifesto

A Mini Manifesto

In the first blog post I ever published on Jonathan Arts & Critique, I said:

I am:

Pro peace, not merely anti war.

Pro privacy, not merely anti state voyeurism.

Pro speech, not merely anti censorship.

Pro capitalism, not merely anti far left. Continue Reading

Posted in Opinon/Editorial, Serious Commentary0 Comments

Remembering the Magna Carta

Remembering the Magna Carta

It took a long time for human societies to come up with the idea of universal human rights and the equality of persons under the law. Before 1215, monarchs could capriciously decree “Off with their heads!” and dispatch anyone with impunity. In the short term, leaders were the equivalent of terrestrial gods, acting with the divine right of kings, according to the received wisdom of the times. If mistakes were made, they would be dealt with in the afterlife.

Only in the thirteenth century did the absolute authority of the monarch begin seriously to be questioned. Admittedly, the first attempts were not driven by pure quests for morality or justice on the part of leaders themselves. The first steps taken were rather practical in nature, and there were many false starts before the notions of liberty and human dignity began to take hold. The earliest kings to begin the process of forging what would eventually come to be embraced as human rights were amenable to negotiation on contentious matters, including the meting out of justice, for the self-interested or prudential reason that they needed the cooperation of other people in order to govern their domains smoothly.

Full rights were not extended to all people everywhere for many, many centuries, but it all started with the Magna Carta and the path-breaking idea that the arbitrary justice handed down by monarchs up until that time needed to be moderated. Small concessions led to larger ones and were incorporated in the government constitutions of many Western democratic states, including the United States of America. The ideas continued to be developed and expanded until finally, in the mid-twentieth century, universal human rights were codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the twenty-first century, the idea of universal human rights has taken some serious hits. Ironically, it is the ultramodern technology used to annihilate persons by remote-control which has caused a regression to pre-Magna Carta times in matters of justice. George W. Bush was the first US president to dispatch persons with this technology, but he used it primarily in connection with the already waged wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Much of the use of drones during Bush’s terms of office involved the protection of forces on the ground. Not all, however, for Bush also used drones, albeit selectively, in places such as Yemen and Pakistan, in a quest to hunt down and eliminate alleged Al Qaeda terrorists.

President Barack Obama deserves even more censure than Bush on the drone front, having effectively normalized the practice of assassination at a distance. Obama thought that he was being a technologically savvy “smart warrior”, but the most cursory glance at the situation in the Middle East reveals that he was sorely wrong. Much of the US populace regards Obama as a cautious warrior, because he has done most of his killing quietly and covertly, characteristically refusing to share his lethal practices and policies with the public under cover of State Secrets Privilege said to be necessitated by national security.

Obama’s decision to execute thousands of suspects without warning or trial using Predator drones is particularly disturbing in the light of the statistics on Guantánamo Bay prison, where the majority of the prisoners were discovered after years of detention to have been erroneously apprehended. The intel just wasn’t that good. Bribed informants are obviously subject to mercenary corruption, and this fact was starkly confirmed by the plight of terrorist suspects incarcerated under the authority of George W. Bush.

One might have hoped that this lesson would be taken to heart by the subsequent US administration, but it was not. Instead, Obama dealt with the problem of suspects by defining them as guilty until proven innocent. Sound familiar? That would be the pre-Magna Carta template of justice. The sovereign power decrees “Off with their heads!” and that is the end of their story.

It was shocking to many people when, in 2011, Obama opted to assassinate even US citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan and, two weeks later, Al-Awlaki’s son, Abdulrahman, in Yemen. Unfortunately, many people wanted to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, so impeachment proceedings were never carried out. In truth, what he started is bound to grow worse under the most likely successors to the US throne. But we did not even have to wait until the end of Obama’s term to see the nefarious potential for harm set by his precedent rolling back the progress made by republican governments over hundreds of years.

Ironically, it was during the year of the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, penned in Runnymede, West of London, that UK Prime Minister David Cameron decided to strap on his drone warrior holster and whack a couple of his own countrymen, Ruhal Amin and Reyaad Khan. The British Parliament had already explicitly voted against war in Syria, and yet that was precisely where Cameron carried out the assassinations using unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), better known as “lethal drones”.

