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"Not an Issue of Free Speech," says the Council on American-Islamic Relations:

CAIR's statement ont he matter "reiterate[s] the Muslim community's strong belief that the controversy is not an issue of free speech, but is instead based on concerns over hate speech and incitement."

"Not an issue of free speech." Newspapers' rights to publish cartoons, some of which simply portray a religious figure (albeit in a way that many adherents of the religion find blasphemous) and others of which link the religious figure to violence as a way of making a political statement about the violence practiced in the religion's name, is "not an issue of free speech." I certainly hope that CAIR's views of what constitutes "free speech" don't make much headway, though I'm sorry to say that others and still more others — who are fortunately not in America — seem to agree with them.

CAIR does "condemn all violent actions by those who are protesting the cartoons." I'm glad that CAIR doesn't belong to the camp that believes in street violence as a means of suppressing political and religious expression it finds offensive. I'm not glad that it belongs to the camp that believes in governmental suppression — fines? prison? — of political and religious expression it finds offensive.

CAIR describes itself as "America's largest Muslim civil liberties group." Too bad that its view of civil liberties is so cramped as to fail to recognize the liberty of speech involved here.

UPDATE: Some commenters asked me to clarify why I see the CAIR statement is a call for legal punishment, and not just for denunciation. Sure; "incitement" is a classic example of speech that's constitutionally unprotected, and thus punishable even in the U.S. It's also a classic example of punishable speech in international discussions of the matter. When someone says that a "controversy" about the publication of certain materials "is not an issue of free speech, but is instead based on concerns over hate speech and incitement," it seems to me that it's saying that the materials aren't protected as free speech, but punishable as incitement. Likewise, many people have urged a creation of a new "hate speech" exception to First Amendment protection (and I've seen plenty of casual statements, though generally not by First Amendment lawyers, that assume that such an exception exists); that is likewise consistent with my interpretation.

If someone had said that a controversy about some statements "is not an issue of free speech, but is instead based on concerns over libel," or "obscenity," or "fighting words," we'd easily recognize, I think, that the person is urging that the speech be punishable (since libel, obscenity, and fighting words are the names of categories of punishable speech). The same applies when people say that a controversy about cartoons "is not an issue of free speech, but is instead based on concerns over . . . incitement." In fact, this speech does not fall within the recognized First Amendment incitement exception, but I take the reference to "incitement" to be a call for treating the speech as constitutionally unprotected.

Defending the Indefensible:
"Everyone has the right to peacefully protest defamatory attacks on their religious figures, but protestors should not reinforce existing stereotypes by resorting to violence or inflammatory rhetoric," CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

I don't see a problem with this, or with the rest of their statement. Where they say the controversy is not over free speech, I see that they are agreeing that the author and publishers of the cartoons have the freedom to express themselves, thus there is no controversy on this point.

Likewise CAIR has a free speech right to peacefully protest against defamatory stereotypes.

I don't see them justifying violence or suppression of speech at all here. Do you?
2.6.2006 3:37am
jgshapiro (mail):
CAIR says that the purpose of its news conference is in part to
2) reiterate the Muslim community's strong belief that the controversy is not an issue of free speech, but is instead based on concerns over hate speech and incitement; [. . .]
They then go on to repeat the quote set forth above by Defending the Indefensible.

Sorry, I don't see this as "agreeing that the author and publishers of the cartoons have the freedom to express themselves"; rather CAIR is agreeing only that the protestors have the right to express themselves (though not through violence).

As for the authors and publishers, they are dismissed as hate speakers and incitors, even though at most three of the cartoons could be described as hate speech, and the remaining cartoons only constitute incitement if you are willing to grant Muslims a heckler's veto over any pictorial depiction of Mohammad.
2.6.2006 4:23am
Nels Nelson (mail):
The quoted statement is poorly phrased, but to me it as well reads that CAIR, and apparently all U.S. Muslims, agree that publishing the cartoons was protected speech, and that this is a non-issue and therefore not part of the controversy (by which is meant only the "controversy" within the U.S.) CAIR is attempting to distance its criticism of the cartoons from the criticism by those who are torching embassies and calling for official censorship.
2.6.2006 5:00am
EtSeq:
I don't see anywhere in that statement that CAIR is calling for government action against the publications of the cartoons. Perhaps they've said this elsewhere and I haven't seen it. Would Professor Volokh care to point out the basis on which he makes this assertion?

