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Repression of Free Speech


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All of you remember that famous issue in the netherlands concerning the depictions of Muhammed, and another issue concerning an indie director who was stabbed to death by fanatical muslims for his statements on islam.

These are just a few examples where extremist muslims have tried to repress free speech, usually they are muslims with strong connections to a conservative past from a conservative homeland under the thumb of a conservative branch of religion. These people still have a mentality that has striking parallels with Europe's own past, a past that many people in this day and age look upon with disgust.

Over here in America, during discussions that are related to islam, it is not uncommon for heckling and verbal violence to occur from disgruntled fanatics, again just one example of many. The thing that shocks me to the core is that there are many folks, almost always liberal in ideology, who defend the actions of these somewhat westernized islamic fanatics. I do not understand this. It is as if these people feel it is more important to uphold their own ethical and moral beliefs of toleration, than to uphold one of the most important rights we in the west have, which is the freedom to speak what we think and feel. I have seen it here at my community college. A person was going to put up a cartoon mocking muhammed, but the staff of the college censored it. This has happened all over the states, and yet if an image of christ was made in a mocking fashion, and there were some witty barbs attached, I can pretty much guarintee that some of the staff would probably secretly chuckle at the joke.

I dont see this bizzare logic. People would rather defend the decency of a revered spiritual leader, than to defend the freedom to defile the image of that said spiritual leader. Personally, I think it is crude and rude to mock Muhammed in most circumstances, because it can be insensitive. But I must say that it should be totally allowed, and NOBODY should ever be bullied and attacked for speaking their mind, about anything!

Many of these people defending fanatics are generally pretty liberal, and are usually the ones who hold to the freedom of speech as something almost sacred. Why is it then, that so many of these folks become so damn uptight when this freedom is used to mock islam? At universities, why are educated men heckled, and why is it that the sentiment of pity aimed more towards the extreme believers?

What is wrong with the west??? RIght now over in europe (I do not claim to know the situation over in europe, and I may be speaking in ignorance), there are large communities of muslims that refuse to acculturate. That is totally cool. The problem is this, that this failure to acculturate, mixed with an extreme form of an ideology that is extremely cohesive in it's hatred for the west, breeds danger. It is a festering wound in the west, yet people are too afraid to do anything that seems insensitive.

I hate to say this, but in order to make choices that seem to favor one group over another, you are going to have to be insensitive to one of the two parties. So many liberal minded people seem to dream of a time where all intolerance, all hatred, all injustice is banished. They take this sentiment, and incorperate it where they live and function. It is a beautiful sentiment that should not be thrown away, and should totally be utilized with a sober, rational mind, but you cannot live like this unrealistically blinding yourself to the realities that there are folks who would want to displace others, repress others, and be cruel to others.

I am not saying this about all muslims, and I get pretty scared when people who bring up these points are attacked, and called bigots. You cannot judge a single person by an architype that you have created inside your head. It is ignorant, and is pretty hypocritical when looking at everything in the big picture.

I am just concerned, not really for the issues concerning islam, but for the strange double standards I see in the minds and hearts of folks that have a more liberal bias. I myself am not really conservative, and I dispise conservatives making their own double standards that seem much more disturbing than the liberal folks. I just dont like this trend mentioned. The trend that seems to focus more on the defense of sensitivities, and the shallow attempts at healing the bigotry of the colonial West.

P.S. The "you's" and "I's" I have used are not directed towards any individual. It is just a sign of poor essay writing.lol I wanted to make sure you guys knew I wasent attacking any individual here. If I actually took the time to really write something like this in a proper and cohesive manner, it would read much better, and probably bring the point across in a better fashion. It is just late and I dont want to take the time.lol

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Verbal insult doesn't directly kill, but it is still an insult. It is usual by intelligency of the christian countries to mock the religion, because christianity doesn't defend itself (now), as after last two councils its teaching focuses on the mountain-preaching...what you don't find in islam. Task of every traditional religion is to teach manners, so we can see it done on more levels.

