Drawing a ‘Red Line’ to Protect Free Speech

Mark Tapson, a Hollywood-based writer and screenwriter, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He focuses on the politics of popular culture.


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Even as Islamic violence against American embassies swells around the world, and evidence emerges of its coordination and premeditation, our own government and media continue to insist that the source of it all is an hilariously incompetent YouTube film that offended Muslim hair-trigger sensitivities.

Americans abroad have been killed this last week. The black flag of jihad has been raised over our Egyptian embassy. Our Libyan ambassador was sodomized, murdered, mutilated and dragged through the streets. As with Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, the Danish cartoon riots, and Geert Wilders’ film Fitna, the Islamic uproar ostensibly due to the micro-budgeted The Innocence of Muslims has been riotous and murderous, but the blame is once again falling on the “provocateur,” not the rabid mobs looting and killing in the name of cultural sensitivity. Thanks to a president who always sides with the Islamic world over America, our kneejerk official response was to blame the seeming religious bigotry of the filmmaker.

Our State Department, which is in “meltdown,”  as Charles Krauthammer put it, has been scrambling to find the right wording for a response to all this, culminating in spokesman Jay Carney’s laughable pronouncement that “this is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy; this is in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims.” So far, our official responses are all variations on the theme of “Nothing excuses this violence, but we also strongly condemn religious bigotry.” This neatly echoes the left’s attitude toward free speech in general these days, which is “Sure I believe in free speech, but hate speech must be punished.”

You cannot believe in free speech and then qualify it with a “but.” You either support free speech or you don’t. Honoring freedom of speech means you stand up for the right of others to say disagreeable or offensive things. If the left truly believed in free speech, the totalitarian concept of “hate speech” would not even exist. But they don’t, and so they are colluding with the OIC’s campaign to impose sharia blasphemy laws on the West.

The OIC, or Organization of Islamic Cooperation, is the world’s largest Muslim assembly, consisting of 57 member states (you know, the same number of U.S. states candidate Obama campaigned in). Its primary aim is “conducting a large-scale worldwide effort to confront Islamophobia” and make it an international crime. “We sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed,” the OIC leader arrogantly declared after the shrewdly orchestrated Muslim mayhem around the world protesting such infidel abominations as the Danish cartoons.

“Red lines” – a phrase reminiscent of Samuel Huntington’s famous observation that “Islam has bloody borders.” Except that the red lines the OIC is referring to aren’t geographical – they are the ever-tightening limits that Muslim fundamentalists are imposing to choke off our freedoms. Free speech “is not a value that the Muslims share with America as a whole,” declared the American group Revolution Muslim in response to an offending episode of Comedy Central’s satirical show South Park two years ago.

It’s also not valued by our administration, either. The government has asked YouTube to review the 14-minute The Innocence of Muslims trailer and determine whether it violates the site’s terms of service. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed his concerns over the repercussions for our soldiers abroad, who are already in grave danger from our own military leadership’s suicidal counter-insurgency idiocy. Dempsey urged controversial anti-Islam Pastor Terry Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film – which goes to show that if all it takes is one Florida pastor’s opinion to set off the entire Muslim world’s bloodthirsty outrage against America, maybe they’re the problem and not him.

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  • JAMAL

    FRIENDS IN THE NAME OF THE GOD WITH MOST GRACE AND MERCIFULL I BRING YOU GREETS. BUT YOU MUST KNOW ON MUHAMMAD (PEACE ON HIM). HE IS LAST AND MOST GREAT PROPHET AND HOLY. IT IS VERY BAD FOR INSULTING ON HIM FOR YOUR SOUL. YOU IN THE WESTS MAY NOT DO THIS PLEASE. IT IS LIKE OF MURDER AND FORBIDDEN. I AM HOPE THAT YOU COUNTRIES ON THIS PASS LAWS. BUT LISTEN NOT ON THE LIES. ISLAM IS THE PEACEFUL RELIGION BUT THE MOVIE JEWISTS WHO MAKE THE BAD MOVIE CAUSE MANY VIOLENCES. GOD IS GREAT AND MUHAMMAD (PEACE ON HIM) IS HIS PROPHET.

    • Alvaro

      Do you want to spend the rest of your life being angry? Muhammad was not a messenger of God. All he brought was misery, suffering and death. Look at the miserable lives of people living in Muslim countries. They are on the verge of starvation almost everywhere, pumping their fists up in the air, screaming and blaming the West.

      If you want a good life, you need to convert. You need to embrace love and life, instead of the hatred and death taught in the Koran.

    • objectivefactsmatter

      "FRIENDS IN THE NAME OF THE GOD WITH MOST GRACE AND MERCIFULL I BRING YOU GREETS."

      Greetings to you too.

      "BUT YOU MUST KNOW ON MUHAMMAD (PEACE ON HIM)."

      We know Mohammed.

      "HE IS LAST AND MOST GREAT PROPHET AND HOLY."

      He was a false prophet. Calling him holy is blasphemy. You have indeed harmed my religious feelings by promoting a murderer who desecrated Judeo Christian texts and led masses of murdering rapists against innocents who simply pointed out that he was no prophet.

      "IT IS VERY BAD FOR INSULTING ON HIM FOR YOUR SOUL. "

      Every Muslim soul is in danger.

      "YOU IN THE WESTS MAY NOT DO THIS PLEASE."

      We know more than Muslims. That is why we reject Islam. Only the uneducated will entertain the possibility of Islam.

      "IT IS LIKE OF MURDER"

      This statement shows the insanity of Islam. Insults are equal to murder. Murders are equal to insults. Both happen constantly when Western justice is not enforced.

