It’s not the first time this punchline has been used, and it probably won’t be the last.

The story behind the problematic new definition of Islamophobia is here.

Discussion (26)¬

  1. Anonymous says:

    Those people that you’re not allowed to criticise are your true masters

  2. Laripu says:

    To be clear, “not allowed to criticize” means that mere criticism is met with legal penalties.

    When those who are criticized loudly complain about the criticism, that’s their right and their freedom of speech, not a legal penalty.

    Also, there is actual hate speech that goes far beyond mere criticism. It incites hate unduly. Often you’ll know it when you see it or hear it, but it is hard to define, and context is important. Here’s how:

    Burning something on someone’s lawn may be trespass and arson; but if the thing being burnt is a large wooden cross, and it is being burnt on the lawn of an American Black or Jewish family, then the context lets us know that it isn’t merely arson, but a KKK-style hate crime. The underlying crime is there and the motive makes it worse.

    Stating obvious facts out of context can also be used to incite hatred. You can find horrible things in religions and trumpet them, but if 99.9% of believers in that faith don’t do those things, it’s likely that the trumpeter is trying to incite hatred. You can fix it by adding the context: instead of “Muslims spread Islam by the sword and context”, it can be “Muslims ice spread Islam by the sword and context”, but mostly don’t today, except for fanatics like ISIS and their ilk.

    Now do and sin no more… And especially no Inquisitions, please. 🙂

  3. Laripu says:

    It should have been “Muslims once spread Islam by the sword, but mostly don’t today, except for fanatics like ISIS and their ilk”. The software didn’t allow me to edit.

  4. HelenaHandbasket says:

    Laripu, How would you assess a statement like “Most muslims survyed in the UK think homosexuality should be banned”? Is that a “hate crime”?
    Is pointing out that Owen Jones is an eejit twisting himself into increasingly silly knots in trying to avoid the implications of this, a hate crime? Is laughing at him while he does it a hate crime?
    I’ve had self-described feminists tell me, with straight faces, that opposition to FGM or Burkhas is a hate crime–on MY part? So, lets just admit that maybe the criminal law isnt the best place to go to regulate general civil conduct?

  5. I consider myself a free speech absolutist. Trying to define what should or should not be allowed as criticism of any group is fraught with peril. For me the line that shan’t be crossed is: All (fill in the group name) deserve to be/should be killed.

    It’s tempting to try to include misinformation that would lead to this conclusion in this line. “Jew eat Christian babies in their rituals” surely counts as advocating death to Jews. Personally I would like to see those making such statements refuted and denied any public platform, but not subject to legal sanctions. Lunatics are welcome to climb on to their soap box on any corner and exercise their free speech. We don’t have to give them space in newspapers, or on Internet servers.

    The main problem with laws against such statements, is that there are truly horrible things being done in this world by any number of groups. To deny people the right to say this is not healthy.

  6. M27Holts says:

    Like I said elsewhere. This was an attempt to get a blasphemy law back on the statute of law in the UK. I worked with a muslim geezer who told me that rock music was the work of the devil and should be banned by law. He was serious. Obviously any fan of such music is a satanist and can be executed under sharia law…is that not hate crime???

  7. two cents' worth says:

    O Author, shouldn’t J’s bubble in the first panel have “the” after “I’ve”?

    This cartoon reminds me about arguments in the USA about libel laws–another point in the debates about fake news. Trump wants to “tighten” the laws, but an uncomplimentary statement isn’t libel if it’s true.

  8. M27Holts says:

    And the birmingham LGBT hoo-har. The BBC programme hosted by the extremely attractive Victoria Derbyshire, allowed a muslim opponent to express that homosexuality is definately outlawed by Allah. Now our vic would have torn a strip off a xtian expressing homophobic bias on the BBC, but her fear of being dubbed a racist or islamaphobe gave her no choice but to tolerate his intolerance. Its the thin end of the wedge…

  9. Donn says:

    Could someone explain the practical consequences?

    It’s a word. I’m a bit arachnophobic myself, but it isn’t really pathological I think. Given some of the facts, a sane person can be excused for some degree of islamophobia.

    But the article linked above makes a case for civil liberty. Are there proposed penalties for islamophobia? I see Laripu got to that above, and then HelenaHandbasket’s response seems to confirm that we’re talking about legally prohibited speech? Just wanted to get this clear, as here on the other side of the world we don’t always have the complete context.

  10. Author says:

    Thanks, tcw. Fixed it.

  11. jb says:

    Hate speech is speech that somebody hates. It’s the only sort of speech that needs to be protected! If nobody hates what you are saying, then nobody will try to punish you for saying it.

