A Time for Speech and a Time for Judgment

Avatar

Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

Related Post Roulette

276 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    When Right-Wing political parties with platforms like “DEPORT THE IMMIGRANTS!” arise, it will all be part of the backlash to the backlash to the backlash to the backlash to the backlash (and so on).Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Jaybird says:

      ??? I don’t understand how you get from Vikram’s post to this at all. As my geometry teacher used to say, “Show your work!”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Burt Likko says:

        Oh, sorry. I got that from what Carney said and I saw red.Report

      • Actually, this was a really good comment by Jay though it did take me a while to unravel.

        At some point someone created Islam. Then someone said something bad about it. That was level 1 backlash.

        Next, believers decided that it would be a good rule to sanction (let’s just use that term for now and acknowledge that for some people this means “kill”) people who criticize Islam. There’s level 2.

        Level 3: Onlookers, including French newspapers centuries later decided they didn’t like this and purposefully violated what the level 2 people were trying to prevent.

        Level 4: The White House criticized Level 3ers for poor judgment.
        Level 4.1: Others, more offended by that, settled for killing the Level 3ers.

        Level 5: I wrote a post that could easily be interpreted as a critique of Obama, for his Level 4 backlash.

        Level 6: Jaybird wrote his comment.

        Level 7: Burt backlashed against Jaybird for not showing his work.

        Level 8: I’m criticizing Burt for not having gotten Jay’s point, assuming I did actually get his point, and this was what he was talking about.Report

      • @vikram-bath

        Finally, the history of the world from ca. 600 to January 8, 2015, 6:13 pm.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Burt Likko says:

        An odd history, given that it culminates in the author naming himself history’s greatest monster. FWIW, I acquit you of this sobriquet, @vikram-bath , and continue to respect you even when we disagree. You’re really hard on yourself, man.Report

      • I prefer the term meta-monster.Report

  2. Avatar Tim Kowal says:

    I don’t think that’s it. The West doesn’t seem to like fighting for national interest, which carries the taint of imperialism, or for liberal principles, which smacks of Western privilege. This makes it hard to put up a defense when the bully is a minority group. We’re cool with South Korea, so we can give the Norks the bird without risk of being called racists. (And for whatever reason, Asians in general seem to get only grudging recognition as minorities.) When it comes to Muslims, however, we tie ourselves in knots, there being no clear way to subject them to an old-fashioned liberal critique without critiquing them *against* something.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      Yeah Tim we’ve been pretty snuggly and gentle on Muslims for the last few years. Why we will hardly raise a stern word to them…..we’ll blow them up and run their countries and invade Iraq for “Freedom” but yeah we don’t want to say harsh words to them. Yup.Report

      • Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist in reply to greginak says:

        Exactly. Printing a cartoon is unwise, but bombing wedding parties to get that one bad guy is just exporting freedom.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        I’m not saying that they deserved to have their wedding parties bombed, but if they want to associate themselves with bad actors by living so closely to them, they shouldn’t be surprised when blowback against the bad actors is vigorous to the point where it includes people who otherwise had little to do with bad action.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to greginak says:

        So far, Jay, the only folks we’ve seen taking that position is some dude in comments on another blog and you mockingly. In fact, you’ve made it a few times, now and that dude only one. It’s apparently so unpopular that the mocking occurs many times more than the argument itself.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        Mocking’s as violent as I want to get… but I’m going to lean the hell into it.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      Yeah I am not fully buying this.

      I do think it is potentially hard for an executive to be a full fledged civil libertarian for reasons that I have trouble articulating but it has something to do with the executive being a manager elected to keep things calm and prosperous. Civil liberties rarely keep things calm even if they are absolutely necessary. I also think that the Bush II Presidency would be just as cautious on defending Charlie Hebdo in the same way that Jay Carney was.Report

    • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      What would “fighting for liberal principles” consist of here, Tim?Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      It’s true that instead of fighting for our national interest, we do stuff like invading Iraq.Report

    • Avatar LWA in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      I am going to agree with Tim here, from maybe a different direction.
      We DO have a habit of viewing world conflicts through our own lenses, overlaying them with the tint of our political persuasions.

      Like for instance, how do we characterize this attack?

      1. Conservative religious fanatics attack an irreverent paper;
      Liberals fall in with said paper arguing individual freedom, conservatives appeal to moral order;

      2. White Europeans mock and ridicule brown skinned foreigners and get attacked;
      Liberals defend the sensitivities of dark skinned people; Conservatives stand up for freedom of press.

      But of course, both scenarios only shoehorn this data point into our preferred and familiar narrative- as if this is Lester Maddox versus Malcom X or Jerry Falwell versus Larry Flynt.

      I think we as liberals CAN be honest about the problems within the world’s Muslim community- there ARE radical and dangerous elements in it. And these elements aren’t of our making- other nations, other cultures have agency and agendas and histories all of their own.
      It can easily be said (because I myself HAVE said it) that there are also dangerous elements within the Christian world as well. Which is true enough, but it isn’t productive or helpful to turn this into a BSDI argument.

      It also isn’t helpful to wave a brush across 1 billion Muslims and assert that this is a “War on Civilization” by crazed barbarian hordes. This attack happened within the context of the multiple wars being fought on many fronts- it has strings connecting it to French domestic issues, religious struggles within Islam, even the tectonic changes brought about by modernity itself.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LWA says:

        I certainly agree that we’re a whole lot closer to the “lone nutjob” end of the spectrum here than we are to a Mein Kampf-like struggle of cultures.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LWA says:

        @burt-likko, I’m not so sure about that. Ever since the Danish cartoon incident, there have been many incidents of at least some Muslims acting out against anything they perceive as blasphemy from non-Muslims including mass protests. This seems to suggest that while these attacks and protests might be ostensibly done by lone nut jobs, they do have community support that comes from somewhere. These incidents wouldn’t be as repetitive otherwise.

        Muslims throughout the world feel themselves to be under a sense of siege, beleaguered by opponents. The failure of development and tyranny in many Muslim-majority countries coupled with the marginalization of Muslim immigrants in Europe have led to widespread anger. Much of this anger is justified but a lot of it is not at the same time. There seems to be a widespread entitlement problem among Muslims that leads more than a few in the community to engage in desperate acts.Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to LWA says:

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2015/01/07/how-do-americans-feel-about-muhammad-cartoons/

        “But the same Pew survey asked whether people thought the controversy was more about “Muslim intolerance” or “Western disrespect.” People chose “Muslim intolerance” by a 3-to-1 margin, 60 percent to 20 percent.

        The split was similar in European countries, but Muslims in those same European countries and other heavily Muslim countries overwhelmingly said the controversy was about “Western disrespect.””

        Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LWA says:

        @leeesq To be sure there have been mass protests, some of which have turned in to violence. Which are deplorable. But I distinguish that kind of violence from targeted assassinations, like the murder of Theo van Gogh. This thing in France looks a lot more like one than the other.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA says:

        @leeesq
        And that anger spills out in wildly irrational directions.
        @tim-kowal
        What do you think that poll tells us?Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to LWA says:

        Irrational, but not arbitrary. Look at the grouping of the poll numbers. It’s not asking if Muslims find the images disrespectful. I can understand their feeling disrespected. It’s asking whether the problem of Muslims killing cartoonists is principally the cause of Muslims’ intolerance or Westerners’ disrespect. The Muslim respondents overwhelmingly trace it to disrespect, where everyone else traces it to Muslims lacking tolerance of the give-and-take over civic discourse. It’s going to be hard to co-exist where there isn’t rough agreement on matters of basic liberalism.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA says:

        Tim,

        Yeah, that’s the issue I’ve been mulling over as well, actually. I just wonder how many concessions Westerners would have to make for a peaceful coexistence. Would refraining from mocking them outa respect for their beliefs suffice?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LWA says:

        @burt-likko, this seems like an artificial distinction to me. The massacre at Charlie Hebdo is just a more extreme version of other protests. The source of the reaction is the same regardless of how the reaction is expressed.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LWA says:

        @tim-kowal, the graph strikes me as being meaningless. It just shows that people will accuse the other side of being at fault more often than not.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to LWA says:

        It just shows that people will accuse the other side of being at fault more often than not.

        As opposed to what? Showing which side is thinks they’re right?Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA says:

        I think there is truth to the notion that the Muslim world (sweeping my hand across a billion people from my next door neighbors to the Sultan of Brunei) is much more illiberal than the West.
        Further, just because we consider it axiomatic and self-evident that Free Speech is grand and sacred, doesn’t mean they do. (I notice that all the Facebook memes and twits tend to have this self righteous tone, as if reciting pithy quotations from Ben Franklin or Thoreau will cause the Taliban chieftains to pause and blush with shame.)

        But having said that- are the world’s billions of Muslims bent on an army of conquest? Are they really not capable of living peaceably alongside us?

        Here is where I begin to sound like my old conservative self- Does liberalism not have any place for things sacred? I can’t help but notice that irreverent American humor didn’t seem to have any place for Micheal Richards yelling ni**er. And has anyone ever seen an avant-garde work of art showing MLK as a minstrel?

        Multiculturalism, that prized virtue of liberalism, should more than a stripping away of the boundaries of propriety to allow space for nonconformists and iconoclasts. It should also mean empathy for the sacred ideas of others shouldn’t it?Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to LWA says:

        @tim-kowal

        Look at the grouping of the poll numbers. It’s not asking if Muslims find the images disrespectful. I can understand their feeling disrespected. It’s asking whether the problem of Muslims killing cartoonists is principally the cause of Muslims’ intolerance or Westerners’ disrespect.

        That’s Bullshit. The poll questions make no mention of violence, and the poll was conducted in early February. No cartoonists or newspapermen had been killed or otherwise targeted by violence. People polled in 2006 were not responding to an attack that took place in 2015. They were responding to an anti-immigrant newspaper printing cartoons with the intent to offend, and the protests and riots that followed.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LWA says:

        @leeesq that’s a fair cop to a degree: deadly violence is deadly and violence is unacceptable in largely any context here. I draw the distinction, however, because (e.g.) the riot in Kabul about a (false) rumor concerning desecration of a Koran, culminating in the death of two American servicemen, was motivated in no small part by political protest of American military activity in, not just a perceived insult to the religion of the members of the rioting crowd. The murders of the French magazine authors, like the murder of Theo Van Gogh, was motivated almost exclusively by a desire to exact retribution upon cultural critics of Islam.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LWA says:

        I think that @tim-kowal has the right of it here, in that he has succinctly stated the cultural tension underlying this kind of violence. Either Islam is privileged from criticism, or it is not.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LWA says:

        It should also mean empathy for the sacred ideas of others shouldn’t it?

        What does it mean in the political sense to be empathetic? The whole concept of “sacred ideas” implicitly accepts the more fundamental aspect of any given religion or ideology. You cannot be politically liberal and religiously or ideological fundamentalist in any official capacity. You can be personally a fundamentalist and you can be personally empathetic, but politically, these ideas are incompatible.Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to LWA says:

        @alan-scott
        Theo Van Gogh was murdered in November 2004, more than a year before the February 2006 poll. In addition:

        “After the Danish government refused to meet with diplomatic representatives of the Muslim countries and would not intervene in the case, a number of Danish imams visited the Middle East in late 2005 to raise awareness of the issue. They presented a dossier containing the twelve cartoons from the Jyllands-Posten, false informations and other images manipulated to indicate hate. As a result, the issue received prominent media attention in some Muslim countries, leading to protests across the world in late January and early February 2006. [Poll was conducted Feb. 9-12, 2006. -tmk] Some escalated into violence resulting in more than 200 reported deaths, attacks on Danish and other European diplomatic missions, attacks on churches and Christians, and a major international boycott. Some groups responded to the outpouring of protest by endorsing the Danish policies, launching “Buy Danish” campaigns and other displays of support. The cartoons were reprinted in newspapers around the world both in a sense of journalistic solidarity and as an illustration in what became a major news story.”

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversyReport

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA says:

        The whole concept of “sacred ideas” implicitly accepts the more fundamental aspect of any given religion or ideology.

        That depends on whether you treat “sacred” as a metaphysical or psychological concept. If you treat it as a psychological one, recognizing that there are certain ideas, certain concepts, certain values, and certain practices that are fundamental not only to some people’s world view, but to their sense of identity and community, then it becomes possible to be empathetic to those ideas, concepts, values, and practices, without accepting anything further about them. Hell, you can be empathetic and critical at the same time. I’d suggest that the best criticisms of cultural and social practices almost always contain within them some amount of empathy. Without it, they’re going to be shallow and myopic, almost by definition.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to LWA says:

        Further, just because we consider it axiomatic and self-evident that Free Speech is grand and sacred

        It remains to be shown that we consider it either axiomatic or self-evident that Free Speech is either grand or sacred.

        Hell, we get popular support for obviously infringing legislation all the time.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LWA says:

        If you treat it as a psychological one, recognizing that there are certain ideas, certain concepts, certain values, and certain practices that are fundamental not only to some people’s world view, but to their sense of identity and community, then it becomes possible to be empathetic to those ideas, concepts, values, and practices, without accepting anything further about them.

        As I said, I understand what it means to be personally empathetic. And further, I applaud any and all attempts by individuals to be personally empathetic.

        That still does not answer the question of what it means to be politically empathetic. I know what it means to be politically tolerant and politically respectful of other people’s beliefs; that’s just called political liberalism.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA says:

        You separate the personal and the political in a way that I find incomprehensible, I suppose. That is, I don’t think there is a sense in which the personal is not also political, except as an illusion of autonomy. But that’s a pretty big side discussion.

        However, just changing it from a “personal” to a “political” level does not, in any way, alter anything I said, even if we treat the two as separate.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LWA says:

        @chris

        You are being way more metaphysical about this than I intended. If you substitute the word legal where I have used political, that might make what I am asking more clear.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to LWA says:

        There is a tension in various liberal values when it comes to how we treat Islam. Free speech, the ability to say what you want to say about nearly everything, is a cardinal liberal value. Islam the religion should receive no more reverance than Roman Catholicism or other religions. If a person wants to mock it, than they should be free to. The French and continental liberal traditition is also much more anti-clerical than the Anglo liberal tradition. The assumption is that if your a liberal, in the small l-sense, than you are a secular and fairly anti-religious person in France. Your not supposed to have respect for religions or traditions of any sort.