      "AND FORBIDDEN."

      You have no right to forbid anything of others. You have no legal or moral authority.

      "I AM HOPE THAT YOU COUNTRIES ON THIS PASS LAWS."

      We know. More evidence of the depravity of Islam.

      "BUT LISTEN NOT ON THE LIES."

      I already told you that I reject the lies of Islam.

      "ISLAM IS THE PEACEFUL RELIGION"

      Liar.

      "BUT"

      "But" in this context always means "not really."

      "THE MOVIE JEWISTS WHO MAKE THE BAD MOVIE CAUSE MANY VIOLENCES"

      Wrong again liar. The violent people caused the violence. This is self-evident to everyone else on the planet.

      "GOD IS GREAT AND MUHAMMAD (PEACE ON HIM) IS HIS PROPHET."

      Just imagine for a moment that I could prove this is a lie. What would you say? Imagine the "feelings" of someone who knows that everyone killed in the name of Islam was killed over lies? Think about that if you have any capacity in your mind for independent thought. Only then can you understand just how offensive Islam and its demands are. Get lost unless you want to explore the facts.

      • Moon dove

        Thank you.

    • kafir4life

      Jamal – No need to shout. But here's the deal…..your "prophet", the pig faced pedophile mohamat isn't so much a "prophet" at all, but a terrorist and disgustting sack of filth. Did you know that he "worte" the terror guide the koran in feces? Yes, it's true!! He was having a meal of his favorite pig (following angry sex with same), but didn't know about properly cooking pig before eating it. The result in the sand was the koran. It stinks as much now as it did back then. mohamat is no prophet, just a pig fornicator.

    • Rifleman

      Clearly muslim faith is very weak, Jamal, and you know it, or yall wouldn't need coercion, dhimmitude, or need to punish proselytizing, and apostasy.

    • JoJoJams

      JAMAL!!! ARE YOU NOT AWARE THAT THIS MOVIE (as poorly and cheaply/amateurish as it is) DID NOTHING BUT SHOW MOHAMMED SAYING AND DOING WHAT YOUR OWN HOLY BOOKS SAY HE SAID AND DID!!! IT"S JUST THAT, WHILE YOU GLORIFY AND PUT SOME HOLY SPIN ON HIS EVIL WORKS, WE IN THE WEST LOOK AT HIS ATROCIOUS BEHAVIOR AND CONDMEN IT FOR THE EVIL THAT IT IS! So, how is it bad and wrong to state exactly what your own koran, hadiths and surrahs state? Oh! Because we "mock" his evil deeds and ridicule him as the evil person he was! ~ selah

    • Ghostwriter

      JAMAL,Muslims have been killing Americans for years now. And no one in the Muslim World has ever condemned such acts.I sorry to tell you this but many of us have reached the end of our patience with your people. Please stop blaming Jews and others for this. These acts are on YOUR heads,NOT ours.

    • Pontotoc Bill

      JAMAL, bit of information for you.

      Your so-called prophet Muhammad was nothing but a mass murderer, pedophile, thief, liar, and con artist. The Angel Gabriel did NOT visit Muhammed and give him the koran. It was the most beautiful angel in Heaven. It was Lucifer who gave the koran to Muhammed and you should know that Lucifer is also Satan.

      Islam is nothing but a demonic religion that is opposite of Judiasm or Christianity.

      The only peace that Islam promises is between Muslims. Infidels (like me) are to be murdered and destroyed. Read your own book.

      • Sunbeam

        Lucifer is not only Satan himself but was also known as the Father of all lies. Sin originates from him. It is only in our Holy Bible that God reveals this to us a long time ago. We'd been forewarned of this deceptive foe repeatedly in our Bible. You Muslims do not know what you're worshiping, but we know what you're actually worshiping because spiritual discernment was given to us from our Heavenly Father.

    • WhoDuuuuhthunkit?

      "ISLAM IS THE PEACEFUL RELIGION"?

      Yes… we can all see that… http://resisttyrannydotnet.files.wordpress.com/20

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      JAMAL, YOUR FALSE PROPHET MOHAMMED IS IN HELL. i AM DEPUTIZING YOU TO PERSONALLY DELIVER A PACKAGE OF BACON TO MOHAMMED FOR HIS BREAKFAST, LUNCH, DINNER.

      SALAAM.

  • Mullah be Damned

    If we ever lose the ability to criticize and satarize ANY form of authority, especially Islam, then we are doomed. All authority must be criticized or it will turn into a monster. Islam cannot be criticized in the Middle East. It has turned into a monster. So bugger off Jamal.

    • kafir4life

      No worries! We'll laugh at muslims forever!! They are pretty funny!!! The made up moon god allah made them that way!

      • Kufar Dawg

        The traitorous, corrupt pigs of the 0bamanation regime want to take away your right to criticise, satirize, ridicule islam by criminalising it.

    • Sunbeam

      That's right, Mullah, and they never learn their lesson. Reason is because the people there were being deprived of valuable education that will lead them to be entrepreneurs or useful citizens of other fields, except only in Islamic studies and its ideology which in fact teaches them to make dangerous weapons, explosive devices and bombs. If you take a closer look and observed from every angle of their doing, you'll be not be surprised at your own findings.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    I get the feeling of conflict in my mind since September 11 this year. I find it so disgusting what has happened, and yet I can't help but wonder if this was not fortuitous for Westerners to have relatively little death in exchange for such blatant exposure of the evils of Islam.

