California’s largest lake is doomed »« Around FtB

Arrest everyone who disagrees with me! Show trials for all!

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)

Comments

  1. says

    I guess any Christian or Jewish faction that attacks Islam as wrong can just go into the shark tank along with the atheists, too.

    No speech, no religion, no non-religious person, is safe with Hoffman shouting for the heads of idiots like Jones. He aids and abets the persecution of Copts, as well as anyone who would really want to open up the many Muslim societies that are presently censorious, unfree regimes.

    Glen Davidson

  2. jenny6833a says

    PZM says, “… and that gang of blithering idiots who assembled that terrible movie slandering Muslims …

    The part of movie I saw dealt with Mohammed, not Islam or Muslims.

    And, was the portrayal of Mohammed historically factual or was it false?

  3. Beatrice says

    Arrest everyone who disagrees with me!

    Banning them from internet forever isn’t good enough for you any more?

  4. says

    It *would* be surprising, if you thought they meant “free” when they talk of free speech. But it is “free” in the sense that conservatives see it: we are free to be as they would have us be and that is it. That’s how they always mean it.

  5. says

    I could not agree more. This is exactly what I have been saying all along too. Some of my readers have chimed in on the wrong side of this as well.

  6. says

    <desperate-attempt-at-false-equivalence>

    Bu…bu…but… Totalitarian censorship is exactly what you Feminazi FTBullies do by mocking those courageous enough to stand up for oppressed men. What about our First Amendment rights?

    </desperate-attempt-at-false-equivalence>

  7. Rodney Nelson says

    For Hoffman free speech is the right to say whatever he permits. Thanks for explaining, R. Joseph.

  8. tbtabby says

    Pastor Jones definitely shouldn’t be arrested, but I would like to give him a taste of his own medicine by publicly putting the Bible on trial for inciting violence and hatred throughout history. We could cite the numerous Bible verses where God himself orders people to wipe out entire cities, killing at the drop of a hat, and bring up the Inquisition, the Salem with trials, and Northers Ireland, and best of all, we can use his trial of the Koran as legal precedent. And when the Bible is found guilty and sentenced to burning, we bring out the Hibachi, and…”Hey Bible, you’re like school in the summertime…NO CLASS!” SICK BURN! Then burgers for everybody.

  9. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    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. – PZ

    Somehow I doubt that the Egyptian authorities checked whether Terry Jones had been arrested before arresting Alber Saber. If they did, then by your logic here (since he hasn’t), they would presumably have refrained from the latter.

    Some of my readers have chimed in on the wrong side of this as well.

    Well your arguments on the issue have been pretty poor. Here’s an example, with my response, just posted on your blog.

    The limits of free speech would then be policed by those who oppose what is being said; if they react violently enough, often enough, then saying anything that offends them is “inciting a riot” because, hey, they should have known it was going to result in violence and therefore we can assume that this was their intent all along. – Ed Brayton

    Crap. No-one is saying we can assume intent – you just made that up. It is quite normal for courts to investigate intent, in order to determine whether a crime has taken place. In the current case, apparently (I haven’t seen them myself) there are statements from the film’s makers or backers that they hoped for a violent reaction. Now if they made and distributed the film with the specific intention of provoking a violent reaction, that may still not be a crime under US law, but I can see no grounds for the assumption that it shouldn’t be.

  10. raven says

    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.

    Saber isn’t even a Moslem runner. He is apparently a Coptic xian who ran out the door.

    Hitting a bit close to home here, aren’t we? I don’t see many Pharyngula meetups happening in Egypt.

  11. raven says

    The film crew lied to the actors. Nothing was said about Islam at all and the Moslem directed remarks were dubbed in afterwards.

    A couple of the actors were interviewed. They are very angry. They were lied to. This also puts them in harm’s way big time. If they were in Egypt by now they would have been torn apart quite literally.

    A few said they were going to sue their former employers for lying to them, putting them in harm’s way, and ruining their reputation. Off the top of my head, sounds like a good idea and they should win.

  12. grumpyoldfart says

    Remember when the Egyptians protested against Mubarak because they wanted free speech? That idea didn’t last long did it?
    `

    I’m guessing they won’t get it back again any time soon.

  13. says

    Nick Gotts wrote:

    No-one is saying we can assume intent – you just made that up. It is quite normal for courts to investigate intent, in order to determine whether a crime has taken place. In the current case, apparently (I haven’t seen them myself) there are statements from the film’s makers or backers that they hoped for a violent reaction. Now if they made and distributed the film with the specific intention of provoking a violent reaction, that may still not be a crime under US law, but I can see no grounds for the assumption that it shouldn’t be.

    Can you point to any legal statute or precedent under which this would be a crime even if they did intend that reaction? It isn’t a crime under US law, even if one could prove the intent. Since it isn’t a crime, there is no point in trying to prove intent (legally, that is; one could still morally judge them for it, of course).

  14. Walton says

    I agree with PZ and Ed. While Terry Jones is a contemptible bigot, and the film was by all accounts drivel, that doesn’t justify censorship.

    As I said on the Atheism+ forums earlier today in the context of a different discussion: when the governing elite use their power to censor speech, it has very often been marginalized groups – worker activists, LGBT people, cultural and religious minorities (including atheists), and others who challenge the interests and values of the privileged class – who have been the targets of censorship. When we start chipping away at free speech, when we entrust the state with the power to silence opinions it thinks harmful or hateful or offensive, it is the powerful and privileged who decide what kind of speech needs to be silenced – and that means that marginalized people, and those with unpopular and radical views, will be the targets. Free speech protects us all. And because of that, we need to be willing to stand up for free speech even for people whose views we despise – because once we chip away at the principle that all opinions are equally protected, we all risk being silenced. (I like this article, by a gay ACLU activist, explaining why the ACLU has stood up for the free speech rights of bigots like the Westboro Baptist Church.)

    And it’s particularly dangerous to silence speech because of the danger that some will react to it with violence. In doing so, we effectively give those willing to threaten violence a veto over speech they dislike.

  15. raven says

    Is there any hope for this whole ME region?

    It looks like they are going backwards most of the time.

    I’ve been in the region a while ago on biz, but not to Egypt ever. So what I know is what I read about.

    1. 40% of Egypt’s large 85 million population and growing rapidly live on $2.00 a day. This is considered the edge of survival.

    2. The Nile no longer reaches the sea. It’s all used for mostly agriculture. Sea water is moving up the delta.

    It looks like they could end up in a Malthusian crisis. These are rare for a lot of reasons. But last time world food prices jumped, there were food riots in Egypt.

  16. Gene says

    @Nick Gotts

    Now if they made and distributed the film with the specific intention of provoking a violent reaction, that may still not be a crime under US law, but I can see no grounds for the assumption that it shouldn’t be.

    I could draw a stick figure and write the name Mohammed (or some variant spelling) under it. That’s blasphemy to some Muslims and enough to get them rioting. In this country, others don’t get to decide what you can or cannot say, or write, or draw. That’s covered by the first amendment. It doesn’t matter why I say or draw or write what I do.

    The false equivalence of saying it’s like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is absurd. In that case, it’s not a culturally learned practice to try to get away from a burning building. Everyone will need to do it to preserve his/her life. Not so with simply feeling insulted/offended. There is no actual necessity to riot and murder when one feels insulted. Just because some people are too immature to know that they can ignore, laugh or hurl insults back does not excuse them of committing murder to mitigate the pain of their wounded pride.

  17. raven says

    raven –

    The actors in the film may well have grounds for a civil suit, but that really has nothing to do with the free speech question.

    Yeah, I know.

    While the film producers might have a legal right to do what they did, they are still reprehensible people for a whole lot of reasons.

    The Arab xian one is on probation for fraud and identity theft right now. These aren’t nice people.

  18. Sastra says

    This post should have had a direct link to Hoffman’s article. That way we could consider his entire argument, weigh it on its merits — and point out where he is partly right, and where he is wrong.

