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On blasphemy

Via Ophelia Benson at Butterflies and Wheels, the Archbishop of Bamberg has declared that religions deserve legal protection against scorn and derision – or laws against blasphemy.

I don’t generally blaspheme in daily life, simply because I can’t be bothered. However, I do not like the idea of somebody being arrested for insulting one particular god – I don’t see anyone being arrested or threatened for saying Thor doesn’t exist, nor the Greek deities. Blasphemy is an outmoded concept that doesn’t belong in the 21st Century – or other any time, for that matter. To go back to a previous post, why do the followers of any religion that involves the worship of an omnipotent god, that isn’t going to be hurt by a joking remark on the web or in meatspace, get so worked up when somebody makes said joke?

And of course, guess what happens if you give religion privileges like this? For starters, you get the Inquisition, or crusades and other “holy” wars. Or people trying to get society to use backward punishments like stoning for crimes such as adultery, or “exorcisms” that end up being lethal. And then there’s always counter-productive and ineffective policies like abstinence-only sex education – which would only work if the entire world suddenly became asexual. Why should it be a crime to point these out?

The Bamberg Archbishop doesn’t seem to realise that freedom of speech does not mean you can say whatever you like without fear of being criticised, especially if what you say makes no sense to somebody. Even more so if somebody is going to get hurt by what you’ve just said.

This. Is. Not. Acceptable!

I found this video via Lousy Canuck, and it is appalling. Amnesty International put together a video of what being hooded and tortured would be like. Just watch the video (unless you have undergone torture like this, in which case I am adding a trigger warning):

This. Is. NEVER. Acceptable!
If you think it is, like one shithead who commented by saying “America should do this to all foreign people”, then why don’t you volunteer as a test subject?

Libel reform UK

The campaign for libel reform in the UK has managed to get their campaign mentioned in the Queen’s Speech. London has a reputation as “the libel capital of the world”, in part because the country’s libel laws are so permissive, so this is definitely a step in the right direction.

There’s a petition to sign, and it isn’t restricted to UK residents/citizens! So what are you waiting for?

SOPA Mk 3…here we go again!

Do they ever give up? Once again, some members of the US Congress are backing a reincarnation of SOPA. There’s a petition against it here, so go sign that.

Laws like this could politics even dirtier: all you’d need to do would be to leak information that your opponents were engaged in hacking, and they’d be finished! And because they’re worded so vaguely, they’re far too open to interpretation and can then be updated/tightened in increments. Finally, just consider the hypocrisy involved by Western governments in creating such laws: they create them, and then turn around and criticise governments such as China, Iran etc. for censoring the Internet.

You might as well try to shut down /b/ while you’re at it!

Jamming speech

Who needs electronic communications jamming when you can use this? It’s a version of a radar gun that takes somebody’s speech and delays it by 0.2 seconds, enough to mess up the flow of speech. From what I can see, it looks relatively simple.

Obviously, there are human rights implications here. You don’t even need to beat up an irritating protester who hasn’t got themselves permission to protest, you just point this at them and make them sound like an idiot. Of course, that wouldn’t work against one who’s waving a sign, but it’s a step in the right direction.

But on the plus side, it would be great for dealing with annoying ads on the telly, and it would be excellent at telling politicians to hurry up. The paper itself suggests this could be used during debates to prevent interruptions. What do you think?

Petition against ACTA

Sign the petition so we can make the European Commission discuss ACTA in the open!

About ACTA

There’s going to be a bunch of protests around the world against ACTA on Saturday. And there’s a petition online – so what are you waiting for? I can’t get up to Dublin to attend, but I’m going to be there in spirit, and by posting this here I might be able to help.

If you haven’t heard, ACTA is another version of SOPA, which got it’s arse kicked. What makes this worse is that it’s being negotiated behind closed doors, not out in the open; in fact, you may have heard one of the negotiators resigned in disgust over the lack of accountability over it (source: BBC). As a wanna-be indie game developer, I am entirely against this.

Finally, there’s also the problem that it doesn’t fucking work. Shutting down Napster didn’t stop piracy, nor did shutting down the Pirate Bay. And the games industry isn’t suffering from it either: it was worth 65 billion US dollars in 2011. The Business Software Alliance claimed that piracy cost the industry about $51 billion in 2009 – but they have made up data in the past. I mean, come on: claiming you have a survey where you didn’t survey anyone? That’s pretty dirty.