Tag Archives: tolerance

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Why Iceland Doesn’t Have an Alt-Right Problem – Article by Camilo Gómez

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The New Renaissance HatCamilo Gómez
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With the recent rise to prominence of right-wing populist parties across Europe, it’s refreshing that Iceland has remained largely immune to such nationalistic rhetoric. On the continent, figures like Marine Le Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands are capitalizing on what political scientists are calling a third wave of European populism that began after the international financial crisis of 2008. These parties are characterized by their anti-immigrant, and specifically, anti-Muslim sentiments. They fashion themselves the “protectors” of their homelands’ traditional culture against cosmopolitan globalism.

Yet, tiny Iceland has resisted this dirty brand of politics because of the rise of social movements that challenged the power structure of the Icelandic political establishment after the financial crisis of 2008. Unlike in other European countries, these social movements transformed themselves into a political movements, filling the vacuum of traditional center-right and center-left political parties, while also preventing far-right political projects from succeeding.

For starters, Iceland is a relatively young country that only became independent in 1944. It is a parliamentary democracy, based on coalitions because the Althing (parliament) has 63 members but a single party rarely has a clear majority. Unlike other Nordic countries, Iceland has been governed by the right for most of its history, either from the liberal conservative Independence Party or the center-right agrarian Progressive Party.

This changed after the international financial crisis of 2008, which led all three Icelandic commercial banks to default. The crisis generated massive anger as Icelanders didn’t know what was going to happen with their savings. This led to massive protests that culminated in the resignation of the Prime Minister who was a member of the Independence Party.  Consequently, in April 2009, a left-wing coalition by the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left-Green Movement formed a government together for the first time in the country’s history.

This grassroots activism led to the appearance of outsider political projects like the now defunct Best Party, which started as political satire but ended with its leader Jón Gnarr winning the mayoral election in Reykjavík in 2010. More importantly, grassroots activism was further encouraged by the Panama Papers, which revealed that the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson of the Progressive Party and his wife, had an undisclosed account in an offshore tax haven. The ensuing protests became the largest in Iceland’s history, and made the Prime Minister resign. This led the way for the Pirate Party — a loose collection of anarchists, hackers and libertarians — to rise in prominence. Because of the Pirates, the national discussion shifted to a more socially tolerant narrative of a society willing to be open to the world.

Thus, Iceland’s 2016 elections presented very different options from the relatively traditional Independence Party and Progressive Party or the Social Democratic Alliance and Left-Green Movement. In addition to the Pirate Party,  voters could also choose from the Bright Party, an eclectic socially liberal party, and the Reform Party, a new liberal party formed by defectors of the Independence Party. The elections led to a center-right coalition between the Independence Party, the Reform Party and the Bright Party.

Rather than blaming immigrants for their problems, Icelanders confronted the political class and created new parties that didn’t resemble the wave of far-right populism. Now even the government realizes that Iceland needs immigrants, skilled and unskilled, to fulfill the demand in different aspects of the Icelandic economy. Contrary to other countries in Europe, and despite its size, Iceland had been willing to receive refugees, and the number of immigrants in Iceland keeps growing year by year. In times of demagoguery, Iceland remains friendly to foreigners. One can only hope that the world learn from this small country that foreigners bring prosperity.

Camilo Gómez is a blogger at The Mitrailleuse and the host of Late Night Anarchy podcast. He can be found in Twitter at @camilomgn. He is a Young Voices Advocate.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author. Read the original article.

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The U.S. Transhumanist Party – Pursuing a Future of Extreme Progress – Presentation by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Politics, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
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Listen to and download the audio recording of this presentation at http://rationalargumentator.com/USTP_Future_of_Extreme_Progress.mp3 (right-click to download).

Download Mr. Stolyarov’s presentation slides at http://rationalargumentator.com/USTP_Future_of_Extreme_Progress.pdf (right-click to download).


Gennady Stolyarov II, Chairman of the U.S. Transhumanist Party, delivered this presentation virtually at the Extreme Futures Technology and Forecasting (EFTF) Work Group on March 11, 2017.

Mr. Stolyarov outlines the background and history of the Transhumanist Party, its Core Ideals, its unique approach to politics and member involvement, and the hopes for transforming politics into a constructive focus on solutions to the prevailing problems of our time.

At the conclusion of the presentation Mr. Stolyarov answered a series of questions from futurists Mark Waser and Stuart Mason Dambrot.

Visit the website of the U.S. Transhumanist Party here.

Become a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party for free here.

Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel on Artificial Intelligence here.

Watch the U.S. Transhumanist Party Discussion Panel on Life Extension here.

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Libertarianism and Transhumanism – How Liberty and Radical Technological Progress Fit Together – Presentation by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II

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Gennady Stolyarov II, as Chief Executive of the Nevada Transhumanist Party and as of November 17, 2016, the Chairman of the United States Transhumanist Party, discusses the complementarities between libertarian and transhumanist philosophies and objectives, encouraging more libertarians to embrace emerging technologies and an “upwing” perspective on progress, tolerance, and cosmopolitanism. Over time Mr. Stolyarov hopes to be able to do similar outreach to persons of other persuasions – from centrists to non-identitarian conservatives to left-progressives to socialists to apolitical individuals, seeking common ground in pursuit of the improvement of the human condition through emerging technologies.

This presentation was made to the Washoe County Libertarian Party Organizing Convention in Reno, Nevada, on November 20, 2016.

Presentation slides can be downloaded here.

United States Transhumanist Party

Website
Membership Application Form

Nevada Transhumanist Party

Constitution and Bylaws
Facebook Group (join to become a member)

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Platform Adoption Statement #2 of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: Electoral Reforms

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The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
November 9, 2016
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NTP-Logo-9-1-2015The following sections are hereby added to the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform. Pursuant to Article I, Section XXV, these sections are not officially considered part of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution at this time, but shall have equivalent standing to the Platform Sections within that Constitution. It will be possible to officially amend the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution to include these statements during periodic biennial filings of Certificates of Continued Existence with the Nevada Secretary of State.

