Monday, May 18, 2009

The Sri Lankan civil war is at its end.

BBC, Prabhakaran's obituary

The Sri Lankan civil war, which has raged for as long as I have been alive, is finally at its end. Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers and longtime de facto dictator of the territory the rebels and terrorists controlled, has been killed by the Sri Lankan Army; may he rest in pieces.

Since I've never before discussed Sri Lanka in this space, a brief outline of the conflict is in order. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, more commonly called the Tamil Tigers, are (or now, hopefully, were) a radical guerrilla army, hellbent on carving out 40% of Sri Lanka's land area as a homeland for the Tamil minority population of the island, which comprises less than 10% of its people. The Tigers invented suicide bombing as it is known today, as cited by the New York Times, and used it extensively in their terroristic campaign against the Sri Lankan government and people. They also, at the height of their power, managed to become a conventional threat, with artillery, a naval flotilla, and even a small air wing, which they used to conduct aerial bombings until just a few months ago, when the last of their planes were shot down.

The Tamil Tigers negotiated many ceasefires and truces with the Sri Lankans during the course of the war when strategically convenient for them, using each one to rearm and then breaking it when they were prepared to resume their offensive. The current Sri Lankan government, to its very great credit, decided enough was enough, and pressed on to destroy the Tigers once and for all despite international calls for another ceasefire. The LTTE stayed true to form even in their last days, resorting to using their remaining artillery to shell civilians behind their own lines so that they could attempt to blame the Sri Lankan government and step up international pressure for a truce.

The world is better off without this scourge. May the rebuilding move swiftly and without recrimination towards those ethnic Tamils who did not take up arms.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ralph Hayes, Jr. is a coward and a fool.

It's not often that I do this; after all, writing a post for everyone who commits a logical fallacy in a debate would fill this blog to the exclusion of all else. However, argument through appeal to force is something I feel the need to write about.

The subject of today's rant is known as Ralph Hayes, Jr. Mr. Hayes is the illustrator and author of a couple of excellent webcomics, in addition to several mediocre to outright bad ones, hosted at his site which I linked to in the title.

This has little to do with my problem, however. What it has more to do with is the fact that he is an outspoken social conservative, and happens to advocate revoking all funding for AIDS research and treatment, in favor of quarantining the victims of the disease. I virulently disagree with his conclusion, but even that's not why I'm writing this.

No, I'm writing this because, after I wrote a long reply detailing just how bogus his money-saving rationale is, due to the fact that a quarantine would require cutting off international trade to prevent the virus from being re-introduced into the country, which would cost the economy an amount of money that makes the $13.7 billion he complains about seem paltry by comparison, he deleted my reply and banned me from commenting on his blog.

That's some way to win an argument there. Don't like what someone has to say? Destroy the evidence and get rid of him! Comrade Stalin would be proud.

As you can (currently; I don't know how long it'll last) see, he did not delete all my replies. Earlier ones based on the immorality of locking up so many people who had done nothing wrong were dismissed on the basis that quarantine would save lives, and he simply claimed I was wrong when I pointed out that quarantine in the modern world, with modern travel, isn't as effective as he would like, but when I destroyed his flimsy rationale, he got rid of me. Guess I struck a nerve.

I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when discussing it with him, but I'm sure as hell not going to now. The method of controlling the disease that he advocates is ineffective by every single measure - cost savings, preventing the spread of the disease, easing the suffering and extending the lives of the victims - except the measure of punishing those who engage in what he, as a social conservative, sees as immoral behavior. Sure, it's costing us boatloads of money and not advancing medical research in any way, but at least we get to lock up THE GAYS!

There. I said it. He hasn't, but that's the only purpose his proposed solution would serve, so there it is.

Mr. Hayes, if you ever read this, I want you to know: Censorship is the act of a coward. Public censorship, openly removing material after it has already been published and read, is the act of a fool. You have revealed yourself as a foolish, pathetic little man who, given a modicum of power, is quite prepared to use force against those who disagree with him. I also want you to know that argumentum ad baculum may make you feel better, but it has yet to ever win a debate.

"The attempt to silence a man is the greatest honor you can bestow on him. It means you recognize his superiority to yourself." - Joseph Sobran