        Yet, respect for minorities and anti-racism are also liberal values. When white men make fun of or make critical statements about Islam, it reeks of white men attacking people of color to many on the liberal side. That is, it appears distinctly illiberal.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to LWA says:

        Yeah, I’m not sure what empathy looks like in a legal sense. That is, I’m not sure how you see a legal consideration of something relating to empathy, positively or negatively. However, I’m not sure recognizing certain values as “sacred” legally requires any more than I’ve suggested, which is to say recognizing that they are extremely important to individuals and communities, and that needs to be considered when considering them legally. Perhaps that is legal empathy?Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA says:

        @j-r
        Our secular culture holds within it sacred ideas. We hold that there are a collection of things called “rights” that cannot be infringed without compelling reasons.
        The fact that these rights are detached from a deity doesn’t make them any less sacralized than a religious notion.
        We assume that these are universal- that everyone around the world, always and forever, are entitled to rights.
        I don’t disagree with this notion, but the fact is, this point of view is NOT universal.
        The majority of the world’s population finds our secular beliefs to be odd taboos. The idea of not having an official religion strikes some people as quirky as worshipping a cow does to us.

        I see all sorts of ringing defenses of free speech. To whom are these arguments directed? Other secularists, who speak the common language of Locke, Jefferson the European philosophers?

        In addition to our secuilar sacred taboos, we also despite the First Amendment, make explicit deference to the Christian religion; we observe Dec. 25 but not the festival of Tet. Schools close for the observance of the crucifixion of Jesus but not the observance of the Prophet Muhammed. And so on.

        I’m not saying this is wrong- our laws reflect the culture that creates it- so Pioneer Days in Salt Lake City is a big deal, legally observed.

        But if our laws reflect the culture that creates it, this must mean that there is room for new cultures, with newer ideas, different sacred holidays, different sacred things?

        I am NOT driving at a relativism argument here. What I am driving at, is that if we want to reach harmony and accord with those who are not liberal, we should probably find some sort of common ground to stand on.

        What I would attack is the idea that there exists a perfectly objective secular reality which can easily accommodate any religion or world view without stress or compromise.

        We can’t close government offices for every single religious holiday. But we also can’t have them open 24/7.
        So which sacred holidays get observed, and why? Who gets left out, and why? Whose sacred taboos are observed, and whose are not?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LWA says:

        Our secular culture holds within it sacred ideas.

        In order for that sentence to be true, you need to stretch the meaning of either secular or sacred to such a point where they no longer mean what they mean.

        Having Christmas as a public holiday is not a sacred act. It’s a public recognition that lots of people celebrate that holiday. In some places for instance, Jewish holidays are de facto public holidays. It wouldn’t make sense to say that New York City holds Judaism sacred. MLK day is a public holiday, but MLK is only sacred in a metaphorical sense. If you were to publicly damage an effigy of MLK, lots of people will denounce you and some may threaten you, but no agents of the state will show up at your house to arrest you.

        A liberal society makes room for individuals’ and individual communities to express their religiosity, but it makes sure that those individual religious communities cannot persecute or take action against others who are insufficiently respectful to that religion. There is some of that in the United States with regards to Christianity. Blue laws are a good example. And Blue Laws are illiberal.

        Anyway,my original question is sincere. If you have specific examples of what legal empathy would look, I am curious to hear them. Are you saying that it ought to be against the law to draw pictures of Mohammed?Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to LWA says:

        “What does it mean in the political sense to be empathetic?”

        A friend was surprised when I favorably cited Monty Python’s Life of Brian in a recent conversation. My friend sent me a YouTube link to a hot debate televised between John Cleese and a bishop, with the bishop claiming that Cleese’s humor would be the downfall of Christendom. But history has proven the bishop wrong. These days, entertainers like Cleese and Gervais, down to political types like Maher, and further down to purportedly serious types like Dawkins, et al. are not the faithful’s principal concern. Sure, I might wish for less crass humor at the expense of religion, or for more serious engagement with the arguments by the serious types, but I am ultimately comfortable with the debate, because that’s what it’s all about: a prolonged exploration of the issues that hopefully turn up flecks of truth along the way. No, the problem for Christendom, in my view, is that too often we don’t discuss the big issues, and instead flood the culture with entertainment and information studiously divorced from any of philosophy’s big questions.

        But I’m getting off the point, which is this: Liberalism involves at least two parts, one legal, another cultural. Legally, we guarantee free speech. Culturally, however, we try to signal that certain speech is boorish and unwelcome. This is what irks Christians about Piss Christ: most understand that artists are going to be provocateurs, but surely the state need not pay for it? That was liberalism’s left foot stepping on its right foot — going beyond legally permitting speech to affirmatively encouraging oafish, disrespectful speech; the law treading in culture’s domain.

        Here we see the opposite happening. Muslims deserve cultural respect. And in the abstract, I am uncomfortable with publishing cartoons or artwork generally that disrespects religion — whether Muslim or Christian or other — merely for the sake of disrespect. On the other hand, when Muslims threaten violence against lawful speech, that’s the right foot trodding upon the left — culture trouncing the law.

        The culture needs to be reminded of its place. I think the way to do that is for liberalism to flex its legal muscle and start widely publicizing the cartoons, tasteless as they may be. Yes, they are disrespectful of many good, faithful Muslims’ beliefs, and that is unfortunate. But it appears that too many have not taken the lesson that their culture must co-exist within a legal framework.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA says:

        For the purpose of my argument, I will define “sacred” as meaning “inviolable subjective beliefs”.

        Such as human, individual, or property rights. We all here believe they are very important yet those are beliefs that are not at all universal, or uncontested.
        “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal” is a creed, not much different than “We believe in God the Father Almighty”.

        If the word sacred bothers you, just replace it with “subjective normative beliefs”. Our secular laws are reflective of the subjective normative beliefs of the culture which produced them. And there are other cultures, for whom these subjective beliefs are nothing more than somebody else’s religion.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to LWA says:

        @lwa

        If your argument is that the rights to life, liberty and property are just subjective conventions on par with an individual’s desire not to see his or her preferred religious figure defamed, then we will just have to agree to disagree. The right to practice your religion exists distinctly from your right to force other people to respect your beliefs. They are not the same. Again, that is the very definition of political liberalism.

        Perhaps I am misunderstanding you, though. If that is the case, then I ask again what does this empathetic political and legal framework look like. For instance, in your preferred world, what happens to the freedom of speech and expression when it comes into conflict with someone else’s sacred beliefs?Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to LWA says:

        @j-r
        The fact that have to “agree to disagree” means exactly that we are dealing with subjective norms, without the ability to be proven. Or do you have a mathematical proof of rights to which no reasonable person can disagree?

        The current state of affairs between Western secular liberalism and Western religious expression didn’t just happen. It is the product of centuries of negotiation, of give and take and cultural reshaping of attitudes.
        Even your assumption of individual rights is rooted in the Abrahamic faith, evolved, mutated and stripped of its metaphysical aspects.

        I am reminded of the early Christian church, when Gentiles were being converted. The issue of circumcision and adherents to Jewish custom came up.
        The Jewish Christians were forced to confront the difference between absolute requirements of the faith, versus optional preferences.
        We are being forced to confront a culture which doesn’t accept things we consider to be absolute, universal doctrines, such as rights.

        How do we negotiate this meeting? Do we simply adopt a triumphalist stance, and demand complete surrender? Or are there certain essentials that can be parsed out and applied universally, while others are left as optional?

        I don’t have a handy template which I can easily impose upon the Western and Eastern worlds- that’s my point! This will be a negotiation, a cross cultural dialogue where we mutually find out what is sacred, inviolable, and what is not.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to LWA says:

        @tim-kowal, the poll wasn’t about Theo Van Gogh in 2004 any more than it was about this year’s bombing. It was about the publishing of the J-P cartoons and the protests–sometimes violent protests–that followed. The bulk of the 200 dead you cite died in religious riots that took place in Nigeria in late February. As of the last day of the poll (Feb 12), less than 20 people were dead as a result of the incident. All but one were muslims protestors, and most were killed by police or security forces. Your poll simply doesn’t demonstrate what you think it does.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley in reply to LWA says:

        @tim-kowal

        A friend was surprised when I favorably cited Monty Python’s Life of Brian in a recent conversation….

        A most excellent comment, counselor (not just the Monty Python part, but the whole).Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to LWA says:

        @james-hanley Well, then to press my luck, here’s something I wrote to a Muslim friend:

        “Do take a look at the Hewitt-Donahue debate [http://www.hughhewitt.com/heated-argument-bill-donohue-catholic-league/]. I think that’s a prime example of the intrafaith debates that need to be had out in public. A very strong case can be made that it is just this tendency within Christianity to make public declarations of reasoned dissent, and not just Christianity itself, that has made America so successful. Look at South America. Only Catholicism was exported there, compared to the various protestant sects in North America. Up north we have stable democracy, down south tinpot dictators.”

        To tie it back to Monty Python, that was a debate between a bishop and a former Catholic school student, criticizing not just doctrine but the way it’s taught. That’s a continuation of the reformation spirit, trying to figure out not only truth, but how to live together with other people with different takes on the truth — all trying to find the chrono-synclastic infundibulum.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Tim Kowal says:

      Tim,
      Personally, my suspicion is still that fear of terrorism trumps fear of being thought racist in this particular case, but I acknowledge that is another possible explanation.Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @vikram-bath , let me probe from another angle. We are trying to decide whether fear of terrorism or docility toward minority groups best explains why we bend on our liberal principles. Let’s stipulate that either is a plausible explanation for the free speech example here. But what about on equal protection? If we go with the fear explanation, we’d expect to find the TSA targeting bearded mullahs in full dress. But if we are more worried about our perceived treatment of minorities, we will go out of our way to check up on little old ladies with the same frequency and alacrity as the flying imams.

        Maybe there’s some room for both to be true: We don’t want attacks or unequal treatment, so let’s check up more on Arabs & Muslims — but to keep things nice and equal, let’s also impose proportionate misery on perfectly benign-looking tourists. But at some level, you have to prioritize, since there’s not the patience or manpower to run everyone through the heightened TSA search. So at the margins, are we letting some people through who we might prefer to have someone take another look at, but we don’t because of equality? If so, then the desire to be nice to minorities, not our fear of terrorism, is probably the bigger driving force.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Not that this negates your larger point, but FWIW the reason checkpoints are random rather than targeted is an attempt to increase effectiveness: you can’t prepare for random. If you have a policy that you only target men of a certain age and of middle-eastern descent, for example, all you need to circumvent the system is someone who believes in your cause that is female, white, asian, black, hispanic, older, etc. It actually makes the system easier to penetrate.

        This is the basis of all randomized testing theory, by the way, including everything from corporate drug testing to social service audits.

        Having the TSA do what you suggest might or might not work, but it would actually go against the grain of very basic risk management theory.Report

      • Avatar Tim Kowal in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        True, but there’s a big assumption in “all you need to circumvent the system is someone who believes in your cause that is female, white, asian, black, hispanic, older, etc.” The applicant pool is going to be significantly reduced. I’m just guessing here, but I would think that there would have to be quite a bit of profiling before attackers would make a real effort to circumvent in this way.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @tim-kowal

        Part of the problem is that there really is no “we.” At least there is no one unified we that acts in strictly coordinated fashion. Even the government exhibits different standards of behavior. And I think this is where you are 180 degrees off base. My wife is of Middle Eastern ethnicity and she pretty much always gets the special treatment at the airport.

        What we have is a government that, at the highest and most public levels, goes out if its way to be politically correct and to never hint that it is at war with Islam or that it views Muslims as any more of a threat than anyone else. At the same time, at the tip of the spear, so to speak, the government is very much at war with Muslims and is very much singling out Muslims for selective scrutiny and selective aggressive action.

        And this is part of what bothers me about the Obama statement. Not only is it insufficiently affirming of free expression, but it is insufficiently cognizant of the actual nature of the foreign policy that Obama is presently running.Report

  3. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    How possible is it that Jay Carney was just thinking on his feat at a press conference?Report

    • Not at all. Jay Carney was the White House Press Secretary and the topic of discussion was speech that might offend Muslims.

      It’s a position consistent with their stance on that pastor who burned the Koran too. They were very much in favor of him self-censoring.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Refraining from burning a book is censorship?Report

      • It does require some squinting, I admit. But burning the book was meant to be an expression of speech, so not wanting someone to burn the book is sort of like telling someone to stay quiet. (Of course, they didn’t actually physically restrain him, so I don’t know that the word “censorship” should be used.)Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        I, as a citizen, can say “Yeah, I can’t stop you from burning that book. But I’m going to treat you like the idiot you are for the rest of your life” and not feel there’s a balance between freedom of expression and my words. He expressed his, I expressed mine.

        But if I’m President or Press Secretary, I’m possibly “chilling his speech” by mere default of my title. And it’s true, I am. I’ve got the weight of the government.

        More interesting to me, than the violent reactions of religious radicals (crazy people be crazy, regardless of the specifics)– is exploring how the First World left that more or less behind, and how it still lingers — irregardless of religion — in third world countries. (Ireland in the 80s was a bit of an outlier on that).

        Honestly, I think the worst thing that ever happened to Islam was happening to have so much oil under such heavily Islamic countries. First world money, bam, right into a society that hadn’t worked it’s way up. Just instant cash and big, powerful nations tripping all over themselves to help out the countries they couldn’t bilk.

        Second worst thing was probably US realpolitik during the Cold War. Between Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan and our involvement in the Iran/Iraq war, we really poured a lot of money and material into some really crazy people. And we put some real crazies in power. Nice fodder for hatred, conspiracy theories, and blowback we’re still suffering from.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Refraining from burning a book is censorship?

        Compare it to the arguments over burning flags. The argument was that burning a flag is covered under “freedom of expression”.

        Hey, we can even extend the analogy. Remember how there was a group of folks who said something like “Sure, the hippies can burn the flag… BUT IT SHOULD BE LEGAL FOR A VETERAN TO PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE!”

        At the time, the counter-argument to that was something something free speech something. I don’t remember the exact details.

        It seems that the wingers who argued for Hippie Punching may have had more of a point than we seemed to have given them at the time…Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Morat20, America also had and continues to have many more sincerely religious people than most European countries. They even form an important voting bloc.

        The post-Christianity mentality of Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are the world outliers. Most of the rest of the world remained somewhat to very religious regardless of what the religion was. Its going to be difficult to determine why the former countries became areligious while others did not. A lot of them is because they had centuries of skeptical or even anti-religious philosophers and politicians from the Enlightenment forward. On continental Europe, the fight against institutionalized religions was part of the polticial struggle of liberalism, socialism, and even fascism. Left, right, and center political movements contained strong anti-religious feelings. The earlier growth of national identities and nation-states in Europe, which existed since the Middle Ages, also probably weakened the hold of religion because it gave people another community to identify with. There were self-identified French people for centuries, long before most of the national identities in Muslim-majority countries developed besides Egypt or Iran. Even now, more Muslims identify first as a Muslim and second as an Algerian, Tunisian, or obviously Pakistani.Report

    • Avatar dhex in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      saul, that presumes he has any accomplishments. [rimshot]Report

  4. Avatar Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    Also, let’s not forget that France is the country that prosecuted Bridget Bardot for being critical of Muslims.

