Tags: isis, kurds, russia, shiite, sunni, syria, usa, war aq
Tags: superinjunction, elton john, david furnish, icensorship, mercatornet, bully, threesome
At some point in the past David Furnish, husband of celebrity crooner Elton John went of to the USA where he engaged in a threesome with another couple. Now you, I and every other right thinking person would have never have found out about this (or want to) but darling Elton threw a hissy fit when one or more of the UK redtops reported on this. Elton dug into his substantial moneybag and went to the UK courts to secure an injunction. One that would stop *any UK public medium* from mentioning this story or anything related to it. That in itself constitutes an unacceptable level of censorship but that alone wasn’t enough. Elton John, or rather his expensive legal team, are now trying to enforce this UK ruling outside the UK. They have written to private individuals, social media companies (Twitter in specific) and hosting companies as far as the USA demanding that any content mentioning Elton & David in this context be removed. All this under threat of expensive legal action.
I even received an email from Twitter because I had shared a link to such an article published on an US website. Apparently Twitter had been contacted by the John’s legal team because my tweet infringed on UK law. The email and my reply can be read below.
My good friend and fellow agitator Paddy manning wrote a piece about this whole issue for the MercatorNet website but after prompt and heavy-handed legal threats this has been taken down. It is worth noting here that MercatorNet is based in Australia so logically should not be subject to UK law. However a courtcase to establish this would be long and costly and would quite probably bankrupt an organisation such as Mercatornet. Eltons legal team knows this and uses this to bully their way.
All this constitutes a very serious breach of freedom of (online) speech and goes contrary to anything that “the internet” stands for as a relatively free and unregulated medium. It certainly pisses me off!
So as a way of saying “up yours”to Elton and David, and “well done” to Paddy Manning I am sharing his whole blogpost below. I am also saving the blogpost as a PDF and uploading it to a number of filesharing sites. Just to make the point that one rich bully can’t control the distributed nature of the internet.Or to paraphrase King Leonidas I of Sparta: μολὼν λαβέ
AVERY IMPERFECT SUPERINJUNCTION
Under the headline “The Perfect Marriage” the Daily Mail gushed in prose so breathless anaerobic life forms sprouted spontaneously on the screen:
“Eleven years ago this month, Sir Elton John proposed to his partner, David Furnish, thus formalising a relationship that — as the whole world knows — has blossomed into one of the most blissfully happy of show business marriages. We know this, of course, because Sir Elton and David have been generous enough to share almost every detail of their relationship and family life through the pages of celebrity magazines, in high-profile TV interviews and on social media.”
Leaving aside the need to wipe one’s screen & overdose on anti-nausea medication, there cannot now be a literate person in the British Isles who does not know that Elton John, and his husband David Furnish, are the couple at the centre of the long running “PJS” super-injunction. The journalist who typed that saccharine fogged horror knows, as everybody with access to the internet knows. The courts have become Canute’s courtiers standing in a digital tide.
Furnish flew to the US for a tryst with a gay couple who subsequently (no honour amongst sluts) tried sell a kiss-and-tell to the Sun newspaper. The Sun, preparing the article, contacted lawyers for the couple. The Elton Johns were granted a ferocious super-injunction to protect their privacy largely argued on the grounds of protecting “their” children. Mr Furnish was not being unfaithful; Judge Jackson noted that “the spouse of PJS accepts that theirs is not a mutually exclusive sexual relationship”.
The internet is international, not bound by a London court and sites on servers in California, Canton and Cavan can be read by English men and women, making the court’s action seem futile but with the great blunt mace of the super injunction the court may fiercely coerce silence. The English can read news on foreign sites but they will be punished for discussing it. This is late Tudor England with electric light. The court has infantilised the English in a desperate attempt to preserve a propaganda Potemkin village for the English establishment.
What does it matter if some guy flies to America for a night of sex with two other middle aged men? We are all adults, are we not and is not their private life their own? Who are we, mere humans, fallible and frail, to judge.
Who are we indeed.
