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Fight Back Against Islamic Death Threats - Comments

Dark Matter's Avatar Comment 1 by Dark Matter

"It's time for free-speech advocates to take a page from the abortion rights movement's playbook. In the 1990s, abortion providers faced the same sort of intimidation tactics and did not succumb. Instead, they lobbied for a federal law making it a crime to threaten people exercising reproductive rights and permitting victims to sue for damages. The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE, passed in 1994 by solid bipartisan margins. A similar act is needed to cover threats against free-speech rights."

It would be great if such an act were to be passed.

I am not familiar with American politics so may I ask if this plan is feasible?

I do hope so.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 19:07:22 UTC | #526359

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 2 by Stevehill

I'm hugely sympathetic, but there's an explicit message here: the First Amendment is good enough for me and my views, but not you and your views. Is demonising Islam (explicitly) really a solution, or is it just asking for trouble - e.g. when 51 Islamic states round on the US's "illiberal" stance in the United Nations?

These are very complex issues.

I wholly agree that people who abuse the freedoms we give them to threaten their critics (or worse) do not deserve to retain the benefit of those freedoms.

I am not averse to the UK position where inciting religious or racial hatred is potentially a criminal offence. But that means we arrest Koran-burning louts in Gateshead without fear or favour - not just Islamists. Is America willing to be that even-handed?

From my side of the Atlantic I would guess the chances of Americans voting for such a law are a million to one. Them? Yes. Me? Hell, no!

It has to be one law for all.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 19:09:47 UTC | #526360

Didaktylos's Avatar Comment 3 by Didaktylos

As I understand it such a law would still permit extremists to say words to the effect of "You're an @rsehole - STFU" just not to say "Shut up or I'll kill you".

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 19:22:41 UTC | #526365

Obi wan kolobi's Avatar Comment 4 by Obi wan kolobi

I like what the intent was of the "draw Muhammad Day" which was to create too many targets for muslim extremists to track down. However, there is a reason why so many of us use a pseudonymn online. I've had threats from self-proclaimed representatives of the "Neurotic Redneck Association (NRA), Mormon fundies, and even a self-described strict constructionist. There are more crazies out there than you realize and sometimes the best course is a heavy dose of prudence.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 19:34:54 UTC | #526367

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 5 by AtheistEgbert

Good luck with that. However, I don't think the politicians and media care about our freedoms. If they did, people wouldn't need to protest or speak out in the first place.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:00:44 UTC | #526369

tomt's Avatar Comment 6 by tomt

I have a couple of reservations:

1) Would such a plan be effective, most the time don't these death threats come from countries outside the US, what effective jurisdiction will US law enforcement have

2) This curtails free speech and whilst in this case a restriction might seem sensible, it is impossible to know what sort of a precedent this will set

3) Whether or not people voice an intention to take violent action, those extremists that really want to repress critics, comedians or commentators will carry out their violence whether or not they voice this threat publicly

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:11:04 UTC | #526371

mlgatheist's Avatar Comment 7 by mlgatheist

The Koran is a book that can turn some muslims into terrorists, just like the bible was and is used by the KKK and the American Nazis.

Religion makes it easier for people to commit crimes and do horrible things.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:16:31 UTC | #526372

EvN's Avatar Comment 8 by EvN

I sympathise, but we are going about this the wrong way again.

Existing state laws prohibiting intimidation are inadequate.

We are making the fundamental mistake again of calling for legislation to address specific cases instead of getting the extant legal rules to do the job in general. In most US States (and common law jurisdictions) assault includes a threat of physical harm and overlaps quite comfortably with intimidation.

This rather obvious threat could not be prosecuted. New York Police Department officials explained it did not rise to a crime.

Why do we get our legal advice from the police? I am extremely sceptical about this allegation and would have liked to see a proper legal opinion from a reputable NY lawyer.

Across media and geographies, Islamic extremists are increasingly using intimidation to stifle free expression.

This is the problem. Courts in the US do not (usually) have jurisdiction in other “geographies” and the other jurisdictions do not have a problem with threats and intimidation by its citizens if the precious prophet is mocked. Anwar Awlaki who issued the threats against Molly Norris is in Yemen if the news reports are to be believed. New legislation would not be useful in cases like these.

The other issue is that it is difficult even to trace local perpetrators. They are usually cowards who threaten anonymously and additional legislation will, again, not be of assistance.

An additional factor may be the unwillingness of law enforcement officials to rock the boat and appear “culturally insensitive.”

New legislation is not needed. Proper enforcement of existing laws and legislation is the answer to the legal problem. Tracing the suspects is quite a different matter.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:19:18 UTC | #526373

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 9 by Peter Grant

Gotta love how Ayaan stands up so fearlessly for what's right.

