An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘First Amendment’

Politically Powerful Films and Society

There is something about a great piece of film that sends a message about all of society.  Finding out about the great parts of history through good film is something that people often overlook.  But it is a great thing to see.  Most of these films are often controversial, but that is one of the reasons that they are so important.

When the film Green Zone came out, a lot of people were screaming about how this film was anti-war, as if that was a bad thing.  The recent attitude that every piece of film about the war in Iraq must show America as the heroes is actually a little distrubing.  Since when has this country been above scrutiny?  Since when has America been so perfect?  The fact is that the lies that got this country into a war need to be talked about.

Part of what made that such an interesting movie was the fact that it was based on a true story.  All of the stories about weapons of mass destruction being in Iraq were lies.  Lies that our government let happen, because, well, the reasons for that will probably never be clear.  It is that way with a lot of our military actions.

Take the film Salvador, which tells the story of a photo journalist in El Salvador.  It is a depressing story about how America is helping dictators stay in power, even though the people tried to free themselves.  At the same time, it showed how easy it is for power over others to corrupt you.  The people tried to take control of their government, but the lies that they were Communists kept the military aid flowing.  It still does to this day.

Another point that Salvador made was the hatred of journalists by the military.  This is an absolute truism.  The fact is that our military and our government hates journalists.  The good ones, anyway.  The corporate media has never been something to fear, because they will never stand firm against the status quo.  Our government has always hated forces that can second-guess them, and show their lies.  Of course, thanks to the corporate media, there is no longer revolt against them.  This is one of the thing that has made the Occupy movement so very cool to observe.  These people are standing tall to fight oppression.  People in this country are oppressed, by a corporate and banking system that answers to nobody.  They are also oppressed by cops who don’t uphold their mandate to protect the people, and instead put them down.

Then there is the fact that politically poignant films tell us the stories about the groups of peole that we don’t want to think about.  Take a look at the film Blood Diamond.  It tells the story of the diamond trade in Africa, and how blood diamonds are driving countries that are hopelessly impoverished, and the people are brutalized by ruthless dictators that nobody seems to care about.  We can talk about spreading freedom all we like about Iraq and Afghanistan, but the fact is that people are being brutalized all over the world, and nobody cares here.  Nobody ever cares about the suffering other places.  We only care when we can blame them for attacking us.

Then there was the film that showed a culture for what it is.  It was called Lord of War.  The monologue toward the end by Nicholas Cage about how the law will fail, because this country is involved in dirt was a very harsh statement about the realities of the world we live in.  America is sending guns to scummy people, and all because we want to remain on good terms with them.

Really, the ultimate statement that is made in these politically-motivated film is that America likes to believe that we are the end of the line, that we tell other nations what’s what.  But the fact is that we don’t.  One of the greatest lines in cinema was delivered in Green Zone.

It is not up to you to decide what happens here.

That’s the truth right there.  America wants to believe that the rest of the world conforms to what we want, but that isn’t the truth.  And until people can wrap their tiny little minds around that very fundamental truth, this nation is going to be the biggest pot of lies, and nobody will care.

Peace out,

Lefty

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Americans are about to lose their online freedoms

It has never really been a mystery that those in power hate the First Amendment of our Constitution.  If the government’s reaction to those who are Occupying all over the country has shown anything, if the coordination of their attack against them yesterday was any indication, then it is clear that those who we charged with protecting our rights hate that we have rights.  They hate that we are able to talk back to them.  They hate that we are able to tell them that they are wrong, damn wrong!  And now, it is looking like those in power are going to take away our right to tell them that they are wrong.

There is a new Bill that is being debated in Congress that will censor the internet.  Care to know how it works?  Well, it’s simple.  This new bill will allow the US government to be able to block people from visiting certain websites, like Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and others.  Also, things that were in “fair use” will be banned.  Nothing like this has ever happened before.  Laws have been proposed before to make this kind of thing happen, but this is the first time it has ever gotten this close.

This censorship will employ the same methods that are used in China, Syria, Iran, and other nations.  So this means that sites that you visit daily can be blocked.  Email sites will be forced to censor what you send or receive.  Any and all links you post on social networking sites will be monitored and possibly sensored.  The Bills that are going to destroy the First Amendment are as follows – the Protect IP Act, sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt), and the Stop Online Piracy Act, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tx).

Here’s the facts – our basic internet freedoms are on the chopping black.  This is no joke, ladies and gentlemen.  These two laws are going to, in effect, censor what we see, and what we can do online.  It is proof like no other that not only does this government hate the First Amendment, it has always hated it.  It has always hated that people can do whatever they like.

