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Posts Tagged ‘freedom of speech’

Bless you!

17.02.2011 02:19

While on my lunch break today, I had a very interesting experience. I was approached by young, deeply Christian people, twice. Let me share the moments for a bit.

The first encounter was outside a grocery store (where I had just made some minor purchases). I was sitting down on a bench, enjoying the last few sips of some strawberry milk (no, I’m not making that up), when a Swedish girl asked to sit down with me to talk a little (she did bring a friend, but she kept very much in the background). She revealed that she was a Christian, with a deep faith in Jesus (you know, that guy from the second half of the Bible). She wanted me to know that God sees me, and will continue to protect me (no matter what I believed), and asked further what my faith was (agnostic – I’ll explain further down – as I also explained to her). My faith is very inclusive towards all/most religions, basically. She also asked if everything was alright, if I had any problems in particular, which I really don’t. We had some small talk for a few minutes before we said our goodbyes. The whole thing kinda put me off for a few minutes after that, but all in all, it was a slightly positive experience.

Later on, about 15-20 minutes after my first encounter, and on my way back to the office, I had a second encounter. This time, it was one guy (Norwegian, who sounded like he was from the Oslo area) and two girls (who the guy identified as being Canadian and American). I had noticed their faces a few minutes earlier, as I had just passed them about a block earlier, heading in the opposite direction, but they must’ve taken an interest and caught up with me inside a shopping mall. They, too, were Christian, and they asked if they could pray for me. Heck, I’m an open-minded guy, and thought that if it would make them happy, I’d just let them. They, too, asked if there were some problems in particular to pray for, which I really didn’t. They each put one hand on me and took a turn with their prayers, basically asking to protect me and praying for my continued kindness, each in their own words. The whole séance probably took about 5 minutes, with odd stares from people passing by. When they finished, they thanked me for the opportunity, and we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, leaving me with a strangely positive feeling of some strangers caring about me enough to do all that.

Yep, today, I was a Christian magnet! It was a particular “life is good” kinda day, too. My monthly pay rolled in the day before, and my 31st birthday is tomorrow (well, technically speaking “today” at the time I write this – it’s way too late in the evening/night, though).

Agnostic? What’s that?

Some of you might wonder about my stance towards faith and religion. I define myself as an agnostic, which means I’m in doubt.

I believe there’s something all around us, which is yet to be properly defined. I believe that religions world-wide have made efforts to define it by giving it names. Some call this feeling God, some call it Yahweh, some call it Allah, some call it The Force, some call it Mother Nature, some have even split it into several deities. In essence, I believe all of these are one and the same, only with different names.

I believe there is “one truth” for all of us, yet to be defined, and that this truth is somewhere in our common future, somewhat further down the line that any of us can see. In the meantime, it is not only correct, but essential to keep your current faith, as long as you respect the faith of others, even if it seems to differ from your own. The important thing is not what you believe in, but that you practice your belief respectfully and without resorting to violence.

OK, that’s probably enough words of wisdom for one day. I guess the idea of growing older is sneaking up on me today.

Chinese “diplomacy” – what’s that?

18.10.2010 17:07

As some of you might’ve caught, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate is Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human rights activist, something the Chinese government wasn’t too thrilled about. In the recent week, Chinese officials have responded by silently cancelling all appointments and events relating to Norway and Norwegian officials, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry has even gone as far as critizing the Norwegian Nobel Committee for awarding the prize to a criminal.

And what crime would that be? Openly expressing his opinion about human rights in China and, in essence, openly critizing the Chinese government. That’s right, the freedom of speech which most of us in the so-called Western world take for granted, is forbidden by law in China.

According to a poll on the subject in China, they also demand that the Norwegian Nobel Committee should withdraw the prize and apologize to the Chinese people.

Honestly, there’s nothing to apologize for. The fight for human rights and the freedom to peacefully express one’s opinions is on the path to peace, which I believe is in line with the Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese government should be able to see this, and relax some of their laws pertaining to freedom of speech and domestic political disagreement. I mean, China apparently wants to be treated differently by the rest of the world (as in, “we are right, everyone else is wrong”), which is a factor to establishing the Great Firewall of China and more or less separating Internet in China from the rest of the world to minimize political influences. To a great extent, they appear to want to be the “Iron Curtain” of the 21st century, and we all know how well that went for the old Soviet Union…

It’s time for China to realize what they’re doing and stop their childish ways, especially in the treatment of other nations in the world. I know I probably won’t be able to visit China after this post, and considering the political situation, I’m not sure I want to either.