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See, but this kind of culture clashing will get worse. I agree with you that manners should be respected, but not at the cost of the west's most important freedoms. They have become such important virtues, and more than that, they are necissary for a working democracy to exist. It makes no sense to respect one culture to the point of being coerced(bs) and bullied.

There is a book titled "Decline of the West". In it, it discribes the west as "faustian". He goes on to discribe that the west constantly tries to amend what is unamendable, and is always unfulfilled, full of guilt. Especially because of the atrocities committed by the west through colonialism, the west always is trying to right the wrongs in all the wrong sort of ways.

I dont know, I just think that nothing these days is being addressed correctly.

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Freedom can never be forced on people, and should not be used on sensitive issues where it will insult. Look at the video in the joke thread about Top Gear, a British TV program which went to America an insulted Americans. They nearly got killed (slight exaggeration, but it might have happened).

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The thing that shocks me to the core is that there are many folks, almost always liberal in ideology, who defend the actions of these somewhat westernized islamic fanatics.

But the thing is that Islam is at the center of the whole "global" terrorist issue. For example, speaking of and depicting Jews (or colored people for that matter) in a certain way would, for us, be just as disturbing as we speak of Islam and it's "role" in the west. Granted it is a religion, but isn't it the same when speaking of restrictions on immigration or communism?

I also believe that Muslims take their faith much more serious than us in the West. We've basically already established that there are no such thing as a god or an afterlife. 

But I must say that it should be totally allowed, and NOBODY should ever be bullied and attacked for speaking their mind, about anything!

The issue may be easier for you to discuss than for other people. Like Caid said, some people take insults much more serious than you or I may do. What can be said about white people? Or the West? What, we're "too sexist"? Or "too stupid"? Or that we don't care about the rest of the world, or our environment? That we're too materialistic? I agree on some of these things, but they don't insult me. I can just as well point out, although I do not mean it, that "hey, we're not as poor as in Africa", or "at least we don't treat our women like they do in Iran". I believe these things will insult them much more than anything they can say about us.

And that is why the freedom of speach is a difficult question. Of course I support the freedom to say whatever you like to say, or depict anything and anybody in any way you like - but you yourself have to be aware of other people's history and their respective faith.

What is wrong with the west??? RIght now over in europe (I do not claim to know the situation over in europe, and I may be speaking in ignorance), there are large communities of muslims that refuse to acculturate. That is totally cool. The problem is this, that this failure to acculturate, mixed with an extreme form of an ideology that is extremely cohesive in it's hatred for the west, breeds danger.

Well, sadly to say, there are no easy answers. Most Muslims are not violent, and can discuss with other people about their faith and their ways. However, one must know the role of the media. Islam and terrorism is something one will see at least once every week in any kind of media, and this people have no power of. So, of course Muslims are upset when caricatures of Mohammed is shown in the media - because this lead to further discussion which can only be summed up, on the short scale, to "freedom versus Islam".

Imagine Christianity being in that position.

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It doesnt have anything to do with "freedom" versus islam, those statements are way too ambiguous (again bad speller here) to make. It also isnt about forcing freedom on people. The very idea itself is kinda paradoxical, you cannot do it, it is like fire and ice. That kind of demogoguery is so sick, so ironic. Our president and his cabinet over here are pretty good examples of it.

How can one draw the line on mere sensitivity? Once you start drawing vague lines in the sand in what someone can and cannot say, then you are not being faithful to the right to free speech. You cannot dilute it, you have to trust that the people will use the freedom responsibly. Only when someone incites violence or continually harrasses someone, should the speech be questioned.

