Archive for August 22nd, 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

JR’s Weekender: Deliberations on a More Comprehensive Questionnaire

Xin Min Poll: This Picture is Incomplete

Xin Min Poll: This Picture is Incomplete

The 13th Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress Standing Committee has opened the first round of deliberations on the Shanghai Regulations on Smoking in Public Places (上海市公共场所控制吸烟条例) draft, and the city’s Xinmin Website (新民网) publishes the draft for discussion. An online poll asks:

Shanghai’s legislation wants to establish designated smoking areas, what do you think of it? (沪立法公共场所分类禁烟,你怎么看?)

Answers available:

a) Commendable! A good regulation which I actively support. (赞!好规定,积极支持)
b) I’m disappointed. The areas where smoking will be prohibited are too small. (失望,禁烟范围仍不大)
c) I can’t live without smoking. (不能抽烟,简直没法活)
d) Enforcement can’t keep up with the regulation. (监管跟不上等于空法规)

JR was looking for e), but there are no further voting options available. So the results will either  suggest that the voters want such regulations (be it in accordance with the current draft, be it in a more tightened form), or that they are sorry, unhealthy addicts.

Anyway, JR is sure we all agree that these four answers won’t allow for a complete picture of Xin Min readers’ opinions. So here is JR’s suggested amendment to the online poll. Suggested additional answers:

e) If there is something which makes our city a beautiful garden, it is that it leaves people alone at least on this issue.

f) Even the worst enemies of the Chinese people appreciate our relaxed attitude towards tobacco and alcoholic drinks. Let’s convince them that we are a more friendly and relaxed society than they expected.

g) Some of the worst enemies of the Chinese people praise our “relaxed attitude towards tobacco and alcoholic drinks”. To ban smoking is patriotic.

h) I like the lack of enforcement referred to under (d). It enables police to arrest unpatriotic elements without the need to make up other accusations than smoking in the wrong place.

i) Smoking kills feelings. It’s easier to fuck people in the ass so long as they are allowed to smoke. This shit wouldn’t have happened if people had smoked more.

j) Chairman Mao smoked, too, and never asked for permission. A ban on smoking is unpatriotic.

k) Ban Western brands (they only want to kill us), but don’t ban Golden China Brands [entering this website if you are younger than 21 is unpatriotic, and uncivilized]

l) Smoking doesn’t kill instantly. Just take it easy.

Additional suggestions are welcome, as these deliberations are going on.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Judgment and Civil Society

Israel is “bothered” that the Swedish government has not publicly condemned in Stockholm an article that appeared in the mass-circulation Aftonbladet tabloid on Monday claiming IDF soldiers snatched body organs from dead Palestinians, the Jerusalem Post quotes Rafi Barak, Israel’s foreign ministry senior deputy-director. Sweden’s embassy in Jerusalem had published a statement condemning the article, but Carl Bildt, the country’s foreign minister, said that basic values in society were best protected by free discussion.

When looking for information as to how Donald Boström, the author, backs up his allegations against the Israeli military, I can’t find anything this morning. All I can see is a big controversy between Israel’s government and the Swedish government about the need for or the unconstitutionality of a condemnation of a news article. Plus an editor-in-chief who apparently wants a condemnation of Sweden’s ambassador in Israel, for condemning his paper’s article.

I tend to believe that Bildt is right in not condemning the  article. But Aftonbladet should lay out their evidence for their story – in English, for everyone to judge, not just for people in Sweden. Without that, the paper’s allegations lack substance.

And what if Aftonbladet makes no such detailed case? There’s the problem. In a telephone interview with the Jerusalem Post, Mr Boström, the author, said that he was not trying to take a stand or express an opinion but rather to convey the feelings of the Palestinians with whom he spoke in research for a book in 1992. Research? Which research?

Lena Posner-Kerosi, the president of the official council of Jewish communities in Sweden, wondered why the newspaper, which has an estimated circulation of over 1 million readers daily, would publish Boströms article.

Why? I’m not sure either. But I’m pretty sure that the story sells.

It’s nice that our parliaments in Europe are passing resolutions against anti-semitism. And it’s perfectly alright to defend freedom of speech – it’s actually mandatory for any democrat to do that. But we should also understand that hatred against people for their religion or nationality endangers civil society, no less than attempts to limit freedom of expression.

We don’t need to be judgmental to please Avigdor Lieberman. But we need to be judgmental in our own interest.

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