    They seems to be having trouble squaring that free speech/multiculturalism circle.Report

  5. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    A partial defense to:

    So, feel free to satirize and mock the weak, the apathetic, and the non-threatening. [] But when it comes to offending the sensibilities of the strong and motivated, that is the time for judgment.

    You shouldn’t have to ever file a lawsuit at all. But sometimes, people do things that require seeking redress against them. And when considering filing a lawsuit, doesn’t it make sense to at least consider both their preferred mode of response to that lawsuit, and their willingness and ability to successfully execute that response?

    IOW, if you publish these Mohammed cartoons, we can reasonably predict that someone who takes their religion a little bit too seriously is going to lose their shit and do something violent to someone else because of it.

    If you release a movie that offends North Korea, what can we reasonably predict that DPRK will do? Especially if you begin from the assumption that they aren’t really as crazy as they want us to believe they are, they probably aren’t going to nuke Japan.

    Anticipating reactions and consequences and may result in an unprincipled dichotomy, I suppose, but it’s not a completely irrational or even immoral thing to do. Related: maybe a handful of Islamicists really are crazier and more prone to engage in violence than the North Koreans, or at least we aren’t irrational to think so. Just as there are times it’s appropriate to invoke the Nazis, there are times it’s appropriate to invoke 9/11, and it wasn’t North Koreans who blew up the World Trade Center. (Granted, though, they did torpedo our ally’s submarine a couple of years ago.)

    This is intended as a partial defense only, and certainly not an apology for anyone or anything.Report

    • it’s not a completely irrational

      Oh, I’d go much further than that. It’s almost completely rational to only criticize the weak and not to provoke the strong. It’s perfectly rational for a government to wish that it’s citizens only express their freedoms in ways that are convenient.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to Burt Likko says:

      I often wonder if these are people prone do doing something violent, and this is just the justification that they find or their behavior; rather like the abuser who tells their victim, “You made me do it.”Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        I should add that I wonder this because of Israeli studies of suicide bombers; they’re often depressed and suicidal to start with, and this is the ‘honorable’ way that they can take their own lives.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to zic says:

        If Catholics gave an exemption to suicide-as-mortal-sin (“…unless you take a bunch of infidels out with you”), we’d probably see a lot more Catholic suicide bombers.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        they’re often depressed and suicidal to start with, and this is the ‘honorable’ way that they can take their own lives

        This is actually not true. The research on suicide bombers in Israel and elsewhere is fairly clear: suicide bombers, especially the males, are not suicidal (there are some gender differences in motivations), and mostly not depressed, though they have generally suffered some sort of trauma.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to zic says:

        @chris – interesting, I was under the same impression as @zic , that suicide attackers are often recruited from amongst dead-end no-hopers (who I would expect to be depressed and potentially suicidal). Is it possible that “depression” is defined in the West in such a way that it would encompass such people, even if they don’t define it that way themselves?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        For many years, there were more Hindu suicide bombers than any others. In fact, it was a mostly Hindu group that basically invented modern suicide bombing tactics.

        Catholic terrorists in Ireland preferred remote detonations, though. For religious reasons, of course.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        Glyph, an old acquaintance of mine has done a lot of work on the subject:

        https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/file/index/docid/509568/filename/genesis_of_Suicide_terrorism.pdf

        And there has been a great deal of work on the subject over the last couple decades, for obvious reasons. Straight to the point:

        http://www.psychology.nottingham.ac.uk/staff/ejt/Townsend%20-%20suicide%20terrorism%20for%20web.pdfReport

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to zic says:

        You were raised Catholic, right? Are there any exemptions to suicide-as-mortal-sin at all? Like, in wartime can a Catholic soldier accept a one-way mission which will clearly require his death and still get to heaven, or would that not be considered “suicide”?Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

        Were the Tamil Tigers, Hindu suicidie bombers or suicide bombers that happened to be Hindu. The Sinhalese-Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka always seemed more of an ethnic conflict rather than a religious one. It did have a strong religious component but the Tamil Tigers never struck as being religious in the same way that Hamas or Hezbollah are.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

        @chris I’ll read through those links later, but my understanding is much as @glyph says; males are often older, unmarried, and with little hope of achieving ‘normal’ lives in their cultures; most have experienced trauma, participated in previous violence, and are relatively introverted, prone to religious suasion.

        I think there’s also some new research on emotional response which might suggest that gender differences (anger/male; fear/female — the means on a spectrum) might play here, but I freely admit to armchair psychology in saying this.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        Hmm… that’s a good question. The Church’s teachings on suicide, what constitutes it, and the different types, are fairly clear. I’m pretty sure that, say, sacrificing one’s life to save another would not be considered suicide in the eyes of the Church, and the same might be said for other causes (like, say, helping to create or preserve the freedom of others).

        Accepting a one-way mission might fall under that sort of “exemption,” or it might fall under the lack of an obligation to go to extreme measures to avoid one’s own death. If one is ordered to go on what amounts to a suicide mission, in the non-Catholic parlance, and we don’t consider it under some form of moral duty to carry out the mission despite it possibly being a form of “indirect” suicide (not getting out of a situation that will cause your death), then we might consider the fact that in order to avoid the mission we would have to, in essence, go on the run and be hunted (with the threat of death for desertion should we be caught) in order to avoid it.

        We need a priest or two ’round these parts, though, to answer questions like these more knowledgeably.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        Here is a poster summarizing the research on gender differences that I was thinking of:

        http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/staff/taylorpj/papers/ConfIP2006.pdfReport

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

        Romans 5:6-8 covers this.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to zic says:

        Given the author, I assume it just says, “No. No, no no no. No no. No. Also, no.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

        The King James was good enough for Paul, it should be good enough for us:

        6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

        If that’s not to your taste, the “Devised Standard Perversion” might work for you:

        6 While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man—though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. 8 But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.

        Dying for another seems to be admirable, even if you know it’s going to happen.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Burt Likko says:

      IOW, if you publish these Mohammed cartoons, we can reasonably predict that someone who takes their religion a little bit too seriously is going to lose their shit and do something violent to someone else because of it.

      My initial response to this was, “so what?” Upon further reflection, however, I arrive at, “that’s the point!”

      The point of satire is to provoke a reaction. In the same sense that the point of ideological and religious extremism is to suppress free expression. The two are in opposition and running through some of these comments is the idea that free expression ought to do the nice thing and back down to extremism. My own opinion runs in exactly the opposite direction. If you believe in freedom and liberal values, you have an obligation to actively challenge the forces of extremism wherever they attempt to suppress free expression.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to j r says:

        @j-r I think that’s a very nice point about why satire exists and what its objectives are. And if the reaction to it one could expect was to induce the target of the satire to publicly throw a Donald Duck-style temper tantrum, I’d be 100% on board with 100% of your comment. There are times that I both enjoy and find purpose in poking others in the eye and we’re all agreed that it’s my presumptive right, and yours and everyone else’s, to do so when and on what terms I please.

        The last sentence of this comment, though; I have some reservations about. I don’t think one is necessarily a coward for not wanting to get shot by virtue of being in some sort of proximity to the poking-out-of-eyes-of-someone-else’s-sacred-cow. I’m not 100% certain I have a moral obligation to take a bullet for you because you want to satire something that will provoke a private party’s Bad Reaction. (Bearing in mind that my personal level of agreement with your satire is irrelevant.)

        I’m significantly warmer to the idea that I’ve a moral imperative to take that bullet if we’re talking about the government censoring you. Three extremely religious nutters with guns are not the government. They’re criminals.

        Something in me resists the notion that I am somehow a lesser advocate of free speech should I also prefer not to be made a victim of crime, or by extension should I caution you that you place yourself and maybe others at a greater-than-normal risk of being made a victim of crime should you exercise your right to speak in a particular fashion.

        The bravest and most principled among us would also prefer not to be made the victims of crime notwithstanding bravery or principles; the bravest and most principled among us do not have an obligation to exceed the limits of bravery and enter the realm of the foolhardy. We are shocked at the Charlie Hebdo murders precisely because we do not normally associate publication of a cartoon with foolhardiness.

        I do see a line, one I wouldn’t cross, in saying “Because your speech is provocative of criminal responses by others, you shouldn’t engage in it.” The Klan gets to march in Skokie. The Klan also gets billed for the extra police protection reasonably required to deter violence from breaking out when they do it, and imposing such a requirement on the parade permit doesn’t diminish the Klan’s ability to speak freely. When a black man argues with a Klansman during the parade, they can shout and scream at each other all they want, but whoever throws a punch should get arrested. You’ll note that this addresses the government’s posture with respect to provocative but protected speech.

        And I’m not sure I’d want to tie the hands of a governmental official from trying to persuade the Klan to maybe not have that parade after all.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to j r says:

        Ugh. @chris provided a much more succinct expression of the concept I’m trying to express below, and now I’m embarrassed by my own rambling, epistolary excess.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        @burt-likko

        Two things. A Klan parade is a terrible analogy to blasphemous cartoons.

        Also, I am not asking anyone to put themselves in harms way or be in anyway especially courageous in defending free speech. Silence is always an honorable option. What I am saying is that, if the President of the United States is going to make a statement either himself or through staff, that statement ought to be unequivocally in support of free expression. It’s the choice to hedge the statement that I find cowardly.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to j r says:

        jr,
        Please provide evidence that you’re banned from Australia (and are wanted for arrest should you set foot there).

        I do actually know people who believe what you attest to. And I find it offensive that you claim to share their values, without actually participating in all the trolling. [note to mods: Trolling a Government is Different.]Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to j r says:

        Oy, if I had a nickel for every continent I’ve been banned from, I’d have thirty-five cents.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to j r says:

        Glyph,
        Getting banned from Antarctica is the easy one. (I knew someone who got to go to Antarctica because someone had been… rejected). 6 months of winter is a looong time to spend with someone… unpleasant.Report

  6. Avatar j r says:

    Vikram, I think you are on to something, but I also think that dynamic is slightly more complicated than powerful vs. not powerful. What it comes down to is that our stance toward radical Islam has a bunch of direct repercussions to the ongoing domestic battle between left and right. At this point in time, there just is not a similar dynamic with North Korea or most other East Asian nations.

    To put it another way: there is a strange love triangle (for lack of a better term) that exists between Western Progressives, Western Conservatives, and Radical Islamists. Each group shares something with each of the other two groups that puts them both at odds with the third, but that will never fully be reciprocated.

    Conservatives and Islamists share their social conservatism, which puts them at odds with Progressives, but their religious extremism puts them at odds with each other. Conservatives and Progressives share a commitment to a marginally liberal society, which puts them at odds with Islamists, but neither wants a society so free that it would make full allowances for the other. And Progressives and Islamists share an opposition to Western Conservatives, but their views on social issues keep them forever apart.

    Somewhere in there is the makings of a perfectly mediocre romantic comedy.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to j r says:

      I was waiting for what Progressives and Islamists share, but it was just they neither are Conservatives. Disappointing.Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to j r says:

      “Somewhere in there is the makings of a perfectly mediocre romantic comedy.”

      Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice and Akmed and Fatima?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to j r says:

      This is getting close to the the reality of the situation but not all of it. After 9/11 and especially after Iraq II, Muslims received preferred underdog status with many people on the left. They are the most current victims of Western sin. This is especially true on the further left but many on the center left show similar preferences. There is a great reluctance on the Western left to suggest that there might be some serious problems in Islam or the Muslim majority countries when it comes to modernity because such criticism would smack of imperialism and the white man’s burden.

      After 9/11, many conservatives began to see Muslims as the enemies of West life and tradition and the War on Terror as a new, secular Crusade. In the early days of the War on Terror, you could almost hear “Onward Christian Soldiers” being sung repeatedly. Again, this field of thought is much more prominent on the Further Right but it isn’t exactly rare either.

      These two perceptions of Muslims play out in fascinating ways when applied to the real world.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Cultural projection.

        Look, we’ve got religious whackos here, in America. Lots of whackos, of various idealogies .They’re less prone to blowing things up or killing people, but they do.

        And what do we, as a country, do? #NotAllWhatever#

        Which is true. Not all pro-life folks kill abortion doctors — few, I suspect, even offer the tiniest smidgen of cover. We see it here with “NotAllLibertarians” — that’s not a real libertarian view, that’s not how most see it, etc.

        That is, we acknowledge that any grouping — whether religious, idealogical, political, or whatever — can have crazy people in it. Radicals not just in belief, but action.

        It’s…rude, short-sighted, close-minded in America to tar people by association, unless the objectionable thing is the crux of the association. Even then, it’s a hard case to sell — you have to prove, over and over, that the problem is (for lack of a better word) “cultural”.

        The KKK or Westburo? No problem. Catholics over pedophilia? Back up there. Yeah, the individuals doing it. But even the organization proper (not all Catholics or the Church itself, just those in charge who hid and enabled it whatever their intentions) behind the coverups is a really hard sell.

        I think that’s the weird spot Islam hits. Most Muslims, and pretty much 99.9% of American Muslisms? They just go about their day, practice their religion like everyone else, and we know that. But it’s so easy to demonize them — foreign, strange, far-away, different. So there’s a knee-jerk TO tar Islam (it’s an easy group to do so — not a lot of Muslims in America, so what are the odds a random Joe knows any? And it’s associated with other countries, not America anyways) with the actions of a relative few — which means there’s an opposite knee-jerk NOT to do that.

        Sorry, I know that’s rambling. 🙂

        So anyways, that’s what I think. We’ve got a history, in America, of fighting over whether someone’s a True Scotsman or not when it comes to whatever group we’re talking about. And that history pops up when we talk about what Muslims really believe, what Islam really means.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to LeeEsq says:

        morat20,
        make that “less prone to killing people FLAMBOYANTLY”. I mark a good few more assassinations (and paid assassins) in America than in Islam. (It, for the record, is Hard to have assassins in a large organized religion (notacult). You have to have someone you believe in enough to be okay with killing for them. Not even the Pope has assassins, though it should be easy to figure out what he has…instead).Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to j r says:

      j r,
      Great point. I had originally planned on presenting multiple hypotheses to explain the difference, but I found I wasn’t really able to come up with good alternatives. Kudos to you and Tim Kowal above for doing that.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to j r says:

      Excellent point, @j-r. It’s the kind of thing I spend a fair amount of time contemplating.Report

  7. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    My understanding of what North Korea was upset about was a movie mocking Kim Jong-un, the leader of the country; not “Asians” as such. Is this correct?Report

  8. Avatar greginak says:

    Not to be to oriented towards Facts or crap like that, but we’ve used a lot of pixels about the motivations of the attackers but we don’t’ even know for sure who the attackers are and what their deal is. Are they native french muslims? Immigrants? Disaffected losers who picked up on a cause or who knows what else.Report

  9. Avatar Patrick says:

    I read Carney’s thing and I’m curious.

