September 17, 2012

The Egyptian with the "Shut Up America" sign is more like us than you may realize.

"Professor, I hope that you will make your addendum a second post," said the commenter Lyssa. "These rights that are so fundamental are not so protected as we would like to think."

All right. That's what follows. And here's what it was an addendum to — a post about a man in Cairo holding a "Shut Up America" sign and saying "We never insult any prophet — not Moses, not Jesus — so why can’t we demand that Muhammad be respected?" People in the comments at my post assume that protecting blasphemous speech was obviously the American tradition, and the man's request was outrageous. But:

We're not that far from criminalizing blasphemy in the United States, though it seems obvious to educated Americans today that these laws are unconstitutional. Here's a quick summary of the history of blasphemy law in the U.S.

And here's the 1952 case Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson where the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that banned showing "sacrilegious" movies. New York's highest court had interpreted the statute to mean "that no religion, as that word is understood by the ordinary, reasonable person, shall be treated with contempt, mockery, scorn and ridicule." The U.S. Supreme Court said:
[T]he state has no legitimate interest in protecting any or all religions from views distasteful to them which is sufficient to justify prior restraints upon the expression of those views. It is not the business of government in our nation to suppress real or imagined attacks upon a particular religious doctrine, whether they appear in publications, speeches, or motion pictures.
My point is: it took a Supreme Court case as recently as 1952, to establish that principle in our country, with its rich free-speech tradition. Lawyers even saw fit at that time to argue that movies shouldn't get free-speech protection at all because "their production, distribution, and exhibition is a large-scale business conducted for private profit."

Oh, wait, the President of the United States today argues that corporations don't have free-speech rights, and many Americans, including highly educated lawyers, are saying the Constitution should be amended to delete those rights.

Let's not be so quick to assume the man with the "Shut Up America" sign is thoroughly alien. The threats to free speech lie within. They always have.

86 comments:

Crimso said...

"The threats to free speech lie within. They always have."

Of course. The only ones with the power to shut us up are...us.

The Crack Emcee said...

Let's not be so quick to assume the man with the "Shut Up America" sign is thoroughly alien. The threats to free speech lie within. They always have.

Like shouting, "bigotry," when someone mentions the negatives of Mormonism?

I'd say that's getting pretty close to our Muslim friend,...

Patrick said...

Certainly agree that this President does not stand up for free speech when it threatens his power.or ridicules him

Michael K said...

Crack, your tone is offensive but I don't know of anyone trying to shut you up. I would certainly like some peace but there seem to be troll invasions at several blogs I like. Maybe it's the season/.

Tim said...

"Oh, wait, the President of the United States today argues that corporations don't have free-speech rights, and many Americans, including highly educated lawyers, are saying the Constitution should be amended to delete those rights.

Let's not be so quick to assume the man with the "Shut Up America" sign is thoroughly alien. The threats to free speech lie within. They always have."


The threat to free speech lie with the alien(s) within.

In this case, the alien within the Oval Office.

Tim said...

And six states out of 50 is hardly persuasive; the last jailing for blasphemy was nearly 200 years ago(1836); the last prosecution, in 1928, was eventually dismissed.

Someone needs to explain how this "history" somehow makes the US's history with free speech and blasphemy remotely comparable in kind and degree to that which Muslims wish to have us comport.

fivewheels said...

Look it's one thing to make a film attacking Mohammad or Jesus, but the Citizens United movie was critical of Hillary Clinton. Obviously this cannot be allowed. She's the most sacred cow of all. Oops, maybe I didn't say that right ... no, that's right.

Ann Althouse said...

"And six states out of 50 is hardly persuasive; the last jailing for blasphemy was nearly 200 years ago(1836); the last prosecution, in 1928, was eventually dismissed."

What do you imagine I'm trying to persuade you to believe?

My point is that these people in other countries who think outlawing blasphemy is important are not that far removed from us. Some people imagine that they are 1000+ years away from us, back in the middle ages, but as recently as 1952, it was not obvious that we had the RIGHT to blaspheme.

Sigivald said...

Crack: Calling speech "bigotry" is not a call for the State to silence it.

(Well, not inherently, at least. I suspect I've seen a few people use the term who would be happy to have the State silence it, but that's their problem.)

Likewise, certain criticisms of Islam are bigoted ... and I don't want the State silencing them, either.

Or silencing the Klan, or the Nazi Party, or anyone else, just for saying something "bigoted" or that offense someone else.

(I suppose the difference is "shut up" is a demand for silence; "that's bigoted" is a critique of the content, even if the latter is often followed by a "... so shut up".

The addendum makes them roughly equvialent.)

pm317 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Virgil Hilts said...

Schools should teach more about what Woodrown Wilson (a "progressive" whatever that means) did to free sppech during his administration (ACLU was started at least partly in response to his growing fascism - there is no other word for it). If you google Obama and Woodrow Wilson you will find interesting comparisons. Obama is not near as bad as Wilson, but there are some similarities.

elkh1 said...

Shut the filmmaker up so Obama doesn't have to take responsibility for not protecting our embassies in war raging countries on 9/11, four more casulties on the date Osama killed three thousands Americans on American soil.

One dead is tragedy, three thousand+ dead is statistics.

Tim said...

