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The Twelve Mohammed Cartoons, in Detail:

One shocking thing about the Mohammed cartoon controversy is how tame many of the cartoons are — and therefore just how much the cartoons' critics are demanding by arguing that the cartoons ought not be published, or even ought to be outlawed. Here's the dirty dozen, with thanks to Wikipedia:

Bigger images, including translated captions, are available here.

(1) The cartoons depict Mohammed, which some Muslims claim is prohibited by Islam (though historically a good deal of Islamic art has depicted Mohammed; the Islamic world has hardly unanimous on this). Fair enough: If you're a Muslim, presumably you can't do this. But to demand that non-Muslims comply with Islamic law is a mighty big demand, much like Orthodox Jews demanding that none of us write the word "God." Thanks, but no thanks: Your sense of what your religion demands doesn't create any obligation, whether legal or moral, on me to go along with your preferences.

(2) Some of the cartoons are actually pretty interesting artistically, at least to this observer; the image of Mohammed merged with the green star and crescent, for instance, seems to me an interesting and ingenious composition. The picture of Mohammed in the desert works for me because it humanizes the character, portraying him as a man and not just a symbol.

(3) Some of the cartoons have no criticism of Mohammed, of Islam, or of Muslims at all; two (the young schoolteacher and the "PR stunt" one) criticize the newspaper.

(4) Some of the cartoons are political commentaries that are pretty clearly criticisms of some strands of modern Islamic culture, but not of Islam generally. The cartoon in which Mohammed is waving off two angry Muslim warriors by saying "Relax guys, it's just a drawing made by some infidel South Jutlander," is a message that true Islam (the teachings of Mohammed) counsels against what some extremist Muslims do in Mohammed's name. The cartoon in which the cartoonist is drawing Mohammed while looking nervously over his shoulder points out — entirely correctly, as we've learned — that drawing Mohammed is a perilous activity.

(5) Finally, some of the cartoons are indeed cast as criticisms of Islam generally, or of Mohammed generally. The display with the crescents, stars, and Stars of David apparently reads "Prophet, daft and dumb, keeping woman under thumb." Another cartoon depicts Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. Another shows Mohammed telling suicide bombers "Stop, stop, we have run out of virgins!" (referring to the supposed heavenly reward for martyrs) which suggests that Mohammed would endorse the killing of innocents that is modern Muslim suicide bombers' stock in trade. The cartoon that shows a fierce-looking Mohammed with a knife and two veiled women in the background likewise seems like a criticism of Mohammed. (The lineup with Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, and others strikes me as more a joke than a criticism of the portrayed figures.)

These latter items are ones that I as an editor probably would not have published, because I think they're not entirely fair. The ones that allude to Muslim violence tar Muslims generally with the sins of particular subgroups of Muslims. The criticism of Muslim treatment of women may be more broadly accurate of a wide range of religious Islamic thought and practice (though not by any means all religious Islamic thought and practice), but seems rhetorically excessive.

Yet these sorts of overgeneralizations and rhetorical excesses aimed at historical or religious figures as symbols for a movement are an inevitable part of free debate about ideas. This is especially so for cartoons, slogans, and jokes, which because of their conciseness will almost always oversimplify. It is also so because many of these images are necessarily ambiguous. I do not, for instance, understand the Mohammed with the bomb in his turban as accusing Islam generally; it seems to me to be a condemnation of one particular aspect of Islam — militant Islam that often centers on murderous violence against those it sees as its enemies. Again, as an editor I would probably have avoided items with this sort of ambiguity; but it is perfectly understandable that other editors would have a different view. To the extent there is a transgression of editorial judgment or good manners here, it is a relatively minor one.

Of course I realize that some disagree, and see any even possibly pejorative reference to Mohammed — or for that matter any depiction of Mohammed — as a horrible emotional injury. But their subjective feelings, real as they may be to them, are not sufficient reasons for the rest of us to change the way we talk or write. "I'm offended" cannot be justification enough, either in law or in manners, for the conclusion "therefore you must shut up." (Among other things, note that many people are quite understandably offended when others say "I'm offended, therefore you must shut up." If mere offense on some listeners' part is reason enough for the speakers to stop saying, then I take it that those who are offended have an obligation to themselves remain silent.)

This is why this issue is so important: Those who demand that the cartoons not be published or republished are cutting at the heart of public debate. They are either demanding that some ideologies not be criticized, or that they be handled with such kid gloves that normal debate about them — which is inevitably impassioned, given the magnitude of the issues involved — is practically impossible. This is why the West must resist this pressure to silence, both as a legal matter and as a matter of editorial judgment.

PJens:
Outstanding piece of communication! Different people can hold different views and yet respect each other. Even if presentation is objectionable, underlying respect is possible.

Three cheers! Good example of why I read this site.
3.10.2006 7:27pm
Jim,MtnViewCA,USA (mail):
Indeed the cartoons are tame by Western standards.
Even the sharp one with the bomb-turban is, I'm told, a play on a Danish folk saying about an apple falling into your hat.
Perhaps most surprising is that a news media which glories in "speaking truth to power" finds limp excuses not to publish the cartoons. It becomes harder and harder to give these guys any respect.
Thank you for publishing the cartoons. In my view, we should support free speech and the Danes. The more the cartoons are published the harder it is for the bullies to win.
3.10.2006 7:38pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Kudos for including the cartoons in your post. It's hard to discuss this issue without seeing the cartoons themselves, but that is what most discussions I've seen have tried to do. Another reason for my kudos is that there is some risk in republishing these images; I'm glad it's a risk you're willing to take.
3.10.2006 7:38pm
DWPittelli (mail) (www):
"I'm offended" cannot be justification enough, either in law or in manners, for the conclusion "therefore you must shut up."

Indeed, although the Muslim "street" has some precedent for this, from Western feminists especially in the University setting, among others. They can also point to the fact that major newspapers would not print cartoons that are racially offensive, or imply that the Holocaust did not happen. Finally, perhaps the point is just that: They seek not parity but submission from us, as does any other bully, because the submission demonstrates and enhances their power and prestige, even in the face of weakness in other dimensions.
3.10.2006 7:38pm
davod (mail):
The islamacists are now attacking people for printing cartoons about the cartoons. Where will it stop.

The only saving grace is that it appears as if the issue is getting bigger than the capability of government to legislate against it. The cartoons, and support of the concept, are appearing everywhere.

Hypocrisy can only take a politician so far.
3.10.2006 7:48pm
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
A bomb in a turban? Heaven running out of promised virgins? You can criticize and challenge them, but even the most "offensive" ones are competitive expressions on the state of the Islamic world today.

You do not reform xenophobia, militarism, and aggression by eliminating criticism of it.
3.10.2006 7:57pm
John (mail):
This is a fine analysis of the cartoon affair from the standpoint of our general ouitlook on debate and the presentation of ideas.

As such, it has nothing whatever to do with what is going on here.

God has told certain Muslims what is allowed and what is prohibited. That's God, as in no arguing or appeals allowed. You say you are not bound by their views. Well, in a Western, free speech sense, that's a given. However, that idea is simply wrong, since whether you know it, or believe it, or not, you are bound by what God says.

Here's the thing. You only have 3 choices:

1. Convince these people that they are misunderstanding what God has said on this subject. You obviously don't try to do that.

2. Acquiesce in their interpretation and obey God's command (as, e.g., the editorial departments of various newspapers here have done).

3. Say, in words or substance, screw you, and go on talking about free speech and the need for "balance" and the "fact" that some cartoons may not be particularly offensive compared to, say, the average cartoon on the editorial pages of the Washington Post or any newspaper in Iran.

That's it. Your post effectively chooses number 3. It is well done. But it really doesn't change anything, does it?
3.10.2006 7:57pm
digital commuter (mail):
The French philsopher Andre Gliksmann makes a great point about the cartoons and what they are about:

http://www.signandsight.com/features/640.html



"Separating truth and belief

For French philosopher Andre Glucksmann, poking fun at a belief and joking about genocide are not on a par."




Here are some hightlights:



"Civilised discourse analyses and defines scientific truths, historic truths and matters of fact relating to knowledge, not to faith. And it does this irrespective of race or confession. We may believe these facts are profane or undignified, yet they remain distinct from religious truths. Our planet is not in the grips of a clash of civilisations or cultures. It is the battleground of a decisive struggle between two ways of thinking. There are those who declare that there are no facts, but only interpretations - so many acts of faith. These either tend toward fanaticism ("I am the truth") or they fall into nihilism ("nothing is true, nothing is false"). Opposing them are those who advocate free discussion with a view to distinguishing between true and false, those for whom political and scientific matters – or simple judgement – can be settled on the basis of worldly facts, independently of arbitrary pre-established opinions.

A totalitarian way of thinking loathes to be gainsaid. It affirms dogmatically, and waves the little red, or black, or green book. It is obscurantist, blending politics and religion. Anti-totalitarian thinking, by contrast, takes facts for what they are and acknowledges even the most hideous of them, those one would prefer to keep hidden out of fear or for the sake of utility. Bringing the gulag to light made it possible to criticise and ultimately reject "actually existing socialism". Confronting the Nazi abominations and opening the extermination camps converted Europe to democracy after 1945. Refusing to face the cruellest historical facts, on the other hand, heralds the return of cruelty. Whether the Islamists - who are far from representing all Muslims – like it or not, there is no common measure between negating known facts and criticising any one of the beliefs which every European has the right to practice or poke fun at.

For centuries, Jupiter and Christ, Jehovah and Allah have had to put up with many a joke. The Jews are past masters at criticising Yaweh – they've even made it a bit of a speciality. That does not prevent the true believers of any confession from believing, or from respecting those of a different faith. That is the price of religious peace. But joking about gas chambers, raped women and disembowelled babies, sanctifying televised beheadings and human bombs all point to an unbearable future.

It is high time that the democrats regained their spirit, and that the constitutional states remembered their principles. With solemnity and solidarity they must recall that one, two or three religions, four or five ideologies may in no way decide what citizens can do or think. What is at stake here is not only the freedom of the press, but also the permission to call a spade a spade and a gas chamber an abomination, regardless of our beliefs. What is at stake is the basis of all morality: here on earth the respect due to each individual starts with the recognition and rejection of the most flagrant examples of inhumanity."

Read the whole thing.

http://www.signandsight.com/features/640.html
3.10.2006 7:59pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
John: Of course my post doesn't really change anything. It's just a blog post. But perhaps if more in the Western world took this view, and resisted the calls for suppression, it might change some things -- not in the views of the hard-core Islamists, but perhaps in the state of freedom in Europe, and in the views of on-the-fence Muslims who are honestly thinking about what they should think they have a right to demand from others.
3.10.2006 8:01pm
Californio (mail):
I am confused by the underlying theology. Some people worship an all powerful god entity that apparently trembles at the idea that someone will either not believe in Him or make pathetic human (read: destined to die and have to appear before this entity and get a reckoning)scribblings that threaten the entity's "image" - Oh, which is not to be created as it will lead to "idolatry".

Whaaaa? And some are surprized that they do not want to discuss this?
3.10.2006 8:11pm
Marty Schwimmer (mail) (www):
'Your sense of what your religion demands doesn't create any obligation, whether legal or moral, on me to go along with your preferences.'

Does this principle govern laws regarding gay marriage or gay adoption?
3.10.2006 8:11pm
Fred (mail):
Dennis Prager made an excellent point. I am not a Muslim, therefore I am not bound by Muslim strictures. I can eat pork, I can drink, I can eat during Ramadan and I can draw a picture of Mohammed...
3.10.2006 8:12pm
HeScreams (mail):
John says:

God has told certain Muslims what is allowed and what is prohibited. That's God, as in no arguing or appeals allowed. You say you are not bound by their views. [...] whether you know it, or believe it, or not, you are bound by what God says.


But God tells his faithful "behave" and of course defines what He means by that. Has God ever told anyone "make others behave?." The latter statement seems to be assumed by the protesting Muslims, vocal fundamentalists of all kinds, and your post. I see Volokh (and many other commentators on the subject) as attacking that assumption, that there's no difference between following God's commandments and insisting that others do so.
3.10.2006 8:13pm
ThirdCircuitLawyer (mail):
To demand that non-Muslims comply with Islamic law is a mighty big demand, much like Orthodox Jews demanding that none of us write the word "God." Thanks, but no thanks: Your sense of what your religion demands doesn't create any obligation, whether legal or moral, on me to go along with your preferences.

This reminds me of the line, "If you don't like abortions, don't have one." The problem is that some people think that the issue goes beyond just personal choice.
3.10.2006 8:18pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
Eugene --

Thank you.
3.10.2006 8:22pm
Raw_Data (mail):
Fred.
You think that you can eat during Ramadan.
Just wait a few years.
The way things are going we'll soon hear demands that it is an offense to Islam for anyone to do that.

And my compliments to Professor Volokh.
3.10.2006 8:29pm
mcubed (mail):
Are these cartoons any more or less offensive than the cartoon depicting Jesus the same editor at the same paper declined to publish a few years ago for fear of offending the paper's Christian readership?

Where was the outcry about censorship then? Oh, wait, it's only censorship when scummy Muslims protest, not when good upstanding Christians or Jews protest, as is happening in New York right now with the postponement of the play "My Name Is Rachel Corrie." Heaven forbid we offend Jewish sensibilities by putting on a play about an idealistic American girl crushed to death by Israeli tanks. But depict Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, yeah -- that's cool!
3.10.2006 8:30pm
John (mail):
Eugene,

Of course I agree with you completely. It wasn't my intention to suggest you shouldn't have blogged! I just wanted to emphasize that a lot of the philosophizing is preaching to the converted. We know how we want to live, and how we do not want to live.

But the (apparently) ennui-ridden Europeans, who with very few exceptions can't seem to rouse themselves to fight this off, will not be persuaded until guys with scimitars are on their doorsteps, and then it will be too late.

I agree with you that something must be done, but the on-the-fence muslims (are there any?) will, I think, not be persuaded by words alone, if at all.

This problem, which I would call virulent Islamicism, is a virus far more dangerous than the flu. We need to talk about how to fight it, not whether it should be fought.
3.10.2006 8:31pm
digital commuter (mail):
You got your facts wrong, mcubed:



"Oh, wait, it's only censorship when scummy Muslims protest, not when good upstanding Christians or Jews protest, as is happening in New York right now with the postponement of the play "My Name Is Rachel Corrie." Heaven forbid we offend Jewish sensibilities by putting on a play about an idealistic American girl crushed to death by Israeli tanks. But depict Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, yeah -- that's cool!"


First Corrie was not naive idealist, second her death was an unfortunate accident, third she was killed by a bullzdozer and not a "tank."


I don't believe in censorship, but I do agree that a distinction should be made between "belief and fact' as Andre Glucksmann argued (see post post above).

Makinf fun of Muhammad, or Jesus, or Moses, or Allah, of God or god should be allowed.

However, if a cartoon were to poke fun at the killings of Muslims in Bosnia that would be another matter.
3.10.2006 8:43pm
ResIpsaLoquitur:
I've personally been viewing the problem as this: the concern is not whether we're offending Islam or whether Islams have a proper perspective. The issue is the collision between two Western values whose pedastils are now toppling into each other: free speech versus tolerance for other cultures. If we want to be non-offensive, then it necessitates that we censor the cartoons, whether by law or by social pressure. If we want to allow people to feely speak their minds, then we must necessarily drive some people into a frenzy, in this specific case, those who have an entirely different set of values.

In my mind, free speech wins, and "tolerance" is a load of horse pucky amounting to a polite way of saying "I'm too chicken to confront a culture I disagree with, so I'm just going to be nice to them instead." But it seems to me that much of the West is still trying to reconcile the two values and can't understand why radical Islam can't.
3.10.2006 8:44pm
Narr (mail):
Great post, Professor V. It's going to be a long fight, with people like mcubed so wedded to defining the issue as a matter of favoring or disfavoring religions rather than as a matter of protecting speech, and conflating calls for censorship--however asinine--with violence.

Narr
3.10.2006 8:52pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
Regarding the cartoon that shows a fierce-looking Mohammed with a knife and two veiled women in the background that seems like a criticism of Mohammed, please consider the following translations of Sura 4:34 from the University of Southern California Islamic Server:
004.034

YUSUFALI: Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).

PICKTHAL: Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.

SHAKIR: Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.
Source: USC Islamic Server, Sura 4:34 (emphasis added).

My point is not to "slam" Islam or Mohammed. My point is that: (a) Western concerns about Islam's treatment of women are not without justification; and (b) Muslim complaints that there is absolutely no textual basis for the mistreatment of women in the Qua'an, and that statements to the contrary are merely the product of religious bigotry, are themselves without justification. The concerns expressed in the cartoon are a certainly a legitimate area for vigerous discourse and debate.
3.10.2006 8:57pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance)

I rather suspect that by 7th century standards, this being exceptionally nice.
3.10.2006 9:25pm
John Jenkins (mail):
However, if a cartoon were to poke fun at the killings of Muslims in Bosnia that would be another matter.

Why? Because you find it distasteful? How is that any different than someone else finding the Mohammed cartoons distasteful out of religious feeling or obligation? There's no principled difference to be had there.
3.10.2006 9:28pm
Charles Chapman (mail) (www):
As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance)
I rather suspect that by 7th century standards, this being exceptionally nice
You are almost certainly right. The problem, however, with any textually based religion or moral code, and particularly a fundementalist, "strict interpretation" thereof (and this is not necessarily limited to Islam), is that it doesn't readily allow for moral progress. Even if, as I've read and heard Muslim scholars argue, this standard for the treatment of women was an improvement in the 7th century, hopefully the treatment of women is not today governed by immutable 7th century standards.

Of course, most if not all relgions have their "strict interpretation" fundementalist branches. However, not all such fundementalist branches are called on to strictly interpret passages instructing, not merely allowing, them to beat "their" women under "appropriate" circumstances.

Further, Islam may structually lend itself to fundementalism more readily than some other religions. Unlike Christianity, for example, Islam never suffered from amultiple translation problem. The multiple translations of the Bible created ambiguity and thus at least some flexibility. It may also have supported more metaphorical, and themselves more flexible, interpretations of the text. I've known Muslims who have taken pride in the fact that the Quar'an began and has remained in "unaltered" Arabic since the beginning. Not a lot of ambiguity there.

.
3.10.2006 9:39pm
American Ace (mail):
This whole Rachel Corrie heroine thing is baffling. First of all, the Israelis were cutting off a tunnel whose sole use was to smuggle means of murdering common ordinary men, women and children in the everyday course of their lives. Rachel Corrie was trying everything in her means to prevent the ending of this delivery mechanism of the weapons that destroyed so many hundreds of innocent lives when she stepped into the path of a bulldozer whose operator never saw her. She was a defacto terrorist whose stock in trade was indiscriminate death and destruction. Some heroine, eh?
3.10.2006 9:48pm
jackson dyer (mail):
I’d like to answer John Jenkins’ query.

"However, if a cartoon were to poke fun at the killings of Muslims in Bosnia that would be another matter.

Why? Because you find it distasteful? How is that any different than someone else finding the Mohammed cartoons distasteful out of religious feeling or obligation? There's no principled difference to be had there."


This is a good question.

I chose this example because I was answering someone who seemed to be upset about the cartoon lampooning Mohammad. I could just as easily used hundreds of other examples: poking fun at people being gassed, or at inmate of a gulag or at slaves being beating by their master.

The difference is that these depictions show something REAL, while Mohammad is just the name of the supposed author of a religious book. Even if the author had been real, someone like Joseph Smith (or Moses, or Jesus, Mark, Luke, etc. he (they) would still be fair game. People, mythical or not, who pretend to have THE TRUTH, who confuse truth with belief need to be challenged.

Now, while I would not ban jokes about massacres or about abused people, these statements are about something tangible and we tend to think about statements of fact differently then we do about statements of belief which are merely someone’s subjective reaction. The joke about someone’s belief is just as valid a statement of that belief as is a respectful comment about it. They belong to the same order of discourse.

A joke about a statement of fact is on the same order as the fact being joked about. Making fun of someone receiving fifty lashes at the stake or of someone being gassed is to use an old cliché (adding insult to injury). Such jokes place the speaker on the side of the master or the murderer.

The distinction is clear; however, I said that I would not ban them. Here is why: while we all can understand the brutality behind such jokes in the case of gas-chambers, gulags, victims of massacres, etc. we can’t all agree on which jokes cross the line. It’s because of the degree of doubt that I would not ban them outright.

On the other hand, I would celebrate a cartoon or joke about religious figures depending, of curse, on its quality for reasons I outlined above.
3.10.2006 10:21pm
edgar (mail):
http://volokh.com/posts/1142035265.shtml#72545

couldn't agree more, american ace.
3.10.2006 10:24pm
SenatorX (mail):
I liked the blog and commend your rational thought Eugene. It is enough for me to bookmark your site and peruse it for more of your views.

You seem like seeker so I will spend some energy and propose something to you, a challenge really to test you. I don't contend your blog, I think the message is clear and I agree. I have been very disappointed and disgusted with the lack of response by media to this issue. It seems overly clear to me that pandering to threats of violence only increase the chance of violence against you in the future, for increasingly weaker reasons even.

My challenge is in regards to hints of something you say in regards to Islam. You could just be "pandering" as minimaly as possible? but you hint that only a small subset of Islam is violent or "bad". I make no claims to truth or expertise so no need to worry about validation of what i say except in regards to the rational and factual content of what i am going to say. If you can respond rationally without fallacy I will change my theories, though so far nobody has been able to.

To the nut: My research of Islam has lead me to believe that it is a nasty piece of work. I had the illusion that it was sort of an arab version of Christianity or Judaism(monotheistic) and that mohammed was some sort of "christ like" figure. Further at worst it was another religion used for consolidation of power a la constantine. But one day I decided to hunt for the truth of it so i read the quran and began to research the origin of islam(for disclaimer i am an athiest and research other religions too-i consider myself an amateur philosopher).

Islam at core is nothing more than mohammed's male power grabbing excuse. Thats it. Gabriel conveniently told him whatever he needed to hear to do all the horrible things he did. Murder, rape, pedophilia, robbery, ordering assasinations, the list goes on and on. The history is all there easy to see. Pre-islam arabia was a land of freedoms for people that is unavailable in the islamic world since mohammed. This is evident from mohammed's own history of being a worker who married his much older female boss who inherited her wealth as when she was widowed. She proposed to him for example(her worker)...After she died Mohammed(at a rather old age) started his rampage of horror.

Further not only do all the specific incidents of his speak volumes(and we can certainly go there) but the CONTEXT of the message is clear and nasty as well. Convert, live as a second class citizen, or die. To be a real muslim is to BE LIKE MOHAMMED. Thats the scariest part and I hope more people understand this eventually. Any spirituality of islam is either a twisting of the true meaning by "politicians" to control the people or ignorance. How many muslims can read do you think? I think most of them get the messages via listening to others or radio etc.
Just a hint of "islamic spirituality"...there is no Hell for "bad" muslims. You can do ANYTHING to anyone as long as you praise allah and say mohammed is his prophet..you go to heaven. Hell is ONLY FOR UNBELIEVERS. At least thats where all the women will be too, he said so. Women have only one way to get to heaven...obey thier husbands completely.

Just to say it once and get it out. Islam is a religon designed by mohammed to spread like a virus, he said so himself clearly. In the quran he taunts unbelievers about it. Talks about what he has set in motion...

Last what else I have found is that "muslim apologists" are rampant and very deceptive. I have encountered such mendaciousness that I can only surmise that most of them know very well what true Islam really is. There are two wars going on. One with the sword and the other?...in the minds and mouths of the apologists. It is as if "tolerant islam" is purposefully being sold to westerners to delay and confuse us.

