Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Right to Give Offense

 
Or “Offence”, for our readers in Britain and the Dominions
 

Everybody who reads blogs has heard about the Great Mohammed Cartoon Caper. So I’m not giving any links in this post. You can find information on it anywhere; there are plenty of posts right here on the topic. Or you can close your eyes and click anywhere in our blogroll; you’ll probably find a post about it there.

This is just a rant. Saturday is Ranting Day at Gates of Vienna, and today is no exception.

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I’m an American. That means I have a Constitutional right to offend you.

You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny. It looks like someone set your face on fire and put it out with an ice pick. There’s no father’s name on your birth certificate, just a list of suspects.

Etc., etc.

But CNN won’t show you the Mohammed cartoons because they don’t want to offend Muslims. OK, that’s their privilege. We all know they’re hypocrites, but it’s a free country and they have a right to hypocrisy.

But not offending people now has the sanction of law in certain circumstances. Try telling a dirty joke at work when the wrong ladies are listening in, and learn about the laws against sexual harassment. Try using certain slang words to describe Moravians or Tahitians, and you’ll get mandatory diversity training.

New rights have been discovered in the last few decades. The Right Not to Feel Excluded, or the Right Not to be in a Hostile Environment, for example. I must have an abridged copy of the Constitution in my pocket, because I can’t find them in it.

And when did our government get charged with the responsibility to prevent me from hiring whomever I please?

Suppose I run a business, and I hate Czechs. Why should I have to hire a bohunk, then? All those talented and well-educated Czechs are going to be hired by someone else, who will then compete successfully against me and force me into Chapter 11. That’s my own fault, right? But I should be free to act on my own stupid prejudices, if that’s what I want to do.

Now, going down to Little Bohemia in the middle of the night and torching Czech groceries: that’s another matter. But that’s already covered by the laws against arson and destruction of property. Slitting the throat of my neighbor from Prague is already a capital offense here in Virginia; there’s no need to find out if I’m motivated by racial hatred.

Hate crimes! People are entitled to hate whomever they wish; it’s their actions which are legal or illegal.

By custom and precedent, the law recognizes two exceptions to the right of free speech: (1) Shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and (2) using “fighting words.”

There are some people who see the Mohammed cartoons as falling under one or the other of these categories. Defaming the Prophet certainly has the effect of compelling the Muslim World to jam the exits so they can start torching cars and burning buildings out in the street. And it’s clear that many of them consider the phrase “screw Mohammed” to be fighting words.

But consider this: If I say, “Sandy Koufax was a lousy pitcher,” and you’re a passionate fan of Sandy Koufax, are those fighting words?

A judge and jury would examine the evidence, evaluate it according to the standards of a reasonable man, and conclude that you deserve jail time and have to pay my hospital bills.

The key words there are “reasonable man”. The law requires us to use common sense.

And the reasonable man, applying common sense, says there’s nothing wrong with displaying images of Mohammed in a newspaper, no matter how insulting they are.
Peace be upon him

It’s time for those who are offended by such things to get over it. And those who can’t, who react violently, should be dealt with severely. Case closed.

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And then there are the legions of people who mock Christ, the “artists” who cover Him with excrement, who juxtapose Him with Nazis, who ascribe homosexuality or bestiality or necrophilia to Him: I don’t have any problem with them. Bring ’em on.

Jesus can take mockery and insults. He can handle ridicule and bad taste. He can endure the taunts of Wiccans and atheists.

He’s seen a lot worse.

9 comments:

Christine said...

I think the funniest thing about this is, prior to all of the hoopla we didn't necessarily go out of our way to "offend".

But, we have been pushed into a corner and will fight to get back out.

Shellback said...

To put a necessary theological spin on this - particularly the final paragraph - is that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (how's that for our equivalent "pbuh") Himself addressed the issue of being taunted, mocked, and derided. When being accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan, He stated that every blasphemy could be forgiven, except the blasphemy of ascribing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan. At least, that's a very reasonable reading of the text. So He is forebearing to the nth degree, hoping to win us over through reason, love, and hope. Oh, and the biggie - forgiveness.

Because of this perspective, although I am affronted by seeing images of the "piss Christ", and all the rest, I realize that Jesus CAN TAKE IT IN STRIDE, and that we should too. And we here in the West do take it in stride. It's the larger view that still makes for the inherent vibrancy and freedom of an increasingly decadent West.

I pity those from other religious viewpoints (one in particular) who give infantile response to the normal give-and-take found in modern, civilized societies.

One more reason why Jesus wins hearts to Himself, and why Mohammed (may the eternal judgement of hellfire be upon him) has only achieved temporal successes through treachery and the sword.

Yes, bring it on.

Scott said...

The AsiaTimes columnist Spengler commented on Islam's vulnerability to ridicule and satire.

When you have an atavistic faith and culture the loosening of any bricks in the edifice risks a total
collapse. Further Spengler points out that because Islamania is so far behind the rest of the world it
cannot expect to ever really catch
up especially now with China having
stolen the low hanging fruit of low
cost manufacture and India the low cost service industry. What's left for Islamania? Not much I would submit.

What is so dangerous is that because Islam is so vulnerable and
so weak it doesn't have a lot to
lose and much to gain if it can bring the global economy down with
A-bombs or oil embargoes. Isn't that what Ahmedinejad in Iran is
threatening to do?

Heloise said...

In islam, there can be no mocking of the prophet. Period. Why? All believers are told in the koran to follow the actions of mohammed who is the perfect pattern for all men. mohammed allowed no mocking of himself or his religion on penalty of death. Poets and intellectuals were murdered thenjust as they are now.

The "religion" of the mohammedans is a way of life, a social, spiritual and political system. At its heart, it is a totalitarian theocracy based on permanent war(jihad)with the Other, the non-believers. It uses the tactics of terror,intimidation, deceit and demographics to achieve its aims.

Next to all out battle, attacking its politics is the best defense we have in the repugnant multicultural, morally equivalent world of today. Mohammed was a political leader whose army conquered nations and forced them to convert or submit to his rule. This is the pattern that has been in place for 1,400 years and it's been deemed perfect by his evil twin allah. It's not changing now.

Always On Watch said...

Heloise: In islam, there can be no mocking of the prophet. Period.

Sounds like a cult to me!

Cahaya said...

Spot on! Good post!

Exile said...

To coin a redneck phrase:

Yeeeehaaa!

Go get 'em Baron! Best rant I've read for ages. I entirely agree.

Baron Bodissey said...

Chaya, Exile --

Thanks. For some reason, when I get up on a Saturday morning I always feel like ranting. I don't know why -- maybe the pressure builds up all week...

Elmer's Brother said...

Shellback love your comments. Yes Jesus can take it.