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YouTube Removes Atheist's Slide Show of Quotes from the Koran:

Nick Gisburne put up a slide show of Koran quotes — intended by him to illustrate the Koran's violent or intolerant teachings — on YouTube. He had done the same as to the Bible before, but the Koran quotes drew the ire of some readers. YouTube (owned by Google) then took the video down "due to its inappropriate nature," and his account was disabled and all videos deleted because of his "repeated attempts to upload inappropriate videos." The video has resurfaced; watch it yourself to see what is "inappropriate" other than the viewpoint it expresses, with supporting evidence. If it's taken down, you can also get it (albeit in a less convenient format) directly from Nick Gisburne's site.

As I have noted before, I think selected quotations from holy works don't tell us that much about the nature of the religion today. Modern Christianity and 1600s Christianity use pretty much the same holy works; the difference in militance between the two stems not from the words as such, but from the way Christians understand those words. Nonetheless, surely quoting such phrases is an appropriate form of debate, just as arguing that those quotes are metaphorical, taken out of context, no longer viewed as currently binding divine commands, and so on is an appropriate form of debate. And quoting such phrases is an especially appropriate form of debate against those who generally take a "fundamentalist" — which is to say relatively literalist — approach to religion, and against those who praise a holy work (being the Bible, the Koran, or whatever else) as a great guide to life rather than praising certain aspects of the work or praising the traditions that have grown up around the work.

YouTube is a private company that is entitled to choose what it carries; and while using YouTube is a convenient way to effectively get your views out, you can certainly get them out even without YouTube. Nonetheless, consumers are also entitled to criticize YouTube and other media organizations — organizations that make a living off our vibrant marketplace of ideas — for refusing to carry certain important viewpoints because some find those viewpoints offensive.

And if it is true that YouTube does not apply the same rules to criticism of Christianity (as opposed to simply not having gotten any complaints about such condemnation), or to criticisms of religion generally (but framed in a way that seems to evoke evangelical Christianity), then it seems to me that YouTube's taking down criticism of Islam merits still more condemnation. At least that should be the view of those of us who believe that criticism of Islam is at least as "appropriate" an argument in reasoned public debate as is criticism of Christianity.

Thanks to InstaPundit for the pointer.

Jonesy:
I would hold off on making any judgment of YouTube. Its possible that the video was pulled because of the quotes from the Koran, but its also possible that it was pulled because of "copyright infringement" because of the music in the background thats from The Matrix. This person had been warned before several times about this same thing (for different videos). Hopefully YouTube will make a statement and clarify what the real reason was, and hopefully they'll be honest about it.
2.11.2007 2:04am
Scote (mail):
I, too, wondered if a copyright complaint had been lodged. However, this seems unlikely since the poster could have changed the music if Google had notified him of such a complaint.

Ironically, Google is actually censoring the Koran. The video is just selected quotes set to music without comment. How a religious person could justify a complaint seems hard to fathom, though some religious sects see any inquiry or criticism of their holy works as blasphemy punishable by death--a position which seems more common in Islamic sects than in sects other religions I've heard of.
2.11.2007 3:01am
donaldk2 (mail):
Obvious, is it not? The complainers are Moslems, who are flaunting the fact that they can make the infidel eat dirt whenever occasion arises.

When (if ever) such complaints get responses inviting the complainer to go pound sand, we will have begun an effective resistance to these savages.
2.11.2007 3:13am
Nick Good - South Africa (mail):
I strongly YouTube is just scared of Islamic reprisal - the very clear message coming through loud and clear is - if you want your way, use violence. The same message sent out by the media apropos of the Danish Mohamed cartoons which the MSM, almost entirely, refused to publish.

Just more 'sharia creep' I'm afraid.
2.11.2007 3:31am
youbin:
The video just shows quotes directly from the Koran without any commentary. The people who believe that the Koran is the literal word of god, should be happy that god's words are being spread to more people.
2.11.2007 4:28am
jvarisco (www):
I was under the impression that YouTube censored based on user input. If x people complain, the video is taken down. I'd be surprised if they went to the trouble of actually filtering through the stuff themselves.

Of course, you can't have bible passages in public anymore either on State Island.
2.11.2007 5:10am
msmith (mail):
....At least that should be the view of those of us who believe that criticism of Islam is at least as "appropriate" an argument in reasoned public debate as is criticism of Christianity....

Don't forget Judaism! And some of your more popular religions. All fair game! Or not.

I know some, actually many, who think that is just as legitimate to quote the Bible and the rest to show just how awful the ethics and values are in the Judeo-Christian teachings. Richard Dawkins recently gave a great speech on that in the heart of Lynchburg, Virginia. The reason? It is highly questionable, to say the least, that Islam the religion is more violent today than Judeo-Christianity.

As to Muslims being more sensitive, did anyone see Bill Donahue of the Catholic League on Larry Kudlow's show on Friday? Ranting about anti-Catholic bigotry in John Edwards campaign. Mr. Donahue went on to "explain" that Hollywood is controlled "by the Jews" who have an anti-Catholic bias.

Remarkably, Mr. Kudlow, a Jew, didn't really challenge that. It seems some bigotry, the conservative variety, is less offensive than Mr. Edwards supposed bigotry (having something to do with some obscure bloggers on his staff).

Leaving me to wonder when Mel Gibson converted to Judaism. One powerful Hollywood Jew, Mel is. All quite depressing and amusing at the same time in the year 2007 (Christian calender).
2.11.2007 5:11am
logicnazi (mail) (www):
Do you have any accounts of this controversy from anywhere but Nick's website. You'll have to excuse my skepticism about taking the truth of someone involved in the dispute for granted without even hearing what google has to say. I mean we all know the temptation when you get angry to give the least charitable interpretation to the other side's action.

Until I hear google's response or the report of a reputable third party investigation I'm not going to come to any conclusion about this matter. I mean for all I know they canceled his account because he was leaving threatening abusive comments on other people's videos or uploading copyrighted material.
2.11.2007 5:58am
markm (mail):
to illustrate the Koran's violent or intolerant teachings

On a quick sampling of the Koran video, at least 3/4 of the quotes are variants of "unbelievers will go to hell." That may be intolerant, but it's not violent. Dozens of Christians have told me that as an atheist I will go to hell, and not one gave me the impression he might act to speed my journey there. OTOH, there are also some Koranic verses that are clearly incitements to violence, as plain as "Slay the unbelievers." Gisburne considerably reduced the effect of his video by mixing the two together.

IIRC, the New Testament often says unbelievers will go to hell, but unlike the Koran never says believers should kill anyone. The Old Testament is far more bloody; mostly it's in the form of historical reports (the war with the Midianites for example) rather than direct injunctions to violence, but if one takes those reports as examples to follow, one would aspire to become a genocidal mass murderer. And I can recall at least one direct injunction to violence somewhere in the Bible: "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." It wasn't a dead letter when King James' translators wrote that, in England or in Massachusetts.
2.11.2007 8:11am
godfodder (mail):
It is crystal clear to anybody who pays attention that Muslims and Islam receive very different treatment in the media than Christians and Christianity.* The reasons for this are twofold-- ideological and practical.

