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The New Anti-Blasphemy Rules, Again:

Last month, a Tufts student newspaper (The Primary Source) published the following ad (thanks to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for the pointer):

ISLAM

ARABIC TRANSLATION: SUBMISSION

In the spirit of Islamic Awareness week, the Source presents an itinerary to supplement the educational experience.

"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." — The Koran, Sura 8:12

MONDAYAuthor Salam Rushdie needed to go into hiding after Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini declared a fatwa calling for his death for writing The Satanic Verses, which was declared "blasphemous against Islam."
Slavery was an integral part of Islamic culture. Since the 7th century, 14 million African slaves were sold to Muslims compared to 10 or 11 million sold to the entire Western Hemisphere. As recently as 1878, 25,000 slaves were sold annually in Mecca and Medina. (National Review 2002).

TUESDAYThe seven nations in the world that punish homosexuality with death all have fundamentalist Muslim governments.
In Saudi Arabia, women make up 5% of the workforce, the smallest percentage of any nation worldwide. They are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle or go outside without proper covering of their body. (Country Reports on Human Rights pracitces 2001)

WEDNESDAYMost historians agree that Muhammed's second wife Aisha was 9 years old when their marriage was consummated.
"Not equal are those believers who sit and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit. Unto all Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit by a special reward." — The Koran, Sura 4:95

THURSDAYThe Islamist guerillas in Iraq are not only killing American soldiers fighting for freedom. They are also responsible for the vast majority of civi[l]ian casualties.
Ibn Al-Ghazzali, the famous Islamic theologian, said, "The most satisfying and final word on the matter is that marriage is a form of slavery. The woman is man's slave and her duty therefore is absolute obedience to the husband in all that he asks of her person."

FRIDAYMohamed Hadfi, 31, tore out his 23-year-old wife Samira Bari's eyes in their apartment in the southern French city of Nimes in July 2003 following a heated argument about her refusal to have sex with him. (Herald Sun)

If you are a peaceful Muslim who can explain or justify this astonishingly intolerant
and inhuman behavior, we'd really like to hear from you! Please send all letters to
tuftsprimarysource@gmail.com.
The preceding December, the student newspaper also published a satirical Christmas carol — in its Christmas carol parody issue — cricitizing affirmative action by criticizing Tufts' black admitted students; in my view, that carol was offensive because unduly harsh and hyperbolic, but it was clearly an attempt to condemn affirmative action in admissions.

Yet according to the a decision by the Tufts University Committee on Student Life both these items violate Tufts policies and are thus forbidden at Tufts. Tufts policies prohibit, among other things, "[h]arassment or discrimination against individuals on the basis of race, religion, gender identity/expression, ethnic or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or genetics", including (emphasis added) "attitudes or opinions that are expressed verbally or in writing." Here's what the University Committee — a majority of which apparently consists of faculty members — had to say about the anti-Islam item (in the interests of saving space, I omit the similar findings about the anti-affirmative-action carol) (emphasis added):

[W]e find that the MSA proved, by a preponderance of the evidence, that The Primary Source harassed Muslim students at Tufts, and created a hostile environment for them by publishing "Islam-Arabic Translation: Submission." The Committee found that the MSA established that the commentary at issue targeted members of the Tufts Muslim community for harassment and embarrassment, and that Muslim students felt psychologically intimidated by the piece....

[A]lthough Tufts students should feel free to engage in speech that others might find offensive and even hurtful, Tufts University's non-discrimination policy embodies important community standards of behavior that Tufts, as a private institution, has an obligation to uphold. Our campus should be a place where students feel safe, respected, and valued. Freedom of speech should not be an unfettered license to violate the rights of other members of the community, without recourse.

We find that the above-mentioned carol and commentary, rather than promoting political or social discourse, as claimed by the members of The Primary Source, instead were designed to harass and intimidate members of the Tufts community because of their race (black) and religion (Islam)....

[T]he Committee has attempted to strike a balance between protecting the rights of students to exist on campus without being subjected to unreasonable attacks based on their race or religion and protecting the rights of students to publish controversial writings....

From now on, all material published in The Primary Source (whether characterized as satirical or otherwise) must be attributed to named author(s) or contributor(s).

We ask that student governance consider the behavior of student groups in future decisions concerning recognition and funding....

The Committee believes that it is important for Tufts University to foster an intellectual climate in which students feel free to express their thoughts, however controversial. Nevertheless, based on the evidence and arguments presented at the hearing on April 30, 2007, the Committee on Student Life holds that The Primary Source violated Tufts University's non-discrimination policy in publishing the carol "O Come All Ye Black Folk" and the commentary "Islam-Arabic Translation: Submission."

Lovely: Harsh criticism of Islam doesn't — in the Committee's view — "promot[e] political or social discourse." Rather, it is an "unreasonable attack[]" (and it's up to the Committee to decide which attacks on religions are reasonable and which aren't).

What's more, this "unreasonable" speech violates the "rights of other members of the community." What are those rights? Apparently the right "to exist on campus without being subjected to unreasonable attacks based on their race or religion" (including attacks on the religion generally, even those that don't give any student names in particular). And apparently the right to be free of "attitudes or opinions that are expressed verbally or in writing" that "create[] a hostile environment" for students "on the basis of race, religion, gender identity/expression, ethnic or national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, or genetics."

In this case, the punishment for the speech is a ban on one newspaper's ability to publish anonymous speech — while other newspapers that express favored views remain free to shield their contributors from social ostracism and other retaliation through anonymity. It requests "that student governance consider the behavior of student groups," which is to say the viewpoints those groups express, "in future decisions concerning recognition and funding."

But more importantly, the ruling finds that the speech violated general campus rules that make such speech "unacceptable at Tufts" and require "prompt and decisive action." Though it looks like no individual students are being disciplined in this instance, if the Tufts Administration accepts the ruling, it will send a clear message that students who express "attitudes or opinions" like this will be seen as violating campus anti-harassment rules, and will be subjected to "prompt and decisive action," which campus rules say may involve "the disciplinary process," against individual students as well as against organizations. After this decision, what should Tufts students feel free to say in criticizing religions, or in criticizing affirmative action?

Welcome to the new freedom of speech at the new university. No, the Committee's actions don't violate the First Amendment, since Tufts is a private university. But they violate basic principles of academic freedom and public debate on university campuses, especially when the top university administrators claim to "fully recognize freedom of speech on campus." Appalling.

