Monday, March 24, 2008

Freedom from Criticism doesn't (and shouldn't) Exist

A recent story out in the news today details the case of Fitna, a controversial movie made by Geert Wilders that hasn't even been released yet, and American company Network Solutions' decision to suspend his website. Network Solutions is also known for its hosting of terrorist group Hizbollah's website.

I have a great many problems with this decision.

For starters, I think any "preemptive strike" of a website hosting company against a site it host is pretty ridiculous, especially based off of the complaints of another group. If the company honestly has a big problem with what's being hosted, that material should be reviewed extensively before it is banned.

Even as an advocate of free speech, I understand why a company would not want to have certain sites associated with its name. However, that same standard should be applied evenly across the board. And you really really can't say you're against all words that might be misconstrued as "hate speech" if you register freakin hizbollah.org, I mean, this group spreads anti-Semitic crap all the time, including the ridiculous rumor that Jews are deliberately spreading AIDS. They also spoke against the 90's movie "Independence Day," which showed a Jewish character joining with others to save the world from an alien invasion, calling it, "''propaganda for the so-called genius of the Jews and their alleged concern for humanity." I'm not even going to dignify that idiocy with a response.

Secondly, I'm not exactly certain why so many people have a problem with this film. Fitna, which means "discord" in Arabic, supposedly is about 15 minutes long. This is how it is described in another article.

"Geert Wilders' film, which supposedly will be shown on a split screen, with verses and suras from the Koran on one side and examples of Sharia law being carried out on the other, including a beheading and a stoning"

Look at that. It says straight out itself, examples of Sharia law being carried out.

In addition, Wikipedia (not reliable, I know, but sometimes an accurate gauge for what people are thinking) says, "Wilders has said the 15-minute film will show how verses from the Quran are being used today to incite modern Muslims to behave violently and anti-democratically based on those verses."

What is so offensive about this? If it's in the law you follow, what can you see wrong in watching it being carried out? It seems so hypocritical to me for a group following such laws to object to the filming of such laws being carried out.

Now of course, since the film still hasn't been released, it could feature something much, much more agregious and insulting. However, this leads me to my final and most important point.

Why the hell is it considered so wrong for anyone to criticize Islam? I'm Christian- people crap on my religion all day. There are Jesus action figures, naked chocolate Jesus statues, cartoons of the savior blowing a capitalist pig, and ridiculous representations on South Park, Family Guy, and everywhere else (those are not getting links because I personally don't wish to promote that type of imagery). Do these piss me off and offend me? Yes. Does it hurt me when people say that my religion promotes hate, injustice, inequality, and selfishness? Yes.

But because I live in a society where people are allowed to voice their opinions in both speech, print, and every other media, I have to understand that these things will be said. And I honestly believe that these criticisms of every religion helps it and its followers to grow. When people tell me Christianity is hateful and promotes inequality, it pushes me to really look at what I believe in and find out why people think such things.

You can't go around living in a free society claiming all its rights for yourself without realizing how other people's rights affect you as well. It's part of the deal. You have the right to criticize other people, ideas, films, religions, everything- so does everyone else. You deal with it. You don't demand special treatment for yourself.

And we need to stop pandering to people who demands rights that don't exist. Get over yourselves. Seriously.

This is probably going to get me in trouble, but oh well, it's what I really think.

Y'all have a good one,

HG

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The P Word

I'm pretty sure someone just called me a plagiarist in a comment on Connect Mason and I'm not exactly certain why, I think there might have been a case of mistaken identity or something. However, I do know that it makes me furious.

Let's just make this quite clear. I have many faults. I am very human. I have done some tremendously stupid things in my 5+ years of reporting.

But I have never plagiarized. I have never taken the work of another human being and called it my own and I never would. This is something I feel incredibly strongly about. I feel that if I as a writer am unable to do my own research and do my own work to properly cite that research, I should be in a different career. I despise that sort of behavior.

And as another observation, I've never been accused of plagiarism. Never. It has never even been brought up before in all my years of reporting and all my years as a student.

Thus, this random comment out of thin air on a package I worked on calling me a plagiarist....pisses me off. I don't get it and I don't understand where the hell that's coming from. But I do know that people love insulting others behind the anonymity of the Internet. It's not like I haven't been on the receiving end of some idiot's insulting comments before. As a writer who's been in the public eye before, I understand it's going to happen- I grit my teeth and bear it. But it sucks.