Section XXXI. The Nevada Transhumanist Party advocates Constitutional reform to abolish the Electoral College in the United States Presidential elections and render the plurality of the popular vote the sole criterion for the election of President. While the original intent of the Electoral College as a deliberative body to check the passions of the poorly informed masses and potentially overturn the election of a demagogue may have been noble, the reality has not reflected this intention. Instead, the Electoral College has enabled votes from less cosmopolitan, less tolerant, more culturally ossified and monolithic areas of the country to disproportionately sway the outcome of Presidential elections, to the detriment of individual liberty and progress.

Section XXXII. The Nevada Transhumanist Party advocates greatly shortening the timeframe for electoral campaigns. The current two-year election season, combined with voters’ short memories, renders it possible for both genuine merits and egregious transgressions of candidates to be forgotten by the time of voting. Longer campaign seasons also perpetuate the “horse-race” mentality on the part of the media and result in the search for contrived election drama in order to drive views and campaign contributions. The ensuing acrimony, misinformation, and outright violence are detrimental to the fabric of a civilized society. Election seasons should be as short as possible, to enable all relevant information to be disseminated quickly and be considered by most voters within the same timeframe as their decisions are made.

Section XXXIII. The Nevada Transhumanist Party advocates abolishing all staggered party primaries and for all primary elections to be held on the same day across the entire country. With staggered party primaries, individuals voting later – solely because of the jurisdiction in which they reside – find their choices severely constrained due to the prior elimination of candidates they might have preferred. The staggered primary system tends to elevate the candidates who are least palatable to reasonable voters – but have the support of a vociferous, crass, and often violent fringe – toward frontrunner positions that create the pressure for other members of the political party to follow suit and reluctantly support the worst of the nominees.

Section XXXIV. The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports replacing the current “winner-take-all” electoral system with proportional representation, ranked preference voting, and other devices to minimize the temptations by voters to favor a perceived “lesser evil” rather than the candidates closest to those voters’ own preferences.

Section XXXV. The Nevada Transhumanist Party supports the right of any jurisdiction to secede from the United States specifically in opposition to policies that institutionalize racism, xenophobia, criminalization of dissent, and persecution of peaceful persons. The Nevada Transhumanist Party does not, however, condone any secession for the purposes of oppressing others. Therefore, the secession of the Confederate States in 1860 was illegitimate, but a future secession of a State may be justified in reaction to violent crackdowns by the federal government against individuals based on individuals’ national origin or ancestry.

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George Washington’s Letter to the Jews – Article by Sarah Skwire

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The New Renaissance HatSarah Skwire
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In August of 1790, George Washington wrote a brief letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island. If anything, it is more timely than ever as we continue to struggle with questions of toleration and bigotry, and of the joys and dangers of insisting on freedom of conscience in our nation and in our lives.

Gentlemen:

While I received with much satisfaction your address replete with expressions of esteem, I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you that I shall always retain grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced on my visit to Newport from all classes of citizens.

The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security.

If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good government, to become a great and happy people.

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my administration and fervent wishes for my felicity.

May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants—while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.

May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy. ~ G. Washington

Washington came to Newport for a visit on August 17th, 1790  and was addressed by Moses Seixas, one of the officials of the long-established Jewish congregation of Newport. Seixas noted that, given the grim history of the Jews, America was a particularly important place, for:

Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now (with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events) behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People—a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance—but generously affording to All liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship: deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language, equal parts of the great governmental Machine…

While I suspect many reader will find, as I do, the notion of being a part of the “great governmental machine” far less appealing than Seixas did, his main point remains a vital one. For a people who had been chased from their homes by persecution, forced conversions, violence, and governmental theft of their property, the American promise of toleration was an almost incomprehensible blessing.

Toleration in Rhode Island

When I visited the Touro synagogue—home of the Jewish congregation Washington addressed—last week, my tour guide reminded me that Rhode Island’s version of religious toleration was particularly impressive, even within the wider American context.

Founded by the famously ornery Roger Williams, who was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony for spreading “new and dangerous opinions,” and established by a charter from King Charles II,  Rhode Island was based on principles of complete religious toleration from its very beginning. The 1663 founding charter notes that Rhode Island is meant to be:

a lively experiment, that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained…with a full liberty in religious concernments… our royal will and pleasure is, that no person within the said colony, at any time hereafter shall be any wise molested, punished, disquieted, or called in question, for any differences in opinion in matters of religion, and do not actually disturb the civil peace of our said colony; but that all and every person and persons may, from time to time, and at all times hereafter, freely and fully have and enjoy his and their own judgments and consciences, in matters of religious concernments, throughout the tract of land hereafter mentioned, they behaving themselves peaceably and quietly, and not using this liberty to licentiousness and profaneness, nor to the civil injury or outward disturbance of others, any law, statute, or clause therein contained, or to be contained, usage or custom of this realm, to the contrary hereof, in any wise notwithstanding.

Even the structure of Newport echoes the words of its royal charter. The city’s churches are not next to the statehouse, but clustered behind it, emphasizing their equality with one another and the separation between church and state.

It is hard for a modern reader to understand exactly how astonishing this promise of complete freedom of religious conscience was for the time. Perhaps the best way to think about it is that, when this royal charter was drawn up, Europe had suffered through more than 120 years of near-constant religious warfare. The death toll from that religiously motivated violence totaled somewhere between 5.6 and 18.5 million, depending on which historians you read and whether or not you count deaths caused by diseases and famine resulting from warfare.

