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February 07, 2006

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"Once again, the West pursued the principle of first turning one cheek, then the other."

Whaaaaaaa?

The blogosphere has been viewing this situation through a single lens: Freedom of speech.

The thing about social freedoms is that if you don't have heath, safety, food, and a decent place to sleep, they don't mean a great deal. Many muslim populations in Europe -- France in particular -- don't have these things. Muslim immigrants in many parts of Europe are third-class citizens. They feel that society is taking unfair advantage of them.

Meanwhile, it appears clear to many muslims that the United States and the west in general is waging both a military and ideological war against the Islamic world. Western religious leaders speak of converting muslims en masse. Bush described the invasion and occupation of Iraq as a crusade. Afghanistan is a hellhole because of wars fought by the US and US proxies.

So given this situation, why is anyone surpised at the strength of the response to these cartoons? They confirm all the biases the muslim world has about the west.

Let me be clear that violence is an unacceptable way for these people to express their discontent. Burning embassies in response to political cartoons is way out of proportion to the offense given, and must be condemned.

However, republishing these cartoons on your blog does not illustrate respect for free speech. It illustrates cluelessness.

Re: However, republishing these cartoons on your blog does not illustrate respect for free speech. It illustrates cluelessness.

That comment illustrates your cluelessness about free speech. Although, of course, you are free to express that view.

I repeat again, Ali’s words: “Meanwhile, the other side doesn't give an inch”. Think about that.

I fail to see any lenses other than free speech involved.

I suppose you *might* be able to argue a public safety angle: That this speech is causing the riots, but that seems a lot more dehumanizing: It's making the rioters passive agents when they're actively making decisions to torch embassies or whatever.

They're human beings, and if they can't take an insult without responding violently, the fault is theirs. If they want to live up to the opinions expressed in the cartoons, that's their decision.

I may very well have missed some points, but that's my current opinion.

BBC is reporting this morning that a total of ten people have been killed in Afghanistan during protests over these idiot cartoons. Are you sure that this is a free speech issue?

I think the issue is that these rioters can't take offense the way adult human beings should.

I heard on NPR this morning that the muslim activist that started publicizing the cartoons throughout the muslim world sent cartoons out that the newspaper never published.

Jim Royal:

Re: BBC is reporting this morning that a total of ten people have been killed in Afghanistan during protests over these idiot cartoons. Are you sure that this is a free speech issue?

Yes, even more so. If the threat of killings forces us to self-censor, we are on a slippery slope.

Yes, even more so. If the threat of killings forces us to self-censor, we are on a slippery slope.

No, this is about populations who are economically oppressed, bombed into the stone age, and are being manipulated both by the east and the west. See the link below.

Muslim Cartoon Controversy: What the Media Isn't Telling You

Saying this is a free speech issue makes it about us. It's not about us.

It is about our free speech if they are demanding we not insult their religion. We must obey their religious rules or, what, they will torch embassies and kill random Danes? And that Is not about our free speech?

No, this is about populations who are economically oppressed, bombed into the stone age, and are being manipulated both by the east and the west.

I fail to see what their misfortunes have to do with this.

I do so laugh when I read of the terrible manipulations of the East and West. If anyone is doing any manipulating it is none other than Muslim Clerics and Islamic Governments themselves, whose cause is so much furthered by propagating the idea that non-muslims are infidels, that the West is against Islam and all that crap. They are racist and discriminatory to an extent that beggars belief, and they abuse their constituents (ordinary Muslims) by continually spouting the same old ignorant bile.

I agree with BronzeDog,

The fact that we can recognize why a group of people perform a given action does not justify that action.

Manipulated those person may have been, but this does not shift accountability away from them.

"Economically oppressed"? And by whom? Why, the West of course!!
Scuse I, but here we have a part of the world swimming in crude oil, and I read it is the West that is keeping these populations opressed and in poverty. If it weren't so unutterably tragic the assertion would be side-splittingly comical. What keeps so many of these people poor and oppressed, and mentally the dark ages is their attachment (not necessarily voluntary) to their incredibly backward, corrupt, power obsessed religious leaders. And, of course, their equally religious, backward, power hungry, corrupt governments.
It's odd how Libya, also supported on a sea of crude oil, manages to allow its population to be educated and not live in material or intellectual poverty, is it not?

