Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Free Speech

Leave Iggy Azalea Alone

Australian rapper Iggy Azalea is being threatened by Anonymous, an organization of internet hackers. Azalea got into a public spat with another rapper, Azealia Banks. The short version is that Banks objected to Azalea’s silence on the Eric Garner protests, Azalea said that Banks should not “judge another’s support or lack thereof solely on if they have ranted on Twitter about it,” and claimed that Banks is using world issues to promote fan battles. Banks responded by accusing Azalea of cultural appropriation, and Azalea essentially dismissed Banks as a jealous hater. All of this is fairly run of the mill stuff, but then Anonymous jumped in.

Anonymous said:

F— you, @IGGYAZZALEA. #ICantBreathe…We have so much shit on you, your scandal would be bigger than Bill Cosby’s …You are guilty of misappropriating black culture, insulting peaceful protesters, and making light of Eric Garner’s death…You have exactly 48 hours…to release a statement apologizing to @AzealiaBanks and the protesters in NYC.

So now, just a few days after Sony was threatened by Guardians of Peace and intimidated into shelving The Interviewwe have yet another rogue hacker organization threatening a person (or group of people) in an attempt to control speech. This is not okay.

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The Interview: How We Should Respond to Terrorist Nonsense

American funnymen James Franco and Seth Rogen made a comedy called The Interview for Sony in which their characters attempt to assassinate Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea. Someone really didn’t like this movie and really didn’t want Sony to release it–a mysterious organization known as “Guardians of Peace” hacked and leaked a series of Sony e-mails and threatened a 9/11 style terrorist attack if the film were released as planned. No one is certain, but the US government suspects that the Kim regime is behind the threats. It is, at the very least, supportive of them. North Korea’s National Defense Commission says:

The hacking into the Sony Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the [North] in response to its appeal.

Amazingly, Sony and the major American movie theater chains capitulated, cancelling the release. Was this the right thing to do?

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Donald Sterling Should Keep the Clippers

Donald Sterling, landlord and owner of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, holds exceptionally repugnant moral views. In a recorded conversation with one of his girlfriends, Sterling allegedly said:

It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?

You can sleep with [black people]. You can bring them in, you can do whatever you want.  The little I ask you is not to promote it on [Instagram] and not to bring them to my games.

There’s nine minutes of it, if you’re bored. While at the time of writing, the recording has not yet been authenticated, it’s quite likely it will be, because Donald Sterling has a history of saying racist and sexist things. Many people are disgusted with the guy, as well they should be. Some are however calling for the NBA to force Sterling to sell the Clippers. This is a mistake. Here’s why.

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Duck Dynasty and Corporate Speech

American cable station A&E has put Phil Robertson, star of its hit reality series Duck Dynasty, on an indefinite hiatus for making comments in the January issue of GQ magazine in which he disparaged gay people. There have been two broad categories of reaction to this. LGBT rights supporters are happy, believing that A&E’s move sends a message that criticizing homosexuality is no longer okay. Conservative Christians, on the other hand, are upset–they believe that A&E has stifled Robertson’s free speech rights. Who’s right?

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Evaluating Erdogan

Recently there have been demonstrations against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The demonstrations began because the government was intending to demolish a park in Istanbul (not Constantinople) and replace it with a shopping mall. This relatively pedestrian protest escalated when the Turkish government removed the protesters in a violent police raid. The target of the protests has now expanded from the park to the policies of Erdogan more broadly, specifically the social conservatism of his government and its tendency to give preference to Islam in its legislation. A lot of people in the media in developed states have begun referring to this as a “Turkish Spring”, and the default reaction has been to support the protesters, assuming that they are under governments similar to those that prevailed in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, and other such places. The instinct is to view Turkey as just another Middle Eastern country protesting a generically malevolent government. A poor job has been done of evaluating the Turkish situation specifically, of giving the Erdogan government a fair evaluation. Today, I’d like to contribute to rectifying that.

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