A police-dispersed protest in Belarus, and the return of Talibanesque jurisprudence in Afghanistan galvanize the masses in cyberspace. Bloggers also wonder about the banning of laptops in one University of Memphis law class.
The revolution delayed: The protests of Belarus' rigged presidential election came to a violent climax early this morning, as riot police—acting at the behest of President Aleksandr Lukashenko—broke up a peaceful demonstration and arrested more than 400 people. The United States and the European Union have imposed travel restrictions, and the White House is threatening financial sanctions, while bloggers are almost unanimous in their support of the man in the Minsk street.
Contributor Michael Stickings at The Moderate Voice is cautiously optimistic: "This may or may not be the time for revolution -- I hope it is, but I wonder if Belarus is ready (Lukashenko is very much in control and his huge electoral win, corruption notwithstanding, suggests that his popular support is strong) -- but at least the possibility of revolution is now out there, personified by the courageous protesters in Minsk."
Andrei Khrapavitski, a Belarusian national living in the United States, has been covering the resistance to Lukashenko all through this election cycle. His stirring and urgent posts at Belarus Elections 2006 about Thursday's activity read like cries of an orphaned child of the revolution: "All protesters – about 460 people – were taken away in police buses. Among them is Valancina Palevikova, one of opposition leaders, and my God, some of my best friends!!! Most of analysts were expecting that this would happen, but hell, my heart sank!" "Ivan Lenin" at Rush-Mush, a site more or less designed as an online sepulcher for the Bolshevik leader, translates Taciana Snitko's the on-the-scene description of her own arrest, as originally broadcast by Radio Svaboda: "We didn't resist the crackdown. First we sat on the ground chanting 'Police with the people,' then we stopped chanting…Now we are being taken by a truck outside the city…. Some guys got beaten up. They have blood on their faces. In our truck, girls didn't get beaten… They haven't shot us down yet. We are not panicking."
But conservative American Ed Morrissey at Captain's Quarters complains that the opposition miscalculated by asking demonstrators to wait a week: "The Belarussian opposition let Lukashenko off the hook. By reducing the protests, they killed the enthusiasm for joining them. … Instead of facing tens of thousands of entrenched and joyous demonstrators, they rounded up a couple of hundred isolated and ineffective, though brave, people in a standard raid." At br23 blog, the "Brit in Minsk" sees the Russian gloss of the EuroNews rally coverage as falling somewhat short of a transliteral Nabokovian mark: "English headline: Riot police break up Belarus demo… Russian translation: Belarusian revolutionaries ran out of fuel."
Read more on the Belarus clampdown.
Stone age redux: The trial is still on for Abdul Rahman, the Afghan who faces beheading for having swapped the Quran for the New Testament, according to the chief judge in the case. Wasn't there a war not too long ago to stop this sort of behavior, ask liberals and conservatives alike?
The English Guy Richard Dows, a Florida-based Web programmer, is short on sympathy for this spate of reactionary signposting from "moderate" Islam: "On one hand Islam is 'fair' and 'tolerant' but it's apparently ok to listen to Imams saying someone should be beheaded, adding more hatred to an already irate, ignorant and illiterate populace, to target someone who only wants to believe in God a different way."
Jacob Sullum at the libertarian Reason magazine's Hit and Run can't quite reconcile the export of progressive democracy being imported as the same old backwardness: "In this case, the law, which allows the prosecution and execution of infidels … is barbaric. But how can the U.S. go along with a constitution that makes Islam the supreme law of Afghanistan, insist on an independent judiciary to apply the law, and then complain when judges make a conscientious effort to do so?"
At right-leaning Real Clear Politics John McIntyre thinks the pleasantries between Washington and Kabul need a hiatus, no matter the diplomatic fall-out: "There are certain minimum standards of acceptable conduct for nations that expect be allies of the United States in 2006. The sooner we start telling our 'friends' that these types of laws are simply unacceptable and will not be tolerated any more than we would tolerate laws that allowed slavery, the better."
The pen-and-paper chase: Professor June Entman at the University of Memphis law school has banned laptops from her classroom, claiming that keyboards engender fugue states of unengaged note-taking. Her students are unhappy, but, surprisingly, the rest of the touchpad brigade has mixed feelings.
Jon at Seldom Wrong, Never In Doubt seconds the fatwa on digital distractions: "Classroom lectures and discussions…are mostly about analysis, the building of generalizations, the testing of hypotheses, the formation of arguments, and the like. Such activities require more engagement than what a student can deliver who is preoccupied with transcribing as much of the lecture as possible."
In the Comments sections of legal blog Concurring Opinions, John Jenkins chides the profs: "Rather than ban the laptops, maybe professors could make their classes either (1) more interesting or (2) at least, useful. I once had a class where I literally played Civ III all day, every day (second semester of torts in my first year) and got a better grade than I did in the firtst half of the course where I did all the stuff I was supposed to."
Law prof Glenn Reynolds takes a pragmatic approach at InstaPundit. "I'm not so concerned. They're grownups, and if they choose not to pay attention, they'll face the consequences at exam time."
Read more about Entman's zero laptop tolerance.