Again, I could very well be wrong, but just based on this particular press release, it looks like CAIR is trying to say that they're not asking government to restrict the speech but rather persuading people not to express themselves in ways CAIR deems hateful, which is essentially exactly what the Ant-Defamation League does.
2.6.2006 6:50am
Jutblogger (www):
The great hypocrisy in all this is that many people, of all faiths, spew complete hatred towards other nations on a daily basis, seemingly without retribution. In this particular incident, it feels almost surreal to see their protests, but then know that the "president" of Iran is calling for an entire nation to be wiped off the map, or that Arafat would talk of peace in English, and then call for war in Arab on the same day. It is about free speech, for all, not just angry mullahs.
2.6.2006 8:08am
Bottomfish (mail):
Towards a Sociological Theory of Hate Speech Codes

A group of people with long-standing grievances, which have at least some basis in fact, sees something that offends them and goes on a violent rampage. The elite is horrified. Laws get passed to punish words or actions that express "hate". There is little effort to consider whether the aggrieved group may be partly responsible for its problems. The defining characteristic of the elite is, after all, generosity to those clearly less well off even when they behave badly. This is partly an expression of guilt over an exhalted social position and partly a defense of one's own identity. (To react punitively would imply insecurity in one's position.) As a result, the offended group, under no pressure to change any element of its own attitudes, comes to feel that the rampage is justified anger against a collective wrong.

These supposedly ameliorative measures to curb "hate" in fact do nothing to relieve tension. Everybody between the top and the bottom know that a burden of sensitivity is being imposed on them with no reciprocal obligation. It is acknowledged, for example, that there is a great deal of violence and exclusiveness in Islam, but that is, as the Nixon White House gang would put it, inoperative information. The likelihood of further conflict can only increase. The elite is unable to concede that its reformism is not really problem-solving but only a way of confirming its own culturally dominant position.
2.6.2006 8:31am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Prof. Volokh-- I think that the point that CAIR is making is identical to the opint that you made a few weeks ago about the controversial Dixie Chicks statements.

The issue is not whether there is a right to make the statements; rather, it is over whether the statements were good or bad things, and what the nature of the retaliation should be.

I don't see anything in the CAIR statement that contradicts this.
2.6.2006 9:10am
Robert Schwartz (mail):
Have they ever denounced hate speech comming from Muslim sources, and there is a lot of it, Including a constant stream of classic European anti-Semetic literature, such as televised versions of the Protocols?
2.6.2006 9:15am
Joshua:
The most shameful aspect of this whole cartoon story isn't that there are people who would denigrate a religion (nothing new), or even that there are religious zealots who would incite violence to avenge that denigration (again, nothing new). It's that more or less by default, the former have become the de facto standardbearers for the defense of free speech and other Western values from the latter.
2.6.2006 9:40am
Free Guy:
This whole situtaion just further convinces me that "incitement to riot", "fighting words", and "hate speech" should be legally protected free speech.
2.6.2006 9:58am
Bill (mail):
Obviously freedom of speach is an issue here. Maybe CAIR supports free speech (I have not read the statement.)

Here are some of what I consider interesting questions:

(1) Is "free speech" a reason for drawing such a cartoon? For making the editorial decision to publish it?
My answer is "no". The fact that "free speech" is an excellent reason (among others) to decry embassy burning and death-threat making does not mean that it precludes adducing reasons why those cartoons and their publications showed exceedingly bad judgement.

(2) Would it be proper for, say, a Danish head of state go so far as to criticize the editorial decision of the newspaper or cartoonist? Compare the case of President Bush shameing the reporter who outed his wiretapping program.
2.6.2006 10:24am
Bob Bobstein (mail):
To update my post above comparing these incidents to the Dixie Chicks row, here's one take on how the anti-Denmark protests were orchestrated. These cartoons were originally published in September. So why rampage now?
2.6.2006 11:28am
Ivan Lenin (mail) (www):
I think CAIR's position is pretty clear.

Bob Bostein:
The issue is not whether there is a right to make the statements; rather, it is over whether the statements were good or bad things, and what the nature of the retaliation should be.
Exactly. They realize that something like these cartoons are legal, but since they are "BAD THINGS", they shouldn't be. They shouldn't be protected as free speech. They should be considered "hate speech" and "incitement to violence" and outlawed.
Gotta love who these people say are inciting violence. Lovely folks; we should really understand and respect them more /sarcasm off
2.6.2006 11:51am
JGR (mail):
I applaud the commentators who are not overly familiar with CAIR who are seeking to rationally analyze the statement on its own merits; But for the record, the whole conversation is largely pointless. CAIR is an organization with known ties to terrorism, that has consistently and unapolegetically embraced the global jihadist movement. Just do a google search.
The following are a handful of facts from an article by Daniel Pipes. http://www.danielpipes.org/article/394

"...One indication [of the true nature of CAIR] came in October 1998, when the group demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as "the sworn enemy," finding this depiction "offensive to Muslims."

"The same year, CAIR denied bin Laden's responsibility for the twin East African embassy bombings."


