Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Internet news: At the request of a Catalan government agency, Microsoft (the server) has shut down four Spanish blogs that promoted anorexia and bulimia. This is a precedent because it hadn't happened before without a court order.

Comments: 1) These blogs seem to have been set up by anorexic and bulimic teenagers themselves, with the goal of reassuring and supporting one another. There must be hundreds of them. 2) You can find them in both Spanish and English; just google "ana mia" and see what you get. "Ana" refers to "anorexia," and "Mia" to bulimia. 3) A quick look through a few of them shows that these girls have a Peter Pan-ish pre-sexual identity; they compare themselves to "princesses" and "dolls," and their tone is prepubescent. Anorexia and bulimia allow them not to grow up. 4) It goes without saying that this is a serious mental illness, and its sufferers have all my sympathy.

5) Microsoft, as a private company, has every right to ban anything it doesn't like from its hosting service. And these blogs' message is unhealthy and anti-social. 6) But. There are a lot of other things out there, like drinking and and anarchism, that are unhealthy and antisocial as well. Ought websites devoted to them to be banned? Then, what about pro-terrorist websites? 7) It's the old slippery-slope problem, where do you draw the line? I would prefer for the line to be drawn as libertarianly as possible, and I guess the place we draw it is what's defined by law. Terrorism is against the law. So is kiddie porn, and so is making violent threats, and so is libel. Anorexia isn't.

More censorship: American Nazi and Klansman David Duke is coming to town on Saturday to speak to a bunch of Fascist scumbags. He's gonna bash the Jews. A group of pretty reasonable local intellectuals, Francesc-Marc Alvaro, Magda Oranich, Joan B. Culla, and Pilar Rahola, have asked the government and the prosecutor's office to do something. The problem is that in Spain, it's not quite clear if apology for Naziism is against the law, and the Constitutional Court said that denying the Holocaust is legal. I'm personally in favor of enforcing the law, and if they can ban Duke legally, do it. I don't like such laws, though; I'd prefer not to ban political speech of any sort, no matter how hateful.

Note: The story going around here is that Duke is a former Republican senator from Louisiana. That's wrong. Duke has run for office many times in both the Democratic and Republican primaries, and he got elected to the Louisiana state House of Representatives for one term back in the seventies. Other than that, he's never won anything, and he has nothing to do with the political mainstream.

Big corruption news: Former FC Barcelona president Jose Luis Nuñez, hia son Jose Luis junior, a famous crooked wheeler-dealer named Javier de la Rosa, and several other people have been indicted for defrauding the taxman out of €13 million. If they're convicted, they're going to jail; the prosecutor has demanded eight years for both Nuñezes. Nuñez pere is probably the city's biggest real-estate developer, and he ran the football club for more than twenty years.

Guess what? Catalonia's educational system is not only the worst in Spain, it's the worst in the European Union! The high-school dropout rate is 34.1%, at the bottom in Spain and better than only Portugal and Malta. The high-school graduation rate is 60.3%, fifteen points below the EU average. They're blaming it on heavy immigration and not getting enough money from the Madrid government. Remember, nothing around here is our fault!

Well, we've had our Jerry Springer moment here in Spain. Some guy went on the afternoon trash-TV program "El Diario de Patricia" in order to get back together with his ex-girlfriend, and to propose to her. She turned him down flat, on the air. So he cut her throat four days later. Turns out he'd been convicted of abusing her, and there was a restraining order out on him. "Patricia" is as bad as any American talk show, and there are voices calling on the Antena 3 network to pull it off the air. I say it's trash, but if the people want trash, that's what they're gonna get.

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