    He writes:

    Yet one wonders if Mr Myers–who also figures in this story–had been approached by NSS agents and told that his act of “desecration” would lead to the loss of life, would have gone through with it. Something tells me that the redoubtable Dr Myers would have relented. Because he knew his was a stunt.

    He’s writing about “crackergate” and might be partially right, here. PZ assumed most Catholics would have shrugged it off (contrary to Donohue’s certainty). He discovered instead that an awful lot of Catholics seemed to think blasphemy causes real, true harm: there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Which made the act of cracker desecration MORE valuable, rather than less. It wasn’t a “stunt.” There were important issues here, vital ones.

    But had the student’s life definitely been on the line, with a credible threat to kill him if PZ went through with it … then the particulars of the situation change. It becomes much more personal. We’re dealing with Webster Cook’s life. PZ probably would have changed strategy — at least till Cook was safe.

    Hoffman’s argument is that the moral reasoning in that THAT situation ought to be extended out to offending Muslims as a group. We don’t know WHO is gonna get it — but someone “undoubtably” will. We’re just not at the point where we can criticize the Muslims like we can criticize the Catholics.

    (Well, of course, turns out Sanal Edamuruku can’t. But in general.)

    I think Hoffman’s argument fails, and ironically Hoffman himself brings up one of the reasons it fails when he tries to lambast his fellow atheists:

    Some (of my critics) have even taken the “What would you expect?” line, as though Mr Jones’s actions necessarily excited the “Muslim animals” and renders him, therefore, innocent. From what tank is that slimy conclusion fished?

    Um … isn’t this “slimy” conclusion fished out of the bottom of your own tanking argument? That we atheists need to be aware of the fact that Muslims are like animals, children who throw fits and kill and are not to be expecting, hoping, attempting, or trying to get them to do anything else? We’re not only supposed to treat Muslims as less mature and capable than we are, but we’re being urged to encourage this backwardness by always taking it into account as a general Islamic principle. Every public action is to be treated like a private action with a known lunatic and a threatened innocent.

    I think he’s wrong. Heckler’s veto doesn’t begin to cover it. Beneath his concern I discern the very contempt for the religious he’s trying to argue against. And we can never, ever ALL be “safe.” It’s perpetual discretion.

    The Catholics didn’t improve because blasphemers were killed and therefore nobody blasphemed in order not to set them off.

  19. says

    If you’re worried about riots, hold the rioters responsible for their own actions. Censorship and blaming the person who says something offensive sends the mob the message that they can censor ideas they don’t like by becoming violent.

    There’s also something insidious in the censorship attempt: It assumes the censors can and will act rationally. If you want to censor “obvious” slander against a religious group, can you count on the censors to distinguish legitimate criticism from slander? From what I’ve seen, there’s no shortage of people who can’t tell the difference. Heck, we’ve got a lot of politicians who think criticism is censorship.

    I can understand well-intentioned censorship, but it seems horribly naive to me. On the scale of individual blogs, forums, and such, it’s workable if you’ve got rational moderators. If you don’t like it, you can still easily go elsewhere to speak. On the scale of governments, hell no.

  20. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Gene,

    In this country, others don’t get to decide what you can or cannot say, or write, or draw. That’s covered by the first amendment. It doesn’t matter why I say or draw or write what I do.

    That is, of course not so: there are laws against incitement to riot. But in any case, supposing this movie is not covered by such a law you are not entitled to assume, as you are doing, that it should not be (given that it appears to have been made with the specific intention of provoking violence). Believe it or not, there are people who do not consider the US constitution to be beyond criticism.

    The false equivalence of saying it’s like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is absurd.

    Since I didn’t draw that equivalence, WTF are you on about?

    The limits of free speech would then be policed by those who oppose what is being said; if they react violently enough, often enough, then saying anything that offends them is “inciting a riot” because, hey, they should have known it was going to result in violence and therefore we can assume that this was their intent all along.

    No-one is saying we can assume intent – you just made that up. It is quite normal for courts to investigate intent, in order to determine whether a crime has taken place. In the current case, apparently (I haven’t seen them myself) there are statements from the film’s makers or backers that they hoped for a violent reaction. Now if they made and distributed the film with the specific intention of provoking a violent reaction, that may still not be a crime under US law, but I can see no grounds for the assumption that it shouldn’t be.

    Can you point to any legal statute or precedent under which this would be a crime even if they did intend that reaction? It isn’t a crime under US law, even if one could prove the intent. Since it isn’t a crime, there is no point in trying to prove intent (legally, that is; one could still morally judge them for it, of course). – Ed Brayton

    Are you actually incapable of reading? It was you who falsely claimed that others were saying or implying that intent could be assumed; I simply pointed out that no-one had said that. I’ve also bolded the last sentence of my response, since you appear to have missed it.

    Sastra: I think you miss the most relevant difference between Crackergate and The Innocence of Muslims: the latter appears to have been made with the specific intention of provoking violence.

  21. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    The folks who made the movie did so with the deliberate intent of being as insulting as possible, and with the full knowledge and intent that said insult would cause rioting and death. They have done the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.

    They worked hard to get their film noticed, and to protect their own identities. It’s internet trolling-for-Jeebus on a god level.

    Still, the rioters are a pack of idiots. For several reasons.

    First, rioting isn’t going to fix the problem. It’s directed against the American government, which isn’t the guilty party, and which would require a kettle of fish to get involved (not that the rioters know that). A team of Muslim assassins could probably be drummed up within the US, and go directly after the film-makers.

    Second, all the fuss is only calling attention to the film. I would never have heard of it, now I’ve seen a few seconds of it (all I could stand). So yay for the free publicity. And yay for demonstrating that Muslims are the folks who go out rioting, not calmly demonstrating—which may have been the film-maker’s point, and probably was their intent. “You’ve been Rickrolled.”

    Third, a little refinement on the Muslim-ness of this mess. Scriptural Islam forbids depiction of Mohammad, because such depiction would lead to him being worshipped like an idol, by Muslims who should only revere Allah. Conversely, many of the rioters are offended at HOW their beloved prophet was depicted, and who will avenge the insult to the one who they worship, at the cost of their own lives.

    The scripturists and the Mohammedans may not be stopping to discuss the issue in the clouds of tear gas, but they are technically at odds, even as they protest the depiction. The film-makers may not have got that far into it, but it works nicely for them.

    A plague on both their houses.

  22. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I agree with PZ and Ed. While Terry Jones is a contemptible bigot, and the film was by all accounts drivel, that doesn’t justify censorship. – Walton

    Well since no-one has called for censorship – i.e. the state having the right to decide in advance whether something should be published – this is irrelevant.

    As for the hackneyed argument that if we prosecute any form of hate speech, freedom of expression will be progressively eroded, the facts simply don’t support the claim. In most of Europe, at least some forms of hate speech can be prosecuted; and while we certainly need to remain vigilant that laws against it are not misused or unduly extended, they really don’t appear to have led to governments suppressing the views of the marginalised. That suppression does take place, but as a function of the grip a small number of media corporations, and their big advertisers, have on the mass media. Arguably, this is less so in Europe than the USA, where the range of views to be found in the mass media is extraordinarily narrow.

  23. brucegee1962 says

    We must think towards the long term here. What is the course of action that will bring the Muslim world, kicking and scraming, into at least the 19th century, if the 20th or 21st are too much to ask?

    Arresting this pastor sends precisely the wrong message — there will always be acts of blasphemy that those who seek to create strife between the East and the West will be able to exploit for their own purposes. The target could just as easily have been PZ, or Jesus and Mo, or any of dozens of other blasphemous sites that we all know and love. In fact, since the people who created these riots don’t seem to have any problem with digging up stuff that’s several years old, they could easily pick one of these targets still.

    I think that the only response that will work in the long run for the West is more and greater acts of blasphemy. Reinforce our embassies, abandon them if we must, and then everyone don’t just draw Mohammed–ridicule him. They can’t keep protesting for ever. Maybe they’ll stop accepting our money, maybe they’ll even stop selling us oil (though I doubt that), but eventually, they’re going to wake up from their escalating toddler-like tantrums and realize that this particular strategy of running around and smashing things isn’t hurting us nearly as much as it’s hurting them, and perhaps they need to try a different tactic.

