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West’s lecture on free speech would go down better if Islamophobia was not ‘acceptable bigotry’

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Here’s an interesting take on the free-speech debate, at Foreign Policy, from the Saudi writer Abdulaziz H. Al-Fahad. Yes, Muslim societies have to learn greater tolerance of free speech. But the West actually has its own parameters on “acceptable” speech, and speech that is offensive to blacks and Jews are outside those parameters, but Islamophobia seems just fine. And Muslims perceive that hypocrisy, in the context of military domination.

As admirable as this western tradition of freedom of expression might be in the eyes of many Muslims, they remain unimpressed by a West that finds mocking God, Jesus, Moses or Muhammad to be protected speech but worthy at best of muted condemnation, while denigration of the Holocaust or uttering an offensive racist epithet are either criminalized or rendered into untouchable taboos. From that perspective, the West is not truly wedded to an absolute notion of freedom of expression but instead accommodates its own prejudices with regards to what is “offensive” through both legal and extralegal means. The underlying logic, of course, is grounded in specific cultures and histories, as opposed to universalist ideas, and deference to Muslim sensibilities has certainly not been part of that heritage..

Western societies have come a long way from its early days of crude prejudice and racism — except towards Muslims, one of the last frontiers of acceptable bigotry. The incessant rise in Islamophobia, not just as a fringe phenomenon but within the mainstream, belies Western claims to universalist values. The West has achieved remarkable success in combating its own demons of (anti-black) racism and anti-Semitism, to mention only two salient examples. While many in the West, like the rest of humanity, are not innocent of harboring such hateful sentiments, those who choose to display them are quickly condemned and banished from respectable circles or jailed. But when prejudice and hate is directed against Muslims, the guardians of the boundaries of acceptable speech are either absent or complicit…

The permissive public atmosphere towards Islamophobia has allowed haters to spew their vitriol far and wide without paying any discernible price as would be the case if other communities were involved. A recent advertisement in an American city dubbed Muslims as savages; Muslims very well know if the identity of the target were to be changed to another community (e.g., blacks) the resulting uproar would have been substantial and free speech would have been an irrelevant argument. Inversely, until recently Aljazeera English failed to find cable distributors in the U.S. who had reportedly deferred to the wishes of the State Department.  Rightly or wrongly, there is strong suspicion in many Muslim countries that US bombings of Aljazeera’s offices in Afghanistan and Baghdad were more intentional than inadvertent mistakes. It is within this overall unhealthy atmosphere that Muslims’ perceptions of the West are formed and informed. The movie is not an isolated incident but a particularly vile version of what is acceptable (as opposed to free) speech in the West..

Al-Fahad is also clear about the duty in Muslim societies:

Yet notwithstanding this move in the right direction within some Islamic societies, the ethos of civil protest is still wanting, despite encouraging signs during the Arab Spring. To express outrage at actions or sayings that are offensive is one thing; to cause death and destruction has to be a red line that Muslim societies have to rigorously impose, a task that is now even more urgent with the removal of authoritarian enforcers and the advent of representative government. The unqualified reaction of condemnation by Libyan citizens (joined by the majority of political, social, and religious leaders throughout the Arab world) against those involved in the murder of personnel in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi is one encouraging sign that violence has become unacceptable as a mode of expression…

For the West, that means the permissiveness (indeed tolerance) of Islamophobia within respectable circles should no longer be accepted. For Muslim societies, a better appreciation of free speech and the adoption of peaceful protests (including economic boycotts if need be) must replace the mob mentality characteristic of many of the responses over the last several years.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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52 Responses

  1. pabelmont on October 2, 2012, 11:11 am

    Many people need someone to hate, to despise , to “dis”, and best of all if it is for no reason at all. Makes people feel good. And democratic governments need “enemies” (rather than “victims”) to keep their war-machines going smoothly. (Autocrats don’t need to persuade people!)

    Don’t I and some other readers of this blog “get off” on “dis-ing” Zionists? (OH, FORGOT, THAT’S NOT FOR NO REASON AT ALL.)

