Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hypocrisy & Free Speech & Truth Seeking

I'm chilly and cranky and over tired today even though I slept (or stayed in bed) exceptionally late, so I have to apologize to Quilly again. I just don't have the brain power for the three word challenge.

I've been battling back and forth with myself about posting something about the big Miss California bruhaha. In some ways, I hate to give attention to anything so stupid... but on the other hand, Ms. Prejean (with help from others using her for their own purposes) has been playing the martyr with great effect. My problem with her is less her opinion than the whole hypocritcal, "I'm a tragic victim of bad gay and liberal people" act. And I think it is an act. I like to think she'd annoy me even if I agreed with her. I can't prove that because I do think she's wrong on the subject of gay marriage. But she's entitled to her opinion and her belief.

Maybe Ms. Prejean really does think the question was a temptation from the devil and that speaking her truth was a big risk for which she got "punished." From everything I've read, she was not in the lead going into the question period. She didn't lose because of her answer. She is just playing the whiny bad sport and trying to convince everyone that that's why she lost. Does anyone even know the name of the girl who won? Talk about being a bad sport. I guess God doesn't care about bad sportsmanship. I'll bet the Devil's having a hearty party, though.

Ms. Prejean is also a victim of mean photographers. I like Keith Olbermann's handling of this one...

Olbermann got me to thinking about something else I've been brooding a lot about lately. I wonder if there shouldn't be some limits to what is defined as free speech. Even as wonder that, I'm struck by the awful heresy of even asking. But I can't help wondering if organizations like Fox News which manipulate and distort information and pass it off as "truth" are engaging in free speech or something else. Is propganda free speech? I guess it is. I don't have trouble with someone like Miss California having an opinion - even what I consider a foolish one - and expressing it. I DO have trouble with people consciously misrepresenting the truth. The trouble with trying to control that of course is where do you draw the line? How do you police what's ignorance and what's malice? Who legislates intent? As soon as I ask all those questions, I know that even though it's offensive, the crap Fox News spews as pretended news is does in fact qualify as free speech. Boy, does that suck.

On a totally unrelated not, I watched Nancy Pelosi this morning dance with the press on the question of what she knew about water boarding and when she knew it. She was pretty clear but the press kept trying to change her words to something else. She's on a pretty slim tightrope. The Republicans - who think they see a chink in her armor - are now all eager to investigate the Bush administration's actions. I suspect they'll regret or back up on that enthusiasm if anyone takes them up on it. But wherever the chips may fall - on Democrats and/or Republicans - I think we need to look the truth in the face and not let people like Dick Cheney try to spin it to what he wants it to be.

There are some among us - some who read my posts - who believe that torture can be justified. I don't. I think it's inexcusable and ineffective, both. I think even if it were the most effective procedure in the world, it wouldn't be justified. This is one of those places where the our inner God and Devil really are doing battle. I suppose there will always be such people and perhaps it's all the more important because of them that we come clean and into the open with what was done. If the Bush administration felt as comfortable as they pretend to about what they were doing, the lies and subterfuge would have been unnecessary. It would have been front page news. "Look, bad guys... When we catch you we're going to torture you. If it were as effective as they claim, Bin Lauden would be in prison and they would have won the war they started against terrorism." If I'm wrong about all this, that too will come out in hearings. We need them if we are to heal as a nation. In any case, how we were lied to as a nation and where and how our system of government broke down in protecting us IS profoundly important.

I probably have a lot more to say about all of this but my friend's daughter is about to have triplets and it's late and I've run out of steam so I'm just going to post this and pray that it makes some sense.


Batteson.Ind said...

This post makes LOADS of sense!lol.. All I can think to answer any of the questions posed by your post is, the general rule of thumb I live by, which is; Live and let live and BE NICE! The sooner human beings started realising this, the sooner the world would become a juster, nicer, peacefuller place! As for free speech, I suppose Fox news is just one of those neccesary evils that one has to put up with, rather than the actual evil of having speech regulated.

Anonymous said...

I live in DC so this is home town news and I'm sick of all of it. Nancy Pelosi is no better or worse than Dick Cheney than Barney Frank than GW Bush than ___(fill in the blank), etc., etc. Being a politician is an extremely lucrative job in which their goal is to stay in their job. That means lie, misrepresent, deny complicity, or whatever it takes to stay in power. Both sides do it, both sides deny it. Re: Torture -- agents who are trying to get information from bad guys under extreme time pressure are screwed no matter what they do. They don't have time to "build relationships" when they have credible threats that more 9/11's are out there. My spouse was in Iraq during the period in question and if 'enhanced interrogation methods' by the agents being currently skewered gave up one iota of information that kept him and our other troops safe, it was worth it. I don't mean to offend, but one man's definition of torture is another man's path to living long enough to help raise his own kids.

Rev. Melissa Dean-Pardo, Hedge Witch of Lakewood said...

