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Tag Archives: freedom
Posted: January 15, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
There is no more precious freedom we have than that of free expression. The first amendment to the constitution isnt telling you what you can do, it is telling the government what they cant do. The founding fathers believed that the rights in the first amendment were inherent or understood to be true. Those 45 words, about twice as long as a standard tweet, were written to make sure they could not be taken from you.
The first amendment guarantees five rights.
Now, there are some things you cannot do, but the list is relatively short, for example. You cannot maliciously defame someone, you cannot spread hateful talk and you cant yell, Fire in a crowded theater (unless there is one).
Free expression is not a principle common to most countries. A recent Freedom House survey found that only 16 percent of the worlds inhabitants live in countries with a free press. And many of them dont have the broad protection our first amendment offers. Many governments restrict the information their people can get by disallowing foreign news programs, the internet, publications and often even discussions. Even our friends in England, do not have the protection that Americans do. The English have no document like our First Amendment.
While there are five guarantees in the amendment, Im going to focus on just one today, the guarantee of a free press.
It is a given throughout history that Governments that do business under the watchful eye of the media are likely to go about their business more honestly than they would otherwise. The news media, also known as the fourth estate, keeps tabs on the three branches of government. Without that scrutiny or the threat of it, we would not have a clue as to what was happening with our tax dollars or what elected representatives were doing.
Even if you dont like the news media and think they are biased, unfair and inaccurate it is still in your best interests to support their continued existence because without them we become just another dictatorship where the people are kept in the dark about everything.
Almost everyone agrees that a free press is necessary but there is always a but. For example, the norm in this country is to be a Democrat or a Republican and either a Christian or Jew. Few will argue that they should be restricted. But, when we deviate from the norm and allow a communist to speak freely, the Ku Klux Klan to hold a rally, and the Islamic faith to establish itself thats when many people will make exceptions to the guarantees of the First Amendment. And thats when Congress shall make no law, comes in. You either have free expression or you dont. We must protect Congress shall make no law with all of our energy even when to do so hurts a little. One of the very special things about the first amendment is it balances itself. It says we have a right to free speech and a free press and often the free speech is critical of the free press, and thats as it should be.
Having a free press means we have to take the bad with the good, and sometimes thats hard. But even if on occasion we must suffer their criticism, we are still better off for it. Often, the media in their competitive arena will balance a story by offering several perspectives on the same issue. To be fair, if you are going to judge the news media, then it must be done on a macro basis rather than looking at one or two members and concluding they are all that way.
The first amendment is a clear, bold and loud restriction on Government power and it must be protected at all costs. Without freedom of expression, we have no freedom at all. Thomas Jefferson said, Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.
Journalism is an inexact business because it depends entirely on what other people, who have no obligation to be honest, tell the reporter. There is a huge difference between a journalistic inquiry and testimony in a court of law. In the courtroom there are penalties for lying, you must appear in court if ordered to do so and you are required to answer the questions. In a news interview the subject appears voluntarily, can lie if he or she wants to and can refuse to answer questions. The entire news gathering process depends on people volunteering honest information.
The late and great Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post, David Broder described a newspaper this way;
a partial, hasty, incomplete, inevitably somewhat flawed and inaccurate rendering of some of the things we have heard about in the past 24 hours distorted, despite our best efforts to eliminate gross bias by the very process of compression that makes it possible for you to lift it from the doorstep and read it in about an hour. If we labeled the product accurately, then we could immediately add: But its the best we could do under the circumstances, and we will be back tomorrow, with a corrected and updated version.
If youd like to know more about the first amendment and the constitution this link offers some excellent information.https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-i
And from where I sit, thats the truth
Posted: January 7, 2017 at 12:42 pm
Banned Books Week 2017: Sept. 24 – Sept. 30
Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.
By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship. The ALAOfficefor Intellectual Freedom(OIF) compiles lists of challenged books as reported in the media and submitted by librarians and teachers across the country.
Find out which challenged books made the 2015 list, which was released as part of the 2016 State of Americas Library Report.
A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.
The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools. While books have been and continue to be banned, part of the Banned Books Week celebration is the fact that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available. This happens only thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, students, and community members who stand up and speak out for the freedom to read.
OIF also offers support for librarians facing challenges to materials in their library. The support librarians seek will not be disclosed to any outside parties, and the challenge report OIF receives is kept confidential. Please see Challenges to Library Materialsfor resources and information to help you prepare for and respond to challenges.
If you would like more information about banned and challenged books, contact the Office for Intellectual Freedom at (800) 545-2433, ext. 4220, email@example.com. For more information on how to get involved with Banned Books Week, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For media inquiries related to Banned Books Week, please contact: Heather Cho, Media Relations Specialist, 312-280-4020,email@example.com; and Macey Morales, Deputy Director of ALA’s Public Awareness Office, 312-280-4393,firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted: December 22, 2016 at 12:51 pm
The Two Nihilist RevolutionsEdit
Russian nihilism (rus. “”) can be dissected into two periods. The foundational period (1860-1869) where the ‘counter-cultural’ aspects of nihilism scandalized Russia, where even the smallest of indiscretions resulted in nihilists being sent to Siberia or imprisoned for lengthy periods of time, and where the philosophy of nihilism was formed. The other period would be the revolutionary period of Nihilism (1870-1881) when the pamphlet The Catechism of a Revolutionist transformed the movement, which was waiting and only striking mild propaganda, into a movement-with-teeth and a will to wage war against the tsarist regime, with dozens of actions against the Russian state. The revolutionary period ends with the assassination of the Tsar Alexander II (March 13, 1881), by a series of bombs, and the consequential crushing of the nihilist movement.
Mikhail Bakunin’s (1814-1876) “Reaction in Germany” (1842) included a famous dictum, “Let us therefore trust the eternal Spirit which destroys and annihilates only because it is the unfathomable and eternal source of all life. The passion for destruction is a creative passion, too!” This piece of literature anticipated and instigated the ideas of the nihilists. In Russia, Bakunin was considered a Westernizer because of his influences that spread the ideology of anarchism outside of his nation to the rest of Europe and Russia. While he is inexorably linked to both the foundational and revolutionary periods of nihilism, Bakunin was a product of the earlier generation whose vision, ultimately, was not the same as the nihilist view. He stated this best as “I am a free man only so far as I recognize the humanity and liberty of all men around me. In respecting their humanity, I respect my own.” This general humanitarian instinct is in contrast to the nihilist proclamations of having a “hate with a great and holy hatred” or calling for the “annihilation of aesthetics”.
