Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Nudity Now Legal in Munich

by Jason Stotts

Nudity has now been legalized in Munich Germany, which is Germany’s third largest city.  The city, in what I think is a reasonable compromise, designated six different areas around the city where nudity is permitted. Additionally, the city is very tolerating of nudity and has a tradition of what they call Freikörperkultur or “free-body culture.”

I think this is a move in the right direction and I hope that more cities adopt this, especially in the US.  Frankly, I think it’s deplorable that some people think that they should be able to control the actions of others, even when they are not violating anyone’s rights. Nudity should be legal.  It most certainly shouldn’t be a “sex crime,” like it is here in the US where one can be equated with a rapist for doing no more than exposing one’s body.  The body is not always sexual. And, contrary to christianity and islam, the body is not evil.

Now, of course, if you want nudity prohibited on your private property, that is your right.  But you don’t have the right to force others to always remain clothed, even when being naked would be preferable or objectively better (like at a beach).

Making the body taboo makes us all worse off. But, today, I’ll let Lord Russell have the last word:

 The proper place for nudity is out-of-doors in the sunshine and in the water.  If our conventions allowed of this, it would soon cease to make any sexual appeal; we should all hold ourselves better, we should be healthier from the contact of air and sun with the skin, and our standards of beauty would more nearly coincide with standards of health, since they would concern themselves with the body and its carriage, not only with the face.  In this respect the practice of the Greeks was to be commended.

~ Bertrand Russell

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Operation Choke Point and the Erosion of Freedom

by Jason Stotts

Today is the Fourth of July or American Independence Day. It’s a day when we celebrate the freedoms we have by enjoying spending time with our families, having barbecues, going to parades, and watching fireworks.  It’s a day when we should be contemplating what freedom is and what it took to achieve it.

This has made me think about Operation Choke Point (OCP) and the erosion of freedom that began under Bush and escalated under Obama.  In OCP, the Obama Administration and the DOJ are going after “undesirable” entities and trying to get rid of them by cutting of their access to banks and financial services.  The two most targeted areas, or at least the two areas who are vocally standing up for themselves, are porn and firearms.  I’ve already written about this in terms of porn (The Obama DOJ and the War on Porn), but what I want to point out today is something different.

In both the porn camp and the firearms camp are people who are vocally rejecting this draconian and clearly immoral use of the government to try to stomp out things with which they do not agree.  Each camp stresses that they should have the right to do the things they’re doing because they’re not harming anyone.  Each camp is, to this extent, right.  The problem is that these two camps don’t like each other and each would be happy to see the other fall to the Obama DOJ.  Of course, not everyone in each camp thinks like this, there will always be exceptions, but it holds true for the general view of each side. But each side would like to see the other fall and so refuses to come to their aid.

The problem is that if we don’t defend freedom in principle, then we can’t provide a real defense of it at all. If I think the government should stop you from what you’re doing because it offends me, then what possible objection could I offer if my own actions offended someone else?  We need to stand together to fight against this tyrannical destruction of our rights to live the kinds of lives we want to lead.  As long as we violate no one else’s rights, there should be no restrictions on our actions.

We must either stand for freedom on principle, or fall individually one by one, and this is especially true of things that we don’t like and don’t agree with.

You either stand for freedom on principle or you don’t.

Choose.

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The Obama DOJ and the War on Porn

by Jason Stotts

In a move that sounds like it should be coming from the Republican/Theocratic party, the Obama administration is targeting the bank accounts of porn stars and forcing banks to close them through a program they’re calling “operation choke point.”

This is a massive overreach (again) of the Obama administration and a flatly immoral use of governmental coercion to force banks to close accounts of those involved in porn. But, it’s not just porn, it’s also other “high risk” accounts that the government does not approve of…on the grounds of who knows what.

If we allow the government to tell us what kinds of things we should be allowed to do for work, what kinds of things we should be allowed to see, what kinds of things that we should be allowed to do, then we become slaves to the state. Of course, we shouldn’t violate other’s rights, but that’s not at issue here. This is nothing but another governmental power-grab.

We need to decide whether the government is our master or servant: the day is much later than you might think. If we keep allowing our two entrenched political parties to erode our rights in different areas, we shall soon have no rights at all and be left with nothing but edicts from the state, rules about what we are permitted to do, and taxes to support the leviathan.

Links:

https://news.vice.com/articles/is-the-doj-forcing-banks-to-terminate-the-accounts-of-porn-stars?trk_source=homepage-in-the-news
http://reason.com/blog/2014/04/28/doj-operation-chokepoint-and-porn-stars 

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Resistance Carols

by Jason Stotts

Here’s my first attempt at a Resistance Carol for this holiday season.  If anyone has some musical talent and wants to run with it, feel free!  Just send me the link when you’re done so I can check it out.

