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February 03, 2006

Comments

I missed that you linked to the same signs in the first post--sorry. I didn't click on a Malkin link at first (such an ardent defender of free speech and individual liberty, she is) and then forgot that there was a link I'd deliberately not clicked on.)

Here's an excellent and balanced analysis on the BBC by Magdi Abdelhadi. This bit nails why this is bigger than just bad manners:

The row over the Danish cartoons is yet another dramatic illustration of the huge gap between secular liberal values in the West and the predominantly religious outlook of Middle Eastern societies.

But for Muslims living in Europe it poses anew the same old dilemma about integration and cultural identity.

There is a consensus in the West as to what constitutes offensive material, for example, child pornography, or dead soldiers.

Some of these issues are even regulated by law.

But part of the Western consensus is that poking fun at religious figures is acceptable.

It seems that some Muslim activists living in Europe are determined to redefine the boundaries of that consensus.

Redefining the boundaries is what's at stake here, quite frankly. As the Danish newspaper noted, essentially the Muslim activists have already won, because it's very unlikely that another Danish paper will publish a cartoon depicting Mohammed again in our lifetimes. They'll publish cartoons depicting Christ or Buddah and all sorts of things that will be highly offensive to this or that group, but no images of Mohammed.

That is why the European papers are republishing the cartoons. It's an attempt to save their values from such redefinition efforts. It's a clash...something has to give...the side the blinks first loses something valuable to them. I don't want the European papers to lose this one.

Call it a draw and let's move on.

I've read back over the thread & Von's comments, & I've never seen Von quite so right before.

(And somehow I got what "the enemy" meant the 1st time, w/out updates.)

Christianity's been practiced in lots of wicked ways, which we are right to condemn.

I don't see giving Islam a pass.

"Being offended is part of being exposed to different cultures/ideas is part of rejecting isolationsim is part of being a thinking human being. One need not accept the ideas expressed, but one cannot force the other to change those opinions, especially not through force."

I don't think this really encompasses all the legitimate views of the situation.

While you and I, amongst many others here, if not all of us, believe completely in the right of, say, someone to publish the Sturmer cartoons cited upthread, would you offer as a defense to someone offended by said publication, who was merely using speech in return to register their offense and objection, that being exposed to vile anti-Semitism is "part of being exposed to different cultures/ideas is part of rejecting isolationsim is part of being a thinking human being"?

Remember: we're not talking censorship here; we're merely talking about what is legitimate debate and verbal intercourse. Would you still use the precise words you use above?

Do you respond to Fred Phelps' protests with those words? Would you?

You're asking me if I'm offended by the same things everyone else is offended by, in the end, Gary. Of course not. That's silly.

I would never argue that Fred Phelps should be silenced however. He must deal with the LEGALLY AVAILABLE consequences of his message, but that's where the response should end.

The response to the cartoons in Denmark pushed further than that though. Boycotts and such are fine---have a field day---but no matter how offensive this or that group finds a message, the messenger must be permitted to voice it. Otherwise we all lose something.

I mean what really are the protesters demanding? That no one ever again publish an image of Mohammed. That's unacceptable to me.

"They'll publish cartoons depicting Christ or Buddah and all sorts of things that will be highly offensive to this or that group, but no images of Mohammed."

While I, for one, certainly wouldn't want to live anywhere where visually depicting Mohammed was illegal, I'd point out the obvious, that there's an entirely valid distinction between depicting Mohammed and depicting Buddha or Christ or Moses, which is that the former violates a basic tenent of Islam, whereas there is no such tenent whatever in Buddhism, Christianity or Judaism (although Christianity does have the history of a flare-up of iconoclasm, if you're familiar with Byzantine history).

This hardly is an unimportant point not worth noting.

Anderson:

Christianity's been practiced in lots of wicked ways, which we are right to condemn.

I don't see giving Islam a pass.

I don't know what this is addressed to. Who is giving Islam a "pass" from condemning which or what "wicked ways"? What, specifically, are you saying?

Heck, if you DON'T publish iconic images of Christ at every opportunity, you're liable to upset Bill O'Reilly.

"You're asking me if I'm offended by the same things everyone else is offended by, in the end, Gary. Of course not. That's silly."

I'm sorry, I'm not following what you mean by this.

"I would never argue that Fred Phelps should be silenced however. He must deal with the LEGALLY AVAILABLE consequences of his message, but that's where the response should end."

Okay, but that's not what I asked you. Could you, perhaps, please, directly answer, literally, the question I asked you, if you would be so kind?

"...but no matter how offensive this or that group finds a message, the messenger must be permitted to voice it."

I'm not sure who you're arguing with there, but it certainly isn't me. Is there another comment in this thread that you're directing this comment to, or was it just a general statement of principle, repeating what you've said numerous times now, which I agree with and never said anything to disagree with?

"I mean what really are the protesters demanding?"

A whole bunch of different things, since there are a whole bunch of different protestors with different things in mind and different agendas. Obviously. Treating them as a homogenous lump when they obviously aren't is extremely unhelpful, I suggest. It's like saying "all you lefties are Leninists and want to overthrow the government and we mustn't allow that."

I see you're in a literal mode, Gary...not sure I can have a productive discourse at this stage. I'll try again to answer your question(s), but if it doesn't satisfy you this time, I'll call it quits:

Do you respond to Fred Phelps' protests with those words? Would you?

No. Because his words offend me. But what offends or doesn't offend me is really not the issue here (which is what I tried to illustrate before). What's at issue here is what the appropriate response to what offends me or Muslims is or should be. I'm not saying the Muslims should not be offended. I'm saying they should deal with that offense in acceptable ways. I'd be wholly sympathetic if they had stopped short of demanding an apology. I don't demand an apology from Fred Phelps. I oppose him.

A whole bunch of different things, since there are a whole bunch of different protestors with different things in mind and different agendas. Obviously.

And that's a very good example of a totally unproductive comment.

Is this a joke, or are you genuinely unaware of the history of the Catholic church?

As good a point as this is, it's probably not wise to mix current events with semi-ancient history, unless of course you have some recent antics of the Catholic Church in mind.

I am in agreement with Sebastian's 14 points, too. I just don't think we should get into tribalism of our own. I don't like pointing at a group of strangers and, based on what they are saying , label them as an evil enemy in the sense of taking the words "evil" and "enemy" seriously and not just as rhetoric.
After all, what are the logical consequences of deciding that "they" are the evil enemy?Are we going to kill them? Are we going to attack a country that did not orchestrate the protests under the assumption that they are all Muslims so it doesn't matter if we kill the wrong one? I doubt if that is what von meant but it is the direction a society goes if future plans are going to be based on hating and fearing.
Look, I think von meant to point out that there are indeed people in the world that want to do Westerners harm at least in part becaue they feel threatened by Western values. Well, OK, I already knew that. Maybe he meant that the protests show that there are more of these people than he had previously thought. I don't know . I reacted to his tone which did not seem greatly different than the tone of some of the protesters.
If people move from one culture to another they should be prepared to either adjust to the new culture or go home. I don't have a problem with defending Western values. My problem is with defending Western values by using the same rhetoric as the people we are objecting to.
It is worth thinking about how to defuse Islamic extremism. I mean thinking about it, not just emoting.

"I'm saying they should deal with that offense in acceptable ways."

Thanks for answering. Who are you arguing with?

A whole bunch of different things, since there are a whole bunch of different protestors with different things in mind and different agendas. Obviously.