For example are you familiar with the term "abrogation"? In debate it is one of the favored tactics used against ignorant westerners. It allows apologists to quote mohammed out of context at will. Every apologist i have entered debate with and called on this in one way or another runs away. Pretty much conceding that they were intentionally misleading from the start, to what end?

I would be very happy if you can contend rationally anything i have said. Especially in regards to the to context(message) of Islam. My fear of absolutist institutions lead me to learn more about Islam and what i found made me more afraid. I am not a "muslim hater" i am afraid of it's origin and principles(I also do not confuse ARAB with MUSLIM). I as a self defined rational,economic liberal, athiest have no compatability with islam. If it were not a religion based on conversion i could go my own way(maybe)...clearly as the cartoon issue shows that is not going to be possible. Why should we not make as big an issue of it as possible while we are on strong footing? Negotiating from a position of strength and all that. I am of the opinion if anything I have found so far is "true" then we should "draw our lines in the sand" now rather then wait for more islamic empowerment.
So i am not confused i believe in self defense as the only moral right for violence. When I speak of drawing lines in the sand i refer to doing it by "peaceful" means. Basically "this is what i stand for and here i will not budge by threats".
3.10.2006 10:50pm
Dave:
Eugene,
Wikipedia is actually chronically low on Bandwidth. They make everything they do public and encourage people to take it and use it for their own purposes.

Dave
3.10.2006 10:55pm
Andy:
IMHO, a lot of you are missing the point. The point is not, "Should you publish XXXX," the point is, "Do you have the right to publish XXXX?".

The Muslim response to the cartoons was not, "You shouldn't publish those," it was, "You shouldn't be allowed to publish those." In otherwords, "You can't publish those."

What the cartoons are about is almost beyond the point. The ability to mock other people's beliefs -- be they religious, political, or whatever -- is an essential component of our freedom. You can't put limits on what is fair game: if you try to, those limits will inevitably come back to haunt you. You cannot say, "Of course freedom of speech is important, but these cartoons are offensive and unnecessary." Nothing could be further from the truth. (Before the burning of embassies and the signs calling for beheadings it was possible to make this argument of taste, but no longer.) They became necessary because they are offensive, and every newspaper in the US should have run them because they are a symbol of the difference between "shouldn't" and "can't.".

Repressive regimes allow non-offensive speech. Repressive regimes do not make a distinction between "shouldn't" and "can't." What separates us is that we must tolerate -- cheerfully or not -- speech we don't like. Philosophically, there is no difference between banning anti-Ba'athist speech, banning anti-Stalinist speech, and banning anti-Muslim or anti-Semitic speech. No "ism" can be above disagreement or mockery, whether it's fascism or libertarianism, racism or egalitarianism, liberalism or conservatism, Catholicism or Judaism. As soon as one belief is elevated to a special status, the whole system is done. If I can't offend Muslims, then Christians can't offend Jews. But isn't asserting the divinity of Jesus offensive to some Jews? And isn't Jewish disbelief in that assertion offensive to some Christians? And isn't the non-acceptance of Mohammed as a prophet offensive to many Muslims? And isn't the baring of any skin by women offensive to many Muslims? There is no end.

Parenthetically, it's no accident that American liberals, who champion the banning of "hate speech," and European liberals, who have criminalized Holocaust denial, find themselves in an unholy alliance with theocrats such as Pat Buchanan on this issue. They all represent the "I'm all for free speech, but..." lobby.
3.10.2006 11:17pm
cwb (mail):
this usc islam compendium is extremely disquieting to me in the way this particular essay on "Human Rights" dances around the fact that under some people's interpretation of Islam, there is no such thing as an inalienable right to any freedom or liberty that the western world takes for granted.

freedom to criticise religion? no such thing.

freedom to wear what you want and say what you want and live where you want with who you want? no such thing.

freedom to make mistakes along the way in the excercise of independent thought, expression, dissent or belief? no such thing.

and not only do such freedoms not exist, but attempts to excercise them would bring a sentence of death under islamic fundamentalist rule.

read the whole thing, and be aware of the many many equivocations in the types of human freedoms that are allowed or tolerated.


3.10.2006 11:20pm
SenatorX (mail):
Well put Andy! I agree wholeheartedly.
3.10.2006 11:25pm
Elliot123 (mail):
I think there is a general misunderstanding about why Muslims object to the cartoons. The fact that the cartoons are tame has nothing to do with the issue.

Muslims object to any depiction of Mohamed. This includes the most respectful and admiring depiction possible. We can see that Muslims have neither pictures nor statues in their mosques.

The West is using secular Western standards to judge the cartoons. These would include taste, tameness, accuracy, fairness, etc. But that is not the standard the Muslims are using. To them any and all depictions are offensive because they believe God says so.

I agree the West should use its own standards for its own publications, but it should not think Muslims use the same standards.
3.10.2006 11:28pm
gringoman (mail) (www):


Tame cartoons. Tame U.S.?Tame Danes? Yes,and yet there was "The Dane That Roared" At gringoman.com
3.10.2006 11:31pm
jackson dyer (mail):
"I think there is a general misunderstanding about why Muslims object to the cartoons. The fact that the cartoons are tame has nothing to do with the issue.

Muslims object to any depiction of Mohamed. This includes the most respectful and admiring depiction possible. We can see that Muslims have neither pictures nor statues in their mosques."

Not true Eliott123


Shiites do draw pictures of Muhammad. It's only the Sunnis who do not.


However, their reasons for objecting are binding on non Muslims and in a democracy where free speech is the rule it doesn't matter.
3.10.2006 11:36pm
jackson dyer (mail):
"IMHO, a lot of you are missing the point. The point is not, "Should you publish XXXX," the point is, "Do you have the right to publish XXXX?"."

Andy makes a good point, Muslims can object they can't stop non Muslims from publishing them, though.
3.10.2006 11:38pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Elliot, no one misunderstands. We get it. We just don't think they get a heckler's (or rioter's) veto on what other people think and say. Of course, no one is actually complaining that Muslim papers aren't running the cartoons. Those editors have objections to the content, as would their readership. Not to mention the fact that would be sort of like running in front of a bus just for fun and profit.

Jackson Dyer,

You have an interesting conception of reality (your own vision is objectively true, but others' is not). To the religious believer Mohammed or Jesus are as real as your great, great grandfather whom you never met but about whom your family has told you things.

There is still no principled difference between mocking a religious figure (Jesus didn't suffer at Cavalry, assuming as a believer would that what is written about him is true?) and mocking a victim of some horrible crime. Each might be distasteful, but they will be distasteful to different people for different reason, if at all (you, for example, find one category distasteful, while the other is not). None of this is to say that you cannot rightly criticize those who say things you disagree with (that's the entire point here, in fact), but your distinction is meaningless.

SenatorX, out of curiosity, is English your first language? Some of your constructions seem odd. That aside, you're making a mistake re: Islam as such. Christianity is also a religion that preaches conversion, but the more virulent forms of it have largely been purged by interaction with liberal society (to its detriment, in the view of some).

There are secularly liberal Muslims, they simply lack power, and are vastly outnumbered by others. People talk about how Islam needs a Pope or a Reformation when what they really need is an Adam Smith and a John Locke.
3.10.2006 11:47pm
Brother Bark (mail):
With apologies to anyone who may have already mentioned it in this rather lengthy comments section, it shouldn't be forgotten that the uproar was deliberately inculcated by the dissemination by radical clerics of three much more inflammatory cartoons that had nothing whatever to do with mild-mannered Danish cartoonists. Once the uproar started, it fueled itself, and continues to fuel itself. In a very real sense, the screaming over those twelve cartoons has little to do with the cartoons themselves, even the notorious bomb-turban drawing of Mohamet.

It's a religious "madness of the crowds", needing little to nothing to burn hotly.
3.10.2006 11:59pm
jackson dyer (mail):

John Jenkins:

"You have an interesting conception of reality (your own vision is objectively true, but others' is not). To the religious believer Mohammed or Jesus are as real as your great, great grandfather whom you never met but about whom your family has told you things."


I wish thinking about “reality” were that easy!

From the way you stated your premise there is no difference between a belief in fairies and the fact that I had breakfast this morning. (Why invoke your great granddaddy when any elapsed period of time will do. Even an event that occurred five minutes ago can be as hard to prove and seem as ephemeral as a dream.)

A statement of belief is different in kind and not in degree from a statement of fact. It doesn’t matter if the believer takes his belief in flying saucers as fact.

Even if we couldn’t prove it to the satisfaction of a skeptic the bus that went by my window five minute ago was yellow.
How do I know? I know because I saw it and more importantly my statement can be verified. (You can call the bus company, ask other witnesses, check schedules, etc., etc.

You can’t verify a statement of belief, if you could it would be fact.

If you abolish the distinction between fact and belief than on what basis will you claim that we live in democracy or that free speech is and essential component of democratic rule?

We do live in a democracy (a fact) and free speech is the law of the land (another fact). You have the right to question, criticize or lampoon anyone’s believes. Of course, the believer can object what he can’t do is try to intimidate you into keeping from speaking your mind.
3.11.2006 12:08am
Mahan Atma (mail):
Excuse me, but I have to call BS on you all....

The KKK has the right to march; and I support that right. And Holocaust deniers have the right to speak out too.

But an awful lot of people try very hard to suppress the opinions of both these groups.

So Volokh: I assume you're going to join the KKK on their next march, and show up in support at the next Holocaust deniers' speech, simply in order to "resist the silence"?

Gimme a break....

There's an awfully difference between protecting someone's right to say something, and helping them to disseminate their message.
3.11.2006 12:09am
jackson dyer (mail):
Check out this statement about the cartoons from the NY Review of Books:

The Right to Ridicule
By Ronald Dworkin
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18811
3.11.2006 12:10am
jackson dyer (mail):

So Volokh: I assume you're going to join the KKK on their next march, and show up in support at the next Holocaust deniers' speech, simply in order to "resist the silence"?


Gimme a break Atama,

The freedom to speak is not the same as the freedom to listen.

That's the whole point. Just because a bunch of nuts dressed in white robes (with or without hoods) want to march and burn crosses doesn't mean that you or I have to join them.
Freedom of speech means letting people speak, it does not mean that you have to join them or either listen to them. It most certainly doesn't mean that you have to agree with them.

You even have a right some would say a duty to speak against them. You are also not allowed, though, to use violence against them.



Is it because Muslims don't seem to get difference between tolerating speech and endorsing it that they resort to violence?
3.11.2006 12:18am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Mahan Atma: I'm somewhat puzzled by your comment. I had thought that most of my post was precisely dedicated to an explanation of why the cartoons are not remotely like, say, KKK advocacy of racist violence or even irrational racist hatred, or for that matter Holocaust deniers' nonsense. Many of the cartoons, as I argued, are not at all unfair or bigoted. The minority are at best exaggerated criticism of an ideology, legitimate if somewhat overheated contributions to an important debate. If all the KKK did was come up with cartoons, we wouldn't think of the KKK the way we do.
3.11.2006 12:19am
John Jenkins (mail):
jackson dyer, You missed the point. It's not the period of time that's relevant. It's the *fact* that you have no direct experience of the phenomenon. That's why it's your great, great grandfather (whom one is much less likely to have met than simply one's grandfather, though it's still technically possible, just add greats until you didn't meet the person).

There certainly is an objective reality, but you have no privileged view on it. You're privileging your own positions and denying the validity of those of others, then generalizing that across all times and spaces. That's not a supportable position. You're objectively stating that none of the religions to which you are referring are correct.

That may be true, but I defy you to prove it (that's a rhetorical challenge, since proving a negative is an impossibility, but that's sort of my point). A belief may or may not be true. Whether it is verefiable does not make it a fact, but once it is verified we might agree that it's a fact if we agree to the method of verification. Are you willing to admit to the degree of faith required of your epistomological view (which is apparently a weak empiricism)?

You must have *faith* that your observations are true and that your conclusions from those observations are true. Unless we're talking about necessary truths, you're on rather thin epistomological ice at that point. Not that you have much choice, but I get bored quickly with people who think that "knowledge" is wholly unrelated to faith. There are a certain set of shared assumptions about reality that we all share, which makes communication possible, but whether our conceptions are concretely true is beyond our ability to ascertain. (Compare chemistry from 100 years ago to today, and decide whether things today are objectively true. I assure you there are errors, the reason for which we have not yet even contemplated).

Mahan Atma, you're not making sense. I'd argue that the KKK has a right to march and rally, and speak as they please, but I don't have to agree with them or support their *position* to believe that they have a right to take the position.

If a group of black Americans violently rioted to suppress the KKK's message, though the KKK's message is wrong and repugnant, the actions of those black Americans would be as bad as the Muslim riots against these cartoons. You're right in one way, though. We're making the call that these cartoons aren't as morally bad as the KKK's message. Some of them are so obscure as to be just weird, others actually funny (the virgin's one). For the most part they are commentaries on the FOLLOWERS of Islam, not it's patriarch.
3.11.2006 12:24am
Brother Bark (mail):
Mahan Atma's snotty comments above are a perfect example of a disingenuous refusal to acknowledge what is actually being said about freedom of speech. There are so many things wrong with those comments, including implied ad hominem attacks, that it would be hard to know where to begin, if one were inclined to bother to dignify the comments with a thorough dissection.

Suffice to say that mild artistic political commentary on actual terrorism and murder of innocents by radical Muslims is not even in the same room as the shrieking hatred shown by rioting mobs.

(BTW, the word "inculcated" should have been "instigated". Tsk, tsk.)
3.11.2006 12:29am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Great post. Definitely the best analysis I've seen.

Man, what if we could all just be reasonable?
3.11.2006 12:35am
Can't find a good name:
To Jim,MtnViewCA,USA: I don't believe the bomb-turban cartoon is based on the Danish folk saying about an apple falling into your hat. As I understand it, that folk saying did inspire the cartoon in the upper left, showing the man wearing a turban with an orange labeled "PR Stunt," and holding a stick-figure drawing of Muhammad.
3.11.2006 12:37am
John Jenkins (mail):
Marcus1, then I would have wasted $70,000 on a legal education. Long live unreasonableness!
3.11.2006 12:39am
jackson dyer (mail):
John Jenkins,

I am going to sleep. I'll answer your post manana.
3.11.2006 12:47am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
This idea that it is a small subgroup of muslims who are bad and that the vast majority of muslims are peace loving hippies seems to be a media invention (though no different than positive media bias toward christians or other large religious groups). Surveys of islamic countries, particularly the middle east, show disturbingly high levels of support of suicide bombing and many of those who do not support it certainly tolerate or at least don't speak out against it.

Personally I'm hesitant to say this has much to do with the 'religion' per se, though it is near impossible to tease apart what one means by religion as oppossed to social effects. I think it has more to do with a predictable effect of a less advanced patriarchial culture clashing with a modern culture. Just imagine what would have happened if medieval Europe had run into hollywood.

However, the idea that it is always somehow unfair to tar all muslims with criticism for suicide bombing because it is only a 'small minority' seems to be misguided. Many more people than just those who are actually the extremist are responsible for creating a culture that accepts this sort of extremism. So even while I might not agree with such criticism, the same way I might not agree with the criticism of Bush over this Dubai ports deal, it is well within what should be the boundaries of acceptable discourse.
3.11.2006 12:47am
Elliot123 (mail):
So, why have so few US papers printed the cartoons? Their inaction appears to put them in opposition to Prof Volokh and the majority of the comments here.
3.11.2006 1:09am
edgar (mail):
"Personally I'm hesitant to say this has much to do with the 'religion' per se, though it is near impossible to tease apart what one means by religion as oppossed to social effects."


Muslims in other parts of the world are just as likely to have similar views of non-Muslims. Think of Pakistan a non Arab country.


"I think it has more to do with a predictable effect of a less advanced patriarchial culture clashing with a modern culture. Just imagine what would have happened if medieval Europe had run into hollywood."


Hollywood in the Middle Ages cool! Were do you think Hollywood came from if not from those great bawdy stories told in the Middle Ages.
3.11.2006 1:11am
SenatorX (mail):
John Jenkins,
"SenatorX, out of curiosity, is English your first language? Some of your constructions seem odd. That aside, you're making a mistake re: Islam as such. Christianity is also a religion that preaches conversion, but the more virulent forms of it have largely been purged by interaction with liberal society (to its detriment, in the view of some).

There are secularly liberal Muslims, they simply lack power, and are vastly outnumbered by others. People talk about how Islam needs a Pope or a Reformation when what they really need is an Adam Smith and a John Locke."

First, I wasn't aware this was a grammar or spelling contest. I write for context and pointing out construction "errors" is dancing close to "ad hominem" fallaciousness. Not a good way to start your point...In any case you moved on and responded to me so I will respect you in kind.

You point out my mistake by inferring that Christianity(like Islam) is a religion based on conversion but has "largely been purged by interaction with liberal society".
a) Christianity is Christianity and Islam is Islam. Just because each share traits(Judaism) does not necessarily mean the same environmental conditions will lead to the same results
b) More importantly I think is your comment about the conversion aspects of Christianity being largely purged. I don't see that at all. I look around and still see Christianity converting quite hard. Tax money and tax breaks to Christian churches go directly to the indoctrination of children domestically and abroad. I would contend it is hard to claim a purge when our very government seems to pursue it as a social agenda. Further "in god we trust", words in the pledge of allegiance and many other insidious forms of "conversion" are quite prevalent. As well as all the "Christians" that don't go to church or practice Christianity really but continue to "believe in Christ" advocate by example Christian propaganda. I am very offended by this all the time(especially the indoctrination of children and the fruits of my labor being taken by the government for these agendas).

Also, I am not sure your point is made by use of the word "interaction". If by interaction you mean the fighting of liberals/libertarians to protect said rights then yes in-roads have been made here. Where education/perspective increases the sway of religious indoctrination weakens. So I believe my main contention is still valid. Basically that we should take the "fight" to them so all humans involved can gain freedom via this "interaction".

Your last paragraph is interesting but muddled I believe. You say "There are secularly liberal Muslims, they simply lack power, and are vastly outnumbered by others." I am not sure what a "secular Muslim" is really. Can you explain that? I fail to see how someone can claim to be a Muslim and be secular at the same time. One is a moving away from the other. Yes there are many humans who are in the process of re-evaluating their beliefs. That they have been indoctrinated so fully that it is often hard to make that final break and say "I am no longer a Muslim" is no surprise(I certianly happens though to my great joy). That was one point of my comments. That these "tolerant" Muslims are not TRUE MUSLIMS. The fundamentalist Muslims ARE the true followers of Islam and NOT some small misguided subset. This is a key concept that I believe is central to the problem.

"People talk about how Islam needs a Pope or a Reformation when what they really need is an Adam Smith and a John Locke."

I like this comment by you better than the rest. I agree a Reformation?? I hope not! Instead of an Adam Smith or a John Locke I think they need a Nietzsche.

My main point is that I fear a definite stance will have to be taken and that any gains into freeing people from the yoke of Islam will have to be made in freeing people from the religion entirely and NOT by supporting "tolerant Islam". How will you take the key message of the Quran out of the religion? I fear the "fundamentalist" view will keep cropping up by those that READ IT THEMSELVES.

So far you have not convinced me otherwise though I would be glad to hear any new information you can bring to the table.

On a change of subject to everyone else: Has anyone seen what I saw about one of the pictures included in the folder of cartoons that the Danish Muslims took on that tour? There was one picture they carried around that was not shown above. Because it was not part of the cartoon contest. It was this freaky guy in a pig costume. A person in a pig mask making a face basically. I read that nobody knows how that got mixed up in there but it was from some sort of pig festival that was reported on much earlier by that paper. No one knew how it got mixed in with the cartoon photos but I guess those guys showed it all around the Arab world as well. Considering Mohammed's comments about "people" getting turned into pigs I wonder how that fared in the viewing? Also interesting that I only saw the one article about it and nothing else since...
3.11.2006 1:14am
delephant (mail):
Everyone seems to be missing the point of the cartoon of Mohammed and the two veiled women. The "offensive" cartoon is not just the adolescent caricature of a crazy man with a dagger and two veiled women that even the normally discerning Eugene Volokh seems to assume. The joke resides in the composition of the image and is actually quite clever: The black bar over Mohammed's eyes, which signifies the supposed Islamic prohibition against representations of the Prophet, is intended to draw our attention to the black burquas on the two women, which are equipped with a bar-like cut-out through which only their eyes can be seen. The prohibition against representing "the Prophet" is therefore being equated with the prohibition on women being seen in public. The prohibition against representation of Mohammed, the cartoonist is saying, is part of the same ideological universe that denies women their public existence as human beings.

While I understand the desire to seem "balanced" when "defending" the cartoons by labeling at least some of them as unnecessarily "offensive," and therefore not fit for publication, the fact is that this entire selection of cartoons - the Mohammed cartoon included - is a very mild sampling of the type of stuff that you could find on any side of any issue in an American newspaper. So why is everyone missing the point? In this case, I think that the Islamist drive to erase women from the social sphere is troubling because it suggests that Islamist ideology is actively hostile to Western liberal values and may in fact be deserving of our opposition and even contempt. If an ideology that attempted to speak in the name of 1.3 billion Christians began preaching that blacks were an inferior race and should be kept as slaves, I would hope that our entire society including cartoonists would rise up in anger and do everything possible within the law to cripple that ideology and prevent it from spreading further.

So why doesn't the Islamist attitude towards women - not to mention homosexuals, Jews, atheists, Christians, alcohol-drinkers, and authors like Salman Rushdie who offend the literary tastes of a group of Mullahs in Iran - make Islamist fanaticism a fitting object of distaste and even ridicule? If Christian lunatics speaking in the name of Jesus Christ attempted to impose a regime of racial or gender apartheid on societies across the world, and converted tens of millions of people to their beliefs, and began launching a campaign of terror and murder across the planet, it would seem fair to use caricatures of "their Jesus" as a shorthand for the noxious beliefs that were being peddled in His name. Whatever they might have been in life, Mohammed and Jesus are alive today as ideas in the minds of men; to caricature Mohammed, or Jesus (emerging from a motel room with Tammy Faye Baker, say ), or Buddha (in Hollywood, naked to the waist, listening to an Ipod and giving Uma Thurman a massage) is obviously to compare the reality of the lives of some believers with the transcendent ideals embodied by these figures whose existence may or may not be a matter of historical record, but who have nothing whatsoever to do with the subsequent history of the religions that were founded in their names.

The controversy over these cartoons has convinced me that what we are seeing is a political provocation intended to intimidate Western societies into truckling to a fanatical and very dangerous ideology instead of trying to stop it cold. Islamist ideology is opposed to the values and practices of open societies. The current round of debates in Europe and here over the "proper limits" of political expression when it comes to Islam give a clear indication of who is willing to fight for their values and who is not.
3.11.2006 1:20am
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
However, the idea that it is always somehow unfair to tar all muslims with criticism for suicide bombing because it is only a 'small minority' seems to be misguided. Many more people than just those who are actually the extremist are responsible for creating a culture that accepts this sort of extremism. So even while I might not agree with such criticism, the same way I might not agree with the criticism of Bush over this Dubai ports deal, it is well within what should be the boundaries of acceptable discourse.

Exactly. There's countries in the Islamic world in which large minorities (even majorities) support suicide bombings. Pew polls showed that a majority in Pakistan and Jordan (before the bombing this year) had a favorable opinion of Osama Bin Laden.

