Free speech, Saudi-style

January 13, 2011

In the totalitarian religious tyranny Islamic state of Saudi Arabia, bloggers are free to write about whatever they wish — as long as it’s off the Kingdom-approved list of topics and you get a license, first:

Saudi Arabia has enacted stringent new regulations forcing some bloggers to obtain government licenses and to strongarm others into registering. In addition, all Saudi news blogs and electronic news sites will now be strictly licensed, required to “include the call to the religion of Islam” and to strictly abide by Islamic sharia law. The registration and religion requirements are also being coupled with strict restrictions on what topics Saudi bloggers can write on–a development which will essentially give Saudi authorities the right to shut down blogs at their discretion.

The new regulations went into effect on January 1, 2011. Fast Company previously reported on the law’s announcement this past autumn, but the actual reforms enacted were far more punitive than we were earlier led to believe. The exact specifics of the new regulations were not previously announced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

What the new regulations center around is a legal redefinition of almost all online content created in Saudi Arabia. Blogs are now legally classified as “electronic publishing” and news blogs (the term is not explicitly defined in the Saudi law) are now subject to the same legal regulations as newspapers. All Saudi Arabia-based news blogs, internet news sites, “internet sites containing video and audio materials” and Saudi Area-created mobile phone/smartphone content will fall under the newspaper rubric as well.

Under the regulations, any operators of news blogs, mobile phone content creators or operators of news sites in Saudi Arabia have to be Saudi citizens, at least 20 years old and possess a high school degree.

At least 31% of Saudi Arabia residents do not possess citizenship; these range from South Asian migrants living in poor conditions to well-off Western oil workers. All of them will find their internet rights sharply curtailed as a result of the new regulations.

I wonder if this would make the approved list for a Saudi-licensed blogger?

Nah. Might corrupt a person’s mind, and then what? Genuine respect for individual liberty?

Perish the thought.

via Jihad Watch

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Neat newsreel footage: Japan’s surrender aboard the Missouri

January 13, 2011

Just thought I’d pass along some fascinating newsreel footage of  the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay on September 2nd, 1945, including MacArthur’s address to the assembled dignitaries:

Note the Soviet representative: Stalin only entered the war with Japan after it was nearly over, on August 9th. Yes, their rapid crushing of the Japanese Kwantung Army was a factor in the final surrender (and perhaps prevented the Japanese from fleeing to the mainland to continue resistance), but the main reason was to have a seat at the peace table and a claim to any territorial  adjustments or spheres of influence. North Korea was one result of this, a “gift” from Uncle Joe that the world has to suffer with to the present day.

Still, I love looking through these windows to the past.

Of speeches and tweets: thoughts on yesterday

January 13, 2011

Yesterday saw the memorial service for the victims of Saturday’s mass-murder in Tucson. I didn’t watch, for reasons I gave elsewhere, but I did follow the commentary on Twitter while working on other things and that prompted some reflections, which I now inflict on you. (Hey! Where are you going?)

First, from almost all I could see, Obama did a good job last night in his speech: he said the right things, set the right tone (apparently in spite of his audience), and did what we’ve expected of our Chief of State to do at least since Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg — to speak for the nation in memorializing and honoring the dead. Regardless of his sincerity or cynicism (I saw speculations on both last night), he played his role well and deserves credit for that.

The other big speech was Sarah Palin’s. I wrote about it yesterday and stand by what I said: it was also a good address  from a potential president. That evening on Twitter I had an exchange with an acquaintance, a strong conservative and political junkie, who also liked her speech, but thought Obama had, as he put it, “lapped her,” that his performance had diminished hers, making her speech sound “off” in retrospect. He thought that having her speech on the same day as his had worked to her disadvantage.

Perhaps; it will certainly figure in the 2012 calculus, at least for a while. In the end, though, I think that matters less than that Sarah Palin, like Barack Obama, did what she had to do and did it well. Since Saturday afternoon, she had been slagged mercilessly by a left-liberal press and online punditry that was determined to lay blame for the Tucson massacre on her and her “inflamed rhetoric,” in spite of all evidence and logic to the contrary. She responded with plain-spoken eloquence: criticizing those who insulted her and conservatives in general, defending vigorous and free political speech, and sympathizing with the victims.  Like Obama, she deserves credit.

Then there was the running Greek Chorus on Twitter, in which I noticed two strong trends.

First, when Obama actually does something right, there are some conservatives and libertarians who almost fall all over themselves to show how big-minded and generous they can be. Acknowledging a good speech is sufficient; drooling on one’s own shoes with something like “Thank you SIR!!” makes my eyes roll. It’s just a speech, people; I’ll freely grant he did a good job, but let’s wait to see what does in the days and months to come to live up to those words before we proclaim a new Era of Good Feelings.

Perhaps I’m just too crusty and cynical.

On the other hand, some people were absolutely out of line with snarky criticism of the event. The standout among those I saw was radio host Tammy Bruce. I usually like her opinions quite a bit, but her running commentary was just embarrassing and churlish. While I might agree with her (and to some degree, I do), this was not the time to hurl snark. It wasn’t just inappropriate, she beclowned herself. In fact, it was downright rude and classless, and she owes her audience some contrition. It was no better than the people in the audience who were treating the memorial like a pep rally.

Is it too much to ask people to act like adults?

when Obama does something right, there are some conservatives and libertarians who almost fall all over themselves to show how big-minded and generous they can be. Acknowledging a good speech is sufficient; drooling on one’s own shoes with something like “Thank you SIR!!” made my eyes roll. It’s just a speech, which I’ll grant is important to his role as Chief of State; but let’s wait to see what does before we lie down with the lambs.

Andrew Klavan presents Western Civilization in 2.5 minutes

January 13, 2011

Some needed chuckles after the last few days. Andrew Klavan returns with his latest installment of Klavan on the Culture to provide a quick survey of Western Civilization from the earliest times to the present:

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)