    Think of all the war and terror across the planet through the years and even September 11, 2001 did not make it clear for most people. Think of the war and denial since then…but this is so clearly outrageous and widely covered, followed by serious calls for blasphemy laws…this has to be one of the biggest wins for anti-Islam in terms of return relative to costs.

    Every death is regrettable, especially when murder is inspired by religious lies. It happens ever day. finally they have overplayed their hand so blatantly that perhaps we will look back sine day on Sept 11, 2012 as a turning point in the defeat of the lies of Islam.

    • Kufar Dawg

      Um collectively, millions of people were slaughtered in the name of islam in the 20th and 21st centuries: millions of Jews, Christians, Bahais, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists in places like Pakistain, Bangladesh, Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Sudan/Darfur, Indonesia, Armenia/Turkey, Mindanao.

  • Schlomotion

    Mr. Tapson's misapprehension of the First Amendment is as laughable as any other drone for Israel's misapprehension of the Constitution in 2001. According to him, The First Amendment is the right for a man to kite checks from false identities, defraud a team of actors using his alias while on federal probation, make a racist attack film full or religious blasphemy and pe.dophilia, stick ads for it onto places of worship, translate it into a foreign language and foist it into a country with the hopes of inciting a riot, and succeed. Mr. Tapson thinks that making a "movie" while using your criminal alias and lying about your donors, while never intending to take credit for your own production counts as Free Speech and should be enforced by the United States on the soil of Egypt. Mr. Tapson compares Nakoula Nakoula, an anonymous criminal to Salman Rushdie, a famed and accomplished multi-novelist. I can only surmise that Mr. Tapson has gone insane for failing to have produced movies in his own right and is so blinded by his lust for being on a Hasbara team that he will believe or say anything.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      Is this the best you can do? Really?

    • JoJoJams

      Schlomo – the film (as amateursih as it was) merely depicted mad mo saying and doing WHAT THE KORAN, HADITHS AND SURRAHS SAY HE DID!! Can you get that through your thick, jew hating skull? Nope. Wasted my breath on you yet again….. Mad mo married Aisha when she was 6 and consummated that marriage when she was 9 – after years of thighing her. This is reality straight from the muslim's own holy books. You can call it "blasphemy" all you want, as we in the modern west correctly point out mad mo's tyrranical ways, his lust for sex and power, and his building a cult – BY USING THE WORDS AND DEEDS AS OUTLINED IN THEIR OWN HOLY BOOK! And not even twisting them! If you honestly study the life of mad mo, you'd know that in this day and age, he would be in prison for his atrocities. But you're too blinded by jew-hatred.

      • Schlomotion

        I suppose that you contend that Christianity and Judaism have better origins and less chequered histories?

        • Kufar Dawg

          It's funny how your arguments consist of nothing but various fallacies of argumentation. Case in point here: the Tu Quoque fallacy of argumentation. Of course when you're defending islamofascism fallacies of argumentation are all you really have aren't they Farid Bacha Bazi?

          • Schlomotion

            You're just mad that they caught your buddy Nakoula.

          • SCREW SOCIALISM

            You're just mad that your side SURRENDERED UNCONDITIONALLY to the US, UK and commies on May 7, 1945.

          • Kufar Dawg

            He's not a nazi, his antisemitism has a more religious flavor, if not a more supercilious air.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

          Why? They both have valued life and were against the religions that allowed human sacrifice.

        • Western Canadian

          Not contend. Acknowledge. Nothing else has the history of endless violence and wallowing in filth, as does islam.

    • Kufar Dawg

      A lie a day is the prophet's way eh Abdullah?

    • Touchstone

      "so blinded by his lust for being on a Hasbara team that he will believe or say anything"

      And you're so blinded by your lust to bray with the anti-Israel mob that you believed the video was the work of Jews … before it was spelled out for you that it wasn't. To use your own words, you'll "believe or say anything", as long as it brings harm to Jews and Israel.

      You may be condemning Nakoula now, but nobody should forget that you blamed the video on *the Jews* the moment the story broke, just like any other kneejerk antisemitic bigot. Stick THAT in your self-righteous indignance, dupe.

      • Schlomotion

        There sure are plenty of Jews defending the video on Frontpage and elsewhere trying to elevate Nakoula to the status of Salman Rushdie. Salman Rushdie even made fun of him on Matt Lauer's show this weekend. Nakoula's video is absolutely indistinguishable from the rantings of Raymond Ibrahim. Really, you need to catch up on your Max Blumenthal:
        http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175334/tomgram:_m

        • Touchstone

          I'm delighted that you have no answer and must distract my attention towards something other than your undeniable wrongdoing. You stepped in it, and now you want to pretend that I didn't see it happen.

          Just because "there sure are plenty of Jews defending the video" doesn't mean that the video itself was the work of Jews. I repeat: you blamed the video on Jews. Your information was incorrect, but accuracy is a trifle to you. It doesn't concern you. Your Jew-baiting agenda takes priority over cold hard facts.

          I say again, you believed the claim that the video was the work of Jews. That was a lie you swallowed whole. And you ran with it because it represented a delicious opportunity for you to blame the slaughter of diplomats on Jews, along with the rest of the jihadist carnage. You can't deny it. You took that baton and ran with it.

          Now you try to deflect. You don't admit what you did; that would require humility which is kryptonite to an egomaniac like you. You just resume piling it on the Jews, specifically "plenty of Jews" who defend the video. But that's beside the point. The point is that you believed the claim that it was the WORK of Jews and tried to capitalize on that bogus claim. You're as reflexively antisemitic as they come. Watching you squirm is a pleasure.