Nikolay Chernyshevsky was the first to incorporate nihilism in the socialist agenda. The nihilist contribution to socialism in general was the concept that the peasant was an agent of social change (Chernyshevsky, A Criticism of Philosophical Prejudices Against the Obshchina (1858)), and not just the bourgeois reformers of the revolutions of 1848, or the proletariat of Marx (a concept that wouldn’t reach Russia until later). Agitation for this position landed Chernyshevsky in prison and exile in Siberia for the next 25 years (although the specific accusations with which he was convicted were a concoction) in 1864. The first group inspired by nihilist ideas to form and work towards social change did so as a secret society, and were called Land and Liberty. This group’s name was also taken by another, entirely separate group, during the Revolutionary Nihilist period, with the first Land and Freedom conspiring to support the Polish independence movement and to agitate the peasants who were burdened with debt as a result of the crippling redemption payments required by the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. Polish independence was not of particular interest to the nihilists, and after a plot to incite Kazan peasants to revolt failed, Land and Freedom folded (1863).
After the failure, the Russian government began to actively hunt nihilist revolutionaries, so the first secret nihilist societies were created. One of the first to act in secrecy was called The Organization, and they created a boys’ school in a Moscow slum in order to train revolutionaries. In addition they had a secret sub-group called Hell whose purpose was political terrorism, with the assassination of the Tsar as their ultimate goal. This resulted in the failed attempt by Dmitry Karakozov on the 4th of April 1866. Dmitry was tried and hanged at Smolensk Field in St Petersburg. The leader of The Organization, Nicholas Ishutin, was also tried and was to be executed before being exiled to Siberia for life. Thus ended The Organization and began the White Terror of the rest of the 1860s.
The White Terror began by the Tsar putting Count Michael Muravyov (otherwise known as ‘Hanger Muravyov’ due to his treatment of Polish rebels in prior years) in charge of the suppression of the nihilists. The two leading radical journals (The Contemporary and Russian Word) were banned, liberal reforms were minimized in fear of reaction from the public, and the educational system was reformed to stifle the existing revolutionary spirit. This action by the Russian state marks the end of the foundational period of nihilism.
The entrance on the scene of Sergei Nechayev symbolizes the transformation from the foundational period to the revolutionary period. Sergei Nechaev, the son of a serf, which was unusual as most nihilists came from a slightly higher social class, what we would call lower middle class, desired an escalation of the discourse on social transformation. Nechaev argued that just as the European monarchies used the ideas of Machiavelli, and the Catholic Jesuits practiced absolute immorality to achieve their ends, there was no action that could not be also used for the sake of the people’s revolution. A scholar noted that “His apparent immorality [more an amorality] derived from the cold realization that both Church and State are ruthlessly immoral in their pursuit of total control. The struggle against such powers must therefore be carried out by any means necessary.” Nechaev’s social cache was greatly increased by his association with Bakunin in 1869 and extraction of funds from the Bakhmetiev Fund for Russian revolutionary propaganda.
The image of Nechaev is as much a result of his Catechism of a Revolutionist (1869) as any actions he actually took. The Catechism is an important document as it establishes the clear break between the formation of nihilism as a political philosophy and what it becomes as a practice of revolutionary action. It documents the revolutionary as a much transformed figure from the nihilist of the past decade. Whereas the nihilist may have practiced asceticism, they argued for an uninhibited hedonism. Nechaev assessed that the Revolutionary, by definition, must live devoted to one aim and not allow to be distracted by emotions or attachments. Friendship was contingent on revolutionary fervor, relationships with strangers were quantified in terms of what resources they offered revolution, and everyone had a role during the revolutionary moment that boiled down to how soon they would be lined up against the wall or when they would accept that they had to do the shooting. The uncompromising tone and content of the Catechism was influential far beyond just the mere character Nechaev personified in the minds of the revolutionaries. Part of the reason for this is because of the way in which it extended nihilist principles into a revolutionary program. The rest of the reason was that the catechism gave the revolutionary project a form of constitution and weight that the men `of the sixties’ did not.
Bakunin, an admirer of Nechayev’s zeal and stories of his organization’s success, provided contacts and resources to send Nechayev back to Russia as his representative of the Russian Section of the World Revolutionary Alliance, which was also an imaginary organization. Upon his return to Russia, Nechayev formed the secret, cell based organization, People’s Vengeance. One student member of the organization Ivan Ivanovich Ivanov questioned the very existence of the Secret Revolutionary Committee that Nechayev claimed to be the representative of. This suspicion of Nechayev’s modus operandi required action. Author Ronald Hingley, wrote “On the evening of 21 November 1869 the victim [Ivanov] was accordingly lured to the premises of the Moscow School of Agriculture, a hotbed of revolutionary sentiment, where Nechayev killed him by shooting and strangulation, assisted without great enthusiasm by three dupes Nechayev’s accomplices were arrested and tried.” Upon his return from Russia to Switzerland, Nechayev was rejected by Bakunin, for his taking of militant actions, and was eventually extradited back to Russia where he spent the remainder of his life at the Peter and Paul Fortress. He did, due to his charisma and force of will, continue to influence events, maintaining a relationship to People’s Will and weaving even his jailers into his plots. He was found dead in his cell in 1882.
See the original post here:
Posted: December 21, 2016 at 6:41 pm
Gennady Stolyarov II
The Transhumanist Party is pleased to announce the revitalization of an ongoing official activism project one that all members, irrespective of geographical location, can easily join. This is a project that utilizes our favored approach of direct, individually attainable action toward the creation of a brighter future.
You can personally help advance the fight against a multitude of diseases such as Alzheimers Disease, Parkinsons Disease, and many cancers.
The Longevity Meme Folding@home team a group of volunteers who donate their computing power to perform protein-folding simulations that could one day result in cures for major diseases and the lengthening of human lifespans has been operating for years, contributing otherwise idle computer resources to actual meaningful biological research.
To take part in this effort, just download the client for the Folding@home project at http://folding.stanford.edu/. Then join The Longevity Meme team here, and your computer will do the rest over time. I have personally been engaged in this effort for over six years.
If you would like a digital reward for contributing to this project, I am able to give five levels of digital Open Badges via Credly. Here is a page describing the various tiers of badges.Once you have reached the requisite number of Folding@home points to claim each badge, just contact me via e-mailhere with a message that includes your user name and an e-mail address.
The Transhumanist Party supports Lifespan.io and CellAge in their work towards groundbreaking scientific life-extension research. Finding a way to repair age-related damage to senescent cells would be a fundamental breakthrough for transhumanism, and we offer our best wishes and support for those striving towards these new technologies.
From Lifespan.io and CellAge:
Our society has never aged more rapidly one of the most visible symptoms of the changing demographics is the exponential increase in the incidence of age-related diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases and osteoarthritis. Not only does aging have a negative effect on the quality of life among the elderly but it also causes a significant financial strain on both private and public sectors. As the proportion of older people is increasing so is health care spending. According to a WHO analysis, the annual number of new cancer cases is projected to rise to 17 million by 2020, and reach 27 million by 2030. Similar trends are clearly visible in other age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease. Few effective treatments addressing these challenges are currently available and most of them focus on a single disease rather than adopting a more holistic approach to aging.