And communism is just a nice theory, but human nature makes it unfeasable and impossible to implement in the long run. There, that should cement my status as a criminal according to China, right?

Cartoon trouble

10.02.2006 01:50

As most of you have caught up in recent news, the Danish newspaper Jyllandsposten published a caricature of Mohammed, the Muslim prophet. Knowing full well that depicting the prophet is against Islamic law, several other European newspapers republished these caricatures for some strange reason, among others, a Christian extremist newspaper called “Magazinet”. I have a feeling that they did this just to piss someone off.

These events generally caused Norwegians to become targets in countries and cities heavily influenced by Islam, with flag burning, riots and physical attacks against Norwegian offices and tourists in those countries. Not police, though, but by rioting groups. And it almost feels like we’re on the brink of World War III, which I seriously hope never comes into fruition.

The newspapers and magazines that have published these caricatures claim freedom of speech as the reason for doing this.

I think this is wrong. With freedom of speech also comes the personal responsibility for what you’re saying. Say the wrong things, and people get insulted. I’m not saying we should abolish freedom of speech altogether, but I think that those who have the freedom also should take the responsibility to not directly offend anybody’s religion, race, gender or sexuality.

The rioters were also demanding that our government apologize for the insult. Trouble is, with freedom of speech also comes the fact that a gathered country can’t take responsibility for what a single person expresses. If they’re going to paint targets, do it to the ones who were insulting them instead of targetting an entire country. We don’t all have that same opinion, and people should respect that.

I heard a good example today that could help you get a feel for how muslims react to this issue: How would you feel if someone either found a nude picture of your grandmother or constructed one and then published the picture on the front page of a nation-wide newspaper? False or not, “all” they did was use their freedom of speech, expressing their opinion of the world or their skills as an artist. Even so, it doesn’t make it right, does it? There’s a fine line between trying to provoke a reaction and outright stupidity, apparently. If you have something you know will violate the emotions of an innocent person or a group of innocent people, the freedom of speech you should exercise is to not publish it. You know, spare their feelings.

At least something good came out of it; the editor of the Norwegian newspaper was reported to the police by the Muslim Al-Jinnah Foundation. It’s good to see that doing something like this isn’t entirely without legal consequenses.

Aftenposten: Caricature publisher reported to police

I’d like to say that I don’t side either with the rioters or the publishers. The rioters on their side went too far with their death threats against the people who were even remotely involved with the publishing of the caricatures (such as Norwegians or Danes in general). The publishers on their side went too far by throwing these caricatures into their newspapers. Bad ideas from both ends, I think.

Death threats are medieval ways in this modern world. Modern times react better to lawsuits. I say that all Muslims take up class action suits against the newspapers that published the caricatures. Judging by the widespread of Islam in today’s world, single lawsuits are a waste of time; several gathered class action lawsuits would be more effective in my opinion.

Go ahead. If you’re a Muslim reading this, gather up your friends and fellow believers in your region and get in touch with lawyer. I’m sure there’s something you could figure out there.

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005

28.04.2005 17:07

This week in America, “Dubyasigned a legislation named the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005, which is a “movie piracy and filtering bill” (according to GovTrack).

Now, I don’t mind it being illegal to make distribution copies (ie. not backups in case something should go wrong), but that filtering part of it just makes me mad. I mean, when will it stop? So much for the “land of the free and the home of the brave” when the freedom is ripped from you by means of additional legislation, lawsuits or overzealous politicians, and the brave are just sitting around, waiting for someone else to do something about it.

Quoted from the CNN news story:
The bill gives legal protections to the fledgling filtering technology that helps parents automatically skip or mute sections of commercial movie DVDs. Bush signed it privately and without comment, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

There goes the artistic freedom out the window along with the actual parenting responsibility of parents. It’s simply allowing parents to slack off when it comes to being parents to their children. I mean, for crapping out loud, the movie ratings are there for a reason, right? “Not intended for ages below 18”. OK, so don’t let your children under 18 watch it, then.

In other political news from the US this week, Gerald Allen (Alabama) wants to ban all books containing subjects about homosexuality as well as books written by homosexual authors. As librarian Donna Schremser points out, this seems to be the beginning of some sort of “though police”. Now that’s 1984. George Orwell might’ve been right after all, he just missed the year of the events by a few decades.

By the way, from what I can tell, you can read the entire book 1984 by George Orwell online, and for free. Also, I’d recommend watching the movie with the same name, starring John Hurt (“Alien”, “Contact”, “Hellboy”).