Glen Greenwald holds up British hypocrisy on free speech to the light, detailing how Muslims who post things on Facebook are getting thrown in the slammer for their views—and for inciting terrorism. And he doesn't let the USA off: "Despite frequent national boasting of free speech protections, the U.S. has joined, and sometimes led, the trend to monitor and criminalize online political speech. The DOJ in 2011 prosecuted a 24-year-old Pakistani resident of the United States, Jubair Ahmad, on terrorism charges for uploading a 5-minute video to YouTube featuring photographs of Abu Ghraib abuses, video of American armored trucks exploding, and prayer messages about 'jihad' from the leader of a designated terror group; he was convicted and sent to prison for 12 years. The same year, the DOJ indicted a 22-year-old Penn State student for, among other things, posting justifications of attacks on the U.S. to a 'jihadi forum'; the speech offender, Emerson Winfield Begolly, was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison." (He also throws in some examples of people allegedly "threatening" cops on Twitter—an issue near and dear to the hearts of several Baltimore Twitizens.) As with anything by Greenwald, readers would do well to consult other sources for broader detail and context in these cases. But he's right on the law; the controlling case is Brandenburg v. Ohio and it sets a very high bar for prosecuting speech: You have to be inciting a riot and there have to be people right there ready and willing to act. The term of art is "imminent lawless action." In Brandenburg's context it meant you could advocate violent revolution so long as you did not have a keyed-up crowd at your direct command when you did it. So Greenwald does not explore the important point his piece raises. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube's value as propaganda instruments lies precisely in their ability to incite large crowds of people remotely. This really is a game-changer, socially and legally. The pity is that Western democracies show so little faith in the power of their purported ideals. (Edward Ericson Jr.)
Suzanne McGee, business writer for The Guardian, covers the big bet Paypal founder Peter Thiel is making on cannabis: an undisclosed amount from Thiel's Founders Fund into Privateer Holdings, the Leafly.com-owning company in Seattle that has recruited Ivy League MBAs from big-name companies, along with botanists and an army of security guards to cultivate and protect its grow operation. The goal here is to become the Starbucks of pot, including with products branded under a 30-year licensing agreement with the Bob Marley franchise. Yes, this is what legalization will look like: corporate slick, with a stoner's schtick. But, no, writes McGee, Founders Fund's partners aren't doing this just to get "a front row seat on the world's best varieties of marijuana as they emerge." (Van Smith)
We're not usually avid readers of Jezebel, but "The Lemon Cake Male Objectification Experiment" it published recently was surprisingly thoughtful and interesting. The writer, Elizabeth Preston, had an idea: If men carried around baked goods in public all day, "can men get a taste of the constant public observation that women experience?" She recruited some male friends and made some baked goods for them to carry and report back their results. Along the way the experiment provides some interesting, but depressing, information about the consequences of the "objectifying gaze" and being stared at in public: "Being stared at is distracting, for one thing. It can also lead to increased anxiety or shame about your appearance, as well as worries about safety. Women who report more experience being objectified and harassed score higher on measures of 'self-objectification,' or thinking a lot about their own appearance and comparing it to an ideal.
"An objectifying gaze can affect women's behavior and even their cognition. In one study, women spent less time talking about themselves when they thought a man in another room was watching a video feed of their bodies, compared to women who thought the observer was another woman (or was watching their faces). In one [study], women who received an objectifying gaze from a man performed worse on a math test." So did the men get stared at all day? Not really, but the experiment still yields some pretty fascinating results. (Anna Walsh)