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Hacked By AdGhosT

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Olympics’ water diversion threatens millions » The Peking Duck

Olympics’ water diversion threatens millions

In trying to make it look good to the world in August 2008, it appears China is willing to make itself look like an utter jackass in the here and now.

The diversion of water to Beijing for the Olympics and for big hydropower projects threatens the lives of millions of peasant farmers in China’s north-western provinces, according to a senior Chinese government official.

In an interview with the Financial Times, An Qiyuan, a member and former chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee for Shaanxi province and former Communist party chief of Shaanxi, warned of an impending social and environmental disaster because of overuse of scarce water resources.

Predicted water shortages in China by 2010

In a critical tone seldom heard from Chinese officials, Mr An called on Beijing to provide compensation to the provinces that have been told to pump their cleanest water to the capital in order to ensure potable supplies during the Olympics.

Beijing will need an estimated 300m cubic metres of additional water just to flush out the polluted and stagnant rivers, canals and lakes in its central areas to put on a clean, environmentally-friendly face for Olympic visitors, according to municipal officials.

“In order to preserve the quality of Beijing’s water we have to close all our factories. But we still need to live. So I say the government needs to compensate Shaanxi,” Mr An said. “If you don’t compensate the masses then how can they survive?”

Will anyone really be fooled in August? Will anyone believe they are seeing “the real China,” with potable tap water, blue skies, no traffic and lots of happy smiling volunteers?

Another quickie with no time for depth. Apologies.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 99 Comments

The water problem is surely a story to watch for the next years. I read an interview with the investor Jim Rogers recently who is a big China fan and sees a great future for the country, but the water crisis China faces, he said, is the one big thing that poses a real danger to the further developement of the country. You not only need water to grow stuff and for people to drink, but also for all kinds of industries.

That the government is making huge efforts to make Beijing look nice and clean in August should surprise nobody, and that it doesn’t care too much about the details (i.e. couple of 100 k or perhaps some mio. people having problems to get fresh water) shouldn’t surprise neither.
I espacially loved the comment of CCT when he compared the cleaning of Beijing, with cleaning your house before visitors come. I can reassure you, CCT, I do clean before visitors come, but I don’t suck my neighbours water tap dry to do that.

February 29, 2008 @ 9:22 am | Comment

Shulan,

It’s actually not that bad. The lowest published cost of desalinated water worldwide, is roughly the same as water price in Beijing now. Granted tagging on transportation and distribution costs, likely desalinated water in Beijing will cost maybe twice as much. But anyway water shortage itself won’t be that devastating for China.

Globally though, if the more pessimistic peak oil theorists are correct, the disallocation will be very painful, very soon.

February 29, 2008 @ 10:08 am | Comment

“… but feel free to assume I’m some how connected to the highest level of the Beijing government.”

Are you the reason I need a proxy to access this site right now? If so, nice try; but I got here anyway!

“I don’t care all that much about Hu Jia.”

Interesting. I understand he speaks very highly of you.

February 29, 2008 @ 11:01 am | Comment

CCT, you have moved from one subject to another with the only logic tying your arguments together being a systematic and utter lack of logic. From praising emissions standards in China to comparing Olympic cleanup to “cleaning house,” from calling for the implementation of “shimingzhi” to comparing China’s ruthless Internet censorship to the British prosecution of “Captain Hook,” all the way to showing your true colors by saying “I don’t care about Hu Jia:” what a patriot you are! The real citizens of your nation don’t matter! All that matters is a false impression presented to the world.
It is for this reason that I’m clearly “‘wasting my breath discussing facts with you.” Try again when you evolve beyond your current stage of state-ist narcissism. Until then, no one besides the gang of fenqing who troll around here could take you seriously.

February 29, 2008 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

@shulan,

> I can reassure you, CCT, I do clean before
> visitors come, but I don’t suck my neighbours
> water tap dry to do that.

Uh, okay.

@kevin,

Perhaps you don’t recognize the logic of my “arguments” because you’re sunk so deeply in your simplistic black/white world, you’re only capable of debating Beijing’s morality and little else.