  24. Amphiox says

    It is an error to think that the film “caused” the riots, any more than the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand “caused” WWI.

    The rioters are targeting the US government because of what the US has done or been perceived to have done to them over the last decade or more. The film is just the spark that finally blew the powderkeg.

  25. says

    Amphiox,

    Absolutely. The Middle East is a powder keg that the West keeps pouring gasoline on, and then everyone points at the spark as the cause of the latest explosion while ignoring the explosives and accelerants. No one goes to bed happy and content with their life, wakes up and sees an editorial cartoon or insulting YouTube clip and magically becomes a violent rioter. People in the Middle East have some serious grievances against the West that may or may not all have merit, but for damned sure those grievances amount to more than “you keep making fun of us, and letting your women wear bikinis, and we hate you for your freedoms!”

  26. raven says

    People in the Middle East have some serious grievances against the West that may or may not all have merit,

    It’s not just the west.

    It’s probably not even mostly the west.

    When they aren’t rioting about something someone in the west did, they are rioting about something internal.

    80-90% of Al Qaida’s victims have been other Moslems. In the Libyan, Egyptian, Iraqi, and Syrian civil wars, it was Moslem against Moslem. Same thing in Pakistan and Aghanistan.

    Don’t overestimate our power and influence in the ME. The US was caught fast asleep when the Egyptians rose against Mubarak and there wasn’t much we could or did do.

  27. says

    raven,

    Thanks for the correction. There’s a tendency to erase all of the internal issues these countries have, while pretending that they are always looking outward and that everything they do is about the West.

  28. Walton says

    Well since no-one has called for censorship – i.e. the state having the right to decide in advance whether something should be published – this is irrelevant.

    That’s an absurdly narrow definition of “censorship” – you’re ignoring the chilling effect. If the state punishes people for expressing particular views, the state does so because it intends to deter people from expressing those views: indeed, that’s the whole point of the exercise. Prosecuting people after the fact for expressing particular views is no less illiberal than censorship by prior restraint.

    As for the hackneyed argument that if we prosecute any form of hate speech, freedom of expression will be progressively eroded, the facts simply don’t support the claim. In most of Europe, at least some forms of hate speech can be prosecuted; and while we certainly need to remain vigilant that laws against it are not misused or unduly extended, they really don’t appear to have led to governments suppressing the views of the marginalised.

    I think you’re wrong about this. Some of the European countries which have criminal laws against hate speech also have laws against blasphemy, for instance (such as Austria’s penal code provision prohibiting “vilification of religious teachings”), although thankfully not all are in active use. Certainly, the European Convention framework, which allows states to criminalize hate speech, also allows states to engage in a great deal of censorship of other speech: the European Court of Human Rights has made clear that states parties can criminalize materials regarded as obscene or indecent (see Handyside v. United Kingdom, S and G v. United Kingdom) and blasphemy (Wingrove v. United Kingdom), for instance. In the UK, obscenity and indecency laws have been used to suppress controversial artwork (R v. Gibson) and the “Little Red Schoolbook” (R v. Handyside), for a start. Not to mention restraints on speech of more recent vintage, such as the UK’s section 127(1)(a) of the Communications Act 2003, which Ophelia wrote about recently (and which was the subject of my masters thesis, by coincidence). Most of this would be unconstitutional in the US – and I think the US has the right idea on that particular issue (if on few others).

    And just look at the way that government control of speech has often been used, for instance, to punish deviation from conservative sexual mores – as with many prosecutions of “obscene” literature (Lady Chatterley’s Lover in England, for instance, and Ulysses in the United States). The ACLU article I linked (which everyone should read) lists some examples of cases in which ACLU lawyers have had to defend the free speech rights of LGBT authors and publishers in the US. Look at the number of prosecutions which were brought against Communists and suspected Communists throughout the capitalist world, and the way in which such prosecutions were used to silence left-wing activism and resistance to the national security state. And so on.

    I’d also point out that hate speech laws have done nothing to halt the growth of the far right in Europe – if anything, the prosecution of far-right leaders like Nick Griffin and Geert Wilders (both of whom I despise) has drawn more attention to their causes, allowed them to paint themselves as martyrs, and made them stronger. Hate speech laws are useless as well as dangerous.

    I understand the temptation to support hate speech laws. The promotion of bigotry does do harm. And (as an immigrants’ rights activist) I loathe the Daily Mail and the anti-immigrant lies it spews with every fibre of my being, for instance. But I would not have the state use violence to silence it. For two reasons. Firstly, because if the state has power to silence the Daily Mail, it has power to silence me, too, should it wish to. Secondly, because I am against the idea of meeting words with violence. I believe in the power of peaceful resistance; in the power of reason and evidence; and in meeting bad ideas with better ideas, not with censorship.

  29. says

    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.” -Martin Niemöller

    My 3rd grade class read this one day and now I cannot forget it’s simple but oft ignored lesson. It is fitting that the man to whom these words are attributed died in 1984 that, too, is a lesson ignored at humanity’s peril.

  30. frankboyd says

    Aannnnd – P.Z.’s showing us that vaunted courage he demonstrated so greatly when the cartoons hit.

    So – we have a rotten movie made by a bunch of christian wahackjobs. This incompetent movie by a bunch of christian whackjobs still exceeds, in terms of standing up to Islamic bullying, anything that has ever come out of this blog.

    Aren’t you guys ashamed? You’re supposed to be the one’s fighting religion, and you’re being outdone by these nincompoops.

  31. anathema says

    @ Menyambal (#25):

    The folks who made the movie did so with the deliberate intent of being as insulting as possible, and with the full knowledge and intent that said insult would cause rioting and death. They have done the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.

    Sastra (#22) has already pointed out that the idea that we should expect Muslims to react violently whenever their faith is derided is rather problematic. Gene (#20) already explained some of the reasons the “fire in a crowded theatre” analogy doesn’t hold true in this case.

  32. Walton says

    I really wish people would stop using the “fire in a crowded theatre” analogy. It’s a paraphrase of something Oliver Wendell Holmes said in Schenck v. United States, a horrendous case in which the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a socialist peace activist for speaking out against the WWI-era military draft. It’s a case that represents exactly why we shouldn’t trust government with the power to censor “dangerous” speech – because that power will be used to suppress opposition to the ruling ideology. It certainly isn’t reasoning that we should be relying on.

    Thankfully, Schenck no longer represents the law – see Brandenburg v. Ohio for the current constitutional position.

  33. frankboyd says

    Walton,

    Why don’t you take your christophobia and shove it? Or your religiophobia?

    Of course, those aren’t real. Only Islamophobia is real, because it allows people like you to pretend you’re doing something other than scurrying for cover.

    This is fucking hilarious. If it were someone like Bill Donahue whining about “anti-Catholic bigotry” you’d all be falling over yourselves to say that there was no such thing. But when the ammo’s live and the stakes are real, you’re all under your beds, praying that it won’t find you.

  34. consciousness razor says

    Aren’t you guys ashamed? You’re supposed to be the one’s [sic] fighting religion, and you’re being outdone by these nincompoops.

    If “fighting religion” is supposed to mean acting like bigoted asshats, no, you suppose wrong. I’m not supposed to do that. I’ll let others like PZ speak for themselves, but for now I’ll second Walton: go fuck yourself.

  35. frankboyd says

    @the idiots who are using the “fire in a crowded theater” cliche – I take it you’d be fine, then, if Bush had rounded up all you lot who were against the Iraq war and sentenced you for life?

    Because that’s where that reeking cliche comes from. It’s a sentence passed down – life sentence – to yiddish speaking socialists for protesting Wilson’s involvement in the first world war.

    Do you feel even more stupid now or is that not possible?

  36. frankboyd says

    Got it c.e. You’re only interested in your little rounds of self-congratulation, never actually standing up to any real matter of religious bullying. Glad to have that sorted.

  37. consciousness razor says

    frankboyd, no one else wants to listen to you talk to your imaginary friends, but do give “c.e.” my regards.