And that's a very good example of a totally unproductive comment.

It doesn't look that way to me, since I didn't notice you distinguishing, carefully or otherwise, between angry Muslims (or sympathizers) writing angry letters to the newspapers, angry Muslims marching in protest, angry Muslims demanding apologies, angry Muslims calling for boycotts of the newspapers, angry Muslims calling for boycotts of whole countries, angry Muslims calling for boycotts of the entire European Union, angry Muslims calling for the deaths of those involved in the publication of the cartoons, angry Muslims calling for the death of Europeans in general, angry Muslims who have kidnapped (briefly) Europeans, and so on.

These are, nonetheless, vital distinctions, and if you can point to where you made any of these distinctions in your comment of February 03, 2006 at 06:23 PM, or 09:34 AM today, or 09:53 AM, or 10:22 AM, or 10:50 AM, or 11:10 AM, or 11:55 AM, and 12:25 p.m., I'll agree that my response was "totally unproductive." All you did was refer, instead, to "they" and to "both sides," and to "the protestors," and to "the Muslims."

One lump of homogenous, undifferentiated, Muslims.

That's all you've referred to. Please let me know if I'm in error about any of these comments you've posted.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that's not what you were thinking, but it's what you wrote. Why you think it's "totally unproductive" of me to make these distinctions, I have no idea. If you can explain, I look forward to that.

"The cartoons may have been motivated by the intimidation of Danish illustrators, but that political art is motivated by a legitimate grievances doesn't make it any good. People may have legitimate grievances about Ariel Sharon, and yet I don't think much of cartoons that show him eating babies."

Katherine I can't agree with this. The legitimate grievance being complained about by the cartoons is the ability to draw the cartoons. The legitimate grievances against Ariel Sharon have absolutely nothing to do with a cartoon showing him eating babies.

The Ariel Sharon cartoon plugs into the lie that Jews use and eat the blood of children for their Passover feasts. The Danish cartoons plug into the well established truth that an uncomfortably large population of Muslim believers react totally inappropriately to obviously non-idolatric depictions of Muhammad.

[Theological Digression]
I will be the first to admit that my understanding of the intriciacies of Muslim theology (very little) is much narrower than my understanding of the intricacies of Christian theology (can't believe I spent so much time on it). The purpose of not allowing depictions of Muhammad is to avoid ispiring idolatry--which is to say worshiping the image of Muhammad instead of seeking the non-image of God. The depicitions clearly won't lead to idolatry. On a slightly deeper level, my understanding of Christian theology (and I believe the understanding really goes back to pre-Christian Jewish theology) is that the sin of idolatry involves worshiping anything in such a way that it gets in the way of your worship of God. Getting so worked up about the obviously non-idolatric depiction of Muhammad (especially in terms of dishonoring or disrespecting the Prophet) is in fact a species of idolatry because it emphasizes a distracting amount of concern with Muhammad's image and the lack of respect paid to it rather than keeping the focus on God.

[End Theological Digression]

Gary, I'm not comfortable with this formulation:

While I, for one, certainly wouldn't want to live anywhere where visually depicting Mohammed was illegal, I'd point out the obvious, that there's an entirely valid distinction between depicting Mohammed and depicting Buddha or Christ or Moses, which is that the former violates a basic tenent of Islam, whereas there is no such tenent whatever in Buddhism, Christianity or Judaism (although Christianity does have the history of a flare-up of iconoclasm, if you're familiar with Byzantine history).

There are lots of things that Christians in the US say are antithetical to their teachings, which nevertheless we let people do and depict. Expressing their dislike of such things--ok. Threatening violence of those things--not ok.

For example, an uncomfortable number (at least as far as I'm concerned) of Christians believe that homosexuality is wrong and that permitting it in our country is a anti-thetical to their beliefs. I support their right to say nasty things about me because I'm gay, even in nasty ways--I see Mr. Phelps (I won't give him the honorific of Reverend) at least twice a year down here in San Diego. I support my right to disagree with them publically--I already have a poster made up for Gay Pride this year, it says "Mr. Phelps. I've been out of the closet for ten years. Funny that you've been to more Gay Pride events than me". The San Diego Gay band played the wedding march in front of him last year. But to Mr. Phelps (and lots of Christians who aren't as nuts as him) legalizing gay activity is considered a huge affront to their religion. But I don't care, and if you want to live in modern US culture you had best get over it.

But that is exactly the point. The people threatening violence over these cartoons don't want to live in a modern Western culture. If they could, many of them would destroy modern Western culture. The conflict isn't just about troops in Saudi Arabia. It is about a culture that Islamists hate--and not just in the hyperbolic way that I 'hate' pecan ice cream. The jihadists hate our culture in meaning of the word that involves killing us on as regular a basis as they can get away with. The cartoon row is good in that it reminds us of the fact that this isn't all about Israel and Palestinians or invited troops in Saudi Arabia. It is bad in that illustrates that things aren't going to be as easy to fix as getting Israelis and Palestinians to stop killing each other (like that is easy) or removing troops from the land of the Guardians of Mecca.

Gary, you write to Edward (regarding the protestors: "A whole bunch of different things, since there are a whole bunch of different protestors with different things in mind and different agendas. Obviously. Treating them as a homogenous lump when they obviously aren't is extremely unhelpful, I suggest."

The minimum response they desire--an end to depictions of Muhammed is unacceptable. The fact that there are a range of responses beyond the unacceptable demand isn't the point. The minimum demand is unacceptable. The fact that some of the protestors want to enforce that with violence only makes them much worse. The fact that there is a range of people who want to ban Western depictions of Muhammed isn't helpful when the range begins with unacceptable demands.

(This is seen in the boycott response. I don't have a problem with boycotting. But the aim of the boycott is to provoke a Danish government response which I find unacceptable. The minimum goals are unacceptable).

And please note that I said the goals are unacceptable. Mr. Phelps' goal of ending the practice of homosexuality is also unacceptable. He can say what he wants--I'm not going to try to stop him at all--and I can think his goals are unacceptable. But his goals reveal that he is not the kind of man with good goals. I can label him "a man with bad goals". If he organizes or contributes to a group which attempts to violently implement those goals, I will have no problem saying that we should stop him.

I read vons initial post consistent with his updates -- that he was really talking about the more nutball crazy Muslims who resort to mob violence when their sensibilities are offended. They do represent an ideology that is the enemy, and it is important to make that point at this time.

But his critcism of the US State Dept. response was way off-base. That response was intended to be heard by all Muslims, and does von stand by his update that it is the minority that is the enemy? If so, then the US State Dept. response is entirely appropriate since it deals with the larger issue of the ugliness of the cartoons, and the bad but not "enemy" feelings of this majority. Better to show sensibility toward this hurt feeling of the majority, and demonstrate your own humanity and build common ground, than blow the war horns about the "enemy" who are only a minority. There is still plenty of opportunity to also denounce the minority response, without also alienating the majority with whom we want to make peace.

The US has already been led seriously astray by the jingoist warmongers who are running the show in the anti-terrorism fight. So calls to fight the "enemy" and criticism of the measured response by the State Dept are reminders of this excess, whether intended or not by von.

The US has a problem in responding to the excesses of a minority of Muslims. We have a similar nutball element in our own culture -- the Pat Robertsons/Ann Coulters who advocate a similar type of violence against Muslims, and who think of Islam itself as the enemy. And there is plenty of raw emotion on this subject, kindled by memories of victims jumping from burning skyscrapers, that is easily misled into a similar mob violence response to Muslim excesses.

