Tag Archives: free speech

Muslim reaction to Muhammad video highlights free speech disconnect.

24 Sep

I’m not sure where I stand with writing more posts on religion since I decided to stop writing about politics. The problem being that religion and politics are so often mixed, it’s very difficult to separate the two. However, we haven’t seen riots of this scale in the Muslim world since the 2006 Danish cartoon riots and I wanted to write about it.

In situations like these there are inevitably individuals who will attempt to downplay the role of religion in the conflict. Instead they would rather focus on the political aspect of the riots. While there is no doubt that politics was a major factor in fueling the outrage, to try and dismiss the religious aspects is both disingenuous and deceptive. I believe the urge to downplay religion arises from fear and a general unease with discussing religion. In the realm of politics one can at least point to events and statistics, whereas in religion there are no physical facts to take comfort in. It’s much more open, much more susceptible to “well that’s just what I believe.” Ultimately facts are irrelevant in either realm, but at least in politics people go through the motions of acting as if real world facts mattered. In religion it’s “no citations needed.”

So in case you haven’t seen it, the video catalyst for these riots is a really shitty 14 minute film called “The innocence of Muslims.” The production quality is horrible and the acting is even worse. Think 80’s porno acting and you’ll get an idea of the depth of personality portrayed by the characters. According to CBS, as of September 21, 49 people, including a US ambassador have died as a results of the unrest set into motion by the film.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating aspects for me whenever an incident like this occurs are the people who attempt to take a middle ground stance; as if that inherently makes them somehow above the conflict like a wise and rational arbitrator. These people are full of shit and need to get off their high horses. I wish there were a singular word to describe them, but I can’t think of any. Self-righteous for sure, but to me that connotates someone with more fury and passion for their “non-position” position than what I’m trying to convey. The type of individual I have in mind is usually more reserved, attempting to project a calm, stately attitude, but none the less is a complete idiot on the subject at hand.

The type of people I’m envisioning are the ones who say things like “I fully support free speech but… 

“Free speech”

This week’s unfortunate example is U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who stated to the UN “Voices of moderation and calm need to make themselves heard at this time. We all need to speak up in favor of mutual respect and understanding of the values and beliefs of others.” Free speech, like other human rights, is not something that should be had “in moderation.”

If you say something offensive, even with the intent of offending, and then someone who takes offense and then goes out to murders people, you are not at fault; the person murdering people is. To say otherwise is in the same twisted realm of reasoning that would argue that rape victims are complicit in their rapes by dressing provocatively or walking down a dark street at night. No, if you’re not adult enough to control yourself and your reaction to stimuli then you are at fault.

I’m not sure if you watch Game of Thrones (you really should), but there is a quote by George R.R. Martin as spoken through Tyrion Lannister that I feel is relevant to this whole censorship debate:

When people advocate limiting free speech to protect the fragile egos of insecure people who can’t handle criticism it’s censorship, plain and simple. It might be dressed up and repackaged in the guise of “respect” and a general “let’s all hold hands and sing kumbaya” feeling, but at it’s core it remains draconian censorship.

The riots and killings resulting from this obscure piece of shit movie just go to highlight the disconnect between how some in the Muslim world (and the Western one) understand free speech, and how it is understood in the West. People insult science and reason every day in America (politicians are particularly bad offenders), yet I don’t go out and kill people for it. People insult Christianity every day in the West, but Christians here don’t go out and burn things. (Though depending on where you live, you can get death threats and have shit messed up, but those tend to be more isolated incidents as opposed to the thousands of rioters marching on Western embassies around the globe.) The point is, people in the West have learned to just deal with it and ignore it. Someone says something you find offensive? Fuck em, just ignore it and move on with your life. They’re not worth getting worked up over.

What we have happening here is a society (that is unaccustomed to human rights as we conceptualize it) suddenly having to interact with another society’s concept of human rights in a way two societies have never interacted before. Something like this would have been much harder to pull off in a pre-internet world.