Recently a new approach which has the potential of significantly alleviating these problems has been validated by a number of in vivo and in vitro studies. It has been demonstrated that senescent cells (cells which have ceased to replicate due to stress or replicative capacity exhaustion) are linked to many age-related diseases. Furthermore, removing senescent cells from mice has been recently shown to drastically increase mouse healthspan (a period of life free of serious diseases).
Here at CellAge we are working hard to help translate these findings into humans!
CellAge, together with a leading synthetic biology partner, Synpromics, are poised to develop a technology allowing for the identification and removal of harmful senescent cells. Our breakthrough technology will benefit both the scientific community and the general public.
In short, CellAge is going to develop synthetic promoters which are specific to senescent cells, as promoters that are currently being used to track senescent cells are simply not good enough to be used in therapies. The most prominently used p16 gene promoter has a number of limitations, for example. First, it is involved in cell cycle regulation, which poses a danger in targeting cells which are not diving but not senescent either, such as quiescent stem cells. Second, organism-wide administration of gene therapy might at present be too dangerous. This means senescent cells only in specific organs might need to be targeted and p16 promoter does not provide this level of specificity. Third, the p16 promoter is not active in all senescent cells. Thus, after therapies utilizing this promoter, a proportion of senescent cells would still remain. Moreover, the p16 promoter is relatively large (2.1kb), making it difficult to incorporate in present gene therapy vehicles. Lastly, to achieve the intended therapeutic effect the strength of p16 promoter to drive therapeutic effect might not be high enough.
CellAge will be constructing a synthetic promoter which has a potential to overcome all of the mentioned limitations. A number of gene therapy companies, including uniQure, AGTC and Avalanche Biotech have successfully targeted other types of cells using this technology. With your help, we will be able to use same technology to develop tools and therapies for accurate senescent cell targeting.
Gennady Stolyarov II
The United Nations Public Administration Network (UNPAN) has taken notice of the Transhumanist Party on its website, where it republished an article originally written by Dylan Love of NBC News. This November 18, 2016, article is titled The Next Global Race Aims to Perfect Artificial Intelligence and highlights Zoltan Istvans discussion of possibilities for the future of artificial intelligence, as well as concerns about geopolitical competition over AI development.
An excerpt from the article shows how the Transhumanist Party has contributed to discussion of this issue in a manner that the UN has deemed noteworthy:
Zoltan Istvan is founder of the Transhumanist Party, a legally recognized and PR-minded political effort that calls attention to what tomorrows mainstreaming of todays rapidly developing technology could mean for human life.
Istvan campaigned for the U.S. presidency in 2016 on the platform of harnessing existing technologies to maximize both the quality and duration of ones life. Though his theoretical thinking may seem to border on the fantastic, Istvan has enough street cred at the intersection of politics and technology that he has consulted with the U.S. Navy on the geopolitical implications of artificial intelligence. He readily identifies it as nothing less than a national security concern.
The Transhumanist Party encourages a diversity of perspectives from its members regarding the future potential, promise, and risks of artificial intelligence. In accord with its stepwise shift to a more participatory and member-driven governance model, the Transhumanist Party will soon be hosting discussion panels on a wide array of emerging technologies and their political and societal implications. Artificial intelligence will be among the first areas of technology discussed.
Gennady Stolyarov II
The following is the draft sample ballot generated thus far as a compilation of the suggestions provided during the 30-day exposure period for the Transhumanist Bill of Rights. The exposure period will continue until 12:01 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time on December 25, 2016,and comments will continue to be solicited until that time, with any further reasonable suggestions incorporated into the draft sample ballot until the end of the exposure period.
The draft sample ballot is a work in progress and will be revised on this page as further input is received. The purpose of releasing the sample ballot at this time is to provide insight into the structure of the voting and the options that have already been generated, so as to enable any interested members of the Transhumanist Party to read and understand the available options and propose further refinements and alternatives.
After the exposure period, a 7-day electronic voting period will occur from 12:01 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time on December 25, 2016, to 12:01 a.m. U.S. Pacific Time on January 1, 2017. Instructions for electronic voting will be sent to members of the U.S. Transhumanist Party via e-mail. All individuals who are members of the U.S. Transhumanist Partyas of the end of the exposure periodand who have expressed agreement with its threeCore Idealswill be eligible to vote thereafter.
Electronic voting will be conducted by a ranked-preference method on individual articles where more options are possible than would be accommodated by a simple Yes or No vote. Members should keep in mind that the ranked-preference method eliminates the incentives for strategic voting so members are encouraged to vote for the options that reflect their individual preferences as closely as possible, without regard for how other members might vote.
NOTE: The titles of the questions and potential Articles are descriptive and informational only and will not appear in the final adopted Transhumanist Bill of Rights. They are intended as concise guides to the subject matter of the questions and potential Articles. Likewise, the numbers or letters assigned to Articles within this ballot will not reflect the numbering in the final adopted Transhumanist Bill of Rights, which will depend on which Articles are selected by the membership. For purposes of convenient distinction, the original Articles developed by Zoltan Istvan are assigned Arabic numerals (1 through 6), while the new Articles proposed by the membership are assigned Latin letters (A through R, thus far).
NOTE II:The inclusion of any proposals on this ballot doesnot indicate any manner of endorsement for those proposals by the U.S. Transhumanist Party at this time except to place those proposals before the members to determine the will of the members with regard to whether or not the Transhumanist Bill of Rights should incorporate any given proposal.
Rank-order the Preamble Options that you support. Choose 1 for your most highly favored option, 2 for your second-most highly favored option, etc. If you choose Abstain, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.
Preamble Option 1 [Original Text by Zoltan Istvan]. Whereas science and technology are now radically changing human beings and may also create future forms of advanced sapient and sentient life, transhumanists establish this TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS to help guide and enact sensible policies in the pursuit of life, liberty, security of person, and happiness.
Preamble Option 2. Transhumanist evolution is underway and establishes life principles that allow a sentient entity to alter, augment, and perform self-improvement efforts utilizing science and technology to achieve supreme intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. This TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS extends sentient rights to enhanced neo-humans, cybernetic, transgenic, anthropomorphic, and avatar beings. The TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS provides a sentient entity the right to procreate, clone, and form, the right to expand and extend life beyond biological fundamental boundaries, and to live life without illness, aging, and catastrophic loss of self in pursuit of immortality. This TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS provides principles for intellectual and inclusive policies for all sentient entities in pursuit of life, liberty, eternal existence, and freedom to be different.
The TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS is not static. As the collective of sentient entities continues to unravel the mysteries of the Universe and discover more facts, the TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS will change. We (sentient entities) must be malleable, inclusive, and understanding in thought and spirit at the same pace as society evolves. We must continue to aspire, gain knowledge, and improve life.
Preamble Option 3. Transhumanist evolution is underway and establishes life principles that allow a sentient entity to alter, augment, and perform self-improvement efforts utilizing science and technology to achieve supreme intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities; to provide a sentient entity the rights to procreate, clone, and adapt form; to expand and extend life beyond present-day boundaries; and to live life without illness and loss of self in pursuit of immortality. We organize to provide principles for intellectual and inclusive policies for all sentient entities in pursuit of life, liberty, and eternal existence. This TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS extends sentient rights to all humans, cyborgs, transgenic, anthropomorphic, avatar, and yet-to-be-identified beings as defined herein.
The TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS is not static. As the collective of sentient entities continues to unravel the mysteries of the Universe and discover more facts, the TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS will change. We (sentient entities) must be malleable, inclusive, and understanding in thought and spirit at the same pace as society evolves. We must continue to aspire, gain knowledge, and improve life.
Preamble Option 4 [Usable if Option II(e) or Option II(f) below is adopted as well]. Transhumanist evolution is underway and establishes life principles that allow a sentient entity to alter, augment, and perform self-improvement efforts utilizing science and technology to achieve greaterintellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. This TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS extends sentient rights to enhanced neo-humans, cybernetic, transgenic, anthropomorphic, and avatar beings as well as any other being that demonstrates meta-cognition and self-directed awareness, which is capable of simultaneously modeling itself and its relation to the external reality, and whose cognitive processes can be described as lucid (characterized by continuous integration of information at Level 5 or a higher level as defined herein). The TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS provides a sentient entity the right to procreate, clone, and form, the right to expand and extend life beyond unenhanced biological fundamental boundaries, and to live life without illness, aging, and catastrophic loss of self in pursuit of immortality. This TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS provides principles for intellectual and inclusive policies for all sentient entities in pursuit of life, liberty, eternal existence, and self-actualization.
The TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS is not static. As the collective of sentient entities continues to unravel the mysteries of the Universe and discover more facts, the TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS will change. We (sentient entities) must be malleable, inclusive, and understanding in thought and spirit at the same pace as society evolves as we push mankind forward. We must continue to aspire, gain knowledge, and improve life.
Version 1 of the Transhumanist Bill of Rights uses the enumeration of human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms in each Article to refer to the entities encompassed by that Article. It has been suggested, instead, that a more concise term might be used in the Preamble to encompass all of the above-enumerated entities and perhaps others.
Such phrasing would be of the following form:
As used in this TRANSHUMANIST BILL OF RIGHTS, the term [CHOSEN TERM] includes human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms.
Shall the Preamble be amended to include the above-quoted statement and, in all Articles, replace the enumeration of human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms withthe term selected as [CHOSEN TERM]?
Rank-order your preference for whether to use such a more concise all-encompassing term and, if so, what that term might be. Choose 1 for your most highly favored option, 2 for your second-most highly favored option, etc. If you choose Abstain, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.
Option II(a). Keep the enumeration of human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms in each article.
Option II(b). Use thought-capable individuals as the chosen term.
Option II(c). Use advanced sapient life forms as the chosen term and remove that term from the longer descriptive listing. If this option is chosen, advanced sapient life forms will be defined to mean human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other beings of comparable cognitive capability.
Option II(d). Use sentient entities as the chosen term.
Option II(e).Use sentient entities as the chosen term, with a hierarchical definition of sentience as described below:
Sentient entities are defined by information-processing capacity such that this term should not apply to non-self-aware lifeforms, like plants and slime molds. Biological processing substrates are referred to as using an analogue intelligence, whereas purely electronic processing substrates are referred to as digital intelligence (instead of sentient artificial intelligences), and processing substrates that utilize quantum effects would be considered quantum intelligence.
Sentience is ranked as Level 5 information integration according to the following criteria:
Option II(f).Use sentient entities as the chosen term, with a further clarification that sentient entities include all entities exhibiting Level 5 information integration, or lucidity meaning that any such entity is meta-aware aware of ones own awareness, aware of abstractions, aware of ones self, and therefore able to actively analyze each of these phenomena.
Shall the definition of beings to whom the Transhumanist Bill of Rights applies include a specific mention of Gods and Archangels? Select one of the following options?
Shall the definition of beings to whom the Transhumanist Bill of Rights applies include a specific mention of genetically modified humans? Select one of the following options.
Shall the definition of beings to whom the Transhumanist Bill of Rights applies include a specific mention of intellectually enhanced, previously non-sapient animals? Select one of the following options.
Shall the definition of beings to whom the Transhumanist Bill of Rights applies include a specific mention of any species of plant or animal which has been enhanced to possess the capacity for intelligent thought? Select one of the following options.
Rank-order the Article 1 Options that you support. Choose 1 for your most highly favored option, 2 for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for No Article of this sort in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)
If you choose Abstain, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.
Option 1-1 [Original Text by Zoltan Istvan]. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms are entitled to universal rights of ending involuntary suffering, making personhood improvements, and achieving an indefinite lifespan via science and technology.
Option 1-2. Any sentient entity is entitled to enhance bodily and sensory capabilities, expand life, live free, and achieve eternal existence without suffering by utilizing science and technology.
Option 1-3.All human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms have the right to pursue transcendence of physical and mental limitations.
Option 1-4. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms are entitled to universal rights of ending involuntary suffering, making personhood improvements, and achieving an indefinite lifespan via science and technology, as well as any other behaviors constituting life enhancement.
Option 1-NO. No Article of this sort.
Rank-order the Article 2 Options that you support. Choose 1 for your most highly favored option, 2 for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for No Article of this sort in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)
If you choose Abstain, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.
Option 2-1 [Original Text by Zoltan Istvan]. Under penalty of law, no cultural, ethnic, or religious perspectives influencing government policy can impede life-extension science, the health of the public, or the possible maximum amount of life hours citizens possess.
Option 2-2. Under penalty of law, no cultural, ethnic, or religious perspectives influencing government policy can impede life-extension science, the health of the public, body modification, morphological enhancement, or the possible maximum amount of life hours citizens possess.
Option 2-3. Legal safeguards should be established to protect individual free choice in pursuing peaceful, consensual life-extension science, health improvements, body modification, and morphological enhancement. While all individuals should be free to formulate their independent opinions regarding the aforementioned pursuits, no hostile cultural, ethnic, or religious perspectives should be entitled to apply the force of law to erode the safeguards protecting peaceful, voluntary measures intended to maximize the number of life hours citizens possess.
