February 06, 2006

For Freedom (and Bacon)


Posted by Dr. Frank at February 6, 2006 12:33 AM | TrackBack


Posted by: chris riordan at February 6, 2006 03:51 PM

"... Bacon was no more than one of the apostles of Muslim science and method to Christian Europe; and he never wearied of declaring that a knowledge of Arabic and Arabian science was for his contemporaries the only way to true knowledge."

-- Robert Briffault, "Rational Evolution: The Making of Humanity"

Posted by: Wesley at February 6, 2006 06:54 PM

now all you gotta do is post the cartoons. i finally found them on some blog via Yahoo! since no major news agency has the balls to stand up for free speech.

Posted by: Susie at February 6, 2006 07:04 PM

Tim Blair posted them:


Which is actually pretty brave, because Australia seems to have a pretty good share of loons, and he baits them all the time.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 6, 2006 07:21 PM

The New Anti-Semitism, cartoon division

In sheer destructive potential, few elements of journalism can hold a candle to the hateful cartoon. The fact that the virulently anti-Semitic caricatures of the Nazi Der Sturmer weekly still circulate on neo-Nazi Websites more than 70 years after they were drawn, testifies to their power and longevity.

Of late, a new breed of anti-Semitic caricature has begun to circulate through Europe, an indication, perhaps, of a new breed of anti-Semitism. But the Semites, in this case, are not Jews.

The message of a number of the Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a variety of derogatory caricatures is roughly this: Most Muslims are Arabs, and most Arabs are potential suicide bombers.

The message is obscene. It is racist. It dishonors the bedrock spiritual beliefs of one of every six people on the entire planet. In that sense, it also profanes the right of freedom of speech, distorting it into the freedom to foster hatred.

Correctly, many rabbis have expressed their disgust at the cartoons. "I share the anger of Muslims following this publication," French Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk said. "I understand the hostility in the Arab world. One does not achieve anything by humiliating religion. It's a dishonest lack of respect."


Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 6, 2006 08:32 PM

For all the over-reaction in the Muslim world to these stupid cartoons, the Muslims do have one good point. That these cartoons demonstrate the West to be, morally and politically, completely hypocritical.

It will be interesting to see the reaction of the Europeans after the forthcoming publication of the below described set of Holocaust cartoons.

I don't suspect that all of these new found defenders of freedom of speech will be as adamant in their defense of the cause when it comes to someone else mocking things which the West holds dear and sensitive.

IRAN'S largest selling newspaper announced today it was holding a contest on cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publishing in European papers of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.


Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 6, 2006 08:52 PM

Harry's Place posted some of those charming cartoons:


Holding a worldwide anti-semitism contest doesn't seem exactly equivalent to what the Danish paper did, nor does it seem like the ideal way to send the message that "we're not as crazy as we look on TV."

Anyway, I'm sure a lot people will be offended and disturbed by this proposed cartoon celebration of the Holocaust, but I doubt any of these "new found defenders of free speech" you're talking about will threaten to chop off anyone's head or blow up any subways. Sheesh.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 6, 2006 09:08 PM

Aryamehr, fuck yeah!
Coming again to save the motherfucking day yeah,
Aryamehr, fuck yeah!
Islam is the only way yeah!
Eurojews your game is through
Cause now you have to answer to
Aryamehr, FUCK YEAH!

Posted by: Team Aryamehr: World Police at February 6, 2006 10:26 PM

1. Offensive Holocaust cartoons are no more objectionable than offensive Mohammad-is-a-terrorist-murderer cartoons. It's the same thing. If criticising the publication of one is an unwarranted attack on freedom of speech, then so is criticising the publication of the other.

2. Your summarization of a billion Muslims' reactions to the cartoons as amounting to a threat "to chop off anyone's head or blow up any subways," is not a fair statement.

It would be as fair for me to summarize the entire Western opposition to abortion as threats by "the Christian world" to bomb abortion clinics and murder abortion doctors.

Which is to say, while such people do exist, the crazies exist in equal proportions on both sides.

Therefore, any attempt in the West to cast a spotlight on the crazies among the Muslim population and present their views as representative of the mainstream, is, at best, ignorance on the part of the West. At worst, it is war-bating, anti-Muslim propaganda.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 6, 2006 10:42 PM

Just to clarify, I am not a Muslim.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 6, 2006 10:48 PM

"We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

Anne Coulter

Posted by: Muslims Are Only Brown People at February 6, 2006 10:54 PM

"Criticizing the publication" of offensive materials is fine. Torching embassies and threatening murder is not. Is that so hard to get? Oh, it's just a few crazies torching the embassies? Well, if I were an embassy, those are precisely the crazies I'd be concerned about. We'll have to wait and see, but my prediction is that when the Iranian Festival of Holocaust Cartoons is published (what a great idea!), we won't see too many embassy-torchings or "behead the infidels" demonstrations in the West. If I'm wrong, then we can talk about equivalence.