    Shouting “fire” in a crowded theater is something different. There is no necessary connection to “hate”, but there are clear and immediate dangerous consequences. What hate speech ideologues do is conflate the two, insisting that the speech they hate is so immediately dangerous that it must be silenced. This is just a pretext; any speech can be characterized this way. But when even a relatively small minority of the population signs on and starts shouting “hate” in unison it becomes a very effective technique for imposing censorship on a society that nominally protects free speech.

  12. Donn says:

    That seems a little idealistic concerning the workings of social groups. If people were eminently rational, then it wouldn’t matter, but they’re anything but, and it does. The problem is aggravated when the hate speech is false, as it almost always is to some extent. The dangerous consequences are indeed clear and sufficiently immediate.

  13. CliffB says:

    Donn, the so-called definition (“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Moslemness or perceived Moslemness”) has several problems:

    (a) it is merely a claim about Islamophobia, not a definition (which is pretty fundamental).

    (b) its assertions are unsupported in logic. I don’t care if a Moslem is a white convert, an Arab, an Pakistani or an African; it is their beliefs that are so incompatible with secular western democracy and so dislikeable.

    (c) seeks to prevent criticism (by deeming them racist) of outward manifestations of ‘Moslemness’ such as wearing the veil, seeking to make homosexuality illegal, infant circumcision, FGM, indoctrination of children into the religion

    (d) would even prevent Moslems from criticising Islam.

    It is an attempt to set Islam up on an untouchable pedestal, and to give it rights that no other superstitious belief has in Britain.

  14. Laripu says:

    Hi HelenaHandbasket. The stuff about Muslims and gays. It could be hate speech (not necessarily a hate crime, but possibly). It depends on whether it’s a simple opinion, or whether it incites others to commit crimes. Obviously the quietly expressed opinion that “homosexuality is a sin” is not hate speech, just stupid speech. Put it into another context, with yelling and exhortations to “put the kafir to the sword!” or something like that, is definitely hate speech. Like I said, it’s all about context. The sentence itself may be anything, on its own, context gives it meaning.

    You might hear someone say “kill all the blacks!” Maybe you didn’t hear the context: “That KKK grand wizard yelled ‘kill all the blacks!'”

    I don’t know anything about Owen Jones. Sounds like another idiot.

    The feminists that tell you that opposition to FGM or Burkhas is a hate crime on your part are idiots. You don’t owe them anything. Ignore the twits.

    In the Canadian province of Quebec, they’ve passed a law that anyone hired into a government job cannot wear visible religious symbols or garb. That includes civil servants, police and teachers. If you were hired before the law went into effect, you can continue to wear that stuff, but in order to get promoted into another job you will need to stop wearing it. It includes crosses, stars of David, burkas, Sikh turbans etc. It doesn’t include tattoos, and they won’t search for hidden religious symbols.


  15. Donn says:

    The way I think we understand “hate speech” here, it certainly includes “simple opinions”, and they don’t have to be on the order of “Jews eat Christian babies.” The best defense, in my opinion, lies whether it’s true. If it’s unambiguously true – if these unwholesome qualities really are inherent in Islam – there will still be some controversy, but I think you can expect to have rational people on your side.

    The problem is here that the claims are mostly not unambiguously true. According to what I can casually dig up here, for example, Islam does not call for female genital mutilation. Inconveniently, it does seem to be practically universally correlated, across a pretty wide range of cultures, so there’s apparently a difference between practice and principle, but it’s an intellectually legitimate defense that Islam itself follows western culture in this area and your Muslim neighbors might claim to be exempt from this charge.

    There might be a case to be made, that on some higher level Islam reinforces barbaric culture, more than the average religion, by … I don’t know, maybe too much of some kind of submission to cultural authority and dogma. There sure seems to be something going on there – very strong correlation.

  16. jb says:

    The problem with “true” as a standard is that truth isn’t Truth until it is universally agreed upon. So no matter what evidence you have, the ideologues always have the option of simply denying it, and then using their power to punish you for saying it.

    In fact, the ideologues will not simply deny it, they will assert that your claims are hateful nonsense that has been thoroughly debunked for years, and they will conclusively prove this by citing other ideologues who think exactly the same way as they do. This is one of the many advantages of power! In the middle ages anyone who denied the existence of God or the truth of Christianity could be refuted by citing all the eminent scholars who had demonstrated the existence of God and the truth of Christianity beyond all possible doubt. Who could deny the power of such a refutation? After all, they couldn’t all be wrong, could they? (The fact that you could be burned at the stake for disagreeing had nothing to do with this universal agreement. Nothing I tell you!)