  38. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Walton,

    Well since no-one has called for censorship – i.e. the state having the right to decide in advance whether something should be published – this is irrelevant.

    That’s an absurdly narrow definition of “censorship” – you’re ignoring the chilling effect. If the state punishes people for expressing particular views, the state does so because it intends to deter people from expressing those views: indeed, that’s the whole point of the exercise. Prosecuting people after the fact for expressing particular views is no less illiberal than censorship by prior restraint.

    I disagree; but in any case, the usual definition of “censorship” is precisely what I said it is.

    As far as the UK is concerned, historically the abolition of film censorship and the blasphemy laws, and the successive restriction of what gets prosecuted for obscenity, have coincided with the passage of laws against hate speech, so it seems clear that there is no evidence the latter leads to any general increase in the state’s power to regulate expression. I agree that section 127(1)(a) is excessive, and ought to be repealed, but I have yet to see it used to suppress the views of the marginalised – perhaps you have specific examples?

    I loathe the Daily Mail and the anti-immigrant lies it spews with every fibre of my being, for instance.

    I know you do; but it’s still not you that is on the wrong end of the violence they knowingly stir up.

    I’d also point out that hate speech laws have done nothing to halt the growth of the far right in Europe

    How do you know they haven’t? Perhaps that growth would have been greater without such laws. At the least, a detailed comparative analysis would be necessary to establish either your contention, or the reverse. In the two particular cases you mention, the political fortunes of both Griffin and Wilders are currently in decline. It’s also worth noting that in no European country is the far right as near taking power as it is in the USA, where it has captured one of only two viable political parties.

  39. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Why don’t you take your christophobia and shove it? Or your religiophobia?

    Of course, those aren’t real. – frankboyd

    Sure they’re real; I’ve even seen them on this blog, although not recently. When someone claims or implies that Christianity is a single malevolent entity, bent on global domination, then I’ll certainly accuse them of christophobia. When someone says all religious people are evil or stupid, I’ll certainly attribute religiophobia to them. Now fuck off, shit-for-brains.

  40. anathema says

    @ Frankboyb (#42):

    Except that anti-Catholic bigotry does exist. The KKK was notoriously anti-Catholic. If anti-Catholic bigotry didn’t exist, why do you think it was such a big deal that JFK was the first Catholic to be president of the United States. And yeah, those are just two examples of how anti-Catholic bigotry has existed in American history. There are a lot more examples, especially when you consider all of the religious conflicts in European history. If you can claim that anti-Catholic bigotry doesn’t exist, then it is only because you know nothing about history.

    That being said. anti-Catholic bigotry isn’t really all that much of a problem today. At least not in America. (I don’t feel like I know enough to say whether or not it’s a problem anywhere else.) And if Bill Donohue were to start whining about anti-Catholic bigotry, it would probably be bigotry in name only, given Donohue’s persecution complex and his general cluelessness. So, no, we probably would laugh at him if he were to start whining about anti-Catholic bigotry. But that’s not because there’s no such thing as religious bigotry or because we think bigotry is totally cool. It’s because Donohue is generally an idiot who wouldn’t know bigotry if it bit him in the face.

  41. Walton says

    Why don’t you take your christophobia and shove it? Or your religiophobia?

    Of course, those aren’t real. Only Islamophobia is real, because it allows people like you to pretend you’re doing something other than scurrying for cover.

    Bollocks. The difference is that, both in the US and in the UK (where I live), Muslims are a marginalized and oppressed minority. They are frequently targeted by the xenophobic far right, for whom hatred of Islam is a convenient rhetorical cover for racial prejudice against African and Asian immigrants. Muslims in Western countries are frequently the targets of hate crimes. And the undeclared wars currently being fought around the world by the US have claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Muslim-majority countries, in the name of “fighting terrorism”. (And refugees from many of these wars end up jailed in immigration detention centres in Western countries, and treated as though they were criminals merely for entering the country without papers – though that’s another topic, and one I could expound on at length.)

    None of this is true of Christianity, which is the dominant privileged religion in our culture. You can’t just swap the name of an oppressed group for the name of a privileged group and pretend the two situations are equivalent – you’re ignoring existing inequalities of power and privilege.

  42. says

    Instead of arresting Terry Jones, can we make a special exception that allows us to line up and give him a good kick in the ass?

  43. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    I wrote my earlier comment, # 25, on a very slow computer, while doing laundry and fending off a lap-seeking cat. I didn’t deliberately ignore several comments that were written long after I started.

    I do maintain the “fire” equivalency that I earlier stated, in that this movie is the same as shouting fire in a deliberate attempt to get people to injure themselves and others. One could argue that people do not have to stampede out of a theater, purely on someone’s word, and some have argued that Muslims do not have to riot. I agree that nobody HAS to riot, and I know that most Muslims don’t. But some do riot, as has been seen repeatedly.

    I do not excuse the rioters behavior, but ask what else is to be expected of any group who has strongly identified with their religion—even to the extent that their nation is identified as of that religion—and who, as has been pointed out, has been shit on by everybody else in the world, and who have regularly been told to defend their religion at the cost of their own lives, and who have a strong sense of honor. It’s sad that they are in that condition, but expecting them to simply shrug it all off and be enlightened is ignoring human nature as badly as expecting people to sit calmly in a burning theater.

    I do not class all Muslims into any category, BTW, and refer you to my moniker as a reminder that I have lived and worked with some Muslims. Not that doing so makes me an expert on any Muslims. But I have seen enough to know that cultural behaviors go deep, whether for good or ill, and to expect angry people to rise above their culture is just silly.

    I still say that the movie makers deliberately and with malice aforethought made their video in a deliberate attempt to provoke rioting that they knew was demonstratedly likely to occur. They did all they could to be insulting, and did all they could to avoid any consequences to themselves. They threw a smokebomb into a theater, and they ran out the back door. The few words we have from anyone involved say that they hate Islam.

    What else were they doing, then? Was it a documentary? Was it about the nature of religion? Was it done to illustrate the nature of free speech? When PZ did a cracker, he was making a point. What was the point of this video?

    Yes, people shouldn’t have rioted. No, not all Muslims did riot. Yes, some of the rioters had other grievances. No, the USA wasn’t responsible. Yes, the video makers are responsible. As are the rioters.

    No, I do not know what should be done.

  44. Gene says

    @ Nick Gotts #24

    Since I didn’t draw that equivalence, WTF are you on about?

    Nick, I was speaking generally at that point and not referring to anything you said specifically. I could have made that distinction more clear. Some of your posts mix responses from multiple other posts and are not always absolutely clear.

    I Googled around to see if I could find any laws against inciting a riot. I found a couple of things. Here’s one at the bottm of this post. Looks like for this film to qualify, at least based on my reading of the particular site linked below, it’s necessary to urge others to riot, or riot yourself, to qualify as inciting to riot. The people who made this film did not specifically urge others to riot or riot themselves. They clearly thought others might riot and maybe even hoped or assumed they would. But the film itself nowhere said “Muslim people should go out and riot and kill” (or the rough equivalent). If it had explicitly said something like that, then it might fairly be said to match your criterion. Since it doesn’t, I think you’ve overreached.

    Given the fallout from all of this, why wouldn’t the guy(s) responsible for making the film have been charged with that crime already? Apparently it’s because he(they) didn’t commit a crime.

    Inciting a Riot

  45. consciousness razor says

    It’s sad that they are in that condition, but expecting them to simply shrug it all off and be enlightened is ignoring human nature as badly as expecting people to sit calmly in a burning theater.

    There are a whole lot of non-violent ways of responding angrily without shrugging it off, so please drop that kind of bullshit.

    And shouting that it’s on fire isn’t like burning down a theater: most people are so familiar with this kind of contrived scenario that we should expect them to know the shouter might be lying and trying to manipulate them. It’s no different here, and it’s no excuse.