If the ostriches want to keep their hands in the sand, they can do so. But not all of us are going to pretend that there isn't room for legitimate criticism of Islam and the Islamic world. They need it...and it would go a long way to redress the relative lack of even constructive criticism sent their way considering the amount of violence and shocking exposes coming out of that region.

Don't like criticism? Clean out your own closets. Don't want me drawing Muhammed? Too damn bad, I'm not living under your mullahs. If that's what it takes to get people rioting, we might as well prepare for the larger clash, cause we can't placate such aggression.
3.11.2006 1:28am
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
Don't like criticism? Clean out your own closets. Don't want me drawing Muhammed? Too damn bad, I'm not living under your mullahs. If that's what it takes to get people rioting, we might as well prepare for the larger clash, cause we can't placate such aggression.

And frankly, placating it makes said clash more likely. Our general pussyfooting around the issue of larger culpability within the Muslim world has contributed to their aggression. I don't care about people loving me, so long as they leave me alone. But these people rioting have zero respect for us, and considering how we've appeased their often expressions of irrationality, I wouldn't either if I was them. We look like a bunch of pushovers, and weakness invites aggression.
3.11.2006 1:32am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Elliot123,

>So, why have so few US papers printed the cartoons? Their inaction appears to put them in opposition to Prof Volokh and the majority of the comments here.<

I think there are a million factors that play a role. For one, I think Eugene's timing here isn't on accident -- he's waited for it to die down some. For another, Eugene is just a private individual with a blog, allowing him to make a statement with out all the implications and assumptions that would accompany a newspaper action. If the Washington Post publishes these cartoons, it is obviously going to be perceived very differently than from when Eugene does, and perceptions here matter. I think this is because people, rightly or wrongly, tend to look at newspapers as almost "official."

So it may be the same reason the government can't go and say something critical of Islam. That doesn't mean they're opposed to private individuals doing it, though, even if they say otherwise.

Plus, Eugene was also able to give a compelling explanation for why he thought it was appropriate, something a newspaper may not as easily be able to do.

Then, of course, the newspapers may just disagree. Or they may be afraid. Or they may recognize they have too much influence, and the stir would be too great. I think all the complicating factors are what make this both so interesting and so frustrating.
3.11.2006 1:35am
Yehudit (mail) (www):
These cartoons are tame for your average political cartoon. When religion gets involved in politics, it's fair game like every other group that gets involved in politics. Political cartoonists of the past, like Honore Damier, specifically targeted the Catholic Church because it was a political player. Cartoonists today target evangelicals for trying to impose Creationism and Catholics for priestly pedophilia, for example. Islam is not exempt from criticism.
3.11.2006 1:38am
Kovarsky (mail):
Before I say anything else I want to make it clear, before anybody accuses me of letting the terrorists win, or being some kind of fascist, or being a left wing nutcase, that the radical Islam response to these cartoons is outrageous, and that in this particular instance we should be publishing and discussing the cartoons in service of a dialogue about the role of religious iconography in an industrializing, liberalizing world.

That being said, I'm afraid that we are using an extreme example to prove a rule that is not always categorical.

My objection to the idea that one should categorically publish incendiary material in service of promoting dialogue is twofold:

(1) It is easy to defend the categorical impulse if the person doing the publishing is the one who assumes the risk of the reprisal. If you're Salman Rushdie and you are publishing Satanic Versus and you are going to be the subject uf a Fatwah, then you are a brave, brave man and deserve recognition as a hero. Likewise, if you are a professor at a university publishing inflammatory material, you are to be similarly commended. The calculus changes, however, when the person doing the publishing is not the person taking the bullet for publishing it. At that point, I think the categorical impulse disappears, and you have to take a real pragmatic look at what you are doing when you are effectively creating risks for other people. I just don't see it as categorically heroic free speech defense when a particular decision to offend incites violence that is far more likely to take the life of someone a million miles away than it is to take your own. I detest the "terrorist set to detonate a nuclear bomb in new york city" heuristic used to analyze the NSA issues, but one could easily construct similarly unlikely hypotheticals with regard to incendiary publications, and reason backwards into the proposition that it is NOT unconditionally beneficial to publish incendiary speech. Obviously when I say "pragmatic consideration" you really do have to do some pretty hard thinking about the variables - the loss in dialogue from not publishing the cartoons, the people you would put at risk by publishing them, the degree to which nonpublication encourages bully-riots in the future, etc. etc. But it's not categorical when you're not internalizing the costs of your speech. As a conceptual matter - I think this is the objection many people are actually making to the exercise of free speech rights in the NYT NSA leak. Nobody really doubts the national importance of the issue disclosed (it implicates civil liberties, separation of powers, the relationship between the government and the media, etc.), but some consider the non-internalized cost (externality, for the cheap seats in the econ departments) of that publication unwarranted. Sure, the NYT has a right to publish that information (despite what Schoenfeld says in Commentary), but everyone is asking whether it was judicious. I'm not even coming close to equating the two scenarios, just trying to identify extremes that illustrate the point about pragmatic balancing that I'm making.

(2) I think the rhetorical appeal of the following argument is seductive - the best way to promote free speech across the world is to exercise it. That sounds nice for a bumper sticker, but I'm not sure it's really true. Again, in the case of the cartoons, I think it is. But again, one could imagine situations where the long term interests of establishing a stable government monopolizing legitimate force to enforce free speech rights might require that, well, people just chill out sometimes, and acknowledge the occasional difference between promoting free speech and exercising it.

Commence with the pillory...
3.11.2006 1:40am
Kovarsky (mail):
I would also point out that the notion that sometimes we restrict speech to promote it is embraced in certain parts of our own constitution, i.e. the copyright clause. Of course its cosmetics are much more benign, but I do think it does stand in opposition to what I've called the categorical impulse.
3.11.2006 1:49am
Orwell's Ghost (mail):
(2) I think the rhetorical appeal of the following argument is seductive - the best way to promote free speech across the world is to exercise it. That sounds nice for a bumper sticker, but I'm not sure it's really true. Again, in the case of the cartoons, I think it is. But again, one could imagine situations where the long term interests of establishing a stable government monopolizing legitimate force to enforce free speech rights might require that, well, people just chill out sometimes, and acknowledge the occasional difference between promoting free speech and exercising it.

Commence with the pillory...


It seems to me that you're assuming that things are going in the right way, and we should not rock the vote. Indeed, as a general supporter of the current Bush objectives, which demands reconciliation with the Muslim world, I can see the attraction of this. It is the same reason that many people thought Newsweek, even if the charges had been true, shouldn't have published such inciting material while American soldiers are at war.

However, reforming (really, as someone said above - "enlightening" the Muslim world demands criticism of its current state. And so far as the ability of introspection and self-abasement can be seen in the Muslim world...well, it isn’t there, aside from the vastly outnumbered liberals.

Most peoples don't want to see the flaws of their own groups, whether that group is national, ethnic, ideological, or especially religious - the self-critical Westerner is not the norm throughout the world. And even 60 years ago, the average American on the street would have been loathe to acknowledge national faults as compared to today. It is especially true for a civilization that is drunk on its former, centuries old glory and looking for scapegoats for its current state.

If we’re not going to criticize them, and they aren’t going to criticize them, no one’s going to criticize them. And they aren’t going to see any reason to change. Up until now even our own propaganda has allowed them to maintain the fiction that only a small minority is responsible for the cancer in their region, for tactical reasons related to our foreign policy goals, but at some point criticism of their current state is required.
3.11.2006 1:58am
Kovarsky (mail):
Orwell's Ghost (great name, by the way - up there with Junk Yard Law Dog),

And they aren’t going to see any reason to change. Up until now even our own propaganda has allowed them to maintain the fiction that only a small minority is responsible for the cancer in their region, for tactical reasons related to our foreign policy goals, but at some point criticism of their current state is required.

My point is that and sometimes they are not. I'm concerned that the easy facts on the cartoons issue create this illusory categorical rule about the best way of promoting free expression always being to exercise it. That's all. On these particular facts, I agree with you.
3.11.2006 2:17am
Kovarsky (mail):
By the way, re: my exchange with Bart, AEDPA is one area where Congress has simultaneously made a jurisdictional grant and restricted review of constitutional claims. And, for Bart's purposes, that should be very illustrative of what a jurisdictional grant would look like if it indeed attempted to restrict adjudication on the merits of constitutional claims.
3.11.2006 2:36am
Kovarsky (mail):
woops, re: post above - wrong thread.
3.11.2006 2:37am
minnie:
Mahan Atma: I'm somewhat puzzled by your comment. I had thought that most of my post was precisely dedicated to an explanation of why the cartoons are not remotely like, say, KKK advocacy of racist violence or even irrational racist hatred, or for that matter Holocaust deniers' nonsense. If all the KKK did was come up with cartoons, we wouldn't think of the KKK the way we do.

What? The "holocaust deniers" are not people who have a different view of history, they are people spouting "nonsense." Eugene must have been in Germany at the time and done a body count to be so sure.

In fact, the vast majority of "holocaust deniers" whose words I have read through links on this site are not, in fact, denying Hitler killed large numbers of Jews during his reign of terror. They are people who think what we are taught as gospel concerning the number of Jews who died at Hitler's hands during the Second World War is inaccurate. To Eugene, that's such "nonsense" that it doesn't even merit inquiry. The fact that no two historians ever agreed on anything is irrelevant. The fact that a group of people who were monstrously persecuted and killed might have relatives and sympathetic "historians" who had a very understandable desire to make sure that such a thing never happened again and whose accounts of what happened may have been motivated by this desire, is irrelevant.

All history, in fact, is revisionist. It's only the degree to which it is revised, and by whom which differs. If someone doesn't agree with the "historian" you choose to believe, does that characterize his views as "nonsense"? Must he have an evil purpose? Might he have different facts at his disposal than you do, and put the pieces together in a different way?

As for "If all the KKK did was come up with cartoons, we wouldn't think of the KKK the way we do", oh really? Who is "we"? You? There are many blacks I know who would be equally repelled by the KKK if they saw KKK cartoons which portray people laughing and cheering as Southern Negroes are lynched.

And what actual damage is done by those who question the historical accuracy of the generally accepted accounts of the Holocaust? They may be right, they may be wrong, but are any of the more educated and widely read among them advocating harming Jews in any way?

You can say what you want about Catholicism in this country, you can say what you want about Islam, Scientiology, Mormans, Hindus , Martians or anyone, but you cannot say anything that "offends Jewish sensibilities", unless you want to be run out of town, fired from your job, subject to hate campaigns and, of course, accused of being an anti-semite. US before Israel people are anti-semites. Vanessa Redgrave is an anti-semite. Everyone is an anti-semite.

When all the "I'm shocked, shocked that anyone would try to keep someone else from publishing harmless anti-Islam cartoons" people stop contempuously attacking and distorting the views of ANYONE who says ANYTHING that ANYWAY offends someone's "Jewish sensibility", that's when I will stop doubting their sincerity. So far, I haven't seen that, despite all the false protestations otherwise.
3.11.2006 2:46am
Kovarsky (mail):
Minnie,

I think when people generally refer to Holocaust deniers' nonsense, they don't have the people who operate with 5% margin of error in mind.

But I do agree with your point about a lot of the inconsistencies the outrage at the Muslim response to the cartoons creates. Many forget that these cartoons hit the press and the same time that Toles' Rumsfeld cartoon did. I know that Fox is not a particularly fair indicator of these things, but I was astonished at the number of back to back stories that were effectively:

(1) we must publish cartoons to show the muslim world about free speech

(2) we must not republish Toles' cartoons and we must shame him into the stone age for "disrespecting" american troops.

i agree with (1) and disagree with (2). i was just floored by the number of people that failed to recognize that profound inconsistency.
3.11.2006 3:13am
Kovarsky (mail):
Minnie,

I also think that you're not getting the concept of Holocaust denial. Holocaust denial is not only a denial of the existence of the mass murder, or the magnitude of it, but also any attempt to dismiss hitler's behavior as anything other than a carefully crafted, methodical campaign to extinguish an entire race. So holocaust denial can take a lot of forms - including the claim that the fact of fewer jewish fatalitis reveal that hitler did not in fact have the motive to extinguish the jews.

The label also attaches anytime the discrepancy appears to be motivated by anti-semitic bias, and I think quite understandibly so. I think many people would find even minor understatemetns of 9/11 fatalities to be suscpicious and even reprehensible if delivered by, say, a member of the taliban.
3.11.2006 3:23am
Eugene Volokh (www):
Well, nice to see minnie's true stripes. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Not only do we run the media, the banks, and the comedy clubs, but we're sleeping with your women. Why even argue? Resistance is futile. That we even allow you to speak is just a sign of our contempt for you.
3.11.2006 3:49am
Kovarsky (mail):
EV

You forgot Hollywood and the afterlife, and they're our women now.

I will say this. I grew up as a Texas Jew. When I was 14 my mother had to explain to me that the head of our congregation had embezzled 50 thousand dollars. Moral of the story: never trust a rabbi in a cowboy hat.
3.11.2006 4:12am
Andy:
Minnie,

I must confess I don't see the point of your post. You imply (or at least I infer) that Holocaust denial is illegal in the United States: it is not. (The European nations that do prohibit it are, in my opinion, wrong to do so.)

Calling it "nonsense" (which it is) is not the same as prohibiting it. And nobody is saying that Muslims shouldn't make it known that something offends them: they just shouldn't burn down buildings and threaten beheadings when doing so. There's nothing wrong with protesting something that offends your sensibility up until you threaten violence towards those who offend you. I'm fairly certain you won't be able to come up with a modern-day instance in which Jewish or Christian protesters threatened to kill the creator of a work they deemed offensive. (If they did, the NEA would be out of business.)

Shalom.

ps: And then there's this lovely bit of news from Yemen: http://www.yobserver.com/news_9692.php
3.11.2006 5:29am
Andy:
Minnie,

One last thing:


[Y]ou cannot say anything that "offends Jewish sensibilities", unless you want to be run out of town, fired from your job, subject to hate campaigns and, of course, accused of being an anti-semite.


Why do I get the feeling you speak from experience?
3.11.2006 5:33am
Brett Bellmore (mail):
I frankly doubt the major media in this country have been intimidated into not publishing the cartoons. Rather, I suspect that it's of a part with their usual manipulation of public opinion: Ever since 9-11 they've been fighting, in their view of it, to prevent Americans from being swept up in some kind of jingoistic frenzy. We're so excitable, you see, that certain things have to be kept from us to keep US from going off on a rampage...
3.11.2006 8:05am
Cerveza (mail):
Andy:
I loved this little snippet from the story you referenced:

"Twelve of the prosecution lawyers turned up to the trial, crowding and jostling each other in the busy court room. Several times the lawyers disagreed among themselves, and the judge ordered them to organize their team better.
They also demanded personal financial compensation for the psychological trauma they claimed they suffered by the actions of the newspaper, which they said has impaired their ability to do their jobs and follow their normal daily lives. "

And who says the Arab world is resistant to Western ideas? They sure picked up the victimology line with amazing alacrity. "Personal financial compensation!" These guys crack me up!
3.11.2006 8:43am
Kovarsky (mail):
Brett,

I don't know whether you've seen those commercials for the magazine "The Nation," but theres one part that say, "That Famous Left Wing Media Bias."

Your point makes me think of the Dubai Ports and "That Famous Right Wing Media Circumspection."
3.11.2006 9:08am
SenatorX (mail):
Loved the comments! Great discourse and it is always a pleasure to read others rational thoughts.

Delephant,
What a great post! I had missed the message of that cartoon as you said. Thanks for the analysis. For the rest of your comments all I can say is well put, I doubt I could have said it better.

Orwell’s Ghost(I too love that name), ditto. You as well make great points I think. More power to you.

Kovarsky,
I want to comment on your posts. I certainly don’t disagree with you attempt to bring discourse of any sort of demarcation on the rights of free speech but I think I have an answer to you.
My answer is that it is an entirely different thing for the State to impose restrictions on free speech and self moderation by individuals in regards to the “wisdom” of saying X. Also when the state defines the rights of free speech it does so with great danger. The tendency is to encroach more and more into civil liberties and I think we are much better off leaving erroring on the side non-controlled free speech. I think Andy’s comment speaks on this as well.

The “can’t yell fire in a crowded theater” is commonly tossed out as an example of the limits of free speech so I might as well go there. I view this from the libertarian viewpoint that the state should interact where it promotes competition for the purpose of providing individual citizens with more choices. Rules like this provide common ground for individuals to come together(a theater) with protection from bodily harm. This is a distinct difference from the state conceding to threats from a religious institution and instituting coercive measures(laws) to control individual behavior and limit civilian rights. Offending someone’s “sensibilities” is a right I hold quite dear and is different from my right to infringe on someone else’s rights. They do have the right to be offended but they don’t have the right to influence the policy of the coercive institution I live under. This is a place I believe “a line in the sand” should be drawn. I hope I managed to convey this correctly…

EV,
“I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Not only do we run the media, the banks, and the comedy clubs, but we're sleeping with your women”

Lol I haven’t read enough of your writings to know your character. This article was clear and to the point but very delicate as well. It is a pleasure to know you have fire and humor as well as intellect.

Andy,
I agree. Although I think you could have left off the second comment Andy where you basically accuse minni of being an anti-semite. Not that I doubt your inference but why even go there? Minnie builds (her?) own noose quite well without your help…

Cervesa,
Lol yes that’s funny stuff! Oh the trauma! I need “financial personal compensation”. The good part of that is it shows that people are people and the desire for personal gain is STRONG even in such settings. Socialists and religious institutions are always trying to weaken and denigrate this, but can they really do it? I think not.
3.11.2006 9:54am
Moneyrunner43 (www):
From Protein Wisdom via The Virginian:


Call it “anger management.”

The media obviously doesn’t have any problem publishing images that piss off Islamists; just as long as they are incited against the proper people (e.g., the U.S. military).

The Mo-toons are taboo because, well, God forbid the nutbags start bombing us instead of some icky white trash jarhead from Nebraskansaw.

9-11 photos are even more doubleplusbad taboo; those images might piss off icky white trash jarheads from Nebraskansaw.


Click here
3.11.2006 10:12am
Len (mail):
From Senatorx: "First, I wasn't aware this was a grammar or spelling contest. I write for context and pointing out construction "errors" is dancing close to "ad hominem" fallaciousness."

We think in word. If we wish others to properly understand us then we must talk, and write, properly.
3.11.2006 10:17am
John Burgess (mail) (www):
Jackson Dyer: You misunderstand the role of Mohammed in re the Quran. He is not the "author." Rather, Muslims see him as the vehicle through which the unaltered word of God is sent to man. God is the author. He didn't "inspire" it, he spoke it, verbatim.

That makes it far more difficult to argue that what's in the Quran is subject to change (absolutely not!) or even interpretation (done only with extreme difficulty).
3.11.2006 10:39am
SenatorX (mail):
Len, "must"? "properly"? whatever...
I can play the "game" as well as the next robot. I have the "proper education". In the case here your point is further wasted by the power of word processors. The fact that I can click spell checker, cut and paste, makes your agenda silly. Oh you could claim it is important for people to BE ABLE to get a message across using "proper" convention, and I concede that, but it was my impression that anyone I would WANT to respond to my comments would be ABLE to understand my message(not you I guess...).

You're argument is that the context of my message would be clouded by the inability of my reader to understand my message. As I pointed out that was not the case nor the contention of the poster. Rather he was attacking the messenger to avoid the points. Right?

"We are the dreamer's of dreams", there is very little I MUST do and frankly you come close to taking the stance in opposition to the point of the blog. You wish to judge what is proper and use "though shalts" to convention...

I can say/type/blog/comment however I want and there is very little you can do about it. I MAY decide to run my comments through word, but only to give the mendacious one less thing to avoid my points. NOT to get my message across properly(oh am I allowed to capitalize words? oh crap or use improper parenthesis? damn!).

Go back in your box.
3.11.2006 11:14am
jackson dyer (mail):
"Jackson Dyer: You misunderstand the role of Mohammed in re the Quran. He is not the "author." Rather, Muslims see him as the vehicle through which the unaltered word of God is sent to man. God is the author. He didn't "inspire" it, he spoke it, verbatim."

I know his role, Burgess.


That's why I compared whim to Joseph Smith.

Still, as a non Muslim I don't have to accept these legends and can refer to him (whomever he was--wa she even real?) as the "author"--- as we do to Homer as the author of the Greek epic poems.
3.11.2006 11:16am
Len (mail):
Marcus1 said: "So it may be the same reason the government can't go and say something critical of Islam."

Throw all the fancy words you want at it and it is still the same thing. If our leaders cannot protect us and our liberties then they do not deserve to be our leaders.
3.11.2006 11:23am
Raw_Data (mail):
BTW, Senator X.

Whether your first language was English was a casual question and by no means could be considered -- by a person completely fluent in English -- as anything but an instance of mild curiosity. I don't think that the question was by any means ad hominen; at most it was mildly out-of-place (and only very mildly.)

(Btw, I had had the same curiosity as I read your very interesting comment.)

So perhaps your response answers the question.
3.11.2006 11:25am
John Jenkins (mail):
First, I wasn't aware this was a grammar or spelling contest. I write for context and pointing out construction "errors" is dancing close to "ad hominem" fallaciousness.

I'll just assume you're being deliberately unclear then. You'll note I didn't point out any specific "errors" because I said they were odd, not necessarily wrong. There are two possibilities at this point (1) a non-native speaker or (2) someone being pretentious and using words he doesn't understand. That's why I phrased is as favorably to you as possible, so as to avoid the ad hominem. I thank you for clearing up my confusion.

Now for a real one: you haven't recently read Atlas Shrugged for the first time, have you?

The term "secularly liberal Muslim" is a deliberate construction on my part. "secularly liberal" serves to modify Muslim. You don't get to split it apart and turn it into something it's not. Well, you can, but you'll be missing my point. My point is there are Muslims who can participate in secular liberal society apart from their religion. We know that to be the case because there are Muslims in the United States and other liberal countries who manage quite nicely.

It's good to know that, as the arbiter of all that is truly Muslim, you've determined these people aren't true Muslims. I'm sure they'll be concerned at first but will come around.
In the future, if anyone has any questions about what it means to be a Jew, a Christian, or a Hindu, I'll step up and save SenatorX the effort and decide who is truly a part of those religious traditions. It seems the only requirement is that one not be an adherant, and as an agnostic I qualify. BTW, Kovarsky, can I have one of the women? In return, I will give you paragraph breaks!

My point regarding interaction between Christianity and liberal society is a simple one. For the most part in the West, when Christians don't like something, they sign petitions, they bitch, they complain, they vote, and they file lawsuits. They don't, for example, riot and blow things up. This I call progress. If you don't see the difference and merely wish to take offense at all of the "Christian conversion" going on around you, more power to you.

Apparently, you don't like reasoning by analogy, and you obviously misinterpreted what I wrote, to the extent that your "deconstruction" is unsalvageable. It's this simple: there was a time when Christianity was into converting people by the sword and trying to cover the known world. It's not so much anymore. Given that we have historical experience with this sort of thing, ignoring it doesn't seem to be the best way to go.

The problem in the Islamic East is not Islam itself. The problem is that there is no split between the religious authority and the secular authority. For the longest time, this was problematic in the West, too (Divine right of kings anyone?), but it isn't anymore. We know from where the power of government is derived.

As to Nietzsche, I think the Islamic East has quite enough raving madmen at this point, so there's no need to give them another one. What they need is an account, based on religion, that allows for secular society separate from religious law and governance. I figure Locke and Smith are as good a start as any on that.
3.11.2006 11:37am
Len (mail):
To SenatorX:

All I'm saying is that the improper use of language (words, sentences, periods, etc.) can completely change the meaning of a message. Language is for communications. If our purpose is to communicate with others, it behooves us to remember this, and to use our language properly. Of course, if our purpose is to beat others over the head with language (to intimidate), then the proper use of language does not matter.
3.11.2006 11:54am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Eugene

>Well, nice to see minnie's true stripes.<

I don't think you know Minnie's true stripes at all. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see anything about Jews being evil or owning anything or anything like that.