    Free speech is not safe unless it includes the freedom to say things that are false.

  17. M27Holts says:

    Most people haven’t read the Quran. Also most liberal idiots haven’t read the hadith either. Try and point out that Mohammed was a 7th century warlord, thus any religion created by him could not possibly be a religion of peace and they will call you a liar and a racist islamaphobe….I rest my case…

  18. Donn says:

    Just as truth has its grey areas, so does freedom. It’s up to you to defend the truth of your speech, and it’s up to me whether I am convinced. If I’m not convinced, and evidently you’re using lies to injure innocent people, I am not very interested in defending your freedom to do that.

  19. M27Holts says:

    Donn. So you don’t believe that Mohammed was a murdering despot? If so provide the evidence for rewriting history as most scholars of middle east history have provided enough evidence to back up my statement…

  20. jb says:

    Donn — And if you’re not convinced, do you believe that gives you the right to silence me? And who decides whether you are convinced? (Um, I guess that would be you actually. Very convenient…).

  21. Donn says:

    Why would I care to know anything about Mohammed? (Except of course inasmuch as he lives on as a cartoon character.) For all I care, he could be a figment of someone’s imagination.

    I’m still not clear on legal or other practical implications here. I have discussed the possibility that I could reasonably classify your speech as hate speech. We haven’t got to what I’d do about it, but I’m sure at that level the answer is “nothing” – lacking any authority in this area. If there are legal sanctions against hate speech, then I guess you’d be brought to some kind of trial, where you’d have a chance to defend your speech. I think the best thing would be to focus on the fact that what you said is unambiguously true. Unless it wasn’t, in which case maybe you could get off on character. I wouldn’t bother with the argument you made above, essentially that there’s no valid objection to hate speech. [ Note that the speech in question above is purely hypothetical, I didn’t notice any actual hate speech from jb. ]

  22. M27Holts says:

    So essentially you are a solipsist then? Very hard to argue with sombody who thinks they are in the matrix….

  23. Troubleshooter says:

    This is what words like “sacred” and “holy” try to achieve: the placement of the writ of a given religion beyond analysis, criticism or [heaven forfend!] ridicule by criminalizing such behavior. Whether the representatives of any religion recognize that their books fail to stand up to such scrutiny isn’t the issue; that they want their holy books to be exempt from it is.

    And unfortunately for them, it’s way too late. From Iron Chariots to The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible to Jesus and Mo, the investigators, dissectors and fun-pokers are already at their respective processes and indeed have been for a very long time. Any such tome which dares to claim immunity earns what it gets: the public dismantling and resulting laughter at a view of reality that fails to represent the real deal.

    So, question: if there were a fifth panel to this episode, would we hear guffaws on the other end of Mo’s phone or something to the effect of “we’ll be right over?” Free speech that may upset the listener needs to continue to be the standard.

  24. Donn says:

    M27Holts, I have to admit I have no idea what you’re talking about. Is this because I never really bothered to check whether Mohammed was a real person or not? Or because (to jb’s apparent surprise), I absolutely am the one who decides whether I’m convinced? That’s, er, topologically similar to solipsism, but in this case there’s no way around it.

    To review, we were talking about jb’s assertion that offensive speech must be protected in the absence of any clear, immediate harm. In the context of a “definition of islamophobia.” I’ve asked a couple of times whether there are any practical consequences, for example legal penalties, and am none the wiser, I have no idea whose territory this question is in, if anyone’s, and what kind of enforcement there may or may not be. So I put it in terms of my own judgement, which in the end is what I can speak to best, and maybe that’s all there is to it – we’re not really free to speak if others may find us guilty of hate speech.

  25. M27Holts says:

    Donn. You possibly need a paradigm shift. I live next to a geezer who could have prevented the Manchester bombing. He was railway police who reported a man with a rucksack praying in a very ostentatious way in victoria station. They were ordered not to interfere with the man….but its ok coz the women an children blown to bits were of no consequence to you. I understand your cool appraisal from a standpoint that I too cannot possibly lament the dozens of children who die horribly as I drink my cider in my sunny garden right now….

  26. Donn says:

    Perhaps we could work through the details of that incident – for example, policing and how to do it well while respecting minorities, a problem we sure do have here. If you insist. I don’t think it would shed a lot of light on hate speech per se, though.

    I’m neither the victim of one of those minorities, nor am I one of those minorities, so from both angles you could say there’s no consequence to me. But of course there are consequences to all of us, down the road, depending on how well stuff like this is handled. If you want, we could think of hate speech from the previous century that makes a very regrettable example.


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