Cracked Does it Again


Cracked.com has been a great source for a lot of amazing articles. That’s saying something, given that the site used to be affiliated with a magazine that’s best known for being Mad’s less interesting cousin. But since they turned into a web-only publication, they’ve churned out some amazing articles.

This week they released one called “Six Ways to Keep Terrorists from Ruining the World“. It’s an excellent article, and I’d like to talk about some of the points it raises.

We deal with terrorism in the stupidest way possible. We give-in to our baser instincts and respond to violence with even more violence. We have certainly killed many innocent people since 9/11, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we’ve killed ten times as many innocent people as we lost that day. The way to handle terrorism, or the possibility of terrorism, is with police work, and that should be done by the FBI and CIA. Oh, and it must be done without torture. Why?

Because every time we kill an innocent person, or torture someone, innocent or not, it makes us look bad. It’s great recruiting material for the terrorists. It means we responded in exactly the way they wanted us to.

We need to be strong. We need to be strong enough to stop responding with violence every time something bad happens to an American somewhere in the world, even if that “something bad” is an American getting their head sawed off on video. Even if it were a busload of Americans, and some of them were children, that wouldn’t justify us going in and killing even more people.

Let’s bear in mind that when Osama bin Laden was killed, it wasn’t with a tank. We didn’t send an entire division into his neighborhood. No, we used intelligence (not gathered with torture), police work, and a small team of people to go and kill him. That’s the sort of thing we need to do any time we have to respond to terrorism, though ideally I’d like to see terrorists captured rather than killed.

If we can start responding in that way, we can defuse much of the problem, save a lot of money, and stop killing people who don’t deserve to die.

A Perfect Response


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WWMD?


The recent attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo was motivated in part by a perceived insult to Islam and to the prophet Mohammad, a man who may be misquoted and misused just about as much as Jesus, though at least he’s more likely to have actually existed.

An interesting question for followers is Islam is this: how would your prophet have dealt with insults to his person, his standing, his holiness? Would he have ordered all involved to be stoned to death? Whipped? Simply disappeared?

Well, good news, you holy Joes out there. We can answer this!

The Qur’an records that he was called crazy, a victim of deception, a liar, and a fraud. Through this all, the Prophet Muhammad never retaliated or called for these people to be attacked, seized, or executed. This is because the Qur’an says to “overlook their annoying talk” and to “bear patiently what they say.” It instructs us to avoid the company of those who continue their derogatory attacks against Islam. There simply is no room in Islam for responding to mockery or blasphemy with violence.

I’m glad that’s settled. So, basically, if you’re some whacked-out Muslim who wants to go around and kill people for…well, whatever reason, don’t use, “They insulted Islam!” as an excuse.

Biting Us in the Ass


Remember the torture report and all the horrible things it turned out we did? Remember me saying that was going to come back to bite us in the ass? Guess what happened today?

A “radical cleric” named Anjem Choudary has posted up an op-ed for <em>USA Today</em> where he basically says that if you mock Mohammad or any other prophets (a group which includes, btw, Abraham, Moses and, yes, Jesus), then you deserve whatever happens to you

In an increasingly unstable and insecure world, the potential consequences of insulting the Messenger Muhammad are known to Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Actually, it is neither increasingly unstable nor insecure, and it’s worth noting that, at least as far as the USA is concerned, what instability and insecurity there is comes large from “the Muslim world”. But let’s ignore that nonsense for a moment and focus instead of what he says toward the end of his commentary.

The truth is that Western governments are content to sacrifice liberties and freedoms when being complicit to torture and rendition — or when restricting the freedom of movement of Muslims, under the guise of protecting national security.

Or to put it another way, “Chomp”. That’s the sound of our actions biting us on the ass. I also notice that one the one hand, he seems to be completely ok with the idea of Muslims taking violent action against people who “offend” their religion, but complains about countries subsequently viewing Muslims with greater suspicion. You can’t have it both ways, pal.

This guy is an ass-hat of the first order, and I hope he goes away soon. But…he is annoyingly correct that we haven’t as much of a leg to stand on as we used to, not now that we know we’ve used torture in the recent past and aren’t doing anything to come to terms with that fact.

Je Suis Charlie


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There was a terrorist attack in Paris today, and in many ways, it’s worse than 9/11. Not in the terms of people killed. No, we have “only” 12 people dead as opposed to 3,000 or so. Not in the terms of property loss or the likelihood of it starting a war. No, it’s worse than 9/11, and many other terrorist attacks, because this one actually is a direct attack on the concepts of freedom and free expression.

The attack in question was against the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine. Think of something like Mad, only more overtly political. Back a little bit ago they stirred up a bit of controversy by publishing some naughty cartoons with Mohammad posing nude, among other things.

