The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Archive for March, 2006

Some good observations on ID cards

Posted by rantingkraut on March 28, 2006

From the Guardian:

“Whether the campaign is about rape, TV licences or filling in your tax form, there is always a we-know-where-you-live edge to the message, a sense that this government is dividing the nation into suspects and informers.
Reading the Identity Cards Bill, as it pinged between the House of Commons and the Lords last week, I wondered about the type of campaign that will be used to persuade us to comply with the new ID card law.
The 7 July bombers would not have been deterred by a piece of plastic. And it is clear that the claim about protecting your identity is also rubbish because chip-and-pin technology has already been compromised by organised criminals. What remains is the ceaseless monitoring of people’s lives. That is what the government is forcing on us.”


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A Little Freedom is a Dangerous Thing

Posted by rantingkraut on March 28, 2006

Freedom of speech is again receiving attention. One reason for this are government measures against it. Another reason is a Danish journalist’s decision to use it. Yes, this statement refers to the famous cartoons. Let’s take a look at the most controversial one, shown on this page.

This drawing suggests a link between Islam and terrorism. The bomb is placed on the head, so maybe it suggests a spiritual link. Against a background of Jihadist terrorism this would hardly seem inappropriate. As a description of the typical Muslim’s convictions it is almost certainly unfair. So this drawing takes a valid point and exaggerates it –it creates a caricature. Well, that’s what political cartoons are meant to do.
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Freedom of Speech in Germany

Posted by rantingkraut on March 23, 2006

If there is one case of freedom of speech restrictions which is most likely to be widely supported, it is Germany’s decision to ban Nazi insignia like the swastika after the end of World War II. All who think that this restriction is safely confined to those who deserve it should consider the following case:
A German student who wore a sticker with a crossed out swastika at an anti-fascist rally was fined for displaying Nazi insignia. This student duly appealed in order to prove his innocence. Yet, the first appeal was rejected on the grounds that a passing Japanese tourist could have mistaken the symbol for neo-Nazi propaganda.
Only on the second appeal did the judge have sufficient confidence in the brainpower of Japanese travellers and overturned the fine.
In spite of the happy ending, the basic message should be clear: once you start prescribing which opinions can be legally voiced, political debate is subject to censorship and it is far from clear where censorship will stop.

(Source: Antonia Götsch “Prozess grotesk: Vor Gericht wegen eines Anti-Nazi-Symbols” Der Spiegel-Online 23 March 2006)

Posted in Civil Liberties, Freedom of Speech | 3 Comments »

A short wishlist …

Posted by rantingkraut on March 21, 2006

One thing the UK is badly in need of, are moderate Muslims who accept the idea of a secular state and who are not afraid to say so. I think we need a British version of Naser Khader, and here is only one reason why:

“Some see the drawings as an unacceptable insult to all Muslims, others do not. The same can be said about the Islamic world: Some feel insulted, others do not. My impression from different Arabic media is that the dominant position – perhaps surprising for some – can be summarised as follows: We cannot as Muslims dictate that non-Muslims comply with the allegedly prohibited depiction of the prophet.”

I was surprised. After all, the impression given by our mainstream media is rather different. Now just imagine how much good a group of Arabic speaking moderate bloggers could do.

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Is New Labour a Fascist Movement?

Posted by rantingkraut on March 20, 2006

Since New Labour came to power in 1997, it has drawn criticism from old adversaries and traditional Labour supporters alike. On a number of occasions, New Labour has been called fascist and Blair has been compared to Mussolini [1]. In so far as fascist is merely seen as a political expletive this is unremarkable, but recent legislative efforts make the possibility of a fascist orientation appear more plausible. This rather long posting compares New Labour’s political agenda with that of classical fascism.
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Posted in Civil Liberties | 7 Comments »

Freedom to Insult

Posted by rantingkraut on March 19, 2006

Pondering the arguments about the Muhammad cartoons I had a look at the Muslim Action Committee’s website. They are also staging a demo in London on the 25th. Judging by the banners which you can download from their site they are either much more liberal than you would think (considering the rest of the website) or they have a very poor sense of logic.
One of the banners reads: “Freedom to insult = Freedom of speech”; another: “Prophet Muhammad(S) is the founder of ‘freedom of speech’”. Now, If my memory of primary school algebra doesn’t deceive me then A = B and B = C imply A = C. In good logic then: “Prophet Muhammad(S) is the founder of ‘freedom to insult’”. Good to know.

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