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← [UPDATE-07-Jan: commentary by Russell Blackford] Prejudiced Danes provoke fanaticism

[UPDATE-07-Jan: commentary by Russell Blackford] Prejudiced Danes provoke fanaticism - Comments

Twatsworth's Avatar Comment 91 by Twatsworth

OBVIOUSLY the central issue here is that everyone, including cartoonists, has the right to express themselves freely. Whether you think the Danish cartoons were unfair or unhelpful is 100% IRRELEVANT. What is relevant here is that a huge and extremely vocal proportion of Muslims apparently want to abolish the basic principle of free speech, which for almost everyone else in the West is complete bread and butter.

What kind of petty simpleton would obscure this monumental discussion -- upon which free speech in Europe arguably hangs -- by harping on about the trivial matter of whether the cartoons themselves were inadvisable? Yep, you guessed it. Same old, same old.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:31:00 UTC | #428514

Peacebeuponme's Avatar Comment 92 by Peacebeuponme

Adrian

As an aside, you censoring "fuckwit", but not "cunt" has raised a smile!

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:35:00 UTC | #428515

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 93 by Steve Zara

Comment #447171 by decius

Right now, I'm once again in awe at Carto's eloquence and clarity. I can't possibly match that.


I can't possibly disagree.

Incidentally, I agree with Richard that this article is shameful. It really does sum up so much stupid "liberal guilt". But compared to some of the terrible things that have been publicised on this site recently...

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:36:00 UTC | #428518

a non e-moose's Avatar Comment 94 by a non e-moose

cartomancer I think you just settled 89 posts of debate with 3 paragraphs.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:37:00 UTC | #428519

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 95 by Adrian Bartholomew

89. Comment #447172 by blitz442 on January 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm
74. Comment #447149 by Peacebeuponme
This isn't a matter of law, but I think we should still be able to view those who go out of their way to offend for the mere sake of offence as morally dubious.


I don't think that anyone is disputing this, when it is apparent that such behavior is going on.
I am. In fact I consider it my duty to do it occasionally. You don’t know you have free speech if you don’t exercise it and if no one is offended no one would try and limit it. It’s the Anal Cunt’s and Larry Flynt’s of this world that keep us free.
92. Comment #447175 by Peacebeuponme on January 4, 2010 at 10:35 pm
Adrian

As an aside, you censoring "fuckwit", but not "cunt" has raised a smile!
LOL. I was wondering if anyone would notice it :-) I just think F@#k looks naughtier when censored for some reason hehe

EDIT: Add me to the Carto love train by the way. Well written posts.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:39:00 UTC | #428521

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 96 by God fearing Atheist

Nancy Graham Holm - c#^t!

... and the Guardian have closed the comments section already (2010-010-04.22:36), so I can't call her one to her "face"

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:40:00 UTC | #428522

ubermensch's Avatar Comment 97 by ubermensch

I haven't got time to look up the 'evidence', but I'm sure I remember seeing at the time examples of cartoons published in the arab and muslim press which portrayed jews in an offensive manner, and not as one-offs. It seems they can dish it out, but can't take it.
In respect of the article itself, I fear the writer is a no-brainer.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:44:00 UTC | #428523

Drosera's Avatar Comment 98 by Drosera

Usually, apologists for religious atrocities try to downplay the religious dimension, blaming instead such things as poverty, oppression of the Palestinians, tribal cultural traditions, and what not. As long as it's not religion.

The refreshing aspect of this case is that such excuses fail. Even a bigot like Nancy Graham Holm can't deny that this attack is entirely to blame on religion.

It is incredible that an educated person writing in a newspaper in a free country can suggest that we should respect the sensitivities of religious extremists (and we are talking about Taliban and al-Shabab level extremism here). It would after all be rude to offend people who stone adulterous women to death, wouldn't it?

Respect, respect... Why this eternal craving for respect by religious people? At the root of it must lie a hidden and suppressed sense of uncertainty and inadequacy about their philosophy. It can't be defended rationally, therefore it has to be propped up by respect.

