There have been quite a few news items regarding freedom of speech and censorship in recent months. So I wanted to repost this post I did in 2015 on those issues.
May 7, 2015
Thanks to Pamela Geller, once again the talk shows are ablaze in their discussions on freedom of speech and what the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protects and doesn’t protect. Even NPR talked about Geller’s recent publicity stunt in Garland, Texas, a contest for people to draw the Prophet Mohammad. Knowing how extreme some Muslims are in their intolerance of any criticism or satire of Mohammad or Islam, Geller seemed to want to push the envelope, almost as though she wanted to cause the shooting which occurred after the event, in which two self-radicalized jihadis were shot and killed by security personnel.
Sadly, there are some people who don’t understand the difference between words which are direct threats or provocations (e.g. “I’m going to shoot you,” etc., etc.) and words to criticize, mock, insult, or offend others (e.g. “Fat people should lose weight,” “Dom DeLouise is a fatso,” “Islam is extremely repressive,” “Israel oppresses Arabs,” “Jews are greedy,” “Christians are greedy,” etc., etc.). Those people are saying that Geller’s having such a Mohammad drawing contest, knowing that it would offend Muslims, can be considered a provocation or a “threat,” and so it shouldn’t be protected free speech.
From what I’ve heard so far, such attitudes are coming from the Left. However, during the 1980s many on the Left came to the defense of artist Andres Serrano when his disgusting “Piss Christ” was the controversy back then, and they defended the homoerotic and sadomasochistic artist Robert Mapplethorpe and his offensive works which sparked controversies around the same time. Oooh, the Christians and loud conservatives were up in arms over all that stuff, that’s for sure. But for the “liberals,” who now want to ban “hate speech,” the anti-Christian and sicko-sexual stuff is righto with them.
And there are others who can’t distinguish between mere words and actual physical actions. On one NPR show yesterday, On Point, a guest compared the Mohammad cartoon contest to throwing rocks in someone’s window. I couldn’t believe it. Apparently, some people are so thin-skinned they perceive some manner of speech or expression as being an actual physical action. Do they want to arrest and jail the offender, charged with assault or destruction of property? In Saudi Arabia, their rulers and minions behead those who are “blasphemers” and who “insult Islam” or Mohammad. Of course, Saudi Prince So-and-So obviously has direct communication with the Prophet Mohammad and knows for sure that the Prophet has been “insulted,” and so followers should act accordingly.
Some commenters have argued that Geller’s Mohammad drawing contest amounted to a form of “incitement.” She incited the jihadi fanatics to go over there to shoot up the place. No, not really. She may have provoked them or angered them, but because there is something called “free will,” those two wackos went over to the contest area and acted by their own free will. They deliberately chose to do that. The same goes for those accused of “inciting a riot,” by the way, such as Michael Brown’s stepfather in Ferguson who yelled at the crowd to “Burn this ***** down!” as though his speech had criminal responsibility for others’ subsequent acts of arson. No, only the rioters who set fire to cars or buildings — acting on their own free will — are responsible for their own acts, as Murray Rothbard noted.
Even the conservatives are confused on Geller’s right to hold whatever contest she wanted to have, regardless how offensive. While some conservative commentators such as Jeffrey Kuhner and Megyn Kelly have been defending Geller and Co.’s freedom of speech rights to hold that Mohammad-drawing contest, other conservatives (as well as people on the Left) such as those at National Review have been critical of the whole thing.
But while some conservatives defend the right to criticize Islam and “sharia law,” I wonder how many of them defend the right to criticize Israel. Not many. As I have noted before, criticizing Israel is to many people a blasphemous act, and such critics are immediately viewed as “anti-Semitic,” etc. That is because criticizing Israel is the epitome of “political incorrectness” in our modern, intolerant and ignorant Amerika. For instance, many conservatives protested the Metropolitan Opera’s performances of The Death of Klinghoffer (an opera based on the Palestinian terrorist hijacking of cruise ship Achille Lauro), and demanded that such performances be canceled. They referred to the opera as anti-Semitic or Jew-hating, which it was not, and as “glorifying terrorism,” which it didn’t. Obviously, these critics probably didn’t even see the opera but wanted to proudly show the world their ignorance. Does Pamela Geller defend the right of the Met to put on that opera? Hmmm.
But many of these same people who defend the right to criticize the entire religion of Islam and make fun of the Prophet Mohammad just cannot hear any criticism of Israel (and I mean the state of Israel to be specific, not the religion of Judaism). They probably wouldn’t like my bringing up what a generally racist society Israel is, as shown in poll after poll after poll after poll after poll. But we’re not allowed to say the truth about all that. Let’s all live in a world of myths about Israel, and if someone brings up the truth about it, label him “anti-Semite.” And we can’t talk about Israeli soldiers’ war crimes against Palestinian innocents, so that is why an organization called Breaking the Silence had to be created. Let’s stifle and bury the truth, so that the others won’t know about the sad truths of modern “civilization.”
So, I can’t criticize Israel because the Israel Firsters get all upset over it, and an opera can’t be performed so shut it down and don’t let opera-goers decide for themselves whether it’s “anti-Semitic.” And also — speaking of myths — I can’t express skepticism of so-called human-caused global warming or I’ll be called a “denier” in the same way that Holocaust-deniers are called “deniers,” even though we know the Nazi-perpetrated Jewish Holocaust really did occur, but human-caused global warming? Not so sure about that one. The warmists who rely on junk science and computer models but not actual empirical data want to actually throw in jail skeptics or those who disagree with them. They and the anti-Muslim collectivists seem too much like the witch hunters and Inquisitionists if you ask me. Can you people possibly evolve yourselves into the 21st Century? Ya think?
And of course there are those people who call you a racist if you criticize Obama, his fascist health plan a.k.a. ObamaCare, and all of Obama’s terrible policies that have nothing to do with his race but with his incompetence, corruption and criminality. But, because some people are so obsessed with race they really believe that such criticism of Obama = racism. And freedom of speech also means I can make fun of Obama’s alleged homosexuality (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and that he was an alleged Chicago bathhouse frequenter, just as I can make fun of Michelle Obama the food and nutrition buttinsky.
So I say good for Pamela Geller for in some way stimulating a renewed debate on freedom of speech vs. censorship, mere words vs. actual physical violence, for waking people up to the dangers of Islamic extremism and “sharia law” that’s hiding under our beds like the communists in the 1950s, even though she completely ignores (or supports) our own government’s starting wars of aggression overseas these past 25 years which have done nothing but provoke said Muslims to become jihadi fanatics and killers in the first place.