Tag Archives: free speech

Evan & Gordon Talk/Culture War Correspondence: Is It Okay to Punch Nazis?

EVAN: Ladies, gentlemen, and the rest, it has been almost two whole years since we released a “Culture War Correspondence”, the feature formerly known as “Evan and Gordon Talk”.

You can thank/blame my co-writer for its momentary revival, and I’ll let him be the one to introduce the topic for this week-

GORDON:  “Is it OK to punch Nazis?”

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Some of you may remember back in November, when alt-right spokesman Richard Spencer was clobbered during an interview with an Australian news channel, an event which prompted many across the nation (and indeed, the world) to ask that very question.

EVAN: When you first broached this topic with me I remember saying “Is the answer not ‘always’?”, to which you responded “Not by my book, no.”

That in turn led to me greenlighting this whole thing, because I think that may be as much a surprise to our readers as it was to me at the time.

GORDON: I guess part of that stems from who you define as a “Nazi”. I mean, sure, there’s the folks who stomp around in jackboots with swastikas tattooed over their chests…

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…But there’s plenty of folks- including Richard Spencer, who totally is a Nazi- who claim to be simple “White Nationalists”. As if there’s any ****ing difference.

I guess that’s to say I probably wouldn’t lay the almighty smackdown on someone’s bigoted grandma, y’know?

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Unless you cut me off in traffic one more time, Helen…

EVAN: It sounds like your stance, if you want to really boil it down, is to attack the able-bodied or “those who can take it.”

GORDON:   I don’t know if I’d say it’s about attacking those who can take it. Not that I’m in favor of wailing on the feeble (something that the Nazis, for the record, are all too eager to do), just that I don’t view someone’s bigoted grandmother as an actual threat.

If Agnes winds up pulling off the retirement-home-putsch, that might be another story.

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It’s not like the Fascist leadership in Germany, Spain, and Italy were all hip youngsters…

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Remembering Christopher Hitchens

Today marks the what would have been Christopher Hitchens’ 66th birthday. While the controversial writer lost his long battle with cancer in 2011, nearly half a decade later his legacy continues to remain a puzzle to most. To some, Hitchens was a brilliant iconoclast, fearlessly proclaiming truth and reason in a world crippled by political correctness and blind sentimentality. To others, Hitchens was a traitor who abandoned his radical roots in favor of jack-booted imperialism and  militarism. After all this time, the question remains: Who was Hitchens?

Born in Porstmouth, England, Hitchens first began his prolific career as a writer for a number of leftist magazines, eventually joining New Statesman in the early 70s, where he quickly made a name for himself as a fiery critic of the the Vietnam War. Hitchens would go on to become an acclaimed foreign correspondent, frequent contributor to The Nation and Vanity Fair, and unapologetic critic of most of the political establishment. No one- from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, from Jerry Falwell to the royal family- escaped Hitchens’ unique blend of unimpeachable logic and acidic invectives. Hitchens made a name for himself in particular by viciously decrying Henry Kissinger, who he argued (not without cause) was a power-worshiping war criminal…

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The Internet and Mob Justice

On January 16th, a pet supply worker was fired for a racist tirade on a blog. On the 13th of the same month, Iron Mountain Daily News blacklisted a freelance writer after she was revealed using racial slurs. On the 11th of this month, a juvenile justice employ in Kentucky was fired for racist and violent postings on his Facebook wall.

Nothing surprising at first glance.

With ever-increasing social consciousness and public focus on modern-day racism in the past year, it’s nothing shocking that a person would be fired for getting caught making bigoted claims. Only these folks weren’t caught– they were exposed.

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Je suis Miyazaki?

While the tragic terrorist attack on the offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo may be a month behind us, that doesn’t mean that a lot of people aren’t still talking about it.  Most recently, one of those people is (quite surprisingly, given his reclusive reputation) famed animator and all around wonderful human being Hayao Miyazaki.

Now if you don’t already know who this guy is, you are a deprived human being.  Go watch Spirited Away, seriously.  The guy is responsible for some of the most beautiful, creative, and thought-provoking animated films of our age.  He also has some great stuff to say about the state of animation in his home country of Japan.

But anyway, Charlie Hebdo.  In case you’ve been living under a rock, a quick summary:  the aforementioned French satirical paper often featured crude, insulting cartoons mocking various religions, and recently contained a few choice ‘toons about the prophet Muhammad, which then sparked a brutal terrorist attack in which 12 of its staff were killed.  Since then, sales of the periodical have skyrocketed, and many have marched in support of Charlie Hebdo under the banner of “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”).  All in all, the victims have been seen as martyrs for “free speech.”

And what does Miyazaki have to say about all of this?  Well, basically, that the Charlie Hebdo comics were a “mistake.”

Clearly, this will not sit well with many.  But hey, let’s let the man explain.

“For me, I think it’s a mistake to make caricatures of what different cultures worship […] It’s a good idea to stop doing that.”

[via Kotaku‘s translation from Yahoo! News].”

So basically… He wants people to be respectful of the dearly held beliefs of others.

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Clarifying Charlie Hebdo

Let’s face it- there’s no way to avoid this topic. At this point, I don’t know that there’s anything I can say that hasn’t already been said in the past few days. What I’d like to do, if I can’t offer anything new, is at least offer some clarity. Here are the facts, folks:

On the 7th of this month Sayeed and Shareef Kouachi attacked satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for running cartoons deemed “insulting to Islam”. The Kouachi brothers, armed with AK-47s, a shotgun, and a grenade launcher, killed 12 individuals- most of them magazine staff and cartoonists- in addition to wounding several others. Two days later the Kouachis would be killed by French police after a protracted siege in a warehouse. Other suspects involved in the attack are currently being hunted down.

Since the 7th, we’ve seen an outpouring of indignant outrage over the killings, as well as solidarity marches, both for France and for freedom of speech. Despite the near universal solidarity behind Charlie Hebdo, a myriad of differing conclusions have been voiced in the past few days- some good, some bad, and many missing the point entirely (in spite of genuinely good intentions). Let me try to address a few of these below.

Not All Muslims Are Terrorists/Not All Terrorists Are Muslim

…But I shouldn’t have to tell you that.

At this point, parroting that line is starting to feel almost patronizing. It’s an obvious truth, and it shouldn’t need me to defend it. There are millions upon millions of Muslims in the world, the vast majority of whom want nothing more than to live their lives in peace- among them, Ahmed Merabet, a police officer and the first of the Kouachis victims. Whether the infamous 9/11 attacks (in which American Muslim Mohammad Hamdani died attempting to rescue people from the North Tower) or the thousands of Muslim Arabs and Kurds fighting against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Muslims shouldn’t have to be “rescued”. From Abdul Haji to Aitazaz Hassan Bangash to Malala Yousafzai– there are just as many heroic actions from Muslims as their are heinous ones.

But this is, again, obvious to anyone actually interested. I don’t know that there’s anybody out there who hasn’t already made up their mind about it (for better or for worse). Continue reading

Evan and Gordon Talk: The Confederate Flag

GORDON: Today, we’re going to be touching on a nerve that’s still pretty raw in the US, even after a century and a half.

Specifically, we’re going to be talking about the ol’ stars and bars- the flag of the former Confederate States of America.

EVAN: I’d like to remind everyone reading this that I am a Canadian. The most experience I have with the Confederate flag is in seeing it on the top of the General Lee from the remake of, and not the original, Dukes of Hazard.

That being said, Gordon directed me towards an article written not too long ago on BBC, and there is an incredible amount of divisiveness regarding it as a symbol. Continue reading