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Afghan Student Gets 20 Years For Blasphemy 618

Posted by timothy
from the consider-this-a-warning dept.
Invisible Pink Unicorn writes "Despite nationwide public support for his initial death sentence, a three-judge appeals court has reduced the sentence of Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh to 20 years in prison. Kambakhsh was charged with circulating an article on women's rights that he found online. From the article: 'Family members have said Kambakhsh was beaten and threatened with death until he signed a confession and that local journalists who expressed support for him were warned they would be arrested if they persisted.'"
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Afghan Student Gets 20 Years For Blasphemy

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  • absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paultag (1284116) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:21PM (#25472731) Homepage
    It is really tough to consider that these flagrant transgressions still go on in todays environment.
  • not the real cause (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mr100percent (57156) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:24PM (#25472771) Homepage Journal

    He wasn't really charged for the blasphemy, it's because he was very critical of the government and some of their corrupt friends, and they found something useful to charge him with.

    "Kambakhsh's journalist brother, Yaqoub Ibrahimi, has said he believes the blasphemy charges were a pretext and that Ibrahimi was the authorities' real target because of articles he wrote about abuses by local warlords and militias."

    They beat a confession out of him

  • And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:24PM (#25472779) Homepage Journal
    Producing most of the worlds heroin is just fine and dandy.
  • by internerdj (1319281) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:27PM (#25472813)
    It is better in the same ways that the Taliban was better than the Russians. And the Russians were better than the Germans. Should I keep going?
  • by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:34PM (#25472939) Homepage Journal

    That's not the way the Afghan public sees it. And ultimately in today's world, your conviction is heavily determined by the public's or more correctly the media's opinion of your guilt. If the vocal majority think something should be a crime, it will become one.

    But, do you think that western society is really any better in this regard? A thought experiment if you will. Replace the women's rights pamphlet with a (non-explicit) circular defending paedophilia. Do you think our society would still protect your freedom of speech if you began circulating that? How long before they beat a confession out of you? Who's going to defend you?

    "Blasphemy" as a concept is not restricted to religious matters. There are many things that even supposedly free societies will not allow to be discussed. As George Carlin said, you don't have rights. You have privileges. Privileges that can be revoked at any time.

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:34PM (#25472945) Homepage Journal

    How is the current government any better than the Taliban?

    A) They're not forcing men and boys to grow beards
    B) Girls and women are allowed to attend schools
    C) They're not blowing or destroying religious icons from other religions or artifacts from 2,000 years ago
    D) Roads, an electric grid and sewer systems are being (very slowly) built
    E) Every person who wants to vote is allowed to
    F) And most importantly, women are not being forced to wear burkhas if they don't want to

    Granted this current ruling is nonsense and Kharzai knows it, but he is very weak and doesn't have the backing to overturn the verdict.

    I'm not saying the current government is perfect. Far from it. But to compare this government, which is working with other countries to attempt to undo nearly 40 years of war and strife, to the Taliban is disingenuous. It will take, at a minimum, ten years to begin to change the mindset of the people, specifically the warlords and the men, to allow greater freedoms.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:38PM (#25473013)

    > Producing most of the worlds heroin is just fine and dandy.

    It's needed for medical reasons, as is coca (the main ingrediant of cocaine). Besides, heroin is a relatively safe drug if not mixed with fuck knows what and if you don't have to indulge in criminal behaviour to pay the high prices caused by laughable attempts at prohibition.

  • Re:absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by paultag (1284116) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:39PM (#25473033) Homepage
    Basic Human Rights? Try Ethics? How about a Totalitarian Government Browbeating it's own Citizens?
  • As a Canadian (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nightfire-unique (253895) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:43PM (#25473093)

    This is the government my countrymen are fighting and dying for?

    No thanks.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:44PM (#25473115) Homepage

    What utter rubbish. There isn't much that causes more physical harm and dependence than heroin.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gat0r30y (957941) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:49PM (#25473207) Homepage Journal
    Look, it is that very prohibition which inflates the price and causes these farmers to resort to growing poppies instead of say - wheat. All I'm trying to get at here is that this is absurd and ridiculous. This government is completely unwilling and unable to put in place reforms to reduce the poppy industry and replace it with something a little less devastating for the populace. Yet, they jump at the opportunity to put a journalist in jail for spreading some truth about human rights abuses in his own country.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:50PM (#25473221)
    Obviously we must fight to overthrow this oppressive government that we set up!
  • Re:And yet... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @02:53PM (#25473269)

    methamphetaime?

  • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:06PM (#25473441) Journal

    Yep. There are old heroin addicts. There are no old speed freaks. In fact, long term, even alcohol is worse for you than heroin. I would hardly call heroin safe, though.

  • Re:Me thinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riceboy50 (631755) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:06PM (#25473449)
    It's a generally good idea about as much as forcing blacks to sit at the back of the bus was a generally good idea. Seriously, how did that remark get marked Insightful?
  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curtman (556920) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:29PM (#25473795)

    How about a Totalitarian Government Browbeating it's own Citizens?

    Did you miss the part that said "Despite nationwide public support for his initial death sentence"? This isn't the Afghan government opressing it's citizens, it's the citizens asking the government to kill this man.

    Which means that we are the ones saying the citizens don't have a right to determine the laws of their land. I wonder who the totalitarians are in this case.

  • by Daimanta (1140543) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:30PM (#25473807) Journal

    A nuanced opinion?! Blasphemy!

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spiffmastercow (1001386) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:33PM (#25473859)

    It is really tough to consider that these flagrant transgressions still go on in todays environment.

    Define "todays environment" Because this is Afghanistan we're talking about, not a developed country.

    Different societies have different values. And Americans are usually guilty of ethnocentrism when they discuss the world at large.

    As far as I'm concerned, legal punishment of any severity for simply challenging the beliefs of the majority is not acceptable anywhere. If that makes me ethnocentric, then so be it.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curtman (556920) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:38PM (#25473953)

    Total tobacco related: 434,000
    Heroin/Morphine: 2,400

    That isn't a fair depiction of the mortality rate though, unless you believe that there are equal ammounts of heroin users and tobacco users.

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ral8158 (947954) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:39PM (#25473967)

    You know, a long time ago, the citizens of America in the south didn't have a problem with slavery.

    Does that make it right?

  • Re:absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Curtman (556920) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @03:45PM (#25474077)
    Currently the government of America kills [wikipedia.org] dozens, sometimes hundreds of its own citizens each year, is that right?

    Should someone stop you from doing it?
  • by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:00PM (#25474339)

    Perhaps it falls under "stuff that matters".

  • by hondo77 (324058) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:03PM (#25474381) Homepage

    They beat a confession out of him.

    Alas, the USA no longer has the moral high ground to condemn that.

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PachmanP (881352) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:08PM (#25474443)
    Well than why do I keep getting legally punished for challenging the majority's opinion that someone can somehow "own" something and that all thing's aren't everyone's?
  • by Chryana (708485) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:21PM (#25474663)

    Replace the women's rights pamphlet with a (non-explicit) circular defending paedophilia. Do you think our society would still protect your freedom of speech if you began circulating that? How long before they beat a confession out of you? Who's going to defend you?

    I don't think I'd get 20 years in jail for doing that. And if I get beaten up, it won't be with the government's approval. As for the confession, a confession to what? Where will they find evidence of me committing paedophilia? Will it be in a secret trial, like the trial for this Afghan student? Western society is far better in this regard than what you try to make it look like it is.

  • Re:Me thinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tukkayoot (528280) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:22PM (#25474683) Homepage
  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:26PM (#25474739)

    Your statement is, as the topic, absurd.

    1) You aren't challenging the majority's opinion. You're deciding that your opinion is correct and acting on it.
    2) In acting on your opinion, you interfere unjustly with whomever's stuff you've decided to take.

    He was accused of challenging an idea and sentenced to death for it. Yet challenging an idea confers no harm on others. Imposing ones religious beliefs and executing those who question them DOES confer harm. As does your taking of others' property.

  • by DM9290 (797337) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:36PM (#25474901) Journal

    I'm glad to hear that. For a moment I thought I was helping to support a war in order to establish theocracy. This is just good old fashioned secular corruption and tyranny.

    nothing to see here.

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:41PM (#25474977)

    A fact that is often forgotten.

    Mostly because the rest of the world suffers at the hand of the Federal Government. Were the states to actually act and reign it in, then they might be aware of the 50 governments that make up the Union.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sark666 (756464) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:44PM (#25475013)

    These numbers are kind of useless. Of course there are going to be way more deaths by smoking because there are way more smokers.