          • Schlomotion

            I am glad you can enjoy yourself. I don't care if Jews made the video or not. Nakoula is part of a complex that makes these movies all the time or manufactures some garbage to keep us on a "Homeland" footing here and a war footing elsewhere. In the ever-changing set of facts about this case, now Jews are not responsible for the financing. This happens all the time. Oh, how often Muslims are to blame for something that turns out to be swamp gas. Frontpage is this week banging away on the myriad hopeful ways they can capitalize on poor, persecuted Nakoula and parlay it into an Obama resignation and a Romney/Likud victory. My goal remains the same, to shoot holes in Hasbara nonsense and make fun when these interlopers run to the right and then the left and then the right, warping the Constitution and trying to make the atmosphere more amenable to Israel.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

            The fact don't interest you, you don't care about them.

            It's all about the muslim friendly narrative, isn't it?

            Your goal is propaganda. Nothing more, and nothing that should be taken seriously.

          • Rebas Thgil

            My next bumper sticker just might read: "Schlomotion says swamp gas does honor killings, not muslims.

          • Rebas Thgil

            Of course, my next bumper sticker could read: Schlomotion says that swamp gas flew the jets into the world trade towers, not muslims.

          • Rebas Thgil

            Another bumper sticker could top the previous by saying: "Schlomotion claims that swamp gas denies the holocaust, not muslims"

          • Kufar Dawg

            I've read that muslimes are actually complicit IN the Holocaust as the Grand Mufti lobbied Hitler to stop deporting Jews to Israel and begin killing them instead. It's said that one of the larger divisions of the SS, the muslim Handschar division, was responsible for carrying out the slaughter of Jews in the former Yugoslavia.

          • Rebas Thgil

            You are correct about the muslime SS division.

          • Kufar Dawg

            It seems to me if this is historical fact, what the Handschar SS division did in the former Yugoslavia. it's been buried pretty deeply, because there's not a lot of information out there on the atrocities they committed in the former Yugoslavia.

            I've read the Grand Mufti was the instigator of the Final Solution, but this seems hard to believe as well. I've read he provoked and promoted it, because up until that time the Nazis were merely deporting Jews to "Palestine"?

          • Touchstone

            "My goal remains the same, to shoot holes in Hasbara nonsense and make fun" — How sad that you've curtailed your ambitions. Mere weeks ago you were full of bluster and grandiose ideas, all set to outdo Alexander the Great, the superman whose exploits you expected to surpass. But since then you've been emasculated, so now you must settle for "shooting holes". How humiliating.

            "make the atmosphere more amenable to Israel." — Red Alert! Red Alert! You used an "indictment word*! Only Hasbara-bots get to use that word!

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

          So muslim friendly trolls such as yourself are here vilifying him. That speaks that he is on the same level as Rushdie.

          • Schlomotion

            Lucky for him. Now he doesn't need to get an education and write any good novels.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

            Unless the muslim activists get to him, he'll have time to work on that.

          • Kufar Dawg

            Kinda like Thedore Van Gogh, or the translators of the Satanic Verses who were murdered by muslo-fascists right?

        • SCREW SOCIALISM

          Shariamotion, Your buddies who put a death fatwa on Salman Rushdie for writing a book of fiction are also issuing death fatwas on Nakoula for his stupid video.

          That's some "Religion of Peace".

    • Ghostwriter

      Sorry,Schlockmoron,but as usual,your idiotic rants have NO facts to back them up. The riots and demonstrations were not solely because of this silly film,but because the Muslim world has always hated America and wants to destroy it. Nothing we say or do will EVER change that. Please go back to the hole that you've come from and stay there.

  • pierce

    We should all draw a red line, even when it comes to our own speaking out. I disapprove strongly at the loss of opportunities to speak out. but more so, the idea of being careful of what I say, and/or how I say it. I have a very strong sense that we are being watched over by big brother(government), and they are waiting to pounce. What is going on today is scary, as I see the loss of liberties I had many years ago disappearing. As Bill O'Reilly says, CAUTION, we are entering a no spin zone, but we have to continue to speak out. Enough said.

    • Kufar Dawg

      BS O'Reilly is nothing more than one long spin cycle of islamofascist propaganda.

    • Sunbeam

      I agree, It's time we draw our own red line. Or do you wanna wait until everything is made seemingly difficult for us to do anything?

  • Mike

    Jamal, you say that allah is peaceful and for us to respect him? What a joke, when you stop persecuting the copts in egypt we might give it some consideration. islam is not peaceful and yopu are full of lies!!!

  • StephenD

    In the recent movie "For Greater Glory" there is a line spoken that is as significant today as it would have been in the setting of the 1920's Mexico that was hanging Catholics from Telegraph polls. When the President was finally willing to compromise and allow certain liberties for the Clergy, and asked the Opposition General what he wanted he said "Freedom; Complete Freedom." The President said well Rome is ready to compromise and this agreement is all but sealed. The General says "Freedom has no compromise. By definition it is…absolute." I have since associated such talk as comes from Hillary saying "…the outer limits of Free Speech…." and I cringe.

  • tagalog

    Are we now using the term "red line" to describe the boundary of free speech instead of the older "bright line?"

    I'll try to remember.

  • Spider

    That sounds like the reasonable thing for the Obama administration to do – Put the 3rd grade educated Camel Jockies in charge of determining the boundaries of free speech for us. Maybe they should also encourage us to let them replace the Constitution with Satan inspired Sharia law that way they will no longer be offended by our existance and stop protesting so Houssein can get re-elected.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      Soon only approved free speech will be allowed.

      Stay tuned to the state coordinated media for the talking points of the day for pointers….