This isn’t a theoretical debate for me; I have informed opinions on specific policies that impact my life, my family, and my country. And I don’t have any interest in little-minded idealists like you.

February 29, 2008 @ 2:21 pm | Comment

Some of CCT comments about housing reminds me of the situation of Germany after the war.
Cities were greatly destroyed and there was a need to provide housing as fast as possible to the greatest number of people. Esthetically the results were… ugly and disrupted the old architecture of beautiful old cities. The results can still be seen today.

City crowding, massive immigration, low quality of available housing may leave no other option for the same path to be followed in China, still much has been lost. Hope some real state developers see the value of keeping some old quarters (after being rehabilitated) I suppose some upper class people would pay premium prices for a nice house there.

Agree with the car issue, but I do not see how they are going to prevent some parts of China to turn into a huge traffic jam.
A backfire of the police to heavily promote auto industry in China?

At least big subway and high speed problem would keep people moving. Impressive big subway project in Shanghai by the way.

Curious. In Madrid the local government is trying to move people from cars to motorbikes, with lukewarm success in spite of the advantages it provides (easier parking, permission to use bus ways)
How about bikes? Any provision for bikes lanes in Chinese cities? A pity that that culture is being lost.
Although with current high contamination levels it may be no longer so good for ones health…

February 29, 2008 @ 3:48 pm | Comment

That looks interesting!

http://cities.media.mit.edu/projects/scooter.html

Who said Chinese were not inventive?

February 29, 2008 @ 3:54 pm | Comment

@shulan

Wife looking worried:
Dear. What is that shucking sound coming out of the bathroom!?
………
……..
Husband:
Dam! Our neighbor is celebrating the olympic games again!!!

😉

February 29, 2008 @ 4:22 pm | Comment

Despite your dismissal of Hu Jia, might not his imprisonment have an effect upon his life, his family, and even his country? He never did anything to your life and your family, so what right do you have to be so nonchalant about his illegal detention.

I appreciate your attempt to paint me as black/ white debater… I have to be doing somethign right if I am rubbing you the wrong way. Considering your approach (ignoring my points and painting me as somehow “detachedly biased”- although you did not put it so eloquently), you might wanna apply for a job at Fox news, or, perhaps, CCTV (just add a “v”)! However, might not this be an utterly black/ white exchange for you (considering your ability to support current chinese policy on a number of seemingly contradictory fronts- “anyway, i know, gov always right!”). In the end, you’re making the same mistake that many Japanese citizens did during WWII!
While you claim that it is not a theoretical debate for you, you blatantly refuse real-world facts, which makes it very falsely theoretical (as it is certainly not grounded in reality). While calling me an “idealist,” you are the one who is caught up in a romanticized ideal of a thoroughly corrupted Communist Party that should be disposed of as soon as possible. Obviously, I can’t talk you out of your ball-fondling of the Party, so it’s best to just leave you in your nationalist diaper.
Have a good day, and try applying a more critical perspective on the events around you.

February 29, 2008 @ 4:24 pm | Comment

whilst of course there is a housing shortage in china, it is a bit disingeneous to say that the current knock it down, build them high and cheap is solely motivated by this. a lot of it is about money and corrupt kickbacks and moving five families into a house together back in the fifties and sixties was about humiliating the landlords.

@jxie

“It’s actually not that bad. The lowest published cost of desalinated water worldwide, is roughly the same as water price in Beijing now. Granted tagging on transportation and distribution costs, likely desalinated water in Beijing will cost maybe twice as much. But anyway water shortage itself won’t be that devastating for China.”

i’d be interested in knowing where you got those statistics from. my understanding of the situation was that china is overall a very dry country and the low water prices are due to govt subsidy.

@cct

i enjoy reading what you say, but comparing hu jia to a hate mongering terrorist aide is somewhat ridiculous.

February 29, 2008 @ 4:33 pm | Comment

Si, yes, Northern China is very dry, especially considered the population it supports. Desalination isn’t a major water source in China yet but it can be, without being devastatingly costly. There have been some investments in China to increase desalination capacities.