"CAIR consistently defends other militant Islamic terrorists too. The conviction of the perpetrators of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing it deemed "a travesty of justice." The conviction of Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind sheikh who planned to blow up New York City landmarks, it called a "hate crime." The extradition order for suspected Hamas terrorist Mousa Abu Marook it labeled "anti-Islamic" and "anti-American." "

"Not surprisingly, CAIR also backs those who finance terrorism. When President Bush closed the Holy Land Foundation in December for collecting money he said was "used to support the Hamas terror organization," CAIR decried his action as "unjust" and "disturbing." "

"CAIR even includes at least one person associated with terrorism in its own ranks. On Feb. 2, 1995, U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White named Siraj Wahhaj as one of the "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments. Yet CAIR deems him "one of the most respected Muslim leaders in America" and includes him on its advisory board. "

" For these and other reasons, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, Steven Pomerantz, concludes that "CAIR, its leaders and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." "

I could continue quoting - and support of terrorism is only one unsavory aspect of this organisation - but you get the point. It's ludicrous to even have a discussion about whether a group like this supports free speech. It's like parsing a single quote from the Ku Klux Klan to see whether it could be read to favor blacks or Jews. Maybe it could, maybe it couldn't, but that's really besides the point.
2.6.2006 11:56am
Gordo:
If CAIR is merely denouncing the cartoons as defamatory, and calling for peaceful protests, or even an economic boycott of newspapers and countries that publish this material, then I say go for it.

But of course CAIR is making their denunciations with a much more ominous backdrop, which we are seeing on display in its foul glory in Lebanon, Iran, the Palestinian areas, etc. Protesting offensive speech doesn't mean issuing death fatwas on its authors and the co-nationals of the authors, or burning down the offending country's embassy.
2.6.2006 12:05pm
Kai Jones (mail):
Bill, at 10:24: do you know why the cartoons were elicited and published? It was to illustrate a story about the difficulty an author was having getting artists to draw illustrations for his book. The artists did not refuse to draw the illustrations because they believed it was wrong to represent the prophet of Islam, they refused to draw them because they were afraid of being hunted down and killed for drawing them. The story was, therefore, about the suppression of speech; the cartoons are not all examples of hateful depictions, some of them are respectful (insofar as any depiction may be respectful of the subject even if disrespectful of the prohibition).

And it's not all of Islam that forbids representational art, anyway. Note, for example, this archive of images and explanations dating back to medieval times.
2.6.2006 12:11pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Gordo: "CAIR is making their denunciations with a much more ominous backdrop"

I don't think that's an apt characterization of what CAIR is doing. The title of the press release is "U.S. MUSLIMS REJECT VIOLENT RESPONSE TO CARTOON CONTROVERSY". But they also note their genuine offense at the cartoons. I don't think they are indifferent to the ominous backdrop.
2.6.2006 12:16pm
Bob Bobstein (mail):
Prof. Volokh might want to note that the Pope puts it more starkly than CAIR does in their press release.
2.6.2006 12:19pm
ROA:
It appears that three additional cartoons were added to the twelve published by the Danish newspaper before they were shown in Islamic countries. The three additional cartoons showed Mohamed being sodomized by a dog, as a pedophile, and with pig features. Danish Islamists were responsible for the additional cartoons. They then took all 15 cartoons to various Middle Eastern countries to incite feelings against Denmark.

It is possible that the most offensive cartoons were actually drawn by Muslims. At best, the most offensive cartoons received additional publicity because the actions of Muslims. Does this mean CAIR and all the other Muslim groups that were offended and/or demonstrated will apologize to Denmark and pay for the damage they caused, or still blame Denmark and ignore the role played by Muslim extremists?
2.6.2006 12:29pm
Bill (mail):
Kai: Yes I knew. It seems incomprehensible and wrong to me to threaten people who dare to draw the Prophet. I'm angry at people who make such threats.

I would not, however, recommend responding to those threats by drawing the Prophet with a bombturban.

But if it weren't for the bombturban would we even be talking about it. Free speech is truly a profound mystery.
2.6.2006 12:31pm
A Muslim (mail):
JGR, you discredit no one but yourself by quoting Daniel Pipes and comparing CAIR to the Ku Klux Klan.
2.6.2006 1:55pm
Flavio Rose (mail):
Isn't CAIR just joining the great mass of people who thought R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul was wrongly decided? I would venture a guess that the majority of lawprofs are in that camp -- it was, after all, a Scalia opinion.
2.6.2006 2:17pm
William Spieler (mail) (www):
Incitement really seems to be the wrong term for this, anyway. Incitement is usually, "Hey, let's go kill X." Incitement isn't something that one says that would get oneself hurt - that's fighting words doctrine. And fighting words doctrine only applies to speech targetted at a specific person in a face-to-face setting.

So even if one could prosecute someone who tells a Muslim, "Mohammed was a terrorist," the rationale behind fighting words - that the speech will immediately create a breach of the peace - isn't even present with a publication that requires time to publish, distribute, and disseminate. If anything, the five month lapse between these cartoons' publication and the outcry is evidence of this.
2.6.2006 2:36pm
epaminondas (mail) (www):
I cannot help but wonder what CAIR would say if 6 million jews in the USA told them that certain Hadiths needed to be expunged from american muslim literature, and coul dno longer be taught, like THE STONE AND TREE, since just like the cartoons they constitute hate speech, but unlike them express outright racism.
2.6.2006 2:47pm
pct:
How would Prof. Volokh respond if, hypothetically, CAIR had claimed the cartoons were unprotected as "fighting words"? It is hard to deny that they "by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace." The peace is being breached left and right as a direct result of publication.
2.6.2006 3:40pm
A Muslim (mail):

I cannot help but wonder what CAIR would say if 6 million jews in the USA told them that certain Hadiths needed to be expunged from american muslim literature, and coul dno longer be taught, like THE STONE AND TREE, since just like the cartoons they constitute hate speech, but unlike them express outright racism.


