Everything simple is false. Or turning everything into Us versus Them.

We are back to Paul Valéry’s maxim: “Everything simple is false. Everything complex is unusable.” In the world of computer modeling, this is known as Bonini’s paradox: The more realistic a model is, the more it becomes as complex and difficult to understand as the real world; the simpler and more user-friendly a model becomes, the less accurately it represents the underlying system. Mass democracy and mass media on the American model work to impose on the complex reality of American public life the simplest possible model of politics, aggregating all of political reality into two variables: Us and Them.

Another way of putting this is that the unstated task of cable-news journalism on the Fox/MSNBC model — along with practically all political talk radio, 99.44 percent of social media, and a great deal of inferior writing about politics — is transmuting intellectual complexity into moral simplicity. Even that isn’t quite right: The moral simplicity offered by the “Everybody Who Disagrees with Me Is Hitler” school of analysis is a false simplicity — simplicity for the truly simple, as opposed to what Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. described as “the simplicity on the far side of complexity.”

Reality is complex. But it isn’t only the cable-news mouth-holes that are engaged in the reverse alchemy of turning the gold of genuine inquiry into the dross of political rhetoric. We — we the media, and We the People — commit the same sin.

from the National Review Can We Talk?

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The theory of a free press

Image

Can Malaysians cope with free speech?

Can Utusan meet the challenges of a new era?

UiTM protest 2008. Can Utusan meet the challenges of a new era? [Utusan photo]

BY ZAN AZLEE

How will TV3, New Straits Times and Utusan Malaysia report news now? Will they still shut out any news from Pakatan Harapan? They obviously can’t, that would mean not reporting on the Malaysian government. Will they be very critical? Maybe they should be.

What about news organisations that have been anti-establishment? Anti-establishment doesn’t mean anti-BN any more. I’m going through the same adjustment too.

Utusan Malaysia have continued to take the stand of preserving Malay rights. Many people slammed Utusan for being racist even though the rest of Malaysia had already moved on. Let Utusan say whatever it wants to say. It is a new era of freedom of speech. But let other people also say whatever they want. Let this discourse and debate happen in the media and just keep it from being violent. That is true freedom of speech.

Malaysian people need to increase their media and news savviness. They need to be more aware so that they don’t become gullible and subservient to all the differing opinions and information. We must not fall into a lull and must always be on our toes. — Condensed from Malaysiakini | » Can Malaysians handle freedom of speech?

Royalty and sedition: Kadir article heats up the debate

Dr Mahathir Mohamad receives the instrument of appointment from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V

Dr Mahathir Mohamad receives the instrument of appointment from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V. [Bernama photo]

Three police reports filed after snide posting about Agong and sultans

Police reports have been filed against highly-connected political commentator A Kadir Jasin, former chief editor of New Straits Times Press, for his blog posting about the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and royalty on Monday.

Investigations are to begin under criminal provisions for sedition, criminal defamation and misuse of network facilities. The Inspector-General of Police, Mohamad Fuzi Harun, said: “An investigation paper has been opened. Once it is completed, we will hand it over to the deputy public prosecutor for further action.”

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On Tommy Thomas, opinion, ‘facts’ and ‘truth’

Refurbishment of Sultan Abdul Samad building, which used to house the Courts, has been halted because government

Refurbishment of Sultan Abdul Samad building, which used to house the Courts, has been halted because government “debt” is too high. Opinion or fact?

By Gobind Rudra

In 2008, if memory serves, Tommy Thomas and others argued authoritatively in various statements that Pakatan Rakyat and Anwar Ibrahim were correct in trying to petition the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to sack the sitting prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and that the King had the power to do so.

I didn’t think so and at Balai Berita, it was sometimes necessary to change a declaration of such fact in a story to an assertion of opinion. Not that I have any constitutional expertise beyond that of any ordinary editor, but having watched from afar in younger days while Stephen Kalong Ningkan and later Gough Whitlam were removed, I believed this subject remained open, and was a highly contentious one at that.

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News from the Occupied Territories of Pulopinang

Vive la résistance!

Public Notice No 1/2016 of the Demokratische Volksrepublik von Kapitalisten Pulopinang

Public Notice No 1/2016 of the Demokratische Volksrepublik von Kapitalisten Pulopinang

‘Quran does not bar images of Prophet’

The Koran does not prohibit figural imagery. Rather, it castigates the worship of idols… [In] Islamic law, there does not exist a single legal decree, or fatwa, in the historical corpus that explicitly and decisively prohibits figural imagery, including images of the Prophet…the decree that comes closest…was published online in 2001 by the Taliban, as they set out to destroy the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

 

Prophet Muhammad sitting with the Abrahamic prophets in Jerusalem, anonymous, Mi‘rajnama (Book of Ascension), Tabriz, ca. 1317-1330. Topkapı Palace Library


By Christiane Gruber
associate professor at the University of Michigan whose primary field of research is Islamic book arts, paintings of the Prophet Muhammad, and Islamic ascension texts and images.