Maybe the feeling is that Minnie says things you just can't say, but the fact is that she has valid points. You said,

>I had thought that most of my post was precisely dedicated to an explanation of why the cartoons are not remotely like, say, KKK advocacy of racist violence or even irrational racist hatred, or for that matter Holocaust deniers' nonsense.<

Minnie's post questions whether there is really a difference between Holocaust denial and Islamophobic cartoons. Is there? Minnie suggests that there is nothing inherently violent about holocaust denial. So what's the difference? That holocaust denial is nonsense?

As far as being run out of town, I also think she has a point. Personally, as a critic of all religion, I think it is definitely much touchier to attack Judaism than it is to attack Christianity. I'm really not sure it's possible to be a critic of Judaism, or Jews (as opposed to Christianity or Christians which many people criticize) without being labeled an anti-semite. Personally, I don't really mind, because Jews don't pick on me much, and Judaism doesn't tend to interfere with normal functioning as much as other religions. In fact, in a world of religious people, my feeling is that Jews tend to be the most reasonable ones. But the fact remains that if somebody wants to criticize the beliefs of Jews, so to speak, they stand on treacherous ground.

If Minnie can't say it, I don't know why I can, but there you have it.

I think it's unfortunate when we decide that certain historical truths are so important that we're going to tarnish anyone who questions them. Personally, I'm a big fan of ideas that challenge conventional wisdom. I thought Christopher Hitchens' book debunking Mother Theresa, for instance, was great. It's not that I just want to disagree with people, but that I think it's important to get to the truth of matters. I have no idea what the truth of the matter is in regard to specific details of the Holocaust, but I do think it's problematic that people aren't really allowed to ask.

Of course, I could be wrong -- maybe if we had open dialogue about the Holocaust, it would just lead to more racism. I'm not sure anyone knows that, though, and I don't see how we can just trust that that is the case. I feel like we're always better off asking questions, and then trying to find the real answers.
3.11.2006 12:21pm
Broncos:
Did Minnie really post that? That's shameful.

I don't support HD criminalization on free speech grounds, but there isn't any reasonable doubt that (1) it consists of claims that are complete historical nonsense, and (2) it is almost always motivated by prejudice, not a free-spirited-test-all-assumptions historical inquiry.

Were the cartoons *actually* islamophobic, their content would be objectionable, on the same grounds as anti-semeticism. True.

But I don't think that you can infer either islamophobia nor anti-semeticism from simple audience outrage; you have to look at the substance of the communication. (And if the substance is objectionable, it is fine to "tarnish" the persons who says it.) I have been waiting for a post like Eugene's, I wish it had happened sooner.
3.11.2006 12:58pm
Raw_Data (mail):
"...open dialogue about the Holocaust..."

That is rich....probably one of the most revealing (and stupid) comments I have seen in a while.

What is there to have "open dialogue" about? Not enough Jews were killed? The Germans weren't efficient enough? It was the Jews fault?
3.11.2006 1:16pm
SenatorX (mail):
Raw_Data,
I hear you. The fact that your interpretation of my comment was similar to JJ's does not necessarily mean that you are correct in your interpretations of his meaning. I think his latest post rather supports my view and not yours. However I will concede to your point if only because I know I could be wrong. Thank you for your response.

Len,
Your reasonable response to my fairly aggressive response to you tells me more about your character than the words you write. Thank you and I concede your point, it is well taken. I still think I can get away with improper grammar to get my points across though. Sometimes I find it satisfying to use improper structure to TRY and make my point clearer. You are probably correct though that if my goal is to get a message across I should couch that message in whatever format is successful to the receiver. It seems by the responses that at this blog I may be held to higher standards of "proper format" than usual. I will accept that.

To JJ,
I believe your recent attacks are for the most part justification for my earlier inference. Your flaws are so evident that your post suffices as my own defense. Because I am having fun I will respond to some of what you say though.

a) No I have yet to read Atlas Shrugged though I am aware of Ayn Rand. I think you might have trouble though pegging me as an Objectivist. I am not concerned with "objective" reality in the least. In fact if we went there I would likely contend against "Manifest Truths" that objectivism appears to be a symptom(?) of(as much of western though appears to be). Basically my stance right now is more that objective reality is a red herring of induction. I would love to debate this but to respect the blog owner I think we should let it go in favor of at least trying to get back in the realm of the original blog.

To address your point(as I see it) is that Islam(like Christianity once was), is in transition to a separation of church and state. That this liberal agenda is where we should be putting our energy so that the liberal secular "Muslims" will be able to accomplish this goal faster.

My contention to this is that Islam is sufficiently different and the times are different that such a plan will fail. The central message of Christianity(what Jesus said) is utterly different than what Mohammed said(via Gabriel!). I think many of the central messages of Jesus allowed for tolerance that helped liberalism make headway. This will be much harder to accomplish with Islam at least.

Further I used Nietzsche to infer another of my points. That perhaps we are better off "shooting the arrow" further than you suggest. I will concede to you that I would not be against your conceptual goal but just that we should be clearer about the final goal. I suppose we could be deceivers and say we have one plan but really another but I am TRYING to live honestly. The "God is Dead" over used cliché refers mostly to the lack of need for religious moral guidance in man. That an "intellectual conscience" based on rational though which has it's foundation in scientific optimism is both birthed(the death toll) and on the rise. Further that it will provide fertile ground for a new age of experimentation, self discovery(definition), and joy in the ever expanding growth of perception and self overcoming of our necessary(up to this point in history) animal values(this ties to his Ubermensch concept).

Your attack on Nietzsche as a "raving madman" is the most offensive and embarrassing thing you said. I hope nobody takes you seriously. It would be a shame for your ignorance on that subject to spread. I have read ALL of his books and most of them many times. Have you? Regardless of whether or not you agree with any of what he says or even a small part of it, to call him a "raving madman" is to falsely denigrate the MANY perspectives he brings to the table. For those with ears and eyes for it Nietzsche is one of the best philosophers that has ever existed for helping individuals expand their perceptions.
3.11.2006 1:17pm
Raw_Data (mail):
Senator,
I was only speaking to your written style, not to the substance of your post.
3.11.2006 1:27pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
I don't think you know Minnie's true stripes at all. Perhaps I missed it, but I didn't see anything about Jews being evil or owning anything or anything like that.
Let's not forget in another thread where she not only spoke up in this sort of quasi-agnostic tone about the existence of the Holocaust, but simultaneously argued that she thought "Zionist" only referred to a tiny group of ultra-Orthodox Jews who avoided all contact with outsiders, and yet claimed that many of her close acquaintances were Zionists.

Minnie's language isn't a new form of Holocaust denial; the claim that all-history-is-subject-to-revision-so- why-should-the-Holocaust-be-any-different? is a longstanding technique used by the more sophisticated deniers in an attempt to appear reasonable. (Now, perhaps Minnie has just been taken in by those people, but this is hardly the first time she has stridently argued as she has, and her comments about "US before Israel people" are another piece of evidence on the scale.) It of course is meant to fool the historically ignorant into thinking something entirely untrue: that the existence of most historical events is subject to debate. Nobody around here saw the Civil War firsthand, but there aren't many questioning whether it happened based on that argument. (And when the Holocaust deniers out there say that they're just questioning the number of people killed, they want people to acknowledge that of course we don't know whether it's 6,000,000 or 5,999,999, as if that's a slippery slope towards their position that maybe it was really only 6,000.)
3.11.2006 1:44pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Marcus1,

Minnie's post questions whether there is really a difference between Holocaust denial and Islamophobic cartoons.

There's probably not that much of a difference, unless you're arguing that the cartoons are not Islamophobic. And radical Islam does not get to define the terms of what constitutes Islamophobia in this discussion.

Re: the "open dialogue about the Holocaust" comment. I have to agree, that betrays a complete lack of practical appreciation for the contexts in which these ideas are being used and the respective credibility of each pair in the discussion. That is a classic failure to distinguish between a right to say something and whether that thing should be said.

Yeah, sure, at some level every "fact" is epistemically "subjective." So let's encourage debate on whether Jews were really exterminated in the Holocaust, and well we're at it why don't we throw open the doors to "critical" academic discussion, which is code for giving those with the disfavored viewpoint cognitive airtime that exceeds the consensus behind the position, to whether Blacks were really subject to slavery, whether the Earth was really created 5000 years ago, whether Stalin really conducted pogroms, whether 9/11 was fabricated by the Jews to foment Islamic hatred, and whether the earth is flat.

They're all just disfavored viewpoints, right? Why not require equal time be given to each.
3.11.2006 1:53pm
jackson dyer (mail):

John Jenkins:


“jackson dyer, You missed the point. It's not the period of time that's relevant. It's the *fact* that you have no direct experience of the phenomenon. That's why it's your great, great grandfather (whom one is much less likely to have met than simply one's grandfather, though it's still technically possible, just add greats until you didn't meet the person).”



Here is my abbreviated answer:


I understand that, John. However, I brought up the example of one’s own experience (the elapsed five minutes) because a true skeptic would not stop with the trivial claim that since you can’t have access to other people’s experiences hence you can’t know the truth of the claims made on their behalf. This is both a truism and it’s also demonstrably false.

You can’t have direct access to your great-great -grandfather’s experience during ww1, but you can certainly verify the truth of the claim that there was a ww1 and that your distant relative was there at the time: now, just because we can’t have direct access to the subjective experiences of a person doesn’t mean that we no way of knowing the truth about those claims.

The fact is that it is also difficult to verify one’s own truth claims of a past experience. These are epistemological issues. Free speech issues are political.


“There certainly is an objective reality, but you have no privileged view on it.You're privileging your own positions and denying the validity of those of others, then generalizing that across all times and spaces. That's not a supportable position.”

I never claimed any one had a privileged view of objective reality. However, the mere fact that an experience can be described objectively means that more than on person has access to it.



“You're objectively stating that none of the religions to which you are referring are correct. That may be true, but I defy you to prove it (that's a rhetorical challenge, since proving a negative is an impossibility, but that's sort of my point).”


Yes, but this doesn’t follow from your previous premises. Religion makes no claims that can be verified hence their claims are not objective. However, there are different kinds of religious claims.

The claim that there is a god or gods is different in kind from the claim that some person and only that person had access to that deity’s views about mankind (or anything else). This is the claim that writers of religious texts claim. Here we have a subjective component to the claim, namely that the religious seer had access to the deity’s views, and an objective claim that those views were passed on to posterity. We can’t prove or disprove the subjective claim (hence it is philosophically speaking trivial) but we can investigate the claims that those views were passed on in the manner claimed by the followers of that religion.


”A belief may or may not be true. Whether it is verefiable does not make it a fact, but once it is verified we might agree that it's a fact if we agree to the method of verification. Are you willing to admit to the degree of faith required of your epistomological view (which is apparently a weak empiricism)?

This statement is confused, John.



“You must have *faith* that your observations are true and that your conclusions from those observations are true. Unless we're talking about necessary truths, you're on rather thin epistomological ice at that point. Not that you have much choice, but I get bored quickly with people who think that "knowledge" is wholly unrelated to faith.”


You must be bored with me already then, John.





Beliefs and facts are not interchangeable phenomena, John. My belief that it rained last night is of the same order as a belief that a god created the universe. Certain claims can be proven or disproven, other claims cannot. This has nothing to do with the “method of verification.” Scientific claims can be proven only through the use of the scientific method, logical claims through the use of logic and so on. If you try to use logic to prove that the earth is round you will not get very far.





“There are a certain set of shared assumptions about reality that we all share, which makes communication possible, but whether our conceptions are concretely true is beyond our ability to ascertain. (Compare chemistry from 100 years ago to today, and decide whether things today are objectively true. I assure you there are errors, the reason for which we have not yet even contemplated).”


This is a hasty conclusion. A chemist of a 100 years ago were he living today would certainly marvel at the advance in knowledge about chemistry. The knowledge of chemistry today is more extensive than that of 100 years ago, but it doesn’t contradict it.
In any case your example doesn’t prove that there is no objective reality.

I agree though with your point that “There are a certain set of shared assumptions about reality that we all share, which makes communication possible,…”

This is why it’s so difficult to discuss the cartoon issue with Muslims or theories of evolution with religious fundamentalists of any stripe.
3.11.2006 1:57pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Raw_Data,

>That is rich....probably one of the most revealing (and stupid) comments I have seen in a while.

What is there to have "open dialogue" about? Not enough Jews were killed? The Germans weren't efficient enough? It was the Jews fault?<

See, you think it's revealing, but you're wrong. I'm probably more pro-Jew than I am pro-any other group. (I might be more pro-gay, despite the fact that I'm neither Jewish nor gay).

Like I said, maybe I'm wrong and it's impossible to talk about the Holocaust in a straight forward way. Seeing your response, I'm inclined to think I am wrong. Because clearly you're taking my comment for something that I did not at all mean, and I suppose that is something that is impossible to avoid.

I am not in any way a Holocaust denier. In fact, I doubt very much there is any benefit in finding that there were maybe 5 million or 7 million Jews killed, rather than 6 million. My feeling is simply, in general, that we are better off allowing people to ask these questions, and then rebutting them, rather than immediately attacking them as evil. I simply don't like impugning people's character when we really don't know.

No, I don't think this applies to someone suggesting that a group of people should be killed. My feeling is that those are exactly the kinds of ideas that we should attack as racist, rather than using other statements as proxies. Of course, one often has to make assumptions, since people don't often state their racist views up front, but my feeling is that people are often too quick to make these kinds of assupmtions, which are damaging, and have real repercussions. I continue to think it's unfortunate that I can't even make the statement I made, that maybe we shouldn't attack people so much for asking questions, without you immediately calling me out as depraved. I'm probably more touchy than I should be, but it strikes me as rather unfair.

To be clear, I think that currently, the vast majority of people who decide to challenge historical accuracies about the Holocaust may well have evil motives. I am not one of those people. And I wouldn't generally defend those people. I simply thought the attack on Minnie, under the circumstances, was too quickly made.
3.11.2006 2:10pm
John Jenkins (mail):
SenatorX

You don't think that Nietzsche was a raving madman? I'd go back and read his biography again if I were you. He certainly lost his mind. I'm glad you've read all his books (which is almost certainly why your writing seems to me like a Randian rant, since she borrowed (without credit, I might add) a great deal from him). I'm happy that you agree with him. Fortuntately, that has little bearing on our discussion (or my joke about madmen: I wonder if that is more or less permissive than jokes about victims of genocide or religious figures).

But now I *do* know why your constructions seemed odd, and damn me for a fool for missing it earlier. Jargon! Now it all makes sense (or at least as much sense as it's going to).

Even to accept your point, and concede to you that Eastern Islam needs a Nietzsche, they're not ready for it. You want to take a mystical social order and throw it over for an atheistic one without any sort of intervening period. That's why I believe that there must be a religious (i.e. Islamic) account of political liberalism and separation of government from church. The people whom you are addressing all have X belief. If you simply deny X belief, they have no reason to even listen to you.

I am curious though, what you think the outcome would be if the Islamic world rejected Islam and accepted Nietzsche's crtique of morality qua morality. I'm not really sure we'd be in a better place.

To tie this into the original discussion, I think you *must* accept that Nietzsche's philosophy is a fundamentally illiberal one (it denies, after all, the very basis of liberalism: that all persons are equal). How then can you account for the freedom of speech we're discussing here within a Nietzschean framework? We are making a normative claim that free speech is the right positon because no idea is privileged over any other. I think you're committed to a contrary position, but I'd like to hear your account for the opposite if you have one.
3.11.2006 2:20pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
David,

Maybe you're right. I simply like to assume that people are good and not evil.

Incidentally, this is an issue I've learned more about recently. With the whole cartoon mess, I went and tried to find information about the Muslim view of why this was all so offenseive. One of the things I found, which I honestly wasn't really aware of, was that many Muslims are very bitter about all the attention that goes to the Holocaust. They feel that there have been other gruesome slaughters of people that are not given nearly the same attention. They also think that there is a big double standard between anti-holocaust denial laws and the allowance of islamophobic propaganda.

Is their position reasonable? I tend to think not. I tend to think that the Holocaust is entirely different, and that there is not really a double standard. I think the basis for the holocaust-denial laws is a fear that in their absence, countries like Germany might develope greater anti-semitic views and return to a 1930's mentality. This to me is a compelling justification for their existence, which does not really exist for general islamophobia, wrong though it is.

Nevertheless, it does create what I think Eugene has dubbed censorship-envy. And I think that is a problem. Maybe it's an unavoidable problem, but I think it's something Americans don't really know much about in that context.
3.11.2006 2:29pm
John Jenkins (mail):
jackson dyer, I wish I'd read that before I finished the *last* post.

First, I'm not denying objective reality. I'm denying priveleged views of it. My point re: chemistry is that we do, in fact, often deny earlier "truths." We one thought that meat could turn into maggots and it was accepted "truth."

We don't know what of today's "thruths" will no longer be true. Necessary truths (re: logic) remain true so long as we believe that logic is true. There is a necessary faith to that because we simply can't prove it. It is a priori, and that is the point of my argument re: faith and knowledge.

All knowledge is based on certain fundamental a priori beliefs that, if refuted would cause us to have to reject the knowledge based on them. We are fortunate in that we can't generally refute a priori beliefs.

Your statement about science really gets to what I'm trying to say. When you say a scientific truth, I take that to mean something which you have empirically verified. But you're unwilling to accept that there are underlying beliefs behind that verification (1) my observations are accurate (2) my inferences therefrom are accurate.

If either of those is not true, then the verification process will not be accurate. That's where the shared account of reality comes into play. Once we lay the ground rules, then we can use those as a baseline for evaluation, but we take those a priori ground rules on faith because we cannot evaluate them, to borrow your term, scientifically. We accept a certain metaphysic for the simple pracitcal reason that we have to in order to get anything done and on the principle that in most things close enough is good enough (contrast Aristotle's account of Justice with Plato's/Socrates's).
3.11.2006 2:35pm
Raw_Data (mail):
Marcus,

Your claim to be "pro-Jew" is a an indicator of your mentality far more damning than it appears you can understand. No rational Jew wants people to be either anti- or pro- but only wants to be left alone.

You seem to think that
1. there is some dispute about the Holocaust or
2. that an honest, sincere question such as "Did the Nazis really kill millions?"
would be out of bounds.
You are wrong on both counts.
The people (e.g. Irving) who "ask questions" about the Holocaust are not teenagers sincerely astonished that such an event could have happened but are adults with an agenda of bigotry.
3.11.2006 2:38pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Your claim to be "pro-Jew" is a an indicator of your mentality far more damning than it appears you can understand. No rational Jew wants people to be either anti- or pro- but only wants to be left alone.

Is that really true? Couldn't someone take the position that Jews were historically discriminated against in Western Christiandom and therefore be "pro-Jew," or even simply have known many Jewish people all of whom were especially knowledgeable or trustworthy and therefore be predisposed toward Jews.

I think you're being a little harsh on Marcus here. Of course, I think holocaust deniers should be permitted to air their opinions wherever and however they want to, just as I should be able to embarass them when they do. (I remember a day in my first research methods class..., ahh the good old days).
3.11.2006 3:05pm
sam24 (mail):
KOVARSKY:
"(1) we must publish cartoons to show the muslim world about free speech

(2) we must not republish Toles' cartoons and we must shame him into the stone age for "disrespecting" american troops.

i agree with (1) and disagree with (2). i was just floored by the number of people that failed to recognize that profound inconsistency."

If "we must" is replaced by "I will" in both of your straw man paragraphs, then the whole postulate disappears. Perhaps people see no inconsistancy when phrased without the implied compulsion and individual rights become the center piece. Whether to satarize by publishing a cartoon is one thing, whether to support a viewpoint by republishing a different cartoon is another thing. I may or may not wish to do either, but I can do so selectively as I wish. There is no inconsistancy, profound or otherwise. To threaten me with violence should I publish either cartoon is, however, profound and will certainly result in my publishing the cartoon in question. I react poorly to threats of violence.

A simple MD south of flyover country
3.11.2006 3:09pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Raw_Data,

I'm sorry, but you don't understand my mentality any better than I understand yours. I think a classic liberal problem is the presumption that you know what someone else's statement says about their mentality better than they do. I'm sorry, but your mind-reading skills just aren't as good as you think they are.

In any case, I was using pro-Jew as I use pro-gay or pro-Christian. Unfortunately, you're probably right that it's a bad phrase. The problem is that talking about Jews in any way is kind of a minefield. It's easy to say I like Christians or I like gays, but if I say I like Jews, I recognize that it sounds funny.

My point, in any case, is simply that, as I know about Jewish beliefs from my Jewish friends, I agree with them to a greater extent than I do with almost any group. I like "Jewish values" more than I like, for instance, Mormon values or the values of other groups. You say Jews just want to be left alone; well, that's your perspective, which I can't really challenge. Nonetheless, I'm simply pointing out that if I am anti-semitic, it is in some very abstract way which I am unable myself to understand. There may be groups that I am biased against, but Jews are not one of them. Take it or leave it.

As to whether there are any genuine factual disputes regarding the Holocaust, I really don't know. I really didn't mean to argue the point. It's something I don't know much at all about. I simply didn't think that Minnie's comments showed clear evidence of racism.
3.11.2006 3:19pm
e:
I don't think the cartoons are making fun of religion, so I don't think they are in bad taste. I definitely support the right to speak in bad taste, however.

Off topic now, but I think enough has been written on this topic here.
SenatorX, I too was curious about your background. Now I am simply amused, and want to remind you why:
I liked the blog and commend your rational thought Eugene. It is enough for me to bookmark your site and peruse it for more of your views.
You seem like seeker so I will spend some energy and propose something to you, a challenge really to test you. I don't contend your blog, I think the message is clear and I agree. I have been very disappointed and disgusted with the lack of response by media to this issue. It seems overly clear to me that pandering to threats of violence only increase the chance of violence against you in the future, for increasingly weaker reasons even.

My challenge is in regards to hints of something you say in regards to Islam. You could just be "pandering" as minimaly as possible? but you hint that only a small subset of Islam is violent or "bad". I make no claims to truth or expertise so no need to worry about validation of what i say except in regards to the rational and factual content of what i am going to say. If you can respond rationally without fallacy I will change my theories, though so far nobody has been able to.

To the nut: My research of Islam has lead me to believe that it is a nasty piece of work. I had the illusion that it was sort of an arab version of Christianity or Judaism(monotheistic) and that mohammed was some sort of "christ like" figure. Further at worst it was another religion used for consolidation of power a la constantine. But one day I decided to hunt for the truth of it so i read the quran and began to research the origin of islam(for disclaimer i am an athiest and research other religions too-i consider myself an amateur philosopher).

Islam at core is nothing more than mohammed's male power grabbing excuse. Thats it. Gabriel conveniently told him whatever he needed to hear to do all the horrible things he did. Murder, rape, pedophilia, robbery, ordering assasinations, the list goes on and on. The history is all there easy to see. Pre-islam arabia was a land of freedoms for people that is unavailable in the islamic world since mohammed. This is evident from mohammed's own history of being a worker who married his much older female boss who inherited her wealth as when she was widowed. She proposed to him for example(her worker)...After she died Mohammed(at a rather old age) started his rampage of horror.

