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February 09, 2006

Link of the Day 2

Reza Aslan offers a contrary view on the Danish cartoons, one that should be taken seriously. It is the case that other, more politically efficacious religious movements, have no problem bringing down massive pressure on media outlets that offend them. Think the Jewish Anti-Defamation League, or the Catholic Church. But since they have electoral/financial clout and can use accepted institutional levers, few get worked up over their blatant attempts to silence critical or derogatory speech. The Danish cartoons, which projected, during a tense time, anti-Muslim stereotypes on a continent already bristling with them, aroused the same sort of opportunistic religious leaders we're used to, but it their organizations deploy riots and flag burnings rather than boycotts and political pressure. Different, sure, but only in degree, not in kind.

February 9, 2006 | Permalink

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Comments

Certainly there's no moral justification for the violence.

I do wonder, though, how Westerners would react if a bunch of newspapers, to prove a point about free speech, printed cartoons showing Jesus blowing Moses.

There would certainly be peaceful efforts to silence the papers. I suspect, if the papers were recalcitrant, there would be violent efforts, too.

Posted by: tom | Feb 9, 2006 4:29:26 PM

Especially if the papers were in a Middle-Eastern Muslim country.

I think we might see some boisterous parades, effigy-burning, and perhaps some embassy burning.

Posted by: tom | Feb 9, 2006 4:32:06 PM

Do you think that Judaism and Christianity are more effective than Islam at stopping things that they think are offensive? I don't know that that is true. Certainly in a majority Christian nation, offending Christians is more economically damaging than offending a minority group, but there are certainly many examples of art and what not that is offensive to Christians.

Catholics for example were quite offended by the Da Vinci Code. They were so successful at bringing down massive pressure on media outlets that it is now going to be a major motion picture staring Tom Hanks.

Would a similar portrayal of Islam fair as well? I doubt it.

I also disagree that riots and flag burnings (and embassy burnings, and murder, and bomb threats) is only different in degree. I draw a clear distinction between using speech and economic pressure to combat an offence and using violence to combat an offense. To me at least, the two are very different in kind.

This is not to say that all Muslims have been violent, or that all who dislike the cartoons have been violent, but some have, and if the signal is sent that violence is an effective means of achieving censorship it is certain to be repeated.

Posted by: Dave Justus | Feb 9, 2006 4:50:29 PM

You just don't get it, do you Dave?
These people think the rioting Muslims are the victims and that they are somehow justified in using violence. That is what they are saying.

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 9, 2006 4:56:18 PM

Damnit, Dave beat me to the point I was going to make. Violent protest to something that offends is not just a difference in degree from non-violent protest.

Posted by: fiat lux | Feb 9, 2006 5:03:33 PM

The right of free speech means nothing for people whose speech is inoffensive. Such bland speech needs no right to protect it. The right of free speech, expressed in the United States by the First Amendment and elsewhere by other laws, is valuable only insofar as it is available to protect unpopular or offensive speakers. The whole idea that free speech rights do not apply to offensive speech is absurd. That is the only purpose of those rights. There should not be any compromise.

Posted by: TigerHawk | Feb 9, 2006 5:32:05 PM

Rioting is considered free speech? Is that what you are saying, Tigerhawk? If so, shame on you. If not, please clarify....

Posted by: Fred Jones | Feb 9, 2006 6:27:03 PM

Fred 1:56 I believe we both flunked mind-reading 101.

Posted by: opit | Feb 9, 2006 7:51:22 PM

I think you'd be more accurate if you said "The Catholic League" (the f-ed up interest group led by that bigot William O'Donohue) instead of "The Catholic Church" (ie, the Vatican)

Posted by: Goldberg | Feb 9, 2006 8:06:54 PM

Riots and violence are different "in degree, not in kind," from press releases and boycotts? How's that again?

Posted by: Niels Jackson | Feb 9, 2006 8:47:41 PM

Do you think that Judaism and Christianity are more effective than Islam at stopping things that they think are offensive?

As a generalization of the world, I don't know. But in this country, I think so. Like you said, its because they comprise a clear majority of the country. But there is a difference between one who identifies as a Jew/Christian and one who does, but who equally gets offended by somethin in society AND actually does something about it. The latter case comprises, I think, a much smaller minority and yet they are given quite a bit of attention.

Regarding kind v.s. degree. I think kind simply means offense AND action to blasphemy and degree is the type of response.

Posted by: Adrock | Feb 10, 2006 10:13:23 AM

Bite me - I've been saying this since the whole thing got started.

LINK TO ME, LINK TO ME!...thekeez

Posted by: Jeff Keezel | Feb 10, 2006 11:21:20 AM

C'mon, the devil is in the details. They merely differ in "kind" and "degree"? That is just lame.
I don't want any of these groups telling me what I can and can't express. But I'd certainly prefer a verbal expression of offense, even a threatened boycott, to death threats, vandalism, killings and other mayhem.
It also seems like there is a common impulse by people on all sides of the issue to lump together "criticism" (lawful) and crimes and death threats (uncivilized at best.)

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Posted by: judy | Oct 1, 2007 5:06:07 AM

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