Captain Sulu, Queen of the Stars

There are new allegations of abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. This time, the allegations go, those prisoners on hunger strike are being force-fed in a manner that is clearly abusive and meant to harm. This ongoing story continues to horrify me and really underlines the mutation that has undergone the American (and maybe Western) value system since 9/11. Maybe that mutation occurred a long time before, but at least now we have firm evidence of it. These individuals are not prisoners of war, they are not criminals charged with any crime, they are not even terrorists who have attacked American civilians (despite what the blowhard pundits will tell you). Yet they are being tortured indefinitely in a military prison, with zero contact with friends, relatives and counsel. Serial baby molesters have more rights than these men, most of whom were detained just because they dared raise a weapon against the invading US army. I hope that there’s a Hell, so the neocons can rot in it.

And while the mutating American value system is increasingly accepting of the maltreatment of individuals, it is also increasingly intolerant of actual freedoms under the law. In Missouri, a law has been upheld that prevents sexually oriented businesses from advertising on billboards. On the face of it, the law seems reasonable in that it apparently is meant to uphold some sort of vague community standard.

But consider two things. First is that these businesses are legal, popular, tax-paying endeavours which are, in my opinion, less detrimental to society than, say, law firms and gun manufacturers. Why are they being singled out for such treatment? I would apply the same logic to tobacco advertising: so long as the product is legal, the business should be allowed to advertise in the same manner as any other business. The state denying a particular industry advertising rights is an admission that the state would like to see that industry abolished; again, tobacco is the obvious other example. If that is the case, then show some balls and make the product illegal. If you’re not willing to do so, back off and let the industry thrive, so long as it is honest about what its product entails and about the risks associated with using it.

Second is that sexually oriented advertising already floods our senses, from lingerie ads to promos for Desperate Housewives. How is an ad for a strip club disproportionately contributing to the degradation of society’s mores? It’s all quite hypocritical and once again underlines the thinness of the growing morality movement south of the border.

Cousin Ajay sends us this article claiming that India has been particularly callous in its response to the earthquake tragedy in Pakistan. While the article’s tone is a bit over the top, I don’t think it’s inaccurate. As Eric Margolis puts it, “Up to 70,000 may have died in Pakistan. Yet India and Pakistan still can’t agree on opening the border of divided Kashmir to allow relief convoys to get from Indian-ruled Srinagar to the Pakistani side. NATO needs urgently to come to the rescue.” The continuing enmity between some peoples of Pakistan and India is beyond irrational, especially in these dire times.

On a related note, please keep November 30th open. A few of us are organizing a big photography exhibit here in Ottawa, meant to raise money or earthquake relief.

Brother Currie sends us this newsflash: George Takei, Star Trek‘s Mr Sulu, is gay. Yes, it’s true. Sorry, ladies. I’m reminded of my favourite Sulu line from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home:

[The Enterprise arrives in orbit above 20th century Earth and scans for humpback whales near northern California.]

Sulu (with shit-eating grin and characteristic feminine accent): “San Francisco — I was born there!”