Speech Free From Religious Zealots

Religious zealots are trying to use the courts to intimidate and punish criticism in both the U.S. and France. A French court will decide whether the satirical paper “Charlie Hebdo” committed a crime by publishing cartoons of Mohammed. Meanwhile in our great land of freedom six Imams thrown off a U.S. Airways plane are suing passengers for reporting what they considered suspicious behavior to the authorities.

BTW, a group of moderate Muslims has offered to help with the defense of the passengers. The group's president, Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, says, "It's so important that America know there are Muslims who understand who the victims are in air travel, but I hope it doesn't get to that point because the backlash will be even greater when Americans see Islamists trying to punish innocent passengers reporting fears."

Truth and freedom of speech are more important than sensitivity and tolerance. When I was a kid we used to say "sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Today the threat of sticks, stones and worse is used to supress words and our culutral and political elites often are complicit in silencing dissenting views. In France, President Chirac offered the services of his own personal lawyer to the OPPONENTS of freedom. In America, we preemptively apologize whenever any group (except Christians and a few others) claims to be aggrieved by words.

Religion can hold individuals accountable for sins of thought, word & deed. That is God's business, not ours, and it applies to the next world. I figure the creator of heaven and earth doesn't need my help to silence a few ostensibly nasty words among his creations and probably has more important priorities. Here on earth, fallible humans should stick to holding each other accountable ONLY for deeds that affect other fallible humans. Lighten up about the words. If the bad things they say are not true, point out the error. If they are true, you need to change your own ways.

The search for truth REQUIRES we permit words and ideas we consider odious. That is the practical value of free speech. John Milton explained that more than 300 years ago. It is through their own words that fools reveal themselves. Sometimes you cannot identify the ass until you hear him bray. Other times we see that the banned speech makes a lot of sense. In either case, you cannot know until you hear it.

Words are serious, but they should be countered with other words. You have the option of accepting, arguing, ridiculing or ignoring. Taking people to court about the words they say is the sign of a fascist and a cowardly one at that . . . and don't even think about picking up the sticks & stones.

Posted by Jack at March 21, 2007 9:09 PM
Comments
Comment #213139

This is a great post Jack, This crosses all boundries. The recent Anthony Hardaway or Mel Gibson, or even Joe Biden comments are a fine example of the PC crowd running totally amuck. Whether we agree (condone) or don’t agree with the statements that these high profile types make is irrelevant. They are allowed to say them. Calling for them to go to rehab for thought or word is akin to the Khmer Rouge camps of the 70’s. I have been called worse things in front of my face and god and the people who gossip about me behind my back only know what is said, I am still here, alive and somewhat well.

I am at the point where I am finally offended by the people who claim offense at the spoken word. We have laws for libel/slander etc. to deal with unproven or unprovoked personal attacks. I have to wonder about the people who let the spoken word offend them. How droll and boring your life must be if you have to look and find offense at words. (A direct verbal assault on ones person is different I agree. ) But in the case of the Southwest Airlines who were sued because the rhyme of One for the money, two for the show-was offensive to a couple of minority women is ludicrous.

On the otherhand, the passengers should sue the imams for mental duress, they were acting funny/wierd. AS we know-or should have learned by now from any playground or social scenario, that actions speak louder than words. This principal holds true on both the positive and negative side of any issue. The imams were acting differently than any other passenger, thus calling attention to themselves and got just that, attention then expulsion.

Posted by: scottp at March 22, 2007 12:00 AM
Comment #213142

Jack, are these guys religious zealots because they are suing passengers? Or are we just a little sensitive because they are Muslims? Your post is interesting and Im not really in disagreement with you I just dont see what makes them religoius zealots.

Posted by: j2t2 at March 22, 2007 12:15 AM
Comment #213169

Jack,

In France, President Chirac offered the services of his own personal lawyer to the OPPONENTS of freedom.

I didn’t know that. Could you provide me a link?

Meanwhile, at least two french newpapers did exercise their freedom of speech by publishing the cartoons of controversy. Freedom of speech works.

But when you’re free (and should continue to) to express whatever opinion, you’re not free from possible legal consequences. That’s why we have justice, laws and judges.

It’s not because you’re sued that you’re guilty. It’s up to justice to sort out charges. That’s its business (and, alas, indeed, it’s more and more a lucrative business). The fact that freedom of speech cases are raising doesn’t mean the censor(s) wins more often.
Just they try more often.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 22, 2007 6:57 AM
Comment #213179

fallible humans should stick to holding each other accountable ONLY for deeds that affect other fallible humans. Lighten up about the words. If the bad things they say are not true, point out the error. If they are true, you need to change your own ways.

If you sincerely subscribe to this, Jack, then down in “Nowruz” will you tell the Watchblog editor that you have no problem with Gleep the chimp referring “you Republicans” as “stupid?”

I agree that we need to lighten up on the words, and I don’t like the idea of legal action being raised over what someone says. But remember that these are a few people filing a lawsuit, what we like to call a “nuisiance lawsuit.”

