Tag Archives: david cameron

VOD: Is Russell Brand an Anarchist or Just Smarter Than We Give Him Credit For?

Russell Brand has been known to rustle more than a few feathers for speaking his mind. He gets a bad wrap for his crude sense of stage humor or the details of his short-lived marriage to Katy Perry ending up in the tabloids. He doesn’t mind telling off reporters when they slack in asking thoughtful and researched questions and he’s all about sharing his enlightening experiences with yoga and meditation. But would you peg him for a political scholar?

He just finished a week as guest editor at New Statesman despite having never voted in his life. In a recent interview on the BBC’s Newsnight, Russell shared his disdain for the current political system and how it favors the rich hierarchy. He spends a large amount of time defending his position of not voting as his way of refusing to comply with a system that clearly doesn’t benefit the lower classes. Having grown up poor, Russell explains that’s why a lot of poor youth don’t vote – their apathy comes from growing up in a system that clearly doesn’t cater to their needs. Newsnight host bawks at Brand, saying he has no right to complain about a system that he doesn’t put a voice into – and Russell argues back that it seems pointless to voice an opinion in a system that doesn’t work. It seems like revolutionary talk, but the further he explains the more you realize it actually makes sense. Is voter apathy a sign of youth laziness or a call for political overhaul? Does it make Russell irresponsible for promoting these tactics or is he on to something?

Even if you don’t agree with Russell’s political sense, you should also check out this interview where he explains that every person is just a different physical representation of God – or the ordering force of the universe. You’ll see it sounds pretty similar to this Deepak Chopra interview. And you probably thought he was just a comedian with crazy hair.

Way to go Russell.

Is the UK’s Online Pornography Ban Going Too Far?

david-cameron-220_1774555fWe know many people were fairly preoccupied yesterday with the news of the royal baby’s birth. But here is another story from the day that is going to affect far, far more people.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced a new sweeping government plan to ban (or at least dramatically reduce) viewing of online pornography. The plan, due to begin by the end of this year, will force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block all pornography-related search terms and websites. Individuals wishing to access pornography on their own Internet connections will have to contact their ISP directly in order to opt out of the program. “Extreme pornography” (such as content depicting rape scenes) will be entirely prohibited. Specific measures will also be taken to locate and prosecute viewers and distributors of child pornography.

So far, so good? Maybe not. Cameron appealed to the very sympathetic cause of protecting childhood innocence, but many are calling such blanket measures a violation of privacy rights. Here are some of the arguments:

1. First there’s the idea that the Internet should be a freely accessible source of information (in the broadest sense of the word). If people wish to restrict certain areas of the Internet in their own homes, then that is their prerogative.

2. Many raise the issue of who will determine what is “pornographic” versus what is informational, artistic, or just regular news (will risque images of celebs count?). Also, many mainstream movies are quite graphic, even depicting rape, child abuse, etc. How will these be evaluated?

3. Some argue that censorship of any sort is like a gateway drug for the government. Ban online pornography now, and what other online viewing habits will start being regulated as well?

4. One of the biggest concerns is that Cameron’s plan doesn’t actually address the pornography industry, sex trafficking, child abuse, or violence against women. It seems to be a way of painting over the issue, when there’s still a really dirty wall underneath.

Cameron’s ban qualifies as what is colloquially known as a “sumptuary law,” or a law intended to enforce morals and control certain consumption habits. This has included certain styles of clothing, food, and various “luxury habits.” The argument could be made that if you ban the material associated with the improper habit (ie. alcohol, revealing clothing, or, in this case, pornographic websites) then the behavior will necessarily decrease.

On the other hand: “Guns don’t kill. People do.”

What do you think?

 

Thumbnail image credit: James Blinn/Alamy

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