R. Joseph Hoffman is a flaming authoritarian, about as illiberal as you can get without joining the Tea Party. He’s very, very upset at Terry Jones and that gang of blithering idiots who assembled that terrible movie slandering Muslims, provoking riots in Egypt and Libya. Oh, and also his comrades-in-arms, Jerry Coyne, Eric MacDonald, and me.
I have just one question for PZ: What are you thinking now? God save the First Amendment?
Actually, I suppose he could bothered to read what I wrote on the “work of a group of incompetent fundamentalist Christian assholes pissing on entire cultures”, but that would be too much too ask — R. Joseph Hoffman is very busy raging at the voices in his head. I don’t even know why he bothers to ask what I’m thinking, since it won’t matter what I say, what with his fantasies informing his perceptions. I mean, we went around on this before, and he interprets what I wrote as “Hoffman coddles Muslims”. Go ahead, read what I wrote; you’ll have a very tough time pulling that interpretation out of what I said.
But what do I think of this situation? May reason save the rule of law.
Terry Jones and his compatriots are idiots, but they have a right to say hateful, awful, evil things. I’d say the same is true of the Rev. Phelps, the KKK, the Catholic Church, the Mormons, and R. Joseph Hoffman. I should have the right to say how much I despise them all, and I should also have the right to tune them out and ignore them. I’d actually rather they spoke up and made their positions clear; the threats I get in email don’t trouble me so much as the worry that the ones who’ll actually do something dangerous aren’t so stupid as to open their mouths and announce their intent.
Terry Jones is an intolerant ignoramus, but I don’t worry about him. What bothers me more are the intolerant ignoramuses who riot and murder when they’re offended; I’d rather they went out and made an incompetent propaganda film, for instance. I worry that our president might actually listen when Egypt calls for world-wide censorship, as when the White House explored the idea of having an offensive video removed from youtube (Google said no, fortunately — but they do assist in local censorship efforts).
Decide that a Terry Jones must be silenced, and who is next? I can tell you: atheists. Egypt has arrested Alber Saber for the crime of atheism.
On Wednesday, September 12th, a Muslim friend and neighbor using Saber’s computer reportedly discovered that he was the admin for the Egyptian Athiests Facebook page, which is the largest of several such groups online with over a thousand “likes”. On September 10 the notorious “Innocence of Muslims” had been posted on the site. Over the next two days crowds began to gather outside his house, threatening Saber and his mother.
On Thursday night Saber’s mother called the police, hoping for protection. When the police arrived however, rather than fending the threatening mob outside, they arrested her son.
The charge according to his lawyer and supporters, focuses on videos in which Saber discusses his own Coptic faith or lack thereof. This makes sense as to charge anyone for posting the “Innocence of Muslims” video would set an impossible precedent. Even conservative broadcasters have also shown the video, or sections of it on their shows. It is not yet clear however, which materials will be included in the case against him, which is currently in the hands of the General Prosecutor. The next hearing is expected in four days.
After talking with Saber’s friends it seems likely to me that Egypt’s Islamist leaders are hoping to create a local issue where they can be seen as the tough guys, to distract Egyptians from how the furor in the international arena, in the context of which they seem impotent.
There is no difference between what the Egyptian government has done to this man, and what R. Joseph Hoffman asks the American government to do to Terry Jones:
Arrest him without delay. Deploy the National Guard. Surround the Church.
No. That’s totalitarianism. Free speech isn’t free if you’re only allowed to speak government- and church-approved opinions. It’s surprising how many people cannot comprehend that.
(via Why Evolution Is True)