But words matter and no matter how you slice it, even the most intelligent, broad minded person can be emotionally harmed by words. Personally, I think the problem only diminishes as you get older, and as more and more unpleasant words hit you and you start to realize, I survived the last barrage like this intact.


Posted by: Steve k at March 22, 2007 8:35 AM
Comment #213182

The ones that need to lighten up here are the muslims. They don’t have a very good standing in the world b/c of their islam-o-nazis (“pig”) fundementalists that the (so called) “moderate” muslims can’t get a control of, then they pull this stunt on the aircraft and can’t take a cartoon joke?!! F@#% Them! Let’s see them sue me over that!!

My goodness, you’d think we never had a 9/11 with the way these muslims are carrying on. The problem is “Multiculturalism” and “Politcal Correctness”. Stop “coddling” these inane comments and actions from the muslims. Make them grow up, stand up and (for God sakes) stop all this friggin complaining until they can actually prove (to the world) that Islam can be trusted!!

Posted by: rahdigly at March 22, 2007 9:05 AM
Comment #213187

Steve

You saw my response to the Nowruz thing. I just ridiculed Gleep and let him bray. Words should be countered with words. I tend to be very “liberal” on these things and I do not mind putting people down, even if they do not understand what I am talking about. As far as I am concerned, I castigated him as much as necessary and used words.

The Watchblog policy is meant to prevent this blog from degenerating. It is the right of free association. Nobody is trying to put Gleep (or others) in jail or make them pay a fine.

Freedom of speech does not imply the necessity of others to listen, it just means that they cannot use the law or threat of violence to silence you.

j2t2

I called them zealots because religion is the basis of their complaint and they are trying intimidate using the power of the state.

Phillipe

It was from a WSJ article yesterday by PHILIPPE VAL. It said it was translated from French. I do not know the original source.

Posted by: Jack at March 22, 2007 9:45 AM
Comment #213190

And here’s why you must read “foreign” news sources to ascertain what the current U.S. “government” is doing…

Bolton blocks peace in Middle East

Where is this in the list of U.S. news sources???? You’d have to dig and dig for this…but it’s openly reported on the BBC.

Posted by: Rachel at March 22, 2007 10:02 AM
Comment #213199

Live news: Charlie Hebdo is free of charge, decides the french court.

On the three cartoons, two were not targetting muslims as a whole but integrists (Mahomet saying kamikazes “Stop, we’re short of virgins” and Mahomet saying “it’s hard to be loved by idiots” under a “Mohamet integrists” title).
Their publications is, so, perfectly and without ambiguity legal in France, said the court.

The third one, Mahomet with a bomb in place of his turban, is, taken alone, of nature to offend muslims as a whole. But it should be taken in the Charlie Hebdo publication context, which was integrism and freedom of speech issue raised by violent reactions of muslim word after initial publication in Danish paper. The drawing as published in Charlie Hebdo could only be viewed as contributing to the debate on islam integrism which lead to such violence, wrote the court.

The limits of freedom of speech were not broken, these three cartoons contributing to the public debate of common good, the court concluded.

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 22, 2007 11:10 AM
Comment #213204

I called them zealots because religion is the basis of their complaint and they are trying intimidate using the power of the state…Posted by: Jack at March 22, 2007 09:45 AM

So: You agree that the anti-choice crowd are ‘zealots’. Of course both anti-choice and islamoterrorists use violence.

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at March 22, 2007 11:55 AM
Comment #213206

Phillippe

Congratulations. I hope we do as well in America.

Dave

Yes. Those that use violence and intimidation to supress speech are zealots.

I have seen both the pro-like and pro-choice (PC on both groups) do that.

Like most Americans, I think abortion is a bad thing that should be a woman’s choice. To the extent the pro-life people try to talk women out of making a bad choice, they are merely exercising free speech.

Violence is uncommon and when it is committed, it is a crime.

Posted by: Jack at March 22, 2007 12:26 PM
Comment #213213

I’m just trying to clarify. You stated:

I called them zealots because religion is the basis of their complaint and they are trying (to) intimidate using the power of the state…Posted by: Jack at March 22, 2007 09:45 AM
Violence was specifically not part of that observation. You said the “power of the state” to “intimidate” for “religion” based complaints. Is that not the definition of the Anti-choice crowd? Not the pro-choice. Do you not then define the so called pro-life crowd as religious zealots?

Posted by: Dave1-20-2009 at March 22, 2007 1:21 PM
Comment #213215

Freedom of speech does not imply the necessity of others to listen

I like that, Jack. It belongs on a bumper sticker!

Posted by: Steve K at March 22, 2007 1:40 PM
Comment #213243

Good One!!!! Jack!!!!
I agree with Steve K. It would make a great bumper sticker! Of course I have “Minds are like Parachutes, They Only Work When Opened”not only on my car but in my heart. Which brings me to your point.

We have a tendency to use the the word zealot when we are thinking in terms of religion. This of course is not true. Even some of the bloggers here could be considered zealots under its actually definition.