Crack,

One is free to be a bigot (as you appear to be re: Mormonism); one is free to call others on being bigots; but in both cases, no one's free speech rights were abrogated, let alone chilled, privately or by the threat of law (did the LA County Sheriff's Office send five deputies to roust you out of bed after midnight, call the media with news of the impending detention, all because you've stated Romney is a cultist on this and your own blog?).

That your feelings are hurt for being called a bigot seems overly sensitive, especially since you are so insensitive to the feelings of those who believe in Mormonism (I'm a Catholic, so my issues are theological and civil manners, not Mormonism).

Michael said...

It is easy to formulate reasons to constrain free speech. Think of the speech codes on campuses and you are mostly there. These codes are constructed by faculty, people who should know better, who should recognize the incongruity of the codes in a university setting. And yet they dont. Or do and are smugly satisfied with themseves in control of the acceptable switch. Canada has an entire bureaucratic apparatus to deal with hate speech which is losely defined as speech that offends a member of a protected class. Mostly Muslim in practice.

Definitionally a slippery slope.

edutcher said...

He wants America to shut up in more ways than that.

He wants us to do it his way and to Hell with our way.

Ann Althouse said...

And six states out of 50 is hardly persuasive; the last jailing for blasphemy was nearly 200 years ago(1836); the last prosecution, in 1928, was eventually dismissed.

What do you imagine I'm trying to persuade you to believe?

My point is that these people in other countries who think outlawing blasphemy is important are not that far removed from us. Some people imagine that they are 1000+ years away from us, back in the middle ages, but as recently as 1952, it was not obvious that we had the RIGHT to blaspheme.


A hunch here, but I'm willing to bet our penalties for blasphemy were a lot milder than what the crazies are meting out over there.

What our forebears wanted was respect for people's faiths, not a suppression of free speech. There's a difference.

Shouting Thomas said...

It's interesting to see the left and right completely flip their positions.

Clearly, everybody's lying about their attachment to abstract ideals.

It's all about who's got the reins of power.

Bob Ellison said...

Whew. Deja vu.

chickelit said...

My point is that these people in other countries who think outlawing blasphemy is important are not that far removed from us. Some people imagine that they are 1000+ years away from us, back in the middle ages, but as recently as 1952, it was not obvious that we had the RIGHT to blaspheme.

I got that the first time. And I think it's wrong to blaspheme but think it's legal--kind of like your opinion about abortion.

You want to compare us with the Libyans and your readers want to contrast us.

Ann Althouse said...

"A hunch here, but I'm willing to bet our penalties for blasphemy were a lot milder than what the crazies are meting out over there."

Doesn't change my point. Yeah, we didn't hang you for that, but you only have to go back 300 years to get there. Not over 1000.

We are American, and that's important. It's huge. But we are part of humanity, and let's not pretend we're not like that too.

Ann Althouse said...

"And I think it's wrong to blaspheme but think it's legal..."

Wrong to blaspheme? Why? Be specific.

Because there is a God who is getting angry?

Because it's mean to hurt other people's feelings?

Because nothing worth saying is in that category?

Michael said...

Forty years ago there were right wingers who would have happily made it a crime to protest the war in Vietnam. Jews who wanted to prohibit Neo Nazis from marching in Skokie. Southerners who wanted the kkk outlawed. Colleges today regulate speech to a degree that is jaw dropping to an old liberal like me. Reading the comments on this blog the last few days has been revealing, discouraging. We are a bad wind away from capitulating.

Tim said...

"...but as recently as 1952, it was not obvious that we had the RIGHT to blaspheme."

I think the example is too unique to cite as determinative of some correlation between us now (or then) and Muslims today.

We (in the West) have at least a five hundred year history (longer, if one wishes to include the original schism) of exceptionally rigorous, often violent, discussions and fights over Christian theology. Arguably, some of it happened here, as late as the Mormon expulsions in the late 1830's (I think it a stretch, but won't waste time arguing the point), but by the time of the writing of the Bill of Rights, the argument was basically decided in favor of free speech, even if "blasphemy" (a word that seems to lend itself to different meanings to different people, depending upon circumstances) itself was not explicitly protected.

The point is, we are significantly more tolerant of free speech, including blasphemy, than the Muslims are, despite the fairly few and scant examples of local jurisdictions trying to enforce laws against blasphemy nearly 100 years or more ago. I don't think the few examples of laws against blasphemy undermine the fact that, by and large, it was obvious we had the right to blaspheme.

Just a cursory examination of anti-Catholic bigotry in America confirms this right - even though, from a theological perspective, Catholics and protestants worship the exact same God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

chickelit said...

Wrong to blaspheme? Why? Be specific.

Residual faith. And what business do you have asking me to be specific?

You're pretty offbase with your guesses, but I can see where you're going with those.

Guess again

David said...

Crack, the bigotry epithet has been cheapened by overuse. It's an easy often careless accusation.

Mentioning the negatives of Mormonism is not bigotry. Nor is mentioning, even ridiculing, the negatives or Christianity, or Judaism or Mormomism or homosexuality, for that matter. Tasteless maybe (think Bill Maher) but not bigoted.

But good luck exploring these topics, even in the most careful way, without being called a bigot. It's a minefield that suppresses and corrupts discussion.