Without getting into a detailed discussion about scripture, let me just point out that all religions have their share of fire and brimstone, and Judaism is no exception (see: the Talmud). Stick to the facts at hand instead of making bigoted, irrelevant, and hypocritical arguments.
2.6.2006 3:42pm
A Foe of non-moderate Islam:
A Muslim at 3:42pm requests that people "Stick to the facts" by requesting that people ignore the fact that the hadiths are far more hateful than the cartoons. If the cartoons should be legally banned, then so should many Islamic writings. Trying to malign other religions is an Islamist's way of trying to change the subject to divert attention.
2.6.2006 4:08pm
A Muslim (mail):
You are the one maligning religions, not me. My point is simply that if these so-called hateful hadiths should be "banned", then many *apparently* hateful passages in Jewish and Christian scriptures ought to be "banned" as well. But the fact of the matter is that every *apparently* hateful verse in any religious scripture has linguistic and contextual connotations that lend themselves to a variety of interpretations. Focusing on such verses in one particular religion without reference to these connotations or the fact that such verses exist in other religious traditions is just a bigot's way of putting a scholarly face on his bigotry.
2.6.2006 4:27pm
JGR (mail):
"JGR, you discredit no one but yourself by quoting Daniel Pipes and comparing CAIR to the Ku Klux Klan."

My post went out of its way to list six objective facts; to cite the source; with the added invititation for any reader unfamiliar with CAIR to do a google search and discover more on his own. You did not dispute any of these facts and only insulted me. I think the readers of this thread can tell who is discrediting whom.
2.6.2006 5:09pm
jgshapiro (mail):
The hypocricies and paradoxies of this controversy abound.

1) Muslim literature is full of cartoons that ridicule Jews and Christians, but I am aware of no Arab or Muslim-dominated state that prevents them from being published, or punishes the publishers or artists. Yet when the shoe is on the other foot, the same states encourage or condone violence in response.

2) The violence in response to the cartoons actually validates the stereotypes portrayed in some of the cartoons (the bomb-turban and the Mohammad with the sword come to mind).

3) Cries of tolerance from the West of Islamic religious views are matched against wholesale intolerance by Islamicists for free speech and free press in the West.

Can anyone find an example of CAIR criticizing negative portrayals by Islamicists of Jews or Christians? I cannot see any principle at work here from CAIR other than "Islamicists should be able to say what they want whether you agree or not, but you should not be able to do likewise" and "you should carefully observe Islamicist sensitivities, but we will not do likewise to yours." Is that supposed to be a civil liberty? For whom?

I will say, in response to the posts opposing R.A.V., that I would much rather live in a country where you can say and think anything you want (even if it greatly offends other people) and simultaneously have to live with what other people say and think (even if you are greatly offended), than a country in which everyone has to watch their tongue lest they run afoul of the prevailing speech and thought code.
2.6.2006 5:47pm
JGR (mail):
"How would Prof. Volokh respond if, hypothetically, CAIR had claimed the cartoons were unprotected as "fighting words"? "
Ironically, Prof. Volokh addressed this issue only three days ago in an unrelated post on a racial incident in Connecticut.
"Face-to-face personal insults (racist or not) are generally unprotected by the First Amendment. They fit into the "fighting words" exception to free speech, on the theory that they lack constitutional value and tend to cause fights. Speech that isn't directed to a particular hearer is generally protected, even if it's an insult... " (http://www.volokh.com/posts/1138997741.shtml)
The face-to-face aspect is obviously not the only difference since the cartoons were making political and social points, which is different than going up to an obese person and saying "hey fatso you so fat!" But in itself it disqualifies the cartoons from "fighting words" in the legal sense.
2.6.2006 5:56pm
wooga:

"JGR, you discredit no one but yourself by quoting Daniel Pipes and comparing CAIR to the Ku Klux Klan."