You're kind of a broken record on this stuff, Arya. Each side is just as bad as the other, it's just a few crazies, etc. Sure there's hypocrisy in the West, but face it: free speech is one thing the West does better, by any conceivable standard, than the Muslim world.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 6, 2006 11:31 PM

Not to mention that the difference between the proposed program of antisemitic content for the Arab and Iranian media on the one hand, and business as usual, on the other, will be extremely hard to spot anyway.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 6, 2006 11:36 PM

If you think Dr. Frank was characterizing the reactions of all muslims, everywhere with the 'chop off anyone's head or blow up any subways' line, then there's no real point in discussing this.
Your grasp of what free expression means seems limited. If the cartoons 'dishonors the bedrock spiritual beliefs of one of every six people on the entire planet,' it may mean they're impolite, it may mean they're cheap and insignificant, but that, by itself, does not mean they can't be published.
Here's an art exhibit that just opened in London: 'Sonofagod Pictures' http://www.londonist.com/archives/2006/02/review_gilbert.php
The basic point seems to be to offend Catholics. It's the sort of thing I think I would've been really interested in in junior high. It too offends hundreds and hundreds of millions of people. No one's arguing that it needs to be stopped; no embassies have been torched. Many have registered their feelings about this exhibit by 1) not going or 2) mocking it or 3) both.

You point out that Iran will be publishing offensive cartoons about the holocaust. I don't really see how anyone would notice a change from their daily programming; I guess that's what the press release is for. Yes, many in the west are offended by these cartoons, and yes, many wish they weren't published. But no one's burning the Iranian embassy, or the Lebanese, or the Egyptian. If you can't see that there's an important distinction there, then you're simply not looking.

No, not every muslim has reacted like the knuckle-dragging thugs in London ('the REAL holocaust is on its way' - cute!), the fact is that many have been violent and/or threatened violence. I believe the scum of London have the right to have signs like that, and I believe a paper here in the US would be within its rights to reprint whatever cartoon 'wins' top honors in the Iranian contest. But I refuse to believe that speech must be censored, lest it offend someone. I refuse to grant that I'm bound by muslim taboos about representing the prophet.

I don't know why I try. Aryamehr - who are you? I'm fascinated as all get-out that someone has taken to lobbing strange conservative/nationalistic diatribes in the comment boxes of famous punk rockers. Why Dr. Frank and/or Ben Weasel? Is it just a way to reach dozens of young, impressionable ungodly western eyeballs?

Posted by: marc w at February 7, 2006 12:08 AM

Well, you're a broken record on this issue, too.

"Muslim civilization is intolerant, backwards, fanatical; European civilization may be bad too but, comparatively, they're not as bad as Muslims."

Sorry, but I think that's just not true. In fact, the argument in and of itself is extremely inflammatory and racist.

Any neutral and judicious observer of history would conclude, I believe, that European civilizations have had a propensity for intolerance and violence at least equal to that of Middle Eastern civilizations.

Now whether one civilization is technologically or economically superior at the present time, or relatively recently has established progressive liberal goverment, is not really dispositive of the bigger question of whether Europeans are morally inherently more moral and progressive than Muslims.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 7, 2006 12:12 AM

Well, you're a broken record on this issue, too.

"Muslim civilization is intolerant, backwards, fanatical; European civilization may be bad too but, comparatively, they're not as bad as Muslims."

Sorry, but I think that's just not true. In fact, the argument in and of itself is extremely inflammatory and racist.

Any neutral and judicious observer of history would conclude, I believe, that European civilizations have had a propensity for intolerance and violence at least equal to that of Middle Eastern civilizations.

Now whether one civilization is technologically or economically superior at the present time, or relatively recently has established progressive liberal goverment, is not really dispositive of the bigger question of whether Europeans are inherently more moral and progressive than Muslims.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 7, 2006 12:14 AM

This issue is not about judicious observation of history, Arya. It's about judicious observation of the present.

To make it very specific, let's just talk about Iran. As the Human Rights Watch site (http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/iran12214.htm) relates, "Respect for basic human rights in Iran, especially freedom of expression and opinion, deteriorated considerably in 2005." I fail to see how you can make a compelling argument to negate Frank's contention, which I'll repeat, since you inaccurately paraphrased it: "free speech is one thing the West does better, by any conceivable standard, than the Muslim world."

Now, you can make a cultural-relativistic argument that the whole notion of Free Speech is Eurocentric, but (1) I would disagree, philosophically, and (2) that's not what you're doing anyway.

Posted by: Wesley at February 7, 2006 12:30 AM

Marc w,

The reason for the embassy attacks, I would posit, goes beyond the racist cartoons. The cartoons are probably just the straw that broke the camel's back (pun not intended).

If you would like to compare what each side is "doing" to one another, I will grant you that embassies of Middle Eastern governments are not being attacked by Westerners.

But that does not, by a long shot, give the West any sort of moral high ground. To the contrary, what the West is doing to the Middle East is far worse than throwing a few Molotav cocktails at an embassy window. Civilians in Europe, for example, are not being killed by the tens of thousands by Middle Eastern governments, nor are their countries being militarily invaded, nor is anyone being tortured.