Perhaps it was always this way. That's not how I remember it, but my effective memory is only about 50 years. Much before that, so much of what we now see clearly as bigotry was accepted. that the accusation was rare and radical, except perhaps in matters of race, where there has been at least some open dialog for most of our national history.

In those days is was important to progress in race issues to call out bigotry. Nowadays the accusation often impedes progress.

So today we have a bigoted Copt who crudely insulted a religion that seems bigoted by many of our standards being treated in an allegedly bigoted manner by government officials who are, by varying descriptions, either bigoted themselves or fighting bigotry.

The way I deal with this is to focus first on the alleged bigots who have guns. That's my triage. Deal with them first and sort out the rest later.

harrogate said...

Agreed with the thrust of this. Then there is the country's not-so-recent history of "banned books" lists and obscenity laws, and fights over how to define obscenity and pornography, etc. So yeah, the reminder is a timely one.

But it does seem to me a major difference is that there was and is always agitation within the country that it is against our ideals to shut down speech. It's this sort of foundation, this ideal, this commitment--not just to free speech, but to a basic embrace of secularization, that the entire Middle East could use in a big fucking way.

Tim said...

"We are American, and that's important. It's huge. But we are part of humanity, and let's not pretend we're not like that too."

No doubt there are people who would, given the chance, take us back to a period where somethings are deem blasphemy, and proscribed.

Like the 1992 Democrat Convention ensuring Bob Casey, pro-Life Democrat Governor of Pennsylvania, was not allowed to speak.

And so no, I'm not pretending " we're not like that too," I'm saying our political and social culture basically ensures we have this right, even as we know those who use that right upset and anger many people (and this is where civil manners come in - one is free to be an asshole, but don't expect people to like oneself for being one).

Dante said...

What's the point of writing down law if there aren't stupid/evil people in the "we"? Of course there are people in the US who want to stop free speech. Probably some who post to this blog. The founders wanted to protect the people from these scoundrels.

That's why equal protections under the law was enacted, because some states were not allowing the rights enumerated in the constitution (as was their right).

The system worked. The 1947 NY law limiting free speech in NY was struck down as unconstitutional, just like it should be.

If a law came up like that in 1868, it should have been decided the same way at the supreme court.

jr565 said...

Tim wrote:
(I'm a Catholic, so my issues are theological and civil manners, not Mormonism).

As per Crack, that would make you a cult apologist.

cold pizza said...

Blasphemy is when you turn my sacred cow into tasty hamburger. -CP

holdfast said...

I think it's important that at some point everyone has an ox that is threatened with goring on the free speech issue, so that we all appreciate how important it is. Conservatives and Liberals have both been all over the place on the issue - Conservatives with things like flag burning, and Liberals with concepts of "hate speech", campus speech codes and also forced speech (think cig packets). Fortunately the USSC has been pretty good about protecting speech from threats from all sides.

cold pizza said...

May cow have mercy on your sole! -CP

AReasonableMan said...

Michael K said...
I would certainly like some peace but there seem to be troll invasions at several blogs I like. Maybe it's the season/.


This is so ridiculous. People who disagree with you are not trolls. If you want to be mollycoddled with a constant reassuring flux of inane propaganda then just read Instapundit or listen to Rush and Hannity. Nothing to disturb the placid pools of prejudice amongst that lot.

CWJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Crack Emcee said...

Tim,

That your feelings are hurt for being called a bigot seems overly sensitive, especially since you are so insensitive to the feelings of those who believe in Mormonism (I'm a Catholic, so my issues are theological and civil manners, not Mormonism).

My feelings are hardly hurt - I think those screaming "bigotry" are ignorant:

How can I be a bigot when I've endorsed Obama's ouster to Romney?

How can I be a bigot when I criticize all religions, cults, and belief systems?

How can I be a bigot when I've stated nothing untrue about Mormonism?

And why am I a bigot when I know more about Mormonism than almost everyone here - including some of the Mormons who have spoken up?

I see the call to "bigotry" as I see a lot of things certain Americans do - as taking the easy way out. They're not studying the history and the texts, investigating the movement objectively, or reading the testimonies of those who have left - they're doing exactly as the Romney campaign told them to do:

Calling anyone who raises questions as "bigots."

Ann, herself, even attacked someone in a post for that - asking questions.

I make no apologies for my interest in cults, understanding it's a difficult subject that cuts to the core of what it means to be an American (What does freedom mean in a voluntary mind-control situation gone out of control?) but I refuse to be labeled as "crazy" or a "bigot" for engaging the subject seriously - as it should be.

If the uncomfortable topics cultism reveals bother you (a cult basically OWNS an entire state in America?) that's fine with me - I think it should - but that's all the more reason for a bit more investigation and precision, not for the biggest bloggers to retreat to cultism's cousin, groupthink, and evidence-less accusations.

Yes, these people ARE trying to shut down speech - Ann included - but it's using the tactics of the mob rather than the government. Having faced mobs before - and served in the military where I was, literally, owned - I'd welcome the government at my door, because at least then I'd know I'd have a shot.

It's out here - where integrity, knowledge, and evidence holds no honor - that things appear to be out of control,...

jr565 said...

