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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

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“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

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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.

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

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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.

Penn State Students Versus the Proud Boys–who won?

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Penn State student spits on right wing comedian provocateur Alex Stein

If you want to fan the flames of fascism, keep doing things like this, Penn State students!

Several days ago Penn State, a top-ranked U.S. research university, known for its football team and its programs in engineering, business, and marketing, began trending on social media for something entirely different.

The event was to feature Gavin McInnes, cofounder of the right-wing organization Proudboys and comedian, provocateur Alex Stein. Student opinion was very strongly against allowing these individuals to speak, and violent protests developed.

Queer Theory origins – part 2 in the postmodernism series

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rainbow colors

Queer theory sees the concepts of sex – male and female – and gender – masculine and feminine- as oppressive. The main objective of queer theory is to subvert these concepts and to break them down. Rejecting the possibility of there being a knowable objective reality, queer theory asserts that language creates the categories, enforces them, and scripts people into them. The boundaries are arbitrary and oppressive according to queer theory. These boundaries can be blurred into apparent absurdity and thus erased.

Using the ‘Harm’ Argument to Censor Online Speech

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Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, Canadian Heritage minister Pablo Rodriguez, Gov. Gen. Mary Simon at cabinet swearing-in ceremony.

What constitutes harm?

This is the question currently debated by Canadian lawmakers surrounding the Online Harms Bill — a controversial bill currently under development that seeks to protect vulnerable people online and curb the dissemination of ‘harmful’ content.