Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Might Be A Murdering Jihadi, But At Least I'm Not A Sewer Rat

So my local community weekly newspaper, the Alexandria Gazette Packet, featured this delightful cartoon on its editorial page last Thursday:


"Mz. Geller" is Pamela Geller, the editor of the blog Atlas Shrugs and president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) as well as Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). She is a fierce defender of free speech, and sponsored a "Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest" in Garland, Texas this month. As you may have heard, two Islamist gunmen, apparently furious that such an event could be allowed to take place, stormed the venue with high-powered firearms, but were both shot dead by an off-duty policeman who'd been hired for security.

The aftermath has been controversial, with apologists who clearly don't understand our First Amendment - people Salman Rushdie calls "the but brigade" - trying to blame the victim of the attack rather than the gunmen. "Yes, we believe in freedom of speech, but..."

There's no "but." You either believe in freedom of speech or you don't. Steve Artley, the Gazett Packet's editorial cartoonist, doesn't.

And so I've sent the following letter to his editor:
That's a pretty neat trick Steve Artley, your editorial cartoonist, pulled off last week - pretending to defend free speech while attacking one of its most vigorous defenders.
The point of free speech seems to be lost on Mr. Artley. Speech that offends no one need not be defended; no one ever got in trouble for saying, "Have a nice day." Offensive speech is the speech that needs to be defended - the only speech that needs to be defended.

Defended from whom?

Defended from those who would kill you merely for offending them by expressing it.

If you dread to open your mouth for fear that someone will kill you for it, you have made him your master. If he can forbid you to draw pictures on pain of death, he can forbid you to worship the God you choose, forbid you to not worship God, forbid you to marry whom you choose, forbid you to disobey your husband - the list is endless. Far worse than the "heckler's veto" over your speech, he wields the murderer's veto.

How do you stand up to such a person? There is only one way: to do exactly that which he expressly forbids. When I was a teenager, African-Americans were forbidden to eat at lunch counters in some department stores. How did they demand their rights? By sitting down at those lunch counters. They were forbidden to sit in certain seats on public buses. How did they resist? By sitting in those forbidden seats. They were forbidden to march from Selma, Alabama to petition for their basic voting rights as Americans. How did they resist? By marching.

When someone threatens you with violence for daring to exercise your rights, he determines the manner of your defiance - doing exactly that which he forbids. If he can forbid you to exercise that right, you must defy him, or else you have lost that right; you have made the murderer your master, and it's just a matter of time before he finds more things to forbid you on pain of death.

It's easy to say you believe in free speech - as long as it doesn't cost you anything. Susan Geller has done what any American who truly believes in free speech must do - defy the threats. If the editors of the Gazette Packet also believe in the value of free speech, they will publish the drawing of Muhammad that won her contest. The artist, Bosch Fawstin, has granted permission on his blog and twitter feed to those who wish to publish it - http://fawstin.blogspot.com/ and @BoschFawstin.

If you don’t really believe in free speech, or if you're afraid to exercise your right, then you'll ignore that challenge. After all, publishing a cartoon portraying a middle-aged Jewish woman as a sewer-dweller is a lot safer than publishing a picture of Muhammad.
Let's see if they publish it.

Update: Two weeks later, they haven't printed my letter. I suppose I should be surprised.

President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/about/#sthash.IO45bDvF.dpuf
President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/about/#sthash.IO45bDvF.dpuf
President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/about/#sthash.IO45bDvF.dpuf
President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/about/#sthash.IO45bDvF.dpuf
President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/about/#sthash.IO45bDvF.dpuf
President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/about/#sthash.IO45bDvF.dpuf
President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). - See more at: http://pamelageller.com/about/#sthash.IO45bDvF.dpuf

Thursday, May 7, 2015

"Hello, I'm Calling From Microsoft and I'm Here to Rob You."

I got that call today.

It showed up as "Private Number" on my caller ID, but I picked it up anyway.

It was a guy with an Indian accent calling from "Microsoft Windows in California" and informing me that my computer was doing bad things and that he was here to help me fix them. In case you've never gotten one of these calls, the scam is to get you to boot up your computer, go into the system files folder (your scammer will guide you there), and ask you if you have certain files showing up in the folder listing. You will have those files, because they are perfectly normal system files, but lots of people don't know that and your scammer is counting on your ignorance. He'll then have you type some commands that will give him control over your computer, and he'll install some malware on your computer so he can read your passwords and logon IDs, which he'll find very handy when he wants to go online to empty your bank account. Here's what Microsoft - the real Microsoft - says about these scams.

I decided to play along. Fortunately for my new friend, I don't have a police whistle or an air horn, because otherwise he'd be visiting a doctor to treat his newly-ruptured eardrum, so I decided I would just tell him I needed to boot up the computer and it would take a few minutes, and then resume what I was doing until he got bored and hung up. My object was to see how long I could string him along (hey, I'm retired; I have lots of time for this kind of stuff).

He said that was fine, and I should take my time, and he would wait for me.

I put the phone down and resumed looking at my Twitter feed, and after a couple of minutes, picked up the phone again and asked if he was still there. He was, and I told him the computer was still booting. He was very nice about it, said he understood, these things can sometimes take a while, and he'd be happy to wait.

Then I got a brilliant idea.

I took the cordless phone I was using and went and got another cordless phone from another room. And I fired that phone up.

Then I placed the two phones right next to each other, speaker-end to earpiece-end. If you've ever done that, you know the result is a frightful high-pitched whine.

I held the phones like that for about 30 seconds, then hung up.

A minute or two later, the phone rings again. It was my Microsoft buddy. I have to give him credit, he's a persistent fuck.

"Did you hang up?" he asked me.

"Yes, there was a terrible static coming from your end and I couldn't hear anything. It seems to be better now."

So we resumed our "reboot" session (my computer is on 24/7) and after a couple of seconds, I mated the phones again. Here's the video, in case you want to try it yourself someday (you might want to turn down your computer's volume a bit...).

video 

I have to admit, I took a guilty gleeful pleasure hearing him say "Hello?" repeatedly.

After about a minute, I moved the phones apart and spoke loudly into the phone: "Hello, can you hear me?"

"Yes, is there something wrong with your phone?"

"My phone works just fine, I've been speaking with people all day long" (that was a lie on my part) "and I haven't had any trouble at all. The trouble is obviously with your phone. You need to have your phone lines looked at. Meanwhile, I thank you for your help; there's a computer shop right near my house; I'll bring it in for them to look at. Bye!"

I've been trying to feel bad about what I did, but I'm just not getting there.