David wrote:
Mentioning the negatives of Mormonism is not bigotry. Nor is mentioning, even ridiculing, the negatives or Christianity, or Judaism or Mormomism or homosexuality, for that matter. Tasteless maybe (think Bill Maher) but not bigoted.

That is not necesarily true at all. You CAN be bigoted in your characterizations of any group, even if you think you're TELLING IT LIKE IT IS> For example, the blood libel against Jews that suggested they require human blood for the making of matzoh during Passover. It's a distored claim (in this case an outright falsehood). However, even if it is bigoted you should have a right to say it. But you should also be able to expect people to maybe call you a bigot or an asshole. Granted, bigotry is also in the eye of the beholder. But good luck exploring these topics, even in the most careful way, without being called a bigot. It's a minefield that suppresses and corrupts discussion.



Do you really think that Crack is "exploring the sins of Mormonism, in a careful way" and not mixing in a bit of truth with a whole lot of conspiratorial thninking and insiinuation? If his ideas of mormonism is SO distorted, why can't we call him out for bigotry?

jr565 said...

Crack wrote:
How can I be a bigot when I criticize all religions, cults, and belief systems?

IF that were true, why single out cults? All religions would be cults to you. You've suggested in fact a different standard for the big three religions.

Dante said...

What's the point of writing down law if there aren't stupid/evil people in the "we"? Of course there are people in the US who want to stop free speech. Probably some who post to this blog. The founders wanted to protect the people from these scoundrels.

That's why equal protections under the law was enacted, because some states were not allowing the rights enumerated in the constitution (as was their right).

The system worked. The 1947 NY law limiting free speech in NY was struck down as unconstitutional, just like it should be.

If a law came up like that in 1868, it should have been decided the same way at the supreme court.

The Crack Emcee said...

David,

Crack, the bigotry epithet has been cheapened by overuse. It's an easy often careless accusation.

Agreed. And thanks, whether you agree with me or not.

The Crack Emcee said...

To the rest of you:

We are America - not revolutionary France.

But, just like in revolutionary France, the hour is Now.

jr565 said...

Crack Emcee wrote:
And why am I a bigot when I know more about Mormonism than almost everyone here - including some of the Mormons who have spoken up?

I see the call to "bigotry" as I see a lot of things certain Americans do - as taking the easy way out. They're not studying the history and the texts, investigating the movement objectively, or reading the testimonies of those who have left - they're doing exactly as the Romney campaign told them to do:

All your'e doing is stating your opinion as fact. YOU"RE not investigating things OBJECTIVELY either. As to reading the text of those who left - THAT"S NOT THE ONLY OPINION WHEN IT COMES TO A RELIGION OR A CULT. Why don't you, if you want to be objective read the opionins of people who DIDIN"T leave the cult/religion, or who are happy to be in said religion. I can't say that their choice is the right one for ME (since I'm not in the cults that are being discussed). Your claim of objectivity is about as disngenuous as dems calls for tolerance and non violent rhetoric. Believe me Crack, when it comes to anytying cult related you are the LAST person I would argue is objective.

And that's not to say that in many cases I actually agree with you. Me saying you're behaving like a jackass is not therefore an endorsement of a religion/cult.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

A hunch here, but I'm willing to bet our penalties for blasphemy were a lot milder than what the crazies are meting out over there.

Doesn't change my point. Yeah, we didn't hang you for that, but you only have to go back 300 years to get there. Not over 1000.

We are American, and that's important. It's huge. But we are part of humanity, and let's not pretend we're not like that too.


Yes, but we did not go in for the kind of tactics the people over there do and that's my point.

we had a set of rules and we adhered to them. that's the worst part about what people Like Choom and all the other Nephews and Nieces of Uncle Saul have done to us. They've worn down those rules and our respect for them.

You could also say we're only a step away from Auschwitz, too, but we have always had those rules to pull us back (yes, I'm thinking of the Indians as I write this).

Just because we're people doesn't mean we have to act like everyone else. That's the fallacy of the whole multi-culti, no-society-is-better-than-another routine.

Gene said...

The two organizations which most dislike free speech are law enforcement and academia. The cops don't arrest you for saying forbidden words though. They just cite you for disturbing the peace.

As for universities, they are so politically correct you can get in trouble for practically anything. Twenty years ago a student at Penn was charged with racial harassment for calling some African-American girls "water buffalo" because they were making a lot of noise under his dorm window during finals week. The administration contended that water buffalo were black and from Africa and thus racially biased (actually they are found in Asia).

The student only escaped punishment because the media got hold of the story and ridiculed the school, whereupon the girls dropped their complaint on the grounds they could no longer get a fair hearing.

The school administrator in charge of this case, who pursued it to the bitter end, later moved to Duke where he was subsequently sued by the Lacrosse team for slander. This school official apparently just hates free speech, especially if there is any racial angle involved. Then he favors the death penalty.

jr565 said...

