The UK porn block and the concept of obscenity

I made a passing reference the to the UK’s new plan to block all porn but I decided that it, and obscenity in general, required a more thorough examination. In short, David Cameron feels that UK internet service providers need to block all porn by default to protect children. In short, again, that idea is stupid. It’s stupid partially because it will not work and partially because the mindset behind it is one that should not be accepted. Continue reading

Manufacturing offence

JS Roundhouse mids (source: Yahoo!)

I’m, rather slowly, working my way through Nick Cohen’s You Can’t Read This Book which is all about censorship in the modern and Western world. In it one of the things he says censors must do is manufacture offence. If you don’t like something pretend it’s offensive and blow it completely out of proportion, even if whatever you’re being offended about is totally innocuous. I’ve found there’s a great example both of manufacturing offence, blowing something out of proportion and then using that commotion to bully people into doing what you want. It’s all because of some new Addidas shoes… Continue reading

A few follow-ups

A couple of times I have posted about an event that hasn’t yet been resolved. While it’s nice to hear about things as they happen there is the problem of follow-up. So I’ve decided to take this opportunity to address some earlier stories and what’s been happening there.

In my Valentine’s day post I mentioned that Alexander Aan was facing prison time and possible execution because of Indonesia’s law against blasphemy. I looked a bit to see if there was any progress but I didn’t find anything conclusive. About the best I can say is that Atheist Alliance International has been able to appoint Aan a lawyer. It’s not as good as him being cleared but at least he will have a chance. Continue reading

No right to not be offended

Just sharing a link today about a Muslim student asking an atheist society not to show Mohammed in a bar. The student sent a message to the society saying:

As a Muslim, I find it highly inappropriate for there to be a depiction of Muhammad. As a human, I think it’s really quite insensitive and outright rude to have a picture of Muhammad holding a beer, when alcohol is strictly forbidden in Islam.

As the blog explains, there is no reason for a non-Muslim to abide by any Islamic rules, in this case those recommending against pictures of Mohammed, nor is there any obligation on anyone to not offend someone else. This often happens with religious people crying offence over criticism or mocking of their religion but they seem to forget that tolerance of differing views is necessary in society and something that people who do not share their views have to practice. As an atheist, I find it offensive to be told that god created the world or life and that he will judge me in death. I am offended by such ideas but I do not ask the religious to be silent, just to let me say my piece as well. Continue reading

How would you like to fund something and then pay to see was done?

That is essentially what might happen in the US. A new bill is being proposed that would prevent the public from having access to research that was publicly funded. If you wanted to see that research you would have to pay to see it, meaning you would have to pay for it a second time. Not only does it mean you aren’t getting what you pay for but it prevents the public from having an ability to interact with science and see how it works. That is detrimental to the understanding of science and is problematic for any institution that doesn’t have the funds available to pay for access to important work. Continue reading