    Granted, let’s say everyone agrees that you should be able to say whatever you want to say* in this country, and moreover we like to think that anybody anywhere should be able to say whatever they want to say, even if they don’t live here*.

    However, we also agree most handily that some folks will say things that we think are horrible things to say. Some of them will say these things to be provocative, or under a claim of artistic license (justifiable or not), or what have you.

    But when someone asks a politician and/or representative what do you think of this particular thing that someone said, what is the correct way to express (a) that they should be able to say what they want to say, legally, without government influence while also saying (b) this particular thing they said or did is really disagreeable to the politician, without appearing to appear censorious?

    Let’s list some things that people have said, done, or created that offend folks:
    * Piss Christ
    * Mohammad Cartoons
    * Burning the Flag
    * Saying, “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.” during a concert
    * Having an impromptu concert in a public space while calling yourselves “Pussy Riot”
    * Tearing a picture of the pope in half
    * Appearing at an event hosted by David Duke

    Aside from agreeing that everyone has a right to do all those things, what precisely should the politician and/or spokesman say to disclaim that they disagree with the message even though they agree the messenger has the right to say or do those things, without having anyone who doesn’t like the politician just say, “GAR FIRST AMENDMENT CENSOR FASCISM!”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Patrick says:

      Ironically, the AP took down their picture of Piss Christ.

      But to address the point, I don’t think that anybody here would be complaining if the response of France’s Muslims was to say “We are going to boycott Euro Disney!”, stop buying Tal albums/going to Tal concerts, and write strongly worded letters to Le Monde.

      I’m pretty sure that we’d find a handful of people who would say something like “I commend them for doing this!” and other people would argue against this position by saying something to the effect of “they don’t need your praise for doing what anybody would do! Your expectation that there’d be some nutballs who would shoot up the joint is racist!”Report

      • Avatar Anonymous in reply to Jaybird says:

        Naturally forcing the Muslims to stop blowing up people or attacking synagogues is religious intolerance.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

        As I said upthread, the problem with this is you end up in a weird place where:

        1) You can admit someone is being a provocative jerk and
        2) The provoked person reacted in an obviously insane, crazy, psychopathic fashion.

        2 doesn’t negate 1, but it feels really strange to say.

        I mean, individually — if I insulted a guy about his wife, his religion, his family, and basically got him so furious he pulled a gun and shot me — he’s still going to jail for murder. I mean, he flat out murdered me.

        Doesn’t mean I wasn’t being a jerk. And I admit — being a massive jerk is a lot smaller a character flaw than being a murderer who flips out over words. Still doesn’t make me a nice person.

        I guess it boils down to — I wouldn’t censor those cartoons. Wouldn’t dream of it. I’d never make them myself, either, and not out of fear of terrorists. It just seems like a dick move, you know? Doesn’t mean you get to kill people over it.

        Because that’s insane.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

        Is it possible to make distinctions between geographic areas where cultures are dominant?

        Like, maybe, it’s okay to do something in *THIS* country but we should understand that it’s not okay to do that same thing in *THAT* country or are we going to say that there’s a general morality that’s universalizable and if you shouldn’t push for a cultural preference here then you shouldn’t push for it anywhere?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

        Is it possible to make distinctions between geographic areas where cultures are dominant… or are we going to say that there’s a general morality that’s universalizable?

        Yes.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

        @chris – Well, THAT’S settled, then! 😉

        @morat20 – here’s where I find myself moving into the camp that says sometimes certain kinds of tribalism might be…OK. Bill Maher has said some pretty ignorant things about Muslims, things I don’t condone. But if some nutjob bursts into his studio and shoots the place up while shouting Allahu Akbar – well, at that point Bill’s on my “team”, right or wrong.

        But that “team” isn’t “Americans”, exactly – it’s the “free speech/thought” team.

        Like, Bill’s a dick, but he’s OUR dick, and you don’t get to shoot him just because he was being a dick.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to Patrick says:

      what is the correct way to express (a) that they should be able to say what they want to say, legally, without government influence while also saying (b) this particular thing they said or did is really disagreeable to the politician, without appearing to appear censorious?

      I actually think Carney did do a reasonably good job of that. Another way to say it might be “As a holder of this office, I uphold the right to free speech, but as a private citizen X is bad and its creators’ should feel bad.”

      I think this is a balance that is more difficult for politicians because it’s hard to really take their personal opinions as only personal opinions.Report

      • Avatar dexter in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Vikram, Any religion that can’t take a joke isn’t a religion, it is tyranny.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Vikram, if you think Carney did a good job balancing those two points in his statement I’m not sure where your ire is coming from. Rather than racism, a simpler explanation for the difference between Carney’s statement and Obama’s statement is the content they’re talking about. The Hebdo cartoons insinuated that all followers of Islam were terrorists. The Interview wasn’t even out yet, but ostensibly lampooned a political leader who happens to be Asian. Do you honestly believe that if The Interview was an unabashed attack on Asians the White House would still have made the same statements?Report

      • Avatar Anonymous in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Silly dexter we all know showing respect to the religion of animals and terrorists is more important than preventing terrorism.Report

      • trizzlor,
        I think I wasn’t clear here. I’m not angry. I’m simply observing that in the opinion of the White House, some speech seems to call for self-censorship and some speech does not. I haven’t accused anyone of racism. Rather, I think they would prefer we self-censor when attacking strong and display our willingness to speak out when attacking the weak.

        The Hebdo cartoons insinuated that all followers of Islam were terrorists.

        I didn’t know that. At any rate, the White House didn’t criticize the cartoons on the basis of their invoking stereotypes. They criticized them for being potentially inflammatory.

        The Interview wasn’t even out yet, but ostensibly lampooned a political leader who happens to be Asian. Do you honestly believe that if The Interview was an unabashed attack on Asians the White House would still have made the same statements?

        No, I think they would have made the same statements if the target was equally non-threatening.Report

      • @vikram-bath

        At any rate, the White House didn’t criticize the cartoons on the basis of their invoking stereotypes. They criticized them for being potentially inflammatory.

        False. In spirit, anyway. Stereotypes is your word. They criticized them for offending people about their religion, which is I think pretty much what you mean by “criticize the cartoons on the basis of their invoking stereotypes,” is it not? And, yes, for being potentially inflammatory. Is the stereotypes/offensive distinction a really important one?

        We know that these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory. But we’ve spoken repeatedly about the importance of upholding the freedom of expression that is enshrined in our Constitution.

        In other words, we don’t question the right of something like this to be published; we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it. And I think that that’s our view about the video that was produced in this country and has caused so much offense in the Muslim world.Report

    • Avatar dexter in reply to Patrick says:

      Patrick, In a perfect world Duke and Scalise would pass out drunk on a fire ant pile and the rest of that crew would come over to my house and listen to a concert by the Dixie Chicks while eating boiled crawfish.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Patrick says:

      Aside from agreeing that everyone has a right to do all those things, what precisely should the politician and/or spokesman say…

      I am going to answer a question with a question and ask: why should the politician say anything?Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to j r says:

        Actually, I should have put this ahead of my response too. In general, I think politicians should refrain from expressing personal opinions about most things because of the strong potential that listeners will interpret those opinions as coming from the office the politician holds. It’s only if an issue becomes sufficiently large that not saying anything becomes more of a statement than saying something that the politician should express an opinion.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

        @j-r @vikram-bath

        I am going to answer a question with a question and ask: why should the politician say anything?

        Wait… really?

        You’re in front of a mike, and a reporter asks you a question regarding a current event in your constituency, and you say, “Next question”?

        What you’re saying here is “only people who will not be elected should run for office”.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

        To address this directly :

        I think politicians should refrain from expressing personal opinions about most things because of the strong potential that listeners will interpret those opinions as coming from the office the politician holds.

        I’ve talked to close to a thousand people in my district in the last two months. Nearly every single one of them has asked me to express some sort of personal opinion. It comes part and parcel with trying to figure out if the guy/gal who is running for office shares normative assumptions with you… enough of them that they feel comfortable casting a ballot in your favor.

        That’s what democratic politics *is*, guys.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        What you’re saying here is “only people who will not be elected should run for office”.

        Yes.

        But putting aside my own personal feelings about the utter unsuitability for public office of the overwhelming majority of the people who are sufficiently motivated to seek it, you are presenting a false choice. There are lots of answers that are not “next question.” For instance, one could say:

        As I general rule, I support the widest interpretation of the principle of free speech and expression, but also, as a general rule, it is not the place of this government to offer extemporaneous opinions on the editorial decisions of foreign media outlets.

        That is an answer. It may leave partisans on either side of the divide insufficiently assured that the politician in question stands on their side of the culture wars, but I consider that a feature not a bug.

        Also, it is worth pointing out that, when asked pointed, substantive questions that involve taking one side of a difficult policy trade off, these same politicians are able to pontificate for minutes on end, while completely sidestepping the question. And yet, I am supposed to believe that when asked a question involving pure ideological signalling, those same politicians have no choice but to raise their flag high and wave it vigorously. Color me skeptical.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        Two thoughts…

        What is wrong with the ol’ “I disapprove of what was said but will defend the right to say it?”

        Why can’t a politician have a professional opinion on these matters?
        “Blacks should be slaves.”
        “It is the position of my office — and of this nation — that no such thing should ever come to pass.”

        Okay… That as an easy one, you say.

        “Muslims are evil.”
        “Professionally and personally I have had the good fortune of knowing, working with, and cring about many members of the Muslim faith. I can say that this statement is categorically wrong. Furthermore, our government respects the rights of individuals to practice their faiths unfettered from government intrusion and, as such, will not support any efforts to interfere with said practice. Our government also respects the right to freedom of speech and therefore we will defend the right of individuals and groups to make such statements, no matter our feelings on their content.”

        Would that be objectionable? And would it really be planting a flag in the culture war? If we allow anyone — on either side — to make a “culture war” stance out of anything they disagree with, we’ve officially thrown in the towel on civil discourse.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        “… Categorically false…” Is better phrasing there.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        @kazzy

        I do not think that your analogies work, because racism is not like blasphemy.

        In questioning Charlie Hedbo’s judgment, because of blasphemy, the administration made an explicit move against affirming the freedom of expression. Blasphemy is only bad judgment if you accept the existence of blasphemy as an offense, that is, you accept that one person’s beliefs can place an obligation on us all to show deference to those beliefs.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        @j-r

        I was speaking more generally about the question of politicians having an opinion on the matter. I haven’t fully informed myself of the current situation. As a general rule, once bullets start flying, my finger is pointing at the person with his finger on the trigger.

        However, it seems that the WH comments came years before the bullets flew.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        “Opinion on such matters…” Not “… The matter…”Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        However, it seems that the WH comments came years before the bullets flew.

        Which is part of the problem. It basically communicates that our commitment to free expression is conditional. And that is part of the reason that extremists act in extreme ways.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r says:

        #notallmuslims

        #yesallinfidelsReport

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r says:

        It basically communicates that our commitment to free expression is conditional.

        Well, I disagree. Formally, it expresses that our commitment to free speech is as robust as ever. Substantively, it suggests that respect for others beliefs ought to be (and in the US in fact is) part of the decision process of those expressing themselves.

        And that is part of the reason that extremists act in extreme ways.

        Extremists attacked Hedbo because the government didn’t take a hard enough line in defending free speech?

        Fill that out for me. I’m not seeing it.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

        More and more it feels like people are saying that “I don’t like what you’re saying, but I’ll defend your right to say it” is the equivalent of “You don’t have a right to say what you’re saying.”

        I don’t have to defend, and I can even criticize, people for saying something, for any number of reasons including that I think it might be dangerous to themselves and others to say it, without believing that they do not have a right to say it. This seems so obvious that I find what looks like a repeated insistence that it is not true baffling.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        @stillwater

        Substantively, it suggests that respect for others beliefs ought to be (and in the US in fact is) part of the decision process of those expressing themselves.

        That is called a condition.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        Also,

        Extremists attacked Hedbo because the government didn’t take a hard enough line in defending free speech?

        That is not what I said.

        @chris
        Those two are not equivalent; there is a very clear separation. My point is something else. My point has to do with the nature of the expression in the first place. People keep using analogies that entail something clearly wrong, like racism. Again, imagine, instead of racism, a woman stoned to death for bad hijab. Would anyone here think to say, “she was certainly being provocative walking through that highly devout area of the Paris suburbs in such a short skirt?”

        So my point is that drawing pictures of Mohammed is a lot more like bad hijab than it is like racism.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r says:

        No, that’s not a condition since Obama isn’t saying speech rights exist only when the speech isn’t offensive. In fact, the quotes make it explicitly clear that the opposite is the case.

        But what about fleshing out that other claim you made. Seriously, I would like to see how that argument goes.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        @j-r

        “In questioning Charlie Hedbo’s judgment, because of blasphemy, the administration made an explicit move against affirming the freedom of expression.”

        On further thought, I have to push back against this.

        If someone were to walk into a meeting of the NAACP and yell, “Fuck all N’s!” or a meeting of the ADL and yell, “Fuck all K’s!”, would I somehow be making an “explicit move against affirming the freedom of expression” by pointing out how grossly offensive AND idiotic such actions were? Because I don’t see that to be the case at all. Should someone do either of those things? Probably not. But not because they don’t have the right to or it is wrong to exercise their right to free speech. They probably shouldn’t because it is generally preferable to not be offensive than to be offensive, to not be idiotic than to be idiotic. Pointing that out, in no way that I can see, represents an “explicit move against affirming the freedom of expression”.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        @stillwater

        Since this was a French publication, we can stipulate that this cannot be about speech rights, since Obama and the U.S. government have no claim one way or the other to enforce French speech rights.

        This is about affirming larger cultural norms surrounding appropriate and inappropriate speech. When you say “we have questions about the judgment,” that signals that you find the speech objectionable. Now, if you believe that objectionable speech has less normative weight than inoffensive speech, that’s fine, but why not just admit it? You want to be saying that you unconditionally support freedom of expression, except under x, y and z conditions. That is not unconditional. Heck, I have about the most robust conception of speech rights of anyone that I know and I even I have conditions.

        As for the other claim, as I said yesterday, there are a number of reasons why homegrown radicalism is a bigger problem in Europe than it is in the United States. And I believable that part of the reason is that we have a demonstrated track record of upholding pretty robust freedoms of expression; whereas European countries regularly impose prohibitions on certain political parties and certain categories of speech. Radicals use that to their advantage.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        Again @kazzy, as soon as you compare blasphemy to racism, you are poisoning the analogy. They are simply not the same thing.

