Thursday, April 23, 2015

How Orwellian : Joschka Fischer & Putzgruppe

The NYTimes in 2001 says about Joschka Fischer (former Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany under Gerhard Schröder) :
The minister says he has never hidden his leftist past, always opposed terrorist violence and apologizes for having been a ''street fighter.''
and
''Should I distance myself from the struggle over Vietnam or Chile?'' Mr. Fischer asks in a conversation with a handful of journalists. ''No. What I must distance myself from is being a street fighter.'' But, he adds, to compare freedom fighters with rightists or Nazi revisionists -- as has happened here of late -- ''is simply grotesque.''


Joschka Fischer, Hans-Joachim Klein and other putzgruppe putzes beating/freedom fighting German police officer Rainer Marx


Above is Joschka Fischer (former Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of Germany under Gerhard Schröder), Hans-Joachim Klein and other putzes beating/freedom fighting German police officer Rainer Marx.

"Putz," as everyone knows, refers to a stupid person and is Yiddish for "dick."  Although this seems entirely appropriate, it turns out Putzgruppe is German for "cleaning squad" while the first syllable being an acronym for Proletarische Union für Terror und Zerstörung, "Proletarian Union for Terror and Destruction"

Fun fact : Joschka Fischer harbored members of the Red Army Faction and lent his car to Hans-Joachim Klein and Klein used the car to smuggle guns that were latter used to assassinate Hessian Secretary of Commerce Heinz-Herbert Karry. The German wiki page for Putzgruppe mentions they used molotov cocktails more than once including burning (or freedom fighting, if Herr Fischer would prefer) policeman Jürgen Weber over 60% of his body.

When he says the comparison to rightists or Nazis is "simply grotesque" I think he really means "accurate but not flattering."

I wonder if the NYTimes might want to rethink paraphrasing without qualification "always opposed terrorist violence" about a member of a group that included the word "Terror" in its name.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Erasing the Past - Mohammed Statue

(Erasing the past is a continuing series; see previously part 1 and part 2)


Sculpture of Mohammed in turban with curved sword in hand atop the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department in Manhattan  Courthouse c 1903


from the nonsearchable, crookedly scanned PDF from NYCourts.gov
When the Courthouse opened [it opened in 1900 and with the statues in 1901], a statue of Mohammed (580-632AD, representing Islamic Law, by Charles Albert Lopez, stood on the westernmost point of the roof facing 25th Street, where Zoroster is now positioned. In 1955, ;at the request of the governments of Egypt Pakistan, and Indonesia, the statue of Mohammed was removed and destroyed, since images of him are prohibited under Muslim Law. The statues that previously had stood to his left were each moved over one place, leaving an empty pedestal on the easternmost point.

The statue was destroyed! What a terrible waste of taxpayer dollars. 

 New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department in Manhattan after the removal and destruction.
 New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department in Manhattan before the removal circa 1903 (image from the Library of Congress).

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

How Orwellian : Garry Trudeau's "Free Speech Absolutists"




Doonsbury's Garry Trudeau's speech titled The Abuse of Satire was delivered on April 10 at the Long Island University's George Polk Awards ceremony, where he received the George Polk Career Award :

I, and most of my colleagues, have spent a lot of time discussing red lines since the tragedy in Paris. As you know, the Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against “self-censorship,” one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority—her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful. Not only was one cartoonist gunned down, but riots erupted around the world, resulting in the deaths of scores. No one could say toward what positive social end, yet free speech absolutists were unchastened. Using judgment and common sense in expressing oneself were denounced as antithetical to freedom of speech.


Coming up with the term "free speech absolutists" to criticize sounds much better than admitting that you want "restricted speech" over "free speech" because you fear the heckler's veto (or more pointedly the assassin's veto).

Imagine Garry Trudeau running a hot dog stand with a big sign that says "Free Hot Dogs!" But, he explains, he isn't a "Free Hot Dog Absolutist" so the hot dogs are $8 a piece. 

The context of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo, fundamentally, is whether people who don't follow a particular religion (Islam) are obliged to follow that particular religion's iconoclastic beliefs (Islam's prohibition of depicting Mohammed and the prohibition of depicting living things). 


Jyllands-Posten cartoon pixelated by CNN in the same way nudity get pixelated


from the Koran :

Behold! he said to his father and his people, "What are these images, to which ye are (so assiduously) devoted?" They said, "We found our fathers worshipping them." He said, "Indeed ye have been in manifest error - ye and your fathers." sura 21, 52-54

The hadiths forbids the drawing people or animals : "All the painters who make pictures would be in the fire of Hell") Obeying the religious rules of everyone else's religions seems like hard work.



Although Trudeau says :
"one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority—her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke…" 

That is not true.  The Jyllands-Posten cartoons were inspired by the fact that artists were afraid to illustrate a book by Kåre Bluitgen on Mohammed because they were afraid of violence. A group that successfully threatens others into following that groups religious rules instead of their own is not what I would call a  "powerless, disenfranchised minority" that should be immune from satire. One could even say it could "challenge authority."



Jyllands-Posten cartoon Trudeau claims "was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority…[but] specifically to provoke"  Other than the muslim perception of blasphemy what is provocative about this?

"one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness."

The Editor of Jyllands-Posten was Fleming Rose who is male.

"Not only was one cartoonist gunned down"

An attempted assassin was shot while he was trying to kill one of the cartoonists. I'm not aware of one of the cartoonist being shot although several were threatened.


"No one could say toward what positive social end"
Imagine every single cartoon ever done by Garry Trudeau being judged as to "what positive social end." If he gives a speech with significant factual errors does that negate some of its "positive social end"? 

More from Trudeau :
By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence. Well, voila—the 7 million copies that were published following the killings did exactly that, triggering violent protests across the Muslim world, including one in Niger, in which ten people died. Meanwhile, the French government kept busy rounding up and arresting over 100 Muslims who had foolishly used their freedom of speech to express their support of the attacks. 

Incitement means to encourage someone to act illegally. Like telling Person A telling Person B that Person C deserves to die and that Person B should kill him. Note that in the United States there is the Brandenburg Test (intent, imminence, and likelihood).  In contrast, Person A telling something to Person B and Person C responding by murdering Person A or murdering 10 people in Niger not incitement. It is Person C being a murder. 

Using his definition of inciting would mean that a Birmingham Baptist Church in 1963 getting bombed would have been incited by the church itself. 

He doesn't specify what about this issue of Charlie Hebdo he mentions appears to be "hate speech", "punching downwards" or "attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings." The cover is following the religious customs of the magazine and not Islam because following the religious rules of everyone is difficult.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Civility! Calle Mateu Morral







In 1906 Mateu Morral threw a bomb concealed as a bouquet from his hotel window at the King of Spain, Alfonso XIII, and his bride Victoria Eugenie as the wedding procession moved along the Calle Mayor in Madrid, Spain.

25 people were killed and over a hundred injured. After he was captured he killed his guard and then killed himself. 

Fast forward about 30 years :
During the Spanish Civil War, Calle Mayor was renamed Calle Mateo Morral by the Republican Madrid council.

Monday, January 26, 2015

movie notes : Interstellar



The future has incredible disappointing robots. Metal cereal boxes that wobble
Cap'n Crunch box has very similar proportions to the robots in Interstellar

Star Wars WobbleBot
spoilers below