We now have a legacy of violent overreaction to 9/11, resulting in countless human rights abuses. The last thing we need now is for our own crazed elements to misuse, like agent provaceteurs, the mob violence of the Muslim minority as justification for further excesses in response.

Oh, crap. The Danish and Norwegian (?!?!) embassies in Syria have been set aflame.

How much farther is this going to go?

Slarti: it's probably not wise to mix current events with semi-ancient history

Because then we see that "the enemy" Von is screaming at looks, in fact, rather like ourselves? You're right, Slarti. Most unwise.

"Expressing their dislike of such things--ok. Threatening violence of those things--not ok."

Who is arguing with you on that?

"The minimum response they desire--an end to depictions of Muhammed is unacceptable."

It's not at all clear to me from recent news stories -- and I'll have to go look for what I mean that I read last night -- that that's the "minimum response they desire."

The latest I've seen from Denmark was far less: requests that the publishers state that they didn't intend to give offense, requests that they demonstrate "sensitivity to Muslim feelings" in a deliberately unspecified manner. And so on. I'll go see if I can refind what I read.

See here. I suspect you weren't up to date on this.

Because then we see that "the enemy" Von is screaming at looks, in fact, rather like ourselves?

How many hundred years ago? I don't think that anyone's arguing that once upon a time, not all that many generations ago, our culture too was brutal and frequently acted in a way that we now consider unacceptable.

But we can excuse the actions of others because our g'g'great grandfathers indulged in such activities, if you wish.

Ok, I didn't really mean that last part, and I'd hope that Jesurgislac disagrees with it as well.

CaseyL: Oh, crap. The Danish and Norwegian (?!?!) embassies in Syria have been set aflame.

How much farther is this going to go?

It's all about the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, Casey. Didn't you know?

"Oh, crap. The Danish and Norwegian (?!?!) embassies in Syria have been set aflame."

Nonsense. That couldn't happen. Everyone knows that Syria is a "secular" regime, just like Saddam's Iraq was.

(Sorry, I digress onto another point entirely, which I actually don't particularly want to discuss further, having made the point once.)

Incidentally, the Catholic response, from the story I linked:

n its first official comments on the caricatures, the Vatican, while deploring violent protests, said certain forms of criticism represent an "unacceptable provocation."

"The right to freedom of thought and expression ... cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers," the Vatican said in a statement.

Canadian Muslim reaction.

More on Norwegian Muslim reaction.

"The right to freedom of thought and expression ... cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers"

Which doesn't quite go as far as approval of the right of the offended to saw off the heads of the offenders, it should go without saying.

"It's all about the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater, Casey. Didn't you know?"

No, it really seems all about supporting extremists, thugs and people who desire to promote murder and other crimes. It seems more about only being for "Freedom of Speech that I agree with"

Von's post is a good one. It's a good exercise to identify the enemy and their supporters.

Yet more, with a lot of links.

Slarti, would you care to say who and where you are quoting from?

Slarti: Ok, I didn't really mean that last part, and I'd hope that Jesurgislac disagrees with it as well.

Thanks for that.

I have posted about this in my journal - a rather more coherent response to the situation than I was able to manage here.

"No, it really seems all about supporting extremists, thugs and people who desire to promote murder and other crimes."

Absolutely. Look at all the posters here who speak up to agree with that.

Windle: No, it really seems all about supporting extremists, thugs and people who desire to promote murder and other crimes.

You know, you're going to have to learn someday how to distinguish between being angry with a white guy telling "funny" jokes about n*gg*rs, and still not actually wanting to see that same guy dragged into the street and "necklaced". Why not start now?

I know Wretchard is by no means a favorite around these parts, but I found this post interesting.

Everyone knows that Syria is a "secular" regime, just like Saddam's Iraq was.

huh ? what does Syria's government have to do with how its citizens act ?

"huh ? what does Syria's government have to do with how its citizens act ?"

You're kidding, right?

(Answer: only slightly less than with how Iraqi citizens acted under Saddam, for the same reasons.)

You're kidding, right?

no, i'm not.

is there a stance Syria's govt could take w.r.t. religion that would guarantee its citizens never got angry with any Western government over matters of religion/culture ? if not, i don't see how it matters to what degree the government is 'secular' or not (or WTF any of it has to do with Saddam).

or, can you can show that the Syrians are carrying out official govt policy ?

Judging by what I read in this thread, we mostly agree on a distinction between speech advocating violence and actual violence.

Jesurgislac writes about shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. That analogy, though, doesn't quite match the case. People in a theater where there's a fire have a justifiable fear for their lives. People who feel assaulted by cartoons printed in a foreign newspaper, well, it seems to me there's a difference.

Also, shouting "fire" has the very real potential of causing a panic with ensuing accidental injury. The reaction here is not panic, rather it is anger and possibly mob violence.

I've seen many portrayals of the stereotype of an angry Islamic mob (going back to the days of the takeover of the American Embassy in Iran). These events do seem to reinforce the stereotype. To accept Jes's analogy it seems to me I have to allow that people who are hair-trigger angry are equivalent to people with a justifiable fear for their lives.

The Islamic world may have plenty of justifiable anger about real violence but this behavior reflects no credit on anyone. Is it the face of evil, though, as von writes? Is every protester an enemy? I imagine plenty of them are just along for the ride. Still, I find the image this projects very troubling.

There's a Far Side cartoon titled something like "how nature says don't touch." If I recall correctly, it includes drawings of a coiled rattlesnake, a puffer fish with spines sticking out, and a human being carrying a bazooka and wearing an inflatable pool toy and a boot on his head. This kind of "don't mess with me" attitude is reflected not just by the rioting crowds, though -- consider the U.S. policy on first use of nuclear weapons or preemptive war.

We are much too close to the brink for my taste. I'm in favor of taking a step back.

Dave, I can't agree this is a particularly accurate description of, say, France's policy:

It may be that Europe's calculation was more cynical. But it was equally sophisticated. It would pursue a policy of Appeasement which like Chamberlain's was calculated to drive one nuisance against another, pitting America against Islamic fundamentalism in the hopes that one would wear the other out. And the key to Europe's establishing its bona fides with Islamic countries was to make nice at every opportunity; avoid giving offense; be lavish with aid; open to immigration and obstructive to America at every turn.
Nor particularly accurately descriptive of any European country in the last couple of years that I'm familiar with.

I'd suggest that, in fact, France, for instance, and Holland, particularly, have been far more confrontational with their Muslim population than the U.S. has. I missed when the U.S. banned the wearing of religious symbols in schools, or proposed making illegal speaking any language but English on the streets, for example.

And France has, in fact, been an extremely close ally in fighting terrorism with us. There was yet another story just the other day pointing out that the American National Security Advisor (now Stephen Hadley) and his French equivalent speak reguarly multiple times a week, and the French guy flies over every month to confer, for instance.

But I'll try to say something nice about Wretchard: this post you linked wasn't nearly as dumbass as his immediately previous "clash of civilizations" one was, or as many of the posts of his I've read have been.

And I'm a huge fan of William Manchester (when he's not writing about Kennedys, where he grows hagiographic); I heartily recommend "Goodbye, Darkness" as one of the best first-person accounts of being a Marine grunt in the Pacific in WWII to all, and his biography of MacArthur, "American Caesar" is outstandingly superb.