        Try using these analogies with the Hindu proscription against eating beef or the Christian commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. Would you accuse a guy who kept his business open on a Sunday in a very religious U.S. county of being offensive and idiotic?

        The only difference between radical fundamentalist Islamists and radical fundamentalist Christians is that Christians inhabit countries that have a robust political tradition of pushing back against fundamentalism and gradually increasing individual freedoms.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r says:

        Thanks jr. Needless to say at this point, but I disagree with your … analysis, I guess, of Obama’s claims on expression.

        But this

        whereas European countries regularly impose prohibitions on certain political parties and certain categories of speech. Radicals use that to their advantage.

        is something I’d like to hear more about since it’s apparently offered in support of the earlier claim: that a lack of robust defense of speech rights contributes to extremist attacks like Hedbo massacre. But it more/less just repeats the claim without providing any further justification.

        I don’t mean to sound pesky – or even pesty – by asking for a more elaborate defense of the claim. I hope I don’t. It just strikes me as of a piece with lots of other claims and views I’ve heard and I would very much like to see the argument laid out. Like I said, I can’t personally see how that argument would go (tho I do see how a different but closely related argument would go).

        So I’m curious!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r says:

        Would you accuse a guy who kept his business open on a Sunday in a very religious U.S. county of being offensive and idiotic?

        Man, no wonder Kazzy can’t get anywhere with his analogies…

        Analogical thinking requires teasing out relevant properties and discounting the rest. In one sense, Kazzy can’t be wrong about the analogies he offers (well, if they’re sufficiently considered and all) since he’s seeing – by definition a that point! – relevant properties. Countering that X is a better analogy than Y just reveals the disagreement. It certainly won’t resolve it. (Tho in the best cases it reveals where the disagreement rests.) The resistance to seeing what the other person sees is what makes using them sticky.

        Vikram already wrote about this, tho.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        @stillwater

        You’re smart, which means that you ought to be able to grok that in questioning the racism analogies, I am making an explicit argument that drawing cartoons of Mohammed is not like racism.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to j r says:

        Yes.

        But putting aside my own personal feelings about the utter unsuitability for public office of the overwhelming majority of the people who are sufficiently motivated to seek it… It may leave partisans on either side of the divide insufficiently assured that the politician in question stands on their side of the culture wars, but I consider that a feature not a bug

        I’m not talking just about partisans, @j-r.

        I’m talking about registered voters.

        You are presenting a false choice. There are lots of answers that are not “next question.” For instance, one could say:

        As I general rule, I support the widest interpretation of the principle of free speech and expression, but also, as a general rule, it is not the place of this government to offer extemporaneous opinions on the editorial decisions of foreign media outlets.

        That is an answer.

        Yes, it is.

        And giving it, even as a principled matter, will very likely destroy your credibility with your constituents. Because trust is built continuously, and failure to respond to those sorts of questions in a way that makes people feel they can trust you… eventually will erode your credibility, whether or not it should.

        I get that you have the normative idea in your head that politics would be better if things were that way (point of fact, I basically agree with you, it would).

        You know how folks say Communism Won’t Work because Humans?

        This is like that.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to j r says:

        I am making an explicit argument that drawing cartoons of Mohammed is not like racism.

        With the accompanying table bangs and footstomps. Yes, you disagree with the analogy. But only because you’ve already determined what the relevant properties of X are. And people can and do, disagree about that.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        @j-r

        A few things…

        Is it just that the published images of Mohammed? Or is it that they published images of Mohammed with a bomb under his turban? The former is blasphemy and indeed different (though not necessarily in such a way that wholly disqualifies my analogy) from racism. The latter is not racism but I think sufficiently akin to racism that my analogy stands.

        But let us step back a bit…

        Because I think my analogy is still relevant and here is why:
        The question seems less to be, “Should the WH weigh in on free speech issues?” It actually seems to be, “Was the WH’s opinion on this particular free speech issue correct?”

        Because if we are exploring the latter question, than it shouldn’t matter how offbase my analogy is: either the WH should or should not weigh in on free speech issues. It matters not whether they are related to racism or blasphemy or what color the sky is.

        Rather, I think you (and others) are arguing (fairly!) that the WH was wrong to question the judgement of non-Muslims engaging in what Muslims would consider blasphemy.

        Indulge a hypothetical…

        Imagine someone who had no idea that drawing images of Mohammed was considered blasphemous but otherwise had a pretty good understand of what would be considered offensive.
        If asked, “Should this French newspaper publish cartoons that contain images of Mohammed?” he’d likely say, “Sure, why not?”
        If asked, “Should this French newspaper publish images of President Obama depicted as a monkey?” he’d likely say, “That sounds pretty racist.”
        Were you to then tell him about the blasphemous nature of images of Mohammed and again asked him, “Should this French newspaper publish cartoons that contain images of Mohammed?” he’d probably still likely say, “Sure,” though might qualify it with, “But they’re going to piss some people off.”

        I guess what I’m saying is that it seems like you are saying that something being blasphemous does not mean its publication is in poor judgement. Which I might even agree with! But it doesn’t logically follow then that the WH should offer no opinion on matters related to free speech. Rather, it follows that the WH should offer no opinion on matters related to blasphemy.

        I was pushing back against the former statement, not the latter.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to j r says:

        I guess what I’m saying is that it seems like you are saying that something being blasphemous does not mean its publication is in poor judgement. Which I might even agree with! But it doesn’t logically follow then that the WH should offer no opinion on matters related to free speech. Rather, it follows that the WH should offer no opinion on matters related to blasphemy.

        That first sentence pretty much sums up my position.

        As to the other part, I think people are getting hung up on the fact that the first comment I made asked why Obama needed to say anything a at all. Let me clear this up by saying that I find it appropriate that Obama would say something on this issue. I just wish that what he said was a full-throated defense of free expression (kind of like the one he gave in support of The Interview). The ‘why say anything?’ comment was directed at the claims that he can’t possible come out and fully support the magazine, because it would be insufficiently responsive to all the parties that a politician has to be responsive.

        In other words, in order of my own preference, these are the ways that a politician might respond to the situation:

        1. Give an unqualified defense of free expression.
        2. Say nothing.
        3. Offer some mealy-mouth comment that tries to pay lip service to the idea of free expression while simultaneously trying to qualify it.

        Obama did #3.Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to j r says:

        FWIW, I’d like to completely and absolutely co-sign everything that @j-r is saying here. There’s a qualitative shift from criticizing broad generalizations about groups of people, in which a failure to do so might signal an animus towards those groups, and criticizing blasphemy. The cartoons we’re discussing here are pretty clearly in the latter category.

        In particular, the specific covers of the issues here are allegedly offensive because they’re blasphemous, not because they actually express animus towards Muslims as a group. To the extent they are deemed offensive for the latter reason, though, the alleged “animus” is the refusal to abide by a tenet of Islam, and to claim such is “animus” in any meaningful sense is nothing short of absurd.

        There’s also been some misreporting of what some of the cartoons depict – a couple of the cartoons allegedly depicting Mohammad just depict a generic Muslim. The “offense” of one of those would seem to be that it shows a generic Muslim playing tonsil hockey with one of Charlie’s editors, along with the message “Love is stronger than hate.” This was in the aftermath of Charlie being firebombed. That shows animus . . . how, exactly?

        Another of the images – the first, in fact – is an image of Mohammad responding to the riots/death threats/assassination attempts over the Danish cartoons by weeping and saying, “It’s hard to be loved by these assholes.” It’s no different from a cartoon depicting Jesus upset about the George Tiller murders and calling the murderer and his supporters assholes. Again, it’s offensive not because it purports to make a claim about Islam in general – quite the opposite, it suggests the “assholes” are using religion as a pretext – but because it violates an internal Muslim taboo. Indeed, the claim that people who resort to violence in the name of Islam are assholes acting inconsistent with actual Islam is pretty much a boilerplate response. Why does putting those words in Muhammad’s mouth itself – particularly under the circumstances – convert them into animus against Muslims generally rather than just a violation of a taboo for a religion to which the author does not belong? Was Charlie forcing Muslims to buy a copy or something?

        Another example – this October’s cover cartoon shows Muhammad about to be executed by ISIS with the caption “If Muhammad were alive today…”, Muhammad saying “I am the Prophet,” and the ISIS member saying “Shut up, infidel.” Again, how is it expressing animus against Muslims generally to say that ISIS is not representative of Islam? How is putting those words in the mouth of Muhammad himself any different from any other violation of Islamic taboos that we all engage in every day? Non-Muslims violate Islamic taboos every single goddamn day. Why should we suggest that non-Muslims act in accordance with this particular taboo, if only as a matter of custom, but not in accordance with other Islamic taboos?

        Etc.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to j r says:

        Thanks for fleshing out the details, @mark-thompson . I was clearly thinking of some other outlet that published the comic I mentioned specifically (the one with either Muhammed or a generic Muslim trope concealing a bomb under his turban).

        I agree with you and @j-r about the difference between something being blasphemous and something being offensive on other grounds. Thanks for the exchange, JR. My apologies for my initial confusion on your point or lack of clarity on my own point. I have to say that exchanges like these are when OT is working at its best.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to j r says:

        FTR & FWIW

        in order of my own preference, these are the ways that a politician might respond to the situation:

        1. Give an unqualified defense of free expression.
        2. Say nothing.
        3. Offer some mealy-mouth comment that tries to pay lip service to the idea of free expression while simultaneously trying to qualify it.

        I largely agree with this value-ordering, except that, depending on circumstances, 2 and 3 may switch places for me, though generally I agree with that order. I don;t have a strong preference about the order between 2 and 3.

        Politicians, certainly the WH, will as a matter of course not comment on 90-99% of free speech controversies, so “Say nothing” will in practice very often be the option taken.

        When they do comment, I will almost always prefer @j-r ‘s #1, but I’m realistic that that’s not always what we’re going to get form politicians. And I don’t have that huge a problem with that, because, in reality, our societal commitment to free expression is indeed qualified. Politicians are going to reflect that. When they can give a full-throated, unqualified defense, that’s great, but it’s not really their job. Their job is to not make laws restricting free expression (except courts have said they can do that, too, and I think there are indeed times they should).

        So there are times we aren’t going to get a full-throated, unqualified defense of free expression. Some of those times, I might prefer they say nothing, but other times I certainly think it might be the better part of leadership to urge restraint and good judgement while saying that, of course people have the legal right to say what they want.

        More broadly, generally politicians will espouse values about what kinds of expression they may not endorse or support, despite it being protected by U.S. law. We seem to agree that racism will be one of those things. Other things will be some of those things for some politicians, like disrespect for major religions. This is the diversity of viewpoints at work. It’s a mirage to think there is this clear, bright line about what speech politicians ought to/can express opposition to the choice to express, and what they cannot. The only real question is whether the opinion in question puts them out of the mainstream or makes them particularly intolerant of expression they disapprove of. There will of necessity be a range of profiles on this.

        So yeah, 1. Give an unqualified defense of free expression. And then 2. (or 3. depending on context and circumstances) Say nothing, and 3. (or 2, depending) Offer some mealy-mouth comment that tries to pay lip service to the idea of free expression while simultaneously trying to qualify it – though there’s no reason it needs to be mealy-mouthed nor be read as only lip service.Report

  10. Avatar aaron david says:

    I am kinda wondering if this may be playing a part in some way:

    “I say and repeat, again, that we are in need of a religious revolution. You imams are responsible before Allah. The entire world is waiting on you. The entire world is waiting for your word … because the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands,” el-Sisi said.

    http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/06/africa/egypt-president-speech/Report

  11. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    I don’t think it’s about fear at all. I think it’s about, for lack of a better word, courtesy.

    Kim Jong Un is a leader with a 1984-esque state; offending him could be considered a feature rather than a bug.

    Islam is a religion with over a billion adherents; gratuitously insulting them for no better reason than “because we can” seems to raise the question of why and whether someone should do that. Critiques are one thing, but with some of the comics (and a lot of art directed as other religions too, e.g. “Piss Christ”) it seems like the goal is to be as offensive as possible purely for the purpose of saying “Look, we’re being offensive”! Which raises the question of ….why? Just because trolling is legal doesn’t mean it’s laudable. That’s what I read Obama’s comment as saying.Report

    • Thank you for another plausible explanation. I’m adding it to my mental list.

      I’m not wholly convinced because Obama seems to go a bit out of his way to not say that he was endorsing the movie as smart satire. He seems more concerned with the subsequent news reports or documentaries that might not get made. A similar argument, however, seems to apply to tasteless, offensive cartoons though.

      But I do see your point and accept it at least as a partial explanation. Thanks again for contributing it.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to KatherineMW says:

      You could also argue that Islam like Roman Catholicism is a very old and institutionalized religion that frequently contrasts with the values of espoused by modern liberalism. Mocking Islam the religion is a feature in the same way that satirizing the Roman Catholic Church is a feature. Both are part of the anti-clerical battles long part of continental liberalism.Report

  12. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    There’s no change between the two statements. The ‘Interview’ statements were in response to a retaliatory action against speech. The analogous statements to consult would be the ones issued today by Josh Earnest and others in the government about the administration’s position on the retaliatory actions taken against the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

    You can question the judgement of a given piece of speech given that it might be unduly inflammatory without condoning violent or destructive responses to it or ceding your right to condemn such responses. And you’re comparing the former in one instance to the latter (well, condemnation itself) in another. But the latter kind of action (condemnation) is available in the second instance to compare to its counterpart in the first instance. And it compares fairly closely. No one is okay, or failing to say they are not okay, with the kind of censorship-by-crime we’re seeing here, just as they weren’t okay with it regarding the Sony hack.

    Perhaps what you mean to compare is the issuance of an opinion about the Charlie Hebdo speech compared to the lack of such issuance regarding ‘The Interview” prior to release. Well… there’s a lot of speech. No one can comment on all of it, and it’s different,so it would be odd to expect anyone, including a government, to have the same opinion of all of it. ‘The Interview” and these cartoons didn;t necessarily say the same thing in the same way, and so may not merit the same kind of opinion from anyone (including a government). But the response to violent or destructive reactions to said speech are very comparable if you look at them.Report

    • The ‘Interview’ statements were in response to a retaliatory action against speech.

      I think your timeline is off. Obama’s remarks were a criticism of Sony for pulling the Interview, not of North Korea for trying to attack Sony. When he said “they made a mistake”, he was referring to Sony, not North Korea. As @jaybird would put it, he was backlashing against the backlash against the backlash against the backlash. (Criticizing Sony for responding to North Korea for responding to the Interview for critiquing North Korea.)

      You can question the judgement of a given piece of speech given that it might be unduly inflammatory without condoning violent or destructive responses to it or ceding your right to condemn such responses.