It is depressing that the tendency of people to accord Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt has ended by undoing so much good done by so many people who toiled over so many centuries to establish basic protections for all people under the law. When the leader of a nation chooses to execute his compatriots on the basis of secretive intelligence to which only he and his henchmen are privy, then it is difficult to see how this differs at all from what went on before 1215.

Every monarch throughout history who decreed “Off with their heads!” believed that he was doing the right thing. Often they felt entirely justified in what they were doing, primarily protecting their own domain and shoring up their power against threats. What reason can the US and UK governments possibly have for not observing the most basic protections guaranteed by the laws of the land, and codified in Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

The claim made by Obama has always been that capture is “infeasible”, but the cases of the unarmed Osama bin Laden, who was shot and killed in cold blood, and Anwar al-Awlaki, who was released from a prison in Yemen only to be hunted down and slain, reveal that “infeasibility” has now come to mean “undesirability”. In some ways the execution of British nationals authorized by David Cameron is even more shocking, because the death penalty is prohibited under both British law and the EU Charter. (Oddly enough, Cameron himself opposes Brexit!)

Political leaders can generally be depended on to try to outdo their predecessors, just as Obama did vis-à-vis Bush on the drone front. That is precisely why the legacy of Barack Obama will be none other than the increased propensity to “strike first, suppress questions later,” to prove that whoever the new president ends up being is “tougher” on terrorism than Obama was.

Let no one be fooled by the fact that for most of his eight-year term Obama resolutely recited “no boots on the ground” in the manner of a mantra. After years of covert operations, drone strikes, and weapons provisions to “appropriately vetted moderate rebel forces”, the Middle East is a morass of lawlessness and homicide. We reap what we sow. Now even Obama has sent combat troops to most of the several lands where he has ruthlessly used drones to kill persons whose names are not even known, along with “high-value” targets who became enemies of the state only because of the US invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria using implements of mass homicide, Special Forces, intelligence operatives, and regular combat soldiers.

The Magna Carta was the beginning of the full recognition of human liberty and dignity, and an acknowledgement that no mere mortal possesses the divine powers of omniscience. Mistakes are made. Politicians and bureaucrats are sometimes corrupt and sometimes amoral. That is precisely why we have laws to guard against the very tyranny which Obama and Cameron have chosen so myopically to embrace and hold up as an example for leaders all over the world, in both democratic and nondemocratic states.

The road to liberty and universal human rights was long and tortuous. The road to tyranny, thousands of victims have now learned at the hands of the US and UK governments, is short and direct, rather like driving down a street which terminates off the edge of a cliff. The fact that most US and UK citizens have not suffered summary execution has persuaded many to believe that nothing has really changed. In fact, everything has changed, but not in the way which any of the early supporters of Obama might have hoped.

To freely forsake one’s right to be indicted and tried for a capital crime before being annihilated by the state is a luxury enjoyed only by already free people. To condone the drone warriors’ willful denial of the historical and political significance of the Magna Carta is to prevent that same liberty from being shared by all people everywhere.

https://thedroneage.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/remembering-the-magna-carta/

Posted in Human Interest, Serious Commentary, War Zone1 Comment

Ireland: Reproductive Agency is One Thing, Intrusive Meddling is Another!

Ireland: Reproductive Agency is One Thing, Intrusive Meddling is Another!

Some may feel yesterday’s piece on Amnesty International, abortion, and Ireland is flippant. I can certainly see why people might think that; but I am 100% unapologetic. However, I will now speak in a less polemical and satirical manner, and weaponize a more prosaic tone against Big Human Rights.

It might seem churlish to sneer at the ‘humanitarian interventionism’ Amnesty International is perpetrating against Irish people of all identities. ‘After all,’ some might say, ‘Isn’t your postcolonial angle a minor distraction from the most important thing, which is the rights of women, and the necessity to reform the laws in a direction that respects women’s bodily autonomy and right to reproductive agency?’ Continue Reading

Posted in Opinon/Editorial, Serious Commentary0 Comments

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