Anyways, I have better things to do now. I'll write more later.

-HG

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Guns in America, part I

The historic Supreme Court Case DC v. Heller started today with arguments from both the District and the Plaintiff. In case you've been living under a rock lately, this is the DC handgun case, challenging the District's gun laws that ban handguns and prevent residents from keeping rifles or shotguns assembled ad loaded at home.

This case will pretty much determine what the Second Amendment actually protects-a state's collective right to form a militia, or an individual right to bear arms. The last time the Supreme Court heard a case on the topic was back in 1939, in U.S. v. Miller. It involved a criminal prosecution under the National Firearms Act of 1934, requiring certain forms of firearms to be registered and a $200 tax to be paid upon it at the time of registration. Jack Miller, the plaintiff, was arrested for transporting a sawed-off shotgun across state lines. When the US District Court in Arkansas heard the case, the judge agreed with the defense that the NFA violated the individual's right to bear arms granted under the Second Amendment, also calling it an attempt by the government to usurp the policing power of the states. It then went to the Supreme Court, where the court decided that the NFA did not violate the Second Amendment, saying, "In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."

The ruling has been interpreted various ways by both gun control and gun rights advocates. Everyone's pretty much agreed for a while though, that US v. Miller didn't clarify anything at all.

The big question is- what was the intent of the Second Amendment? Was it to protect the collective right to form a militia or an individual right to own and carry guns?

So far, it looks like the justices are leaning all kinds of ways on the issue.

"I don't see how there's any, any, any contradiction between reading the second clause as a -- as a personal guarantee and reading the first one as assuring the existence of a militia...," Justice Antonin Scalia said. "But why isn't it perfectly plausible, indeed reasonable, to assume that since the framers knew that the way militias were destroyed by tyrants in the past was not by passing a law against militias, but by taking away the people's weapons -- that was the way militias were destroyed."

Justice Stephen Breyer seemed to be looking for answers on the practicality of the DC law. After quoting some of the statistics on gun-related crime (80,000-100,000 people every year in the US are either killed or wounded in gun-related homicides/crimes/accidents/suicides, guessing the stats in the District as being approximately 200-300 dead and 1,500-2000 wounded annually), he asked, "Now, in light of that, why isn't a ban on handguns, while allowing the use of rifles and muskets, a reasonable or a proportionate response on behalf of the District of Columbia?"

Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty has given his opinion on the law pretty plainly- he wants it to stay in place. "This is a public safety case," Fenty has said. " Handguns represent a disproportionate number of crimes in the District of Columbia: everything from homicides to robbery to rape." He predicted that the repeal of the handgun ban would lead to more crime and violence, saying "The fact that we have had a handgun ban has significantly curtailed the number of violent crimes in the city."

Should be interesting to see what happens here- it doesn't look like the justices are leaning either way yet.

Here's the transcript of the arguments today.

I'll post my personal thoughts on all this soon.

-HG

Random Facts About Me

1. I love food. Like- really really love it. I enjoy trying new things and savor the old. Thus this entire list will be about my food quirks and loves.

2. I am a snack maniac- there are certain snacks I'll never keep in my apartment because I know they'll disappear in a day. These include white cheddar cheezits, any of the ritz bitz sandwiches, dried cherries, and wheat thins.

3. I never eat the pretzels in a bag of Chex Mix...unless I'm really really hungry.

4. I have a huge sweet tooth. If I let it get out of control, I would happily eat ice cream all day, with a side of cookie dough and my mom's cheesecake.

5. I have random intense cravings for corn dogs which really can't be explained. I think it might be the Texan in me calling out for the state fair.

6. I thoroughly believe my dad's brisket is the best in the world, no matter what my friend Aram says. He maintains that brisket was invented by Jews in New York City and the best brisket can be found at a Deli up there. We'll see- we're going up there this next weekend and I'll make sure to figure that out.

7. I. Love. Seafood. Shrimp especially. Mmmmm. I'm also a big fan of fish and lemon. Lemon makes everything better!

8. When I was in Europe in January, I really really enjoyed the food there. The lamb kebabs in Austria, especially, were amazing. The way they roast them on the spit is really just, quite incomparable.