The tawdry private life of the (any) couple, the arrangements they make for their own amusement wouldnt matter if they had not spent some much effort convincing us that they do. A fictional version of their life together has been slathered in every media outlet that can print or say the home life of our own dear queen and this has been for brutal political purpose: same sex marriage is good, surrogacy better. The press is for propaganda and the commoners as a have a no right to know the truth or competing versions of the truth. The court, wittingly or unwittingly has made itself partner in a vicious hypocrisy, defending the illusion of the Elton John’s family life against its sordid reality and worse, pretending to do it for the children so that the great and good may go on lying.
Little argument can be made for the saving children from the putative damage of the relationship’s public exposure when they are living with two selfish hedonists who obtained them by purchase. If the story behind the super injunction casts a cold light on the Elton John’s understanding of marriage, it must cast an icy glaze on the horrid practice of surrogacy: a combination of eugenics, prostitution, kidnapping, slavery and child abuse regarded as a a thing of beauty by every fashionable clown.
Not buying the Sun for a few days in the Elton John household is a better option than coercive national censorship. If you make your relationship a lodestar of public policy, the public have every right to hear about that relationship’s reality, even if that makes you blush, sweat or squirm. Elton John regularly uses his relationship and those children to bolster arguments for issues as far reaching as transgender bathroom rights in North Carolina.( http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/civil-rights/279995-north-carolina-governors-ignorance-of-trans-identity) The super injunction is a wealthy elitist having his cake and eating it but being backed by the public courts in the act.
If public policy is to be argued and defended by reference to one’s own family, it is a logical quid pro quo that one’s family life is publically reportable. A family of conservative Christians leveraging their family life for influence would find a very different reception to request for privacy no matter how the courts ruled.
The Supreme Court, by re-instating the injunction thrown out by the Court of Appeals, has placed the lives of the rich, famous and who have children out of bounds. Because the Elton Johns are wealthy and have children, the rules that apply to media reporting their sexual escapades are markedly different to the reporting of childless Darren and Mandy from Dagenham. “Love rat Darren ate my hamster” is permissible but the exposure of celeb parents with the funds to persuade the state of the value of their privacy is anathema.
This creates a strange, unlegislated, new restriction on press freedom. Kiss-and-tell and Darren-broke-my-bed stories may be distasteful, boring, reassurance for the miserable that nobody is really any better, a way of keeping everybody in the mud, but they are the price of a free press. That price is worth paying many times over.
Giving the right to decide what can be reported or what is news to anybody other than those who buy papers or consume news, is toxically dangerous, undermining the ability of media to report the actions of the powerful and leaving the public less trusting with each omission, each breach of the trust that we will be told the story by somebody competing for our attention.
Tinfoil hats and conspiracies thrive in the half-light these injunctions generate. They have no place in a net linked world or in a free country.
This started out as a Facebook rant but as it got rather long I decided that a blogpost would be a more suitable medium.
It is worrying how many new laws and legislative changes are happening in Ireland lately without people really noticing.
Take the whole discussion on parents giving their own children a little slap, It’s been part of raising kids without any issues for centuries but recently there has been a lot of discussion on the topic with certain people in the government suggesting that it should be banned by law.
And hey presto, as of midnight last night it is now against the law to discipline your own child in that manner.
How the hell did that happen?!
Apart from the speed with which this happened the actual law change is worrying. It is yet another step by the state to remove powers from the parents and the family and put them firmly under state control. There was no need for it as excessive use of physical violence against anyone, including children, is already punishable under law.
No, this legislative move is part of a larger agenda. Just look back at what else has been done recently;
– The Childrens Rights referendum; promoted as improving child protection but more children have died in child care than ever before since this was passed. All it did was give the to take away rights from the family & parents and put them under state control.
-Sugar tax & alcohol minimum pricing: The state clearly thinks people are too stupid to be allowed to decide what to eat and drink and that financial punitive measures are the best way to put the dumb-asses in line.
– Banning smoking in a car with children: This is an interesting one. While smoking in a car with children is insanely stupid do we require a law to enforce this? What’s wrong with education combined with social pressure?
– Removal of history from the school curriculum and replacing it with “politics & society” classes; this is nothing but a cynical ploy to indoctrinate children at a young age. Especially considering that the “liberal progressive” groups such as the “Gay & Lesbian Equality Network” are given a big part in deciding the contents of these classes. Not a single centrist or conservative organisation has been approached for their input.
