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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Freedom to Mock

Oliver Kamm has an interesting post on the on-going battle between freedom of speech and respect for religion:

Free speech does cause hurt, and - other than in cases of incitement to crime (as with the disgraceful demonstrations outside the Danish embassy in London last Friday) - we should accept that there is nothing wrong in this. Those who find their religious beliefs offended may be offered sympathy on a personal level (though they will find none from me); they are entitled to no restitution whatsoever in public policy. The state of their sensibilities must be a matter of indifference to a free society. If they find they receive compensation for injured feelings, then mental hurt is what they will seek out.

Kamm also quotes Matthew Parris of The Times:
[A] conclusion some draw is that for the sake of a quiet life we might as well refrain from voicing criticisms we may feel towards any supersensitive group or cause, because our private thoughts, our private arguments, and those of our readers, remain our own, and uncensored. Others draw the conclusion that we should at least avoid gratuitous insults - the "damn your God" as opposed to the "I doubt His existence" expressions - because they hurt real, decent people. I think this latter form of polite restraint is what [columnist] Ben Macintyre was proposing.

The approach is tempting. It avoids hurt. But it overlooks, in the evolution of belief, the key role played by mockery. Many faiths and ideologies achieve and maintain their predominance partly through fear. They, of course, would call it "respect". But whatever you call it, it intimidates. The reverence, the awe - even the dread - that their gods, their KGB or their priesthoods demand and inspire among the laiyy are vital to the authority they wield.

Against reverence and awe the best argument is sometimes not logic, but mockery. Structures of oppression that may not be susceptible to rational debate may in the end yield to derision. When people see that a priest, rabbi,
imam or uniformed official may be giggled at without lightning striking the impertinent, arguments may be won on a deeper level than logic.

Further on, a quote from the great Hitch:
There can be no negotiation under duress or under the threat of blackmail and assassination. And civil society means that free expression trumps the emotions of anyone to whom free expression might be inconvenient. It is depressing to have to restate these obvious precepts, and it is positively outrageous that the administration should have discarded them at the very first sign of a fight.

Posted by Rob Huck on February 8, 2006 | Permalink


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"The state of their sensibilities must be a matter of indifference to a free society. If they find they receive compensation for injured feelings, then mental hurt is what they will seek out."

Sounds like the left's gender/multi-culti grievance-mongers in the victim industry. Isn't this exactly what drives half the universities, women's groups, indian activists, and other groups ad nauseum?

This tripe has worked for the last 40 years. Why shouldn't head-hacking islamofascists get in on the scam? Everyone else has been kowtowed to (except Christians who are the universal boogeyman of the left's grievance industry.)

Posted by: Warwick | 2006-02-08 2:34:52 PM

My view of free speech is that it is only 'free speech' if its content is open to debate. It may well offend, but, its chief characteristic is its openness to debate.

The hate (or call to submissive love) speech of some fundamentalist demagogue, which is simply a one-way rant inciting mind-numbing closure, is not free speech, because the speaker's opinions are not open to debate.

The cartoons WERE free speech; they were political opinions presented within images (rather than words). As such, they were presenting a point of view..which was open to debate and discussion. The image of Mohammed with, instead of a turban, a grenade-hat, was a clear statement that the Muslim mind is filled with violence. The next step - is for someone to debate this point-of-view - and agree or disagree. I personally wonder how any people, who regularly bomb commuter trains, metros, restaurants, weddings, etc..in the name of their religion - can reject the valid conclusion of this political cartoon.

The Muslim mind, particularly in the ME, is being kept closed, sealed. Its knowledge base is dogma, which is not open to question or proof but must be accepted as a matter of faith. Reject it, and you will be accused, by the Islamic gov'ts in the ME - of heresy.

The West went through its crisis of knowledge in the middle ages, when it finally rejected a knowledge base, which it had kept sealed in religion, as outside of the realm of questions. It opened religion up to questions, discussion, debate. The Islamic world is locked into a primitive mindset which rejects the individual exploration of truth and knowledge.

BUT, BUT, I maintain that this current 'cartoon crisis' was a deliberate act of the political agenda of the governments of Syria and Iran. That is, it was not so much a reaction by the Muslims, the ordinary Muslims, but was a deliberately engineered action by these governments, to incite Muslims to an emotional 'hate the West'.