Water for residential usage in Beijing sells for over 3 yuans per cubic meter now, much the same as many other Northern Chinese. Worldwide, the lowest desalination production cost reported is in Singapore, US$0.49 per cubic meter. (You can google it)

February 29, 2008 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

@Si,

> i enjoy reading what you say, but comparing hu jia to a hate mongering terrorist aide is somewhat ridiculous.

I can see now that my post could be read that way, but that wasn’t my intent. As I said, I don’t really care about Hu Jia. I don’t know much about him beyond what I’ve read online, and I can see little that he’s done that has helped me, my family, or my country. It seems obvious to me that Hu Jia wasn’t arrested because he was a symbol; he became a symbol because he was arrested.

My original point was that in the UK, there are legal consequences even for those who “speak” irresponsibly… recognizing that irresponsible speech can indeed be dangerous.

I believe that the Chinese internet needs to be managed in a similar way. Quite frankly, the Chinese internet in this day and age is 1000x more effective in transmitting a message and making a social impact than an extremist Imam in a mosque. So, from a hardware point of view, I absolutely see the need for shimingzhi.

While calling me an “idealist,” you are the one who is caught up in a romanticized ideal of a thoroughly corrupted Communist Party that should be disposed of as soon as possible.

Kevin, it was obvious from line 1 of your first posting that this was the rockbed of your entire philosophical outlook. Your priority is in “disposing of the thoroughly corrupted Communist Party”.

And you know what the difference is between you and me? I don’t care about the Communist Party any more than I care about Hu Jia. The Communist Party can disappear tomorrow, and I for one wouldn’t shed a tear. You, apparently, are filled with overwhelming emotion for these two entities that you can’t possibly justify logically.

I get it. You’re a barking puppy. This online posting thing is a hobby for you, and gnawing on the Communist Party is your pet bone of the week. I’m going to keep calling you an idealist, although the term is rather generous for what you are.

I, on the other hand, believe I’m just a selfish, barely informed, average guy. I want the best for myself, my immediate family, my extended family, and my country… and in that order. All of what I said above comes out of those priorities.

March 1, 2008 @ 12:46 am | Comment

“My original point was that in the UK, there are legal consequences even for those who “speak” irresponsibly… recognizing that irresponsible speech can indeed be dangerous. ”

CCT, it is not irresponsible speech. Not checking facts, sloppy research etc may be irresponsible but inciting violence and destruction is something else.

March 1, 2008 @ 1:49 am | Comment

@Rich,

I’m not particularly looking to get involved in debating the specifics of this… but in the US, his speech would be morally irresponsible, but not at all criminal. His speech would be protected under American law.

March 1, 2008 @ 2:29 am | Comment

just to say hi,

I’ve got too much to do right now, but I still read a bit and wish I had more time to talk to you all…

I was really weirded out that someone implied that having water to drink and air to breath is not as important as ‘materialism’, here in the West we are learning that that is not the way, and in China, you want “catch up”!!?

Personally I prioritize soul, and babies born with the normal amount of limbs and stuff like that,………anyway,

cheers and all (-:

March 1, 2008 @ 2:20 pm | Comment

Yahoo sued again for being…. bad…

http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9881042-7.html

March 1, 2008 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

Too bad the newest thread got shut down so soon, the Waynester sent me the nicest email.

March 1, 2008 @ 4:14 pm | Comment

What did he say? We’re all curious!

March 1, 2008 @ 11:57 pm | Comment

“having water to drink and air to breath is not as important as ‘materialism’, here in the West we are learning that that is not the way, and in China, you want “catch up”!!?”

I think the solution is for China to ban luxury goods from Europe, and in turn people in developed countries can give up porn, fatty food, expensive chocolates, luxury cars, huge houses, and the 90th toy for their ugly brat and send the money they save to the third world.

March 1, 2008 @ 11:59 pm | Comment

ferin,

I dont think banning stuff will solve the religious materialism issue. The communist party is an atheist church and tells people that the only point of living is to struggle for material well being. They have called the conscience and the Chinese virtues ‘feudal superstitions” and told people that they are from monkeys which is not the Chinese culture….. So in order to have people be able to be satisfied with less material greed, I think culture will have to be reintroduced… I really do not think the CCP is in any position to bring that back after all the evil they have committed….

