Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Free Speech

Yesterday four US embassy employees were killed when Muslims rioted.  The rioters were incensed at a YouTube video that dissed Mohammed and Islam, presumably posted by someone from the United States.

When I heard the story I thought, could somebody please explain to the rioters what free speech means in the United States?  I'm sure I am not the right person to write a blog about free speech but I decided that it wouldn't hurt for me to think through what I believe.

What Free Speech Means:
  • People are allowed to say things even if it will be offensive.
  • Even foul language is protected in most instances.
  • Criticizing individuals, gods, prophets and religious beliefs is allowed.

What Free Speech Doesn't Mean:
  • People are allowed to tell specific lies about living individuals (slander).
  • People are allowed to write specific lies about living individuals (libel).
  • All Americans agree with what an individual is saying while exercising his or her free speech rights.
  • It certainly doesn't mean that all or even many Americans agree with the individual who created the video. 

If someone believes he has been harmed due to slanderous or libelous statements, the individual can sue the person or entity that made the statements and the courts will decide if the action was illegal and what, if any, penalty applies.

If someone believes that an individual or entity has made offensive statements there may be a violation of US laws provided the statements were broadcast and therefore subject to regulations under the FCC.

In the vast majority of instances; however, the offensive comments are truly an individual exercising his or her right to free speech.  If someone finds that speech offensive, there is virtually no action available to the offended person to stop or limit the individual exercising his or her free speech rights.  Rather, the offended person can simply leave the area, not watch the video, etc.

Free speech is an important right in the United States.  Given my choice, I would keep the law as it is and allow the offensive comments rather than restrict speech.  (Although I do disagree with the recent Supreme Court decision that said that corporations and other non-individual entities had the same free speech rights, including using money in campaigns, as individuals.)

It seems to me that one of the largest cultural differences between the United States and much of the rest of the world is the idea of free speech and the ability to freely exercise that right.  It is critical to the liberty we enjoy as Americans and deeply embedded in our culture.  That is why I may be disgusted with the creator of the YouTube video but I would not call him or her a murderer.  That designation goes to the individual who chose to take the life of an embassy employee.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

6 Months and I'm up to 35%

Talk about forgetting to blog.  I've been remiss -- spending too much time going out and doing rather that contemplating.  That probably isn't all bad but still, 6 months is too long to delay blogging.  Not that anyone actually reads this.  It is just part of my online discipline.

I've now lost about 35% of my previous weight.  I'm considered a healthy weight according to physicians' charts and I think I look "normal" when I look in the mirror.

Guess what?  I'm also no longer invisible.  That falls into the category of "Things that Make Me Say, 'Hmmm.'"

I've also have noticed that people cut me less slack when I'm cranky and sarcastic.  Apparently when you're a fat person people interpret cranky remarks as funny but when you are normal sized they interpret them as plain-old sarcastic.  So I'm learning to guard my tongue a bit more.  I probably needed to anyway.

I was in a commercial for Meriter.  That was fun, interesting and paid well.  I'm looking into the possibility of getting more work like that although it probably is unlikely.

I also ran in Race for the Cure and will be running in the Warrior Dash.  It turns out I sort of like to run when I'm feeling good.  Who knew?

Friday, January 27, 2012

20% and Counting

I've lost over 20% of my body weight in the last six months.  It was achieved through a combination of three things. First, I straightened-out some health issues that were affecting my ability to exercise effectively.  Second, I started exercising regularly including all four components of exercise: balance, stretching, cardio and strength.  Third, for the first time in my life, I counted and recorded calories. 

Counting calories...  I was just never sufficiently interested in managing my weight to bother with counting and recording my food.  It has turned into an interesting exercise for me with an unexpected benefit.  I feel better.  --Not because of the exercise or the weight loss, I've done both before but still had fairly consistent stomach problems,  but because I'm being hyper-vigilant about what and how much I put in my mouth.  The added accountability has made a big difference in my choices and apparently that difference is improving my health.  When I didn't feel good before I just always blamed it on my Celiac's disease and figured that was the way my body worked.  Not so on this diet.  Counting calories, and recording my food intake is, in and of itself, rewarding.

Since I've been eating 1100 calories or less per day my stomach has been happy.  I have yet to figure out if it is because of what I'm eating, lots of protein shakes, lean meat and non-starchy vegetables; what I'm not eating, sugars, refined flours, fats;  or if it is because of how much I'm eating.  Whatever it is, I feel really good.  Eventually I'll need to increase my caloric intake to a more appropriate level but I'm shocked (no that isn't too strong of a word) at how good I feel.

Also, as a final comment, clothing sizes have definitely reset.  When I bought pants two weeks ago I bought the same size I wore in college and I am not the size I was in college.  Oh well.  It still feels good and since I've posted so many blogs about areas I need to improve it also feels good to acknowledge that, at least in this area, I actually am improving.