People who demand respect usually do not deserve it.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:44:00 UTC | #428524

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 99 by Steve Zara

Comment #447173 by Cartomancer

You are right. They haven't lauded the cartoonists. But they have lauded the act of publishing.

I'll just say one thing. It may be my sad guardianista wet liberal self being exposed here, but when I first saw the cartoons, not even knowing the context, my heart sank. The message as I saw it was clear and immediate:

"Fear the Muslim. He or she is a bomber, a terrorist".

The cartoons reminded me of propaganda paintings on the site of buildings in Northern Ireland designed to stir up emotions against Catholics or Protestants.

Perhaps I have been too influenced by that imagery.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:47:00 UTC | #428525

prolibertas's Avatar Comment 100 by prolibertas

Yeah, don't be suspicious of religion or they'll kill you and your family and destroy your freedoms! Nothing to be suspicious of there at all.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:48:00 UTC | #428526

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 101 by Cartomancer

I am touched by the praise everyone. I really am. And not a little embarrassed.

I doubt very much whether my input has really "settled" this debate once and for all (generally if debates are worth having there is very rarely an ideal solution to be had as well). Nevertheless, if we are in the business of handing out praise at the moment then it would be unbecoming of me not to give out some of my own.

To Richard Dawkins.

The thing is, all I did was stand back and try to take in the entirety of the debate, so as to work out what issues were really at stake and where the friction of unnecessary misunderstandings was occurring. I learned that this was a valuable thing to do from an essay (I forget the author) on Richard Dawkins as a thinker and academic, specifically on how he behaves at academic conferences when there are all kinds of ideas being thrown about and there is a tendency to get caught up in the minutiae and lose sight of what precisely you are trying to determine in the first place.

As for eloquence (though at most I would call it verbosity), blame Terry Pratchett. My prose always veers at least three shades purpler around the time I read one of his books.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:50:00 UTC | #428528

Jorgen_Leditzig's Avatar Comment 102 by Jorgen_Leditzig

Steve Zara,

Apart from completely missing the point of freedom of speech and the ability of anyone to retaliate with that same freedom is one thing.

Another thing is that you obviously have no idea why these cartoons were printed. The whole timeline of events is available in any wikipedia article on the subject. The cartoons were part of an article on self censorship and why the author of a biography of Muhammad, KÃ¥re Bluitgen, found it so difficult to find illustrators for his book.

The whole conflict exploded many months later when a group of "Danish" imams travelled to the Middle East with a dossier containing a picture of a man dressed as a pig, claiming that this was one of the cartoons.

The article was not printed in an Arabian or English speaking newspaper, but rather in an all Danish newspaper in the debate pages. I own a newspaper distribution company which delivers said newspaper, Jyllands-posten, and none of the subscribers of this newspaper in my area have non-European names.

If people wish to live in our country they must be ready to tolerate cartoons depicting Muhammad, an onion, five pistols or a naked man fishing. Ours is a modern society where we retaliate to insult and injury by using the buttons on our keyboards and the words created by our evolved brains. Britain, I fear, has thrown away it's right to free speech and equal rights by allowing for the "tolerance" that you would preach with it's acceptance of Muslim prayer in the street and Shariah courts. If I were religious I would pray for you. Denmark will not stand for infringements on our democratic rights, and we would fight for yours, as well.

By the way, Kurt Westergaard's cartoon was a way of depicting how Islam had been hijacked by a few crazy people (backed, of course, by the equally crazy masses). Someone put a bomb in his turban.

You should come to Denmark for a visit, you would find it refreshing. Everyone sleeps late on Sundays and religion is questioned with the same vigour as any other subject, which, of course, it will never stand for. We have freed ourselves from the yoke of religion and are just trying to enjoy it in our own country with our own newspapers. If you feel like a fresh start, please, you are welcome. If you come here to preach and be holy with an uzi in one hand and a holy book in the other, you'll find yourself with a fight on your hands.

Long live freedom of speech, Long live Denmark, and God save Ireland.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:51:00 UTC | #428529

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 103 by Steve Zara

Comment #447161 by epeeist

The moment one says to oneself "I know that this is a killer argument, but if I use it the person I am arguing with will be extremely offended, so I will not make it." is to abandon one's commitment to free speech.


