Monday, August 2, 2010

Something Familiar Someone Else Said

"The New York Times front page story today on opposition to the mosque near Ground Zero has the following comments:

--The mosque would be an "unnecessary provocation." (Sarah Palin)

--"It’s not about religion, and is clearly an aggressive act that is offensive.” (Newt Gingrich)

--Abe Foxman said in an interview on Friday that the organization came to the conclusion that the location was offensive to families of victims of Sept. 11.

Are these not the exact same sentiments that were voiced by people who thought that Salman Rushdie should not have published The Satanic Verses, and that Danish newspapers should not have run cartoons featuring The Prophet Muhammad? The idea that people have some sort of right not to be offended is one the many silly and pernicious things about these arguments." -Isaac Chotiner, The New Republic.

"Nobody in this world has a right not to be offended." -yours truly, in defense of my participation in Everybody Draw Mohammed Day earlier this year. And I still stand by it.


Leslie Parsley said...

The ADL is coming out against building the Mosque.


EUROman said...

Regarding the sentiments of those who are highly offended and think the mosque shouldn't be built, the ancestor of my local priest slew one of my ancestors so I'm very offended that he gets to keep his position because of something a person that is very loosely connected to him did.

magpie said...

Murder is offensive. Rape is offensive. Wanton destruction is offensive.
Telling a little girl that her lollipop is made of shit and no-one will ever want her is offensive.

Try telling someone who lost someone on 9/11 who is offended that they have no right to not be offended just because you say so.

Let me piss on this Chotiner clown and see if he still agrees he has no right to not be offended.

It's a ridiculous moral position, JBW.

EUROman said...

As said in the earlier post on this, it's not on ground zero it's two blocks away, you cant see GZ from where mosque is going to be build and it's not just a mosque, it's a community center with a pool, an auditorium and a restaurant.

EUROman said...

and I wasn't saying they didn't have a right to be offended, I was saying that they shouldn't take it out on the religion of Islam by forbiding from building mosques, because of something some brainwashed radicals did.

JBW said...

If the only way for those people not to be offended is to curtail another person's civil rights than they indeed do not have that right, magpie. You may find my making fun of someone else's religion to be in bad taste but censoring me just because some people don't like what I'm saying is a much more egregious offense. Nobody has that right.

Anonymous said...

I really wish I could have an opinion on any of this (if the mosque were actually ON ground zero, that is), but I see both sides.

JBW said...

Allah knows I'm no fan of organized religions one L but I do believe that freedom of religion or lack thereof is a fundamental right in this country and should not be denied to anyone just because they share the same religion as a few crazed fanatics. The right wing opposition to this mosque smacks of intolerance and prejudice, which is ironically something they share with those same crazed fanatics. I just want the constitution to be applied fairly to all Americans, regardless of their religious beliefs.

magpie said...

I understand the freedom of religion principle, although I draw the line at women getting stoned for adultery or old bastards having 20 underage wives... it's the "no one has the right not to be offended" thing I can't go with - as we've debated before at length. If we down that route then hate crime and incitement will be unfettered and people will have no legal protection or recourse at all.

JBW said...

I too draw the line at impinging on the freedom of others as it relates to freedom of religion magpie, but where do you draw it for everything else? Would you create speech codes? Muslims don't like it when you depict Mohammed and Christians don't like it when when an Easter Bunny births bloody Jesus eggs, do you outlaw those depictions? And who decides what's acceptable for everyone else?

As to hate crimes, I disagree with hate crime legislation. A crime is a crime, regardless of the motivation for it. I just don't see how you would redress any complaints of offense. How would you punish or censor people like myself who say or write unpopular speech? Because that's where this line of thought would take us. I just don't think you can do that and maintain a free society. Some people are always going to be offended by something and I don't think the rest of society should have to change just to accommodate them. I don't believe they have that right.

magpie said...

Then we'll never agree on this, because I believe hate crime legislation is a watershed in how serious a society is about tolerance and inclusion. Eventually a society may get to a point where it's not needed, but it has to start somewhere. When a country, via its democratically elected government, declares that bigotry is not acceptable and commits to protect its citizens from bigotry - the same as it commits to protect them from slander, theft, sexual harassment, murder, terrorism, foreign invasion, copyright infringement... you name it - then you have made a statement of what kind of country it is you want.

I recall Cenk Uyger making the comment about torture "This is America - now that's meant to mean something"
Well does it or doesn't it?

"Unpopular" is not the same as "bigoted". "I don't like it" is quite different to "this could lead to someone killing me for how I look".

You can't stop someone from saying "kill fags" in their living room, no. You can make it a crime for someone to say it in a public auditorium to a bunch of goose-stepping jerks - any one of whom might get 'inspired'.

You make a speech that says no sport should be played on Sundays... I guarantee it will be unpopular, but no-one is going to be coming for you.
You make a speech that says black people should be neutered... I guarantee someone will be coming for you, and I would really rather it was the authorities.

JBW, this is where you come full circle and end up in the same myth-space that AmPow inhabits. "I don't think the rest of society should have to change just to accommodate" could be a Rush Limbaugh sound bite. You speak as if the government and the law is some horrible catalyst for tyranny, and you've adopted a simplistic philosophical absolutism that will not, WILL NOT, stand the test of the real and complex world, where there are real people who hurt and die, for real.

