Category Archives: Society

Jihadist Daydreaming: Flying a Remote-Controlled Aircraft into the Pentagon

The New York Times displayed the kind of headline that sadly enough does not stand out any more in 2011: “Man Is Held in a Plan to Bomb Washington”. What does stand out are the means by which this was going to happen, which lead to suspect that this individual has been locked up in a shed together with the Jihadist brother of MacGyver and the A-Team (where A stands for Allah).

The 26-year-old Mr Ferdaus, an American citizen from a town west of Boston, has been charged with plotting to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol using remote-controlled aircrafts filled with explosives. But not only that, according to the FBI the man was to use the “aerial assault” to “eliminate key locations”, at which point attackers would herd survivors into a tight corner and “open up on them” and “keep firing”. The shopping list of the generation-Y religious fundamentalist: three remote-controlled planes, C4 explosives, a couple of Kalashnikovs and, why not, some grenades. Luckily the would-be terrorist only managed to obtain one remote-controlled plane, C4 explosives, and small arms before he was apprehended by the FBI. Continue reading Jihadist Daydreaming: Flying a Remote-Controlled Aircraft into the Pentagon

Thinking Outside of the Box: Gender Trouble in Australia and the Netherlands

On 13 September Human Rights Watch released the report Controlling Bodies, Denying Identities: Human Rights Violations Against Trans People in the Netherlands in which they argue that article 28 of the Dutch Civil Code violates the human rights of transgender people. According to Human Rights Watch, article 28 of the Dutch Civil Code does so because it requires transgender people to take hormones, undergo surgery and to be permanently and irreversibly sterilised before they can have their gender recognised on official legal documents.

A similar issue concerning gender identity and legal documentation became apparent in Australia in 2010 when the Sydney Morning Herald published an article about the then 48-year-old Norrie May-Welby from Sydney. Born with male sexual characteristics, May-Welby underwent hormone treatments and surgery for twenty-five years to be able to live a life as a woman, but now wanted to go through life genderless. Although the state New South Wales provided May-Welby with documentation that granted her this status, the local authorities later claimed that they could only issue documents that mention gender as being male or female.May-Welbie decided to put forward a complaint to the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations. Continue reading Thinking Outside of the Box: Gender Trouble in Australia and the Netherlands

The Pint-sized Preacher, GI Joe, Jihad Joe and Hamas Mickey Mouse

Today I stumbled upon a controversial YouTube video of the 4-year-old Kanon Tipton from Mississippi that has been dubbed the ‘world’s youngest preacher’. Is this a dramatic sign that childhood is changing rapidly in recent times, or does a closer look learn that there is more than meets the eye?

Children have always and will always mimic adults around them. This is the main way through which they learn. From this perspective, it is not difficult to comprehend the case of preaching 4-year-old, which doesn’t make it less of a sad history however. If anything, this ‘pint-sized preacher’ is a sign of the times, not because of the fact that he is mimicking, but because of the fact what it is he is mimicking. As part of their learning curve, children aged 4 are only just considered capable to play with LEGO that contains slightly smaller pieces than a 3-year old is allowed to play with, so where does preaching in front of a congregation fit in? One YouTube user commented: “I’ve always said a preacher’s job could be done by a 4-year-old”. And indeed, either this display says something about the job of a preacher, or it says something about those being preached to. Either way, it is quite a telling story. Continue reading The Pint-sized Preacher, GI Joe, Jihad Joe and Hamas Mickey Mouse

Meeting the myth makers of the modern world (but not Robert Crumb)

A weekend of graphic storytelling, animation and music took place in the Sydney Opera House on the 21st and 22nd of August. American illustrator Robert Crumb was supposed to be one of the main attractions of the festival, but he decided not to come to Sydney after The Daily Telegraph and Hetty Johnston described Crumbs work as perverted images emanating from what is clearly a sick mind, and instigated nothing less than a moral crusade against Robert Crumb and his work.

A crusade against an artist that draws images. That sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Kurt Westergaard can testify of what upheaval a drawing can cause. His drawing of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban caused Islamic protests, some of which escalated into violence, including the bombing of the Danish embassy in Pakistan and setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, which resulted in a total of more than 100 reported deaths. In addition several people were arrested plotting to kill Westergaard or do him harm, including a man who made his way into Westergaard’s home with an axe and a knife. Continue reading Meeting the myth makers of the modern world (but not Robert Crumb)