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Feb. 4th, 2006 | 05:30 am

response to a post with responses disabled.

we are talking about the actions of a free press here, not a government controlled one. the arab world is used to equating the words of the press with the words of the government. then again, the Danes aren't oppressing or slaughtering anyone anywhere at the moment.

if we ban all writing that is offensive to anyone what do we have left?

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Comments {26}

John Louis

(no subject)

from: grail76
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 01:33 pm (UTC)
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There was a reporter who termed his reaction to the drawings as more or less, "Yes, they have every right to publish this. As an editor, I'd never have let it go through." (Boston globe I think.)

A secular Muslim from the U.S. who's written extensively said, (again paraphrased) "I would be offended. I would not be offended at the drawings themselves. I'd be offended at the reaction the artist and editor hoped to get from me."

Essentially the difference between saying, "Black politicians pander to the religious right," and saying, "You elect a nigger, you have to expect they get most of their votes from those big churches."

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i

(no subject)

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 01:46 pm (UTC)
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i heard the second one on npr. i don't get your last point at all.

cartoons make fun of people and things and events in order to get a point across. those being made fun of are often offended. i am often offended by them myself. i would never call for their withdrawal or censorship by the government concerned, or even an apology.

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John Louis

(no subject)

from: grail76
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 01:53 pm (UTC)
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My point is that the whole point of the cartoons was to offend. How often do you read, "nigger," or "kike," in a U.S. publication.

What was the point of the cartoon series? At best it was a clumsy attempt to say that Muslims are too involved in terrorism and voilence? The manner is clumsy and whatever message it has is lost in the medium. If the point was to reflect on Islamic culture, the message was lost as much as it was in my second statement.

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i

(no subject)

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 02:16 pm (UTC)
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so, would you ban speech that is intended to offend?

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John Louis

(no subject)

from: grail76
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 02:30 pm (UTC)
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No. I wouldn't ban it.

As a principle, newspapers need freedom.

I don't have to agree with what they said or how they said it.

If a friend uses the word nigger in a bar and gets his ass kicked, I have to wonder about his judgement even if I try and pry his attackers off of him.

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i

(no subject)

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
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i don't think your analogy is appropriate. as someone said in another post, being black is not a choice, not a belief. the principle thing that some fundamentalist muslims found offensive in the cartoons was the depiction of mohammed. a couple of them were quite benign in their "message". i personally found the suicide bomber/virgin one quite amusing and very on point. the one with the bomb turban didn't really make sense to me.

maybe a better analogy would be a cartoon of martin luther king that pokes fun at the fact that this civil rights icon was unfaithful to and abusive of his wife? that would certainly offend a lot of people, and bring threats of reprisals on whomever published it.

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ßu

(no subject)

from: sari
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC)
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answer: people who are able to communicate with a fellow human being in a respectful and open minded way. it's not easy but it'd be a start for any real communication to happen. maybe we'd stop and think what we actually write.

but of course the question of banning all offensive speech is not even the main issue in this whole thing that's arisen this uproar. someone feels offended (for a valid reason, i think) and it can't be overlooked. i hope this is taken as a good example of how to begin open discussions on an international level.

peace.

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i

illustration of my point

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 02:47 pm (UTC)
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there are millions of people in this country who are offended by any criticism of president bush. i guess we should ban it...

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whorlpool

..

from: whorlpool
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 03:27 pm (UTC)
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The Arab world consisits of about a billion people. If you (who are quite intelligent and thoughtful and well informed) can generalize about a billion people, why is it difficult to understand that they might generalize about the Danes?

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i

generalizations

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC)
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most muslim sects do not prohibit representations of mohammed, most muslim sects do not advocate violence, most muslims are probably as offended by these cartoons as christians would be offended by Sinfest.

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i

Re: generalizations

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 04:02 pm (UTC)
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in case you aren't familiar with it...

http://community.livejournal.com/sinfest_mod/

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acedia

Re: ..

from: acedia
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 08:26 pm (UTC)
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I have to admit I found your most recent post bewildering, whorlpool. To me, nothing is more sacred than free speech, and some very loud muslim voices are calling for a lot more than the belittlement of this treasured belief - they're calling for its outright dissolution. Now, if I take your advice that I shouldn't "buy their excuses" for these outrageous views, how exactly should I go about that? Shall I threaten their lives? Shall I burn down their embassies?

