18 January 2015

Is Seattle's 13th Man Initiative the Odd Man Out?

Defending Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks have been successful on an off the field.  Civic pride for the Seahawks in Seattle is legendary, as their fans are considered the 12th man, giving the team a tremendous home field advantage.  Seahawk fans are so loud that their boisterous cheers caused two measurable earthquakes.

However, in the run up to the NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers, Socialist Alternative Councilwoman Kshama Sawant railed against the restrictiveness nature of Seattle Seahawk season tickets preventing many unprivileged WeHawk fans from seeing the game in person.

Sawant organized some street theater to illustrate the divide between the Seahawk fans have and have nots with a "13th Man Initiative". The socialist rally on Capitol Hill gathered hundreds of blue and lime clad workers chanting "No justice, no beast".  During their march to Pioneer Square, protesters carried signs reading "We are the 13" and "12th Man, aka Bequeathed Mode".  

Sawant's solution to the Seahawk ticket situation is to share seats among the metro Seattle residents.  According to Sawart: 

“With 3 million people in the Seattle metro area, that’s about 44 people per seat. After this weekend, the Hawks will have played 10 home games, or 41 quarters (remember the overtime versus the Broncos). If you subtract infants and Sounders fans, that comes out almost perfectly to one quarter per person."

Right. And Sawant is supposedly an economics professor.  Perhaps it should be noted that Washington state has legalized the recreation use of marijuana.  College campuses may have been a bit ahead of the pot legalization initiative.

Some claim that this 13th man initiative is just satire.  Where you stand is where you sit.  Street theater might be a lark for an Occupy rally.  As an elected official, such satire is unseemly, especially without denoting that it was allegedly illustrating a point.  If so, what was the point?

The 13th Man ticket sharing idea is about as idiotic as the living wage initiative which Sawant championed to raise the Emerald City's minimum wage to $15 an hour.  Seattle's City Council unanimously passed the $15 minimum wage and chose to fully implement it in April 2015, even though liberally minded restaurant owners warn that the drastic wage increase will decrease labor and threaten small business survival in the city.

Sawant gained notoriety for her involvement in the Occupy  Wall Street movement.  It seems like the "13th Man Initiative" is ersatz opposition which injects  class strife and partisan politics into sports successes.  The NFL has been plagued with politically correct controversies which are peripheral to football, like political pressure and  Obama Administrations machinations to force the Washington Redskins to change their name and football players engaging in the "Hands up don't shoot" meme ala Ferguson.

It is a pity that rabble rousers and progressive political animals continue to use sports as a platform for forcing their politics into sports rather than allowing the teams to build unity among the community. Alas the 13th man initiative is the odd men as the are people who can not root  for their team without playing victim (for not having tickets), "raising consciences" and politically dividing the Seahawks fan base.

16 January 2015

The Simpsons: Animated Ambassadors of Free Speech

The Simpsons-- Animated Ambassadors of Free Speech   

 Five days after the horrific massacre in Paris at the offices of Charlie Hebdo by radical Islamist terrorists, the Simpsons showed a short tribute to support free speech.

Maggie Simpsons flag waving was a homage to the iconic painting Liberty Leading the People (1830) by Eugene Delacroix along with the social media meme #JeSuisCharlie (I am Charlie). Or perhaps the pose was inspired by Cosette in Les Miserables.

Even after 26 seasons on American television with nearly 550 episodes, the Simpsons shows that it has the pulse on what animates the public.

This is not the first time in which the Simpsons has sought to make serious points with ancillary scenes.  In 2010, the Simpsons kept it real for their twentieth anniversary season with a title card sequence inspired by the graffiti artist Banksy.

The typical close to the Title Sequence of the Family watching the boob tube revealed itself to be a plasma television image in a grim Asian sweat shop churning out images of the Simpsons.  As the camera focused on the toxic slim dripping below, it shows lower levels of commercial exploitation.  The surreal sweat shop infused humor in its dark comedy, as a pooped panda hauled a cart of plush dolls, which were stuffed of ground kittens.  A decapitated dolphin sealed boxes of this Simpsons merchandise. 
The picture of the Simpsons watching the boob tube reveals itself to be a plasma television image in a grim Asian sweat shop that is laboriously drawing images of the Simpsons. As the POV focuses on the toxic slime dripping below, there are subterranean layers of exploitation. Busy sweatshop seamstresses sew Simpsons licensed garments, worker stuff Bart plush figurines and a DVD duplication production line.

 Banksy’s contribution seemed reminiscent of Salvador Dali on a dark day. But the sequence may have been meant as more than a dark fantasy.  Show runner Al Jean may have been protesting outsourcing animation offshore overseas by illustrating intolerable production conditions which feeds the public's hunger for inexpensive entertainment.

