Tag Archives: Iraq

ISIS, Gaza, Ebola, and Robin Williams: Dealing with Grief on the Large and Small Scale

This week I emerged from my happy little language cult in a tiny remote Quebecois town.

I emerged to discover a lot of sadness.

I had already been hearing bits and pieces about the deaths in Gaza and the lives lost to Ebola before I even left Trois-Pistoles, but the last few days I’ve also been hearing a variety of horrific rumours about ISIS. Last night when I started researching for tonight’s blog, I thought I would look into the veracity of those articles.

That was a bad idea.

At the time, I had a hard time finding coverage of the things I had heard about from any reputable sources. And the things I did come across were highly disturbing and meant to be provoking. I’m not actually going to link to anything I came across in my search, because I don’t want to see those images ever again. I don’t know when or where those photos were taken. I don’t know if they are fake or real. All I know is that they made me very very angry. And they made me feel very, very powerless.

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America Wants Dead Soldiers

Dead or silent- exactly which doesn’t seem to matter much. And for the vast majority of us, that statement’s going to sound absurd, perhaps even offensive. After all, this isn’t the tail end of Vietnam. Returning servicemen aren’t being spat on.

Unless you count Bowe Bergdahl.

In June of 2009, Sergeant Bergdahl was captured by Taliban forces after he disappeared from his base. He spent the past five years as a prisoner, repeatedly tortured and used for Taliban propaganda. After a prisoner exchange was made on May 31st of this year, Sergeant Bergdahl returned home at last…

…to a chorus of “coward!”, “deserter!”, and “traitor!”

Who needs “innocent until proven guilty?”

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Shame Day: Piers Morgan

Speaking on the subject of cornered enemies, the brilliant tactician Sun Tzu warns us to always leave the enemy a way out, lest they rally and defeat you out of desperation. Far be it from me to disagree with the general, but I think the single exception to the rule may be the culture wars. It’s so rare to get a major figure so utterly on the ropes that I don’t think anyone could blame you from moving up and laying into ’em, and readers, Piers Morgan is on the ropes.

The ape isn’t on the ropes, but you get the idea…

American readers might know Piers solely as an obnoxious CNN commentator, and while that’s true, Morgan’s condescending coverage of gun control (his favored dead horse over the past few months) is really only the tip of the iceberg. Continue reading

I Don’t Know If Anyone’s Said This About Boston Yet

I’ve made it a habit not to report on a lot of the bigger news events due to the fact that, with so many people writing about them, someone is bound to have already said what I want to, and probably much more eloquently as well. When it comes to something as thoroughly horrific as the Boston Marathon bombing, I’m even more hesitant to do so, especially because of how delicate a topic it truly is.

I write this post with a great amount of trepidation, and with the hope that I can add to the discourse that’s resulted from this tragedy.

The following image appeared in my Facebook feed this past Monday, April 15th, and I immediately shared it upon reading it. I did this as a knee-jerk reaction to the sentiment communicated, and in spite of the fact that, as a friend of mine commented, “it says it in a stupid and borderline offensive way.”

This was posted soon after the bombing, long before the third victim had passed away.

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No War, No More

The past week has seen a dramatic increase in tension in the Korean Peninsula as hostile rhetoric continues to issue from both sides of the DMZ. In the west, reactions have been mixed, with the media alternatively portraying the situation as being on par with the Cuban Missile Crisis and simultaneously pointing out the primitiveness of North Korea’s military.

For the most part it seems the average American’s mood to all this is one of bravado. I can’t count the number of comments and pictures I’ve seen over the past few days declaring what will happen “If North Korea attacks.”

Things like this:

Titled “What I imagine America will do when North Korea sends a missile to South Korea”

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Shame Day: Todd Kincannon

There’s an old supposedly Scottish proverb that goes,

“The only reason some people are alive is because is because it is illegal to kill them.”

toddkincannon

This is perhaps truer of no one than former South Carolina Republican Party
executive director Todd Kincannon.

Now you’re probably all saying “Whoa there! Ain’t that more than a little harsh?

To which I respond: no.

This is a guy so twisted I feel perfectly comfortable with slapping the label “evil” on him and not losing a moment’s peace of mind. Let me break it down for you.