9. I really enjoy a well cooked steak or burger. I don't think I could ever be a vegetarian- there's just a juicy wonderfulness about meat that just hits my taste buds in the right spot.

10. However, I've considered being a vegetarian before and have tried it on a few occasions- most memorably giving it up for Lent in like, 6th grade. I'd like to be able to give it up honestly- I'd like to be disciplined enough to help save the environment and the animals. Plus I've heard you lose a LOT of weight once you give up meat. But I just don't think I can do it- especially not right now. I think I'll try it in the summer and see what happens.

And yes, of course I'll write about it.

: )

HG

Monday, March 17, 2008

Dancing on the Ashes

As Wonkette mentioned, this week marks the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War. What an unglorious birthday.

I must say though, some of the anti-war protests that are happening are really quite ingenious.

I'm most fascinated by this event hosted by DC Students for a Democratic Society called "Funk The War 3" (which has apparently been held twice before). Not too much is said about it, but what is there, makes it sound like this protest will be an all-out free-loving dancing disco protest of awesome measure.

This is what their website says.

"We're going down to the K Street offices of the rich and powerful that started this mess and keep us in it, we're going to shut them down, and we're going to dance on the ashes. March 19 is the fifth anniversary of the War on Iraq and this is the party we're throwing for it."

Another part of this brilliant website says, "The Militant Mobile Anti-War Disco Returns to Drop More Beats, Not Bombs!"

Excellent. Thoroughly excellent. I definitely plan to attend and cover it for Connect Mason.

I love offbeat protests like this. I mean, there were the protesters in No War, No Warming dressed up as polar bears dancing to hip-hop music. There were also fleets of RAGING AT THE MOUTH kids on bikes blocking traffic. A lot of them ended up getting arrested.

Damn Polar Bears. Always disturbing the peace with their crazy requests for a home to boogie down in.

My favorite video from there is actually the last one on the page- where the polar bears get arrested, the camera man pushed back, and everyone starts yelling, "FREEDOM OF THE PRESS!" It just makes me swell up with pride for my awesome career.

You know, part of me knows that these protests don't really work because they just kinda piss everyone off, but I just love them so much and want them to work so badly that I don't really care. Plus they make FANTASTIC news coverage. As long as you don't overdo it, anyways.

I wrote up a piece on Connect Mason today blogger-style (lots of fun links) on the new Indian food place that just opened up on campus. It's pretty exciting I gotta say.

Anyways, over and out-

HG





Sunday, March 16, 2008

I <3 (Governor) Huckabee

Well not really. I disagree with him on many many things. But I really wanted to play on the title of that one movie I never saw...

But you gotta say, the guy has an awesome sense of humor about himself.

I mean his appearance with Elmo and Rosita from Sesame Street is fabulous.

Then there's his hilarious appearance on the Colbert Report where they played Air Hockey with a Texas shaped Puck. I can't find the video right now, but I'm sure it's out there.

His recognition of Mad Money as creating him.

His self-deprecating appearance on SNL.

An amazing commercial with Chuck Norris.

And I'm sure there are many others. I gotta go find them all now. Wee.

-HG

Dalai Lama won't stop protests in Tibet

In a not so happy turn of events, the Dalai Lama said in a news conference today that he would not order the protesters in Tibet to stop. The situation in Tibet is growing interesting, particularly due to disparate reports about the death toll coming from the Chinese official reports and elsewhere.

According to this article from Chinadaily.com, 10 civilians were killed in the violence last Friday. I thought for a second that this article was just old, but it clearly says it's from March 17. Numerous articles and news sources are saying that at least 80 people have been killed in the protests, with a Korean site claiming "scores of fatalities."

Also according to the article, the Mayor of Lhasa, where the majority of violence has occurred, said that calm had returned to the city, with the unrest provoked only by a handful of monks and lawless persons.

I think I'm going to have say- bullshit. The protests have clearly not calmed down- they've spread into different Tibetan regions of China. Another article I found quotes a policeman as saying that approximately 200 protestors hurled petrol bombs and burnt down a police station in Aba county in the Sichuan province today.

Calm, my ass. Way to be completely propaganda-ish and false about the reporting. China just doesn't want to look bad in front of the international community before the upcoming Beijing Olympics. I think they're failing...

I'll be watching this more- it's not a topic I know a lot about right now, but I hope to get more informed on it in the next couple days.