The Simpson's standing in solidarity with the Paris Shooting protesters demonstrated that they are animated ambassadors of free speech.  While the Les Miserables motif was apropos, an even more poignant pairing would have been to mash up the Simpsons with operatic Les Mis anthem "One Day More".

15 January 2015

Duke Ditches Plan to Sound the Friday Call to Prayer Across Campus

Duke University announced that the Muslim Call to Prayer would be broadcast every Friday at 1PM. This was being done to promote religious pluralism for the 700 Muslim students on campus. Imam Adel Zeeb, the Muslim chaplain at Duke explained: "The adhan is the call to prayer that brings Muslims back to their purpose in life, which is to worship God and serves as a reminder to serve our brothers and sisters in humanity." 

 Off-campus, however, reaction to this news was swift and condemnatory.  The Reverend Franklin Graham took to social media to express disapproval of Duke's decision.  Although Muslim students had been meeting in the basement of the Chapel for years, Rev. Franklin felt that amplifying the adan was poisonous pluralism.  Franklin posited that: "You're taking that bell tower, and you're turning it into a Muslim minaret. I think it's a slap at the Christian faith."

The day after the Duke Call To Prayer idea was shared with the world, Duke University backtracked on the decision. Michael Schoenfeld, Duke's Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations, stated:

“Duke remains committed to fostering an inclusive, tolerant and welcoming campus for all of its students. However, it was clear that what was conceived as an effort to unify was not having the intended effect.”

It may not have just been Franklin Graham's moral suasion which won the battle for the bell tower. Franklin Graham's initial Facebook post suggested that alumni and donors ought to withhold support until the decision was reversed.

After University officials opted  against amplifying the adan, Rev. Graham posted his support for Duke's decision.

Omid Safi, the director of Duke's Islamic Studies program, disputed the notion that the Call to Prayer was an effort to supplant Christianity on campus.

"Every day from that same Duke chapel, church bells ring, and twice on Sunday. The cross is on the emblem of Duke University. The entire quad, and the entire campus of Duke University is laid out as a cross. And the Christian chapel is the very symbol of Duke University. So the kind of fanatical proclamation that Christianity is being erased from Duke’s campus is frankly a poor indication of the intelligence of that argument."
While it is true that Duke University was founded by Methodists and Quakers, the Blue Devil's campus has long been operating as a secular school.  It is facile reasoning that the church bell rings twice on Sunday at Duke Chapel as it ignores the symbolic importance of the adan.  Duke's Chapel is at the highest ridge on campus and one of the highest points in  Durham County.  Having the Collegiate Gothic Chapel broadcast the prayer Friday afternoon would be interpreted by radicalized religious as establishing the dominance of Islam over those academic ivory towers.

It is reminiscent of the controversy over the 2010 proposed "Cordoba House" at Park 51 near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.  There was a great effort by Developer Sharif El-Gamal to plant a mosque in the area, even though there was not a large enough community to support it.  Three years after the mosque opened, El-Gamal announced that he aspired to build a three story museum dedicated to Islam near Ground Zero.  

What explains this obsession with establishing iconic Islamic edifices near prominent real estate?  As Robert Spencer speculated about the current Park 51 plans:

“The structure as you describe it would be as grotesque as a three-story museum dedicated to exploring the faith of Shintoism and emperor-worship, and its arts and culture, with a sanctuary for prayer services and community programs, at Pearl Harbor." 
We in the west seem like we are metaphobes who are incapable of appreciating the significance of symbolism or the political impact of Islam.  They fail to consider that Islam is a holistic system which incorporates law, governance as well as spirituality.  

Radicalized Islamists seek to impose sharia law through cultural jihad.  France is grappling with a suspicion the political correctness coupled with Islamic accommodations is creating an Islamicized France. While the majority of North American Muslims seem content to live in a secular society with a pluralistic polity, it is easy to understand why some are chary about allowing accommodations which can be seen as a primus entre pares situation.

08 January 2015

Guardians of Free Speech or Vanguards of the Dhimmitude?

The Mainstream Media loves to trumpet the trope that they are Guardians of First Amendment rights for Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press.  However, the timorous self-censoring displayed by major media outlets in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris exposes this ideal as an intellectual chimera.