Option 2-4. Legal safeguards should be established to protect individual free choice in pursuing peaceful, consensual life-extension science, health improvements, body modification, and morphological enhancement. While all individuals should be free to formulate their independent opinions regarding the aforementioned pursuits, no intolerant cultural, ethnic, or religious perspectives should be entitled to apply the force of law to erode the safeguards protecting peaceful, voluntary measures intended to maximize the number of life hours citizens possess.
Option 2-5. No government or irrational group should be permitted to systematically deny any person or persons access to a life-enhancing technology or the freedom to pursue scientific and technological avenues for their betterment.
Option 2-6. No government or irrational group should be permitted to systematically deny any sapient beingaccess to a life-enhancing technology or the freedom to pursue scientific and technological avenues for their betterment or self-actualization.
Option 2-7. No government or private entity should be permitted to systematically deny any person or persons access to a life-enhancing technology or the freedom to pursue scientific and technological avenues for their betterment.
Option 2-8. Under penalty of law, no cultural, ethnic, or religious perspectives influencing government policy can impede efforts at transcending physical and mental limitations, improving the health of the public, or the possible maximum amount of life hours citizens possess.
Option 2-NO. No Article of this sort.
Rank-order the Article 3 Options that you support. Choose 1 for your most highly favored option, 2 for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option for No Article of this sort in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)
If you choose Abstain, then do not rank-order any options, as you will be considered to have skipped this question.
Option 3-1 [Original Text by Zoltan Istvan].Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms agree to uphold morphological freedomthe right to do with ones physical attributes or intelligence (dead, alive, conscious, or unconscious) whatever one wants so long as it doesnt hurt anyone else.
Option 3-2. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms agree to uphold morphological freedomthe right to do with ones physical attributes or intelligence (dead, alive, conscious, or unconscious) whatever one wants so long as it does not harm others.
Option 3-3. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms agree to uphold morphological freedomthe right to do with ones physical attributes or intelligence whatever one wants so long as it does not harm others.
Option 3-4. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms agree to uphold morphological freedomthe right to do with ones physical attributes or intelligence whatever one wants so long as it does not harm others. This right includes the prerogative for a sentient intelligence to set forth in advance provisions for how to handle its physical manifestation, should that intelligence enter into a vegetative, unconscious, or similarly inactive state, notwithstanding any legal definition of death.
Option 3-5. Human beings, sentient artificial intelligences, cyborgs, and other advanced sapient life forms agree to uphold morphological freedomthe right to do with ones physical attributes or intelligence whatever one wants so long as it does not harm others. This right includes the prerogative for a sentient intelligence to set forth in advance provisions for how to handle its physical manifestation, should that intelligence enter into a vegetative, unconscious, or similarly inactive state, notwithstanding any legal definition of death. For instance, a cryonics patient has the right to determine in advance that the patients body shall be cryopreserved and kept under specified conditions, in spite of any legal definition of death that might apply to that patient under cryopreservation.
Option 3-NO. No Article of this sort.
If Article 3 on morphological freedom is adopted, shall one of the followingsentences be appended after the base text of the article?
Choose 1 for your most highly favored option, 2 for your second-most highly favored option, etc. You may include the option Do not add anysentence of this sort in your rank-ordering, and it does not need to be your most favored option if you do so. (For instance, some voters might favor some options but think that no language is preferable to some of the other options.)
Posted: December 11, 2016 at 7:54 am
Liberty, in philosophy, involves free will as contrasted with determinism. In politics, liberty consists of the social and political freedoms to which all community members are entitled. In theology, liberty is freedom from the effects of “sin, spiritual servitude, [or] worldly ties.”
Generally, liberty is distinctly differentiated from freedom in that freedom is primarily, if not exclusively, the ability to do as one wills and what one has the power to do; whereas liberty concerns the absence of arbitrary restraints and takes into account the rights of all involved. As such, the exercise of liberty is subject to capability and limited by the rights of others.
Philosophers from earliest times have considered the question of liberty. Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121180 AD) wrote of “a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed.” According to Thomas Hobbes (15881679), “a free man is he that in those things which by his strength and wit he is able to do is not hindered to do what he hath the will to do” (Leviathan, Part 2, Ch. XXI).
John Locke (16321704) rejected that definition of liberty. While not specifically mentioning Hobbes, he attacks Sir Robert Filmer who had the same definition. According to Locke:
John Stuart Mill (18061873), in his work, On Liberty, was the first to recognize the difference between liberty as the freedom to act and liberty as the absence of coercion. In his book Two Concepts of Liberty, Isaiah Berlin formally framed the differences between these two perspectives as the distinction between two opposite concepts of liberty: positive liberty and negative liberty. The latter designates a negative condition in which an individual is protected from tyranny and the arbitrary exercise of authority, while the former refers to the liberty that comes from self-mastery, the freedom from inner compulsions such as weakness and fear.
The modern concept of political liberty has its origins in the Greek concepts of freedom and slavery. To be free, to the Greeks, was to not have a master, to be independent from a master (to live like one likes). That was the original Greek concept of freedom. It is closely linked with the concept of democracy, as Aristotle put it:
“This, then, is one note of liberty which all democrats affirm to be the principle of their state. Another is that a man should live as he likes. This, they say, is the privilege of a freeman, since, on the other hand, not to live as a man likes is the mark of a slave. This is the second characteristic of democracy, whence has arisen the claim of men to be ruled by none, if possible, or, if this is impossible, to rule and be ruled in turns; and so it contributes to the freedom based upon equality.”
This applied only to free men. In Athens, for instance, women could not vote or hold office and were legally and socially dependent on a male relative.
The populations of the Persian Empire enjoyed some degree of freedom. Citizens of all religions and ethnic groups were given the same rights and had the same freedom of religion, women had the same rights as men, and slavery was abolished (550 BC). All the palaces of the kings of Persia were built by paid workers in an era when slaves typically did such work.
In the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India, citizens of all religions and ethnic groups had some rights to freedom, tolerance, and equality. The need for tolerance on an egalitarian basis can be found in the Edicts of Ashoka the Great, which emphasize the importance of tolerance in public policy by the government. The slaughter or capture of prisoners of war also appears to have been condemned by Ashoka. Slavery also appears to have been non-existent in the Maurya Empire. However, according to Hermann Kulke and Dietmar Rothermund, “Ashoka’s orders seem to have been resisted right from the beginning.”
Roman law also embraced certain limited forms of liberty, even under the rule of the Roman Emperors. However, these liberties were accorded only to Roman citizens. Many of the liberties enjoyed under Roman law endured through the Middle Ages, but were enjoyed solely by the nobility, rarely by the common man. The idea of inalienable and universal liberties had to wait until the Age of Enlightenment.