The most worrying aspect is that none of these new laws, legislative changes and other measures have been initiated based on majority demand. Instead we policy is now being driven by the state itself (rather than the people) or by minority lobby groups. The state is simply looking to increase its power, especially now that the power of the church and the financial industry is waning. It has ceased to be representative of or acting in the interest of the people.
And that my friends is the end of democracy….
Tags: #democracy, #ssm, ireland, marriage, mural, no, referendum, yes
Note: the below blogpost pertains to the upcoming Irish constitutional referendum.
Tags: #democracy, #marref, #samesexmarriage, #ssm
The Irish electorate will be going to the polls on May 22nd to vote in a referendum. The motion that is being put before the people is if the constitution should be amended by removing the definition of a family as a union between a man and a woman (I seem to have to add that this is not a verbatim reflection of the constitution but merely the widely accepted interpretation). By removing this definition from the constitution it will be possible to define a marriage as a union between a man and a woman, a man and a man, a woman and a woman and if you want to drag it into extremis it could be a union between anything and anything.
But that’s not what this blog-post is about. I for one think that a referendum is a good thing, as long as it’s an informed one. Let the electorate decide and whatever the majority desires will be passed into law. Or into the constitution in this case. Such is the way of democracy.
There is a fly in the ointment though. Or actually there is a whole swarm of blue-bottles. See the thing is that in order for democracy to work the electorate should be able to inform themselves and to speak freely and discuss the issues at hand. There should be no fear for repercussion for having a different or unpopular opinion and informed debate should not only be possible, it should be stimulated and safe-guarded.
However this is not the case. At the moment in Ireland a case of genital warts would make one more popular than opposing the above described constitutional amendment. Those favouring traditional marriage are shouted down in debates, insulted, labelled as “homophobes” and threatened with violence. But that’s still not enough. No, repeated calls can be heard during debates, in the press and in/on (social) media for supporters of traditional marriage to be silenced. It’s a clear case of “dissent will not be tolerated”. Rather than engaging in robust debate the same-sex marriage storm-troopers insist that any different opinion is ground to dust under the heel of their jackboots. Ad hominem attacks are preferred over arguments and some really unsavoury methods are used. Comments are made along the line that certain prominent traditional marriage supporters should “just die”. Other rabid lefties have started profiling traditional marriage supporters, their families and their professional activities and sharing this information amongst their cronies. It’s a highly questionable method and one that only requires one single mentally unhinged person who thinks that this constant vilification is enough justification to take direct action.
What’s interesting is that if you return the profiling favour you will notice that same-sex marriage storm-troopers all have very similar profiles. They support abortion, euthanasia, Palestine, higher taxes, are pro vaccination (and quite a lot of them are soccer fans for some reason). But the over-arching trend is that these people are all prototypical statist. They all believe that the state should determine what the greater good is and that everyone should subject themselves to this. This is a profoundly un-intellectual and un-democratic way of reasoning. After all dissent leads to debate and a frank and honest exchange of thought, ideas and opinions lies at the base of some of the greatest progress made by mankind.
Which brings me to my next point; history has proven that this type of legislation will lead directly to the end of freedom of speech and expression. I am going to use Canada as an example as that country legislated for this type of same-sex marriage in 2002. So we will have a period of over 10 years to see what the effects were. Removing the definition describing marriage as a union between a man and a woman from the constitution not only makes it possible for same-sex couples to marry, it by effect makes a marriage between a heterosexual and a homosexual couple equal.
A corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext. (Justice LaForme in Halpern v. Canada (AG), 2002 CanLII 49633 (On SC), paras. 242-43)
Once you classify something as bigotry and hatred its only a logical next step to ban it and take legal action against those who display it. Two groups will be hit hardest by this; those employed by the state and those who on religious or conscientious grounds object to partake, service or host ceremonies involving same-sex marriage. Those groups have been hit with sanctions, dismissal and legal action. In short resistance will be futile. However there is hope, in certain states in the US laws have recently been passed allowing people the freedom to do as described above on religious or conscientious grounds. Reactionists have called these laws “homophobic” but nothing less is true. The laws make no reference to anyone’s sexuality and equally give people the right to refuse to do business with someone they find offensive, rude or smelling badly. A similar law is currently being debated by the Northern Ireland government. Here in Ireland deputy Mattie McGrath brought the issue of such a law up in the Dial only last week.