  46. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Gene,

    I generally attribute everything I quote to the person who said it – I see that in one case, #11, I failed to do this for the first quote from Ed Brayton, so I apologise for that. At the point you made the “shouting fire” point, no-one here had made that analogy – Menyambal is the only person who has done so, and that was after your comment, which is why I queried why you raised the point.

    Like Ed Brayton, you seem to be incapable of reading what I have actually written. I’ll quote it once again:

    Now if they made and distributed the film with the specific intention of provoking a violent reaction, that may still not be a crime under US law, but I can see no grounds for the assumption that it shouldn’t be.

    So, I’m admitting this may not be a crime under US law (not being an American or a student of American law, I don’t know whether it is, and am happy to accept information from those better informed that it isn’t); I am raising the question as to whether, if it isn’t, it should be, and suggesting that at least there is no justification for simply assuming that it shouldn’t.

  47. Gene says

    @Menyambal #53

    One could argue that people do not have to stampede out of a theater, purely on someone’s word

    True. However, if the skeptical people in the theater are wrong, they may end up dead if they take no action.

    As to certain Muslims rioting and murdering, what’s their excuse? Someone hurt their feelings? If they take no action, nothing bad happens to them. That’s why the analogy with the theater does not hold. There is no “better safe than sorry” impetus to riot.

  48. says

    Why the hell are we talking about this here like the video made a single frakking difference at all? It was an excuse. No one spent the entire time since 9/11 ignoring all the bigoted, stupid assed, bullshit people have been posting about Islam, just to pick this one video out of the hat to get pissed off over. I am afraid I have to agree with the MSNBC political talk people on this, it was well coordinated, there was evidence that protests where being pushed for on that day well before the video ever showed up, and it had jack all to do with inciting the riots, other than providing the political theater necessary to push ordinary people out there, to mask the activities of the ones we needed to be worrying about. This wasn’t a trigger, it was a convenient excuse. And, as such, its exposed the gullibility of the common people in both countries, and once more shown the vast stupidity of our own war hawks, who can’t comprehend that both the video and the reaction of, “We need to shoot something!”, are both ***precisely*** the kind of stupid crap that the terrorists are counting on to push for an all out holy war between Islam and the US. They want to be attacked. It creates more hate, and lets them generate more lies, and through that, they think they can create an army. And, they know damn well that we can’t keep spending shit loads of money fighting them, before we run dry, and then they think, and may even be right, that they, and the idiots willing to sell them weapons, will have the advantage.

    Its a war of attrition for them. Make us weaken ourselves, killing people that don’t deserve it, so that, when we don’t have any money, or weapons left, they will have the entire middle east ready to rise up against those that murdered people without cause. That this is exactly the idiot attitude that our own religious fanatics promote, at the slightest bloody provocation, doesn’t matter. Its about religion, and winning is all that matters to fanatics. The number of people dead in the process, they don’t give a fuck about.

  49. says

    Oh, and let’s not forget that these sorts of power-plays are often about LOCAL power. Maybe some of these folks think that there can be an uprising to overthrow the West, but I’m pretty sure most of the folks in charge are just jockeying for political power in their own areas.

  50. says

    Yes, I am sure that is part of it. There are bound to be those banking on the idea that the US will never actually nuke a country, so they can just steal political power in their country, so that the “true Muslims” are running things, and then maintain a low level of, “Isn’t it horrible all the stuff we have to do to you, in order to protect you from the worse things that would happen, if the US was over here instead!”, to keep everyone in line, including, of course, blaming the US, or its allies, or what ever else they can, for some of their own more horrible acts. Need to keep up the hate, so that no one notices that all the bad shit is caused by those on power, not some vast conspiracy to keep them poor, weak and impoverished.

    Yeah, there are a lot of sides to this. Makes me wish sometimes that we actually had bug drones, and invisibility systems, and armor that would take a serious explosive to penetrate. One of the biggest problems with actually fighting them is a) figuring out who the real targets should be, and b) actually taking out only that target, and c) getting out again alive. At this point, we bloody well need a spartan from Halo, or something like Ironman, to deal effectively with the problem, without also creating so called collateral damage, which would just manufacture more nutcases. Even drone strikes are not “accurate” enough to solve the problem, without creating new ones. And, due to the sorts of blatant idiots we have on the right, actually figuring out how to reverse decades of stupidity, double dealing and madness, so that there isn’t anything left to blame the US for, isn’t going to happen either. And, that is the *only* other alternative, to rob them of all their excuses for why *we* are the enemy.

    Sadly, it would also mean doing exactly the thing we can’t afford to, and passing laws to stop hate filled idiocy from making it out there, otherwise we could 100% reverse everything we have, and are still doing, in terms of alliances with lunatics, and all the rest, and they would still have something to point at and say, “See, they haven’t changed at all, I am sure that village that we.. Ooops! I mean ‘mysteriously’ blew up last week was due to them too!”

    But, yeah, in that same category, if you are in Syria, and someone nukes Iran.. Who gives a crap of Iran is glass, as long as it means you gain more power in the process, and more “true warriors” to fight the evil people that did it.

    The right still thinks its dealing with bloody Russia, and imagining that Red Dawn wasn’t a completely idiotic movie. The very idea that a whole region is filled with people that use the same tactics in war that they do to win political races – i.e., lies, slander, libel, manufactured outrage, traps, and pretending to care about what horrible things happened to some other group of people you never gave a crap about either – is not something they can even imagine. Most of them probably actually think that dictators and terrorists are too stupid to do such things, never mind learn them from our televised political campaigns.

  51. says

    I really think there’s a certain amount of cross-cultural miscommunication here, egged on by the propaganda machines of Middle Eastern governments. From my read, a lot of the prostesters could be operating under the assumption that government censorship is taken for granted, and therefore if something shows up on a US website, it’s probably been explicitly approved by whoever is supposed to approve those sorts of things in our government. Of course, we don’t have anything like that in this country, but the propagandists don’t want their people realizing that.

  52. Gene says

    @ Nick Gotts #56
    Yes, Nick, I brought up that point on its own, unrelated to anything anyone else had said on this thread at that point. I’ve been seeing lots of people making that argument other places and I think it’s a flawed analogy. In hindsight, for clarity, it would have been best to make it a separate post, or at least more clearly indicate that it was not related to any of your points.

    Now I’m going to address your point Nick:

    no justification for simply assuming that it shouldn’t.

    The key word here seems to be “assuming.” I may have been assuming that the film was made legally and that it was legal to show it. In and of itself the film does not seem to break any laws. However, I think that YOU were assuming that I was ASSUMING it shouldn’t be illegal. I was not assuming it. I am stating that it shouldn’t be illegal and I have reasons why I think it should remain legal. Others have done a more than adequate job of explaining the first amendment issues.

    I think that my reading comprehension is just fine Nick. You could have said “Gene, I think you missed my point” and reiterated it as you did. I’m not trying to be a tone troll, but a little civility doesn’t hurt, right?

  53. tomh says

    Nick Gotts wrote:

    So, I’m admitting this may not be a crime under US law … I am raising the question as to whether, if it isn’t, it should be, and suggesting that at least there is no justification for simply assuming that it shouldn’t.

    I’m sure enough people have told you that, under US law, there was no crime committed that you accept it. I don’t get why you keep using the phrase that people assume that it shouldn’t be a crime. As I see it, some people are of the opinion that it shouldn’t be a crime to make any sort of video one wants, with any intention whatsoever, even if the intention is to provoke. I’m of this opinion myself, while you seem to be of the opposite opinion. But I don’t think I’m assuming anything, I’m simply expressing my opinion.

  54. yubal says

    One counter intuitive but technically trivial thing about freedom of speech is, that it is freedom of speech and not freedom of thought.

    It means you can say anything you want, you are not even obliged to think about it. Just go ahead and babble whatever comes out of you mouth. If by chance you miss any of the requirements for hate speech, you are good. It still doesn’t have to make sense whatsoever. Anyone gets a shot to babble in public.

    The US of A have the most liberal regulation of freedom of speech, almost none. Go ahead and make your own comparisons between that fact and the stuff you hear in the US media/public.

    I like freedom of speech and am willing to pay the price for it (e.g. T. Jones or G. Beck).