  2. bilal a on October 2, 2012, 11:19 am

    Al Fahad is wrong: Mass civil disobedience towards and physical attacks on symbols of oprression, like storming an embassey and replacing the flag, has a long history in the civil rights movement in countering systemic racism.

    If the West adopts the same laws it applies to protect the Holocaust religion, towards other faiths, the condition of global civil society and world peace would improve.

    And if the civil liberatarians dont like this, let them at least explain their lack of universalism on the issue.

  3. dano on October 2, 2012, 11:31 am

    I remember around 1990, the National Endowment for the Arts (in the USA) subsidized some art exhibits, such as a crucifix submerged in a jar of urine. The late Senator Jesse Helms, arguably the most prominent extreme Christian fundamentist politican at the time, spearheaded a debate in which he suggested that the US Govt. cease funding such exhibits. When cartoons are published in published in Denmark, throughout the Muslim world crazed mobs commit murder and mayhem. “Piss Christ” is on display again in New York, hardly eliciting any reaction at all. It’s sobering to note that the likes of Jesse Helms, scoundrel that he was, was *extremely* civilized compared to the “democracy activists” of the Muslim/Arab world.

    • Keith on October 2, 2012, 5:14 pm

      DANO- ““Piss Christ” is on display again in New York, hardly eliciting any reaction at all.”

      You are illogically comparing bad taste with flat out agitprop. It is not that hard for effective psyops to elicit the desired reaction. In this case, the primary target of this agitprop is the gullible Western audience which can be convinced that there really is a clash of civilizations and that ongoing Western militarism is justified. The Muslim reaction to this deliberate provocation is less significant than the Western reaction to this orchestrated propaganda assault. As for free speech, talk to Julian Assange and Bradley Manning. Also, check out the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Patriot Act. Free speech? Dream on.

      • Woody Tanaka on October 2, 2012, 6:05 pm

        “You are illogically comparing bad taste with flat out agitprop.”

        Piss Christ isn’t bad taste. Quite the contrary. It’s a wonderful work.

      • eljay on October 2, 2012, 9:00 pm

        >> Piss Christ isn’t bad taste. Quite the contrary. It’s a wonderful work.

        Meh. It’s pretentious, self-indulgent crap, like Istvan Kantor’s *ahem* “art”.

      • Woody Tanaka on October 3, 2012, 10:10 am

        “It’s pretentious, self-indulgent crap”

        Crap? Well, I understand that this is the opinion of many people whose ideas of “art” is Thomas Kinkaid numbered ceramic plates, but it really is a beautiful piece, restrained and rather insightful (and even the passage of time has helped, as the shock element which was present at first is really not there any more, so that the image qua image now takes center stage or should). Frankly, I think there is literally nothing pretentious nor self-indulgent.

        I also like it because it sends a certain kind of Christian in a tizzy. The funny part is that the work can be seen as a rather sophisticed theological statement in support of a purer Christianity and faith, but these people are too stupid or unthinking to see it.

      • Keith on October 3, 2012, 3:35 pm

        WOODY TANAKA- “…it really is a beautiful piece, restrained and rather insightful….”

        Yes, and very appropriate to add a touch of class to the men’s room.

      • eljay on October 3, 2012, 3:48 pm

        >> … I understand that this is the opinion of many people whose ideas of “art” is Thomas Kinkaid numbered ceramic plates …
        >> … it really is a beautiful piece, restrained and rather insightful ( … the image qua image now takes center stage … ) …
        >> … the work can be seen as a rather sophisticed theological statement in support of a purer Christianity and faith …

        Yup, pretentious.

      • Woody Tanaka on October 3, 2012, 4:10 pm

        Shrug. Not everyone understands art.

      • Woody Tanaka on October 3, 2012, 4:32 pm

        “Yup, pretentious.”

        Sorry, eljay, if you can’t keep up with a discussion about art that’s more substantial than, “Yup, tha’ sur is one purdy pitcher. Them colors is nice.”

      • eljay on October 3, 2012, 5:59 pm

        >> Not everyone understands art.

        Art is subjective – different people understand it in different ways. There’s no shame in that.

      • thetumta on October 3, 2012, 8:30 pm

        But you were distracted enough to comment? Lost focus. It worked. The details are not important. That it worked is.
        Hej!

