personal reflections on human rights...and other stuff

When a nutjob becomes the hero of other nutjobs

Thank you CNN and Fox News for making my day. Both websites had Gary Faulkner on their home pages at some point today. He's been arrested in Pakistan for trying to find Osama bin Laden. at the time of his arrest, he was "carrying a pistol, a sword, night-vision equipment and Christian religious books."

I saw the CNN page first, which had a video clip of Faulkner's brother sitting on a park bench. He tells us his brother is not crazy, only that he took things personally when bin Laden "made some references to our God, the God of the Bible, in a poor light, and the fact that he was taunting America and getting away with killing thousands of Americans." I wasn't aware that Americans had their own God. This explains why we're all so jealous of them.

By the end of his interview, he laid it out in clear enough language: "As an American, he’s doing something that we would all wish to do. If we saw Osama walking down the sidewalk, you and I, well I know I would probably put a bullet in the guys’ head." Praise the Lord for vigilante justice! 

The comments flowing from this report were as much fun to read as it was to watch Faulkner's brother say he wanted to pop bin Laden. "KimKim38" does a bang-up job of infusing poor grammar into their comment: "What were they thinking? Who is running things over there? Some idiot obviously!! Gary Brooks Faulkner is a true American hero. He should get a metal and another chance to complete his mission." What type of metal were you hoping he receive?

"Jeekers" tries to dumb down the past 1400 years of world history into all that is squeezable in a comment: "They will keep doing what they do because they are waging jihad and have been for 1400 years. The modern world needs to answer their Jihad. We tried to ignore them for many years because we thought our modern militaries were no match for them, and they turned around and used our technology against us. We should make it very clear to them, do another big attack and Mecca, Medina, and the Dome of the Rock will disappear for all time." There were over 1600 other comments stemming from the article that were just as revealing of the average-anonymous-online-commenter's ability to spit out byte after byte of what a friend once called "verbal diarrhea." Pass the Pepto!

With a guy like that appearing on headline news on CNN, I thought, what juicy "real" news items await me on Fox News? They did not disappoint! Once again, Mr. Faulkner is almost universally heralded as a hero. "fred13" speaks from the heart (obviously not from the head, in which case he might not have made two spelling mistakes and such an uninformed comment): "We need some of his kind in gov. to rid our country of ilegals. Go get him Faulkner your a true American." Go ahead, elect him to office once he comes back. He's a man who's been put in jail for burglary, larceny, and domestic violence assault. As another commenter wrote: "Palin / Faulkner 2012!" If that'll be the case, I for one will hope those Mayans were right and it won't matter anyway.

I recently wrote about the dangers of uninformed, unkind, discriminatory and hate-filled comments that are so prevalent on the Internet nowadays, and this to me is a further example of such a disappointing trend. I was discussing this issue with other human rights activists last week and one of them questioned what difference it made to tweet, blog of comment using a language that is kind, non-discriminatory, respects other peoples' values and opinions, and tries to move ideas forward using human rights language. In many cases, one activist argued, we are preaching to the converted. In many ways this is true, but then again I feel that people who are equipped with the skills to dialogue using human rights-friendly language can and must speak up whenever they can. If cyberspace is filled with comments from people who are ignorant, uninformed, inflexible in their belief and value systems, unwilling to tolerate or accept anyone "different" from who they are, then I say go ahead and flood cyberspace with just as many open-minded, respectful, and earnest efforts to move conflicting human rights issues to the forefront of our ever-growing global consciousness. 

I know it's not easy. The organization I work for, Equitas, is in the middle of hosting over one hundred human rights defenders from about 60 countries. As human rights defenders, it makes sense to advocate "all human rights for all," as one resource person, Yousry Mustafa, said last week. But in practice, our personal values of "different" people - different cultures, religions, sexual orientations, values and beliefs - often makes that statement conditional.

Calling Faulkner a hero and saying that "As an American...I would probably put a bullet to the guy's head" would shame me to be an American. I revile Osama bin Laden for his actions, and deplore the loss of life - of Americans, Canadians in Afghanistan, thousands of civilians in the US, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and countless others - that is the direct result of his distorted reality. But I would want him to be brought to justice for his crimes and sentenced accordingly. Applauding a convicted felon who willingly goes to Pakistan seven times on his own manhunt, thinking he will succeed where thousands of American soldiers with billions of dollars of military equipment have so far failed is shortsighted.

And while I'm on the Fox News rant, let me point out another brilliant example of inflammatory and essentially dumb-ass moronic comments that only the crudest of idiots could possibly think of writing. (Oh come on, I can only speak kindly for so long.) There was a news item on Oklahoma lawmakers trying to ban Shariah from the courts. Most of the comments so far....oh, forget it, you know what I'm about to write. Here they are:
  • It's about time. This is the first step in ridding us of all towel heads and their evil religion.
  • AMEN AND HALLELUJAH OKLAHOMA...Each and every state better step and fight for the rights of American citizens..or face THE AMERICAN VOTER in the booth....THROW THE BUMS OUT [I hope they "face the American voter." That's the point, isn't it? But isn't voter turnout down south almost as bad as for us Canadians?]
  • The Hisidic Jews in New York get to follow a set of laws because of their religion, so the Muslims should get the same deal. [OK, a modicum of reason going on here, but still a lot of work to do...] 
  • GET THE U.N OUT OF AMERICA WE HAVE BEEN THE HOST OF THAT DUMP TO LONG. WE FOUGHT ENGLAND TO BE FREE NOW WERE IN THE GASP OF THE OBAMA SNAKE. [ouch. I mean OUCH.]
  • This is AMERICA, not Islamica. We use the CONSTITUTION here! Get with it or get out of here. The fact that shariah is even discussed is deeply offensive to me. I'm a US CITIZEN subject only to the laws of this land that are legal under the Constitution of the United States, when I'm on US soil, not some International garbage created by some monkey in a kangeroo kourt. Those who seek to pervert that will find themselves facing savage resistance. ["Kangeroo"? Why is it no one can spell anymore? "Savage resistance"! Betcha he's got a gun at home for just such an occasion.] 

Oh my, we have a long way to go.



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