Excellent points! I agree that Miss Prejean would probably annoy me even if I shared her political philosophy. I have a hard time respecting someone who lies twice (re: pictures), fails to honor her contract, then attempts to excuse her lie by blaming political opponents. Now that "Daddy Donald" has forgiven her (he's got a soft spot for blondes), maybe she'll just serve out her reign as Miss Cali and leave our tv sets. I've spent enough time annoyed by her, which I've put into writing. She can exercise her freedom of speech, and I can exercise my tv remote to change the channel.

As for the free speech matter, I don't think it's heresy to explore limits. I think the US has found a middle ground in this regard: we let citizens speak their mind, and yet it's not limitless. If I use my freedom of speech to slander someone, sexually harass them on the job, or threaten them, then our legal system will make me pay for that "speech" in one way or another.

Dianne said...

funny how people think torture will keep us safe from another 9/11 - wow is that a holdout from Bush's lies. they knew about 9/11 before it happened and didn't do a damn thing. and then Cheney is quoted in 04 as saying the Republicans would need another one in order to win mid-term elections.

I believe there are some, perhaps many, decent people in gov't who want to serve their nation - the system is so screwed up

Miss CA is absurd at this point - the wind exposed her breasts!!! what crap
but then again - as it is with politicians - why do we care about things like this, people would be less likely to lie if there wasn't a 24/7 cycle of judgement and recrimination

what a complex mess this country is in

I agree that the hearings are necessary - I wish they could be done by an independant international panel - perhaps at the Hague?

SouthLakesMom said...

Just as some of us did during the prior administration, we need to pray for those in authority over us. The president, no matter who he is, has the most difficult job of any person on this planet. He cannot please everyone, and must not operate to please only himself. That was true of the prior administration as well as this one. It is so easy to Monday-morning quarterback these things, led by an out-of-control press. You can already hear the sly innuendoes as they question every decision Pres Obama makes...just as they did Pres Bush. Hey, we're all on the same team here -- justice for all, malice towards none. Don't assume your conservative neighbor is stupid or even wrong - they might just be different. And isn't that the whole debate about freedom of speech?

As for Ms Cal - who cares? Ignore it and wait for another slow news day. Better yet, write a poem, snuggle a puppy, or kiss a baby. Much more rewarding than paying attention to the incessant noise.

C Woods said...

What a wonderful post. I agree with you on just about everything.

To Anonymous. You may think torture kept your husband safe, but it could just as well have killed him. If the relatives of tortured prisoners wanted to get revenge, they could set a suicide bomb. Or, if your husband had been captured, the "enemy" could torture your husband as retaliation, and we would have no high moral ground on which to oppose it.

I have a post about religious people supporting torture on my blog. (I am against torture in all circumstances.) You may or may not agree with my religious views, but the second part of the post lists my 8 reasons why torture is wrong under any circumstance. (see my post of May 8th.)

gabrielle said...

More equitable access of the air waves which are in the public domain would be a good start--yes, we, the people, and not Rupert, in fact, own the air waves!!! I agree with Diane about the moronic 24/7 news (sic) cycle.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the Obama administration is considering holding foreign prisoners indefinitely and without trial following the planned closure of the US military jail at Guantanamo Bay. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has reneged on a pledge to release several dozen photos showing the torture and abuse of prisoners at overseas CIA and military jails.

There are two issues that are being addressed in the public domain: the ethical and the pragmatic. I will leave it to the experts to spar about the effectiveness of the techniques: “slow, ineffective, unreliable and harmful” per the congressional testimony of former FBI agent, Ali Soufan. I am much more interested in the first question. Because it speaks to the soul of a people. Who we are and who have we become. According to Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First and the ACLU, aggressive techniques of interrogation have led to the death of hundreds of human beings in Bagram, in Kabul and in Iraq. We continue to rationalize these crimes in a coolly detached legalistic manner. We know who wrote the memos authorizing the torture: John Yoo penned them, Jay Bybee approved them, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice sanctified them. And I suspect that there were accomplices in high places who were afraid of the sound of their own voices. An accomplice is an underling following orders, yes, but also an accomplice is one who stands by, dangling a heavy ring, watching silently as orders are carried out . At the least, these documents, the congressional briefings and the photos documenting the torture that we know occurred must see the light of day.

I think a lot of people would like this nasty blight of torture to go away. It won’t. If we don’t address the issue, it will fester and ultimately erupt as a huge unavoidable puss filled boil. The fact that we have tortured has fundamentally changed who we are. We have adopted the methods of those we claim want to destroy us and our way of life. After all is said and done, when we look in the mirror, who do we see?

San said...

Miss California annoys the hell out of me too. I really hate that she's garnered so much publicity. You make a good point: Why aren't we reading anything about the winner?

I'm with you on FOX News. They do seem to be propagandists. Barf.

The torture issue? It's a nightmare.

Snowbrush said...

Yes, it makes "some sense," not a lot, but some. Well, maybe more than just some; maybe a little lot, or even a whole lot. Then again, is 3/4 worth of sense some sense, a little lot of sense, an average lot of sense, or a whole lot of sense? Am I making sense here?

CJ said...

Great post and wonderful, thoughtful responses from your readers. I'm with you on all of these issues.