      • eljay on October 4, 2012, 9:47 am

        >> Sorry, eljay, if you can’t keep up with a discussion about art that’s more substantial than, “Yup, tha’ sur is one purdy pitcher. Them colors is nice.”

        Yeah, shucks golly, I wish I could be all pretentious qua pretentious about art like you are. Too funny… :-P

      • Woody Tanaka on October 4, 2012, 9:58 am

        “Art is subjective – different people understand it in different ways. There’s no shame in that.”

        It’s not entirely subjective. It has it’s own grammer and vocabulary. It’s not arbitrary and random (even when it’s being arbitrary and random) People can reach different conclusions, of course (and that’s half the fun) but there is a difference beween not liking a piece while understanding and employing the foundations for a valid, informed decision about a piece of art, and a knee-jerk reaction based on whim, ego or an undeveloped aesthetic.

        For example, the opinion of someone like Bill Donoghue of the Catholic League, who says Piss Christ is not a great work for no other reason than because it “offends Christians” is doing nothing but spouting stuff that merit not even a first consideration beyond what cognition is necessary to understand the words. However, when Sister Wendy Beckett (who took no offense to the piece) explains why she believes it’s good, but not great, I would consider that opinion. I disagree with her conclusion, but I would consider it.

        There’s no shame in the former, but there is in the latter.

      • Woody Tanaka on October 4, 2012, 11:07 am

        “I wish I could be all pretentious qua pretentious about art like you are.”

        All hail Idiot (North) America. Where pride in one’s ignorance and limited vocabulary is considered a virtue.

      • eljay on October 4, 2012, 11:55 am

        >> All hail Idiot (North) America. Where pride in one’s ignorance and limited vocabulary is considered a virtue.

        So that’s what a fragile ego looks like when it’s been wounded. :-(

        Get well soon, WT. :-)

        Over and out (of this particular discussion).

      • Woody Tanaka on October 4, 2012, 12:18 pm

        “So that’s what a fragile ego looks like when it’s been wounded.”

        LMAO. No, my ego’s not particularly fragile, and it takes a hell of a lot more than an ignorant crack from a crank in Canada to wound it.

      • EscapeVelocity on October 3, 2012, 10:35 pm

        Piss Christ is agitprop designed to offend Christians, and provide social commentary on Christianity. It is a well known example of Christianophobia. And this work of Christianophobia was funded and approved by the Federal government, the United States of America.

        But alas…

        The future does not belong to Trey Parker or Matt Stone, nor the perpetrator of Piss Christ, nor Bill Mahar, nor Richard Dawkins, nor George Carlin, nor Eddie Izzard, nor Mary Daly, nor Theo Van Gogh. So says President Obama.

    • traintosiberia on October 2, 2012, 5:19 pm

      For dano- I think this issue is a little too complex for you.
      This article will clear the thinking of those who want to hide behind Free Speech to conceal their limited understanding of the various forms of human resistance to psychological and physical oppression and humiliation.

      This is the article and it is also for the Saudi writer if he ever wants to understand that the whole process in this western debate is nothing but about creating a situation to demonize muslim and Islam and enjoy from a safe distance with glee the same very atavistic raw hateful emotions felt by those who were found out to have urinated on the head of some dead bodies in Kabul and trashed some koran down the toilet. At least they were in a war zone and the hate-filled fear and desperation could be understood. But not the stupidities expressed by “leftie” who blithely sees this protest as expression of backwardness and shades of all varietes of illiberalism.

      Ramzy Baroud: That Defining Moment: On Anti-Muslim Films, Cartoons and My Gaza Neighbor -https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/09/27-0

      • eljay on October 2, 2012, 9:06 pm

        >> … the whole process in this western debate is nothing but about creating a situation to demonize muslim and Islam and enjoy from a safe distance with glee the same very atavistic raw hateful emotions felt by those who were found out to have urinated on the head of some dead bodies in Kabul and trashed some koran down the toilet.

        – Urinating on the heads of dead people: Utterly classless, a very personal and insulting act.
        – Trashing a Koran – or any other mass-produced copy of a set of “holy scriptures” – down a toilet or in any other way: It’s just a book. Get over it.