The FACT that they had to market these cartoons..to actively travel and market them, to preach about them, to bus people to riot sites, to supply them with flags to burn - well, that's not spontaneous. And, it has NOTHING to do with respect for the religion or respect for Muslims. Nothing.

It's the agenda of Syria and Iran, to keep their people hostile to the West. The agenda is to prevent democracy, which is creeping into the ME, and prevent democracy from taking away their absolutist powers.

Respect? For a religion that is used to justify bombing trains and buses, bombing restaurants and weddings, bombing people at work? Respect?
Did they show any respect for these people? For the varied religions of those who died? Did they show any respect for the humanity of those who died? Respect?

Were their bombing actions - an act of free speech? No.
Do they engage in free speech? No. Do they respect other religions? No.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-08 3:00:05 PM

The Liberal West is being duped by the cartoon misinformation emanating from Muslim countries and their co-opted fellow travellors. The Arab street is clearly being manipulated by the terrorist Islmatic elite for their own perverse personal agendas. The Islam death cult doesn't give a hoot about free speech, fairness, or the truth (however post-modern). The challenge for the Liberal West is to stand up to this nonsense. However, our values have been so distorted by liberalism over the past 30 years, enhanced by self destructive immigration policies ('it's the demographics, stupid'), that I remain pessimistic this ever can be 'solved'. While I welcome the culture wars, without collective will or international consensus on the problem how can we possibly defeat this insidious enemy.

Posted by: Dave | 2006-02-08 4:14:05 PM

The consequences of Oliver Kamm's contention that "incitement to crime" should be excepted from free speech protections would imply the overnight disappearance of the Rap "music" industry. No esthetic tragedy, but that wouldn't be the issue.

A recent case in point is that Abu Hamza was basically convicted of a speech crime - incitement to violence.

The argument that the the conviction is for "political crimes" is much harder to refute whnen "incitement" is the standard.

Convicting Hamza of conspiracy to commit murder would have been much, much better. Or sedition. Or conspiracy to commit a terrorist act (Zacarias Moussaoui, a September 11 plotter, and Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" attended Hamza's mosque).

If the prosecution had not had the easier and fuzzier option of basing its case on speech, I'm pretty sure any of those charges could have been successfully argued.

Posted by: hershblogger | 2006-02-08 4:14:43 PM

Criticism is just that.
Its perfectly obvious that if you criticize someone or some thing, there is a good chance that you will offend. So What?
It is only the silly childish proponents of political correct correctness that think it's better to have say nothing or to couch your thoughts in deference to the possibility of offending.

This empty ideology has poisoned puiblic debate, our educational institutions and our media for too long.

Personally, I'm glad this issue is out in the open and look forward to offending many empty headed moonbats and other fools who would be appologists to the Islamists!

The gloves are off and I stand for real freedom.

Posted by: PGP | 2006-02-08 4:33:06 PM

Yeah...I know I left in typo's....feel free to edit!

Or criticize!

Posted by: PGP | 2006-02-08 4:34:20 PM

It is rather surreal to consider that millions of people would care what was printed in a provincial Danish newspaper, let alone threaten to hasten the end of the world because of it. Still, perhaps I should remember that I was black-listed for life by the noble folks at PSAC because I happened to be in the employ of a private company that perhaps inadvertently broke a one-day strike by giving a Toronto radio station a weather forecast in 1978.

The world is not a very sane place, folks. Trivial matters turn into things of life or death for those obsessed with their moral convictions. It's bad enough when they're right, but when they're wrong, it turns to lunacy.

Posted by: Peter O'Donnell | 2006-02-08 4:58:59 PM

This is off-topic, but it is important.

Please take a look at this story at the FOX news web site (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,184261,00.html)
Its about a 6 year-old boy being suspended from a brockton, Mass public school for touching a girl in his class around the waistband after she had apparently touched him. Not only was the child singled out by the dolts who "teach" him, but he was suspended for three days.

You want to know why fewer and fewer young men are staying in school? Look no further than the creatures who claim to be educating them.

Anyway, if you're the parent of a small (male) child, something this heavy-handed and arbitrary has to outrage you.

Posted by: blainek | 2006-02-08 6:16:52 PM

Lunatics they are those Islamofacists! Did you notice the half moon on their flags? It's everywhere. And they pretend to stay away from idolatry.