Rhode Island must have seemed like a miracle to any 17th-century citizen. And for the Jews of Spain and Portugal, making their way to Newport via Amsterdam, the promise of such freedom must have been tantalizing and a little terrifying. Could they really trust that non-Christian religions would be included in these promises? Would they really be safe?

They would.

And the letter that Seixas read to George Washington makes that sense of security perfectly clear. Seixas did not speak of toleration and freedom as promises made in hopes of some much-desired future. He spoke of them as established truths that were in place then and there, as he was writing. “We now …behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People—a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

Freedom Works

Washington’s response to Seixas and the other Jews of Newport is similarly focused on the success of the American experiment in toleration. He writes:

The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship.

The Revolution is over. The Constitution is in place. The Republic has not fallen apart in its first years. There is reason to be proud, says Washington.

More importantly, he argues that toleration is not a question of an elite extending a favor to a lower and less worthy class. Toleration is about the equal treatment of all. The Jews of Newport are not “tolerated” the way that one learns to live with a leaky faucet or a small ding on your car bumper. Their differences are tolerated because their persons are equal.

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

Repeating Seixas’s phrasing back to him, in words that have become a crucial part of American thinking, Washington reassures him, and all the Jews of Newport, that he and they are of one mind on the subject of toleration.

We should think, today, about that phrase that Seixas originated and Washington repeated. It makes a fine model for how we should behave in the increasingly fraught religious tensions of the 21st century.

A civil society should give to bigotry no sanction, and to persecution no assistance. That means that those of us who are already here may not use our position to persecute newcomers, nor may we use their differences as an excuse for hatred and ill-treatment. But this is a covenant that must work in both directions. To enter into a civil society, one must make those promises as well.

Old hatreds, old prejudices, and old patterns of persecution must be left on the doormat of a civil society—discarded, like a pair of muddy boots, before you come in.

Only then can we regain the pride that Seixas and Washington had in a toleration that they felt was secured. Only then can we close our letters as Washington closed his, with the conviction that now, “every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Sarah Skwire is the poetry editor of the Freeman and a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc. She is a poet and author of the writing textbook Writing with a Thesis. She is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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The Orlando Bloodbath and the Illiberal Mind – Article by Jeffrey A. Tucker

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Categories: Justice, Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatJeffrey A. Tucker
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Society is forever threatened by individuals with corrupt hearts

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The horrifying events at the Pulse bar in Orlando, Florida, the worst mass shooting in American history, illustrate what is meant by the term terrorism. It is violence designed to shake our sense of security and safety, to instill fear, to remind us how fragile is the very existence of what we call civilization. One moment, people are dancing and enjoying the music. The next they are covered with blood amidst unspeakable carnage, and wondering when the bullets are going to tear through their own flesh.

A nightclub—a conspicuous symbol of commercial ebullience and progressive cultural creativity—becomes a war zone in the blink of an eye, and why? There is no final answer to such a gigantic question, but there are strong suggestions based on the identity of the killer and recent experiences with Islamic extremism. It stems from intolerance, leading to seething hatred, resulting in violence, leaving only devastation and fear in its wake. One corrupt heart, driven to action through profound malice, turns a dance club into a killing field.

No Political Solution

It is political season, so of course the tragedy will have implications for the direction of politics. Islamophobia gets a boost, which helps the cause of religious intolerance and nativism, even though the killer was an American citizen and in no way represents the views of a billion and a half peaceful and faithful Muslims struggling for a better life.

Two nights earlier, beloved YouTube star Christina Grimmie was shot dead by a man having no motivations related to Islam. Fear drives people to seek political solutions, so the details of the case in question are not likely to matter. Political control over our lives and property will undoubtedly follow this catastrophe just as they did after 9-11.

And yet there are no political solutions, at least none readily at hand. Yes, the radicalization of some sectors of Islam might never have taken their present course had the U.S. not made egregious foreign-policy blunders that incited the drive for vengeance among millions. Looking back over the decades, back to the 1980s when the most extreme ideologies received U.S. encouragement from the U.S. as a Cold War measure, all the way to the destabilization of Iraq, Syria, and Libya, one sees how the violence of war has fed the violence of terrorism in repeating cycles.

Still, no one can say for sure that absent such blunders, someone like the Orlando shooter, Omar Mateen, would not come into existence. Society is always threatened by individuals with corrupt hearts and the malicious intent to purify the world of sin. We try to protect ourselves. Security systems respond by becoming ever better at what they are supposed to do. The horror has already re-started the debate between gun rights and gun control (however: by law, that bar was a gun-free zone, meaning that people could not protect themselves or stop others who are intent on killing). And yet, in the end, there is no system of politics and no system of security capable of ending all such threats to human well being.

Toleration as a Virtue

The answer lies with the conversion of the human heart.

Where does this begin?

Given that the driving force here is related to religion, we can turn to the very origins of liberalism itself. It was once believed that society, in order to function properly, required full agreement on matters of faith. But after centuries of warfare amounting to nothing, a new norm emerged, some half a millennium ago, which can best be summarized in the term toleration.

You can’t kill capitalism without killing people. The insight was that it is not necessary for people to agree in order that they find value in each other and get along. A society can cohere even in the presence of profound religious disagreement. We all have a greater stake in peace with each other than any of us do in winning some religious struggle. As 19th century liberal cleric John Henry Newman put it, “Learn to do thy part and leave the rest to Heaven.”

This was the profound insight, and it led to a new enlightenment on a range of issues beyond religion: free speech, free press, free trade, freedom of association. The insight concerning toleration planted a seed that led to a new realization of how humanity can enjoy progress. Voltaire’s Treatise on Toleration, which summed up the case, appeared a mere twenty-one years before Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Their core idea was the same: we have more to gain from toleration, exchange, and freedom than we have from vanquishing the foe from the earth.