I have great respect for almost everything I read on this site; I find it of the highest value.

Unfortunately, I find the analysis of this issue to be extremely lacking. The scope of this issue is far beyond the issues that Skeptico is used to taking on. Social issues dealing with religion, class, globalization, free speech, multiculturalism (etc.) are CLEARLY far more complicated than the author is used to dealing with and require more analysis than the author is giving them.

Like Jim Royal is saying, no analysis is relevant unless it discusses the issue in all its depth. Oversimplification will not help you find truth; it only adds to the confusion. Do yourself and your readers a favor and stick to skepticism -- it's why we read your site to begin with.

Tristan:

Unfortunately, I find your analysis of this issue to be extremely lacking. You have given no reason at all why social issues dealing with religion, class, globalization, free speech, multiculturalism (etc.) are CLEARLY far more complicated than I am used to dealing with and require more analysis than I am giving them. Your statement that I should “stick to skepticism” shows you have no idea what skepticism is. Your lack of any content in your criticism shows the scope of criticizing my posts is CLEARLY far more complicated than you are used to dealing with and require more analysis than you are giving it.

If you want to discus the issue in all its depth yourself, you are free to do so. So far you have added nothing.

The goal of my comment was definitely not to answer the question - it was merely to tell you that your answer was incorrect.

You're telling me that I haven't added anything? How perceptive of you.

I'm telling you that you've subtracted something.

You're fond of restating; I'll do so myself:

...no analysis is relevant unless it discusses the issue in all its depth. Oversimplification will not help you find truth; it only adds to the confusion.

Tristan:

And what have I subtracted, exactly?

And what exactly is incorrect in what I wrote?

By insisting that this is solely a free speech issue, you expose a particularly American parochialism; that the first amendment to the US constitution somehow applies to the entire world. Other cultures believe that other freedoms sometimes trump freedom of speech, and this fact does not make those cultures any less free.

Freedom of speech means little, however, if you do not have the opportunity to use it. The people who have been rioting and who have been killed over these cartoons -- cartoons, of all things! -- are people who cannot exercise that right, or many rights that we take for granted.

These people are not protesting the cartoons. If they were, their anger would be directed toward the newspapers that printed them. Instead, in addition to protesting (and damaging) the Danish embassy, they have protested at US military bases, UN aid offices, the embassies of unrelated countries, offices of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, and so on.

To say that all this is in response to cartoons is like saying that the destruction caused by an exploding bomb is the fault of the match that lit the fuse.

These people are pawns in a fight between western politics and Mecca.

Freedom of the press is indeed a small aspect of this crisis. But to claim that this is solely a free speech issue is to say, "This situation is really all about me."

Jim Royal:

Re: By insisting that this is solely a free speech issue, you expose a particularly American parochialism; that the first amendment to the US constitution somehow applies to the entire world.

Not being American, I think that’s unlikely. In any case I am not saying that. If you read what I wrote instead of blurting out nonsense you would realize I think that OUR freedom of speech should be protected. If they don’t have it in “Islamic” countries, that is their business. When did I say it had to apply there? Go on – show me exactly where I said that. I said we need to stick up for our rights in the West.

However it IS a particular Islamic parochialism for them to think their silly religious rules should apply to those who do not believe their fairy tales. (I DID say that.) Why didn’t you mention that, or is it only the Moslems who are allowed to feel bad?

So you were precisely wrong about that point

Re: Other cultures believe that other freedoms sometimes trump freedom of speech, and this fact does not make those cultures any less free.

I would disagree, but that is irrelevant to whether we value free speech in the West. The film director in The Netherlands was stabbed to death for making Ali’s film. You may think this is OK, I think we should stand up to thugs.

Re: Freedom of speech means little, however, if you do not have the opportunity to use it. The people who have been rioting and who have been killed over these cartoons -- cartoons, of all things! -- are people who cannot exercise that right, or many rights that we take for granted.

Yes, and we will lose these rights if we don’t stand up for them. Why do you find it so hard to see this? It is not our fault in the West if those people don’t have our freedoms. It is not our fault they got killed – they are responsible for their own actions.