Ideologically, Muslims have benefitted from our "multicultural" soft-headedness. The people who create content for our mass media consumption are lothe to portray the unsavory aspects of Muslim culture out of the fear of being seen as "eurocentric" or Western triumphalists. Why else are there no movies/TV programs/TV movies, etc. portraying the public torture and murder of homosexuals? The public torture and murder of rape victims? The torment and frequent murder of women who are widows? The grotesque suppression of women throughout the Muslim world? The insane edicts that issue from Imams in Saudi Arabia that go on to influence public policy?? (the banning of the letter "x" anyone?). If you've ever visited Saudia Arabia you know exactly what I mean. My wife was physically assaulted for walking outside in shorts (in >100 degree weather).

From a practical point of view, our media's "handlers" would rather not be subjected to the threats of violence that inevitably come with being a critic of Islam. Many electronic media outlets have stations, personnel, and assets in Muslim countries, and they would rather not see them destroyed or murdered. You can call it "being practical" or you can call it "cowardice," but it is a decisive factor in programming decisions regarding religion. The secularists in TV-land focus their contempt for religion upon groups they are certain will not fight back.

*I focus on those two religions because I hardly ever run across media portrayals of Jews, Hindus, Buddists, etc. When they are portrayed, it is usually positive.
2.11.2007 8:42am
Blasphemer:
msmith:

Ranting about anti-Catholic bigotry in John Edwards campaign. Mr. Donahue went on to "explain" that Hollywood is controlled "by the Jews" who have an anti-Catholic bias.
Remarkably, Mr. Kudlow, a Jew, didn't really challenge that.


Kudlow was born Jewish but converted to Roman Catholicism.
2.11.2007 9:35am
TJIT (mail):
H has an account on youtube again. Nick Gisburne at youtube
2.11.2007 9:46am
amnyc (mail) (www):
It is worth pointing out that most of the "quotes" from Gisburne's video are not quotes, but rather oversimplified (and often distorted) paraphrases of the Qu'ran - the equivalent of someone claiming that Romans 13:1-2 says "You must submit to Christian law or you will be punished."
2.11.2007 10:10am
SG:
amnyc:

It is worth pointing out that most of the "quotes" from Gisburne's video are not quotes, but rather oversimplified (and often distorted) paraphrases of the Qu'ran


Actually, it's not worth pointing out, at least in this context. There's a legitimate discussion to be had about Gisburne on the merits, but this discussion is about YouTube/Google's apparent double standard on the permissibility of offending Christians vs offending Muslims.
2.11.2007 11:33am
Fub:
Jonesy wrote:
... but its also possible that it was pulled because of "copyright infringement" because of the music in the background thats from The Matrix. This person had been warned before several times about this same thing (for different videos).
Scote wrote:
I, too, wondered if a copyright complaint had been lodged. However, this seems unlikely since the poster could have changed the music if Google had notified him of such a complaint.
If Google had warned him previously about copyright infringement, then zapping his material upon complaint of infringement and without further warning makes perfect sense.

Typically an ISP or hosting domain owner is the deep pocket for copyright suits. Removing even alleged but not proved copyright violating material with no further warning is an unfortunate consequence of the current state of law. From the hosting provider's point of view it is better to offend even a whole constituency of free riders, than to spend potentially limitless money defending opportunistic suits by the RIAA or other "copyright industry" goons.
2.11.2007 11:49am
Kovarsky (mail):
Eugene,

And if it is true that YouTube does not apply the same rules to criticism of Christianity (as opposed to simply not having gotten any complaints about such condemnation), or to criticisms of religion generally (but framed in a way that seems to evoke evangelical Christianity), then it seems to me that YouTube's taking down criticism of Islam merits still more condemnation. At least that should be the view of those of us who believe that criticism of Islam is at least as "appropriate" an argument in reasoned public debate as is criticism of Christianity.

I've seen you make this argument in a number of contexts. As I understand it, and I think I do, this is not a First Amendment issue at all. You Tube is a speaker, and your point is that although they are not subject to the first amendment, they are an appropriate subject of criticism for their editorial judgment.

Why? There is a large fraction of the population that would avoid this type of expression, not out of a priggish victorian interest in propriety, but because now is a particularly sensitive time for Muslim-bashing, and we think it's our social responsibility not to contribute to it. I just don't worry that I'm tangibly contributing to some exercise in cultural entropy if I make a joke about Jesus.

I don't understand that a "right" to say something include a right to make other say it. Once we accept that constraint, this seems to reduce to the question of whether YouTube exercised good judgment. If you want to invoke the analogy to Christianity, it seems that you've got to be claiming that a speaker uses poor judgment when distinguishing between the two. There is a very credible basis for doing so, it seems.

My question is this: is there something unique that attaches to YouTube's speaker status that imposes extra obligations on their editorial protocol, beyond what would apply to any private speaker. They are not a news organization.
2.11.2007 11:54am
SG:
Kovarsky:

I'm curious about your attitude more generally. What other topics "are particularly sensitive" to such an extent that "it's our social responsibility" to "avoid [...] expression"?

I'll resist calling names, but that's perhaps the most illiberal statement I've ever heard expressed. Voltaire you clearly aren't.
2.11.2007 12:20pm
godfodder (mail):
Kovarsky:
I'm a bit confused by your post. For starters, I fail to see a whole lot of "Muslim-bashing" going on in our mass media. Certainly not when you consider that we are at war (in an all too real sense of the word) with a "muslim" enemy. In WW2 you could make a point about "Jap" or "Kraut" bashing, but in the GWOT there appears to be quite the opposite happening. The media seem to be making a very steadfast, blanket effort to remove/suppress anything that might be seen as "Muslim bashing" or likely to incite "Muslim-bashing."

The rest of your post leaves me bewildered also. For example what does this mean-- "I just don't worry that I'm tangibly contributing to some exercise in cultural entropy if I make a joke about Jesus"?

As for YouTube not being a "news organization," well, of course they're not. But they are a major "new media" outlet for information. An outlet, by the way, that prides itself on its rebellious attitude and willingness to affront "priggish victorian" tastes. So... why the squeamishness all the sudden about Islam? Particularly when similar sensitivity has been completely absent for other religions?

It is a perfectly clear and valid question... at least, to me.
2.11.2007 12:34pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Don't be evil -- just prostrate yourself before it. Google is a bunch of BS. Use Yahoo.
2.11.2007 12:58pm
Russ (mail):
Kovarsky, where is all this "muslim bashing" in our media. All I see is over-sensitivity towards muslims. There may be some in the blogs, but contrary to what most of us would believe, the majority of people still don't frequent the Internet and its blogs as much as we addicts do.

The mainstream media has gone out of its way to avoid ANY criticism of muslims, and has even gone so far as to equate any criticism with bigotry.

When people are afraid to criticize, that's simply another form of censorship, self-imposed or not.
2.11.2007 1:02pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
Until I hear Google's response or the report of a reputable third party investigation I'm not going to come to any conclusion about this matter.

And let me guess, if Google decides not to respond at all, you'll just assume Google is 100% in the right, end of story. How convenient for you, who doesn't want to believe anything bad about Google because it's a hardline left-wing company. And for Google, which doesn't want to justify its actions and never does.
2.11.2007 1:08pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
As for YouTube not being a "news organization," well, of course they're not. But they are a major "new media" outlet for information.
Really? I thought they were an outlet where teenagers could upload ridiculous home videos, commercials from the 1980s, and clips from the Daily Show.
2.11.2007 1:59pm
Mac (mail):
I don't know if this helps or hinders, but here is an alledged transcript of the interview with Bill Donahue and Kudlow posted on Media Matters web site. I have not always found them to be trustworty, so do not pretend to know how accurate this transcript is. I left out some of the very first part as it seemed irrelevent. You can judge for yourselves if you think Donahue was being anti-Semetic or not. I beleieve he made the statement re Jews and Hollywood in 2004.