      • Kufar Dawg

        The end game of the zero regime is nothing less than a dictatorship, the elimination of free speech is just a preliminary step to that goal, as has been in the establishment of any number of totalitarian regimes.

  • clarespark

    I recall polls some years ago, relaying the awful conclusions that Americans would not approve of the First Amendment given the opportunity. We are now in the time of "thought crimes" predicted by George Orwell in 1984. To celebrate Rosh Hashanah, I made a list of my own thought crimes and included some unknown to my readers before. See http://clarespark.com/2012/09/16/thought-crimes/. "Thought Crimes."

  • Victir Martin

    Calls for hatred should not be candi-coated with Freedom of Speech. Calls for hatred, even when they come from very religious people, be it Muslims or Christians, disrupt peace and should be punished by law!

    Victor Martin

    • Kufar Dawg

      LOL, would that include the holey quran muslim? Because it's chock full of Jew hating vomit.

      • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

        His hate is different.
        He means everyone else, of course.

  • tedh754

    I wonder if the parts of that movie that Hillary and Jay Carney thought were so horrible and vile included the beheading of Nick Berg while his executioners were screaming God is great.
    Oh, wait……

  • ABBASS M

    In France, the French national assembly, in 1990, passed new laws to toughen the existing measures against racism, "The measures also outlaw revisionism — a historical tendency rife among extreme right-wing activists which consists of questioning the truth of the Jewish Holocaust in World War II." Many intellectuals were disturbed by the words "measures" that "outlaw … questioning" included in the French legislation.

    In June 1995, Princeton University professor, Bernard Lewis, was fined $2,062 for having denied that Armenians were victims of genocide in Ottoman Turkey early in this century. Moreover, Lewis was ordered to publish the court ruling in the daily Le Monde and warned that he risked further judicial action if he repeats his denial on French soil. Professor Lewis did not contest "the terrible human tragedy of the deportation" of the Armenians. But he considers that there was no "systematic annihilation" and that most of the victims died of "famine, disease, exhaustion or cold." That is why, in an interview published by Le Monde in November 1993, when he was asked why Turkey still refused "to recognize the genocide of the Armenians', Lewis replied: "You mean why do they refuse to recognize the Armenian version of that event?"

    This comment led to a storm of protest from the Armenian community in Paris. Thirty university teachers published an open letter accusing Lewis of "betraying the truth and insulting the victims of Turkish brutality." At first they tried to prosecute Lewis under the Loi Gayssot, passed in 1990, which makes denying the Holocaust a criminal offense. But it was pointed out to the Armenians that the communist deputy Gayssot had restricted his new law to those denying the truth of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. It should be noted that Lewis is a historian whose specialty is the history of Ottoman Turkey. He is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on the subject.

    In Aug. 17, 1995, A book published in Switzerland by the "Algerian committee of free activists" has been banned from entering French territory because "Its distribution is liable to affect public order…its underlying tone is anti-French", said the spokesman of the French interior ministry.

    In the U.S., the government cannot do much to silence obnoxious speech because of the first amendment to the constitution. However, nongovernmental institutions, especially the media and the universities have taken the lead. At the university of Michigan, a student said in a classroom discussion that he considered homosexuality a disease treatable with therapy. He was summoned to a formal disciplinary hearing for violating the school's policy of prohibiting speech that victimizes people on basis of sexual orientation. The case has generated a lawsuit in federal courts. Another student who denounced Dr. Martin Luther King as a communist has been sentenced by his university's judicial board to thirty hours of community service.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      If someone in Mecca used that many words against islam they would be dead, so who has freedom of speech?

    • Kufar Dawg

      IN the USA, a lying Turkish muslime UCLA professor who regularly denied the Armenian genocide had his home blown up — it's just too bad he wasn't in it at the time.

  • ABBASS M

    The American Media has a long history of voluntary censorship. For example, a series of films which explained why Muslims were growing more furious with the West, were taken off-air in the US. Broadcasters were faced with a lobby against them and there was a threat to advertising. The films titled, Roots of Muslim Anger, were made by Dr. Robert Fisk who has received the British Press Award as the best British foreign reporter for "Foreign reporting at its finest." The reason for the intense lobbying against the series was that it considered Israel responsible for many Muslim grievances against the West. An imposing scholar such as Noam Chomsky who has been described by the New York Times as "arguably the most important intellectual alive" has never appeared in any of the US major television networks because his views always upset the American elite.

    House speaker Newt Gingrich has dismissed a House historian when it was brought to his knowledge that she has once written: "The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view, and is not presented."

    In the summer of 1995, The War Veterans Lobby (one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington) has lobbied successfully to remove all the material describing the tragedies caused by the American atomic bombs thrown on Japan in 1945 from a World War II exhibition in Washington. Several historians protested the move as enforcing a kind of "patriotically correct history" which has no thing to do with the "real history."

    In 1986, author George Gilder (whose book Wealth and Poverty was a worldwide best seller in 1981) had a great difficulty in finding a publisher to republish his earlier book, Sexual Suicide, because of protests from feminists who think (as one of them has recently said on ABC) that "Sexual differences should not even be studied."

    Oxford University Press rejected Professor John Vincent's book, A Very Short Introduction to History, which it had previously welcomed. The reason was that Vincent had not been politically correct. He had used the word "men" instead of "people", referred to historians as "he" thereby excluding women historians, etc.

    Michael Jackson's latest album generated a wave of protest because some of the words therein were deemed racist by some American Jews. Charges of anti-semitism prompted Jackson back to the studio to get rid of the offensive words.