      I acknowledge that. I’m merely trying to point out that it is clear that the White House is supportive of at least *some* types of self-censorship. “The Interview” press conference was a great opportunity to joke around and pretend to be big and strong when it comes to free speech, but that confidence doesn’t extend to all domains. (I’d note that KatherineMW’s hypothesis above is also consistent with that observation though she thinks the primary difference is how deserving the targets are while I think it’s how fear-inducing the targets are.)Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Well, we can surely go find where the administration condemned North Korea, just as they condemned the firebombing of Charlie Hebdo, just as they condemned the murders at Charlie Hebdo. My point is that we should be trying to compare like with like. I still don’t think you are, but I admit I was thinking of the Sony comments as being directed at North Korea. Maybe you can explain further how the comments’ contexts make them worthwhile to compare.

        In any case, if there is a problem with an administration having different opinions about different things that are said, we’re left with a position in which they ought to be for everyone saying anything they want, no matter what it is. And that’s not a position we should want them to hold. There is speech we want them to call on people to refrain from making, and other speech we want them to applaud. All we need in terms of neutrality from them is a commitment not to try to restrain with law people from saying what they want (and then, we will all agree to limits – or not, but in any case limits have been agreed to). They get to tell us what they think of things people say, and we should want them to.

        If the administration likes seeing things said about a military dictatorship, or doesn’t mind it enough to object, but doesn’t like seeing other things said about the major figure of worship of one of the world’s major religions, that’s just reflects a difference in substantive view by them of that speech.

        @j-r can question whether politicians should tell us what they think substantively about what people say. That’s a confused position. Of course they tell us what they think about things people say, even when in power – that’s how issues are communicated about.

        As far as the reason for the difference, I would attribute it to the importance of respect for religion in our own culture. Generally, making fun of people’s religion doesn’t fly for politicians. So defending it when it offends many millions of people and may contribute to sentiment that leads to violence doesn’t make a lot of sense for a politician here, either, unless that politician is trying to benefit from animus to the particular religion in question. One common approach in both of the administrations since 9/11 has been to go out of the way to try to show that there is not a conflict between the West and Islam per se, so the reaction is in keeping with that. But I think that view of the Age of Terror has its roots in the Western liberal tradition of respect for religion within its sphere.Report

      • …And I think that point about the rootedness of this in respect for (legitimate – and it’s fair to inquire into that) religion goes some way to answering the question about a change in position regarding how speakers should respond to violent threat.

        If it’s a longstanding value that we’re hearing rehearsed that defamation of major religions generally isn’t looked on with any favor or endorsed, and may even be resisted, in American politics (with resistance to legal restraints on such defamation hopefully also equally ingrained), then what we see in the two comments you quote, again, is not really a change. It may be the case that at a particular time there actually are security concerns animating the rehearsal of this commitment, but if so, this only reflects much of the reason why respect for religions has gotten baked into out pluralized culture: it goes some way toward keeping the peace when tensions are up. In any case, it’s a view of some long standing in Western liberal (very lower-case “l” there) political culture.

        To the extent, then, that, even if the tradition of respect for religion exists in large part to help keep the peace, to the extent the White House was giving voice to that longstanding value (whatever its origins), which I think they were, in my view the context is different from talking strictly about how a speaker should respond to threats of retaliation. Saying that respect for religions is a value they would like people to recognize is not in itself a plea to please be reasonable and give those making threats what they want. It’s saying that, regardless of threats, we already would prefer for you not to be looking to lampoon major faiths too insultingly.

        Whereas there is no longstanding sense that tinpot dictators need to be treated with respect in American political culture. Recognizing that the North Korean state is itself thought to be something of a religion, I don’t really think it qualifies in the way Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. do. The issue there really was only how speakers in the U.S. are going to respond to threats, in this case (it is/was believed), from a hostile government.

        I would continue to submit that this is not the best comparison.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @michael-drew

        You’re saying that the guy who said this:

        “And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration…”

        signed off on the comment above because of his respect for people’s religions and the desire not to offend people’s religious sensibilities. That doesn’t seem very likely.

        More likely is that as a Democrat, Obama has to balance two competing sets of interests. On the one hand, he has to be appear to be defending the traditionally liberal values of free speech and expression. And on the other, he has to appear to be sufficiently multicultural in his outlook and not be saying mean things about brown people. Of course, the irony is that many of the same constituency that gets antsy at saying mean things about brown people have no problem with Obama bombing lots of brown people.

        So my comments are not meant to imply that politicians should not tell us what they think. My comments are meant to point out that when politicians are telling us what they think, they are most likely being duplicitous.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to j r says:

          @j-r

          Cheap cherry-picking at its finest.

          You can doubt its authenticity, but it’s beside the point. Look at the body of Barack Obama’s public statements about religion, and mutual respect for the religions as such are a recurring theme.

          That was an unguarded moment, and can be used to doubt the authenticity of all that. But the thrust of his public views is plain. And we’re discussing the comparative meaning of highly-vetted public statements. My reading of those are entirely in keeping with the rest of Obama’s public statements about religions, and for that matter with many of George W. Bush’s.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @j-r Where’s the duplicity, exactly? “as a Democrat,” Obama doesn’t want to condone speech that makes blanket attacks on a minority group? Is there not an implicit assumption here that a Republican would be fine with badmouthing Muslims in general? If (god forbid) David Duke were to be murdered by some sort of Black Panther Party type tomorrow, then tomorrow would not be the time to say that he had it coming. But it would also not obligate anybody to start defending what he had to say about black folks, nor make any criticism of his speech from before the violent reprisal suddenly wrong.Report

      • So my comments are not meant to imply that politicians should not tell us what they think. My comments are meant to point out that when politicians are telling us what they think, they are most likely being duplicitous.

        Sorry, can’t really see how to find that to be the thrust here:

        Aside from agreeing that everyone has a right to do all those things, what precisely should the politician and/or spokesman say…
        I am going to answer a question with a question and ask: why should the politician say anything?
        Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @michael-drew

        Cheap cherry-picking at its finest.

        Yes. It is quite unfair of me to use the man’s own words as evidence that there is more going on here than meets the eye.

        My reading of those are entirely in keeping with the rest of Obama’s public statements about religions, and for that matter with many of George W. Bush’s.

        Yes. And in doing so you are completely discounting the additional context that @vikram-bath offers in the original post and that myself and others have offered in the comments. That is your prerogative of course. You are perfectly free to accept uncritically the PR statements of politicians. I am just pointing out that I find it naive. Take that for what it is worth.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @don-zeko
        I’d like to offer a response to your comment, but I just cannot escape the fact that your analogy is powered by an equivalency of the former head of the KKK and a satirical magazine.

        @michael-drew
        It is a bit ironic that you accuse me of cherry picking and then immediately pluck out one sentence from my comments. In fact, I gave an example of what sort of response I would have loved to see from Obama.Report

      • @j-r

        It’s not unfair. It’s radically incomplete.

        Again, Vikram’s operation was to to compare two formal PR statements as you put it and wonder about the difference.

        What I’m doing is examining, using the larger body of the public statements of that figure, how much difference there really is between the statements given all available context. That’s something one has to do prior to getting into underlying motivations for said differences. But I’m not denying that a variety of motivations go into crafting such public statements (as well as the not-meant-for-public-consumption ones). I’m questioning whether the difference is between the really so great in the first place, in the context of the body of public statements on the question. If textual analysis based on context is something that’s uselessly naive to you, then fair enough.

        What you’re doing (I guess) is skipping to the “true motivations” part.

        You can take me up on what I’m doing – or not. Don’t care.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @j-r I think it was pretty obvious that I’m exaggerating to make my point clear, not trying to suggest an equivalence between anybody. Would you prefer I switch back to my Bill Maher example from the other thread? The point is that particularly for a President that leads a political coalition that cares about tolerance and anti-racism, there’s no obligation to endorse an offensive message just because awful people have issued death threats. Those threats are to be condemned, but I don’t see that missing from Obama’s response. And immediately after somebody follows through on such a threat, it’s not the right time to be critical of the victims – but then Obama didn’t do that either; his press secretary was critical of them long before this attack was carried out. Obviously defending the free speech rights of somebody that you disagree with doesn’t provide the lack of nuance and ambiguity that defending the speech rights of somebody that you do agree with does. So what?Report

      • I plucked out one entire comment.

        If you think something different from that now and I missed it, I’m happy to let the record show you have changed your views. Certainly Obama has made abundantly clear that his views aren’t reflected in that one private comment (not that it actually disrespected religions in the way we’re really contemplating here anyway), though it was incumbent on him to make sure that was clear, so I’m happy to allow you to make the same thing clear.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @don-zeko

        Obviously defending the free speech rights of somebody that you disagree with doesn’t provide the lack of nuance and ambiguity that defending the speech rights of somebody that you do agree with does. So what?

        That is the what. Adopting different levels of support for speech and expression rights based on how much you agree with the speaker or sympathize with the subject is antithetical to the idea of free speech and expression. Of course, that does not mean that you have to rush to defend ideas that you find personally repugnant. You can always choose to say nothing. However, when you choose to make statements, then people have the right to compare them and call you out on your hypocrisy.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        @michael-drew

        OK. My cherry-picking is unfair, but yours is cool. Got it.

        Anyway, what I said was that politicians are generally full of sh*t, so I’d prefer that they generally say less. If however, a politician were to say something, I’d like them to say something that is not full of sh*t. And I gave an example of that sort of thing. Obviously, no one is under the obligation to feel as I feel, but there is nothing contradictory about my position.

        Also, @vikram-bath’s post points out the differences in how the administration reacts to two separate speech issues. Your argument is that they react differently to the one involving Islam, because he has to show a sufficient level of respect for religion. That is a possible explanation, but it doesn’t really fit with other things that we know to be true.

        Specifically, we know that it is very possible to criticize Islam, even to outright demagogue against Islam, in America and get very little push-back from religious folks. Conservatives do it all the time and run no risk of alienating their religious base. Likewise, it is very possible for radical Imams in the Muslim world to demagogue against non-Muslims and get very little pushback from their religious followers. Religious extremists generally don’t interpret attacks against other religions as an attack on their own. In fact, that is what makes someone a religious extremist: the absolute disregard for other people’s beliefs.

        On the contrary, if Obama comes down too hard on Islam, the group that he runs the risk of alienating most is the largely secular progressive bloc, who would accuse him of sounding too much like a religious conservative. Again, this issue makes for some strange bedfellows.

        So, if we ask the question: is Obama more deferential to Islam than to North Korea, because he doesn’t want to offend religion or because he wants to appear sufficiently anti-racist and not Islamophobic? Well, the answer is probably both, but also probably a bit more of the latter than the former.Report

      • I’m not insisting on the meaning of said comment standing. If you say you feel differently now, that stands for me. I was just saying why my reaction to that comment was what it was at the time I had it.

        Really, I wasn’t cherry-picking, I was explaining my reaction to that comment at the time I had it, in the context of your saying I had gotten it wrong. When I made reference to your saying that politicians should’t speak about others’ speech, that was the only comment on yours in the thread I was aware of. I’m just saying I don;t know how I was supposed to get the meaning you were claiming from it.

        The rest I don’t get. Because Obama could theoretically get up on the podium and bash Islam, therefore it’s an unlikely explanation of the difference in his administration’s comments about a cartoon flaying Islam versus a movie flaying a foreign dictator that he tends to want to display and ask others to display a basic respect for the world’s major religions because it’s part of American political culture to do so? No. That’s wrong. It’s a major part of both his and President Bush’s overall public relations approach during this era, and beyond that, respect for major religions is an influential and longstanding strain in American politics.

        And yes, occasionally politicians (mostly fringe ones) fail to live up to that, which totally means it’s not the case at all. Not.Report

      • …Also, dammit, you’ve made me forget my point again! 😉

        I don’t think what you say means that it’s particularly unlikely that the motivation really was respect for religion, at lead in part. But that’s not what I’m arguing.

        What I’m arguing is that noting

        1) this longstanding value in American politics – respect for religions – (domestically and in the practice of American foreign relations, at least rhetorically), reflected in Obama’s rhetoric about religion throughout his public life, and

        2) the differing contexts of each set of comments

        …make there not really be, prima facie, a “change” in attitude evidenced by juxtaposition of these two sets of comments. Not when their different contexts and preexisting (at least rhetorically enunciated) values are taken into account.Report

  13. Avatar zic says:

    I keep thinking about this (and other religious/free-speech debates) in terms of the first amendment.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Obviously, my thoughts have to be US-centric, since the 1st is only law here. But the grain of the idea — freedom from state-established religion, freedom to exercise one’s religion, freedom to speak, freedom to assemble, and freedom to petition the government puts several things in conflict.

    Freedom to exercise religion can include all sorts of things that limit other people’s freedoms; I’ve long postulated here that the HL decision, for instance, is in error because it extends one group’s right to exercise their religion over another group of people who might not share that religion. I see echoes here of the same thing: the religious ban on how a spiritual figure is portrayed is perceived as reason to impose your beliefs on other groups, up to and including acts of violence and murder.

    So what’s missing?

    It’s the assembly part.

    Freedom of assembly, it seems to me, recognize an individual’s right to not participate in someone else’s exercise of their religion.

    I fear we’ll continue to batter away at one another over all sorts of perceived slights against belief until we get the point of understanding that your beliefs do not give you the right to control someone else’s behavior; to force them into assembling, without their consent, in your exercise of religion.

    The two statements above from Carney and Obama, to me, read as exactly the same sorts of logic that exist in the discussion of rape. Yes, it’s unwise to get blitzed at a party, to walk alone late at night, etc. etc. etc. because something bad might happen. But that does not mean you’ve caused the bad thing; the person who does the bad thing caused it. Saying something insulting about the Prophet Mohammad might be in bad taste, insulting the leader of North Korea might be bad diplomacy, but a cartoonist is not exercising their religious belief, a movie producer is not a diplomat; any more than an HL employee is a member of the Green’s church.

    We need to recognize the right of assembly includes the right to not assemble. I fervently wish we could do so as a social compact, a standard of human rights that applied to all people.Report

  14. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I’m back to thinking about The American Religion again.

    Charlie Hebdo seems to spring from the same roots as The American Religion and, as one of the old-timey adherents, I tend to see Charlie Hebdo as a kindred spirit and ally and whatnot. An attack on Charlie Hebdo is an attack on my religion.

    Now, there are other offshoots of The American Religion that are, shall we say, Reform version of my somewhat more Orthodox take on it. Their religion is the Unitarianism to Charlie Hebdo’s Orthodoxy. Unsurprisingly, when the Unitarian-analogues see something like the attack on Charlie Hebdo, the response is not “My Religion Has Been Attacked!” but “What Did They Expect? Had They Been More Unitarian, This Never Would Have Happened. (Of Course, I Condemn The Attacks In The Strongest Possible Terms.)”