        Regardless…
        – Public protests: good.
        – Burning public and private property and/or assaulting, harming and or killing people: bad. Very, very bad.

    • on October 3, 2012, 6:59 am

      Nonsense. Of course it is now okay to mock Christian symbols.

      See what would happen if an objet d’art “Piss Holocaust” was put on display in NYC. Hell, careers end when people resist the notion that American Jews are a persecuted minority (ask Rick Sanchez)

    • The Hasbara Buster on October 3, 2012, 7:32 am

      It’s sobering to note that the likes of Jesse Helms, scoundrel that he was, was *extremely* civilized compared to the “democracy activists” of the Muslim/Arab world.

      Unfortunately, other reactions in the West are not as civilized. Ernst Zündel and David Irving have been repeatedly jailed simply for exercising their freedom of speech, namely by denying the Holocaust. Dissident rabbi Ahron Cohen had his house pelted with thousands of eggs and his windows smashed with bricks for attending Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial conference. Israeli ambassador to Sweden Zvi Mazel destroyed an artwork he didn’t like, in which a picture of a Palestinian suicide bomber floated on a pool of red liquid resembling blood.

      Even more outrageously, a host of notable rabbis and politicians, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, have actively worked to deny the Muslims of New York the right to build a 13-storey Islamic center on their own property near Ground Zero, on the grounds that it would offend the WTC victims. All Muslims were thus made responsible for what just 19 of them did, and the sensitivity of a group of people became more important than freedom of assembly — which would have made the West go ballistic if the sensitive group had been the Muslims.

  4. ColinWright on October 2, 2012, 12:57 pm

    dano says: “I remember around 1990, the National Endowment for the Arts…”

    So the Saudi presents a remarkably cogent and balanced argument, politely pointing out the West’s hypocrisy.

    You respond by attempting to justify continued expressions of bigotry.

    It really is absurd. People make gestures that are calculated to offend. Then the targets take offense — and that somehow justifies the offensive gestures.

    I don’t see it. The originally gestures may not be illegal, and I wouldn’t want them to become illegal, but they remain crude, spiteful expressions of bigotry. It follows that if you make them, you are a crude, spiteful bigot. That you managed to get the goat of those you were seeking to provoke hardly changes that.

    • dano on October 2, 2012, 10:40 pm

      I never justified anything, or had anything to do with making or promoting the controversial movie trailer.

      And it’s one thing to take offense, but there are other and better ways to express offense than mob violence, murder, mayhem etc.

      • ColinWright on October 3, 2012, 1:06 pm

        dano says: “…I never justified anything, or had anything to do with making or promoting the controversial movie trailer.

        And it’s one thing to take offense, but there are other and better ways to express offense than mob violence, murder, mayhem etc…”

        And there are worse ways as well — such as concocting self-serving paranoid fantasies about an impending Islamic global jihad as a prequel to a new wave of genocide on our part that would eclipse Hitler.

        …which is what we do. It’s not them that worries me. It’s us.

  5. David Doppler on October 2, 2012, 3:19 pm

    What distinguishes the Innocence of Muslims video, in my eyes, is its deliberate baiting of Muslims. Somebody went to a lot of expense and trouble, and engaged in considerable deceit, to create this film, and then translate it into Arabic, then post it on Youtube, then circulate it to Arabic reporters, all to secure a reaction, namely rioting throughout the Arabic world directed at American embassies, military sites and personnel, and businesses. The possibility that it was done in order to fan the flames of a Clash of Civilizations in order to make war with Iran more likely has not been ruled out, except by the MSM, who seem to have locked onto the version Romney voiced instantly: free speech is one of our core values which “those Muslims” can’t deal with, and we shouldn’t apologize for our core values. Race baiting language may be protected, but it is not a core value. The core value is allowing people to say anything, and for the crowd to judge merit.