If the rest of society has to change so that Jews don't have to suffer swastikas spray-painted on their homes, or Mexicans don't have to be called disease-bringers, or gays don't have to have be afraid to take a bus... then I'm perfectly fine to have society change so that doesn't happen. And you should be too.

JBW said...

Indeed we won't, because I believe that hate crime legislation is politically correct bullshit meant to appease people who can't stand to have their feelings hurt, magpie. Slander, theft, sexual harassment, murder, terrorism, foreign invasion, and copyright infringement are all things that have been shown to cause direct harm to another person. Bigotry (which I hate, by the way) is merely an unpopular opinion. If someone acts upon that opinion then I support prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law, but only then.

And yes, they're not the same but they deserve the same protection. "This could lead to someone killing me for how I look..." should lead to the same thing no matter who does it for whatever reason: a murder trial. "I killed Billy because I hate fags" should require the exact same defense as "I killed Billy because I hate him". Billy's still dead.

If one of those goose-stepping morons in that auditorium kills Billy as a result of that speech then it's his crime and he owns it. With what crime would you charge the speaker? Which brings me back to the question you ignored in my last comment: would you create speech codes? How would you punish or censor people like myself who say or write unpopular speech? And who should decide such things?

"You make a speech that says black people should be neutered... I guarantee someone will be coming for you, and I would really rather it was the authorities." Would you make it illegal for me to say that? Not that I would but I think I should have the right to. Haters will always exist and they'll always say hateful things but I'm extraordinarily uncomfortable with my government deciding what's lawful to say and what's not.

Saying "I don't think the rest of society should have to change just to accommodate..." is a fairly innocuous statement; what follows that is what should concern you. And the government and the law can definitely be some horrible catalyst for tyranny. Read your history: government and law are the precursors to most tyranny on the planet. Now I'm of course not saying that A leads to B, just that B usually doesn't happen without A.

I realize that the real world is a complex place. That's why I'm extremely conservative (and I use that word in its original meaning, not that of Republicans) in giving my government the kind of power over its people you're suggesting because people run governments and people are oftentimes selfish and stupid. I know very few people I would trust to write speech codes for the citizenry. What about you?

We already have plenty of laws that protect Jews from suffering swastikas spray painted on their homes and gays when they're taking the bus, I just don't think we need laws against saying that Mexicans are disease-bringers. Yes, it's a horrible thing to say and obviously not true but I still think you should have the right to say it. So, what speech would you outlaw and what penalties would you enact for doing so? My first amendment rights and I are just curious...

magpie said...

“Bigotry (which I hate, by the way) is merely an unpopular opinion. If someone acts upon that opinion then I support prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law, but only then.”

No bigotry is not “merely an unpopular opinion”. That is where you are fundamentally wrong. Bigotry is psychological violence.

So you’d see a mob heading toward a synagogue chanting “kill the Jews “ and you’d champion the thug’s rights - while their targets shake in sheer freaking terror, just as they did in the Warsaw ghetto and elsewhere - and then wait for someone to die before you’d do anything.
Or you’re perfectly okay with a teen student going to school and home everyday to the jeering chorus of “nigger fag”, or whatever, and if his feelings are hurt, then you say "so what?". After all, what have "hurt feelings" ever led to, except a little suicide ?

Everyone responsible for what they do, except incitement, verbal bullying, systematic humiliation, degradation of other human beings?
JBW, the world is full of depressed idiots who fantasize about gunning down buildings full of people in the name of some irrational rage, and there are very ruthless people willing to tap into that, to cultivate it, in the warped hope that it somehow furthers their own aims.

As to all your questions about who should prosecute and how.... I’m not terribly familiar with the term “speech code”, sorry, to my knowledge we don't have them here. Laws vary here by state. Federally it is thus: http://scaletext.law.gov.au/html/comact/9/4573/0/CM000080.htm

Hate crime legislation takes many forms. The most common is penalty enhancement, wherein there is an added penalty on pre-existing offenses if the crime is motivated or aggravated by hate based on race, religion, sexual orientation or other attributes. The UK has had laws against incitement of racially based prejudice for over 50 years.

You've interpreted it narrowly to mean "I can't say", because you have an irrational fear of imminent police state, which is ludicrous for the most part, and of much diminished possibility anyhow now you've kicked the GOP out.

And no-one can stop you from 'saying'. I don't give a rat's arse if you're some moonshine-addled hick talking garbage to the wind. But you should be able to be brought before the law if you propagate it with a deliberate intent to inflict damage. Similarly to if you were dealing in child porn.

"Would you make it illegal for me to say that?" (about neutering black people)
Yes I would make illegal for you to propagate material that advocated this.

“Read your history: government and law are the precursors to most tyranny on the planet”
I have read my history, your history and lot of other history, and that statement is a gross perversion of the truth, and a fantasy of government conspiracy.
Thuggery and hate are the precursors to tyranny. Exactly what you’d get if your Right-wing militias - whom I assume you don’t like, and some of whom are openly racist - had their way.