From what you guys are saying, and I think it is very noble and kind, I get the idea that we have to treat Islam as a culture differently than other cultures that we come across as westerners. I sense that there is a fear that any sort of insensitivity will lead down a slippery slope into real race crimes. This is largely unfounded. There have been real beatings of muslim peoples, real harrassment, but this isnt the rule though, and it would be pretty two dimensional to assume so greatly that it is. These criminal actions need to be put down, but using these examples is fear mongering, and is manipulative, wrong any way you look at it.

Many who get easily offended in the islamic faith are still living in a pretty antiquated state of mind. They transplant their cultural and social whims over here to the west. Now if we are going to break down barriers, and expand horizons, we have to set a limit to the amount of cultural segregation that people hold to. Those muslims who are still very socially and religiously conservative do not vibe well with some of the ideologies here in the west. Is it smart though to relinquish the core freedoms we have herei n the west, for the sake of not offending others who come to europe and the americas? those few who do actually bully and harrass others for speaking their minds on how they feel about the extreme elements of islam, should they be allowed to do so? If we select when or where or who should be allowed to use the freedoms of free speech, arent we perverting the freedom itself? The vagueness is dangerous because you could use this as a precedent to block the same freedom in other circumstances.

As you guys well know, and have somewhat mentioned, this kind of protection for manners and sensitivity is not given for most christian denominations, nor is it always given to people of jewish descent and faith. I believe that the freedom of speech should never be silenced, for anyone's sensitivity, unless it becomes true harrassment, where it openly incites violence.

I just dont see how people can believe in multiculturalism, globalism and all the like, and still allow and protect sects of peoples who are generally extreme nationalists, and sympathizers with folks who are hostile towards the west, and not allow people to attack their beliefs verbally.

I also dont understand why sympathizers (who are generally pretty liberal) protect extreme muslim points of view about homosexuality, treatment of women, and repression of free speech.

and then some folks in the west are made in certain circumstances to hold their tongues, and not speak their own minds on what problems they see.

The smoke and mirrors these days are much more elaborate. The simple can easily see the hard iron of fascism that is being pumped from some parties in the west. It seems much harder though for folks to detect the soft tyranny of thought control, the jackboots come with smiles these days when it comes to people who would want to punish others for "hate speech". Those who speak of nationalism, isolationism, racism, religion, communism, and other controversial points of view should be aware that there is an imminant danger coming. I dont agree with most of these "isms", I just love the freedom that protects these ideologies, the difference are worlds apart.

I hate the mindsets of those who would repress other peoples mindsets.

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See, but this kind of culture clashing will get worse. I agree with you that manners should be respected, but not at the cost of the west's most important freedoms. They have become such important virtues, and more than that, they are necissary for a working democracy to exist. It makes no sense to respect one culture to the point of being coerced(bs) and bullied.

There is a book titled "Decline of the West". In it, it discribes the west as "faustian". He goes on to discribe that the west constantly tries to amend what is unamendable, and is always unfulfilled, full of guilt. Especially because of the atrocities committed by the west through colonialism, the west always is trying to right the wrongs in all the wrong sort of ways.

I dont know, I just think that nothing these days is being addressed correctly.

It's not a freedom, it's decay. Our culture was built on the aristotelian maxim of the "right measure". Obscene rhetoric is in effectu same as a censored one. There are still many forms of extremism, which are being legally oppressed, because of their destructive effect on the democracy, and on any worthly organisation in general. It's not because of a guilt-feeling, that's a very idealistic explanation. Nazism or communism aren't european closet-skeletons, but extremist form of our political thought, feelings which are normally restrained. And both were closely bound with disrespect, or even hate against a generally defined enemy.

What is done even here: muslims are unable to accept european idea of tolerance, dh they cannot assimilate into our culture, dh they are a threat. Enemy is born, saga continues at http://www.cnn.com/ and http://www.aljazeera.com/

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I dont think you can blow what I said off as mere idealism. Sure, I skimmed the surface, and maybe I was being a bit too subjective, but I dont have time to go into the details of my entire train of thought.