    It’s a replay of the same argument we’ve been having for a while.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      While I still have not seen anyone (‘cept that one dude in comments of another blog) say, “What did they expect?” Can you point to some more examples?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I’ll add this: simply pointing out that this was a possibility, before the fact (2 years before the fact, say!) is not the same as saying “What did they expect?” I suspect that you, yourself, recognized this was a possibility before the fact. Hell, I suspect almost everyone did (remember an attack a few years ago that was initially blamed on just this? and how readily we believed that was the cause? and how crazy it drove some people to find out it might have been caused by something else?).

        So, an example not of “Some people may react violently,” or even, “We knew it was possible that some people might react violently,” but a blaming them with, “What did they expect?!” The sort of thing you keep suggesting people are saying, but no one actually seems to be saying, in other words.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I’ll add this as well: it probably drives me as crazy as the response you keep talking about drives you, to see people react to imagined responses rather than real ones. If there are people saying this, and if they’re not merely a small handful of idiots to whom no one is paying attention except to call them idiots, I simply haven’t seen it. I’ve only seen people criticizing people for saying this. See, e.g., my head nearly exploding after reading Saul earlier on “anti-colonialism.”

        Part of why it drives me crazy is that once someone imagines a response that they really, really hate, they tend to see that response in responses that are not really the responses they imagined, and it tends to shrink the space of possible discourse irrationally and potentially harmfully. See, e.g., what Saul links to as an example of “Fanonism.”Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Do the examples discussing such things as insulting a man’s wife qualify?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        I don’t know, as I’m not aware of what you’re referring to. Can you point to it (was it here?)?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I’ll quote Morat20:

        I mean, individually — if I insulted a guy about his wife, his religion, his family, and basically got him so furious he pulled a gun and shot me — he’s still going to jail for murder. I mean, he flat out murdered me.

        Doesn’t mean I wasn’t being a jerk. And I admit — being a massive jerk is a lot smaller a character flaw than being a murderer who flips out over words. Still doesn’t make me a nice person.

        I read this as being something that pays tribute to both offshoots of The Religion. You have to kowtow to some of the fundamental beliefs… but you get to put hedges in there to signal membership with the much more evolved offshoot.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah, I see that a case of seeing the imagined response in real ones. Morat is saying essentially what you and I both believe as well: it’s possible, if you insult certain religions’ idols, that they will respond violently. You see him saying, “What did they expect?” whereas I see him saying, “We know it’s a possible response.” Again, you agree with the latter (or you’ve been living under a rock). That you keep seeing the latter as the former in people with whom you disagree more broadly says more about your own views than it does theirs’.

        I can understand suggesting that it’s in bad taste to make that point yesterday or today, I suppose, but I thought not suggesting that we shouldn’t say things because we’re in bad taste was the point of all this.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Chris says:

        Or he could just be talking about human decency without all accompanying analysis about offshoots and kowtowing to fundamentalism, and you’re criticism of the examples he uses to demonstrate that point miss it completely. I dunno, tho. Maybe you – since you have the elaborate analysis here – should ask him.

        Ahhh, what am I talking about. It’s so much more convenient to just interpret his words to fit your narrative.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        Well, we very recently witnessed discussions that fell under the umbrella of “Patriarchy”.

        From what I recall, discussions that said something to the effect of “it is more in sadness than in anger that I tell these poor victims that the world is a certain way” that there was pushback.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        A lot of ink has been spilled, recently, about “the talk” that black parents feel compelled to give their children. In that talk, they tell their children that police will view them differently than they view white people, and as such they will need to behave differently, with an overabundance of caution, around cops than white people. Cops are very dangerous, because you are black.

        I don’t think anyone takes this as a case of people saying, “It’s your fault the cops killed you, because you went outside with black skin.” And Morat isn’t even going as far as that talk is. He’s basically just saying that just because one thing leads to another, and perhaps even if everyone involved knows that the one thing could lead to the other beforehand, doesn’t mean that the thing led to isn’t horribly wrong. It’s almost the opposite of what you take it to be saying. But because you’ve already imagined a certain response, you actually see it saying the opposite of that imagined thing as actually saying the imagined thing, but trying to cover its ass by saying the opposite thing.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        A million years ago, I wrote this comment:

        Here is a proposition. “If P Then Q”.

        Let’s call this proposition R.

        Proposition R is true. This function accurately describes the state of affairs of the universe.

        There are two general responses to Proposition R when it comes to culture.

        “I can’t believe that someone would actually defend the way the world is! R *SHOULD* be False!”

        “Well, you have to understand, to be sure, all other things being equal, more in sadness than in anger, R.”

        Some people have no particular opinion on R, but the attacks on R offend them. Some others have no opinion on R, but are offended by the defenses of R… which results in an anti-anti-Rism and anti-pro-Rism.

        Some people get offended by those things and so argue against those.

        It’s interesting to see the dynamics when someone immediately feels like saying “R is not the way the world ought to be” vs. when they say “Well, you have to understand that R is the way the world is.”

        It’s here, if it matters: https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2011/04/13/muslims-and-pr-a-response-to-comments

        If all we’re doing is saying “Hey, if you insult The Prophet, you’re going to inspire violence”, then that’s something that I’m pretty sure that all of us agree with.

        But having established that, hey, if you insult The Prophet, you’re going to inspire violence… then what? I find the “then what?” a lot more interesting than dwelling on how, hey, if you insult The Prophet, you’re going to inspire violence.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah, and it’s cool to be more interested in that. All I’m pushing back against is seeing things in what people are saying that aren’t there.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        It’s difficult for me to see emphasis on the mockery of The Prophet as being in service to anything but a preamble to how the victims could have best avoided inspiring violence.

        Perhaps it’s like the arguments about how women should be careful to avoid the punch when they go to frat parties. “Look, I’m not saying that Frat Guys aren’t bad! I’m saying avoid the punch!”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        That it’s difficult for you to see doesn’t mean that it is, much less cause it to be, difficult for others to see things differently. This is basically what I’ve been saying all along: you imagined a response, perhaps the moment you heard about this happening, and because you imagined that response, you have had a great deal of trouble not seeing it in the real responses of others, even when those responses explicitly reject your imagined one.

        To paraphrase George Costanza, it’s not them, it’s you.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        I thought I said that.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Chris says:

        Yeah, but then you threw in the frat party thing, which sounded a lot like taking it back. Maybe I just misread.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

        No, that was me rephrasing it in a way that made it easy for me to understand.

        I do think that women who go to frat parties should avoid the punch.

        This should not be interpreted as any kind of defense against the horrible things done to the women who drink too much of the punch.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

      This is kind of what I was trying to get at in my comment to @morat20 above, except I said “tribes”. Cartoonists? Comedians, even bad ones? People sticking the finger up at everybody? They feel like my “tribe”.

      Whereas people shooting and beheading those people don’t, and people who say things like “well, you have to understand…” don’t either.

      I don’t know if this is good or bad. Tribalism gets a bad rap in these parts (edited to add: usually deservedly), but there are times when it served us and may serve us still.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Glyph says:

        There’s probably a difference between identifying with someone, or even a group, and tribalism. Tribalism says “my group is better because I’m a member,” in essence. “My group is better because we don’t brutally murder people for perceived slights” is something different.

        Where it might become tribalism, of course, is if you start to see any criticism as a completely lack of support (“You’re either with us or you’re with our enemies”), or worse, a support for the tribes you oppose.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Glyph says:

        Chris, I think tribalism can be a lot more subtle. It includes framing of ideas and values based upon how those we identify with think. As such it can be totally invisible and unconscious.

        Here is a paper summarizing how fucked up tribalism is between political parties. Note how much stronger political bias and discrimination are than racial.

        http://pcl.stanford.edu/research/2014/iyengar-ajps-group-polarization.pdf

        I am still trying to figure out who my tribe is. I have only personally met a handful of people who I know are libertarian/ classical liberal my entire life (one friend in college;one manager, one peer and one employee through 30 years of work, in a work environment which would skew libertarian with managers and actuaries)Report

      • Avatar Mark Thompson in reply to Glyph says:

        @roger Dammit, you forgot at least two who you met at Leaguefest.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Glyph says:

        Hi Mark,

        Yeah, bad choice of words. I meant “regular circle of people of influence” or something like that. The Internet, for the first time, regularly allows non-extremist classical liberals to aggregate and form mini societies with potential tribal tendencies. “Tribes of radical individualists” still rounds like an oxymoron though. If the political leanings could be characterized as pets, we would certainly be the cats. If everyone else is going north, we are always wondering what is south.Report

  15. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Apparently, there’s someone else who said something similar to that guy in the LGM comments.

    USA Today ran an editorial that, surely, is a false flag operation.

    The whole thing is worth reading. I fear that any excerpt I make will inspire comments like “you’re taking that quotation out of context” and I don’t want that to happen.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

      Nice score, Jaybird. I’m happy for you. You proved to yourself that you were right all along.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        I would have felt better if it were a liberal-type who were arguing this rather than a conservative, though.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Yeah, that’s a shame. Especially knowing how much this meant to you. But hey, ya can’t have everything, right? Atleast ya get to sleep good tonight knowing you’ve maintained your perfect record of demonstrating to your ownself that you’re right, goddammit! And hey, that’s enough! Good on ya!Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

        I deleted like 5 versions of this comment, and I’m on a phone, so that’s a pain in the ass, but man, do I find it disappointing that you’d rather it have been a liberal making the argument of a well-known supporter of terrorism in support of a terrorist attack. I’ll just leave it at that.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Stillwater says:

        I don’t find it disappointing nor surprising, but, despite not finding it surprising, I find it curious and I don’t think I understand why he feels this way. I’d like to understand it better.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Stillwater says:

        …Though I’m not sure he’s really right in his application of those labels to the author, at least without further elaboration.

        “Anjem Choudary is a radical Muslim cleric in London and a lecturer in sharia.”

        He might be a conservative in the way we think of when the term is used without further explanation in the U.S…. but he’s probably not. He might be a conservative in some other sense… but he might not be. He’s probably not a liberal in the way we think of when the term is used without further explanation in the U.S – or in in any other sense.

        He’s more likely something else other than a conservative or a liberal, rather than being a conservative or a liberal, really.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

        Cuz it’d fit his narrative about liberals.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Well, I’m sure we’ve all seen Bill Donohue’s statement about how Muslims were right to be angry (which is a completely different argument than how Muslims could have been expected to be).

        Surprisingly, to me anyway, the people who are arguing that there was some degree of justification (rather than, say, mere inevitability) are either wacky commenters or right-wingers of some religious stripe.

        While I’m very much not a fan of the focus on “hey, I’m just saying that if you do this, it’ll result in violence”, it’s not the “well, they were kind of asking for it” that I thought I’d have seen more of.

        I’ve seen a handful of the “we need to show respect for everybody” essays and I don’t know quite what to think about those… the sentiment is understandable but the resulting behavior seems identical to behavior that would reward violence. I mean, the AP removed their link to a picture of Immersion (Piss Christ) and that should make everybody feel weird.

        I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that Chris might be right. I went through the articles mentioned by Hit and Run’s “reactions” article and while there is a little more leaning into the whole “I’m saying this was understandable, not justified!” thing than I’m comfortable with, even the cherry picked articles are hammering over and over that it wasn’t justified, no matter how understandable it was.

        Which is a good thing. It makes me want to go back and reread what was said following the cartoon riots.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Oh, and the Hit and Run article is here, if you want to read through the posts (and comments):

        http://reason.com/blog/2015/01/08/charlie-hebdo-agnostics-im-against-murdeReport

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

        I find that USA editorial bizarre.

        My real experience with Choudary comes from Jon Ronson, who spent time with hi and wrote about him in his book Them. What becomes very clear is that Choudary is kind of aa clown, someone who looks to stay in the news by saying whatever the most crackpot and over-the-top statements he can.

        That USA today would look to him to do an editorial is like them asking Alex Jones do one one about ow the ACA is a plot by the lizard people.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Stillwater says:

        @jaybird

        You’ve said you would have felt better if it had been liberals, and now you’re saying it’s surprising to you that it was right-wingers. Do you want to confirm that it’s still both? And do you want to speak to why you have the preference (if you do)? Just those old tribal pangs? Or something else?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Stillwater pretty much nailed it. It would have confirmed my biases and I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from having my biases confirmed.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        And one more article before bed. Yglesias, who (it seems to me) hasn’t been at his best in the last few years, had a really good take in his “Two — but only two — cheers for blasphemy” essay.

        http://www.vox.com/2015/1/8/7511421/blasphemy-right-charlie-hebdo

        “Images that were once not much more than shock for its own sake now stand for something — for the legal right to blaspheme and to give offense. Unforgivable acts of slaughter imbue merely rude acts of publication with a glittering nobility. To blaspheme the Prophet transforms the publication of these cartoons from a pointless act to a courageous and even necessary one, while the observation that the world would do well without such provocations becomes a form of appeasement. And the infection quickly spreads.”

        I think I agree with that 100%.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

        Douthat said pretty much the same thing as Yglesias.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Stillwater says:

        Very first comment to that Reason piece:

        Without even reading the rest of the article, I’m betting most of these “arbiters of good taste” are the same people who think we should teach all men not to rape.

        So I got to have my preconceptions confirmed too.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        Well, there is one distinction between the two explanatory examples and the attack that does seem to be worth exploring.

        With the recent discussion of rape on campus, there was tension between pointing out that there were a lot of defensive actions women could take (don’t drink the punch at frat parties, etc) and the response came “TEACH MEN NOT TO RAPE!”

        When it was conceded that men shouldn’t rape but there were a lot of defensive actions women could take, it was, once again, pointed out that we should “TEACH MEN NOT TO RAPE!”

        The suggestion that there were defensive actions that women could take was interpreted as putting the onus on women.

        Now, without getting into the debate of whether that suggestion implies where the onus is, I think that we’re all in agreement that Frat Culture on college campuses seriously needs to be reformed by the outside, if they won’t reform themselves.

        The second suggestion involved The Talk that African-Americans give their kids about interactions with the police. Now, to my knowledge, *NOBODY* argued that AA parents should not give such a talk to their kids. (There was a prominent self-proclaimed racist who saw that AA parents gave a talk to their kids and responded by saying “Well… I’m going to give a talk to *MY* kids!” and then proceeded to miss the point of The Talk.)

        I’m pretty sure that all of us here are in agreement that police culture needs to be reformed by the outside, if they won’t reform themselves.

        When I look at the debate over this particular topic, I’m not sure that we are all in agreement that there is even a problem with Islamic Culture (versus whether these guys were just a handful of kooks), let alone whether said problem (assuming we agree it exists) should be reformed (as opposed to letting it take its course as Judaism and Christianity did), let alone whether it’d be appropriate for the reformation to come from outside, if they won’t reform themselves.