Newsweek, Jan 9
In the wake of the massacre that took place in the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, I have been called upon as a scholar specializing in Islamic paintings of the Prophet to explain whether images of Muhammad are banned in Islam.

The short and simple answer is no. The Koran does not prohibit figural imagery. Rather, it castigates the worship of idols, which are understood as concrete embodiments of the polytheistic beliefs that Islam supplanted when it emerged as a purely monotheistic faith in the Arabian Peninsula during the seventh century.

Moreover, the Hadith, or Sayings of the Prophet, present us with an ambiguous picture at best: At turns we read of artists dared to breathe life into their figures and, at others, of pillows ornamented with figural imagery.

If we turn to Islamic law, there does not exist a single legal decree, or fatwa, in the historical corpus that explicitly and decisively prohibits figural imagery, including images of the Prophet. While more recent online fatwas can surely be found, the decree that comes closest to articulating this type of ban was published online in 2001 by the Taliban, as they set out to destroy the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

In their fatwa, the Taliban decreed that all non-Islamic statues and shrines in Afghanistan be destroyed. However, this very modern decree remains entirely silent on the issue of figural images and sculptures within Islam, which, conversely, had been praised as beneficial and educational by Muhammad ‘Abduh, a prominent jurist in 19th century Egypt.

In sum, a search for a ban on images of Muhammad in pre-modern Islamic textual sources will yield no clear and firm results whatsoever. » READ MORE…

Christiane Gruber is currently writing her next book, The Praiseworthy One: The Prophet Muhammad in Islamic Texts and Images. Some of her other work:
Images of the Prophet Muhammad In and Out of Modernity: The Curious Case of a 2008 Mural in Tehran
The Image of the Prophet between Ideal and Ideology: A Scholarly Investigation

The painful truth, not beautiful lies

Which Pakatan bigot has a problem with this?

Which Pakatan bigot has a problem with this?

Reporter sacked for story about First Lady

Sorry to disappoint you, this is not the First Lady you were thinking about.

Mexican Journalist Is Fired After Report About First Lady
The New York Times
MEXICO CITY — One of Mexico’s best-known journalists, who exposed a possible conflict of interest involving the first lady’s purchase of a house from a government contractor, was fired on Sunday in a dispute that defenders see as an act of retaliation and an attack on press freedom.

The journalist, Carmen Aristegui, has a long record of exposing the foibles of the elite in an often brusque, opinionated manner — as well as clashing with her bosses. She was dismissed as a host on MVS Radio, one of the country’s most popular morning news and talk radio shows.

MVS officials said she was fired after she threatened to quit if they did not reinstate two members of her investigative team. Ms. Aristegui and the two reporters first reported in November that the first lady, Angelica Rivera, was buying a house on credit from a contractor doing business with the government. She later agreed to end the deal, though the president’s office said there was no wrongdoing and no conflict of interest under Mexican law.

The two reporters were fired last week for using the station’s brand in promoting a new web initiative, Mexicoleaks, to collect tips and leaks about government and political corruption. The site, which began operating last week, has reported receiving several tips.
» Mexican journalists fired after report about First Lady

 

Fighting words by Zam: More stories to come

More stories to come, says Zam

It’s not over, says Zam

 

MORE TO COME - ZAM

MORE TO COME – ZAM

Zainuddin Maidin, stating his unwavering support of Mahathir Mohamad, has responded to critics and supporters with fighting words: he would continue writing though not on politics; more juicy stories would be coming; the methods would change but not the content.

Zam had yesterday he was giving up political blogging, in the midst of a running battle of words and nerves between supporters of Mahathir Mohamad and his campaign to unseat Najib Razak, and Najib’s allies, into which supporters of his rival Anwar Ibrahim have been drawn.

Critics had said yesterday Zam had been pressured by Najib supporters to shut up.

But the former Utusan Malaysia editor and information minister said today the battle would carry on, in different ways.

To reinforce his commitment, he said: “End the Dynasty!” reiterating Mahathir’s call last week, in what most people take to be a reference to Najib, son of Malaysia’s second prime minister: Mahathir himself coyly said he had never mentioned Najib by name, leaving it open to interpretation. Continue reading