CNN Senior Editorial Director Richard Griffin issued an internal memo which dictated that the media outlet not show images that could be considered offensive to Muslims.  The Politico released Griffin's email:

Although we are not at this time showing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet considered offensive by many Muslims, platforms are encouraged to verbally describe the cartoons in detail. This is key to understanding the nature of the attack on the magazine and the tension between free expression and respect for religion. 
Video or stills of street protests showing Parisians holding up copies of the offensive cartoons, if shot wide, are also OK. Avoid close-ups of the cartoons that make them clearly legible.
It's also OK to show most of the protest cartoons making the rounds online, though care should be taken to avoid examples that include within them detailed depictions of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
NBC News mimicked this tact by guiding their outlets to neither show headlines nor cartoons which could be deemed insensitive or offensive.

In the print medium, the Associated Press applied an internal policy of "not moving deliberately provocative images" so it removed Charlie Hebdo images from their database. However, it only took the Associate Press 27 years and an embarrassing exposure by the Washington Examiner for the same standard to be applied to Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" (1987).   Was this because a crucifix dipped in urine and displayed as art is not deliberately provocative? Do elitist editors think that anti-Christian imagery is not provocative but that they dare not offend adherents to the Prophet Mohammad?  Or does publishing some provocative pictures might put their lives on the line by radical terrorists?

The New York Daily News covered the source material which provoked these three Islamic terrorists to assassinate twelve French citizens by pixillating the Prophet Mohammad's image.

Stephane Charbonnier posing with satirical cover pixillated in NY Daily News {photo FRED DUFOUR/AFP}

As Mark Steyn remarked, the New York Daily News put Mohammad in the witness protection program with their editorial sensitivity, yet the editors did not obscure the hook nose caricature of a Jew which shared the frame. So much for sensitivity or avoiding provocative pictures.

It is galling that the media outlets are proud as a peacock as being protectors of Free Speech while acting in a duplicitous and cowardly manner.  While these Charlie Hedbo pictures are provocative, they are no longer a polemic point of view but now are a news story. None the less, the major media acts in a Milquetoast manner towards the prophet Mohammad.  No wonder why they can derisively known as the "Lamestream Media".

In 2013, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) sought to limit who can be a journalist. Feinstein argued that a federal shield law should only apply to "real reporters".  But what if these paid journalists refuse to report the news?

These pusillanimous journalists should review what dhimmitude means.  This second class citizenship of non-Muslims acknowledges the dominance of sharia law and does not allow anything to offend those within the Dar-Islam.   Self-censorship so as not to give offense to Muslims is a major step in accepting those social shackles.

In Paris, many protesters to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity carried pencils to symbolize that the pencil is mightier than the sword and that they are not afraid. The cartoon of the Twin Tower of Pencils links terrorism from America's 9/11 attack to the Parisian terrorism.  Sadly this cartoon has another connection.  American news networks stopped showing the terrorist planes hitting the World Trade Center except briefly during the 9/11 anniversary to supposedly not to show provocative images. Of course, such horrific footage might remind people about the consequences of unchecked terrorism.  

Contemplating Free Speech and the Charlie Hebdo Terror Attack

Stephane Charbonnier, Chief Editor of the French satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo", was one of France's leading cartoonists who created under the pen name "Charb".   Charbonnier was also an outspoken advocate for free speech who fiercely defended his right to push material that others, particularly Muslims, deemed offensive. 

In 2011, Charbonnier invited the Prophet Muhammad to be a guest editor to Charlie Hebdo. This prompted a firebombing which destroyed Charlie Hebdo's offices and put Charb on an Al-Qaeda hit list. 

Stephane Charbonnier defiantly posing after Charlie Hebdo firebombing,  Nov. 2011

The three Islamic terrorists who brutally attacked Charlie Hebdo's offices on January 7, 2015 reportedly asked for Charb by name as they slaughtered twelve people. 

Some Muslim spokesmen justify a rabid response like the terrorist attack as Charlie Hebdo published pieces which were offensive to the Prophet Muhammad.  Bill Donohue,  President of the (American) Catholic League, condemned the killings but stated that "Muslims have a right to be angry" over Charlie Hebdo's provocative publications.

Many media outlets are quick to point out that Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical publication, which is true but is misleading.  This Charlie Hebdo massacre was an attack on Free Speech.  It was cultural jihad which is imposing tenants of sharia law (among which is to not to offend Muslims) on Western society.  This movement is being aided and accelerated by Political Correctness, which seeks to not  provoke favored minorities but is happy to taunt traditional mores.

The fact that many media sources were self-censoring about showing "provocative" Charlie Hebdo covers, but had no problems publicizing Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" (1987) or Chris Orfill's depiction of the Virgin Mary covered in elephant dung (1996) shows the double standard from the supposed guardians of the First Amendment.

Such spurious self-censoring of provocative content towards a violent minority which seeks to apply sharia law is an early stage of dhimmitude.