I am not against spying or surveillance per se. Anyone who lives in the UK and says "if you've nothing to hide you've nothing to fear" doesn't understand the purpose of judicial oversight and probably doesn't speak arabic. I believe in judicial oversight. An amoral-nerd-handler is not a judge. And political bias, false-positives and chilling self-censorship are the only outcomes of the GCHQ program I can see on the horizon.
[Update: Now I am older and wiser, I don't necessarily any-longer agree with everything I wrote here, but I'm not going to delete it (yet). If you also disagree, let me know.]
I was talking to a couple of friends of mine about politics the other day. The conversation ended in a disagreement about whether or not one ought to adhere to principles of cultural relativism. That is, whether it is fair or legitimate to criticise the practices of members of another culture from the inescapable perspectives of ones own. I was arguing against cultural relativism but in the course of the discussion some arguments were raised which I hadn't considered before and which made me stop and reconsider my position.
My purpose in writing this is partially in order to get my thoughts in order and partly in the hope that the discussion can continue, 'cause it's one that interests me. I wish to wear my ignorance of many relevant topics on my sleeve and, as always, I'm completely open to the prospect of changing my mind.
My feelings were that open criticism of other cultures should be permissible. I felt that if we had carefully examined our own reasoning and motives, we ought to be allowed to criticise the practices of others, even if we understood that those practices may be the product of another culture and its historical context.
Continue reading "Cultural Relativism and Technology"
Mr Ahern yesterday defended a fine of up to €100,000 that will be imposed on blasphemers. ... Gardai will now have the power to seize blasphemous material from the home or any other premises used by a person convicted of blasphemy.
Okay, seriously now guys, stop it.
This kind of thing used to be funny. We'd be all "heh, glad I don't live in Saudi Arabia" or "oh, that crazy pope, what'll he get up to next?". But the joke's run its course and it's time to give it up and move along, ok?
Remember, we're trying to build a better world here, and hilarious though pranks like this are, they're getting a little tiresome.
A (somewhat controversial) poster I made when I was the publicity officer of the Warwick Atheists Society recently got some coverage in The Guardian's Comment is Free section.