The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Location: Palms - L.A, California

Friday, December 02, 2005

Warsaw, Rev. Green, Headscarves, Homer & WP

Just thought I'd highlight a couple of interesting articles, thereby bringing some previous rants up to speed.

1. In another Brandtian move, Chancellor Merkel is off to Warsaw today, continuing Germany's needed reorientation. As Gunther Hellman points out, Merkel explicitly mentioned Poland in her Tuesday speech, something yours truly forgot to mention. Someone also translated the "Mehr Freiheit/Demokratie wagen" slogan as "wage freedom/democracy" and not "dare (to embrace) freedom/democracy". Sounds good to me and shows how close the languages are, but it's kind of a 'false friend.' Dictionaries tend to posit that the English 'wage' is mostly in connection with war and campaigns (see here and here.) Any linguists out there?

Oh well...Hellmann's mayos and op-eds are still excellent, so have a gander. Here's an excerpt:

"When Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered her first major address to the German Parliament on Wednesday, one theme that had figured prominently in her predecessor's speeches was missing. Merkel did not waste time imitating Gerhard Schröder's incessant preoccupation with Germany's new-found "self-confidence" in international affairs. She knows that her predecessor's foreign policy legacy is meager at best...
For Merkel (Schröder's) legacy carries several opportunities. Her first moves underline that she is determined to seize them. As her key foreign policy adviser, Merkel chose a highly talented diplomat, Christoph Heusgen, who is known both for his opposition to Schröder's prestige-driven foreign policy agenda and his strong conviction that Germany has to rebalance its relations with its key allies in the West..."

2. Regarding the Reverend Green case (a man that should never be confused with the better Reverend Green) and freedom of speech and religion: here's a rarity in the Swedish press, an opinion piece in English. Not sure if I'd call this particularly good, but the thrust is right on the money. Still, for the latent Swedophiles it might be interesting. Again, there's a bit of translation confusion (they really should hire someone when the word 'avvikande' in the original is turned into 'exceptional.' The obvious choices 'deviant' or 'abnormal' sound harsh in English, but even 'avvikande' has a judgemental ring to it. Color me didactic....

Much more importantly, as the later wire stories on this saga point out, hate crime attacks on homosexuals are on the increase in Sweden. This according to new statistics released on the same day as the verdict. While some of the surge may be attributable to more willingness to report the crimes etc, this is terrible. And it will be fought.
But those, like the loony left Feminist Alternative List, who claim the Supreme Court ruling is also some kind of sign of homophobia are living it large in Wonderland (click here for Alice's enemies.) Freedom of speech, ok? Including the right to make spurious comments about the highest court of the land.

3. On a related note, the European Court of Human Rights recently appears to have issued a ruling that contradicts the assumptions made by the Supreme Court of Sweden in the Green case. Remember that among the grounds that the court upheld Green's acquittal by a lower court was the reasonable expectation that the supranational court would have struck down any other ruling. It thus had an obligation not to waste anyone's time or money with a pointless, grandstanding verdict. Swedish law now has to be adjusted. It was simply too authoritarian in the first place.

Anyway, in the new ruling the European Court that loves freedom of speech and religion suddenly qualified this affection. It upheld the ban by Turkish universities that forbids women from wearing headscarves. This puts Turkey in the illustrious company of France and some German states, including here in Berlin, where ALL 'religious symbols' are banned if worn by teachers or other civil servants. Students are still safe...for now. It is beyond reactionary and sets a dangerous precedent. As Human Rights Watch's Holly Cartner said:

“Turkey’s ban on headscarves clearly infringes the right to religious practice and expression. The European Court has let down thousands of women who will be prevented from studying in Turkey’s universities...The court readily accepted the Turkish government’s arguments, but gave little weight to the severe restrictions of rights for Şahin and women like her...The ECtHR has been a powerful force in extending basic freedoms in Turkey, but it missed an important opportunity in this case to stand firmly behind principles of freedom of religion, expression, and non-discrimination...thankfully, Judge Tulkens’ analysis (the dissenting opinion) presents the beginning of an argument for greater tolerance that we hope will prevail in the long term.”

