A Candle in the Dark

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Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Images from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

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I had a really good time at Jon Stewart’s rally recently. It was great to see and talk to american citizens, who were being so passionate about their political beliefs. There was an enormous crowd at the national mall, and some very witty signs as well!

 

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Written by parseval

November 7, 2010 at 6:42 am

Posted in events, politics

Not all opinions are equally valid

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In the context of any discussion or a debate, it’s essential to remember that not all opinions are equally valid; some of them are based on reason, rationality, empirical evidence and ethics, while others are based on ignorance, pseudoscience, superstition and religion.

The recent Delhi High Court ruling in India which ‘decriminalized’ homosexuality is a landmark civil rights milestone in India’s history which recognizes equality and affirms individual human rights. However, this is not enough. I hope that this judicial ruling is the first step towards eventually legalizing gay marriage, and granting equal civil rights to all citizens, irrespective of their sexual orientation.

However, what is sadly predictable is the reaction of almost every religious group, who readily unite in their moral outrage to condemn this ruling.

“We urge the union and Delhi governments to keep in mind the views of various religious committees while taking a stand on the judgement of the Delhi High Court,” Jain religious leader Acharya Lokesh Muniji told reporters at a press conference of religious leaders in New Delhi on Thursday. “It’s not that we don’t support independence of individuals but this judgment challenges the will of god”

Sharing the platform with Muniji was the president of Jamaat-e-Islaami Hind, Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari. The Maulana said that according to Islam homosexuality is a crime. “Such behaviour is against the moral values of our nation that is based on cultural and ethical traditions. The government should take our views seriously.”

Agreeing with him was Sardar Tarsem Singh of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. “Sikh religion doesn’t view homosexuals as criminals but we don’t encourage it.”

Father Dominic Emmanuel, the founder of Sarvadharma Sadbhav (Communal Harmony and Peace), said: “We have no objection or opposition to de-criminalisation of homosexuality because we never considered them (homosexuals) as criminals”. “However, we are also clear that we are against legalising it… because what they do is unnatural and against the design and will of god.”

But wait… Father Dominic is of the opinion that homosexuality is unnatural and is against legalizing it, but has no objection to de-criminalization? WTF? This sort of broken and contradictory thinking is exactly why one should remember that not all opinions are equally valid.

Frankly speaking, the objections against decriminalizing homosexuality are bereft of facts, logic and evidence; against human rights and promote bigotry. Religious groups should ideally have no say whatsoever in this issue, because India is a secular democracy, and we have a rational-legal judicial system, not one based on any religious text. Religious groups have no right whatsoever to impose their moral viewpoints as universal law 1.

Here’s a nonsensical petition which attempts to reverse the Delhi High Court ruling, filed by SK Kaushal, who happens to be an astrolger 2

The petition filed by Kaushal sought quashing of July 2 verdict of the high court legalising gay sex between consenting adults in private, which was earlier a criminal offence punishable with upto life imprisonment.

The petition contended that homosexual acts, by all standards, were “unnatural” and could not be permitted.

“No one can imagine the consequences of the unnatural acts. Even animals don’t indulge in such activities,” he said in his petition.

He said the high court judgement would result in spread of HIV virus as “it has been amply proven” that the infection was contracted through such sexual acts.

Really?

  1. How can it be unnatural if it occurs in nature? Also, the internal combustion engine is unnatural, but that doesn’t mean it should be illegal.
  2. ‘Even animals don’t indulge in such activities’ – Hogwash. There’s documented evidence of homosexual behaviour in animals. All he needed to do was google. Also, this is an irrelevant point.
  3. “it has been amply proven that the infection was contracted through such sexual acts.” – Gee, doesn’t that imply that we should ban hetrosexuality too? In any case, it’s pathetic that he doesn’t realize that decriminalizing homosexuality would be an immense step in preventing the spread of HIV in that population group.

There are some issues which I wish to address. First, why aren’t such silly petitions dismissed by the SC? Second, it goes to show how poorly we think of politicians, that it comes as no surprise that political parties are not taking an unequivocal stand on an issue of human rights. Then, when politicians, religious groups, or organizations calls for a ‘wider consensus’, it’s important to realize that human rights issues should not decided by popular vote, (ideally) the constitution should guarantee fundamental human rights by law, and the judiciary should ensure this.

Finally, I’m against labelling any opposition to the high court decision decriminalizing homosexuality as worthy of a ‘debate’, as that usually implies that there are two sets of comparable but opposing opinions.

Fact is, if you think that homosexuality should be a criminal offense punishable by law, then you are stupid and ignorant.

