In an old Captain America episode(#153 I think it was) someone half humorously asks if androids(such as the Vision) have rights in Florida. Although a joke, I think it raises a valid point- nobody would question the humanity of someone with a glass eye or artificial limb, but in the contremporary Marvel/DC universes who decides who is entitled to human rights given the presence not just of mutants,Inhumans, mythological deities(Thor, Hercules, Valkyrie , Perun) but artificial life forms such as the Vision, Red Tornado, Ultron, Jocasta, supernaturally based life forms(who however are generally considered to be purely mythological) such as vampires or werewolves , those characters who were NOT born with their powers(FF, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Hulk, Captain America) but gained them by radiation or (pace Captain America) a serum- far less members of alien races such as the Skrulls,Kree or Shi'ar?
Have the courts(in the Marvel/DC universes) inculding the US Supreme Court made any definitive ruling on this issue?
As I have frequently noted in my blog postings, you can't make some of the things up I read in my daily paper.
Case in point: North Korean embassy officials reportedly tried to get a London barbershop owner to take down a "disrespectful" poster of their country's tyrannical ruler Kim Jong Un just because it made fun of the latter's hairstyle.
To his credit, the shop's owner told the officials(who did not identify themselves as diplomats per se apparently) to "sling their hook"( in other words get lost) and reminded them that this was North London NOT Pyongyang.
There are three points to be made here: true, they did not claim that the poster was"blasphemous"( as the DPRK is an avowedly atheistical state), secondly it tried to pressure a private business owner in a democratic society, thirdly, after briefly taking down the "disrespectful" poster , the owner put it up again.
Subsititute "Vladimir Putin" for "King Jong Un" and the Russian Federation for North Korea and you pretty much get my drift.
The best response to tyrants(irrespective of their ideological outlook) is the sort of mockery and ridicule that this barbershop owner rightly showed to the jumped up Jacks in Office of this benighted proto-Stalinist state!
Although the case of the alleged former KKK member who reportedly shot dead several people near a Jewish community center in Kansas City is yet to be formally adjudicated(what we in the UK even though he is to be tried in the US by both state and federal authorities), the matter will inevitably arouse comment(esp amongst conservatives) as to whether or not so-called "hate/bias crimes" are constitutional or amount to "thought crime"( predictably if they go too far for conservatives, then they don't go far enough for some feminists who are reportedly lobbying for rape-presumably hetero and homosexual- to be classed as a "hate crime" rather than a purely sexual one).
A comparison can be made to the Racketeering And Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970( popularly known as the RICO Act) which doubles and even triples the sentences for a continuing pattern of racketeering(ie organized crime whether by the old style La Cosa Nostra, the Russian Mafia, OMGs- Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs- such as Hells Angels, Bandidos, Outlaws or Mongols , prison gangs such as the Aryan Brotherhood and street gangs such as the Crips and Bloods) more so than even "ordinary" criminality. Ditto for terrorist related offences in BOTH the UK and USA( see Prevention Of Terrorism Act in the UK and PATRIOT Act in the US). Does anybody think that is is "unjust" for OC/terrorist tied offences to be treated more harshly than "ordinary" criminality.
As for the "thought crime" claim- to quote then President Harry S.Truman upon vetoing the Internal Security Act of 1950, "in the United States we punish people for the crimes they commit, not for the thoughts in their heads!"(no matter how hateful.
By now most readers will have heard of Pope Francis's speech asking for forgiveness over the "abuse scandals" that have repeatedly rocked the Catholic Church all over the world(most secular news outlets even in largely Protestant Britain have mentioned it not just in newspapers but on TV and radio).
It's easy to be cynical on this issue and say nothing changes, but I think those that do are going from one extreme to the other . Like it or not there are times when you MUST accept that expressions of contrition are real.
Sgt Alexander Blackman (lately of HM Royal Marines) who was convicted in November of last year for the murder of an injured Taliban insurgent in 2011 by a court martial has began an appeal against his murder conviction.
Had that simply been the case, I doubt if I would have paid more than passing interest in this sad case, but some of the writing in the "pop"press after Blackman was convicted REALLY got my goat.
Whenever one of "Our Boys" is found with his hand firmly in the moral cookie jar, we get a dose of special pleading blather about the unique horrors of combat and about the need to be "understanding"(usually from pundits and papers such as the Daily Mail otherwise given to excoriating bleeding heart liberalism on malefactors who usually do not wear the uniform of Her Majesty's Forces).
Do you know what I think of this claim? The whole Blackman(who despite his name is white incidentally) business contains enough BALONEY to open several chains of delicatessens.
Firstly by his own admission, Blackman was captured on tape admitting "We've just broken the Geneva Convention, lads!"
The Geneva Convention of course protects ALL combatants in a conflict(and to argue that the Taliban either did NOT recognize the Geneva Convention or most likely did not even know of its existence and that it was not a conventional army anyway as some commentators argue is besides the point).