Doesn't it seem like normal, rational people in the Middle East (and other parts of the developing world, Muslim or not) have a much better reason to be mad at the West than vice versa?

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 7, 2006 12:31 AM

Non sequiturs, Arya. Come on, admit it: "your people" are wrong on this one. Free speech means, you get to publish offensive cartoons. Wait, even if we threaten to stab you through the heart? Yes, even then.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 7, 2006 12:32 AM

Sure, dude.

Scandinavians intimating that all Muslims and their god are murderers = freedom of speech.

Holocaust cartoons = "worldwide anti-semitism"

Thanks for setting everything straight.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 7, 2006 12:56 AM

It's all freedom of speech, young man.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 7, 2006 01:08 AM

Are you agree that both are permissible expressions of free speech?

If so, then I have no quarrel with you.

Under U.S. law, incidentally, both cartoons would be protected under the 1st Amendment, since U.S. law does not discriminate based on the content of political speech.

However, in certain allegedly progressive Western European jurisdictions, like Germany, Austria, and probably even France, the anti-Allah cartoon would be allowed as a permissible expression of free speech, while publishing the Holocaust cartoons would be punishable by imprisonment.

Doesn't that seem pretty discriminatory and hypocritical?

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 7, 2006 02:09 AM

LOOKOUT! My paper (www.buffalobeast.com) is printing a very inciteful cartoon next issue. It will actually be in the same issue as a review for KING DORK. I don't want to give it away, but we are pretty much banking on a Fatwah. TO ANY MUSLIM READING THIS: I had no say in the decision. I was actually against it. Please do not kill me. The whole issue is going to be referered to as our "SPECIAL ZEALOT-BAITING ISSUE" - I'm serious, though, I do not want to die. I respect your religious viewpoints. Please only kill the editor and the cartoonist. The rest of the staff have nothing to do with it. What would actually be smarter is to do what the Neo-Cons are doing with Brokeback Mountain: just ignore us, we will go away. Killing is not cool. Mohammad was peaceful. If you let me live, I will promise to stand up for Muslims in the face of intolerance.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 7, 2006 02:38 AM

Oh yeah, and the college makes a good point in that last post. If that is true, then that is fucked up. But we don't have any silly double standards like that in American laws on free speech. Most are strict interpreters of the first amendment here. It is absolute, the freedom of speech... unless you are yelling fire in a public place or whatever. but that is not an issue of content.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 7, 2006 02:53 AM

*Are you agree that both are permissible expressions of free speech?*

No duh, Einstein.

Thanks for explaining the contents of the 1st amendment. I was getting confused. I thought it was only stuff I liked that was protected.

As a libertarian, I disagree with any and all curbs on free speech; however, the ban on antisemitic propaganda in a place like Germany has a kind of logic and is historically understandable, even though I disagree with it in principle in the abstract.

Also, free speech issues aside, publishing antisemitic cartoons as a riposte to the Danish publication of the Mohammed cartoons is not a good idea if the goal is to teach the West that the Muslim world is sane and reasonable. Were I the PR consultant, I'd advise them to try to distance themselves from antisemitism rather than to try to use it as a selling point. It's a losing argument and bad branding. Just a tip. Pass it on to your funding source.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 7, 2006 03:02 AM

I just can't resist stepping into the middle of a good squabble...

First, the cartoons in question were originally published in the fall (September, I think) to no reaction whatsoever in the Muslim world. No one objected, or denounced, or rioted. Some commentary I've read points out that the denunciations started not when they were originally published, but when our stalwart allies, the Saudi government, started getting furious stories published in their propadandist press, possibly to deflect criticism over the well-publicized deaths during the hajj, possibly just to get the Arab and Muslim worlds to "rally round the flag" instead of accusing them of being lackeys for the Bush Administration who deserved to be deposed.

There wasn't any spontaneous wave of violence in response to the publication of the cartoons -- it was an explosion of violence that seems to have been deliberately set off by a government that was mainly concerned by its own domestic political standing and regional leadership. Now, as to why all of this worked to get the riots going, I can really only speculate. It does seem to me that the cartoons are, as AU said, a "last straw" piled on top of the long litany of grievances of the Arab and Muslim world against the West, many of which have validity.

I think it oversimplifies too much to just make this about the Free West and pre-Enlightenment Arab World, or whatever. People who think they're not respected, or think their dignity is being denied, can respond in violent, horrific ways (q.v. the violence growing out of Southern white anxiety/resentment/racism, or the Rodney King riots). That doesn't mean you respond to their violence by acceeding to their immediate demands. But (to switch metaphors) these potential sparks flare up all the time -- if you don't think about neutralizing the powder keg, you'll have more explosions.

Then again, I'm an optimist, so I think that all of the riots just prove that Arab and Muslim opposition to Libertarian free-speech standards is in its last throes.

Posted by: Nick at February 7, 2006 04:28 AM

Dr Frank,

I must have missed your post lashing out at the police for removing Cindy Sheehan from the Capitol building in handcuffs for wearing an anti-war slogan on a t-shirt. Free speech indeed.