This guy makes Rush Limbaugh (the guy who came out in support of the genocidal, child-rapist “Lord’s Resistance Army” terrorist group in the Congo) look like Gandhi by comparison. Here’s what Kincannon posted regarding Trayvon Martin during the Superbowl:

And just to be sure there was no confusion as to his meaning, Kincannon continued on to post this:

Yeah, I’m going to give you all a moment to try to wrap your head around just how vile of a thing that was.

Ready?

Well, we’re moving on anyways.

Now I could spend the entire post breaking down Kincannon’s assumption that some high school kid gunned down by a gung-ho neighborhood watchman was a “thug” or that had he grown up, he inevitably would’ve resorted to “sucking dick” for “drug money,” but there’s oh so much more still to see!

Kincannon’s spent the past few days attacking Iraq war veteran Mike Prysner for his views on recently deceased Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, offering such reasonable and level-headed comments as:

https://twitter.com/ToddKincannon/status/315693128914989056

And:

https://twitter.com/ToddKincannon/status/315697254180728832

Again, it’s kind of hard for me to feel guilty about my statement above when it has to compete with even the mildest of things this guy has to say.

https://twitter.com/ToddKincannon/status/315571885620473856

https://twitter.com/ToddKincannon/status/315673713553059841

https://twitter.com/ToddKincannon/status/315677582668468225

https://twitter.com/ToddKincannon/status/316410543760084992

What makes it all worse is that when this guy is confronted over his statements, he resorts to “free speech” arguments to evade any responsibility. He is correct in that he has the freedom to say whatever he so chooses, just as I have the freedom to stick forks in my own eyes or kick a grizzly bear- just because I have the right to do something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. As far as trying to play off his statements.

In one interview, Kincannon out rightly stated that “If you say something that’s borderline offensive or if it is offensive, the people that attack you and say just the awfulest [sic] things about you, they do the very thing that they accuse you of.”

Evan does try to keep the blog relatively profanity-free, but this was really the only gif I could find that quite captured the feeling…

For anyone wondering, that’s the equivalent of punching a guy and calling him a hypocrite when he punches you back. But there’s more to it than just that.

Even if Kincannon truly does believe he’s nothing more than a witty prankster, he does have a following and his statements do get reactions out of people, including such gems as:

So we’ve effectively jumped from “This vet deserves to have died for holding political views I disagree with” to “every soldier who has come back alive is a coward and a disgrace to the fatherland.”

Again, if this is all some elaborate prank being played by Kincannon, we can’t ignore that it’s not being taken to lightly by his followers. I don’t think J.D. Salinger should be blamed because a nutcases took Catcher in the Rye to be code for “Kill John Lennon,” but when most everyone reading your work is coming away with homophobic, racist, sexist, and generally reprehensible messages, it’s time to rethink your medium.

If Kincannon’s playing some prank. Between you and me, I don’t think this is all that funny:

https://twitter.com/ToddKincannon/status/316410079152857089

What’s there left to say?

Todd Kincannon, you are an evil human being. Shame on you.

Evan, if there was ever a time to break Culture War Reporter’s no-profanity rule, it is now

Fighting the Good Fights

Earlier today there was a fight outside my apartment.

I say “fight” in the loosest sense of the word. From what I could gather, a woman had given the wrong address to a pizza delivery man, and the gentleman who the pizza had been accidentally delivered to had been sleeping at the time and was more than a little annoyed at being woken up and compelled to give the delivery man directions to the right place. It essentially boiled down to this man and this lady shouting at each other while the poor delivery guy stood awkwardly in between them with no clue as to how to proceed. Apparently the whole ordeal of having to deal with a mix-up between apartment block 2 and apartment block 20 is on par with genocide. Needless to say, seeing two people break down into three-year olds over something so trivial didn’t exactly reinforce any hope for the future of humanity.

But that sad incident isn’t what I’d like to talk about today- at least, not entirely. What first caught my attention when the whole hissy-fit was going down was the shrill screech of the lady that “‘He’ had better not lay a finger on her or he’d be going to jail”.

Now naturally, I don’t know the whole story, but from where I was standing, the gentleman in question hadn’t given any indication of violence- from all I could see, he was just annoyed at being woken up and having to help this delivery guy find the right apartment. It did grab my attention, though- and that’s what I want to address today.

Violence- we have a long standing love affair with it in this country.

We view it as the be-all-end-all solution to our problems. When all else fails, there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking. From the cowboys to the noir detectives to comic book superheroes, violence is the answer. For all our advocacy of non-violence, tolerance, empathy, and understanding, we do get a rush out of seeing “justice” dispensed by means of a vicious haymaker.