Before WWII, were newspapers trying not to insult nazis? Well if they did shame on them.

Now we have a real threat against freedom. How are we going to respond to Islamofacists? I do hope that US has a strong plan to contain Iran.

Posted by: Rémi houle | 2006-02-08 7:12:49 PM

One simple solution to the freedom of speech is to learn to live within the coundaries of the speech of freedom.
Mr. Clinto is coming to Edmonton in March. Here is a personal statement that he made and questions that I raised on the EU kKnowledgeboard in June 05.

Chris Macrae posted on June, 02, 05:

Bravo Bill Clinton
"In my life now, I am obsessed with only two things: I don't want anybody to die before their time. And I don't want to see good people spend their energies without making a difference...You can change the reality of human history by systemic action."

"Our mission in this new century is clear. For good or ill, we live in an interdependent world. We can't escape each other. Therefore, we have to spend our lives building a global community of shared responsibilities, shared values, shared benefits."

- William J. Clinton

Dear Friends,

These quotes are from http://www.clintonglobalinitiative.org/

Bill Clinton has created his own version of Davos...in NYC Sept 15-17 ...with a strong commitment to identifying "an agenda we can actually implement."

Here's his invitational message. What do you all think?

"It is my pleasure to announce the inaugural meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative to be held September 15-17, 2005, in New York City. This event, which will bring together King Abdullah II, President Leonel Fernandez Reyna, President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prime Minister Tony Blair, Secretary General Kofi Annan, Vice Premier Shimon Peres, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dr. Hernando de Soto, Sonia Gandhi, Rupert Murdoch, Richard Parsons, and an array of other distinguished and dedicated leaders, will coincide with and complement this fall's Millennium Summit of the U.N. General Assembly.

This nonpartisan conference will concentrate a diverse and select group of current and former heads of state, business leaders, noteworthy academicians, and key NGO representatives to identify immediate and pragmatic solutions to some of the world¹s most pressing problems. The workshops will focus on how to reduce poverty; use religion as a force for reconciliation and conflict resolution; implement new business strategies and technologies to combat climate change; and strengthen governance. Our meeting will emphasize dynamic group interaction to identify an agenda we can actually implement.

By identifying specific ways to address the challenges of our time and asking each participant to make a specific commitment to take action in one of the areas discussed, I believe this Initiative will prove to be a unique and effective forum for leaders and their communities around the world. What we begin during three days this September will continue throughout the year to come with coordinated implementation of our agenda.

We have an opportunity we can not afford to pass up--in just three days, we can begin to make a world of difference."

I replied:

Simple questions for Mr. Clinton
Dear Chris and all, one question for us to ask mr. Clinton is: Why did that not happen while you were in office, mr. Clinton? The next question is: How does the present administration of Mr. Bush come on board for September with the intellectual honesty and personal integrity to accept being humbled and educated from its own mistakes, as a result of such a 3 days meeting, mr. Clinton? Let the point of this meeting be, to release humanity from the rule of historic ignorance and into the encounter of siding along into the Faculty of Living, where the agenda of wisdom and of love awaits to unfold from beyond languages, in the symphony of our secured response, united in the simplicity of being at peace, in the joy of here and now...lets see to it Bill, that before September, the sacred fire you speak of in the reconciliation departement, lights the American Bush to the clarity of the open sourced management of knowledge, and that he may recognize on time for September the glorious opportunity to ease humanity's nervous central system, as opposed to go on with the miltary reflexing that such form of "intelligence" has become! The agenda of justice begins with the freedom from the rule of ignorance! May the God of all knowledge be with you and us all, Bill; go for it...amen...

I pray, now that the West is in Ottawa, that we may taste the Invisible gold rush of being Albertans, so that the first 3 klondikes may settle in the integrity of sanctity...

For further possible Alberta dreaming to become reality such as what Prime Minister Stephen Harper means for Canada's future, see:

Posted by: Benoit17 | 2006-02-08 7:44:39 PM

UPEI president removes all copies of the student newspaper, The Cadre, from campus today. This week's edition featured all of the infamous cartoons.
The student union supported in.


Posted by: Angela | 2006-02-08 8:54:30 PM

Seems all the Univercitys have been taken over politcally by the Islamists. Add to that the CBC, (God forbid we call a terrorist what they really are).

