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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Aint no party like an “insolent sex party”: Beyonce rocks the kasbah; Islamic censors object

I’ve argued before here that religious conservatives, Islamic or Christian, have the same right as so-called liberals to use the tools available to individuals in a free society to build and sustain a conservative culture. The way individuals express preferences, including conservative preferences, however, must be through non-coercive means. So the “tools” available to conservatives in a free society must be limited to the bundle of rights that make up property rights.

This is basic libertarian theory, and here’s how it works: If you object to pornography, don’t buy it. If you object to sex and drugs, practice abstinence. If you don’t like what’s on TV, the radio or the internet, turn it off.

If you want to be a conservative activist in a free society, you can legitimately refuse to associate with people involved with pornography. You can refuse to deal with homosexuals or the drug culture.  And you can boycott advertisers that support producers of salacious content, for instances.

What you can’t do as a member of a free society is demand that the state prohibit the things you dislike, or subsidize the things you like. The only legitimate prohibitions in a free society are against “those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another,” to quote American philosopher Lysander Spooner.

This brings me to the reaction of Islamic conservatives to Friday’s performance by pop singer Beyonce Knowles in Egypt. Opposition politicians in the country are calling the performance an "insolent sex party" and were demanding the concert be banned.

Thankfully, pro-freedom voices won this debate and the concert went ahead as planned. Event organizer Ahmed Beltagi said of the demand by conservative censors to ban the event that "We are Muslims too...this will not stop Egypt from hosting an award-winning, first class artist."

Western critics of radical Islam will rightly celebrate this victory for free expression, and will insist that this is another example of the threat Islam poses to progressive values. While the latter is true, the West has plenty of its own censors and authoritarians.

Beyond the obvious example of Canada’s draconian human rights tribunals that censor and bully publishers and pastors, I’m reminded of the attempt by Liberal MP Dan McTeague to ban rap musician 50 Cent from performing in Canada. The devoutly Catholic McTeague espouses authoritarian views on both economic and social policy and is, sadly, too often praised by socially conservative MPs within the Conservative Party.

So here’s what I take away from the Beyonce controversy:

1. Conservative Islamists should not be criticized for being conservative, but for being authoritarian.

2. Muslims is Egypt are showing a greater appetite for freedom of expression that is worth celebrating.

3. Western critics of Islamic conservatives should also look homeward at the authoritarian elements within the Christian conservative movement.

Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on November 8, 2009 | Permalink


"What you can’t do as a member of a free society is demand that the state prohibit the things you dislike"

Suer you can. Drug use is very harmful to a society and it is perfectly reasonable to ban it, as 195 of 195 countries do. Our economy is tanking in no small part because our youth are drugged up. There is no free will in a mass media society - a mass media which is hostile to our population, I might add. Many so-called libertarians right here at the Standard support imposing their harsh radical gay agenda on a population that clearly does not want it - the double standard is galling.

Two countries, A and B. A bans drug use, B encourages it. Which country will be richer, smarter, and happier? Country A, which will subsequently conquer B. So we see how in the long run a little bit of order actually makes a people more free.

50 cent should be held to the same standard as white people, who are regularly fined, imprisoned, and banned from Canada for using hateful racial and sexual language as he does. I don't agree with our rules in this regard but it's only fair that Fiddy be held to the same standard as the rest of us until such time as the law is changed. There is nothing authoritarian about that.

Posted by: Matthew Is A Statist | 2009-11-08 2:05:56 PM

Matthew Johnston, correct on all 3 points!

Posted by: TM | 2009-11-08 9:38:06 PM

I’m really happy for the Czeck people, as a young democracy, the government is young enough to see that freedom of choice is a right that we are born with.

Posted by: david | 2009-12-08 7:02:53 PM

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