  55. says

    Nick Gotts @ 56:

    So, I’m admitting this may not be a crime under US law (not being an American or a student of American law, I don’t know whether it is, and am happy to accept information from those better informed that it isn’t);

    It isn’t because to make it a crime is against the First Amendment of our Constitution. Here is an easily understandable explanation of Brandenburg v. Ohio, the leading case from our Supreme Court. Basically, governments cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is directed to inciting, and is likely to incite, imminent lawless action. In short, there has to be clear connection in time (and, probably, place) between the speech and the potential violence. If you stand up in front of a crowd of KKK members angry at some specific people and exhort them to kill the n——s, that is possibly a crime. Publishing a video that says the best thing that white people can do is kill the n——s, is not. Publishing a video that makes fun of, insults, denigrates, etc. black people that makes some black people angry enough to go out and kill white people is definitely not a crime. That is the crime of the murderers.

    I am raising the question as to whether, if it isn’t, it should be, and suggesting that at least there is no justification for simply assuming that it shouldn’t.

    [Shrug] It’s our Constitution. We’ve had it for over 200 years. We (mostly) like it and our Founders were smart enough to make it hard (but not too hard) to change it. We appreciate your input into our form of government … exactly as much as you appreciate our input into yours!

  56. says

    Ing:

    I don’t get this personal value of freespeech as an ideal. It isn’t. It’s an armistice agreement.

    I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. We idealized free speech (and the ownership of property and the pursuit of happiness and many other things we idealize) as a contingent result of our history. What else is new? But if others have the right to idealize a religion to the point they claim the right to murder others for merely saying something they don’t like, we certainly have the right to idealize something as harmless to others as the freedom to say something.

    Do not presume to speak for everyone in your nation.

    [Shrug again] If enough Americans disagree, they can change the First Amendment.

  57. kayden says

    Wonder what it will take for Muslims to realize that you cannot kill, riot, or threaten violence just because someone says something mean about your beliefs/prophet/religious icons. And I’m sorry for conflating all Muslims into one group, since I understand that there are Muslims who disagree strongly with the mayhem/threats.

    If I decided to riot or make threats every time someone said something anti-Black or anti-female, I would have no time to do anything else.

    The moderate Muslims need to speak up and condemn their radical brethren for this hooliganism. Anti-Islam activists are not going to sit down and shut up.

    So Hoffman believes that the government has the right to arrest people for exercising their first amendment rights? Is that the type of country he wants to live in?

  58. Amphiox says

    kayden, remember the Rodney King riots?

    It is simplistic to say these riots were caused by insult to the religion anymore than to say the King riots were caused by the beating of Rodney King. These events are merely the triggers for the release of long pent up grievances over a wide variety of things.

    Plus in the ME you have the longstanding practice of local authorities deflecting local anger for local grievances by using foreign powers (ie the US) as scapegoats.

  59. says

    There is no actual necessity to riot and murder when one feels insulted. Just because some people are too immature to know that they can ignore, laugh or hurl insults back does not excuse them of committing murder to mitigate the pain of their wounded pride.

    That’s hardly an accurate description of what is happening. It’s not immaturity that is the problem here, it’s indoctrination through the brainwashing effect of praying 5 times a day for a lifetime, and through the fact that most Muslims rely on clerics to read, translate and interpret the holy texts for them. What you end up with is a lot of people who will jump when they are told to jump.

  60. says

    Basically, governments cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is directed to inciting, and is likely to incite, imminent lawless action. In short, there has to be clear connection in time (and, probably, place) between the speech and the potential violence.

    You know, the thing is, you could probably argue “fire in a theater” in this case. We know there are those using such speech to incite, we know that it will be used as a means to excuse it, etc. To use an example, shouting “guy in mask” in a theater probably wouldn’t have risen to the level of shouting, “Fire!”, until some guy in a mask shot up a theater. In such a context, the “time and place” is variable. Today, it might still incite panic. Next year maybe it wouldn’t. So, in context of terrorism, and the active use of our own speech against us… what is the correct “time” and “place” to deem it dangerous?

    Now, I don’t think that enforcing such a rule, to derail its use by people that are basically running a perpetual theater, and thus making yelling it at all *always* dangerous, matters. They would find some other excuse, written or otherwise, including dragging up prior things (like they have done in the past, holding two or more ‘protests’ in a row, over the same thing, when enough time had passed for people to forget that they already rioted over it). Its also a serious problem as to where you would draw a line. But, no, I don’t think its impossible to argue that, given the “time and place”, as derived from the conditions we are dealing with, that such bloody stupid crap rises to the level of criminal incitement. In some cases, while you might have a hard time proving it, it may even be intentional. After all, our nuts also think that their side is destined to win, and we need to go over their an shoot more people. Intentionally manufacturing a controversy, in order to incite an act of terrorism, is hardly outside their boundaries.

  61. laurentweppe says

    Plus in the ME you have the longstanding practice of local authorities deflecting local anger for local grievances by using foreign powers (ie the US) as scapegoats.

    It’s not specific to the Middle East nor muslim-majority countries: just look at the anti-japanese chinese riots.

  62. Beatrice says

    Plus in the ME you have the longstanding practice of local authorities deflecting local anger for local grievances by using foreign powers (ie the US) as scapegoats.

    It’s not specific to the Middle East nor muslim-majority countries: just look at the anti-japanese chinese riots.

    Just look at any country in the world at any time in history, if we want to be thorough.

  63. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    What you end up with is a lot of people who will jump when they are told to jump. – rorschach

    I haven’t seen any estimates of the total numbers involved in these riots, but my impression is that it’s a couple of orders of magnitude less than those who were involved in the protests against north African dictators last year. There have also been counter-protests. As ever, rorschach, you’re keen to stereotype teh Mooslems.

  64. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    It’s our Constitution. We’ve had it for over 200 years. We (mostly) like it and our Founders were smart enough to make it hard (but not too hard) to change it. We appreciate your input into our form of government … exactly as much as you appreciate our input into yours! – John Pieret

    It takes an extraordinary lack of self-awareness for an American to complain about a foreigner merely expressing an opinion about their form of government. American “input” into other countries’ forms of government has frequently taken rather more coercive forms.

  65. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I don’t get why you keep using the phrase that people assume that it shouldn’t be a crime. – tomh

    Because in most cases, those expressing the opinion that it shouldn’t be don’t bother with anything in the way of an argument: they simply assume that the words “first amendment” end any possible discussion.

  66. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Others have done a more than adequate job of explaining the first amendment issues. – Gene

    Well no, they haven’t. With the exception of Walton (oddly enough, not an American), there’s been very little in the way of argument as to why deliberately provoking violence should be legal, beyond the magic words “first amendment”.

    I think that my reading comprehension is just fine Nick. You could have said “Gene, I think you missed my point” and reiterated it as you did. I’m not trying to be a tone troll

    Evidently you can manage to do so just fine without even trying.

  67. says

    @ Ing 77

    freespeech is an agreement that you put down your gun and I put down mine. Nothing more and nothing less

    Again, I have no idea what that means. Government is the agreement that you put down your gun and I’ll put down mine. Now, we developed the idea of free speech as a way to facilitate our fledgling democratic government (one of the few at the time) but it was not the agreement itself.

    @ Nick Gotts 82

    It takes an extraordinary lack of self-awareness for an American to complain about a foreigner merely expressing an opinion about their form of government. American “input” into other countries’ forms of government has frequently taken rather more coercive forms.

    Who “complained”? I merely pointed out that you are suggesting that we change a part of our Constitution that we’ve long had and we’ll take a foreigner expressing an opinion about our form of government as seriously as you’ll take a foreigner expressing an opinion about your form of government. As to our military interference in other countries, many Americans are painfully aware of it and have opposed it vigorously … something we can do because we have freedom of speech. But, hey! … If you want to see how bad things can really get, just arrange for a US where the military-industrial complex can do what it wants without anyone being able to protest.