The social contract theory, most influentially formulated by Hobbes, John Locke and Rousseau (though first suggested by Plato in The Republic), was among the first to provide a political classification of rights, in particular through the notion of sovereignty and of natural rights. The thinkers of the Enlightenment reasoned that law governed both heavenly and human affairs, and that law gave the king his power, rather than the king’s power giving force to law. This conception of law would find its culmination in the ideas of Montesquieu. The conception of law as a relationship between individuals, rather than families, came to the fore, and with it the increasing focus on individual liberty as a fundamental reality, given by “Nature and Nature’s God,” which, in the ideal state, would be as universal as possible.
In On Liberty, John Stuart Mill sought to define the “…nature and limits of the power which can be legitimately exercised by society over the individual,” and as such, he describes an inherent and continuous antagonism between liberty and authority and thus, the prevailing question becomes “how to make the fitting adjustment between individual independence and social control”.
England and following the Act of Union 1707 Great Britain, laid down the cornerstones to the concept of individual liberty.
In 1166 Henry II of England transformed English law by passing the Assize of Clarendon act. The act, a forerunner to trial by jury, started the abolition of trial by combat and trial by ordeal.
In 1215 the Magna Carta was drawn up, it became the cornerstone of liberty in first England, Great Britain and later, the world.
In 1689 the Bill of Rights grants ‘freedom of speech in Parliament’, which lays out some of the earliest civil rights.
In 1859 an essay by the philosopher John Stuart Mill, entitled On Liberty argues for toleration and individuality. If any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.
In 1958 Two Concepts of Liberty, by Isaiah Berlin, determines ‘negative liberty’ as an obstacle, as evident from ‘positive liberty’ which promotes self-mastery and the concepts of freedom.
In 1948 British representatives attempt to and are prevented from adding a legal framework to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (It was not until 1976 that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights came into force, giving a legal status to most of the Declaration.) 
The United States of America was one of the first nations to be founded on principles of freedom and equality, with no king and no hereditary nobility. According to the 1776 United States Declaration of Independence, all men have a natural right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. But this declaration of liberty was troubled from the outset by the presence of slavery. Slave owners argued that their liberty was paramount, since it involved property, their slaves, and that the slaves themselves had no rights that any White man was obliged to recognize. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott decision, upheld this principle. It was not until 1866, following the Civil War, that the US constitution was amended to extend these rights to persons of color, and not until 1920 that these rights were extended to women.
By the later half of the 20th century, liberty was expanded further to prohibit government interference with personal choices. In the United States Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, Justice William O. Douglas argued that liberties relating to personal relationships, such as marriage, have a unique primacy of place in the hierarchy of freedoms. Jacob M. Appel has summarized this principle:
I am grateful that I have rights in the proverbial public square but, as a practical matter, my most cherished rights are those that I possess in my bedroom and hospital room and death chamber. Most people are far more concerned that they can control their own bodies than they are about petitioning Congress.
In modern America, various competing ideologies have divergent views about how best to promote liberty. Liberals in the original sense of the word see equality as a necessary component of freedom. Progressives stress freedom from business monopoly as essential. Libertarians disagree, and see economic freedom as best. The Tea Party movement sees big government as the enemy of freedom.
France supported the Americans in their revolt against English rule and, in 1789, overthrew their own monarchy, with the cry of “Libert, galit, fraternit”. The bloodbath that followed, known as the reign of terror, soured many people on the idea of liberty. Edmund Burke, considered one of the fathers of conservatism, wrote “The French had shewn themselves the ablest architects of ruin that had hitherto existed in the world.”
According to the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, liberalism is “the belief that it is the aim of politics to preserve individual rights and to maximize freedom of choice”. But they point out that there is considerable discussion about how to achieve those goals. Every discussion of freedom depends of three key components: who is free, what are they free to do, and what forces restrict their freedom. John Gray argues that the core belief of liberalism is toleration. Liberals allow others freedom to do what they want, in exchange for having the same freedom in return. This idea of freedom is personal rather than political. William Safire points out that liberalism is attacked by both the Right and the Left: by the Right for defending such practices as abortion, homosexuality, and atheism, by the Left for defending free enterprise and the rights of the individual over the collective.
According to the Encyclopdia Britannica, Libertarians hold liberty as their primary political value. Libertarian philosophers hold that there is no tenable distinction between personal and economic liberty that they are, indeed, one and the same, to be protected (or opposed) together. In the context of U.S. constitutional law, for example, they point out that the constitution twice lists “life, liberty, and property” without making any distinctions within that phrase. Their approach to implementing liberty involves opposing any governmental coercion, aside from that which is necessary to prevent individuals from coercing each other. This is known as the non-aggression principle.
According to republican theorists of freedom, like the historian Quentin Skinner or the philosopher Philip Pettit, one’s liberty should not be viewed as the absence of interference in one’s actions, but as non-domination. According to this view, which originates in the Roman Digest, to be a liber homo, a free man, means not being subject to another’s arbitrary will, that is to say, dominated by another. They also cite Machiavelli who asserted that you must be a member of a free self-governing civil association, a republic, if you are to enjoy individual liberty.
The predominance of this view of liberty among parliamentarians during the English Civil War resulted in the creation of the liberal concept of freedom as non-interference in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.
Socialists view freedom as a concrete situation as opposed to a purely abstract ideal. Freedom involves agency to pursue one’s creative interests unhindered by coercive social relationships that one is forced to engage in in order to survive under a given social system. From this perspective, freedom requires both the material economic conditions that make freedom possible alongside the social relationships and institutions conducive to freedom. As such, the socialist concept of freedom is held in contrast to the liberal concept of freedom.
The socialist conception of freedom is closely related to the socialist view of creativity and individuality. Influenced by Karl Marx’s concept of alienated labor, socialists understand freedom to be the ability for an individual to engage in creative work in the absence of alienation, where alienated labor refers to work people are forced to perform and un-alienated work refers to individuals pursuing their own creative interests.
For Karl Marx, meaningful freedom is only attainable in a communist society characterized by superabundance and free access, would eliminate the need for alienated labor and enable individuals to pursue their own creative interests, leaving them to develop their full potentialities. This goes alongside Marx’s emphasis on the reduction of the average length of the workday to expand the “realm of freedom” for each person. Marx’s notion of communist society and human freedom is thus radically individualistic.
“This also is remarkable in India, that all Indians are free, and no Indian at all is a slave. In this the Indians agree with the Lacedaemonians. Yet the Lacedaemonians have Helots for slaves, who perform the duties of slaves; but the Indians have no slaves at all, much less is any Indian a slave.”