    What about the free speech and free press that goes into exposing the motives of these newsmakers to critical and skeptical analyses? Why are the identities and motives of those who made this film, or who burned Qurans in Afghanistan, for that matter, not known to us, in excessive detail? Their actions have resulted in deaths of American diplomats and servicemen and women. “Free speech and free press” are being manipulated to create war, and the climate of crisis that justifies suppression of individual liberties.

    • Egbert on October 3, 2012, 4:08 am

      Those that whine about Free Speech (TM) most loudly live in a country in which it is a crime to criticize a foreign country.

    • marc b. on October 3, 2012, 9:03 am

      The possibility that it was done in order to fan the flames of a Clash of Civilizations in order to make war with Iran more likely has not been ruled out, except by the MSM, who seem to have locked onto the version Romney voiced instantly: free speech is one of our core values which “those Muslims” can’t deal with, and we shouldn’t apologize for our core values.

      i think you got most of it, but there remains that unexplained part about the ‘coincidence’ of the libyan ‘riots’ and the murder of a US ambassador. not to worry though, the state department is looking into the still inexplicable absence of security and apparent leak of intelligence that lead to the ambassador’s murder. also, the video really is just the accepted MSM explanation for what is in really mass opposition to US foreign policy in ME, SW asia and NAfrica.

    • ColinWright on October 3, 2012, 5:31 pm

      David Doppler says: “What distinguishes the Innocence of Muslims video, in my eyes, is its deliberate baiting of Muslims. Somebody went to a lot of expense and trouble, and engaged in considerable deceit, to create this film, and then translate it into Arabic, then post it on Youtube, then circulate it to Arabic reporters, all to secure a reaction, namely rioting throughout the Arabic world directed at American embassies, military sites and personnel, and businesses. …”

      Yeah. ‘Innocence’ really was a matter of ‘reductio ad nausea.’

      ‘Piss Christ’ can be seen as a matter of artistic expression (although if there wasn’t at least someone putatively to be offended, I think it would be kind of a meaninglessly ugly object).

      The Danish cartoons could be arguably taken as a matter of someone feeling the need to assert an unqualified right to self-expression in an otherwise stifling atmosphere. Okay…but must you? It is rude, you know. Okay, legally you can do it, but…

      I doubt if the makers of this movie even cared if they were allowed to show it in the United States. It was simply and purely a matter of wanting to spit in people’s faces and get away with it. That — however unedifying the response — is not a praiseworthy gesture.

      • Woody Tanaka on October 4, 2012, 9:21 am

        “‘Piss Christ’ can be seen as a matter of artistic expression (although if there wasn’t at least someone putatively to be offended, I think it would be kind of a meaninglessly ugly object).”

        Piss Christ absolutely is a matter of artistic expression. Yes, shock (not necessarily offense) was part of it. But to say that it would be, without the feigned, ignornant offense taking by the christians, “a meaningless ugly object” is really stupid on two counts.

      • ColinWright on October 4, 2012, 2:06 pm

        Woody Tanaka: “Piss Christ absolutely is a matter of artistic expression. Yes, shock (not necessarily offense) was part of it. But to say that it would be, without the feigned, ignornant offense taking by the christians, “a meaningless ugly object” is really stupid on two counts.”

        If you actually want people to respond to your remarks, I suggest you don’t refer to their opinion as ‘really stupid.’

      • Woody Tanaka on October 5, 2012, 9:42 am

        Colin,

        I call em like I see them. Calling this photo “meaningless” and “ugly” are really stupid opinions. Sorry.

      • ColinWright on October 6, 2012, 3:03 pm

        Woody Tanaka: “I call em like I see them. Calling this photo “meaningless” and “ugly” are really stupid opinions. Sorry.”

        It does simplify debate wonderfully. I announce claiming global warming is real is ‘stupid.’ That’s that.