But really, if you dont believe in the value of virtues and conscience and all that traditional Chinese custom stuff, then why shouldnt the Chinese people be the most currupt, backstabbing social darwinists on the planet? What would it all matter anyway? atheist Communism is really an ugly religion…. If we are all just monkeys with no reason to be kind and no afterlife, and only struggle for materials, then, there is no limit to the ugliness people can unleash, which is what is being played out in China now.

March 2, 2008 @ 12:47 am | Comment

You mean being played out by the CCP? The average Chinese person is still less greedy and criminal than the average Canadian or French or American.

They should reintroduce their own culture, not Falun Gong, Christianity and American mercantilism.

March 2, 2008 @ 12:59 am | Comment

China is still “third world”.

March 2, 2008 @ 1:56 am | Comment

“The average Chinese person is still less greedy and criminal than the average Canadian or French or American.”

Good one, Ferin. I would say, the average person on this planet has far more common sense than a little racist troll like you. And by the way, I still want to know, if the USA is so bad, why don’t you just leave?

March 2, 2008 @ 8:41 am | Comment

ferin. “”””The average Chinese person is still less greedy and criminal than the average Canadian or French or American.””””

disagree. What makes you think that?

March 2, 2008 @ 11:11 am | Comment

I don’t know much about him beyond what I’ve read online, and I can see little that he’s done that has helped me, my family, or my country. It seems obvious to me that Hu Jia wasn’t arrested because he was a symbol; he became a symbol because he was arrested.

So what? People said similar things about suffragettes like Emily Pankhurst in the 19th century or about the defiant Rosa Parks in the 1950s.

March 2, 2008 @ 11:19 pm | Comment

“disagree. What makes you think that?”

Crime rates, track record. Chinese people might spit all over the place but they’re unlikely to murder or rape someone. This is true outside of China and in, regardless of how harsh the laws are.

March 2, 2008 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

“Crime rates, track record.”

I guess the Peking Duck’s most beloved troll is talking about those 1993 FBI statistics that supposedly prove whatever he is saying.

“Chinese people might spit all over the place but they’re unlikely to murder or rape someone.”

Sure, nobody in China ever gets murdered or raped. Just doesn’t happen. The Peking Duck’s favorite troll obviously doesn’t know the least bit about China.

“This is true outside of China and in, regardless of how harsh the laws are.”

The Peking Duck’s most favored troll, for some reason, I can’t work out yet, has chosen to reside outside of China, and guess what, of all the countries in the world, the one he’s chosen to live in is the evil US of A.

March 3, 2008 @ 5:09 am | Comment

@cct

you should really just admit that jailing someone for advocating terrorism and mass murder is one thing, jailing someone for exposing corruption and lies another. most of the time i respect what you are saying, but that line of argument is risible.

March 3, 2008 @ 4:26 pm | Comment

@CCT

Fair enough, no specifics. Just thinking that your belief in accountability online is incongruous given that it is almost certain that you are not using your real name.

Also, online is vastly different from preaching to a crowd of followers who are aware of the identity of the preacher. Online opinion should be treated with care precisely because it is possible to be anonymous.

I’ve heard that some blogs or sites require verifiable email addresses, identification etc. Good. However, in general, what purpose is served by holding people to account online? To garner evidence for a charge of sedition or the like? It is apparent that people rant or vent their feelings and prejudices online. Why not leave it at that and take care to assess the weight yourself.

March 4, 2008 @ 12:46 am | Comment

The thing is that for better or worse, Red China is a dictatorship, and if you want to maintain a dictatorship you need censorship, it¡Çs as simple as that. Otherwise people start talking to each other about their grievances, the anti-government voices will become louder than the pro-government voices, and then the masses become cynical, stop cooperating, start plotting. Then you have to give up power or things¡Çll probably get bloody. So if you want to tolerate the CCP (and CCT was right in that the CCP has been much more successful in improving quality of life than many democracies, so there is an argument for tolerating them), you have to tolerate their speech/thought laws. Can¡Çt have your cake and eat it too.