Imbiber:
Does anyone have any idea why "[h]arassment or discrimination against individuals on the basis of . . . genetics" was added to the Tufts policy? And what the hell does that even mean?
5.11.2007 3:46pm
Chicago:
Imbiber: Who knows, except that it's a real problem for biological determinists.
5.11.2007 4:08pm
dwlawson (www):

Does anyone have any idea why "[h]arassment or discrimination against individuals on the basis of . . . genetics" was added to the Tufts policy? And what the hell does that even mean?


Be nice to the clones. Many of them are made to feel like second class citizens, organ farms, etc.
5.11.2007 4:12pm
bigchris1313 (mail):
The Christmas Carol is pretty bad. I think these are the highlights:

"O Sing Gospel Choirs // We will accept your children // No matter what your grades are, F's, D's, or G's [sic]"

"All Come! Blacks we need you // Born into the ghetto // O Jesus! We need you now to fill our racial quotas // Descendants of Africa with brown skin arriving"

I certainly wouldn't advocate punishment or censorship of the group for the stunt, but those lyrics are pretty appalling, particularly the part about their low marks implying stupidity or a lack of work ethic. Then the preposterous allegation that all blacks are born in the ghetto. There are plenty of ways to demonstrate the absurdity of affirmative action. At my undergraduate institution, the conservative newspaper obtained admissions data and showed the rates of admission for different ethnic groups: they raised quite a stir using actual data. I can understand how a parody should be protected and perhaps used as part of a multi-pronged approach to opposing using race as an admission criterion, but the song is certainly in very poor taste.

The Islamic "raising awareness" posters also appear quite inflammatory. But the worst part by a long shot is the jab at the end:

"If you are a peaceful Muslim who can explain or justify this astonishingly intolerant and inhuman behavior, we'd really like to hear from you!"

I think that's just disgusting. There's just no academic honesty there. Do other Muslims really need to explain why, for instance, a man ripped out his wife's eyes because she wasn't in the mood, and in France, no less? Let's just discount the vast cultural differences between an American student who happens to be Muslim and a French maniac who happens to be a Muslim, and then ask the American to explain the actions of a Frenchman he's never met and probably knows almost nothing about. The implications that all Muslims must answer for one another and the "If not every Muslim is a terrorist, why don't the peaceful ones speak out?" argument are disgusting. Pure intellectual dishonesty.

But that's not what these guys are going for. They're trying to mobilize like-minded people to join their cause. A reasonable student should see that, as should the university. While this is in poor taste like the affirmative action carol, I would rather see facts, even if devoid of context and replete with bizarre implications, than what simply appears to be a song to infuriate black people. The song says that the entering class has 52 black freshman. That's it. In retrospect, perhaps the Islamic poster is just as foul as the song, though for different reasons. That being said, I also don't think the university should be censoring the Islamic awareness poster either. Intellectually dishonest it may be, but students should be able to critically evaluate such material.

I do not understand these universities that censor so much material. When students leave these bubbles of academia, they're going to be at a disadvantage when it comes to critically evaluating inflammatory arguments because they've never seen one.*

*except for arguments directed towards the Bush Administration
5.11.2007 4:13pm
Mark Field (mail):
Does anybody know why the post and comments are centered instead of left justified?

Turning to the main topic....

This and similar episodes lead me to believe that we need to re-think protections on free speech which apply only against governments. Any employer in the US could, of course, limit speech in the workplace on the same basis as Tufts or on other grounds. I'm not sure whether that would receive approval here; the ratio of those who defend property rights v. free speech is not obvious. Nevertheless, the basic point is clear: private businesses, including internet sites, can infringe on liberty. What's the remedy?
5.11.2007 4:16pm
bigchris1313 (mail):
And we've got to stop inventing rights. The Right Not to Be Offended, although held quite dearly at academic institutions throughout the country, magically disappears once you leave campus.
5.11.2007 4:16pm
AppSocRes (mail):
The best defense against this kind of administrative misbehavior is to shun Tufts and get the word out so that others who feel the same way will do likewise. There's nothing like a drop in the number of applications and the amount of donations to make these Stalin wannabees see the light.
5.11.2007 4:31pm
Gary McGath (www):
I'm sure that Tufts intends to apply this ruling even-handedly [sarcasm], so I'm waiting for the university to start filing harassment charges against students and faculty who tell fundie jokes.

Seriously, I am disgusted with Tufts.
5.11.2007 5:02pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Welcome to the new freedom of speech at the new university."

Perhaps you can suggest a time in the past when this kind of material would have been considered appropriate for a college newspaper? I edited my college newspaper for a year in the mid-70's, and I would have been severely reprimanded for publishing either of these "satires." I think they're mean-spirited and inflammatory. I fail to see the "educational" value of promulgating half-truths and slanders.
5.11.2007 5:08pm
Jim Rhoads (mail):
I am not sure quoting the Quran along with actual news stories that have at least a semblance of relationship to the quotes can be fairly characterized as "half-truths and slanders".
5.11.2007 5:21pm
Steve:
This is flat-out bigotry. Demanding that Muslims ought to explain the actions of some Muslim who tore out his wife's eyes? Disgusting. Imagine if some feminist group tried to blame all men for the actions of this man and other men who mutilate or kill their wives.

The students who run this newspaper need to grow up and get a life. Yes, they have the "right" to publish what they like, but the university also has the "right" to do what it did. I glad someone saw fit to express their disapproval of this bigotry.
5.11.2007 5:22pm
another anonVCfan:
Imagine if some feminist group tried to blame all men for the actions of this man and other men who mutilate or kill their wives.
snark?
5.11.2007 5:33pm
NickM (mail) (www):
I wonder if it is improper at Tufts to announce "I only date people with XX chromosomes." That's pure genetic discrimination.

Nick
5.11.2007 5:33pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"I am not sure quoting the Quran along with actual news stories that have at least a semblance of relationship to the quotes can be fairly characterized as 'half-truths and slanders'."

Since most Saudi women don't work and cannot drive cars or expose themselves, can we also assume they are married at the age of nine?
5.11.2007 5:43pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Mark, as I'm sure you know, California has the Leonard Law, which applies free speech protections to private universities.

The remedy is (a) choice, and (b) contract. Choose not to patronize businesses or attend universities that don't respect free speech. And ensure that they do by contracting for it.
5.11.2007 5:49pm
Dan Hamilton:

Since most Saudi women don't work and cannot drive cars or expose themselves, can we also assume they are married at the age of nine?