Posted by: Lefty at February 7, 2006 02:32 PM

Lefty Hooligan, Dr. Frank never claimed to be an activist, nor does this in any way smack of a political or civil rights "blog." If you open the part of your brain that doesn't see everything as blacky and whitey or lefty and righty, you might notice he chronicles the absurd. Oh no... your girlfriend was "REMOVED" from a building! Call the ACLU. Let me go back to sleep. Kidding, I know the Cindy Sheehan story. But anyway, no one slammed a molatav cocktail upside her head or burned her embassy to the ground. The level of absurdity in this situation is not comparable. The whole, to borrow a great phrase, "Islamic Anti-Semetic Cartoon Festival" being suggested as a way to "settle the score" between a Danish newspaper and the Muslim world is proof positive that this is absurd with a capital CRAZY. I have tried for a long time not to be a stereotypical bigot who just says "Yep, them Muslims are fucking crazy." But you know what, I'm having a hard time arguing that point in my mind lately.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 7, 2006 02:51 PM

Hey, I agree with you that they're crazy. But when people argue about "freedom of speech," aren't they essentially arguing that governments cannot prohibit speech? I mean, any time an NBA coach gets fined for criticizing the referees, some idiot will call in to a sports radio station talking about freedom of speech.

It seems that someone who is moved enough by the free speech ideal to post pictures of flags and devote time and energy to making numerous comments on his blog would be more offended by a government arresting someone for expressing an opinion than he would about private citizens doing crazy and violent shit.

Posted by: Lefty at February 7, 2006 03:18 PM

Lefty, as you have correctly surmised, I am a supporter of free speech for everybody, with the sole exeption of Cindy Sheehan. Hence my silence about her Tshirt.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 7, 2006 04:26 PM

"however, the ban on antisemitic propaganda in a place like Germany has a kind of logic and is historically understandable, even though I disagree with it in principle in the abstract."

Historically understandable, but a mistake none the less the law of unintended consequences being what it is.

Apparently Sheehan was being disruptive, shouting down the President as he was speaking. I don't know if she should be charged with anything (was she?) but certainly it was onlay to remove her. There is no constitutional right to attend the State of the Union address. The t-shirt thing is a strawman.

Posted by: josh at February 7, 2006 04:43 PM

OK, fair enough. But for all the Voltaire-invoking platitudes about defending your right to say stuff I disagree with, I don't see people practicing it very often.

Posted by: Lefty at February 7, 2006 04:50 PM

Why are you not defending Dr. Frank's right to only complain about certain infringes on free speech? Hmmmm? Playing favorites, are we?

Posted by: chris riordan at February 7, 2006 04:58 PM

Because Dr Frank can defend himself, rather capably I might add.

Posted by: Lefty at February 7, 2006 05:01 PM

But he doesn't have the time to do it with the zest and conviction that his minions can. I think you missed my point, though: Just because you don't go berzerk everytime someone has been violated doesn't mean you support their violation. And, Josh made a good point. You do not have a constitutional right to attend the state of the union address. Being disruptive is being disruptive, the security gaurds will throw you out everytime regardless of your attire. It can even argued that Sheehan was infringing on George Bush's freedom of speech by trying to shout him down. I mean, I personally wouldn't waste my time arguing that, but it would be a valid position.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 7, 2006 05:15 PM

Check this picture out:


Bush was right: they do hate freedom!

Son of a bitch.

But seriously, I think this whole thing shows a fundamental misunderstanding between the West and Islamic world. Protestors are burning the Danish flag and attacking emabassies when they are mad about something the Danish government had no role in. It's as if there is no comprehension of independent media (and perhaps other organizations like corporations and NGOs) operating outside of government control. That might be a problem as we try to set up democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Posted by: buckeye bill at February 7, 2006 05:17 PM

I was prepared to extricate myself from this debate with my last post, but, darn it, you keep pulling me back in. Cindy Sheehan is incapable of infringing anyone's right to free speech. That's something only governments can do. That was my point all along.

And Cindy Sheehan wasn't the only person removed from the Capitol that night. Beverly Young, wife of Republican House member Bill Young, was also removed for wearing a "support the troops" shirt. I think both incidents are wrong. How's that for emulating Voltaire's ideals?

Posted by: Lefty at February 7, 2006 05:36 PM

Well, if we can grasp the concept of a theocracy and facism, why can't they at least understand the premise of democracy and free media? Are they stupid? Or craaaaaaazzzzzzzzyyyyy?