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmansworld (950281) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:46PM (#25475051) Homepage

    As a Canadian, I've been cautiously supportive of the Canadian mission in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai has pleaded, in person, with the Canadian Parliament to keep troops in Afghanistan for as long as we can afford to, citing that a swift withdrawal by Western nations would undoubtedly result in the country being torn apart by warlords and extremists. This is a sentiment that I can agree with and support in principle.

    Then I hear about these ridiculous trumped-up charges based on Islamic law. Yes, Middle-Eastern culture is fundamentally different than ours. No, we don't have a right to tell other nations how to run themselves socially.

    But the question we have to ask ourselves is do we want to be in bed with a nation, irregardless of that nation's values, that oppresses its own people?

    This is the kind of situation that calls for passive condemnation. If our troops are in a country to help them rebuild their society in the name of democracy, how can we reconcile that with the way the new regime oppresses its citizens? It becomes a "lesser of the evils" argument.

    If this is the society we are helping to build, then perhaps we shouldn't be helping at all.

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curtman (556920) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @04:54PM (#25475133)

    Ah yes, so if millions demand that some category of people X be killed, they should be.

    I didn't say they should. However I believe we should choose our battles, and if we choose to tell others how to behave, the same standard should be applied to us. I believe we should not kill people at all.

    this shows that they are wholly incompetent and have no respect for the rights of others

    Again, the same should be said about the United States. Removing the Taliban from government is not going to change the fact that the majority of the population believes this man should be killed. How exactly we go about convincing millions of people not to execute people is the unknown question. We can't even do it in some countries that claim to be civilized.

    each person should be able to live their lives without undue interference from others and being prosecuted for bullshit reasoning

    Please look into the politics of the "War on Drugs".

  • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:00PM (#25475209)

    I don't think I'd get 20 years in jail for doing that.

    No, but you might get railroaded for another crime which you did not commit.

    And if I get beaten up, it won't be with the government's approval.

    Depends on how you look at it, getting sent to federal PYITA prison is approval that might as well be official except for the deliberate ignorance of the people running the system. Even if you aren't sent to prison, there is still plenty of opportunity for tacit approval of a beat-down.

  • Re:absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Curtman (556920) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:01PM (#25475221)

    there are 50 separate governments within the USA, not all of them have death penalties and of those that do, less than half kills more than one person a decade.

    How many countries that you would consider first world nations have not abolished capitol punishment?

  • Re:absurd (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:02PM (#25475251)

    Right and wrong are completely subjective. The problem with many Americans is they don't realize that.

  • by Arthur B. (806360) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:05PM (#25475273)

    This act was ILLEGAL, free speech is NOT protected by the Afghan law. Why should he get a get out of jail card ? What part of ILLEGAL don't you understand ?

    Sadly, this argumentation is common on Slashdot when the topic isn't free speech or DRM circumvention. Oh the different standards.

    Let this be a reminder that laws can be stupid and evil, and do not define right and wrong.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fweeky (41046) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:23PM (#25475465) Homepage

    Heroin/Morphine: 2,400
    Cocaine: 3,300

    And how many of those are a result of contaminated supplies with unpredictable strength, things that are a direct result of prohibition? It's easy to overdose when you never know how much you're going to be taking.

  • Re:absurd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bones3D_mac (324952) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:24PM (#25475473)

    Did you miss the part that said "Despite nationwide public support for his initial death sentence"? This isn't the Afghan government opressing it's citizens, it's the citizens asking the government to kill this man.

    Which means that we are the ones saying the citizens don't have a right to determine the laws of their land. I wonder who the totalitarians are in this case.

    Kind of hard to change your ways when you are facing torture and death to do it. Naturally, if you eliminate those of the minority, the sentiments of the majority will always prevail.

    By the way, during WWII were the allied forces stepping on the rights of German citizens when the party they supported began singling out the Jews as a scapegoat before putting thousands of them to death? Or does when and where stuff like this occurs change whether or not such acts are acceptable?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:27PM (#25475521)

    Well, you don't have free speech in Canada. The High Court sided with the Human Rights Tribunals.
    The head of one of the tribunals was quoted as dismissing freedom of speech as "an American concept".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Human_Rights_Commission_free_speech_controversies [wikipedia.org]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_complaints_against_Maclean's_magazine [wikipedia.org]

    They have gone after people for quoting improper comments, QUOTING not actually saying themselves
    They are going after a comedian for dealing with hecklers who happened to be lesbian.
    One of the ex-members of the tribunals would go on web sites, make inflammatory comments, and then sue the web site for having those comments on their site.