Maybe not but you would be supprised at how young the average bride is. In 80 when I was in Saudi talking with several of the married men (age 30 or so) said that their wives were in High School. They marry them YOUNG.

Husband and sons in the front of the pickup, wives and daughters in the open bed.

I realy doubt that it has changed much in 20 years.
5.11.2007 6:03pm
ed o:
yep, that christmas carol which hits the nail on the head in terms of university aff act. policies is sure appalling. Universities prefer to do such things under a cloak of darkness.
5.11.2007 6:09pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"...said that their wives were in High School."

High school?! That's not nine years old. I just moved to Southern Oregon. Do you know how many people I've met who got married and had kids in their mid- to late teens? Seems to me the juxtaposition implies that Saudi men not only repress their women but are pedophiles to boot. What other conclusion am I supposed to draw?
5.11.2007 6:13pm
Steve:
snark?

Not at all. Where you come from, do feminist groups typically run man-hating ads in this vein in the college newspaper and attract no adverse attention for it? Please, tell us more. Perhaps it's standard discourse on college campuses for black student groups to publish ads demanding that white people justify Timothy McVeigh's actions, and I just missed it.

My point in offering a comparison is that I wouldn't want people's evaluation of this advertisement to be colored by a personal belief that Muslims are, in fact, a barbaric people. Thus I offered up an analogy in hopes those folks would be able to see it a little more objectively.
5.11.2007 6:19pm
WHOI Jacket:

Imagine if some feminist group tried to blame all men for the actions of this man and other men who mutilate or kill their wives.


Look up the responses to the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre in Montreal.
5.11.2007 6:22pm
xy:
American Universities are a joke. Just grossly overpriced left wing propaganda factories.
5.11.2007 6:25pm
SG:
While I agree that holding Muslims generally responsible for the French eye plucking incident is rather tenditious, I don't think that Salman Rushdie's fatwas or death penalty for homosexuality in Islamic countries is. Those are examples of sanctioned Islamic practices. It's certainly no more tenditious than asking a Roman Catholic about abortion. Didn't John Kerry get asked about that in the 2004 presidential debates? Was that also "flat-out bigotry"? Why isn't legitmate to ask someone who self-identifies with a belief system about the practical effects of that belief system being broadly put into practice?

Since I assume most American Muslims don't hold those sort of beliefs, I'd like to see more Muslims articulating why those sorts of things are not inherently a part of Islam, or ideally, why they should be considered un-Islamic. Perhaps that sort of open discussion could help sway other Muslims to modify their religion. Or if those practices are inherently Islamic, well, that would be good to know too.
5.11.2007 6:35pm
ed o:
why would one assume that american muslims don't hold such beliefs-that would take quite a leap of faith, one I would not be willing to make given the regular pronouncements of members of that religion. Having read the numbers regarding who funds the mosques in this country and the philosophy behind them, I don't quite have that confidence. Listening to the silence from the community, I don't see how one could conclude otherwise.
5.11.2007 6:39pm
Jared g (mail):
I'd be curious to know if the Source followed through on their challenge to a "peaceful Muslim who can explain or justify this astonishingly intolerant and inhuman behavior", and whether or not other students did attempt an answer.

For one, I don't think a "peaceful Muslim" is in any position to explain (let alone justify) the actions of a radical. Certainly to denounce such acts, but demanding justification implies that all Muslims must agree with these actions in the first place.

If the paper stuck to the literal word of the challenge, then they've set up a condition for automatic failure any response from a "peaceful Muslim" that doesn't try to find justification for atrocity (as opposed to a Muslim writing to demonstrate how these actions are against Islam and citing whatever theological source they can think of - whatever that'd be).

If that's the case, then it seems that the paper's actions weren't in the interest of dialog, but specifically to harass and offend, and that Tuft's was consistent, in this case, with their rules.
5.11.2007 6:52pm
Viscus (mail) (www):
Is Bob Jones University obligated to allow anti-Christian speech (which is judged to be anti-Christian by its own administrators) to be published? I do not think so.

Volokh's asserts that these rules "violate basic principles of academic freedom and public debate on university campuses." I disagree. I think that there is no one single principle to which all academic institutions must conform.

Maybe some private universities want to punish any students who make fun of fat people. I think that such a university would create a unique environment for the obese, and thus would satisfy a certain niche. It would be unfortunate if all universities adopted such rules. But there is no harm here if a few do. Just as there is really no harm in Bob Jones University censoring "anti-Christian" speech if it so desires. If you want to engage in speech that Bob Jones forbids, go elsewhere.

In effect, if a fat student signed a contract with such a university, in a sense, they would have a contractual right (really justified expectation rather than an actual full blown right) to not be subject to ridicule.

Shockingly, I actually agree with Nieporent on this one. Let the market decide, at least for private universities. If you don't like Tufts policies, don't attend their as a student.

Of course, their should be some limit to markets. For example, universities should not be able to promote racism that leads to the exclusion of minorities.
5.11.2007 6:53pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
If Bob Jones threatened to discipline students for anti-Christian speech, wouldn't we condemn it for denying academic freedom? Wouldn't we rightly think that it's not serious about critical thinking and inquiry? I think we would, and that's what we should think of Tufts as well, if this decision is allowed to stand. I'm fine with letting the market decide. But we are the market, and our speech is an input to the market. I think the market should ascribe very low value to such institutions.

So if your point is simply that Tufts is doing what we might expect a Bob Jones University to do -- I don't know whether Bob Jones does it or not, but you used it as a hypothetical so let's imagine the Bob Jones of that hypothetical -- then that strikes me as a mighty damning thing to say about Tufts. And the market ought to hear about it.

I should also stress that it would be a shocking First Amendment violation if universities were banned from teaching racism, or any other ideology, regardless of whether that leads to exclusion of minorities.
5.11.2007 7:04pm
AF:
After this decision, what should Tufts students feel free to say in . . . in criticizing affirmative action?

How about this: anything Rush Limbaugh wouldn't get fired for saying. If he was caught singing that "Come all ye Black folk" song in the shower he'd never work in radio again. Nevertheless he manages to speak his mind.

I'm not saying that Tufts should have brought disciplinary action, but to suggest that banning blatant racism is tantamount to suppressing rational debate is absurd.
5.11.2007 7:06pm
SG:
ed o:

"why would one assume that american muslims don't hold such beliefs"

Well, because the injustices and atrocities that happen regularly amongst Muslims elsewhere just don't happen that often here. Isn't Rushdie teaching a literature course at Emory? He doesn't feel he has to hide for his life in America. And just anecdotally, the (admittedly few) observant Muslims I have known haven't been "astonishingly intolerant and inhuman".

