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October 5, 2006

Censoring Ourselves Is No Way to Fight Terrorism

Piss Christ AND Piss Muhammed copy.jpg

[No death threats ever occured from artwork showing a crucifix in a vial of blood and urine - yet, what would you expect if the same thing is done with Muhammed? Why must we concern ourselves with free speech issues over Muslim issues, and never have for slurs against Christians and Jews? Answer: We have not, we should not, and we must not. In a free, open, and modern society, Islam is as open to criticism as any other faith - period!]
Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European studies at Oxford University and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, is critical of Robert Redeker's September 19 article in Le Figaro on Islam that elicited death threats which have forced him into hiding. However, he offers a perspective that liberals should endorse, saying that the future of freedom depends on words prevailing over knives:
... Redeker's article in Le Figaro was an intemperate and unwise one, with its claim that Islam (not just Islamism or jihadism) is today's equivalent of Soviet-style world communism, and his denunciation of Muhammad as a "pitiless warlord, pillager, massacrer of Jews and polygamist." But once the fanatiques sans frontieres respond by proposing to kill him, we must stand in total solidarity with the threatened writer -- in the spirit of Voltaire.

Never mind that Voltaire probably never said exactly what is so often attributed to him: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." This was Voltaire's spirit nonetheless. Too many recent responses in such cases, from the Rushdie affair onward, have had this syntax reversed: "Of course I defend his/her freedom of expression, but ... "

Voltaire got it right: first the dissent, but then the unconditional solidarity. Now we are all called upon to play our part. The future of freedom depends on words prevailing over knives.

However, perhaps inadvertantly, in the same article - Ash steps into dhimmitude by toughing upon an appeasement never before offered in response to any religion's cries of outrage over criticism or mockery (note "cries of outrage," I said nothing about violence because only Muslims have reacted violently to criticism of their faith):

First, we need to wake up to the seriousness of the danger. We need a debate about what the law should and should not allow to be said or written. Even John Stuart Mill did not suggest that everyone should be allowed to say anything any time and anywhere. We also need a debate about what it is prudent and wise to say in a globalized world where people of different cultures live so close together, like roommates separated only by thin curtains.
While Ash's comments are sound very reasonable, we have to take them within the context of why they are being made. They are offered in response to a teacher's life being threatened by Muslims because the teacher was critical of Islam (actually, Muslims themselves have said virtually the same thing - yet their lives were not threatened - It seems that there is so Islamic rule about non-Muslims not having the right to criticize Islam). Think about it, would Ash even be writing about the issue of self-censorship had Muslims not threatened the life of a fellow academic for his writings? Have we ever heard an academic respond in such a manner over Piss Christ, the Virgin Mary covered in Elephant Dung (Hillary Clinton defended it) or over any of the myriad of cartoons and slurs by Muslims against Jews?

We all know the answer to this question, don't we! Islam does not rate special treatment over other faiths. Non-extremist Muslims need to understand this, and aid in demanding equal treatment of all faiths under the eyes of the law. We no longer live in the Middle Ages, and Muslims must demand that their extremist coreligionists recognise this. It is not the responsibility of the modern world to make concessions for people still living in the Middle Ages.

Why Is A 'Piss Christ' Okay - But A 'Piss Muhammed' Is 'Too Offensive To Muslims' To Display ?

"We Are Facing A Neurosis At The Level Of An Entire Civilization" Says Filmmaker Pierre Rehov About Islam.

On The Unreasonableness Of Muslim Fury - And The Reasonableness Of Non-Muslim Anger And Disgust With Muslim Outrage

Posted by Richard at October 5, 2006 7:34 PM

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