That should have read: I can't say that their choice is the right one for ME (since I'm not in the cults that are being discussed) but who am I to say that their choice is wrong for them? They're living their lives NOT me. If Tom Cruise thinks the world was created by aliens well then he's free to exist in a world of make believe and he should be allowed to believe that. He would probably say the same about people who believe in psychiatry. IT doesn't mean that I dont think hes full of shit. It's just that I can't compel him to believe that he's full of shit. And him being full of shit (so long as he is not impacting my life in a way I find unconscionable or committing crimes) is irrelevant to me. How many billions of people are in the world? How many of them are full of shit? Probalby 90% (in my humble opinion). Whats the remedy? I don't care if people believe in astrology and are idiots for doing so. It's not my job to expose the cult of astrology and get them to renounce their views.

Dante said...

Here's a quick summary of the history of blasphemy law in the US

OK, so the last blasphemer was put in jail in 1838, 30 years before equal protections under the laws.

"The last person to be jailed in the United States for blasphemy was Abner Kneeland in 1838" (your link to wikipedia)

My point is: it took a Supreme Court case as recently as 1952, to establish that principle in our country

I don't get it. No one is being prosecuted. I'm sure there are many stupid laws on the books that wouldn't pass constitutional muster (though today it seems more of a crap shoot).

Oh, wait, the President of the United States today argues that corporations don't have free-speech rights, . . .

So the "We" need to get this dangerous man out of office.

The Crack Emcee said...

jr565,

All your'e doing is stating your opinion as fact. YOU"RE not investigating things OBJECTIVELY either.

jr, I linked to countless sources for what I say - you have never rebutted any of it with anything more but your words.

It is YOU who relies on your opinion.

wef said...

Wouldn't blasphemy be even a weaker excuse for speech and press control than pornography?

But more to your point, if you are trying to show that even in America there is still a bullying or fascistic impulse among many - that was in fact predominant in the recent past - to control uncomfortable and offensive speech and art and so on related to religion, then, sure, you're right.

I don't know where you are going with this line. If you are trying to draw a thought-provoking parallel between angry muslims and contemporary attempts to control political speech, then I'm with you. The corporation excuse is an attempt to carve out a "reasonable" exception, just like the religious sensibilities excuse.

(But you did start with the holocaust denial parallel. What happened to that?)

Anyway, isn't this all just some form of special pleading for state coercion to advance "deeply felt" interests, to repair grievances? Indecency, zoning, pornography, war on drugs, et cetera. Every whiner has an excuse. Every tax has its socially important purpose. Every prohibition and victimless crime has its vital role in stopping society from sliding down some slippery slope.

As for my deeply felt mystical experiences, I want Occupy Wall Street to shut up! They are insulting the Profit! I want a law.

DADvocate said...

Free speech is sacred. Throughout history the one thing that could get you beheaded or imprisoned as quickly as trying to kill the king is speaking your mind when your mind doesn't fit the accepted version of things.

Is it possible to have freedom of religion without freedom of speech? If you can't openly express your religious ideals, do you have freedom of religion? Do we have freedom in elections is we can't openly and fully express our ideas, concerns and observations?

Why do people want to limit freedom of speech? Because free and open expression is so powerful. As Voltaire said, the pen is mightier than the sword. Or Victor Hugo, "There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come."

That is why lefties don't want corporations involved in political discourse. They don't want ideas, powerful or otherwise, out there that run contrary to their beliefs. They want to control people by having as great a monopoly on speech as possible.

That is why the radical Muslims get so upset about "blasphemy." It draws into question their beliefs. It asserts that something else is greater and more important than Mohammed.

But, true belief, true virtue comes from freely holding beliefs and and voluntarily taking actions. Not from coercion or enforced ignorance. Great changes come from hearing new ideas, expressing and exchanging ideas, or being mocked.

Freedom of speech stands more sacred than any god. Without it, no god can be properly worshiped, adored or followed.

Gene said...

Lower court judges, it seems to me, are no big fans of free speech either. Back in the mid-nineties a Texas cattle rancher sued Oprah for defamation for saying she would never eat another hamburger for fear of getting mad cow disease. She had to move her entire show to Texas for the trial, which took five weeks. The judge barred her from talking about the case during the trial.

Eventually the jury, which apparently took the first amendment a lot more seriously than the judge did, found her not guilty.

Still the trial set no precedent and as far as I know anyone can still be hauled into court for slandering a food product. I'm surprised the makers of pink slime haven't sued anyone.

JL said...

It's amazing the way the left can control the narrative. After the death of an ambassador and three others, and multiple attacks on our embassies, most people are arguing over limits to our free speech. Rather than discussing whether our foreign policy is a dismal failure.

It just occurred to me that maybe the perp walk of the film maker was staged to set people off on this tangent about free speech, as well as being an attempt to appease Muslims. A twofer. Those lefties are good.

Rabel said...

They are very, very far removed.

"A 2010 Pew Research Center poll showed that 84% of Egyptian Muslims believe those who leave Islam should be punished by death."

creeley23 said...

Rabel: Thank you. Muslims work on a whole 'nother plane from Americans.

Professor Althouse needs to drill down into Islam more than she has. Many of her posts about Muslims presume a commonality that does not exist.

creeley23 said...

It's amazing the way the left can control the narrative. After the death of an ambassador and three others, and multiple attacks on our embassies, most people are arguing over limits to our free speech. Rather than discussing whether our foreign policy is a dismal failure.

JL: Well said. However, free speech must still be defended.