    In Canada, CTV Television network on its popular morning show "Canada AM" has, on Oct. 15, 1994, hosted Josef Lepid, a leading Israeli political commentator, who, on the air, called for "a decent Jew in Canada" to assassinate Victor Ostrovosky (a former Israeli intelligence officer and author of two books exposing Israeli intelligence secret operations). The incident received conspicuous silence in the Canadian media. The very same commentators who had clamored for Rushdie's right of free speech uttered no words in support of Ostrovosky's same right.

    A couple of years ago, a British historian was giving lectures in Canada in which he denied the Holocaust. He was arrested and deported by the Canadian authorities. Also, a school teacher was relieved of all teaching duties because he taught his students to disbelieve that the Holocaust has ever happened.

    A university professor wrote on his campus journal that a woman who had been raped by her partner should bear some of the responsibility for the rape especially if she was improperly dressed. His comments prompted a huge outcry on campus. He was forced into early retirement.

    It seems that the West does not only lack absolute freedom of speech, it lacks absolute freedom of thinking as well. One might enjoy the hospitality of German prisons (for 5 full years) for 'believing' that the Holocaust has never happened. In France, one does not have to be a 'true believer', merely questioning the Holocaust will do. One wonders what should be the punishment if some people deny World War II altogether. Perhaps, they should be executed. In North America, one would 'only' lose one's job for disbelieving in the Holocaust. This 'leniency' is perhaps due to the fact that American jails are overcrowded. Questioning the differences between men and women is a taboo that any 'decent' human being should not discuss. Charges of sexism are used to deter those who contemplate exceeding the acceptable limits. Discussions about homosexuality and race are similarly stifled.

  • ABBASS M

    It seems that the West does not only lack absolute freedom of speech, it lacks absolute freedom of thinking as well. One might enjoy the hospitality of German prisons (for 5 full years) for 'believing' that the Holocaust has never happened. In France, one does not have to be a 'true believer', merely questioning the Holocaust will do. One wonders what should be the punishment if some people deny World War II altogether. Perhaps, they should be executed. In North America, one would 'only' lose one's job for disbelieving in the Holocaust. This 'leniency' is perhaps due to the fact that American jails are overcrowded. Questioning the differences between men and women is a taboo that any 'decent' human being should not discuss. Charges of sexism are used to deter those who contemplate exceeding the acceptable limits. Discussions about homosexuality and race are similarly stifled.However, in limiting freedom of speech for the purposes of social peace and harmony, no society should go to the extreme of "outlaw … questioning." This is the mentality of the dark ages, the Inquisition, and some ailing dictatorial regimes. The whole world must struggle to wipe out all the traces of this mentality rather than enforcing it by democratic legislation. Objective inquiry must never be banned for any reason whatsoever. If some people, for whatever reason, exploit the freedom of inquiry to incite racial, ethnic, sexual, or religious vilification, then a line has to be drawn between benign and malicious motives without sacrificing the priceless freedoms of thinking, questioning, and inquiring. It is exactly the same line that has to be drawn to distinguish between freedom of speech and freedom from speech. The Canadian Supreme Court has recently (July 20) drawn a similar line in its decisive ruling on libel law: "criticism, yes, but accusations rooted in non-facts that do gratuitous damage to the reputation of individuals, no." The Quran does not only guarantee the freedom of thinking and questioning, it considers the act of thinking a sign of good faith. Thinking and reflection are considered among the characteristics of righteousness: "In the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day, there are indeed signs for people of understanding. Those who celebrate the praises of Allah, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides and reflect upon the creation of the heavens and the earth.." (3:190-191) The Quran in its numerous arguments with the unbelievers cites compelling evidence for them; not to make them believe, but to make them think: "…Thus does Allah make clear to you His signs: in order that you may reflect" (2:219) "…Such are the similitudes which We propound to people, that they may think" (59:21)

    To sum up, the whole Rushdie affair and its protracted aftermath has never been a mere question of free speech in the West as any simple comparison between the fate of professor Lewis in France and the treatment professor Schimmel received in Germany would clearly reveal. The support which Rushdie has received in the West and the defamation which Dr. Schimmel has been subjected to in Germany have more to do with Western "Islamphobia" than with absolute freedom of expression. The Western blatant indifference towards the feelings of Muslims is due to intense Western misunderstanding, suspicion, and fear of Muslims and Islam. Had the West really believed in and practiced absolute freedom of speech, then Muslims would have been very wrong to demand a ban on the Satanic Verses since it would have been a violation of a well-established Western tradition. But the West has never practiced this imaginary absolute freedom of speech and probably never will. It is not at all unprecedented that Western publishing houses have voluntarily ( for fear of fines or of upsetting the public) refrained from publishing a book. Upsetting Muslims, on the other hand, was deemed by the publishers of the Satanic Verses to make the book far more saleable. The publishers realized the simple fact that Muslims in the West are neither powerful nor respectable and that perturbing them would attract the attention of so many readers who would have otherwise never paid any attention to the book. Muslims in the West are the least studied, the least understood, the least trusted, and the least respected minority group. According to a nationwide poll conducted for the American Muslim Council, 67% of Americans had favorable opinions of Roman Catholicism, 52% of Judaism, 39% of Christian fundamentalism and only 23% had a favorable opinion of Islam. Muslims in the West, especially in some European countries such as Germany, France, and Britain, live under conditions that can at best be described as contemptuous tolerance.

    Therefore, my conclusion is that Muslims should not have reacted the way they did with respect to Rushdie's insults. They must learn how to create a respectable and powerful presence for themselves in the West first before asking the West to be considerate to their feelings. They ought to understand the lesson that something is far more deeply rooted in the Western tradition than free speech and that is: double standard.