Re: Freedom of the press is indeed a small aspect of this crisis. But to claim that this is solely a free speech issue is to say, "This situation is really all about me."

I didn’t say it is solely a free speech issue. It is also an issue of whether religion should be especially protected (it should not). They are protesting the cartoons, but clearly they are being manipulated by their governments too. But that is irrelevant to the issue of how WE should protect our freedoms.


Freedom of speech means little, however, if you do not have the opportunity to use it. The people who have been rioting and who have been killed over these cartoons -- cartoons, of all things! -- are people who cannot exercise that right, or many rights that we take for granted.

They should have those rights. The fact that deaths have occurred over what some people said is one of the things denying them those rights.

These people are not protesting the cartoons. If they were, their anger would be directed toward the newspapers that printed them. Instead, in addition to protesting (and damaging) the Danish embassy, they have protested at US military bases, UN aid offices, the embassies of unrelated countries, offices of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, and so on.

Then why all the emphasis on the cartoons? Besides, I fail to see how that affects anything: The rioters are engaging in violence. That violence is immoral.

I may be wrong in my perception, but it seems to me that talking about their situation and reasons is an attempt to remove the rioters' responsibility for their own actions: It's making excuses for them.

IF the people rioting in the streets of Beirut and other Muslim cities are angry about their lack of rights, or food or freedom, then why are they burning Danish embassies? Why not burn down the palaces of their own oppressive governments?

Or, for that matter, why haven't they gone after their real oppressors and burned down the mosques?

Attempts to blame the outrageous behavior of the rioters on a silly cartoon is the real insult to the Muslim world. This essentially states that Muslims are incapable of self-direction and are completely at the mercy of external forces.

In reality, the issue at hand is whether we will let threats of violence curtail our civil liberties.

The apologists for Muslim rage are those who are willing to give up their liberties in exchange for a questionable promise of security (as long as nothing else upsets the "Muslim street"). The actions of Muslim rioters is their own responsibility - not the responsibility of a Danish cartoonist and not the responsibility of the West.


Prometheus

Would this be happening if there were no religions? Cue theistic apologist vomit.

Great post, and thank you for mentioning Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I discovered her during this controversy and have mentioned her on my own blog as "A New Hero."

For those who want to know more about her, here is her website
https://ayaanhirsiali.web-log.nl/categorie/46044

And if you Goggle her, you will find quite a few articles, including a wonderful piece in the NYTimes Magazine. (And a hilarous response to her from an Islamic website which seems to imply she knows nothing about Islam or the Qur'an.)

As for the idea the Muslims are protesting their conditions and not the cartoons, interesting theory but any proof, any reason to believe they are lying about what they are protesting?

As for whether a 'skeptical' website should be discussing this, even though I agree with your major arguments, I would add one I think is even more powerful. Skeptics have a duty to unmask frauds and explore gullibilities. There are plenty of the latter in the story, but there is also the use of fraud by a major Danish Imam, Abu Laban, in circulating, along with the 12 actual cartoons, three others that were far more offensive and TOTALLY FRADULENT. (One called Mohammed a pedophile, one showed Mohammed with a pig's snout -- this was actually a 'recontextualized' picture of a French entertainer and had nothing to do with Islam -- and one, well, even though i was once a pornographer, I'll just say that it shows a Muslim at prayer, a dog, and what they were doing I will leave to your imagination.

Had those in fact been the cartoons published by Jyllands-Posten, the outrage would have been somewhat justified and the rioting, if not excusable, at least understandable. (And since the rioters probably didn't have subscriptions to Jyllands-Posten or the other papers that reprinted them, many of them probably believed the fradulent ones were authentic.)

But isn't it an interesting study of a certain type of religious mind that the imam, attempting to create outrage over some banal cartoons, circulated ones that were far more insulting?


Arriving late to the party as usual, but it's worth noting that the latest outrage centers around the Straits Times in Singapore reprinting a cartoon suggesting that Muslims are outraged by cartoons...

It has come full circle.

For the sake of simplicity I have closed this post to comments. Please leave any comments you may have on the Intoonfada on my other post.

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