Clearly. And as always this kind of jabberwocky creates wacko alliances. How about this one: Turkish and German nationalists that usually spit on each other are now pointing approvingly to the other's efforts to ban headscarves. And the European Court is playing a creaky third fiddle. Nice.

Innocent Man Enjoying a Beer or
Crazed Decadent Satanist?
(c) Barney Gumble

Speaking of the Court, here's another case soon before it. Homer might be in trouble:

"A Russian lawyer who says the US animated television satire "The Simpsons" has caused moral harm to his son plans to petition the European Court of Human Rights after a Russian court rejected his case for the show to be removed from prime-time viewing slots. The lawyer, Igor Smykov, charged that the popular program, syndicated in many countries around the world, spread "propaganda of violence, cruelty, drugs and homosexuality," but a spokeswoman for the Moscow court that heard his case confirmed it was rejected. Smykov, quoted by the RIA-Novosti news agency, said he would take his case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. "I think I will be understood there," the agency quoted him as saying."Maybe, eh?

4. Lastly, for those of you still with me, here's the latest in the White Phosphorus Neverending Story. Those who initially so naively wanted to believe the RAI propaganda piece keep flogging that poor horse. And since speaking ill of the dearly departed still ain't cool I gotta keep at it like terrier style.
John Cole at Balloon Juice keeps on patiently debunking the myths. He quotes from a LA Times op-ed piece and relates the latest facts, but the very next day the same paper published yet another equine assault. People are such sadists, especially when dishing moral judgements. Next thing, they'll resort to spreading swamp fever.

Enough already. Isn't it clear that in this particular case - and plenty of others but I'll spare you...for now - world opinion has not been turned by US actions as much it has been manipulated to this effect by useful idiots at RAI (btw, this public broadcaster sure could learn a lot from Al Jazeera) and elsewhere. Thankfully they are so bad at it. To quote John Pike : "The only scandal here is that our government allowed the nation to fall victim to clumsy, cheap anti-American propaganda. At least during the Cold War, we made the Soviets work to discredit us."

Here are FIVE more pieces that amply demonstrate how useless these attempts are: from Tom Bevan on Real Clear Politics, the In DC Journal, Jim Kouri in the Sierra Times, and Michelle Malkin. Sure some use harsh partisan rhetoric, but that doesn't make it wrong. Who ever said cod-liver oil tasted good.


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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Eazy E: AIDS Victim Straight Outta Compton

In case you didn't know: December 1st is World AIDS Day. Please click the tag (btw, that's Welsh) to the left.

This is the sadly abbreviated story of my own relationship to an average - and to some unlikely - AIDS victim.

Back in the days of 1989, I was chilling in my crib in Herzliyya Pituach, Israel. Having just gotten my driver's license and with some diplomatically immune wheels to spin in, I was always on the lookout for road music. So when my father was off to London on a business trip, I had to act. He showed no signs of surprise when I asked him to buy me a very specific CD. I think I wrote down the name of the album "Straight Outta Compton" and the name of the group, N.W.A. (Niggaz with Attitude.) He had no clue, but then again what did I know?

It was all the rage and as an early rap and hip-hop fan, I just knew I had to have it. And fortunately he obliged my yearning for 'noise.' The beats drove him crazy, and if had bothered to the lyrics he might have confiscated the record. I was young, lovin' life and convinced that expressin' yourself was aeeeiiight, and screaming "F*&^k da Police" was what it was all about. There were no Riggs n' Murtaugh around to remind me that even diplomatic immunity can be relative.

At some point N.W.A. atomized: Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson), Dr. Dre (Andre Young), MC Ren (Lorenzo Patterson), Yella (Antoine Carraby) and Eazy E (Eric Wright) embarked on solo careers. And I bought some of their albums. The music was what it was all about.

Then ten years ago on March 26, 1995 Eric "Eazy E" Wright suddenly passed away. Somehow he had been infected with the HIV virus, and when he contracted pneumonia he was defenseless. He died of AIDS and the world was confused. This supposedly misogynistic, drug dealing and even homophobic hip-hop pioneer was gone, killed by a disease that 'shouldn't' have threatened him. Whether you dispute or second these labels, the fact remains that he was a victim of AIDS.

So drop your intellectual fantasy that poetic justice was served upon a hatemonger or that there was some kind of conspiracy to kill a righteous man. Stop embracing vengeance and paranoia. And start accepting and understanding the problem. Eazy E needs to be remembered both as an exceptional musician and an average AIDS victim.