Note that I don't say that there are no American Muslims that hold these beliefs and also that I've limited myself to American Muslims. I do think that the mainstream of Islam globally is in fact "astonishingly intolerant and inhuman", and it does no one any good to pretend that it isn't. But to the extent that non-Muslims have influence over it, it will be by encouraging the more tolerant forms. If we write off every Muslim, where does that get us?
5.11.2007 7:25pm
Mark Field (mail):

Mark, as I'm sure you know, California has the Leonard Law, which applies free speech protections to private universities.


I don't know what the law is in MA, so I'm assuming private institutions have the legal right to control speech on their premises.


The remedy is (a) choice, and (b) contract. Choose not to patronize businesses or attend universities that don't respect free speech. And ensure that they do by contracting for it.


I guess that puts you, Viscus, and Prof. Volokh on the same side. I wonder if, perhaps, the same rule ought to apply to private employers and speech as to private employers and religion, namely, an obligation to make reasonable accomodation. Since the practical burden of allowing speech is frequently minimal, this might, in practice, considerably expand the arena available for free speech.

I should note that I'm thinking out loud here and probably have missed some obvious reason this won't work.
5.11.2007 8:00pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Mark:

1) I believe, but am not certain, that California is the only state with the equivalent of the Leonard Law.

2) Well, not on the same side as Viscus, no; the fact that a university may have the legal right to punish free speech does not mean I think they should be above criticism for doing so. Personally, I like FIRE's approach: if a university states up front that they don't respect free speech, then I don't criticize them for not respecting it. If they claim to do so, though, then they deserve harsh criticism for censorship.
5.11.2007 8:22pm
Mark Field (mail):

Well, not on the same side as Viscus, no; the fact that a university may have the legal right to punish free speech does not mean I think they should be above criticism for doing so. Personally, I like FIRE's approach: if a university states up front that they don't respect free speech, then I don't criticize them for not respecting it. If they claim to do so, though, then they deserve harsh criticism for censorship.


Perhaps I'm unduly influenced by living in CA, but I'm inclined to favor expansion of speech rights even against restriction by private entities. Certainly by universities. If that is not to be the law, then of course I agree with you on the need for criticism.
5.11.2007 8:36pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"If Bob Jones threatened to discipline students for anti-Christian speech, wouldn't we condemn it for denying academic freedom?"

I wouldn't. I think there's a difference between "anti-" and "critical." I've always assumed that "anti-Muslim" or "anti-Jewish" speech was just that--opposing or speaking against those groups or religions. But what you quote above is worse--it's a taunt. "Go ahead, defend your pedophile prophet."

And, to pose my question again, Eugene, can you remind me of a time when something like this was appropriate to publish in a college newspaper?

"Listening to the silence from the community, I don't see how one could conclude otherwise."

The Muslim community, especially here in America, is not silent on these issues. The internet is filled with Muslim-American commentary on violence, terrorism, intolerance, etc.
5.11.2007 8:42pm
Mac (mail):
There was an instance, fairly recently, at a University in Oregon in which the student paper published quite awful things about Jesus Christ and Christians. I don't remember the exact date or school. Maybe someone can help here? I do recall that the administration said it was just fine.

Also, a case I have lost track of, at the University of Arizona (I think. It was at a public University in Phoenix.) in which a resident hall proctor (again, I apologize for not remembering his exact position) was fired when he refused to participate in "diversity training". It seemed to consist of different groups based on gender and race, one at a time, sitting in a circle with the others teling them everything that was wrong with them and how they had been offended. The problem, among other things, was the white males only got to sit in the middle and never got to question any other group or speak to them. The person in question refused. He was a recent Iraq Vet as I recall and just refused. He was fired. The last I heard, he was going to sue the school. Does anyone know what has happened in this case?
Both of these cases seem most discriminatory to me and both got university approval.
5.11.2007 10:07pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
AF: Well, given that Tufts is punishing not just the anti-affirmative-action satire but also harsh criticism of Islam, it seems to me that they've gone far beyond "banning blatant racism." If you were advising a Tufts student who wanted to speak out but was warried about discipline, what sorts of criticisms of Islam would you confidently assure him that he can speak with impunity? What sorts of criticisms of affirmative action, and of the credentials of affirmative action admittees, would you confidently say he can make without worrying about the risk of discipline?
5.11.2007 10:12pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
All religions are not the same. Some are really political movements or cults. For example does anyone seriously consider The Church of Scientology to be a religion except for the IRS?
5.11.2007 10:25pm
Steve:
By Prof. Volokh's standard, Mel Gibson was simply engaging in a harsh criticism of Judaism. There's a pretty clear difference between "criticism" and a bigoted screed, and I have no problem barring the latter from a student newspaper.
5.11.2007 10:39pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
The relevance of the age of Aisha when Mohammed had sex with her is not that any great number of modern Muslims have sex with nine year old girls but that, since it is MAINSTREAM Muslim doctrine that whatever is not prohibited is permitted and that Mohammed is the perfect model, whose every action is worthy of emulation, an orthodox Muslim cannot condemn Mohammed's pedophilia as a personal aberration or a behavior considered acceptable in a less enlightened time, but must consider it acceptable here and now. It is therefore a legitimate criticism of Muslim doctrine to stay that it licenses sex with nine-year old girls, even if in practice this is rare.
5.12.2007 12:12am
wuzzagrunt (mail):
The Muslim community, especially here in America, is not silent on these issues. The internet is filled with Muslim-American commentary on violence, terrorism, intolerance, etc.


And their statements generally run the gamut from equivocation to full throated support.
5.12.2007 12:43am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"And their statements generally run the gamut from equivocation to full throated support."

Cute comment, but not true.
5.12.2007 1:42am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Grover Gardner<


"And their statements generally run the gamut from equivocation to full throated support."

Cute comment, but not true.


Actually, it is true. At this moment, Pakistan is about to enact the death penalty for apostasy for Islam. Afghanistan, as you should know, already has it, as do some other Muslim countries. Malaysia does not impose the death penalty but makes it virtually impossible to leave Islam. Please cite the fatwas from American Muslims authorities decrying this intolerant, un-Islamic behavior. Where are the fatwas retracting the verses in the Qur'an, frequently quoted in sermons, that call non-Muslims pigs and monkeys? Where are the condemnations of the murder of van Gogh and of the death threats against Hirsi Ali? Where is the Muslim outcry against the laws of many countries requiring the President or Prime Minister to be a Muslim? Where are the Muslim demands for freedom of religion in Saudi Arabia? Where is the Muslim campaign against "honor killing"? From time to time we hear a condemnation of a specific violent act. More often we hear vague claims that Islam is tolerant and peaceful, but no real condemnation of intolerance and violence.
5.12.2007 1:57am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"It is therefore a legitimate criticism of Muslim doctrine to stay that it licenses sex with nine-year old girls, even if in practice this is rare."

