Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Kurt Vonnegut censorship.

It now seems I must read Cat's Cradle !  This is a book that Kurt is famous for, as well as many others.  I started looking into this guy when I read a small 'blog' on Ralph STEADman's web site.  Ralph STEADman points out, with some disgust: "Now, Hardly 3 years after his death, some wretched, asinine School Board in a place ominously called Republic, Missouri- has voted to ban Kurt's personal first masterpiece, SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE"  Slaughterhouse Five is the shortened title of a book Kurt Wrote about his experiences in World War II.  The full title is "Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death, by Kurt Vonnegut, a Fourth-Generation German-American Now Living in Easy Circumstances on Cape Cod [and Smoking Too Much], Who, as an American Infantry Scout Hors de Combat, as a Prisoner of War, Witnessed the Fire Bombing of Dresden, Germany, ‘The Florence of the Elbe,’ a Long Time Ago, and Survived to Tell the Tale. This Is a Novel Somewhat in the Telegraphic Schizophrenic Manner of Tales of the Planet Tralfamadore, Where the Flying Saucers Come From. Peace."

Ralph is quite correctly horrified at the fascist attitude in banning this book.

A lovely quote from Kurt "The only difference between Bush and Hitler is that Hitler was elected".

Friday, 14 October 2011

A problem with secrecy.

There is a problem with the issue of secrecy and the national scandal of phone hacking as a good example.  Lots of people express their different views and there even seems to be a consensus opinion that people's privacy should be protected.  But that actually confuses the issue and is leading people into another more severe problem.

People do not have some inalienable right to secrecy.  If that is established it is the people with a motive to be secretive who will be protected.  In fact that is the way it is and the scandal is more likely to give the devious manipulators more power and control over others.  But the issue is mixed up with the reasonable expectation that 'private' information should not be broadcast when it will be abused and cause undue harm to the subject.  It is not 'privacy' that is sacrosanct but rather the abuse of information that should be dealt with.  For example, if I were a politician and I dropped a brick on my foot this morning causing me to swear and someone published the fact that I swore in a national newspaper, what could be the problem?  If that information were used to inappropriately suggest I was an undesirable type who was not fit to hold a public position and I lost my job, it is not the fact of it being broadcast that 'caused' the injustice.  It would be the inappropriate and unfair actions taken by someone else based on an inaccurate and prejudicial interpretation of the facts.  Obviously the motive for the broadcasting has to be questioned too.

During the early days of the Libyan uprising I was pleased to hear one interviewee give his name and point out that he disagreed with all the secrecy where individuals remained anonymous when they spoke out against the government because, as he pointed out, it is the secrecy that is colluding with the perpetrators of the crime.  The secrecy is, in fact, giving power to the abuser.

Just because it is a difficult problem is not justification to 'opt' for one solution which happens to be wrong.  Just because one can't solve the problem doesn't mean a quick guess is right.  Behind all of this is a lack of personal responsibility.