Permits, protests, and pepper spray

19 Nov

In the above video you can clearly see a police officer walk up to a group of students who are sitting down, and casually hose them with pepper spray. Unfortunately, this seems to be a common police response to peaceful protesters. Some of the more famous victims include an 84 year old woman, a 19 year old pregnant woman, a priest, and a small group of women who were just standing there before being penned in by police and misted with perfume de fuego.

A common argument I’ve personally seen and heard used to defend the officers is “They are just following orders…” and “the protesters did not have permission to be there.” Since when did the Nuremberg defense excuse someone from their behavior? Secondly, requiring “permission” to protest defeats the whole point of protesting. No shit we don’t have your permission to protest you, we’re protesting specifically because of you!

State and local governments have long been employing various tactics to crack down on dissent. Let’s not be coy here people. Bloomberg didn’t really send in the storm troopers to zuccotti park because he was concerned for the health and safety of the protesters occupying it. No, he wanted them gone and just needed some bullshit excuse since expressly crushing a protest because you don’t like the protesters is bad press.

No, permits and requiring permission from the authorities before you protest violates the freedom of assembly. Some might argue that permits and permission are needed so business as usual isn’t disrupted. Well what if the point IS to disrupt business as usual? What if the point IS to bring the whole system to a screeching halt? To make people be inconvenienced? What? No? We can’t have our protest in the first place? I’m sorry, you seem to be missing the point of the first amendment. It’s not there to protect people you agree with, it’s there to protect those you disagree with, no matter how fiercely you disagree with them.

Lastly, I just have to wonder about the contrast to how the police are treating the OWS protesters and the Tea Party.

The OWSers tend to be more liberal.

The Tea Partiers tend to be very conservative.

The OWSers show up with drums and tents.

The Tea Partiers show up with guns.

The OWSers protest the deregulated banks and corporations that destroyed the world economy and doomed my generation to a life of wage slavery, debt, and unemployment.

The Tea Partiers protest the half-assed regulation of the above mentioned banks and corporations along with universal healthcare.

The OWSers are a grass roots movement with no leaders.

The Tea Partiers are bank rolled by some of the largest corporations in the country.

The police do nothing to the Tea Partiers.

The police protect and serve the shit out of the OWSers.

I really have to wonder, how would everyone who is defending the police brutality respond if instead of liberals, the police were crushing the Tea Party? I bet they would be singing a different tune…

Islam is a religion, not a race.

15 Oct

One of the most dangerous notions threatening free speech today is the notion that Islam is not just a religion, but a race. I call bullshit. I call it big time. Just last month six people in the UK were arrested for burning a Koran. Why? “Inciting racial hatred.” Just the other day in France, another person was also arrested for destroying a Koran. Why? “Inciting racial hatred.”

Let’s not fool ourselves. The Muslims that called the police on these men were insulted; their poor little feelings were hurt. Normally, in Islamic countries, they could march down to the offending person’s house as an angry mob, drag him into the street, and stone him to death for blasphemy. Unfortunately western countries are not as forward thinking as Islamic countries, and blasphemy is not a crime because of a little something called free speech.

So what is a poor Muslim to do? Their feelings were hurt! Justice must be done! I know! After that whole WWII thing, Europe’s been super sensitive about race! Jews are a race and religion, so let’s claim to be a race like them!

Presto, there you have it. The Muslims have figured out how to exploit race laws in order to enforce their draconian views on free speech and blasphemy. The sad thing is that this wouldn’t work if the people and politicians of Europe had the balls to call bullshit. Unfortunately they’re too afraid of being attacked by angry mobs burning things, since that’s apparently what happens when a cartoonist, an author, or some bloke with a camera says anything remotely disrespectful of their religion of peace.

You know what a Muslim looks like? Here are a few pictures of Muslims:

You don’t understand free speech!