Thank you for offering the sort of context that is conspicuously absent from the Primary Source article.
5.12.2007 2:50am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Where are the condemnations of the murder of van Gogh and of the death threats against Hirsi Ali?" etc. etc.

http://tinyurl.com/22u76d

http://tinyurl.com/yuk4u7

http://tinyurl.com/yr55mx

http://tinyurl.com/26hlwe

http://tinyurl.com/2cnu4l

http://tinyurl.com/2avzcj

http://tinyurl.com/2ym64p

That's for starters. I can't stay up all night looking for something you can investigate yourself if you're really inclined to do so.
5.12.2007 3:31am
Brian K (mail):

It is therefore a legitimate criticism of Muslim doctrine to stay that it licenses sex with nine-year old girls, even if in practice this is rare.


Really? So religions can't change at all? Does that mean I can legitimately say that every christian believes in slavery? It's in the bible: Genesis 9:25-27: Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem

Can I also say that all catholics support and encourage molesting boys? The clergy leaders have tried to protect the molesters and your average catholic has not been nearly vocal enough in denouncing the priests.

Are you going to defend my speech rights too or are you just going to denounce me?
5.12.2007 3:37am
Grover Gardner (mail):
And a couple more, Bill:

http://www.masnet.org/pressroom_release.asp?id=3264

http://www.mpac.org/article.php?id=122
5.12.2007 3:58am
Grover Gardner (mail):
My point, Bill, is not to defend Islam against the many objections one could make against it. Rather, I question how the Primary Source article promotes "learning" or "critical thinking," or whether that was even the aim of its authors. It strikes me as deliberately provocative, in the most negative sense. If you wish to defend the publication of the article in an environment where education is the primary goal and the members of the community must live together in harmony during the course of their studies, have at it. I think it's inexcusable. I think the university has every right to condemn such a thing as counterproductive to the goals of the institution.
5.12.2007 4:05am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Brian K,

Please read my post again. Some religions can and have changed. A major problem with Islam is that its tenets preclude change. If what is not prohibited is permitted and if every action of Mohammed is worthy of emulation, the kinds of changes that have taken place in other religions are in fact precluded. Of course, one could reject these two precepts, but that would be very radical. This is why Islamic reformers are so few and have such difficulty. In order to make significant change, you've got to reject such fundamental aspects of Islam that it isn't much further to rejecting Islam entirely. That is why there are more Hirsi Ali's than Irshad Manjis. And the Irshad Manjis have a hard time arguing with the traditionalists because it is in fact the traditionalists who have the texts and the tradition on their side. So, yes, religions in principle can change, but it is very hard for Islam to change.

As for Catholics, actually at least in the US and Canada lay Catholics have been fairly vocal in denouncing molestation of boys by priests. This is a problem for which the Church as an institution can be faulted, but Catholics are on solid ground in maintaining that the molestation is contrary to the doctrines of the church. Note, further, that the priests who have engaged in child molestation have not claimed that their behavior is justified by Catholic doctrine.

You seem to think that I consider all Muslims responsible for the acts of individuals. I do not, and nothing that I have said justifies this. What Muslims are responsible for, other than their own actions, are the doctrines to which they adhere.

Grover Gardner,

I have no doubt that you can produce some condemnations of violence and intolerance by some Muslims. I am aware of Muslims who hold such views, and have Muslim friends who do. The problem is that all the evidence is that these are not mainstream views. These are not the positions of authoritative institutions, such as Al-Azhar University in Cairo or the Umm-al-Qura in Mecca. Furthermore, one can see what Islam means in practice by looking at the behavior of Muslims when they are in control. I do not see how it is possible to maintain that Muslims believe in freedom of religion when not only the Qur'an and the Hadith say otherwise but the ACTIONS of Muslims in power say otherwise. The prohibition of any religion other than Islam in Saudi Arabia is surely not a policy imposed against the will of the people. The death penalty for apostasy in Pakistan is a popular policy to which General Musharaff is probably personally opposed.

So, yes, there are a few Muslims who actually oppose some or all of the offensive aspects of Islam. There are others who, being basically decent people, do not openly engage in opposition but do not really support such things, but because they are aware that these are in fact the doctrines of their religion, when push comes to shove go along.
5.12.2007 4:58am
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Just to be clear, I am not defending Catholicism, or Christianity, as opposed to Islam. I am an atheist and rationalist with a low opinion of religion in general. In general I agree with people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Islam has some particularly nasty characteristics, and for contingent historical reasons is probably the greatest problem at the moment, but that is not to say that it is the only problem. Irrationality and bigotry are the underlying problem, Islam just one manifestation.
5.12.2007 5:04am
Brian K (mail):

Some religions can and have changed. A major problem with Islam is that its tenets preclude change. If what is not prohibited is permitted and if every action of Mohammed is worthy of emulation, the kinds of changes that have taken place in other religions are in fact precluded. Of course, one could reject these two precepts, but that would be very radical. This is why Islamic reformers are so few and have such difficulty. In order to make significant change, you've got to reject such fundamental aspects of Islam that it isn't much further to rejecting Islam entirely. That is why there are more Hirsi Ali's than Irshad Manjis. And the Irshad Manjis have a hard time arguing with the traditionalists because it is in fact the traditionalists who have the texts and the tradition on their side. So, yes, religions in principle can change, but it is very hard for Islam to change.

This is no different than any other religion. Like Islam, christianity makes explicit things that you cannot do and gives a general guideline as to how one should live their life. To my understanding Judaism is the same way (I have not studied judaism but this is basically what my jewish friends have told me). It is incredibly hard to get any religion to change. Just look at the attempt to get christianity and most of its derivitives to accept homosexuality. any group that does is instantly a fringe group, not a mainstream one. I don't see why you are singling out islam for something shared by other religions. I also take issue with your implication that somehow violence is fundamental to islam. as something like 99% of muslims can tell you, islam is not a violent religion and is as violent as every other western religion.