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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Angela Merkel, a Worthy Heiress to Willy Brandt

It was her first speech (here and here) to the Bundestag, and Chancellor Angela Merkel is setting a new tone in German politics. The overarching theme of the Government Declaration, Regierungserklärung, was 'Freiheit.' Freedom. Liberty.

In an emotional opening, she appealed for the immediate release of the German archaeologist and her Iraqi colleague who were kidnapped in Iraq last Friday, and she told the criminals that Germany 'will not be blackmailed.' Then she added a very personal touch, saying that while it may be surprising to be the first female Chancellor and that it may surprising to be part of a coalition with the Social Democrats, but none of this compares with the biggest surprise of her life:

For me the greatest surprise was the gift of liberty before I reached retirement. From behind a Wall that ran just a couple of meters from this plenum, I had hoped but never expected to taste freedom. So I hope you´ll forgive me if I insist that this was the biggest and most welcome surprise of all.”

Words that resonated among a certain segment of the population, words that many of the others members of parliament needed to hear. Can one exaggerate the perspective that these thoughts offer? That she speaks from personal experience, when she refers to how East Germans secured freedom in a peaceful revolution? Her speech was dotted with references to the East, references that actually mean something to the population.

Paraphrasing a famous quote by former Chancellor Willy Brandt “dare (to embrace) more democracy,” Merkel asked everyone “dare (to embrace) more freedom.” Brandt was a political refugee during the entire Nazi dictatorship, having fled in 1933 at the age of 20. Upon his return from exile, he did more than any other politician to normalize democracy in Germany. He had the life story to breathe it, and the credibility to carry this out with dignity. And unlike too many in Europe, he also understood the essence of freedom, see here (it's long but well worth the read.) He was the Mayor of West Berlin in 1961 and woke up one morning to find his city surrounded by an Orwellian Wall. I am sure he would proud, especially as the Father of Ostpolitik (opening up to the DDR,) that this daughter of the revolution realized the true meaning of his words.

The Power of Symbolism: Warsaw, 1970.
Chancellor Brandt kneels in front of the Memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Brandt the ex-émigré would also have appreciated her words on minorities, immigration and integration. When Merkel spoke of Germany’s strengths, she listed the usual suspects but rounded it off with lauding the country’s “wonderful diversity.” She is clearly building on the work in this field (i.e. the citizenship law, the immigration law) by the former government. Furthermore, the Chancellor’s decision to move the Federal Commissioner for these issues to a the Chancellery (and elevate the position to just below cabinet level) was a surprise to many, and certainly symbolic. As I like to say, this kind of symbolism is important, far more so than some pipe-dream integration scheme that gets bogged down in details and never wins any acceptance. Furthermore, it is part of a relatively positive trend in the global politics of immigration, a trend I shall return to later in the week.

A few words on German foreign policy, many have here expected not just continuity, but also a return to tradition. And there are not insignificant indications of just that. The transatlantic partnership with the United States of America was praised in effusive terms. Merkel reminded the sometimes forgetful German public and parliamentarians that the common values of freedom, democracy and adherence to human rights are paramount. And while she will of course raise concerns with the United States, this friendly dialogue should never be allowed to remove the spotlight from the corners of the world where the freedom too often taken for granted in Germany and the U.S. is not enjoyed.

Thus, business dealings need not imply acceptance of authoritarianism, i.e. vis-à-vis Russia, China et. al. On the Iranian nuclear situation, she issued a clear warning to the theocrats to not shun the international community and that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threats to Israel are unacceptable. Her declaration of support for Israel was as stalwart as it always is Germany, but I would add that she placed particular emphasis on it this time. And in the next breath, she emphasized the unalienable rights of the Palestinian people to statehood.

As I sign off, the unofficial leader of the loyal opposition – as opposed to the Anglo-American model where this role is official – Guido Westerwelle is speaking. His words are crucial at a time when the government dominates parliament to such an extent. He rises to the occasion, reminds the Social Democrats that his party, the Free Democrats, has just as many votes in the Upper House, Bundesrat, as they do. And he challenges the Chancellor to remain true to her ideals of freedom and to try to go beyond the constraints of this ‘coalition of the lowest common denominator.’ By humbly walking in the footsteps of a giant, Frau Merkel is planning to do just that. Somewhere, Willy Brandt is surely smiling.


