News over the last week has caused the sort of gut level reaction in me that I have not had in a very long time. It is that sort of reaction where your insides hurt, your stomach is squeamish, and the thought of drinking yourself silly seems like a good idea. One of my fellow columnists, Pakeha, referred to one of the items, namely the destuction of ancient idols by the Taliban. I feel his sentiments address that issue pretty well. The other news to cross the wire falls squarely in the realm of upon which our country has been founded, freedom of speech.
In the news this morning, The Telegraph (a british paper) outlined a EU court ruling where the European Commission was entitled to sack one of it's economists for writing a book critical of the monetary integration of the European Union. Specifically, the ruling allowed for the restriction of dissent "in order to protect the rights of others" and "punish individuals who damaged the institutions image and reputation". Basically, an employee is not allowed to bad mouth his employer.
I understand in the case of an employee / employer relationship where the contract for employment may place restrictions on what an employee can say during certain times. However, in this case we are talking about a government agency, dissent and discourse are part of the public process for democratic nations. Apparently the court took issue with the book and implied that it may be "a threat to democracy, freedom, and ultimately peace". I am not quite sure how this applies to such freedoms as speech.
Just as religions have been stomping over one another through out the centuries, Europe appears to renewing its love of government stomping on the individual. You would think that they would have learned their lessons from history. The US came about partially because people were fed up with the British monarchy. Africa is a mess in part because Europe tried to meddle with the native people of that continent placing artificial boundaries that divided traditional lands. That is not to say the US is perfect, but since our founding involved European meddling, they have to take some of the blame.
With this problem of Europe, what exactly are we supposed to do? In short, the ingenious people at Disney and the adult Disney (Las Vegas) have embarked upon a possibel solution. We no longer have to travel to foreign lands and run the risk of insulting a random person or over stepping the laws of the country by farting at an inopportune time, etc. These bright entities are bringing the best parts of these foreign lands to us through replication. Las Vegas is now home to the Eiffel Tower, Michaelangelo's David, and wonderful blown glass, just to name a few. The part that is not present? The cultural and political structures of these same countries. You can have your croissant while sitting under the Eiffel Tower without intrusion of being randomly searched by a cop or hearing woes about Foot and Mouth disease.
As for the EU court that is usurping the freedoms of it's citizenry? Maybe airlift the Taliban into the jury box?
Previous day's column (Harlock)