This past week I feel like I'm in a burning building trying to decide whether to put this or that fire out or just scour the rooms for survivors and get them out.

The Crack Emcee said...

creeley23,

You said:

Professor Althouse needs to drill down into Islam more than she has. Many of her posts about Muslims presume a commonality that does not exist.

I said:

I see the call to "bigotry" as I see a lot of things certain Americans do - as taking the easy way out.

Finally, I think, we're in the same ballpark,...

Allen Edwards said...

>> gene @ 7:59PM said: I'm surprised the makers of pink slime haven't sued anyone.

They have.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/09/13/161064306/beef-products-inc-sues-abc-over-repeated-attacks-on-pink-slime

Joe said...

Crack said: ...when I've stated nothing untrue about Mormonism?

Except you have. Many times. You state many opinions as facts. You take the behavior of individual Mormons and portray them as believes and/or behaviors of the entire group. You also simply make things up.

There are plenty of things to criticize about Mormonism and my criticism goes quite far, though I am careful to state that some of my criticisms, especially the more extreme ones, are my opinion, not fact. That's the difference.

When a portrayal of a people is based on stereotype, when you can find nothing good to say about the same group and make up ludicrous things; that's bigotry.

wef said...

Off the main topic, but linking to creely23, FYI

Ruling on one who insults the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)

http://islamqa.info/en/ref/22809

Insulting the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is one of the worst of forbidden actions, and it constitutes kufr and apostasy from Islam, according to scholarly consensus, whether done seriously or in jest. The one who does that is to be executed even if he repents and whether he is a Muslim or a kaafir[unbeliever]. If he repents sincerely and regrets what he has done, this repentance will benefit him on the Day of Resurrection and Allaah will forgive him.

This, unfortunately, is not a fringe opinion. Such people are dangerous.

Joe said...

Monty Python's Life of Brian was banned in several democratic countries. Where I lived, there was open talk of banning it from theaters, though these efforts were fruitless.

The Crack Emcee said...

Joe,

Many times. You state many opinions as facts. You take the behavior of individual Mormons and portray them as believes and/or behaviors of the entire group. You also simply make things up.

Don't say it - prove it.

The Crack Emcee said...

Joe,

If it happens "many times" you should have no problem proving it.

Do so - but be willing to admit you're wrong when proven wrong - that's all I ask.

Richard Dolan said...

The invocation of the First Amendment by Americam courts to invalidate laws restricting or punishing offensive speech is a relatively new development even in the context of core political speech. The first such case was decided in the early '30s, when the SCOTUS struck down a California law banning the display of red flags for political purposes (one of the first opinions by the then-new CJ Hughes). In the early '50s, the SCOTUS upheld a conviction for disseminating a Communist critique of the US gov't (Dennis v. US). In those days, the courts applied the so-called 'clear and present danger' test, but it would more accurately have been called the 'vague and hypothetical danger' test.

Since then, the modern SCOTUS has made the First Amendment much more protective of speech. But the efforts by the SCOTUS to free speech from gov't restrictions has earned it many critics, beginning with Obama (e.g., Citizens United).

The US is very much the outlier in that regard. In the EU and Canada, for example, speech is subject to legislatively imposed restrctions in the name of good social order. Overtly religious speech (such as a Sunday sermon arguing that homosexual sex is against God's law) can be prosecuted, and has been in the EU. In those countries, blasphemy is just an old fashioned term for hate speech, provided, of course, that the religion in question is not Christian.

Ann's point that we are not all that far removed from a society that did not recognize a right to blaspeme is true enough for the US, and more tellingly, is an accurate description of the state of the law today in many Western countries.

JL said...

JL: Well said. However, free speech must still be defended.

I hear ya. I was in there on an earlier thread saying my piece about free speech as well. But we shouldn't allow ourselves to be distracted from the bigger picture:

The attacks against us in the ME are not due to our free speech- unless you subscribe to the Bush line that "they hate us because of our freedoms"- which lefties mocked as simplistic. They are due to failures in foreign policy. If this admin. really believes their own story about the riots being because of some obscure Youtube video this film, they are frighteningly disconnected from reality.

wef said...

Joe, yes - So funny it was banned in Norway!

JL said...

(You can remove redundant "this film" after "Youtube video" in my comment above.)

Synova said...

For what it's worth Crack's crusade against cults doesn't strike me as bigoted, not the way (for example) that Andy is bigoted against religious people.

Crack is upset because of what cults and religions *do* that is harmful to the people in them.

Andy despises the people in them, personally, because they irrationally believe in God.

That's the difference, as I see it.

Dante said...

My point is that these people in other countries who think outlawing blasphemy is important are not that far removed from us.

Amazing what little differences can make, isn't it?

The Godfather said...

When I took Con Law in the latter '60's, I really wanted to find a way to reconcile the 1st Amendment with my strong belief that Nazis shouldn't be allowed to march through Jewish or Black neighborhoods. I thought that there must be some kind of "reasonableness" or "common sense" exception we could use. Eventually I concluded that any such exception would end up being a sword to strike down speech that someone in power thought was offensive. Everything I've seen in 4+ decades since then confirms that this is correct.