I implore you to fight back.  You have to stand up and fight now, because if you don’t, tomorrow may not be free anymore.  All of us may be in bondage to the system.  Here are some links that can help you get out and fight the good fight –  http://www.tumblr.com/protect-the-net, http://www.reddit.com/r/announcements/comments/me5e9/. Ladies and gentlemen, we have to stand tall, right now, because if we don’t, it is looking more and more likely that all of us will be servants to the system.  The companies that own the websites of Tumblr and Reddit have already gotten the fight started, but it will take each and every one of us getting up and fighting back to stop this, because the government has shown their true colors.  They are not, and have never been, on the side of the people.  Now they need to know who we are.

Peace out,

Lefty

Texas Sets a New Low

There comes a time in the life of every political commentator when one is forced to sit back and to rethink one’s position on the major issues surrounding the world.  Then there are other times when they are forced to wonder something even more important – how can I make fun of this?  Certain events that happen in this world are so hopelessly stupid that it’s just beyond the ability to be satirized.  It is beyond the possibility of being parodied in any significant way.  Some events are so ridiculous that to even try and make fun of them makes you look stupid for your efforts, because they are that dumb.

Governor Rick Perry, of the state of Texas, has finally decided to completely abandon rational thought of any kind, and go off the train of crazy into a different universe where humanity has even less sense.  He has announced an event that is going to happen on August 6, 2011, in Houston, Texas, where people will gather in a massive stadium and all pray for America’s problems to be solved.  He has said that these problems are just “too big” for people to solve, so he wants as many people as he can get, to come to the Reliant Stadium, to pray for America’s problems to go away.  He is basically saying that we should just abandon our human efforts to fix things, and instead just hope some supreme being does it.

Forget the fact that this flies in the face of the First Amendment of the Constitution of this country.  Forget that this is not the first time that he has done something like this (does anybody remember the Pray for Rain days?).  Forget that this is insulting to all the people of this country who aren’t Christian, who could be Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, you name it.  Forget all the very good logical arguments against this for a moment.  Instead, think about this – how stupid is this?!  How ridiculously stupid is this plan and everything that it represents?

The GOP, or as Politicususa calls them, “God’s Own Party,” has been morea nd more embracing the radical Christian fundamentalist right-wing of this country.  It is no surprise that they are against women’s reproductive rights, for the military, or for having this country be recognized as  a “Christian nation.”  These things are all perfectly understandable.  They are ridiculous and unintelligible, but they at least make sense.  But this little day-long event is just the icing on the cake of the intellectually void nature that Texas seems to want to pass on.

I mean, read for yourself what Perry said about his event –

We believe that America is in a state of crisis. Not just politically, financially or morally, but because we are a nation that has not honored God in our successes or humbly called on Him in our struggles. According to the Bible, the answer to a nation in such crisis is to gather in humility and repentance and ask God to intervene. The Response will be a historic gathering of people from across the nation to pray and fast for America

Does that seem like that statement of a rational person?  Since most of America is Christian, they probably agree.  But for those of the religious community who have some sense, this should be viewed as madness.  Perry isn’t just calling on the people of Texas to come together and pray for our problems to magically disappear, he wants all of America to come as well.  He wants the entire country, or as much as he can fit into his stadium, to be there to canonize giving the finger to the Constitution!

Honestly, one can’t be funny about this.  One cannot sit in a place and try and rationalize this kind of thing, because this is beyond any kind of humor.  Not only is this unConstitutional and annoying, it is just sad.  There are real problems facing this country right now.  And saying that we should just stop trying to make human effort and simply put all of this in the hands of a some invisible supreme being is just madness!  I’m not dogging on people who have faith, I am dogging on abandoning sense, and reason, and rationality, and the drive to make the world a better place.

Texas has a really bad history of having some really bad laws go down.  They have had laws making sodomy a felony, along with gay marriage.  Something so stupid and so bigoted that it hurts.  They have made repeated threats of seceding from the Union (if only they would.   Anybody want to take bets on how long before they came crawling back?).  As Bill Maher put it, “they wanted to be their own country, and perhaps they should have been.”  What else can you say?

What people believe in is their business.  That is a right given to this country that should never be contested.  As much as I have a problem with people who say that just because something is in the Constitution, that immediately makes it right, this is an area that I think should never be contested.  However, we also must recognize that coming out openly and saying that America is a Christian nation, and that God, the Christian God, is the only way our problems will be solved is insulting to everybody who has a different opinion.  And honestly, that is what the First Amendment was made to protect – the different opinions.

The mob has never needed protection.  The majority doesn’t need an Amendment to protect them.  The minority does.  The minority needs to be protected from craziness.  But people are ignoring the idea that people should be left alone if they believe differently.  If they believe in a different god than you do, leave them alone.  Telling the rest of the world that we are of one mind about things is a slap in the face of what this country was founded for – tolerance and acceptance.  Of course, don’t say that in Texas.  You’d probably get hanged.

Peace out,

Eli

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