• jorndoe
    Blasphemy law by the backdoor
    Fraser Myers
    Oct 2018

    Muhammad died some 1386 years ago as of typing.
    A blasphemy law can't change the past.
    And now quarreling about it will be illegal according to the European Court of Human Rights?
    It's not like a law somehow can do away with the truth of things.
    Slippery slope.

    More importantly, what's your take on the topic?
  • tim wood
    Being American, and having got an understanding of what that means in my bones, I say freedom of expression, of speech, period! Anything less is a different, darker, deeper problem. Caveat, an American understands he cannot shout "Fire!" in a theater unless there is a fire. Comprised within these two principles is the whole substance of the matter. Say what you will. If it causes trouble, you may be subject to penalties for causing the trouble. On the other hand, cause trouble because someone said something, and you will be in trouble. The rest is details and adjudication.

    Calling Muhammed a pedophile seems deliberately offensive and consciously provocative. But as such, the matter concerns individuals, speaker and auditor. Resultant violence, if any, is the proper and only concern of government.

    But there is a movement towards defining a category of speech as hate speech and criminalizing it, and I find this very problematic. Imo, it should be resisted. Let government punish the violent, in such ways as make clear to all that violence is intolerable. This being a distinction between hate speech, which really speaks to the speaker, and hate violence, which belongs to the violent.
  • DingoJones
    ffensive and consciously provocative. But as such, the matter concerns individuals, speaker and auditor. Resultant violence, if any, is the proper and only concern of government.tim wood

    Well, Muhammad WAS a pedophile. Married and had sex with a 9 year old. If its the truth, it should be fair game to talk about and criticise.
    I agree with you on free speech, which is under attack in the western world. A survey of young people in the US stated that somethung like 45% of them didnt care about a persons right to free speech. Ming boggling.
    The european hate speech laws are nuts. If someone is a racist or something, we should let them soeak loud and proud do we know who they are. Restricting thier ability to speak thier tacist views just changes where they say it, frommwhere we can see them to where we cant. That henerally makes such views stronger not weaker. Out intne open, they will be chsllenged and educated. In the shadows, it just begets itself.
  • unenlightened
    If the religious hate blasphemy, then blasphemy is hate speech? Perhaps not. But the law is against hate speech, not blasphemy. It is a slippery slope, because it is a matter of tone and intent as much as of fact. But my understanding is that hate speech is not speech that someone hates, but speech that incites the hearer to hate a third party, rather than the speaker. So the question is whether calling Muhammad a paedophile is inciting hatred against Muslims, not whether Muslims hate you for saying it.

    Where the water get's muddier is that one might be playing troll, inciting Muslims to retaliate and thereby get them to incite others to hatred. Oh what a tangled web... but we know how to deal with trolls round here, don't we?
  • tim wood
    Well, Muhammad WAS a pedophile.DingoJones
    Under which king? You and I might not approve, but as we're about 1400 years after the fact, I'm not sure our approval or disapproval has any significance or meaning - or is even correct. But it does to people alive now, though, and as such it's not a matter of the fact of the matter, but how they regard it. We just have to decide if we care how they regard it.
  • DingoJones

    Regardless, it shouldnt be off limits to criticise. Just like everything else.
  • tim wood
    Well, there are matters of taste and appropriateness and purpose. But, agreed. The point I'm on, though, is that government pretty much stay out of the discussion until and unless government has a strong and compelling interest to enter.

    The American right of free speech is contained in the first amendment to the Constitution, viz, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

    You're protected in your ability to speak, not from consequences therefrom. I believe this differs from English law, wherein you can be restrained from speaking (subject to correction).
  • Wayfarer
    I was criticized on this forum several years back because I suggested that the jailing of the Christian Governor of Jakarta, Ahok, on blasphemy charges arising from comments he made while on the campaign trail, indicated there was a genuine conflict between Islam and democratic government, in Indonesia. I think such a view is basically regarded as racist (although it should be noted that as of this date, Ahok remains in jail.)

    The question I raised was about the paradox involved in extending the principle of liberal equality to a culture which doesn't itself recognise such principles.

    There was a related debate about the overall tension between liberal social values and Islamic culture, during which time I cited an article in the NY Times by a Muslim commentator on the question Is Free Speech Good for Muslims?

    The deeper problem is that Islam, as a legal and moral tradition, developed at a time when the world was a very different place. There was a very limited concept of individual freedom, as people lived in strictly defined communities. There were no notions of international law, universal human rights, the secular state or freedom of religion. Moreover, Muslims were often the dominant faith, making the rules to their advantage — such as tolerating non-Muslims as “protected” but inferior communities.

    That premodern world is long gone. There is now an increasingly diverse world where boundaries fade, cultures meet and individuals roam. And the forces that try to reverse this trend — liberal globalization — are often the very forces that despise Islam and threaten Muslims.
    — Mustafa Akyol

    On the other hand, I have little sympathy for those who simply want to mock, belittle, and ridicule religious icons because they can, and because it makes a point about the fact that they can. Actually I remember one of the Biblical verses that was monotonously intoned at almost every thrice-weekly chapel service I was sent to at school:

    Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. — Romans 13:1-7

    My bolds. I think such an approach would at least allow Christians to co-exist with Muslims - as they have done, at various times in history - but there's nothing obviously corresponding to such a principle in the post-Christian west. After all, if 'religion' has no meaning, then neither can 'blasphemy'.