More to the point- Sgt Blackman committed(albeit on a mercifully smaller scale) the same crime as several German and Japanese officers who were tried and executed in several cases for the murder or ill treatment of Anglo-American POWs during WWII- see Wikipedia entries for "Le Paradis/Malmedy/Stalag Luft III murders") Fortunately it seems that the Court is likely to reject his appeal-lest it legitimize what can only be termed "war crimes".
In short the Taliban/Al Qaeda may not recognize or be bound by the Geneva Conventions but the United Kingdom and the United States most definitely DO( and by extension so do their respective armed forces- or they should)!
Did anybody notice that the recently released film "Noah" was banned by several Middle East countries(Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait) not so much because its director(and at least one of its cast members, Darren Aronofsky and Jennifer Connelly respectively) are Jewish(although this hardly helped the film's prospects anyway) but because it was allegedly blasphemous in depicting Noah who in Islam is considered to be a prophet.
Myview is that if Muslim/Arab countries wish to ban this film or any other on allegedly "blasphemous" grounds then that is their sovereign prerogative but attempting to prohibit its showing in predominantly "infidel" societies where Muslims make up a minority(Britain, France, USA) is WAY out of line!
On the eve of the Irish President's state visit to Britain, (the first since the foundation of an independent Irish state in 1922), the issue of those who committed crimes( whether paramilitaries of Orange and Green or security forces alike) of violence including murder during the long "Troubles" continues to hang heavy in the relations between the two countries.
Although the proudest boast of British justice has been "fiat rua justitia caelum-let justice be done, though the heavens fall!", I have come to the conclusion,(as has Peter Hain, former NI secretary, as quoted in the front page of today's Times- April 7, 2014) that the only way to solve this particular conundrum is to pardon/amnesty EVERYBODY on BOTH sides, be they Republicans, Loyalists, soldiers and police alike. Otherwise any prosecution(whether on any side)is likely to lead to charges of "whataboutery"- what the late Cardinal Cathal Daly termed the most common form of moral evasion.
Painful for those who suffered dthe loss of loved ones or limbs during those long violent years I think we ALL need to move on!
Returning home from Midday Mass at my parish church, I was mildly surprised to see stickers urging a consumer boycott of Russian goods in order to protest Putin's land grab of Crimea in order to "help Ukraine".
Now a few weeks ago I jokingly commented on a group of Ukrainian women who were refusing to have sex with Russian men in order to protest the Kremlin's seizure of Crimea, but this campaign got me thinking.
(Full disclosure: I don't drink vodka or otherwise use Russian consumer goods anyway so if anybody wants to boycott Russian goods anyway I won't mind)
The trouble is with these tactics of boycotts, divestment and sanctions is that they tend to punish the innocent to some extent(case in point singer Miley Cyrus who may have to cancel an upcoming concert in a Finnish stadium because it is co-owned by several cronies of Putin who are on the sanctions list) as well as being manifestly self-serving and hypocritical on BOTH sides of the ideological divide: be they "trendy Lefties" or neo-con right wingers( under US law you can be fined or even go to jail for trading with Castro's Cuba and conversely be fined or do jail time for refusing to trade with the State of Israel).
I am not at all certain that boycotting Russian goods will "help Ukraine" any more than refusing to purchase Siberian crabmeat or Polish ham during the Cold War helped Soviets or Poles(although if any of my readers want to do so I shall not condemn for doing that!)
Now it's official( or semi-official at any rate)- according to a soon to be published report by the US Senate into the role "enhanced interrogation techniques"( as "waterboarding" and other torture techniques were disengenuously referred to by their supporters such as then President George W.Bush, VP Dick "Lon" Cheney and the editorial page writers of The Wall Street Journal) by the CIA of Al Qaeda suspects DID NOT lead to information as to where the late Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was hiding- only conventional(non-coercive) ones- EXACTLY as I and many other critics at the time pointed out.
The savviest counter terrorism interrogators(such as RUC Special Branch and MI5/British Army during the NI "Troubles") have long noted the validity of the old Spanish phrase "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!"
Building a rapport with the suspect in the long run brings in more actionable intel than thumbscrews, the rack or waterboarding(contrary to what CTU agent Jack Bauer might do or say in "24"!).
During the "Red Brigades" campaign of terrorism in Italy during the 1970s, a police chief was asked to sanction the torture of captured terrorists( this was in the aftermath of the murder of former Italian PM Aldo Moro)- his reply should be printed up and posted next to every apologist for waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques"(from "Dubya" downwards)-"Italy will survive the loss of Moro- but it will NOT survive as a civilized state with the introduction of torture!"
I have just caught a peek at Iron Patriot # 1. Although it's nice to see James "Rhodey" Rhodes moving on from his status as Iron Man wannabe War Machine, there are questions I think need to be addressed.
Is Iron Patriot an official US Government sanctioned superhero( pace the terms of the SHRA)? Does he have any ties to the US military or the Avengers(probably NOT the latter)? If he turns up in a real life hot spot- such as say Syria or Crimea does that mean his presence/activities has the tacit or explicit blessing of Uncle Sam? What will be his relations with other countries heroes such as Alpha Flight(Canada) or the Winter Guard(Russia)?
Last but not the least, why give another armored hero his own title?