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.


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.

Always On Watch said...

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

Sounds like a cult to me!

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...

elmers brother said...

Shellback love your comments. Yes Jesus can take it.