Crying Freema

Public request: I’m looking for two downloads: (1) a copy of the movie, Guiana: 1838; and (2) an installation CD for Windows XP Starter Edition. I don’t want to buy these things; I don’t want to send away for them; I just want to download them now for free. So if you have any leads, lemme know. (And just to be clear, by free I mean I want a perfectly legal review copy; this is especially so for the XP Started Edition… in case anyone from the MicroSoft legal team is reading this).

So I’ve been watching the first four episodes of season 3 of the reborn Doctor Who, starring David Tennant. I was a great fan of the Doctor’s last sidekick, Rose. Since she was removed from the series last year, I’ve been doubting whether history’s longest running science fiction TV show would be the same.

The new sidekick is Freema Agyeman who is simply babe-tastic:


The interesting thing about the new season is that, to be blunt, Freema is black. That means that for the first time the show must address racism when the Doctor and his companion travel backwards in time. They’ve sidestepped the matter deftly so far. In 16th century England, Freema asks if she’s going to be sold into slavery, and the Doctor responds with something to the effect that she shouldn’t believe everything she read in history books. In 1930s New York, the duo conveniently find themselves in a hobo shantytown where racial segregation has been artificially suspended, with this fact deliberately mentioned. (TV writers call this “hanging a lantern” on the issue; it’s considered a lazy storytelling approach.)

What is not addressed are issues of sexism in Earth’s history. In the same 1930s episode, Freema and the doctor both “volunteer” for hard labour in New York’s sewers, and no one bats an eye that Freema is the only woman among the pressganged for this very masculine task.

Anyway, it’s essentially a kids’ show, so I shouldn’t expect too much. But the producers made a big deal about expanding the show’s sexual dynamic, by introducing many homo-, bi- and omnisexual characters. I think it behooves them to other render attention to other sticky topics.

In Other News…

Finally, soldier types are coming forward to talk about how the US military compelled them to lie about the Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch affairs. Why is this important? How is it not important? When the world’s most powerful military is so tightly in bed with the world’s most powerful government, and while both are increasingly known more for their lies than for their truths, then it behooves all human beings –not just American citizens– to sue for change at a fundamental level.

So there’s this student in Colorado who, perhaps foolishly, expressed an unpopular opinion, specifically that he could understand the source of the anger of the Virginia Tech shooter. What did authorities do? Did they open up the debate? Did they answer him? Did they ignore him? Did they warn him to shut up? No, they arrested him. That’s right. In post-9/11 America it is illegal for a student at an institution of higher education to vocalize an unpopular opinion. Note that I wrote “vocalize” and not “espouse”; the distinction is important. If it is the authorities’ goal to discourage such attitudes, then all they have succeeded in doing is to prevent those who share them to not identify themselves.

That’s the practical issue. The philosophical issue is more offensive, and relates to an earlier comment on this blog regarding whether words can be weapons. I contend that words can be inappropriate and hurtful and ignorant, but –with the exceptions of libel and slander– they can never be criminal. In a free society that truly believes its rhetoric, an opinion must always be sacrosanct under the law. The Wat has spoken.