....

KUDLOW: I mean, you know, this reflects on Mr. Edwards' judgment.

BEINART: Let me say. If you were to go through -- if I could just -- if I could finish --

KUDLOW: This reflects on his character, Peter.

BEINART: If you wouldn't mind --

KUDLOW: Why didn't he keep them fired? That's my question.

BEINART: If you wouldn't mind letting me finish, Mr. Donohue. You have made anti-Jewish, anti-gay comments --

DONOHUE: I didn't say a word. What are you talking about?

BEINART: Bill Donohue has made anti-Jewish, anti-gay comments --

DONOHUE: No, I haven't.

BEINART: -- which are as bad as what these women -- you said that the secular Jewish Jews in Hollywood hate Christianity. That's a horrible, bigoted --

DONAHUE: Wait a minute. Wait, wait.

BEINART: -- statement, so it seems to me the question becomes --

DONOHUE: Peter. Peter --

BEINART: -- what is our standard here?

DONOHUE: Peter, the Jewish Forward said in 2004 that Jews run Hollywood. Are they anti-Semitic?

BEINART: You said they hate Christianity, Mr. Donohue.

DONOHUE: Oh, we like the movies that are coming out of Hollywood. They're very nice to Catholics.

BEINART: No, no. Did you say that or not?

DONOHUE: They're very nice to Catholics.

BEINART: You said that secular Jews in Hollywood hate Christianity.

DONOHUE: What world do you live in? What world do you live in? Have you seen what they -- what movies they make about Catholics?

BEINART: Yeah. Do you defend that statement?

DONOHUE: I defend the fact -- there's two parts to the statement. One part is, right out of the Jewish Forward: Jews run Hollywood. If you think it's the Chinese, make your case. And do they make nice movies about Catholics, or do they make lousy movies?

BEINART: You said they hate Christians.

DONOHUE: What kind of a -- well, oh, I'm telling you --

BEINART: You say -- you made a blanket statement about secular Jews in Hollywood that hate Christians.

DONOHUE: No, I'm talking about -- no, I'm talking about the movies that come out of Hollywood, and the predominant ones -- you got [director Martin] Scorsese. He's not Jewish. It's the people in Hollywood. There's a mindset about this, and I think you should talk to The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, which have said that the Hollywood studios are dominated by Jews. I tried to even qualify it more than that.
2.11.2007 2:18pm
Mac (mail):
And, out of curiosity I went to the Jewish Forward and typed Jews run Hollywood into their search engine. An article re Lieberman came up. Here is the part re Jews and Hollywoodto which, I would guess, Donahue is referring.


"The immigrants also created dozens of landsmanschaft organizations that helped bring over new immigrants, settled them in jobs and provided welfare services for widows and orphans. Such communal and family ties lent solidarity and strength to the heavy Jewish presence in the labor movement.

During the 1920s and 1930s a group of hard-nosed Jewish entrepreneurs turned a patch of desert near Los Angeles into the Hollywood movie industry. Entertainment juggernaut Paramount Pictures, founded in 1919 by Adolph Zukor, was financed by an enormous loan from the Jewish Wall Street firm of Kuhn, Loeb &Co. — thanks to the intervention of Otto Kahn, brother of Zukor's partner Felix Kahn. The studios were famed for their nepotism.

Jewish families also went into the media business, founding Random House, Knopf, Simon &Schuster and other distinguished publishing houses. And the Sulzberger-Ochs clan has owned and run The New York Times since 1896.

During the Depression, Jewish families pulled together once again, outdoing other groups in solidarity and mutual support. After World War II, Jews gained access to the middle class and moved to the suburbs, leaving their ethnic roots behind them. Yet Jews did not disperse throughout the economy like other immigrants but continued to congregate in medicine, law, academia and the communications industry, where relatively high numbers have afforded leverage and security.

Speaking at a recent seminar on Jewish women in television at New York's Jewish Museum, Terri Minsky, creator of the hit series "Lizzie McGuire," unapologetically remarked: "I got into TV the way I thought all Jewish people did — I had an uncle in the business."
2.11.2007 2:34pm
Kovarsky (mail):
SG,

Kovarsky:

I'm curious about your attitude more generally. What other topics "are particularly sensitive" to such an extent that "it's our social responsibility" to "avoid [...] expression"?

I'll resist calling names, but that's perhaps the most illiberal statement I've ever heard expressed. Voltaire you clearly aren't.


I love people like you, desperate for a caricature. It reflects an unseemly, wanton desire to regurgitate some sort of rehearsed graduate assistant speech you've always dreamed of delivering to a batch of college freshman, but you've never had the guts to do it.

I'm a free speech absolutist; I generally fall into line with the view the government can't restrict anything based on its message. I just don't understand why YouTube, as a private speaker, should be criticized for not wanting to get involved in a highly sensitive political subject. Why is it the obligation of any speaker in a liberal democracy to engage in a particular type of speech? So it is you, SG, seeking to exact from the the private speaker the same neutrality that we require of government, that is decidedly "illiberal."

Thanks for your wonderfully superficial academic references though.
2.11.2007 3:17pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Godfodder,

I'm a bit confused by your post. For starters, I fail to see a whole lot of "Muslim-bashing" going on in our mass media. Certainly not when you consider that we are at war (in an all too real sense of the word) with a "muslim" enemy. In WW2 you could make a point about "Jap" or "Kraut" bashing, but in the GWOT there appears to be quite the opposite happening. The media seem to be making a very steadfast, blanket effort to remove/suppress anything that might be seen as "Muslim bashing" or likely to incite "Muslim-bashing."

The incidence of irrational fear of Islam in America will just have to remain a point of disagreement between you and I. Take, for example, the YouTube poster's attempt to present Islam through a literalist reading of the Koran. Many Americans consider a literalist reading of the Koran to be a true expression of Islam, even though they would never espouse a literalist reading of the Bible as a meaningful expression of Christianity.

The rest of your post leaves me bewildered also. For example what does this mean-- "I just don't worry that I'm tangibly contributing to some exercise in cultural entropy if I make a joke about Jesus"?

I don't worry about "criticism" of christianity contributing to a critical mass of irrational contempt that marginalizes a particular group. That's a perfectly reasonable rationale for a private speaker not to want to say something. It's not one I would adopt, but if I work at a place of business and I think that criticising Islam is going to place my co-workers in physical danger, you shouldn't frown on my decision not to engage in a particular type of private speech.

As for YouTube not being a "news organization," well, of course they're not. But they are a major "new media" outlet for information. An outlet, by the way, that prides itself on its rebellious attitude and willingness to affront "priggish victorian" tastes. So... why the squeamishness all the sudden about Islam? Particularly when similar sensitivity has been completely absent for other religions?

I don't know, you'll have to ask YouTube. YouTube is a pivate speaker, I tend to not get as worked up about what private actors say or do not say as I do about government restrictions. You are perfectly free to criticize them for not engaging in a particular type of speech because you think that they should, but just realize that's what you are doing.

