Friday, March 09, 2007

An open thread!

"Choking on the ashes of our enemies" is a phrase I've had in my head for a while, perhaps because I do bear grudges.

There was a Yoko Ono piece -- it was part of a book of performance pieces that I read a long time ago: a little book of instructions though not of the saccharine type.

It said something along the lines of, "Go sit by a river and wait. Sooner or later, the heads of your enemies will floating by." Some rivers even have comfortable benches along their banks where one can sit and eat sandwiches while one waits.

I suppose I've been thinking of that phrase "Choking on the ashes of our enemies" in the context of the empire and its inversions: the colonies. Certainly it is true that imperialism begets resistance: that those of us who try to find a place in resistance are in a sense Empire's estranged offspring, its changlings, its cuckoos in the next. But I've been thinking of Said too and his firm conviction that despite the pen much in its hand, despite its efforts to persuade us that it has defined every inch of us, that we are not creatures to be explained solely in terms of our oppositional relationship to empire (to the extent we manage one). That we don't necessarily have to be rebellious offspring, but could be cuckoos and changlings instead. That we are something else beside -- not simply creatures of imperial make.

And I guess I've been thinking about that whole macrocosm/microcosm thing.

Not coming to many conclusions. Just thinking. And looking forward to hearing Nanette's thoughts on absolute freedom of speech.

10 Comments:

Blogger dove said...

Nanette -- I'm currently locked out of managing rights on InFlight (I think it's to do with the migration) -- and am trying to catch supersoling to see if he has managing rights. As soon as I do I'll send out the reinvite!

3/09/2007 11:55 pm  
Blogger supersoling said...

Dove,
sent an invite last night (my time). Noticed that Nanette seemed a full admin in the dash, as well as me and DTF. This morning I notice yours and Nanette's names as thread pullers. So, I assume everything is good now?

3/10/2007 2:58 pm  
Blogger dove said...

Hi supersoling,

I'm not sure -- Nanette has appeared on the list of threadpullers, but I still have the 'manage' bit greyed out.
Oh. Spot the person who's really bad with blogger. I do still have admin rights -- that's probably even more embarassing! -- Thanks for going and looking for me! (she says looking somewhat sheepish)

3/10/2007 6:30 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

Yay! An open thinking thread.

Weird. My name is indeed up there, but I didn't get the invitation email, and this blog doesn't show up on my dashboard thingy, so... weird. Oh, well!

dove, I'll have to think more on the "cuckoos and changlings" vs creatures of imperial make thing... it sounds interesting, although I am not *quite* grasping it yet.

Okay, on the free speech absolutism... I don't have my thoughts especially together, but there are some points that have sort of stood out to me over the months.

In the US, at least, the constitutional mention of 'freedom of speech' applies to the government attempting to abridge that speech, for one reason or another, especially for speaking out against the government itself. Mind you, the fact that it is in the constitution has not stopped the government from doing just that, but still... it's not something that has, constitutionally, applied to dealings between individuals or private businesses and such.

I don't really know how it works, if it works, in other western countries - I know some have hate speech laws, but I am not certain how they work.

The first time I really encountered the expression "free speech absolutist", to remember it anyway, was when SusahHu posted that Mohammed cartoon, and simply was totally unable to grasp what the problem was with the photo, combined with the text. What she kept falling back on was that she was a free speech absolutist and thought that the photos should be published here because Muslims somewhere across the world were rioting about them. I think this is part of what prevented her from hearing what people were saying, about making people a target.

At that time I also remember Ductape declaring that he was a 'free speech absolutist", only his declaration had a slightly different flavor... in that he felt that people should say what they really think and feel, and not change that unless they themselves have changed feelings - not to protect anyone else's feelings, but to know their own. Something sort of like that.

But anyway, I'm sure I've seen it since then but the next time the term registered was when MSOC used it, in this thread about anti-Semitism, after apparently some Jewish people complained about it being allowed or something. I know MSOC used the term, am not sure if anyone else did but there was lots of backup of her point of view.

I sort of got to thinking about all this (more) after reading this at Pandagon, about political correctness, as well as this by Kai Chang, a while back. Also, various conversations around about the use of the "c" word and women, and different slurs and epithets used against different racial groups or whatever. Anyway, all that stuff that often comes under the labels of "not PC" or "I'm a free speech absolutist", most of which has nothing at all to do with the goverment, but mostly when speaking to, of or about marginalized groups.

So I got to wondering... well, two things. One, where did "free speech absolutist start, and where did it come from?" and two... the age old question: cui bono? To whom the benefit, or who does it advantage?

From what I can gather, the ones who gain the most benefit from this sort of thing is the group at the top of the heap - because, of all of the people affected, the top of the heap is the least affected by slurs or slings and arrows, etc... in the US and most western countries, that would be the white christian male. And then the white christian female and then on, in the hierarchal formations that exist in our society. (White Jewish males and females are still unable to enter into this protected area of whiteness.)

So, anyway... am not sure where I am going with this (thus the thinking out loud!) - historically, and in my experience, few things that primarily.. or, I would actually say, exclusively, benefits the top dog also serves to provide trickle down advantage to those who are on the lower rungs.

I myself am not in favor of government restrictions on speech, and I don't know of any others (beyond private businesses), but while I don't think I've ever thought of myself as a "free speech absolutist" for more than a minute or two, I do wonder if it occurs to people that use that term that what they are really saying is that "I am a participant in the Top of the Heap Protection Racket".

OR... am I just seeing everything the wrong way around?

(this comment is rather long... hope it posts!)

3/10/2007 8:01 pm  
Blogger NLinStPaul said...

Hey all!!

I wonder if we don't often mistake "free speech" with our reaction to it. In theory, I think its best if people are allowed to freely say what they think. And then others are also free to respond - and that's where the work begins. In the best case scenario, someone who has said something hateful will hear that it is hateful. I know that doesn't happen often. Too bad for example, that the whole controversy over the cartoon posted at BT couldn't have been handled more clearly - that opposition to the posting could have been expressed, heard and discussed. I know I did manage to learn something in the midst of all the craziness.

But without free speech, I fear that it all goes underground and the learning can't happen.

But in the end, I guess I'm not a "free speech absolutist" because I think there is a line - not sure where it is, but its the whole "yelling fire in a crowded theater" kind of thing.

3/12/2007 1:11 pm  
Blogger Arcturus said...

well, shit, I just posted a long reply to ya, Nanette, & it just friggin' disappeared! & of course I didn't save it & now need to go run to the grocery

great post disguised as a comment, ma'am

much to chew on

3/13/2007 10:31 pm  
Blogger Nanette said...

cool beans... people!

Nancy, yes I don't want speech penalized in law I don't think... and I certainly think people should have the right to say what they wish. It just occurred to me that, for the most part, "no rules, no restraint" free speech (not related to the government) only serves to benefit the already powerful.

Don't know what to do with that thought tho, exactly.

Hi Arcturus, and thanks! I hope you repost at least part of what you were thinking - save it first in notepad or something, tho, lol. I've started doing that with all my comments... at least copying them to the clipboard before hitting publish.

3/15/2007 12:22 am  
Blogger Janet said...

Ah free speech. Well I was ranting about my experiences with the riot police and neighborhood police and I've come to the conclusion, although it may change, that cops for the most part .. are pig.

Tools of the regime.

Someone tried to hammer me a bit about on MLW but I stood my ground and MSOC posted about it as well.

I liked Ductapefatwa because you could share and learn... and grow.

And change. Then share that as well.

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