So it should be no surprise that the attempt to revert that progress and bring back a new age of tribal warfare would begin by questioning the core insight of religious liberty. Instead it seeks to purify the world of heresy and save souls through violence, if not by centralized authority, then by individual action. It is a premodern manner of thinking, one that seeks to end the lives of those who use freedom in ways that contradicts its own views of what is right and proper.

And notice too how the rise of intolerance has targeted such a conspicuous sign of capitalist consumerism: the dance clubs, and, particular, one that caters toward the gay community. Capitalism is the economic realization of the idea of human freedom, one in which people choose their partners, their music, their mode of expression. No one harms anyone; everyone is free to enjoy, to stay out late, to drink liquor, to move and sing as an expression of individuality.

The illiberal mind loathes such freedom and wants it destroyed. This is why, in the end, it is always capitalism itself that is in the crosshairs. And you can’t kill capitalism without killing people.

Resist Fear

What are we left to think and do when faced with such a bloody tragedy? Remember the foundations of what made us who we are, the philosophical underpinnings of what made the modern world great. Seek peace. Tolerate, even celebrate, differences among us. Find value in each other through trade. Defend human rights and freedom against all who seek to stamp them out.

Resist fear. Reject hate. Defend institutions that help all of us realize our dreams. Turn away from revenge fantasies and recommit ourselves again to living peacefully with others, treating even our enemies as if someday they might be our friends. Building a world free of violence and terror takes place in the conversion of one human heart at a time, beginning with our own.

Jeffrey Tucker is Director of Digital Development at FEE, CLO of the startup Liberty.me, and editor at Laissez Faire Books. Author of five books, he speaks at FEE summer seminars and other events. His latest book is Bit by Bit: How P2P Is Freeing the World.  Follow on Twitter and Like on Facebook. 

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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Censorship Is an Unjustifiable Privilege – Article by Chris Marchese

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Categories: Culture, Education, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatChris Marchese
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Free Speech Is about the Power to Challenge the Status Quo

Free speech is the great equalizer in our society. It doesn’t matter about your race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, class — you get the point — the First Amendment protects your right to speak freely. Despite this, some student activists — perceiving unequal social conditions, including at institutions of higher education — are fighting for social change at the expense of free speech. The sad irony, however, is that free speech only becomes privileged when it’s restricted, which is why free speech must remain a right equally applicable to all.To understand why, consider Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s commencement speech at Wellesley College in 2015. In it, she said, “You, because of your beautiful Wellesley degree, have become privileged, no matter your background.” But, she added, “Sometimes you will need to push [this privilege] aside in order to see clearly,” because “privilege blinds” you to those who are different.

Students calling for speech restrictions are particularly blinded by their privilege, which leaves them unable to see the unjust privilege that restricting speech would further confer upon them. This is dangerous and counterproductive to their cause.

Restricting Speech Is an Unjust Privilege
First, to support restrictions on certain kinds of speech, activists must have (or at least project) unwavering confidence in both themselves and the system in which they are operating — the university in this case — to discern what’s offensive. Even if they see gray areas in expression, they are forced to present issues in absolutist terms if they are to have the perceived moral authority to police and punish those who offend.

Turning again to Adichie’s speech, we can see why this is wrong. As she said, “I knew from … the class privilege I had of growing up in an educated family, that it sometimes blinded me, that I was not always as alert to the nuances of people who were different from me.”

Sometimes, people are genuinely racist (though what’s considered racist varies widely from place to place) and their speech is identifiable as such. But what about the student who isn’t aware of the offense he or she may cause by wearing a sombrero at a party, which some consider cultural appropriation? How about the student who is aware but disagrees that it’s offensive? Should he or she be censored and punished based upon some activists’ standards of right and wrong? Different people have different experiences and different views. Because of this, nuance matters.

Second, while it can be tempting to argue that free speech maintains inequality because it protects offensive speech, this argument fails to distinguish between people and their views. That is, when you censor people — even for offensive speech — you are denying them equal access to, and protection of, the First Amendment and you are doing so from a position of privilege.  The right to free speech gives everyone an equal right to voice his or her opinions — but it does not mean that such opinions will win or even register in any given forum.

Restrictions on free speech, on the other hand, make both people and ideas unequal by subjugating them to someone else’s understanding of what’s right and therefore allowable. Indeed, to assume one’s views are so infallible as to warrant imposition on others and to assume there is no legitimate debate left to be had on certain topics — and the language used in discussing those topics — is a privilege that oppresses not only the hated racist, but the honest dissenter and everyone in between.

Lastly, some students claim that free speech is about power — that it enables and sustains privilege for some but not all. Let’s be clear: free speech is about power. It’s about having the power to challenge the status quo, question society’s deeply held beliefs, and call others to task. But free speech only becomes privileged when it’s restricted.

Understanding the Would-Be Censors
Of course words can have consequences. (If they couldn’t, nobody would bother speaking.) It would be hypocritical to argue that offensive speech will never cause harm, at least to feelings or interests, while also maintaining that speech is so vital it requires robust protection. One could also argue that the marketplace of ideas — like all markets — has negative externalities. The most evident, as campus activists assert, is that offensive speech is protected and those it’s directed at — typically thought to be minorities — are disproportionately burdened by it.

Moreover, restricting or punishing speech provides instant gratification. It’s an immediate and swift response to views one finds abhorrent. It gives the impression that justice has been served. For those who believe society is stacked against them, it’s a small beacon of hope. Restricting speech, then, isn’t seen as infringing upon someone else’s liberty, but rather righting a wrong. The emotional appeal is understandably strong.

But this is not right.

A Just Alternative
The best way to counter hateful, offensive speech is with more speech. Think of it this way: restricting speech treats the symptoms of bigotry by making its manifestations less visible. Conversely, more speech acts as a cure by attacking the underlying disease. The former method may seem effective in the short term, but it’s dangerous in the long run.