    You can start bitching about other countries, when you have come back to the Humanist ideals that served Western Civilization so well.

  • Taboos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpghost (719344) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:33PM (#25475627) Homepage

    There are many things that even supposedly free societies will not allow to be discussed.

    The term for that is 'taboo'. It existed in societies from the very beginning, still exist today, and considering human nature, will still exist in the future in one form or another.

    As George Carlin said, you don't have rights. You have privileges. Privileges that can be revoked at any time.

    Absolutely! Rights are only rights as long as they are upheld by the mighty. Occasionally, they help the not-so-powerful average guys, but usually, rights are just one manifestation of the current balance of power in a society. Just look at the rights the US grants to the content industry w.r.t. the right the US grants to grannies and 7 year-olds who commited the unpardonable "crime" of copying a bunch of mp3s. Or the rights of big business, banks etc. to get a bailout, w.r.t. the "rights" of broke homeowners to be evicted and thrown on the street.

    It's really that simple, but very few people realize it because the harsh truth hurts.

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:38PM (#25475683)

    This isn't the Afghan government opressing it's citizens, it's the citizens asking the government to kill this man.

    Actually, its both.

    The Afghan government is, in fact, oppressing some of its own citizens, including this man. That this oppression is also popular does not stop it from being government oppression. Nor does the fact that there is a widespread support for even more extreme oppression than is being committed. Indeed, government oppression is often popular (often because the government has deliberately set up the victims of that oppression to take the blame for problems in society, or because the government has conducted the oppression as a way of winning plaudits from a society that already blames those being oppressed for problems in society), and oftentimes the mob supports even more extreme measures than those the government enacts in its oppression.

    There is a reason that, e.g., America's founders did not view a popularly elected government with unlimited unauthority as a suitable safeguard of liberty, and instead set up an almost totally hamstrung government and then, when that was clearly on the road to failure from lack of sufficient authority to get things done, a more powerful but still tightly restricted government.

  • Re:absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by halivar (535827) <bfelger.gmail@com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:43PM (#25475741) Homepage

    the rest of the world suffers at the hand of the Federal Government

    Yeah, all those poor bastards that suffocate under that avalanche of foreign aid we send out every year*. This is confirmation bias as work: if all I do is look at what you do wrong, you're a complete f'ing bastard to me.

    *I have no doubt whatsoever you have found a way to prove that our foreign aid is an evil machination, as well.

  • by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:45PM (#25475771) Homepage Journal
    You suggest that we, the western nations, have no right to tell Afghanistan that it cannot kill or imprison someone for raising political issues. I suggest you flip the coin and look at the other side. If Afghanistan wants the help of the west, then it must accept commonly accepted human rights as part of the package.
  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Curtman (556920) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @05:53PM (#25475845)

    Yeah, all those poor bastards that suffocate under that avalanche of foreign aid we send out every year*
    *I have no doubt whatsoever you have found a way to prove that our foreign aid is an evil machination, as well.

    That's not even difficult. Figure out what portion of your "foreign aid" is in the form of weaponry designed to kill people, and you'll have it.

  • by maiki (857449) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:02PM (#25475943)

    And ultimately in today's world, your conviction is heavily determined by the public's or more correctly the media's opinion of your guilt.

    usually I'd agree with you, but consider the article summary:

    local journalists who expressed support for him were warned they would be arrested if they persisted.

    (emphases added)

  • by SpiderClan (1195655) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:20PM (#25476167) Journal

    While the facts of your post is true, the conclusion is unreasonable. Sort of like if I said "You can accuse the GP of hypocrisy when your country is no longer hypocritical."

    The actions of the HRCs have nothing to do with the GP's opinion, and you have no way of knowing whether (s)he condemns them with as much fervor as he does the topic under discussion. I, for one, agree that supporting a government that behaves this way is not ideal, even though I know about the HRCs in Canada. Governments and humans alike can think about and do more than one thing at once, so statements along the lines of "You can do X once you've finished Y" are non-sensical when they don't depend on each other.

    And as corrupt as the HRCs are, I don't think they require anonymous posting (if I never post again, you'll know I was wrong).