I don't accept it when Ari Fleischer tells me I should "watch what I say," and I won't accept it from you, either.

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whorlpool

Re: ..

from: whorlpool
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 08:55 pm (UTC)
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I'm not a blind advocate of free speech. I believe that some things shouldn't be said. Not that they should be banned, but that sometimes restraint is in order. Kind of like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Sometimes saying the wrong thing at the wrong time is likely to cause too much harm.

For what it's worth, I have very mixed feelings about this cartoon controversy. I think the issue is more complex than simply free speech vs. censorship. It's about justified anger finding an outlet, and it's about people manipulating that anger to obtain their own goals. So all of our conversations on this issue become caught up in larger arguments, and I think it's important for us to ask ourselves: whose agenda are we serving when we take sides on this issue. You point out that my position seems to align me with Ari Fleischer, but when I read the statements by my liberal friends on this issue, I feel as if I'm listening to people from the far right (attacking political correctness where it interferes with the sacred right to free speech). I say this not to get into an argument here, but rather to point out that when taking sides on this issue, it's easy to get into bed with people whose opinions otherwise we might despise. And, to put it simply, I'm suspicious of all this. When my liberal friends sound like wingnuts, it makes me step back and question what's really going on here. In our race to defend free speech, are we spiraling the world closer to an all out war? Are those cartoons worth all this conflict? Is that the issue where we draw a line in the sand?

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i

Re: ..

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
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the only wingnuts in this case are the people burning embassies, kidnapping people, and calling for executions.

i have no problem with the publication of the cartoons. i have no problem with loud and energetic objection to it. i have no objection to protests and boycotts.

i do have a huge problem with censorship, and i do have a huge problem with violence against someone who refuses to censor themselves or against a government who refuses to censor its press.

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whorlpool

Re: ..

from: whorlpool
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)
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The cartoons are a catalyst, an excuse, and you and I both know it. The people being violent aren't being violent because of these cartoons alone; they are being violent because they see (rightly or wrongly) that the cartoons are symptomatic of the way the west sees Muslims. And aren't they justified in their belief? Isn't it in fact true that Muslims are stereotyped? Isn't it true that people in the west generally don't have much understanding of or respect for Islam? Isn't it comprehensible, given current events, that a typical Muslim might believe that people in the west hate them and everything they believe?

Your points are valid, of course, but I think they oversimplify what is going on. For one thing, people should sometimes censor themselves. I would never dream of writing a story about a hero who rapes infants, for example. Nor would I want to create a big sculpture of a swastika and plant it on my balcony. Or walk around wearing a ku klux klan hood. Rape of children, symbols such as swastikas and white hoodies, etc....these are things which even the very mention of or sight of can cause people pain. Of course I have the right to speak or create them, but that doesn't make it the right thing to do. Likewise, if I know that there are people in the world who would be deeply offended if I create a picture of their idol in a compromising position, well, yes, I do have the right to create that picture, but I think it's very important for me to think carefully about it and decide: is it worth it? Is offending these people worth whatever benefits might accrue? Maybe it is worth it. But either way, it is extraordinarily naive to be surprised by the outrage that might accompany such pictures. And it's cowardly to hide from the ensuing outrage by cloaking oneself in the banner of free speech (I'm not talking about you, here, but of the people directly involved in this controversy). Free speech doesn't exist in a vacuum. It comes with responsibilities. Rights are granted _in spite_ of the controversies surrounding them. We can't just pretend that those controversies don't exist. When we exercise our rights, we have to do so respectfully, realizing that other people may be hurt. And it's wrong to then hide behind our "rights" and say that the response to our actions is the problem. You say the violence is wrong, and I agree. But what other response is going to have any effect? When Muslims say, "you have offended us," isn't it true that our answer will be: grow a thicker skin, we have a right to offend you. Isn't that true?? Why on earth would we expect anybody to be satisfied with such a reply?? To offend somebody and then fault them for their response is disingenous, Dave. And I do NOT mean to say that _you_ are disingenous. I mean to say that this issue is more complex than your words seem to take into account.