12 Jul

A minute ago I learned on the BBC international news broadcast that a court in Russia has ordered a group of artists to pay a fine and face possible jail time. Their crime? They did an art exhibit on censorship which included pictures of Mickey Mouses’ head superimposed on Jesus’ body. They were found guilty of “inciting religious hatred” and the exhibit on censorship was censored. I feel like I could explode right now. They had some orthodox clown on the radio saying how he supports freedom of speech, BUT, you can’t insult other people. That’s not fucking freedom of speech!!!!! No! You DO NOT support freedom of speech you tyrannical asshole! Freedom of speech means people can say whatever they want (no matter how offensive) as long as they are not infringing on other’s rights! If I wanted to paint a homosexual orgy painting with all the major religious figures engaging in sodomy, then I can draw it! It is my right!

“Inciting religious hatred” is like imprisoning a rape victim because her short skirt was “inciting lust”! The artists have the right to draw those paintings! They are not criminals! If a bunch of orthodox nut cases start rioting, then THEY are the criminals. They are the ones out in the streets breaking property and hurting people, not the artists exercising their freedom of speech. Look, there are not many things in this world that are black and white issues, but free speech is one of them. Either you support it or you don’t. Either you support the right of other people to offend you or you do not. It is the foundation upon which progress is built. I have a sick feeling most people don’t support this radical idea of free speech. Fine, take it away, watch the world delve back into the dark ages. Perhaps when enough people have suffered, when enough blood has been shed, perhaps then you’ll finally understand the importance of free speech and why generations before us died to protect it.

Dissent is not hate speech

13 Jun

A common way religious factions try and dismiss Atheists around the United States is to simply call their views hate speech. Not only are Atheists views not “hate speech”, but the supremely ironic thing is that often these very same religious factions spout actual “hate speech”.

Atheists: “We are citizens too and we want a voice at the table.” Hate speech?

Religious factions: “God hates fags and homosexuality is a sin. Gays will BURN in HELL!” Not hate speech?

Atheists: “You don’t need god to be good.” Hate speech?

Religious factions: “Without following our holy book you cannont possibly have a moral foundation, therefore all non-believers are immoral scum.” Not hate speech?

Atheists: “We are all born free and equal, with no debts or chains.” Hate speech?

Religious factions: “Everyone is born a sinner and most continue on in life as filthy sinners. You should be disgusted with yourself and ashamed. Only we have the formula for becoming clean.” Not hate speech?

I could go on, but you get the idea. Atheists are not the ones threatening and degrading other people, yet we get slapped with the label of “hate speech” in an attempt to silence our voice.

Religious billboards are everywhere. So are religious bumper-stickers and fish. Lots of people wear crosses around their necks or have them dangling from their rear view mirrors. Religious radio stations flood the air waves, there are plenty of religious shows on TV, even full time religious channels. Religious books permeate the grocery store shelves. The religious fill the halls of government on all levels, boldly and proudly spouting their beliefs in Iron Age desert gods. The fact that religion has a privileged place in American society is self-evident, yet when Atheists try to be included in the society we are shot down. No, our message of independence and freedom from fear, reliance on reason, the intrinsic value of human life, human rights, and responsibility for one’s actions are dismissed as hate speech.

Islam is in the dark ages.

31 May

Before you read this any further, ask yourself: Will I change my views if the evidence suggests otherwise? If no, then you might as well leave.

I am going to present some facts about Islam, then give you my conclusion at the end.

Islam. The very name means “submission”. Unlike in Judaism or Christianity, the relationship between god and worshiper is master/slave. You submit to Allah’s will.

Women are inferior to men in Islam:

2:223 Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye willQur’an (4:11) – (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females” (see also verse 4:176).

Qur’an (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.”

Bukhari (6:301)“[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’  They replied in the affirmative.  He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.’

Bukhari (6:301) – continued – “[Muhammad said] ‘Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religion.'” Allah has made women deficient in the practice of their religion as well, by giving them menstrual cycles.

Tabari Vol 9, Number 1754“Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves.” From Muhammad’s ‘Farewell Sermon’.

(More verses here)

Women do not need to be present at their marriage for their fathers or brothers to marry them away.

Women often do not get to choose who and when they will be married.