I also believe that you have delved into subjectivity, discribing the topic discussed as "decay". This is purely a personal opinion. I am not saying it is an incorrect one, but it goes into the same field of personal opinion as I just said.

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I think Islam in this question can easily be replaced with another political idea. For example, would the US ever allow a fascist senator to run for precidency? Even if so, would it ever tolerate new "police laws"? That is the kind of problem I think we're talking about.

And it would it not also be a paradox if we said that everybody is welcome to share our freedom, but only so long they loose some of their percieved freedoms, like being a fanatic? It is almost similar as for us going to Iran with a woman who needs to wear a cloth over her head there.

I think that people have too look at change in the long term. Already in Iran, the new young generation is choosing a western style of freedom of and from religion. I don't think that the West can ask Islam to change, but to wait for it to change itself by it's own believers, much like Christianity has done in the past.

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I dont think you can blow what I said off as mere idealism. Sure, I skimmed the surface, and maybe I was being a bit too subjective, but I dont have time to go into the details of my entire train of thought.

I also believe that you have delved into subjectivity, discribing the topic discussed as "decay". This is purely a personal opinion. I am not saying it is an incorrect one, but it goes into the same field of personal opinion as I just said.

I'm not claiming an objectivity. One cannot (and should not try to) be objective, when he talks about the culture he dwells in. Acceptance of the subjective thought is also the problem, which you've named "repression of free speech". It's not about tolerance, maintaining of freedom, but dialogue ;)  That demands some empathy.

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I don't have time to go into the whole thing, though it's a fascinating debate. I'd just like to point out that Iran is very, very different to Afghanistan. The Iranian Revolution is still in people's minds, even those who were not alive to see it. The movement that it entailed was a mass popular movement which encompassed not just the Islamic opposition to the Shah, but consisted of unionisation, grassroots organisation, womens' liberation movements*, and so forth. Unfortunately, Khomeini's crowd managed to gain control, possibly with help from the USSR, and has been fighting the progressive movements ever since.

Yes, there was a time when students in Iran were playing around with western-style ideas, but they've since shifted to a more liberation-based stance (being no less, and perhaps more secular) and seem to be getting somewhere again.

* Hijab rules are fairly loose compared to, say, Saudi Arabia

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"I don't think that the West can ask Islam to change, but to wait for it to change itself by it's own believers"

very true, but when those muslim believers come to the Americas, or Europe, with different laws, different cultural norms, they must somewhat acculturate themselves socially to their surroundings. We are not a fully unified world yet, and the culture changes can be immense.

It would work the same way if unbelievers of european descent came to certain parts of indonesia, or syria. They would have to acculturate themselves to that culture.

It just seems like common sense. The problem is, when people say things like acculturation, or subordination, they are looked upon at times as extremists for the right, or weirdo nationalists.

Islam is foreign to the west, probably the most foreign ideology that we have encountered. The difference in our current cultural progression as compared to most middle eastern muslims is huge.

I am going to collect my thoughts, I cannot break through on what I am trying to get across. Ill post tomorrow.

Also there is a progressive bent to many young people in Iran, but Iran has always been a bit different. People seem to think of Iranian folks as arabs, which is not true. People compare persian culture with different arabic cultures, which is a bit sketchy to do if you are not careful. The cultures of these peoples have developed differently. I can see Iran actually pulling out of the uber-fundimentalism that plagues it in a much speedier fashion.

I do agree though it will take time to change the face of the middle east. And even if that is accomplished, it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. We would have to indoctrinate the youth in western fashion, using school systems, the media, and other tools in order to ravage the middle east of it's religion.

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We are not a fully unified world yet, and the culture changes can be immense.

Most interesting. If we ask them to change into "our" culture, then we can never be a unified world. In order for the world to be unified, many cultures and ways of living must be unified in one way or another for the world to live as one. I think it is this that makes most "liberals" and eventual "leftists" to be rather "easy" on foreign cultures.