  • abbass m

    OPEN YOUR EYES TO REALITIES ABOUT FREE SPEECH IN THE WEST

    Some Westerners would attribute the reason for the West's reaction to the desire of some Muslims to end Rushie's life. However, it is a known fact that so many Muslims have stated that killing Rushdie is wrong as a matter of principle and that attempts to kill him would give him so much credit, wealth, and fame that he otherwise could have never achieved. Furthermore, It is very clear from what happened to Dr. Schimmel that Western intellectuals still consider any person who criticizes Rushdie to be a wrongdoer regardless of that person's disapproval of Rushdie's killing.

    As a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority of Westerners would justify the West's attitude by citing the magic phrase "Freedom of Speech." If one argues with them "Do you mean absolute freedom of speech even offensive and hurtful speech?", they would proudly affirm: "Yes unconditional freedom of speech. Anyone is entitled to express his/her views regardless of whether others will be pleased or offended by these views." If you ask them: "Is this theory practiced unconditionally in the West today?" So many would not hesitate to give an affirmative answer. At this stage one should say "It is not the first time in history that so many have been so wrong for so long." The truth of the matter is there is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech neither in the West nor any where else. Skeptics would, rightly, demand evidence for this claim. Here are some haphazardly collected examples that I have mostly encountered by chance while reading Western newspapers, magazines, and books in the last few months.

    Let us start with Germany. In 1991, Guenter Deckert, leader of the ultra-right-wing National Democratic Party organized a lecture at which an American speaker claimed that the Auschwitz gassing of Jews never took place. Deckert was prosecuted and convicted for arranging the lecture under a statute prohibiting incitement to racial hatred. In March 1994 he was tried again. Finally, he was given only a suspended one-year jail sentence and a light fine. The judges were criticized by other judges for the light sentence. The Federal Court of Justice overturned the light sentence and ordered another trial. The public was outraged by the series of events and the law responded. In April 1994, the German constitutional court declared that denials of the Holocaust are not protected by free speech. In order not to be outdone, the German Parliament passed a law declaring it a crime punishable by 5 years in prison to deny the Holocaust whether or not the speaker believes the denials.

    A German publisher based in Munich withdrew and destroyed the German language version of an American book titled, Eye for an Eye, by John Sack (Basic Book, 1993) because it alleged that Stalin had deliberately chosen Jews to oversee secret police activities in the former German territories of post war Poland.

    In Austria, one can get a prison sentence for denying the existence of the Nazi gas chambers. In 1992, the government modified the language of the law such that it would be considered a crime "to deny, grossly minimize, praise or justify through printed works, over the airwaves, or in any other medium the National Socialist genocide or any other National Socialist crime."

    In Denmark, when a woman wrote a letter to a newspaper describing homosexuality as "the ugliest kind of adultery", she and the editor who published her letter were targeted for prosecution.

    In Japan, a 250,000 circulation magazine, Marco Polo, carried, in its Feb. 1995 issue, an article claiming to present the new historical truth and argue that Nazi gas chambers are historically dubious. The reaction to the article was swift and severe. Major industrial firms such as Volkswagen and Mitsubishi cancelled their advertising in protest. The publishing house of Marco Polo withdrew all copies of the February issue, announced that it was dismissing Marco Polo staff, and shut down the magazine itself.

    In Australia, any unfair written material that could be described as inciting racial vilification is banned by the 1989 Anti-Discrimination act. The writer and the publisher of such material may be exposed to damages of up to $40,000.

  • ABBASS m

    In Britain, laws against blasphemy still exist. British Muslims tried to make use of these laws against Salman Rushdie. They discovered that only blasphemy against Christianity is outlawed. That is, one is free to blaspheme against the religion of one's neighbor as long as the neighbor does not happen to be a Christian. Therefore, the Satanic Verses was not proscribed. Ironically, a Pakistani movie ridiculing Rushdie and the whole affair of the Satanic Verses was banned from Britain.

    In France, the French national assembly, in 1990, passed new laws to toughen the existing measures against racism, "The measures also outlaw revisionism — a historical tendency rife among extreme right-wing activists which consists of questioning the truth of the Jewish Holocaust in World War II." Many intellectuals were disturbed by the words "measures" that "outlaw … questioning" included in the French legislation.

    In June 1995, Princeton University professor, Bernard Lewis, was fined $2,062 for having denied that Armenians were victims of genocide in Ottoman Turkey early in this century. Moreover, Lewis was ordered to publish the court ruling in the daily Le Monde and warned that he risked further judicial action if he repeats his denial on French soil. Professor Lewis did not contest "the terrible human tragedy of the deportation" of the Armenians. But he considers that there was no "systematic annihilation" and that most of the victims died of "famine, disease, exhaustion or cold." That is why, in an interview published by Le Monde in November 1993, when he was asked why Turkey still refused "to recognize the genocide of the Armenians', Lewis replied: "You mean why do they refuse to recognize the Armenian version of that event?"

    This comment led to a storm of protest from the Armenian community in Paris. Thirty university teachers published an open letter accusing Lewis of "betraying the truth and insulting the victims of Turkish brutality." At first they tried to prosecute Lewis under the Loi Gayssot, passed in 1990, which makes denying the Holocaust a criminal offense. But it was pointed out to the Armenians that the communist deputy Gayssot had restricted his new law to those denying the truth of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. It should be noted that Lewis is a historian whose specialty is the history of Ottoman Turkey. He is recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on the subject.