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @06:30PM (#25476293) Homepage

    Well you know what ? Some of those people actually do "get it", that it's a little crazy to kill someone because they can tell the difference between a woman and a goat.

    Those people often emigrate to Canada, the U.S. or Western Europe, to live with like-minded people. Maybe they realize their homeland is too far gone to be saved.

    Regardless of what we think, humanity runs its course. The best thing we can do is support those who seek change, either at home or abroad. In that same stream of consciousness, we must protect our own values, just as religious fanatics protect theirs.

    You can't tell others how to life their lives, but you can stop them from ruining yours!

  • by arse maker (1058608) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @07:48PM (#25476997)

    Yes, they were begging to be invaded and overthrown... oh you mean the puppet goverment installed by the west.

    Those assholes!

  • Re:And yet... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by evanbd (210358) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:24PM (#25477271)

    Those come with warnings about the interactions with alcohol. Responsibly advocates of marijuana legalization, if they're busy comparing marijuana risks to those of other drugs, should do the same. Especially since claiming the "zero deaths" statistic is highly misleading at best, given the incidence of fatal interactions. Combined OD deaths for other recreational drugs aren't normally left out of the statistics completely.

    Oh, and if we're being rigorous about our statistics, do the alcohol deaths include drunk driving deaths? If so, fatal accidents while stoned should go in the marijuana column, and while those are rarer they're certainly not unheard of. (Speaking of which... are those deaths being double counted?)

    You don't need to convince me that alcohol is worse than marijuana; I'm in full agreement on that. But it doesn't help anyone to argue that marijuana is 100% safe any more than it does to overinflate its dangers. Accurate information and responsible arguments are far more helpful to all concerned.

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by syousef (465911) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:28PM (#25477295) Journal

    He was accused of challenging an idea and sentenced to death for it. Yet challenging an idea confers no harm on others.

    It does if your reality consists of the belief that blasphemy and enciting others to blasphemy will literally send them to hell. That's one reason religion is dangerous. It's not based on a rational reality. It's based on extreme beliefs that aren't supported by the best forms of truth we know (scientific fact), and it can therefore be manipulated and twisted to vilify others.

  • Islam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tomfrh (719891) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @08:33PM (#25477351)

    Worst religion ever

  • by gelfling (6534) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:01PM (#25477525) Homepage Journal

    Wait for it, it's coming.

  • by Spatial (1235392) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:01PM (#25477527)
    Yeah, it's amazing how it does absolutely nothing at all.
  • Re:And yet... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by evanbd (210358) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:08PM (#25477571)

    Those come with warnings about the interactions with alcohol.

    So now you are in favour of government regulation instead of the free market?

    But it doesn't help anyone to argue that marijuana is 100% safe any more than it does to overinflate its dangers.

    I've never heard anyone claim that it is 100% safe. The air we breathe isn't 100% safe. It is *safer* than alcohol as you said, and we don't put people in jail for brewing their own beer.

    A market where buyers don't have good information isn't a free market; there are plenty of agents aside from the government that can get in the way of a free market. I'm generally in favor of labeling laws and product purity laws, but against bans on sales and such. I see nothing incongruous about believing that the government should require sellers of products represent those products accurately. Also, my support for both legalization and free markets is as much pragmatic as idealogical -- in both cases I think they tend to result in better worlds than the alternatives. To the extent that limited and targetted regulation improves the market, I'm in favor of it.

    A claim that marijuana has caused zero deaths may or may not be the same as one that it's 100% safe; I really don't care. Either one is at best disingenuous, given that there is no shortage of marijuana-related deaths, even if none can be ascribed to THC overdose. I'm just trying to point out that handing out accurate information is both more helpful and more likely to make your point than an unthinking argument that it's either harmless or the tool of Satan.

  • Re:absurd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rohan972 (880586) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @09:45PM (#25477803)
    Hey, as a condition of your military alliances and free trade agreements, why don't you require foreign governments implement the bill of rights instead of the DMCA. I mean it, contact your congressman about this please.

    In the meantime, I'm doing a study on US oppression, specifically on the different ways the US oppresses its own citizens compared to citizens of other countries. If you could help me get US citizenship so I can further my studies, I'd be grateful. I'm willing to suffer this oppression, since it's for the cause of science and all that, you see.
  • Epic Fail (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GoodNicksAreTaken (1140859) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @10:30PM (#25478073)

    Despite nationwide public support for his initial death sentence... local journalists who expressed support for him were warned they would be arrested if they persisted

    I bet the polls and statements that show nationwide public support weren't at all influenced in the same manner that local journalists were!
    Other posters are saying that the death sentence is the will of the citizens and not an act of a totalitarian government. They are naive in their doublethink.