I'm afraid I disagree. If you meet a friend who is with someone you consider to be an unsuitable partner (say, they believe in astrology), would you insist on proving that partner foolish if you knew the friend was devoted to that partner and the matter had not been raised? Is that abandoning the commitment to free speech?

I would say that of course it isn't. You are free to say what you like, but you can choose (which is the point of freedom) not to.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:55:00 UTC | #428531

decius's Avatar Comment 104 by decius

Comment #447165 by Steve Zara

I'm not saying that the cartoons were offensive. I'm just trying to emphasise that our assessment of that should not be coloured by the response of fanatics.


The cartoons didn't originate out of a gratuitous will to offend. Rushdie had been on the receiving end of identical death-threats and the world had just experienced an unprecedented wave of islamic violence.
Those are arguably the circumstances that were being caricatured, and the fanatical response to the cartoons just added a further bitterly ironical layer of veracity to their statement.

I see no logical problem in affirming as much.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:56:00 UTC | #428532

blitz442's Avatar Comment 105 by blitz442

96. Comment #447182 by Adrian Bartholomew

It’s the Anal Cunt’s and Larry Flynt’s of this world that keep us free


If you saw a member of Anal Cunt go up to Eric Clapton and tell him that his son committed suicide because Clapton sucked, would you then go up and shake that Cunt's hand?

There is nothing socially redeming or useful about Anal Cunt (at least based on what Peace said), anymore than there is about unmitigated child pornography. If there was a way to legislate against it that would not interfere with more productive forms of free speech, I would listen.

Merely being offensive does not make something virtuous. Any moron can come up with something offensive. I suppose the heroic Ann Coulter really advanced our civilization when she claimed that the 911 victim's widows were crybabies.

Unmitigated, unconsidered free speech would actually weaken it.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 22:58:00 UTC | #428533

Twatsworth's Avatar Comment 106 by Twatsworth

It seems to me that Muslims as a bunch are considerably worse than even the Nazis. In almost every metric I use to compare them, Muslims come out worse. Rest assured, worse than the Holocaust (even though it's hard to conceive) would be right on the horizon, the very moment a Muslim regime acquires Hitler's power.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:01:00 UTC | #428535

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 107 by Steve Zara

Comment #447194 by decius

The cartoons didn't originate out of a gratuitous will to offend.


Then I can have no complaints against the cartoonists, or even the publisher. Which is fine. I'm just after debate. I like debate - it educates me, as you have. It makes Holm's words seem even more absurd.

Rushdie had been on the receiving end of identical death-threats and the world had just experienced an unprecedented wave of islamic violence.


I realise that, but his words, as quoted, don't seem that useful in general.

It is perhaps unwise to take advice from a specific situation and use it as general guidance?

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:04:00 UTC | #428536

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 108 by Adrian Bartholomew

107. Comment #447195 by blitz442 on January 4, 2010 at 10:58 pm
There is nothing socially redeming or useful about Anal Cunt (at least based on what Peace said), anymore than there is about unmitigated child pornography
If you can’t tell the difference between someone being unbelievably unpleasant and child pornography I can’t talk to you….

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:04:00 UTC | #428537

blitz442's Avatar Comment 109 by blitz442

104. Comment #447192 by Twatsworth

And yet, over here it is seen as bigoted if we publicly announce our expectation that Muslims should respect the values and customs of the overwhelming majority.


It's even more than that. Not only can we talk about our values, but we can make a good argument that Western values are a superior way to organize a society. Free speech, democracy, equal rights for women, aren't just arbitrary customs, they are Enlightenment principles that are objectively BETTER than the many of the values found in other societies.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:07:00 UTC | #428538

blitz442's Avatar Comment 110 by blitz442

109. Comment #447199 by Adrian Bartholomew

I'm sorry, then explain how being unbelievably unpleasant for no reason other than to offend furthers free speech?

Glad that you agree that child pornography is disgusting, harmful, and offensive to anyone with a shred of humanity.

Going up to someone and taunting them with the death of their child would cause as much, if not more, emotional harm than making them watch child porn.

