18th Nov 2005

Posted in

Blog :: Winer on whining

I emailed him about it, but thought I'd point it out here as well: Dave Winer's dig at President Bush's speech in Tokyo today was a good example of my own axiom* that technological skill and the rationality it demands (Winer is the innovator behind a lot of blogging infrastructure like RSS and OPML) does not always translate to the rest of life. Winer says of Bush that

He says the Chinese people want freedom, and they want to publish and read the Bible and practice religion without the government getting involved. I imagine how that would translate if the tables where turned and it was Hu Jintao talking about the aspirations of The American People. Maybe he would say we want a chance to work in a growing economy and to study communism and read the works of Chairman Mao. This led me to the conclusion that the religious right are the American equivalents of communists. They make us sound silly and stupid. Petty. Ridiculous.

Interesting thought experiment there. While he didn't mean it this way, Dave is absolutely right, Jintao would be silly to say such an asinine thing to the American People because they already have the freedoms he describes. Americans can buy the Communist Manifesto, believe in a Marxist economics, etc etc, without any hindrance from the state. In China, on the other hand, you can go to jail for printing a Bible. Given that context (there have also been stories in the Washington Post and the Washington Times) it is clear that Bush's remarks are aimed at state repression, not Chinese culture. Bush is not saying "you all ought to be reading the Bible more" as Dave apparently imagines. Instead Bush is challenging Jintao to stop oppressing those members of his society who evidently do want to read and publish the Bible.

Is Dave really wanting to assert that it is silly and stupid and petty for the President to advocate for human rights abroad? Or is freedom of religion not among the human rights Dave thinks are worth defending? Maybe this is a mild case of BDS making Dave leap to conclusions without sufficient knowledge. Given the tenor of the rest of the post (really, go read his idea about giving the Supremes veto power over any war) I suspect that last option, and prescribe a complete break from political posting until about, oh, 2009.

Hat tip to GetReligion, btw, for the story on the Chinese Bible printers jail time...

* an axiom that is immediately obvious to anyone who has read slashdot on a regular basis

Posted on Nov 18th 2005, 12:28 PM