  • Re:absurd (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @10:54PM (#25478215)

    since as everyone knows: if you spend 6 months working in a soup kitchen helping people you get 1 free murder which is of course canceled out by your good deed and for which you should not be punished. :-)

  • by ppanon (16583) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @10:59PM (#25478249) Homepage Journal

    Pedophilia is not the same thing as women's rights.

    True enough, they are actually closer to polar opposites from an ethical standpoint. Pedophilia involves the (sexual) exploitation of a category of humans who are vulnerable due to naturally lower economic and legal standing (i.e. the average earning potential and intellectual development of juveniles is naturally less than that of mature adults due to limited age and experience - a difference which is eliminated given time and education). Fighting for women's rights involves combating the exploitation of a category of humans who are being artificially forced to have lower economic and legal standing (potential physical strength is no longer a significantly defining factor in an industrial or post-industrial society).

    Pedophilia is not the same thing as racism.

    Well, racism usually singles out an ethnically-identifiable group, claiming it is inherently (genetically) inferior or evil, and argues that group should have lower economic and legal standing. These arguments are usually given as a justification for the subjugation and exploitation of that ethnic subgroup or of the resources under their control. So while racism is not the same thing as pedophilia and they are expressed in different ways, there are definitely some strong parallels.

    Try replacing "racism" in your sentence with "woman's rights".

    In a sense you are correct that advocating any of the three positions involves challenging and advocating replacement of current locally-accepted social standards with different ones. However, one type of advocacy (defending women's rights) is supported by strong ethical reasoning and documented scientific (biological) evidence, whereas similar types of evidence and argument directly contradict the other two types of advocacy. Generally, Western culture has become economically and militarily dominant because it has either adopted or "lucked into"1 approaches supported by ethical and scientific arguments, even when countered by religious or discriminatory prejudices. Major setbacks have occurred when we have set those principles aside in favour of ideology. So there's good reasons for the choices our society has made and even better reasons to defend them.

    However the problem is that we are trying to impose the ethics of a post-industrial society on a primarily agrarian and feudal society. Note that that description still applies to most of the Middle East and south-central Asia (with limited exceptions). A lesser but similar dichotomy also applies to even the USA (more fundamentalist religious ideology in the more agrarian central and southern states as opposed to the more urbanized "blue" states).

    Now, religious fundamentalists tend to decry the moral relativism implied by the previous paragraph, even though it's backed up by pretty strong empirical evidence. In the long run, I'll always bet on empirical evidence over ideology. The problem with fundamentalists who rail against moral relativism is that there are many different strains of fundamentalism with varying "moral absolutes", which would inevitably draw them into bloody conflict with each other (i.e. Shiite/Shia and Sunni extremists in Iraq and elsewhere) if they didn't consider ethical/scientific secularism to be even more offencive.

    Overall, the best long term way to combat fundamentalism in the third world is to pull them out of a feudal and agrarian economy. In some states, promoting economic and industrial development will suffice. However in other states, the feudal order is supported by petroleum sales, and the status quo will only change with the complete replacement or obsolescence of petroleum as a major world energy source. So one way or another, it's going to happen in the next 100 years, but we can do a lot of damage to ourselves in the meantime.

    1. Yeah using "lucky" is a bit of a

  • Re:absurd (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @11:27PM (#25478377)

    Average IQ map of the world [mikolka.info]. Note how Australia scores lowest.

    I would have to agree based on my personal experience too. The vast majority of Aussies I have met were brutish, idiotic mooks.

  • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday October 22, 2008 @11:47PM (#25478495)

    I don't know: I imagine everybody who wants him executed for blasphemy does an awful lot of praying.

  • Re:absurd (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chandon Seldon (43083) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:24AM (#25478695) Homepage

    You know, a long time ago, the citizens of America in the south didn't have a problem with slavery. Does that make it right?

    Nobody can be trusted to decide what is right and wrong for everyone. It is much better for some people to live under unjust and unethical laws than it would be for those same unjust principles to be imposed on everyone.