It is a perfectly clear and valid question... at least, to me.
2.11.2007 12:34pm
2.11.2007 3:29pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Russ,

The mainstream media has gone out of its way to avoid ANY criticism of muslims, and has even gone so far as to equate any criticism with bigotry.

The "mainstream media" is a "they" not an "it." They are not a top-down administrative bureaucracy making concerted decisions. The idea that a "mainstream media" conclusion is a collective fabrication therefore represents a statistical improbability of quite impressive magnitude.

You must be forgetting the cartoons, because I seem to remember plenty of "mainstream media" reprinting them.
2.11.2007 3:35pm
Kovarsky (mail):
SG,

And just on a personal note, I would prefer that if you'd like to paint me as some sort of intolerant fascist, you at least have the common courtesy not to selectively edit the passages in my thread to which you cite. In fact, that sort of restraint might be advisable in any sort of intellectual exchange, if you do that sort of thing.
2.11.2007 3:38pm
SG:
Kovarsky:

Thanks for the invective. While I don't dispute that YouTube, being a private entity has the right to say or not say whatever they wish (although I've seen no statement of editorial policy and believe they lean more towards a common carrier which does require neutrality), your statements were not about YouTube.

I'll quote you: "There is a large fraction of the population that would avoid this type of expression, not out of a priggish victorian interest in propriety, but because now is a particularly sensitive time for Muslim-bashing, and we think it's our social responsibility not to contribute to it."

Not the first person plural pronouns. I'll repeat it again: "We think it's our social responsibility not to contribute to it."

I don't see any way to read that other than you think's it's social irresponsible to discuss the topic. You're not defending YouTube's right to exercise editorial judgement (a right no one has disputed); you're defending the editorial judgement itself.

To define arguably the most important issue on the world stage today to be simply undiscussable is profoundly illiberal. The mere fact that you don't like the label doesn't mean it doesn't apply.
2.11.2007 3:51pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Kovarsky sez: 'now is a particularly sensitive time for Muslim-bashing'

Yeah, and 1938 was a really, really sensitive time for Hitler-bashing and everybody rallied around to put a stop to it.

That worked great.

What planet do you live on?
2.11.2007 3:53pm
SG:
Kovarsky:

Our last messages cross-posted, but I stand by what I wrote and don't believe I misquoted you. I don't see any way to read your message other than as a personal endorsement of censoring discussion on the topic of Islam.

Now perhaps you don't actually mean what I understand you to mean, but that's the plain meaning I take from your words.
2.11.2007 3:55pm
MnZ (mail):
Kovarsky,

McCarthyism was primarily based on private individuals and organizations supressing their own speech and speech of subordinates out of fear. How is this different?

If a supposedly weak minority can have such a supressive on us, isn't that a very bad harbinger for things to come?
2.11.2007 3:59pm
Shad:
I love people like you, desperate for a caricature. It reflects an unseemly, wanton desire to regurgitate some sort of rehearsed graduate assistant speech you've always dreamed of delivering to a batch of college freshman, but you've never had the guts to do it.


Wow, Kovarsky... that bit of projection sounds a lot like a rehearsed graduate assistant speech. Did you dream often of delivering it to a batch of college freshman, but found that you only had the guts to do so online?

It's a good thing you pointed out you're a free speech absolutist, because your comment where you asked Mr. Volokh why people have the right to criticize Google/YouTube and claimed that people should refrain from certain commentary because now is a particularly sensitive time for Muslim-bashing certainly doesn't sound like anything I've heard a free speech absolutist say.

And add me to the list of people that would be also be interested in seeing the evidence you have that now is a particularly sensitive time for Muslim-bashing. Beyond a YouTube video of someone displaying content from the Koran, that is.
2.11.2007 4:00pm
Kovarsky (mail):
SG,

Thanks for the invective.

Look pal, you made that whole Voltaire remark made some snide little comment about refraining from calling names (of course that's itself name-calling). Don't play the righteous card now. As for substance, you must have me confused with someone who says that people shouldn't talk about these things.

To define arguably the most important issue on the world stage today to be simply undiscussable is profoundly illiberal. The mere fact that you don't like the label doesn't mean it doesn't apply.

You seem to really want me to be saying something that I'm not, just so you can call me illiberal. Uh, ok. But in case you're actually interested in what I believe or said above: I don't think it's undiscussable, but I defend YouTube's right as a private speaker to refrain from "discussing" it in the most childish of ways.
2.11.2007 4:02pm
Kovarsky (mail):
MnZ,

McCarthyism was primarily based on private individuals and organizations supressing their own speech and speech of subordinates out of fear. How is this different?

My grandfather was operating under McCarthy's sword of damocles, and I can assure you it was the government's inquisition that he feared.
2.11.2007 4:05pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
Kovarsky is a great example of the pernicious effect of political correctness that makes everyone see everything through a marxist-inspired double standard based on the perceived power/status of the people in question.

That's the only way anyone could possibly analyze this incident in terms of YouTube's right to host (or not) whatever they want, without considering the overwhelming preponderance of such "editorial decisions" that censor criticism of religion only when the religion being criticised is Islam.
2.11.2007 4:07pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Shad,

It's a good thing you pointed out you're a free speech absolutist, because your comment where you asked Mr. Volokh why people have the right to criticize Google/YouTube and claimed that people should refrain from certain commentary because now is a particularly sensitive time for Muslim-bashing certainly doesn't sound like anything I've heard a free speech absolutist say.


It's funny, because I could have sworn I made it pretty clear that people have the "right" to criticize YouTube. In fact, I could have sworn I wrote:

You are perfectly free to criticize them for not engaging in a particular type of speech because you think that they should, but just realize that's what you are doing.

I'm not the one that wants to whack a private speaker over the head for a speech-decision; you are.

As for this:

And add me to the list of people that would be also be interested in seeing the evidence you have that now is a particularly sensitive time for Muslim-bashing. Beyond a YouTube video of someone displaying content from the Koran, that is.

Sorry, I'm not getting drawn into this game.
2.11.2007 4:10pm
MnZ (mail):

My grandfather was operating under McCarthy's sword of damocles, and I can assure you it was the government's inquisition that he feared.


Was it the actual inquisition that he feared? Or did he fear the after effects of the inquisition (e.g., private blacklists)? Based on what I have read, it was the non-governmental actions that were the most damaging aspect of McCarthyism.

Either way, very little of McCarthyism technically violated the Constitutionally protected rights. Instead, it just made it very difficult for anyone to excercise them.
2.11.2007 4:13pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Stacy,

Kovarsky is a great example of the pernicious effect of political correctness that makes everyone see everything through a marxist-inspired double standard based on the perceived power/status of the people in question.

You don't know the first thing about me.
2.11.2007 4:15pm
Kovarsky (mail):
MnZ,

No, he was forced to decline a seat on the national labor relations board because otherwise mccarthy was going to nail him and ruin his career. Instead he spent the rest of his life teaching the law and economics of employment at Iowa, writing primarily about discrimination against gays in the workplace. So, it was not fear that his "communist" views would be outed that coerced his behavior. He was pretty comfortable with them.

I also guess the "marxist-socialist-liberal-gay-sympathizer" gene runs in my family.
2.11.2007 4:20pm
Jay Myers:
Kovarsky:

I've seen you make this argument in a number of contexts. As I understand it, and I think I do, this is not a First Amendment issue at all. You Tube is a speaker, and your point is that although they are not subject to the first amendment, they are an appropriate subject of criticism for their editorial judgment.