    Now, there is an argument that we don’t need to be as absolutist as we are about free speech. There’s no absolute reason we couldn’t have put PZ in jail for insulting religion during Crackergate and still have something resembling a democracy …

  68. Antares42 says

    PZ writes “Terry Jones and his compatriots are idiots”. I assume he means “companions”, or is there a definition of “compatriot” that I, the non-native speaker, am unaware of? One besides “person from / citizen of the same country”?

    Sorry about the interruption.

  69. John Morales says

    [OT]

    Antares42, PZ probably refers to cohorts, not companions, but strictly speaking you are correct.

    (Yes, it’s an irrelevance)

  70. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    John Pieret,

    Who “complained”?

    You did.

    But, hey! … If you want to see how bad things can really get, just arrange for a US where the military-industrial complex can do what it wants without anyone being able to protest.

    I’m wondering how I’d notice the difference in the behaviour of the military-industrial complex.

    Now, there is an argument that we don’t need to be as absolutist as we are about free speech. There’s no absolute reason we couldn’t have put PZ in jail for insulting religion during Crackergate

    Right, there’s simply no way a law could be crafted that would allow Crackergate but not The Innocence of Muslims is there? I mean, PZ was deliberately provoking violence, wasn’t he?

    Oh, wait. No, he wasn’t.

    and still have something resembling a democracy …

    Well, whether you have anything resembling a democracy now, with a constitution that allows extensive gerrymandering and effectively maintains a Democratic-Republican duopoly with both paties completely in hock to big business, and after Guantanamo Bay, the PATRIOT Act, Citizens United, Presidential right to sentence anyone to death without trial…, might be doubted. But as long as the deliberate provocation of violence is legal, the military-industrial complex is effectively constrained, eh?

  71. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Incidentally, John Pieret, your assumption that I would not appreciate or take seriously suggestions for improving the British political system from foreigners is simply false. Whether such a suggestion comes from a compatriot or a foreigner is simply irrelevant: they should be considered purely on their merits.

  72. says

    I mean, PZ was deliberately provoking violence, wasn’t he?

    Go ahead, tell me how we can, legally, tell the difference between “deliberately provoking violence” and doing it “non-deliberately”? After all, PZ provoked many death threats. We have done it by holding that there must be an immanent threat of actual violence. Look up the “Heckler’s Veto.” As I understand it, the “Innocence” video was on the web for over a year before this violence started. Where was the deliberate intention?

    your assumption that I would not appreciate or take seriously suggestions for improving the British political system from foreigners is simply false

    Then your assumption that I wouldn’t is equally false. I merely pointed out that neither of us, as outsiders, can make the changes in the others country.

    whether you have anything resembling a democracy now

    Oh, right! Because Britian is the shinning exemplar of democracy! A pissing match about whose country has the “best” democracy is not a rational use of anyone’s time. But, then again, there hasn’t been much of that on display.

  73. says

    Nick Gotts (formerly KG),Perhaps I am missing something here, but what would be the goal or purpose of a law to limit free speech to prevent someone from making a movie like this? What would it accomplish? Why should a law like that exist?

    I am sure in a perfect world a law could be crafted that would be so limited in scope that it could not be abused or used for things it was not intended. (hard for me to imagine, but anything is possible). but what would be the purpose? Would it stop riots like this? I somehow doubt it, since it pretty clear these riots have only a superficial connection to the video. So what would such a law accomplish?

  74. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    davidsmith,

    Laws of that general kind exist in most democracies, and are not in general grossly abused. They are generally couched in terms of banning speech, writing, films etc. “calculated to incite racial or religious hatred”, or similar, so one might tentatively conclude that their purpose is to prevent racial or religious hatred being incited. Whether they succeed or not is an empirical question, and a difficult one; what I’m objecting to is the automatic assumption that they are a bad idea.

    I do know that members of minorities can find the kinds of expression of racial or religious hatred allowed under US law terrifying. There is, and I agree should be, no right not to be offended. Whether there should be a right not to be deliberately terrified is a more difficult question.

  75. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    John Pieret,

    Go ahead, tell me how we can, legally, tell the difference between “deliberately provoking violence” and doing it “non-deliberately”?

    Gosh, don’t you have courts in the USA? Courts that make decisions all the time about whether an act was deliberate or not, and whether a particular consequence of an act was intended? I hadn’t realised.

    As I understand it, the “Innocence” video was on the web for over a year before this violence started. Where was the deliberate intention?

    You understand wrong: it was apparently first uploaded on 1st July 2012. But if there was no deliberate intention to provoke violence, or no clear evidence of such intention, the video would not fall foul of a law banning the deliberate provocation of violence, would it? The standard of proof would be “beyond reasonable doubt”, as for any criminal offense.

    I merely pointed out that neither of us, as outsiders, can make the changes in the others country.

    That’s simply a lie.

    whether you have anything resembling a democracy now

    Oh, right! Because Britian is the shinning exemplar of democracy!

    *Looks to see where I asserted or implied anything of the sort. Fails to find any such assertion or implication. Concludes that John Pieret is a fucking idiot.*

  76. melody says

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again anytime someone brings up Joseph Hoffman. All that he cares about is remaining relevant. He hasn’t been for some time. I wish everyone would ignore what he has to say.

  77. says

    Nick Gotts (formerly KG), I do not mean to be obtuse but you did not answer the question, you walked around it.

    Laws are at least as dangerous as medical procedures and a basic rule in medicine is if there is risk and zero benefit then it should not be done.

    Any law that restricts free speech has huge risk, what is the benefit?

  78. Ichthyic says

    Any law that restricts free speech has huge risk, what is the benefit?

    really? you’ve never even heard of any of the court cases that have limited free speech, just in the US alone, and the reasons for them?

    google is your friend.

    you have a lot of reading to do.

  79. Ichthyic says

    But, no, I don’t think its impossible to argue that, given the “time and place”, as derived from the conditions we are dealing with, that such bloody stupid crap rises to the level of criminal incitement. In some cases, while you might have a hard time proving it, it may even be intentional.

    In fact, one of the articles I read on HuffPo shortly after the “protests” started said that an interview with the primary funder of the movie had him quoted as saying it indeed was intentional.

    I think I even posted the direct quote over on Ed’s blog, but I didn’t save the article link.

    shouldn’t be too hard to find.

    I too find this kind of thing to be skating the line of incitement.

    it’s certainly worth discussing in comparison with other cases of incitement that have come before the courts.

  80. Ichthyic says

    going back to something Brian X said:

    I really think there’s a certain amount of cross-cultural miscommunication here, egged on by the propaganda machines of Middle Eastern governments. From my read, a lot of the prostesters could be operating under the assumption that government censorship is taken for granted, and therefore if something shows up on a US website, it’s probably been explicitly approved by whoever is supposed to approve those sorts of things in our government. Of course, we don’t have anything like that in this country, but the propagandists don’t want their people realizing that.

    someone on Jerry’s blog noted that they (as of 2 days ago) had not seen any news reports of protests happening IN the US regarding the film.

    I am unsure if this reflects a lack of media interest, a deliberate media blackout, or actually supports the contention you are making here.

    that the reason there are essentially no violent protests in the US is there is no propaganda machine amplifying the “outrage” towards the film.

    OTOH, we did see a small but violent protest in Sydney, Australia.

  81. says

    @ Nick Gotts 93

    Courts that make decisions all the time about whether an act was deliberate or not, and whether a particular consequence of an act was intended

    So, where is the evidence that the filmakers intended to kill US diplomats in Lybia?

    You understand wrong: it was apparently first uploaded on 1st July 2012.

    I believe you are thinking of the Arabic version. The clip in English has, as I understand it, been up for some time. Is there even any evidence that the original filmmakers had anything to do with creating the Arabic version?

    In any event, PZ deliberately “defiled” a page out of the Quran during Crackergate. Such actions sparked riots recently in Pakistan and almost (and may yet) got an 11 year old girl killed. If the picture of what PZ did got noticed in Muslim countries and it sparked riots and violence, should we jail PZ? If not, why not?

    That’s simply a lie.