As FIRE President and CEO Greg Lukianoff has argued, when offensive speech is banned, it drives those with potentially dangerous views (however determined) underground, making them harder to identify, while also potentially making them more extreme. It also gives a false sense of social progress. And who ultimately pays the price? The people the bans were meant to help, when it turns out society wasn’t as friendly as they believed.

Countering hateful speech with more speech is not seamless. It’s hard work, and it’s not instant. It doesn’t guarantee the flushing of all bigoted and hateful opinions from society, and it often works slowly. Nevertheless, it is the only method that is both just and that makes progress last. Engaging with people who express views different from one’s own moves beyond the superficial to challenge core beliefs, assumptions, and biases — and can help a person identify and recognize his or her own. Consider the case of Megan and Grace Phelps, granddaughters of the pastor who founded the Westboro Baptist Church. After interacting with a Jewish man by email and on Twitter, the sisters decided their views were wrong and decided to leave the WBC, which also meant being excommunicated by their family.

The marketplace of ideas won’t always work this way, and not everyone is destined to see the light. But restricting speech is a privileged response that neither makes society more equal nor has any tangible benefit other than providing a false sense of justice, which, in the long term, only fuels underlying problems. We cannot afford to be blind to this reality.

None of this should be construed as a plea to accept the status quo or to disengage. Rather, it’s a call for college students who support restricting speech to recognize their own privilege. Education is a gift, and college students should use the privilege it confers to advocate for change. But this means realizing free speech is not the enemy of progress, and that restricting it will not make society more equal. To do otherwise — to restrict and punish speech — is to be so willfully blind to privilege as to become the oppressors.

Chris Marchese is a Senior Financial Analyst at Meritor.

This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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Safe Spaces Can’t Be Diverse – And Vice Versa – Article by Kevin Currie-Knight

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The New Renaissance Hat
Kevin Currie-Knight
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I’m a fan of the LGBT center on the campus where I teach. It offers a space where gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students can be among students, faculty, and staff without fear of harassment, bullying, or negative judgment. There, they do not have to worry about passing (pretending to be straight) or covering (having to signal to others that they are still “normal” despite who they are).

But do you know what spaces like this are not? Diverse.

Or rather, they are not diverse in the types of attitudes permitted to exist there. One cannot, say, believe that homosexuality is a sin and feel welcome at an LGBT center. One cannot believe that transgender people are mentally ill and find LGBT centers to be congenial.

This lack of diversity is not wrong; it is by design and has a good purpose. A safe space is one where people with certain identities that don’t fit in elsewhere can find safety through homogeneity and solidarity.

We don’t need to dismiss either ideal to recognize that a space’s safety and its diversity will be inversely related. The more you have of one, the less you must have of the other.

But you can have spaces and contexts that allow for either ideal, or varying degrees of compromise between them — unless activists succeed in their current quest to convert entire universities into safe spaces.

The Yale case is well known by now. Erika Christakis, a lecturer in early child development, voiced concern in an email to Yale students and residence-life folks urging them to rethink the university’s heavy-handed approach to advising students on which Halloween costumes to avoid. Her note ignited controversy and protest on campus — with some even calling for Christakis’s resignation — because the possibility of students wearing offensive Halloween costumes makes the campus a potentially unsafe space.

In another recent example, the University of Missouri has been experiencing protests regarding alleged racist speech and treatment of minority students. During one of these protests, a journalist trying to cover the event was evidently shouted down and intimidated because his (journalistic) presence at the protest allegedly threatened the protesters’ safe space. (Think about how odd it is to describe the site of a vigorous protest as a safe space).

One journalist described a video of the events as follows:

In the video of Tim Tai trying to carry out his ESPN assignment, I see the most vivid example yet of activists twisting the concept of “safe space” in a most confounding way. They have one lone student surrounded. They’re forcibly preventing him from exercising a civil right. At various points, they intimidate him. Ultimately, they physically push him. But all the while, they are operating on the premise, or carrying on the pretense, that he is making them unsafe.

If people who regularly find their campuses (or other places) to be inhospitable, it may do them good to have social spaces where they are assured some level of relief, probably with people they are comfortable with. But think about what that means for diversity.

Increasing diversity is another aspiration at universities and other organizations, but safe spaces demand that the people in the space have a certain degree of homogeneity. For Yale to be a safe space, the university must disallow a diversity of Halloween costumes.

Why did the Missouri protesters suggest that Tai’s presence threatened to turn their protest into an unsafe space? Because there was a possibility that the narrative this journalist would construct might not be one the homogeneous protesters would approve of. Tai threatened the homogeneity and solidarity of the protest.

Let’s go back to the example of LGBT centers. That these students have somewhere they can go where they do not feel pressures to hide or “tone down” their identities is important, and any society that promotes freedom of association will have many such centers, whether official or not. But the only way for an entire university to become a safe space for LGBT students is to sacrifice diversity by, for example, demanding that religious students not believe (at least openly) that homosexuality is sinful. The converse is also true: LGBT centers could no longer function as safe spaces for LGBT students if they became sites of more diversity, where those religious students could regularly voice their beliefs.

Diversity cannot thrive in a world that is one big safe space.

Why? Because diversity means difference. Difference means that people will invariably see things in different ways, and we will sometimes anger each other. It’s not a bug, but a feature. To eliminate the possibility that some of us could deeply offend others of us would be to require everyone to live only in ways acceptable to all.

Diversity means a world where black-power advocates can live openly and in ways that anger white people — and where white-power advocates can live openly and thus anger black people. A world of diversity is one where people with different tastes, comfort levels, and senses of humor can wear Halloween costumes that may offend others.