    Every time you think "my morals should be imposed on the world because I'm right" stop and imagine how your life would be if the people you most disagree with were able to apply their principles to you.

  • Re:absurd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:25AM (#25478997)

    *I have no doubt whatsoever you have found a way to prove that our foreign aid is an evil machination, as well.

    Indeed. Quite a lot of our aid is in the form of food. Note the saying "teach a man to fish" and all that...

  • Re:absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @01:52AM (#25479091) Homepage

    Only if you calculate it the way most favourable to yourself.

    What is most fair, if you're comparing the generosity of different groups ?

    Comparing which portion of their wealth the different groups give?

    Comparing how much each group gives pro person ?

    Or comparing how much each group gives in total ?

    Only if you do the latter does USA look good. But this is the view where a 300 people group donating $1000 is consideres more generous than a 30 person group donating $500, which is frankly absurd.

    If you do it per capita, then the leader is luxembur at $500/person/year, followed by 10 other countries above $100. USA is at $25.

    If you do it relative to wealth, then Norway is top with donating $10 for every $1000 in gdp (i.e 1%), USA is horribly, embarassingly low on the list, donating not 1%, not 0.5%, but less than 0.2% of GDP.

    It's not much to brag about that you've donated 10 times as much as sweden -- when you're a country 50 times as large as sweden.

  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @02:18AM (#25479185)
    Didn't the US introduce democracy in Afghanistan? Then why wasn't free speech brought as well? Isn't free speech an essential right in a democracy?

    Or was the main reason, perhaps, just to get rid of the Taliban and democracy was just a trendy word that matched the spin?

    Sure the Afghan may be reluctant in allowing free speech. Then why did the US bother to pretend to help them? And after retreating, how long before Taliban is back in business in Afghanistan?

    IMHO after 9/11 the US had a certain right -which is highly debatable- to terminate terrorist activities in Afghanistan. It would probably have been just as effective to, er, shut down terrorist business. And to repeat when necessary. Cheaper and fairer.
  • by Threni (635302) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @02:56AM (#25479321)

    > If there are 500 times more people that are addicted to tobacco than heroin then heroin is more dangerous.

    Being addicted to something doesn't make it dangerous. Caffeine is addictive. So what?

    > In addition what about the crime rate caused by heroine addicts acquiring the necessary money to satisfy their addiction? I'm also guessing that at least some of that
    > murder rate is directly related to drugs as well.

    That's a consequence of its illegality. The same would be true of alcohol and doughnuts etc if they were made illegal.

    > I'm not saying that your point is wrong its just that the data you give do not back it up.

    I don't care - I'm just stating facts. I'm not going to spoon feed you bar charts or whatever. Disprove me if you can. I've noticed no-ones responded with this terrible harm heroin can cause - they just repeat that it's illegal. Uh... I know.

  • What public? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @03:17AM (#25479379) Journal

    What people forget if that there is equality, no freedom, then the opinion of the public can't be judged.

    Remember that this guy was arrested and sentenced to death for speaking against the goverment. So, who would go out on the street to show support for this guy after that clear warning?

    To make it simpler to understand. In 1943, would you have expected people to hold a protest vigil to protest the forced deportation of jews, in berlin?

    The so called support for this guys sentence is highly suspect when you consider it done in a country where people disagree with the approved opinion are sentenced to death.

    Dictatorships REALLY do not function the same way as democracies. Remember this the next time you are stuck behind some silly protest about nothing or affected by a strike. They are the essential tools of freedom. For one small group to be able to annoy the hell out of the majority without fear is what freedom is all about.

    I have little doubt that the so called support for this guys sentence is 99% "Hi, we are going to kill this guy for disagreeing with us. Do you agree with us?"

    As for US involvement, the US always does this. It goes in with the best intentions but can never understand that those who speak the best english, seem most agreeable and welcome a foreign goverment to bolster their power RARELY are the good guys. The US just doesn't get foreign policy. It is almost as if the entire US population has a blindspot when it comes to the rest of the world.

    The same thing happened in Iraq. Contratry to popular opinion in the US, Saddam actually was extremely liberal. Until western pressure forced him to become ever more reliant on religious support. Doesn't mean he was a nice guy, he wasn't. But toppling him doesn't make thing suddenly get better and in many way things got a lot worse.

    Gay rights for instance have gone from tolerant to being prosecuted.

    The enemy of my enemy doesn't have to be your friend. Neither is your enemy always your worsed enemy. The US just doesn't get this.