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I'm a conservative rightist and have no problem to deal with others; word "unification" is always just another name for "assimilation" or "subjugation". We don't need syncreticism, nor creating some utopic structure, only understanding.

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I'm a conservative rightist and have no problem to deal with others; word "unification" is always just another name for "assimilation" or "subjugation". We don't need syncreticism, nor creating some utopic structure, only understanding.

Yet, this is what globalization gives us. Assimilation of markets, like the European Union. Syncretisation of laws.

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As for the original topic, it's rather easy to explain why liberals tend to defend muslims against mockery and other such verbal attacks, while creating a double standard by saying that it's their right to chant "Death to America" all day long. It has to do with the underdog phenomenon - perhaps it gives some a moral high to defend the part they perceive to be "weaker" (think Israel vs. Palestine). Essentially, some think that because we're the developed West, we have everything, while the Middle East and Africa weren't so fortunate, and they have nothing. So, in a sense, that's almost used as a handicap - as if they have a right to be angry at us for their misfortunes, while we do not share a reciprocal right. This goes along with minority rights being hailed and nourished over the principles of the majority, which is another liberal standpoint. I believe conservatives (american) are less prone to this logical fallacy due to their belief in self-determination and social darwinism.

As a liberal myself, I think it's always important to grasp this fallacy at its roots, before it affects your judgment, by generally questioning your motives, i.e. what makes you feel this way about the issue?

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We are not a fully unified world yet, and the culture changes can be immense.

yeah I shouldnt have written that, or written parts of my discussion in the context of globalization or assimilation. Reason being is I dont fully believe in it, but was really discussing it from a different perspective from my own. So I was wrong in writing that.

Ill try to get on again and post a bit more, really busy at the moment though.

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Watching Cspan last night and saw Ayaan Hirsi Ali discuss her new book. She spoke on it, but ended up spilling into the broader topics of islam in the western world. I highly suggest her work to anyone. She was born in Somalia, and raised a muslim. She eventually left to get away from a contractual marriage. Her speech was amazing and insightful, as well as the Q & A session afterwords. She brought up so many things that I hadent really heard many talk about. Things like the west's guilt for it's colonial past, the use of this guilt by muslims as a trump card in debate. She also discussed and brought up many scenerios that bring out the fact that islam is a difficult religion to acculturate with the west, mainly because it is so tied in with the relatively backword cultures that exist in many nations within africa and the middle east. She brought up one statistic in particular(forgot the sources she gave) that showed a small example of how the religion itself is hard to adapt to the west. She talked about two specific tribes of people, one Christian, and one muslim. Many of these folks immigrated to France I do believe, and it was found that after two generations, the christian african folks had an easier time adapting to western culture than the muslim african folks. I can only guess that this is because the west has not-so-distant ties to christianity. I am sorry that I cannot remember the sources, ill try looking into it myself, I am also not doing the best job in explaining this statistic, so really you can take it or leave it if you want.

What I enjoyed about her is that she really had no underlying vindictive agenda, which I usually see in folks talking about this topic. I also enjoyed her bringing up this problem we have in the west. The fact that it has been a long time since we had to defend the rights and privilages we have here in the west. The fact that the west is becoming too apathetic, and really could possibly destroy itself from the collective guilt that racks it so. She discussed it in such a better way than I am right now, which is a pity. I should probably try to take more time typing this out.

There is something dangerous about specific muslims coming to the west only to take advantage of it's resources, all of what it has to offer. I have heard some extreme muslims going hysterical about the degredations and inequalities that they suffer, which in some cases is true, which bothers me. I have also heard those same people then use this, as well as using the weak argument of the west's oppressive past, in order to give violent folks reason to do what they do. It seems extremely rediculous though, because at least people like this can (most of the time, which I also dont like) criticise the government where they are staying, and act openly hostile towards it's people, government, and customs, but If I were to go to certain muslim controlled governments in africa and the middle east, and seriously criticise the moral fiber of mohammed or his teachings, I could easily be killed.

there are so many double standards, so many weird protocols you have to follow when discussing Islam, it was refreshing to hear this woman speak.

