Free speech threats, left and right

The organizers of the Rose Festival Parade in Portland, Oregon, had to shut it down because of threats of violence. This isn’t something that should be happening in the United States.

When Trump was elected, I was afraid there would soon be rampaging mobs assaulting people for what they said. I was right, but the mobs aren’t the ones I expected. While Trump talked about leaving people to be “carried out on a stretcher” it’s the political left that’s now using brass knuckles on people. Not everyone is overtly supporting violence, but too many are, and the opposition is numerically weak.

At the same time, the Trump administration is overtly hostile to the news media, and there’s currently talk of prosecuting a foreign news organization, WikiLeaks, that doesn’t operate on U.S. soil. This would be a shot across the bow for both American and international news organizations everywhere.

Which is the greater threat? Donald Trump holds a powerful position and has support in Congress. The courts have been holding him back, but he’s making noises about changing the court system to a more compliant one. He could do serious harm by 2020. On the other hand, leftist mobs have already done concrete damage to free speech. It’s not just the people they’ve assaulted and the events they’ve forced cancellation of, but other events whose organizers know might be threatened by these thugs.
Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements
Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on Free speech threats, left and right

Notes on life and mortality

To preface this, I’d like to reassure anyone reading this that my health is good and I have no expectation of dying soon. However, going by years, my life is more than half over. Barring a breakthrough in life extension, I probably don’t have more than three decades left. That means I think about death occasionally. Getting my thoughts into a public essay helps to clarify them.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: . 1 Comment »

The intolerant left, then and now

The intolerant left — the ones who approve of “free speech zones,” speech codes, shouting down speakers, and in some cases violent suppression — reminds me of certain campus factions when I was a student in the late sixties and early seventies. We can learn from the similarities and the differences.

In the “sixties” (which stretched into the seventies), it was mostly hard-core socialist groups who opposed free speech and tried to silence opponents. Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) loved to intimidate and shout down speakers. Youth Against War and Fascism (YAWF) handed out fliers declaring that “Fascists have no right to speak!” By “fascists,” on that occasion, they meant libertarians opposing rent control.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on The intolerant left, then and now

The strange world of “content marketing”

In my work as a freelance blogger I try to put worthwhile content into every piece I write. At least some of the readers should come away from it understanding something better than they did before. It may contain promotional material, if that’s what the customer asks for, but it has a solid core of useful information. That’s my understanding of “content.”

In the marketing world, though, it means something else entirely. The biggest market for freelance writers on the Web is “SEO writing.” That means writing whose main purpose is to provide “content” that search engines will rank high. The expertise for this isn’t knowledge about the subject matter but expertise in planting the right keywords and otherwise constructing the article to match Google’s current idea of what a relevant article is. It’s clickbait, only more sophisticated.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on The strange world of “content marketing”

Twitter’s search blocking

Twitter is getting desperate. It will do anything except talk to its users. Some time recently, it started blocking search terms. I’ve verified that they include “marijuana” and “cannabis.”
Twitter search for "marijuana" claiming no matches.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in General. Tags: . Comments Off on Twitter’s search blocking

PGP update

I’ve updated my PGP key, since the previous one was five years old, and revoked the previous one. I’d sign this post to confirm the key, but that doesn’t work very well with WordPress.

Posted in General. Tags: , . Comments Off on PGP update

Song: Mary Dyer

Wikimedia image of Mary DyerSong blogging time again. I introduced this song at the MASSFILC gathering on March 4. I’ve been thinking about an alternate history cycle involving the Quakers, and decided to start with actual history. The lyrics and sheet music are on my website.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Audio. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Song: Mary Dyer

Remembering some victories

It’s too easy (for me, anyway) to sink into doom and gloom about the political situation. There are plenty of reasons to be depressed right now, but focusing only on bad news just kills motivation. So here’s a quick list of areas where libertarians have made gains in the 21st century. In most cases, other groups did a lot (often most) of the work; there aren’t enough of us to win many battles without alliances. Often, though, libertarians were there first.

I’m not claiming this is a complete list or even covers all the most important cases; please mention others in the comments if you like.
Read the rest of this entry »

Police intimidation, local style

Last week I was driving home around 9:30 PM, going southbound on NH Route 125. Suddenly there were blue lights flashing behind me. I pulled over. To my relief, the vehicle behind me kept going. It no longer had the blue lights on. There was no siren. There was no emergency, just some cop having fun scaring people.

It was dark, so I don’t know whether it was Kingston police, state troopers, or even an out-of-town cop. It’s not a big deal, but every little incident like this contributes to people’s distrust of the police. I could have filed complaints with both state and local police, but what good would it have done?

Posted in General. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Police intimidation, local style

Trump’s lie about New Hampshire

Trump’s claim that thousands of people were bused into New Hampshire and fraudulently voted in the 2016 election is a plain lie. It has no supporting evidence, and Trump has a long record of gross dishonesty. I stood outside the polls in Kingston, NH for hours, watching for any signs of intimidation, and didn’t see any kind of irregularities. I certainly would have noticed a busload of voters arrive. Many people were similarly watchful at other locations in the state.

As I noted in an earlier post, Kingston’s town clerk suppressed vote totals on the website. However, the votes were reported correctly to the state, as far as I can tell. What she did was biased and improper, but it didn’t affect the official totals.

Some people think Trump is delusional and believes his claim. I think he has set out to discredit the election process. New Hampshire is disproportionately important in presidential elections, so it’s easy to see why he’s smearing my state’s voting system.

Posted in General. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Trump’s lie about New Hampshire