So defend this disugusting Anal Cunt as a champion of free speech, or retract your comment.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:13:00 UTC | #428539

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 111 by Steve Zara

Comment #447200 by blitz442

I would not expect that Muslims respect the values and customs of the majority. That is because civilised values don't tend to come by popular vote (the majority in the UK support the death penalty). Also, as a gay man, I would not be happy about having my values imposed by the majority!

However I would expect ALL citizens in the UK (where I live) to fully accept and respect the law. I don't care about customs. People can have their own traditions regarding clothes (within reason) and food, and religious rituals (again, within reason). But all must follow the law of the land. Any pandering to religion and culture that compromises anyone's rights under the law has to end.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:17:00 UTC | #428542

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 112 by Cartomancer

Steve said:

But when I first saw the cartoons, not even knowing the context, my heart sank. The message as I saw it was clear and immediate:

"Fear the Muslim. He or she is a bomber, a terrorist".

The cartoons reminded me of propaganda paintings on the site of buildings in Northern Ireland designed to stir up emotions against Catholics or Protestants.
and then Decius said:
The cartoons didn't originate out of a gratuitous will to offend.
Actually, I think neither sentiment gets to the heart of the matter.

It seems to me that the cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten were meant to be gratuitously offensive. That was the whole point of them. But they were not offensive in order simply to offend muslim people, rather, they were published to make a statement about the nature of offense itself.

In a way, they were caricatures of offensive cartoons. They sent up offensive cartoons. They weren't particularly clever or knowing caricatures I'll grant you, but they were caricatures nonetheless by dint of the very circumstances surrounding their production. They should look like other offensive cartoons, because that's what they are. That's all they are. The offensive message that they carry is entirely irrelevant, because they were not published to carry any message apart from "this is an offensive cartoon".

When you produce a cartoon simply to offend somebody, the exact content of the cartoon no longer matters. It is simply a facile exercise in pressing culturally sensitive buttons. It says "look, here are your buttons, and look, we have pressed them. Wasn't that a complete waste of time?" The implication of this is, of course, that the world hasn't ended, nobody has been killed, and the only thing that has come out of the offense is a pressed button. Which puts in perspective just how silly the button was in the first place. And the cartoon. It's all stupid. None of it should matter.

Except it does. And the fact it does stands in stark contrast to the fact it shouldn't.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:20:00 UTC | #428543

Eric Blair's Avatar Comment 113 by Eric Blair

As usual, I agree with Steve Zara.

(My original post was a bit turgid, so let me put it more simply:)

Cartoons like these should not be outlawed. Neither the cartoonists nor the newspapers should apologize. Other newspapers and media outlets should be free to republish the cartoons.

Threats of violence against the cartoonists are deplorable, as are efforts (like this article) to get them to apologize and to stop re-publication of the cartoons or publication of similar works in the future.

No group, religious or otherwise, has the right not be offended (hate laws aside, which I believe should only be applied in the most clear and severe cases).


Having said this, I don’t believe the motives of the newspaper and some of the cartoonists were completely benign. They produced a reaction they very likely expected, and stirred the social pot well beyond the issue of free speech. In doing so, they showed courage but also a cavalier disregard for social harmony in Denmark and Europe. In focusing on the clash between free speech and an especially irrational re-Enlightment religion, they also showed their naïveté about the social and political consequences.

To sum up: such provocation is not in my view the best way to deal with the integration of Muslims in Europe, but I would defend to the death – well, mild flesh wounds, anyway – the right of others to take this approach of they so wish.