Notes
[1] – And yet they attempt to do this all the time, and sometimes manage to pull it off (ex. prop 8, blasphemy laws, etc). Which is one of the reasons I think religion is very damaging.
[2]- *Ahem*

Written by parseval

July 9, 2009 at 3:05 am

Posted in politics, rant, religion

Tagged with ,

Doubleplusungood draft of IT amendment act

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From the TOI,

Govt gearing up to gag news websites

Under the draft rules framed under section 69A of the IT amendment Act, every state or Central government department will be empowered to decide whether a certain news item, article, blog or advertisement relating to its jurisdiction is safe to remain on the Net.

Once somebody sends a “complaint” against any information displayed on the Net, the department concerned will take a call on whether the matter in question affects any of the six concerns mentioned in section 69A: interest of sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or incitement to commit any cognizable offence relating to the other five reasons.

If it is satisfied about the need to pull the challenged information out of the public domain, the department concerned will send a “request” in the prescribed form to the “designated officer” at the Centre chosen by the secretary of the IT department. An inter-ministerial committee headed by the designated officer will recommend whether the request to censor the web site should be accepted or not.

If the IT secretary approves the committee’s recommendation to take action, the designated officer will direct the intermediary or web host to block the offending information within the stipulated time. In the event of non-compliance, the designated officer can initiate criminal proceedings under section 69A, which imposes a maximum sentence of seven years on the web host.

(emphasis mine)

Scary stuff. Censorship laws are very rarely a good thing and it’s ridiculously easy to picture situations where this act can be used by the Goverment to censor unfavorable articles, criticism of government policy, perceived insults to a particular community/religion or even suppression of information. I’ve said it before, but the freedom to state one’s opinions without fear of reprimand is one of the hallmarks of a functioning democracy, and one of the most important rights of a citizen.

Written by parseval

May 22, 2009 at 5:31 am

Posted in internet, journalism, politics

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Congressman Joe Barton supposedly “baffles” Dr. Steven Chu?

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Transcript:

Barton: Dr Chu, I don’t want to leave you out. You’re our scientist. I have one simple question for you in the last six seconds. How did all the oil and gas get to Alaska and under the Arctic Ocean?

Chu: (Laughs) This is a complicated story, but oil and gas is the result of hundreds of millions of years of geology and in that time also the plates have moved around. And so, it’s a combination of where the sources of the oil and gas…

Barton: Isn’t it obvious that at one time it was a lot warmer in Alaska and on the North Pole? It wasn’t a big pipeline that we’ve created from Texas and shipped it up there and put it under ground so we can now pump it up?

Chu: No, there are continental plates that have been drifting around throughout the geological ages.

Barton: So it just drifted up there.

Chu: Uh…That’s certainly what happened. It’s a result of things like that.

Chairman: The gentleman’s time has expired.

And from his twitter page, Joe Barton boasts,

I seemed to have baffled the Energy Sec with basic question – Where does oil come from?

The sad part is, he probably doesn’t bother to listen to the explanation the Prof. Chu provided in the limited time, or follow up and try to learn the actual science.

Written by parseval

April 23, 2009 at 7:53 am

Posted in people, politics

QOTD

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From the BBC,

Punjab disability ‘uranium link’

Tests on children with cerebral palsy or mental disabilities in the Indian state of Punjab have revealed high levels of uranium.

A charity based in Faridkot city said chemical analyses of hair specimens collected from 149 children in its care showed “unexpected amounts” of toxins.

The result has baffled the authorities as there are no known sources of uranium in Punjab.

Here’s the Punjab health minister Lakshmi Kanta Chawla on the issue

“This is not a health subject. We don’t know how children are showing such high concentrations of uranium”, Punjab health minister Lakshmi Kanta Chawla said.

“It is for the central government in Delhi to deal with the problem.”

A prime example of why politicians are redundant. It’s because they exist only to deflect any sort of responsibility up the hierarchy, before it gets lost in the singularity at the top.

Written by parseval

April 2, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Posted in people, politics, science

Sacred Royalty

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Dear Thai King,

In my opinion, your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.

Sincerely,
A citizen who (hopefully) enjoys the freedom of speech

P.S
Context

Written by parseval

January 19, 2009 at 2:17 pm

Posted in events, politics

Tagged with

The worst piece of journalism so far in 2009

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Elizabeth Wurtzel wins this category with her incredibly terrible article on the Gaza attacks.

Standing against a tide of hatred
It is not Israel’s action, but the vitriolic reaction to it that has been disproportionate. There’s only one explanation: antisemitism

As it is my good fortune to be American, I live in the only country that as a matter of policy is pro-Israel regardless of party allegiance; Democrats and Republicans equally unite behind the blue-and-white. But to communicate with anyone I think of as rightminded (and left-leaning) in any other part of the world is to experience the purest antisemitism since the Nazi era.

Um.. WTF??!! Is she seriously comparing the massacre of six million people to expressing an opinion of disagreement with the death of innocent civilians in Gaza?

Written by parseval

January 17, 2009 at 5:48 am

Posted in journalism, politics

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