Posted by: chris riordan at February 7, 2006 05:39 PM

Lefty, do you have a link documenting your side of the Cindy Sheehan story? I would like to find out more about it.
As for governments being the only thing that can prevent free speech, you are wrong. They may be the only body you can APPEAL to, or are gauranteed to entitle you free speech, but pragmatically speaking anyone can infringe on another's right to anything. If I physically duct-taped your mouth shut, I would be infringing on your freedom of speech. Sure, I may have never given you the constitional right to free speech in the first place, so I am not violating my own rules and regulations. *But* I am certainly preventing you from saying what you want to say. That is what I was saying about Cindy Sheehan. Either people have a right to be heard or they don't. The law does indeed protect people from being censored by private people - you don't have a right to be published, but you have a right not be prevented from being published by a willing publisher.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 7, 2006 05:45 PM

cindy sheehan at the capitol was not about free speech, it was about a much more ominous violent element in our society: the fashion police. you don't wear a frickin' t-shirt to the state of the union address. a nice suit, maybe a cashmere twinset, a modest frock, traditional ethnic garb, etc. but t-shirts? that'll get you 86'd every time. duh.

Posted by: amber at February 7, 2006 06:55 PM

I think we're all in agreement here that Cindy Sheehan has the right to say whatever she wants to say - it certainly seems ridiculous that she could be dragged out of the Capital for a t-shirt, but I'm not sure about the specifics of the event and whatever rules they had about keeping the peace. I'm not saying I support such laws, but they're there, and while I may not like it when such laws are enforced, it's a very different category of review. Like the periodic cases of kids getting thrown out of school for t-shirts that say 'shit' or 'God is dead' or 'US Out of Vietnam' or whatever. Kids should be allowed to wear those shirts, but if the school has clear policies on such matters, then I won't go protest or start a blog to publicize such things - but this doesn't mean I support expulsion for edgy t-shits. You can put THAT on my tombstone.
But the cheap point scoring about 'why haven't you posted about Cindy Sheehan? You must not *really* care about freedom of speech,' is, I think you'd admit, not really fair or productive. But what can we expect from someone whose silence on the deplorable condition of Zimbabwe and the regime of Robert Mugabe is absolutely deafening?!?! How you can be a champion of free speech and tolerate Mugabe's out-and-out war against the free press and opposition parties is beyond me. :)

Chris, Lefty's right - only a government has the standing to block freedom of speech. If you come up to me and duct-tape my mouth shut, you've assaulted me, or you're just an asshole, but I can't sue you on constitutional grounds. I'd press criminal charges or sue you in civil court. You can't use the law to prevent my speech, you can only use threats of violence and/or duct-tape, all of which is already illegal. It may seem like hair-splitting, but it's not; or at least, there's an important distinction there that's worth preserving.

Posted by: marc w. at February 7, 2006 07:08 PM


I can't disagree with that. It was unfair to criticize Dr Frank for not posting something, and your Zimbabwe example illustrates that elegantly.

I have a lot of respect for you, Dr Frank, and I enjoy your take on things. Maybe since your "Shameful" post about Abu Ghraib I've just been hoping to read more from you that falls on "my" side of the political fence. Heaven knows there's enough absurdity to go around throughout the whole political spectrum. But, hey, this is your space and you can use it as you see fit.

Posted by: Lefty at February 7, 2006 07:29 PM

As much as I liked the expression "Lefty's right", I stick to my guns. Go back and read my original statement if you care to. I was never talking about legal distinctions. I said something along the lines of "one could argue that she was INFRINGING on bush's free speech by trying to shout him down." I never said you could take her to court for it.

Are any of us here, who are proponents of free speech, hot for free speech just because it is a government issued amendment? No. We support free speech because we agree with principle of it. My point was that if you are so adamant at everyone having the right to say what you want, shouting someone down to "infringe on their freedom of speech" shouldn't be acceptable, either.

Maybe using the word "infringe" was my mistake, as it connotates a legal argument. I should have said "She was fucking with his ability to express himself."

Some companies issue a gag-order on their employees. It's legal, but I don't think it's right. Like I said, it's not the law that makes us appreciate the freedom of expression, it's the practice of doing so.

I understand what you guys are saying, I'm just not sure you understand what I am saying. the ducttape analogy, again - you are disagreeing by citing laws. I'm talking about the pragmatic application of the duct tape. It is, by definition, preventing you from your freedom of speech. Your ability and right to speak has been violated, as well as other things, I agree... you may not have legal recourse on the "freedom of speech" thing, but are you really going to argue that the duct-tape didn't get in the way of your lip flapping?

Man I love being able to waste so much time arguing about things like this.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 7, 2006 09:54 PM

Wow, I guess Frank was right. I guess the Mohammad cartoons really were just an unbiased and objective expression of free speech. Indeed, refusing to publish such cartoons would effectively undermine this cornerstone of modern Western Civilization.

That is, unless you're talking Jesus......

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - The Danish newspaper that first published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad infuriating Muslims worldwide previously turned down cartoons of Jesus as too offensive, a cartoonist said on Wednesday.


This shows that the publishers of this paper are simply boldly lying when they frame this as a freedom of expression issue. Clearly, as the above article shows, these people aren't so libertarian in their views when someone does something to offend and humiliate their own culture.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 8, 2006 07:39 PM

See, the thing is, even biased and unobjective stuff falls in the free speech category. The notion that people should be allowed to publish whatever they want doesn't depend upon proving that this or that publisher is pure and good. It doesn't matter if they are "lying when they frame it as a freedom of expression issue." They could be terrible people with a horrible attitude. It *is* a freedom of expression issue, whatever they say or whatever their values are.

