Tag Archives: government

Children are the enemy of free speech

It’s all words, until it’s words that hurt children.  I was not following the Racist Tintin debate until China Miéville weighed in. I’ll read anything he writes, so I was happy to read this.

It seems like this is an argument that the government of Belgium should put a sticker in a racist Tintin book. The book seems racist. The author did some rework of the book. We need fewer racist things on the planet. And hey, think of the kids. The kids get hurt when they see a racist world full of racist things with no explanation that this is a historical item from back when people did this particular awful thing more than they do now.

He must, by this logic, wish to live in a world where any black child – any child – excited to see Fantasia must be shocked by (no warning allowed!) & suffer through Sunflower, must wander into bookshops to be faced with mass-selling books calling them N****r in the title.

It is a strange, depraved morality that chooses relentless fidelity to racist texts over consideration of the day-to-day lives of children & others. Or to put it another way, ‘fuck you people, we care about our little n****r dolls more than we care about you’.

Me, I don’t know.  I just think that even if the world would be better with a sticker in the book and a refiling of the book, this doesn’t rise to the level of something a government should work on.  Governments always seem to me to be a way we can refer to the guys who have the most guns locally.  Bring them into issues in a very limited way.

Why do we need the government to intervene? This seems like a matter of fashion and culture. These are areas where I hate to see the government tread. I would rather see a grass roots effort.  I would rather see a few kids get hurt. I don’t want the government deciding what speech is acceptable – I want the culture doing that.

Since I’m not a black woman, but I’ve watched Good Hair, I feel fully qualified to make statements about what black women should do with their hair. They should go natural and rock what they got.  I’m proud of the Curly Girl Collective and my friend Tracey in it (SHE’S BLACK YALL) and the way they kick ass.  Even though I think it’s lame for black women to straighten their hair and probably not great for the self esteem of little black girls, I don’t think the government should do a damn thing about it. Black folks have to sort that fashion and culture out.  Black folks doing it will be a damn site better than whatever benefits arise from government legislating it.

That isn’t a very analogous situation, but I did want to link to Tracey’s group.  Racist literature is a culture’s responsibility.  The racism has to get pushed out and that comes from the people, not a law.

I agree with China that this Tintin book is bad.  I agree that it probably hurts kids.  I don’t agree that a government should do anything about it.  Keep them out of issues of what is correct speech or ideas.  It is too dangerous to let them in these issues.  I don’t like the idea of a government then making laws about the speech of other dangerous elements like  socialists who write about collective action.  There are many people in governments who dislike radicals and anarchists much more than they dislike racists – it is best not to let the guys with the guns get involved in speech at all.

The NYC Government IT has given up.

My buddy Ian has a great post about his experience trying to find out if he had to move his car. Seems the DOT updates this info on Twitter rather than putting it out on their own website.

Retweet by DOT of 311's tweet that parking rules are suspended

Now that’s just crazy, but I know why. Sam used to work for the city and I’ve heard some stories about trying to get things done there.   The municipal IT department is paid below average wages, there are no negative incentives like being let go, and they are given no positive incentives like promotions or bonuses.  IT at the city seems to be a job that you take and show up for until you collect your pension.

So it isn’t that this is a bad strategy, it’s just that the city is so completely incompetent at IT that they can’t even put in a CMS. Therefore, private sources have built really good communication tools that are actually working. It sucks that the city can’t do IT, but it is good that they are doing what it takes to help people know. Twitter is a single point of failure, it falls over all the time, but at least it has RSS feeds and it’s open for anyone to read. I think the city should do better, I just don’t know that they can.