"is there a stance Syria's govt could take w.r.t. religion that would guarantee its citizens never got angry with any Western government over matters of religion/culture ?"

A) There is no free press in Syria; anything printed in the Syrian press or on Syrian radio about this issue is there with the full approval of the Syrian government (although there is considerable travel of Syrians to Lebanon, and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the mideast, and they can get foreign broadcasts if they make an effort and don't mind risking owning illegal shortwave receivers, so word would slowly get around to one degree or another).

B) Riots don't take place in Syria, let alone burning down embassies, without government authorization and approval.

"can you can show that the Syrians are carrying out official govt policy?"

This is like asking for a showing that a public demo in Stalin's Russia was carrying out official government policy. You might want to read up a bit more on Syria, perhaps.

ral: People who feel assaulted by cartoons printed in a foreign newspaper, well, it seems to me there's a difference.

Von began this thread by saying of people who were holding placards in the street - about the equivalent level of assault to "cartoons printed in a foreign newspaper" These guys are the enemy. They are, to use the old word, evil. You can't accommodate them.

The newspaper didn't just "print cartoons": it commissioned and published cartoons which it knew the Danish Muslim community would be bitterly offended by. The intent was to hurt and upset Muslims. Yes, this really is the direct equivalent of yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater - by someone who's standing well out of the way and intends to watch the resultant chaos and disaster with enjoyment.

Holy crap, who ever thought that Hugh Hewitt of all people, might speak some sense?

The cartoons were in bad taste, an unnecessary affront to many of the 1.3 billion Muslims in the world [tendentious silliness about Tom Toles deleted] . . . Of course each of them had the absolute right to publish their screed, and the Danish (and now Norwegian) governments must reply to demands that these papers be punished with a steely refusal to be dictated to as to their culture of free expression and the protection of the vulgar and the stupid.

But don't cheer the vulgar and the stupid.

There are hundreds of thousands of American troops deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe among Muslim peoples who they are trying to befriend. The jihadists like nothing more than evidence that these troops represent a West intent on a new crusade and a new domination of Muslims. Idiot cartoonists make our troops' jobs more difficult, and the jihadists' mission easier.

We rightly condemn and must continue to condemn every anti-Semitic outburst from the president of Iran and every anti-Semitic cartoon published in the hate press of the Middle East. Those condemnations loose some of their force among some of the world if we rush to defend those cartoons that can objectively be seen as anti-Muslim.

The jihadists are the enemy, not the Muslim world. Refusing to recognize how idiot cartoonists can indeed offend Muslims who are not only not Islamofascists but also our allies and even our fellow citizens is to refuse Muslims the right to at least the same level of disgust that Christians display when they denounce stupid NBC series like The Book of Daniel or shows like Will & Grace.

There is no free press in Syria

but there is outside of Syria.

Riots don't take place in Syria, let alone burning down embassies, without government authorization and approval


quite
an assertion.

This is like asking for a showing that a public demo in Stalin's Russia was carrying out official government policy

actually, it's exactly like asking exactly what i asked.

DaveC: I found Wretchard's post interesting as a sort of thought exercise, but not as a description of any policy we or Europe has actually pursued. And, as Gary said, the preceding one was worse. (I don't read him anymore, having stopped seeing the point after about the millionth overwrought and unsubstantiated "we're in a culture clash and liberals have a secret death wish" post.

Syria is, of course, a secular country. It is also a country that is surrounded by rising fundamentalism, and needs ways to let its citizens vent and feel pious without turning their religion on their own government. (Just as Hamas is probably glad to have a distraction from its present confusion.) This is convenient for a lot of odious people. Yet another reason why I don't feel inclined to participate.

"The intent was to hurt and upset Muslims."

Tweet. Mindreading. 10 yards.

Or do you have a cite, Jes, on that "intent"?

I see Von has posted two Updates on this post now. Sometimes I am indeed a seer.

It seems to me most posters here basically agree that a newspaper should have the right to publish offensive images, but also that the cartoons published in this instance really are offensive to Muslim religious sensibilities. The debate seems to be one of emphasis - do you feel more strongly about the right of the newspaper to publish the images, or do you feel more strongly that the decision to publish them was stupid and needlessly provocative?

For the record, my own "visceral reaction" is pretty much the same as Edward's and Von's.

ThirdGorchBro: The debate seems to be one of emphasis - do you feel more strongly about the right of the newspaper to publish the images, or do you feel more strongly that the decision to publish them was stupid and needlessly provocative?

The thing is, it wasn't just an accident that these cartoons offended Muslims. The newspaper that commissioned them and published them did so in full knowledge that pictorial images of Muhammed are offensive to Muslims - that's why they were commissioned. (Read the wiki entry on the topic.) The newspaper editor (according to a Danish blogger) knew damn well that the cartoons would be felt to be insulting by the Danish Muslim community: the best you can say of him is that he didn't intend to cause an international incident.

I'm really chomping at the bit about this, because ordinarily, I'd be coming down on the side of freedom of expression. But I'm doubtful that the social framework which supports freedom of expression ought to be used to defend the right of a newspaper to deliberately and intentionally insult a minority group which suffers discrimination. (As is certainly true of Muslims in Denmark.)

None of that excuses violence, but the majority of the protests against this have in fact been peaceful and non-violent.

"Syria is, of course, a secular country."

I think a formulation along the lines of "it is a country with many secular people and many religious people whose government enforces a great deal of secularism" would be, perhaps, somewhat closer to a better description, but I'll certainly listen to counter-arguments.

It's, of course, unsurprising that Baathist political theory has always been secular, nor that the small, largely Alawite, ruling class would desire to enforce a large degree of secularism.

But that doesn't mean that Syria's people are grossly more "secular" than Iraq was, either in the years since the beginning of the Iraq-Iran War until Saddam's fall, or now.

The reason, cleek, that I brought up Saddam's Iraq is that a) the two countries share the history of Baathist control, albeit under leaders who were strong rivals; and b) plenty of people who never read a word about Iraq before 2002 have continued to erroneously assert, and many still do, that "Iraq was a secular country" under Saddam, which is, shall we say, considerably inaccurate, and most extremely so after late 1980, when Saddam began huge efforts to reconfigure himself as a religious leader and to use Sunni Islam as a rallying point against Shiite Iran, building thousands of Mosques across the land, including the largest in the world, having a Koran inscribed out of what was allegedly his own blood, constantly making Islamic-themed speeches, and so on. Iraqis didn't magically suddenly become religious only after he was removed from power. And Syrian religious expression is similarly repressed, although I certainly grant that there are plenty of genuine Syrian secularists, just as there are a noticable number of Iraqi secularists (though many are, of course, now fleeing); what the actual numbers are in Syria is impossible to determine, given the semi-totalitarian regime.

I'm a bit unclear on the point of your link, Cleek; have you some examples of actions such as these "An official statement late on Saturday warned that law violators would face 'the severest punishments'" happening over the Embassy attacks? Are you familiar with, say, Hama?

Phil: for some reason, I couldn't figure out how to make your italics go away, so in a fit of despair I de-italicized the whole Hewitt quote. I'm sorry to have altered your post in a visible way (as opposed to invisible things like putting in a close italics tag, which I normally assume are fair game, and don't violate the unwritten law against editing comments that are not in some way beyond the pale.)