I don¡Çt really see the relevance of the British hate crime laws either. They represent a true failure of the system, first by passively inviting in elements that are dedicated to the destruction of that system, losing the argument with a significant minority of the population over whether or not violence is the best way to achieve their aims, and finally by failing to prevent the subsequent violence.

I¡Çll admit that since reading 1984 as a kid, I¡Çve had a strong bias against the idea of a thought crime, and don¡Çt believe it¡Çs excusable in a democracy. In a dictatorship thought laws are absolutely essential, however. I¡Çve been thinking about it, and I think you maybe right that Singapore doesn¡Çt deserve to be called a democracy, CCT.

Whether thought crimes are right or good, is kind of pointless to debate as everyone has already made up their own mind one way or the other. The much more interesting question, to me, is whether or not the CCP will be able to maintain its control over the communications of an increasingly wired and English literate population.

March 4, 2008 @ 12:36 pm | Comment

@lime

confused by your points – i don’t know where you are from, but i take it you would be happy for someone to attempt to persuade people to commit terrorist atrocities in your country? or that you would be happy with a bunch of foreigners walking down the streets in your country calling for you to be killed? or someone working in an airport to be writing about cutting the heads off the unbelievers and assisting someone else in trying to go to a terrorist training camp?

the problem is not what they are thinking – the problem is their attempts to put these thoughts into action.

the terrorists in the uk do not represent a failure of the system. the uk has a population of 1.5m muslims, around two dozen of which have thus far been convicted of terrorist crimes. if that is a significant minority to you i am somewhat surprised. if these million muslims really wanted us dead, the streets would be paved with bodies. they don’t and they aren’t. you simply cannot prevent lunatics with a grudge from killing you if they are willing to die doing it.

neither did we passively invite in people who want to kill us. the july 7 bombers were born and raised in the uk and some of the failed bombers of 21/7 were asylum seekers. the idea that every muslim in this country bears a grudge is crude tabloid talk. it is true that in the past the uk has treated those who have come to live here appalling badly, and some still suffer from discrimination and racism. however the law is on their side now and they have means of remedying the situation. i believe the situation is improving, will continue to improve and that muslims who live here recognise this.

March 4, 2008 @ 4:48 pm | Comment

I’m not suggesting that all 1.5 million Muslims in the UK are dedicated to destroying it. You have the dozen or so convicted terrorists, probably several dozen more that were involved and not convicted and, though it’s really difficult to say for certain how many, a bunch more that think that terrorism is a really good idea and may or may not want to support it directly in the future. I’m guessing that the total is somewhere in the low hundreds out of the 1.5 million. And this group of (I’m guessing) a few hundred people are not lunatics. It�s true that you do get psychotic nut jobs in every society from time, but these are the isolated school shooters, unabomber, serial killers and so forth. A few hundred, even a dozen, is too large a number for mental illness to be the issue here. That’s what I mean by significant minority.

Suggesting they’re dumb, or crazy is basically a head-in-the-sand kind of approach and it belittles their beliefs (and to be clear I want to say again that I’m just talking about the pro-terrorist group, not Muslims in general), which are as objectively justifiable as your own, however appalling they may seem to Anglo-American sensibilities. The fact that there are native born Britons that have been convinced of the rightness of this cause is just further evidence that there is some kind of an argument at work here.

As for the passively inviting people in, a large part of the problem could have been avoided if Mr. Abu Hamza had been given resident status rather than UK citizenship. Then when you found that he was spending most of his time preaching racial hatred, it wouldn’t have been that a big deal just to send him back to Egypt.

But he’s not the real problem. You’re right in saying that the real problem lies with the people who try to put the homicidal thoughts into actions. Buddy says, ‘You should go kill that guy.’ You say, ‘Oaky.’ In a society that respects the individual’s ability to interpret what they perceive in their world and make choices (unlike Red China, or any other communist/theocratic state), you’re the problem.

I don’t have a solution for the problem that’s better than to try to lock up the guy spreading the ideas, but what I’m saying is that it is in essence a form of censorship and an obvious loss of confidence in the ability of the individual to make his or her own decisions, or maybe for the larger society to be more persuasive than a handful of loud angry fundamentalists, depending on how you want to look at it. Hopefully you’re right in that things are improving and we’re winning the argument. I’m Western Canadian, if you’re interested, and I apologise if my comments came off as crude tabloid talk or bigotry.