Further not only do all the specific incidents of his speak volumes(and we can certainly go there) but the CONTEXT of the message is clear and nasty as well. Convert, live as a second class citizen, or die. To be a real muslim is to BE LIKE MOHAMMED. Thats the scariest part and I hope more people understand this eventually. Any spirituality of islam is either a twisting of the true meaning by "politicians" to control the people or ignorance. How many muslims can read do you think? I think most of them get the messages via listening to others or radio etc.
Just a hint of "islamic spirituality"...there is no Hell for "bad" muslims. You can do ANYTHING to anyone as long as you praise allah and say mohammed is his prophet..you go to heaven. Hell is ONLY FOR UNBELIEVERS. At least thats where all the women will be too, he said so. Women have only one way to get to heaven...obey thier husbands completely.

Just to say it once and get it out. Islam is a religon designed by mohammed to spread like a virus, he said so himself clearly. In the quran he taunts unbelievers about it. Talks about what he has set in motion...

Last what else I have found is that "muslim apologists" are rampant and very deceptive. I have encountered such mendaciousness that I can only surmise that most of them know very well what true Islam really is. There are two wars going on. One with the sword and the other?...in the minds and mouths of the apologists. It is as if "tolerant islam" is purposefully being sold to westerners to delay and confuse us.

For example are you familiar with the term "abrogation"? In debate it is one of the favored tactics used against ignorant westerners. It allows apologists to quote mohammed out of context at will. Every apologist i have entered debate with and called on this in one way or another runs away. Pretty much conceding that they were intentionally misleading from the start, to what end?

I would be very happy if you can contend rationally anything i have said. Especially in regards to the to context(message) of Islam. My fear of absolutist institutions lead me to learn more about Islam and what i found made me more afraid. I am not a "muslim hater" i am afraid of it's origin and principles(I also do not confuse ARAB with MUSLIM). I as a self defined rational,economic liberal, athiest have no compatability with islam. If it were not a religion based on conversion i could go my own way(maybe)...clearly as the cartoon issue shows that is not going to be possible. Why should we not make as big an issue of it as possible while we are on strong footing? Negotiating from a position of strength and all that. I am of the opinion if anything I have found so far is "true" then we should "draw our lines in the sand" now rather then wait for more islamic empowerment.
So i am not confused i believe in self defense as the only moral right for violence. When I speak of drawing lines in the sand i refer to doing it by "peaceful" means. Basically "this is what i stand for and here i will not budge by threats".
3.10.2006 10:50pm
3.11.2006 3:48pm
jackson dyer (mail):

Marcus1




Minnie's post questions whether there is really a difference between Holocaust denial and Islamophobic cartoons. Is there? Minnie suggests that there is nothing inherently violent about holocaust denial. So what's the difference? That holocaust denial is nonsense?

The difference is between denying a fact “the Holocaust” and mocking a religion.

The point is that that’s not a valid comparison. You can compare Islamophobic cartoons and Judeophobic cartoons but not a statement that denies a fact and a cartoon.

“As far as being run out of town, I also think she has a point. Personally, as a critic of all religion, I think it is definitely much touchier to attack Judaism than it is to attack Christianity.’

It depends on how you do it. Judaism unlike Christianity is not just a religion it’s also a culture or a civilization. I doubt any Irishman would let you attack his culture.


“I'm really not sure it's possible to be a critic of Judaism, or Jews (as opposed to Christianity or Christians which many people criticize) without being labeled an anti-semite.”

Marcus, Jews are famous for criticizing their religion. Some of their greatest sages, like Maimonides, criticized it. (Shall I list all the famous Jews from Spinoza to Freud and beyond that have criticized it?) Nor would it bother me if you or any one else criticizes the Jewish religion. It’s been people begin to attack the culture out of ignorance that I see a problem.






“Personally, I don't really mind, because Jews don't pick on me much, and Judaism doesn't tend to interfere with normal functioning as much as other religions. In fact, in a world of religious people, my feeling is that Jews tend to be the most reasonable ones. But the fact remains that if somebody wants to criticize the beliefs of Jews, so to speak, they stand on treacherous ground. If Minnie can't say it, I don't know why I can, but there you have it.”

I don’t have a problem with your comments. I do have problem with Minnie’s comments.

She can say what she wants but the laws of freedom of speech don’t absolve one from being criticized. It’s been my experience that people who yell the loudest about their right to freedom of speech also get very petulant when anyone uses their right to freedom of expression to criticize them in turn.

Whether you like it or not speaking and unless you are autistic all speech involves you in a conversation.



“I think it's unfortunate when we decide that certain historical truths are so important that we're going to tarnish anyone who questions them. Personally, I'm a big fan of ideas that challenge conventional wisdom. I thought Christopher Hitchens' book debunking Mother Theresa, for instance, was great.”

It’s not the same thing, Marcus. People who question the Holocaust always have an ulterior motive. This is a fact and I don’t know why Jews who suffered through it or whose relatives did should put up with it.

Do you question the fact that there once was slavery in the US or that there was a civil war? Why question the Holocaust? Like I said you can question what you like but be prepared to for the answers you receive.


“It's not that I just want to disagree with people, but that I think it's important to get to the truth of matters. I have no idea what the truth of the matter is in regard to specific details of the Holocaust, but I do think it's problematic that people aren't really allowed to ask. “

You just changed the argument. Details are one thing, the whole is something else.




“Of course, I could be wrong -- maybe if we had open dialogue about the Holocaust, it would just lead to more racism. I'm not sure anyone knows that, though, and I don't see how we can just trust that that is the case. I feel like we're always better off asking questions, and then trying to find the real answers.”

Oh trust me, it will lead to more anti-Semitism and ultimately to more racism.

Besides, no one is stopping you from asking questions. But make sure you have done the reading before you start shooting your mouth off. There are whole libraries of books dealing with the subject. There are also miles and miles of archival material in Germany and elsewhere with material that will make your head spin. Start your research, Marcus, but stop whining. And good luck.
3.11.2006 3:52pm
jackson dyer (mail):
John Jenkins:

"I think you're being a little harsh on Marcus here. Of course, I think holocaust deniers should be permitted to air their opinions wherever and however they want to, just as I should be able to embarass them when they do. (I remember a day in my first research methods class..., ahh the good old days)."


Oh come on. I don't think Marcus is being denied to his opinions (see my reply to his post above). However, and everyone else who posts should expect criticism and rebuttal. This is what freedom of expression is all about, John.
3.11.2006 3:58pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Sam24,

I don't understand. The inconsistency has nothing to do with the permissive versus mandatory nature of the impulse. It is inconsistent to say that we "should" publish one set of offensive speech in spite of the effect it has on its audience and then to say that we "should not" publish the cartoons because of the effect it has on its audience.

As for your strange rant about how you would respond to threats by publishing the cartoons, great. So would I. But I wouldn't turn around and argue against the publishing the Toles cartoon because it was offensive.

Whether to satarize by publishing a cartoon is one thing, whether to support a viewpoint by republishing a different cartoon is another thing. I may or may not wish to do either, but I can do so selectively as I wish.

What does that mean? What's the difference between satirizing something by publishing a cartoon and "republishing to support a viewpoint." Satire supports a viewpoint - in fact Toles' viewpoint was particuarly clear because of its satirical tone. I confess I don't understand your point at all here.

And as for the "I can do what I want" remark - again, I don't really understand your point. I wasn't saying you could or you couldn't do what you want. I was saying the idea that you should do one thing in a certain situation and that you should do another thing in another situation were in tension. I'm not telling people that they actually have to do either of those things.

There is no inconsistancy, profound or otherwise.

Uh, ok.
3.11.2006 3:59pm
jackson dyer (mail):
"To tie this into the original discussion, I think you *must* accept that Nietzsche's philosophy is a fundamentally illiberal one (it denies, after all, the very basis of liberalism: that all persons are equal)."


Well, Nietzsche, did object to British utiliterian liberalism, but I am not sure he would have objected to all forms of liberalism.

Voltaire was a liberal as well as a rank bigot and believer in aristocratic values. Don't know that a belief in social hierarchies contradicts liberalism, per se.

OTOH, Nietzsche's use of historical data was selective and in as much as the data was crucial to an important aspect of his philosophy I would say that is relevance today is much diminished.

There is also Nietzsche the metaphysician who was in essence a nominalist. That's the Nietzsche that is still interesting, philosophically speaking.
3.11.2006 4:08pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Marcus1,

Please stop saying things like this:

I'm sorry, but you don't understand my mentality any better than I understand yours. I think a classic liberal problem is the presumption that you know what someone else's statement says about their mentality better than they do.

It's not a classic liberal problem at all. In fact, it has no philosophical valence. All sorts of puritanical restraints on expression are grounded in conservatives' ideas about what a particular type of expression "really" means.

You just lose your audience with barbs like that.
3.11.2006 4:08pm
John Jenkins (mail):
jackson_dyer, So by indicating my disagreement with raw_data's analysis (saying that it's a little harsh) I'm somehow trying to censor him? I don't think that's a legitimate conclusion from what I wrote, especially since you divorced it from the prefacing statements which show *why* I'm disagreeing (offering alternative reasons for saying the same thing).

As to the balance of the paragraph, I think that raw_data is implying that some speech is less valuable than other speech because of the speaker or the motives of the speaker. While many would agree with him (among them the U.S. Supreme Court), I don't. I think that more argument, even bad argument, is better, because it givest us a better shot at getting somewhere we can agree. I'm professionally committed to that notion, in fact.

That's not really part of the critique of his conclusions re: Marcus, though. I'm a victim of my own bad paragraphing on this one.
3.11.2006 4:09pm
John Jenkins (mail):
Damn it, we need to be able to edit posts:

Well, Nietzsche, did object to British utiliterian liberalism, but I am not sure he would have objected to all forms of liberalism.

I'm not a Nietzsche scholar, but my understanding is that he is committed to the idea of "higher" or "better" men and a crowd/herd of lesser men. If that is so, then that is contrary to the assumption that all men are equal, upon which liberalism is based. I don't find him particularly interesting myself, and I think his influence in contemporary philosophy is quite limited.

I think the comparison to Voltaire is not quite right. I'm arguing that there is a commitment to a certain idea based on consistency. If one wishes to be inconsistent, one can believe any two things. Voltaire's beliefs were inconsistent, and apparently he didn't think that was a problem (granting that they are as you have stated them). It may also depend on what you mean by heirarchy (i.e. imposed or spontaneous order).

In any event, I think I am on fairly solid ground in saying that Nietzsche is fundamentally illiberal given his criticism of all (or at least most) things moral and that liberalism's claim is chiefly a moral one.
3.11.2006 4:16pm
Broncos:

It is inconsistent to say that we "should" publish one set of offensive speech in spite of the effect it has on its audience and then to say that we "should not" publish the cartoons because of the effect it has on its audience.


I'm not sure how inconsistent this is, in principle. I think the analysis should proceed like this:

1. Do we agree with the subject matter communicated?
If it expresses something we disagree with, e.g. prejudice, then it is fine (for a private citizen) to say that it shouldn't be expressed, and to condemn the speech. (Even if it is not offensive to most people.)

2. If offensive, is the subject matter important enough to communicate in spite of its offense?
Even if it doesn't express something that we disagree with, e.g. it isn't prejudiced, we should still ask whether it is offensive. If it is, we should presume that it shouldn't be said, unless there are sufficiently important reasons to say it. (e.g. One shouldn't say something rude to your fiance's family, unless it is something that it is extremely important to say.) When trying to judge the importance of the legitimizing reasons for offensive communication, we should look at the context: For example, it is a randomly rude comment, disconnected with any current debate? This type of inquiry distinguishes between, e.g. the rejection of a random cartoon submission that lampoons Jesus, and a cartoon of Mohammad solicted to explore fear of criticising radical Islam. Although both are offensive, the later poses reasons that legitimate communication that would otherwise be deplorable due to its offensiveness. Therefore, although we shouldn't publish the former because it is offensive, there are reasons that the latter should be published in spite of its offensiveness.
3.11.2006 4:18pm
Andy:

It is inconsistent to say that we "should" publish one set of offensive speech in spite of the effect it has on its audience and then to say that we "should not" publish the cartoons because of the effect it has on its audience.


Please tell that to the NY Times, which has no problem publishing pictures of the Virgin Mary covered in dung but will not publish the Danish cartoon (because they are somehow not relevant to the story).

Let's not forget that these cartoons weren't published in a vacuum. The entire point behind publishing them was that a writer for the paper couldn't find an illustrator for the children's book about Islam that he was writing. Every person he talked to was afraid to illustrate the book because of the possibility of violent reprisals. Crazy, huh?

Also, how did this turn into a discussion of the Holocaust?? No-one here (as far as I can tell) has suggested that Holocaust denial should be illegal or should be protested violently. So where's the connection?

To me, this is not a discussion of what should or shouldn't be published. It's all about the difference between shouldn't and can't, and about members of a certain group reacting like primitive savages when they disagree with something. I don't care one bit whether Islam forbids portrayals of its prophet, or whether only certain sects do, or what verse of the Q'uran says what. I keep hearing people (i.e., liberals and journalists, if there's a difference) say, "well, you know, Islam forbids...." So what? Who cares? I'm not a Muslim, so why does it matter to me? Islam forbids homosexuality, too, but I'm not going to crush gay people under walls. What Islam forbids is irrelevant to this conversation. What's relevant is the question of whether Muslim "principles" can co-exist with Western civilization. Right now I'm decidedly pessimistic about that.

In a free society, the one thing I don't have to tolerate is intolerance.
3.11.2006 4:34pm
Kovarsky (mail):
I think philosphical commentary should be have a monosyllabic diction requirement.

By the way:

I thought Christopher Hitchens' book debunking Mother Theresa, for instance, was great.”

That man is absolutely priceless. I don't know whether that's good or bad, but he's an absolute pleasure to watch and read. Whether or not I agree with his ideas. And I doubt that if Chris Hitchens wrote it that it was a work of scholarship devoid of academic rigor.
3.11.2006 4:34pm
Andy:
Damn you, Broncos...
3.11.2006 4:35pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,

>It's not a classic liberal problem at all.<

I disagree. And I say it as someone who considers himself a liberal.

I'm not saying Conservatives don't do the same thing in other areas. The whole culture of political correctness, though, is based in attacking people because their statements supposedly reflect some inner hatred that they may not even fully be aware of. In many instances this may be true, but liberals overdo it. Your and raw-data's attacks on my motives have been a case in point.

Raw_Data asserted that simply because I said I'm pro-Jew, that this means I'm actually somehow terribly anti-Jew. That is a ridiculous statement. It assumes that he knows exactly why I would say that I am pro-Jew. Hey, I'm not saying he can't have his suspicions, or really to think whatever he wants. But to come out and categorrically say that my statement means something terrible is to assume that he knows what I meant better than I do. I don't think he does.

It's this whole idea that "you may not know it, but I know that you're a racist." It's a nice theory, but I think it is overused. And I really do think that it trivializes real racism, while driving away those who will naturally respond, "That's simply not true."
3.11.2006 4:38pm
Kovarsky (mail):
It's all about the difference between shouldn't and can't, and about members of a certain group reacting like primitive savages when they disagree with something.

Actually, it's exactly not about that difference. Nobody is arguing people can't republish the cartoons.
3.11.2006 4:46pm
sam24 (mail):
KOVARSKY:

Rant:vi., vt obs. Du ranten. to rave, akin to GER razen, to be noisy, anrazen, to affront, to talk or say in a wild, extravant way: decalaim violently: rave--n.ranting speech-----From Webster's new world dictionary

"As for your strange rant about how you would respond to threats by publishing the cartoons, great. So would I. But I wouldn't turn around and argue against the publishing the Toles cartoon because it was offensive."

I assume that "strange rant" only represented an overheated poor choice of words.

The entire point of the discussion, to me, is that I can say what I wish about either of the two items that you postulated were so profound and some how connected at the hip. Because I may publish one thing, there is no resulting complusion that I publish the other. The fact that I did not publish is not profound. Maybe I simply did not agree and did not wish to furthur its distribution.

Uh,ok?
3.11.2006 4:54pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Broncos,

If I had to try to state it most clearly, I'd actually say the fault line is not "offensiveness" at all. I'd say the fault line is the consequences it has beyond offensiveness. I don't think whether or not something is "offensive," without some associated reaction in the audience is ever really enough to justify a regulation.

Now if we're not talking talking about "can" (which I hope we're not anymore, since I've tried to pull the discussion away from that place), I would concede whether or not something is "offensive" might matter more to the determination of whether someone "should" say it. That being said, I would not proceed in your stepwise analysis as though an expression's status as offensive/not offensive is a binary.
3.11.2006 5:12pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Jackson,

Well, I don't have a problem with your comments either, except the one that I'm whining...

The thing is, I really don't have a problem with maligning holocaust deniers. I do think there are real issues, though, with the way the issue is treated. As I've admitted, I'm by no means an expert on the matter. I see, though, that there is a great deal of Muslim anger over what they perceive as a double standard. As I said, I think that is largely unreasonable, but can I say that every single Muslim who sees the double standard is simply a vindictive hater of Jews? I don't think that that is the case. Maybe the leaders are. Maybe most of them are. But all of them?

I mean, we live in a world where people believe some pretty ridiculous things, for no reason at all. Smart people and stupid people both. I met a girl in a bar the other day who thought she was reincarnated from a Witch. So there's a question: Is it possible that there is anyone in the world who is not anti-Semitic in any way, but has doubts that the Holocaust transpired in the way that it has been portrayed? I happen to think that's possible. With all the crazy beliefs and religions and what not in the world, I have to think that there is someone who legitimately holds that belief.

(If you're thinking this is secretly me, I can simply say it's not. I've never seen anything which even suggests the scale was less than that generally believed. Honestly, I stay away from it, because I figure I have enough controversial views.)

Honestly, I don't see how that can even be denied. The conventional wisdom seems to be that it doesn't matter -- we have to malign them anyway, because at least the ones of any prominence should know better. Well, that may be true, and I'm in no place to disagree. But I do think there's a point at which it goes over-board, which is what I was trying to express.
3.11.2006 5:20pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Marcus1

I think that I probably misunderstood you. You said "classic liberal" and by that I thought you meant classic western european liberalism, but I think what you maybe intended was closer to "quintissential democrat."

I wouldn't call today's Democrats philosophical liberals, and I sure as hell wouldn't call today's GOP as philosophical conservatives. We now exist in an era where those philosophical poles are utterly unrelated to their modern political counterparts.

I'd love to travel back a few decades and talk to the isolationist, libertarian "conservatives" that now their party champions humanitarian military intervention and favors wiretapping to monitor national security. Whatever you think about those modern GOP objectives, they're not classically conservative.
3.11.2006 5:20pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Holocaust denial is closer to the proposition that the earth is flat than it is to the proposition that muslim cultures should be tolerant.
3.11.2006 5:27pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Marcus,

I think what people find odd (including me, to be honest) about your "pro-jew" stance is that it sounds funny. It makes it sound like somehow you're taking a side on a credible debate about whether Jews are good or bad. Now I know you consider yourself on the "good" side betrays your feeling that this issue (are jews good or bad) has "perspectives" and is the proper subject of "debate."
3.11.2006 5:35pm
Broncos:
Kovarsky,
I had read that portion of the discussion to only refer to how speech should be privately regulated ("self-censorship"), rather than government regulation. I wasn't endeavoring to lay out a full-fledged subtle theory in a blog comment, just trying to show how it might not be "inconsistent" to refrain from speech A because it is offensive, but to engage in speech B although it is offensive.
(although I think the more honest problem some people had with the cartoon satirizing the US military was with its substance; but they preferred to avoid that discussion by talking about the effect it might have on the troops.)
3.11.2006 5:45pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,

>I think what people find odd (including me, to be honest) about your "pro-jew" stance is that it sounds funny.<

Yes, well, the only reason I brought it up was due to the accusation that I'm anti-semitic. I was directly responding by saying, no, if anything I'm the opposite. I certainly don't think it's an open debate whether Jews are good or bad.

Of course, I wouldn't be surpised if some people think that having affection for a group actually makes you bigoted, because it implies you have less affection for other groups. Unfortunately, I think that by that definition, there would be very few non-bigots among us.
3.11.2006 5:53pm
Broncos:
EV:

But their subjective feelings, real as they may be to them, are not sufficient reasons for the rest of us to change the way we talk or write. "I'm offended" cannot be justification enough, either in law or in manners, for the conclusion "therefore you must shut up."

So, I guess I agree with Eugene to the extent that he is saying that manners does not make offense a categorically sufficient reason to refrain from speech (for manners); but I would disagree with him to the extent that he is saying that offense is a categorically insufficient reason to refrain from speech. I view offense as a presumptive reason to refrain from speech, but not a reason that necessarily trumps all other reasons to engage in speech.
3.11.2006 5:53pm
jackson dyer (mail):
Marcus:


"The thing is, I really don't have a problem with maligning holocaust deniers. I do think there are real issues, though, with the way the issue is treated. As I've admitted, I'm by no means an expert on the matter. I see, though, that there is a great deal of Muslim anger over what they perceive as a double standard. As I said, I think that is largely unreasonable, but can I say that every single Muslim who sees the double standard is simply a vindictive hater of Jews? I don't think that that is the case. Maybe the leaders are. Maybe most of them are. But all of them?"

Most Jews don't want to engage Holocuast deniers in debate because if it's like engaging someone from the flat earth society in debate.

If you have even cursorily looked at the historical archives of the Holocaust you will see what I mean

As for Muslim's perception of a double standard that's ludicrous. Many Muslims have been and are being exposed daily to a barage of anti-Jewish discourses. Many of these rants have as a topic Holocaust denial.

For Muslims to suggest that there is a double standard when they are criticized for their views of Jews, women, gays, etc. while they are not allowed to engage in their "criticism" of Jews, women, gay, is a bit what shall I say surreal?


If there were a doube standard most Muslims wouldn't have been allowed to live in the West to begin with.

If anything the rhetoric on the left had been in their favor and openly anti-Semitic, especially in Great Britain.
3.11.2006 6:11pm
Dennis:
Kovarsky,

"Nobody is arguing people can't republish the cartoons."

I'm confused. Wasn't this the focus of the thread in the first place?

" . . . by arguing that the cartoons ought not be published, or even ought to be outlawed"
3.11.2006 6:14pm
Katherine:
So is there going to be any country in the world that guarantees:

1) free expression
2) habeas corpus
3) no torturing people or acquiescing or enabling their torture by others

?
3.11.2006 6:30pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Broncos:

I view offense as a presumptive reason to refrain from speech, but not a reason that necessarily trumps all other reasons to engage in speech.

Uh, why?
3.11.2006 7:00pm
Broncos:
Why do I view offense as itself a presumptive reason to refrain from offense-causing speech? Simple civility; just a descriptive statement of general manners. (e.g. don't be rude to your fiance's parents, waitstaff, strangers in the grocery store, etc.) In the absence of any "net profit," in the speech, I don't see the point of incurring or imposing its "cost."

Why don't I view offense as necessarily trumping all other reasons? If the content of what is expressed is sufficiently important (e.g. "Get Out Of My Way"! as you shoulder a path to carry an injured person to an ambulance); or if the offense itself carries sufficient communicative value that other forms of communication wouldn't approximate (list favorite satire here), then I don't think someone is engaging in socially deplorable conduct.