What an astounding display of logical insight and brilliant argument!
Even if you think Pipes is full of it, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Thus, "A Muslim", if you want to rebut JGR, you need to actually rebut the substance of his post. As it stands, CAIR fits right in line with La Raza and the KKK in terms of their worth to society.
2.6.2006 8:55pm
MarkM:
Even assuming a charitable interpretation of CAIR's statement -- that the freedom of people to draw such cartoons is not at issue because such freedom is already well established -- the statement is factually incorrect. Many of the violent incidents have not just been the expression of blind rage but rather have been threats of violence against the cartoonists (who now are apparently in hiding in fear of their lives) and threats or actual acts of violence against the Danish government to pressure it to retaliate against the cartoonists. Freedom of speech means that one is protected against violent retaliation for speaking one's mind not only by armed agents of the state but also by private individuals. In this sense, the free speech rights of the cartoonists have already been violated and the state of free expression has been weakened due to the chilling effect the violence will have on other newspapers, cartoonists and journalists.
2.6.2006 8:57pm
A Muslim (mail):
For starters, JGR's message contains no reference to specific CAIR statements or press releases, so I have no way of knowing exactly what he's referring to. Furthermore, nothing connects Siraj Wahhaj to terrorism aside from Mary Jo White's unsubstiantiated allegation. He's never been charged with a terrorism-related crime. To the contrary, he's regarded as an upstanding leader both within the Muslim community at large and within his native Brooklyin community; the Brooklyn borough president even declared August 15, 2003 "Siraj Wahhaj Day" in honor of his "lifetime of outstanding and meaningful achievement." CAIR has repeatedly condemned Osama bin Laden and all the extremists responsible for 9-11 by name. Yes, CAIR disagrees with many aspects of the Bush Administration's policies toward the Muslim World, but last I checked, they were within their constitutional rights in this regard. Providing material support to a terrorist organization is a crime; criticizing government policy is a constitutional right and does NOT amount to "support for terrorism" (it's rather ironic that those critical of the Muslim World's supposed failure to embrace free speech criticize CAIR for exercising its free speech rights). I challenge anyone to find one official CAIR statement expressing support for terrorist acts. The CIA has supported Bin Laden more than CAIR has.

Ku Klux Klan, eh? You're comparing a rights advocacy group to a racist organization with a 150-year history of terror and racial intimidation implicated in hundreds of hate crimes? That's just plain outrageous.
2.6.2006 10:29pm
Unknown (mail):
Muslim, It may not be fair to compare CAIR to the KKK, but it does seem fair to compare present day Islam to the US treatment of blacks after the Civil War. Since the Pact of Umar in the seventh century non-Muslims have been treated as second-class citizens. To be honest, much of the time they were treated better in Muslim countries than in European countries, but they were still second-class citizens. And what was acceptable behavior in the seventh century is not acceptable now. As an example, I understand non-Muslims are not allowed in Mecca or Medina. Why? Are you afraid we will contaminate them?

Another example: A fatwa issued in Saudi Arabia in 1993 by Sheikh Mannaa K. al-Qubtan, professor of higher studies in the School of Shari'a, Riyadh stated that it was not proper for a non-Muslim to supervise a Muslim.

Another example: In 1990, President Bush had spent the Thanksgiving holiday visiting among the 240,000 American troops then stationed in Saudi Arabia, but felt he had to leave the country for his personal religious ceremony so he wouldn't offend the Saudi's.
My final example: Where was your outrage when Muslim publications were claiming Jews use human blood for the pastries they bake for religious ceremonies? And where was your outrage over despicable cartoons about Jews that are always appearing in Muslim publications?

Muslims expect other religions to obey their rules when they are on Muslim soil, but apparently they are not willing to allow other countries to develop their own rules.
2.6.2006 11:27pm
JGR (mail):
Officially, I am ending the "debate" (for lack of a better term) with "A Muslim". Thinkers as diverse as Socrates, Ayn Rand, and William F. Buckley Jr. have counseled people to just walk away from public discussions when the evidence of one side's irrationality is implacable and impenetrable. The reason I enjoy the Volokh Conspiracy so much is precisely because I find not only the bloggers, but also the commentators to be not only interesting but remarkably fair and intellectually honest. I know that I have read comments suggesting that many of the commentators here are too rude or intolerant; but anyone who visits a lot of other blogs knows that speaking relatively, this is a nice place to hang out. I might gain x level of enjoyment from fisking A Muslim's last post; but it would decrease by 10x my general level of satisfaction because I don't come here to get involved in from-here-to-eternity flame wars with ideologues.
2.6.2006 11:27pm
A Muslim (mail):
That's totally fine. I would point out that your claim to rationality is drawn into question by your jumping all over my objection to your ludicrous comparison of CAIR to the KKK while failing to respond to the asanine and bigoted remarks of "epaminondas" and "A Foe of non-moderate Islam". But really, what's the point? As you said, flame wars with ideologues serve no intellectual purpose.
2.6.2006 11:38pm
Lev:
CAIR

Committee for an American Islamic Republic
2.7.2006 12:05am
Eugene Volokh (www):
A Muslim: If you continue to be rude to fellow posters, you will be banned from posting on the site. As I've said before, we tolerate a very wide range of viewpoints here, but please don't call fellow posters asinine or even hypocritical. There are more polite and more effective ways of expressing precisely the same point.