I, for one, find myself almost entirely in agreement with Sebastian (assuming a benevolent reading on the content of point 14).

I think, Jes, that a far more relevant analogy would be whether I would feel the same way if someone made a piece of art entitled Piss Christ which consisted of a crucifix in a bottle of urine. Pretty clearly offensive, with the intent to offend. It is possible, however, that the artist actually meant for it to provoke thought of some sort on the nature of blasphemy or freedom of speech, etc.

My response to both is and was the same and is pretty well outlined by Sebastian above. I also think such considerations apply to the Toles cartoon, which, for what it is worth, I didn't find offensive and did think made a political statement pretty clearly. Then again, my humour is odd and makes me think sights like http://www.divine-interventions.com/index2.php>this (not work appropriate. Links to sex toys in the shape of religious figures) are funny. The fact that I consider myself a devout and practicing Christian only makes them moreso, for what it is worth.

socratic_me: I think, Jes, that a far more relevant analogy would be whether I would feel the same way if someone made a piece of art entitled Piss Christ which consisted of a crucifix in a bottle of urine.

No, not really. Piss Christ was not, in fact, blasphemous in the same core way as desecrating the Host would be - or as publishing images of Mohammed is.

I'm a bit unclear on the point of your link, Cleek;

you flatly stated that demonstrations do not happen in Sryia without government approval. i linked to one that apparently did not. so, and as i suspected, the citizens of Syria are capable of doing things without government sanction. and that's why i doubt that Syria's government's policy towards religion has all that much to do with today's riots.

still, if we learn tomorrow that the Syrian govt did encourage the riots, i won't be dismayed that i came to the wrong conclusion - though the govt of Syria might be dismayed at the consequences of being caught encouraging an act of aggression against Denmark and Norway.

have you some examples of actions such as these "An official statement late on Saturday warned that law violators would face 'the severest punishments'" happening over the Embassy attacks?

today we don't. that doesn't mean we never will.

hilzoy, I'm just glad you fixed it! I feared for a moment that I had broken ObWi.

socratic me: power to you. As someone who had a sense of humor when I was a devout Christian, I've always felt that there were too few of us. Odd, since I think that one of the things one could learn about God by surveying His creation was that He had an excellent, if somewhat dark and mordant, sense of humor.

Phil: ObWi is hard to break. We have secret inner stores of resilience.

Wow, I can't recall ever being on the same side of an issue as Hewitt before. Nice post by him, though.

Slarti, would you care to say who and where you are quoting from?

Look upthread, or possibly in your own paste buffer.

"Look upthread, or possibly in your own paste buffer."

Thank you for the link. My own paste buffer has long since moved on to dozens of other things. And I made various links "updthread."

"still, if we learn tomorrow that the Syrian govt did encourage the riots"

I have no idea if they did, or if they merely didn't discourage them. But I am aware of no information, as yet, suggesting that they didn't discourage them, and it's certainly not as if you can gather and hold a riot in Syria that catches the Syrian government unawares, or unable to prevent it. Particularly not when they had at least a couple of day's notice (via what's going on in Islamic countries around the world) of what sentiments were.

"today we don't. that doesn't mean we never will."

Certainly.

"though the govt of Syria might be dismayed at the consequences of being caught encouraging an act of aggression against Denmark and Norway."

Unless evidence turns up that the government was busing people in, or something similarly blatant -- which is certainly possible, but hardly necessary, and thus not my first assumption -- I don't think it's likely the EU is going to ratchet up pressure on Syria any further than it already is over Hariri and the aftermath. Moreover, the EU is rather busy dealing with the rest of the Islamic world, and hardly is apt to seek further confrontation. So I doubt, though I could be wrong, that this will wind up being a factor or that there will be "consequences."

I'm really chomping at the bit about this, because ordinarily, I'd be coming down on the side of freedom of expression. But I'm doubtful that the social framework which supports freedom of expression ought to be used to defend the right of a newspaper to deliberately and intentionally insult a minority group which suffers discrimination.

Unless of course, it disparages Americans. That would probably be acceptable.

But I'm doubtful that the social framework which supports freedom of expression ought to be used to defend the right of a newspaper to deliberately and intentionally insult a minority group which suffers discrimination.

The "insult" in question, as you seem to define it, comes by means of not observing a prohibition in religious law. This is not an acceptable standard to hold a free society to. The minority and/or discriminatory position of the religion in question is completely moot.

Windle: Unless of course, it disparages Americans.

Which country were you thinking of where Americans are a minority group that suffer discrimination?

Jonas: The "insult" in question, as you seem to define it, comes by means of not observing a prohibition in religious law. This is not an acceptable standard to hold a free society to.

You know, while I really don't want to threadjack this into yet another abortion debate, or same-sex marriage debate, or, you know, any of the other debates on whether the religious right should be able to impose their beliefs on US law, I have to admit: I like this quote, and I trust you mean to apply it to the Bush administration as well as to groups of protesting Muslims across the world. :-)

Read Akram's Blog.

You know, this blog, which has developed its own character in part because the bloggers who run it will ban anyone of any political persuasion who is gratuitously rude/offensive to anyone else, is an odd place to find a post aggressively defending the right to be gratuitously offensive, and aggressively attacking the right to be offended at such rudeness.

You know, while I really don't want to threadjack this into yet another abortion debate, or same-sex marriage debate, or, you know, any of the other debates on whether the religious right should be able to impose their beliefs on US law, I have to admit: I like this quote, and I trust you mean to apply it to the Bush administration as well as to groups of protesting Muslims across the world. :-)

You trust is not misplaced, Jes, that's precisely what I had in mind. :-)

Windle: "Unless of course, it disparages Americans. That would probably be acceptable."

If I hadn't already declared my distaste for pointless and predictable clashes of stereotypes, I suppose that now would be the moment to trot out some tired old utterly false cliche about the right, and apply it to Windle. But for some reason I can't be bothered.

"You know, while I really don't want to threadjack this into yet another abortion debate, or same-sex marriage debate, or, you know, any of the other debates on whether the religious right should be able to impose their beliefs on US law"

I think there might be some minor distinction to be found between say voting your idea of morality into place and burning down embassies and threatening to kidnap and murder Danes to try to get your idea of morality into place.

I dealt with the question upthread here and we talked at length about religious beliefs and law in the comments here.

You can't just logically suggest that one group wants its ideas to be enacted by governments and so does another group so they are all effectively the same. There really is a difference between the KKK and NAACP.

"If I hadn't already declared my distaste for pointless and predictable clashes of stereotypes"

So you really think this is a false cliche about Jesurgislac? I think my comment is a very accurate description of how Jesurgislac would feel if it was related to Americans.

Would you care to make a wager about the next time America does anything that Jesurgislac will be on the opposign side regardless of the cirumstances?

It's good to know who is on the other side. It's good to know who is not for America, but consistently opposed. Identifying those is not a cliche, but a responsiblity.

>Windle: "Unless of course, it disparages Americans. That would probably be acceptable."<

I thought (as I've just said elsewhere) that probably the US Govt should, given the First Amendment, not have said this. Jack Straw's comments otoh were, given our laws, OK.

OTOH

It's good to know who is on the other side. It's good to know who is not for America, but consistently opposed. Identifying those is not a cliche, but a responsiblity.

Oh come on Windle! Maybe you should tell the FBI and MI5?