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The insanely religious types out there responded about like you’d expect, with the site’s offices being firedbombed and their website being attacked. This all culminated in today’s attack, which left twelve people dead, including 10 employees of the magazine, and three gunmen and a driver on the run (and I’ll bet you they find them without shutting down all of Paris). While we don’t know for sure that the attackers were Muslim extremists, the fact that they were shouting “Allahu akbar!” (“God is great”, for the curious), seems to be a bit of a clue, though to be fair, it’s what I would do if I were pretending to be an Islamic militant.

This is, as I said, an attack on actual freedom and free expression. It’s a group of people saying, “You are not allowed to express an opinion I dislike, and I will kill you if you do.” It doesn’t get much more direct and basic than that, and free expression of opinions is the primary cornerstone of a free society. You literally cannot have a free society without freedom of expression, and that’s what these assholes tried to stop today.

It is also an effort by one religious group to tell you that it isn’t enough for them to follow the rules of their religion; you must do so as well. This is like if a Jewish person told you every boy must be circumcised, or if a Hindu told you you weren’t allowed to eat meat anymore. In this case, it’s Muslim extremists telling you that not only are they not allowed to create depictions of their prophet, you also aren’t allowed.

This 1 weird painting, created by a Muslim...

This 1 weird painting, created by a Muslim…

These guys can go eat a bag of dicks. They’d be laughable if they weren’t going around killing people. I sincerely hope that they’re caught soon and spend a good long time in prison, and that Charlie Hebdo is back up and publishing soon, because the only way to fight back against terrorism like this is to go on like it never happened.

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How to Give In to Terrorists


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So various movie theater chains, including the one I work for, have opted to not show The Interview, a movie which doesn’t look all that good anyhow, and that I had never planned to see.

Now if they had run away screaming because it looked terrible and the releasing studio, Sony, had realized that not showing it would be a blow for artistic taste, well, that would be one thing. Instead, the various chains are pulling away from it because of terrorist threats.

Let me be clear. There is not any real reason to avoid screening this movie. There wouldn’t be a single terrorist attack on any theater showing it. On the off chance that North Korea is behind this, something I understand is still in doubt, they wouldn’t be suicidal enough to launch terrorist attacks in the USA over it. We about destroyed Afghanistan when some guys from Saudi Arabia attacked us. Hell, we leveled Iraq despite them not doing anything to us or posing a threat of any kind. North Korea knows full-well what would happen if they did something that monumentally stupid.

My suspicion is that the original hackings, and now these threats, are coming from a small group of people sitting around giggling about how much they’re making the world do what they want it to. These people, whomever they are, have just had several billion dollar corporations bow to their will.

So, yeah, no incentive for them or anyone else to do this sort of thing again.

It’s important to remember this about terrorism, or even the threat of it: the terrorists win as soon as they make you change the way you’re living your life. Possibly we need to stop letting them win.

*** UPDATE ***

The movie’s release has been cancelled. Way to cave, Sony. Now can we at least have a digital release, which, ugh, I might find myself obligated to buy?

*** UPDATE ***

Apparently not.

Yet Another GITMO Death


Imagine being accused of a crime for which you are innocent, found guilty and sent to prison. That would be possibly one of the worst things that can happen to anyone. You haven’t done what the state says you did, and yet there you are, imprisoned. I can only imagine how much that must weigh on a person when it happens.

Now imagine that you eventually proved you weren’t guilty, the courts agreed that you weren’t guilty, and then you spent the next nine years in prison anyhow. That’s the situation that faced Adnan Latif, who was rounded up in the time following 9/11 and illegally held without charges. He eventually proved he wasn’t guilty of being a terrorist and his release was ordered. Time passed, and now, nine years later, he was still being held because the Obama administration keeps dragging their feet on releasing these people.

So it came as no surprise at all, really, when Latiff was found in his cell, dead of a drug overdose. This man, who had mental problems and had threatened suicide before, was being illegally held in criminal and immoral conditions. It’s no shock that he finally lost hope and killed himself. Really, the surprise is that he didn’t do it sooner.

That he was there in the first place is a moral, ethical, and legal failing of the Bush administration. That he remained there years after his release was authorized was a failing of both Bush and Obama, though to be fair, Obama did try to close GITMO, only to be told by Congress that they weren’t going to allow that to happen. So I guess we can blame them for this guy’s death, too.

In fact, while we’re at it, since this is a representative democracy, why don’t we all accept a portion of the blame? Ultimately we’re the masters of our government. They only do what they think we want. We told them we didn’t want GITMO closed, so they left it open, and look what has happened now.

And we wonder, from time to time, why certain parts of the world hate us.

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