EB

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:21:00 UTC | #428544

Ophelia Benson's Avatar Comment 114 by Ophelia Benson

Can't you guys ever manage to disagree with a woman without calling her a bitch£ Must it be all locker room all the time here£

I disagreed with her vehemently at C is F, three times, and in a post at my place, but I didn't call her a bitch, nor did I need to.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:25:00 UTC | #428545

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 116 by Adrian Bartholomew

111. Comment #447201 by blitz442 on January 4, 2010 at 11:13 pm
I'm sorry, then explain how being unbelievably unpleasant for no reason other than to offend furthers free speech?
I already did.
Going up to someone and taunting them with the death of their child would cause as much, if not more, emotional harm than making them watch child porn.
Huh? The problem with child porn is little more than the harm it causes people watching it FFS.
or retract your comment.
Not this lifetime bud. In fact I think I’m going to go out and buy one their CDs. I’m pretty sure I’ve said stuff about Mohammed that muslims would find equally disgusting as the Clapton scenario and I am not retracting that either. And stuff about Christ too. Oh and to answer your question I wouldn’t shake the hand of the person from Anal Cunt insulting Clapton. I’d exercise my right to free speech instead. That’s the great thing about free speech: We ALL get to use it.

By the way I’m not ignoring you at this point I am going to bed so won’t be able to check this comment section for quite a while.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:29:00 UTC | #428547

Twatsworth's Avatar Comment 115 by Twatsworth

Having said this, I don’t believe the motives of the newspaper and some of the cartoonists were completely benign. They produced a reaction they very likely expected, and stirred the social pot well beyond the issue of free speech.
Yes, it might have been an experiment. A good one, I would say. Necessary, too.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:29:00 UTC | #428546

decius's Avatar Comment 117 by decius

. Comment #447198 by Steve Zara

Which is fine. I'm just after debate. I like debate - it educates me, as you have.


I cannot possibly match your contribution to my education.

I realise that, but his words, as quoted, don't seem that useful in general. It is perhaps unwise to take advice from a specific situation and use it as general guidance?


I don't know what is wise. All I know is that the West has conquered the right of free press and speech after centuries of struggle against religious censorship, and this shouldn't be forsaken for the benefit of vastly artificial religious sensibilities.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:30:00 UTC | #428548

blitz442's Avatar Comment 118 by blitz442

112. Comment #447204 by Steve Zara

Any pandering to religion and culture that compromises anyone's rights under the law has to end.


What do you think of Jorgen Leditzig's assertion that the UK does pander too much to religion?

The key issue for me is this. How do distinguish between powerful, simple statements or images (such as cartoons) that cut to the heart of the matter, or statements or symbols that grossly oversimplfy and therefore are mere caricatures of reality?

For all the disparate religions and creeds, many of us would accept that the common flaw amoung all of them is the reliance of faith and authority as a source of knowledge. I have seen cartoons or essays that have parodied this and I found these illuminating, and not gross oversimplifications.

Here, I have seen different portrayals of Islam. Carto's particularly eloquent posts show it as a much more complex tapestry than most appreciate, while others have noted harmful aspects of Islam that permeate all of its adherents, and make the differences pale in comparison. I think that the extent to which we view these types of cartoons depends on our view of Islam.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:33:00 UTC | #428550

decius's Avatar Comment 119 by decius

Comment #447205 by Cartomancer

I thought the reprinting was done in the spirit you describe, but originally the cartoons were intended as caricatures of ongoing islamic violence. I may be wrong.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:35:00 UTC | #428551

amuck's Avatar Comment 120 by amuck

The exercise of free speech can not be constrained by the unwillingness to cause offense on the part of the speaker.

The recipient is however constrained by the responsibility not to take offense.

I'm seeing the "soft bigotry of low expectations" on this thread.

Apparently our islamic brethren are off the hook in the spirited exchange of free ideas because they are a visible minority, speak with an accent and are otherwise accorded "victim" status because of their religion and must be treated deferentially as they just aren't ready to participate in a secular democracy.

This is insulting at the very least. I'm sure most muslims that saw the cartoons understood very well all the nuances and subtle (and not so subtle) plays on words and images that go into a good editorial cartoon and are quite capable of responding to the ideas presented in a rational manner, no matter what their position is.

By restricting the dissemination of the cartoons (and the cartoons are just an icon for the entire secular/religious struggle), through self or explicit censorship, we make it harder for moderate muslims to criticize the extremists.

I'm also sure that almost none of the muslims that violently protested the cartoons actually ever saw them. They were and are being manipulated by their clergy for the most cynical of reasons, none of which have anything to do with their "love of their faith", whatever the hell that means.

Mon, 04 Jan 2010 23:36:00 UTC | #428552