Merriam-Webster On-line defines the words ZEAL and ZEALOT as:
ZEAL:

: eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something

ZEALOT:

Function: adjective
: filled with or characterized by zeal : marked by fervent partisanship for a person, a cause, or an ideal;a fanatic.

Using this definition, anyone can be a zealot - and frankly they all frighten me. Anyone who is so very passionate that he\she would electively commit suicide for any cause is in my opinion a zealot. Also frankly anyone who would encourage this action is also a zealot.

I am however, equally, perhaps more frightened of those who would attempt to curb,regulate,or other wise control my rights, as the Patriot Act allows. This is perhaps because I perceive anyone attempting to knowingly, quietly, secretively, limiting my rights without a Constitutional amendment, or a legislative law to be a major treat.

I believe fervently(!!!!)in the adage “Your rights stop at the end of my nose, and mine stop at the end of yours.”

As far as the cartoons go - they may have been in bad taste, but a drawing doesn’t actually harm anyone, in and of itself. It is the Character of the individual that comes into question, and whether that person\s’ intent was to do harm, enlighten, voice an opinion, teach, be funny,etc.
How the cartoonist\s involved intended these cartoons does not seem to questionable. It appeared to they were attempting to enlighten the world about their perception of Muslims.

As for the passengers in the Airplane - I know very little about this particular issue. I do have a neighbor who was egged, his car destroyed, and fired in January of this year. He is a US Nationalized citizen born in Turkey. He was brought here by his parents at the age of 3. His offense is that he ‘looks like a terrorist according to his employer’ - a ‘Good Ole Red Neck Southern Boy’. Of course to this idiot (I hesitate to call him a persoon, yet alone a man)being a terrorist means having dark skin, wearing a turban while sporting a mustache. My friend happens to be Muslim, however, not only does he abhor what is happening in Iraq, he has joined the US Army, in hopes of being both a soldier and a translator between the US and Arabic people. He is trying work while awaiting his paper to be completed.

When anyone, political, religious, cultural, economical or personal takes on the fanaticism of a zealot, I become truly concerned. I don’t care who she\he\ or is.

Posted by: Linda H. at March 22, 2007 3:45 PM
Comment #213244

Rachel,

“And here’s why you must read “foreign” news sources to ascertain what the current U.S. “government” is doing…Bolton blocks peace in Middle East Where is this in the list of U.S. news sources???? You’d have to dig and dig for this…but it’s openly reported on the BBC.”

I looked at that source, it reminded me of why I miss Bolton as the UN Ambassador.

“Israel was reacting in its own self-defence and if that meant the defeat of the enemy, that was perfectly legitimate under international law. John Bolton”

Right on Bolton! I wish there were more like him.

Posted by: rahdigly at March 22, 2007 3:57 PM
Comment #213258

Bravo, Jack! Breathtakingly Rovian, charging the other side with what your side has been doing all along. You have learned from the Master. And the way your headline didn’t even describe the contents of the post. Brilliant! Clear Skies Initiative here we come. I mean, you are perfectly aware that your side supports the religious right which has for years attempted to push their religious agenda into schools using the courts. And I’m sure you are a great admirer of Rove, engineering attacks on Kerry’s war service, on Murtha’s loyalty, and John McCain’s morality. Why else emulate him.

I so much more enjoy it when you don’t invite snarkiness, but just address the issue straightforwardly. Then we can talk.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at March 22, 2007 5:34 PM
Comment #213274

Just what we need: more government to tell us what to do. I don’t endorse hate-speech. Common sense gave us the limits on that, but when the government steps in, they will always go overboard. If this happens, then what’s next? The Thought Police?

Posted by: stubborn conservative at March 22, 2007 7:44 PM
Comment #213297

What is alarming about these cases in Europe, especially in France, is that whatever the merits of any specific case, you do not see these cases being brought or applied on behalf of any religion except Islam.

Work which questions Christianity or calls attention to its failings is an absolute staple in the arts, intellectual work, and the media, and has been for hundreds of years. I don’t decry that these things go on, but the double standard here is clear.

When was it illegal to attack Christianity in a place like France? During the Dark Ages.

Making a separate set of rules now to spare the tender sensibilites of Muslims is akin to rolling back the clock to a time before the Englightenment, which is fine by those who want to live in and enjoy the material benefits of freedoms of the modern world without embracing the intellectual freedoms which made the modern world possible in the first place.

Posted by: Loyal Opposition at March 23, 2007 12:08 AM
Comment #213306
What is alarming about these cases in Europe, especially in France, is that whatever the merits of any specific case, you do not see these cases being brought or applied on behalf of any religion except Islam.

In fact, that’s quite new. In the past, most of the time such lawsuit in france was filed by jews communities or christian extremist groups.

Muslim communities, as the latest large religion in the block, join the lawsuit fillers club. It’s more related to lawsuit business and communitarism

Posted by: Philippe Houdoin at March 23, 2007 2:46 AM
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