These people are beyond parody

Too bad, because parody is fun.

Anyway, here is a video that will ruin your afternoon:

You’re welcome.

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A side note: Videos like the one above make me think, and we’re the ones advising other countries how to run liberal democracies and promote civic involvement and all that warm, fuzzy stuff? Insane.

But then, mercifully, I remember that it’s not the crazies doing that work, it’s people like me, or, more precisely, people like my superiors.

Miscellanea

Some perspective, via Penelopeinparis on Twitter.

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Last week, the blogosphere and Twitterverse couldn’t stop debating the new MSF UK ad titled ‘The Boy.’ While exploring the ads of MSF UK through the years on YouTube, I stumbled across more ads by British humanitarian and human rights NGOs. It didn’t take me long to realize how much more provocative –and creative–  these were than ads produced by similar or even sister organizations in the United States. Take the following Amnesty UK ads, neither of which I can imagine ever running on television in the United States, as but two examples.

Amnesty UK anti-torture ad.

Amnesty UK anti-extremism, pro-human rights ad.

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I have recently been thinking of the 2006 Economist editorial in which the publication took a shockingly bold stance against torture, and with a twist. Instead of arguing against torture based on torture’s ineffectiveness  as an intelligence-gathering tool –the line of argument adopted by many torture opponents in the American media– the Economist assumed torture to be very effective, and argued against it anyway. Maintaining a society in which people are free from state repression comes at a price, it stated, and in our era that price may well be thousands of innocent lives lost to terrorism.

When liberals put the case for civil liberties, they sometimes claim that obnoxious measures do not help the fight against terrorism anyway. The Economist is liberal but disagrees. We accept that letting secret policemen spy on citizens, detain them without trial and use torture to extract information makes it easier to foil terrorist plots.

[…]

To eschew such tools is to fight terrorism with one hand tied behind your back. But that –- with one hand tied behind their back –- is precisely how democracies ought to fight terrorism.

[…]

Human rights are part of what it means to be civilized. Locking up suspected terrorists –- and why not potential murderers, rapists and paedophiles, too? –- before they commit crimes would probably make society safer. Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavoury practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it.

This is the liberal meaning of “freedom isn’t free.”

So be it.

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The Refugee Recertification Network is up and running on Ning.

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Safrang on the Afghanistan mission at a critical juncture.

The debate and the buzz is likely to continue and to build to a feverish pitch as the US administration considers its options in Afghanistan. With Iraq largely off many radars, the loud noise, mud-slinging, and endless debate that we saw occupy TV screens, opinion pages and most political conversations between 2003 and 2008 is now focused on Afghanistan. The real side of all of this debate, however, plays out in Afghanistan and not in the American op-ed wars of the left, the right and the middle. Any policy preferences bear life and death consequences for the people of Afghanistan.

MSF ads to haunt Twitter (and your dreams) for weeks to come

The aid/development Twitterverse engaged in a rollicking debate over the appropriateness of the new MSF UK ad today. Here’s the ad:

Some, like Bill Easterly and Laura Freschi, argued that the ad played to stereotypes of Africa as a wasteland of civil wars, rape and murder –even though the ad itself is not set on a specific continent and no actors are ever shown. On Aid Watch, Freschi wrote:

After watching this ad several times (I don’t recommend you try this), I feel 1) deranged and 2) hopeless, as though nothing I could ever do, much less donate a few dollars to MSF, could possibly have any effect on the vast, incomprehensible suffering in the world.

For my part, I argued that MSF does emergency medical relief, and it is entirely appropriate for MSF ads to highlight that. MSF is not CARE or even the IRC. MSF employees literally work with blood and guts and human goo all day, treating badly injured, ill, malnourished and displaced people in what are surely among the most desperate moments of their patients’ lives.  Therefore, a campaign featuring nothing but resilient, empowered beneficiaries ( a la “I Am Powerful”) doesn’t make sense, while a disturbing one that shocks the viewer’s conscience does.

As the debate progressed (or devolved, depending on how you see it), more MSF ads came to my attention.

The feel-good:

The Peter Singer:

The PTSD mashup / cry into your mom’s lap:

The “human ball”:

The recruitment poster:

The too-literal:

The lame one:

The kiddles:

Below the jump, two non-MSF ads that will sound your WTF? alarms for two very different reasons.

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Where do I enlist?

Americorps volunteers are, apparently, the Afro-Socialist shock troops who will keep Real Americans in line (and by lines, I mean bread and medicine lines) when Obama and his pals, George Soros, Ban Ki Moon and Bill Ayers, turn America into a totalitarian oligarchy through provision of free abortions  to billions of illegal aliens and establishment of Sharia Law and criminalization of heterosexuality and mass granny killings and the nationalization of all the conglomerates you hold dear.

Or, something like that. Just ask Glenn Beck, America’s last patriot!

As Jason Linkins sagely put it:

Who hasn’t gazed upon the average gaggle of Americorps volunteers, fresh and clueless from college, and thought to themselves: “From this raw material, I could surely fashion a brutal cadre of fearsome shock troops that will finally bring Western civilization to its knees!”

My best friend just applied to Americorps and her birthday is coming up. I need to scour eBay for an ammo belt to match her fave heels.