Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Europe and Free Speech

It appears that the Iranian paper that held the Holocaust cartoon competition was accurate in their conclusion that the taboo on defamation of the memory of Shoah victims is the best European analogy for mocking representations of Mohammed.

Austria's sentencing of Holocaust revisionist David Irving for denying that Jews were murdered by gassing at Auschwitz certainly seems to call into question all the self-righteous pontification about the inviolate nature of unhindered political expression in the West.

How should this obvious double standard be viewed by Muslims who are sympathetic to the vocal opponents of the cartoons? First of all, it's important to note that nobody rioted on the occasion of Irving's books being published. However, it's easy to see that the publishing of the turban bomb, etc., cartoons falls into the category of "speech we like," which requires no moral courage to protect, while Holocaust denial is clearly "speech we don't like," which, as the received wisdom goes, is the most important kind to defend. Sure, no one rioted against Irving, but then no one had to, since everyone knew that the power of the state would be brought to bear against him.

If you want to argue that some things are just too sacred, and that the sacredness of such things requires state protection--which is what most European countries do, whether it's the Holocaust, France's war crimes in Algeria, or any number of other historical sore spots--your protests that the Danish state rightly has no ability to regulate the conduct of its newspapers is going to seem pretty lame, and is going to go down as yet another public relations disaster in the fight to convince Muslims that our way of organizing society is better than theirs.

6 Comments:

Blogger hurtleg said...

I am appalled that the state in a supposedly free society would put a person in jail for what they wrote. Austria is no better than the Harvard Faculty in promoting liberal western values.

I am furious at America's MSM for bowing to political correctness and not showing the cartoons in question that have caused riots around the world. I was shocked and angry at the weak response by the state department spokesman on this issue.

I think there is a distinction between Europe and the US in the handling of these affairs (although I doubt the radicals would make the distinction.) As silly as Kos and his crowd is, no one is trying to censor him or through him in jail, whereas Austria did put someone in jail for free speach.

I think Jeff is correct that we appear hypocritical. I wish I knew what to do about it.

6:22 PM  
Blogger RaginCajun said...

long may our (blog) banner wave...

8:21 PM  
Blogger sexyretard said...

Screw the Europeans, they're pinheads. They've always been hypocritical. Nuclear power? Ghettos? Free speech restrictions? Their segregation makes America look pretty friggin progressive.

The only mystery to me is why they decided to dabble in "democracy" in letting the newspapers print the offensive cartoons. They are assholes and they should at least be consistently assholes; we are not without our own blame. We believe in "free elections" until elections have results we don't like. We believe in "free speech" until Prof. Summers suggests something that we don't like. We believe in "free exercise of religion" until some cheerleader wants to pray before a football game.

Still, I much prefer us to the Danes and the Austrians.

8:17 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Screw the Europeans, they're pinheads. They've always been hypocritical. Nuclear power? Ghettos? Free speech restrictions? Their segregation makes America look pretty friggin progressive."

Why the charge of hypocrisy re: nuclear power and ghettos?

"We believe in "free speech" until Prof. Summers suggests something that we don't like. We believe in "free exercise of religion" until some cheerleader wants to pray before a football game."

Interesting points. On the first, was the Summers affair an example of limiting free speech? I had no problem with what he said about women and math (not because I totally agree with it, but because he can say whatever he wants), but the faculty apparently had many problems with him (apart from that) going back quite a while. I don't doubt that they used his words cynically/politically against him, but that's definitely part of the world of academia. If Larry Summers and Ward Churchill are going to say controversial things, we have to acknowledge their right to say them, but everyone also has the right to rail against them for saying those things. I don't really see how his free speech was denied.

As for the praying cheerleaders, I guess I agree with you.

10:11 AM  
Blogger hurtleg said...

"If Larry Summers and Ward Churchill are going to say controversial things, we have to acknowledge their right to say them"

Yes, but no one is trying to throw either one in jail.

As much as a fraud and cook I think Ward Churchill is, it never crossed my mind to try and censor him. Now, it is a different debate if a public university should be paying for this gibberish. I know I would be outraged if I were a taxpayer in Colorado paying for this junk.
Ward Churchill was hired for PC reasons and lied about his credentials, I think that is reason enough to fire him, not specifically for what he is saying.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"Now, it is a different debate if a public university should be paying for this gibberish. I know I would be outraged if I were a taxpayer in Colorado paying for this junk."

Here's a good link explaining the philosophy behind why you should be paying for that junk.

12:03 PM  

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