I hope the bleeding heart/pinko Left is happy as we reap all the wonderful benefits of PET's "Multiculturism", his Charter of Wrongs and perennially uncontrolled immigration.

Our country has been Hi-Jacked folks..!!

As a Canadian I am disgusted with the namby pamby reply to what is an absolute in our society, the right to freedom of speech. If it offends, it is doing it's job.! Would we all rather that we have Pravda-North..?? I am sure the Left wing politically correct would just love that.

You know I find it absolutely unbelievable that we allow radical Muslim Imans preach "Death to Israel" and Death to America" within our borders. But by God don't you dare allow a paper to publish a freaking set of cartoons that only mock through caricatures, why you might start WW3..!!

The fact that there are mobs of people burning and rioting in the streets over a few cartoons has, IMHOP, without a doubt strengthened the view that Islam and it's believers are inherently intolerant and violent.

I would hate to see what might happen if we really got them mad...??

oh yea, and Iran is enriching Uranium...right.

Posted by: Theo Groenevelt | 2006-02-08 11:52:02 PM

There cannot be a section of thought that, we, as humans, declare is 'immune to debate' and that any questions of this section of thought, is to be defined as 'heretical'.

This is what we have done, by and large, with religious thought.

First, we define its origin as non-human; it is 'from God'. I'm an atheist; I have great problems with accepting such a source of knowledge. This god-knowledge is defined as Ultimate Truth and must be accepted, on faith, and without proof. As a scholar, I have problems with this view of truth.

Then, we define the followers of this Knowledge Base as equally sacred and beyond responsibility. If X-person blows up a train and says he did it 'for his religion' or 'because you insulted my religion' - we don't make him responsible. We make the people who 'insulted his religion' responsible.

But - what if I and a group, declare ourselves as followers of The New Religion? We state that our beliefs came 'in a flash of thunder and light' (that's how Zeus usually operates) and we accept them; they are from God. These beliefs are sacred. They include a number of things that are not common to the majority of the rest of the population; let's say: child marriage, polygamy, animal sacrifice, exposure of left-handed infants, and no beef.

We are also, as a group, engaged in economic and political activities. We have to eat, you know. So, we take public land as 'ours'. God gave it to us, we say. We fight neighbouring farmers for this land; we blow up their churches and school buses.
And so on.

Now- can I make the claim that everything I do is within my rights, because of my religion? Can I accuse you of 'insulting my religion' - because you question and query my behaviour? Are my beliefs outside of criticism? After all - remember, my beliefs AFFECT my social and political behaviour.

So- when I engage in taking down my neighbour's fences and letting my sheep in - this is due, not only to my statement that God gave me the land, but also to my social interaction with others.

If I blow up the neighbouring church - can I claim that your minister preached against my group and insulted my people?

Do I have the right to, as did a Muslim in the UK, demand that the chocolate swirls on an ice cream cone be removed, because, if you tipped the cone on its side...the swirls looked like the arabic for 'allah'??? Do I have that right?

[you can do the same with a graph with exponents in the 4th degree; does that mean that we cannot graph such equations anymore, because the graph, tipped on its side, looks like the arabic for 'allah'?]

There is no such thing as a people and their behaviour and beliefs - who can live beyond questions. The cartoons were statements that questioned the discrepancy between the claims of belief..and the actual behaviour.

If Mohammed is claimed as a Man of Peace, then, as his grenade hat shows - there is a contradiction between Belief and Behaviour, or Fiction and Fact. Why are so many Muslims acting as terrorists and bombing trains, buses, restaurants etc...in the name of their religion?

The cartoon about the 72 virgins...again - a contradiction between Belief and Behaviour. IF suicide is forbidden in the Islamic religion, then, why are so many Muslims acting as suicide bombers, in the name of their religion?

And so on. The contradiction between belief and behaviour - and the assumption that belief is BEYOND debate and criticism - must be attended to and discussed.

Posted by: ET | 2006-02-09 7:34:34 AM

UPEI has now banned any discussion of their censorship on the weblogs or comments sections attached to their website.
Steve Murphy, host of CTV's local maritime news said "it appears that they are now censoring discussion about censorship"

Posted by: Angela | 2006-02-09 3:51:40 PM

Okay everyone, time to lighten up:


And just to show that we're equal opportunity offenders.


Posted by: truewest | 2006-02-09 3:56:46 PM

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