The above only touches on the area of acting in objection to equalising same-sex marriage to traditional marriage. There is also the issue of simply voicing such an opinion. Remember freedom of expression is the bedrock of democracy. To explain my point I’ll quote from an article on the “Public Discourse” website by Bradley Miller;
Much speech that was permitted before same-sex marriage now carries risks. Many of those who have persisted in voicing their dissent have been subjected to investigations by human rights commissions and (in some cases) proceedings before human rights tribunals. Those who are poor, poorly educated, and without institutional affiliation have been particularly easy targets—anti-discrimination laws are not always applied evenly. Some have been ordered to pay fines, make apologies, and undertake never to speak publicly on such matters again. Targets have included individuals writing letters to the editors of local newspapers, and ministers of small congregations of Christians. A Catholic bishop faced two complaints—both eventually withdrawn—prompted by comments he made in a pastoral letter about marriage.
Reviewing courts have begun to rein in the commissions and tribunals (particularly since some ill-advised proceedings against Mark Steyn andMaclean’s magazine in 2009), and restore a more capacious view of freedom of speech. And in response to the public outcry following the Steyn/Maclean’saffair, the Parliament of Canada recently revoked the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s statutory jurisdiction to pursue “hate speech.”
Teachers are particularly at risk for disciplinary action, for even if they only make public statements criticizing same-sex marriage outside the classroom, they are still deemed to create a hostile environment for gay and lesbian students. Other workplaces and voluntary associations have adopted similar policies as a result of their having internalized this new orthodoxy that disagreement with same-sex marriage is illegal discrimination that must not be tolerated.
So there is factual proof that once such laws are passed equalising same-sex marriage to traditional marriage that acting or even speaking out in disagreement will no longer be tolerated and will have serious consequences. Couple this to the fact that the majority of those supporting the introduction of such legislation already do not tolerate dissent in the debate prior to a democratic vote on this issue and it will be clear that if such a constitutional amendment is allowed to pass that these people will call for the strictest and most stringent punitive action for anyone who still dares to simply disagree.
It is also not beyond the realm of possibility (and has actually already happened in other countries and jurisdictions) that parents who on religious or conscientious grounds object to same-sex marriage will be forced to have their children educated otherwise in their schools. Again if the state classifies objection as hate-speech (thereby making it akin to racism or holocaust denial) the state cannot allow children to be taught such hate-speech in schools.
In conclusion one cannot deny the fact that experience in other jurisdictions/countries combined with the rabid intolerant of dissent displayed by the hard-line same-sex marriage campaigners *even prior to the referendum* that yes indeed, the constitutional amendment on which the Irish constituency will vote on May 22nd will, if passed, lead to end to freedom of speech, expression and quite possibly thought in Ireland. That my friends, and that alone should be sufficient reason to vote no.
Tags: #haiyan, #Yolanda, aid, disaster, lessons learned, Philippines, relief, typhoon
It will be one year tomorrow since Typhoon Yolanda struck the Philippines. Obviously there will be lots of retrospectives published online and in the printed press. Most of these will outline the great work that has been done and is still ongoing. While I fully support those types of articles I’ve decided to do something different. I’m going to summarise the obstacles that we’ve encountered when responding with Disaster Tech Lab. You can read all the good stuff about our work following typhoon Yolanda here. However by summarising the obstacles we encountered, the mistakes we made i hope to make even a tiny small contribution on how disaster response and humanitarian aid could be improved.
By no means is this a study on the subject, these are simply my observations from the left-field of disaster response. Disaster Tech Lab is only a small organisation and we sometimes have an unconventional approach. We also have a task focussed rather than a process focussed approach and this occasionally conflicts with organisations who prefer to do more planning and discussion. I have also broken this into bulletpoints rather than elaborate analysis. It’s supposed to serve as a catalyst for discussion rather than a guideline.