Prof. Althouse's example of a Supreme Court opinion striking down a blasphemy prosecution in 1952 is not what worries me. I'm worried about speech codes in public universities and "hate speech" regulations. I'm worried that the first impulse of the US Govt to Muslim anger about a You Tube video is to apologize for it, and the second impulse is to send the brown shirts after the supposed movie-maker. I'm worried when I read that a prominent commentator thinks that the old analogy of "falsely crying fire in a crowded theater" means you can punish or censor speech if the people it makes angry come from a violent culture.

The threat to free speech is a lot closer than 1952, and it's in the future, not the past.

Eric said...

Like shouting, "bigotry," when someone mentions the negatives of Mormonism?

There's a pretty wide gulf between being called a bigot and being beheaded.

rcommal said...

History is a bitch, however righteous or not, clinged to or not. Historical story and, lord knows, reality.

Anglelyne said...

AA: Doesn't change my point. Yeah, we didn't hang you for that, but you only have to go back 300 years to get there. Not over 1000.

Your point being? That if you can demonstrate that we were arguing over blasphemy decades or centuries ago, rather than millenia, that our "rich cultural tradition of free speech" is just so much self-congratulatory hooey?

We are American, and that's important. It's huge. But we are part of humanity, and let's not pretend we're not like that too.

Oh, come off it, Althouse. We're part of humanity, and George Washington didn't really chop down that cherry tree. Who knew?

Of what are you trying to persuade us? (Assuming, that is, that you're only "pretending" to believe that anybody taking issue with you here doesn't recognize a common humanity with the Muslims who want their blasphemy laws enforced by everyone.) As far as I can make out: that cultural differences are superficial, that there are no intractable differences among worldviews, that there is a pan-cultural human type, the "moderate", who adheres to notions of tolerance and conflict resolution that just happen to be indistinguishable from those of right-thinking Westerners, and that nobody is going to have to give up anything truly meaningful and important once we just listen to each and recognize our commonalities, because, underneath it all, one culture is really just the same as another, just at different stages of development along a universal trajectory.

(Which I happen to think is bunk, but you asked.)

Joe said...

Crack, we and many other said it repeatedly in response to your posts. I'm not going to go through every one of these. I know an ignorant, lying bigot when I hear one.

David said...

JT565 said:

That is not necesarily true at all. You CAN be bigoted in your characterizations of any group, even if you think you're TELLING IT LIKE IT IS> For example, the blood libel against Jews that suggested they require human blood for the making of matzoh during Passover.

Do you really think that Crack is "exploring the sins of Mormonism, in a careful way" and not mixing in a bit of truth with a whole lot of conspiratorial thninking and insiinuation? If his ideas of mormonism is SO distorted, why can't we call him out for bigotry?

JR: As to your first assertion, those examples are obvious lies, not discussions of the negatives of the religion. A better example would be to say "Jews [or a particular Jew or group of Jews] are not able to be objective about support of Israel. With particularity, one might even assert that a particular Jewish US citizen or officeholder is putting the interests of Israel over those of the US." Say these things and inevitably someone will call you a bigot, even though you may believe that the facts justify the conclusion.

Or try to argue against continued Justice Department supervision of various political decisions of formerly segregationist southern states. Having lived in the south for 9 years now, I can see the ways in which this impedes and corrupts some aspects of politics in the south. But my northern liberal friends ask me when I became a bigot when I argue that the voting rights act supervision provisions should no longer apply.

As to Crack, I am not sure what to make of his criticisms of Mormonism. The fact that they are vehement and passionate does not make them bigoted in my opinion. I don't know enough about the details and history of Mormonism to dispute him point by point. It does seem to me that he may be overly influenced by the traumas of his own personal experiences with cultism. On the other hand I may be overly influenced by my own positive personal experience with individual Mormons.

What I do know is that it's a lousy practice to say "bigot!" as if that ends the discussion. Crack does not appear to be bigoted in other areas. He's passionate, vehement, provocative and at times annoying. But that's not bigotry.

Aurelian said...

This country rests on the foundation of the bones of men and women, both military and civilian that have paid the price for the freedoms we enjoy. We refuse to pay that price. Consequently we will loose those freedoms.

David said...

Funny thing is, 1952 was the time of McCarthy, continued red scares, "who lost China" and the so called age of conformity. It was pre Brown v. Board and segregationists still held the balance of power in the Democratic party. But free speech survived those times, and indeed was a main instrument of change. America was not nearly as conformist and reactionary as history tells us, and indeed proved to be dynamic socially and economically. The current era is probably more conformist socially and intellectually, though as usual the most blatant conformists have not a clue who they are.

kimsch said...

Michael said...
It is easy to formulate reasons to constrain free speech. Think of the speech codes on campuses and you are mostly there. These codes are constructed by faculty, people who should know better, who should recognize the incongruity of the codes in a university setting. And yet they dont. Or do and are smugly satisfied with themseves in control of the acceptable switch. Canada has an entire bureaucratic apparatus to deal with hate speech which is losely defined as speech that offends a member of a protected class. Mostly Muslim in practice.

Definitionally a slippery slope.


And this is where trying to call exercising free speech rights "abusing" free speech rights starts down that slope. It sickens me that anyone can say anyone is "abusing" their free speech rights.

Anyone has the right to say anything. If they're stupid, they can be called out on it, mocked, shamed, ignored, what-have-you. If it's libel or slander they can be prosecuted.