  • Re:And yet... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NoisySplatter (847631) <noisysplatter@nOspam.gmail.com> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @04:06AM (#25479571)
    And mobile phones can be detected by calling you? Just because it was metabolized into some fat you had doesn't mean it's affecting you.
  • You apparently believe that, on some concrete, meaningful level - concrete enough to form a moral argument upon it - pedophilia is analogous to women's rights. Do you think that's "nuance," or something?

    If you think that, then you have either totally misunderstood my (perfectly clear) meaning, or (and I think this is more likely) you do not fully understand, appreciate and/or accept the concept of freedom of speech. This is a common problem.

    I understand the point you're trying to make. Just try to pick a better example for counterpoint, okay?

    On the contrary. I could not have chosen a better one. Your discomfort at the comparison shows just how fragile support for freedom of speech can be even amongst those who claim to defend it.

    I will add that I am a rather stubborn(and some would say foolish) old idealist, who views are no doubt divorced from common sense and reality. I still take the concept of universal rights to mean rights for "everyone", and not just "everyone, except really bad people" or "everyone, except the people we don't like", or indeed "everyone, except paedophiles". I realise that in many people's eyes, this make me a "bad person". Depressing as this is, I've decided to hold those belifs I have that are no longer vgue in the western world in the hopes that someday they might be in vogue again.

  • by Weedlekin (836313) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @05:20AM (#25479869)

    "We used to do the same in medieval Europe"

    We did it a lot later than the middle ages, because many European countries had criminal blasphemy laws well into the 20th century, and England and Wales didn't repeal theirs until this year.

    "But there are societies out there who didn't experience the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition"

    Such as for example most European countries, who weren't subject to Spanish rule and therefore didn't have the Spanish Inquisition.

    NB: the Spanish Inquisition was mostly concerned with heresy rather than blasphemy, which was indeed a crime, but not one that attracted the attention of inquisitors in and of itself.

  • Re:absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by d_54321 (446966) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @08:11AM (#25480821) Journal

    So I pull up this story on slashdot this morning about an Afghan student who avoided death for blasphemy and instead gets 20 years in prison.

    Then I decided to play a game:

    Could I get as far down as 25% thru the comments before someone brought up the "insightful" point of "Oh yeah? Well America sucks too!"?

    Guess not.

  • Re:absurd (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rosy At Random (820255) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @08:24AM (#25480927) Homepage

    Or at least the votes of the citizens who were voting for the right party.

  • by GuloGulo (959533) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @09:22AM (#25481619)

    If you measure by the only useful metric there is, per capita charitable donations (which include the private donations your statistics do not) the US crushes everyone.

    By miles.

    So I guess when you said "Only if you calculate it the way most favourable to yourself." you were just foreshadowing your post?

    http://gpr.hudson.org/files/publications/GlobalPhilanthropy.pdf [hudson.org]

    The myth that Americans are stingy has been repeatedly debunked and only the most disingenuous individual could argue agans the fact that Americans win on total giving hands down.

  • Re:absurd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jasen666 (88727) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:29AM (#25482539)

    What do you mean "if that were true"?
    Go down to the police station and tell them you "plan" on killing someone.
    Go ahead, we'll wait.

  • Just remember... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Thursday October 23, 2008 @10:53AM (#25482897)

    That there are a lot of people in the U.S. that believe Sharia law should be adopted. And there are a lot of people that are hell-bent on resurrecting the so-called Fairness Doctrine which is anything but. Never forget that the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights exists for a reason. Freedom of Speech means you are free to express your opinion without fear of government retribution or meddling. Imagine if CNN or the New York Times had to publish/air an equal amount of time or number of words on the same page for opposing opinions.

  • Re:absurd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by computechnica (171054) <`PCGURU' `at' `COMPUTECHNICA.com'> on Thursday October 23, 2008 @12:42PM (#25484547) Homepage Journal
    The most ridiculous concept ever perpetrated by H.Sapiens is that the Lord God of Creation, Shaper and Ruler of the Universes, wants the sacharrine adoration of his creations, that he can be persuaded by their prayers, and becomes petulant if he does not recieve this flattery. Yet this ridiculous notion, without one real shred of evidence to bolster it, has gone on to found one of the oldest, largest and least productive industries in history.

    ---Robert Heinlein [positiveatheism.org]

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