This seems like a fair representation of his point. The first amendment is not the only possible grounds for criticism. In most circumstances, the grounds for criticism will be moral issues of fairness/justice, integrity/honor, truthfulness/sincerity/honesty, trustworthiness, fidelity, dependability, benevolence, and nonmalfeasance. The point of professor Volokh and the others who are criticizing YouTube is that their actions seem to be lacking in the area of fairness, justice, and dependability. In their view, there is not a just reason for treating comments about one religion differently than another and also that because of its inconsistency, YT is not meeting its moral duty to be reliable and dependable in its dealings with users.

Why? There is a large fraction of the population that would avoid this type of expression, not out of a priggish victorian interest in propriety, but because now is a particularly sensitive time for Muslim-bashing, and we think it's our social responsibility not to contribute to it.

Just because your code of appropriate behavior isn't Victorian does not mean that your attitude does not otherwise fall into the same category as the 'priggish victorian interest in propriety' at which you so delicately sniff. I suppose it could be termed 'a priggish postmodern interest in propriety' but the phrase 'political correctness' is shorter and already in use.

I don't understand that a "right" to say something include a right to make other say it. Once we accept that constraint, this seems to reduce to the question of whether YouTube exercised good judgment. If you want to invoke the analogy to Christianity, it seems that you've got to be claiming that a speaker uses poor judgment when distinguishing between the two. There is a very credible basis for doing so, it seems.

That does not help here because most of us don't accept that constraint when the line between acceptable content and unacceptable content is either arbitrary or exhibits bias between two similar statements and we consider one or both of those conditions to obtain here. What is this 'credible basis' you see for distinguishing between statements against religion A and religion B? How can you ban only one of two similar statements made in a similar manner without being arbitrary or demonstrating a bias? Would you argue that we couldn't legitimately criticize someone on grounds of arbitrariness or bias simply because the first amendment is not at issue?

My question is this: is there something unique that attaches to YouTube's speaker status that imposes extra obligations on their editorial protocol, beyond what would apply to any private speaker. They are not a news organization.

Does this mean that only entities that have extraordinary obligations may be criticized for acting in ways that we object to? If I allow the Salvation Army to set up a kettle in front of my store but refuse to allow the Nation of Islam to solicit donations, is it improper for anyone to criticize my choice? Sure, we both agree that I have the power and authority to make the decision, but does that mean you can't express an opinion that I made the wrong decision?
2.11.2007 4:33pm
Jay Myers:
Kovarsky:

You are perfectly free to criticize them for not engaging in a particular type of speech because you think that they should, but just realize that's what you are doing.

That clears up my major issue with your initial comment. Please consider my reply to you recinded with apologies.
2.11.2007 4:49pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Jay Myers,

First off, I appreciate the thoughtful response. Others should take a cue from you....

I think we probably agree on a lot more than you think we do. I'm going to cherry pick some stuff in your post, but only because it's long....

The point of professor Volokh and the others who are criticizing YouTube is that their actions seem to be lacking in the area of fairness, justice, and dependability. In their view, there is not a just reason for treating comments about one religion differently than another and also that because of its inconsistency, YT is not meeting its moral duty to be reliable and dependable in its dealings with users.

People seem to have made a fetish of literalizing the Koran, and then critiqing Islam on that basis. As Eugene points out, it's a fairly insipid approach to crticism. As a private speaker, one (I'm avoiding the first person here, because speaking colloquially seems to confuse people) might - I think quite fairly - decide that perpetuating this literalist myth is irresponsible. And this wouldn't be the manifestation of some sort of voguish morality; Christianity is hardly at risk of being misunderstood on the basis of such a literalist reading of its canonical text.

Just because your code of appropriate behavior isn't Victorian does not mean that your attitude does not otherwise fall into the same category as the 'priggish victorian interest in propriety' at which you so delicately sniff. I suppose it could be termed 'a priggish postmodern interest in propriety' but the phrase 'political correctness' is shorter and already in use.

I don't have a code of appropriate behavior. I just think that a private speaker's distinction in this case was not unreasonable. You're free to disagree with me. I might not have made the same decision as YouTube, under the circumstances. I'm guessing it was probably a business decision. As for the label, "political correctness," I try to shy away from empty bromides that don't do anything but get people's blood up. I really can't do anything to assure you that "political correctness" is not where this is coming from, I promise. I could invite you to hang out for a day I guess, but that would be weird.

That does not help here because most of us don't accept that constraint when the line between acceptable content and unacceptable content is either arbitrary or exhibits bias between two similar statements and we consider one or both of those conditions to obtain here.

I've tried to distinguish Islam from Christianity here on the basis that the speech in question contributes to a dominant, literalist mode of understanding Islam. It seems that, right now, understanding what Muslims actually believe is particularly important. If a private speaker decides not to contribute to a collective cultural misunderstanding at a particularly sensitive time, I have no problem with that. If you want to argue that we are at a similar crossroads with respect to christianity, I think we'd just have to agree to disagree.

Sure, we both agree that I have the power and authority to make the decision, but does that mean you can't express an opinion that I made the wrong decision?

I'm sorry if I've been unclear about this, but it's not that I think you "can't" express an opinion on the matter. We both agree that this reduces to a claim about a speaker's judgment. I think the distinction is defensible, and it's not out of political correctness. It seems that some people (not you) want to smuggle a first-amendment-esque requirement of content neutrality into assessment of private speech. I take issue with calling me "illiberal" because I disagree with that standard.
2.11.2007 4:55pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
Kovarsky: "It seems that, right now, understanding what Muslims actually believe is particularly important. If a private speaker decides not to contribute to a collective cultural misunderstanding at a particularly sensitive time, I have no problem with that. If you want to argue that we are at a similar crossroads with respect to christianity, I think we'd just have to agree to disagree."

Then we'll disagree. First, you're failing to understand the point of the literalist critique of Islam, which is that the fanatics we're fighting also take a literalist interpretation, as for example when the Taliban murdered women who ventured out of their houses alone, or the Saudis amputate the hands of thieves, or Palestinian imams quote bloodcurdling anti-jewish verses in their sermons. Of course the majority of muslims don't (we trust) follow such a militant notion of their faith, but they're not the ones at issue. Snobbishness aside, most people do understand the difference.

Second, your private speaker argument is correct, as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far and the more important issue is defending the right of people to criticize Islam, given that the world currently contains many violent self-appointed defenders of the faith. Occam's razor alone suggests that YouTube did what they did out of fear of violence, not because they "[decide] not to contribute to a collective cultural misunderstanding" and to make said point in such a subtle way that we all manage to mistake it for censorship and kowtowing to violent extremists.
2.11.2007 5:14pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Stacy

actually, truth be told, i'm guessing YouTube (google) made a business decision. i guess i just don't understand why they're not supposed to do that and, if they're not supposed to, what it has to do with "free speech" as we generally understand that term's meaning.

but because of your little "marxist power politics" or whatever asinine remark you made above, i'm not really going to try to have a meaningful back and forth with you.
2.11.2007 5:25pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
Kovarsy: "but because of your little "marxist power politics" or whatever asinine remark you made above, i'm not really going to try to have a meaningful back and forth with you."

Ok then, call names. It's a pet theory of mine that the reason it's so hard to make a lot of people see the double standard that applies to criticism of christianity v. other religions (mainly islam, but that's just because there aren't a lot of hindu terrorists) is political correctness, which tracks back strongly to marxism.

