Rather fittingly – and as if to prove my point – my human rights were quashed by a person demonstrating one of the effects of sharia law; the threat of violence for criticising religion.
- Ann Marie Waters who was due to speak discussion of Islamic law at a London university on Monday. This discussion was abandoned after a mindless thug threatened the attendees and some students who happened to be in the foyer.
Rhys Morgan is an intelligent and articulate teenager and someone who impressed many with his work in publicisingStanislaw Burzynski‘s fradulent alternative medicine practices. Last week the University College London Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society were told that they should remove an image, taken from the cover of a Jesus and Mo book, from their Facebook page for their weekly pub meet.
Rhys, along with many others, used the same image on his Facebook page in a show of solidarity for their cause. He left the picture up for about a week, then changed it back and went on with his life.
Until today. Someone who is a Muslim discovered the picture and found it offensive. He politely requested I remove the image -
“… just a kind request to either hide it or completely delete the picture…”
- a request I declined because I do not follow Islamic scripture or rules.
At this point, all hell broke loose and he found himself on the receiving end of a stream of threats and abuse. Then his school stepped in… and threatened to expel him.
So here’s the picture in question:
And I think the head at Rhys’s sixth form college should sit down and think long and hard about why he is so keen to side with a bunch of bullies.
At O’Reilly, we have published ebooks DRM-free for the better part of two decades. We’ve watched the growth of this market from its halting early stages to its robust growth today. More than half of our ebook sales now come from overseas, in markets we were completely unable to serve in print. While our books appear widely on unauthorized download sites, our legitimate sales are exploding. The greatest force in reporting unauthorized copies to us is our customers, who value what we do and want us to succeed. Yes, there is piracy, but our embrace of the internet’s unparalleled ability to reach new customers “though it may not be perfect still secures to authors more money than any other system that can be devised.”
These bills are designed to protect companies that are unable – or unwilling – to respond to current market demands. Any law that tries to protect unrealistic business models is, inherently, a bad law.
I am aware that SOPA has been shelved. But being shelved is not the same as being killed. And PIPA is still working its way through the Senate legislative process.
This is a badly drafted bill, promoted by people who don’t understand its impact for the benefit of people who don’t care about your freedoms. It is so widely cast and so badly worded that it will limit what you can say online, regardless of whether you are in the US or not.
You can find more information on the SOPA/PIPA bills, and how they affect you whether or not you live in the USA, at americancensorship.org. And I hope that if you run any sort of Web service or publishing platform, you will join this blackout.
I touched on this yesterday but it is worth reiterating. SOPA is a badly drafted law, promoted by people who don’t understand its impact for the benefit of people who don’t care about your freedoms. It is so widely cast and so badly worded that it will limit what you can say online, regardless of whether you are in the US or not – the videos example of Facebook having to censor its users posts is a good one.
Last month, Cory Doctorow gave a keynote speech to the Chaos Computer Congress. It turned up online but I have to admit to not having watched it as yet. Handily, though, the text of the speech has been posted on Boing Boing and he makes a strong case.
The TL;DR version is that legislators keep on reaching for regulation that won’t work to solve problems they don’t understand. This is happening now with copyright (the US SOPA legislation being the currently most obvious example), but will continue to happen – and probably increasingly so – as technology progresses.
If we want to be able to own and trust our devices – from the MP3 players we listen to to the cars we drive – the instinct to regulate needs to be stopped. Now.
But the launch raises one huge question for me: since Amazon chose to quit hosting the Wikileaks site what kind of media will Amazon allow customers to store? The Wikileaks Collateral Murder video? Leaked docs downloaded from the site and the many other leak engines that are springing up? Amazon has already sidestepped the issue of whether the content it is hosting is legally downloaded or not by saying its service is simply the equivalent of an external hard drive for content.
Bahrain security forces on Friday launched a crackdown on protesters in the capital’s Pearl Square reportedly killing four and injuring over 200.
Amateur video footage showed heavily-armed balaclava-wearing men shooting at civilians. Shots were also fired into the crowd from convoys of jeeps and tanks were brought onto the streets in a level of violence described by the United Nations as “shocking.” Government forces later blocked off the main hospital, preventing doctors from treating casualties.
The UN on Tuesday said that between 50 and 100 people have gone missing since the crackdown began, two of which have turned up dead. One doctor detained by security forces said he was severely beaten and threatened with rape.
Robert Cooper, Catherine Ashton’s top advisor on the western Balkans and the Middle East thinks this is okay because: “accidents happen.”