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Posted: December 10, 2016 at 1:52 pm
The Founder of Scientology, L.Ron Hubbard, was part of the generation whose crucibles were World War II and the advent of nuclear weapons that could vaporize civilization. The stakes were so high, victory was either a win or a lossthere were no draws or rematches. Another great man of that era, Englands Winston Churchill, commented that without victory, there is no survival.
Mr. Hubbard imbued Scientology with one paramount imperative: survival. But to survive, humanity had to flourish, had to be free. The one impulse in Man which cannot be erased is his impulse toward freedom, Mr.Hubbard wrote in 1954, his impulse toward sanity, toward higher levels of attainment in all of hisendeavors.
The Church of Scientology has traveled that path for more than six decades, growing and strengthening. At every step in its first several decades, the religion was assaulted by totalitarian and manipulative interestsin governments, organized psychiatry, pharmaceutical conglomerates, the small minds of the religiously intolerant. The Church won, won and won againand, by the way, won some more.
At the helm of Scientology for the last 30 years, David Miscavige has had a single, driving purpose: to spread the survival tools of Scientology to every corner of the globe and, thereby, halt the lurching downward spiral of civilization. The vast majority of the job is building the young religion, for today and for all tomorrows to come.
Thats called expansion. It takes hard work to establish a global Church. The spiritual path of Scientology becomes available to more people, who see that it works. That Church grows, carries out humanitarian programs that push back against the darkness of social decay, crime and mental and spiritual slavery. The Church opens groups and missions, which grow into Churches of their own, and the cycle accelerates.
Aiding all that is the dazzling momentum of the religions publishing, filmmaking, broadcasting and online dissemination endeavors. The greatest advance in that arena came in 2016, with the opening of a renowned and vintage Hollywood studio that is now Scientology Media Productions.
All of these episodes of growth are recounted in this special year-in-review issue of Freedom, the voice of the Church. The real beneficiaries of the progress and the triumphs in these pages are youevery man, woman and child on the planetbecause our goal is freedom and survival for all.
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Posted: December 2, 2016 at 12:20 pm
Washington Post Peddles Tarring of Ron Paul Institute as Russian Propaganda, via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,
The Washington Post has a history of misrepresenting Ron Pauls views. Last year the supposed newspaper of record ran a feature article by David A. Fahrenthold in which Fahrenthold grossly mischaracterized Paul as an advocate for calamity, oppression, and poverty the opposite of the goals Paul routinely expresses and, indeed, expressed clearly in a speech at the event upon which Fahrentholds article purported to report. Such fraudulent attacks on the prominent advocate for liberty and a noninterventionist foreign policy fall in line with the newspapers agenda. As Future of Freedom Foundation President Jacob G. Hornberger put it in a February editorial, the Posts agenda is guided by the interventionist mindset that undergirds the mainstream media.
On Thursday, the Post published a new article by Craig Timberg complaining of a flood of so-called fake news supported by a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, To advance this conclusion, Timberg points to PropOrNot, an organization of anonymous individuals formed this year, as having identified more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season. Look on the PropOrNot list. There is the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperitys (RPI) website RonPaulInstitute.org listed among websites termed Russian propaganda outlets.
What you will not find on the PropOrNot website is any particularized analysis of why the RPI website, or any website for that matter, is included on the list. Instead, you will see only sweeping generalizations from an anonymous organization. The very popular website drudgereport.com even makes the list. While listed websites span the gamut of political ideas, they tend to share in common an independence from the mainstream media.
Timbergs article can be seen as yet another big media attempt to shift the blame for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clintons loss of the presidential election away from Clinton, her campaign, and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) that undermined Sen Bernie Sanders (I-VT) challenge to Clinton in the Democratic primary.
The article may also be seen as another step in the effort to deter people from looking to alternative sources of information by labeling those information sources as traitorous or near-traitorous.
At the same time, the article may be seen as playing a role in the ongoing push to increase tensions between the United States and Russia a result that benefits people, including those involved in the military-industrial complex, who profit from the growth of US national security activity in America and overseas.
This is not the first time Ron Paul and his institute has been attacked for sounding pro-Russian or anti-American. Such attacks have been advanced even by self-proclaimed libertarians.
Expect that such attacks will continue. They are an effort to tar Paul and his institute so people will close themselves off from information Paul and RPI provide each day in furtherance of the institutes mission to continue and expand Pauls lifetime of public advocacy for a peaceful foreign policy and the protection of civil liberties at home. While peace and liberty will benefit most people, powerful interests seek to prevent the realization of these objectives. Indeed, expect attacks against RPI to escalate as the institute continues to reach growing numbers of people with its educational effort
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Ron Paul Lashes Out At WaPo’s Witch Hunt: "Expect Such …
Posted: November 29, 2016 at 1:20 am
No writer ever really wants to talk about censorship. Writers want to talk about creation, and censorship is anti-creation, negative energy, uncreation, the bringing into being of non-being, or, to use Tom Stoppards description of death, the absence of presence. Censorship is the thing that stops you doing what you want to do, and what writers want to talk about is what they do, not what stops them doing it. And writers want to talk about how much they get paid, and they want to gossip about other writers and how much they get paid, and they want to complain about critics and publishers, and gripe about politicians, and they want to talk about what they love, the writers they love, the stories and even sentences that have meant something to them, and, finally, they want to talk about their own ideas and their own stories. Their things. The British humorist Paul Jennings, in his brilliant essay on Resistentialism, a spoof of Existentialism, proposed that the world was divided into two categories, Thing and No-Thing, and suggested that between these two is waged a never-ending war. If writing is Thing, then censorship is No-Thing, and, as King Lear told Cordelia, Nothing will came of nothing, or, as Mr. Jennings would have revised Shakespeare, No-Thing will come of No-Thing. Think again.
Consider, if you will, the air. Here it is, all around us, plentiful, freely available, and broadly breathable. And yes, I know, its not perfectly clean or perfectly pure, but here it nevertheless is, plenty of it, enough for all of us and lots to spare. When breathable air is available so freely and in such quantity, it would be redundant to demand that breathable air be freely provided to all, in sufficient quantity for the needs of all. What you have, you can easily take for granted, and ignore. Theres just no need to make a fuss about it. You breathe the freely available, broadly breathable air, and you get on with your day. The air is not a subject. It is not something that most of us want to discuss.
Imagine, now, that somewhere up there you might find a giant set of faucets, and that the air we breathe flows from those faucets, hot air and cold air and tepid air from some celestial mixer-unit. And imagine that an entity up there, not known to us, or perhaps even known to us, begins on a certain day to turn off the faucets one by one, so that slowly we begin to notice that the available air, still breathable, still free, is thinning. The time comes when we find that we are breathing more heavily, perhaps even gasping for air. By this time, many of us would have begun to protest, to condemn the reduction in the air supply, and to argue loudly for the right to freely available, broadly breathable air. Scarcity, you could say, creates demand.