But you know that, clearly. You're free to ride your familiar hobby horse about Western hypocrisy wherever you like, and I don't mind when you ride it here, but your comments don't have too much to do with the topic in this case.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 8, 2006 07:54 PM


Damn, Dr. Frank is good at making people look stupid. I wish I was that good.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 8, 2006 08:15 PM

It's a good thing the Danish didn't use and Tom and Jerry/Itchy and Scratchy type cartoons. Not only would it give militant Muslims an excuse to be angry, but several new ways of violently expressing said anger.

I can't believe people have died over these.

They're not even that good. If you want to see some good, semi-offensive cartoons check out the galleries at Slate.

Posted by: Tim at February 8, 2006 10:21 PM

Don't sell yourself short. You've done an excellent job of making at least one person look stupid.

Posted by: Gantbot at February 8, 2006 10:51 PM

Frank, admit the Danish paper's editors are a bunch of prejudiced hypocritics and I will shake your hand and call it a day.

It's you who is distracting from the topic of conversation.

The issue is not whether this speech should be protected under actual or theoretical free speech laws. I have no quarrel with you that this is protected speech.

The issue is whether the Danish newspaper, and its imitators, are hypocritical for publishing offensive depictions of Mohammad while refusing to publish offensive depictions of Jesus.

If you're an honest person, the answer should be pretty clear.

By the way, if you ask me, these are the people who really hold the moral high ground and deserve our respect as libertarians.

French paper to print Iranian Holocaust cartoons

LONDON, February 9 (IranMania) - A French newspaper which reprinted the contentious caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed said it would also print cartoons on the Holocaust from a competition being organised by an Iranian daily, according to AFP.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 9, 2006 12:23 AM

Gantbot... thanks. El oh el! I've been going easy on Zaphod lately, though.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 9, 2006 12:35 AM

Arya, man, you are growing tiresome. In fact, I know you *want* the issue to be whether these particular editors are hypocrites or not. I do not think that's the issue. (And if they are hypocrites, then what? They deserve death?)

In fact, I don't care whether or not they're hypocrites, or bad people, or whatever. Maybe they are, maybe they're not. I don't see why you think you've scored some kind of point by noting that their editorial policy has been inconsistent. So what? They still should get to publish whatever they want. They are baiting some scary, scary people, so maybe it wasn't smart to do it. They could wind up dead. Other people are getting murdered on account of it. Salman Rushdie is lucky to be alive right now (and I bet he has hired a couple of extra bodyguards in the last week or so.) Theo van Gogh wasn't quite so careful or lucky. But whatever: ill-advised speech is still speech and if it's suppressed it's not free, by definition.

The point, as I see it, is: a group of fascistic extremists are trying to intimidate the press with threats of violence, not just in Denmark but throughout the world. I oppose that. It doesn't matter how good or bad a newspaper it might be, or whether the editors are inconsistent or hypocritical or bigoted. Maybe Theo van Gogh's film was "biased," and failed to show the Islamist side with sufficient deference. So what? He still didn't deserve to be stabbed through the heart. And the people of London don't deserve another 7/7 either, no matter what their newspapers may or may not publish. (And yeah, I know most Muslims are not murderous fascistic freakazoids - that was what you were going to say, right?: well, good for them. It's the murderous fascistic freakazoids who are the problem and you're not doing yourself or anyone any favors by tacitly defending them or their actions.)

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 9, 2006 04:44 AM

TOUCHE! Frank that was very well said.

Posted by: bobnash at February 9, 2006 05:25 AM

Frank, Frank, Frank: you keep changing the subject to what Muslims have done wrong. Fine. Muslims have done bad things.

But you take this incredible logical leap of concluding that, therefore, what the West does is okay, or that such wrongdoings are unique to Muslims.

That's whats so hypocritical and objectionable about what you write.

So the fanatical Ayatollah Khomeini threatened to kill Salman Rushdie for political reasons. So what?

Pat Robertson threatened to kill Hugo Chavez, a democratically elected head of state, for political reasons.

So some idiot Muslim killed Theo van Gogh for political reasons. So what?

Some idiot Christian European killed a member of the sikh faith, mistaking him for a Muslim, after 9/11 for political reasons.

You can mention bad things Muslims have done until you're blue in the face, and I will match you tit for tat with examples similar if not morally worse behavior in the West.

Point being, your Muslim bashing is unjustified and unwarranted, in the big picture. And this cartoon fiasco is just the latest chapter in your anti-Muslim crusade.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 9, 2006 06:40 AM

Don't be ridiculous.

And don't take this the wrong way, but I think you might have a couple of pages stuck together or something. I write "Islamist extremists" and somehow you read "all Muslims." So just to help you out, I'll write "Islamist extremists, and by that I mean only the extremist Islamists, and not all Muslims, but rather a much smaller subset of them, hence the term 'extremists.'" Yet somehow, you understand this to mean "all Muslims." Every single time. Without exception. (Let me try again: when I say "you might have a couple of pages stuck together," I mean you, only you, not all Iranian nationalists from Orange County.)