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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bigots Strengthen Free Speech in Sweden

Today, a case before the Supreme Court of Sweden, Högsta Domstolen (HD), which dealt with freedom of expression (and some may say religion) in connection to a hate crime charge, resulted in a decision to uphold and strengthen this indispensable principle:

"Sweden's highest court on Tuesday acquitted a Pentecostal pastor accused of hate speech for having denounced homosexuality as a "cancerous tumor" in a sermon. Åke Green's contentious sermon in 2003 was protected by freedom of speech and religion under the European Convention on Human Rights, the Supreme Court said in a 16-page ruling. Green, 64, became the first clergyman convicted under Sweden's hate crimes legislation, when a lower court found him guilty of inciting hatred against homosexuals. An appeals court overturned the ruling earlier this year, but Sweden's chief prosecutor appealed the acquittal to the Supreme Court."

Here´s what this was all about – it touched upon so many issues from hate crimes and freedom of speech and religion to the role of international law and transnational lobbying efforts - and why I agree with the Court´s decision to acquit a bigot. For me, this marks a change from the days in journalism school when I would chastise classmates for e.g. mentioning that some groups were more involved in crime than others. This would lead to hatred and misconceptions I would argue, and then issues clarion calls for self-censorship. All in the name of a good cause. Well, my zeal for combating hatred and racism has hardly weakened, but the means cannot entail curtailing freedom of speech. (Yes, here in Germany such bans exist, e.g. on Holocaust denial, but they are historically justified. It is symbolic.)

A little background:

With origins predating even the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Sweden has the one of oldest freedom of expression guarantees anywhere in the world. In 1766, a Swedish-speaking Finn one Anders Chydenius (he was no less than a Nordic James Madison or Adam Smith, who he supposedly influenced) penned the freedom of the press law that still stands today and is part of the Swedish Constitution, Grundlagen (passed in 1809, it is the second oldest constitution after the U.S. Constitution.)

Anders Chydenius, the Nordic James Madison

But the original Swedish law was not as wide-ranging as the 1st Amendment, nor does it encompass its religion principles, i.e. freedom from a state religion (Sweden still has one, sort of) or freedom of worship (this exists in Sweden). It has been complemented with a Freedom of Expression law (a latecomer in 1991!) that encompasses other freedoms than those related to the printed word. It is telling that the ruling in the Green case pointed to international law, namely the obligations placed upon Sweden by adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights, rather than a specific Swedish law. Indeed, the Chairman of HD Justice Johan Munck, said this about his own court’s ruling: “If we had adhered to the letter of the Swedish law, he would have been convicted.”

In a recent article on why Sweden still has a lot to learn from the U.S. on freedom of expression issues, Thomas von Vegesack wrote (in Swedish) :

“…while (this) freedom has continually been expanded in the U.S., it has often been undermined and questioned in Sweden. The U.S. Supreme Court acts as the guarantor. In Sweden, there is no equivalent protection…(quoting Geoffrey R. Stone on the U.S. situation) ‘During these past decades, taking into consideration the ever stronger constitutional protections for the spoken word, the authorities’ attempt to silence contrarians have become both weaker and more subtle.’ …I have not observed any signs of such developments in Sweden…this debate is so vibrant on the other side of the Atlantic. One might wish that we also debated these issues.” (my translation)

And while von Vegesack was writing about freedom of speech during times of war and crisis (unfavorably comparing Sweden during World War II to American reactions throughout history, I shall return to this comparison some other time. For now I'll say it's accurate.) perhaps he would see something positive about this current sordid case. Just how it will influence Swedish law itself remains to be seen. But a real debate seems to be in the making

OK, back to the Green case.
I have read Pastor Green’s sermon in its tedious and misguided entirety. It is extremely boring in fact. His positions are of classic fundamentalist caliber, e.g. only marriage between a man and a woman can be consummated, all else is ‘sin.’; what you do in privacy, homo- or heterosexual, IS the business of God; gay people cannot be Christians, homosexuality is the work of the Devil etc. Won’t bore you further with his interpretations, many are obviously quite un-Christian if you ask me, and most Christians would agree. But to get to the passage in question:

“The Bible relates and teaches about (sexual) abnormalities. These are a deep cancerous tumor in the body of society. The Lord knows that sexual twisted people will rape the animals. Not even the animals are spared man’s lust and the fire that is lit in a human being. Even this is possible.” (my translation)

This outburst followed a quote from the Bible, which I believe was about Sodom and Gomorrah. I suppose he was trying to embellish the point. In the context of the speech, it appears as an allegory. And the speech ends with a call for the ‘lost souls’ to return to his flock. “We shall not condemn. Jesus never shunned. Jesus never humiliated. He showed mercy.” Etc.
Inciting hatred? Hatred of Green himself perhaps; his congregation was probably asleep by the time he got to the controversial part. These zealots do NOT want to hate or kill, they want to proselytize. They listened to the closing call to prayer – if they woke up that is – more than the allegory that so many have ripped out of context. And as for proselytizing; they won’t have many takers. Trust me. It is the mark of the desperate to resort to this kind of rhetoric.

Returning to the international aspect of the trial, I want to bring attention to an aspect that neither the Swedish nor the foreign media seems to really have registered. The blog of a seemingly legendary and very pious businessman, Pat Sullivan, alerted me to this (you gotta love the description of the trial: The case should have been called Sweden v.The Bible. It was like a cross between George Orwell’s 1984 and a Stalin Soviet show trial.) Please.

It turns out that one of Green’s advisors was Benjamin Bull, chief counsel for an American lobbying group, the Alliance Defence Fund (ADF.) This is one wacky group – just check out their affiliates in the world of intelligent design and other madness. They were definitely involved for the freedom of religion sideshow. As such it’s no surprise that they teamed up with Green. This was clearly a case where I had to apply the Voltairian logic of “I do not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” (these weren’t actually his words it turns out) and "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too." And now I’m in cahoots with the ADF.

Sometimes when you see who agrees with you, you recoil in horror. This would be one of those cases. But then you wake up and realize that they are appropriating high principles, e.g. liberty and patriotism, in order to push their extremist agenda. So if you abandon the principles because others abuse them then you wind up furthering that agenda. A concrete example: For years, many Swedes refused to fly their flag because right-wing fanatics used it. It reached the point where the average citizen who hoisted the blue and yellow banner felt queasy about doing so and was suspected of being some kind of closet Nazi. Hello?

Speaking to the charge that ‘them pesky foreigners’ shouldn’t be involved in the Swedish judicial process, this holds no water here. The man was an advisor and I’m sure even Justice Scalia would not object to a Swede playing a similar role during a case before his Court. The problem in a U.S. case would be if that hypothetical counsel claimed that European law had some insight to offer. In the Green case, international law obviously took precedence plus Bull seems to have acted as some kind of ‘moral crutch.’ Still, I wonder how the nutters got involved. Merits a little investigation…

Just a few words on the reactions in Sweden:

It was odd to hear the Chairman of the Court answering (very ignorant) questions from a reporter on the radio. This would never happen in the US – especially not six hours after the trial – a Justice, let alone the Chief Justice, commenting on the case. Even more bizarre was the reporter’s aggressive questioning that should have been addressed to a legal analyst, a Swedish Jeffrey Toobin. Unfortunately, she was not only disrespectful but also asked Chairman Johan Munck to speculate about future cases and to give advice to legislators. Talk about not understanding the role and purpose of an independent judiciary and a major waste of tax payers’ money (it was on Swedish National Radio.)

And yes, people are worried that this might lead down a slippery slope to hate and violence. A friend brought up the classic hypothetical – also asked by the reporter in the interview with Munck – what if the word ‘homosexuality’ is replaced by e.g. ‘Judaism’ or ‘African Americans’, wouldn’t this have led to a conviction?
No!!!!! Not in this case, and that notion would require interpreting this ruling as a sign of homophobia or not taking homosexual persecution seriously. That is patently not so in Sweden. Really.
However, in those hypothetical cases, what people often mean are egregious ones where the tendency to incite would be much greater: e.g. an Islamist preacher attacks Judaism and in the same breath serves up some Holocaust denial and a touch of conspiracy theory like the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion. You cannot compare that to the Green case, any such comparison both trivializes real danger AND undermines free speech.

