Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Freedom

The War for Social Media: The Center is Trying to Diminish Diversity and Control Speech

There’s a story we tell about social media. Once upon a time politics wasn’t so divided and polarized. But then, social media came along–it let people retreat into bubbles, where they only talked to people who thought as they did. This caused them to get all extreme and nasty. And then the alt-right and the Russians figured out that they could inject fake stories into these bubbles and turn social media users into Trump supporters! Our beautiful liberal society was torn apart, and it’s all because people stopped trusting traditional news sources, like the big newspapers and TV networks. Companies like Facebook have a responsibility to do something about this–to call out the fake stories, or stop them from showing up in people’s feeds. Sounds familiar, right? I want to tell a different story about social media.

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Cuba Under Fidel Castro

When an important leader dies or leaves office, I sometimes like to write retrospective posts on their performance. There are any number of places where you can get a Fidel Castro obituary–what I’m offering is a hard look at the consequences Castro’s policies had for the Cuban people. My intent is neither to polish nor tarnish Castro’s image, but to present his government’s policies and institutions as they were.

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The Case for a Coup in Turkey

In July Turkey experienced a failed military coup against the elected government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leader of the conservative Justice and Development Party (in Turkish, Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi or AKP).  The Turkish government blames the coup on Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish preacher living in exile in the United States whom the government regards as a terrorist. It is demanding his extradition, but the United States has to this point refused to comply without hard evidence connecting Gülen to the coup. In the meantime, the Turkish government has declared a state of emergency and begun suspending, imprisoning, or firing tens of thousands of political opponents, including 9,000 police officers, 21,000 private school teachers, 10,000 soldiers, nearly 3,000 judges, 1,500 university deans, and more than 100 media outlets have been forcibly shuttered. This political purge is an escalation of a pattern of behavior that existed before the coup. For a long time Erdoğan and the AKP have concentrated power, acting against the press and against Turkey’s civil society and eroding Turkey’s secular norms. Those who support Erdoğan tell a story in which an embattled democratically elected president is beset by a would-be junta, but the situation in Turkey is considerably more complicated than that, and there is a strong case that Turkey’s constitution is not up to the task of protecting Turkey’s political system from increasingly unlimited abuse.

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Let’s Repeal All the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

In my previous post, I wrote about Indiana’s recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and how it differs from other versions of the law passed by other states and at the federal level. Today, I want to make larger and more provocative argument that all Religious Freedom Restoration Acts–even those written tighter than the Indiana law–should be repealed. This may sound like a radical point of view to you, but hear me out.

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American Sniper: Was Chris Kyle Defending Our Freedom?

Seth Rogen and Michael Moore recently made snarky comments about American SniperClint Eastwood’s Iraq War movie loosely based on the life of Chris Kyle, a Navy SEAL with 160 confirmed kills. This has angered a lot of people on the right, who scold the snarksters for their lack of appreciation for the men and women who, they say, defend our freedom. The “they defend our freedom” line gets thrown around a lot when discussing military policy, but when is it really the case that soldiers defend our freedom? Is this an automatic, intrinsic feature of being a soldier, or does it depend on additional factors? Let’s think about this.

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