I still think you're blinding yourself to the violent intimidation angle, when there's plenty of recent history to suggest that's the frame in which most people on all sides see it, but hey I've got plenty else to do this evening.
2.11.2007 5:30pm
Kovarsky (mail):
is political correctness, which tracks back strongly to marxism.

that sounds like a really rigorous theory.
2.11.2007 5:34pm
Shad:
I can't say I'm surprised that you describe people asking you to provide evidence in support of your exceptional claim as wanting to play a "game"; nor am I surprised that you failed to provide any evidence to support your claim; nor am I surprised that since you've been called out on your inability to do so that you've opted to lash out with ad hominems in all directions.

I expected that from someone who designates himself a "free speech absolutist" while suggesting that certain speech shouldn't be allowed because it might be offensive to certain groups.
2.11.2007 5:45pm
SG:
Kovarsky:

I've read your numerous postings, but I'm still unsure if you're arguing that YouTube has a right to exercise editorial discretion or that they exercised editorial discretion rightly.

If it's the former then you're arguing with no one, as no one has argued to the contrary. If it's the latter, then why is it not an issue that the most dominant outlet for individual expression has defined a single and highly important topic to be beyond the pale? Why shouldn't their bias be worthy of condemnation? Or your's, for that matter?
2.11.2007 5:50pm
Jay:
"actually, truth be told, i'm guessing YouTube (google) made a business decision. i guess i just don't understand why they're not supposed to do that and, if they're not supposed to, what it has to do with "free speech" as we generally understand that term's meaning."

I guess I'm confused as to how it can be a wise business decision to take offensive-to-Muslims content down, at the same time as, in your view, it's justified because the US is filled with irrational anti-Islam lunatics who can't be exposed to what the Koran actually says. In that case, wouldn't the wise business decision be to convert YouTube into 24/7 Islam bashing?
2.11.2007 5:52pm
SG:
Jay:

It's a wise business decision if you fear (rightly or wrongly) your headquarters being blown up or your executives beheaded.

See Comedy Central/South Park.
2.11.2007 5:56pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Shad,

I expected that from someone who designates himself a "free speech absolutist" while suggesting that certain speech shouldn't be allowed because it might be offensive to certain groups.

Just because you say that I make this argument a bunch of times doesn't mean that here, in reality, I actually made it.
2.11.2007 6:04pm
Kovarsky (mail):
SG,

If it's the latter, then why is it not an issue that the most dominant outlet for individual expression has defined a single and highly important topic to be beyond the pale? Why shouldn't their bias be worthy of condemnation? Or your's, for that matter?

I've taken a great deal of time to explain that I don't think it considers the "topic" to be beyond the pale, but has made a judgment call about a particular form in whichthe topic is presented. I have no idea why they actually did it. Maybe it was business, maybe something else.

I hypothesized a distinction involving literalist interpretation of texts and the unique challenge that presents for our cultural understanding of islam, and you might not find that explanation persuasive. i'm sorry you feel differently, but your rhetorically promiscuous use of the word "illiberal" to describe my defense of a private speakers business or personal judgment was inappropriate.

I'm sorry I'm not saying what you seem to think I'm saying, but please stop saying I'm saying it.
2.11.2007 6:11pm
Jay Myers:
Didn't Michelle Malkin complain a while ago that there existed a group of muslims who went around YouTube marking anti-Islamic videos 'inappropriate'? If that is indeed the case then there is no injustice in YT removing a video because of complaints per the terms of use while leaving a similar video about a different religion up because it has not recieved a similar number of complaints. You could argue that a flaw in YT's system is being exploited but not that YT was treating Gisburne unfairly or 'kowtowing to muslims'.

Perhaps our criticism of YouTube was hasty and misguided?
2.11.2007 6:24pm
Stacy (mail) (www):
"Perhaps our criticism of YouTube was hasty and misguided?"

I also remember Michelle Malkin having a couple posts like that, so you may be right. I hadn't thought of that possibility. If true though, the problem was identified some time ago and we can reasonably take them to task for not addressing it.
2.11.2007 6:50pm
Mac (mail):


Kovarsky,

Stacy made excellent points.

What she said is the essence of the problem we face. Pretending that a significant number of Muslims are not fanatical is absurd. Since Islam became a religion, people have been trying to figure out why it's followers are so violent. Look up the history of the Koran that
Ellison swore on that once belonged to Jefferson. I doubt Ellison would have used it had he known. Even if you accept that most Muslims are peaceful, (and I believe and hope and pray they are) you will be hard pressed to hear voices condemning the violence.
What Stacy said about Sharia law as practised in Muslim countries, is true. When so many governments are implementing the violent passages and cutting off the hands of children or stoning women to death etc., it is a little hard to buy that the Koran has been reinterpreted in a modern, peaceful light by a majority of Muslims. We damn well better know our enemy. YouTube probably does and made the "business" decision that they don't want to get bombed.

You never answered Stacy's points and I suspect it is not because of her "asinine remarks" Your words. I suspect you have no answer.
2.11.2007 6:55pm
Kovarsky (mail):
Mac,

I'll just have to live with the fact that in your estimation I have not responded adequately. I don't know how I'll soldier on, but I'll find a way.

I suppose the point that such literalist material probably compromises more knowledge about our allies than it contributes to knowledge of our enemies doesn't mean much to you.
2.11.2007 6:59pm
MnZ (mail):

No, he was forced to decline a seat on the national labor relations board because otherwise mccarthy was going to nail him and ruin his career. Instead he spent the rest of his life teaching the law and economics of employment at Iowa, writing primarily about discrimination against gays in the workplace. So, it was not fear that his "communist" views would be outed that coerced his behavior. He was pretty comfortable with them.


As a Senator, McCarthy might have been in a position to deny your Grandfather the NLRB position.

However, ask yourself this: If your Grandfather was comfortable with his views, why didn't he fight McCarthy out of principle? McCarthy was going to deny him the job either way, so why not go down swinging.

While I cannot speak for your Grandfather, I know that there are several during the McCarthy era who were comfortable with their own views and beliefs. However, they knew that the general populous would not be comfortable with their views and beliefs. Some of these general populous bought into McCarthy's views, while others feared being branded as a communist sympathizer themselves.

How is this so different than the current situation? Some people are censoring criticism of Islam because they think such criticism is wrong. Other people are censoring criticism of Islam out of fear.
2.11.2007 7:11pm
Mac (mail):
Kovarsky,

You again completely avoided the central point.

You said,"I suppose the point that such literalist material probably compromises more knowledge about our allies than it contributes to knowledge of our enemies doesn't mean much to you."

I must apologize as, no, it doesn't mean much to me. Perhaps, I am as dumb as you seem to think I am, as this entire sentence does not mean anything as it is incomprehensible. I have no idea what you are trying to say.
2.11.2007 8:06pm
wooga:

"Perhaps our criticism of YouTube was hasty and misguided?"

I also remember Michelle Malkin having a couple posts like that, so you may be right. I hadn't thought of that possibility. If true though, the problem was identified some time ago and we can reasonably take them to task for not addressing it.