Comment 2 by Stevehill

These are very complex issues.

No, they're not. It's really quite simple. Drawing cartoons of old Mo is exercising your freedom of expression, threatening someone's life is not.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:21:36 UTC | #526374

some asshole's Avatar Comment 10 by some asshole

Comment 1 by Dark Matter :

I am not familiar with American politics so may I ask if this plan is feasible?

In my opinion, no. The reason it's not feasible is for the same reason such a law is needed in the first place--they're afraid of the insane muslims.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:30:17 UTC | #526376

Freethinker15's Avatar Comment 11 by Freethinker15

Comment 2 by Stevehill :

I'm hugely sympathetic, but there's an explicit message here: the First Amendment is good enough for me and my views, but not you and your views. Is demonising Islam (explicitly) really a solution, or is it just asking for trouble - e.g. when 51 Islamic states round on the US's "illiberal" stance in the United Nations? These are very complex issues.

I wholly agree that people who abuse the freedoms we give them to threaten their critics (or worse) do not deserve to retain the benefit of those freedoms. I am not averse to the UK position where inciting religious or racial hatred is potentially a criminal offence. But that means we arrest Koran-burning louts in Gateshead without fear or favour - not just Islamists. Is America willing to be that even-handed?

From my side of the Atlantic I would guess the chances of Americans voting for such a law are a million to one. Them? Yes. Me? Hell, no! It has to be one law for all.

I've been thinking about this for awhile, and I can't see any downside in punishing those who threaten people with physical violence (civil or criminal) for simply speaking out etc.

I can't see how this would effect the first amendment as they are not prevented from offering their own responses, which can be as inflammatory as they want as long as they don't threaten violence.

I don't condone our present UK laws that cover people in gateshead from burning korans etc. I think that is potentially a slippery slope. I think that they should be amended to include only speeches that contain real and imminent threats of violence against another group/individual.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:36:52 UTC | #526380

EvN's Avatar Comment 12 by EvN

@ Everybody

This is not a free speech issue. It is a criminal issue. Even if A overstepped the boundaries of free speech, B may still not threaten violence against A.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:43:23 UTC | #526383

Mechelle's Avatar Comment 13 by Mechelle

While I don't agree with death threats of any kind, I believe using the "take a page from abortion clinic" to be poor in analogy. Abortion clinics work with the intent of helping people. Those who suggest "lets have draw Muhammad Day", do so with foul intent. To stir a shit pot and ridicule a group of people for their beliefs and do so with the hopes to belittle them. What do you expect the response to be? Embrace it with open arms? A death threat in response is very extreme, indeed. But someone else needs to accept some accountibility here, as well. You can't go around making fun of other people or their beliefs, and when they fire back, act like a victim.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:46:09 UTC | #526384

Adrian Bartholomew's Avatar Comment 14 by Adrian Bartholomew

Comment 13 by Mechelle :

You can't go around making fun of other people or their beliefs, and when they fire back, act like a victim.

For the life of me I can't work out why not when "fire back" really means threats of violence.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:53:15 UTC | #526387

EvN's Avatar Comment 15 by EvN

Comment 13 by Mechelle

A death threat in response is very extreme, indeed. But someone else needs to accept some accountibility here, as well. You can't go around making fun of other people or their beliefs, and when they fire back, act like a victim.

Now THIS is a free speech issue.

How on earth can a person "act like a victim" if he/she exercised his/her basic human right to free speech and get threatened with death for it? Such a person is indeed a victim. A stupid sod, maybe, but nevertheless a victim of a crime.

Your argument smacks of "she was raped because she wore a mini skirt."

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 20:53:50 UTC | #526388

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 16 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 13 by Mechelle :

While I don't agree with death threats of any kind, I believe using the "take a page from abortion clinic" to be poor in analogy. Abortion clinics work with the intent of helping people. Those who suggest "lets have draw Muhammad Day", do so with foul intent. To stir a shit pot and ridicule a group of people for their beliefs and do so with the hopes to belittle them. What do you expect the response to be? Embrace it with open arms? A death threat in response is very extreme, indeed. But someone else needs to accept some accountibility here, as well. You can't go around making fun of other people or their beliefs, and when they fire back, act like a victim.

Foul intent? Sorry, but religious belief is a foul intent. Belittling what is held sacred is doing the world a favor.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:13:04 UTC | #526396

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 17 by Andrew B.

