Apparently, Frank J. at IMAO wrote a tongue-in-cheek post saying, satirically, that we should kill all Arab kids. Then Vilmar at Right Wing Howler quoted it (Google cache here), with further commentary:
"Makes sense to me. After all, if Muslims are raising their little crumb-snatching, curtain climbing, ankle biting rug rats to strap on bombs in order to kill us, it is logically correct to assume that in order to stop that from happening we need to kill all Muslim kids. Starting now."
Then CAIR protested to Vilmar's web host, and asked them to shut down his web site on the grounds that this post, along with others, violated the company's Terms of Service, which (if CAIR is quoting accurately) prohibits hate sites and threatening material. The company complied, leading Captain Ed to write:
"So the people at CAIR have no sense of humor and apparently no knowledge of satire. Jonathan Swift once wrote a powerful political satire titled "A Modest Proposal", in which he suggested that the English eat Irish children to improve the lives of their parents. While Frank J's satire might not appeal to all tastes, it's hardly a serious call to genocide. And as far as a second passage that CAIR quotes from Vilmar's site, readers can easily surmise that Vilmar meant that war was coming to Americans and that they should prepare themselves.
CAIR, which has joined the effort to intimidate airlines into ignoring provocations from Musims, now wants to intimidate the blogosphere into silence. We can blame CAIR for this action, and it certainly reveals them as humorless and autocratic twits, but the real culprit here is HostGator. One would expect a service that hosts blogs to take the First Amendment rights of their clients a little more seriously than this."
Okeydokey. First, IMAO's piece is, of course a joke. More about this later. Second, IMAO wasn't shut down; the site that quoted it was, and it's not at all clear that they were kidding. (And now, of course, we can't check.) Third, as Captain Ed acknowledges, the hosting service does have the right to do this: they're a private company and can set their own rules. The First Amendment is not, in fact, implicated in this case. Fourth, they did set rules, and while it's no longer possible to read through Vilmar's site, I think there's a pretty serious case that the blog qualifies both as threatening and as a hate site. (Example: "Someone explain to me again why these vermin should not be exterminated?" I found that by checking out this Google cache, which has enough posts to give a pretty clear indication of the sort of site we're talking about.)
One of the many, many reasons I have not gone into the web hosting business is because I honestly don't know what I'd do if I were the web server. On the one hand, I'm a Skokie liberal: that is, enough of a First Amendment nut to think that Nazis should be allowed to march through a town with a sizable number of Holocaust survivors. I don't like restrictions on speech, period. On the other hand, I really don't think that anyone ought to be obliged to print anyone else's speech, however vile, unless there's a serious argument that that person couldn't be heard in any other way (e.g., if some one person controlled all the media outlets in the US), or the publisher has made some sort of agreement, implicit or implicit, that restrictions on content would violate. Personally, I'd rather be creating content of my own than trying to decide what to do about hosting a loathsome site like that.
However, one thing about all this is clear, namely: Captain Ed really, really needs to read this post by Amanda before he mentions Jonathan Swift again. In fact, anyone who so much as contemplates comparing anything to Swift's Modest Proposal should read it. You don't get to make those comparisons unless you know at least this much about Swift:
"Jonathan Swift was a f*cking Irishman, you dolts, and he did not want anyone to kill Irish children. This is not difficult. In order for a piece about killing Muslim children to be comparable, the author would have to be a Muslim, and he would have to be writing the piece in protest of the war, and he would have to widely respected in the United States. I can’t think of anyone that would even be in the position to write such a thing right now, but mostly because there’s basically no respect for writers in the halls of power in D.C. right now.
In objective reality terms, lMAO is a site that already supports “pre-emptive” violence against at least some Muslims—the ones in Iraq—who presented no real threat to America. So the weak joke is that they’re just expanding their size of the targeted group of innocent Muslims to kill. Not much of a joke there, of course, but I suppose anyone who thinks the humor in “A Modest Proposal” comes from Swift’s brave willingness to kill children, well, they don’t have much of a sense of humor to begin with and can’t really be expected to generate Teh Funny all on their own."
IMAO's piece is not like Swift at all. It's not funny. It's not really satire. Frank J. is not poking fun at all those silly people who hate Muslims, using their own rhetoric against them to point out where it really leads. He's just pushing his own views a bit farther than (I assume) they actually go. He's like Ann Coulter (on a charitable reading of Coulter): creating a deliberately outrageous and excessive version of himself pour épater les bourgeois, et pour amuser les gens dont le sens de l'humour à été tout perdu dans un accident tragique. Christopher Hitchens, peut-être. Not Jonathan Swift.
And if Captain Ed intends a comparison between Right Wing Howler -- which is, you know, the site that was actually shut down -- and A Modest Proposal, I'd be all ears. From where I sit, it's just a hate site, and a pretty vile one at that.