Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

Less than two weeks until Christmas. This probably wouldn't have been much of a revelation if it weren't for the fact that somewhere along the way, I fell out of sync with my Christmas preparations. I never did put my tree up. I have two reasons for this... The first one being, my cat will inevitably knock it over and destroy it. By this reasoning, I'll wait until next year until she's less kitten-like and perhaps just a tad more mellow. Odds are, it won't matter, she'll molest the thing anyway, but the idea of coming home and picking up the tree every day just isn't that appealing. And/or ending up with a fried cat, ala National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Note to self: MUST upgrade from VHS. You no longer have a VCR.) The second being, well, nobody's going to see it anyway. I mean, I will. There's something cozy about having a Christmas tree up. Still, apart from the approximate day and a half that I spend with my family on the actual holiday, I pretty much spend the holiday season alone. It's just a tad bit depressing. There is very little that can be done to mitigate the fact that I am, in fact, alone for the vast majority of the holiday season. This tends to bring out Sroogeyness in my otherwise sparkling demeanor (ha). Don't get me wrong - I love Christmas, I love the whole season, I love best of all seeing all of the Christmas lights around town, but it's hard to be cheery when you are at home and awake for approximately three hours each day. I'll be festive elsewhere (ie: where I am actually around people).

This is not to say my apartment is completely devoid of seasonal decor:

(What, like I could actually GO without a Christmas tree? Impossible.)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it"

So, there's this big-to do in the world of comic books about a guy from Iowa (go figure) who got arrested for owning a version of manga that some undoubtedly small-minded postal worker thought was obscene. Now, I'm not a huge comic book fan, or really at all a comic book fan, but I was reading the blog of an artist that I follow, and she went off on it, and at some point I was directed to the blog of author Neil Gaiman (who is amazing, if you've never read his stuff), over the same issue. It's a big deal, not just for comic book artists but artists in general. Once they start mandating what you can and can't do - or worse, what you can and can't OWN - there goes the entirety of our freedom of speech. Now, I personally loathe manga and anime and the like, and so I don't read them enough to know what their content is, but apparently there is some sort of sub-genre that tends to be somewhat sexually explicit. The way this particular comic was drawn, it appeared to Mr. Postman that it was underage individuals engaging in - GASP - sex. So this poor guy got issued a warrant for his arrest, just for owning the damn thing, and there's this big brouhaha over whether or not this is legally considered "obscene" and pornographic, rather than art. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) is apparently an organization that spends its time protecting the free speech rights of, well, people in the comic book arena. Thank God somebody is taking these narrow-minded idiots to task.

Anyway... I'm not going to repost the whole thing, but I thought Gaiman's response to a reader about why it is important to defend this sort of thing. One of my biggest beliefs is the right to free speech, and I think he makes some very good points. Of which I have singled out as being a more broad generalization to the issue at hand, rather than the specific response to the person he was aiming this at.

Full post can be read here

- Neil Gaiman, 12/01/08

Let me see if I can push you off the fence, a little. I'm afraid it's going to a long, and probably a bit rambly answer -- a credo, and how I arrived at that.

If you accept -- and I do -- that freedom of speech is important, then you are going to have to defend the indefensible. That means you are going to be defending the right of people to read, or to write, or to say, what you don't say or like or want said.

The Law is a huge blunt weapon that does not and will not make distinctions between what you find acceptable and what you don't. This is how the Law is made.

People making art find out where the limits of free expression are by going beyond them and getting into trouble.


I loved coming to the US in 1992, mostly because I loved the idea that freedom of speech was paramount. I still do. With all its faults, the US has Freedom of Speech. You can't be arrested for saying things the government doesn't like. You can say what you like, write what you like, and know that the remedy to someone saying or writing or showing something that offends you is not to read it, or to speak out against it. I loved that I could read and make my own mind up about something.

(It's worth noting that the UK, for example, has no such law, and that even the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that interference with free speech was "necessary in a democratic society" in order to guarantee the rights of others "to protection from gratuitous insults to their religious feelings.")


You ask, What makes it worth defending? and the only answer I can give is this: Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means you're going to have to stand up for stuff you don't believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you don't, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one person's obscenity is another person's art.

Because if you don't stand up for the stuff you don't like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you've already lost.

The CBLDF will defend your First Amendment right as an adult to make lines on paper, to draw, to write, to sell, to publish, and now, to own comics. And that's what makes the kind of work you don't like, or don't read, or work that you do not feel has artistic worth or redeeming features worth defending. It's because the same laws cover the stuff you like and the stuff you find icky, wherever your icky line happens to be: the law is a big blunt instrument that makes no fine distinctions, and because you only realise how wonderful absolute freedom of speech is the day you lose it.

Something to think about.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Pretties, Let Me Show You Them

So, to the complete horror of my bank account, I rediscovered Etsy one day while I was procrastinating and surfing Teh Internets. This is only a problem if I find things I want to buy, right? Right. Well I found this darling little pair of earrings that were unfortunately sold out - but lo! She was willing to relist them for me! So naturally I had to buy them - it would have been rude not to.

They arrived in a cute little package in my mailbox last night, and upon opening them, I decided that her packaging and branding was absolutely adorable. I also of course had to wear the earrings today - they are so fun! They also make a delightful little tinkling noise whenever I move my head. Love it!

Note to self: Stop taking pictures with your cell phone camera. It sucks.