Banksy uses new artwork to criticise use of teargas in Calais refugee camp

The artwork is here. I watched the video below until it was clear there was tear gas (or some sort of gas). I don’t especially recommend watching it all the way through, though I don’t know how bad it got. For more details about police actions and earlier use of tear gas, see

Did anyone know that tear gas was being used? A police spokesperson says it wasn’t. One wishes such spokespeople were kept more in the picture. From the Guardian:

The work is the latest in a series of pieces by the graffiti artist criticising Europe’s handling of the ongoing refugee crisis. It is a direct comment on the recent attempts by French authorities to bulldoze part of the camp in Calais – which has now been deemed unsafe – and evict about 1,500 refugees.

Speaking to the Guardian last week, a police spokesperson, Steve Barbet, denied that teargas was being used to clear the camps. “It’s not in our interest to use teargas unless it’s absolutely necessary to restore public order, and it is never used in the camp itself,” he said.

But the seven-minute clip posted on YouTube clearly shows teargas, rubber bullets and concussion grenades being used by the French authorities in an overnight raid in early January. Videos and reports of the repeated use of CS gas also emerged last Monday as French police attempted to create a 100-metre buffer zone between the camps and the motorway.

The video:

Philosophy as Fan Labor?

It isn’t that I mind academic detachment. After all, I was impressed and shaken by Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much with Us”:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—

I even remember some of the poem decades after I encountered it in high school.

Still, I do mind being in total ignorance of a vast kind of creative output. In case you share the ignorance and would like not to, try the Wikipedia entry on Fan Labor:

Fan labor is a term used to refer to the productive creative activities engaged in by fans, primarily those of various media properties or musical groups.[1][2] These activities can include creation of written works (fictional, fan fictional and review literature), visual or computer-assisted art, music, or applied arts and costuming.

Although fans invest significant time creating their products, and fan-created products are “often crafted with production values as high as any in the official culture,”[3] most fans provide their creative works as amateurs, for others to enjoy without requiring or requesting monetary compensation. Fans respect their gift economy culture and are often also fearful that charging other fans for products of their creativity will somehow fundamentally change the fan-fan relationship, as well as attract unwanted legal attention from copyright holders. The skills that fans hone through their fan works may be marketable, and some fans find employment through their fan works.

Of course, I should think we’re all aware of instances of fan labor; even much of philosophy could be counted as fan labor, I suppose. But the really vast output was somehow shielded from my ken. That stopped when I started to follow the links on Rachel Smith Corbleigh’s comments on Magic’s post here.

Now, is philosophy as it is done today often fan labor? If we borrow terms from descriptions of Fan Fiction, then surely a case can be made. The journals are full of articles that pick up a theme in someone else’s work and modify or expand (or both) them.

To see philosophy in this way might trivialize the whole idea of fan labor. Or it might give us some different ways of thinking about the disciplines. For example, what in philosophy might be the analogue of good fan fiction?

Petition on Behalf of Kurdish Civilians

Anna-Sara Malmgren is gathering signatures for a petition to President Obama with the following content:

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We write you with a growing sense of alarm, and a simple request, concerning actions now being taken by the government of Turkey against its own citizens.

As you have no doubt been briefed, the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has in recent months been blockading and indiscriminately shelling ethnic Kurdish neighborhoods in eastern and southeastern Anatolia. The official rationale has been to fight domestic terrorism – specifically, to weaken the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or ‘PKK’ – eerily echoing the justifications routinely proffered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for barrel-bombing his own citizenry, and at best providing a partial explanation of the Erdoğan government’s actions. (These actions appear to be part of a wider intimidation campaign, the targets of which include advocates of Kurdish and other minority rights in Turkey who explicitly seek diplomatic conflict-resolution, including members and supporters of the People’s Democratic Party, or ‘HDP’).

However plausible or otherwise the official motivation may be, the Erdoğan government’s chosen means are grossly disproportionate to its professed end. They are causing avoidable and unacceptable civilian suffering, they are wrongful and illegal under domestic and international law, and – we fear – will only exacerbate existing tensions within Turkey, possibly pushing it towards full-scale civil war. And this at a time, ironically, when Kurdish citizens of  Iraq and Syriaseem to have established stable regional governments and, like their fellow Kurds in Turkey, have offered effective resistance against ISIS/Daesh.

The Erdoğan government’s actions have not gone unchallenged, either inside or outside of Turkey. Turks of multiple ethnicities, genders, and vocations have peacefully petitioned their government to cease making war on its own Kurdish citizens, to open dialogue with peaceful Kurdish advocacy groups, and to allow independent journalists access to Kurdish neighborhoods now under blockade and bombardment. The Erdoğan government’s response has been only the further persecution of dissidents, the detention of protesting academics, and, it now seems, the outright murder of opposition political figures – or at the very least, egregious security lapses that have enabled such murders to take place.

We recognize that options are limited where influencing the domestic affairs of other nations’ governments is concerned. We also believe, however, that the power of moral suasion – particularly when coming from you – is anything but trivial, and that it can even in some cases be transformative.

We therefore respectfully request that you consider both publicly calling for and privately urging upon President Erdoğan: (a) the immediate cessation of the indiscriminate shelling by government forces of Kurdish neighborhoods in eastern and southeastern Anatolia, (b) the immediate lifting of the blockades – Orwellianly referred to as ‘curfews’ – of those neighborhoods, and (c) the immediate opening of these same neighborhoods to journalists of all nationalities and political persuasions, who collectively still constitute the most effective form of ‘sunlight’ where exposing abuses of governmental power is concerned.

You have long been and continue to be a source of moral and political inspiration to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, Mr. President, including to us. We hope you will know that it is precisely in virtue of your unique combination of moral stature and political influence that we write you, in the confident hope that you will do what you can to spare Turkey’s Kurdish minority – as well as the tens of millions of other Turks who respect their own constitution and fellow citizens – any further depredations by the government of Mr. Erdoğan.

To sign, go here.