Discussion of the situations in which something is too offensive to say/print needs to be predicated upon the particular content and the particular situation. Categorical rules ("No Offense, Ever;" or "Say Anything, Always") don't really approximate social rules, nor should they. What you need is a discussion of the content communicated, and its context: i.e. exactly what Eugene has done here.
3.11.2006 7:27pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Broncos,

I don't think anybody would argue that if the speech has NO OTHER value other than to offend, then people should generally refrain from gratuitous antagonism. At least my point - and I'm just guessing that EV would agree with me here - is that the second the speech has some other expressive significance, that trumps the "inoffensiveness."

I mean I do agree with you in the absolute abstract, but I don't think there's really a category of what we consider "speech" that has no purpose other than to offend. A lot of those other purposes might be bad stuff - think cross burning - but the intimidation/threat element dominates the offensive element, and I think that's why most people think we "shouldn't" do it.
3.11.2006 7:34pm
Kovarsky (mail):
By the way,

If heaven is for infinity time, and you only get 73 virgins, is the limit still 0 virgins per unit of time?

That sounds like a crappy deal.
3.11.2006 7:40pm
Sammy (mail):
"much like Orthodox Jews demanding that none of us write the word 'God.'"

Just for the sake of total accuracy, it's worth noting that there is considerable debate even among Orthodox Jewish legal decisors as to whether the writing of "God" in English is allowed or not. Having myself researched this a while ago, it seems to me that more of the most influential sources on Orthodox Jewish law allow the writing of "God" in English than those that disallow it. An Orthodox rabbi who has a very impressive blog about many many issues in Jewish law has blogged about this, here:


This doesn't detract from your point in any way; it's just a point of information.

Sammy
3.11.2006 7:42pm
Sammy (mail):
Sorry, I guess the link didn't work before. Here it is:

http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2004/07/name-of-g-d.html
3.11.2006 7:44pm
Broncos:
A more concrete example of what I was thinking about:
The Danish newspaper received an unsolicited cartoon lampooning the resurrection of Jesus, and it rejected it on the basis of offense.

I contend that this isn't an action "inconsistent" with later publishing cartoons of Mohammad that caused offense.

The difference, I think, is the context: Was there a public debate at the time which the cartoon addressed? To what extent did it contribute to that debate? To what extent did it offend? To what extent was its offensiveness itself uniquely valuable? I'm not saying that the discussion will always be clear cut.

But if you receive a random cartoon, completely unconnected from any public discussion, and that therefore contributes little to any such discussion, I think that offense is a fine reason to reject the cartoon. (The same would go for a random cartoon lampooning Mohammad, received out of the blue, with no reference to any public debate.) The Mohammad cartoons were solicited, however, in the middle of a debate on (1) the implications of a growing fringe of violent and authoritarian religious teachings; and (2) whether public discussion of (1) is being stifled by self-censorship. The cartoons contributed to both (1) and (2), and (with the possible of exception of 3 cartoons) therefore had the extent of offensiveness that posed rendered tolerable.

(this is all assuming, for the moment, that the communication doesn't express anything, e.g. prejudice, that is itself deplorable even without offensiveness.)
3.11.2006 7:46pm
Raw_Data (mail):
Marcus1 incorrectly states that "Raw_Data asserted that simply because I said I'm pro-Jew, that this means I'm actually somehow terribly anti-Jew."

Not at all, my friend. I am Raw Data and I say "Wrong!"

As Kovarksy says (at least that's what I think he says) the very idea of being pro- or anti-Jew is very
1. stupid,
2, shows that one thinks Jews are all that different such that one could take a position on "Jew."

Unless you are a robot -- and I don't think you are -- you will respond to individuals. Pat Buchanan, who says the vilest and most despicable things, is probably, one on one, with any individual of any group, a pretty nice guy. But let Pat gets started on groups and he is an idiot.

It's as if someone said that they were "pro-Irish" or "pro-Chinese"...it's a kind of dumb, meaningless statement.

One can agree/disagree with the policies of the Irish government or like/dislike Chinese food, but the idea of that one could be pro- or anti- a huge group of people based on their ethnicity or religion is, if you don't mind my saying it so bluntly, pretty weird.

I wouldn't, for example, say that even in these heated days say that I am anti-Moslem. I detest and loathe the extremist Taliban types and the fools in the street they trick. But most Moslems? I don't even think in such terms. Certainly when I meet a Moslem I am cautious and I wonder if this is friend or foe. But as a group, in the abstract, it would be foolish to be "pro" or "anti."

And the fact that you can even think in those terms is (or should be to you) cause for reconsideration.
3.11.2006 8:15pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
"These latter items are ones that I as an editor probably would not have published, because I think they're not entirely fair. The ones that allude to Muslim violence tar Muslims generally with the sins of particular subgroups of Muslims."

Hmm.. These were requested specifically to be cartoons of Muhammed. Therefore they were entirely fair. Mohammed was a extremely violent man. His acts and teachings reflect that fact.

I would go further. Anyone who is a member of a group which has as it's basic tenets violence against non-members merely for non-membership deserves to be tarred as intolerant. Membership means you are approving of violence. So even if the cartoons were directed at Muslims in general then I would have to take issue. The remedy for the Muslim is to reject membership in the group, become an apostate, and disavow the violent teachings of Mohammed.
3.11.2006 8:31pm
SenatorX (mail):
JJ,
So…
Nietzsche had a breakdown, because of syphilis likely, and due to this all the things he wrote about prior to this are invalid? Interesting theory.

I disagree with your contention that “Islam” is not ready for atheistic principles. Atheism doesn’t need to be forced on them. Rational thought is available for all humans and I believe leads to atheism quite “naturally” as a process of rational analysis(I would go on to claim atheism is more “moral” as well). I could point you to some websites of Muslims who have managed to break from Islam and now wage “war” against it. For the most part they were able to do this by themselves in the same process many Christians do. Simply they find the logical fallacies of both proposition and context too much to endorse. Questioning further they start to re-define their values based on rational thought and personal perspective, some call this “enlightenment”. One of Nietzsche's central themes(if not the most central one) was a "re-evaluation of all values", I think this makes him quite valid in conteporary thought still.

I wish you were not so hostile to challenges to your proposals. I am afraid you come across as an “intellectual” who is more concerned with proving to everyone that you are right rather gaining any sort of perspective you don’t already have. Can I assume you have a rather “classical” education? I find it rather distasteful when people gain knowledge solely for the purpose of empowerment. As Len pointed out earlier it tends to be used as bludgeon more than anything else. In other posts not responding to mine I find some of your insights to be excellent, others a mishmash of “half-truths”. I don’t know what’s going on with you but at a guess I would say you have a long background of a classical education. Basically a large investment in being right somehow to the things you already believe in. See I can play that game too...can we just agree to drop the personal jibes in favor of the arguement?

I however make no claims of expertise or validity from source at all. What do “I” matter? My arguments should stand or fall on their own or they should be revised. I find your other post to Jackson Dyer insightful. I think you make my case here for me. It seems you have already plumbed the false depth of empiricism…

“I am curious though, what you think the outcome would be if the Islamic world rejected Islam and accepted Nietzsche's crtique of morality qua morality. I'm not really sure we'd be in a better place.”

I am not sure either. I brought up Nietzsche only as an example to expose the direction of my thought. Basically that while a separation of church and state would be more desirable(to me) than an Islamic state, just like in the west we would still be in transition and battle against constant invasions by religious institutions into the State. I propose to raise the bar further by engaging in rational discourse against religious institutions as a whole, rather than focusing on your goal which I believe is better viewed as part of a process and not an end goal. I find this a valid debate though.


“To tie this into the original discussion, I think you *must* accept that Nietzsche's philosophy is a fundamentally illiberal one (it denies, after all, the very basis of liberalism: that all persons are equal). How then can you account for the freedom of speech we're discussing here within a Nietzschean framework? We are making a normative claim that free speech is the right positon because no idea is privileged over any other. I think you're committed to a contrary position, but I'd like to hear your account for the opposite if you have one.”


I guess you have an out here in that the common usage of liberalism has changed recently. When I speak of liberalism I mean economic libertarianism. Frankly you are grossly confused here, and it will be my pleasure to point out why. Economic liberalism is in direct opposition to Socialism. The KEY to these different views is in that socialists desire equality for man where libertarians believe that any sort of state control to provide “equality” will lead to a reduction of individual rights(freedom). The state simply has no way to provide equality without managing our personal choices. It is inherent in the economic libertarian view that inequality for some is desirable only because the alternative is slavery for most. The question of “how low do we let people go?” is a valid discussion for libertarians and the desire to provide “a safety net” for people with minimal state intervention is one of the remaining key debates that still goes on in this realm.

In any case the claim “it denies, after all, the very basis of liberalism: that all persons are equal” is absurd. It smacks of current republican propaganda…

While I don’t want to get in a quote spamming war I dug up some quotes to take this point home:

“The finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away because the passion of equality made vain the hope for freedom” Lord Acton.

Also I can’t find the quote but since people brought up Voltaire he said something like” Man is free when he obeys laws, not people.” This refers to the Rule of Law that is another central point of liberalism. Basically I say to you that there is no contradiction between inequality and liberalism/libertarianism. The basis of “freedom” in these views is not dependent on equality of man at all…
3.11.2006 8:56pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Brian,

Congratulations, you win the award for least educated remark on the post.
3.11.2006 9:00pm
jackson dyer (mail):
John Jenkins


“First, I'm not denying objective reality. I'm denying priveleged views of it. My point re: chemistry is that we do, in fact, often deny earlier "truths." We one thought that meat could turn into maggots and it was accepted "truth." “


I don’t think you understand how truth works in science of philosophy: philosophically there are contingent truths and necessary truths. Necessary truths from a logical point of views are truths that can’t be denied without falling into a contradiction. These are a priori true and are almost always tautological which is to say they are true by definition and don’t add to our knowledge: example: “all bachelors are unmarried men.” Mathematical and logical truths are of this order, although some like Kant have argued for a different way of seeing this. (I won’t go into details now because it’s not pertinent to my main point.)

From an existential point of view necessary truths are those which human experience has never been able to contradict: “all men are mortal is one such truth.” It is necessarily the case that all people will die someday because we don’t know of anyone who has lived on without dying. Whether this needs to be the case for always, or whether someday science may not extend life into “immortality” who knows? (I am glad I will not be around to find out.)

As you can see there are very few non trivial “necessary truths”

In science all truths are contingent in the sense that all truth claims are based on the available evidence at the moment. Scientists know this to be the case and are not or should not be surprised when their work is revised. Newton’s law was revised and so will Einstein’s some day.

Hence it’s not true because scientific knowledge will be revised that there are not truths. A better way of putting is to say that truth is not static but dynamic. It is open to revision. This is the strong philosophical underpinning for “freedom of speech laws.”

Because most human truths (I would say all) are contingent we need to be free to express them in a contingent manner which is to say through the revision of scientific knowledge and through dialogue.











“We don't know what of today's "thruths" will no longer be true. Necessary truths (re: logic) remain true so long as we believe that logic is true. There is a necessary faith to that because we simply can't prove it. It is a priori, and that is the point of my argument re: faith and knowledge.”

We agree here, John. However, I don’t see this is as part of a dialectic of faith and knowledge as you do.

“All knowledge is based on certain fundamental a priori beliefs that, if refuted would cause us to have to reject the knowledge based on them. We are fortunate in that we can't generally refute a priori beliefs.”

I wouldn’t call necessary thruth “beliefs.”

“Your statement about science really gets to what I'm trying to say. When you say a scientific truth, I take that to mean something which you have empirically verified. But you're unwilling to accept that there are underlying beliefs behind that verification (1) my observations are accurate (2) my inferences therefrom are accurate.”

These are not beliefs but operational factors. Without accurate observations and accurate inference there is no scientific knowledge.


“If either of those is not true, then the verification process will not be accurate. That's where the shared account of reality comes into play. Once we lay the ground rules, then we can use those as a baseline for evaluation, but we take those a priori ground rules on faith because we cannot evaluate them, to borrow your term, scientifically.”

This is truer in philosophy than in science.





“We accept a certain metaphysic for the simple pracitcal reason that we have to in order to get anything done and on the principle that in most things close enough is good enough (contrast Aristotle's account of Justice with Plato's/Socrates's).”

These are philosophical examples and I don’t have time to reread these texts right now, but I will take your word for it.



We seem to disagree mostly, John, on the use of the term “belief” for a priori statements, or as it often said in philosophy “the given.” (Heidegger with his customary pomposity called it “the ground.”) I don’t know why you insist on calling these premises “beliefs.”
3.11.2006 9:04pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Raw_Data,

I disagree entirely. I could very much say I am pro-Muslim or pro-Christian or pro-Irish or pro-Gay or pro-Women or pro anybody. If I can't say I'm pro-Jew, it's because it sounds funny, and because speaking of Jews has become too politically loaded. It's not because there's something actually wrong with the idea.

I'm not even sure what you're trying to say. You're saying I shouldn't make presumptions about Jews? I never said I did. You're the one who made this comment:

>Certainly when I meet a Moslem I am cautious and I wonder if this is friend or foe.<

Seems you throw a lot of stones for someone who lives in a glass house.
3.11.2006 9:05pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,

>Congratulations, you win the award for least educated remark on the post.<

See, I don't see what you think a comment like that accomplishes. Let's say Brian is the worst person in the world. Well now he's angry and the worst person in the world. Does that strike you as a good thing?
3.11.2006 9:12pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Jackson,

Would a simpler way of saying that maybe be something along the lines that:

"It doesn't follow from the eventual failure of theories considered at one point to be likely that we should endorse anything other than the most likely theory...."
3.11.2006 9:17pm
Visitor Again:
I have to say that the responses to minnie's post go some way to making one of her points. Sure she is subject to criticism, but talking about her "true colors" and, in effect, accusing her of racism is tantamount to running her out of town on a rail in this Internet forum in this day and age. Our minnie might be young, naive, impressionable, opinionated, limited in her knowledge, wrong, silly, patience-trying, but I've seen nothing that establishes she is anti-semitic. That Eugene Volokh, website owner and UCLA Law professor, pounces on her with his true colors remark is pretty revealing about true colors, but not hers. And when someone came to a very limited defense of her in that regard, he, too, becomes anti-semitic, and his somewhat awkward use of "pro-Jew" in his defense apparently reveals his true character.

By the way, does anyone remember the series the L.A. Times ran some years ago on the Anti-Defamation League, its massive intelligence files and indications of retaliatory actions against U.S. critics of Israel and Jewish institutions and causes? As I recall, the message was that there was an ADL blacklist and certainly that these critics got much more than criticism in return. I wonder what something similar to the bomb as a hat cartoon but substituting a rabbi or an Israeli statesperson would elicit from the ADL. Anyway, my memory is that the series rather supports one of minnie's claims.
3.11.2006 9:19pm
Broncos:

See, I don't see what you think a comment like that accomplishes. Let's say Brian is the worst person in the world. Well now he's angry and the worst person in the world. Does that strike you as a good thing?


I think Kovarsky was putting social pressure on Brian; trying to change Brian's mind by letting him know he would stand alone: i.e. "We do not accept your stance."
3.11.2006 9:19pm
hugoblack (mail):
Eugene: If all the KKK did was come up with cartoons, we wouldn't think of the KKK the way we do.



If all anti-semites did was come up with cartoons with negative images of Jews, we wouldn't think of the anti-semites the way we do.

If all racists did was ridicule black people, we wouldn't think of racists the way we do.

An Arab might feel that, "If all the West did was come up with cartoons, we wouldn't think of the West the way we do."

But, for some reason it is easy to see the worst in others while remaining blind to the worst in ourselves.
3.11.2006 9:22pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Marcus,

Actually that's just my sarcastic way of expressing the self-evident absurdity of the comment that the best way out of this situation is to get every Muslim to realize no matter how peaceful they may think their sect really is, they're actually just an inherently violent religion. No matter what that particular sect happens to do or think or say.

I don't think the type of people that say such silly things with that type of "truth to power" attitude are the most receptive to platonic dialogue, but I'm sorry if you're offended.

There are very complicated arguments on all sides of this issue, but when things so nakedly ignorant and islamophobic are submitted for discussion, the entire dialogue breaks down, and it irritates me.

Forgive me for being so "pro Muslim."
3.11.2006 9:28pm
hugoblack (mail):
From the Volokh IMPORTANT NOTE TO HELPFUL READERS:

As editors, we reserve the right to delete posts, and even to kick out posters, though we hope that both of these will be exceptional events...

Here's a tip: Reread your post, and think of what people would think if you said this over dinner. If you think people would view you as a crank, a blowhard, or as someone who vastly overdoes it on the hyperbole, rewrite your post before hitting enter.

And if you think this is the other people's fault -- you're one of the few who sees the world clearly, but fools wrongly view you as a crank, a blowhard, or as someone who overdoes it on the hyperbole -- then you should still rewrite your post before hitting enter. After all, if you're one of the few who sees the world clearly, then surely it's especially important that you frame your arguments in a way that is persuasive and as unalienating as possible, even to fools.
3.11.2006 9:36pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Cerveza,

And who says the Arab world is resistant to Western ideas? They sure picked up the victimology line with amazing alacrity. "Personal financial compensation!" These guys crack me up!

Actually, they didn't pick that up from the west. It's part of the Islamic ideology. The Koran states that criticism of their beliefs is persecution, and that they are commanded to eliminate any such persecution.
2:191 And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers.

This is talking about other arabs who had driven the muslims out of the non-muslim places of worship. Muhammed claimed that these locations were actually Islamic religious sites. Neat trick that. Claim your opponents shrines to be your own then scream persecution when they don't want you defiling their religious temples with your blasphemy.

The other thing about this surah that shows Mohammed to be a vicious monster is that he is advocating slaughter in response to persecution. There is no idea of proportionality in his teachings.
2:193 And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrong-doers.

The second sentence might sound tolerant if it weren't for the first. You have to fight till religion is for allah, meaning until muslims control the religious dialog.
2:217 They question thee (O Muhammad) with regard to warfare in the sacred month. Say: Warfare therein is a great (transgression), but to turn (men) from the way of Allah, and to disbelieve in Him and in the Inviolable Place of Worship, and to expel His people thence, is a greater with Allah; for persecution is worse than killing. And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion, if they can. And whoso becometh a renegade and dieth in his disbelief: such are they whose works have fallen both in the world and the Hereafter. Such are rightful owners of the Fire: they will abide therein.


Four things are listed as counting as persecution, turning men away from Allah, disbelieving in Allah, disbelieving in a place of worship, and to expell muslims from such a place of worship. Now the first three counting as persecution are ludicrous. You do not persecute one Muslim by trying to persuade yet another that Islam is false, nor does not believing in Allah or in a place of worship count as persecution. The last item might count as persecution if in fact it was there own temples. But it wasn't. The muslims had claimed the places of worship of others as their own, and Muhammed was telling the current priests of those temples what to believe. That is why the muslims were expelled. Just like any Christian, Jew, or Muslim would expell any non-believer who came in to a temple to promote some other religion.

All of these surahs are in a series of surahs relating to what is to be done during Ramadan. Sections of this are often quoted out of context to show how tolerant the quran is. Unfortunately, the tolerant passages only apply during the month of Ramadan. During the holy month you are not allowed to attack first, but any other time well those non-believers are fair game. Duck season is when they are ducking in prayer during Ramamdan and rabbi season is anytime else.

When Mohammed was in Mecca the locals used to taunt him for claiming that Allah was speaking in his ear. Do you blame them? Sounds crazy to me. He eventually got kicked out as a trouble maker by his own tribe. This is the persecution the quran is talking about. It was good judgement on his tribes part because he eventually slaughtered the people of Medina who gave him sanctuary. He turned on his own people from his refuge and plundered their trade caravans, until finally the his native tribesmen got fed up with his behavior and defended themselves in the battle of Badr. Unfortunately, for them and the rest of the world since the evil Mohammed won, and was able to capture Mecca and spread Islam via the sword through out the region.

I suggest to everyone here that they read the Koran and about Mohammeds life to understand what a great threat Islam is to the free world. It isn't just the cartoons that is the problem, our very existence as free men is offensive to them. The Quran teaches that Islam must be domanant. They aren't and that was something not so apparent to them before the advent of TV, and other modern means of communication and travel.
3.11.2006 10:14pm
jackson dyer (mail):
Kovarsky:


"Jackson, Would a simpler way of saying that maybe be something along the lines that:

"It doesn't follow from the eventual failure of theories considered at one point to be likely that we should endorse anything other than the most likely theory....""


NO!
3.11.2006 10:18pm
Pendulum (mail):
I want to mention that I think Marcus1 has received a raw deal at the hands of Raw Data.

Clearly, in context, Marcus was rebutting the unfounded accusation that he supported Holocaust denial. Marcus noted that he was secular, that he was skeptical of all religions, and of self-identifying ethnic and religious groups. He then followed up by calling himself 'pro-Jew', indicating that, he actually found Jews to be among the most tolerant and least evangelistic of all religious groups he encountered. That's only anti-Semitism if one is just pining to be offended.

As for Minnie - let me put it this way. Perhaps there's a 97-99.9% chance that her anti-Semitism underlies her comments. However, I don't think anything inherent in them is anti-Semitic. She may well have a misconception of Holocaust denial based on clever propaganda she's read, or a misinformed friend or teacher. In accusations of racism, I simply prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt until any shadow of doubt as to malicious intent is removed.

For example, I was once curious about AIDS dissenters, and occasionally raised their hypotheses in discussion. Now I have finally found and read substantive rebuttals to the dissenters, and am more intellectually satisfied. Before I found these rebuttals, I greatly resented people assuming the worst of motives on my behalf: that I hated Western medicine, that I'd go to any lengths to deny the risks of unprotected gay sex, etc..

So, perhaps Minnie has a pattern of behavior accompanying this post, but I didn't think this post alone was sufficient for stigmatization.

I, too, get frustrated with what I see as excessive touchiness and hypersensitivity on the part of some Jews with criticism of their religious doctrines, or of aspects of Israeli policy. (Nonetheless, I generally support Israel).

By the way, I'm Jewish (by birth and by culture, if not by belief). I suppose this will label me as self-hating?
3.11.2006 10:30pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Cervaza and others,

Literalism in religious practice went out of style some time ago. You might notice that most christians don't adhere to a literal reading of the bible and most jews don't adhere to a literal reading of the torah.

You are confusing the existence of a violent text with the idea that all Moslems adhere to it literally.

Unfortunately, many do, and that's why we have people slamming planes into buildings. But many also don't, and any insistence otherwise compromises your credibility in a constructive discussion more than it speaks truth to power.
3.11.2006 10:32pm
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,

First, I personally hate the phrase "truth to power" and object to its use to describe me. Not that you used it that way last time. But for future reference. If you really want to piss me off, though, accuse me of "trotting out the same old arguments." That's officially my least favorite phrase.

Second, I think you, like many people, underestimate people's willingness and ability to reason. People talk a big game, but if you present something reasonably, I think people will listen. In my mind, Eugene's post here was an impressive example of that. People rarely acknowledge that they're listening, and they will often insult you along the way, but that's just bluster.

You, for instance, I would characterize as about 40% substance, 60% bluster. But I bet you'll accept a good argument if you hear one.

Re: Hitchens, yes, I also think he's great. Although a little hit and miss. If I'm looking for a perspective I won't hear elsewhere, though, he's my guy.
3.11.2006 10:39pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,

I think Islamic behavior is more in tune with my reading of the religion than yours. Why don't you change my mind and point out an Islamic sect, one that believes Mohammed is the last prophet, that has disavowed the vile passages in the Koran, and therefore agree that Muhammed made a mistake with those passages.

BTW, Bahá'ís don't count since Bahá'ís believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the Messenger of God for this day.