The best resolution is to allow people on college campuses and elsewhere to create safe spaces. If we believe others’ Halloween costumes may deeply offend us, or that people may say derogatory and racist things to us, we can go to one of those spaces. But leave the university as a diverse space — don’t force it to become a safe space.

Diversity and emotional safety are values at odds with each other. They can coexist in tension, but the expansion of one can only come at the expense of the other.

Kevin Currie-Knight teaches in East Carolina University’s Department of Special Education, Foundations, and Research. He is a member of the FEE Faculty Network.

This article was originally published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

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A Multifaceted Strategy to Defeat ISIS – Article by G. Stolyarov II

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Categories: Politics, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
November 15, 2015
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The recent slaughters of hundreds of innocent civilians in Paris, in Ankara, in Beirut, and aboard the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 illustrate without a shadow of doubt that the threat from the barbaric sect known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, and the Islamic State cannot be contained within the Middle East. ISIS is an enemy of humanity, decency, and Western civilization. It will continue killing completely peaceful civilians of Western nations, both in their home countries and abroad, in gruesome ways. ISIS is a cancer upon humanity, and it will continue to metastasize and inflict damage until it is either eradicated or until it completely kills its host. Like cancer, ISIS cannot coexist with a healthy humankind. This cancerous “Islamic State” should be eradicated using the resources of any willing parties.

Now is the time to put aside petty rivalries, animosities, and power politics among advanced nations. All of Western civilization – indeed, the entire world – needs to stand with the people of France and recoil at the atrocities perpetrated against the victims of the Paris attacks of November 13, 2015. There can be no excuses and no apologies for the perpetrators. Anti-modern fundamentalist savagery must be condemned, and the innocent should be mourned. Western civilization needs to send a unified signal that it will have no tolerance for murderous intolerance.

eiffel-tower-303341_1280A concerted, multifaceted strategy is needed to eliminate ISIS while preserving the Enlightenment values which ISIS threatens: liberty, humanism, secularism, tolerance, and progress. No single measure will succeed in solving this dire problem, but a combination of approaches can dramatically reverse the current predicament of Western civilization suffering setback after setback due to the rampages of a relatively small group of barbarians. The representatives of Western civilization should mount a decisive, unapologetic response that not only physically destroys ISIS but also eliminates the societal, economic, and cultural preconditions for its emergence.

If I had the ability to set the United States’ policy for eliminating the ISIS menace, I would institute the measures described below as expeditiously as possible. I estimate that, within approximately one year of the implementation of these measures, ISIS would be completely destroyed, and the probability of any successor organizations emerging would be rendered negligible through the continued application of these approaches.

(1) Setting Aside Foreign-Policy Differences: ISIS threatens everyone – citizens of France, Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the United States, to name just a few. Now is the time to pursue complete cooperation among the governments of countries which have a compelling interest to eradicate ISIS. To achieve such cooperation, the United States government should send a strong signal that all other foreign-policy differences are relatively unimportant and will be overlooked. For instance, with regard to Russia, the United States should openly renounce all strategic ambitions in Ukraine and all intentions to depose the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. The cessation of the demonization of Russia over the Ukrainian civil war (where there is truly no good side) would serve as a major sign to Vladimir Putin of the United States’ goodwill and desire to collaborate on a true existential threat to Western civilization. As for Assad, he – for all of his despicably dictatorial behavior – is an enemy of ISIS, and ISIS would not have emerged had the United States not previously funneled weapons and training to anti-Assad rebels, who either were quickly overwhelmed by the more ruthless ISIS or themselves joined ISIS. For ISIS to be eradicated, Syria’s civil war must end, and peace and order must be restored. Assad may be a dictator, but he does not instigate hostage-takings and mass murders in European cities. Likewise, the United States government should welcome support from Iran in combating the ISIS presence within Iraq. ISIS is a fanatically intolerant Sunni Muslim sect that poses as much of a threat to the Shiite Muslim theocracy of Iran as it does to non-Muslim “infidel” Westerners. A collaborative effort to defeat ISIS would also help to defuse tensions between the United States and Iran by demonstrating to the Iranian regime that the United States does not have imminent intentions to “preemptively” attack Iran out of the (largely unfounded) fear of the continued development of Iran’s nuclear program.

2000px-France_Flag_Map.svg(2) Targeted Multinational Expeditionary Force: It is possible that France will invoke Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which pledges other members of NATO to come to its defense as a result of the attack by ISIS against French civilians on French soil. While I question the wisdom of the continuation of the NATO arrangement generally, it may be useful for achieving a coordinated response to the ISIS threat in particular. Furthermore, all willing non-NATO powers, including Russia and China, should be invited to take part in the response. ISIS has murdered citizens of the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Turkey, Russia, and many other countries. Every country can claim with some justification that ISIS is waging war upon its people.

The key for a successful international response against ISIS is to target the response against the actual, known members of ISIS and to minimize damage to innocent civilians. Instead of indiscriminate aerial bombing campaigns or conventional military offensives, a far superior tactic would be to assemble multinational teams of highly trained commandos who would infiltrate key ISIS bases and assassinate the leaders of ISIS, while also sabotaging ISIS’s logistical systems and preventing ISIS from obtaining weaponry and other materiel required for continuing military operations. No civilians should be caught in the crossfire. Instead, the multinational commando teams should actively recruit local residents, who are suffering under the yoke of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, into auxiliary roles. The support of locals could assist with obtaining more reliable on-the-ground intelligence and also in building goodwill for the ouster of ISIS from the communities it currently terrorizes.

