Sunday, March 9, 2008

Odd Allies: Opposition to Waterboarding, and Web Censorship

'Politics makes strange bedfellows,' so does passion. Combine the two, and things get very weird, very fast.

Many people involved in the fracas about waterboarding show a great deal of passion. Some are relatively calm: like evangelical groups, including Evangelicals for Human Rights; and the unrelated Atheist News and Views.

Others are anything but calm. Some of the blogs I listed in "Waterboarding: the Moralizing Has Begun" (March 9, 2008) are examples of emotionally overwrought writing.

Fear, Censorship, and Consequences

Reactions to waterboarding remind me of the days when the Web was young. Some conservative Christians were appalled by the rampant pornography. Some compassionate liberals were cut to the quick by "hate speech" which ran uncontrolled across cyberspace.

Fair enough. I don't approve of pornography or hateful screeds either.

But when some socially conservative Christian organizations joined forces with liberal political action groups, I got concerned. They both wanted the government to do something about about people putting bad things on the Web. One of the odd couples was the Christian Coalition and the Feminist Majority.1

We didn't (quite) get a federal agency in charge of deciding who could put information on the Internet, and who could view it, thank God. But it could have happened. A great many people were very upset.

So upset that, in my opinion, they weren't thinking about the consequences of what they wanted.

I'm afraid that the same thing is happening now.

In their zeal to impress their constituents and win votes, members of Congress have proposed legislation which would protect terrorists against American intelligence agencies.

If the waterboarding debate takes the same general direction as the Web censorship issue did, we're in for interesting times. It won't be long before strange combinations of conservative and liberal, religious and irreligious, interest groups will join forces in an effort to hobble the people who are trying to save their lives and liberties.

Previous Posts about Waterboarding in this Blog

"Waterboarding: the Moralizing Has Begun"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 9, 2008)
"Waterboarding: Harsh, Yes - But is it Torture?"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 8, 2008)
"Waterboarding: What is it? Why Do it?"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 8, 2008)
"Waterboarding Ban Set for Veto Tomorrow: Let the Moralizing Begin"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 7, 2008)

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.

1 "Commentary / Net Neutrality: Telecom Policy and the Public Interest" Neil Barratt, Leslie Regan Shade, Concordia University. Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol 32 (2007) 295-305. Available through Canadian Research Alliance For Community Innovation And Networking.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.