    In Aug. 17, 1995, A book published in Switzerland by the "Algerian committee of free activists" has been banned from entering French territory because "Its distribution is liable to affect public order…its underlying tone is anti-French", said the spokesman of the French interior ministry.

    In the U.S., the government cannot do much to silence obnoxious speech because of the first amendment to the constitution. However, nongovernmental institutions, especially the media and the universities have taken the lead. At the university of Michigan, a student said in a classroom discussion that he considered homosexuality a disease treatable with therapy. He was summoned to a formal disciplinary hearing for violating the school's policy of prohibiting speech that victimizes people on basis of sexual orientation. The case has generated a lawsuit in federal courts. Another student who denounced Dr. Martin Luther King as a communist has been sentenced by his university's judicial board to thirty hours of community service.

    The American Media has a long history of voluntary censorship. For example, a series of films which explained why Muslims were growing more furious with the West, were taken off-air in the US. Broadcasters were faced with a lobby against them and there was a threat to advertising. The films titled, Roots of Muslim Anger, were made by Dr. Robert Fisk who has received the British Press Award as the best British foreign reporter for "Foreign reporting at its finest." The reason for the intense lobbying against the series was that it considered Israel responsible for many Muslim grievances against the West. An imposing scholar such as Noam Chomsky who has been described by the New York Times as "arguably the most important intellectual alive" has never appeared in any of the US major television networks because his views always upset the American elite.

    House speaker Newt Gingrich has dismissed a House historian when it was brought to his knowledge that she has once written: "The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view, and is not presented."

    In the summer of 1995, The War Veterans Lobby (one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington) has lobbied successfully to remove all the material describing the tragedies caused by the American atomic bombs thrown on Japan in 1945 from a World War II exhibition in Washington. Several historians protested the move as enforcing a kind of "patriotically correct history" which has no thing to do with the "real history."

  • Ghostwriter

    HELLO AGAIN FROM THE LAND OF FLAMES AND VIOLENCE. ALLOW ME TO INTODUCE MYSELF. MY NAME IS JABRIL AND I HAVE BEEN SO HAPPY THE LAST FEW DAYS. WHY? THESE WONDERFUL PROTESTS!!! ALL THE LOVELY BURNING OF AMERICAN FLAGS ARE SO WONDERFUL. WE DO THEM THREE OR FOUR TIMES A DAY,JUST FOR FUN!!! MOST AMERICANS ARE CONFUSED AT THESE VIOLENCE AND ASK "WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?" IT IS SIMPLE. WE DO NOT LIKE YOU. WE HAVE NEVER LIKED YOU AND WE NEVER WILL. DESPITE WHAT THOSE LIKE MICHAEL SCHUER WILL TELL YOU,IT IS NOT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE BUT WHO YOU ARE.
    WE DO NOT LIKE FREE SPEECH WHEN IT INSULTS OUR GLORIOUS PROFHET. WE WANT TO STAMP IT OUT WHEREEVER IT REARS IT'S HEAD. IT IS A SHAME ABOUT YOUR AMBASSADOR BUT REALLY,HE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. HE IS AMERICAN,AN INFIDEL AND OF COURSE DESERVING OF DEATH. WE DO NOT LIKE FREEDOM OF RELIGION EITHER. TOO MESSY. IN MY COUNTRY,ALL OUR RELIGIONS ARE BANNED EXCEPT FOR ISLAM. IS THAT NOT GREAT? FOR NOW,YOUR CURRENT PRESIDENT IS HOPING THAT YOUR MEDIA WILL DEFEND HIM AGAINST THE FLAMES OF OUR LONG TIME HATRED FOR YOUR COUNTRY. I AM AFRAID HE MIGHT NOT GET RE-ELECTED. A SHAME. I LOVED SEEING HIM GROVEL BEFORE US LIKE A GOOD DIMIMNI SHOULD. I MUST GO NOW. MUST ATTEND NEW PROTEST. JUST LOVELY. I THINK I SEE JAMAL AT ONE OF THESE PROTESTS. NOT SURPRISING. HE SHARES OUR HATRED FOR YOUR COUNTRY AS WELL. UNTILL NEXT TIME. SO LONG.

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      At least you're honest about it.

    • Bobo

      Nice to hear from you Angel Jibbrish. Keep in touch.

    • Kufar Dawg

      LOL, funny stuff, although I don't think everyone realizes it is a parody of Jamal's writings.

  • Sunbeam

    It is high time we draw our own red line. We do not want to wait until everything is made difficult for us to do anything. Instead of being always subjected to their accusations and harassment, we ought to come up with some idea of a legislation to protect this very rights of ours. We, at this time needed to stand together as a people because we do not have any support of any organization just as they do. We can see how frail we are in this war. But if we stand together as one people united, we'll be able to garnered support for our cause. We must not sit on this anymore. Much has been said already, and little has been done.

  • tagalog

    Is the First Amendment safe in the Obama era?

    The First Amendment is not safe in any era. There are always pressures to cut back on First Amendment rights in every era.

    • Kufar Dawg

      I think you underestimate the lengths the muslo-fascists and their paid for shills in our government are willing to go to outlaw any and all criticism of islam. I predict we will see people incarcerated, in the USA, in effect, if not in fact for defaming islam. It will not be by passing laws forbidding blasphemy or defaming islam that they will be arrested, it will be for nebulous hate speech laws or perhaps by perverting the sense of inciting to riot statutes. It could be said that Christians have already been incarcerated in Dearbornistan for violating aspects of Sharia law because the actual charges for which they were arrested were nothing but patent BS and violations of their civil rights.