DEEBEE said...

I see the equivalence right away.
Sixty years ago NY politicians responding to the constituents feelings "peacefully" tried to pass a law which was struck down by the Supreme court.
Now mobs of islamists kill people set fire to things and want US to shut up.
What is not to see. It is obviouslsimilar if not identical

Lyssa said...

Anglelyn said: Of what are you trying to persuade us? ...As far as I can make out: that cultural differences are superficial, that there are no intractable differences among worldviews. . .

I think that AA's point (and, at least, my point was in asking her to reiterate it) is not so much cultural relativism or any sort of moral justification, but a warning for us to be careful. If we care about this right (and I'm sure most of us do), we must be vigilant. We can't just assume that we're safe here; we're not.

Lyssa said...

Or, what Kimch said about slippery slopes - we're on it, with a lot of people, including the president, happy to pull us to a steeper point.

MayBee said...

I think that AA's point (and, at least, my point was in asking her to reiterate it) is not so much cultural relativism or any sort of moral justification, but a warning for us to be careful. If we care about this right (and I'm sure most of us do), we must be vigilant. We can't just assume that we're safe here; we're not.

I don't see any indication that most people who support a strong 1A think we are safe.
Isn't that the whole point of drawing attention to Obama sending the Feds after the filmmaker? To demonstrate how we are not safe.

The Right had to fight for Citizens United. The fact that had to be done shows we are not safe.

Anglelyne said...

Lyssa: I think that AA's point (and, at least, my point was in asking her to reiterate it) is not so much cultural relativism or any sort of moral justification, but a warning for us to be careful. If we care about this right (and I'm sure most of us do), we must be vigilant. We can't just assume that we're safe here; we're not.

But I see this as so obvious that anybody belaboring it surely must be after something else. After all, we wouldn't be arguing about this if some of "our own" didn't think re-imposing blasphemy laws (selectively, of course) was a peachy and progressive idea. Seriously, who doesn't know that there are, and always have been, push-backs against an expansive undestanding of "free speech"? (Hell, I know Americans right now, and I don't mean liberal "hate speech" fans, who think blasphemy laws are a fine idea.)

The point I'm belaboring is that it is a characteristic of Western hubris that Western liberals (and by that I mean most of us, "liberal" or not) tend to argue about these things in an echo chamber of our own cultural assumptions, which we take to be universal among all decent, well-meaning people. You know the clich├ęs: "all fundies everywhere are alike and think alike, and are different from all the non-crazy thoughtful people everywhere, who also all think alike, underneath it all." I think that's a mistake and a disastrous one.

creeley23 said...

This is one of Prof. Althouse's weakest articles. If you go to the Wiki link on blasphemy laws she provides you find a handful of cases in all of US history in which the cases were ultimately dismissed or the offenders received minimal punishments.

Otherwise Americans have been taking the piss out of Christianity and other religions since Thomas Paine wrote "The Age of Reason" in 1794. In 1987 American taxpayers even helped pay for the sacreligious "Piss Christ" photograph, lauded by American elites.

Meanwhile back in Islam-land you can't even bring a Bible into Saudi Arabia or wear a cross there without facing charges for defiling Islam's birthplace. People are routinely fined, flogged, imprisoned and executed for various offenses against Islam. And, as we learned again this past week, crowds of Muslims can be incited to homicidal fury by routine mockery of Islam.

How in the world does this compare with America?

Summary:

The Egyptian with the "Shut Up America" sign is less like us than Prof. Althouse may realize.

David said...

And this is where trying to call exercising free speech rights "abusing" free speech rights starts down that slope. It sickens me that anyone can say anyone is "abusing" their free speech rights.

Of course free speech rights can be abused. The point is that it's not the role of government to correct the abuses.

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"And six states out of 50 is hardly persuasive; the last jailing for blasphemy was nearly 200 years ago(1836); the last prosecution, in 1928, was eventually dismissed."

What do you imagine I'm trying to persuade you to believe?

My point is that these people in other countries who think outlawing blasphemy is important are not that far removed from us. Some people imagine that they are 1000+ years away from us, back in the middle ages, but as recently as 1952, it was not obvious that we had the RIGHT to blaspheme.

Goddamn right.

furious_a said...

Althouse: The threats to free speech lie within. They always have."

We have "civil blashphemy" in the US - flag burning and the Westboro Baptist Church. Congress has attempted multiple times to advance a Flag Desecration amendment to the Constition. Congress and several states have also passed legislation to keep Fred Phelps and his mutant brood from protesting near National and private cemeteries.

Shana said...

Furious_a -
Yes. We have a push for civil blasphemy laws, because the new American god is The State. The State is The Messiah, Savior, and Almighty in the modern American worldview.

Peter said...

“I thank God there are no free schools nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into the world, and printing has divulged them, and libels against the best government. God keep us from both."

-- Sir William Berkely, Governor of Virginia, 1671


Then again, we declared our independence from royal governors in 1776.

DBetti said...

Did anyone notice that the Egyptian who called Jesus Christ a prophet has committed blasphemy? He is the Son of God, not a mere prophet. That is what Christianity holds.

So, Christians can burn down an embassy or two now?