Peace Prizes

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!

A few days ago, the New York Times ran an editorial written by three of the original drafters of Charter 77, a document that helped topple the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia (remember when that was a place?). They suggested that Liu Xiaobo, the recently-imprisoned author of China’s Charter 08, should receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Despite Liu’s imprisonment, his ideas cannot be shackled. Charter 08 has articulated an alternative vision of China, challenging the official line that any decisions on reforms are the exclusive province of the state. It has encouraged younger Chinese to become politically active, and boldly made the case for the rule of law and constitutional multiparty democracy. And it has served as a jumping-off point for a series of conversations and essays on how to get there.


Liu may be isolated, but he is not forgotten. Next month, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee will announce the recipient of the 2010 prize. We ask the Nobel Committee to honor Liu Xiaobo’s more than two decades of unflinching and peaceful advocacy for reform, and to make him the first Chinese recipient of that prestigious award. In doing so, the Nobel Committee would signal both to Liu and to the Chinese government that many inside China and around the world stand in solidarity with him, and his unwavering vision of freedom and human rights for the 1. 3 billion people of China.

I have already said this on Twitter, but I think this is a good idea. I watched The Gate of Heavenly Peace again the other day and was struck — again — by the moment on the morning June 4th when the students come across a gun, which Liu Xiaobo desperately tries to smash on the stone facade of the Monument to the People’s Heroes. It is a moment of self-preservation, to be sure, but there is more to it than that.

Liu has paid dearly for his convictions, which are not altogether unreasonable. Certainly, his continued advocacy of human rights has advanced the cause of peace. Why not give the Nobel Peace Prize to him?

Speaking of peace prizes, I have heard through the grapevine that a Chinese organization is hoping to create and award one of their own, called the “Silk Road Peace Prize”. There’s not a lot of information available about this yet, but supposedly they’re modeling it after the Nobel Prize, and its winner will be judged by a similarly international committee of diplomats, artists, and politicians.

To be honest, I’m fairly skeptical of this. Although it’s probably unfair to judge things so early in the planning stages, the fact that they’re meeting with people like the vice-premier of Montenegro might not be a good sign ((Sorry Mr. Vice-Premier, but your name doesn’t look that impressive.)). Granted, I have no way of knowing who else is involved, as the project is apparently still in the planning stages. And I suppose these prizes have to start small.

My bigger concern is that this being China, the group may have to avoid entirely ever awarding their prize to someone Chinese. Candidates that would be approved by the Chinese government and the international community are scarce, so the group would be forced to choose between sacrificing international legitimacy and picking someone government-approved (which would be seen as a propaganda move even if the selection was actually fair), or sacrificing government approval and possibly endangering itself by picking someone who works for peace outside the official system.

Of course, they can easily pick people from other countries; still, it seems a shame that a Chinese organization couldn’t occasionally award their prize to someone Chinese, especially since the Nobel prize has never been given to anyone Chinese (unless, of course, you count a certain Lama…).


0 thoughts on “Peace Prizes”

  1. Putz_ster: “The problem with Charter 08 is…”

    Putz_ster: “No, I haven’t read Charter 08, but maybe when I have the time I will.”

    Good f*cking night! Am I the only one who is offended?


  2. @ Gan Lu: Your comment was deleted for several reasons.

    (1) You were repeatedly warned to stop using that combative, insulting tone. Pug_ster has engaged in the same behavior,but to his credit, he has not used that tone since I warned him.

    (2) Your were calling him, not his argument, stupid. Moreover, your use of “retard” as a derogatory term is something that many people find offensive.

    I agree that pug_ster has not made a compelling argument, and that in light of the fact that he hasn’t read the document we’re discussing, it might be fair to characterize his argument as stupid. However, I don’t think it’s necessary or productive to attack him as a person. It turns people off (I don’t mean just him).

    If you think pug_ster is genuinely too unintelligent to have a discussion with, then don’t bother trying. If you don’t, then attack his argument rather than his character. He did, granted, attack you, but he stopped after I warned both of you. You didn’t.

    I am not in the business of attempting to censor this site of “stupidity”, which is difficult to pin down objectively. People are free to express any views they wish — even stupid or unsupported ones — so long as they express them in a civil manner.

    On a more personal note, I would implore you to stop referring to him as “putz_ster”. I like a pun as much as the next man, but as a rhetorical tactic in a discussion, most people abandon the “changing your name to make it sound dumb” approach somewhere in primary school or, at worst, middle school. The fact that you keep using it is genuinely off-putting, even to someone who agrees wholeheartedly with the substantive aspects of your comments.