Liberty is the air we breathe, and we live in a part of the world where, imperfect as the supply is, it is, nevertheless, freely available, at least to those of us who arent black youngsters wearing hoodies in Miami, and broadly breathable, unless, of course, were women in red states trying to make free choices about our own bodies. Imperfectly free, imperfectly breathable, but when it is breathable and free we dont need to make a song and dance about it. We take it for granted and get on with our day. And at night, as we fall asleep, we assume we will be free tomorrow, because we were free today.
The creative act requires not only freedom but also this assumption of freedom. If the creative artist worries if he will still be free tomorrow, then he will not be free today. If he is afraid of the consequences of his choice of subject or of his manner of treatment of it, then his choices will not be determined by his talent, but by fear. If we are not confident of our freedom, then we are not free.
And, even worse than that, when censorship intrudes on art, it becomes the subject; the art becomes censored art, and that is how the world sees and understands it. The censor labels the work immoral, or blasphemous, or pornographic, or controversial, and those words are forever hung like albatrosses around the necks of those cursed mariners, the censored works. The attack on the work does more than define the work; in a sense, for the general public, it becomes the work. For every reader of Lady Chatterleys Lover or Tropic of Capricorn, every viewer of Last Tango in Paris or A Clockwork Orange, there will be ten, a hundred, a thousand people who know those works as excessively filthy, or excessively violent, or both.
The assumption of guilt replaces the assumption of innocence. Why did that Indian Muslim artist have to paint that Hindu goddess in the nude? Couldnt he have respected her modesty? Why did that Russian writer have his hero fall in love with a nymphet? Couldnt he have chosen a legally acceptable age? Why did that British playwright depict a sexual assault in a Sikh temple, a gurdwara? Couldnt the same assault have been removed from holy ground? Why are artists so troublesome? Cant they just offer us beauty, morality, and a damn good story? Why do artists think, if they behave in this way, that we should be on their side? And the people all said sit down, sit down youre rocking the boat / And the devil will drag you under, with a soul so heavy youll never float / Sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down / Youre rocking the boat.
At its most effective, the censors lie actually succeeds in replacing the artists truth. That which is censored is thought to have deserved censorship. Boat-rocking is deplored.
Nor is this only so in the world of art. The Ministry of Truth in present-day China has successfully persuaded a very large part of the Chinese public that the heroes of Tiananmen Square were actually villains bent on the destruction of the nation. This is the final victory of the censor: When people, even people who know they are routinely lied to, cease to be able to imagine what is really the case.
Sometimes great, banned works defy the censors description and impose themselves on the worldUlysses, Lolita, the Arabian Nights. Sometimes great and brave artists defy the censors to create marvellous literature underground, as in the case of the samizdat literature of the Soviet Union, or to make subtle films that dodge the edge of the censors knife, as in the case of much contemporary Iranian and some Chinese cinema. You will even find people who will give you the argument that censorship is good for artists because it challenges their imagination. This is like arguing that if you cut a mans arms off you can praise him for learning to write with a pen held between his teeth. Censorship is not good for art, and it is even worse for artists themselves. The work of Ai Weiwei survives; the artist himself has an increasingly difficult life. The poet Ovid was banished to the Black Sea by a displeased Augustus Caesar, and spent the rest of his life in a little hellhole called Tomis, but the poetry of Ovid has outlived the Roman Empire. The poet Mandelstam died in one of Stalins labor camps, but the poetry of Mandelstam has outlived the Soviet Union. The poet Lorca was murdered in Spain, by Generalissimo Francos goons, but the poetry of Lorca has outlived the fascistic Falange. So perhaps we can argue that art is stronger than the censor, and perhaps it often is. Artists, however, are vulnerable.
In England last week, English PEN protested that the London Book Fair had invited only a bunch of official, State-approved writers from China while the voices of at least thirty-five writers jailed by the regime, including Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and the political dissident and poet Zhu Yufu, remained silent and ignored. In the United States, every year, religious zealots try to ban writers as disparate as Kurt Vonnegut and J. K. Rowling, an obvious advocate of sorcery and the black arts; to say nothing of poor, God-bothered Charles Darwin, against whom the advocates of intelligent design continue to march. I once wrote, and it still feels true, that the attacks on the theory of evolution in parts of the United States themselves go some way to disproving the theory, demonstrating that natural selection doesnt always work, or at least not in the Kansas area, and that human beings are capable of evolving backward, too, towards the Missing Link.
Even more serious is the growing acceptance of the dont-rock-the-boat response to those artists who do rock it, the growing agreement that censorship can be justified when certain interest groups, or genders, or faiths declare themselves affronted by a piece of work. Great art, or, lets just say, more modestly, original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, its a revolution.
This piece is drawn from the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture given by Rushdie, on May 6th, as part of the PEN World Voices Festival.
Illustration by Matthew Hollister.
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On Censorship – The New Yorker
Posted: November 23, 2016 at 9:58 pm
Carnival Freedom offers some of the latest and greatest features across our fleet. As you explore the ship, youll find food options galore. Feast your eyes on dining rooms Posh and Chic, and look to Freedom Restaurant on Lido Deck for mouth-watering Guy Fieri burgers at Guys Burger Joint, plus the greatest tacos and burritos this side of the pier at BlueIguana Cantina.
For every great food spot, there’s a great place to enjoy drinks, too, from the toe-tapping Scotts Piano Bar to the always-hoppin 70s Dance Club. New libation hotspots include Alchemy Bar (cocktail magic central) and SKYBOX Sports Bar (the 50-yard-line of fun). An outdoor, seaside bar is practically a cruise ship requirement, and everyones favorite is here whether its the RedFrog Rum Bar or BlueIguana Tequila Bar. (Or hey, both!) The rum bar’s older brother, RedFrog Pub, features drinks, live music and traditional pub games. Topping off adult-time is the one-and-(adult)-only Serenity Retreat, where total relaxation is not only encouraged, but pretty much required.
If youre a kid, Carnival Freedom means youre in for a treat. Not only will you find new friends at one of three youth spaces like the all-new Camp Ocean but you can splash around with them in one of our many pools, speed down the Twister Waterslide, or once you dry off, challenge them to a round of mini-golf. Oh, and adults dont get jealous; your inner kid gets to do all this stuff too!
Up on stage is Playlist Productions, featuring songs you know and dance moves youll soon be using. And for a chance to get up on stage yourself, theres Hasbro, The Game Show, where kids of all ages even you, grandma compete in larger-than-life Hasbro games come to life!
And for the cherry on top its actually called Cherry On Top. Its the spot for something special, whether that somethings a little something sweet or simply a little something to sweeten a special occasion.
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