Would you care to make a wager about the next time America does anything that Jesurgislac will be on the opposign side regardless of the cirumstances?

Oooh, can I take that wager? :-D When's NASA's next launch?

Sebastian: I think there might be some minor distinction to be found between say voting your idea of morality into place and burning down embassies and threatening to kidnap and murder Danes to try to get your idea of morality into place.

Just as there's some minor distinction to be found between, say, Islamic countries boycotting Danish products and Muslims assembling to protest peacefully, and publishing a list like the Nuremburg Files or even actually murdering doctors who carry out abortions. There are, as you yourself pointed out, valid and invalid ways of trying to protest what you see as immoral. There are violent extremists in all faiths.

"Would you care to make a wager about the next time America does anything that Jesurgislac will be on the opposign side regardless of the cirumstances?"

Anything? Yeah, I'd take that bet.

Oh, look, America just just did something. U.S. Moves to Seize Bankrupt Steel Maker's Pension Plan.

Jes didn't post.

I win.

Helps to define your terms. But you said "anything."

This is too easy.

Oooh, can I take that wager? :-D When's NASA's next launch?

If I may derail slightly for one moment, this does remind me of a fairly bizarre anecdote relating to westerners - inadvertantly - not being culturally sensitive to a religion.

Stu Roosa is a NASA astronaut who went to the moon. He and his wife visited Nepal in 1975:

The couple did not know that some Nepalese believe the spirits of their dead reside on the Moon, making it the equivalent of heaven. Roosa could not understand why a few of the local citizens treated him like a god, nor why they were distressed when he told them he saw no one else on the Moon.

"There are violent extremists in all faiths."

Yes there are. But that is not the same as saying that each faith has equal numbers of violent extremists. Nor is it saying that all violent extremists are equally violent. The really violent extremists in the abortion field have tended to attack doctors and abortion clinics. They have not tended to say burn down (with tacit government permission) the embassy of a country with an independent paper which independently published mildly offensive non-idolatric cartoons. The Muslim extremists we are talking about right now not only have the inappropriate overreaction of Christian anti-abortion bombers, they also have a completely misdirected sense of where to direct their anger. The only exception to that would be Eric Rudolph who is so far as I can tell a solitary exception, rather than the large numbers of mobs spread across the world.

The difference is in the numbers and the intensity. There are breathing members of most faiths. That doesn't make it an interesting observation.

Another development.

BRITAIN’s leading Islamic body yesterday called on Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, to press charges against the extremists behind last week’s inflammatory protests in London over the “blasphemous” cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.

[...]

Bunglawala said: “Lots of innocent Muslims went to the demonstration not realising that it was organised by extremists. They were hijacked by them.”

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the council’s secretary-general, said: “We cannot have double standards, so therefore any breach of the law should be looked at by the police and investigated.

“The cartoons have offended every Muslim and the anger of Muslims has to be lawfully expressed. However, this outrage was used by some to induce Muslims into taking part in terrorist violence. We condemn their actions.”

Just for the hell of it, a Simon Jenkins column for you to disagree with, Sebastian.

The really violent extremists in the abortion field have tended to attack doctors and abortion clinics. They have not tended to say burn down (with tacit government permission) the embassy of a country with an independent paper which independently published mildly offensive non-idolatric cartoons.

Actually, I would say that the really successful violent extremists in the abortion field have tended to, say, inflict horrifying suffering on women in Ghana. Why bother burning down an embassy, when you can destroy the lives of so many women in so many countries by a global gag rule?

However, my point is still the same: it's unjust and foolish to make comparisons between people who shoot doctors with people who assemble for peaceful protest, and claim that therefore anti-choicers are more violent than anti-blasphemers: it is unjust and foolish to make comparisons between a mob that burns down an embassy and a mob assembled outside a clinic to harass women going in; it is unjust and foolish generally to claim that some faiths have more violent extremists than other faiths - especially when you look at the current Bush administration and their record of unjust war and so many dead.

From the Simon Jenkins article:

"It is plain dumb to claim such blasphemy as just a joke concordant with the western way of life. Better claim it as intentionally savage, since that was how it was bound to seem."

If it were blasphemy about Christianity it would win awards. And it wouldn't cause riots. And it wouldn't have triggered the torching of the Danish embassy.

"It is clearly hard for westerners to comprehend the dismay these gestures cause Muslims. The question is not whether Muslims should or should not “grow up” or respect freedom of speech. It is whether we truly want to share a world in peace with those who have values and religious beliefs different from our own."

That isn't sharing. That is letting the irrational beliefs of some Muslims dictate what we can write about. And if we let them dictate what we can write about, they will never grow up and respect freedom of speech.

"The traditional balance between free speech and respect for the feelings of others is evidently becoming harder to sustain. The resulting turbulence can only feed the propaganda of the right to attack or expel immigrants and those of alien culture."

No. This is exactly the same balance between free speech and respect for the feelings of others that created "Piss Christ". The balance has been struck before. The question is whether or not we should give in to demands to strike a new balance with extra special care taken to the sensibilities of certain militant Muslims. If a British commentator was saying this about being sensitive to Christian fundamentalists in the US, he would be laughed at. In the US, it seems to be considered shocking that some people might protest the government funding of such blasphemous art. Having similar people suddenly wake up to the fact that blasphemous art can offend is kind of silly. Either blasphemous art is allowable or it is not. You can't have a rule that blasphemous art is allowable except when it blasphemes Muslims. Or rather you can, but I don't want to live there.

"The best defence of free speech can only be to curb its excess and respect its courtesy."

The problem here is that by the standards of secular interaction with religion in the West, these cartoons were practically banal and certainly not a special excess beyond the bounds of that seen and dealt with by other religions on a daily basis.

"...it is unjust and foolish generally to claim that some faiths have more violent extremists than other faiths...."

That one's trickier. Most Westerners don't realize how commonplace Buddhist monk brawling and violence is, but on the other hand, how many violent extremist Bahai's are there, actually? Proportionally, even?

I wouldn't venture to offer numbers or estimates of violent-extremists-per-religion, but I'm not clear on what basis a claim that numerical distinctions are impossible and can't exist -- which may not be your claim, but which this sounds awfully close to, although perhaps that's simply out of lack of clarity - would rest.

"However, my point is still the same: it's unjust and foolish to make comparisons between people who shoot doctors with people who assemble for peaceful protest, and claim that therefore anti-choicers are more violent than anti-blasphemers: it is unjust and foolish to make comparisons between a mob that burns down an embassy and a mob assembled outside a clinic to harass women going in; it is unjust and foolish generally to claim that some faiths have more violent extremists than other faiths"

Wrong on every count. Numbers matter. One crazy B'Hai extremist wouldn't be the same as ten violent Christian anti-abortion demonstrators isn't the same as multiple mobs of people combined with large organized terrorist factions threatening people and burning down unrelated embassies over cartoons.

I'm not lumping together the peaceful and the non-peaceful Muslim anti-idolators.

I'm noting that the number of non-peaceful Muslim anti-idolators is disturbingly large and noticeably larger than the two handfuls of violent anti-abortion demonstrators. You put together all of the violent anti-abortion demonstrators in the US and you won't even get a large enough number to be noticeable in the mobs that burned the embassies. Add in the Indonesian radicals and the various Palestinian terrorist groups which have jumped on the bandwagon, and you have a noticeable number of people.

Also, noticeably larger.

Also, noticeably angrier.

