Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Liberty

I’m Ready to Give Up On Gun Control–But Let’s Close the TSA

I know, right? Depressing headline. But it’s true. After some years of writing about gun control, I can’t do it anymore. As a society, we’ve made our choice–we’ve decided that it’s worth it to have a much more dangerous society in the name of freedom. But if that’s the principle, I want to abolish the TSA and go back to 90s airport security. Remember the 90s? You could just walk into the airport and go straight to the gate. No lines. No fuss. Sure, 2,996 people died on 9/11. But guns were used in 13,286 homicides in 2015 alone. There were zero terrorist attacks involving passenger planes in the 17 years before 9/11. But guns kill another 13 or 14 thousand people every year. Gun rights advocates might think the right to travel unmolested by the TSA is worth only a fraction of what the right to own a gun is worth. But we sacrificed our travel rights over only a tiny fraction of the number of lives guns take from us. I’m giving up on taking people’s guns, but I want them to give me back my airports.

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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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On Free Speech and Religion, Pope Francis’s Views are Part of the Problem

Pope Francis recently made some comments about the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Unfortunately, the view he expresses is precisely the view I took issue with a few days ago, blaming the attack on the proximal cause (the cartoons) instead of on the wider socioeconomic inequities that drive alienated people into the arms of violent extremism. But that’s not even the end of it–there’s quite a bit wrong with what the pope said, when we examine it closely.

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How We Should Deal with the Charlie Hebdo Attack

As most of you probably know by now, terrorists in Paris shot up the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier this week, killing 12 people. Charlie Hebdo is known for publishing provocative cartoons. Some of these cartoons mocked the prophet Muhammad, and this earned the magazine the enmity of reactionaries within Islam. Before we think about emotionally charged events like this, it often helps to think about how we should think about them. To get the objective distance we need from events to analyze them with the most fairness and impartiality we can manage, a little temporal distance can be useful. Over the last few days, I’ve been digesting a variety of visceral, emotive reactions from people across the political spectrum. In most of the think pieces I’ve read and discussions I’ve seen and participated in, there has consistently seemed to be something missing, and today I’m ready to identify that something.

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