While this expeditionary force should be completely friendly to local civilians, it should be completely merciless toward any ISIS fighters. Anyone who has fought and killed on ISIS’s behalf has renounced his right to life by depriving others of their lives in horrific ways. The expeditionary force should be authorized to execute confirmed ISIS fighters, but not to torture or humiliate them. This restraint from savage behavior would illustrate the stark moral contrast between the West and ISIS. ISIS has engaged in outrageous acts of perversion – essentially committing every type of violation of human beings imaginable. The West needs to show that its representatives will only use deadly violence in retaliation and only against those who initiated its use – and even then in a surgical, professional manner necessary to eliminate the threat but to go no further. Moreover, anyone who provides physical support to ISIS but does not directly perpetrate violence, should be arrested and subjected to an on-the-ground military tribunal aimed at procuring a swift determination of guilt or innocence and a proportional punishment in the event of guilt – instead of the prolonged limbo that has characterized American detention facilities of terrorism suspects in the past.

(3) Replacing Bombs with Information: The drone killings perpetrated by the Obama administration during this decade have inflamed the ire of anti-Western militants and have radicalized large segments of the Middle East in reaction to indiscriminate killings of civilians via “signature strikes” that presuppose that any men in their prime are terrorist militants. The problem is not with the drone technology, but rather with the payload that it carries. If bombs and missiles are replaced with informational leaflets, USB drives, and small samples of the material abundance of Western civilization, then this more benevolent use of drones can help convince Middle Eastern residents that ISIS is the path toward suffering, whereas embracing modernity and Western values would be the path toward universal prosperity and happiness. The more Middle Eastern residents find out about Western technologies, philosophies, and opportunities made available within a free, tolerant, hyper-pluralistic society, the less inclined they will be to embrace a Dark-Age mentality of brutally enforced homogeneity.

(4) Elimination of Indiscriminate Surveillance; Escalation of Targeted Surveillance: The indiscriminate electronic surveillance perpetrated by Western governments – particularly those of the United States and the United Kingdom – against their own populations, has clearly not helped to prevent murderous terrorist attacks. Instead, surveilling everyone not only grossly violates individual liberty, but also dissipates the limited resources that could more effectively be prioritized toward known troublemakers. All mass surveillance should cease, but efforts at sophisticated, targeted surveillance of individual terrorism suspects should be escalated. The surveillance itself can be sufficiently surgical as to be non-intrusive to the daily lives of those being surveilled, as long as no imminent threat exists, but should enable a swift response if any plans to do harm are discovered. Surveillance should be focused exclusively on the following categories of individuals: (1) those known to have organizational ties with ISIS, al-Qaeda, or other Islamist terrorist groups; (2) those who, in any medium, espouse militant Islamic fundamentalist views, including anyone who asserts that it is acceptable to kill in the name of Islam; and/or (3) those who originate from majority-Muslim countries and have violent criminal records. This targeted surveillance would not constitute racial or religious profiling, since all peaceful and respectable Muslims (those whose views are compatible with modern Western civilization), as well as peaceful non-Muslim emigrants from majority-Muslim countries, would be spared any surveillance. However, any Islamic fundamentalist who believes in the acceptability of religiously motivated killings, as well as any person connected to the terrorist organizations or known to have committed violent crime that might have any relation to Islamist convictions or influences, should be subjected to additional scrutiny to enable the development of an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the sources of risk facing the Western world. Most importantly, it is time to jettison the political correctness that subjects any non-Muslims to this preemptive surveillance. The threat is one of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Non-Muslims are not part of the threat by definition and could not possibly be allies or associates of ISIS. Emphatically, this is not to say that all Muslims are part of the threat; rather, it is simply to recognize that surveilling non-Muslims is a waste of resources as well as a hyper-intrusive violation of the liberties of completely innocent people. The following diagram illustrates the simple insight that could channel limited surveillance capabilities toward detecting actual threats.

Diagram of Possible Sources of Threats of Islamist Terrorism

Surveillance_Threat_Diagram(5) Technological and Economic Transformation of the Middle East through Innovation and Freedom of Exchange: Organizations like ISIS are only able to emerge in a deeply backward cultural, societal, and economic environment, where the embrace of violent, totalitarian seventh-century dogmas could appear even remotely attractive to an uneducated populace with miserable future prospects. Only by a fundamental modernizing, Westernizing transformation can the Middle East escape its current status as a fertile breeding ground for violent fundamentalist criminals. Only by seeing the West as a source of enlightenment and economic prosperity can the populations of the Middle East cease viewing ISIS and similar groups as bulwarks against a perceived Western threat. Therefore, Western governments should lift all political barriers to the free flow of goods and ideas between Western and Middle Eastern countries. All sanctions, embargoes, tariffs, and quotas should be abolished, and the way cleared for the import of technologies and products, as well as the establishment of major branches of Western companies in Middle Eastern countries. In particular, emerging technologies that have the potential to vastly alleviate material scarcity should be encouraged. Biotechnology, including genetic modification, is particularly promising in this respect. As futurist B.J. Murphy pointed out, in response to my analogy between ISIS and cancer, “Like cancer, [which] lately we’ve been using gene editing techniques to finally start punching holes into its existence, maybe we’ll begin using those same techniques to effectively combat against ISIS – genetically modified soldiers to fight, genetically modified crops to combat hunger and malnutrition, and a genetically modified ecosystem to combat poverty.” In a strategy that would constitute the opposite of erecting trade barriers, Western governments should become agents of economic liberalization. They should actively pressure Middle Eastern regimes to accept the importation of genetically modified crops and to amend local laws to permit cutting-edge biotechnological research and experimentation. As a pathway toward economic prosperity, majority-Muslim Middle Eastern nations should emulate an outlier in their region – Israel. Despite its relatively tiny size and the near-constant hostilities in its vicinity, Israel has prospered through the tremendous innovativeness and technological capital of its people. It is an example of how to thrive by cultivating an advanced, technologically oriented economy.