  3. @pug_ster: If you haven’t read Charter 08, it seems ridiculous that you’re arguing with people about how it should be characterized (Is it subversive? Is it utopian?).

    I would urge you to actually read it and decide for yourself whether it sounds subversive, or utopian. Until you’ve read it, though, you’ll have to understand that it’s very difficult for anyone to take your opinion on the issue seriously.


  4. C.Custer: “Your were calling him, not his argument, stupid.”

    It’s probably fairer to say that I was calling them both “stupid.” In my defense, however, Putz_ster has made equally stupid arguments throughout the blogosphere for years – literally, for years. As such, and in the best spirit of Forest Gump (i.e., “Stupid is as stupid does [or says]”), I submit to you that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that the PERSON who calls himself “pug_ster” – and not simply his comments regarding Liu Xiaobo in this particular thread – is himself stupid. You see, not only are Putz’ comments unintelligent, they are often, as in this case, needlessly insulting, even hateful. In fact, when viewed alongside many of the equally disappointing commentary he’s offered in the past, his repeated use of homophobic slurs (e.g., “faggity” x2), and his laughable characterization of Peking Duck as a “hate site,” one begins to see through the online persona to the real person behind the idiotic handle. So, if I am guilty of conflating Putz_ster’s comments and Putz_ster the person, who could blame me?

    You, C.Custer, may have an endless tolerance for such stupidity as Putz_ster has displayed here. I do not. The kind of ignorant, hateful, paranoid, mindlessly rigid worldview that is reflected in Putz’ commentary here is far, far worse than my clowning around with his name (I’m hardly the first to call him Putz, by the way) or making cracks about his intellect. There is nothing civil about civil discourse when you allow such pathological ignorance to go unchecked. Suggesting that stupidity is simply too difficult to objectively define is a cop-out. If it smells and looks like shit…


  5. One more thing: I only rarely respond to Putz. In this case, however, I really can’t help myself. There’s something about the Liu Xiaobo affair that really stinks, and Putz_ster’s casual dismissal of the Nobel committee and those who support Liu is genuinely offensive to me. People are correct to suggest that the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize is highly subjective; nevertheless, being a dissident in China is a tough, tough gig. The man was sentenced to 11 years in prison for expressing an idea that most people (even Chinese people) would find completely inoffensive, even noble. Liu Xiaobo and others like him deserve much better than Putz_ster’s brand of ignorant horseshit. Liu Xiaobo isn’t some tiny, uninhabited rock in the middle of the South China Sea; he’s an actual living, breathing guy with a wife and family who wants nothing more for China than such things as freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary. You ought not allow Putz_ster to shit on him with such impunity.


  6. @ Gan Lu: But by not allowing pug_ster to express his view, I violate the spirit of principles that Liu Xiaobo went to prison defending in the first place. Obviously, as the owner of this site, I have the right to delete whatever I want and I’m sure no one would disagree with that.

    But in the interest of openness, honesty, tolerance, and freedom of speech, I’m not at all inclined to delete the opinions of people I find offensive, unless they’ve violated some aspect of our comments policy.

    Why? For one reason, I think it’s valuable to have a reminder that there are people out there like pug_ster, even if we don’t agree with them. For another, I think it’s healthy to expose oneself to a variety of viewpoints. pug_ster’s argument in this discussion notwithstanding, he does occasionally make valuable contributions to the discussion. Also, I am concerned that silencing dissenting voices leads to this.

    In any event, I don’t know why I’m even having this discussion. We have a comments policy that’s pretty straightforward. If pug_ster violates it again, he’s gone. If not, he stays. The same goes for you.


  7. I’m surprised that Gan Lu have so much leeway and I am surprised that he didn’t get banned for his endless rant about me. In all seriousness, it is not even worth saying more in this thread. C Custer, can you close this thread?


  8. Putz: “I am surprised that [Gan Lu] didn’t get banned for his endless rant about me…C Custer, can you close this thread?”

    Good grief, Putz – man up, why don’t you. Your whining is embarrassing. Better yet, return to Fool’s Mountain where you belong. If you find some time in the future to actually read Charter 08, make sure to write a post explaining why you find it subversive.


  9. Alright. So I went and read the Charter 08.

    There’s a lot of ideologically oriented fluff, but one of the most important points I got from it is that the authors want a federal model of governance.

    Regardless of the ideological orientation of the charter, federalism is neither desired, nor possible. Thus, it must be rejected.


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