Just take a look at this video that’s exploded on the internet over the past 48 hours.

Now chances are, your only complaint after watching that is that the video doesn’t go long enough for you to hear the derisive laughter of all the onlookers as this jerk slinks off with his tail between his legs. Certainly that’ my only issue with it.

Take a look at this video from a few years back.

Now this one isn’t quite so clear cut. Yes, the smaller kid is clearly harassing the chubbier one- even getting violent, but nevertheless the beat-down that ensues is so visceral that I defy you not to feel a little twinge of guilt with your (probable) satisfaction in seeing the bullied kid defend himself.

There are, of course, more clear-cut fights. The video below offers a prime example.

For anyone who might be unclear- the guy with the tray is simply standing there, minding his own business when the other guy walks past and for no apparent reason simply decides to flip the first guy’s tray. No (knowable) provocation, no reason- just sheer, unadulterated spite.I don’t know about you, but I thought the guy falling flat was (1) hilarious and (2) a pretty strong argument for the existence of karma.

When is it ok to hit someone?

“When it’s in self-defense!”, I can hear most of you shouting, and do you know what? They’re right. All but the most hardcore pacifist would probably assert that when someone’s shoving you around, there’s really nothing you can be expected to do other than swing back. Of course, it’s never that’ clear cut.

Did the man in the first video deserve to be hit? He wasn’t presenting a clear and present threat to anyone around, unless you count wet willies as a instrument of destruction.  That being understood, did you cry out in indignation when the street performer knocked him down?

Again, probably not.

The street performer was very clearly being harassed by a guy who wrongly thought the street performer would just sit there and take it. But what if it wasn’t the street performer who had punched the guy? In the video, you can pretty clearly hear other people shouting “Leave him alone!”- what if one of them laid some smackdown? Would we be ok with that?Probably.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say we’d all still applaud this guy getting punched, though the fact that justice is dispensed by some outsider rather than by the victim may potentially diminish the poeticism of it.

So what do we have so far?

Violence is acceptable in self-defense, acceptable (in some degree) when being harassed, acceptable when someone else is being harassed- where does it end?

I don’t say that in a disparaging tone- I am simply curious as to where that line of logic takes us. Is it ok for the average man to walk around and step in to defend people from being bullied? Do we accept full-on vigilantism?

It’s not as far-fetched an idea as it might sound. If it’s alright (if not straight-up admirable) to go around attempting to defend others, how do we address the laws that (supposedly) govern our society?

Again, we do have an absolute love of violence in this country, but for all our depictions of this:

And this:

Or this:

And even this:

We rarely ever show the dark side with something like this:

The reason we can all get together and applaud the punching of the guy harassing the street performer is because it appeals to our (almost) universal sense of what is and isn’t acceptable in society, and what is and isn’t a measured response. The moment you drift away from clear cut right and wrong, the waters get very murky very quickly.

And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.

Yeah, the idea of every man, woman, and child declaring “I am the law!” is more than a little unsettling…

…but is it really any worse than what we have now? America and her allies (including Canada, which has only just recently withdrawn from Afghanistan) are engaged in the longest war in recent history with- despite repeated reassurances from the president- no clear end in sight. Do I agree with these wars? Absolutely not.  I think the bad guys who actually should be deposed (and we’re talking about everyone from the Burmese junta to the executive boards of BP and Coca-Cola) are getting off clean. You could argue that the role of ensuring justice and security belong exclusively to the police, but what has their track record been?

All that’s to simply point out that you can argue that such an anarchic system means little or no accountability, but how exactly does that differ from what we have now?

I know it sounds surreal, but if right and wrong as so arbitrarily dispensed from on high, is it really that psychotic to suggest that the front line for security and human decency is in fact you?

It’s just a thought- I’m hoping we can actually start of something of a debate in the comment section (something I’d like to see brought up is a discussion of whether or not our society might benefit from the distinct possibility of getting stomped for being a jerk- anyone and everyone who’s ever waited tables knows what I’m talking about).

Now seeing as how this post pretty much escalated to a declaration of “blood in the streets!”, here’s a picture of a baby hippo.

Be sure to check in tomorrow for Evan’s Shame-Day (yes, we’re switching up the order again- just roll with it), and understand that not leaving a comment will be taken as silent agreement on your part of everything I’ve written!