Comment 13 by Mechelle :

While I don't agree with death threats of any kind, I believe using the "take a page from abortion clinic" to be poor in analogy. Abortion clinics work with the intent of helping people. Those who suggest "lets have draw Muhammad Day", do so with foul intent. To stir a shit pot and ridicule a group of people for their beliefs and do so with the hopes to belittle them. What do you expect the response to be?

Uh, you realize that you're just ASSUMING that is their motivation, right? Can you imagine any other reason to draw the alleged prophet mohammed than to "stir a shit pot?"

But someone else needs to accept some accountibility here, as well. You can't go around making fun of other people or their beliefs, and when they fire back, act like a victim.

How is that any different than saying:

"Women cannot go around at night in poorly-lit and dangerous neighborhoods, and when they are raped, act like a victim."

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:14:03 UTC | #526398

Saikat Biswas's Avatar Comment 18 by Saikat Biswas

Comment 13 by Mechelle :

ridicule a group of people for their beliefs ....

The object of ridicule is the belief, not the people holding them. You should be intelligent enough to know the difference.

Abortion clinics work with the intent of helping people.

They also ridicule the idea that women should not have control over their bodies. And they most certainly belittle the efforts of those who believe abortion should be a capital crime.

Those who suggest "lets have draw Muhammad Day", do so with foul intent. To stir a shit pot and ridicule a group of people for their beliefs and do so with the hopes to belittle them

Wrong. The intent is to send a clear and simple message to those who demand that we respect their ridiculous beliefs - We don't have the right to tell you what or what not to believe. You don't have the right to tell us what we can or cannot say about your beliefs.

What do you expect the response to be?

For starters, how about shrugging your shoulders and an indifferent 'whatever'.

.. and when they fire back, act like a victim.

Fire back with what? Making fun of my beliefs? Drawing cartoons of those whom I venerate? Since when is threatening someone with violence an appropriate response to drawing a silly cartoon?

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:20:30 UTC | #526400

DamianIcely's Avatar Comment 19 by DamianIcely

I have to say that I hugely admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her criticisms of Islam are brutally honest. Has anyone here read her book... I haven't, only articles by her, but I really want to get it.

(For those of you who think this is off topic - she is one of the co-authors of this article and has previously been hounded out of the netherlands)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayaan_Hirsi_Ali

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:35:16 UTC | #526404

EvN's Avatar Comment 20 by EvN

Comment 19 by DamianIcely

I admire the lady hugely and suspect that the others around here do too.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:37:23 UTC | #526407

rpitchfo's Avatar Comment 21 by rpitchfo

"The boundaries of free speech"

I don't even no what this could mean let alone try and quantify such a thing? Its an oxymoron.

Free speech is the greatest gift a democratic nation can bestow upon its citizens. If you don't like what somebody has got to say either ignore it or speak out against it. Thats how a democracy works. If you don't subscribe to this view you are fundamentally opposed to the true ethos of democracy.

I find it disturbing the lengths various western governments have gone to to appease the uber sensitivity of religious groups. "Inciting racial hatred" nonsense, surely it is the hatred on both sides that should be addressed rather than creating a law that was establised simply out of fear of violent reprisal.

Sticks and stones, its a play ground philosophy for goodness sake. People died for your right to free speech why do you give it away so freely?

steps off soap box

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:53:29 UTC | #526418

mmurray's Avatar Comment 22 by mmurray

Comment 19 by DamianIcely :

I have to say that I hugely admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Her criticisms of Islam are brutally honest. Has anyone here read her book... I haven't, only articles by her, but I really want to get it.

(For those of you who think this is off topic - she is one of the co-authors of this article and has previously been hounded out of the netherlands)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayaan_Hirsi_Ali

Yes Infidel was an amazing book. I haven't read Nomad.

Michael

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:56:33 UTC | #526419

EvN's Avatar Comment 23 by EvN

Comment 21 by rpitchfo

"The boundaries of free speech" ... I don't even no what this could mean let alone try and quantify such a thing? Its an oxymoron.

Eg slander.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 21:58:10 UTC | #526421

rpitchfo's Avatar Comment 24 by rpitchfo

Thanks for clarifying your point, i agree. Can you think of any others?

To clarify one of my points on the "inciting racial hatred" law, its not the law itself i don't agree with but the way it is used to cover religious issues which should be held seperate.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 22:12:22 UTC | #526431

frax71's Avatar Comment 25 by frax71

Quite frankly i could not care less if my opinions offend the religious, for 2000 years we have had the religious agenda forced upon us. Unfortunately for the religious the tide is beginning to turn, this site and the opinions expressed here are evidence of that. However, they have yet to understand that the concept of blind faith does not afford them the luxury of instant deference and respect.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 22:23:57 UTC | #526439

Naturalist1's Avatar Comment 26 by Naturalist1

Ayaan Hirsi Ali does it again...what a brave woman. Here in Canada it is a criminal act to utter a threat. This is a brief synopsis of the law in Canada:

Threaten death or bodily harm Under the Criminal Code, it is an offence to knowingly utter or convey a threat to cause death or bodily harm to any person. It is also an offence to threaten to burn, destroy or damage property or threaten to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that belongs to a person.