- Tunnel vision: While Tacloban was probably to most severely hit area by Yolanda it received too much focus by the media and the major aid organisations. Hence it became a black hole for resources. While Yolanda made its East to West path across the Philippines it also hit areas such a East Samar, North Cebu, Panay and Culion & Busuanga islands. I am fully aware that even for the large NGO’s resources are limited and it’s impossible but even considering that Tacloban received an unequal share of the aid.The cynic in me says that’s partially due to the overwhelming media focus on the area. Most of the initial aid provided to the outlying areas was provided by smaller, grassroots type organisations like ours, individuals and/or faith based organisations.
- Logistics: We experienced several issues here. We had no pre-established logistical planning for a response to the Philippines and due to the urgency logistical arrangements had to be made up on the fly. With a damaged infra-structure and a huge influx of responders, equipment and supplies that is a recipe for disaster. A large batch of our equipment went “missing” and some is still stuck in customs (yes after 8 months and reams & reams of forms completed and submitted by us). When we switched to having volunteers bring equipment with them on their flight in as excess baggage we sometimes ran into other issues. This led to such things as panicky incoming phonecalls at 4 am from a Korean airport when one of our volunteers wasn’t allowed to check in the Goal Zero batteries he was carrying and was also not allowed to bring them as carry-on. While large NGO’s have the budget to pay for commercial airfreight or get space on other airlifts for an organisation like us, who do not have the funding for this, it remains a challenge. We have since worked to bring logistical expertise in-house and are developing logistical plans for the most likely destinations across the globe.
- Biggest kid on the block: After so many years and so many disasters during which small grassroots type organisations and the “informal organisations” have made valuable contributions to the relief effort it still seems to be largely impossible for the larger NGO’s to recognise the increasing value these organisations bring as part of the overall relief effort. Most large NGO’s either are unaware of anything that’s not happening on their doorstep or within their direct network or they’re just flat-out not interested in working with such smaller organisations. This brings the added complication that some of the larger donors of relief supplies and equipment donate to these larger organisations expecting that their donation, to an extent, is shared amongst the the responding organisations. Instead these donations hardly ever make it past the few organisations at the top of the pyramid. Direct, validated requests by smaller organisations to larger ones for support are ignored or flat out refused. This in spite of clear evidence and report after report on the value that these smaller organisations bring to the overall relief effort. I am not going to name names but those at both sides of this divide know what I am talking about. A better cooperation and a recognition of the value of each others work and the different parts of the disaster response puzzle that each of us brings will only make future responses better.
- Prevention is better than a cure: While we had seen this before, even during response in the USA, the disadvantaged areas are always the slowest to recover after a major disaster. While this is self-explanatory as it is you can’t repair what isn’t there in the first place. If an community doesn’t have any dependable means of communication you can’t rebuild one. If there’s no hospital to start with, and hence no trained medical personnel, then providing medical aid becomes a larger undertaking. As we worked in areas that can be described as disadvantaged we gave this challenge some deeper thought and quickly came to the conclusion that rebuilding better rather than just rebuilding after a disaster is an important step. This not only means that infra-structure and services need to be rebuilt better and more resilient but you need to teach people how to become more resilient themselves. This is not solely a question of improving skills but also a matter of mindset. As governments are struggling to respond to disasters in an efficient manner people will have to learn that recovery and rebuild efforts will require a lot of their own hands-on input. An interesting observation is that we noticed an increased dependency and expectation in the more westernised, touristy areas of the Philippines while the more remote (but significantly poorer) areas showed much more resilience and willingness to improve their own lot.
- Trust no-one: Well actually, trust everyone but carry a big stick. During our disaster relief work following Yolanda we again learned that when you are doing relief work in far away beautiful destinations you will sometimes attract people who volunteer driven by the main desire to get an all expenses paid holiday. We encountered this again and as a result of this we have tightened up our volunteer screening procedures even more! There is no room for profiteering in this work and we have a 100% no tolerance policy on this. It is *not* representative of 99.9% of the volunteers working in this field and we won’t let that 0.1% mess things up. However as a non-profit you should never drop your guard; just because someone volunteers doesn’t make them a saint. Screen the person, screen their motivation, screen their references and use your intuition.