    That’s offensive to me and my faith in reason. If I go out and set fire to the British consulate, should you be thrown in jail?

    In fact it was not a lie (though I admit the original comment was snide). “We” (as I said in my original comment … you know, the people of the US) have the right to our own form of government as do the British. You can talk at us about it but we have no duty to change it to your liking any more than vice versa.

    Concludes that John Pieret is a fucking idiot.

    And I long ago concluded that anyone who uses that in or as an argument has a bad case of projection.

  82. Ichthyic says

    In any event, PZ deliberately “defiled” a page out of the Quran during Crackergate. Such actions sparked riots recently in Pakistan and almost (and may yet) got an 11 year old girl killed.

    there are many, MANY things that make one example completely incomparable to the next.

    I wonder if you are aware of ANY of them.

    go ahead, put your thinking cap on. I’ll wait a few hours and see if you’ve figured out what they are.

  83. David Marjanović says

    We must think towards the long term here. What is the course of action that will bring the Muslim world, kicking and scraming, into at least the 19th century, if the 20th or 21st are too much to ask?

    Why do you want to shoulder the White Man’s Burden?

    Some of the European countries which have criminal laws against hate speech also have laws against blasphemy, for instance (such as Austria’s penal code provision prohibiting “vilification of religious teachings”)

    Incidentally, no persecution under that paragraph has led to a conviction.

    So – we have a rotten movie made by a bunch of christian wahackjobs. This incompetent movie by a bunch of christian whackjobs still exceeds, in terms of standing up to Islamic bullying, anything that has ever come out of this blog.

    How is that standing up to bullying?

    But, yeah, in that same category, if you are in Syria, and someone nukes Iran.. Who gives a crap of Iran is glass, as long as it means you gain more power in the process, and more “true warriors” to fight the evil people that did it.

    …erm. Iran is one of the most important supporters of Assad. Bad example.

    A pissing match about whose country has the “best” democracy

    what?

    Where did you take that from???

    So, where is the evidence that the filmakers intended to kill US diplomats in Lybia?

    *facepalm* You know full well it doesn’t need to be as specific as that.

    Also, Libya.

    “We” (as I said in my original comment … you know, the people of the US) have the right to our own form of government as do the British.

    What in the fuck makes you think Nick Gotts was presuming to speak on behalf of the United Kingdom, rather than simply as himself?

    You can talk at us about it but we have no duty to change it to your liking any more than vice versa.

    Which is precisely why he only said the matter should be discussed. Stop jumping to silly conclusions.

  84. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    John Pieret,

    So, where is the evidence that the filmakers intended to kill US diplomats in Lybia?

    Prior question: where’s Lybia? Does the US actually have any diplomats there, and were any of them killed?

    Whether the film-makers intended to provoke violence would be for a court to decide, but you don’t have to have had specific victims in mind to be convicted of any offense that I’m aware of.

    I believe you are thinking of the Arabic version. The clip in English has, as I understand it, been up for some time.

    You believe wrong and understand wrong, unless you have a source. Mine is here. Here’s a quote:

    The video was first posted online on 1 July without attracting much attention. It was later picked up by various Arab TV stations, with religious Egyptian TV channel al-Nas’s presenter Sheikh Khalad Abdalla broadcasting scenes on 8 September. A clip from his show, dubbed into Arabic, was posted online and within days had been viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

    Let’s see, so far in one comment you’ve managed to get the name of the country where diplomats were killed, wrong, the date the English version went up wrong, and the date the Arabic version went up wrong. How about you STFU until you actually have some grasp of the basic facts?

    Is there even any evidence that the original filmmakers had anything to do with creating the Arabic version?

    Not that I know of, but Egyptian-born Copts appear to have been involved in making it, and somehow it reached various Arab TV stations. Once that happened, an Arabic version was only a matter of time. Since the film is not a commercial release, a “trailer” has no commercial point, so it looks very much like a case of trolling. Again, it would be for a court to determine whether the makers were culpable.

    If the picture of what PZ did got noticed in Muslim countries and it sparked riots and violence, should we jail PZ? If not, why not?

    No, because he did not do it in order to provoke violence.

    That’s offensive to me and my faith in reason. If I go out and set fire to the British consulate, should you be thrown in jail?

    No, because I did not accuse you of lying in order to provoke violence. Stone me, you’re stupid.

    In fact it was not a lie (though I admit the original comment was snide). “We” (as I said in my original comment … you know, the people of the US) have the right to our own form of government as do the British.

    Another lie. That’s not what you said, nor a reasonable paraphrase thereof.

    And I long ago concluded that anyone who uses that in or as an argument has a bad case of projection.

    Well since you’re an idiot, it’s unsurprising you would conclude something so idiotic.

  85. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Here is a link to a WSJ story that has an account of how the “trailer” reached Arab journalists:

    A user by the name of Sam Bacile posted “Muhammad Movie Trailer” in early July on Google Inc.’s YouTube, where for weeks it appeared to escape notice. Sam Bacile was also the name provided to a reporter by the Washington-based activist who forwarded a link of the video clip to reporters last week, a first step in bringing it to global notice…

    The spark that elevated the video from the Internet’s backwater appears to have been provided by Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-American Coptic activist living in the Washington, D.C., area. Mr. Sadek has been an outspoken anti-Islamic activist in the U.S., where he runs a small group called the National American Coptic Assembly.

    On Sept. 6, Mr. Sadek sent an email to journalists around the world promoting a Sept. 11 event held by Rev. Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who previously sparked deadly protests by burning a copy of the Quran. In the email, Mr. Sadek included a link to the 14-minute YouTube clip.

    In Egypt, journalists translated some of the footage into Arabic and broadcast it.

  86. says

    Ichthyic , You didn’t answer the question either, its a simple question, what is the benefit of a law restricting free speech in the manner that is proposed in this thread. There is plenty of risk as can be found with a quick Google search, (Google is your friend too) of laws restricting free speech being abused.

  87. laurentweppe says

    This incompetent movie by a bunch of christian whackjobs still exceeds, in terms of standing up to Islamic bullying, anything that has ever come out of this blog

    .How is that standing up to bullying?

    It’s like telling a bully that you despise all his relatives up to the 79th degree because they share a common ancestor with him then implying that you will immensely enjoy beating up said relatives, especially those who will not fight back in order to teach him a lesson.

    Iran is one of the most important supporters of Assad. Bad example

    Also if Iran is nuked, the nuclear fallout will fall on everyone’s backyards, even Assad’s

  88. georgelocke says

    I mean, we went around on this before, and he interprets what I wrote as “Hoffman coddles Muslims”.

    Hoffman refers to Coyne, not you, PZ, in characterizing the New Atheist response to him as “Hoffman Coddles Muslims”. The phrase comes from the title of one of Coyne’s posts: http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/04/03/hoffmann-coddles-islam-calls-for-pastor-joness-arrest/ Even so, you criticize him for protecting Islam from criticism, and coddling isn’t such a bad word for that.

    Your offhand jabs are often amusing, often churlish. At least keep them accurate!

  89. georgelocke says

    @davidsmith The purpose of the law is to prevent violence and perhaps outrage. (I wouldn’t support such a law, but its purpose is no mystery.)

  90. says

    “Since that’s simply a lie, I see no need to answer you further.”

    Interesting, you wanted to “discuss” it but avoid the topic. You did not answer the question. unless you meant the purpose is to make people “less afraid”. Its not a lie, you didn’t and still haven’t answered the question. I suspect its because you haven’t actually thought about what a law like that would accomplish.

  91. says

    @georgelocke

    I understand you are not for such a law, but how the hell would any limit to free speech accomplish that? Contrary to the simplistic belief of western media they didn’t riot over a stupid movie and just about everyone here knows it.

  92. Ichthyic says

    I see Davidsmith is in the mode where he refuses to listen to what people are telling him.

    have fun with that, david.

  93. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    davidsmith,

    OK, I’m convinced: you really are so stupid you can’t see that I answered the question. The purposes of such laws are:

    1) To prevent racial or religious hatred being incited.
    2) To prevent people being terrorised.