Tag Archives: liberty

By Pulling “The Interview” We Have Told The Wolves We Are Sheep

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Fear is what kills freedom, as companies and even nation states do the bidding of tyrants and fundamentalists. Under President Obama the U.S. is no longer feared nor respected, as the wolves of Putin, ISIS and Kim Jong Un come to chase the sheep we have become. They are ready to feast on what remains of the Liberty we abandon in our stampede for peace and security.

The Art of Cyberwar – first demoralise and sow confusion against your opponent with hacks to emails – has delivered by relying on a cheap threat of bloodshed to any cinema goer or neighbourhood that might host a showing of “The Interview.” One by one, movie theatres refused to show the film in the US.

Without a shot being fired, without any physical harm to anyone, Sony pulled the film from general release. Victory was accomplished by “the Guardians of Peace” without having to leave their keyboards.

Backbones are absent when you compare this situation to “The Satanic Verses” where people were killed and personally threatened. If North Korea and their cyber Bureau 121 unit are behind this, we have just given Kim Jong Un the assurance that his unpredictability and willingness to talk up war truly does get results. Stamping his feet, demanding concessions during negotiations, knowing he can use fear to strike at the heart of American life. Without using a long range missile.

Threaten violence, by calling to mind 9/11, and free enterprise that made the US the economic superpower will fold to the whims of a dictator. The hope that the antics of the Guardians of Peace might increase box office attendance as a big all American fuck you to tyranny, has instead been replaced by a whimper of please do not hurt us. We will do as you want.

Benjamin Franklin would have understood the dangerous situation:

But our great security lies, I think, in our growing strength, both in numbers and wealth; that creates an increasing ability of assisting this nation in its wars, which will make us more respectable, our friendship more valued, and our enmity feared; thence it will soon be thought proper to treat us not with justice only, but with kindness, and thence we may expect in a few years a total change of measures with regard to us; unless, by a neglect of military discipline, we should lose all martial spirit, and our western people become as tame as those in the eastern dominions of Britain, when we may expect the same oppressions; for there is much truth in the Italian saying, Make yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you.

Thus we lose our freedom, first to make our own choice whether to watch a movie. Next we lose our freedom to make the movies we want because of potential threats. Then we lose our ability to articulate our opinions in case we become victims for expressing ourselves.

Finally those expressing their opinions become the enemies of the state they live in, for daring to incite threats by rogue states and fundamentalists. Do not rock the boat less we all drown. Far better to throw you overboard. You cannot stop the threats, but you can stop people being controversial.

This is the situation we are approaching in Britain, which Nick Cohen writes in Standpoint:

True liberals always held that people should be free to speak their minds as long as they did not incite violence. Now the Home Office wants laws that will force us to be nice citizens, who never say anything the thin-skinned might consider “hateful” or “inappropriate”. Secularists fear that atheists will be locked up for being beastly about religion. Christians fear that evangelicals will be jailed for being beastly about gays. We will live in a country where we cannot utter a controversial opinion.

We have to stand for our freedoms against those that would rob us of them. The problem is the enemies of freedom are foreign and domestic. Even our own governments.

Those liberal freedoms we hold dear need us to be lions even if we are led by lambs. Those wolves will not go away by themselves, as they savour the meal to come.

More on the story of “The Interview” being pulled can be read here.

Update 23 December:

Some cinemas will now show as part of a limited release, and rumours are it will be on demand. Pity more cinemas not prepared to stand up to the threats [see more from BBC]

Update 24 December:

You can indeed watch the film on the internet via this link here.

Some reports if the story tried to claim this was capitalism covering their backs (and profits) rather than caving in to terror. However appealing it might be to show business has no values other than monetary for some, this ignored the threats meant a denial of our liberties for supposed security.

I am reminded therefore of another quote by Franklin.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

As to Sony manipulating events to gain maximum publicity for their film. No, the fall out and stress from the hacking and impact of terror on business makes that too cynical as this story spun itself without Sony having any control beyond deciding to stream film or not. Which would have taken sometime to organise and get approval within the organisation.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

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Filed under America, British Politics, British Society, Culture, Film, politics, World

Video: Oxford Union Debate “Islam Is A Peaceful Religion”

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The motion “Islam Is A Peaceful Religion” was moved at the Oxford Union Society the day after Lee Rigby was brutally murdered in Woolwich. It has only this month been uploaded to Youtube.