    • thetumta on October 3, 2012, 9:21 pm

      It’s the equivalent of calling a black American a “nigger” to his face except now you have the internet and Democrats to hide behind. Push back is a certainty. I had to go through that some time ago. People get pissed off and make bad decisions in the heat of the moment.
      “Ole time American” racism had to face their colored victims at some point, face to face. So things changed. And no, American Jews were never serious victims of this American racism, except in their own minds. It has been very, very profitable for them though since.
      Some time ago, ,”judea declared war on germany”. Soon after we were at war in Europe, but not with Stalin and this guy(http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3342999,00.html or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genrikh_Yagoda).
      Note the mustausche!

      https://www.google.com/search?q=judea+declares+war+on+germany&hl=en&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=xtpsUNilKJGJ0QGijoHoCg&sqi=2&ved=0CCMQsAQ&biw=1366&bih=598

      Now, judea has declared war on Islam. Guess who gets to carry the weight this time, yet again? No, it’s not Anti-semitism, it’s Anti-Philo-Semitism. Enough is enough. Just say no, loudly and ignore the vile accusations that follow.
      Hej! Tumta

    • EscapeVelocity on October 3, 2012, 11:04 pm

      Piss Christ was gratuitously offensive to Christians, and many, many other “artistic” endeavors have been as well.

      • Woody Tanaka on October 4, 2012, 9:42 am

        “Piss Christ was gratuitously offensive to Christians, and many, many other ‘artistic’ endeavors have been as well.”

        Baloney. It was perhaps intentionally shocking or even intentionally offensive, but was not gratuitous. Indeed, I know of a number of interpretations of the work that are pro-Christian. Indeed, Serrano has stated that this piece is a statement against the commercializaton and cheapening of spiritual value. I also read the work as an attack on people who are more concerned about meaningless insults to their ego than they are about what is supposed to be the true message of Christianity, as if the piece says, “You’re offended at how a plastic, mass produced crucifix — a graven image, if you will — was treated? Would Christ be concerned with such things or are you making an idol out of your ego and your offense?”

        But I guess some people can’t handle art regarding religion than is more sophisticated than Warner Sallman’s Head of Christ: White Jesus, halo. Blah.

      • Mooser on October 7, 2012, 1:25 pm

        ““You’re offended at how a plastic, mass produced crucifix — a graven image, if you will — was treated?”

        You mean it wasn’t the True Cross? I may have to re-visit my outrage over “Piss Christ”.

  6. sky7i on October 2, 2012, 5:05 pm

    A few years old, but revealing indeed!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4337031.stm

    • piotr on October 2, 2012, 8:50 pm

      And photos of a princess are likewise verboten. Although in Italy you can see “La principessa Kate in topless”, Anglophone website (and French?) are blurring all the interesting parts.

  7. bilal a on October 2, 2012, 11:25 pm

    A simple rule would be to apply the monetary occupational and legal sanctions for attacks on the Holocaust religion to slander of the other great Faiths. As Obama put it:

    “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed, or the Holocaust is denied.”

    Eliot Abrams condemned the false equivalence of Judaism with the Holocaust Religion, while the Daily Beast Emily Hauser made some effort to show the equivalence as applicable in secular zionist discourse. But those who call for free speech slandering Islam never critisize the draconian sanctions on slander of the Holocaust religion.

    And, sadly, this hypocrisy , and an aggressive slander and incitement of the Other, appears to come from one small transnational population with no respect but hate only for these Others. And they are planning Three more incitement films:

    Not two, but three more “films” coming our way
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/25/apparently-it-s-bad-to-condemn-holocaust-denial.html

    But how do we regulate the sick and demented impulses of this tiny but powerful sub group in our Global culture ?

    • ColinWright on October 3, 2012, 5:33 pm

      bilal says: “…But how do we regulate the sick and demented impulses of this tiny but powerful sub group in our Global culture ?”

      Well, I say we don’t regulate their impulses — mine might be next. Just keep calling them on it.

  8. Mayhem on October 3, 2012, 5:28 pm

    It is not illegal in the United States to deny the Holocaust.

    The United States Constitution ensures freedom of speech. Therefore, in the United States denying the Holocaust or engaging in antisemitic hate speech is not illegal, except when there is an imminent threat of violence. Many other countries, particularly in Europe where the Holocaust occurred, have laws criminalizing Holocaust denial and hate speech.

    Those who are deemed to be inciting hatred by making Islamophobic films are actually just reacting to what they see as the danger from radical Islam which they believe is becoming more and more pervasive in their society.