As for Catholics, actually at least in the US and Canada lay Catholics have been fairly vocal in denouncing molestation of boys by priests. This is a problem for which the Church as an institution can be faulted, but Catholics are on solid ground in maintaining that the molestation is contrary to the doctrines of the church. Note, further, that the priests who have engaged in child molestation have not claimed that their behavior is justified by Catholic doctrine.

I don't mean to get into a proverbial pissing contest with examples of bad behavior between religions. The fact is that many "evil" deeds are performed by people in the name of various religions (war, bombing of abortion clinics, murder of homosexuals or people of other faiths, etc...). What I was trying to do is point out a double standard. No one demands that christians denounce one another when a christian does something wrong. But when a muslim does something wrong, other muslims are expected to come forth and defend their faith. (I also disagree with the substance of your response but the catholic reaction to molestation was an example used to illustrate my point so I'll drop it unless you want me to elaborate further)


You seem to think that I consider all Muslims responsible for the acts of individuals. I do not, and nothing that I have said justifies this. What Muslims are responsible for, other than their own actions, are the doctrines to which they adhere.

I apologize if I've misconstrued your comments. However, I still don't think your right. The problem with your last statement is that Islam, like christianity and judaism, is an incredibly broad religions encompassing a wide array of beliefs. Muslims are only responsible for the specific brand of islam that they practice...they are not responsible for what anyone else does. this fact is conveniently ignored by much of the conservative right and a smaller fraction of the liberal left.


I am an atheist and rationalist with a low opinion of religion in general.

- I consider myself the same. But what I don't agree with is singling out one religion for something shared by nearly all western religions.
5.12.2007 5:53am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Grover Garderner:

The first link at least does not come from Muslims, but from an immigrant advocacy group The Municipal Moroccan Council (SMR). Even at that the commentary is self-serving as in the following.

"SMR chairman Abdou Menebhi said he hoped the Moroccan community would not suffer a backlash because of the killing. "Escalation is in nobody's interest," he said."
This is typical of what the Muslims do when a outrage get perpetrated in the name of Islam, they start in with the "backlash" whine. They are doing it with the Fort Dix Muslim terrorist plot, which the MSM seems to have lost interest in. Compare the amount of coverage that got versus Paris Hilton's jail sentence.
5.12.2007 6:01am
A. Zarkov (mail):


Brian K:

"The fact is that many "evil" deeds are performed by people in the name of various religions (war, bombing of abortion clinics, murder of homosexuals or people of other faiths, etc...)."

Name me one mainstream Christian Church that advocates the murder of homosexuals or the bombing of abortion clinics. Or one that even makes excuses for those acts? Name me one poll of Christians or Jews that finds a large number approving acts of terror against the west. according to polls, about 100,000 Muslims in Britain voice approval of the bombings in the London subway.

BTW why do you put "evil" in quotes. Do you not believe in the concept?
5.12.2007 6:13am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them." — The Koran, Sura 8:12"

Anyone care to tell me where either the Old or the New Testament advocates violence against any group in such an explicit way? Now you will find descriptions of violence in the bible and condemnations of sins, but as far as I know, never a call to murder anyone. Is there a non-Muslim country in the world that makes leaving the Christian or Jewish religion a capital crime?

Islam is not compatible with western values. It is a mistake for Europe and the US to admit large numbers of Muslim immigrants. We are buying a pack of trouble, and for what?
5.12.2007 6:24am
Philistine (mail):

Anyone care to tell me where either the Old or the New Testament advocates violence against any group in such an explicit way? Now you will find descriptions of violence in the bible and condemnations of sins, but as far as I know, never a call to murder anyone.


Oh come on. You're kidding, right?

Leviticus 24:16

And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.


There's quite a few calls to murder various people in Leviticus and Deuteronomy--for all sorts of reasons, cleaving to other religions among them.
5.12.2007 8:50am
Rand Simberg (mail) (www):

No one demands that christians denounce one another when a christian does something wrong. But when a muslim does something wrong, other muslims are expected to come forth and defend their faith. (I also disagree with the substance of your response but the catholic reaction to molestation was an example used to illustrate my point so I'll drop it unless you want me to elaborate further).

They do when the Christian does something wrong in the name of Christ. Yes, when someone saws off a head, crying "praise Allah," I would expect a condemnation from Muslims who don't want to be associated with such acts. But I haven't noticed anyone head hacking lately while praising Jesus or Yahweh.
5.12.2007 9:23am
wuzzagrunt (mail):
There's quite a few calls to murder various people in Leviticus and Deuteronomy--for all sorts of reasons, cleaving to other religions among them.


When was the last time anyone was stoned/crucified/burned/beheaded at the behest, or with the approval of, a major Christian or Jewish sect, using scripture as justification? The moral equivalence meme falls apart under the most cursory examination.

What if Islam is currently undergoing a religious reformation, and it turns out that perpetual Jihad is the result of it?
5.12.2007 10:45am
Big Bill (mail):
There is nothing more exasperating than secular Jews -- Jews who obviously should know better -- inciting Christians to read ancient religious texts in order to abuse current practitioners.

And you, Eugene, are brighter than this. You know better and shouldn't act the fool.

You know that Jews have always gotten hammered when Christians actually find some fool Jew to translate ancient Hebrew commentary. You know that for centuries Jews have had to redact their writings and pass along the nasty bits in secret so the goyim wouldn't find out. And you also know how Jews fought Martin Luther (in particular) and his followers from using those writings as grounds for expulsion and pogroms.

Yet here you go, inciting the damn Christians to start using ancient religious texts to go after Muslims, thinking that you are somehow magically protected as a "good" Jew. May I remind you that six million European Jews also thought they were protected against the Christians just sixty years ago, and now they are dead.

If it is free speech to use Muslim text against Muslims, it is free speech to use Jewish texs against Jews, too. We'll see how you champion "free speech" then! Don't mess with the Christians, son, they'll hurt you every time.

Feh.
5.12.2007 12:02pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
Six million Jews were murdered on "racial" grounds not religious grounds. Certainly not bearing the imprimatur of any Christian sect. If you want to make the stretch that Nazis were even officially Christian in any meaningful sense, then you are as welcome to give it a whack as you would be mistaken. If Nazis could be called anything, they'd best be described as New Age religionists. I guess we may expect to hear from you about Timothy McVeigh and "Christian terrorism".