"it is unjust and foolish to make comparisons between a mob that burns down an embassy and a mob assembled outside a clinic to harass women going in"

You got that right, but I wonder if you know which way the < points in that less-than-greater-than equation.

Heh, Gary thought of the violent B'hai too.

Utterly cheap shot warning!

I'm not going to bother linking -- you can find it yourself, if you like -- and I'm only quoting the headline, via Memeorandum, without bothering to read the text, but here's the Malkin headline/header:

DON'T FORGET: BUY DANISH!
My response: AND PICK ME UP A BLUEBERRY MUFFIN WHILE YOU'RE TAKING ORDERS!

Okay, done now. Thank you for indulging me.

"Heh, Gary thought of the violent B'hai too."

Yeah, but I spelled it right. :-)

I pretty much agree with you on this, Sebastian. There happen to be a significant number of Moslem violent extremists quite enthused about at least making death threats in the world today, and they certainly seem to clearly outnumber their equivalents in other religions, both numerically and proportionally, as do the number of Muslim suicide bombers. They remain a minority of Muslims in every country in the world, so far as I'm aware, and it's tragic for them that this is true, and various things should always be acknowledged when discussing this, I think, such as their minority status, the stance of the majority, and so forth, but pretending this isn't so isn't helpful, and acknowledging it isn't bigotry. (The existence of the fact is, of course, used by anti-Islamic bigots, but that's another thing.)

This is just an observation, but we had this thread where (in my reading) it was complained that the idea of ignoring religious justifications for laws was a problem. It is in the type of event discussed here that we can see a reason why a lot of people think it would far better to keep religious justifications and laws separate.

(lest I be accused of trying to draw some parallels between the protest that von references and any other group that may seek to incorporate its religious beliefs into the US legal code, I am not, I am just trying to suggest that it is the fact that religion can be such a potent catalyst that some want to separate it completely)

Sebastian: If it were blasphemy about Christianity it would win awards.

Please find me, thank you, an example of someone desecrating the Host as an art form and winning awards for it.

Incidently, the result of googling for "violent Baha'i" is this: "No standard web pages containing all your search terms were found."

"Baha'i" and "violence" seems to only turn up reports of violence against Baha'i.

Sebastian: You put together all of the violent anti-abortion demonstrators in the US and you won't even get a large enough number to be noticeable in the mobs that burned the embassies.

You put together number of people killed by these anti-cartoon protests, and you won't even get a large enough number to be noticeable in the pile of bodies killed by Bush re-instituting the global gag rule.

I'm not sure if it was clear to folks unfamiliar with either the Times of London, or British newspapers, by the way, that it's a moderately conservative newspaper and Simon Jenkins is a Conservative.

Here's another Conservative POV from the paper known as the "Torygraph," the primary broadsheet (redundantly: non-tabloid) Conservative British paper:

Why were those Danish flags to hand? Who built up the stockpile so that they could be quickly dragged out right across the Muslim world and burnt where television cameras would come and look? The more you study this story of "spontaneous" Muslim rage, the odder it seems.

[...]

It rather looks as if the anger with which all Muslims are said to be burning needed some pretty determined stoking. Peter Mandelson, who seems to think that his job as European Trade Commissioner entitles him to pronounce on matters of faith and morals, accuses the papers that republished the cartoons of "adding fuel to the flames"; but those flames were lit (literally, as well as figuratively) by well-organised, radical Muslims who wanted other Muslims to get furious. How this network has operated would make a cracking piece of investigative journalism.

[...]

Yet if you look up Qaradawi's pronouncements, you find that he sympathises with the judicial killing of homosexuals, and wants the rejection of dialogue with Jews in favour of "the sword and the rifle". He is very keen on suicide bombing, especially if the people who blow themselves up are children - "we have the children bomb". This is a man for whom a single "day of anger" is surely little different from the other 364 days of the year.

Which leads me to question the extreme tenderness with which so many governments and media outlets in the West treat these outbursts of outrage. It is assumed that Muslims have a common, almost always bristling, view about their faith, which must be respected. Of course it is right that people's deeply held beliefs should be treated courteously, but it is a great mistake - made out of ignorance - to assume that those who shout the loudest are the most representative.

This was the error in the case in Luton, where a schoolgirl's desire to wear the jilbab was upheld in the erroneous belief that this is what Islam demands. In fact, the girl was backed by an extremist group, and most of the other Muslims at the school showed no inclination to dress in full-length gowns like her. It's as if the Muslim world decided that the views of the Rev Ian Paisley represented the whole of authentic Christianity.

There is no reason to doubt that Muslims worry very much about depictions of Mohammed. Like many, chiefly Protestant, Christians, they fear idolatry. But, as I write, I have beside me a learned book about Islamic art and architecture which shows numerous Muslim paintings from Turkey, Persia, Arabia and so on. These depict the Prophet preaching, having visions, being fed by his wet nurse, going on his Night-Journey to heaven, etc. The truth is that in Islam, as in Christianity, not everyone agrees about what is permissible.

Some of these depictions are in Western museums. What will the authorities do if the puritan factions within Islam start calling for them to be removed from display (this call has been made, by the way, about a medieval Christian depiction of the Prophet in Bologna)? Will their feeling of "offence" outweigh the rights of everyone else?

Obviously, in the case of the Danish pictures, there was no danger of idolatry, since the pictures were unflattering. The problem, rather, was insult. But I am a bit confused about why someone like Qaradawi thinks it is insulting to show the Prophet's turban turned into a bomb, as one of the cartoons does. He never stops telling us that Islam commands its followers to blow other people up.

If we take fright whenever extreme Muslims complain, we put more power in their hands. If the Religious Hatred Bill had passed unamended this week, it would have been an open invitation to any Muslim who likes getting angry to try to back his anger with the force of law. Even in its emasculated state, the Bill will still encourage him, thus stirring the ill-feeling its authors say they want to suppress.

And so on. One might or might not want to read the rest, as they say.

"But I am a bit confused about why someone like Qaradawi thinks it is insulting to show the Prophet's turban turned into a bomb, as one of the cartoons does. He never stops telling us that Islam commands its followers to blow other people up."

I should note that I this is a fairly stupid question that strings together two easily separable points.

I'm not presenting any of these links or quotes, it should be clear, as support for any of my own notions. I'm just pointing to some opinions in the debate. We could also look at the Boston Globe tut-tutting as yet another.

Jesu,

and you won't even get a large enough number to be noticeable in the pile of bodies killed by Bush re-instituting the global gag rule.

wahahhaa! So I do my obligatory search for "Bush" on a post that has nothing to do with him, and what do ya know! I find like 3-4 references to him in the comments section, and they are all from you. Pretty frigging sweet!

And how about em' zionists...

Hilzoy,

Jes says:


You put together number of people killed by these anti-cartoon protests, and you won't even get a large enough number to be noticeable in the pile of bodies killed by Bush re-instituting the global gag rule.

Seems Jesurgislac is working to make my points for me.

She has managed to work some Bush hatred into the thread. She has made up something called the global gag rule as she posts whatever crap to the Internet she wants.

Let's not be afraid to call a spade a spade.

"...She has made up something called the global gag rule...."

Without addressing any of Jesurgislac's other points, you really might want to learn to use Google, and check your facts before posting.

You do present a good imitation of a leftist out to make rightwingers look, um, less impressive than some actually are by pretending to be one.