“NSA Is Comin’ To Town”

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
NSA is coming to town
NSA is coming to town
NSA is coming to town

It’s making a list,
Checking it twice;
Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.
NSA is coming to town
NSA is coming to town
NSA is coming to town

It sees you when you’re sleeping
It knows when you’re awake
It knows if you’ve been bad or good
So conform or go to jail

With shiny jack boots and rifles and guns
Armored personal carriers and the force of law
NSA is coming to town
NSA is coming to town
NSA is coming to town

It sees you when you’re sleeping
It knows when you’re awake
It knows if you’ve been bad or good
So conform or go to jail
Go to jail

You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I’m telling you why
NSA is coming to town
NSA is coming to town
NSA is coming
NSA is coming
NSA is coming to town

(Coming to town)
NSA’s a busy branch, it has no time to play
There’s millions of people to force to conform by Christmas day
(NSA is coming to town)
(Coming to town)
(NSA is coming to town)
(You better watch out)

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Capitalism and the Death of Writing

by Jason Stotts

Writing is hard.  Not only is it hard to string words together into sentences that people want to read, it’s hard to express your thoughts clearly in writing.  You can think you have a great grasp of an idea until the moment you go to write about it, only to find that you don’t understand it at all.  The only thing better, to understand your own ideas, is trying to teach something you “know” to someone else.  That’ll show you if you really understand it or not.

But writing is also hard as a profession: it’s hard to get people to pay you for your ideas.  Even when they like the ideas.  Even when they agree with the ideas.  Even when you make their lives better with your ideas.  It’s hard to get people to pay you for your ideas.

This is hardly a new complaint among writers.  In fact, many a writer has seen the death of their career, not due to a lack of talent, but due to a lack of being able to make it profitable.  Thus, it came as no surprise to me to see a writer bemoaning this in an opinion piece for the New York Times called “Slaves of the Internet Unite!” by Tim Kreider.

People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.

A familiar figure in one’s 20s is the club owner or event promoter who explains to your band that they won’t be paying you in money, man, because you’re getting paid in the far more valuable currency of exposure. This same figure reappears over the years, like the devil, in different guises — with shorter hair, a better suit — as the editor of a Web site or magazine, dismissing the issue of payment as an irrelevant quibble and impressing upon you how many hits they get per day, how many eyeballs, what great exposure it’ll offer. “Artist Dies of Exposure” goes the rueful joke.

I couldn’t agree more.  I would never ask you to come fix my plumbing for free, or repair my car, or fix my roof.  But no one thinks twice about asking a writer to write for free.  Or reading a blogger’s works and never donating.

Things, however, start to take a weird twist here as, immediately after bemoaning the fact that no one pays writers, he attacks capitalism:

Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge. I now contribute to some of the most prestigious online publications in the English-speaking world, for which I am paid the same amount as, if not less than, I was paid by my local alternative weekly when I sold my first piece of writing for print in 1989. More recently, I had the essay equivalent of a hit single — endlessly linked to, forwarded and reposted. A friend of mine joked, wistfully, “If you had a dime for every time someone posted that…” Calculating the theoretical sum of those dimes, it didn’t seem all that funny.

It’s weird to attribute people demanding things for free to capitalism, which is usually identified with…well, the opposite of that, with being “greedy” and interested in making money wherever it can.  On the other hand, people having a right to your work and no obligation to pay you is socialism, not capitalism.

I definitely agree with him that writer’s should be paid, but that’s a very capitalistic idea: that we should always trade value for value and never sacrifice ourselves for others.  Thus, it’s completely contradictory for this writer to hold these two strong beliefs: that he should be paid for his writing and that no one should be paid for their work and should do it for the collective.

Ultimately, you have the choice of self-sacrifice, altruism, collectivism, and socialism or self-interest, egoism, individualism, and capitalism.  If you want people to pay your for your writing, it’s capitalism you want.  Capitalism upholds the trader principle, where people trade value for value.  Socialism upholds the slavery principle, where all are obligated to work for all.

I know, for one, this writer would like paid for his work and capitalism is the way to make that happen.

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A Government For, or Against, The People

by Jason Stotts

In honor of Halloween, I recently watched Night of the Living Dead for the first time.  One of the things that really struck me about the movie, which is probably not most people’s response, was just how very different the government’s position was in regards to the people.

Night of the Living Dead is set in the late 60’s.  It’s a movie about zombies, but that’s not the interesting part.  The interesting part is that in response to the zombie threat, the government activated the military, national guard, and police.  Because there aren’t that many trained warriors in our culture (as they’re not really needed), they also called upon the civilian defense authority.  They asked for the people to rise with their guns to combat the threat and to work side by side with the local police or military to engage the threat.  This, of course, helped them to eventually win the day and restore order and was clearly the right thing to do.  The civilians fought well and made the difference in neutralizing the threat.

Now, obviously, this is a fictional zombie movie, but I think it makes a really good point.  Can you imagine the Obama administration calling upon the people to take up arms to defend themselves and their neighbors against a threat? I think it’s more likely that the dead would come back to life than that would happen.