Penalties The offence of utter death threat may be prosecuted by summary conviction or by indictment. If prosecuted by indictment, the accused person is entitled to elect trial by jury and upon conviction is liable to up to five years jail. In most cases, however, the offence is prosecuted by summary conviction, requiring a trial before a lower court justice. In this case, the maximum penalty is 18 months imprisonment.

Please note that these are criminal matters...not civil litigation. If a conviction is achieved the victim can then sue the perpetrator for damages.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 22:24:50 UTC | #526441

Tyler Worthwell's Avatar Comment 27 by Tyler Worthwell

Comment 2 by Stevehill :

I'm hugely sympathetic, but there's an explicit message here: the First Amendment is good enough for me and my views, but not you and your views. Is demonising Islam (explicitly) really a solution, or is it just asking for trouble - e.g. when 51 Islamic states round on the US's "illiberal" stance in the United Nations? These are very complex issues.

I wholly agree that people who abuse the freedoms we give them to threaten their critics (or worse) do not deserve to retain the benefit of those freedoms.

I think you are falling into the trap of giving religion undue respect. We should be able to criticise islam in the same way that we would criticise politics or greedy corporations. Religion does not deserve special treatment, especially when its something that needs to be opposed.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 22:37:45 UTC | #526448

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 28 by Nunbeliever

This is the reason I get furious every time I hear the argument "was it really necessary to publish those Muhammed cartoons again", implying that the publisher has more or less him-/herself to blame for being threatened with violence! YES, it is! As long as there are muslim fundamentalist out there threatening our societies (and especially single citizens) with violence we should publish Muhammed cartoons as often as we can! That is the only way to deal with this issue! We have to show these morons that we will not give up our freedoms. I feel truelly sorry for all the moderate muslims out there who might feel offended. I am not into insulting people for the sake of it! Still, I think it is a quite reasonable price to pay in order to defend our most fundamental freedoms don't you think. Moderate muslims are so keen on criticising the west for offending muslims, still perhaps it would be wise to take some time to reflect about why we are doing all this. Are we just nasty bigots or might there actually be more sincere motives behind our actions? It would be refreshing to hear even a single moderate muslim who thinks it is fair play to publish Muhammed cartoons as long as we are being threatened with violence by muslim fundamentalists.

Yes, I have to confess that I am in a way a coward. I am not sure I would be willing to sacrifice my own life for the "good cause". Fortunately I think that is a non-sequitut. This cause does not necessarily have to be about single individuals standing up publicly as individuals for our liberal rights, although I have enormous respect for those who have the courage to act in such a noble way. For example, I think the "anonymous" movement against Scientology (TM) is a good example of how it is possible to deal with extremist organisations threatening with violence and terror without putting the lives of single individuals in the line of fire. Perhaps something similiar could be used against muslim extremists.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 22:39:56 UTC | #526449

Vern01's Avatar Comment 29 by Vern01

It shocked me that such an obvious threat against the makers of South Park was made without legal repercussion. The law definitely needs to address these vulgar intimidation tactics. I suspect there are many we don't hear about, myself included, who would be encouraged to write or talk freely about Islam, in both a positive and negative light, if the law had our back.

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 22:47:42 UTC | #526454

Nunbeliever's Avatar Comment 30 by Nunbeliever

To Mechelle:

Those who suggest "lets have draw Muhammad Day", do so with foul intent. To stir a shit pot and ridicule a group of people for their beliefs and do so with the hopes to belittle them. What do you expect the response to be? Embrace it with open arms?

Erh? Where have you been the last ten years or so? Do you actually think it is all about insulting muslims? Are you really that naive? I mean really, or are you just trying to collect a few easy points? No, we do not expect the fundamentalist muslims to embrace us with open arms. That is the reason people are acting out in this way in first place. Get it? Probably not... Though, it would be refreshing if a few moderate muslims were actually on "our" side. Or even our native countrymen/women (regardless of religious or political affiliations)... But I guess it is too much to ask for some civil courage these days. You are pretending to be caring and responsible people, but in my book you are plain cowards!

Tue, 28 Sep 2010 22:55:51 UTC | #526461