    Matthew Handley opens case for the motion:
    Anne-Marie Waters opens case for opposition:
    Adam Deen responds for the motion:
    Daniel Johnston counters the motion:
    Mehdi Hasan for the motion:
    Peter Atkins concludes debate against the motion:

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    My posts that are relevant to the above debate:

Dehumanising by Islam and cherry picking of verses by extreme Islamists

A theological alternative view to change attitudes to apostasy where it is illegal can be read here, based on my discussions with Sam Harris and Quilliam Foundation.

The motion passed 286/168.

UPDATE: Write up of the debate and video of Hitchens V Ramadan on same motion can be found here.

Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog

Follow @JPSargeant78

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Filed under Religion

One World – Iraq and the cost

I know that quite a few people I get on with do have disagreement with my position on Iraq. Which in a nutshell was a realisation that we were being lied to about going in, but the case should have been made on humanitarian reasons and that the world could not risk allowing tyrants that threatened peace and security to die peacefully in their sleep when they murdered whole families for having satellite television. But in all cases it should be for a society to have the facts, and agree to the aims if their children’s lives are to be sent to die. The cause must be true, and the sacrifice though painfully felt considered to the good of humanity.

The reduction in UK troop numbers from 4,000 to 2,500 have been halted due to conditions on the ground. Violence in Basra has increased between militia and the Iraqi army. Whether we are there as a support or actually prepared to be actively involved in the fighting with full support is unclear depending on what you mean by the term “overwatch”. To get any sense of what is going on is not helped by language that is used to camouflage the facts and to smooth the fragile senses that may react in a way that may displease Her Majesty’s Government.

Yet my acid test for withdrawal remains the consequences of us leaving. Remember in France 270,000 civilians died in WW2 and 600,00 deaths were military – Iraq is far less then that and yet what we are trying to do is have a government that is accountable to the people of Iraq and does not have the fear of terrorists or tyrants nationally or locally dictating the whims by which people may live and die. I do not propose a blank cheque or believe that the blood and treasure already spent stays our hand in remaining. Containing the violence is one thing – and reducing troop numbers if it allows that to return would be real folly.

I wish we could live in a world where the power of the people to overthrow their oppressors could be assured to bring about social change and justice. However that is not always the case. On what terms will I see a French citizen of 1944 less deserving of freedom then an Iraqi of 1999? Is it the foreign imposition of power on a country that allows us to expand much sacrifice to other people’s freedom, or is the tyranny over an other’s freedom that moves us to such action – the conquest of an individuals liberty, where an unjust constitution gives no respite save for a grave that the state will prepare for dissenters.

Or are we to really say that if people are so far away it does not affect us? Such voices were to be heard in the late 1930s in the USA; that to my shame as I walked the World War Two memorial in Washington DC I saw the years 1941-45 chiseled in and thought of how many lives were lost in the preceding years before Congress finally acted. Are we only to feel for the suffering of others if it takes our fancy, and only to sacrifice when it is others on our behalf and not our blood and our treasure at stake?

Such do tyrants and evil warlords hope – that they can make enough trouble that we shall not interfere. That such problems with such obstacles and cost shall put us off even suggesting the fight. That we shall by omission not act, and by such inaction shall we declare ourselves peacemakers and by such tokens as this be glad that we shall live while others shall die and forget that our pasts often relayed on people believing that the fight for our freedoms was worth the price paid.

Some like Bertrand Russell believed that only a world government could end war, and solve the problems that impact us. But it would take something far more then a structure of government, far more then the organised labour of many, far more then the co operation of free people fulfilling an enlightened self – interest.

It will take an idea, that has forever burned in the hearts of people, but is rarely shown for fear that it’s light may be quickly blown out. From it much hope is arisen and many small deeds of compassion, charity and hope is accomplished. It is done not for personal gain, nor done under the lash, to obey a great leader or appease a thuggish god.

It is the noblest of things – that of a common humanity, a recognition that goes beyond kin ship to those close. It may not be a natural instinct. Maybe we do not look to our biology to help reinforce the idea. Yet, it is something that exists, and the more we know of what is happening in the world the more we must be prepared to help those who do not have the means to fight off disease, poverty, war and tyranny.

It comes to an idea – one where the end is the betterment of the condition we find ourselves in, thus shall we choose the means when it comes to the fight. But let us never say we are not prepared for it – for our survival depends on it.

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Filed under Iraq, Philosophy