JGR: I should note that the first item in the Pipes article that I checked -- the statement (which you quote) that "[CAIR] demanded the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as 'the sworn enemy'" seemed to not quite seem to check out. Following Pipes' own link that purports to support his assertion, I got to this item, according to which CAIR's objection was that "[b]y placing an unidentified stereotypical picture of a Muslim with a beard and a turban, KCOP's billboard is implying that all men who look like him are like him, sworn enemies." Unfortunately, the link to the original cartoon is broken, so I can't check it myself, but CAIR's claim seems to be that (1) the cartoon didn't identify the picture as bin Laden, that (2) (in 1998) a casual observer wouldn't understand the picture as being of one particular Muslim, and that (3) therefore many observers would see it as describing Muslims generally as the enemy. That seems somewhat different from "demand[ing] the removal of a Los Angeles billboard describing Osama bin Laden as 'the sworn enemy.'" Perhaps I'm mistaken, and perhaps the other sources from Pipes' article are more accurate; but you might want to check them out further, and, when possible, cite to the original sources.
2.7.2006 12:09am
JGR (mail):
Thanks to Volokh for the clarification.
I have to get to bed (I don't know how full-time bloggers do what they do). Since I don't have time right away to check all the facts, let me note in all candor that I didn't put a lot of thought into the choice of quotations - which isn't to say that it was cavalier. First, I had a pretty negative opinion of CAIR from reading numerous magazines and bloggers whose general honesty I respected; and I had read at least some of the statements before so I had no reason to doubt the general veracity of the article. I also did a quick search on Pipes and found generally favorable information such as that he was a Middle Eastern expert, had served in several high government positions, and had written for numerous respectable magazines. So he seemed as good a choice as anyone, this was a blog comment and not a doctrinal dissertation. However, after Professor Volokh's post, I did do a little more research and I have found that a number of people, including supporters, suggest that Pipes has a history of exagerating elements of his stories. At the present time, I honestly can't tease out the truth on the limited knowledge that I have. If anyone has any more information before I can fact-check everything, please feel free to post.
2.7.2006 2:28am
Public_Defender:
Then CAIR statement was an announcement of a press conference. It seems premature to parse the language of the announcement without reviewing the conference.

CAIR was being careless in the way it discussed freedom of speech. Most non-lawyers (and even many lawyers) regularly misuse legal terms. CAIR's statement was ambiguous because it neither expressly called for or condemned government censorship of the cartoons.

My guess is (and the press conference could prove me wrong) that CAIR meant to say that the newspapers should have chosen to refrain from publishing the cartoons, not that the government should punish the newspapers.

Before condemning sloppy language in an announcement of a news conference, it would be wise to listen to the news conference.
2.7.2006 7:17am
A Muslim (mail):
Firstly, I referred to remarks as asanine and bigoted, not particular posters. Secondly, I stand by my remarks. Suggesting that Islamic scriptures are "hateful" or "racist" or that they "should be banned" is unprofessional at best and bigoted at worst (interesting how you voiced no objection to that post). The reason I say such remarks are hypocritical is because "epaminondas" suggested that Jews should call for certain hadiths to be "expunged" and "no longer taught" because of what he implies is their anti-Semitic content, yet anti-Semites have been making similar claims about certain verses in the Talmud for centuries. Of course, the Talmudic verses used to justify hatred and suspicion of Jews are twisted and decontextualized to suit racist anti-Semitic agendas. Hence, "epaminondas" imputing the same logic onto Muslims to suggest that Islamic scripture is hateful and racist toward Jews is hypocritical.
2.7.2006 11:02am
Et Cetera:
Applying the logic of Muslims who want to legally ban cartoons they find "hateful" or "offensive" requires the banning of many Islamic hadiths. The Muslims deserve a taste of their own medicine if any gov't is foolish enough to ban those cartoons then the hadiths should be banned!
2.7.2006 11:27am
3L LSU (mail):
Public Defender,

Ah... CAIR shouldn't need more time to take a less apologetic stance than they did. They simply are not about criticizing Muslims, they are about criticizing and faulting everyone else.

CAIR is a disgrace and unintelligent.
2.7.2006 11:40am
Public_Defender:
3L LSU,

CAIR did criticize Muslims who reacted violently to the cartons. The question Professor Volokh asked was whether CAIR was calling for government censorship.

Given the ambiguity in CAIR's announcment of the press conference, I think we need more information. Listening to the press conference would be a nice start. And if no reporter asked the question, shame on the press.
2.7.2006 11:58am
jgshapiro (mail):
Public Defender:

CAIR may have criticized Muslims who acted violently to the cartoons, but CAIR has never criticized Muslims who author or publish similar invective against Jews or Christians. That undermines any point CAIR had about whether Jews or Christians who Author or publish (alleged) invective against Muslims should be prevented from doing so, or should be punished.

Either everyone is punished for (or prevented from) making or publishing intolerant remarks or no one is.

That is why 3L LSU's remarks are right on the money. There is no principle involved here from CAIR except hypocrisy.
2.7.2006 1:11pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
A Muslim: Calling fellow commenters' posts asinine isn't much better than calling the commenters themselves that. It's also unnecessary -- you can make your point more effectively, and more helpfully to the discussion, using softer language. In any case, though, if you want to continuing doing this, do it elsewhere. Don't do it on this blog.
2.7.2006 2:26pm
Public_Defender:
jgshapiro,

Interesting point, but it's irrelevant to the question of whether CAIR was calling for government censorship of cartoons it views as anti-Muslim.