Regardless, even if you can make the case that Nazism was some sort of Christian church (you can't), I'm sure you'll admit that their atheist contemporaries were pretty handy with a mass grave. Based on body counts, at least, Stalin showed Hitler up to be a real piddler. Mao and Pol Pot were pretty busy, too.
5.12.2007 12:51pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Reasonable responses, Bill. I won't take issue with them, except to say that I think there are more than "a few" Muslims who interpret the mandates if their religion in a more human manner. But it's a relative measure, certainly, clouded by politics and other aspects of current Middle Eastern affairs.
5.12.2007 2:04pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Philistine:

"Oh come on. You're kidding, right?"

Can't you read? I said, "a group," and not "condemnation" for a sin. Leviticus 24:16 condemns the sin of blasphemy. I repeat, where does the bible instruct you to go out and kill a member of another group or religion just for being a member of that religion?

Where do you find anything in the bible that is the equivalent of the following?


2:189 "Slay them wherever you find them drive them out of the places from which they drove you, idolatry is more grievous than bloodshed." 2:189

4:89 "Seize them and slay them wherever you find them: and in any case take no friends or helpers from their ranks." 4:89

9:5 "... fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war) ..."



Moreover the Koran is not subject to interpretation because it's supposed to be the literal word of Allah and that is so stated in the Koran itself. Compare and contrast to the bible.
5.12.2007 3:46pm
Capitalist Infidel (mail) (www):
So, now just stating facts is "offending" to some people? You'd think the religion that saws off heads would have a thicker skin.
5.12.2007 4:51pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Moreover the Koran is not subject to interpretation because it's supposed to be the literal word of Allah and that is so stated in the Koran itself. Compare and contrast to the bible.
Orthodox Jews believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, dictated directly by God to Moses. That has nothing to do with whether it is "subject to interpretation." I assure you that Jews think that it is.

Leviticus condemns the sin of blasphemy; 2:189 apparently condemns the sin of idolatry. What distinction are you trying to draw? As for commands to kill, you might want to check out the term "Amalek."
5.12.2007 6:45pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"So, now just stating facts is 'offending' to some people?"

"Just stating the facts" can indeed be needlessly confrontational and inflammatory, depending on the context. Moreover, "the facts" can be "stated" in such a way as to distort the underlying truth or convey false impressions. Surely this isn't news.
5.12.2007 7:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Orthodox Jews believe that the Bible is the literal word of God, dictated directly by God to Moses. That has nothing to do with whether it is "subject to interpretation."

No they don't. Why do you think they have the oral Torah: The Talmud?

In addition to the written scriptures we have an "Oral Torah," a tradition explaining what the above scriptures mean and how to interpret them and apply the Laws. Orthodox Jews believe G-d taught the Oral Torah to Moses, and he taught it to others, down to the present day. This tradition was maintained only in oral form until about the 2d century C.E., when the oral law was compiled and written down in a document called the Mishnah.
Compare and contrast to the Koran.

Muslims believe the Qur'an to be the book of divine guidance and direction for mankind, consider the text in its original Arabic, to be the literal word of Allah[2] revealed to Muhammad over a period of twenty-three years[3][4], and view the Qur'an as God's final revelation to humanity[5][6].
So tell me where in Judaism is it asserted that the Torah is the literal word of God?

"Leviticus condemns the sin of blasphemy; 2:189 apparently condemns the sin of idolatry. What distinction are you trying to draw? As for commands to kill, you might want to check out the term Amalek."

You are dancing around the question. If you think the bible contains exhortations to kill non-believers, then give them to me.
5.12.2007 7:58pm
Capitalist Infidel (mail) (www):
"Just stating the facts" can indeed be needlessly confrontational and inflammatory, depending on the context. Moreover, "the facts" can be "stated" in such a way as to distort the underlying truth or convey false impressions. Surely this isn't news."

Needlessly confrontational and inflammatory to whom? To thin skinned head choppers? Grow a freakin spine!
5.12.2007 8:17pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Needlessly confrontational and inflammatory to whom? To thin skinned head choppers?"

Head choppers?! At Tufts? That's news, and it certainly puts things in a different perspective.

"Grow a freakin spine!"

Got one, thanks--and have often put it to good use as a teacher, letting students know what sort of behavior I will and will not tolerate in my classroom. Head-chopping would definitely be a no-no.
5.12.2007 9:51pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
Head choppers at Tufts. I'm still digesting that. Reminds me of an old New Yorker cartoon that showed an elderly couple standing on a suburban street corner, watching the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse galloping down the block toward them. The woman is turning to the man saying, "Really! In Larchmont!"
5.12.2007 10:01pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"So tell me where in Judaism is it asserted that the Torah is the literal word of God?"

Huh? Look it up for yourself. Google "torah literal word of god."
5.12.2007 10:16pm
Scott Wood (mail):
"This and similar episodes lead me to believe that we need to re-think protections on free speech which apply only against governments. Any employer in the US could, of course, limit speech in the workplace on the same basis as Tufts or on other grounds. I'm not sure whether that would receive approval here; the ratio of those who defend property rights v. free speech is not obvious. Nevertheless, the basic point is clear: private businesses, including internet sites, can infringe on liberty. What's the remedy?"

This, as they say, is not a bug, it's a feature. Potential employees (students) who specifically prefer to work (study) in such "free speech restricted" areas should have the right to do so, as long as some employer (school) is willing to offer such an environment.
5.12.2007 10:53pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Huh? Look it up for yourself. Google "torah literal word of god."

I think we are getting hung up over the meaning of the phrase "literal word of God." That phase has a very different meaning in when you are talking about the Koran.

This except from a WSJ article captures the distinction.
The Quran is not "the Bible" of Muslims. It is infinitely more sacred than that. To use a Jewish analogy, it is more like the oral Torah first revealed on Mount Sinai which was later passed on orally through the prophets and eventually written down on scrolls for all to read. Whereas Christians regard the Bible as written by human beings inspired by God, Muslims regard the Quran -- the word means "The Recitation" -- as the very words of God, revealed aurally to the Prophet Muhammad in Arabic. To hear those words recited is, for Muslims, to hear Allah. If, for Christians, Jesus is the logos or eternal Word of God made flesh, the Quran is the Word of God made book, and every Arabic syllable in it lives as the breath of the divine.
Thus the oral Torah is, in a sense, the literal word of God, but the written Torah is something else. It has to be interpreted. That's why we have the Talmud. On the other hand, the written Koran when read in Arabic is supposed to be the very words of Allah. You can't say that about the Torah. You can't say that about the Christian bible.
5.13.2007 2:10am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"I think we are getting hung up over the meaning of the phrase 'literal word of God.'"