    If the practitioners of Islam got their house in order then they could circumvent a lot of the reaction from those who feel an urgent need to draw attention to Islam’s contradictions and to counter the forces of Islam which they perceive as a threat.

    • eljay on October 4, 2012, 9:55 am

      >> Those who are deemed to be inciting hatred by making Islamophobic films are actually just reacting to what they see as the danger from radical Islam which they believe is becoming more and more pervasive in their society.

      How would you feel about that sentence if “Islamophobic” were changed to “Judaeophobic” and “Islam” were changed to “Judaism”?

      • Mayhem on October 4, 2012, 7:21 pm

        @eljay, your analogy is not relevant because there is no worldwide threat from radical Judaism or from radical Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism etc either. I am concerned about actualities and not appeasement soaked hypotheticals.

      • eljay on October 5, 2012, 7:33 am

        >> I am concerned about actualities and not appeasement soaked hypotheticals.

        Of course you are. That explains your appeasement-soaked hypothetical that crude and inflammatory productions mocking and/or vilifying Islam / Muslims / Arabs are in fact thoughtful, measured and informative arguments put forth by reasonable and well-intentioned Western citizens.

    • on October 7, 2012, 8:45 am

      Not illegal to question the Holocaust in the USA?

      Maybe it is not a law on the books, but any public figure who were to question the official narrative of the Holocaust will surely have his career ended. It is de facto illegal. Ask Rick Sanchez, Helen Thomas — and they did not even go so far as to question the Holocaust. They just refused to accept the notion that Jews are such a victimized group that they are above criticism

  9. EscapeVelocity on October 3, 2012, 7:42 pm

    Islam is an ideology and criticism of it is not bigotry.

    What next Communismophobia? Zionismophobia? Captialismophobia?

    Give it a rest.

    • talknic on October 7, 2012, 11:42 am

      EscapeVelocity October 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

      “Islam is an ideology and criticism of it is not bigotry”

      Judaism is an ideology and criticism of it is not bigotry.

      Israel’s settlements in territories occupied are illegal and criticism of Israeli policies based on Judaic ideology is not anti-semitism

      • MHughes976 on October 7, 2012, 5:35 pm

        To me bigotry means inflexibility of opinion and the readiness to use threats and intimidation – and ultimately force – in defence of what you believe. At this rate you don’t need God to be bigoted.

    • ColinWright on October 7, 2012, 1:45 pm

      EscapeVelocity says: ‘Islam is an ideology and criticism of it is not bigotry.

      What next Communismophobia? Zionismophobia? Captialismophobia?

      Give it a rest.’

      Well that is a relief. All those examples of anti-Catholic ‘bigotry’ — all gone now. For that matter, pre-modern anti-semitism would seem to be cool — the objection was usually confined to practicing Jews. Indeed, the Church would often offer protection — just as soon as the Jew converted.

      Not bigotry after all. You’ve cleared up some painful issues there, Escape. Good work.

  10. piotr on October 4, 2012, 1:12 pm

    One issue is how to deal with offensive speech.

    a. should it be criminal

    One approach is not, and we should propagate attitude that offenders demean themselves, and are not worthy the attention that they usually crave. This opens a secondary topic: why does USA and “Western countries” criminalize various acts of speech. In USA you can get an enormous prison sentence if your speech is deemed to give “support to terrorists”. The law mentions “material support” but the term is stretched to posting translations into English of writings of terrorists (17 years in prison). In other countries you can get jailed for denying Holocaust or publishing topless photos of royalty.

    b. What are proper ways to censor offensive speech.

    Censorship can have the form of state repression, but also actions by private organizations and companies that provide “neutral forum” for posting articles, videos and other documents. Google and YouTube are private companies and they are quite free to decide that some content will not be displayed or found in web searches. Sometimes they use this freedom to censor.

    For example, someone posted video with title “Katiusha” showing very happy Hezbollah firing Katiusha rockets, and YouTube took it down.

    c. My conclusion

    Censorship is a favorite of the powerful, and the powerless are most vulnerable. In our context, we know that opponents of the rights of Palestinians try to use censorship in various ways. People aggrieved by offensive speech should be offered solidarity etc. but not censorship.

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