Professor Volokh argued CAIR was wrong for calling for government censorship I argued he hasn't shown that CAIR had called for government censorship. Your argument that CAIR is wrong for something else has nothing to do with whether CAIR called for government censorship.
2.7.2006 2:44pm
A Muslim (mail):
Prof. Volokh: Fine, but calling people's religious scriptures "hate speech" and "racist" without elaborating is okay?
2.7.2006 3:41pm
Broncos:
Eugene,
You and Orin generally post the most thoughtfully/insightfully; and I appreciate the care with which you both moderate the comments. Nonetheless, I think you're being a little heavy-handed with "A Muslim." I'm all for moderating invective, rants, and exaggeration, but moderating (what is essentially) rhetorical flourish seems a bit much. (not to mention that some of the comments that he is responding to - e.g. comparison of CAIR's societal worth with that of the KKK - fulfill this criteria a bit better than the adjectives he employs.) Just my $0.02.
2.7.2006 7:34pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Calling people's religious scriptures "hate speech" and "racist" without elaborating is not terribly productive, because it's just an assertion without a defense. Give some arguments in favor, and it's quite permissible here (even if some might disagree). You can express lots of viewpoints, including ones that harshly condemn other religions.

Calling fellow posters names, or calling their arguments asinine, is not necessary in order to convey any viewpoint about religion, politics, or what have you. Don't do it.

I'm afraid I'm just swamped, and can't continue further with the explanations. But these are the rules for posting on this blog. I realize you might dislike them, but, as I say, it's a big Internet -- there are lots of places you can post whatever you please. On this forum, please respect our rules.
2.7.2006 7:40pm
JGR (mail):
(Note: For some reason my hyperlinks aren't working, and this section wouldn't let me post urls more than 60 characters in length; Not being a techie, I'm not quite sure the solution offered me by the friendly error message, so I took the only logical step of breaking up the url with the word BREAK. Many apologies for inconvience.)
There appears to be no question that CAIR consistently supports terrorism. Let me state very cleary what I mean by "consistently supports". The leaders of CAIR will frequently denounce specific acts of terrorism such as the 1998 embassy bombing or the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. However, in cases where the perpetrators are Muslim, they will repeatedly defend the specific perpetrators even when there is overwhelming evidence that the perpetrator is guilty, always suggesting that the trial is part of an elaborate plot by the US government to persecute Muslims. In cases where the perpetrator is not Muslim, as with Timothy Mcveigh, CAIR will not defend the perpetrator and will even take a hard line against him. CAIR refuses to condemn either Hamas or Hezbollah, whose terroristic actions are not in dispute.

A good introduction to CAIR is an article in Salon by their Washington correspondent Jake Tapper. http://salon.com/news/feature/2001/09/26/muslims/index.html
"CAIR's founder, Nihad Awad, wrote in the Muslim World Monitor that the World Trade Center trial, which ended in the conviction in 1994 of four Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, was "a travesty of justice." According to Awad — and despite the confessions of the terrorists from the 1993 attack — "there is ample evidence indicating that both the Mossad and the Egyptian Intelligence played a role in the explosion."

Now I wasn't able to find this article on the web, although I have read several mentions of it in different sources, which immediately raises a question.. I stated in a post above that I would fact-check my sources, and I will confess that it is hard to find the primary sources (in the academic sense). CAIR does not list its more controversial statements on its website, and all the articles that I have read are quotes from interviews or other articles or speeches. Orwell once raised the question of when it's appropriate to say we know something for certain; Let me say that fortunately, I don't regard the question here as that difficult. CAIR is an organisation that issues press releases and protests about anything. A single questionable statement by a journalist or talk-show host will result in a press release, a call to boycott the sponsors, a general bullying campaign. So I think it's reasonable to assume that if the same statements are repeatedly printed by reputable sources and CAIR does not challenge them, they are true statements. Fortunately, CAIR lists all its press releases on its website. http://www.cair-net.org/ I had to wade through almost one thousand of these - 38 pages of approximately 25 per page - but having done so, I feel confident that CAIR does not seriously dispute any of these charges. (For readers of my original post which started this, let me state for the record that I regret using Pipes as my source).
Some more quotes from the same article:

"Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of CAIR, refuses to outright condemn Osama bin Laden."

The prosecution of Abdul-Rahman was listed by CAIR in "a 1996 list of "incidents of anti-Muslim bias and violence" in a book called "The Price of Ignorance" which dealt with the "status of Muslim civil rights in the United States."

" [There was] CAIR founder Awad's 1994 declaration that before the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority he "used to support the PLO," but that now he was "in support of the Hamas movement more than the PLO."