I was close friends with a Muslim, a very educated and tolerant one, and I asked him if it was right that in his home country I would be executed because I do not believe in Islam and would not disavow this. He said that it was correct. When I asked him if he thought I had any reason to be upset with that he said, "No, you only don't like it because then you can't move there". This is the way a tolerant Muslim thinks, and he is the politest and nicest guy you will ever meet. The only problem is I'm a nigger to him, not worthy of life, and only tolerated outside the sphere of influence of Islam. If Islam were to eventually control every country guys like me would be beheaded merely for my unbelief.

I have been friends with several other Muslims and frankly now that I have researched their religion by reading the Koran, and some of the Hadiths, and the history of Muhammed, I am appalled at how much they lied to me.

Here's a few lies:
1) Multiple wives was only because of shortage of men during the wars of persecution against Muslims.
2) Muhammed was a very peaceful man. A veritable saint who forgave those who persecuted him.
3) Jihad means inner struggle.

Turns out these were all lies. Muslims practice having multiple wives today and the wars were instigated by the muslims. If there was a shortage of men they were the cause, and their religion violated even the low standards of the time on what one could and could not do in conflict. Muhammed was a very evil man who committed many atrocities. Finally Jihad does mean armed holy war, in fact there are chapters in the Koran titled "The Ranks [of war]" and "The spoils [of war]", which are concerned with how to execute Jihad and divide up the booty.

You see the problem isn't that I'm ignorant, it's that I'm informed. You're the ignorant one.
3.11.2006 10:46pm
Kovarsky (mail):
You, for instance, I would characterize as about 40% substance, 60% bluster. But I bet you'll accept a good argument if you hear one.

I'm working hard in the gym though.
3.11.2006 10:47pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Brian,

I'm sure your Moslem friends would be very proud of you.

I also have made the point, although I will make it again, that abstracting the violence "inherent" in a religion from a literalist reading from the text - which you continue to do - is a way of thinking about religion that went out of style several centuries ago. Please stop telling me about how horrible of a man Mohammed was or how offensive toe Koran is and inferring from that fact the inherent violence of all Muslims. That is not being "informed," that's reading the Bible and arguing that all Christians necessarily think Eve came from Adam's rib.

As for nonviolent proof of nonviolent Moslems, try India, the tortured dissidents in Uzbekistan, various nonviolent sects in Malaysia, the president of Pakistan and his supporters, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan in Afghanistan, and best of all, renown religious psychopath, Mahatma Ghandi:

"The sayings of Muhammad are a treasure of wisdom, not only for Muslims but for all of mankind". The concept of Islamic jihad can also be taken to mean a nonviolent struggle or satyagraha, in the way Gandhi practiced it..."

So forgive me if I don't put that much stock in your sense of betrayal from your Muslim friends.
3.11.2006 11:08pm
SenatorX (mail):
Broncos when you said:

"I'm not sure how inconsistent this is, in principle. I think the analysis should proceed like this:

1. Do we agree with the subject matter communicated?
If it expresses something we disagree with, e.g. prejudice, then it is fine (for a private citizen) to say that it shouldn't be expressed, and to condemn the speech. (Even if it is not offensive to most people.)

2. If offensive, is the subject matter important enough to communicate in spite of its offense?
Even if it doesn't express something that we disagree with, e.g. it isn't prejudiced, we should still ask whether it is offensive. If it is, we should presume that it shouldn't be said, unless there are sufficiently important reasons to say it. (e.g. One shouldn't say something rude to your fiance's family, unless it is something that it is extremely important to say.) When trying to judge the importance of the legitimizing reasons for offensive communication, we should look at the context: For example, it is a randomly rude comment, disconnected with any current debate? This type of inquiry distinguishes between, e.g. the rejection of a random cartoon submission that lampoons Jesus, and a cartoon of Mohammad solicted to explore fear of criticising radical Islam. Although both are offensive, the later poses reasons that legitimate communication that would otherwise be deplorable due to its offensiveness. Therefore, although we shouldn't publish the former because it is offensive, there are reasons that the latter should be published in spite of its offensiveness."

I think you put it best so far. Can anyone really contend this?

Visitor, I haven't weighed in yet on that "thread" but I tend to agree with what you say. I also think others have a point that for the most part when they say that rarely is anyone questioning the Holocost without a bigoted agenda. I would never approach a Jew and start asking about the validity of historical record for example(though I have a feeling many Jews would answer me if they thought my context was not bigoted). There just aren’t many good reasons to go there. I guess I am trying to say I see both sides of this one.

Also I too was a bit surprised by EV's response to minnie but I also saw there was history there. Without going through all the archived comments(not THAT interested) I kind of had to assume that minnie has said many other things to lead to such a response. I think further comments alluded to that as well.

Kovarsky,
I think Marcus1's response to your one liner attack on Brian was valid. Your response was inadequate. I tend to agree with what Brian said for example...Since my comments were on the same vein and you have not countered, shall I assume you cannot? Core ideology is important even though sub members to an institution are ignorant of their own beliefs. I would contend to you that most members of institutional religions do not understand the core tenets of their beliefs(eg. ask a Christian to explain sin). That is hardly a reason to coddle them. Do we do them any favors by doing so? Do you really think Muslim women have it "good" for example?
I don't want to turn you off to debate here; I just hope you will begin to see some of that point.

hugoblack,
I think we are way past the "two wrongs make a right" stage here. Does hypocrisy in another really justify the same actions in ourselves? Also shouldn't we address the actual arguments rather than look for defensive justifications? If only to end an endless cycle of revenge...
3.11.2006 11:12pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,

Just because literalism went out of style in the Christian and Jewish religions doesn't mean it did or will with the Muslims. That's just an ignorant assumption on your part. There are differences in the religious texts, the history, and the cultures that make them incomparable. This is why you don't see Christians going on literally murderous rampages over things even worse than cartoons. Imagine if there was an artist who produced "Piss Koran" instead of "Piss Christ".

There are esteemed religious institutions and clerics in the Islamic world and they are still with the literalist program. In fact to not be a literalist will get you killed, not merely by some mob, but also by formal law.

Hell there's a Muslim in egypt on trial for his life for reprinting the cartoons as thumbnails with big black X's through them and accompanied by articles condemning the cartoons. If that's not taking things literally then I don't know what is.

I find the Quran offensive not merely on the basis of personal belief, but because it advocates my execution. Not once, not in some obscure way, but many times and in clear language not open to interpretation.

Pardon me if I don't want to participate in the new holocaust with me on the pointy end of the bayonet. You've got many, not just one, leaders of Muslim countries talking like Hitler, about world conquest, and hear you are chiding me for being and Islamophobe. I expect you would be telling German Jews back during Hitlers reign that the were Naziophobes.

Hell yeah I'm afraid of Muslims. I don't trust Nazis, and political Commuists, much either.

Am I aware that many Muslims are illiterate and haven't even read the Koran. Sure. Am I aware that there are many Muslims who wouldn't act on what Koran tells them. Of course. Your just stupid if you think that is something good about Islam, that they not act on the plain text of the document. The problem isn't that at all. I am sure there were lots of Nazi's running around Germany who weren't willing to take a Jewish baby by it's feet and slam it's head against a tree to save on bullets. There were the "nice Nazis" who only believed that Jews were vermin and deserved to die even if they were not willing to actually pull the trigger. The problem is the pure and utter hatred that is inherent in the Nazi philosophy.

Islam is a politico-religious doctrine that holds Jews and Christians in contempt, and will not even allow them equal status. Same goes for women. Everyone else isn't even considered good enough to allow to remain attached to their head.

Since you are so learned why don't you tell me an Islamic country where I can express my belief that there is no Allah and not be executed (either formally or by the mob) and I might start listening to you.
3.11.2006 11:21pm
Kovarsky (mail):
SenatorX,

All do respect, but:

Core ideology is important even though sub members to an institution are ignorant of their own beliefs. I would contend to you that most members of institutional religions do not understand the core tenets of their beliefs(eg. ask a Christian to explain sin).

Your point seems to be that a Muslim might "really" be violent even though he thinks he isn't. I'm not failing to understand an argument, I'm rejecting it as illogical. It would seem to follow from that argument that Jews are really Christians because they just don't "understand" the texts they seek to interpret.

The interpretation IS the religion.
3.11.2006 11:28pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Senator X,

Core ideology is important even though sub members to an institution are ignorant of their own beliefs. I would contend to you that most members of institutional religions do not understand the core tenets of their beliefs(eg. ask a Christian to explain sin). That is hardly a reason to coddle them. Do we do them any favors by doing so? Do you really think Muslim women have it "good" for example?
I don't want to turn you off to debate here; I just hope you will begin to see some of that point.


Exactly!

It isn't about being afraid of individual Muslims either. It's being afraid of the ideology.

Frankly, I feel sorry for my Muslim friend and it is very hard for me to help him. He is a prisoner in his own mind, and even if I were to "free" him he is in danger of being labeled apostate. It's hard enough talking with Christians about religion but at least they don't risk death for themselves and their family for changing their minds.
3.11.2006 11:34pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Your point seems to be that a Muslim might "really" be violent even though he thinks he isn't.

Incorrect interpretation.
3.11.2006 11:36pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Brian,

This is my final response to you:

Pardon me if I don't want to participate in the new holocaust with me on the pointy end of the bayonet. You've got many, not just one, leaders of Muslim countries talking like Hitler, about world conquest, and hear you are chiding me for being and Islamophobe. I expect you would be telling German Jews back during Hitlers reign that the were Naziophobes.

I'm Jewish and therefore find your equating of my position with promotion of a Holocaust not only particularly offensive, but also pretty revealing of your out-of-touchness with the facts and issues on both sides of that comparison.

good night.
3.11.2006 11:40pm
SenatorX (mail):
Blah that’s what you get out of all that I or Brian wrote?

Also you clearly ARE failing to understand the argument by attempting to focus on a small part of the whole that you believe is illogical. I do commend you btw for weighing in here but I think Brian has you pegged. You ARE ignorant on what Islam is really about. His analysis is nearly identical to mine but independent. We both got afraid, read the Quran on our own, researched further(the internet is just plain sweet), and got MORE AFRAID. There should be enough in our posts to at least send you looking for more perspective.

To honor you I will respond to your point though. I know many Christians who self I.D.(pun intended) themselves as such. And yet are complete hypocrites. They believe they are good Christians, and yet they are not. Their ignorance allows them to maintain the illusion. Is this illogical? Well yeah. Is this "good"? I don't think so...

The other thing you said just turn around. Isn't the Jewish argument against Christians is that they are mistaken in their understanding as Jesus being the foretold messiah?

"The interpretation IS the religion". You have to get that Islam is not about this concept, at all. Sure people are people and so some will "interpret" to control others. The Quran is supposed to be the literal truth as spoken by Mohammed via Gabriel whispering in his ear(or while he was having his seizures). Further interpretations like the Haddiths are 1st, 2nd, 3rd hand accounts of what Mohammed said and did. It's all based literally on Mohammed. It is considered blasphemy by them so say differently.

Brian is also correct to point out the literalism has NOT "gone out of style long ago" as you put it in the Islamic world. They declared quite some time ago that everything about the Quran has already been discovered and have stuck to that since. Also since the Quran is sufficient as a book it was the justification for the amazing crimes of literary destruction that the Muslims went about for a thousand plus years. When they burned the library of Alexandria for example it took like 3 MONTHS of constant burning to destroy our heritage for the prior 10 thousand years. It is hard to find out about the pre-Islam Arab world for this reason too. They burned everything they could.

And please don't say the Christians did it too, I know.

Hey Brian, pleasure to see you weigh in on the "good" fight. It's not easy and I too have run into the endless quoters out of context. I call them "Muslim Apologists" though there may be a better phrase. In this case I believe Kovarsky thinks he is fighting the "good" fight but I really think most of the apologists know better. That scares me.
3.11.2006 11:57pm
SenatorX (mail):
"Brian,

This is my final response to you:

Pardon me if I don't want to participate in the new holocaust with me on the pointy end of the bayonet. You've got many, not just one, leaders of Muslim countries talking like Hitler, about world conquest, and hear you are chiding me for being and Islamophobe. I expect you would be telling German Jews back during Hitlers reign that the were Naziophobes.

I'm Jewish and therefore find your equating of my position with promotion of a Holocaust not only particularly offensive, but also pretty revealing of your out-of-touchness with the facts and issues on both sides of that comparison.

good night."

Awww. Hopefully his cognitive dissonance will sort itself out while he is sleeping :) I don't want to give up on this guy quite yet.
3.12.2006 12:06am
Kovarsky (mail):
SenatorX,

The point is not that many Moslems do not have a literalist interpretation of the Koran. Of course they do. The bizarre proposition is that you insist that even those that profess NOT to have adhere to that literalist interpretation nonetheless "really" do - unbeknownst, of course, to them.

So I am assuming that Protestants "really" recognize the Vatican because they just don't understand Catholicism.

"Interpretation IS the religion" is not a particularized point about Islam, it is a point about religious belief generally.
3.12.2006 12:10am
jackson dyer (mail):
Is anyone here familiar with Wafa Sultan?

She is one brave lady.

Check it out:


WafaSultan
3.12.2006 12:57am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,

Your examples of non-violent Muslims has about as much bearing as non-violent Nazis. The core beliefs remain the same whether you are willing to act on them or not.

You listed the president of Pakistan, however I don't see him saving any of the victims of Islam in his own country, nor recending the vile Islamic laws they have there. After all liberal is a relative and not absolute term. I suggest you google "christian persecution pakistan" I don't see him separating church and state. Besides the man is considered an American puppet in his own country. He is an exception, not a rule.

I don't see how Muslims like Musharraf telling us that Jihad means a peaceful inner struggle is very helpful when the plain text of the Quran and the behavior of Mohammed make it quite clear that things are otherwise. It's a kind of holocaust denial if you ask me. Like if a neo-Nazi were to say, well "The Final Solution" means a new guaranteed to work paint remover.

This is especially offense from a group of people who are so touchy about the term Crusade. Sure the word crusade has other meanings besides holy war. However, if some christian nut job said he was on a Crusade against Muslims and proceeded to fly a jet plane into a skyscraper I wouldn't be offering those other definitions when a Muslim questioned me about it.

That's exactly what happened with my Pakistani friend. I asked him why Osama was using the word Jihad if it didn't mean holy war. His position was that Jihad meant inner struggle and that therefore when Osama used the word he just wasn't using it correctly. That's just plain self-delusion, and not the kind that would lead to reform. One has to accept and understand ones faults before one can correct them. That includes your cultural background.

Christians do understand the history of their inquisition, crusades, and witchburning. They can be confronted with it to let them get a grip on reality. My experience with Muslims is quite to the contrary. They either understand what Jihad means and approve of it, or they are in self-denial and therefore unapproachable. This is not something to sooth ones concerns about Islam, since it leads the moderates to interpret events incorrectly.

My Muslim friend actually entertains the belief that it was Jews that orchestrated 9/11. Same goes for Saddams invasion of Kuwait. Thus, our reactions to their behavior is incomprehensible to them. When you are in denial of reality you are extremely dangerous.

I am aware of the moderates, I just don't think they matter. They are a minority and they don't have the mental tools available to handle the situation. You can't solve a problem you are not aware of.

When I meet a Muslim who can say frankly that Mohammed was wrong in the many cases where he was wrong then I will have hope. Christians do this. Jews do it too. I have yet to read any article by a Muslim, not ex-muslim, not secular Muslim, but Muslim, that admits to wrong doing on the part of their religion and their prophet.

To them it's all peaches and cream, with Islam spreading by personal choice and not the sword. The sword was and is the reality.

Christians and Jews know their own history, Muslims don't and think they come to the table with clean hands. Thus, they interpret everything as an offense against them. They don't consider the fact that they were the agressors for three hundred years pushing violently into Christian lands prior to the Crusades. They don't remember their bloody sacking of Rome. They think their rule of Spain was a shining example of tolerance. That despite the empirical evidence provided by the governing laws and the Martyrs of Cordoba.

So excuse me if I don't trust them, even the moderates. They just don't have the cultural ammunition to be able to institute the kind of limited republic that is acceptable to people who enjoy their right to liberty.

I would also like you to know that public ostracism doesn't really work on me. I don't mind being corrected in public, and frankly I would be delighted if you could change my mind. I also don't mind being in the minority when the evidence leads me there.
3.12.2006 12:58am
Kovarsky (mail):
Jackson,

Agreed. Eugene posted this Thursday here.

Unfortunately, she's receiving death threats from all over the Muslim world already, here.

Her incandescent stacatto comes with some inaccuracies, but whatever.... It is pretty inspiring, in an era where that term is overused.
3.12.2006 1:14am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Hey Brian, pleasure to see you weigh in on the "good" fight. It's not easy and I too have run into the endless quoters out of context. I call them "Muslim Apologists" though there may be a better phrase. In this case I believe Kovarsky thinks he is fighting the "good" fight but I really think most of the apologists know better. That scares me.

I know where Kovarsky is coming from. I understand his position. He thinks we are making gross over generalizations. It's actually quite insulting. I am quite aware that there are many different sects of Islam with many flavors depending on the local culture that they conquired. I don't think muslims are monolithic in their beliefs. I understand that individuals behave contrary to the teachings of their religion.

That however does not mean that one can deduce that Muslims are just like Christians and Jews. Their history is completely unique. They haven't had an enlightenment and if my understanding of their religion is correct they never will, not and remain Muslims. Their mindset is different and even when they use our own words they have different meanings in mind.

It's like when you talk with objectivists. They have a different meaning in mind for "selfish" than that used by most people. They intend it to mean "enlightened self interest". However, that just isn't what the rest of us use the term for. Selfishness to us means acting in an unenlightened way and only about narrow personal interests. So it's kind of hard to talk with them. But they chose this meaning to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack. Thus saying "selfishness is good" under their closed group definition might really be a virtue, and yet appears offensive to the rest of us.

Islam does the opposite. I redefines normal terms in such a way that the outsider thinks the Muslim is saying something good when in fact it is offensive. Thus being a Martyr in the Christian world means sacrificing your life as a victim of your enemy, whereas, in Islam it means dying while victimizing others. No Christian would consider a suicide bomber blowing himself up to slaughter a bunch of children to be a martyr. Unfortunately, that is not the case with Islam so long as those children were infidels.

It's really easy to paint yourself as peaceful and tolerant when you do this quite deceptive equivocation between the meanings of words. That's why you get these Islamic clerics claiming to be peaceful but also claiming that terrorism is a legitimate form of self defense.

I often get fellows like this throwing the Bahai's in my face, so I am going to premptively strike here:
"The Baha'i Faith is a new religion, entirely independent, with beliefs, principles and laws of its own, which differ from, and are utterly in conflict with, the beliefs, principles and laws of Islam. No Baha'i, therefore, can be regarded a Muslim or vice-versa, even as no Buddhist, Brahmin, or Christian can be regarded a Muslim or vice-versa."


Bahia's are not examples of sects of peaceful muslims. I never did get an example of a peaceful Muslim sect. Should really be easy, one would think to name them if they existed. I can easily do so for Christianity. In fact I can name pacifist sects in Christianity, like the Quakers.

This really isn't hard to accomplish in Christianity because of the nature of Jesus' teachings. You know the whole "Turn the other cheek", "Cast the first stone", "New covenant", thingy. Jesus didn't go around hacking peoples heads off for insulting him, nor to steal their women, like Mohammed did. Nor did he marry six year olds and sleep with nine year olds. He didn't avise his friends to marry a child so he could play with them. He was ahead of his time in the area of ethics not behind it.

Remember that Mohammed arrived on the scene 700 years after Christ and he didn't learn any of the lessons Jesus had to offer. Seems like a pretty big mistake on Allahs part not to have informed him of these quite important moral lessons.

I the most egregious Christian behavior as going against the fundamentals of their religion, whereas the opposite is true in Islam. What little tolerance Islam has shown, and it is minor, has been against the teachings of Muhammed.

I vastly perfer being an non-believer in a Christian world than to be a non-believer in a Muslim one.
3.12.2006 1:54am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
I see Brian's point on this one.

Of course in real terms, many Muslims may not endorse the violence in the Koran. But at the same time, they do profess the Koran to be their Holy Book. And the Koran does advocate the murder of many people. And presumably they are aware of this.

If it weren't a major world religion, they wouldn't get a pass on that sort of thing. Saying you support a murderous book except for the murderous part isn't ordinarily considered an acceptable position. Particularly when it doesn't amount to actually disowning the murderous parts, but just kind of pretending that they're not there. Nazi analogies come to mind, but I'll resist stating any of them specifically.

Of course, the same attack is valid against the Bible. The Bible advocates all kinds of crazy things, from stoning insolent kids to death to murdering homosexuals. Maybe one says that's just the old Testament, but nevertheless, the moral questions are similar. I'm not sure murdering homosexuals was any better 2000 years ago than it is today.

My feeling is that these are the kinds of things a person basically just has to ignore if they're going to stay sane in this world. It's kind of like the fact that the majority of Americans believe, at least theoretically, that I'm going to be burning in hell for all of eternity when I die. Like, seriously, for a billion years, and then some. I could get pretty upset about that if I let myself, but I've pretty much decided just to let it slide. Similarly, I don't think it's defensible to say that the Koran is the word of God. The book advocates the murder of innocent people. I just try not to focus on it in my interaction with individual Muslims, or to let it drive my rhetoric out of control.
3.12.2006 1:59am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Just because a bunch of nuts dressed in white robes (with or without hoods) want to march and burn crosses doesn't mean that you or I have to join them. Freedom of speech means letting people speak, it does not mean that you have to join them or either listen to them. It most certainly doesn't mean that you have to agree with them. "

So what does it mean if you deliberately help them spread their message?

"You even have a right some would say a duty to speak against them. You are also not allowed, though, to use violence against them. "

I never justified violence against anybody by anyone. I'm saying both sides are in the wrong.
3.12.2006 2:21am
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Many of the cartoons, as I argued, are not at all unfair or bigoted."

Well some them most certainly are; and you deliberately chose to republish all of them, even when all you had to do was link to certain ones to get your point across.

So basically, I'm questioning your motives.

"If all the KKK did was come up with cartoons, we wouldn't think of the KKK the way we do."

And if all Westerners did was come up with cartoons about Muslims, Muslims wouldn't be rioting the way they are.

Everybody who thinks this is all about cartoons and nothing more is fooling themselves.
3.12.2006 2:27am
Broncos:

Everybody who thinks this is all about cartoons and nothing more is fooling themselves.

Mostly this is about corrupt religious leaders and politicians who have found it useful to cultivate an Islam v. West mindset.
3.12.2006 2:34am
jackson dyer (mail):
"So what does it mean if you deliberately help them spread their message?"

Who is helping them spread their message, Mahan Atma?


FYI, in the US were we have freedom of speech most people by now know who the KKK is and what they stand yet over the last half century their numbers have shrunk dramatically.


In Europe on the other hand were freedom of speech is compromised hatreds of all types is on the rise.

It seems to me that freedom of speech is not the cause.
3.12.2006 2:37am
jackson dyer (mail):
"Mostly this is about corrupt religious leaders and politicians who have found it useful to cultivate an Islam v. West mindset."

Exactly.
3.12.2006 2:38am
jackson dyer (mail):
This is what we are up against:

memri


"Crowd: Allah Akbar.

Allah Akbar.

Allah Akbar.

Khamenei is the leader.

Death to those who reject the rule of the Jurisprudent.

Death to America.

Death to England.

Death to the hypocrites [Mojahedin-e Khalq] and Saddam.

Death to Israel.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati: The Koran tells us about the Jews in the early days of Islam: "They destroyed their homes with their own hands, and with the hands of the believers." It says: With their very hands and with the hands of the believers they are destroying their homes. This is exactly what is happening now. They destroying their homes with their hands and with ours.

