Tag Archives: Turkey

This Post Contains Pictures of Dead Children

43 years ago, a picture was taken. It captured the moments after a napalm attack on a Vietnamese village. Against a backdrop of smoke a nine-year-old girl runs towards the camera, naked and screaming.

The shock that image’s managed to elicit is credited as having helped end the war, and that photograph has become perhaps the most powerful pictures of the horrors of war ever taken.

Until last Thursday.

That is the body of Aylan Kurdi, 3 years old.

Refugees from the Syrian civil war, Aylans family’s had attempted to escape to Vancouver, only for their application to be rejected by the Canadian government. With nowhere else to turn, the Kurdi family fled to Europe in a final effort to escape. While the Kurdis found passage on a small boat bound for Greece, the vessel was far overloaded with refugees and tipped a few miles off the Turkish coast. Aylan, his brother Galip, and six other passengers (all but one of them children) fell overboard and drowned, their bodies washed ashore to where this heartbreaking picture was taken.

Once again, there are no words. Continue reading

Fame Day: Christmas Traditions

It’s actually pretty hard to write a Fame Day post for Christmas since it’s now pretty much synonymous with materialism, something that most people agree “eats you from the inside out.”

But dang it guys! I really love Christmas! I love all the lights everywhere draining energy and creating light pollution. I love the repetitive Christmas music on the radio. I love giving and (gasp) even receiving gifts (though I try to only purchase gifts from businesses I feel happy supporting ex. fair trade, local, etc). So much about how Christmas is marketed goes against the things I want to be socially conscious about, and yet I can’t seem to help loving it. I think this probably comes down to the many fun traditions my family has had, and the way the season forces us all to drop everything going on in our lives just to spend time together.  

So I’ve decided that for today’s Fame Day post I’m going to share a few of my favorite traditions, and I would really love if you could tell me a little bit about yours. Continue reading

Shame Day: Black Friday

I almost don’t feel like I should have to explain this post. Look at that image on the right, look at that wave of flesh and hunger, which I can only compare to the somewhat recently released World War Z trailer. They move like an organism, a living being that flows into each store, ravenously grabbing at whatever they can.

For the non-Americans among you, Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving, which sets off the Christmas shopping season. Last year at this time a few pretty significant events happened, none of which I can say are positive.

The first recorded death from the event happened in 2008, when an employee, once again at Walmart, was literally trampled to death by a wave of shoppers. The stampede could not be halted when other employees tried to help their coworker, and even police who arrived at the scene were shoved and pushed back.

Honestly, I don’t even know what else to say.

Every year the sale begins earlier and earlier, and for a while it was normal for shops to open at 6:00 am. Last year many retailers opened at midnight for the first time. Now, on Black Friday 2012, Walmart [again] and several other superstores have announced that they will be opening their stores at 8:00 pm Thanksgiving Day. This has prompted a very understandable call for a walkout among workers.

If the trend continues this image won’t even make sense anymore.

As a Canadian I’ve celebrated American Thanksgiving only once. It was a time that I spent with a loving family, where copious amounts of food was served and the itis was experienced by many. It was a time of relaxation and enjoying each other’s company, not camping outside superstores in the freezing cold or trampling the meek and lowly [see: Walmart employees] underneath our feet.

All I can say is Happy Thanksgiving, Americans. If you care about at least one retailer [Target] respecting a national holiday, you can sign a petition here. Enjoy your turkey.

Facebook Censorship: A Sign of the Times?

source: serc.net The internet was recently given a leak of Facebook’s censorship standards. Amine Derkaoui, a previous “employee” of Facebook (employee is in quotes here because he was paid $1 an hour plus commission, which is, in a word, horrid) was so disgruntled that he gave Gawker the handbook used by Derkaoui and other assumedly disgruntled workers to know which photographs and comments to censor on Facebook, which ones to send upwards for decision by an administrator, and which ones were ok. Gawker published the one-page “cheat sheet” summarizing the standards on their website.

source: gawker.com

A summary of Facebook's censorship standards, leaked to Gawker

This gives an interesting perspective of what is considered “acceptable” and tasteful by popular consensus. Ear wax is censored, snot is not? (I guess if it was, millions of baby pictures would have to be deleted). For example, the “cheat sheet” says that “Digital/cartoon nudity” should be censored, but “Art nudity ok”, excluding all digitally created images from “art”, which is sort of a surprisingly passe way for Facebook to define things.

Something interesting about the released standard is the fact that it is clearly representing three categories of social unacceptability. The first, the depiction, commitment, planning, or lauding of criminal activity, is expected in a list like this – sexual assault, organized crime, nudity, and hard drugs are pretty normal in a “delete this” list for any censorship website.

The second category is more nuanced – I can only describe this second category as anything which debases humanity. This includes more obvious things like human organs, mutilation, violent speech, or anything encouraging or lauding mutilation or defacement of the human body (and, in some cases, animals). This also applies to willing defacement: threats of suicide, self-harm, and anything promoting eating disorders – this is interesting in light of the fact that pro-ana groups are still on Facebook. Maybe closed groups are immune to censorship – or the people getting paid next to nothing in other countries just haven’t caught them yet.

Another example of the censorship of non-illegal debasement of humanity: the prohibition of any photoshopped pictures of humans, “whether negative, positive, or neutral.” This is interesting; perhaps it is simply the case that it’s too hard to gauge the positive or negative spin of a photoshopped picture, but I think this rule isn’t just about bullying – it’s about the fact that Facebook doesn’t want to turn into Reddit (if they don’t, then they should stop trying to be Tumblr and take away the “follow” option). Their prohibition of any “versus” photo – any image grafting two photographs of people side by side in comparison – would be for the similar reason of “trying to keep Facebook untacky”. This rule is especially ironic considering Mark Zuckerberg’s famous-now-that-we’ve-all-seen-The-Social-Network first project facemash.com. Prohibitions of holocaust denial fall under the goal of no human debasement – but they apply to the third category as well.

The third and final category I’ll call “Nobody Get Mad At Us Please.” The most interesting rule in this one is the censorship of any maps of a part of Turkey (Kurdistan) and the prohibition of language or images against Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, as those laws seem suspiciously anti-free-speech-ish, and Turkey is a part of the UN.

The internet as it is currently developing has been compared to the semimythical Wild West of early American history – looking back in 50 years on this time, we’ll probably be astonished at how unregulated everything was. Governments just don’t have a good enough grasp on this new platform for data and information to be able to figure out how to effectively and efficiently (and ethically) regulate it – yet. This conversation applies to file sharing and copyright infringement as well, but Facebook’s censorship guidelines illuminate a more necessarily practical standard – things made up by businesses and not government are almost always more necessarily practical, if perhaps less ethically consistent.