March 4, 2008 @ 11:40 pm | Comment

@Lime,

It’s not just “a form of censorship”. It is exactly censorship. The same goes for French and German limitations on Nazi-related hate speech. (French rules on limiting everything Nazi-related is especially draconian.)

And what of those sentenced to prison in Austria and Switzerland for the crime of “Holocaust denial”? These people aren’t even accused of irresponsible or negligent speech; they’re accused of a thought-crime. Who here is going to stand up and speak for them? Should the Western world ban Swiss/Austrian exports until these intellectuals are free?

@Rich,

To garner evidence for a charge of sedition or the like? It is apparent that people rant or vent their feelings and prejudices online. Why not leave it at that and take care to assess the weight yourself.

Why should the online world be any different from the offline world?

I do prefer to keep my identity here pseudo-anonymous, because I don’t know the consequences of making my identity public. The last thing I want is Amban picketing outside my home. But if the authorities (or anyone else) needed to get in touch with me for a legitimate reason… criminal investigation or civil lawsuit… I for one would be comfortable giving up my personal details to the moderators, assuming they assured my privacy would be otherwise preserved.

The issue of whether someone should be charged as being seditious for posting (or screaming) “the Communist Party is corrupt” is a different problem, and must be tackled independently. Speech can be dangerous, period. Nearly every country on this planet recognizes this in some form. The Chinese legal system needs to find the balance between free speech and responsible speech; this is a huge gaping hole in Chinese society today, and I absolutely recognizes there are abuses at the hands of the Chinese government.

But online shimingzhi is a different issue. In China at least, online speech is becoming extraordinarily influential and significant… more so than it is in the West. As such, it should be properly regulated and handled.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. I don’t accept the explanation that because China doesn’t have a well-defined legal protection for free speech, online speech must be left anonymous and responsibility-free.

Instead, I argue that online speech should be responsible, *and* China must have well-defined legal protection for speech/expression, as guaranteed to me by my constitution.

March 5, 2008 @ 1:46 am | Comment

@CCT
‘Speech can be dangerous.’ ‘Can’ being the operative word here. Free speech would be very dangerous for a society such as China, organised as it is under an authoritarian centralised bureacracy. In a society organised under a different model it can be almost harmless (there are always hurt feelings and offended sensibilities I’ll concede) and often down right beneficial.

I never understood continental Europe’s thought crime laws. Why saying something sympathetic about Hitler fifty years later is enough of a danger to their society’s that it warrants the same kind of punishment that a murderer would get is a mystery to me. Any European’s out there that can up with any kind of defence of those laws?

March 5, 2008 @ 2:18 am | Comment

Sorry;
‘…can come up with any kind of defence of those [thought crime] laws?’
Is what I meant to say.

March 5, 2008 @ 2:22 am | Comment

In defense of the thought crime laws….

I can see how holocaust denial is a crime… I dont think people should have the right to lie… Spreading lies in society is damaging. Inciting hatred against Jews or saying Hitler was correct is dangerous because that is what started the people going along with the holocaust.

If you go around saying that the Jews are lying about the holocaust, then you are calling them liars, when it is you who is the liar and going around spreading lies and confusion, defaming people, and undermining their plight, why shouldnt that be a crime?

March 5, 2008 @ 12:03 pm | Comment

ferin””””””Crime rates, track record. Chinese people might spit all over the place but they’re unlikely to murder or rape someone. This is true outside of China and in, regardless of how harsh the laws are.””””””””

Track record!!! Who tallies the record? The communist party? Who tracks them???????

You said that the Chinese people would not likely kill or rape people, that might be true, UNLESS the party line advocates doing so. If the party line advocates for killing, the people are extremely likely to kill and not at all likely to rise above the party. Thats the problem, the Chinese people have no control over their own thoughts and actions, its all controlled by the party line.

I think that by far most crime in China is committed by party members, and I do not think their will be much of a record going around of these inside ‘legal’ crimes. Hey, if you wanna have a low crime rate, make being evil good and being good criminal, that way you will look very good and the good people will be tortured.