Stacy and Jay,
This is an issue of YouTube manipulating videos, not user manipulation. Users don't get accounts terminated. A prime example of the company manipulation occurred with the Stuck Mojo's "Open Season" video in December, which had all of it's ratings disabled, in order to keep it off of the front pages (the actual # of views/favorites/comments/etc should have had it on the front page or top slot of many categories, but the only way to find the video was by direct link from another website). It's either a corporate policy, or a couple YouTube employees deliberately squashing anti-muslim videos (and this happens for NOTHING else).
2.11.2007 8:55pm
wooga:
"I suppose the point that such literalist material probably compromises more knowledge about our allies than it contributes to knowledge of our enemies doesn't mean much to you."
Actually it reveals even more about your respective knowledge of Christianity and Islam. The Bible is viewed by most Christians and the text itself as "the word of God as written by man." The Koran is viewed by most Muslims and the text itself as "the word of God as dictated to man." The former can give rise to literalist attacks on the text; the latter demands it.

I have a little personal knowledge on this, having gotten my degree in ancient near east religious texts, through travels in Islamic countries, and also by marriage. I actually know less about Christianity.
2.11.2007 9:05pm
SG:
Kovarsky:

I recognize that you've spent a lot of effort trying to explain your position, but I still don't really understand it. As near as I understand it, you're saying that YouTube has the right to exercise editorial control and their use of editorial control is at least arguably justified in this case, although it's uncertain that you would have made the same editorial decision. Is that a fair summary of your position?

I'm at a loss to understand how reading quotes for the Qu'ran is even arguably unjustified, although relying on an atheist's interpretation of Islamic doctrine seems only slightly less advised than relying on a self-professed "marxist-socialist-liberal-gay-sympathizer"'s opinion.

At the risk of bringing some facts to the argument: YouTube's published guidelines state:

When a video gets flagged as inappropriate, we review the video to determine whether it violates our Terms of Use—flagged videos are not automatically taken down by the system. If we remove your video after reviewing it, you can assume that we removed it purposefully.


As far as what's considered inappropiate:

We encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view. But we don't permit hate speech which contains slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or nationality.


It's unclear to me how Qu'ranic quotes qualify as inappropriate under those terms.

The worst thing about this sort of self-censorship is that it reinforces the negative images, strengthens fundamentalists by exaggerating their strength, and demoralizes reformers by depriving them of public support.

Open debate really is the best policy. Those that would shut it down, or support those that would, do no one but the fundamentalist any favors.

Kovarsky, I don't understand your willingness (not to mention your vigor) in justifying this self-censorship. I now recognize that as a "marxist-socialist-liberal-gay-sympathizer", illiberal is perhaps the worst insult I could call you (and I note without comment that your nebulous "business decision" justification invites the "capitalist" slur). Perhaps you could suggest a different adjective to describe your position?
2.11.2007 9:10pm
Kovarsky (mail):
I have no idea what this means:

Actually it reveals even more about your respective knowledge of Christianity and Islam. The Bible is viewed by most Christians and the text itself as "the word of God as written by man." The Koran is viewed by most Muslims and the text itself as "the word of God as dictated to man." The former can give rise to literalist attacks on the text; the latter demands it.

I just don't understand your argument here, maybe I'm being dense.
2.11.2007 9:16pm
Mac (mail):

I just don't understand your argument here, maybe I'm being dense.

Kovarsky,

Ditto.

I don't think we at all understand each other. I feel like I am in a parellel universe. Beats me.
2.11.2007 9:27pm
Kovarsky (mail):
SG,

only slightly less advised than relying on a self-professed "marxist-socialist-liberal-gay-sympathizer"'s opinion.

i shouldn't have to explain that my remark was sarcastic.

Kovarsky, I don't understand your willingness (not to mention your vigor) in justifying this self-censorship. I now recognize that as a "marxist-socialist-liberal-gay-sympathizer", illiberal is perhaps the worst insult I could call you (and I note without comment that your nebulous "business decision" justification invites the "capitalist" slur). Perhaps you could suggest a different adjective to describe your position?

your melodramatically begrudging reference to YouTube's policy doesn't really do anything, other than perhaps to segue into your rather banal string of sanctimony about "self-censorship."

if you're willing to call any business decision or personal preference "self-censorship," then you've robbed "censorship" of whatever pejorative connotation it might have.

it's quite obvious that you have some axe to grind and just decided that i was going to be the person you were going to grind it with. you skipped go and proceeded directly to sandbox name-calling without stopping to read what it is that i've actually said. i'm sorry that you think that there's no conceivable justification that YouTube could have had; i wish you the best of luck in engineering private speech obligations.
2.11.2007 9:35pm
SG:
Kovarsky:

I feel I owe you an apology. Your response to wooga makes be believe we're just talking past one another. While I will freely admit to being sarcastic, I have sincerely tried (and failed) to understand your position. For example, I didn't recognize your "marxist-socialist-liberal-gay-sympathizer" comment as sarcastic. (At most I thought hyperbolic. I know proud and unironic marxist-socialist-liberal-gay sympathizers. It makes for (honestly) fun discussions.)

Just for the record, I'm not trying to engineer private speech obligations(*) but I do think that YouTube is not living up to their published policy ("encourage free speech and defend everyone's right to express unpopular points of view."). You are correct that I am greatly troubled the fact that our mass media (NY Times (Danish cartoons), Viacom (South Park), and now Google. Three data points is enough to define a trend.) have decided that Islam is to be treated with kid gloves, and you're right that I took that out on you. I still don't understand how YouTube's decision doesn't qualify as self-censorship or how to read you as not justifying it, but at this point I believe the written word is betraying us both. You clearly disagree the position I understand you to be be espousing and I'm willing to take you at your word.

----
(*) Given YouTube's (officially denied) reliance on copyrighted material, I think it's a highly unwise business decision to distinguish themselves from a common carrier. Every editiorial decision they make invites further scrutiny of the content they continue to carry. I think their business would be best served by allowing everything and everyone to distribute anything until the copyright holder complains and availing themselves of the DMCA safe-harbor provisions but this is a different discussion.
2.11.2007 10:46pm
wooga:

Actually it reveals even more about your respective knowledge of Christianity and Islam. The Bible is viewed by most Christians and the text itself as "the word of God as written by man." The Koran is viewed by most Muslims and the text itself as "the word of God as dictated to man." The former can give rise to literalist attacks on the text; the latter demands it.

I just don't understand your argument here, maybe I'm being dense.

Because the Bible is the work of humans (e.g. Paul), there is the possibility of scrivener's error and variance from God's true intent. This has always been acknowledged in the Christian tradition.

The Koran, on the other hand, refers to itself as dictation from Allah. There is no possibility for error, as the Koran is the literal word of Allah. This sets the Koran apart from the Bible, and renders it uniquely susceptible to literalist attack.

Of course, this is a distinction without a difference if you assume, like most post-modern folk, that nobody really believes this stuff, it's all just folklore used to rationalize behavior primarily motiviated by worldly political or economic concerns. So Osama doesn't hate America because of Islam, he hates America because of capitalism and Haliburton. But when you recognize that there are people who actually take the Bible/Koran to heart, and honestly believe it and live their life in accordance with their religious text, it becomes imperative to know what is actually contained in the text (rather than what one particular leader interprets it to mean) and even more so when the text is the literal word of god. Just like you can't practice law without quoting the text of the law, you can't debate religion without quoting the religious text.
2.11.2007 10:57pm
Kovarsky (mail):
wooga,

i understand that the bible is understood to be the work of men and the koran to be the work of a diety, but i don't understand how that speaks to whether an American is more or less likely to misattribute a literal reading to moderate Islam.
2.11.2007 11:30pm
Lev:

Because the Bible is the work of humans (e.g. Paul), there is the possibility of scrivener's error and variance from God's true intent.