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whorlpool

Re: ..

from: whorlpool
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC)
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The sad thing, of course, is that the violent reaction (the only reaction which seems to get any media attention) only makes things worst. Stereotyping and continued misunderstanding and suspicious between cultures _adds up_, and it's hard to see that there is any concerted effort to productively overcome the conflicts between the west and the Muslim world. Until that concerted effort takes place, everyone is going to be walking around on tip toes, waiting for the next trigger to start the next war. Taking sides, it seems to me, is the biggest mistake of all. It hardens the boundaries and makes the next conflict only more inevitable. Worse, it gives those advocating violence more followers. It's easy to stir people to violence when they feel as if there are two sides. Much harder to kill people who you perceive as just like you.

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whorlpool

Re: ..

from: whorlpool
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
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I wanted to add, too:

I don't know if you remember, but there used to be tons and tons of "Polack" jokes. I grew up _believing_ that Polish people were stupid. These "harmless" jokes actually did influence my outlook, and I think it is only a good thing that such jokes became unacceptable and have pretty much disappeared. I think it's a good thing that ethnic jokes in general are unacceptable, and I do not support the right of people to use jokes that reinforce stereotypes, because I know first hand the damage that such jokes, repeated endlessly, can cause. I've been at the brunt end of too many of these "harmless" jokes myself (in fact, some of my ancestors were from Poland) to blindly support the right of people to say them. I'm not in support of censorship, but I believe that words can cause damage. Real damage. Sometimes the damage is worth the risk. Sometimes it's worth offending people. Sometimes the only way to get people to see their faults is to shock them with something offensive.

But sometimes (and I think this cartoon issue might have fallen into this category) a single word (so to speak) can so inflame an already tense situation that the benefits of the right to free speech get outweighed by the ensuing harm caused by that speech. The cartoons, for better or for worse, acted as oil on a fire, and I think it's important for us all to think twice before adding to the flames.

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(no subject)

from: bmused
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 06:35 pm (UTC)
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What I find most interesting about this debate is that it appears to be framed not by the question of whether the paper should have printed the cartoons, but whether the offended Muslims are entitled to their outrage.

People seem to be angry at the Muslims for being so angry. Why, I wonder?

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i

(no subject)

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
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i'm not at all angry at the muslims. maybe i should have been clearer. they have every right to complain and to boycott denmark if they want. i think it's misguided, but that's their problem. i am angry rather, at the westerners who advocate censorship of these cartoons because of the muslims' anger. i am angry at the people who fired that editor.

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i

(no subject)

from: i
date: Feb. 4th, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC)
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and i am angry at anyone who perpetrated violence over the cartoons, so i guess i am angry at some muslims, too. i didn't know there had been violence when i responded earlier.

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Kevin

(no subject)

from: low_delta
date: Feb. 5th, 2006 07:17 am (UTC)
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The outrage that is seen here is the violent outrage. Violent outrage that is the response to implications of violence. So I don't think the people are angry at the Muslims for being angry, exactly. It's more a matter of percieved hypocrisy.

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i

(no subject)

from: i
date: Feb. 5th, 2006 01:51 pm (UTC)
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"we're angry that you're portraying us this way, so we're going to act this way..."

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Kevin

(no subject)

from: low_delta
date: Feb. 6th, 2006 03:27 am (UTC)
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Yeah. fortunately, it's only a minority who's acting that way, but unfortunately, it doesn't help the general image of Muslims to the rest of the world.

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Kevin

(no subject)

from: low_delta
date: Feb. 5th, 2006 07:17 am (UTC)
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http://www.slate.com/id/2135499/

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i

(no subject)

from: i
date: Feb. 5th, 2006 01:58 pm (UTC)
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excellent

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sarenmithsarn

(no subject)

from: sarenmithsarn
date: Feb. 6th, 2006 04:32 pm (UTC)
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I wonder, has there ever been an editorial comic about Christianity that would offend Americans to lead to the same sort of offense? Would Bush use that as an excuse to bomb someone? The new Crusades. Also, the problem is, we ALL generalize. Not all people of muslim faith were out burning things. And, we TRY to divide church and state. Many don't see a difference or a need to do so. Of course the comic would be seen as a direct attack.

Arg, so much more to say...

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