Money Trumps Morals

It sounds like the beginning of a really bad joke. “Jamal Khashoggi walks into the Saudi Arabian Consulate…” But the punch line isn’t very funny. He never walks out again.

The Saudis tried to claim that he did leave, but there is no evidence of this happening on any of the cameras in the area. And Khashoggi’s fiancé was waiting outside for him. It’s not like he’d wander off and leave her. Not willingly. I mean, come on.

Khashoggi entered the consulate in Istanbul simply to get the proper paperwork to marry his Turkish bride to be. But he had also been in self-imposed exile in America, because he was a reporter that had been critical of the Saudi government. He had been working for the Washington Post.

Apparently that same day he went to the consulate, 15 Saudi operatives flew into town and wound up there. Their cohort included one autopsy expert, who was, according to NPR, complete with (shudder) a bone saw. Then these 15 men flew away again, with several new suitcases in tow. Khashoggi has not been seen or heard from since. I hope that in this case one plus one doesn’t equal two, but I have my suspicions.

In light of all this, Trump says we’ll be looking into it, but that he thinks stopping arms sales to Saudi Arabia is a bad idea, because it would hurt a lot of American jobs. Maybe we can do some other type of sanctions. We’ll see. But not arms.

What does it take, exactly, for morals to trump money? I mean, it was Saudi citizens who where the main players in 9/11, and yet they remained our allies. Now they can play a very sketchy role in the disappearance of a reporter who currently works for an American newspaper, but hey, let’s not stop selling them arms. Oh, no. We can’t do that. Perhaps a slap on the wrist is what’s needed.

Jamal Khashoggi
Jamal Khashoggi

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Little Brother is Watching You

While social media may be sucking the life force out of us in many ways, it also has its advantages. I am convinced the holocaust could never have happened in 2016. Those of us who legitimately didn’t know what was going on back then would know now, and those of us who were pretending not to know would have no excuse. And holocaust deniers would look even more idiotic than they already look, if that’s possible.

Everyone who has a cell phone or any internet device is now a potential reporter. That’s why the bad cops among the good ones are getting so much attention. Like cockroaches, they don’t do well in the light.

The Arab Spring would not have spread to so many countries a half century ago. There was no easy way to pass the word. There was no way to let others know that you felt the same way about things as they did.

Before police jurisdictions could share information about unsolved cases, it was easier to be a serial criminal. And while the rich and powerful still seem to be able to do their dirty deeds with impunity, the power of public opinion gets stronger with time. Little Brother is watching you.

The thing that countries that like to censor their citizens don’t seem to realize is that sharing information is always a good idea. Unless, of course, your motives aren’t pure. But censorship is a lot harder when the number of avenues of communication are increasing by the day.

I genuinely believe that the reason we as a society seem more cynical and dissatisfied and put upon than ever isn’t that things have gotten worse. It’s that it’s more obvious now. Even if it has been forever thus, one of the things we’re more readily able to share these days is that we’re pissed off.

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Freedom of Speech 101

Could we puh-leeze get past the Duck Dynasty guy? I’m so sick of people holding him up as the poster child for freedom of speech martyrdom when nothing could be further from the truth.

Let’s get back to basics. What is freedom of speech?

The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction.

The government had absolutely nothing to do with what happened to Phil Robertson. It was him spouting his mouth off in a public forum, (most likely in direct violation of the ethics clause in his contract, by the way) causing his employers to want to distance themselves from him as they did not want to be associated with Phil’s lunatic fringe views. A&E does not want to be viewed as racist and homophobic. They just want to produce low budget, tasteless reality television in peace.

If Phil Robertson wants to get a paycheck from a broadcast company and still express his opinions, all he has to do is find one that is in line with those opinions. Maybe he should move the show over to Fox. Simple.

And what does the first amendment say, by the way?

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.

No one is restricting Phil’s freedom of speech. In fact, it’s because we have freedom of speech that the press was able to pass on his tasteless commentary. Congress made no law to fire his redneck butt. He can stand on a soap box in any public park in this country and say whatever he pleases. And that’s wonderful. What he can’t do is be an embarrassment to his employer without consequences. If he could, if that was the law, then here’s some of what we’d see every day:

  • Cashiers would tell us to go f*** ourselves when we ask for paper instead of plastic.
  • Telemarketers would tell us that they really think that what they’re selling is crap made in some evil communist country and they wouldn’t buy it themselves.
  • Nurses could say things like, “If you weren’t such a fat pig, maybe you wouldn’t have so many health issues. Gluttony is a sin.”
  • A tow truck driver could say, “If it weren’t for the fact that you’re a stupid woman driver, you wouldn’t be in this mess. I should leave you on the side of the road.”
  • Cab drivers could say, “Oh no. Get your white Republican a** out of my car. I don’t want to hear you moan about how your Bruno Magli shoes are pinching your feet when I’m struggling to provide milk and a roach-free roof to keep the rain off my children’s heads. I don’t serve your kind.”
  • Firemen could say to reporters, “Yeah, another loser who fell asleep while holding a lit cigarette in one hand and a beer in the other. Maybe the planet is better off without him. Next time we should just break out the marshmallows and let ‘em burn.”
  • Waiters could say, “Stop bothering me or I’m going to spit in your tortellini. And by the way, you’re going to hell, because I don’t agree with your lifestyle.”
  • Movie theater staff could shout fire during the matinee and laugh during the subsequent stampede.
  • Foster parents could say, “Yeah, I’m only in this for the money and the free under-aged sex.”

If all these people who are “Standing with Phil” are sincere in their beliefs, then they would not fire any of the people above. But believe me, if they were the employers in question, they would. The only reason they hold Phil Robertson separate is they like watching him on TV, or perhaps, heaven forbid, they agree with his views and delight that they’ve gotten a good bit of attention.

So, yes, Phil, you have every right to shoot whatever you want out of your pie hole. I highly recommend you get a blog, because trust me, you’ll be able to say whatever you please, just like I do.

But if the soap box on which you stand exists solely because you have a television show, and what you say impacts the reputation of the very company that made that soap box possible, then stand up and take the consequences like a man, and stop acting like a millionaire martyr.

But here’s a cookie for you: I’ll help you spread some of your speech freely in this forum. I’ll let it stand on its own merits:


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