How can you claim this stuff when China is run under a gangster regime. Records, hah, right….

March 5, 2008 @ 12:14 pm | Comment

@Snow
First, not all holocaust deniers are necessarily liars; some of them actually believe it. If you send those guys to jail, having really bad information and a skewed world view becomes their crime. This isn’t their fault, they just have bad information and have probably had a rather unusual relationship with society at large from a young age.

Second, for those who are knowingly lying about it, lying, traditionally, is not a crime (except purgury). If you make it a crime in this case, why not others? Buddy is spreading nasty rumours about you, or about a political party, or about Louis XIV. Why shouldn’t those cases be criminally punishable? It’s still spreading hate, isn’t it? It just becomes a bit of a slippery slope. Besides, liars are indistinguishable from the true believers, so this remains a thought crime.

More practically, you’re actually giving credence to these people’s beliefs, and the beliefs of others who may share those beliefs (if more privately). I say, “the holocaust was a big Zionist conspiracy.” Next thing I know, I’m locked up for the next seven years. The very obvious conclusion I’ll come to, considering where I started, is that the Zionists are controlling the legal system and using it to protect their big lie. Ditto for those who privately shared my beliefs and are still outside of jail.

Its also a vote of non-confidence against the intelligence of your population and the efficacy of your education system. I understand that the government paternalistically shielding its people from the nastiness of the real world has become something of a tradition in western Europe compared to America, but what kind of fools do they take their people for? If they think they’re in danger of losing their population to Nazism in the 21st century, they’ve got problems bigger than the liars themselves.

March 5, 2008 @ 1:12 pm | Comment

@Lime,

A case from Australia, then:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/01/18/news/australia.php

Should Sheik Feiz Mohammed be held criminally liable for his statements? If his actions are criminal… what if his statements/videos are published, anonymously, online?

March 5, 2008 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

@CCT
Legally, I’m afraid I’m not familiar enough with Australian law to know if he should be held criminally liable. If Australia’s laws are similar to Canada’s then its likely to be a really grey area, especially where the internet is concerned.

Personally, I think that in a modern democratic society he should be entitled to his opinions and expression of them, as repugnant as they may be to the rest of the society. In this case, the ‘lying’ part isn’t even an issue. He would be punished simply for hating and expressing it, so its basically an emotion crime in this case. Australia’s government, as I said above, should have a little faith in their population’s intellectual fortitude. Those that are won over by the Sheik’s little rantshave some problem that goes deeper than Mr Mohammed himself.

This case brings up another interesting point. Its all well and good when you can just go round to the local university and round up the rogue professor giving his holocaust denial lecture, but what happens when the hate propaganda machine is moved out of country and online? Then you can either just ignore it and hope that it doesn’t win over your people, or you have to start controlling your people’s access to the internet like China.

March 5, 2008 @ 3:40 pm | Comment

@lime

it is true that the fact that several hundred people would hold their fellow human beings in such contempt as to plot to murder them at the expense of their own lives deeply saddening and troubling. i still would argue several hundred out of 1.5 million is the price you pay for freedom.

nevertheless, for me, freedom of speech ends at the point where you use it to incite racial hatred and murder. before that point anything goes, including holocaust denial. the right to life trumps the right to say what you like.

March 5, 2008 @ 10:13 pm | Comment

I would say that sheik guy is a criminal. A really bad person

March 5, 2008 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

@Lime,

>Then you can either just ignore it and hope that it doesn’t win over your people, or you have to start controlling your people’s access to the internet like China.

Or… like the French? The French judicial forces are notable for forcing E-Bay and Yahoo to remove references to Nazi memorabilia.

My point in all of this is that China is hardly alone. There are numerous countries that implement variants of similar laws. (And I’m not speaking of sedition laws in other areas of Asia, Africa, Latin America, Middle East… I’m talking western Europe, here.)

I understand that Canada has a different policy. It’s possible that Canadians are wiser and more tolerant, but it’s also possible that Canadians have had the luxury of watching the greatest challenges of the 20th century from a distance.

