Weird standards

All three of these stories are about private institutions doing things which are completely within their rights to do. Lots of us think they’re very weird and despicable for doing these things, but there’s nothing illegal about any of it. At the same time though it’s very revealing to examine how selectively certain standards can be applied and ignored.

Since I last wrote about WikiLeaks, a lot of shit has gone down. The site was targeted with denial of service attacks and as a result moved to Amazon’s server. So Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) put pressure on Amazon to boot WikiLeaks, which they did. That’s not too unusual considering the cast of characters. But where it gets weird is that Amazon UK is now selling the same cables WikiLeaks released to the press for the Kindle.

MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal also were pressured by the government to stop allowing donations to organizations affiliated with WikiLeaks via the claim that what WL is doing is illegal (even though it’s not- although what the people leaking to them definitely is) and therefore violates those companies’ terms of service. ¬†Instead of checking with their lawyers, those companies capitulated to the government and stopped allowing donations to WL. But it gets weird again here because MasterCard and Visa seem to have no problem with this.

And the Salvation Army is now refusing to distribute Harry Potter and Twilight toys because they’re “incompatible with the charity’s Christian beliefs.” They would not even agree to pass on these toys to other agencies which could then distribute them without sullying the good name of the Starvation Salvation Army. The story broke when a volunteer in Calgary found a bunch of Twilight and Harry Potter toys quarantined in a warehouse. But then it gets weird:

“I was told to withhold a six-inch Harry Potter figure, but when I picked up a plastic M-16, I was told, ‘That’s for the 10-year-olds,'” he said.

It’s not even so much that the Salvation Army would allow one type of toy and not the other. The Bible, taken as a whole, is pretty ambiguous on both warfare and witchcraft. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and makes evil spirits possess pigs and then kills them, but Exodus 22:18 tell us not to suffer a witch to live. Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek and to give people our coats, but then says he’s here to divide and comes not for peace, but with a sword.

What I’m trying to get at is that the SA could just as easily distribute Harry Potter toys and ban the plastic M-16s and be just as compatible with Christianity. So it’s not just Christianity that they’re concerned about, it’s a certain variation of it. For some reason they get the benefit of lumping themselves in with the large number of Christians when many of them would be appalled at their selectiveness.

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