[...]

You have made homosexuality official and legal. I spit in your face. The world should be ashamed of your deeds. Humanity should be ashamed. Your shamelessness should cause humanity to sweat in shame. A boy marrying a boy...

[...]

People are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the Prophet. There is no doubt about it. We've sacrificed so many martyrs. You insult him...

Crowd: Death to America.

Death to America.

Death to America.

Death to America.

Death to America.

Death to America.

Death to America.

Death to America.

Death to America.

Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati: You have trampled everything underfoot."
3.12.2006 2:41am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
"Also you clearly ARE failing to understand the argument by attempting to focus on a small part of the whole that you believe is illogical. I do commend you btw for weighing in here but I think Brian has you pegged. You ARE ignorant on what Islam is really about. His analysis is nearly identical to mine but independent. We both got afraid, read the Quran on our own, researched further(the internet is just plain sweet), and got MORE AFRAID. There should be enough in our posts to at least send you looking for more perspective."

That's pretty close to how I arrived at my position. I come from a very liberal and very open minded background. I have an uncle who lived with bedouins for a spell. My education consisted of telling me what great friends the Saudis were to us, and we also learned about bedouins in 9th grade. The word Xenophobia was part of my school lessons.

All was well in the world with regard to Muslims. Even the Iranian hostage crisis I wrote off as a understandable if not reasonable reaction. Palestein, well they were kicked off their land, so who wouldn't be mad.

I was jolted into the realization that things were not quite right over there by the Rusdie affair. Why would a religious leader be passing out death sentences, very unlike modern Christians and Jews. Then the constant attacks not on military but innocent victims with the suicide bombings. I thought some aspects of Islam were strange and not condusive to peaceful societies, like polygamy, but I wasn't too concerned.

The straw that broke the camels back however was when the Islamic extremeist bombed the World Trade Center the first time. Then it became important enough to me to actually learn details about this religion. Things like Jihad and the like. I was soon convinced that they were going to keep trying till they made that building collapse. I was very upset with my own government for allowing obviously hate filled clerics to be coming into this country to teach their hatred. Why should a cleric who was involved in the assasination of Egypts leader get a pass to get into the country just because he's religious?

Then 9/11 happened and my Muslim friends and coworkers gave me incredibly insulting answers, like the Jews did it, or it wasn't Muslims. This from coworkers who acted friendly with other Jewish coworkers. They had me totally fooled. I was absolutely shocked at the mentality and decided I had to learn more about Islam to see how one could be so delusional, and intelligent at the same time. I have queried more than one "moderate" muslim on their beliefs. I have read the Koran. I have read books by former muslims, one in fact a certified cleric who went to a prestigious Islamic religious university. I've read up on the history of Islam. I've read up on the life of Mohammed.

I understand why a Muslim can claim that he believes in Jesus, on one hand, and yet finds little of concern with muslims breaking into a Jerusalam church and taking a steaming dump on the location he was born, on the other hand. I understand why muslims use mosques as ammo dumps, and clerics issue death sentences and have militias. I understand the difference between Islam and other religions.

Well after several years of study, I too am more and not less frightened by this religion. It's not the ignorance that's the problem, believe me, it's the knowing. What's most frightening is that they still sit on all that oil that the west discovered, built the technology to extract, invested the equipment to drill for, and got stolen out from under their noses by nationalization.

We are in one of those science fiction episodes where a civilization is too immature to handle the technology that has fallen into their laps. Technology they would never have created on their own. Now they want to use that oil money to buy nukes while at the same time threatening their neighbors with annilation. Neighbors that we are allies with. No way we aren't getting dragged into this.

Frankly, the idea of a country sitting on all that oil needing nuclear energy is preposterous. They are so brazen and out of touch with reality that their own officials publicly laugh that they were tricking us all along. They expect us to behave rationally after they have been chanting "Death to America" for almost three decades? I am absolutely convinced we are going to have to attack Iran and frankly that scares the shit out of me.

What scares me more is we have Jews who apparently don't see this coming.

I don't know why these Muslims think we are such pussies. Perhaps it is guys like Kovarsky that give them that idea? I don't know, but the Iranians better look up some history to see what we did to Japan, and what we did to Germany, and that includes after the end of the war to the Germans. The Republican Bush hasn't even begun to do what the Democrat FDR did when it comes to limiting freedom, propaganda, and war machinery, and just plain old vindictiveness.

I don't want my sons drafted into some meat grinder even if they are doing the grinding, but us regular folk don't really have the power to prevent it once it gets going. If it comes down to choosing between me and mine and some innocent Iranian, don't expect me to be a saint, or even be in a position to prevent that scenario from occuring. Frankly, I'm sick of the white mans burden. Islam had better get out of its 7th century barbarity and into the 21st century or we are going to have real problems.

What I want to see is a global sufferage movement for non-muslims and women in Islamic countries. I don't want democracy in these countries, I want limited republics. I want immigration on equal footing.

I just don't see how history is going to provide for any of that. Especially with them sitting on all that oil. It isn't going to happen internally and it certainly isn't going to happen via external influence when the attitude of the Muslim is that non-Muslims are inferior. We're their niggers and it really pisses them off that we have more than them and are having more fun to boot.
3.12.2006 3:03am
Broncos:
Apart from everything else...

Do you absolutely have to say n*****?
3.12.2006 3:07am
Kovarsky (mail):
Broncos,

I've just stopped responding to him, but it's worth noting that not only has he said that, he's also called me a nazi and a pussy on this thread. I don't really care about the latter, but the nazi remark's degree of narrative development and obvious written effort I found to be a little disconcerting.

Classy, thoughtful stuff.
3.12.2006 3:23am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Marcus,

I don't get too upset about the religious telling me I am going to burn in hell, because frankly it's ridiculous. Now it can be dangerous if they move to retoric that says I'm endangering them of going to hell also. Because then the logical conclusion is to kill me. I don't get that alot from Christians, and never from Jews. Besides it's easy to counter by saying, "Is your faith really that weak that I am a danger".

Alot of the other old testament stuff like sacraficing your own children, the sweet savior of offerings, not allowing one testicled men to approach the alter, and the like are soundly rejected by Christians. I have debated quite a few and even the most fevered fundamentalist isn't going to agree with a literal interpretation that cripples aren't allowed in church. This is all because of a new testament.

Some of the stuff becomes null and void because we don't believe in certain things anymore. The old testaments commands that you not suffer a witch to live, but no one believes in witches, and we have the lessons of salem to fall back on. You see Christians recognize the responsibility of the scripture in this incident, accept that responsibility, and have changed. It would be quite a different story if they swept it under the rug or glorified it as proper for it's time. No Christian claims that the inquisition was proper behavior given the norms of the times. This isn't true of Muslims. They use this argument all the time.

There are unfortunately other intolerant teachings that are quite explicit which a minority of Christians do take literally, and that is a problem. For instance the old testment explicitly and in non-interpretable terms calls for christians to personally execute homosexuals. Most sects disown this due to the new covenent with christ but some do not make this explicit. This is why we occasionally see gays dead and tied to fence posts. This is a natural result of such teachings even if the majority of such sects are not likely to murder homosexuals.

My position in such instances is that the parents and the church bear some responsibility for such behavior. It should be treated in the same fashion as when those white supremacist groups were sued for acts committed by members that were compatible with there teachings. Just like if you train a dog to be vicious then let it loose you are responsible, so it goes with religious teachings.

I don't think this requires us to ban such literature altogether. We need only hold individuals and organizations responsible insofar as they teach that the contents are true. I have a copy of Maos little red book, the Koran, and the Bible, however I don't teach my children that they should believe or do the bad things these texts advocate. Therefore I am not culpable if my child were to decide for himself that this was true and act upon it. I would be if I drilled it into his impressionable head from the minute he was born. Especially if he acts before he is mature enough to understand ethical behavior, which frankly might never come for some individuals that are true believers.

The Quran contains many lessons that if taught as the truth will endanger many a non-believer. This isn't a hypothetical danger, but an empircally demonstrated one. Causing danger to another is a trespass, and just as I can enjoin you from storing dynamite next to my bedroom on your own property merely on the issue of endangerment, so to should I be able to enjoin you from teaching falsehoods to your children, or students that would endanger me. You should note that I said falsehoods. I do not believe the same of truths.

Now the problem is to determine what is true and what is false, and what constitutes endangerment. I think that it is an established fact that gross generalizations are not proper means to come to truthful statements. Thus, Quranic statements such as "Jews are greedy" meet the criteria I have established. It is both erroneous and endangering to Jews. Therefore, I would argue that any sect that openly teaches this as true should be held responsible in whole should any of it's members commit crimes against Jews on this basis.

That's true even if the person doing the teaching doesn't really believe it himself. If I were a scuba instructor and taught my students false information about need for decompression, even if I believed the proper info, I am still responsible if they get the bends. That includes giving them improper air charts, telling them the chart is infallible, all the while knowing that the decompression times for a depth of 100 feet were actually way too short. I'm responsible as the teacher not to do this.

You have to really be out of touch with reality if you are sitting in a mosque with a mullah screaming at the top of his lungs to kill the Jews, and not expect to have some culpability if it results in dead Jews. Especially if you are providing financial support to the mosque and therefore the cleric. Arguing otherwise is like being in on the planning of a bank robbery, supplying money for working up the plan, then expecting to be let off just because you were not there as a driver or gunman. You still participated and had reason to believe that a crime would be committed.

So that is where I stand on the issue of these raving clerics. I think they should be told not to teach what they are teaching and thrown in jail if they insist to continue. It really doesn't matter to me if it is their religion. If religion gets you off on that count then why not make up a religion that requires you to store dynamite in a place of worship in a residential area, or have sex with children. Oops, seems I forgot, both have already been done, and by the same religion.

If indians are not allowed to smoke peyote for their religious rituals and that is compatible with the constitution then I don't see why we cannot restrict clerics for inciting to violence. Although actually I don't care about the peyote, it's a vice, not a crime. Murdering Jews however I think should be a crime.
3.12.2006 3:58am
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Broncos,

Read stuff in context and you won't have a problem with the n word. I didn't call anyone by the name. Or is that to subtle for you. Perhaps you can justify your position. I can justify mine. In Islamic doctrine I am even less than that awful word, so I don't think it was even strong enough. Can you suggest a substitute that would have gotten my point across?


Kovarsky,

Don't get your self too worked up. Didn't call you a nazi. Here's the quote I assume you are referring too:

Pardon me if I don't want to participate in the new holocaust with me on the pointy end of the bayonet. You've got many, not just one, leaders of Muslim countries talking like Hitler, about world conquest, and hear you are chiding me for being and Islamophobe. I expect you would be telling German Jews back during Hitlers reign that the were Naziophobes.


I didn't so much as imply you were a Nazi. I wasn't even comparing you to a lowly French collaborator. If anything the most you can charge me with is implying you are a policially correct Neville Chamberlain.

I hope you understand why I equated the program spelled out in the Koran for people like me, with what Mein Kampft had in store for the Jews. Which surely is valid. Well not really, I don't recall the Final Solution actually being discussed in Mein Kampft, but the Koran isn't so shy.

I didn't directly call you a pussy either. Just wondered whether they might think we are weak because of guys like you, and your PC concerns. It was a question mark because I was inferring other positions to you that you hadn't taken. You seem to have a great need to side with the "Islam is Peace" crowd, who also like to fixate on PC minutia.

Certainly none of my arguments rested on such in an ad-hominem fashion. It was a deduction not a premise of any argument. Why exactly are you so fixated on whether there are good Nazi's when you have Mein-Kampft staring you in the face? I have already conceded your point that there are good Nazis, ones not willing to go that extra mile for the Furer.

You are aware that from an Islamic perspective you are far more worthy as a Jew than I am as a non-believer. You are merely the son of pigs and apes, but Mohammed was willing to let you survive if you pay the Jizya and know your place in society, and a lowly place that it is. Your are sort of like the house slave, whereas me, I'm not even worthy enough to be the field slave. Off with my head. ... and thus the reference to nigger, because that is the lesson Mohammed had about the unbeliever and the idolators, they are lesser beings. The Koran really is that offensive and I rightly take offense.
3.12.2006 4:49am
Raw_Data (mail):
"And if all Westerners did was come up with cartoons about Muslims, Muslims wouldn't be rioting the way they are."

There you go again, Mahan Atma. Feeling sorry for yourself, eh? Always the victim. Everything is always happening to you...some plot or conspiracy by the Crusaders or "The Zionists."

Do such folks have any free-will of their own? Do they ever take any responsibility for themselves? Why bother when there is someone else to blame.

No wonder they haven't done anything useful in at least 500 years: they are too busy feeling sorry for themselves.
3.12.2006 10:03am
SenatorX (mail):
Excellent arguments Brian. I thought your use of the "N word" ok in your context to drive your point home. You could take Broncos earlier post on "offense" as your defense leave it at that. I guess the question then becomes at what point who decides when an offensive statement(or word) is justifiable in context. Clearly Brian thinks it is justified here and he is willing to accept the cost of persecution for using the word. While you or I might avoid using that word in any context, a key point of the initial blog I think is that who are we to impose restriction on someone else using that word? Attempts of censorship seem to lead to a slippery slope of infringement on individual rights. If someone has to decide what is offensive(usually the state) then that person will make those decisions based on personal interests. How can they not?

At least when the state follows The Rule of Law people can negotiate the laws because they a)know the law beforehand and b)know the consequences of breaking the law
Censorship by people though is not the same at all. Your personal opinion on the offense while valid to you, is arbitrary. Is he supposed to be aware of all that "you" are and avoid offense?

No he didn’t absolutely have to say it. That’s not the point. The point is he felt he needed to say it and so he did. We can only claim to live in a free society when we do not limit such rights. Right?

Kovarsky,
I would not call you a P****. But I think it is all to clear that when you decided to "just stop responding to him" and then go on to infer that you did so because he was offensive to you, you pretty much advertise in favor of denial as your modus operandi. I personally think that is cowardly, though since maybe you can't "see around your own corner" you are at best viewed as sleep walking. It brings to my mind what Brian said about his Muslim friends who he does not hate but views as "prisoners of their own minds". I have had to separate myself from many of my friends through my life for this very same reason. It is a painful thing to feel that you "outgrew" someone you count as a friend. Further pain in the knowledge that your very existence as example causes pain because of the cognitive dissonance you create by being around them, pursuing your own course of honest self discovery. After initially trying to engage because I respect them and want to share the fruits of my labor I eventually just separate myself from them completely to allow them the right to follow their own course. I personally do not feel that I do them a great justice by doing this and this bothers me but I for the most part choose this course of action. Simply put, I do not have the absolute convictions of being right in my beliefs so I cannot justify to myself causing pain(mental) in others to get them to accept MY beliefs. That they claim to be my friend allows me too TRY to share my thoughts but when it becomes clear this is not appreciated I have to re-evaluate the friendship. I respect their rights by passing by...

Blog forums like this are different though. When you step up to the plate you better be ready for a pitch...
When you then cry foul because the pitch was a fastball and then declare "I won't play" in my view you justify derision by the other players. Have a nice day.

BTW where did you go JJ? I guess I could say "I win" but that’s not really MY goal. I am tired of winning. When I "win" I don't grow. Anyway, the door is always open...

"You gave them the chance to show the greatness of thier soul, and they declined. They will never forgive you for that!" Nietzsche
3.12.2006 11:03am
Volokh's guest (mail):
Brian and Kovarsky,

you are both intelligent posters who compose interesting pieces.

Quit bickering. I am getting a headache from your back and forth. You each had what you had to say.

Time to move on.
3.12.2006 11:45am
msk (mail):
Did you notice that in towns where there's no embassy, rioters attacked locally owned businesses? Any excuse for a riot ordered by a local warlord. People smashing storefronts or burning tires are not coffee-shop philosophers. Instead of wrecking half his own home town and terrorizing his own neighbors, a protestor (or his boss) could write to this blog and make a much bigger impression. Criminals shift blame. Our news media exploit our "born yesterday" self-centeredness, as if we had the power to annoy readers a world away.
3.12.2006 1:03pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Volokh's Guest,

I don't realy appreciate your input here. I quit responding to Brian last night, and he's and SenatorX continue to take shots at me throughout the morning. I am not "bickering," which is a backhanded, condescending way of phrasing your request.

So not only are you being kind of sloppy with your interpretation of events, but if you don't want to read it, close the thread. I'm the one that continues to get called all the names, without firing back despite my inclination to do so. I am resisting out of courtesy for the other posters, so you could at least give me credit for that.
3.12.2006 1:50pm
Michael Masinter (mail):
Although the rhetoric of the cartoon riots is antiwestern and antilibertarian, I think we miss their real significance. The riots were not spontaneous; the cartoons passed unnoticed for months until, for lack of a better descriptor, political Islamists deployed them as a weapon in their war against secular Islamic governments and Islamic moderates. The real target of the cartoon riots isn't Denmark or even the west; the real target is moderate Islam, or what remains of it, and the goal of those who organized the riots (if not the rioters) isn't so much to impose their values on the west as to impose their values on secular Islamic states.

In short, I think there are two stories here -- one rightly focuses on the values of free speech, but the other, largely untold in this context, is the ongoing struggle for control of Islam. For a fuller exposition of the latter written before the riots, see Tony Corn's article in Policy Review, World War IV as Fourth-Generation Warfare.
3.12.2006 2:04pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
Kovarsky,
I'm the one that continues to get called all the names
Come on. Your pretty thin skinned for someone who posted that I had made the least educated remark on the forum.

I think I have amply demonstrated that my remark wasn't uneducated. You implied I was uneducated, and I implied you were a spineless like Chamberlain. Not that I actually believe it. I'm on pain meds, what's your excuse. :)

Volokh's Guest,

I'm done and I think I got my point across. I don't think Kovarsky was bickering. He had a valid point. In fact I have no objection to what any of the posters said here today.

It is sometimes hard to get ones position across with a short comment, so sorry for giving you a headache.

I won't claim the same for myself and leave it up to the readers of my comments to decide. I will say that this was one of my better behaved postings. So if things got dicey I tend to fault myself, and not poor Kovarsky. He's never run into me before and I'm sort of a bitbull sometimes. I also have a retorical style that grates on people, and poor writing, spelling, and punctuation. Sorry, I'm to lazy to proofread.
3.12.2006 2:33pm
Brian Macker (mail) (www):
PS, I know it's "too lazy", not "to lazy". That's my fingers not my brain.
3.12.2006 2:35pm
SenatorX (mail):
Michael M.,

Thank you for your comment! That article is a superb analysis if nothing else(though I had to look up alot of words :). Do you think that approach as process is going to be adopted as policy?

If his points are not at least addressed, adopted, or refined I fear the results he hints at. Regardless we are in for one rough ride...
3.12.2006 3:46pm
Walk It (mail):
I agree with the person who said everyone has a right to refuse to participate in this "controversy". This blog is cherry picking its "free speech" issues.

I don't think EV has to participate in Klan rallies to make his point. But enough already with this cartoon issue. We know you view; you made your point weeks ago and are now a forum for the cartoonists' "message".

How about a broader based world view? How about an online petition, some free speech action, protesting Irving's serving jail time for his free speech? That is conseqence too (except we might like it in that case).

If you can "influence" so much with these cartoons, how about using that to support broader points? Also, can you ask Bernstein when exactly Iran will be getting bombed? Good luck to Kerr as he breaks out, solo, for fresher grounds. He'll be missed for a non pigeon-holed viewpoint; why the rest of you want to put yourselves into tiny boxes based on narrow world views is beyond me.
3.13.2006 6:38am
Duncan Frissell (mail):
Actually, I always thought it was convenient that I could easily cause some opposition members (feminists, muslims,
Jonathan Kozol, etc.) to break down or blow up with simple words. What power. How debilitating for them.

"Men are better at advanced mathmatics than women"

"Mohammad was suffering an epileptic siezure when he authored the Koran."

"Government schools in the US were a plot successively by Protestanant nativists and Progressives to brainwash Americans into those faiths to their own detriment."
3.13.2006 1:53pm
saddam (mail):
Mahan Atma says:

"Everybody who thinks this is all about cartoons and nothing more is fooling themselves."

I have to agree with at least the above statement by Mr. Atma. This dispute puts the spotlight on the immigration debate presently going on in this country. We should not be allowing individuals to emigrate into this country who do not believe in toleration of other's beliefs and practices. Even the muslims themselves do not agree that it is a blasphemy to show images of their main prophet. Why else would there be images of Mohammed all over the muslim world? I believe that it only furthers the discussion for Mr. Volokh to have shown the images on this blog. No disrespect was intended, and none should be taken. It was enlightening for me to see how tame many of the images actually were.
3.13.2006 2:03pm
Michael B (mail):
"It was enlightening for me to see how tame many of the images actually were."

Very much on point vis-a-vis the Western MSM's studied neglect of this issue.

Then there's the striking contrast with the systemic and enculturated hatreds within the Arab/Muslim world, vicious and venomous cartoons being but one aspect of that enculturation.

Then too there's the direct historical lineage with fascism and Hitler's Natl. Socialism (e.g., here, here, here).

Mussolini appointed his own newspaper editors, a solution which has yet to be suggested in the West. Though given the self-censorship acceded to by Western MSM editors, such measures are not obviously needed; resistance is not so much futile as it is frowned upon and carefully elided. Or, in Hollywood, self-regarding pop-culture elites award and applaud themselves for their brave transgressivist art.

Awards, profits and a not so sober self-regard; Hollywood's and the MSM's - the media/technological complex's - holy trinity.
3.13.2006 6:00pm
Michael B (mail):
As an afterthought and for emphasis, there are plenty of other notable contrasts. For example, Denmark has long been a donor of humanitarian aid to places such as Gaza, reminiscent of the fact that Danes smuggled out their own Jewish population out to neutral Sweden during WWII. As regards this and other topics, Nelson Ascher at Europundits has recently recommenced blogging and he speaks to some contrasts, e.g., a post entitled The Hymn of the Danish Resistance.

Or, for yet another telling contrast, at A/F, Danish Muslims: Opinion Poll.
3.13.2006 6:49pm
SenatorX (mail):
Michael B. ,
Those links to articles about anti-Semitism and the various connections between the Nazi and Islam...well it's hard to say enlightening when I feel so repulsed. Thank you though. Thats alot of new perspective I didn't have. A lot to vet as well.
3.13.2006 10:00pm
Brother Bark (mail):
It is interesting, if disturbing, to wonder how much longer this intense, violent hypocrisy by Islamists can continue before there is a sudden, vicious backlash against all Muslims in Western countries, including mass deportation of immigrant Muslims back to their home countries.
3.14.2006 2:23am
Michael B (mail):
Yes, you probably noticed, but the writer, Matthias Kuntzel, is a political scientist and author, primarily writing for a German audience, but his online, English language translations are listed at his site here. Maybe a half-dozen of them pertain to the noted subject matter.

Re, the historical lineage, the individual who singly best personifies and represents the pivot-point in that malignant ideological lineage is the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini. He met with Hitler, advisor to Himmler and Eichman and later served as protege to Arafat, among others (e.g., the Muslim Brotherhood). And yes, it is in point of fact a great deal to vet and come to terms with - it represents the depths and reaches of a fundamental aspect of the set of problems which need to be soberly assessed: it informs the Israel/Arab refugee situation, the recruitment of jihadists, attitudes in the wider populations, the enculturation of hatreds in general (e.g., in their educational systems, other social and cultural institutions). There is work to be done.
3.14.2006 2:29am