        If you see “TEACH MEN NOT TO RAPE!” as an appropriate response to discussions of what needs to happen on campus, I’d think that it’d be easy to see why “TEACH MUSLIMS NOT TO MURDER!” would be a position that someone could hold following the aftermath of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

        If you see “TEACH MEN NOT TO RAPE!” as an appropriate response to discussions of what needs to happen on campus, I’d think that it’d be easy to see why “TEACH MUSLIMS NOT TO MURDER!” would be a position that someone could hold following the aftermath of the massacre at Charlie Hebdo.

        I wonder what J R thinks of this analogy (honestly, I do).

        The problem I see with it is that “teach men not to rape” is not something that we, as a culture, have really done. I mean, we all know that rape is wrong by the time we’re old enough to do it, of course, but we don’t all know precisely what rape is. So you have guys, at least young guys, who celebrate getting women drunk, say (at least you did when I was in college: getting women drunk was many men’s goal at a party, and if you’d told them subsequent sex with a woman so drunk that she can’t say “no” was rape, they’d have looked at you like you were crazy), or getting them into situations in which it will be difficult for them to get out, and not thinking it’s rape or sexual assault when they do so. So “Teach men not to rape” makes a lot of sense, because it’s not teaching men, “Rape is wrong, don’t do it!” It’s teaching them, “This thing you didn’t think was rape is rape, don’t do it!”

        Now, within Islam, as within most cultures, murder is actively condemned. However, some Muslims come to believe, usually as young adults, that killing certain people for certain reasons isn’t murder. They are, in fact, taught that it isn’t murder by certain religious leaders. So, if you want to teach those people who’ve been taught otherwise that it is, in fact, murder, more power to you. But you’re missing your target audience if you’re going after the people who’ve already been taught that, which is the vast majority of Muslims.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        +1 Chris. Very well said.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

        I’ll add this:

        Within weeks of 9/11, we had troops in Afghanistan, ultimately resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Muslims.

        Within a year and a half, as a result of 9/11, we had troops in Iraq, ultimately resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million Muslims.

        Within months of 9/11, we had planes and later drones flying over Yemen and Pakistan and who knows where else, ultimately resulting in the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands of Muslims.

        Within months of 9/11 we imprisoned Muslims, many of them for no reason other than they had the wrong name or a spiteful neighbor, for years, not to mention the torture.

        If we want to extend the analogy in the other direction, then, every time a few men rape a woman, we kill a million of them, torture hundreds of them, and imprison a bunch of them for no reason, indefinitely, with no access to any legal process, and occupy their fraternities and such with heavily armed military contractors, to teach all men not to rape.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        And if the response was “well, white privileged men don’t respond well to being attacked. If you don’t want your country bombed, other countries bombed, people who look like you being bombed, and people who vaguely remind other people who look like you to be tortured, then don’t attack white privileged men”, would that be an appropriate response?

        How about if I pointed out how I don’t condone any of those things?Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

        I’d say, “Damn, you sound like Jaybird mocking a nonexistent response. Stop it!”Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Stillwater says:

        @jaybird said:

        When I look at the debate over this particular topic, I’m not sure that we are all in agreement that there is even a problem with Islamic Culture (versus whether these guys were just a handful of kooks), let alone whether said problem (assuming we agree it exists) should be reformed (as opposed to letting it take its course as Judaism and Christianity did), let alone whether it’d be appropriate for the reformation to come from outside, if they won’t reform themselves.

        Well first we’d have to agree that “Muslim Culture” exists in any meaningful way. I’m perfectly willing to say that there’s a problem in the culture of conservative Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula, or in certain Muslim Immigrant communities in Europe or what have you. But if we’re talking about Christian Culture or Jewish Culture or Muslim Culture, the level of abstraction makes it basically impossible to paint with an appropriately-sized brush. Does a pro-Putin Easten Orthodox Christian in Russia share a meaningful Christian Culture with a liberal Episcopalian from Connecticut? Even within the Catholic Church, a far more centralized and theologically specific organization than exists anywhere in Islam, there are tremendous differences in culture between different adherents in different parts of the world.

        So when people talk about there being a problem with “Muslim Culture,” to me that sounds like they’re dragging a bunch of Muslims that don’t need to change a damn thing about their culture into this over-wrought Clash of Civilizations narrative at the expense of clearly identifying what we can or should do about the real problem of violent political Islam.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Stillwater says:

        I wonder what J R thinks of this analogy (honestly, I do).

        Honestly, it strikes me as the kind of thing that I might say if I didn’t spend most of my internet life commenting at a place where I can expect pushback for shoddy thinking. I get the underlying logic of the point and there certainly is, somewhere in this world, someone who holds contradictory or hypocritical views on this issue, but so what? I have thoughts on the rape side of the analogy and thoughts on the religious extremist side of the analogy, but think that conflating them would do nothing to better understand either. I will also say, that my thoughts on this issue are pretty far from @zic’s, but I am in general agreement with her earlier comment on this topic.

        That being said, this is a comment. At first, I mistakenly read @mike-schilling’s comment and went looking in the actual article. And when I didn’t see it, I thought that the author must have gone back and edited the piece. The I realized my mistake and now I’m just in Allen Iverson mode.

        “We in here talkin’ about comments? Not the blog post. Not the blog post. Not the blog post. We’re talkin’ about comments?”Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Stillwater says:

        we all know that rape is wrong by the time we’re old enough to do it, of course, but we don’t all know precisely what rape is. So you have guys, at least young guys, who celebrate getting women drunk, say (at least you did when I was in college: getting women drunk was many men’s goal at a party, and if you’d told them subsequent sex with a woman so drunk that she can’t say “no” was rape, they’d have looked at you like you were crazy), or getting them into situations in which it will be difficult for them to get out, and not thinking it’s rape or sexual assault when they do so.

        This is absolutely right, but the calls for action should frame it that way. But they don’t; people (yes, men) feel accused of explicitly thinking it’s okay to rape (if you have to teach them not to, they think you must be saying they don’t know not to, not just HOW not to); they get defensive and don’t listen; there’s a backlash; and the whole thing, if it doesn’t backfire, at least isn’t effective.

        So, that should happen – the framing should reflect the real belief and intention behind the message. “Teach men not to rape,” just like “Teach Muslims not to murder,” fails to do that (though not quite for the same reason). It prioritizes edginess and provocation over communication. It could be as simple as changing the cry to, “Teach men HOW not to rape.” “Teach men not to rape” as a slogan is, I think, doing a fair amount of damage to progress at this moment.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Stillwater says:

        “We in here talkin’ about comments? Not the blog post. Not the blog post. Not the blog post. We’re talkin’ about comments?”

        Props.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater says:

        @zic – OT, but do you mind if I shoot you an e-mail at the address you comment with here?Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Stillwater says:

        @glyph not at all. I presume we’re going to discuss Black Mirror posts?Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Stillwater says:

        @zic Yes please. Vikram let me know he’s ready with the ep2 recap, so if I can get yours on ep3 and that rascally layabout @tod-kelly ‘s on ep1, we will be all set.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Stillwater says:

        Now, within Islam, as within most cultures, murder is actively condemned. However, some Muslims come to believe, usually as young adults, that killing certain people for certain reasons isn’t murder. They are, in fact, taught that it isn’t murder by certain religious leaders. So, if you want to teach those people who’ve been taught otherwise that it is, in fact, murder, more power to you. But you’re missing your target audience if you’re going after the people who’ve already been taught that, which is the vast majority of Muslims.

        …And this is right, too. (Though, perhaps they do think/understand it’s murder, but they think this murder is okay, even commanded by their religion. I’m not sure.) As @chris says, the difference is largely about who the target audience needs to be.

        To some extent, though, it’s also about the mindset, as the mindset that (I guess) renders some killings not murder in radical Islam is much more fully considered and less based in ignorance (I’m not of the belief that radical Muslims who believe killing infidels is not murder generally hold that belief out of ignorance of the true Islam, but out of choice of the Islam they prefer) than is the mindset that fails to understand that certain actions are rape often is.

        So I think these probably need to be combatted differently. If you have a large part of the population that genuinely doesn’t realize that X is rape and the problem is just spreading that knowledge, then I don’t think it helps to accuse them of thinking it’s okay to rape. OTOH, if you have a small part of the population that will stand in front of you and yell in your face that if they were to kill you standing right there for your religious beliefs (or affiliation with what they feel is an invading culture) it wouldn’t be murder, I’m not sure that the approach of teaching them that that is murder is going to get it done. They’re likely aware we think that and are consciously choosing to disagree. There’s probably going to need to be a considerable degree of pretty rough insistence that they “learn” that we’re right.

        The key reality is that they are aware that the larger global society views it to be murder, and that they are consciously rejecting that view, whereas the man who put a woman in a position where it’s hard for her to say no and then has sex without physical force does genuinely need to be taught that the society that he considers himself a non-dissenting part of considers that rape.

        But maybe someone wants to argue for the validity of the analogy/equation between the radical Muslim’s affirmative belief that such killings aren’t murder and the man who doesn’t know what is and isn’t rape. The comparison can definitely be argued out.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

        In the car, I had my “that was a dumb comment, you *SHOULD* have said” moment. Here’s what I came up with:

        Would someone who said “Hey, not *ALL* men!” in response to that be making a point that is an important one that should have been acknowledged? Perhaps someone who wants to point out that this is a problem from individuals and, if there’s a problem with some part of the culture, whatever that would mean, it’s a sub-culture that should be condemned (or a sub-sub-culture) and making a statement about a group is unhelpful to achieving meaningful change?

        I imagine, much like with police, we could argue that the problem isn’t just the people committing the acts, but the people who tacitly support the acts by not going out of their way to fight against them, report people who they suspect of bad action, and so on.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Stillwater says:

        @jaybird

        It would have confirmed my biases and I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from having my biases confirmed.

        Gotcha. I kinda figured that from the combo of expectation plus disappointment, but I wanted to confirm.

        I didn’t ask, but kind of meant to imply that I was interested in hearing more about what exactly those biases that you like to have confirmed are in this case, and where you think they come from? And I guess whether you think they are justified by observation, and if so, how/why?Report

      • Gonna quote myself one time to make one other point:

        the framing should reflect the real belief and intention behind the message. “Teach men not to rape,” just like “Teach Muslims not to murder,” fails to do that (though not quite for the same reason). It prioritizes edginess and provocation over communication. It could be as simple as changing the cry to, “Teach men HOW not to rape.” “Teach men not to rape” as a slogan is, I think, doing a fair amount of damage to progress at this moment.

        The other difference to keep in mind is that “We need to teach men not rape” is a very active, going concern of a slogan that is very much in use and in vogue at the moment. “We need to teach Muslims not to murder,” in my experience, is merely a statement devised for the purpose of this comment discussion, and, to the extent it’s a slogan at all, a hypothetical one stemming from same. I haven’t heard thoughtful people saying it out in the world, certainly not in any numbers. There might comparable sayings that are common, but I’m not aware of them. But to the extent there are, I’m guessing we commonly regard them as prejudiced.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Stillwater says:

        I wonder, if someone were killing hundreds of thousands, even millions of Americans, say, because a few Americans had committed acts of horrible violence, how many Americans would go out of their way to condemn further acts of violence by Americans? Because every time something like this happens, many Muslim leaders do.

        Look at the Daesh. For the sorts of folks who carry out attacks like these, and support attacks like these, the Islamic State is pretty much the best thing possible: they’ve taken over huge swaths of land and implemented precisely the sort of Islamic rule that militant extremists want! And all over the world, you have Muslims decrying the Daesh, while in Iraq and Syria, you have actual Muslims being killed and maimed fighting in brutal, brutal battles to get rid of them.

        Yet there will still be Americans who blame Islam, because it’s easy.

        What are men doing, in this country, to combat sexual assault and a culture that in some cases actively promotes rape (e.g., the whole “get her drunk” thing)? How does the analogy hold up then?Report

      • Except I’m pretty much saying that the broad brush isn’t wrong with spect to teaching men about rape. (Though, in fact, I bet we could find as many almost men saying about rape in the U.S. what Muslim leaders say about radical violence in the rest of the world.)

        But I’m conceding that the broad application on education about rape isn’t wrong; men aren;t born with this knowledge and in large numbers reach early adulthood without it, whereas most Muslims are taught almost from birth that radicalism and violence are the wrong Islam. But because we do teach that rape is wrong but, not as maliciously as it is taught in radical Islam that some murder isn’t murder, don’t teach enough about what rape is to everyone, therefore the message we need to get to everyone about learning about rape needs to be different (softer) than the message we need to get to a tiny minority of Muslims about how wrong and malicious their (mostly consciously chosen and considered) beliefs about killing are.

        So you’re right that the target audience is broader on the rape problem than on the radical Islam problem, but as a consequence of that, and of the nature of the beliefs and societal teachings (or lack thereof) about them, the message also needs to be different.

        Is what I’m saying. What actually results, I think, is that “We need to teach Muslims/American men not to murder/rape” is not the right message (though perhaps not by much) in either case. But in the case of men and rape (largely because of the broad target audience that message needs to have) it’s because it’s too strong and accusatory, whereas in the case of radical Muslims, it’s twofold: one, because it (unlike in the case of men and rape) fails to properly target the message, but two, because in those case, might actually be too soft and indirect, such that it isn’t realistic about the nature of the belief it’s addressing, which doesn’t exist just out of ignorance or lack of exposure to alternative ideas.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

      Dude, you know who that is, right? If you meant that people who support such attacks will blame them on the cartoonists, ya should have said so. The discussion would have ended with me saying, “Yup.”Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:

      Well, truth in advertising and all:

      Anjem Choudary is a radical Muslim cleric in London and a lecturer in sharia.

      If you click the poll to the right, he’s not pulling in great numbers amongst the USA Today set, which is comprised mostly of people currently eating continental breakfast in hotels.Report

    • Avatar J r in reply to Jaybird says:

      60 Minutes did a segment on this guy: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/face-to-face-with-an-islamic-extremist-campaigning-for-isis/

      As an American it’s more than a little shocking to watch this guy. He is basically the real life version if the caricature that our Islamophobes invent. This is the sort of thing that makes me think that Europe is facing a slightly more radical version of fundamentalism in its midst. That and the fact that every time we find out about a homegrown American Islamist terrorist, it turns out to be some guy that the FBI pulled off a chat room and furnished with a made-to-order terror plot.Report

  16. Avatar j r says:

    Do you think that might be a contributing factor to the problems you think are present in European countries, specifically France?

    Umm… Yes. Probably.

    Is this some sort of trick question?Report

  17. great issues altogether, you simply won a brand new reader.
    What may you recommend in regards to your submit that
    you simply made some days in the past? Any sure?Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *