pageok
pageok
pageok
The Boston Globe on Speech Offensive to Different Religious Groups:

Here's today's Boston Globe editorial on the Mohammed cartoons controversy:

Freedom expression is not the only value at issue in the conflict provoked by a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons satirizing Islam's founding prophet, Mohammed. The billowing controversy is being swept along by intolerance, ignorance, and parochialism. The refusal of each camp to recognize and respect the otherness of the other brings closer a calamitous clash of cultures pitting Islam against the West.

No devotee of democratic pluralism should accept any infringement on freedom of the press. But the original decision of the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, to solicit and publish a dozen cartoons of the Muslim prophet was less a blow against censorship than what The Economist called a schoolboy prank. . . .

Other European papers reprinted the cartoons in a reflex of solidarity. Journalists in free societies have a healthy impulse to assert their hard-won right to insult powerful forces in society. Freedom of the press need not be weakened, however, when it is infused with restraint. This should not be restraint rooted in fear of angering a government, a political movement, or an advertiser. As with the current consensus against publishing racist or violence-inciting material, newspapers ought to refrain from publishing offensive caricatures of Mohammed in the name of the ultimate Enlightenment value: tolerance.

Just as the demand from Muslim countries for European governments to punish papers that printed the cartoons shows a misunderstanding of free societies, publishing the cartoons reflects an obtuse refusal to accept the profound meaning for a billion Muslims of Islam's prohibition against any pictorial representation of the prophet. Depicting Mohammed wearing a turban in the form of a bomb with a sputtering fuse is no less hurtful to most Muslims than Nazi caricatures of Jews or Ku Klux Klan caricatures of blacks are to those victims of intolerance. . . .

There's actually much that I agree with here; that one is and should be legally free to say something doesn't mean that it's right to say it. And while religious ideas, like all ideas, should be open to vigorous debate, needless emotional provocation generally doesn't much advance the debate.

This editorial, though, led me to try to search for what the Boston Globe had said about past controversies involving high-profile speech that was offensive to other religious groups. I searched in particular for editorials referring to the controversies surrounding Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ" and the Brooklyn Museum's display of the Virgin Mary covered in feces that was made up in part of feces and of cutouts of bare buttocks from magazines. I may have missed some — if I have, please let me know — but here are the ones I found. Nov. 3, 1999:

This week, US District Judge Nina Gershon sent New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani a message he should heed: Stop trampling on the Brooklyn Museum's First Amendment rights.

Giuliani is furious about an exhibit, "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection." He called the art "sick," withheld operating funds, and started eviction proceedings against the museum. One object of his anger is a painting of a black Virgin Mary spotted with elephant dung. The mayor said: "You don't have a right to a government subsidy to desecrate someone else's religion." It's a passionate argument, but it ignores the facts and the law. None of the $2 million for the "Sensation" exhibit came from New York City. Serious allegations have been raised about the museum's fund-raising for the exhibit, but that is a separate issue. The city's contract with the museum calls for the city to pay for maintenance without, as the court says, "stating any conditions regarding the content of the museum's artworks."

Most damning is the court's finding that the city is violating the museum's First Amendment rights. Gershon quoted many cases, including the Supreme Court's 1989 ruling in Texas v. Johnson protecting flag-burning. "If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."

But what about the 1998 Supreme Court ruling letting the National Endowment for the Arts use "general standards of decency" in its considerations? Gershon noted that this ruling was on awarding grants, not withdrawing operating funds. And the Supreme Court upheld these grant considerations as long as they did not permit "viewpoint discrimination."

Gershon issued a preliminary injunction ordering the city to stop withholding funds, end eviction proceedings, and refrain from retaliation or tampering with the museum's board. Too bad a judge has to remind Giuliani of his duty to do no harm to one of his city's great cultural institutions.

July 17, 1990:

The National Endowment for the Arts is a federal agency created 25 years ago to function as a friend and patron of the arts. It was never intended that the NEA should serve as a moral arbiter of the projects it considers funding.

But that role has been thrust upon the NEA by Congress, following the outcry of Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina and a band of conservative congressmen and critics over the exhibitions of work by photographers Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano.

Last week, the NEA issued new guidelines that attempt to define obscenity, in response to a directive from the General Accounting Office. Helms had asked the GAO to investigate whether the arts agency was implementing restrictive language added last fall to its appropriation.

Grant recipients now are required to furnish "a written justification of the project" and an explanation of how it complies with the obscenity language in the NEA's appropriation legislation. Already, some prospective recipients have refused to sign such a pledge.

Critics of the pledge-signing requirement argue that imposing such guidelines has an intimidating effect and is tantamount to censorship.

Liam Rector, executive director of Associated Writing Program in Norfolk, is right when he notes that "the place where obscenity needs to be determined is in the courts — not in Congress and not by the NEA."

The New School for Social Research in New York and Bella Lewitsky, a California choreographer, have filed separate suits in federal courts, challenging the constitutionality of the congressional restriction on the agency's grants.

Congress should grant the National Endowment for the Arts the five-year extension it is seeking and allow it to go about its business without restrictions that hamper the agency and discourage artistic expression.

May 20, 1990:

In its 25-year history, the National Endowment for the Arts has become an invaluable friend and patron of the arts, funding an impressive array of institutions and activities. Now the hysteria generated by a small group of myopic arch-conservatives, led by Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, threatens the NEA's freedom.

Strong pressures are building on Capitol Hill to place limits on the way the NEA awards grants because of the misperception that it supports obscene or sacrilegious art. Supporters of the NEA are divided on whether to seek a one-year or five-year NEA reauthorization.

It would be unreasonable to expect unanimity of support for the many projects the NEA has funded over the years, given the subjectivity of creative expression. The NEA has been criticized often, and some have charged it with elitism.

However, until last year it had never been charged with underwriting smut, as it was when it financed a restrospective of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe and made an award to photographer Andres Serrano. The art of these two men has been used unfairly by Helms and an organization called the American Family Association as a device to discredit the NEA, overlooking the important work the NEA has accomplished in fostering the arts.

Where does the public stand on federal aid for the arts? A survey conducted for People For The American Way indicates that Americans strongly support the NEA's role as a promoter and distributor of arts funding and do not wish to see the methods for granting arts awards changed.

Congress should approve another five-year reauthorization for the National Endowment for the Arts and allow it to continue making its cultural contribution to the nation — without any legislative restraints.

On their own, also eminently plausible arguments; I agree with parts of them and disagree with other parts, but they are certainly quite defensible.

Yet where in those editorials are the admonitions about the need for "respect" of religious groups? The condemnations of the juxtaposition of bodily excretions with religious figures as "schoolboy prank[s]"? The denunciations of the art as undermining the "ultimate Enlightenment value" of "tolerance"? The condemnations of the artists, and of those NEA and museum decisionmakers who used their discretion to judge the work artistically excellent, as "obtuse"? And, of course, the suggestion that the works are "no less hurtful to most [Christians] than Nazi caricatures of Jews or Ku Klux Klan caricatures of blacks are to those victims of intolerance"?

Why the difference?

UPDET: Reader Matt Lister pointed out that the Virgin Mary painting was not "covered in feces," as I wrongly reported above, but contained elephant dung as part of the display, and also contained what seemed to be cutouts of naked buttocks from magazines. I've revised the post accordingly; I don't think the details affect the overall analysis, but I'm pleased to be able to correct them.

Smithy (mail) (www):
It is interesting that the liberal media was so anxious to defend things like the Piss Christ, which were certainly more offensive than these cartoons should be Muslims. These cartoons were not mocking Mohammed -- rather they were showing how his legacy has been perverted by some contemporary fundamentalists. The Piss Christ on the other hand was nothing but a blatant attempt to degrade the most sacred of Christian symbols. So the message from the liberal media is "anti-Christ art -- good", "criticism of Islam -- bad". I wish I could tell you I was surprised.
2.4.2006 12:35pm
therut (mail):
Becuse in the US christianty is the good that fights the leftist utopian tendencies. It all goes back to Marx. The left has sided with Islam because Islam is aganist Christianty the big boogy man aganist their world view. But they are still playing the fool. Becuse if Islam was to gain power the left elite would be the first to be killed for all their one sided tolerance. History does repeat itself. Some never learn. Surely your question is asked in jest. Anyone with any knowledge of leftist tendencies throught histoy already knows the answer.
2.4.2006 12:54pm
Humble Law Student:
Eugene

No need to be coy. You know the difference, as I think we all do.
2.4.2006 12:55pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Good heavens, Mr. Student! In your law school career, surely you must have gotten used to professors asking you questions even though they actually know (or at least suspect they know) the answer. Do you think you've just been getting a highly coy education?
2.4.2006 1:01pm
Kipli:
Yet where in those editorials are the admonitions about the need for "respect" of religious groups?

Could it be that the supposed need for respect of religious beliefs is of a relatively recent origin? Since the early 90's, motivated in part by events such as the one referenced, Christian groups have become more vocal about demanding respect for their beliefs. They have created strong political machines that have the ear of the legislators (and budget setters), as well as more media presence. And after 9/11 there has been an increased emphasis on being respectful of religious groups, in particular the Muslims, as a way to defuse possible sources of conflict.

I think the editorials simply reflect the particular sensibilities at the time they were written. Fifteen years ago, the issue was freedom of expression because (rightly or wrongly) respect for religious beliefs just wasn't high on the list of priorities. Since then, various religious groups have succeeded in getting that list changed.
2.4.2006 1:05pm
Zach (mail):
I wonder what perspective you have to see the issue from before the analogy holds up. The three comparisons are Nazi:Jew, KKK:black, ?:Muslim. What fills in for the question mark? I don't know of any organized group that preys on Muslims in the same manner as the KKK or the Nazis. The cartoonists certainly don't belong to any, and the cartoons are not obviously the political expression of any group beyond the newspapers and the cartoonists themselves.

Or does the Globe have some deranged Freudian picture of the west, in which groups like the Nazis and the KKK have no independent existence, but are merely manifestations of our collective unconscious racism? In that case, the dichotomy becomes some collective Us vs minorities of various stripes. It's like the old chestnut that there's a little Hitler in all of us reduced to a Jungian theory of history. Then Piss Christ doesn't count, because christians count as Us.

If this is the case, I wish they'd be a little bit more picky about who qualifies as Us. The Nazis, KKK, etc are all pretty firmly in the Them camp in my mind.
2.4.2006 1:05pm
Justin (mail):
Sure, a little hypocracy exists here. On both sides, mind you. Pointing it out is both irrelevant (we can do this on any issue) and not entirely true (there's a host of liberals both defending the paper and attacking, and there's a host of conservatives doing the same).

That being said, there *is* a difference between an artist doing something for art which has no political review, and a newspaper doing something for publicity that was done specifically for political antagonism. The difference doesn't make the comparison useless, but it isn't cut and dry.

I happen to think we should defend the Danish paper's right to say what it said, but it was a useless and unproductive political statement, and silly (I basically agree with the State Department). I also find those on the right who participate on the side of "Denmark" to not do so in pursuant to free speech but because they hate brown people and Christ rejecters. I don't find such motives lightly, but the logic they use in their arguments leads me to no other possible resolution.
2.4.2006 1:11pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Actually, the thing I find most preposterous about the editorial is the comparison of Nazis' hatred of Jews and KKK's hatred of blacks with the mocking of Islam. Islam is a religion and not an ethnicity or race. Islame is an expressly prostelatizing religion. The editorials attacked, at worst, the content of Islam's beliefs, not the racial makeup of Islam's followers. Nazis, on the other hand, attacked Jews for their racial identity (even Jews who had converted to Christianity were not safe from Nazi persecution). Ditto for the KKK's attacks on blacks. Being Jewish (in the sense of being a descendant of Abraham and Isaac) and being black are immutable traits (at least in the eyes of the Nazis and KKK, respectively). Being Muslim is a conscious decision by its followers. And that is what the editorial was attacking. So, the comparison, while provocative, is quite over the top and extremely silly.
2.4.2006 1:12pm
Justin (mail):
Excuse me.

I meant to say "many of those on the right"
2.4.2006 1:12pm
AF:
Perhaps the difference is that the cartoon was a gratuitous and mean-spirited caricature of Islam by outsiders to the culture, whereas the art was a much more complex and humane internal critique of Catholicism by Catholics.

I say perhaps, because I haven't seen the cartoons and don't know whether or not they deserve the criticism they've received. But I have seen the art, and it is neither a schoolboy prank, nor intolerant, nor obtuse. It is not "needless emotional provocation" that doesn't "advance the debate." Perhaps the cartoons were.

I don't see how you can decide without looking at the pieces at issue. There is certainly nothing wrong in principle with saying that some art that is accused of being offensive is rightly accused, and some is wrongly accused.
2.4.2006 1:14pm
Justin (mail):
Gene, while I find the Boston editorial over the top myself, the difference you cite (while technically accurate) seems irrelevant to the Boston Globe's (weak) argument, particularly given the average American (even/esp the average RedStater) hear "Muslim" and think "Arab". I've heard numerous comparisons to the (multireligious) Palestinians, for instance, and practically absolutely no discussion of the interesting Balkin-related issues and comparisons.
2.4.2006 1:15pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Justin --

Actually, I would say the the Danish paper's political provocation is *more* important, if anything, than some post-post-deconstructionist's attempt at the avant garde. The Piss Christ's purpose was nothing more than to shock and insult. The Danish paper was engaging in political speech intended to satirize the hijacking of Islam by fascist, murderous psychopaths. As far as I am concerned, political speech is *far* more important than a bunch of hipster pseudo-intellectuals trying to be deep. Sorry, I just don't buy the fin-de-siecle Brooklyn art-for-art's sake mumbo jumbo.
2.4.2006 1:17pm
Justin (mail):
In furtherance of AF's point, I have not seen Piss Christ or Christ Dung, and cannot comment on its intellectual or political value. Indeed, my original view was that the only thing giving it public attention were the Christians themselves, and if you didn't want to see it you didn't have to. While that is true here as well, it seems significantly less so (the paper published the pictures FOR publicity).
2.4.2006 1:18pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Justin--

In regards to multi-ethnic palestinians, you're absolutely wrong. I've seen at least two different segments on CNN (in just random channel flipping since I usually don't watch CNN) about Christian Palestinians. During the Lebanese demonstrations, the fact that there are many Christian Lebanese was also something that I saw reported on both MSNBC and on Fox News. So, I think that you're wrong on this count.
2.4.2006 1:19pm
Adam K:
I think one can find a difference in the posture of the parties. In the latter articles, the Globe is commenting on official acts of government being taken against artistic expression. In that case, the focus is on the artists' rights vis-a-vis the government. In the former article, the Globe is commenting on the "outrage" of private parties, not government action. In that case, there's not really an issue of the artists' rights, and the controversy lends itself more to discussion, admonition, condemnation, etc of the artist's discretion.
2.4.2006 1:19pm
Justin (mail):
Gene, while I'm not an expert, I'm pretty sure your last response lacks even an ounce of factual truth. Indeed, one of the Danish artists specifically used the art to denounce the paper's actions as an attempt to insult Islam (you should be aware of the circumstances of the projet). And I'll take AF's word on the latter part that you have no more an idea what you're talking about on Piss Christ than I do.
2.4.2006 1:20pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Ahh, sorry, misunderstood your Palestinian Balkans post.... Never mind.
2.4.2006 1:20pm
Justin (mail):
Gene, that there are Arab Christians in the world is undisputed, and that this has been pointed out on cable news is irrelevant to the question of whether people generally believe one and the other the same. Heck, Fox News has even once reported that there was no WMDs, and yet up till at least August of last year (last poll I saw) most Fox News viewers believe the WMD were found!
2.4.2006 1:24pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Justin, I've seen Piss Christ, and while I'm not Catholic or even Christian for that matter, I took away from it the idea that its purpose was to shock and insult, the artist's protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. The cartoon with Mohammed saying "Stop! We are out of virgins" is actually 1) funny and 2) has a political point. I agree that maybe it wasn't the best idea to publish the cartoons. But, to say that it had no point other than to gratuitously insult, I think is quite farfetched. Could you please explain your statement "Indeed, one of the Danish artists specifically used the art to denounce the paper's actions as an attempt to insult Islam"? I don't quite understand what you meant there.
2.4.2006 1:25pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
We need a corollary to Godwin's Law for unsubstantiated charges of racism... if I had a nickel for every time someone has used "hatred of brown people" as a substitute for a real argument, I could pay off my law school debts.
2.4.2006 1:27pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Justin--

The Nazi comparison isn't about what the readers but rather seemed targeted at the motivations of the cartoonists. I think to say that their ideological critique of Islam is equivalent to a racialist critique of Jews or Blacks a little farfetched. And speaking of Nazis and Jews, read the stuff coming out of radical Islamic quarters these days about Nazis and Jews. I think that the people rioting in Gaza and the West Bank are more enamored with Nazis and extermination of Jews than the cartoonist could ever, even subconsciously, be.
2.4.2006 1:31pm
SteveMG (mail):
Well, there's a great deal of inconsistency (ahem) by the Globe and generally speaking the secular left on this issue. Viz., one can mock Christianity with (relative) impunity but not engage in similar critiques of other religions.

Prof. Volokh is being, dare I say, devilish here.

However, I do think a case can be made between ridiculing or caricaturing a dominant religion such as Christianity versus a minority religion such as Islam or Judaism. That we need to tread much more carefully (for a number of reasons) when making caricatures of less powerful or minority religions that in many cases have suffered (and still do) discrimination as opposed to a religion that has greater power and influence and is better able to engage in the marketplace of ideas.

SMG
2.4.2006 1:37pm
AF:
Gene, if you don't buy this whole contemprary art thing, that's your right. Others do. That's why they respond to sacreligious art differently than anti-religious political commentary.

That said, I don't think you can view the issue as one of pure artistic merit or philosophical consistency independent of context. Even if it were devoid of artistic merit, a sacreligious work by a lapsed Catholic would just not be as troubling as an anti-Semitic work by a non-Jew, or an anti-Islamic work by a non-Muslim.
2.4.2006 1:42pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
Becuse in the US christianty is the good that fights the leftist utopian tendencies. It all goes back to Marx. The left has sided with Islam because Islam is aganist Christianty the big boogy man aganist their world view.

That is an excellent summary of the liberal/Marxist attitude towards religion. Hatred of Christianity and capitalism trumps everything for the modern liberal -- even one's own safety.
2.4.2006 1:52pm
Severely Ltd. (mail):
I agree with Gene that the likely purpose of the Piss Christ was provocation, and likely aimed at the pious bourgeois believer. Art seeks an audience and isn't a private commune with truth. While the artist could have been a concerned Catholic who saw this as the wisest and best way to open dialogue with the Church, well...yeah...and maybe the Popes not Catholic.
2.4.2006 1:57pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
The Piss Christ artist hated Christianity. He said as much in later interviews. He should have been sued for libel -- not given an NEA award.
2.4.2006 2:02pm
RTGthe3RD (mail):
It's no surprise that the liberal media is completely fine with Christian-bashing, half of them are probably closet Satanists...
2.4.2006 2:07pm
Ken Arromdee (mail):
And after 9/11 there has been an increased emphasis on being respectful of religious groups, in particular the Muslims, as a way to defuse possible sources of conflict.

I am not convinced there is an emphasis on being respectful of religious groups. There is an emphasis of being respectful to Muslims in particular, but I suspect that if Piss Christ were to be produced today the reaction would be exactly the same.

Perhaps the answer is that the left likes those who are anti-Western. The supporters of Piss Christ are anti-Western, but the opponents of the Mohammed cartoons are anti-Western.

(That doesn't explain the US government's reaction to the drawings, but it's really not too hard to explain. The left opposes the drawings because they are hypocritical about freedom of speech. The government opposes it because they just don't believe in freedom of speech at all.)
2.4.2006 2:08pm
Robert F. Patterson (mail):
WHAT A RELATIVIST COP-OUT BY KIPLI!
2.4.2006 2:09pm
Wrigley:
Aren't we all making a mountain out of a molehill here? It seems to me that the Globe's editorials can be perfectly reconciled (although given the changing make-up of editorial boards, they needn't be consistent over time).

The latest editorial says, in essence, "Just because its legal to say something, it doesn't mean you should." That's a pretty uncontroversial position. We all should exercise restraint and good taste. The Globe doesn't talk about the importance of the Danish government allowing the Danish paper to publish cartoons, becuase the Danish government never butted in (or maybe I missed that part, in which case this whole post is misguided).

In the cases of the "piss Christ" and the Virgin Mary with feces, on the other hand, government intervention in speech was the issue. The Globe may have felt that both pieces were tasteless and might have taken the time to remind the artists that just because they could portray what they wanted to, it didn't mean they should. But, in light of government censroship efforts, the Globe likely felt it was much more important to protect the right of the artists to portray whatever they wanted than it was to remind them that what they were doing was tasteless. Today, with the Danish issue, government censorship as a concern is absent, and thus it seems like a good idea to point out that some "art" can be tasteless and the Danish newspaper might want to exercise a little discretion in deciding what to publish, even though it CAN publish whatever it wants.

The different op-eds just highlight different, but all legitimate, points. Would Eugene prefer the Globe write about the pitfalls of Danish repression of free press even where no efforts to repress occurred?
2.4.2006 2:11pm
Wrigley:
I now see Adam K, above, made much the same point as I did. Kudos to him.
2.4.2006 2:13pm
Severely Ltd. (mail):
I don't think Guliani's position was censorship per se, but outrage that such expression (which you're right, Wrigley, the paper did not ever object to as wrongly provocative) should be government-funded.
2.4.2006 2:22pm
SLS 1L:
Could they be distinguished, perhaps, on the basis that the cartoon portrayed all (or most) Muslims as psychopathic killers (or the artist should reasonably have know that people would see it that way) and the works of art were contentless insults, insulting without attributing any particular characteristics to the insulted?

They may also believe that plenty of widely-respected institutions were making noise about the artworks, and that they didn't need the Boston Globe's help for people to realize that some non-Christians found them objectionable as well. Afaik, very few people were interested in defending "piss Christ" on the merits, but lots have been defending the cartoon on the merits.
2.4.2006 2:24pm
Wrigley:
Severely Ltd.,

Guiliani's position was somewhere between "censorship" and "expressing outrage." He attempted to remove funding. That's a very complicated First Amendment area, and I didn't want to cloud my argument with those nuances. But the greater poitnt remains this: In the NEA and Broolkyn Museum instances, the issue of government's role was prominent. In the Danish case, it's absent.
2.4.2006 2:25pm
dk35 (mail):
As a proud lefty secular humanist, I have to say I'm becoming increasingly amused by posts such as EV's here.

What does the US secular left have to do with this? What I see from my vantage point, one one side, is a bunch of politically conservative Americans jumping over each other to not only defend the cartoons, but to insist on how funny they are, and publish them on their blogs, etc. On the other side, I see crowds of radicalized muslims saying nasty things and threatening violence. Don't bring us lefties into this. It's not our fight.

You folks just keep beating your chests...we'll just sit this one out, and wait and hope that both sides grow up eventually.
2.4.2006 2:29pm
bob mitze (mail):
I'm surprised that no one has mentioned a key difference: radical islamists really are blowing up people using their interpretation of their religion as an excuse. Fear is a great motivator. Many in Europe fear their country is being overwhelmed by muslim immigrants and that fear has counterbalanced the fear that their newspapers surely must feel about the death threats against them for standing up for free speech. I'm sure no American newspaper feared that they would have a bomb on the doorstep from radical christians just because they defended piss christ.
2.4.2006 2:35pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Ah yes, 'both sides should grow up'. How even-handed of you.

Well, I can safely say that conservative Americans will forthwith stop issuing death threats towards people disrepecting their religion.
2.4.2006 2:40pm
steve k:
The main issue here, overwhelming everything else, is the reaction to various artistic "provocations." It almost makes me not want to talk about the lesser issue of how insulting these things are, or are thought to be.

But if you actually want to just look at what caused the provocations, I'm surprised at how so many see Piss Christ and Holy Virgin Mary as more insulting that the cartoons. For better or worse, it's understood that any visualization of Mohammed is an offense.

Meanwhile, Piss Christ and Holy Virgin Mary are serious (if not necessarily good) works of art that can be read in different ways. In fact, most people who talk about them are ignorant, never having seen them. I invite you to check out this and this to actually see what everyone's talking about.

(At the very least, anyone who knows about the background of Holy Virgin Mary and still insists the artist meant to offend is being perverse.)
2.4.2006 2:52pm
steve k:
Oops. Left out a link from my statement above. Here's the link.
2.4.2006 2:55pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Mr. Patterson (and others): Please avoid one-line conclusory slams of other posters; if you think their arguments are unsound, explain why. Also, please do so using standard upper-and-lower-case prose, rather than all-caps.

RTGthe3RD: I'm not sure if I've missed some deep irony in your post. If so, you might try to make the irony a little less deep. If not, please avoid unfounded accusations (against outsiders as well as fellow posters) and exaggerations.
2.4.2006 2:59pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Newsflash: This here is a serious discussion. You can't do unserious things like wave the 'Piss Christ is a SERIOUS WORK OF ART' wand and make the other side of the discussion go away.

And since when did so-called unserious works of art lose all protections?

"Any visualization of Mohammed is an offense" Is not a rule that anyone except muslims themselves may be forced to keep. There's a lit of things that christianity could take official offense at, too.

The question is weather non-muslims have to submit to a tyranny of the minority.
2.4.2006 3:09pm
just me (mail):
Re the government role, and Serrano's urine-soaked crucifix and the Virgin Mary/dung piece:

Justin says (re Serrano):

Indeed, my original view was that the only thing giving it public attention were the Christians themselves, and if you didn't want to see it you didn't have to.

To which I respond:

Yes, no one had to see it, but every federal taxpayer had to PAY for it. I'm less offended by seeing this I dislike than by having to fork over for them.

And Wrigley says, re both pieces:

. . . government intervention in speech was the issue. The Globe may have felt that both pieces were tasteless and might have taken the time to remind the artists that just because they could portray what they wanted to, it didn't mean they should. But, in light of government censroship efforts . . .

To which I respond:

I agree with the first clause - govt "intervention" was the issue. The intervention was the funding in the first place, which intervened in my pocket and made me subsidize it. As to "censorship," I always thought that the term meant forbidding the work from being shown. If refusal-to-subsidize is truly indistinguishable, then I'm being censored every day. Even if there should be some First Amdt limits on selective govt funding, surely that's still different from true censorship?

And finally, let's ask this comparative, instead of comparing Serrano to the Danish cartoons. If someone creates a reverent crucifix as a work of art, what are the odds that it would ever get an NEA grant? And even if the NEA did, how many seconds would it take for the Establishment Clause lawsuit to be filed?

Bottom line - honor the crucifix, and it'd be unconstitutional to give a dime. Piss on it, and it'd be unconstitutional to refuse to subsidize it. The rule of decision here is pretty clear, and no amount of rationalization gets around that.
2.4.2006 3:19pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
I'd say,

1. Insults toward Christianity are not nearly as hurtful or inflaming in America as insults toward blacks, Jews, arabs or Muslims.

2. Unless it is going to be extremely inciteful, I think a person generally has a right to be disrespectful toward something he vehemently disagrees with. Especially with religion, there is so much respect generally that people freak out when you say anything the least bit critical. So I don't think people generally have an obligation to perpetuate that.

3. Thus, I think the Boston Globe is probably right, and I'm glad they said what they said. It's why I generaly criticize Christianity a lot more than I criticize Islam, even though I have much more in common with the average Christian. It's probably also why I don't criticize Judaism, even though it makes just as little sense as the other two. I guess it's tough to be a Christian in America! (ha, right)
2.4.2006 3:20pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
But... but... you don't understand, just me. Piss Christ is a serious work of art.
2.4.2006 3:22pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
How do you rationalize that, Marcus1? Are you thinking that because Christians are the majority here, it isn't possible to commit hate against them?

Well I would like you to go to a country where Muslims are the majority, and try making the same 'bold' criticisms.

If you survive, I'd like to hear about your experiences.
2.4.2006 3:25pm
Anomolous:
I tend to think the whole controversy must be a case of Muslim self parody gone wrong.
2.4.2006 3:27pm
Gaius Obvious:
we need to tread much more carefully (for a number of reasons) when making caricatures of less powerful or minority religions that in many cases have suffered (and still do) discrimination

Such as the Branch Davidians? Rastafarians? Heaven's Gate? The Jim Jones People's Temple?
2.4.2006 3:30pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Gaius:

What I can't figure out is where this guy is getting this 'minority religion' crud from.

It's like his entire worldview is stuck in the USA and he can't conceptualise countries in which muslims are the majority.

I wonder if he's concerened about the 'discrimination' against christians in Saudi Arabia.
2.4.2006 3:35pm
Tareeq (www):
At least Saudi Arabia doesn't discriminate against its Jewish populace.
2.4.2006 3:40pm
Robert Schwartz (mail):
And we are supposed to ignore Muslim violence toward Christian minorities in their own countries, their destruction of the Bayamim Buddhas, their broadcasts of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, their constant anti-Semitic tirades and threats to nuke Israel, not to mention the "honor" killings, murderous rioting, suicide bombings, and their failure to take responsibility for their own actions and condemn their own bad actors.

The heck with them, and the Boston Globe's little dog too.

I will start worrying about their tender sensitivities when they start acting like civilized human beings. &@#$ 'em, if they can't take a joke.

Until then billions for defense, not one cent for tribute.
2.4.2006 3:42pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
A couple of things to be sorted out here...

The cartoons were published months ago and have recently received attention only after some particularly unscrupulous Muslim clerics in Denmark decided to go over to the Middle East and show both the cartoons that were published and some other cartoons that were not published, but were much worse (the clerics claim that they were considered for publication, but will refuse to show Western media outlets... this makes me think they're trying to inflame tensions on purpose).

There are quite a few Muslims in the world, almost as many as Christians (22% Muslims, 33 % Christian) and their growth rate is extraordinarily high. So, it's not like someone is picking on a tiny minority religion here.

I haven't seen the Virgin Mary one and so can't comment. I have seen Piss Christ and found it offensive, even though I'm an atheist.

While it is true that the cartoons could plausibly be interpreted as claiming that all Muslims believe in the "72 virgins for jihad" nonsense, it would not be reasonable to do so, since clearly the cartoon is meant to lampoon people who believe that, without any commentary on the rest of Islam.

The real problem is that the Boston Globe has decided, essentially, that criticisms of the contents of a religion as unreasonable or immoral are off-limits, but hateful speech meant to shock the sensibilities of a religion's followers (rather than merely blaspheme) are a-ok, and in fact, should be subsidized by the taxpayers of the City of New York (a plurality of whom, I believe, are Catholic).


dk35--

Why is the American Left relevant here? Because presumably, the editorial board of the Boston Globe is usually on the left of most political issues and this is the stance they have chosen to take. The other reason is because this clash between liberalism and multicutluralism is a major conflict that needs some solutions. Is the American Left going to provide us with a way to deal with this obvious conflict (as quasi-Leftist philosopher Seyla Benhabib has, for example) or not? I commend the Boston Globe for not punting the issue and pretending there is no conflict. But I think that their response is to a great extent depraved. If they can compare the cartoonists' criticism of a philosophy to Nazi and KKK racial hatred with a straight face, then I really don't know what to say.
2.4.2006 3:55pm
DEGOP (mail):
9/11 changed everything.

Before 9/11, liberals felt they could get away with tweaking the noses of Islamist groups. I even remember once seeing a Tom Toles cartoon that mocked the Taliban for destroying the Bamiyan Buddha. After 9/11, when the Muslims finally brought home to liberals the fact that they were happy to kill liberals (evidently the African bombings and the Cole were too distant for your average Clintonite to care), suddenly the liberals began to care more about religious tolerance and respect. They began to try and appease the enemy, rather than ignore him as they had been doing before. This explains the dichotomy between their pre- 9/11 and post-9/11 treatments of religion quite nicely; apart from the occasional snipe at Pat Robertson, the liberals appear quite eager to invoke the Lord on every public occasion. (How much of that involves fear of Islam and how much of it involves fear of further electoral defeats at the hands of the overwhelmingly non-atheist/secularist public is open to debate, of course.)

Conservatives, in contrast to liberals, saw 9/11 as a challenge, and the Islamists as an obstacle to be overcome, not catered to. Conservatives have always had an abiding faith and love of religion, so the conservative Christian coalition was well-prepared for the spiritual challenges of combatting a worldview opposed to any religious truth and dedicated to murdering anyone who does not agree with it.

Conservatives are consistent because our views are strengthened by faith and love; liberals are inconsistent because their views are crumbling under fear.
2.4.2006 4:00pm
SLS 1L:
Robert wrote:
And we are supposed to ignore Muslim violence toward Christian minorities in their own countries, their destruction of the Bayamim Buddhas, their broadcasts of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, their constant anti-Semitic tirades and threats to nuke Israel, not to mention the "honor" killings, murderous rioting, suicide bombings, and their failure to take responsibility for their own actions and condemn their own bad actors.
Is this supposed to be ironic? If so, it's slightly too deep for me.

"Muslims" aren't a monolithic group who all believe and support the same things. The multitudes of Muslims who don't support evil don't have to "take responsibility" for others' actions any more than Christians have to take responsibility for the multitudes of evils and horrors Christians have perpetrated in the name of Christianity. (That's not all in the past either: some Christians murder in the name of Christianity even today.)

The real problem here is your cavalier assumption that "they" - a group 900 million people! - are a monolith. Have you done any actual research on "their" beliefs, rather than relying on stereotypes? Granted, there are a lot of fanatics [1], and they make it into the news regularly for obvious reasons (which is why these stereotypes are so pervasive - nobody reports on "Muslims go about their daily lives in peace like everybody else"). But even if you're right (which I doubt) it's morally wrong to be making such assumptions without empirical support.

[1] I mean in objective terms, not as a fraction of Muslims as a whole.
2.4.2006 4:16pm
Chris in Sacto (mail):
In the West, freedom of expression is considered sacred. For a number of people, that freedom might even be regarded as absolute, thereby allowing an individual to insult even someone's faith. Two issues must be clearly understood regarding this controversy. First, for Muslims, nothing and no one is above Islam. No one should be allowed to be disrespectful about anything remotely associated with Islam. Having an open discussion regarding the Islamic faith is perfectly acceptable. Insulting Islam is not. That old adage about disagreeing without being disagreeable (or offensive) is fully applicable here. Second, not many understand in the West that a requirement of the completion of the faith for Muslims is to love and respect the Prophet of their religion. That might also be an alien notion, especially among secular Westerners for whom freedom of expression has remained an integral part of their secular puritanism.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/HB04Aa01.html
2.4.2006 4:33pm
Fishbane (mail):
Conservatives, in contrast to liberals, saw 9/11 as a challenge, and the Islamists as an obstacle to be overcome, not catered to. Conservatives have always had an abiding faith and love of religion, so the conservative Christian coalition was well-prepared for the spiritual challenges of combatting a worldview opposed to any religious truth and dedicated to murdering anyone who does not agree with it.

Good lord, I hope this is satire. Sadly, I can't really tell anymore.

People seem a little quick to draw political blood over this, and miss the more interesting, and instructive, part. The Piss Christ comparisons have been fast and furious. Let me put forward a slightly different take.

Suppose you have a sibling in your family that drinks too much. You might call him out and tell him he's a drunk, and should grow up. At the same time, J. Random Person doing the same might draw your ire; protecting one's family and family name might be considered more important than the marginal value of an outside opinion on the brother's problem.

Similarly, I feel much more qualified to criticize Christianity, having been raised in a very religious household. That I later became agnostic-close-to-atheist does not diminish my knowledge, understanding and even empathy; from that, I feel entitled to criticize, in words, or in art. I don't have the same relation to or knowledge of Islam. That doesn't mean I can't observe or provide critical commentary, but in much the same way as I might be more harsh to a family member than I would be to someone I didn't grow up around, I might be more diplomatic.

When I was a teenager, we had a substance-infused party, and someone brought a stuffed Bhudda doll. We ended up building a cross and nailing the doll to it, and planting it in a field. It was dumb, offensive, and wrong, even though and Bhuddists were likely to have seen it. The difference to me is that I understand this now, whereas many who loudly comment either don't or choose not to.
2.4.2006 4:37pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Fishbane --

I largely agree with your point re: religious tolerance. However, it seems to me that the policital cartoons were focused on a substantive criticism of Islam and not done just to insult. I actually think that probably, it was not such a good idea to publish cartoons and I do think it, to some extent, reflects anti-religious snoottiness on the part of Europeans (they do equally blasphemous things to Jews and Christians). Having said that, however, I think that the criticism the cartoons were expressing is a legitimate one and I think that good people everywhere, regardless of our view that maybe it was unwise to publish the cartoons, should stand up for the editors and the cartoonists (who, by the way, have gone into hiding, Rushdie-style, to evade murder) and not compare them to Nazis and just pay lip service to your respect for free speech.
2.4.2006 4:55pm
David M. Nieporent (www):

Wrigley, that's a nice attempt at a save of the Boston Globe, and I applaud your efforts. Unfortunately, it's based on the absurd premise that there was danger of censorship in the older cases, whereas no danger of censorship here. In fact, it's pretty clear that the reverse is the case.
2.4.2006 4:57pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Fishbane--

One more point regarding the need to publicly support the Danish paper... if your best friend's brother called someone an idiot, unwarranted, and that person then went out, burned down your best friend's summer house, and issued a fatwa against your best friend and his entire family, you're not going to make public pronouncements about how it was a bad idea for your best friend's brother to call the guy an idiot, you will stand up for your best friend and his brother. If the reaction was to write letters to the editor denouncing the views expressed in the cartoons, that's one thing, but when the reaction is "all those who insult Islam must be exterminated," then despite the somewhat lack of insensitivity displayed on the cartoons, as Glenn Reynolds said, now is not the time for nuance.
2.4.2006 5:00pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
"lack of insensitivity" = "lack of sensitivity"
2.4.2006 5:04pm
dimitrir:
Let's be honest about what the difference is: FEAR. If groups of Christians world-wide hunted down artists who offended them and crusified them, and then posted their death throes on the internet, we'd be a lot more respectful to their opinions.

Yassir Arafat has brilliantly proven that terrorism works. Now the Muslim community is proving that intimidation works. Of course one could read 1930s European history to learn the same lesson, but I digress...
2.4.2006 5:07pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
After all this publicity, someone (on NPR) finally mentioned why the Danish paper published the drawings. It was not a 'schoolboy prank'. It was the result of the terrible mondern trend known as "writing a children's book". Have you noticed how every retired slut and death row gang banger has a children's book in her or him?

A Danish writer who was doing a children's book on the Prophet couldn't find any Muslim illustrators willing to draw the illustrations. I wonder why? The paper wrote about the problem and solicited and published samples.

Another horror laid at the feet of children's publishing.
2.4.2006 5:17pm
Wintermute (www):
This isn't funny; I just read a news report that a large mob trashed the Danish embassy in Syria.

Not portraying Mohammed is their rule, not mine, and impoverishes the vocabulary of criticism. Given history, I consider the right to blaspheme one of the most important freedoms I have.

Government sponsorship of the arts is mostly a welfare program for starving artists that I oppose.
2.4.2006 5:23pm
the real Eric:
Why the difference is that there are no Christian bombers who will try to blow up the Boston Globe if they print "Piss Christ."
2.4.2006 5:30pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Ryan Waxx, DEGOP,

>Are you thinking that because Christians are the majority here, it isn't possible to commit hate against them?<

No, it's not because they're the majority or minority. First of all, I don't think anybody should hate Christians or any group of people. However, the religion of Christianity is often extremely hateful towards certain groups. Thus, I don't like Christianity, and I shouldn't have to respect it, and I don't.

Incidentally, I had a friend from high school, who was gay, commit suicide over the weekend. Is it possible that the condemnation of American society played any role in his depression? How can one really say, but it certainly doesn't seem far-fetched. It's for this reason that I strongly disagree with the idea that we should be tolerant of bigoted views simply because they are under the banner of religion. Bigotry is bigotry, and people should not respect it. (Please don't tip-toe -- I brought it up)

The question with Islam, however, is much more complicated. I do not respect Islam as a religion. Nevertheless, publishing cartoons with their Prophet as a bomber may well be counterproductive.

What if the New York Times published a cartoon depicting God having sex with the Virgin Mary? The problem to me wouldn't be that it was disrespectful, so much as that it was so extremely offensive to the extent that it reduced dialogue and increased violence.

Obviously, much of the protesting here isn't reasonable. I don't think that's where the analysis should end, though.
2.4.2006 5:40pm
SteveMG (mail):
Ryan:
What I can't figure out is where this guy is getting this 'minority religion' crud from.

Sorry, I think you miss Dr. Volokh's point. And mine.

If you go to the very top of the page and read Dr. Volokh's comments, you'll see that he is talking about a Boston Globe editorial discussing the publication of cartoons or caricatures of religious symbols or figures.

Dr. Volokh's question, if you read it again, is why in America has it apparently been acceptable to hold Christian symbols in a mocking manner, e.g., "Piss Christ", but somehow, at least for the Globe, not, dare I say, kosher to mock Islamic symbols or figures.

In America. Not Saudi Arabia or Iraq or Iran.

Islam, as I'm sure you know, is a minority religion in America. As it is in Denmark, France and the rest of Europe where the cartoons have been published and have caused most of the uproar.

My point, again, is that a case may be made that mocking minority religions in America may be less acceptable than mocking dominant religions.

SMG
2.4.2006 5:58pm
Tom952 (mail):
While the Danish cartoons are inflamitory, they are not without justification in fact, and they certainly to not justify a violent and destructive response by Islamics. The embassy burnings are a wa to move the debate away from the inconvenient reality that Islamic fundamentalism is indeed entangled with wanton murder by bomb and other methods.

The basis of the conflict is that Islamics refuse to accept that non-Islamic viewpoints are as valid as their own. This is a form of agression, and it is used to justify further agression by Islamics against non-islamics.

Suppose I adopt a new religion worshiping Orulu, the hurricane god. Orulu's first commandment is that any utterance of Orulu by non-believers in any form is punishable by death, and glory awaits the True Beliver who carries out the sentence for the greater glory of Orulu.

Such a doctrine cannot be respected and tolerated by others, because to do so requires all others to surrender their rights. My adoption of my new religion does not justify suppression of your right of expression.

Islamics actively assert an overly-santimonious, self centered attitude toward the non-islamic world with the goal of impinging upon the rights of non-believers. Implicit in this attitude is the Islamic doctrine that non-believers do not really have any rights worth respecting.

I felt as far back as Desert Storm that we were making a mistake to openly surrender our right to our cultural values in deference to the Saudi's while our troops were over there. Tolerance must be a two way street - to gain my tolerance you must likewise tolerate my views.
2.4.2006 6:18pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Since the early 90's, motivated in part by events such as the one referenced, Christian groups have become more vocal about demanding respect for their beliefs. They have created strong political machines that have the ear of the legislators (and budget setters), as well as more media presence. And after 9/11 there has been an increased emphasis on being respectful of religious groups, in particular the Muslims, as a way to defuse possible sources of conflict.

In what societies, other than those with Judeo-Christian histories, is "religious tolerence" even practiced at all?
2.4.2006 6:19pm
Fishbane (mail):
Why the difference is that there are no Christian bombers who will try to blow up the Boston Globe if they print "Piss Christ."

Very true. We have pundits who joke about blowing up the NYT, and Christian bombers who blow up abortion clinics and day care centers, but not media buildings. A useful distinction to keep in mind.

Gene: I largely agree with your point re: religious tolerance. However, it seems to me that the policital cartoons were focused on a substantive criticism of Islam and not done just to insult.

Yes, I agree. I don't believe the intent was merely to insult, which is why I contrasted it with a family member with a drinking problem - substantive, valid criticism, that is very likely to be taken the wrong way if it either isn't done delicately or doesn't come from "inside", that is, from a position where one can assume trust and lack of one-sided motives.

I agree with your point about supporting the those who publish these cartoons. I am what people tend to call a "free-speech absolutist", and at times take very intentionally offensive positions when I calculate that the emotional impact is worthwhile (something I think Duncan and the ACLU can both relate to).

Condemnation is the least those who would kill to suppress speech can hope for, and I hope I didn't give the impression that I felt otherwise. Nuance isn't terribly valued these days, but I suppose I'm a bit of an optimist, so I'll try again.

Astrology, tea-leaf reading, and similar are all roundly derided by (educated, erudite, etc.) People Like Us. Why? They're silly. Christianity, Islam and the variants of both are both held in wider regard, even though they both rely on similar non-observable events for grounding. Why?

The difference to me is that nobody has made a religion with a stable history and moral code of ethics out of reading tea leaves. Attacking a non-observable basis with a history of more-or-less leading to people having a happy, healthy life in one way or another is different than attacking a bad method of predicting the future, even if they both start from comprably bad starting points.

So, wrapped up in that paragraph, you have not only why I am a "belief athiest" and an agnostic, but also an offensive to some restatement of religion, as well as an explanation of why I respect other's faiths. I contrast that with my juvenile Christ-Bhudda by noting that this has a communicative point beyond mere offensive humor, although it is also notable that I put it in terms that I understand to be true, while noting that others might find it offensive.

There is a pernicious flavor of Islam, and indeed, it is, in an objective, pessimistic, count-the-bodies sort of way worse that the Pat Robertsons of the world. If I had a plan for teaching folks that both flavors of insanity leads to massive evil, I'd offer it. I don't have one. Offending the actual moral majority of Islam, however, is rather counter productive. Much like I don't say certain things (that I absolutely believe) around certain people that I like, admire and respect in deference to their base assumptions, learning how to co-exist seems to me the only sane way out of this game.

Thanks, Gene, for a respectful response.
2.4.2006 6:24pm
Acksiom (mail) (www):
People choose to be sad or happy, disturbed or calm, fearful or confident, offended or accepting.

Muslims -- and others -- who choose to be offended by this have only themselves to blame. Their feelings are their own responsibility.

The bottom line here is such persons' lack of the cognitive/behavioral resources needed to determine their own experience of emotions does not, in any way whatsoever, automatically obligate others to alter their behavior so as to protect such persons from experiencing emotional discomfort.

The short blunt aphoristic form of this is: "No, I Don't Like Your Behavior; You Change To Suit My Personal Preferences."

That is the essential nature of their complaint, and thus reveals its essential lack of validity. By default, if they are supposed to be entitled to demand such from myself and others, then we are likewise every bit as entitled to demand the same right back.
2.4.2006 6:26pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Tom952,

>The basis of the conflict is that Islamics refuse to accept that non-Islamic viewpoints are as valid as their own. This is a form of agression, and it is used to justify further agression by Islamics against non-islamics.<

That's a great point, and one I wasn't able to phrase myself. I'll have to quote you on my blog.

It's why the whole thing just seems so impossible to me. We really shouldn't respect the hostility, but it often seems like the alternative is worse.
2.4.2006 6:30pm
Fishbane (mail):
The basis of the conflict is that Islamics refuse to accept that non-Islamic viewpoints are as valid as their own. This is a form of agression, and it is used to justify further agression by Islamics against non-islamics.

My 6th grade teacher was a local Church of Christ preacher. He regularly taught religion in the classroom. I was forming my views at the time, and asked what he would say if I told him I was agnostic. I still remember his response: "Oh, we'll convert ya, or kill ya one." I'm not making this up. In some ways, I'm greatful to him - he made me want to get out of the south, and indirectly probably influenced a lot of the striving I did for scholarships and whatnot.

But I don't confuse Charley [last name omitted for privacy's sake] with most Christians. I understand most Christians to be sane, neighborly sorts who have a code of ethics fairly similar to mine, enough so that we can get along, even if I don't hold to the same root beliefs. Most of the Xians I know feel similarly towards me.

I find it distressing that some commenters here are willing to write off 10^12 people as potential neighbors because of the actions of a few psychopaths who do horrible things "in the name of".
2.4.2006 6:36pm
Elais:
Conservatives are consistent because our views are strengthened by faith and love; liberals are inconsistent because their views are crumbling under fear.




Where one earth did you get the idea that conservatives have faith and love? Conservatives have rigid dogma and rigid ideoloy that they will compassionately bash over the heads of everyone who disagrees with them. Don't conservatives fear and hate gays so much they pass laws and amendements vicitimizing them? Where is the love conservatives have for their fellow gay and lesbians? Aren't conservatives so fearful of another 9/11 that they will eagerly destroy civil liberties to make us 'safe'?

Liberals have true faith and love. Conservatives have and display neither. And I can objectively say this as an athiest.

Rational behavior and thought goes out the window at the slightest provocation these days. People need to chill out, for goodness sake. People could easily die over a cartoon and that says it all.
2.4.2006 6:36pm
Neal Lang (mail):
"Muslims" aren't a monolithic group who all believe and support the same things. The multitudes of Muslims who don't support evil don't have to "take responsibility" for others' actions any more than Christians have to take responsibility for the multitudes of evils and horrors Christians have perpetrated in the name of Christianity. (That's not all in the past either: some Christians murder in the name of Christianity even today.)

Kindly point out one Muslim country in the World today that is tolerate of Christians. One where conversion from Islam to Christianity is not a capital offense. One where Chrisitian proselytizing is not a crime. One that provides Bibles and Christian chaplains for their Christian prisioner. Also, please provide an example of where "Christians murder in the name of Christianity even today".
2.4.2006 6:38pm
max:
The Left/msm hates Christianity so it supports attacks on it.

The Left/msm fears Islam so it appeases it.

Msm = quislings-in-waiting.
2.4.2006 6:49pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Fishbane--

First, I guess it's pretty sad that discourse has gotten so awful that you have to thank me for being respectful.

Second, I agree with you that one should paint with as narrow a brush as possible. And certainly, not all Christians represent the views of Charley. And of course, there are extremist lunatics in every group. But I think the question here is of percentages. The Palestinians just elected Hamas, which is radical Islam's wing in the "Occupied Territories." Osama bin Laden is to this day one of the most admired figures in the Midle East. Islamic charities which promote jihad (not just resistance against Israeli injustices, but rather the elimination of Israel and Jews) get extensive donations from many of the wealthy people in the Middle East. Every Islamic country gives very limited rights to non-Muslims. etc. etc. These seem to indicate that radical Islam is not a fringe viewpoint among Middle Eastern Muslims, but rather that it is THE dominant viewpoint. Of course, many Turks, black African Muslims, Muslims in India, and some of the Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia do not subscribe to these views (which is a lot of Muslims, by the way).
2.4.2006 6:54pm
Fishbane (mail):
The Left/msm hates Christianity so it supports attacks on it.


I hope this sort of ignorance hits a fever pitch soon, so that we can move beyond it within my lifetime.
2.4.2006 6:56pm
Neal Lang (mail):
The basis of the conflict is that Islamics refuse to accept that non-Islamic viewpoints are as valid as their own. This is a form of agression, and it is used to justify further agression by Islamics against non-islamics.

It is not necessary to accept a "viewpoint" to be valid, in order to tolerant the expression of that "viewpoint". In fact, the "validity" of a "viewpoint" can only established when the expression of all conflicting "viewpoint" allows the "viewpoint" to be tested.

The extreme intolerance of Islam to competing "viewpoints" is truly proof of the weakness of that creed. On the other, Christianity is the one religion that today "tolerates" the expression and proselytizing of competing religions. To me that expresses the strength of Christianity better than anything else.

Of course, tolerance need not allow insults, as that is not "tolerance" but instead "license".

To compare insulting Mohammed to insulting Jesus, the Christ is not quite an accurate comparison, because unlike the Moslem's concept of Mohammed as "Allah's Great Prophet", a true Christian's understanding of Jesus is that he is God. Insulting Jesus would be to the Christian the equivalent of insulting "Allah" to the Moslem. Even the Moslems respect Jesus as a "prophet", however, the deny His divinity.

BTW, I have had many long, passionate theological discussion with quite a few of my learned Moslem friends, without any rancor, insults, or violence on anyone's part. Of course, these discussions took place in their countries and in their homes, and Islam has great respect for "Old Testament" type "hosptality".
2.4.2006 7:03pm
SLS 1L:
Neal wrote:

Kindly point out one Muslim country in the World today that is tolerate of Christians. One where conversion from Islam to Christianity is not a capital offense. One where Chrisitian proselytizing is not a crime. One that provides Bibles and Christian chaplains for their Christian prisioner. Also, please provide an example of where "Christians murder in the name of Christianity even today".
This isn't relevant in the slightest. I don't know about the Islamic world's religious policies, but I'd like to know where you get your evidence that every one of them supports all of those policies. In any case, government policy is not the same as individual beliefs, especially in anti-democratic regimes that prevail in most (all?) Muslim countries. Even in the U.S. we have lots of policies that a majority of citizens oppose. You'd be a fool to think that most Americans support legal flag-burning, rampant pork-barrel spending, or massive deficits, but we have them. I don't know that Americans support providing religious counseling for Muslim prisoners either; I bet you could get a huge majority against it if you worded the question right. But you cannot attribute support of government policy to individuals.

And a country's policies certainly aren't evidence of the beliefs of people in OTHER countries. The policies of Saudi Arabia, for example, tell us nothing about the beliefs of Muslims in Denmark.

As for Christians murdering in the name of Christianity today, consider abortion clinic bombers. Or sectarian violence in Ireland (though I think that's basically quieted down).
2.4.2006 7:04pm
Brooks Lyman (mail):
This is a bit off-topic, but many people here in the Boston area - and not just conservatives - don't have all that much sympathy for the Boston Globe's excessive leftism and political correctness, so when the Globe recently wrapped up papers for distribution in some old computer printouts of their subscriber list - including subscribers' credit card numbers - there was a certain amount of chortling in MA, particularly among those who don't subscribe or who didn't use a credit card to pay for their subscription....
2.4.2006 7:12pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Of course, many Turks (Armenian Christians), black African Muslims (Nigerian Christians), Muslims in India (Kashmire Hindus), and some of the Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia (East Timor Christians) do not subscribe to these views (which is a lot of Muslims, by the way).
2.4.2006 7:12pm
SLS 1L:
max:
The Left/msm hates Christianity so it supports attacks on it.
Although most of the msm does lean slightly left, there's no sense in which we left-wingers "hate Christianity." Lots of us are Christians. If you were going to create a ludicrous caricature of the left's attitude toward Christianity, you'd have to say we hate theologically conservative Christianity, not Christianity, and even then we leftists generally only object to the kind of theological conservatism that goes hand-in-hand with political conservatism.
2.4.2006 7:13pm
Redman:
I wonder how far back I would have to search in order to find an editoral in one of America's 5 most influential newspapers what was critical of an attack on Christianity?
2.4.2006 7:33pm
Neal Lang (mail):
This isn't relevant in the slightest. I don't know about the Islamic world's religious policies, but I'd like to know where you get your evidence that every one of them supports all of those policies. In any case, government policy is not the same as individual beliefs, especially in anti-democratic regimes that prevail in most (all?) Muslim countries.

Of course it is relevant, in fact, it is the ONLY RELEVANT FACT. In the US and Europe, Islam is tolerated to the point where many have converted to that religion. Please point out one Islamic country where Christians are permitted to proselytizing their faith and where an Islamic convert to Christianity is not subject to "extreme sanction". These "Sharia Laws" reflect the culture and "the people" determine the culture. Without public support these laws could not be enforce. In Nigeria the Northern States with majority Moslem population VOTED to install "Sharia Law". Under "Sharia Law" a non-Moslem is at an extreme disadvantage.
As for Christians murdering in the name of Christianity today, consider abortion clinic bombers. Or sectarian violence in Ireland (though I think that's basically quieted down).

The killing of abortionists (the abortion clinic bombers typically did so when death was least likely) was not about Chrisitianity but instead an attempt to save the lives of the innocent unborn. Apparently, the death toll in excess of 40 million (more than Hitler and slightly less than Mao) in the US alone, sent some folks "around the bend" and caused them to take drastic measures. As for Ireland, both factions were normally Christian. The struggle was for "civil rights" and "power", not much different than the causes of the Civil Rights Movement in the US. Please try again!
2.4.2006 7:39pm
Neal Lang (mail):
If you were going to create a ludicrous caricature of the left's attitude toward Christianity, you'd have to say we hate theologically conservative Christianity, not Christianity, and even then we leftists generally only object to the kind of theological conservatism that goes hand-in-hand with political conservatism.

In other words, the Leftist Elitists of the MSM do not object to Chrisitianity, per se, it is Christians that insist on "Self-evident truth" they have a problem with. Just look how they treat Catholicism as an example.
2.4.2006 7:44pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Where one earth did you get the idea that conservatives have faith and love?

Where on earth did you get the idea that they don't have faith and love. In fact, this "faith and love" is best demonstrated by the way conservative Christians try so hard to get homosexuals to abandon their sinful ways so that their sould may be saved and enjoy heaven with the conservative Christians. If they didn't have "faith and love", they would ignore the sinful homosexuals and simply leave them to their own damnation.
2.4.2006 7:51pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
Assuming there were no principled difference between the two cases, at least one practical difference would seem to be that the Boston Globe is not a person, has had different editors over time, such that a coherent "viewpoint" can't really be ascribed to across the editorials in question.
2.4.2006 8:04pm
Fishbane (mail):
Gene: Yeah, discourse is rather terribly compromised. I find that sad. Thanks for engaging.

But I think the question here is of percentages.

A fair complaint, but if I can be forgiven for sounding a little postmodern, one that needs to be contextualized. For the record, I'm going to mix personal opinion with the devil's advocate, because I do think the difference of starting point is interesting.

The Palestinians just elected Hamas, which is radical Islam's wing in the "Occupied Territories."

And the other choice was... Fatah? I don't pretend to understand the politics, but it isn't like there was a viable Respectable, Western-Like Party on hand (and even if there were, sorry, but is DeLay and Abramoff and tax the future what we want for the rest of the world?) It seems to me like there was a bad choice, and an extremist choice, and the extremist choice won. Little surprise, people like that, because it pretends to offer solutions.

Osama bin Laden is to this day one of the most admired figures in the Midle East.

Of course he is. There are three reasons:

- He's the analog of any number of film heros in the US, who fought The Man. The underdog, who Fights for What's Right, always gets fans, especially from folks for have little. I know, I grew up that way.

- I live in Brooklyn now, and a number of locals think back fondly on when the Mob had a heavier hand here. A father figure that runs things makes life easier than raw competition. (For the record, they aren't gone. Just more vicious and less socially acceptable.)

- Why isn't he a priority? I mean this as a question: If, in fact, he is the head of a loosely coupled group, it is true that we might not kill it by eliminating or capturing him. But, it can't hurt, and given the weight media gives to his random pronouncements as well as the weight he seems to hold with Bush, apparently he's an importnat target. So, why is he apparently not an important target?

Islamic charities which promote jihad (not just resistance against Israeli injustices, but rather the elimination of Israel and Jews) get extensive donations from many of the wealthy people in the Middle East.

Yes, they do. And the Sauds are the largest donators, by most measures. In fact, money and lives involved in the Twin Tower attack mostly came from there. So if this is a major threat, why are we not revisiting our relation to them?

Every Islamic country gives very limited rights to non-Muslims. etc. etc. These seem to indicate that radical Islam is not a fringe viewpoint among Middle Eastern Muslims, but rather that it is THE dominant viewpoint. Of course, many Turks, black African Muslims, Muslims in India, and some of the Muslims in Indonesia and Malaysia do not subscribe to these views (which is a lot of Muslims, by the way).

I do share your horror at how they behave. And it is true that Islamic law is very different than ours, and is sort of hard to wrap one's head around. I suppose where I differ is where I believe that whatever people like to worship, physics and economics kicks in, and they have to start behaving like every one else in the long term. That doesn't mean that blowing shit up is to be tolerated, but it does, at least to me, mean that making a gradual transition possible is something that helps everyone concerned. And the psychopaths? Kill them. But win the people who are marginally on the fence over, and turn them into small business people instead of suicide bombers.

And just to follow up, I'm glad you noted the Maly and the Indonesian Muslims. They, mostly, subscribe to the same peaceful coexistance that the mediterranian Muslims did for a long time, including a very peaceful dual-law coexistance for a long time.

Personally, I see this in a sort of meta- sense: Christian nuts go crazy here, Islam zelots do the same. Invert, if you like; this particular statement isn't about action and reaction; more simple feedback loop.
2.4.2006 8:04pm
Q the Enchanter (mail) (www):
Oops. Should have read "ascribed to the paper across..."
2.4.2006 8:05pm
minnie:
The killing of abortionists (the abortion clinic bombers typically did so when death was least likely) was not about Chrisitianity but instead an attempt to save the lives of the innocent unborn.

Totally untrue. It was all about Christianity. Those same activists would condemn other activists who invade a research lab to save innocent animals from hideous mutilation and excruciatingly painful torture.

The difference, in their eyes, is that animals have no souls, and one month old fetuses do. That's a Christian position. It's certainly not my position.

Maybe we can all agree that more people throughout history have been murdered because of organized religion than for any other reason?
2.4.2006 8:28pm
juris imprudent (mail):
"...respect the otherness of the other..."

To truly appreciate that bit, think of Ben Stiller's character in Dodge Ball saying that.
2.4.2006 8:39pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
Boo hoo for the hurt feelings of the Muslims. Welcome to the free and civilized world. Of course, the so-called freedom loving liberals are taking the Muslims. If they don't like being mocked and criticized, too bad. If they bring violence to our streets as a result, our police should shoot them all down.
2.4.2006 8:56pm
Fishbane (mail):
The killing of abortionists (the abortion clinic bombers typically did so when death was least likely) was not about Chrisitianity but instead an attempt to save the lives of the innocent unborn. Apparently, the death toll in excess of 40 million (more than Hitler and slightly less than Mao) in the US alone, sent some folks "around the bend" and caused them to take drastic measures.

There you have it. Opposition is not about religion. Hilter killed less than Mao. and the terrifying behaviour of this horifying, meathook future means that only if we adhere to Christian strictures, even if they aren't legislated, then everything will be OK. Wait - remember Hitler?

...

I actually don't know what prompted this comment, which was about a paper's take on cartoons. I would take this as both a cautionary fable - look at my reaction above: I nearly deleted that, but I chose not to . This sort of reaction doesbn't help anyone. I don't mind finding deep-seated reactions, and discussing them. Proxy fights don't fix the Republic. Indeed, they distract people from real threats. I do have faith that the nature of our government will steer us out of the quagmire we're in, but the last 10 or so years (yes, Clinton and Bush) does give me pause.
2.4.2006 9:05pm
Fishbane (mail):
Boo hoo for the hurt feelings of the Muslims. Welcome to the free and civilized world. Of course, the so-called freedom loving liberals are taking the Muslims. If they don't like being mocked and criticized, too bad. If they bring violence to our streets as a result, our police should shoot them all down.

Then you must assume that if they win, by might, power, or what have you, then they're simply correct, yes?

Because if the situations were reversed, "shooting down" the running dogs would be proper disposal of public order enforcement, eh?

Oh, we love law enforcement, if we don't violate laws.
2.4.2006 9:14pm
Ken Arromdee (mail):
And the Sauds are the largest donators, by most measures. In fact, money and lives involved in the Twin Tower attack mostly came from there. So if this is a major threat, why are we not revisiting our relation to them?

Obviously we should be.

There seems to be this persistent idea among liberals that conservatives like Saudi Arabia, and that therefore "if you think that's so bad, why don't you care about Saudi Arabia?" is a clever retort. It isn't true. You might argue that George Bush likes Saudi Arabia, but he doesn't speak for everyone else.
2.4.2006 9:14pm
DADvocate (mail) (www):
I like how the Globe pulled in the "enlightened" tolerance. This is the "we're so tolerant we tolerate intolerance" argument.

I see the cartoons as commentary on the acts of violence and terrorism being done by radical Islamist in the name of Allah and Muhammad. Seems legitimate to me.

For those who forgot or never knew, the biggest outrage over the "Piss Christ" was that government money, which comes from taxpayers, paid to it. Many, including myself, don't believe any artist has the right to be funded by the government and especially for offensive, blasphemous works, whether or not it's a "serious" work of art doesn't matter.

Also the Nazi, KKK stuff reaches the edges of complete absurbity. It is wholly apparent in whose steps the radical Islamists would follow if given the opportunity.

Maybe the Globe wrote its editorial in hopes an airplane wouldn't come flying in its window.
2.4.2006 9:20pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
Re: abortion clinic bombing

Frankly, I'd be happy if the islamists could stifle their killin' activities to the level of the abortion clinic bombers (and snipers, or whatever).
2.4.2006 10:08pm
Justin (mail):
Aren't GOP advocates who say we shouldn't "tolerate intolerance" being a little hypocritical, given their several-yearlong-attack on liberals for not respecting the homophobia of the heartland?
2.4.2006 10:24pm
Steve Setzer:
Minnie:
No, we cannot "all agree that more people throughout history have been murdered because of organized religion than for any other reason".

For one thing, most history is unrecorded, so we have no idea why murders (mass or single) occurred. The aphorism you repeat is often followed by a reference to the Crusades, so I'm assuming that you mean war and other forms of mass murder. I take it therefore that you are saying that a majority of historical deaths by mass murder came from religiously motivations. I hope that's a fair restatement.

Stalin, Lenin, Hitler, Mao, and Chiang were not in it for any god. Neither was Genghis Khan, the greatest pre-twentieth century murderer. So that's the top six in history as far as we know, accounting for over 100 million deaths, and no religious motivation.
Brad DeLong has a great list of history's great murderous regimes, with estimated casualties. Note that DeLong's table is for non-battle, civilian casualties, while all six of our candidates were also responsible for the deaths of their own and others' soldiers and for "collateral damage" deaths (in Khan's case, in fact, war is by far his most common forum for death). So you have to watch out for that distinction.

Some suggest a total of nine million deaths (battle and non-battle) for the Crusades. Click here for reference with footnotes. That's all of the Crusades, mind you, over a period of centuries, and they don't add up to the achievements of a single lifetime (Khan would have thought the Europeans were pikers).

In fact, looking at the list DeLong cites from Rummel's work on the 20th century alone, only about 5% of the deaths seem to have any religious basis (Turkey, Pakistan, possibly the UK and Indonesia).

You may argue that DeLong's list is incomplete; if so, please cite other instances that support your statement, with reasonable estimates of casualties.

Some cases of mass murder occur when political or economic leaders conspire with powerful religious figures to use religious language as a cloak for their intentions. That's a pretty good summary of the Crusades, for example. Also, many 17th century slavers sought justification for their actions in Islamic or Christian scripture. Therefore, I don't think these murders fit your statement, because religion is here an excuse rather than a causative factor. But even if they do fit, they are greatly outnumbered by the victims of non-religious murder.

Mind you, there are genuine cases of religiously motivated murder. (See, for example, the Balkan Wars of the 1990s.) But your statement that "more people throughout history have been murdered because of organized religion than for any other reason" is completely...unsupportable by any set of facts of which I am aware.

I invite you to show me facts that support your position, or tell me how I should more accurately interpret your statement to make it line up with history. Because right now, it doesn't.

It sounds hip, and it fits the conventional wisdom, but I don't think it's true.
2.4.2006 10:30pm
Fishbane (mail):
There seems to be this persistent idea among liberals that conservatives like Saudi Arabia, and that therefore "if you think that's so bad, why don't you care about Saudi Arabia?" is a clever retort. It isn't true. You might argue that George Bush likes Saudi Arabia, but he doesn't speak for everyone else.

OK. It isn't true. Please explain to us what is true. Obviously, we're too stupid. Tell it like it is. I will note this placeholder when you fail to "tell it like it is".
2.4.2006 10:51pm
Fishbane (mail):
Frankly, I'd be happy if the islamists could stifle their killin' activities to the level of the abortion clinic bombers (and snipers, or whatever).

I'm terribly sorry, but you are, from what I can tell, a truly awful person.
2.4.2006 10:54pm
Steve Setzer:
religously motivations = religious motivations
2.4.2006 11:07pm
whimsy:
How often has the Boston Globe editorials or regular columnists deplored the anti-semitic cartoons found throughout the Arab world (see http://www.memri.org which monitors the arabic language press in the MidEast, not just what they say to the rest of the world) and proclaimed that they are a barrier to achieving Mideast peace? How can the Israelis believe that a peace will be stable if their neighbors are constantly inundated with anti-semitic cartoons, articles, TV shows, and religious sermons, usually from government-controlled media?
2.4.2006 11:09pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
Why the difference is that there are no Christian bombers who will try to blow up the Boston Globe if they print "Piss Christ."

You're right about that. And while that is obviously a good thing, I sometimes think that Christians have become too tolerant of anti-Christian art. The Muslims are clearly going too far with their reaction to the Mohammed cartoons, but in a way it is too much of a good thing -- religious conviction.
2.4.2006 11:13pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
If a prominent U.S. paper printed an image of Jesus engaged in sodomy with his Disciples, for instance, I would bet that the Boston Globe would say this was irresponsible and inappropriate.

Does anyone here really doubt that?

One exhibit in a museum is hardly comparable to publication in a major newspaper.
2.4.2006 11:25pm
Smithy (mail) (www):
If a prominent U.S. paper printed an image of Jesus engaged in sodomy with his Disciples, for instance, I would bet that the Boston Globe would say this was irresponsible and inappropriate.

I bet a lot of liberals would call it a serious work of art.
2.4.2006 11:46pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Smithy,

Touché. If it ever actually happens, though, I'll be more receptive to the idea that the Boston Globe is biased toward Islam.
2.4.2006 11:57pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):

I'm terribly sorry, but you are, from what I can tell, a truly awful person.

Why?
I'm just referring to numbers. Over the last few years, from Iraq to Indonesia to London, Islamists have been responsible for thousands of deaths. OTOH, I can't remember the last time an OB/gyn was killed by an anti-abortion zealot.
Besides, I think the enormous difference in quantity was why the original analogy between the two groups was, at best, pretty weak.
2.5.2006 12:24am
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
"If a prominent U.S. paper printed an image of Jesus engaged in sodomy with his Disciples, for instance, I would bet that the Boston Globe would say this was irresponsible and inappropriate."

More likely, the Globe would demand immediate federal funding for the artist.
2.5.2006 1:28am
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Fishbane--

Re: Saudi Arabia, I think that a lot of Conservatives have been upset by Bush's coddling up to the Princes. Joel Mawlbray did some excellent reporting on National Review about our government's depraved friendship with the Mullahs there. If you want to hear my view, I think we should treat them just like we treat Syria. Isolate them, withdraw our ambassador, etc. So yeah, I wish that we revised our policy towards them. But your point doesn't quite address the issue of the radicalization of Islam in the Middle East and the prominence of this view there.

Interestingly enough, some parts of Brooklyn (esp. Bay Ridge) are now becoming heavily Muslim. You should talk to a teacher who teaches at one of those schools. The kids are incredibly anti-Semitic. Where do you think they get that from? Germany now has a problem with honor killings. I hear that some of the Muslim kids call girls sluts if they remove the head-dress. Just wait, soon we'll have honor killings here too. I don't know much about the Muslims in Denmark, but the head of the Muslim Clerics Association there went to the Middle East and displayed these cartoons and others that he is now refusing to provide to inflame tensions. Remember, these cartoons were originally published months ago. I don't know if this cleric speaks for all Danish Muslims or not, but that kind of behavior is pretty bad. If I were the Danish govt, I'd give him a kilo of dill-flavored Havarti and kick him the hell out. But it's probably a good thing I'm not the Danish govt.
2.5.2006 1:38am
caspera:
Marcus1: "If a prominent U.S. paper printed an image of Jesus engaged in sodomy with his Disciples, for instance, I would bet that the Boston Globe would say this was irresponsible and inappropriate."

The play Corpus Christi on Broadway featured live simulated anal sex with Christ and a disciple. Big splashy production, four nights a week. Liberals, of course, loved it. Would there be a similar reception for a play that featured Mohammed having simulated sex with his 9 year old bride Aisha?

What I notice here is that the liberal posters are engaging in a lot of sophistry. Some say that there is no double standard in their attitudes towards Muslims and Christians because ... Others say there is a double standard but it's justified because ...

A common rationale is to allude to Christians' intolerance of homosexuality with nary a mention of Mulsims' far more extreme attitudes towards homosexuals.

http://www.expatica.com

Chris Crain, the chief editor of the influential gay magazine 'Washington Blade', was assaulted on Queen's Day in Amsterdam. He claims the people who assaulted him were Moroccans.

As he was walking to his hotel with a friend on 30 April, one of his attackers spat in Crain's face. "The man, in his 20s, had Moroccan looks and spoke with a heavy accent as he mumbled about 'fucking fags'," he said.


Chris Crain was severely beaten and now recommends gays use caution when venturing into Mulsim areas of Amsterdam.

Of course, in muslim countries, intolerance of homosexuals is not an issue, since they are imprisoned or executed in accordance with the dictates of the Koran. Just recently, two men were hanged in Iran for homosexuality, not as a lynching, but as an exercise of state power.

Another bit of sophistry is to say that Muslims should not be painted with a broad brush, blah, blah. Then in the next sentence liberals reflexively will pin Eric Rudolph's and Tim McVeigh's (an avowed atheist!) crimes on all Christians. The broad brush is far more justified in the former case than the latter, as others have pointed out. No Christians got together and had big rallys where they carried banners and handed out candies when crimes in the name of Christianity were commited.

Christians are justfiably nonplussed when every reason liberals hold forth as to why they object to Christianity is even more applicable at a theological level to the structure of Islam, yet liberals will go to the mat defending Muslims. Liberals will decry the "right wing," but there is no ideology more "right wing" than Islam. Islam, as practiced in Arabia, is in fact apartheid. Go figure.

Liberals are intellectual descendents of the French bohemians. They love to epater-le-bourgeois as a parlor game, They like to tweak the squares — get the Church ladies upset. (They then deny in public that this is what they are doing and why they are doing it, and this raises the stakes even more. What fun!) Liberals do not perceive Muslims as being bourgeois enough to be part of this game, and an awful dynamic springs up where liberals' obvious double standard becomes just yet another way to tweak their favorite targets even more. Like kids in the schoolyard: I don't have any gum for you. Oh, look! I do have gum for Suzy! And I'll give it to her right in front of you and there's nothing you can do about it. This would all be well and good, except in this case the stakes are high. Salman Rushdie is still under death threat, as is Ayan Hirsi Ali, Theo Van Gogh is dead, and these cartoonists are now under police protection.

It'd be nice if liberals other than Hitchens and Dershowitz would join the fight against radical Islam at a vigorous intellectual level (put those deconstruction skills to good use!) without feeling the need to simultaneously run down Christians to prove their bona fides to their peer group. If you are going to pretend to be people of high principle, it would be good if you actually adhered to those stated principles once in a while even if it puts you in company with the strange bedfellows, which is the inevitable result of being principled. There is no principled liberal rationale for doing anything other than defending the cartoonists to the hilt and denouncing the general behavior of Mulsims on this issue and admitting that Christians have a point about the double standard. Think of it like Assault on Precinct 17 where the precint is the liberal, tolerant West. Both cops 'n' robbers (whichever way you think of them) have to join forces because something worse is outside, and they can go back to their bickering later.
2.5.2006 3:14am
therut (mail):
Living in the heartland I never heard of that Broadway play. I must say anyone that thinks that is high brow art is mentally ill. Nothing liberals do shocks me. It just makes me sad. I pity them. I knew Broadway was putting on a bunch of gay themed shows but that one sounds horrible. How could anyone make a Broadway show like that. Maybe a porn film but Broadway. Boy it has gone down hill into a trash heap.
2.5.2006 3:28am
Gary McGath (www):
In the cases the Globe defended, the threatened "censorship" consisted merely of not giving someone money that was stolen from taxpayers. In the present case, it consists of murdering the cartoonists and anyone who lives in their country.

I'd say the Globe considers the right to other people's money more fundamental than the right not to be murdered.
2.5.2006 6:00am
Mr. Snitch! (mail) (www):
As some commenters have noted, the same principle you noted in the Globe applies to NPR, except there we have it in audio.

A commentary (from last Friday) on "liberal" NPR implicitly justifies militant threats by claiming that since the drawings were "meant to be offensive", rights to free speech did not apply: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5188026 [audio link]

NPR commentators cited "censorship" when, for example, Rudy Giuliani pulled public funding for feces-smeared Christian art in NYC museums. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1064800 [audio link]

And you might as well cite the precedent that made the current situation inevitable - the abject capitulation to these same elements in the Satanic Verses tragedy. (Yes, it was a tragedy, for Salmon Rushdie. And for the craven press, much more than they are capable of realizing.)
2.5.2006 7:59am
syn4me (mail):
I don't know about Denmark but I do know that Art is dead in America, killed by the very morally relative, politically-correctified 'artists' who have nothing to offer humanity but ridicule, humiliation and criminalization of all Others for whom they hate with every fiber of their being.

The MSM simply provides the venue for such worthless artistry.
2.5.2006 8:06am
pst314 (mail):
"If a prominent U.S. paper printed an image of Jesus engaged in sodomy with his Disciples, for instance, I would bet that the Boston Globe would say this was irresponsible and inappropriate."

The cartoon of a Muslim engaged in sodomy with a dog was NOT published in a Danish newspaper. The imams who circulated the cartoons added three more, including the dog one, whose origins are unknown (or maybe I should write "unknown" since we have long bitter experience with Muslims lying to incite hatred and violence.)
2.5.2006 8:21am
K Parker (mail):
Fishbane:

Monkberrymoon may indeed be a truly awful person, but in addition to his/her own defense, I'd also ask regarding the statement you found so objectionable:

Isn't that exactly what our law enforcement and criminal justice system presupposed? That we aren't in some crime-free utopia, but that the level of crime is low enough that we can mostly deal with it by going after the perpetrators?
2.5.2006 11:16am
Elais:

Where on earth did you get the idea that they don't have faith and love. In fact, this "faith and love" is best demonstrated by the way conservative Christians try so hard to get homosexuals to abandon their sinful ways so that their sould may be saved and enjoy heaven with the conservative Christians. If they didn't have "faith and love", they would ignore the sinful homosexuals and simply leave them to their own damnation.



Where does it say in the Bible that homosexuals are damned? And where do conservatives get the authority to pass moral judgement on others? Homosexuality is not 'immoral', it is not a 'sin'. That is complete lie. Homosexuals just ARE. Just like Heterosexuals just ARE. Conservatives are the worst Christians if they cannot accept and love others for who they are.
2.5.2006 11:23am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
If you all are only interested in getting together and ranting DailyKos style about what's wrong with liberals and America, then have fun. If you're actually interested in reality, though, you might not paint with such a broad brush. Certainly, there are some "liberals" that will espouse any illogical view. The Boston Globe here, though, hardly fits that mold.

Here are a couple of liberal standards that explain the different treatment of Islam and Christianity in America.

Liberal Standard 1. We like to think things through a step further than Conservatives are willing to.

This means, anybody who truly finds relgion to be illogical is going to think the same thing of Islam as Christianity. Newsflash: Liberals, as a group, don't actually think Islam is a better or more sensible religion than Christianity. However, these liberals may also realize that criticism of Christianity by Europeans/Americans and criticism of Islam by Europeans/Americans are going to be received in very different ways.

This goes to Liberal Principle 2: You don't ridicule a group, even that you disagree with, if it is not going to result in anything but violence.

This kind of goes along with the idea that you don't just come out and call the practices of another culture idiotic, even if you're pretty sure they are. If you truly think it's horrendous, you find more tactful ways of going about it -- not because you respect the practice, but because a little diplomacy can go a long way.

Of course, the vast majority of liberals don't see Islam as idiotic or horrendous, any more than they think Christianity is idiotic or horrendous. The principles for criticism, however, still apply.

If there is a difference between liberals and Conservatives here, it is that liberals believe in diplomacy, whereas Conservatives tend to think they are too principled for diplomacy. And no, I'm not talking about diplomacy with terrorists. I'm talking about being diplomatic before painting the Islamic Prophet as a terrorist.

If you think diplomacy isn't justified in dealing with the Middle East, then come out and take that position. To accuse liberals of a double standard, though, is just to ignore the whole issue.
2.5.2006 11:52am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

The extreme intolerance of Islam to competing "viewpoints" is truly proof of the weakness of that creed. On the other, Christianity is the one religion that today "tolerates" the expression and proselytizing of competing religions. To me that expresses the strength of Christianity better than anything else.


You forget the long history of Christianity which has been around for more than a few hundred years. And its only been in the last few hundred years that Christianity has "tolerated" expression critical of it.
2.5.2006 11:54am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Caspera,

>Of course, in muslim countries, intolerance of homosexuals is not an issue, since they are imprisoned or executed in accordance with the dictates of the Koran. Just recently, two men were hanged in Iran for homosexuality, not as a lynching, but as an exercise of state power.<

I don't know how useful it is to argue how big or small the difference is between us and them, but I would point out that until 2003, we imprisoned homosexuals in this country as well. If it were up to Scalia, we would still be doing so today.

Not that we're so comparable to Syria, but if you're Mr. Lawrence sitting in the jail cell, our love of liberty may not have seemed so clear.
2.5.2006 11:57am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Oh, I forgot liberal principle 3: There's a big difference between the work of a single artist, and printing something in a prominent newspaper.

Liberals tend to think that individual artists can do pretty much anything they want. They may have an infinite number of reasons for making their work, which we aren't going to second guess. When it comes to a prominent newspaper, however, there is a duty to act with a bit more caution. You all had funny comments about what would happen if the New York Times front-paged a picture of sodomy-Jesus, but the fact is we haven't seen it. I did a google search, and the pictures are out there, but you don't see them in the NYTimes.

The Boston Globe didn't say some artist can't make whatever statement he wants about Islam. What they said is that a newspaper should exercise caution before printing it. So, yes, many might call Sodomy-Jesus a serious work of art (if it was). If the picture were not serious, however, and were merely a comic, and was placed in the New York Times, the Boston Globe has never said anything that would bind its support. You can joke about what liberals would call a serious work of art, but I don't think you can seriously claim otherwise.
2.5.2006 12:13pm
Mobius (mail):
Marcus1, but we have seen Kanye West dressed up like Jesus though, on the cover of Rolling Stones magazine. And then we have all the South Park episodes, and then all the TV shows that bash Christians. It's hard to deny the fact that the liberal left bash Christians on a nearly daily basis.
2.5.2006 12:35pm
SLS 1L:
A common rationale is to allude to Christians' intolerance of homosexuality with nary a mention of Mulsims' far more extreme attitudes towards homosexuals.

http://www.expatica.com

Chris Crain, the chief editor of the influential gay magazine 'Washington Blade', was assaulted on Queen's Day in Amsterdam. He claims the people who assaulted him were Moroccans.

As he was walking to his hotel with a friend on 30 April, one of his attackers spat in Crain's face. "The man, in his 20s, had Moroccan looks and spoke with a heavy accent as he mumbled about 'fucking fags'," he said.


Chris Crain was severely beaten and now recommends gays use caution when venturing into Mulsim areas of Amsterdam.
Um, this is (a) one anecdote and (b) doesn't tell us the religion of the perpetrators. It does tell us the ethnicity of the perpetrators, but ethnicity and religion aren't the same thing at all. For all we know, these were irreligious Muslims. In any case, I could come up with lots of gay-bashing incidents by Christians here in the U.S.

Many of us on the left are concerned that "Muslims" is used as a racist codeword for "dark-skinned Muslims." This kind of statement (the poster's, not Crain's) is a perfect example of why.

The world's 1.2 billion Muslims doubtlessly have diverse attitudes toward gays and lesbians, just as do the world's 2.1 billion Christians. Homophobic Christians can be very homophobic - see godhatesfags.com. Christians, when this is pointed out, are prone to arguing that that's not "really" Christianity because they're misinterpreting Christian doctrine. That's a perfectly valid argument, but it's not consistent with turning around and saying the reverse about Islam. What Christian layperson has the qualifications to make claims about the correct interpretation of Islam? My guess is there are very few.
Christians are justfiably nonplussed when every reason liberals hold forth as to why they object to Christianity is even more applicable at a theological level to the structure of Islam, yet liberals will go to the mat defending Muslims.
Since when are "Christians" and "liberals" disjoint sets? There are tens of millions of liberal Christians right here in the U.S.
Liberals will decry the "right wing," but there is no ideology more "right wing" than Islam. Islam, as practiced in Arabia, is in fact apartheid.
I'll say yes to the latter, but we can just turn around and point out that the same was true of the world's Christian states when they were Christian states. We only got religious toleration, etc. when the world's Christian nations started ceasing to be overtly Christian and became more secular. Is it valid to infer that Christianity is just as right-wing as the most extreme examples of Christian states in the 16th century? I don't think so.
2.5.2006 12:53pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Marcus1,

Liberal Standard 1. We like to think things through a step further than Conservatives are willing to.

This goes to Liberal Principle 2: You don't ridicule a group, even that you disagree with, if it is not going to result in anything but violence.

liberal principle 3: There's a big difference between the work of a single artist, and printing something in a prominent newspaper.

First, you confuse "standards" with principles. They really aren't interchangeable. Not to mention that your first "standard" isn't much of a bar (and depends entirely on how another group behaves).

Second, your second principle isn't anything more then common sense, not some result of deep thinking in search of greater civility. It also leaves you the out that if you don't intend/expect violence - you are free to ridicule to your heart's content. That's not very sensitive, now is it?

Lastly, is the Danish paper in question really on par with the NYTimes? How about something published in Mother Jones or The American Conservative? How about something quite objectionable in the WaPo? You did hear about the recent cartoon controversy there didn't you? Or was that only a conservative controversy because the cartoon ridiculed Rumsfeld and held no threat of violence?
2.5.2006 1:02pm
mike t (mail):
That the Globe is hypocritical is certainly nothing new but you do a good job in exposing it on this issue. Imagine burning embassies, boycotting nations, and threatening western civilization because of taking offence to cartoons? These Islamo-facists are truly malevolent in their ongoing war against western culture. It has nothing to do with invasions and has everything to do with their self inflicted marginalization in today's world! Their culture refuses to allow them to join the 21st century so their only option is to destroy that which has passed them by! Thank God that there are those who realize this and are willing to take action that to the weak is somehow objectionable.
2.5.2006 1:06pm
Cabbage:
Guys, stop trying to engage intellectually with the leftist posters. The points have been made. They're generally smart people, so they realize that they have a dog's-breakfast of an argument and are wrong in all respects :)

They're like that annoying friend you have who won't' concede the slightest point in an argument. It's tiresome in the extreme...
2.5.2006 1:26pm
Mike Hawk (mail) (www):
The difference is that the "insults" to Christianity were done by artists to express an idea; art is meant to instigate thought, cause a reaction (sometimes negative), not just be pretty flowers and fluffy animals. I'm sure all the right-wingers would like art to only be made by Thomas Kincade and the Franklin Mint. However, I think that the point of this article was that newspapers should provoke reactions (in addition to reporting the news), but they should be aware of how far to push people. They were well aware that Muslims go crazy when you insult Muhammed; debating about whether or not that is a reasonable response does not excuse the offense. I'm sure that there are Christians who would burn down a newspaper office if that newspaper showed a cartoon of Jesus having anal sex (and loving it).
2.5.2006 1:34pm
Gene Vilensky (mail) (www):
Excuse me, the United States has Ted Rall who has made some pretty nasty cartoons. I don't recall him ever having to go into hiding because of the things he drew. Sorry, but the people defending the Globe here, please, get some perspective.
2.5.2006 1:54pm
Sydney Carton (www):
Marcus1:

<blockquote>
Liberals, as a group, don't actually think Islam is a better or more sensible religion than Christianity. However, these liberals may also realize that criticism of Christianity by Europeans/Americans and criticism of Islam by Europeans/Americans <b>are going to be received in very different ways.</b>

This goes to Liberal Principle 2: You don't ridicule a group, even that you disagree with, if it is not going to result in anything but violence.
</blockquote>

Translation: Liberals fear Islam and will rather criticize Christianity. These "principals" of Marcus1 are nothing other than cowardice. The abject intense hatrid of Christianity that spews forth from liberals' mouths these days would easily be applied to Islam were it not for their teriffic fear of it.

caspera's post was 100% right, and notably Marcus1 only responsed to a small part of it. His admittal of cowardice here makes the double-standard all too real. One can only conclude that if Christians were to "receive differently" criticism, and "result in violence," he'd shut up darn quick. And in fact, that is the lesson that's being learned across the world.

As a conservative Catholic, I have no problem with anyone criticizing Christianity, on a theological level, and frankly, while the "Piss Christ" and Mary picture was offensive, all it did was reveal to me who the anti-Christian bigots were. While I understand that Muslims may have a problem with these particular cartoons, they have a problem in general with criticism and so should be challenged on that point in general.

Perhaps I shouldn't care so much of the cowardice of liberals' reactions to Islam and their self-serving hypocrisy. It is a weakness of theirs that perhaps can be exploited, in time. I'll have to consider more on this matter. I suspect that their fear and hypocrisy may offer us an advantage in the culture wars in the future.
2.5.2006 3:36pm
Sydney Carton (www):
Mike Hawk: "They were well aware that Muslims go crazy when you insult Muhammed; debating about whether or not that is a reasonable response does not excuse the offense."

Again, an admission that fear of Muslims should've caused a tempering of the criticism. What an amazing admission.

Mike Hawk: "I'm sure that there are Christians who would burn down a newspaper office if that newspaper showed a cartoon of Jesus having anal sex (and loving it)."

Give me a fricking break. Broadway had a LIVE PERFORMANCE of Jesus and Judas engaging in Oral Sex. It was a premiere show for weeks. It was not attacked or firebombed. You truly have no idea how messed up your perspective is. Most liberals don't.
2.5.2006 3:40pm
DEGOP (mail) (www):

Where one earth did you get the idea that conservatives have faith and love? Conservatives have rigid dogma and rigid ideoloy that they will compassionately bash over the heads of everyone who disagrees with them. Don't conservatives fear and hate gays so much they pass laws and amendements vicitimizing them? Where is the love conservatives have for their fellow gay and lesbians? Aren't conservatives so fearful of another 9/11 that they will eagerly destroy civil liberties to make us 'safe'?

Liberals have true faith and love. Conservatives have and display neither. And I can objectively say this as an athiest.


Atheism is a religion, too. The rest of your post is delusional at best.
2.5.2006 3:50pm
DEGOP (mail) (www):

Where on earth did you get the idea that they don't have faith and love. In fact, this "faith and love" is best demonstrated by the way conservative Christians try so hard to get homosexuals to abandon their sinful ways so that their sould may be saved and enjoy heaven with the conservative Christians. If they didn't have "faith and love", they would ignore the sinful homosexuals and simply leave them to their own damnation.


Exactly.
2.5.2006 3:53pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Mobius,

>Marcus1, but we have seen Kanye West dressed up like Jesus though, on the cover of Rolling Stones magazine. And then we have all the South Park episodes, and then all the TV shows that bash Christians. It's hard to deny the fact that the liberal left bash Christians on a nearly daily basis.<

The Kanye west portrayal is not obviously offensive. There's no Christian rule agaisnt portraying Christ as there apparently is for Mohammed in Islam. Blacks, on the other hand, may find portrayals of Christ as a European American to be offensive.

South Park makes fun of everything, liberal and conservative. Is it irreverent? Sure, but it's also just a show on Comedy Central. It's not the Washington Post.

What are the other shows that Christian bash? I'm not aware of any. I am aware of many pro-Christian shows.

Now, there are liberals who bash Christianity daily, just as there are Conservatives who bash gays daily. Such liberals are an extremely small minority, however, and are extremely rarely allowed in mainstream publications.

I wonder, what's the worst thing you've heard said about Christianity on CNN or in the New York Times, those allegedly left-wing anti-religious institutions?
2.5.2006 4:10pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Juris Imprudent,

As to standards vs. principles, that's fine.

As to whether my principles involve deep thinking or not, that's fine too. I didn't claim they involved deep thinking.

As to ridicule in general, I have no problem with ridicule in general. In fact, I think some ideas very much deserve ridicule. That's my whole point: You can't say, across the board, that ridicule is bad. You have to ask further questions, like, 1. Are you ridiculing a valid position? 2. Is your ridicule causing more pain than enlightenment? 3. Is your ridicule leading to outright violence? These are questions that determine whether ridicule is bad.

If the ridiculed position is not valid, and the ridicule is causing more enlightenment than pain, and it is not causing outright violence, then I think ridicule is often justified.
2.5.2006 4:20pm
SLS 1L:
Marcus1,

You have to remember that when people say "Christians," unqualified, in the context of complaining about Christian-bashing, they often mean not "all Christians" but "evangelical Protestants" (and sometimes also conservative Catholics in these days of ecumenicism). Evangelical Protestants are indeed given short shrift by the media: portrayed as kooky, as weird, as generally "other."
2.5.2006 4:20pm
Sydney Carton (www):
Marcus1: "If the ridiculed position is not valid, and the ridicule is causing more enlightenment than pain, and it is not causing outright violence, then I think ridicule is often justified."

Glad you feel that way, because your principals are nothing other than cowardice, and you are a self-serving hypocritical coward.
2.5.2006 4:23pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Cabbage,

I'll concede that the vast majority of the Muslims protesting here are being unreasonable. Actually, it's quite possible they don't even know what happened. Some are suggesting they were shown much more outrageous pictures that weren't actually published. In any case, I'm not saying the protests here are reasonable or justified in any way.

I am saying, though, that we shouldn't just say "Hey, they're crazy, so screw them." In an extremely touchy and extremely volatile situation, more diplomacy than that is necessary. I think this is also an obvious point that the conservatives here would concede if they were being reasonable.

SLS 1L,

True, the media isn't totally respectful of fundamentalist Christian views. For instance, it tends not to respect anti-homosexual viewpoints. It also tends to acknowledge the scientific concensus in regard to evolution. The media tends to be more academic than fundamentalist. This is hardly Christian-bashing, though, in my mind. Atheists, incidentally, are completely ignored by the media, despite the fact that atheists outnumber several religious groups.

So when fundamentalist sensibilities come into conflict with recognizing the legitimacy of gays and evolution, gays and evolution tend to win. When they come into conflict with recognizing the legitimacy of atheists, though, fundamentalist sensibilities win. It's hardly anti-religion.
2.5.2006 4:38pm
SLS 1L:
Marcus1,

That's not what I was talking about. If you read stories in mainstream newspapers about evangelical Protestants (of whom fundamentalists are only a subset) they often tend to be portrayed as a bit weird, even though there are tens of millions of them in the U.S. It's a different attitude than you see in stories about mainline Protestants or liberal Jews.

And no, the media isn't any nicer to us atheists than any other institution in American society.
2.5.2006 4:57pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Sydney Carton,

>Translation: Liberals fear Islam and will rather criticize Christianity. These "principals" of Marcus1 are nothing other than cowardice. The abject intense hatrid of Christianity that spews forth from liberals' mouths these days would easily be applied to Islam were it not for their teriffic fear of it.<

First, I don't hate Christianity any more than you hate homosexuality. You think homosexuality is misguided; I think Christianity is misguided. Of course, it's possible that you feel intense hatred towards homosexuality. In that case I'm actually less serious about it than you are.

As far as cowardice, I'm not sure you know me that well. I've certainly staked out some unpopular positions. You do sound like quite a warrior though. If you're going to come out and say that all diplomatic efforts are simply cowardly, I'm not quite sure how to respond.
2.5.2006 5:17pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
SLS 1L,

Well last I saw, some 48% of Americans think that it is likely that Jesus is going to return to earth in their lifetimes. 24%, I believe, said they know this is going to happen. The fact is that evangelicals and fundamentalists have some pretty goofy views, that aren't really expressed well in a newspaper targeted toward college-educated types.

Many evangelicals simply reject worldly learning that doesn't center around the Bible and church. These are not people who read the New York Times or the Washington Post. Their culture has quite little interaction with the culture that reads and writes these bastions of the MSM.

Is it surprising, then, that there is a disconnect between the way these papers write about evangelicals, and the way they think about themselves? I would be interested to see what a Mississippi newspaper had to say about the gay lifestyle, or atheists, or evolution. Or better yet, a Mississippi Church Bulletin, which may have just as much influence.

So yes, the New York Times may talk about evangelical views as if they're a little weird, just as southern evangelicals tend to think everybody else is weird. In a way, I think it's inevitable. Nevertheless, I'd maintain that all of these MSM sources take great lengths to be respectful of religion and even fundamentalist religious groups.
2.5.2006 5:46pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
DEGOP, Sydney Carton, and others: Please keep the discussion civil. If you want to explain why the other side is mistaken, please feel free -- no, encouraged -- to do so. But just calling others' arguments "delusional," "cowardice," and the like doesn't really advance the debate. Understatement is almost always more effective than overstatement, both in persuading others, and in keeping others in the conversation.
2.5.2006 6:00pm
Ima Blogger (mail):
We'll be Drawing Old Muhammad on the Wall

(music: She'll be coming 'round the mountain,
http://www.niehs.nih.gov/kids/lyrics/mountain.htm)

We'll be drawing old Muhammad on the wall,
We'll be drawing old Muhammad on the wall,
For even Muslims must admit it,
You don't need a special permit,
To be drawing old Muhammad on the wall.

We'll be spraying old Muhammad on the wall,
We'll be spraying old Muhammad on the wall,
With graffiti that's persisting,
We will show that we're insisting,
On our right to spray the Prophet on the wall.

We'll be painting old Muhammad on the wall,
We'll be painting old Muhammad on the wall,
Now some claim that He's angelic,
So we'll paint Him psychedelic,
We sure hope He likes His pictures on the wall.

We'll be etching old Muhammad on the wall,
We'll be etching old Muhammad on the wall,
The time has come to make our stand
Or our rights they will get banned,
And we'll find ourselves lined up against the wall.

(If you like this, please re-post it elsewhere on the Internet.)
2.5.2006 6:10pm
Sydney Carton (www):
Eugene, sorry about that. I do, though, think that Marcus1 has openly admitted that he is afraid of Muslim criticism, hence is directing his criticism of religion towards Christianity. He has said outright that Muslims receive criticism in "different ways" and that one shouldn't criticize a group that will engage in "violence." It sure sounds to me that he's not willing to put his money (or safety) where his mouth is.

The fact of the matter is, fear is a big part of why liberals are "diplomatic" towards Muslims but can only spew venom towards Christians (be they very scholarly Catholics like Ratzinger or born-again fundamentalists like Pat Robertson). Bottom line, that's the reason for the distinction in my opinion. All the nuances and explanations for the difference from them is mere sophistry. They are afraid. And plus, there is a duality of interests: both Muslims and liberals have an interest in destroying Christianity. They have a mutual enemy, and so are allied. But it is a tenuous alliance, because the liberals know that they will be next, and the Muslims know it too.

A focus on Christianity at the expense of the real evil of radical Islam, a focus on George Bush, a focus on Israel at the expense of Palestinian terror, a focus on American historical evils instead of the real evil of places like Iran and Syria - it is a classic psychological defense mechanism known as DISPLACEMENT. Liberals stick with the enemy they know, lest they confront the far more terrible enemy that they cannot handle. It doesn't mean they're crazy - but it does mean that they are not engaging in rational thinking on the issue. And the reason? Fear. Better to deal with the straw-man enemy of Christianity, Bush, or America, than the real enemy of Radical Islam, terrorism, or Iran.
2.5.2006 7:23pm
Monkberrymoon (mail):
Look, if we have to drag Scalia and Lawrence into this, let's not make up stuff. Lawrence was exposed to a class C misdemeanor, that is, a ticketable offense. Mr. Lawrence was not facing time in a "jail cell" any more than I would be for jaywalking. Honestly, isn't it enough to say that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are bad without pretending we're in Saudi Arabia... or Gaza...or Egypt...or Talibanic Afghanistan...or Indonesia...or Pakistan...or Sudan...or Yemen. . .(etc)?
2.5.2006 7:54pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Sydney Carton,

>He has said outright that Muslims receive criticism in "different ways" and that one shouldn't criticize a group that will engage in "violence." It sure sounds to me that he's not willing to put his money (or safety) where his mouth is.<

No, I said one should avoid criticizing in a way that will cause violence. I'd say the same thing about flag burning. Bad idea. Because I'm a coward? Not really. Is it brave to burn a flag? Does that make it good?

I think you're overstating the difference between liberals and conservatives, though. The idea that liberals don't criticize Islamic fundamentalism, or that liberals don't criticize terrorism is absurd. They simply make a stronger effort to differentiate those criticisms from criticism of Islam in general. Why? Because if you just criticize Islam, you start to look like just a Christian supremacist. Which, funny enough, is exactly what you are, no?

The reason Christianity receives more focus in America than Islam is that our president is a conservative Christian whose political philosophy is deeply infused with his religious views. The same is true for the entire Republican party, and to a slightly lesser extent, the entire Democratic party. It would be only too convenient for you to get liberals to ignore all that and instead focus on the problems of Islam. Islamic fundamentalism is a problem, to be sure, but the religious views themselves are hardly a central issue in America. Our policies are not shaped by Islam.

As far as displacement, I think you overestimate the extent to which liberals know or care about the problems in other countries worse than America. Most Americans, including conservatives, focus on the problems in Amererica, because that's where we live. I happen to agree that Muslim cultures tend to be far too critical of Israel while ignoring their own problems. The idea that this "displacement" theory explains liberalism, though, or that it explains liberal criticism of Christianity, Bush or American historical evils, is a bit ridiculous. I may even have to ridicule it, unless you're going to beat me up...
2.5.2006 8:48pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Monkberrymoon,

From the Lawrence opinion:

"Lawrence and Garner were arrested, held in custody overnight, and charged under the Texas criminal statute."

I assume custody means jail. They were arrested, dragged out of their home, and put in a jail cell overnight. No, it's not lynching, but it's still pretty effed up, at least if you ask me.

Thomas, incidentally, said it was a silly law. I wonder if he'd call it silly if he and his wife were dragged out of their bedroom and put in a jail cell overnight for having sex. Scalia, on the other hand, wasn't even willing to call it silly. Instead, he went on ranting about how this undermines laws against incest, bestiality and masturbation. Yes, laws against masturbation -- Scalia thinks those are valid too. I guess he gets a point for not sanitizing his views.

Again, it doesn't put us in a league with Syria, but it does put some things in perspective.
2.5.2006 9:10pm
Elais:
Sydney,

I spew venom towards Christianity when I see so called 'Christians' spout anti-gay rhetoric, demand the destruction of civil rights for gays, call for the deaths of others, and claim God was punishing New Orleans for being sinful.

I fear radical Christianity more because Christians are my next door neighbors. Radicals would fall all over themselves to destroy my life in the misguided attempt that they are 'saving' me.

How, will Christians respond to Islam? With a Bible or a bomb?
2.5.2006 9:18pm
dk35 (mail):
Syndey Carton,

I'm wondering what it is that you are doing/saying that is actually more courageous than what Marcus1 is doing/saying. I mean, how are you actually endangering your personal safety in a greater way than he is?

Also, I am gay, and would like to someday to marry my partner. At the moment, there is a movement in this country led by Bush, certain conservative evangelical Christians, and certain conservative Catholics to pass an amendment to the US constitution specifically denying me that right. Now I have no intention of making them marry people of the same gender, but I don't like the fact that they think they can tell me who to marry. Assuming arguendo that radical Islamic terrorists are not going to take over the US government in the near future, please explain to me why I shouldn't be criticizing Bush, conservative evangelical Christians, and conservative Catholics.

And finally, do you really think it is impossible to be critical of certain individuals/groups both at home, and abroad, simultaneously? What if Ted Kennedy were President? Would you still think it so odd to be critical of your President AND Islamic terrorists at the same time?
2.5.2006 9:31pm
NickM (mail) (www):
Marcus, tempering criticism or ridicule because you believe that the group you would otherwise direct it toward would engage in a violent response is very self-defeating in the long run. It will encourage violent responses (or at least threats of violent responses) and further stifle criticism and ridicule of the groups with the most outrageous practices (which are intuitively the groups most likely to engage in a violent response in the first place).
Personally, I will not internalize a heckler's veto. I consider exposure of the irrational and unreasonable much more important - and the response to ridicule often illustrates what is wrong with them far more than the ridicule itself.

Nick
2.5.2006 10:11pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I don't know how useful it is to argue how big or small the difference is between us and them, but I would point out that until 2003, we imprisoned homosexuals in this country as well. If it were up to Scalia, we would still be doing so today.

Not that we're so comparable to Syria, but if you're Mr. Lawrence sitting in the jail cell, our love of liberty may not have seemed so clear.
Not to defend the state of Texas, but Mr. Lawrence was fined $125, not "imprisoned." (He did spend a night in jail (not prison) when he was arrested.

Part of the problem is the liberal infantilization of Muslims. Not to pick on specific people, but look at Marcus1's description of events:
You don't ridicule a group, even that you disagree with, if it is not going to result in anything but violence.
and Mike Hawk's:
They were well aware that Muslims go crazy when you insult Muhammed; debating about whether or not that is a reasonable response does not excuse the offense.
When Pat Robertson says something they don't like, they condemn Robertson for his behavior. But Muslims simply react; they have no free will of their own. Violence merely "results." Muslims "go crazy." It's just action-reaction.
2.5.2006 10:15pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Marcus1:
Thomas, incidentally, said it was a silly law. I wonder if he'd call it silly if he and his wife were dragged out of their bedroom and put in a jail cell overnight for having sex.
I think he'd think it was even sillier, in that case. In case you're not aware, Thomas's choice of language was quite deliberate; he was quoting an old opinion: Potter Stewart's dissent in Griswold.
Scalia, on the other hand, wasn't even willing to call it silly. Instead, he went on ranting about how this undermines laws against incest, bestiality and masturbation. Yes, laws against masturbation -- Scalia thinks those are valid too. I guess he gets a point for not sanitizing his views.
Scalia thinks those are constitutional laws. You do understand that there's a difference, right? He did not say he approves of them, which is why Thomas, who says he disapproves of them, has no objection to signing onto Scalia's opinion. Scalia does not "go on ranting" about that; he mentions masturbation once, in a long list. (I note you nowhere address his actual arguments, which involve actual legal reasoning; I assume it's easier to simply gasp at the result of his ruling than to engage the logic contained therein.)
2.5.2006 10:32pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
NickM,

>Marcus, tempering criticism or ridicule because you believe that the group you would otherwise direct it toward would engage in a violent response is very self-defeating in the long run...<

You make a good point, and I don't totally disagree. In fact, I'm not really opposed to the publication of the comics. I think it did in fact take some courage. And as several have pointed out, it's not even clear these comics caused any outrage -- it may have been other more offensive comics that weren't actually published. Really, that seems much more plausible to me -- I have a hard time seeing people get that pissed off just because somebody depicted Mohammed. Mohammed having sex with a dog, though, that makes a lot more sense.

So I really don't know if I would have published the cartoons. Religion is such a complicated topic, I think you have to be extremely thoughtful in how you criticize it. It's true, the heckler's veto is one consideration, but there are others as well. Basically, I think that in the end, it takes doing a whole lot of things right, and doing virtually nothing wrong, to actually get any headway with someone on the subject of religion. The funny thing, too, is that you never even know if you've actually done it.

David Nieporent,

I wish people were 100% rational creatures who responded purely to the logic of any statement. Unfortunately, I recognize that such people don't exist. We're all rational to an extent, some more than others, but there are countless other factors that also determine what we believe. I don't think there's anything noble about ignoring pscyhological or environmental factors. Indeed, I think acknowledging them is very important.
2.5.2006 10:45pm
dk35 (mail):
David Nieporent,

I think you have to be a true deconstructionist to look at those quotes as evidence that liberals aren't critical of Islamic terrorists on account of their behavior.

Also, I notice you refrain from discussing how several more "conservative" comments here have demonized those Islamic terrorists. Is demonization a more enlightened view of the "other" than infantilization?

Also, mischaracterizing Marcus1's comments don't really help your case. Marcus1 never states that Scalia mentioned masturbation more than once...so why do you say he does and criticize him for it? And finally, Scalia has little right to expect people to pay much attention to his legal reasoning when he ends his dissent by belittling the legal reasoning of the majority as "a product of the Court...that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda."
2.5.2006 10:56pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Marcus1,

You can't say, across the board, that ridicule is bad.

I didn't say it was bad, although it certainly tends to run afoul of a common liberal desire to spare some people the pain of being ridiculed or otherwise offended.

SLS 1L,

Evangelical Protestants are indeed given short shrift by the media: portrayed as kooky, as weird, as generally "other."

And thus the double dipping of irony in the Globe seeking respect for the "otherness of the other".
2.5.2006 11:00pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Also, I notice you refrain from discussing how several more "conservative" comments here have demonized those Islamic terrorists. Is demonization a more enlightened view of the "other" than infantilization?
Well, I take the perhaps idiosyncratic view that terrorists deserve to be demonized. For their decisions. Is it more "enlightened"? Well, it takes them seriously as moral actors, rather than treating them as creatures of instinct who can't make their own choices or control their own behavior.


I don't think I "mischaracterized" Marcus1's comments. He said that Scalia "went on ranting about about how this undermines laws against incest, bestiality and masturbation." I think that mentioning something once is not "went on ranting about" it. (Indeed, I don't think Scalia "ranted" about that at all, although he does rant about how the majority's opinion is dishonest, as it fails to enage any of the precedents it is allegedly following or effectively overruling.)
And finally, Scalia has little right to expect people to pay much attention to his legal reasoning when he ends his dissent by belittling the legal reasoning of the majority as "a product of the Court...that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda."
Scalia has no "rights" here at all; the issue is accuracy and intellectual honesty for its own sake, not whether Scalia has a "right" to it. Intellectual honesty is not something one engages in out of desert of the original speaker.

And are you saying that Scalia's comment which you disparage is wrong, or just intemperate? I certainly agree as to the latter; it was gratuitous on Scalia's part. But it was nonetheless correct. Does anybody doubt that this decision reflected the personal view of the majority that these laws were bad, rather than (with the exception of O'Connor's concurrence) any fidelity to constitution or precedent?
2.5.2006 11:16pm
Sydney Carton (www):
dk35: "please explain to me why I shouldn't be criticizing Bush, conservative evangelical Christians, and conservative Catholics."

Go ahead. But don't kid yourself that it's an act of courage. And don't pretend that you have a reason other than fear when you restrain yourself from criticism of Islam or Muslims.

Elias:

"I spew venom towards Christianity when I see so called 'Christians' spout anti-gay rhetoric, demand the destruction of civil rights for gays, call for the deaths of others, and claim God was punishing New Orleans for being sinful."


Your mother must be proud.

"I fear radical Christianity more because Christians are my next door neighbors."

Seek help then. You have a problem if you are serious about that statement. They may annoy you, they may pass a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as it always has been since the dawn of civilization. But if you actually believe you're in physical danger because you live next door to Christians, then I'll wager the problem isn't them, but you. Tell me once instance of any physical threat made against you (other than evangalizing or asking you to repent), whether you reported it to the police, or if you've sued them for menacing, harassment, stalking, assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or anything else. No? You haven't done that? Then quit with the drama.
2.5.2006 11:22pm
dk35 (mail):

Does anybody doubt that this decision reflected the personal view of the majority that these laws were bad, rather than (with the exception of O'Connor's concurrence) any fidelity to constitution or precedent?


Yes.
2.5.2006 11:34pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
David Nieporent,

Yes, I'm aware of the difference between supporting a law and calling it Constitutional. For Thomas, this was apparently significant. For Scalia, though, I have my doubts.

In this instance, though, I don't much respect the difference. If it was his own bedroom that the police were barging into, handcuffing him, and taking him and his wife to jail, I don't think Scalia would have had any problem seeing the constitutional problem. Let's be clear here: We are talking about jailing people for being gay. I don't care if it's one day or a life sentence; this is extraordinarily primitive injustice. The idea that we would debate the constitutionality of jailing homosexuals in the 21st century, to me is a complete joke.

Nevertheless, I did write a column in law school critiquing Scalia's legal opinion. My main points were these:

1. He completely missed the majority's historical point that homosexual sodomy had not historically been separated from heterosexual sodomy. From my column:
But that‘s irrelevant, reasons Scalia, because “the only relevant point is that [homosexual sodomy] was criminalized,” proving it‘s not a historic fundamental right.

Yet, oral sex in the marital bedroom was criminalized under those same laws, and today it is clearly a fundamental privacy right. The majority’s historical point illustrates that homosexual sodomy should not be distinguished from marital or other sodomy in deciding whether it is Constitutionally protected, because the distinction was only recently invented. Contrary to Scalia’s inclinations, we should have buried the age of isolating groups of people just so we can discriminate against them.
2. Scalia's equal protection argument is ridiculous.
As he said, “Men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, are all subject to [the Texas law’s] prohibition of deviate sexual intercourse with someone of the same sex.” So… then, Scalia would change his mind if only men, or only women, or only homosexuals were subject to this Texas law? But, isn’t that inherently the case? And this guy is brilliant? Well, Scalia has made himself clear; if Idaho decides to ban women’s underwear, or ban shoes over size 8, that’s no equal protection problem to him so long as men’s briefs and small shoes remain available to all.
3. His slippery slope argument is even worse. There are many secular purposes beyond simple "morality" for criminalizing incest, prostitution, adultery, etc. As to that, I guess we'll have to see when a gay marriage case comes to the Supreme Court, whether Scalia is truly unable to come up with any distinction.

So those were my critiques, since you asked. I'd probably write it differently today, but there you have it.
2.5.2006 11:36pm
dk35 (mail):
Sydney Carton,

You are the one who is linking criticism to a courage scale, not I. I notice you didn't answer my question about what is so courageous about your criticisms.

I am critical of Bush et al. not for the sake of being courageous, but rather in the hopes that it will help me and others in my situation to obtain equal rights in this country. So, back to your original comment, where's the straw man?
2.5.2006 11:39pm
python (mail):
You know the Danish flag has a cross on it. It may only be a historical remnant of Denmark's past, but it is a Christian cross. Some that are protesting the Cartoons are buring Danish flags, and in turn, crosses. This strikes me as unusual. Maybe the protestors do not think of them as crosses, but I do. It's so darkly ironic how this is panning out.

If there was a small band of polynesians who pledged to kill all those who mentioned the name of their leader (based on religious reasons), would the world press fall in line and not mention her name? Where's the line drawn? In this case, we can mention their "leader's" name but can't draw a picture of him - whether the picture be controversial or not!!! There must be some sentiment of not forcing non-believers living in vastly non-believing lands to live by every nuance of your own code. I personally haven't received my manual regarding which things I am supposed to do or not supposed to do to appease every religious group on the planet.
2.5.2006 11:42pm
minnie:
Steve Setzer,

I defer to your long, interesting, obviously knowledgable post. I was repeating something that I had often heard, but it seems my statement was well off the mark. I am the first to admit history is not my field. One of your points especially is interesting, and no doubt true: what appears to be wars waged or violence done in the name of religion may be something very different cloaked in those familiar robes.

The thirst for power, influence and money, along with just plain insanity, is probably what motivates most of the despots who trample on the freedom of others.
2.5.2006 11:46pm
Sydney Carton (www):
"I notice you didn't answer my question about what is so courageous about your criticisms."

Because it was a stupid question. If you don't see that the cartoonists' lives are under death threats, that the governments of europe are about to crack down on their newspapers, that editors have been fired or arrested (Jordan arrested theirs), and that the politically correct liberal elite will brook no dissent from their Bogeyman of Christianity, then you won't listen to me.
2.5.2006 11:50pm
dk35 (mail):
Sydney Carton,

I was talking about the criticisms of Islam made by conservative Americans such as yourself.
2.6.2006 12:06am
Sydney Carton (www):
Well, I'm a nobody, so I'm unlikely to be targeted. But frankly, I'm surprised that Charles Johnson of Littlegreenfootballs.com doesn't require a 24-7 bodyguard.
2.6.2006 12:09am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Yea, Sydney, but I presume you live in America, where the vast majority of people are Christian, and our government is currently dominated by Christian conservatives. What's the risk of your position?

Not that I think you're cowardly. If I were going to insult you, it would be more related to your inability to see past the propaganda of your childhood, and your failure to recognize that the only difference between you and the Islamic extremist is one of degree and how you name your delusion. The idea that admitting Christianity in America requires more fortitude than admitting Atheism, though, I think is a bit far fetched.
2.6.2006 12:20am
Sydney Carton (www):
"your failure to recognize that the only difference between you and the Islamic extremist is one of degree and how you name your delusion."

Yeah, because Catholic theology smarmily suggests that killing non-Catholics is fine. You really are an idiot.
2.6.2006 12:29am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Marcus1:
Yet, oral sex in the marital bedroom was criminalized under those same laws, and today it is clearly a fundamental privacy right.
Really? I suppose you can point to a Supreme Court decision which explicitly says so? You touch on Scalia's point exactly, and yet miss it. Your argument there depends on one of two underlying premises: that sodomy is (now) a fundamental right, and/or that there's an equal protection issue. But the Lawrence majority says neither. That's Scalia's point. The majority is afraid or unwilling to come out and actually say these things.

2. Scalia's equal protection argument is ridiculous.
It's "ridiculous" to you because in your view, there is an equal protection violation. But (1) as Scalia points out (and as I mention above) the court has never said so. The court has never (and does not here) say that sexual orientation is a protected class.
But, isn’t that inherently the case?
No. Anybody can engage in sex with members of the same sex. At least if those late-night Cinemax movies are any guide. (I'm being flip, but this is part of the basis of Scalia's view: homosexuality as behavior, not identity.)
Well, Scalia has made himself clear; if Idaho decides to ban women’s underwear, or ban shoes over size 8, that’s no equal protection problem to him so long as men’s briefs and small shoes remain available to all.
You miss the point. Under precedent, first you identify the class being discriminated against, then based on that you determine the standard of review, and then you analyze the law. If Idaho bans women's underwear, that discriminates based on sex. Sex discrimination is analyzed under intermediate scrutiny. Which means that a law must be substantially related to an important government interest. Is such a law? I can't come up with an argument, but I guess it's possible they could. Most likely not, which is why they wouldn't pass such a law.

In this case, your argument is that the discrimination is based on sexual orientation -- but that's not a protected class. So the standard of review is rational basis. Which means that the law must be rationally related to a legitimate government interest. Protecting traditional public morality has always been deemed a legitimate government interest, and the court continues to uphold laws on that basis, and this law is certainly rationally related to that interest.

His slippery slope argument is even worse. There are many secular purposes beyond simple "morality" for criminalizing incest, prostitution, adultery, etc.
That's what's known as a conclusory argument. The ones you like have "secular purposes"; the ones you don't like don't. What's the "secular purpose" for banning adult incest, or banning bestiality, or obscenity, or bigamy?
2.6.2006 12:51am
juris imprudent (mail):
Marcus1,

The idea that we would debate the constitutionality of jailing homosexuals in the 21st century, to me is a complete joke.

Actually, that's fairly enlightened compared to their treatment under Islamic law.

The problem with Lawrence is that the legal logic really does apply against a number of other "morals" laws, in particular the reliance on Steven's dissent in Bowers. How do you discern what is permissible majoritarianism, and what is not? Certainly not by relying on what the Constitution says.

Now, personally, I don't have a problem with getting the state out of the morals business, but that is more of a libertarian than liberal position. The coercive power of the state should be used to restrain you from doing harm to me, not to prevent me from doing 'harm' to myself.
2.6.2006 1:33am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Sydney,

>Yeah, because Catholic theology smarmily suggests that killing non-Catholics is fine. You really are an idiot.<

The point wasn't that Catholic theology and Islamic theology are the same, but rather that what you believe depends on what your respective theologies tells you to believe. Or, in real terms, what you each end up interpreting it to mean.

Incidentally, though, the Bible states that many individuals should be killed, and for many centuries, the Catholic church was happy to do so. Christianity as a love everybody, including non-Christians, religion, appears to be a relatively recent invention. Not that the "love everybody" idea appears to have reached every Catholic.

I'm sure you're confident, though, that anybody with any smarts at all will see that you are a man of God.
2.6.2006 1:54am
Monkberrymoon (mail):
Marcus1,
I knew that Lawrence had been arrested, but I mistakenly thought you were talking about prison time. Now I see that I misread your original post (I guess you were speaking more generally than I thought). Apologies.
2.6.2006 2:11am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
David Nieporent,

No, they don't explicitly say that marital sodomy is a fundamental right. They do not believe the right is that specific. Rather, they have said there is a fundamental right to privacy, included in which is the right to marital sodomy.

Is the court afraid to say there is a right to sodomy? Maybe -- it's kind of a funny thing to say. If it came up, they would probably be reluctant to say there is a fundamental right to picking one's nose as well. They'd probably just call it privacy. That doesn't strike me as a particular strong criticism of the court, though, or a reason to dispute their historical point.

As far as protected classes, the phrase in the Constitution is "equal protection." The courts have used the language of "protected classes" in much of its equal protection jurisdprudence, true, but that does not create an obligation to use it in every instance.

In any case, Scalia was making a purely logical point that since gays can still have heterosexual sex, this is not an equal protection violation. He was not disputing the lack of "protected class" analysis. He was suggesting that on a basic textual level, there is no equal protection problem here, because everybody is being treated equally. This, however, is completely absurd. It is the same debunked logic that says miscegenation laws cannot violate equal protection, so long as blacks and blacks are still allowed to marry as much as whites and whites. And indeed, it is the same logic that would say equal protection is not implicated by outlawing shoes of a certain size, as long as big shoes or small shoes were available for everybody. I don't think it would take Scalia long to figure out that making people with big feet wear small shoes presents an equal protection problem.

Even without a protected class, a law must serve a rational purpose. Scalia was suggesting that even that isn't necessary, because equal protection isn't even implicated. That, however, is simply not an intelligent argument.

>That's what's known as a conclusory argument. The ones you like have "secular purposes"; the ones you don't like don't. What's the "secular purpose" for banning adult incest, or banning bestiality, or obscenity, or bigamy?<

I see you left off your best example, which is masturbation. Why'd you do that? I'd have had a much harder time with that one. I'd be happy to run down the list, though. For adult incest, the argument would be that it is still related to child incest, and society has an interest in preventing interfamilial abuse. Also, there are health concerns, and the rights at issue are much weaker. Not being able to have sex with one particular individual is not nearly as stringent a regulation as saying that you may only have sex with someone of the opposite sex, even if you are biologically gay.

With bigamy, there are also societal concerns, and again, a less stringent regulation. Saying you can only marry one person, but not two, is hardly as stringent as saying you can't have sex with someone of the sex that you are actually attracted to. Moreover, there are concerns of subjugation of women, and also administrative concerns. Can a person be entitled to benefits for two spouses? Should the two spouses have to share the benefits? The whole thing seems fairly problematic.

Could you come up with other problems related to homosexual sex? Sure, but that's not the point.

As far as Bestiality, there may be health concerns, but I think you start to get into the masturbation problems: Is this really the best argument you can come up with for criminalizing gay sex, that otherwise, you might not be able to come up with a justification for criminalizing sex with animals?

As I said, I think the real test will be when these issues come up, to see if Scalia really can't think of a distinction. The point, though, is that these simply are not strong reasons for upholding the criminalization of homosexual sex. If the best support for a law is that it is no more farfeteched then laws against bestiality, then I think its time for some reevaluation.
2.6.2006 2:26am
Eugene Volokh (www):
I've just cut off Sydney Carton from further posting to this blog, because of his continued rudeness to fellow posters. I generally tolerate an extremely wide range of views from commenters. But those views should be expressed politely. Think of this place as a dinner party; no-one likes a guest who keeps insulting the others, and at some point the host is likely to stop inviting that guest. That point has been reached.

Finally, no need to digress into arguments about whether it's somehow inconsistent to defend free speech and at the same time to exclude posters who are rude. If Mr. Carton faced legal punishment -- or personal violence -- for his speech, I'd gladly speak in his defense. But I'm fortunately not obligated to provide a forum for him.
2.6.2006 3:04am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Rather, they have said there is a fundamental right to privacy,
They have said that...
included in which is the right to marital sodomy.
...but not that. You're extrapolating. And they don't say it here. That's Scalia's complaint, or at least one of them.

Even without a protected class, a law must serve a rational purpose. Scalia was suggesting that even that isn't necessary, because equal protection isn't even implicated. That, however, is simply not an intelligent argument.
No, he says that the law clearly does have a rational basis.

This, however, is completely absurd. It is the same debunked logic that says miscegenation laws cannot violate equal protection, so long as blacks and blacks are still allowed to marry as much as whites and whites.
He specifically addresses that in his opinion, and argues that the logic is entirely different. Loving was analyzed under strict scrutiny, because it involved raced-based classifications. There's no discrimination on the basis of race or sex here, so rational basis applies. And this satisfies rational basis.


As for the specific issues we're talking about outlawing, "the restriction is not as stringent" is not an argument for the law. If all you want is to come up with pretexts, I can say that male homosexual sodomy is more likely to prevent disease. But that isn't the actual motive for the law, any more than the arguments you gave were the motive for the laws Scalia cites.

Is this really the best argument you can come up with for criminalizing gay sex, that otherwise, you might not be able to come up with a justification for criminalizing sex with animals?
I think you miss the point. Scalia's view -- the traditional one -- is that unless there's a constitutional reason why the law can't be passed, a state (not the federal government) doesn't need "justification" beyond "a majority of the public thinks it's a good idea." The gloss the Supreme Court has put on top of that is that there must be a "rational basis" for the law. The rational basis for these laws is preserving public morality. It's not necessarily that one wants laws against bestiality et al., but that we agree such laws are valid. Premised on that preservation of morality basis. If you want to declare that this doesn't constitute a rational basis, then you should say so -- but the court doesn't. And you should justify it. Hasn't it always been considered a basis for a law?
2.6.2006 3:51am
minnie:
I was about to write:

"T'is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done"*, he said, and then the guillotine fell, and Sydney Carton was gone. Would that life would imitate art.....


Eugene's welcome action accomplished the same thing with less blood. Thanks!

*Tale of Two Cities by Dickens
2.6.2006 5:08am
3L LSU (mail):
People are forgetting about the catalyst for publishing the cartoons. A Danish man wanted to educate Danish chidlren about Islam. Nobody would publish it because it depicte his holiness, the Great Prophet Mohammad.

So his newspaper pal decided to see how much Danish society was self-censoring itself by publishing pictures of 'he's too great to be depicted', the Great Prophet Mohammad.

People are also forgetting that an Islamist imam went to the Muslim world and said 'look at what the mean Danish have to say about the perfect Prophet Mohammad'. And the imam jerk included 2 other cartoons not published by the paper (and they are apparently much more disgusting than the others).

There is nothing wrong with a newspaper publishing politically antagonizing stuff. That's what they are all about. They are supposed to challenge the government and politicians.

I'm dissapointed by our State Department's weak handling of this affair (although it is understandable considering we have bigger problems in Iraq and Afghanistan). Of course people have the right to say Mohammad sucks and is as ugly as a monkey (he is).

This reminds me of a funny cartoon about Jimmy Swaggert and the little bible college he tried to start in Baton Rouge, LA. The college had all the world's flags out in front of it, and the cartoon had a picture of it and its flags and describe it as, 'Six-Flags Over Jesus'.

Yankee and California liberals would laugh at that and concur. Liberals America over like to stick sticks in evangelical Christians' eyes. If they can do this, certainly I and others can stick sticks in Muslims' eyes. Today this seems more so, because the backwards bastard can't take a critique without killing someone or burning something.
2.6.2006 11:30am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
David Nieporent,

1. Extrapolation is an important part of deriving Supreme Court precedent, and it doesn't strike me as strange that they would not state something explicitly. There are a lot of reasons, I think, why they don't, which don't necessarily mean that they're torturing the Constitution. Perhaps there's not agreement on the wording; perhaps they don't want to limit themselves for the future; there could be other reasons too.

2. I think you're extrapolating from Scalia's opinion also, though. Certainly a legal argument can be constructed from his opinion, but I still think he said some pretty dumb things. The comment that homosexuals can still have sex with members of the opposite sex, for instance, is not relevant to the point you want him to make. It does not address whether gays are a protected class, or why the law has a rational basis, or why it has a compelling purpose. It is completely off topic from the legal argument you want him to make. He is saying, this isn't an equal protection ISSUE here, because we're not even treating people DIFFERENTLY. Which is a joke.

When he then discusses Loving, he still doesn't acknowledge that logically this is an equal protection issue. He instead says that that law was struck down merely because it had a racist purpose, and presumably regardless that it did still treat whites and blacks equally. If you read that section of the opinion, I think you will see that his logic is very opaque. If he wanted to make your point, he would have said "Yes, this discriminates against homosexuals, but that's fine, because they're not a protected class." He didn't. He claimed it doesn't even discriminate, which again, is ridiculous.

3. We can probably argue at length about whether homosexual sex or bestiality better justify legal restriction. Within that discussion, though, I think i's relevant how fundamental the deprivation of liberty is. Moreover, I don't think it can all be analyzed under a two-tier scale, and I think that the Court in Lawrence has clearly rejected the two-tier scale for more of a sliding scale. True, they didn't say it -- again, we're talking about 6 people signing onto an opinion -- but their analysis was pretty clear. They said there was no rational state purpose strong enough to overcome the particular liberty interest at issue. It was the language of a sliding scale, which really makes a lot more sense, since every liberty can't be pigeon-holed into "important" or "unimpotant" categories.

Yes, Scalia is claiming that morality alone used to be enough to outlaw anything that wasn't a fundamental right. But it wasn't just morality that justified those laws. I think anti-sodomy and anti-masturbation laws probably stand out as solely motivated by public morality. And indeed, I think the court has now struck down such laws. All of the rest, however, involve various other secular interests. Thus, his slippery slope is exagerated, or really completely bogus (except with masturbation, where he's right).

4. And, incidentally, the idea that there is actually a rational or any government purpose in outlawing sodomy for public health reasons, is absurd, in a way that outlawing bestiality is not. To be honest, I haven't studied bestiality laws, so I don't know all the reasons why it's illegal, but I do know that there is nothing even remotely fundamental about the liberty right to have sex with animals, and thus, under a sliding scale which the court basically uses, you don't need that strong of a purpose.

Now, I'm sure you made some other discrete points in there that I didn't specifically address, but if you're as kind with my comment as you are with Scalia's opinion, I think you'll find something I said on topic :)
2.6.2006 11:58am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Folks: I think the discussion of the right to sexual autonomy is somewhat tangential to this post. Not completely unrelated (nothing in law is completely unrelated to anything else); I see the connection; but it's probably more a distraction than a help.
2.6.2006 12:55pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Fair enough, Eugene. I suppose I just figured the further down it gets, the less anybody cares.

Plus I didn't like being told that I wasn't capable of critiquing Scalia...
2.6.2006 2:12pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
As to the connection, though, Andrew Sullivan discusses it here.
2.6.2006 2:33pm
superdave (mail):
I've read most of this discussion and followed the story.

The cartoon was satire that made a legtimate point - Islam is now pretty much synonymous with terrorism.

Let's not be coy, that's the way it is and spare me the "but 90% of Muslims blahblahblah". I'm sure most Muslims probably keep their heads down and hope for the best like most human beings in general. But the leadership of the Muslim nations and religion are for the most part promoting, condoning and encouraging violence. That's a fact that is worthy of debate and we as a society should not be censoring ourselves. If the majority of Christian bishops, priests, theologians, etc. were calling for violence it would definitely be a matter for serious discussion.

A newspaper has a right to publish. You have a right to criticize what they publish. Neither you nor I, nor some "offended" party nor specifically Muslims have the right to engage in violence or threats of violence to attempt to censor public discussion. Bottom line.

The double standard is this - works of "art" that are specifically designed to be shocking and hurtful towards Christians are fine. In fact, they are noble expressions of freedom and all that jazz. Publish a cartoon that makes an important point that all of us should be discussing - the condoning of extreme violence by the Muslim religious leadership - and you are engaging in the same thing as Nazi caricatures. That's a double standard and a crystal clear one.

Anyone who criticizes Islam is guilty of "hate speech" - and this not the only example. There is a pattern of attacking any speech remotely critical of Muslims or Islam as a religion. Attacking any other religion (Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) is just peachy and is a noble expression of freedom of conscience.

There are few more caricatured, stereotyped, and bashed groups in this country than the big bugaboo "conservative Christians". The rhetoric about all those eeevil Xians out there just makes my point. The way I hear it is that Christians want a theocracy so they can torture all the homosesexuaalls. They also ride around in their pickups with shotguns shootin' darkies for fun and generally ruining the good time of all you enlightened, free thinking folks.

It's all a bunch of propaganda designed to keep you terrified so you'll surrender your liberties to some strong man who will protect you from those eeevil Christians out to eat your babies. There's probably a conspiracy to blow up an abortion clinic now and then just to keep you frightened.
2.6.2006 3:33pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Scattershot thoughts:

Is it reasonable to expect the Boston Globe to have a never-changing editorial voice over 15 years? Maybe it is, but it's not self-evident.

The 1999 editorial reacted to a court decision that found that the mayor's actions violated the First Amendment. Lots of people, liberal and conservative, like the Constitution.

The biggest point, to me, is that a different tone is appropriate when commenting on one's own culture or area. Southerners can say things about southerners that would make me uncomfortable if said by non-southerners. I don't think that the Globe's editorials are hopelessly contradictory if read in that light. That we have a right to print offensive stuff doesn't mean we should. Maybe I can be proven wrong; I was inclined to defend the Globe, because I used to deliver it (but I actually found the first para of the most recent op-ed to be pretty insipid).

I don't think the Globe defended the rampaging, as some commentors in this thread seem to imply. Saying that restraint on one side would be good doesn't preclude favoring restraint on the other side.

Caspera has a good point about the conflict between multiculturalism and liberalism (in terms of tolerance of differences). But he spoils it a bit by adding in lots of "lib'ruls are stupid!!" hyperbole.

Also, the point that the US is more tolerant than Saudi Arabia is correct, and beside the point. We can't let the backwardness of other societies allow us to pat ourselves on the back and stop trying to make our own culture better.
2.6.2006 4:51pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Not to be too speculative, but I'd bet good money Some Libruhl is a fraud. Who in particular, it's probably best not to guess.

Not that it should matter, but if so, it's pretty sad.
2.6.2006 5:31pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Some Libruhl has been banned from posting.
2.6.2006 7:24pm
juris imprudent (mail):
Marcus,

All of the rest, however, involve various other secular interests.

Yet, oddly enough those secular interests don't tend to be elucidated and only the morality interest is left in play. The right argues that whatever the majority decides is the moral consensus. The left argues that some moral judgements are objectionable and therefore constitutionally suspect (though only with the gauziest of connections). Though in this case I sympathize with the ends desired by the left, I am not at all comfortable with the means (particularly since the left won't follow them to the logical conclusion).

Which actually does tie back into the genesis of this thread - the moral sensibilities of the majority. After all, it isn't Danish Muslims that are rampaging - it is the ignorant and offended masses of the Muslim dominated countries.
2.6.2006 7:31pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Juris Imprudent,

>The left argues that some moral judgements are objectionable and therefore constitutionally suspect (though only with the gauziest of connections).<

The problem isn't so much that the moral judgments are objectionable, as that I don't think moral judgment alone should trump the liberties of others. This is true whether those moral judgments are good or bad.

If someone commits murder, or rape, or robbery, or shoplifting, or insider trading, or any number of things, I think the government is well justified in curbing those behaviors. You can't let people run rampant and ruin everything for everybody.

If it just comes down to "I don't like it when the two of you do that," though, then that doesn't seem like the kind of thing the government should enforce. There are lots of things that I think other people shouldn't do. When that behavior doesn't infringe on me in any way whatsoever, though, I can't imagine trying to enforce my preferences on them.

I think many people mistakenly believe that the only justification for murder laws, etc. is public morality. They're wrong. Morality may support them, but these laws are easily supported by the necessity of having members of a society be able to live together in peace.

I think maybe you have to take a couple steps back to see how thoroughly ridiculous it is to think that, even where one person's behavior has no impact whatsoever on another, that the other should be able to tell the first person what to do. Is America a free country or not?
2.6.2006 11:22pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I was about to write:

"T'is a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done"*, he said, and then the guillotine fell, and Sydney Carton was gone. Would that life would imitate art.....

Eugene's welcome action accomplished the same thing with less blood. Thanks!

*Tale of Two Cities by Dickens

Hmmm! So Eugene Volokh is a "Jacobin" - a Madame Lafarge in drag, perhaps. To Compare The Volokh Conspiracy with the "Reign of Terror" might be a bit of stretch - "Le guillotine! Le guillotine! Off with their heads!" And is he always knitting?
2.6.2006 11:57pm
Neal Lang (mail):
The problem isn't so much that the moral judgments are objectionable, as that I don't think moral judgment alone should trump the liberties of others. This is true whether those moral judgments are good or bad.

Liberties absent morality is license. The Founders said that.
2.7.2006 12:00am
juris imprudent (mail):
Marcus,

The problem isn't so much that the moral judgments are objectionable, as that I don't think moral judgment alone should trump the liberties of others.

Ah, it appears you are more libertarian than liberal. As I said earlier, I'm quite comfortable with removing the state from morals enforcement against activities that harm no one, but offend the self-righteous [again an allusion to the source of this thread]. Usually liberals are just as disposed as conservatives to having some activity that offends their sensibilities, and that they would thus have be illegal.

Neal,

Liberties absent morality is license. The Founders said that.

Yes, and the Founders also decided that a black slave was 3/5ths of a free white person. So they weren't perfect, nor were they right about everything.

That I like to engage in sexual activities, in private, with consenting adults, that you may not approve of, does not mean you have a legitimate basis on which to sanction my actions through the state - regardless of how many people agree with you. You call it license, I call it liberty.
2.7.2006 12:57am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Neal Lang,

I'm curious -- if you think pure moral judgments are a good enough reason to criminalize my behavior, even when my behavior is entirely private and has no impact on you whatsoever -- what is it, would you say, that makes this a free country? Is it just that, on balance, we get to do more things than people in certain other countries? To steal a line from our president, it almost sounds like you hate freedom...
2.7.2006 9:27am
Rob T:
Mr. bob mitze best summarized it all - FEAR
Muslim extremists WILL kill indescriminately! If they're PO'd that your cartoon is an attack on Mohammed, guess what? KABOOM.
Is it that hard to understand? How many Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. do you think will drive their explosive laden pick-up truck into the Globe's HQ for a little retribution to qualify themself for eternal redemption with hordes of virgins?!!
2.7.2006 11:28am
Ben Rice (mail):
The difference is that the NEA funded Piss Christ while the Mohammed cartoon was funded by what I presume to be a private entity which in turn is funded by its subscribers and advertisers. Don't you know that it's ok to create art that intentionally provokes the followers of a religion in so long as you force those followers (and the general public) to pay for it?
2.7.2006 3:01pm
David Dean (mail):
I'd like to revisit the original question that (at least in my understanding) Volokh was trying to get at. Do the differing editorial reactions of the Globe to Piss Christ et al. and the Danish cartoons constitute a double-standard within the mainstream media?

I appreciate Fishbane and Bob Bobstein (and probably others) for having the honesty to say in effect, "Yes, but that's exactly as it should be." Attempting to deny a double-standard with the argument that an individual artist can say whatever he wants but a newspaper has to exercise caution is both tortuous (an artist speaks publicly with their art, lets either make these rules of self-censorship apply to everyone who would make their voice heard in the public sphere or lets not cite them at all) and inconsistent with the examples Volokh cited. In both the Piss Christ and Holy Virgin Mary controversies, mainstream newspapers printed photographs of the works of art in question. (I was following the NYT coverage of the Holy Virgin Mary controversy quite closely for a Poli Sci class at the time, and seem to remember a 3/4 page photograph of the painting in their Arts section.) Now American newspapers are by and large choosing not to reprint the Danish cartoons. If no double-standard exists, where was the restraint they seem to have so lately come to?

Much more honest to acknowledge the double-standard as Fishbane and Bob have done, and try to explain why it is appropriate. To me, the most elegant defense thus offered was Fishbane's example of the dangers of an outsider interfering in a family problem.
Suppose you have a sibling in your family that drinks too much. You might call him out and tell him he's a drunk, and should grow up. At the same time, J. Random Person doing the same might draw your ire; protecting one's family and family name might be considered more important than the marginal value of an outside opinion on the brother's problem.

There are a couple reasons why I appreciate what Fishbane has said here: Firstly, it acknowledges (perhaps unintentionally) that there IS a "drinking problem." The issue of the radicalization and militarization of Islam is one of the most consequential of our day. The question of whether this is a movement of the "lunatic fringe" or represents something more grassroots is one for people who know more than I, but lets not pretend the issue isn't relevant! This is why I have such little patience with all those who are saying that the cartoons were meant SOLELY to offend and inflame. Forgive me, but if the cartoonists wanted SOLELY to offend, they would have needed simply produce blasphemy without message (Mohammed in urine or animal feces, perhaps?). Mohammed with a bomb in his turban may lack subtlety, but it makes a salient point. (As an aside, I find it a tragic irony that the way many have responded to the insult of a cartoon depicting Mohammed as a messenger of violence is by way of threats and violence.)
Again, I feel that Fishbane's example gives the Danish cartoonists a fair treatment here in that they are represented as the outsider who points out a legitimate problem. He has narrowed in on the issue of "who said it" as opposed to "what was said."

But is it reasonable to say that the Danish cartoonists' outsider status made their speech on this issue inappropriate? Let me take Fishbane's example one step further to illustrate why I disagree with this conclusion. Suppose this family member with the drinking problem gets behind the wheel of a car. He has now taken his "private" problem to a place where we are all affected. Is the dark spectre of radical Islam still something that can be called a "family problem," off-limits to those of us looking at the Islamic world from the outside? I don't see how anyone can seriously make that case in a post-9/11 world.
2.7.2006 3:29pm
Neal Lang (mail):
I'm curious -- if you think pure moral judgments are a good enough reason to criminalize my behavior, even when my behavior is entirely private and has no impact on you whatsoever -- what is it, would you say, that makes this a free country? Is it just that, on balance, we get to do more things than people in certain other countries? To steal a line from our president, it almost sounds like you hate freedom...

It depends on the behavior. Everything one does may impact someone else, private or not. This isn't a "free" country. It is a country built upon liberty and not license. BTW, freedom is not license. You have no right to do evil - every one of our Founding Fathers would have agreed with that. Your problem is that you think you live in France - a country whose Revolution was based on the concept that there are no "Self-evident truths". Instead you are in America, a Nation Founded on the "Law of Nature and Nature's God", and the "Self-evident truths" of the equality of men and the "unalienable right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (property)." Our Founders believed that our liberty could never survive, save for a moral people. Of course, they were right, as we can plainly see.
2.7.2006 6:14pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Yes, and the Founders also decided that a black slave was 3/5ths of a free white person. So they weren't perfect, nor were they right about everything.

No, I agree that was immoral - and we fought a Civil War that killed nearly 600,000 in order to fix, thus hightlighting the "wages of sin". They were right about an immoral people could not be trusted with liberty, however.
That I like to engage in sexual activities, in private, with consenting adults, that you may not approve of, does not mean you have a legitimate basis on which to sanction my actions through the state - regardless of how many people agree with you. You call it license, I call it liberty.

Absolutely! It is done every day in this country. Deviance is not liberty, it is perversion. Liberty to practice perversion is license, not liberty. Again, none of the Founders every defined "liberty" as the freedom to do "evil". You must think you are France. The Jacobin Revoution in that country did away with "Self-evident truths".
2.7.2006 6:25pm
Neal Lang (mail):
Ah, it appears you are more libertarian than liberal. As I said earlier, I'm quite comfortable with removing the state from morals enforcement against activities that harm no one, but offend the self-righteous [again an allusion to the source of this thread]. Usually liberals are just as disposed as conservatives to having some activity that offends their sensibilities, and that they would thus have be illegal.

And the result will be a totalitarian State demanded by "the People" to end the chaos. You aren't a libertarian, you are more an anarchist. The French Revolution founded the 1st Republic on the basis of a valueless, moral-less State. It lasted 7 years before the Dictatorship of Napoleon Bonaparte. The French are currently working on their 5th Republic. The idea that immorality hates no one is absurd.
2.7.2006 6:36pm
shergald (mail) (www):
"Yet where in those editorials are the admonitions about the need for "respect" of religious groups?"

Not having the time to read 195 posts, many of which are probably more to the point than this one, and assuming that someone or many already made the point, but as far as I can tell, reporting about someone else's disrespect and initiating it are two different things. But a further point is that artistic context of the latter examples bring forth a special class of communications, art, whose current postmodern trends actually demand relevancy and meaning. Religion has both. Reporting on it is not disrespectful and in no way is the newspaper editor in the same position as the museum director in these examples.
2.7.2006 8:49pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Neal Lang,

>It depends on the behavior. Everything one does may impact someone else, private or not. This isn't a "free" country. It is a country built upon liberty and not license. BTW, freedom is not license. You have no right to do evil - every one of our Founding Fathers would have agreed with that. Your problem is that you think you live in France<

Your problem is that you think you have the authority of God. Or that the political majority does. You have so much confidence in your own ability to know what is good and evil -- or to divine the difference between "liberty and license" as you put it -- that you would enforce those views on others, even where their behavior has no impact on you whatsoever. You want to play God.

Indeed, your views illustrate the exact problem at the heart of this issues, which arises any time religion and politics intermingle. Here you fully admit that you would rely purely on your religious morality to have the state confine someone to jail for entirely private behavior. And yet, you appear to object to the lack of "tolerance" exhibited by others to this religious view.

This is exactly why honest criticism of religion, in general, is so important. Once the ridiculous premises are accepted -- that a 2000 year old book is the word of almighty god, containing his commandments for how all Christians and non-Christians are required to live -- really, I think your conclusion is completely right. Just as right as the the Islamic radicals are who think it is their duty to fight a holy war against us infidels in the West. If that's what God wants, that's what God wants -- how can I argue?

I just look forward to the day when people realize how senseless it all is. Not that I'll be alive.
2.7.2006 11:29pm
James of England:
I'm not sure if you've seen it yet, but here's Jack Straw's (UK foreign secretary) unbroadcast interview with The World This Weekend on the BBC. It includes this gem:

Jack Straw: Yes, I would, without any question. You should apply exactly the same standards. And I also think, if people look at these cartoons and were to replace the images of the Holy Prophet with images of Jesus Christ or the Virgin Mary, they can see that even in our culture if they were directed at the Judea or Christian traditions, there would be similar outrage.

Note that he said this after the burnings and such. Because, obviously, if a Danish newspaper ran a picture like Rolling Stone's cover, the Danish embassy in DC would be stormed. Just thought I'd mention it since other, less prominent, figures had been getting flack for less stupid statements (including similar statements made earlier, before the violence became yet more un-Methodist).
2.8.2006 12:10am
Scott Marquardt (mail):
New in these parts. Good to see intelligent discussion among those who differ.
Marcus1: Your problem is that you think you have the authority of God. Or that the political majority does. You have so much confidence in your own ability to know what is good and evil -- or to divine the difference between "liberty and license" as you put it -- that you would enforce those views on others, even where their behavior has no impact on you whatsoever. You want to play God.
Sounds like a religious test to me. This sensibility, consistently applied, would have it that opposition to murder is "playing God" in just the case that the motivation of the practice's detractor is adherence to, let us say, the Decalogue. It would be odd, though, to disenfranchise critique of someone's playing God by ending human life, on the grounds that such critique is motivated by belief that God disapproves of those who play God in this way. After all, that would only be crediting to God the same sentiment you're crediting to your interlocutor as well, Marcus. ;-)

The religious person may well be guilty of projecting her own viewpoints onto a screen and calling it "God's will," but a democracy counts on the credibility free people are willing to attach (or not) to such claims. And more frightening by far than pretenders to prophetic infallibility, frankly, are those who believe the "mystery clause" of Casey to be Good Philosophy:
At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of the universe, and of the mystery of life.
If that's not a blank check for playing God as a secularist, I don't know how much more closely a remark could come to the mark. The difference would be that if there is a God, some religious could probably persuade others that their salutary moralities are no threat to the common weal, and are perhaps essential thereto -- whereas all non-religious are arrogating, in all instances, the role of God in a universe they don't believe he inhabits. They have no One to whom they can even fallibly defer. They are the Law.
2.9.2006 3:43am
Scott Marquardt (mail):
Correction -- "the same sentiment you're expressing concerning your interlocutor."
2.9.2006 3:46am