France/Germany, for example, are perhaps more concerned about the Holocaust and Nazi sentiment because of their direct involvement. The UK is more concerned about the speech of Muslim extremists, perhaps, because bombs have gone off in their subways and numerous Britons have gone off to fight for the Taliban. And China is perhaps more concerned about revolution and civil war, because we’ve had at least 2 successful revolutions (unnumbered failed ones), and 40 years of civil war in the last century alone. And China is perhaps more concerned about foreign invasion and manipulation because we’ve been invaded innumerable times in the last century alone.

I think China does need discussion (and reform) in terms of understanding what is legally acceptable speech. But I don’t think China will, or should, adopt the exact definitions that you believe it should.

March 6, 2008 @ 1:24 am | Comment

@Si & Snow
Fair enough. We all have to draw our lines somewhere.

@CCT
You misunderstand me. I don’t think China (or this particular incarnation of China) will, should, or even could adopt the legally allowable level of free speech that I described. I don’t believe that the authoritarian system would be sustainable if they did, and the concern over revolution is perfectly justified. While in China, the idea that my speech was monitored and I could potentially be charged for what I said or wrote grated against my American view of the world, but looking at it more objectively, I think the laws are applied about as leniently and as rationally as they could have been under the circumstances.

In Canada we have hate crime laws too, though they’re still in their infancy and perhaps more irritating that France’s and Germany’s because the human rights charter they’re based on is really vague.

As for France and Germany, I understand that the whole WWII thing continues to be a bigger issue for them than it is in the English world, but they’re both stable liberalish democracies and I don’t understand what threat the odd outspoken anti-semite, Nazi sympathiser, or holocaust denier can really pose to their society in the post-modern world here, and why those same kind of people can be safely ignored in the United States. That’s why I asked if there is anyone who has a more intimate understanding of their cultures and can shed some light on this.
As for the E-Bay thing, I hadn’t heard about that before, but looking into it now, that’s a pretty irritating thing to do. It amounts to an attempt to make the rest of the world conform to their views and sensibilites, which is something even China is not guilty of.

As for Britain, well that’s fucked up. Like I say, there is something wrong in that situation that goes way beyond one raving hook-handed imam, and if I knew how to solve it, I would have a different job right now.

March 6, 2008 @ 4:50 am | Comment

@lime

perhaps you could explain to me in greater detail why you feel it is all “fucked up”. living in britain the picture you paint is unrecognisable to me. i went to school with muslims and work alongside them. never had a problem. i think perhaps you have been reading too much tabloid talk. do you own a copy of “londonistan” by any chance?

March 6, 2008 @ 5:11 pm | Comment

Come on here. I’m not attacking Muslims, I tried to be clear about that. Its fucked up that a tiny, but neither stupid nor crazy, group of people have become convinced that murdering fellow citizens at random is the best way to….? To what? I’m not sure what exactly they’re doing. No, I haven’t read, nor do I own a copy of Londonistan. I don’t think anything I said was critical of Islam, but I’m sorry if that’s how you interpretted it that way.

March 6, 2008 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

@lime

i didn’t mean to imply you are anti-muslim. i just don’t follow the argument that some crazies blew themselves up on the london underground therefore british society is screwed.

“Its fucked up that a tiny, but neither stupid nor crazy, group of people have become convinced that murdering fellow citizens at random is the best way to….? To what? I’m not sure what exactly they’re doing.”

if you don’t know what their aims, perhaps you are not in position to comment on it.

March 7, 2008 @ 9:56 pm | Comment

@Si
Do you think you understand their aims?

March 8, 2008 @ 6:12 am | Comment

@Si
Thinking about this now, I think you may not have understood my terminology. Perhaps you say it differently in Britain, but in America, when we say ‘it’s fucked up’, it can mean that whatever ‘it’ is has been somehow damaged or ruined, but it can also mean that something is fundamentally incomprehendable or bizzare. I was using the phrase in the latter sense, and referring to the terrorism itself, rather than British society in general. I’m still eagerly awaiting your insights into the psychology of the suicide bombers. Feel free not to limit yourself to Britain, as many other country’s are having this problem as well.

March 8, 2008 @ 7:09 am | Comment

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