(6) Preserving Individual Liberty at Home: The multifaceted efforts to eradicate ISIS should have absolutely no effect on the freedoms and opportunities available to Americans and other residents of Western nations. It is necessary to decisively illustrate just how unlike the totalitarian ideal of ISIS the Western world is. If those who claim that the Islamist fanatics “hate us for our freedoms” have a grain of truth to their statement, then it is all the more imperative to proudly assert those freedoms, instead of suppressing them in the name of “security” or avoiding offense. Western governments should explicitly reaffirm the protection of free speech and the absolute freedom of individuals to engage in anti-religious expression. The US Congress should pass a resolution strongly supporting the right of any individual to “blaspheme” against any religion, for any reason – justified or not. All blasphemy laws in all Western countries should be repealed, and all politicians should take an explicit stand in favor of tolerance for “blasphemous” speech, no matter whom it might offend. As with the shift from mass to targeted surveillance, all screenings at airports, border crossings, and other mass-transit locations should focus away from the general population and toward Islamist fundamentalist fanatics and likely terror suspects. As a result of this refocusing of resources, for every single suspected Islamist plot, a team of police and intelligence experts should be constantly aware of the status of the threat and prepared to launch a sophisticated response with minimal or no disruption to the general public. Everyone else should be enabled to lead peaceful, dignified lives where the government does not violate the physical bodies or private information of the innocent – similar to the situation for most people in Western countries during the late 1990s.

A successful campaign to defeat ISIS would need to achieve a short-term goal and a long-term goal. The short-term goal – the physical eradication of ISIS – can be accomplished within a year if major world powers set aside their foreign-policy differences and deploy a merciless but scrupulously moral expeditionary force, combined with a powerful informational campaign that transforms tools of destruction into vehicles of Enlightenment. The long-term goal is the modernization and Westernization of the Middle East – the emergence of widespread economic prosperity and major technologically driven uplifting of living standards. The secularization of Middle Eastern governments and the development of more tolerant, enlightened variants of Islamic theology – akin to the transformation of Christianity during the 18th-century Enlightenment in the West – should also be encouraged. To achieve this long-term goal, Western civilization must stand proud once more and cease apologizing for its technological, economic, and cultural superiority to the contemporary Middle East. As beneficial side effects of the struggle against ISIS, the Western world might rediscover the values of the Enlightenment that have been so vital to its progress to date – and reapply and disseminate these universally desirable values in a more potent, assertive form. Furthermore, standing united against ISIS will help avoid needless hostilities among the United States, Russia, China, and Iran and thereby strengthen the prospect for peaceful coexistence among all who value it.

This essay may be freely reproduced using the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike International 4.0 License, which requires that credit be given to the author, G. Stolyarov II. Find out about Mr. Stolyarov here.

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Platform Adoption Statement #1 of the Nevada Transhumanist Party: Religious and Non-Religious Doctrines, Beneficial and Detrimental Technologies, and Voting in Accordance with Individual Conscience

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Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Technology, Transhumanism, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The New Renaissance HatG. Stolyarov II
October 4, 2015
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NTP-Logo-9-1-2015

The following sections are hereby added to the Nevada Transhumanist Party Platform. Pursuant to Article I, Section XXV, these sections are not officially considered part of the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution at this time, but shall have equivalent standing to the Platform Sections within that Constitution. It will be possible to officially amend the Nevada Transhumanist Party Constitution to include these statements during periodic biennial filings of Certificates of Continued Existence with the Nevada Secretary of State.

Section XXVI: The Nevada Transhumanist Party welcomes both religious and non-religious individuals who support life extension and emerging technologies. The Nevada Transhumanist Party recognizes that some religious individuals and interpretations may be receptive to technological progress and, if so, are valuable allies to the transhumanist movement. On the other hand, the Nevada Transhumanist Party is also opposed to any interpretation of a religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose religious belief by force and/or by legal compulsion.

Section XXVII: The Nevada Transhumanist Party is furthermore opposed to any interpretation of a secular, non-religious doctrine that results in the rejection of reason, censorship, violation of individual rights, suppression of technological advancement, and attempts to impose certain beliefs by force and/or by legal compulsion. Examples of such doctrines opposed by the Nevada Transhumanist Party include Stalinism, Maoism, Neo-Malthusianism, the death-acceptance movement, and the doctrine of censorship, now prevalent on many college campuses in the United States, in the name of “social justice”, combatting “triggers” or “microaggressions”, or avoiding subjectively perceived offense.

Section XXVIII: The Nevada Transhumanist Party holds that the vast majority of technologies are beneficial to human well-being and should be enthusiastically advocated for and developed further. However, a minority of technologies could be detrimental to human well-being and, as such, their application, when it results in detrimental consequences, should be opposed. Examples of such detrimental technologies include nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, mass-surveillance systems such as those deployed by the National Security Agency in the United States, and backscatter X-ray full-body scanners such as those used by the Transportation Security Administration in the United States. Furthermore, the Nevada Transhumanist Party is opposed to the deliberate engineering of new active pathogens or the resurrection of once-existing pathogens, whose spread might not be able to be contained within laboratory settings. While it is impossible to un-learn the knowledge utilized in the creation of such technologies, the Nevada Transhumanist Party holds that all such knowledge should only be devoted toward peaceful, life-affirming, rights-respecting purposes, going forward.

Section XXIX: The Nevada Transhumanist Party holds that each of its members should vote or abstain from voting in accordance with that member’s own individual conscience and judgment. If an official or candidate of the United States Transhumanist Party or the Nevada Transhumanist Party expresses a preference for any particular non-transhumanist candidate for office, then no national or State-level Transhumanist Party, nor any individual transhumanist, ought to be in any manner bound to support that same non-transhumanist candidate.

Adopted on October 4, 2015:

Mr. Gennady Stolyarov II, ASA, ACAS, MAAA, CPCU, ARe, ARC, API, AIS, AIE, AIAF

Chief Executive, Nevada Transhumanist Party

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