-HG

Tattoos, Tattoos, Tattoos

You know, I've been thinking about getting another tattoo for a while (I have a small one on my ankle that's very pretty) Not exactly flames or stickmen roasting s'mores or anything, but something colorful that'll remind me of some of the shit I've managed to survive in my life. Well, okay, not to remind me of the shit, but to remind me of how I survived. That's the really important thing.

I've thought about getting a phoenix. Maybe not a crazy vengeful looking one, but just one that looks like it's kinda, risen from the ashes, you know. Despite my crazy linkage on that sentence, I haven't managed to find one I like- I want a phoenix that's modern looking, sleek, beautiful, feminine without being entirely girly, and something very different from the feathery twirly Russian/Chinese phoenix tattoos. I haven't found anything like what I'm looking for yet. Also, I'm afraid it'll be kinda cliche.

So I need something representing rebirth and renewal without necessarily being a phoenix. I read that a flaming butterfly is a Greek symbol of renewal. I don't know why. Poor butterfly, getting its little wings burned off (I can't believe I found a picture of that, that's just sick and twisted.) However, a butterfly is a natural symbol of renewal- I started a novel when I was younger that was going to be divided into sections based on the life cycles of a butterfly- it involved a mysterious town where all these people with mutant gifts lived called "Chrysalis." I don't think I want a picture of a chrysalis or a pupa on my body though (and yes, I'm aware they're the same thing), it would be too easily mistaken for a shell or a booger. Or maybe even that nasty ear wax my mom helped me pry out of my ear my first year of college that was keeping me from hearing. I learned my lesson after that- no earbuds for me! (Actually, be careful with your ears! Any long term exposure to loud music via headphones can seriously damage them!)

I'm not too worried about waiting on figuring this out- It took me a bit of thinking to figure out what I wanted for my first tattoo but once I decided what I wanted, -bam- I went out and got it like, two days later. And I haven't regretted it at all- I love my tattoo.

One of the craziest tattoos I've ever seen is this (warning, this tattoo is in a somewhat explicit area, but it's fascinating, not disgusting, in my opinion. but then, I'm not a guy, so I don't feel physical pain when I look at this) To find out more about how this tattoo was done, go look at John Bevan's website.

It's also interesting reading about the World's Most Tattooed Man, Lucky Diamond Rich. He's onto multiple layers of tattoos all over his body now. I'd love to meet the guy- he must have some serious chutzpah. After one tiny tattoo on my ankle, in a session of less than 15 minutes, I was freaking out from the pain over my ankle bone. This guy has gone through over 1,000 hours! of tattooing. I can't even imagine it.

While I'm over at the Guinness Book of World Records website, I might as well look at the Most Pierced Guy as well. Now, I have a couple piercings in my ears that I'm quite proud of. My pain tolerance for that type of body modification is actually pretty good at this point. But I cannot even comprehend what it's like to have all these piercings in my body.

I guess I just really don't have it in me to be a world record breaker. Lame. That would be a good path to getting famous, right?

On the other hand, because of my careful nature towards my body modifications, I don't have to worry too much about looking like one of these poor souls. Ear Piercings gone horrendously horrendously Bad!

And then an infected tattoo! Bahhh! And another one! Bahhh!

If you were just horrendously grossed out by that, get over it. My mom's a doctor and always had a lovely magazine examining skin infections show up on my doorstep when I was little. It was truly dangerous getting the mail when I was younger, all of us were utterly disgusted by some of the cover pictures that showed up. Eech.

Anyways, I suppose I should probably work on some of my homework for tomorrow. Gross.

Catch y'all later-

HG

First Thoughts of the Blog

Things that fascinate me right now:

  • The new Post Secret en Espanol website! I love Post Secret- check it out every week as a matter of fact. And now that it's in Spanish, it helps me learn a bit more every time I look at it. I went through and read these words to myself a few times while looking at the English versions for reference. It brings questions to my mind though- why is the Spanish translation of text message," "SMS"? What does that mean? Also, the Spanish of that particular post card, saying "My wife left me via text message," says, ""Mi esposa me dej√≥...Por SMS." Now, in my elementary knowledge of Spanish, I've always learned por, to mean, "for." This amuses me greatly now to read in my head, "My wife left me for text messaging." Haha! Poor loser. (Even though I know this is incredibly wrong for me to limit my Spanish knowledge like this, I can't help but laugh.)
  • The fact that after coming back from my Spring Break vacation at the beach, now all my friends have stolen my pictures to use as their profile pics on Facebook. Pwned! : ) The beach itself really was wonderful btw. So relaxing...
  • While I was there, I finally got around to reading Eat Pray Love, a fantastic book by Elizabeth Gilbert. So many parts of it spoke to my own struggles with love, religion, stress, and the need I have to balance it all in my own life. It also heightened my own longing for more adventurous traveling in my life- I've only been abroad once in a study trip for school. I went through several countries in Europe over 15 days- I think it changed my life. Now all I want to do is find a way to go abroad for a semester next spring and intern somewhere in Europe, or Australia, or India, or South America! Anyways, it's a really fabulous book, I suggest it to everyone.
  • I came across this wonderful cartoon on XKCD the other day that I thoroughly enjoyed, yet didn't quite understand. Using my insightful analysis of the tooltip reading, "RIP Gary," combined with an expert use of Wikipedia, I discovered that Dungeons and Dragons creator Gary Gygax died on March 4. Since then, I've discovered another comic tribute to Gygax's passing at Penny Arcade. Wired.com held a redesign the logo contest in Dungeons and Dragons style contest in his honor. The Colbert Report even came out and honored Gygax. I'm sure I could find tributes throughout cyberspace in his honor if I looked longer (as a friend of mine mentioned, pretty much almost every website owner in existence has played D&D at some point, particularly in the comic/nerdy type world I love so much). I think it's so sweet and fascinating to find so many tributes to this man.
  • It's time to reveal another obsession of mine- I follow the lives of celebrities with an almost ridiculous interest. I don't read Perez Hilton every day, but when I do, I certainly enjoy it. I buy People every chance I get. I secretly want to be as famous as these celebrities. I have my entrance at the Oscars created in my mind- I'd enter in a fabulous gown that's absolutely breathtaking with a beautifully classic hairstyle- none of this crazy Bob Mackie outfit or swan gown business, as lovely as it can be to laugh about.
    Anyways, to get back to my point- I just wanted to know- did anyone else think the "Britney Spears" figure in the new animated superhero music video, looked absolutely nothing like her? And I wasn't very convinced by the sincerity of the piece- I was more convinced by the completely lame (but very laughable) superheros in that awesome tv series a while back than her. Stan Lee was in that show- it was fabulous. Mmmm Stan Lee...
More later- it's very late/early now and I should probably grab some zzz's before the next day. I have an essay and a project due Monday that I completely haven't started- I must make sure that I make that happen!

Catch y'all later-

HG

Introduction

So I've decided to start a blog again, and I feel I must be up front with it from the start.

I am a college girl, age 20, who is absolutely fascinated with life. I love writing, adventuring, traveling, reading, being able to make people laugh, and finding out about things first. I am insanely curious and easily excitable, in an emotional, happy way. These traits all add up to working out quite well for my chosen passion and career- journalism. I love writing about people, politics, current events, travel- everything. I also write poetry which is usually either very exuberant or slightly dramatic- I tend not to be two ways about things.

You can probably guess then, why I've decided to name my blog Hyperbole Girl. I will also be going by this name for the time being. It's a nickname my cousin gave me at one point after he'd heard me proclaim something, "Amazing!" possibly one too many times. For the uninformed, a hyperbole is "a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect." It's from the Greek, huperbole- excess, from the base verb, huperballein- to exceed. I'm not entirely certain, but I'd imagine this is the same word which hyper, meaning emotionally stimulated or overexcited, derives from. This is a word commonly used to describe people with Attention Deficit Disorder. I must also be upfront in saying, yes, I do have ADD. I discovered it a few years ago when I began having a depressed nervous breakdown from the pressure of not being able to handle all the stress in my life anymore. It's something I deal with- it's part of who I am. So yes, I am occasionally inclined to ramble, joke, laugh, and be very hyperactive, particularly in the evening after my medicine has worn off and I have nothing much to concentrate on for work. I've had friends told me before that my stream of consciousness must be absolutely fascinating to read.

I'm going to use this blog to write about anything and everything I'm interested in at the moment of writing. It might be news one day, a favorite webcomic another day- whatever strikes my fancy.

Hope y'all enjoy it. : )

-HG