Posts Tagged ‘Muslim Terrorism’

Free speech and offensive speech

January 12, 2015

joesaccoonsatire1200I think freedom of speech is meaningless unless it includes the right to say, write and draw things that offend people.

I think it is a bad thing when people do not speak their minds for fear of retaliation—legal, economic or physical.

I think it is a bad thing—although a lesser bad thing—when people go out of their way to be insulting and offensive just to show they have a right to be insulting and offensive.

I think this is particularly true when the target of the insults and offense is an unpopular minority.   This is what usually falls under the heading of “politically incorrect”.

I think ridicule should be directed upward against the rich and powerful, not downward against the poor and weak.

This is all a way of making it clear that when I say  I really, really dislike the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, I am not trying to justify censorship or excuse murder.

The cartoons don’t seem to have any point except shock value, and I think.  They remind me of Hustler magazine.  And while the cartoonists have lampooned every institution in France, all the ones I’ve seen on-line target the Muslim religion.

Admittedly, I have not read the content, and I as an American may not appreciate how the French see them.  This is my personal reaction, not an authoritative judgment.

I believe in the principle of “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”  I defend the right of museum curators to exhibit obscene and anti-Christian art works.  I defend the right of Holocaust deniers to publish their false opinions.  I defend the right of people to do all kinds of things I wish they wouldn’t do.


Behind the terrorist murder of French satirists

January 8, 2015

par8067258What was the motive for the murder of the staff of Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that sometimes mocked Islam and caricatured the prophet Mohammad?

Was it outrage by Muslims at mockery of their religion?  Or was it a tactical move, intended to provoke a general crackdown on Muslims in France and thereby help recruiting for Al Qaeda?  The killings had the earmarks of a professional hit job, so I think the latter is highly likely.

There is an old saying that evil came into the world not with the first murder, nor when the people executed the first murderer, but when the people executed an innocent person because he was of the same tribe as a murderer.  Let’s not succumb to that evil.

It should go without saying, but I say it anyway, that these killers should be hunted down and punished, and that free countries should not back down on their commitment to free speech in the face of violence.


Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked satirists in Paris by Juan Cole on Informed Comment.

Who profits from killing Charlie? by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times Online.

Taboos Against Blasphemy Are Normal by Razib Khan for the Unz Review.

Print the Cartoons, Show the Movie by Peter Beinart for The Atlantic.

In the Wake of Charlie Hebdo, Free Speech Does Not Mean Freedom From Criticism by Jacob Canfield for The Hooded Utilitarian.  [Added 1/9/2015]

Don’t mourn – neutralize by David P. Goldman for Asia Times Online. [Added 1/9/2015]

In the light of Charlie Hebdo, are some lives worth more than others? by Ian Welsh.  [Added 1/9/2015]


Motes, beams and Muslim anger

September 20, 2012

“Thoreau” posted something on the Unqualified Offerings web log that I wish I’d written (not for the first time).

When the subject of “Why they hate us” comes up, it is sometimes observed that the US has meddled in a great many parts of the world, supported a great many dictators, and bombed a great many places, yet the most violent response has largely been from Muslims.  Clearly, there must be something wrong with Muslims.

Well, yes, I am going to disappoint many people by saying that I do wonder if there is something wrong with a group that turns the other cheek less frequently than others.  Turning the other cheek is the only way to have a stable civilization, in the long run.  Perhaps the Muslim world should work on that.

But you know who has an even bigger problem than the people refusing to turn the other cheek?  The people going around striking cheeks in the first place.  If most people turn the other cheek, that doesn’t mean that what we’re doing is OK.  It just means that they are better than us.  Yes, any Muslims who are supporting violence should probably pay more attention to the moral teachings of the prophet Issa.  But you know who else should pay more attention to the moral teachings of the prophet Issa?  Any Americans who think that drone strikes and support for dictators are really just “no big deal.”

Are there problems in the Muslim world?  Of course.  There are splinters in their eyes. But there are beams in ours.  Perhaps we should work on that.

Unqualified Offerings

One of my mother’s favorite sayings, when she was alive, was, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”  I think many Muslims in the present era have a problem not so much with turning the other cheek, which very few people of any religion follow in practice, as with freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  But I think that there is anything wrong with any majority-Muslim society that can be improved by means of invasions or flying killer drone missiles.

Hundreds times more civilians have been killed in majority-Muslim countries by U.S. government action than Americans have been killed by action of Muslim terrorists.  This goes back a long way—the bombardment of Lebanese coastal cities when President Ronald Reagan pulled Marines out of Beirut, the death by malnutrition of Iraqi children under President Bill Clinton’s economic blockade.  We Americans remember and mourn the innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks, but we are not the only ones who remember, mourn and want to get even.

Click on The sermon on the high horse to read Thoreau’s original post in context and with comments.