    I don't think there is any way of squaring this particular circle.
  • tim wood
    In college, a young Muslim student of engineering, an acquaintance, in the way many people in schools are acquainted with each other, explained to me that he could be my friend, but if there were a jihad, he would have no choice but to kill me, as a non-Muslim.

    To be brief, the only reasonable conclusion is that maybe you can reason sometimes with Islam, but mainly not. Islam isn't reasonable; nor is there in aspects of Islam, reason.

    Perhaps this just reflects the approximately 600 years head start that Christianity had, because Christians in the past were themselves sometimes a nasty bunch, and in some cases still are. Maybe Islam awaits its Jesus - we can hope. Meanwhile, vigilance against an expressly hostile, irrational, and murderous element of a religion that apparently will not gainsay that element. .
  • jorndoe
    Anyone see the verbiage used about Trump, and he's alive? :)
    Anyone is free to defend Muhammad (and Trump), using the same thing: free speech.
    Jerks can be ignored or told off with more of the same still.

    As an aside, I know some lovely Muslims personally, though I suppose they're fairly moderate.
    As another aside, my angle is European, and from a heavily freedom of expression oriented region; it's not a homogeneous sentiment throughout.

    I was criticized on this forum several years back because [...]Wayfarer

    Most can be criticized one way or another (weaker or stronger or whatever).
    It's more free speech. ;)
  • Bitter Crank

    Back door or front door: I am against having blasphemy laws in any shape, manner, or form.

    There are rules of etiquette instructing us to be nice to other people with whom we do not agree. Such rules are generally not a bad idea, and most people are capable of following them. But etiquette is best left a suggestion to follow, rather than made into a law to obey.

    Perhaps this just reflects the approximately 600 years head start that Christianity had, because Christians in the past were themselves sometimes a nasty bunch, and in some cases still are.tim wood

    The thing about "received religions" like Christianity and Islam is that their founding documents are "revelation by god himself". If god said it, who are you to mock it? We should, of course, punish you most severely for offending god (like god can't take care of himself without our help?).

    Christianity isn't 600 years ahead; Islam just hasn't digested the modern age, now a few hundred years in the making. Secularism gives Christianity indigestion, but at least we got over burning heretics at the stake some while back.
  • LD Saunders
    I agree with the First Amendment law in the USA. I can say, perfectly within my legal rights as an American, that Muhammad did not even exist as a real historical person, and that, if he did, since he is allegedly a man who married a six-year-old, fondled her, and then had full sexual intercourse with her at the age of nine, that he would have been a child-rapist had he actually existed and the story about him was true. That's not illegal in any way. I can even state that Muslims worship a child-rapist as an alleged prophet. Still perfectly legal. What I can't do is say, "look, there is a Muslim, let's kick his ass." That statement incites violence, immediately, and falls outside the protections of the First Amendment. But, I could even say, in general, we should kick Muslims because they worship a child-molester, and that's also perfectly legal.

    Now, certainly some of these statements may be offensive to many people, but we can't possibly have free speech if any speech that is found offensive is banned. We couldn't even have science, as many scientific statements are found offensive by various people.

    That being said, I do think that people trying to make a point without being unduly offensive are better than the people who go out of their way to anger people.
  • tim wood
    Still perfectly legal. What I can't do is say, "look, there is a Muslim, let's kick his ass." That statement incites violence, immediately, and falls outside the protections of the First Amendment.LD Saunders
    Actually, you can. It's a grey area. The idea is that the speech is protected. The consequences of speech aren't. If you say, "Let's beat up that guy!" And guys are being beaten up, and your guy is beaten up, then it's a fair chance your speech isn't protected.

    But there are categories of speech ("speech") that are not protected, such as obscenity, fighting words, libel and slander, inciting to riot, seditious speech, and others. Also important is the protected from. It all sounds simple but it isn't; no one should think it is. The safe ground is political speech - protecting that was the original point. For the rest, at the edges it can get complicated.
  • LD Saunders
    Tim Wood: As I recall from law school there is no First Amendment protection for speech that may insight imminent harm --- meaning an immediate assault. Now, whether or not such speech is criminal will depend upon the specific state or municipal ordinances involved, but, the First Amendment no longer bans any law making such speech criminal. I can say, in general, that we should murder all gays, and that's protected, but the moment I say anything calling for the immediate act of violence against gays, no longer has any First Amendment protection. Actually, in speaking of state laws, it is the First and Fourteenth Amendments that protect speech, as the First Amendment is only applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause.
  • Hallucinogen
    I think there's very little to discuss here.
    Revamped blasphemy laws in the forms of public order offences are now widespread, and they de facto favour the most intolerant and violent, large groups people. Namely, they favour any religion large enough to cause trouble, and they were written and are being enforced because there exist worshippers of religion to follow through with their threats of violence.
    The only point at which this situation will reverse is when Europeans who are not favoured by said public order offence laws start getting violent in response to it.
  • tim wood
    I yield to Mr. Saunders.
  • DiegoT
    burning heretics wasn´t something Modernity eventually did with. Burning heretics was a consequence of Modernity. Modern printing allowed the bible and all kind of texts to become cheap and escape any control. This brought about an era of darkness of the mind, not just enlightenment. In the South of Europe, where the corrupt Church was still very strong, burning at the stake was very rare in comparison with the Protestant Europe, keen on developing new book cults. Consider for example, how the Spanish Inquisition burnt 28 witches, which is really nothing compared with the hundreds of thousands killed in Northern Europe during the same period.
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