Please check her out, she is quite brilliant.

Its also funny to note that in the netherlands where she lives, she has to be protected with bodyguards because of the constant death threats. She did this because her good friend and film director (forgot his name) was stabbed to death by an extremist muslim after many death threats.

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  • 9 months later...

I'd just like to step in and say - without getting too involved in the discussion - that matters will always get confused if we continue to insist on lumping people into groups and giving them labels. I'm thinking particularly of this term "liberal." It's such a broad term, and so relative. You could have two different groups of liberals campaigning for two totally different ideals, and have a "conservative," or, at least, someone's who's less left-wing, come along and say: 'Hey, these stupid die-hard liberals are fighting against their own ideals.' It's so silly to have to be either "liberal" or "conservative" - can't one pick and choose from both camps, so long as one's consistent? 

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Shouldn't it be the kids who should be killed? They are the ones who came up with the name.

Same thing for a woman who is raped by 20 guys. She cheated on her husband and deserves to die as well. While the rapists only get a small punishment.

Oh and alchemi2 it is the same people who riot and burn embassies because of cartoons. And if this is happening in Sudan it is the same people who think you can cure aids by having sex with a virgin and other crap.

yayislamvo5.jpg

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Well apparently it is hard to say who called the teddy bear Mohamed. At first everyone said it was the teacher, than it was all the kids, than it was just one boy, than all the kids named it after one of the classmates.

The reason for such outburst on Islamic part is because Muslims in many of those countries see themselves under attack by the western countries that are trying to push over their values and their ideas on the Muslim countries and they see the teddy bear episode as just one of the events. The reason they don't like those values is because the west has been for all the Cold Era never really stood up for those values, so to them they are just whole bunch of hypocritical statements. Sudanese don't want to follow those hypocritical ideas. Let's remember that the west is interfering in Darfur. Sudanese could see that as an internal affair in which other countries should not concern themselves.

Who ever is rallying these Sudanese is doing so to push more anti-western foreign policy. Because, the leaders believe that the west is just being neo-colonist and not allowing Sudan to be independent in its decision making and policies.

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I can't say I understand the whole teddy bear incident. I mean, call me an ignoramus, but isn't Mohammad a pretty common name in the Middle East? I don't see the connection with either the prophet or Islam in general. Is there some vital detail I'm unaware of? In that case, I apologise in advance, but I still think these extremist demonstrators are making a mockery of themselves by blaming a whole continent (Europe) for some isolated incidents - or are they bemoaning the general moral decadence of the West? I find their wishful extermination of a whole continent of people to be morally reprehensible. But perhaps it's worthless to reason with these people. I hope I'm not offending anyone here - I'm not referring to Muslims in general.

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For Muslims it is extremely wrong to idolize Mohammad.

So naming a teddy bear Mohammad is creating an item which idolizes

Mohammad. But for some reason naming your children Mohammad is a good thing. Doesn't really  make sense to me. Unless naming humans after their god is a good thing, but anything other than humans is bad (seems simple).

Muslims: Teddy Bear Protesters Don't Represent Us

Here are the western assimilated Muslims that denounce those whacky Muslims which seem to come mostly from third world countries that have nothing better to do but incite violence.

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The reason the western Muslims are not supporting the Sudanese is because this is not a religious issue as much as it is a political and cultural issue. Sudan feels that it has been manipulated and abused by the West too many times and so anything like this action by a westerner is just putting salt in the wound. Most likely the message that the extremists are pushing is that this is another attempt by the west to push over their ideal on us. This time they are mocking our religion and since it is a teacher that means she is teaching our children that our religion is a joke.

And I know it does sound stretched but this is the attitude that they are experiencing right now because of historical circumstances that they were in before.

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