They must submit to their husband’s sexual desires whenever he wills. (See 2: 223)

In Saudi Arabia, where Islam is applied to the letter, women are not allowed to leave the house without a male relative escorting them. They are not allowed to drive cars. They are not allowed to be anywhere unless they are being supervised by a man.

An-Nisa verse 34: “Men are the maintainers of women because God has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as God has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely God is High, Great”

Two words: Honor Killings

This is such an important issue in Islam today. The United Nations Population Fund estimates that around 5,000 women are brutally murdered each year by male relatives in an attempt to wash away some shame, usually the shame of the woman being raped. I cannot overstress the importance of this issue. I could write several blog posts on it, but the Middle East Forum did an interesting study here, with statistics and explanations. Some would argue that this has nothing to do with Islam, the evidence says otherwise.

Attacks on Free speech

Islam has a long history of threats, violence, and murder perpetrated against anyone who dare criticize it.  Salman Rushdie, Theo van Gogh, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, just to name a few resent people. Why is it only Islam seems to threaten and kill people over free speech? Why did the Vatican not issue a death warrant on Dan Brown? Why were there not riots in the streets by angry Catholics over The DaVinci Code? Why do Muslims en masse feel they need to riot, destroy buildings, burn books, and kill people over words or cartoons?

Fact: Pakistan shut down Facebook, youtube, and other internet sites over “Draw Muhammad Day”, an exercise in free speech created as a response to death threats for drawing a cartoon.

Fact: 9/11 was carried out expressly for religions reasons. Not for political reasons, not for economic reasons, religious reasons. It was a one way ticket to heaven.

Fact: Islamic countries score very poorly, as a whole, on the Human Development Index.

Fact: Muhammad was a pedophile.

In Islam, Muhammad is infallible. He sets up exact proscriptions on how to live, how to treat women, and what is permissible and what is forbidden. By doing this Islam has sealed itself in the world view of the 7th century Arabian desert.

My conclusion: All this considered, I see Islam as backwards and disgusting. It subjugates women, and violates human rights. Without undergoing its own enlightenment, as the West did, Islam truly is stuck in the dark ages. Unfortunately, people with this medieval mentality now have access to 21st century technology and weapons, developed by the West, with which they  use to wage holy war.

Am I saying Western culture is far superior? Yes and no. My culture has plenty of problems. It is far from perfect and there are many different ways to do things, which is fine. However, Islam has far more serious problems concerning basic human rights.

“Oh but GP, who are you to say that their culture is inferior?” The idea of basic human rights was developed in the West as a product of our combined experiences. We had gone through an enlightenment, where we freed our society from the absolutist shackles of religion, and began to experiment with how to create a better, more just world. The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights were one of the first great answers to that question. Even by the 18th century people in the West began to see that some practices were more conducive to human flourishing than others.  The violation of these practices and the horrendous slaughter of the 20th century only further compounded the importance of these rights. Thus the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was  developed. Human rights, if respected and adhered to, improve the lives of everyone, regardless of nationality, race, or religion.

To argue against human rights is to condemn generations of people in Islamic countries to lives of suffering, poverty, disease, and war. Don’t misunderstand me. The goal is not to eliminate Islam, merely to accelerate it’s enlightenment. Christianity and Judaism were not eliminated by the European enlightenment, and nor will Islam be. What matters is that they be lifted up out of the dark ages in order to free their men and women, and end the violence.

How do we do this? Violence is not the answer. We will not speed up an enlightenment through bombs or guns. This will only harden their ignorance and hatred towards us. We must speed it up through education. Where does education pay the most returns? Women. Educated women will be better able to stand up for their rights. Educated women will educate their children, who will then educate their children in return. It’s exponential. It will take some time, but it is the only way. If we do nothing, we can only expect to see more suicide bombers, more honor killings, more misery.

May 20th, Draw Muhammad

20 May

May 2oth is Draw Muhammad Day! Will you stand up and exercise your freedom of speech? Or will you cower in the shadows and allow barbaric fanatics to take away you inalienable rights? Do you have the courage to do what is right?