In Sweden, I also heard several sane voices who labeled him an extremist moron not worthy of martyrdom. And they point to the fact that ‘hate speech’ and ‘incitement’ are still crimes, and that Green was also acquitted because he was speaking to his congregation of FIFTY (!) people, i.e. not exactly to the general public. Considering what he said, I’m not sure if it would have made a difference if he had a larger audience. But there is always a limit. It just wasn’t reached this time. Not even close.
That’s how I see it.


Some people may want to link this verdict to today’s Vatican ‘instruction’ on gay priests. Both happened today and I doubt Chairman Munck of the Supreme Court of Sweden and Pope Benedict XVI of the Holy See conspired on this one. Anyway, if you get into the issues at hand, it’s more than a major stretch to make such a link and for a whole host of reasons.
If you want to read some dissident Catholic views on this particular matter – and why not indeed – I offer you Andrew Sullivan (he’s about to post on it) and Father Thomas Radcliffe O.P.
I may be the grateful recipient of a stellar Jesuit education, but I’ll have to legitimately cop out on this one. It’s a Church matter.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

The Eastern Front! Copacabana & Carneval No Más?

Got my head in the clouds today, so I thought I'd share two absolutely ridiculous stories with you.

First, it seems some ''soccer fans" decided to re-live the inglorious past, roughly half an hour due east of here:

Around 100 German and Polish hooligans staged a mass brawl in a wood on the German side of the border on Sunday afternoon, police said on Monday.

A 100-strong German police team stopped and searched 45 Germans who had travelled in 15 cars and a busload of 53 Poles after receiving information about the planned fight near the village of Briesen, 60 kms east of Berlin.

I don't know if this sorry excuse for battle was staged by folks with a master plan - kinda unlikely, judging by the participants - and there was no actual game scheduled in Briesen. It's also not all that clear from the wire report just who was fighting who. Maybe it was the BMW owners vs. the Tyskie drinkers. And as far as I can tell, this is not related to Swedish dreams of revenge for the long-forgotten defeat at Fehrbellin, which is also nearby (the link is kinda wacko, but it's legit.) Guess there'll be an outbreak of moral panic all over the nightly news bulletins. Spinning it like cotton candy, some kind of football armageddon next summer will be forecast by the punditocracy.

These Briesen locals were NOT involved in the skirmish, and deplore all forms of violence. But they do enjoy a good boar on the spit.
(c) Gemeinde Briesen-Mark

Let me tell ya, it won't happen. These foolios will have zero impact on the World Cup in Germany. But to paraphrase a famous Prussian, my semi-namesake Carl von Clausewitz: soccer is politics is war by other means. And as such, poetic justice will be served near Fehrbellin next summer. Hopefully on July 9th.

Swedish virtuoso footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic meting out some justice during the game vs. Italy at the European Championships last summer. He scored with this bizarre acrobatic move! More of the same promises to be on offer near Fehrbellin next summer at the World Championships.

Back tomorrow with something more or less serious. How about "The 'Secret' Prisons that weren't there," "Saddam and Nuremberg," or "Guest workers are planning to stay"?


Oh yeah, the second story and speaking of moral panic: Rio de Janeiro's governor Rosinha Garotinho seems to have adopted the misguided ''it's the supply ( not the demand) , stupid" approach:

A new law is restricting the sale of postcards showing scantily clad women, a campaign aimed at reducing exploitation and sex tourism that has drawn mixed reactions in Brazil's tourist capital.
The law, signed last week by Rio state Gov. Rosinha Garotinho, says postcards cannot show bikini-clad women in photo montages or outside natural beach settings.
Many vendors already have pulled postcards off the racks, but few think the law will have much impact on Rio's image.
Or on sales. Luiz Alberto, who runs a newsstand near Copacabana beach, said postcards of Sugar Loaf mountain and Christ the Redeemer are much bigger sellers.

Never worked, never will. Next smokescreen? The Carnival will be cancelled...As if Rio didn't have other pressing issues, and there weren't far more constructive ways to deal with the actual problem they claim to be tackling. Some politicians wonder why the people don't take them seriously...

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