I understand that.


the Koran is the literal word of Allah. This sets the Koran apart from the Bible,

and renders it uniquely susceptible to literalist attack.




"it" is the Koran? And if so, what do you mean by "literalist attack."
2.11.2007 11:32pm
wooga:
whether an American is more or less likely to misattribute a literal reading to moderate Islam.
Nobody is going around quoting passages from the Koran and attributing to "moderate islam." the quotes are leveled at fundamentalist Islam, because the core of Islam uses a text - not subject to interpretation or wiggle room - which contains violent passages (with the most reprehensible passages coming from later passages, thereby negating any possible peaceful interpretation left open by older passages).

"it" is the Koran? And if so, what do you mean by "literalist attack."
Yes. And "literalist" is apparently the shorthand we are using in this thread to refer to lifting quotes straight from the Koran (translated into English) and putting them on display in a sort of "hey, look at the vile passages which muslims follow" kind of manner. You can try a "literalist" attack on the bible, but a decent resistance on some fronts can be put up noting (1) the later 'nice' passages supercede the old 'mean' ones, (2) dispute whether a particular book should even be canon, (3) perhaps the passage was one of the many added by revising scribes and not the original authors, and (4) say the author got it wrong or used sloppy broad language. None of those 4 defenses work for the Koran.
2.12.2007 1:09am
David Schwartz (mail):

Either Google is a place where people can speak their minds subject to well-understood and fairly-applied rules or it's a place where your posts will be suppressed if Google thinks it will make them a buck. Google tries very hard to claim it's the former while it all too often acts like the latter.
2.12.2007 10:11am
Mac (mail):
Lev and Wooga,

Thank you Lev for posing the question re "literalist". I was quite comfused by the term's usage in this post myself.

Thank you Wooga for your excellent answer. It clears up quite a lot of confusion.
2.12.2007 11:13am
MikeinSC (mail):
You must be forgetting the cartoons, because I seem to remember plenty of "mainstream media" reprinting them.

OK, Kovarsky, I'll bite --- who did?

Not the NY Times. Not the Washington Post. Not NBC. CBS. ABC. CNN. MSNBC. CNBC. One of the most consistent criticisms of the MSM was that they lacked the guts to show what the riots were about.

People seem to have made a fetish of literalizing the Koran, and then critiqing Islam on that basis.

Muslims themselves say that the Koran is the LITERAL word of God. Christians say the Bible is the INSPIRED word of God. There is a world of difference.

And why will YouTube permit jihadi videos --- but not Anti-jihadi videos?
-=Mike
2.12.2007 1:04pm
pdxnag (mail) (www):
What about the First Amendment implications of a public ownership interest in Google? A beneficiary of a trust could surely protest to a trustee of a public employee trust fund to divest itself of an interest in any corporate entity. But can a taxpayer that is compelled by way of the taxing power of the state to cover trust losses for the benefit of a class that they are not a member of to do more than merely protest? I am thinking that a taxpayer could seek an order that the trust divest itself of their ownership interest as a means of making the notion that Google is private something that is a true, rather than only partially true. "State Action" is a rather broad concept -- one that cannot be laundered merely by way of a shell game of straw man owners between the public owner and the "private" entity.

Google itself was the subject of a trial court level case in CA where the plaintiff asserted rights under public records law to learn the scope and details of a university trust interest. The pre-IPO venture capitalist is the same for both Google and YouTube, which is more curious given the handsome payout for the folks that recently sold YouTube to Google. It might explain too, the private venture capitalist's desire in CA to limit the public records law to exempt private investments where the asserted public interest is in the profitability that is derived from secrecy. Private venture capitalists were refusing to accept investments from public employee investments, except where their terms were met, like secrecy.

Given the rise of "social investing" at an institutional and routine level I would not take the argument that Google is private without letting out a loud yelp.

Oregon's State Treasurer characterized his public statements during the heat of the Safeway ( and other grocery workers) strike as about "shareholder value" even though in the same breath he was suggesting that the employer cede to the demands of labor on the issue (the highly political issue) of covering medical costs.

My protest letter in front of my local Safeway, protesting the role that the state treasurer was playing (quite apart from the legislative attitude toward the medical cost payment issue) was that his option was limited to divestment.

The YouTube case here offers a much more fertile field than with the Safeway case, to insist on divestment by public employee retirement trusts. There are other hosts of community created video content. Surely one of them would be willing to adopt a policy of content neutrality consistent with government regulation of speech, particularly if the public employee trust funds found themselves unable to invest in that market segment in the absence of such a policy.
2.12.2007 1:19pm
Jay Myers:
wooga:

This is an issue of YouTube manipulating videos, not user manipulation. Users don't get accounts terminated.

Videos are removed if a certain threshold of complaints are made that it is inappropriate for some reason. Accounts are deleted if a certain number of videos posted from that account have had to be removed. That's what Gisburne was referring as YT's "three strikes" policy.

A prime example of the company manipulation occurred with the Stuck Mojo's "Open Season" video in December, which had all of it's ratings disabled, in order to keep it off of the front pages (the actual # of views/favorites/comments/etc should have had it on the front page or top slot of many categories, but the only way to find the video was by direct link from another website). It's either a corporate policy, or a couple YouTube employees deliberately squashing anti-muslim videos (and this happens for NOTHING else).

So you find it more likely that YT is paying people to find videos that can only be found by direct links and delete them if they have anti-Islamic content than that some muslims may have stumbled across the link on a website and passed it along to other muslims so that they could act in concert against it? The latter scenario would be reminiscent of someone posting a link to a CNN poll about Bush and Iraq to a university e-mail list a while back. The person was sending the link around for the express purpose of having people vote a certain way and, since the poll was nine months old, I assume that it wasn't something he had just recently stumbled upon but that he was the latest link in a chain of people trying to get people to vote a certain way on the poll in order to 'win'. Given that anti-war, anti-Bush people will do that, why wouldn't muslims do the same?
2.12.2007 3:00pm
The Gods (mail) (www):
Allah has replied to this controversy on the Blog of the Gods, pointing out that if He hadn't made His religion so militant, it might never have spread so quickly. He's angry at YouTube for removing a video He believes may scare some more people into believing in him. He promises an awful lot of burning if they don't.
2.12.2007 3:39pm
xxx:
YouTube and Google censor criticism of Islam. This is clear. Just like the most of the MSM.
2.12.2007 4:22pm
wooga:
Jay, my reference to "direct link" was to that's how you could find the Stuck Mojo video after YT had killed all honors and removed it from the search results. The video had 20,000 views in one day, jumped to #1 on the music videos and so was visible on front pages, and then promptly disappeared an hour later from all rankings.

I don't think YT pays someone specifically to rig their system. However, I think that some individual employee at YT is abusing his position and suppressing videos which offend him.

Thanks for your input on the 'three strikes' rule. I thought YT had stopped that - their policy says that videos are only removed once a YT employee has reviewed the video (so user flags could only serve to send a video to the YT censor more quickly). I guess the 'automation' must have come back as part of the google transfer.
2.12.2007 6:13pm