Articles

Universities that punish reading–even of books from their own libraries

Universities that punish reading–even of books from their own libraries

Hoover Tower, Stanford University–Creative Commons license

Article

In the abstract, people mostly agree that book banning is a bad thing. The Nazis did us the favor of being very clear about it and literally burning books, but there are rarely cases that are so unambiguously wrong.

In our current culture, it is more common that reading certain books may be punished rather than the books themselves being outright banned. This more subtle form of social control encourages one of the most insidious threats to freedom–the tendency in all of us to self-censor what we read, think and say.

Interview with a robot

Interview with a robot

Article

Image generated by DALL·E 2 based on prompt - Interview of robot by human, Heironymous Bosch styePlebity: Hello, who are you?

AI: I am an AI created by OpenAI. How can I help you today?

Plebity: Could you explain the difference between the political right and left?

AI: The political right and political left are labels used to describe different ideologies. Generally speaking, the political right stands for traditional values and a focus on capitalism and conservative social policies, while the political left advocates for progressive policies and social justice.

Plebity: Why did you not mention class?

New Dawn – destabilising social cohesion?

New Dawn – destabilising social cohesion?

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New Dawn Magazine - New Zealand

Stuff reports today: “Nationwide bookstore Whitcoulls is selling a magazine peddling a number of anti-vax conspiracies and insinuating the Christchurch mosque terror attack was a “false flag” operation.

The Lambton Quay store in Wellington had copies of two issues of New Dawn magazine for sale this week. It was also spotted in another Wellington store, Johnsonville, and at New Lynn in West Auckland.”

Money and corruption is the enemy of free speech

Money and corruption is the enemy of free speech

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Greek European Parliament vice president Eva Kaili and her boyfriend Francesco Giorgi (Photo by Eurokinissi / AFP)

Free speech is usually thought of in terms of either the state or private companies power to censor speech. What the Qatargate corruption scandal illustrates is that the concept itself is meaningless in a society where speech can be purchased like a suit off the rack.

In fact, genuine free speech can’t exist outside of an overall culture of free speech.

A free speech culture is one in which speech can’t be bought. It is one in which each person’s speech is given freely, without being purchased or constrained and where all speech has equal weight.

Hate Speech bad, Hate Economics acceptable

Hate Speech bad, Hate Economics acceptable

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Hate Speech bad, Hate Economics acceptable

Political leaders railing against Hate Speech while practicing Hate Economics against the mass of workers is sheer hypocrisy. Today, more than ever, we need open exchange and clash of ideas, so that the causes of injustice can be uncovered. So that social frustrations can be better directed to where they belong, against those few at the top, whose inhumane system is the daily cause of our poverty. 

Animal Rights and the Challenge of Activism

Animal Rights and the Challenge of Activism

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Painting by José Jiménez Aranda at The Walters Art Museum

“How do you know someone is vegan?” “Don’t worry, they’ll tell you!” We all know it. Animal Rights activists are annoying and pushy. They will ‘shove their beliefs down your throat’ when you are just trying to enjoy your lunch. Whether How I Met Your Mother or South Park is your show of choice, you will have seen this notorious creature represented on screen, and given the recent growth in the movement, you probably know someone in your own life who always ruins a dinner party. Maybe you, like me, are the annoying vegan.

In Defense of Climate Protesters

In Defense of Climate Protesters

Article

“Emblem 45” by Michael Maier (1617)

Acts of civil disobedience often emerge out of a sense of desperation in which citizens feel they are not being heard by decision makers by other means, and so they are forced to seek alternative ways to be heard and to affect change. The very function of civil disobedience is to protest against injustice—a requirement for any democratic society, though it is often portrayed as a foolish, juvenile activity reserved for people on the lower rungs of society.

How to counter Holocaust denial–a particular type of hate speech

How to counter Holocaust denial–a particular type of hate speech

Article

Treblinka train station sign

What does it mean, to ‘counter hate speech with more speech’?

Hint: it doesn’t mean 5 minutes for the Jews and 5 minutes for Hitler.

In 1971, over the course of several months, historian Gitta Sereny trudged regularly into a prison in Dusseldorf, Germany to sit across a small table from Franz Stangl, former commandant of the extermination camp Treblinka. Between April and June of that year, Sereny collected over 70 hours of interviews with Stangl who died on June 28–within hours of her last visit. For the following 18 months Sereny continued researching details of the stories Stangl had told her and to speak to people who had known him when he was in charge of killing operations at Treblinka.

Hello, do you know the difference? The Raytheon, Goldman Sachs left is not the left.

Hello, do you know the difference? The Raytheon, Goldman Sachs left is not the left.

Chart

Left vs woke chart

Dear Liberals or Conservatives,

When you say left, you probably aren’t actually talking about the left. Find another name. Or at least understand the difference between the woke left and the traditional left which although largely silenced does still exist.

Here is a crude guide for liberals and conservatives who want to know the difference. See the chart.

Butler, Sedgwick and Queer Theory – part 3 in the postmodernism series

Butler, Sedgwick and Queer Theory – part 3 in the postmodernism series

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Judith Butler at UC Berkeley

The most influential queer theorist is Judith Butler an American philosopher who draws heavily upon Foucault and Derrida. Butler’s chief contribution to queer Theory was to question the links between sex – the biological categories of male and female – gender- the behaviours and traits commonly associated with one sex or the other – and sexuality – the nature of sexual desire. Butler claims gender is wholly socially constructed, and developed her most well-known concept: gender performativity. She claims gender roles are taught and learned unwittingly through socialisation – as sets of actions, behaviours, manners, and expectations and people perform these roles accordingly.

Why Free Speech Advocates Should be Cautious of Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover

Why Free Speech Advocates Should be Cautious of Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover

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Elon Musk

The mediasphere has been buzzing with the news of Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover. The world’s richest man bought the platform for $44 billion under the guise of freeing the platform from the shackles of censorship and creating a 'common digital town square'. It should be noted that just weeks ago, Musk was desperately trying to back away from the deal, but a lawsuit eventually forced his hand.

The reaction to the news has ranged from sensible criticism to outright hysterics from all sides. Musk’s insufferable fanboys celebrated the move, elevating him to God-like tier status. To them, he is a savior who will do everything from reforming the Internet to saving humanity as we know it.