Between Stan LS and Windle, were I on the right, I'd be pretty darned embarassed.

It might be noticed that I don't make these points out of my undying love for Jesurgislac.
I don't think that's the case, but you might consider the advantages of not machine-gunning yourself in the lower extremities quite so consistently.

Although it's always good to have a little comedy on offer.

Gary got to the laugh fest before I did. If only the global gag rule were what my little brother used to call a fig of the imagination.

Wow, ta know this thread is long enough for me to play. I don't deny that I am attracted to a fairly strong version of Islam that may not exist, or be practiced by only a minority of the faithful. But as I said above, the prohibition against idolatry seems almost a commanded nominalism, and has a usefulness in understanding the cultures.

Matt Yglesias, that famous nominalist, once said that freedom has only a utilitarian or cosequentialist value, and no intrinsic value. It could possibly be the case that Muslims don't quite understand the pure Platonic demi-god "FREEDOM of SPEECH" that our Idealist West worships. Maybe they say well sometimes good, sometimes bad, it all depends, and each specific case and circumstance should be judged separately because there are other values also important. Of course, that would be a barbaric position, incomprehensible and destructive of everything of value in the world. Or not.

In any case, I have obtained three books on Islamic Philosophy, including one discussing Greek influence, and may even read them before I decide that Islamic pragmatic nominalism is the inferior system.

It depends what sort of freedom Matt was talking about, I guess, but he's surely wrong about freedom of the will and (more debatably) free speech.

Uhh, hilzoy, I think a nominalist would have some difficulty talking about the freedom of the will. For instance I am not sure it would make any sense to say it would be a good thing to exist. It does or it does not;if it does exist, we would have no choice but to exercise it, etc.

As far as free speech, if we abandon principle and idolatry for pragmatics, we would ask the very specific question as to whether publishing these cartoons provide so much benefit to all that the offense to some is justified. We would not quake in terror that a decision in this case would establish precedents and principles applicable to all cases.

Freedom of speech (freedom of expression) is not Platonic, granted out of some benevolent, non-utilitarian whim.

Most of us can make a distinction between protests (including angry, shouting, fist-shaking, flag-burning protests) and mob violence, incitement to murder, and burning down buildings.

Why? Is it only because the angry-but-not-violent protest is more decorous, less destructive; more (god help me) "politically correct"?

No. It's because protests enable people who are otherwise not being heard, or not being heeded, to express their grievances in a way that does get attention. And the very utilitarian reason for this is to alert The Powers That Be of an issue that enough people feel strongly about to mandate it's being taken up in serious fashion - if TPTB are at all serious about good governance, and truly want to know what's bothering people so they can fix it somehow before the issue festers into large scale alienation, violence, and insurrection.

Large scale protests are a plea, and a warning. They're a signal that the normative political process is breaking down. They're also part of an implicit contract between citizens and TPTB: the citizens march and protest and chant, but do not murder anyone or blow anything up; and TPTB in return take the trouble to find out what the protest is about and, if there are legitimate grievances, fix them.

The protests over the cartoons are entirely outside that model. They short-circuited it by leaping immediately to violence, threats of murder, and demands for the blood of the cartoonists, editors, etc.

This is not a trivial distinction, because it gives the people who committed the offense which triggered the protests no bargaining room, and no incentive to address the issue in normative, legitimate ways.

That's why the apologies rankle. They didn't arise from a mutual exchange of views; they didn't reflect an actual awakening on the part of the people who issued them; they were, simply, coerced out of people by using violence to scare them.

And that's a victory of force, with no meaning beyond the fact of the coercion itself. It led to no greater understanding, no greater comity, no bridge between the opposing sides.

Ya know, human judgement and the process of consensus is a wonderful thing. The Canadians and British and other European nations have codified limits upon speech without descending into total repression. They actually claim to be able to distinguish between Nazis and Conservatives without a meta-rule and as far as I can tell seem to be tolerably functional.

Good Grief, I just remembered arguing this before, as a proxy for Paul Cella.

I wrote the 1:47 before reading CaseyL's

Ummm...

"Who do you need to publish the cartoons?"
"Because you say we can't. No other reason."
"Is that a good reason, and you say I should not take offense?"
"No, take offense. That is why we published them, to offend you. To show that we can and that we will."
"Right. Ok, now I will accept you as a partner in discussion, based on your lack of sensitivity and good will."

Note that I have no particular interest in discussing or defending the protestors, those who threaten, or the violent. Nor do I justify their behavior in any way. It actually disgusts me to have to say it in the context of von's full blown hate post, written for no reason but to provoke and incite. The "exercise of free speech" is not in itself a justification for anything. There should be another purpose, and it is clear that purpose was not admirable.

Here's one thing I haven't seen clarified yet: what do you mean by "enemy", in this context?

If threats of violence are made, or even carried out, by an angry mob, what does it mean to label them as "enemies"? Enemies of what? And what should be done?

It seems to me that this is a law enforcement issue -- mobs are protesting, rioting, making threats and and causing property damage. None of which is to be excused, and anyone breaking any local laws should be apprehended and charged.

But I'm wondering where your rhetoric of "enemies" will logically lead, and just how widely you are applying the term. To me, "enemy" means "one who should be captured or killed on sight", that pre-emptive strikes against such "enemies" are justified, that there is a whole class of people whose existence we are morally bound to extinguish.

Is this what you mean when you label these Muslims in particular as "enemies"? Or are they merely criminals?

That isn't sharing. That is letting the irrational beliefs of some Muslims dictate what we can write about. And if we let them dictate what we can write about, they will never grow up and respect freedom of speech.

I am sorely tempted here to cause a diversion by revisiting the spectacle of bluenosed busybodies across the country petitioning the FCC to impose record-breaking financial penalties on CBS for allowing a boob to appear on their broadcast, but I won't. See also Stern, Howard. Nevertheless, keep it in mind.

Seems Jesurgislac is working to make my points for me.
She has managed to work some Bush hatred into the thread.

Oooh, I'm sorry: Your original wager was concerning Jesurgislac criticizing whatever America does. America. George W. Bush, fortunately or unfortunately, is not "America," despite the fevered dreams of some slavish few.

She has made up something called the global gag rule as she posts whatever crap to the Internet she wants.

At the risk of being impolite, are you retarded? Do you not understand that the gag rule refers to something very specific?

Well if she would have said Global Gag rule that might have stood out late at night, but god forbid someone make a mistake in a quick post.

Typical that noone here has a problem with her accusing Bush of being a killer. It's no surprise that those on the other side would remain silent about comments like that.

This morning another embassy was burned by those who Jesurgislac supports.

Hurrah!

Phil,

Bush does represent America. We voted an he won hands down.

Although, Phil: posting rules warning. Just because someone has it coming...you know the rest.

Between Stan LS and Windle, were I on the right, I'd be pretty darned embarassed.

Hey, Garry. Given birth to any more strawmen, lately?

Jes,

Just as there's some minor distinction to be found between, say, Islamic countries boycotting Danish products and Muslims assembling to protest peacefully, and publishing a list like the Nuremburg Files or even actually murdering doctors who carry out abortions.

But by your logic, promoting abortions while knowing that some think its murder is like screaming "Fire!" in a crowded theater, right?

Hey, next time some skinheads kill gays, I am sure to check your posts to see you claim that gays baited the skinheads by promoting their lifestyle in the media and by pushing for the same sex marriage.

Yelling "Fire!", huh?

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