URLs du Jour


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  • You may have heard about the NBA's bow to Chinese repression. What was that? Giancarlo Sopo has the answer at the Federalist: The NBA’s Bow To Chinese Repression Was Reprehensible.

    The only appropriate response from an American corporation in such a situation—including those trying to steer clear of international political controversies—is some variation of “We stand by our people.” Period. If a company cannot bring itself to say that, then it should say nothing at all.

    Sadly, the NBA’s dastardly comments were not the result of PR malpractice. It is an accurate reflection of corporate America’s cowardice and pitiful moral neutrality on significant matters of strategic national interest.

    While large U.S. companies enjoy all the benefits of doing business in the United States—such as unparalleled property rights, legal protections, a society that values entrepreneurship, and a favorable tax climate—too many don’t really view themselves as, well, American, or even care for the duties that come with citizenship, like standing up for liberty and human rights.

    Sadly, I can't boycott the NBA, since I don't watch the NBA in the first place.

  • Perhaps being successful with the NBA emboldened China to go after another target. Robby Soave at Reason: China Banned South Park After the Show Made Fun of Chinese Censorship.

    In a case of life imitating art imitating life, the Chinese government has purged all references to South Park from the country's highly restricted internet—following an episode of the show that criticized Chinese censorship.

    "Band in China," the second episode of the show's 23rd season, satirizes China's heavy-handed crackdowns on free expression. The kids attempt to make a biopic about their new rock band, only to discover that they need to sanitize the plot to appease the Chinese government. Meanwhile, Randy Marsh gets sent to a Chinese prison, where he meets Winnie the Pooh—a reference to China's odd attempts to clamp down on the beloved bear for its supposedly resemblance Chinese President Xi Jinping. The episode also castigates Disney for making artistic concessions in order to remain in Chinese markets. "You gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you want to suck on the warm teat of China," one character says.


  • South Park reacted.

    Dang. Good for them. I don't watch South Park, but I may have to start. In solidarity, and all that.

    Can't help but wonder if Saturday Night Live will tackle, or even mention this at all. Or will it be the 943d Alec Baldwin Trump impression making exactly the same jokes as in the previous 942?

  • I also don't plan on seeing the new Joker movie anytime soon; from what I've heard, it seems a little bleak. But Kevin D. Williamson takes on the naysayers, and that's interesting: ‘Joker’ & Its Moralistic Critics: Everybody Is Tipper Gore Now.

    The “x might plausibly encourage y” argument against free speech has been with us for a very long time. It was the basis for the persecution of heretics in the Christian world, the censorship that John Milton criticized in the 17th century, the suppression of war protesters in the United States (the legal justification of which is the origin of the ubiquitous “fire in a crowded theater” trope), and the effort to censor and marginalize rap music in the 1980s, a project that brought to public prominence a woman called Tipper Gore, at the time Mrs. Al. Mrs. Gore’s name became, for a generation, the national shorthand for prudish blue-rinsed tight-assery allied to scheming political opportunism. She was a figure of fun, loathed by all right-thinking people.

    But Tipper Gore–ism, like the poor, syphilis, and usury, we shall always have with us.

    Sorry, can't resist saying… I guess it all depends on the ox being Gored.

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  • Jeff Jacoby proposes the ninth Beatitude: Blessed are the retractors.

    THE TITLE of the study, published in the journal Current Biology in November 2015, was on the dry side: "The Negative Association Between Religiousness and Children's Altruism across the World." The text was even drier. But the findings, by University of Chicago neuroscientist Jean Decety and his colleagues, proved irresistible to journalists, who gave them wide play under headlines likely to grab readers' attention:

    "Religion doesn't make kids more generous or altruistic, study finds" (Los Angeles Times)

    "Are religious children more selfish?" (Slate)

    "Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds" (The Guardian)

    "Study: Religious Kids are Jerks" (Daily Beast)

    And the study, guess what, turned out to be glaringly incorrect. Credit to the authors, who made their raw data available for perusal.

    Jacoby, bless him, says there are "no villains" in this story: just an honest (albeit sloppy) mistake, causing a straightforward retraction of the study.

    What's missing: any indication that the debunking of the study was publicized anywhere near as much as the original "religious kids are jerks" narrative. (That Daily Beast story, for example, is still up, with the same headline, with no mention (as near as I can tell) of the study's retraction.)