6 Unpopular Facts You Should Know About Free Speech

You keep saying you defend free speech. I do not think it means what you think it means.

You keep saying you defend free speech. I do not think it means what you think it means.Freedom. An apparently simple concept that you’d think people understand pretty well, after all it’s a fundamental human right. But no. It’s probably the concept people abuse and misuse the most when discussing about politics, law and the role of the state. People defend all sorts of nonsense in the name of freedom. This madness must stop. So let’s take some time to think about it. Continue reading “6 Unpopular Facts You Should Know About Free Speech”

Why Django Girls?

django-girlsIn February and March this year Django Girls will be organizing free Django workshops for women in cities all over the world. As a Python/Django developer and feminist myself, I naturally applied as a coach. What for some may seem like a great initiative, however, is attacked by others as a gross display of hypocrisy and misandrist double-standard. In this article I hope to explain why supporting such events doesn’t imply you hate men or seek to overthrow patriarchy and install a regime of female supremacy. Continue reading “Why Django Girls?”

Gender quotas

meritThe subject of gender quotas was trending in Brazil a few months ago and I wrote about it in Portuguese. Now that the same topic has sprung in Romania, it’s time to write an English version. As should be no surprise, there’s a strong backlash against the idea of quotas and affirmative action in general. The anti-quota arguments are typically the same: that this type of approach is “anti-democratic”, “unjust”, “discriminatory”, “unequal”, etc. Although I agree that this is not an ideal solution, these arguments hardly sustain themselves. It may even be that there are legitimate reasons for us to be skeptical about quotas and affirmative action, but the aforementioned ones are certainly not in this category, and I’ll explain why.

Continue reading “Gender quotas”

The tragic consequences of biological determinism

biodetI’ve always been a zoology lover. I grew up watching Animal Planet and comparing the behavior of humans to that of other animals. I ended up not pursuing a career in the area, but reading and watching video-lectures about biology has been one of my oldest and most constant hobbies. I am a fan of Darwin, Dawkins, Frans de Wall and Sapolsky. I always try to find the biological origins of human social behavior and, although I recognize both sides of the nature vs. nurture dilema, I must admit I have a bias towards the former when it comes to personal interest and curiosity. Lately, however, I’m a bit disillusioned. I’ve noticed that many still rely on factoids of the field to defend racist and sexist claims, the inevitability of certain social hierarchies and the maintenance of the status quo, sadly causing many on the other side to, as a defense mechanism, reject behavioral biology altogether. But is it really the case that by giving credibility to this science we inadvertently give basis for these supremacist and deterministic arguments? Is to reject it altogether really the only solution? Continue reading “The tragic consequences of biological determinism”

Why do Brazilians refuse to speak English?

brnetI have always noticed that Brazilians have a certain aversion to English. A certain tendency to switch to Portuguese whenever the majority is Brazilian, a severe reluctance to make a comment directed towards a Brazilian using English, even if the comment is in the context of an English conversation with people from all over the world, etc. Of course, many other nationalities act similarly, but I’ve been living in Romania for a bit over a year now and things are quite different, to the point that it’s really hard to dismiss this attitude as something normal. Though I haven’t had much contact with other Brazilians personally in this period, I still have a lot of contact online, mainly through Facebook, and the more time passes by, the more my impressions are confirmed and even reinforced. And I’m not counting those who don’t know English well, I mean people who speak quite fluently, who have lived abroad, etc. Why is it so? Continue reading “Why do Brazilians refuse to speak English?”

Everyday hate speech in Romania

teodor-quoteIn Romania it’s common for people to condemn the accent from other regions without any pudency. And many don’t do it jokingly, they really mean it. They call people with accents “peasants” and “rednecks” that destroy the Romanian language and nobody reacts, it’s socially acceptable. Openly complaining about gypsies with strong language is even more common. Some even say they’re a “spoilt race” that is genetically damaged, although these tend to be more extreme than the majority. But even the less extreme ones seem to find it normal when they hear it. They’re used to it, and even if they disagree with the choice of words, they wouldn’t defend gypsies because, after all, all they do is steal, beg and destroy the reputation of Romanians in Western Europe. Continue reading “Everyday hate speech in Romania”

Is freedom of speech really the issue?

war-on-freedomWorse than hearing bad arguments from your opposer is hearing bad arguments from people on your side. And of course it shouldn’t surprise anyone that, after a hideous international event, heated outbursts of emotionally charged arguments will pour from the skies like a tropical summer rain from all sides. It has actually come to a point where I wonder if it makes sense at all to even say anybody is on my side. After all, what are the sides? Feeling compelled to take one of supposedly two sides in a complex situation is simplistic and unrealistic in itself. Of course, the Charlie Hebdo attackers were unjustifiably violent and their brutality is not even remotely comparable to any damage the newspaper may possibly have done to society. But does that really make the cartoonists the martyrs many are treating them as? Heroes in the battle to defend our most sacred value: freedom of speech? On the other extreme, is it really the best moment to accuse the cartoonists as Islamophobic racists who had it coming? And most importantly: should we be focusing on them at all? Continue reading “Is freedom of speech really the issue?”