We’ve moved from a society in which the government is the servant of the people to one in which the government is the master of the people. And that master is fearful and suspicious.  The people are no longer trusted with weapons and the democrats are doing all they can to make it impossible to own them.  They monitor our every move and read our every message. They worry that the people will rise and overthrow the government again, as we Americans are wont to do when our freedoms are trampled.  And they are right to worry because they are trampling our freedoms and they are taxing us to death.  Why should I be forced to pay to support your life when I can’t afford mine?  Why should I work five months a year to pay for others and suffer myself?  I shouldn’t!  It’s intolerable.

It’s no wonder they fear the people rising.  They should fear the people rising and we should rise.  But, it doesn’t have to be this way.  If they would return to a real government whose purpose was to protect individual rights and end all redistributionary taxation and victimless crimes, then we would want the government to persist and it would be a value in our lives.  I firmly believe that we need a government to maintain order and law and that this can be a real and necessary good.  But, there is little that is worse than a bad government and the only thing that has caused more death than governments is religion.

We, the people, have been sold out by both political parties and our rights have been systematically trampled for so many years now that we hardly notice anymore.  We need to wake up and notice.  We need to stand up and assert our right to our own lives and that we do not have to work to support others and a government run out of control.  We need to reign in our servant and put him back in his place.  He has become prodigal and dangerous and it is time to remind him who his master is.

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Happy American Independence Day!

by Jason Stotts

Declaration_of_Independence_(USA)

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays because it has a very important meaning to it: the value of freedom and its necessity for a good life.  On the Fourth of July, American Independence Day, we are asked to remember the great struggle it took to win our freedom and how we should keep it.  Our Founding Fathers knew that throughout history governments had been the worst bane to their people and so they set up a system of government that provided only to protect the rights of the citizens, those explicitly enumerated in the Bill of Rights and all those not enumerated, and to constrain the government so that it could not grow to become the violator of our rights.  Our Founding Fathers set up a system to protect us from oppression and secure our freedom, from both foreign and domestic enemies.

Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals—that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government—that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizens’ protection against the government.

Ayn Rand, “The Nature of Government

When we celebrate today, we should be glad of our freedom and resolve ourselves to stand up against the constant erosion of them by our government.  We are a free people and we must be constantly vigilant to remain as such.  Tyranny never arrives all at once, it comes in fits and starts and when it finally has arrived, everyone is surprised by it.  But, if we think in principles and act in a principled way, we can resist the rise of tyranny and act to restore our freedoms.  Consider that the man who works nearly half his life to pay for others is not truly free.  No one has a moral right to the products of another man’s labor and no one should be forced to sacrifice their lives and interests for others.  This is not to say one might not want to freely help others through benevolence, but benevolence is destroyed by entitlement and by having one’s money forcibly taken away.

And there’s the crux of the issue: America can only stand on an egoistic eudaimonist framework, but it is christianity that people try to insist is its proper moral basis.  But how can a free country be created on the moral basis of sacrifice?  It can’t.  America will continue to suffer and ultimately erode unless we can change the moral framework of the country and the zeitgeist.  Fortunately, I think this is already happening.  People are beginning to question why they must work five months out of the year for others while their own family suffers.  People are starting to rise up against the tyrannical programs that track and record all of our movements and history, when we are innocent and have committed no crimes.  People are starting to wonder why its acceptable to burden their children with lifetimes of debt to pay for generations they will barely know.  The worse the world gets, the clearer our case becomes and we must use these dark days to our advantage to show the consequences of failing in our struggle for freedom.

So today, honor our history, the Founding Fathers, and the greatest country ever conceived by man and resolve yourself to be a true American and take a principled stand for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

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RIP: Exodus International

by Jason Stotts

I never thought I’d see the day when a christian group as ignorant and bigoted as Exodus International would close its doors.  But, happily, today is that day:

The leader of a large Christian ministry that claims to offer a “cure” for homosexuality apologized to the LGBT community and announced on Wednesday that the organization is shutting down.

Alan Chambers, president of Exodus International, announced the decision on the group’s website and issued a formal apology, saying he was “profoundly sorry” for the pain some within the organization caused.

The group was founded in 1976 and now has more than 200 branches, churches and counselors, according to NBC News. Those within the group claimed people could overcome homosexuality through prayer and therapy.

But psychiatric and medical groups have said that the movement, also known as reparative therapy, is unfounded in science and can be harmful, NBC reported. The American Psychiatric Association said 15 years ago that the therapy could cause depression, anxiety and self-depressive behavior in patients. (US News)

Ideas have consequences and bad ideas like christianity ruin lives, while good ideas make the world better.  It’s this kind of thing that should be motivation for us to continue the good fight and to realize that real change is possible in our lifetimes if we work hard enough.

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