Similarly, I write: "most Muslims are *not* murderous, fascistic, freakazoids." You somehow manage to read it as "all Muslims *are* murderous, fascistic, freakazoids." (Hint: the "not" in my sentence makes the verb mean the opposite of what it would otherwise mean. I can see why you're confused. "Are" and "are not" sound quite similar. But in fact they have very different meanings.)

I stress the importance of free speech: to you, the letters in the words "the importance of free speech" on the page somehow seem to rearrange themselves so that they read, "the importance of saying bad things about Muslims." It's really quite something.

"And this cartoon fiasco is just the latest chapter in your anti-Muslim crusade." Yeah, it's all my fault!

You appear to have a reading comprehension problem, buddy.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 9, 2006 07:04 AM

The editors of the Danish papers are hypocrites by refusing to print offensive materials reliting to Jesus while printing offensive materials related to Muhammed if their reason for refusing to publish the Jesus cartoon is that:

1. it is wrong to publish offensive materials relating to the prophet of a major religion

2. it is wrong to publish material that is offensive to anyone.

They are not hypocrites if they refuse to publish the Jesus cartoon becuase:

1. they think it's just plain bad business.

2. they are personally offended by it, while they are not personally offended by the Muhammed cartoon.

3. Any number of other reasons

I don't get why your saying their hypocrites. Insensitive jerks, yes, but hypocrites not necessarily.

Posted by: josh at February 9, 2006 05:53 PM

Frank, maybe you if stopped referring to "Islamists," "murderous, fascistic, freakazoids," "the Arab world," "the Muslim world," and "your people" interchangeably, one could actually decipher who you intend to admonish.

And if you want to get personal with me, I advise you to check your sources for accuracy. Or better yet, perhaps you could just not even go there and keep this discussion to the merits of our respective arguments.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 9, 2006 06:45 PM

And, for the record, I don't think for a second that you (and those for whom you are an apologist) are sincere in your half-hearted attempts to distinguish all Muslims from just "the crazy" Muslims.

It is more than obvious from your posts, and not just those in this thread, that you have a disdain for Muslims, their religion, and their culture.

Why don't you just come out and say so?

Like her:

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has called on the country "to show our opposition to Islam."


Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 9, 2006 07:06 PM


Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 9, 2006 07:34 PM

If y'all would like to see some cartoons that I drew about Arya's crazy worldview where murder is 100% justifiable as long as you can prove that you were upset at someone, go to: www.aryamehrskindaretarded.net

Up to 59 comments. Is that the new What's It record?

PS. www.aryamehrskindaretarded.net doesn't actually exist yet.

Posted by: Tim at February 9, 2006 10:47 PM

Actually, Tim, a few of the incredibly half-hearted bias hypocritic kazaa-bashing posts from last year managed to break 100.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 9, 2006 11:39 PM

I remember that now. I stayed out of those for the most part 'cause I didn't think I had anything important to add. Now, I realize that my worthless opinion is just as valid as nearly everybody else's here so I tend to spout off more.

I won't be stopped.

Piracy is bad. Bombs are bad. That's bold, I know.

Posted by: Tim at February 10, 2006 12:14 AM

Arya, thinking about it, I suppose your last comment clears up why arguing with you is so unproductive: your comments are composed not in response to what I have written, but rather in reaction to what you imagine I must have secretly meant, based on your unfavorable assessment of my character. That's a recipe for chaos and noncommunication (and I really doubt that method works any better in Law than in blog commentary) but it is certainly your choice if it's something you enjoy doing. (But why do you bother? I don't get that many page views. You'd do better using your Ouija board on a bigger fish, I should have thought.)

As for the "merits" of your argument, though: you appear to be the only person here who is confused by the term "Islamist." You're also the only one between the two of us who is interested in framing the cartoon issue (or any other issue) as a Clash of Civilizations where the ultimate answer lies in a global, universal, total, historical, existential, and moral assessment of the essential worth of Western Civilization relative to any other. Which culture, in any, holds the "moral high ground" in an absolute sense is a contentless and uninteresting question. I didn't ask it, and still less have I pretended to be able to answer it. But you have imposed it, for what I must assume are personal, psychological reasons of your own.

My point isn't even an argument. It's merely an observation. Freedom of the press is an important liberal value. Those who attack or try to undermine liberalism through threats of violence and by actual violence are dangerous and ought to be opposed by those who value liberalism. (And, as an aside, when in Europe I like to eat Danish bacon.) These enemies of the open society would include brown shirts, black shirts, Bolsheviks, Maoists/Marxist-Leninists, skinheads - you know the sort of thing I'm talking about. It is a common 20th Century (and now 21st Century) phenomenon. In this particular instance the intimidation is being stirred up by Islamist radicals. Of course, you alone know that what I *really* mean by that is that "all Muslims are bad." But fortunately, most people do not have your superior powers of intuition, and are fooled by the plain meaning, which cloaks the darker meaning, and which has the diabolical, seductive benefit of being literally, empirically true - unless you know the secret. No wonder everyone but you is needlessly worried about terrorism and extremist violence! (OK, I know irony has confused you before, so I guess I have to say: that was a joke. In fact, literally, empirically true means more or less "actually true" in most practical situations by my reckoning, if not by yours.)

