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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Free Tibet?

Apparently, Bjork has pissed off China for shouting "Tibet, Tibet!" after singing her song "Declaration of Independence" at a recent concert in the country. Here's the Boing Boing article about it, including a YouTube video of Bjork's performance. (My opinion: Bjork is a musical genius.)

It's rather popular among hippie-types, I've noticed, to talk about freeing Tibet. I've been behind many a car replete with Free Tibet bumper stickers amongst various other tree-huggerish type bumper stickers. (My opinion: Bumper stickers are lame. [And that would make an ironic bumper sticker.])

So here's my wonderment of the day, because I'm really rather uneducated about this whole issue: Why free Tibet? The Boing Boing article mentions that China views Tibet as part of their country, and sees calls for independence as divisive. Considering how many news stories have come out in recent years about lead paint in toys, poisoned dog food, and dumplings made of cardboard soaked in toxic chemicals, I can't exactly call China trustworthy. But even so, I don't know why there is this movement to free Tibet.

How does Tibet feel about this subject? I'd really like to know.

(And I'd like to know how Puerto Rico feels about belonging to the U.S., but not being able to influence policy through voting.)

If you are into World Politics more than I am, and you have an opinion about this subject, I'd really like to hear it. If I can understand what this is all about, maybe I can form my own opinion. But until then, I'm not gonna call for Tibet's freedom just because Bjork and a bumper sticker tell me to.



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10 comments:

Sovknight said...

Puerto Rico has been given numerous chances to become an American state, and thus have voting privileges, yet they turn down the offer every time. Something about not wanting to pay taxes.

Sra said...

Alright, so you made me do some research. You are part right about Puerto Rico: They has a few chances to vote on the statehood vs. commonwealth issue, and statehood has always lost out so far. But, Puerto Ricans are still subject to American taxes as per the following excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Puerto Rico is classified by the U.S. government as an independent taxation authority by mutual agreement with the U.S. Congress. Contrary to common misconception, residents of Puerto Rico pay U.S. federal taxes: import/export taxes, federal commodity taxes, social security taxes, etc. Most residents do not pay federal income tax but pay federal payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare), and Puerto Rico income taxes. But federal employees, or those who do business with the federal government, Puerto Rico-based corporations that intend to send funds to the U.S. and others also pay federal income taxes."

Taxation without representation?

heidikins said...

I would like to know why residents of Washington D.C. have so many fewer voting rights than residents of say, Maryland, or Delware, or Alaska. Seems like DC absolutely gets ripped off here.

xox

Sra said...

That is a very good point, heidikins. Why that too? We need answers to all these things!

Zac said...

Freeing Tibet from central Chinese control would probably be a good thing so long as it doesn't mean handing power back to the priestly authorities. The Lamas weren't really any better for the common people of the region than the Maoists were. A free democratic Tibet, not controlled by the temples or the Party in Beijing, would be a good thing. I doubt it's going to happen this century.

Jess said...

It was while pondering Jodi's perpetual pregnancy on Fox 13 that my husband found your blog to quell my fears that pregnancy now last 3 years (maybe she is an elephant)and I was so glad to see I'm not the only one! Then when I saw your, "Why free Tibet" post I knew I would have to bookmark your blog because I often say when I'm behind those cars with the bumper stickers or see the stupid washed out flags that I yell, "Why can't Tibet free themselves?" I'm sure I'm ignorant but it seems logical to me. Thanks for a great read!

scottrbarnes said...

You can check out the movies "Seven Years in Tibet" or "Kundun" for a bit of history on Tibet (though I have a feeling it's pretty one-sided and over-dramatized).

The Chinese people that I've talked to about it have said that tibet was poor economically and not well governed. I'm sure their view of history is skewed as well by the party controlled media in China.

I doubt that Tibet could free itself. It would be like Utah trying to secede from the Union, only more skewed in favor of the larger government.

Actually, the Utah analogy is pretty close... Utah began as a theocratic government which was eventually annexed into a larger government which forced Utah to abandon some of its religious tenets. And if you vote democratic in national elections, you're pretty much disenfranchised.

scottrbarnes said...

Free Utah! Free Utah!
Remove the Godless capitalists from the promised land, reinstate polygamy and theocratic law!

What would Tibet revert to?
I've heard some say that it was one of the few nations left in the world that allowed slavery.

Sra said...

To Jess: I'm glad I have a new reader on board, thanks for visiting and commenting!

To Scott: I have tried to watch Seven Years in Tibet twice, but fell asleep both times. People always say it's such a good movie, but I have never been able to make it through. The same thing happens with The Shawshank Redemption, which I've also never made it through, despite my best attempts.

It looks like if I'm really going to understand this whole Tibet issue, I'm going to have to do a little research and dig into history some. Hard to do, because as Scott points out, history tends to skew in favor of the person telling the story.

On the whole, I'm not in favor of adopting an opinion just because it's popular, and even just because it seems on the surface to be the right choice. I think things like this require thought. I'd like to do a post about that sometime in the future using child labor as an example. Look for that in the future.

scottrbarnes said...

You can check out the movies "Seven Years in Tibet" or "Kundun" for a bit of history on Tibet (though I have a feeling it's pretty one-sided and over-dramatized).

The Chinese people that I've talked to about it have said that tibet was poor economically and not well governed. I'm sure their view of history is skewed as well by the party controlled media in China.

I doubt that Tibet could free itself. It would be like Utah trying to secede from the Union, only more skewed in favor of the larger government.

Actually, the Utah analogy is pretty close... Utah began as a theocratic government which was eventually annexed into a larger government which forced Utah to abandon some of its religious tenets. And if you vote democratic in national elections, you're pretty much disenfranchised.

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