Well, I think you're straining to make your own point, but for the sake of argument let's make the distinction. Your original point, however, was that the Koran is not subject to interpretation. But this isn't strictly true, either. There is a huge body of commentary and explication which continues to the present day. OTOH it would appear that the Koran is treated nowhere near as liberally as the Bible is, even by devout Christians and Jews. That said, there *are* less sanguinary interpretations of the Koran, and many Islamic scholars strive to enlighten Westerners on the contextual meanings of many of the passages that we find so objectionable.

Moreover, there are passages in the Bible wherein God commands His people to kill those "who do not fear God" or do not accept His word--the Amalikites being a prime example. But it is also true that modern Jews and Christians who would interpret the Bible to mean that non-believers should be killed would be far, far out of the mainstream, whereas it's clearly a problem that many Muslims find ample "justification" for violence in the Koran.

That said, someone else commented to the effect of "when was the last time someone was killed" for not believing in the Bible. And the answer would be, not all that long ago, in the timeline of modern history. Islam is six hundred years younger than Christianity, so perhaps they too will undergo an enlightenment and liberalization process. Given the inexorable force of modernization, I don't see how they could not.
5.13.2007 3:19am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Thus the oral Torah is, in a sense, the literal word of God, but the written Torah is something else. It has to be interpreted. That's why we have the Talmud. On the other hand, the written Koran when read in Arabic is supposed to be the very words of Allah. You can't say that about the Torah. You can't say that about the Christian bible.
No. Both the oral (*) and written Torah are, in Orthodox belief, the literal word of God -- as I mentioned, dictated directly by God to Moses. You're trying to draw a mistaken distinction. The fact that something is the literal word of God does not mean it doesn't need to be interpreted.

Consider as an analogy the Constitution. I assure you that the Constitution is not merely "inspired by" the founders; it's the literal word of the founders. I further assure you that the Constitution is not meant to be merely allegorical. That does not mean that it doesn't need to be interpreted. (What does "due process" mean? What is "good behavior" in Article III?)

I won't try to speak to the Christian view of the Bible; I don't have firsthand knowledge and in fact I'm not sure that there is only one such view, anyway. But to Orthodox Jews, everything in the oral and written Torah is true and comes from God's lips to our ears, so to speak. Not merely divinely inspired, but divinely written. But one still needs to interpret it to understand what it means.

As for commandments to kill unbelievers, I have no doubt that Jews and Muslims view the subject differently. Judaism, unlike Islam (or Christianity), is not a proselytizing religion; it does not have, even as an aspiration, that everyone will convert to Judaism. But as I said, you may want to look up the term "Amalekite." A direct commandment to kill. All of them, men, women, children.


(*) (Incidentally, "Oral Torah" and "Talmud" are not identical. Indeed, there are two Talmuds, the Babylonian and Jerusalem.)
5.13.2007 4:31am
markm (mail):
Brian K: What I was trying to do is point out a double standard. No one demands that christians denounce one another when a christian does something wrong.

First off, Muslims don't just "do something wrong" - they often murder in the name of their church. And they aren't just lone nutcases with a religious mania, but acting in groups, and sometimes even as agents of their government. The only comparable activities by Christians I can think of in the last couple of centuries (once again excluding the lone nuts) were Jim Jones in Guyana, a few murders of abortionists, and maybe the Manson family. It's not hard to find denunciations of those people from mainstream Christians, and from fundamentalists too.

More importantly, Christians act to stop such killings - the surviving killers are all locked up, with the full approval of nearly all the Christians among the voters. Almost no Christian preacher holds abortion-clinic bombers up as examples for his congregation to follow. By contrast, if some Palestinian loser blows himself up along with a busload of children, many Muslim preachers (and even some in this country) praise him and encourage others to imitate him, certain Muslim governments may pay a bonus to the loser's family, and the Palestinians elect the guys who sent the loser out with a bomb as their government. IMO, that gives the Muslims that don't think such things are right a duty to speak up and try to stop them - but with a very few exceptions they won't.

I doubt that the difference lies in the sacred texts. I have not read much of the Koran (in translation), for one reason because I have problems with poetic, mystical texts with no clear meaning in real-world terms. It certainly doesn't stand by itself without interpretation (and training in ancient Arabic if you want to do it the Muslim-approved way), anymore than the Torah or the New Testament do. The commentaries on those texts (Talmud for Jews, and the huge mass of commentary published for each major Christian religion) seems to be well matched if not exceeded by the Haditha and Muslim commentaries on the Koran. Nor are the Jewish or Christian Bibles free from exhortations to kill unbelievers; it looks like the Hebrews only stopped doing that when they were conquered by unbelievers, and "Kill them all, God will know his own" were the words of a Christian bishop, based on an interpretation of the Bible backed by the majority Christian church of the 12th Century. The problem is that while Jewish and Christians have changed the way they interpret their holy books, the Muslims stick to a medieval interpretation - and are afraid to change, because their co-religionists would murder them.
5.13.2007 10:38am
Mark Field (mail):

This, as they say, is not a bug, it's a feature. Potential employees (students) who specifically prefer to work (study) in such "free speech restricted" areas should have the right to do so, as long as some employer (school) is willing to offer such an environment.


It's odd, then, that I don't see praise here for Tufts offering such an opportunity to its students. Instead, the common view is the same as mine: these restrictions are silly at best and destructive at worst. Sounds like a bug, not a feature.
5.13.2007 11:44am
AF:
AF: Well, given that Tufts is punishing not just the anti-affirmative-action satire but also harsh criticism of Islam, it seems to me that they've gone far beyond "banning blatant racism."

Agreed. I never defended Tufts's response to the anti-Islamic ad. It's mean-spirited and unnecessarily offensive but passes the "what would Rush do?" test and shouldn't be the subject of disciplinary hearings.
5.14.2007 6:46pm
Giannis (mail):
Alas, we arrive at the breaking point of libertarian thought. Even though you acknowledge the university's right (as a private university) to restrict speech on campus, you despise speech restrictions and thus criticize Tuft's actions as appalling. This is primarily because this type of speech is something you are sympathetic to (even if you might not agree with the form it takes). If instead this were speech involving views that you disagreed with, the libertarianism would kick in, and you'd be defending the freedoms of a private actor to do as it pleases without government intervention. Yes, you might still criticize the speech restrictions, but the criticism would be gentle (something like: "though I don't necessarily agree with restricting student speech, it is within Tufts purview to do so and that's the bottom line).
5.16.2007 11:27am