Your "argument," if I have it right, is that criticism of such anti-liberal activities is always inappropriate because over the course of history, and in our own backyard, others have also engaged in anti-liberal activities. But such is always the case. There is little value in pointing it out and zero value in pointing it out more than once, as it is completely, sand-poundingly obvious. This is the reason we have the term "liberal," i.e., to distinguish things that fall into that category from the things that do not. Citing examples of similar illiberal actions or rhetoric on the part of others can be interesting, instructive, even clarifying as a sort of "side-bar" or footnote; but it doesn't mean, as you seem to believe it does, that the original to the counterexample does not exist, or presents less of a threat, or ought not to be commented upon. To use your own example, the fact that Pat Robertson said some weird stuff about Hugo Chavez doesn't mean Salman Rushdie can suddenly dispense with his bodyguards. The fact that there are other examples of death threats and intimidation out there in the world doesn't make Rushdie's death sentence any less a cause for concern. The fact that the West produced Nazis doesn't mean we shouldn't worry about the emergence of other sorts of Nazi.

Your other point, or rather, tendency, is the less obviously banal but equally suspect practice of imagining that hypocrisy (in the broad sense in which you use it, which appears to include any and every sort of inconsistency) is always de facto proof of ill will, bigotry, or malfeasance. Such a standard would disqualify approximately 100% of humanity from engaging in discussion or comment on anything. The world is more complicated than that, history is more complicated than that, the human soul is more complicated than that. But I am perfectly willing and eager to appreciate and celebrate the merits of those "activists" who do not want to stifle the press or blow me up. The ones who do, I admit, have a few points against them in my good books.

Posted by: Dr. Frank at February 10, 2006 02:46 AM

As long as we're playing amateur psychologist, I would speculate that one of the main causes of Mr. University's confusion (or world view) is his constant personification of cultures. He keeps saying the West believes or the Muslim community believes. Nevermind the fact that both groups are a sort of loosely defined extremely heterogeneous collection of individuals which may when viewed from afar look like a cohesive ordered whole. I imagine Mr. University subscribes to one of those philosophies in which we are all culturally brainwashed and therefore, we can not even know what we ourselves believe. That whole "racism is so deeply ingrained in our society" BS. You may think you don't hate Muslims but really you do. What the hell does that mean? Do I really hate Muslims? Do I really like potato chips? Does Cher really have good singing voice? I guess I need to find some genius who can seem behind the curtain to sort this all out for me.

I thought nonsense was a fine way to end this thread, but seeing as AU is obviously going to respond to your last post...

P.S. "While sales are down, more music is being produced and heard than ever before in history."

From a consumer sovereignity stand point Kazaa freakin' rules. I leave the ethics up to those who believe in ethics.

Posted by: josh at February 10, 2006 01:40 PM

Is kazzaa still working? I have a lot of music I purchased the "right" way but I can't listen to because my mom never taught me how to take care of my things and all my old cds are scratched beyong comprehension. im always looking for a way to replace me shit. i dont pirate new stuff simply because i have no interest in new stuff. i found about 200 artists who make music i like already, thats more than enough to occupy my tieme adnd harddrive.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 10, 2006 04:04 PM


If your position is that second guessing someone's motives and assessing their unstated biases is nothing more than "imagining" what they mean, then you should be consistent in your application of this principle.

For example, when I suggested the Danish paper's editorial staff was being hypocritical and unacceptably biased, you accused me of defending "torching embassies and threatening murder" and opposing freedom of the press as "an important liberal value."

In fact, I never made any such statements. Nor do I support any of the above views which you have wrongly attributed to me.

Notwithstanding the fact that you have been inconsistent in this regard, if you are proposing that we not resort to rhetorical posturing and making unfounded personal accusations against one another in future discussions, I accept your proposal.

I will not infer that you are racist, unless you say you are one. You will not infer that I advocate murdering innocent people, or oppose freedom, unless I say do.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 11, 2006 04:51 AM

There you go trying to curtail free speecg again.

Posted by: chris riordan at February 11, 2006 09:56 AM

Aryamehr is the only reasonable excuse to justify Bush's illegal wiretapping program.

I hope somebody shows up at his house soon to check under the floorboards for bomb-making materials.

Posted by: Tim at February 11, 2006 09:21 PM

"Life and liberty can be as much endangered from illegal methods used to convict those thought to be criminals as from the actual criminals themselves."

Earl Warren

Posted by: Aryamehr University at February 12, 2006 01:11 AM

I don't necessarily want to see you convicted of anything. I'm just concerned about what it is that you're building in your basement and if it's going to hurt me.

Posted by: Tim at February 12, 2006 05:12 PM

have we really said all there is to be said about this danish flag?

Posted by: chris riordan at February 15, 2006 01:19 AM