' Questions about whether CAIR would condemn organizations by name unequivocally, instead of qualifying the condemnations, were just "word games from the pro-Israel lobby," Hooper said. '

" ...Hooper then ended the interview, and refused to discuss questions about a series of 1994 meetings that CAIR coordinated for Bassam Alamoush, a Jordanian Islamic militant who told a Chicago audience in December of that year that killing Jews was "a good deed." Nor could he be asked about CAIR board member Siraj Wahaj. Wahaj, the imam of the Taqwa Mosque in Brooklyn, decried on TV the Sept. 11 attacks as "criminal" and "wrong." But Wahaj also had invited convicted terrorist Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman to speak at his mosque, and even testified on his behalf. "

I said in an earlier post that support of terrorism is only one unsavory aspect of this organisation. In addition to their general bullying, they exhibit all the irrational zeal for conspiricy theories, particularly anti-semitic ones. In a press release condemning the journalist Steven Emerson (some of their specific complaints may be true) they couldn't resist tying everything into one big conspiracy:
' * In 1984 Walter Mondale returned campaign contributions from Arab-American leaders to avoid alienating pro-Israel voters.
* In 1988, Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis openly rejected Arab-American leaders' endorsement for the same reason.
* In 1999, House minority leader Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) was forced to withdraw his nomination of an American Muslim leader to the National Commission on Terrorism. Gephardt came under pressure from pro-Israel groups who claimed the Muslim leader is "anti-Israel" and an apologist for terrorist groups.
* Pro-Israel groups also challenged the nomination of a Muslim woman to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
* This year, representatives of pro-Israel groups were the only non-governmental officials who testified before a congressional hearing in favor of the use of secret evidence in INS deportation hearings. * American Muslims and civil libertarians believe secret evidence is unconstitutional and that it is used disproportionately against members of the Muslim and Arab-American communities.
* Also this year, a radical pro-Israel group attacked an Arab-American lawyer at the State Department who stated that Israel had tortured hundreds of Palestinians.
* As recently as this month, that same radical pro-Israel group attacked Vice President Gore's appointment of a prominent Arab-American activist as a campaign liaison on ethnic affairs.
All of these incidents point to a game plan designed to prevent the American Muslim and Arab-American communities from taking their proper place in the political arena. '

(Emerson Mugs the Truth - http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page= BREAK articleView&id=333&theType=NR)

Although CAIR refuses to condemn Muslim terrorist organisations, it calls for a crack down on "Jewish terror organisations" (See their press release 'Albright urged to act on Jewish terror groups in America). http://www.cair-net.org/default.asp?Page= BREAK articleView&id=343&theType=NR

I was originally going to quote more articles, but to be honest, I'm pretty sick of dealing with this. At this point, I don't think any honest or decent person can regard CAIR as anything less than a horrible group.
2.8.2006 12:29am
JGR (mail):
Broncos,

I think you are off base equating a comparison of CAIR to the Ku Klux Klan as an equivalent of a rant.
Wooga wrote, "As it stands, CAIR fits right in line with La Raza and the KKK in terms of their worth to society." Before even considering the statement in context, just consider it alone: There is more than one interpretation of this statement, but I would argue that they all add up.
Since all three of these groups are identity-politics groups, one obvious explanation is that it questions the worth to society of identity-politics groups. Now this is certainly a respectable position. Mainstream Conservative authors write this essay every week in a different form. One can go considerably further than questioning the worth of such groups to society - Many writers question their worth to their self-proclaimed beneficiaries. R. Emmet Tyrell Jr. (founder of the American Spectator) once wrote an essay in which he said that if all such groups were to disappear from the face of the earth, the supposed beneficiaries of their groups would not be any worse off [There are probably individual counter-examples]. Many people think that they would be BETTER off. There is a good deal of evidence that the leaders of many of these groups are more concerned with lining their own pockets than with helping their alleged beneficiaries (See Ken Timmerman's 'Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson'). The black leader Tony Brown has stated that if other black leaders had taken all the money spent on fancy conferences "eating buffalo wings" and had invested them in black-owned business - he recommended starting hotels - they could have already lifted blacks out of poverty.
Certainly, many Muslims have expressed similar views towards both CAIR and the AMC. In a letter to a Muslim Web site, the Egyptian Muslim and peace activist Seif Ashmawy wrote, "The real challenge for moderates like myself is to prevent my Muslim brethren from [being] deceived by extremist groups that pretend to represent their interests."
Okay, but the Ku Klux Klan is one of the few organisations that it's considered inappropriate to ever compare to along otherwise acceptable grounds of comparison, for the same reason that otherwise valid comparisons to Hitler are deemed inappropriate. But Wooga's comment DID explicitly note the comparison in relation to just those aspects (i.e., my post). They are both organisations that lend support to violence, group hatred, and anti-semitism. I don't see where the comparison breaks down.
Even if you somehow disagree - and I don't see how, but allowing that you would - it is still a perfectly valid intellectual point, nothing resembling a content-lacking insult like saying "You're an idiot" or "You're a bigot".
2.8.2006 2:08am
Porkchop (mail):
It strikes me that the argument against publication of the cartoons boils down to this: Depicting Mohammed in violation of Muslim tenets strikes a blow at the very heart of Islamic beliefs, and and such desecration of their beliefs simply should not be allowed, even under the guise of "free speech." Personally, I don't buy into that, but here's a question for discussion: Isn't this the same argument advanced in the United States by those who want a constitutional amendment (and implementing federal and state statutes) to ban the burning or other desecration of the flag of the United States? Can one support the right to publish the cartoons and also support a flag-burning amendment? If so, how does one distinguish between the two?
2.8.2006 10:55am