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.

“Oh the Muslims… you know they are a coming… they’re gentle and they’re friendly so open up your arms and give’m a hug…”

— Opening Song from The Muslims Are Coming

The Muslims Are Coming –  just released this month on video on demand sites like iTunes and is more than just your standard comedy tour film.

Oct 22

Captain Phillips Doesn’t Explain Why Somali Pirates Exist

By Paul Gottinger and Ken Klippenstein, Dissident Voice | Op-Ed

Captain Phillips is a movie about the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama commercial container ship by Somali pirates. Pirates, one of Americans’ most beloved figures—consider the popularity of the recent Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy—are loathsome savages in this film. They kill their own, abandon their own, don’t aid their own when they are injured, and are portrayed as generally lacking in even the most rudimentary forms of human compassion. By contrast, Tom Hanks, who plays the eponymous Captain Phillips, urges the Somali pirates to treat their wounded; expresses paternal concern for his captors—“What are you, sixteen, seventeen? You’re too young to be out here doing this”; conveys indignation over the pirates’ conduct—“Is this how you do business? By shooting people?”; and repeatedly tells the hijackers that they could leave, right now, with $30,000, no questions asked—evoking a smarmy game show host (I kept picturing Regis Philbin).

Oct 21

Ideological Disaster - An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, Truthout | News Analysis

In the eighteenth century the West shifted from mercantilism to capitalism. Mercantilism was an economic system that gave governments wide-ranging regulatory powers over commerce, mostly to ensure a positive balance of trade. It also allowed for strong guild structures and protection for domestic industries. However, the Industrial Revolution ended mercantilism and brought to power a business class that wanted to be free to operate without government oversight.

Monday morning I woke at dawn and drove an hour from Phoenix to the small town of Eloy, Arizona. It was pretty warm already and I knew the Arizona sun would only grow hotter. I grabbed my bandana and prepared to chain myself to the entrance of one of the largest detention centers with the worst reputation in the United States. There were six of us in all — two men and four women. One was 16-year-old girl named Sandy Estrada. Her brother was detained inside.

“I am doing this so he and everybody else in there knows that we support them,” she said. “Obama has the power to keep families like mine together. He hasn’t done a thing.”

A common practice for introducing students to the ethical foundation of philosophy is to pose moral dilemmas, possibly the most typical example being the life-boat dilemma that forces a person to choose who lives, and thus who dies.

Science fiction (SF) and speculative fiction often build entire other worlds in which the given circumstances create a series of moral dilemmas that are the basis of the tensions and actions of the novels and films. Writers such as Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale, for example) and Kurt Vonnegut (Cat’s Cradle, for example) often build these worlds in the tradition of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley as a way to say, as Neil Gaiman explains about the power of fiction: “The world doesn’t have to be like this. Things can be different.”

First they came for the Arctic sea ice, and I did not speak out--even though its volume is two thirds what it was thirty years ago.

Then they came for our mountain glaciers--Kilimanjaro, Glacier National Park, the Andes, and Himalayas--and still I didn't speak out. My water supplies were not threatened.

They thawed the permafrost and continental shelves even though these areas could release planet altering greenhouse gases. Still I remained silent.

Oct 21

The Price of Fashion

By Tom O’Connor, Truthout | Op-Ed

The price of fashion is on the rise as the death toll in Bangladesh’s garment factories grows.

Another fire in another garment factory – this one about 25 miles from the garment factory whose April collapse killed more than 1,100 workers – took the lives of at least 10 more workers on Tuesday, October 8, 2013.

Most of the workers who perished in this week’s fire were so badly burned they could not be identified. Approximately 50 other workers were injured in the fire, which took firefighters nearly 10 hours to overcome. 

Just days ago thousands took to the streets in yet another March Against Monsanto, yet many people still don't understand what Monsanto is and what it's doing to our food supply. Take ten minutes and learn the truth.

Oct 18

Blinded by the Systematic Power

By Gabriela Garcia, SpeakOut | News Analysis

African Americans and Latin Americans have been oppressed for centuries, and yet still has there not been any change. Many people of the United States blame the individual for being oppressed, jailed, or murdered. These ethnicities and races are still oppressed by the system. Not in a matter of slavery or segregation, but in the matter of poverty, discrimination and classism. I agree that wars and revolutions have made change over the past years, but not enough change that we are able to stand by the 14th amendment that guarantees civil rights for all Americans.

Poverty has been a huge effect around the world, but specifically in the city of San Francisco. According to a US Economic Inequality article, statistics show that the 1% of rich Americans are getting richer and the poor are even more poor.

Oct 18

Still Staying Sober – An Analysis

By Lawrence Davidson, To the Point Analysis | News Analysis

On 22 May 2013 I wrote an analysis titled “Staying Sober.” It recounted two news stories that drew many hopeful comments from progressives. One was about the New York-based federal judge who placed an injunction on the U.S. government’s practice of indefinite detention. The other was the momentary success of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli prisons at attaining some relief from their intolerable conditions. They too were protesting, among other things, that country’s version of indefinite detention. 

I noted that these were battles won and precedents to take heart from. They showed what was possible through determined opposition against unjust state practices. However, winning battles is not equivalent to winning wars, so it would be wise to celebrate soberly, knowing the struggles were not over.