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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

News bytes

- George W. Bush advises Ariel Sharon to eat less, work less and exercise more following the Israeli leader's mild stroke. Oh, he also said Sharon was a visionary and a man of peace.

- A fascinating study of American Jews reveals strong opposition to the Iraq war, a majority who have never visited Israel - though profess strong love for the Jewish state - and a massive number of Democrats.

- Evo Morales, the winner of Bolivia's presidential election, has called George W. Bush a "terrorist" and claims the Iraq invasion was an example of "state terrorism." Imperialism now has many foes in Latin America.

- Foreign nations have issued travel advisories against Australia in the wake of the recent Sydney race riots, while politicians continue to debate the level of racism in the country.

- Whatever happened to the black box recorders on the doomed planes that hit the World Trade Centre on 9/11?

- Andrew Bartlett discusses the limits of free speech in the blogosphere. I increasingly have the view that censoring any comments is counterproductive and against my belief in free speech, no matter how offensive a statement may be. Thoughts?

- The Guardian reports:

"Health officials in Brazil have launched an investigation after claims that at least 10 impoverished Brazilians from an Amazon village may have contracted malaria while being used as human 'guinea pigs' during a study by an American university."

21 Comments:

Blogger boredinHK said...

I think the Andrew Bartlett blog on this topic provides a good example of the problems with poor behaviour on blogs.
As David Heidelberg has pointed on other threads I think all contributors need to identify themselves .
So as David Plumb ,47, living in Hong Kong I'll continue.
Because they aren't identifiable I think contributors lapse into aggression too easily. "Neo Left Chick" is a case in point. As much as he/she/they may be sincere what is gained by abusing other writers more or less all the time ?
Sometimes the insults are funny but often they aren't.
An alternative form of blog behaviour I find a bit wearing is the sneering of the self elected mental giants on some threads.
If a blog expects all it's readers and contributors to be up to date with the latest, fashionable literary and linguistic theories it would be useful to state so on the home page and avoid the unnecessary insults dished out to the curious or occasional visitor.

Try reading some entries on Larvatus Prodeo- you need a dictionary, thesaurus, university qualifications in sociology and
a comfortable independant income to afford the time to understand what some entries mean.
Specialist blogs should state they are such to avoid readers thinking their innocent and often ignorant questions are welcome.
To me AL has appeared sincere on this blog. His position is always clearly stated but even he lapses into abuse and while sometimes it can be justified I think the responsibility of being the moderator carries a duty to set an example of the behaviour sought by other contributors.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 3:01:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

David, thanks for your thoughts and insights.
I've often come close to banning comments - and only have once - but increasingly feel it's futile. Some comments are offensive to many people, including myself, but should I ban it or the person? I'm generally feeling not, though I'm open to thoughts. Isn't free speech about reading all views, far right to far left? It can be rough going sometimes, that's for sure.
I try and stay calm, though, yes, at times, abuse does occur. I'm guilty as charged, though it's important to try and avoid it.
Here's to a more civilised 2006.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 3:23:00 pm  
Blogger Rich Bowden said...

True Boredink, free speech is vitally important but comes with responsibility on the part of the blogger. Engaging in slanderous behaviour is best left to the Murdoch press.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 9:10:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

Rich Bowden,
I hope I haven't slandered anyone .
Living in Hong Kong for the past 16 years has left me outside a lot of the media experience many complain about - Murdoch owned the South China Post until about 1992-3(??) but sold out to develop Star TV. This is a "news free" channel- the local ,Asia wide news is sterile and inoffensive .
Another example - I haven't ever heard Alan Jones on the radio in his role as commentator - the last time I was aware of him as a public person was as the coach of the Wallabies. I gather this is a considerable blessing.
Re the responsibilty of the blogger - do you mean the moderator should censor certain items ? On the Bartlett thread he considers the idea of a protocol for contributors to adopt. Is this too intrusive ?
The main thing I would propose any site demands is that contributors are identified.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 10:18:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

What do people think of this example of moderator control?
http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2005/12/18/what-im-reading-and-more/#comments
(I don't have an opinion about K.Windscuttle.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 10:55:00 pm  
Blogger anthony said...

Loewenstein, if there's one thing I'll applaud you for- its the crap you allow on you blog (especially you neolefty, enough calling for genocide, for fucks sake)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 10:59:00 pm  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

So, should there be limits? Should comments calling for genocide - and we all know of whom I speak - be removed? Overly racist comments? Overly sexist, or homophobic?
I'm torn, sometimes tempted to remove (though don't) and sometimes tempted to leave, which I always do.
I know of a number of prominent Jews in the US who regularly defend the right of Nazis to free speech, despite their repugnant views. These lawyers are an inspiration in many ways.
Surely we should expose bigots in their own words? Or does this kind of thing scare off potential readers and commentors?
People, I'm open to all thoughts here.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 11:51:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

I increasingly have the view that censoring any comments is counterproductive and against my belief in free speech, no matter how offensive a statement may be. Thoughts?

I think there should be absolutely no censorship of comments on this site.

The Argument for censorship based on 'Harm' is pretty weak in the case of this blog.

The Argument against censorship based on 'Harm' is a little less weak. To censor words is to place limits on knowledge. The more knowledge there is, the better. If the comments here were censored, I might have doubted the existence of certain types of crazies, and certainly wouldn't have known as much about their mode of thinking. That knowledge is interesting and useful.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 12:26:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

I agree AL,

I think that allowing peple to vent allows them enough rope to hamg themselves.

Even better though, I thin it also allows peple to surprise you. Prety much everyone I've had strong disagreements with have often surprised me with insights I hadn'e given them credit for.

Infalmatory language more often than not, is fuelled by defensiveness.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 12:42:00 am  
Blogger anthony said...

I disagree, Ed.

Freedom of speech and the freedom to express ideas/theories are values paramount to any societies future development and self-reflection- but that shouldn’t include calls for genocide, or unjustified killing. Government shouldn’t limit any discussion or ideas (the slippery-slope argument) but your blog is in the private sphere. One could argue you are under an obligation to not allow certain comments, and moderate discussion so as not to publish sickening ideas, and I would say MUP or Oxford are under a similar obligation.

If you (or publishers) go too far in such moderation, there are plenty of avenues visitors can use to express what you have moderated, especially online, and with their own finances.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 12:43:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

anthony said...
I disagree, Ed.

Freedom of speech and the freedom to express ideas/theories are values paramount to any societies future development and self-reflection- but that shouldn’t include calls for genocide, or unjustified killing.


I see your point, but I would argue that restriction on 'absolute' freedom of speech should be looked a on a case-by-case or context-by-context basis. Note that I've retricted my above comment to "this site". It is not a blanket rule. If we were talking about a 2GB or 2UE, I would come to a different conclusion based on the costs vs the benefits of censorship.

In the case of Neoleftychick's call for genocide here in this forum however, I would judge to be almost entirely harmless in terms of their material influence on the "outside world"; there is some benefit to be gained in seeing how such ideas are formed, what happens when they are challenged, what ideas they are associated with, and even just the fact that they exist in "enlightened multicultural Australia" at the beginning of the 21st century.

I think AL does have an obligation here: to weigh up the all benefits and costs of censorship and make decisions based on that. To impose a blanket rule is to violate that obligation.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 5:13:00 am  
Blogger Antony Loewenstein said...

Thanks for all the thoughts.
At this stage, I'm going to leave all comments, as I believe - with some hesitition frankly - that it's best for people to see the diversity of views, from the mild to the highly offensive.
Surely we're stronger for seeing all this, yes?

Thursday, December 22, 2005 9:40:00 am  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

edward

Few points:

1. I have never called for "genocide." On the other hand AL has set up a blog that day in day out calls for the destruction of Israel. He aslo applauds and encourages many groups whose raison d'etre is to slaughter Jews and Americans and to vaporise Israel. To jump all over ME for supposedly advocating "genocide" is a very disturbing example of the denial and evil that sustains many here and elsewhere.

2. AL, Your puffed up moral vanity over "sexism" and "homophobia" is a s disgusting as it is transparent. When people like you use words such as "sexist" and "homophobic" those words become meaningless.

You openly support the most sexist and homophobic people on the planet. You broadcast their evil approvingly 24/7. I'm not sure if you have any idea what muslims do to women and gays, but it isn't nice.

Even in Australia we have had to put up with it.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 11:13:00 am  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

neoleftychick said...
I have never called for "genocide."

Liar. You LATER "stepped back" from it - but only on the grounds of "after effects".

Thursday, December 22, 2005 1:54:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

neoleftychick said...
Even in Australia we have had to put up with it.

And Australia has to put up with you. Such is our fate.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 1:57:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

"On the other hand AL has set up a blog that day in day out calls for the destruction of Israel."

False. No one on this forrm has ever called for the destruction of Israel since I joined it, which was long befor eyou did Neo.

"He aslo applauds and encourages many groups whose raison d'etre is to slaughter Jews and Americans and to vaporise Israel."

AL does not appluad violence or crimes of any kind. Reporting injsustices that fuel the violence is entirely different from applauding it.

You are making the most absurd charges then turning around and suggesting that the other side is somehow overly sentitive.

Neo, you go from sounding lucid to sounding like a whack job in from one day to the next. Is ther some chemical imbalance going on here you should share with us?

Thursday, December 22, 2005 3:14:00 pm  
Blogger Mannie said...

I think it is necessary to put a few matters into perspective here.
I think censorship is wrong, and do not support it. If you know what people with differing views to yours are saying, you are able to argue a different point of view.
"I am not sure if you have any idea what muslims do to women and gays, but it isn't nice."
Going by approximate statistics, 50% of muslims must be women, and there are also gay and lesbian muslim groups around Australia.
The only thing "neo" has said so far with which I agree is about that "shonk" (to use her word) Keysar Trad. In 2002 at a forum held at UWS Bankstown on homosexuality, Keysar Trad told the mainly muslim student audience that they should disobey NSW's anti-vilification and anti-discrimination laws when it came to homosexuals. A sheikh at the forum said homosexuals should be stoned to death. Some members of a gay and lesbian group, CBDGL, were present and were able to take action against the lecturer who had organised the forum, so in Australia one doesn't have to put up with this sort of homophobia.
If you want to know more about this forum you can read it on our web pages: http://www.zipworld.com.au/~josken/islamf~1.htm
It is a bit ridiculous to tar all members of a group with the same brush - just as not all Jews are zionists falling over themselves to go and live in that great bastion of democracy, Israel!

Friday, December 23, 2005 12:40:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Not all jews are falling all over themselves to live in the great bastion of democracy austrailia, France, England, Norway, either.

Saturday, December 24, 2005 1:29:00 am  
Blogger Mannie said...

I notice you left out the greatest bastion of democracy - the land of the free - the USA where about half the world's Jews live. Was that intentional?

Saturday, December 24, 2005 11:46:00 pm  
Blogger Mannie said...

and as I also said elsewhere, there are muslim gay and lesbian groups around Australia, and half of the muslim population, according to the usual approximate statistics, are women, so "neo's" points about all muslims: "I don't know if you have any idea what muslims do to women and gays but it isn't nice" seems a bit off the mark!

Saturday, December 24, 2005 11:51:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Mannie said...
I notice you [Ibrahamav] left out the greatest bastion of democracy - the land of the free - the USA where about half the world's Jews live. Was that intentional?

...and a strange silence filled the room.

Monday, December 26, 2005 5:56:00 pm  

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