SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.
Truthout readers have been provided a few comments on the suspension of the “Duck Dynasty" patriarch for extremely bigoted comments regarding gay and black people. In the wider “news” world this has become a recurring topic. In this short piece I would like to point out several key elements of the ensuing debate.
This is not a freedom of speech issue! The Constitution, in Amendment 1, states that Congress shall make no law restricting this freedom. Under the doctrine of incorporation, the Supreme Court has held this prohibition also applies to state and local government. Robertson had every right to say what he did. He will not be arrested for doing so.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees the number of Syrian refugees is now over 2.3 million. The UNHCR also says that within Syria there are 4.2 displaced people as a result of the civil war that has been going on between Syria's president Bashar al-Assad and primarily a Sunni-fundamentalist-led rebel force, with both sides allowing and engaging in attacks on civilian targets. The Kurds, who are about 9% of the Syrian population and traditionally have had a role in the Syrian government now are targeted by both al-Assad and the rebels.
2013 has been a terrible year for several Arab nations. It has been terrible because the promise of greater freedoms and political reforms has been reversed, most violently in some instances, by a few countries taking the path of anarchy and chaos. Syria and Egypt are two cases in point.
Syria has been hit the hardest. For months, the United Nations has maintained that over 100,000 people have been killed in the 33 months of conflict. More recently, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights concluded that at least 125,835 people, of which more than a third are civilians, have been killed.
Let’s start with irony:
Compelling research suggests that the public in the U.S. is unique in its commitment to belief, often at the expense of evidence—leading me to identify the U.S. as a belief culture.
Additionally, while I remain convinced that the U.S. is a belief culture, I also argue that, below, the political cartoon posted at Truthout captures another important dynamic: Many committed to their own beliefs both do not recognize that they are committed to belief and belittle others for being committed to their beliefs.
Big Spring is at the heart of the prison-industrial complex in America. The total population of the West Texas town is little more than 20,000, but there are two full prisons and an immigration facility that, in total, house no fewer than 4,000 prisoners. Considering day shifts, night shifts, weekend shifts for the guards, support systems like food service, sanitation, administration, health care, janitorial duties, and maintenance: more than 60 percent of the households in towns like Big Spring are dependent on the prison paycheck. And there are thousands of towns like Big Spring across the country. In other words, if you stop jailing people in The Land of The Free, a good chunk of America would wither up and die.
The guilty pleas Monday by Alvin Watts and Jacob England to the killing of three African-Americans and the wounding of two others in a fit of racial rage brings many lessons for the citizen at large. There are lessons in patience, community, faith, hope, and not least, hypocrisy.
Watts and England embarked on a night of terror in North Tulsa on the Friday night of Easter weekend 2010. They became known as the Good Friday killers.
They were arrested a couple of days later. Initially the state asked for the death penalty.
They call it democracy, they say that we're free.
Two rich guys to choose from, oh, who will it be?
Both puppets of wealth, secret orders from above,
Agendas to keep them in power, if push comes to shove.
They say you have options, lots of channels to choose,
Keeping us brain dead, it's a game we all lose.
"The War to End all Wars" never achieved what H.G. Wells implied with this term. On the contrary, World War I not only resulted in the death of more than 16 million humans, it also resulted in a victor’s peace directly setting the stage for World War 2 where an estimated 60 to 100 million people died. I like to believe that no World War is on the horizon, but I was quite surprised to read the headline of a Wall Street Journal opinion piece "To Secure Peace, Be Ready for Battle." The surprise not so much was the title itself. This language—promoting ‘peace’ by amassing more military—has been all-too-familiar and all-too-common in the twenty-first century perpetual ineffective and counterproductive war on terror and other misguided relics like humanly insane nuclear deterrence or the offensive, war-waging North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
In our house we get the New York Times (NYT) because the Philadelphia Inquirer’s (that is our city paper) coverage of international affairs is very limited. Sometimes I wonder why we bother. One can find a more thorough and certainly more balanced coverage on the web. However, we still enjoy the tradition of perusing a newspaper at the breakfast table.
It is important to keep in mind that a newspaper, or really any media source, really, is a reflection of the political and cultural sensibilities of its owners and managers. So you can politically and culturally peg those who run a media outlet such as a newspaper by what makes up its content as well as what is left out.