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Discussion (27)¬

  1. Quine Duhem says:

    I believe in the use of reasoned arguments to resolve disputes, but not when you can use an AK-47 assault rifle instead.

  2. Arbaaz says:

    The response one gets is then ‘freedom of speech’ be it fatwa or any threat

  3. Raymond says:

    If a “narrative of oppression” has as its goal the violation of the fundamental rights of someone, then I’m with Jesus on this one.

  4. jean-françois+gauthier says:

    @raymond, i believe jay-c might be using the term oppression to refer to the use humour to poke gentle fun at somebody who lived fifteen hundred years ago.

  5. jerry+www says:

    @jean-françois+gauthier ,
    I view these tales about someone who “allegedly lived fifteen hundred years ago”, much the same as I question who it was that followed someone called Jesus around and kept notes of his actions 2,000 years ago. Where were all those stories warehoused for 33 years? Just asking…

  6. Matt says:

    Raymond, just floating an idea here, but since freedom of speech is such a tricksy subject, why not make actions rather than words criminal? For example, maybe it should have been (legally) OK for Radio Milles Collines to describe Tutsis as ‘cockroaches’. Maybe the only real criminals should have been those that picked up the machetes?

    Obviously I don’t want to defend ‘hate speech’, but there is a great danger in allowing our legislators to decide what is acceptable speech and what isn’t. For example, how many muslims would need to be locked up if it became a criminal offence to say that jews are evil? Perhaps it is enough for society to abhor those that say such things, and only prosecute people that actively discriminate. Maybe by taking a grown up approach to liberal democracy we would eventually push all forms of discrimination to the sidelines.

    To give the specific example on my mind, we should obviously be able to criticise the contents of the Quran. In fact, given recent events, it may be an imperative to do so. And in speaking out, how many suicide-murders will we prevent? But given how easily accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ are bandied around, can we be confident that this right will always exist in the absence of an absolute rule guaranteeing free speech?

  7. Great strip, Author. Especially the title.
    I am against any laws against hate speech, just as I’m against any laws against thought crimes. What I’m for is social sanctions against those who promote hate and violence – refusal to give them a platform, scorn, mocking, refusal to sponsor or support in any way, and loud counter arguments to whatever they are saying.

    The exception to this rule for me is in the constitutions of organizations and nations. They should not be allowed language promoting racism, religious favouritism, inequality, or denial of human rights. Hate speech only becomes dangerous when it has organizational power behind it. Officially sanctioned racism is a horror. (I’m reminded of the road signs in Germany that read “Dangerous curves, slow to 30. Jews 90”)

    Interesting side note: I just went on a search to find the source of “If you want to learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” It’s attributed to Voltaire, but shows up most often in the rationalizations by racist and white nationalist groups like Stormfront. Tells you something, eh.

  8. Jerry Coyne isn’t the only one who has been talking about the Six Soft-heads and Garry Trudeau. For instance…


  9. “Hate speech only becomes dangerous when it has organizational power behind it.”

    It would be a better world if that were true, but it’s not. Hate speech can inspire mobs to murder people.

  10. Nassar+Ben+Houdja says:

    Freedom of speech is depressing
    To those who’s faith demands oppressing
    The right to an opinion
    Is not for an infidel minion
    But the profit and his ignorant social regressing.

  11. Raymond says:

    1 Speech is an action.
    2 All actions – even the flapping of a butterfly’s wings – have consequences.
    3 The rights of one’s neighbour are the limit to one’s own freedom.
    4 Not being offended is not a fundamental right.
    5 Not being oppressed is a fundamental right.

  12. smee says:

    The irony is that the term “hate speech” was dreamt up by those who wish to control what people say, and to demonise those who don’t share their particular world view!
    Those who use the term ” Hate Speech” are the most dangerous enemies of free speech and democracy in existence!

    They are the enemy with in! The fifth column responsible for the advance of extremist islam in the west.

  13. Ophelia, of course you are correct and I misspoke. What I think I intended to say is that hate speech becomes most dangerous when promoted by organizations and particularly by states. Certainly the the Imam inspiring others to murder is not blameless or harmless. I’m just not sure how we stop it without giving up something I’m rather fond of having.

    By the way, Canada does have anti-hate legislation but it seems to be very difficult to prosecute. Sections 318, 319, and 320 of the Code forbid hate propaganda.[4] “Hate propaganda” means “any writing, sign or visible representation that advocates or promotes genocide or the communication of which by any person would constitute an offence under section 319.”

    You can see that this leaves a lot of room for saying hateful things about a people. As does the excuses for hate speech: Under section 319, an accused is not guilty: (a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true; (b) if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text; (c) if the statements were relevant to any subject of public interest, the discussion of which was for the public benefit, and if on reasonable grounds he believed them to be true; or (d) if, in good faith, he intended to point out, for the purpose of removal, matters producing or tending to produce feelings of hatred toward an identifiable group in Canada.

    Interesting to note that religion once again gets a free pass for hatred, i.e if the opinion is based on a religious text. Fuckin’ religion, eh.

    (from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hate_speech_laws_in_Canada)

    Canada also has a blasphemy law, but we’re trying to get rid of it following the Charlie Hebdo murders.

    Canada’s Criminal Code Section 296

    296. (1) Every one who publishes a blasphemous libel is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.
    (2) It is a question of fact whether or not any matter that is published is a blasphemous libel.
    (3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject.

    Well, thanks to random forces for number 3, eh.

    (from http://centreforinquiry.ca/canadas-blasphemous-libel-law/)

  14. Thomas says:

    The way to combat people with really really bad ideas is to issue that we have an organisation to argue against them is impeccable logical and truthful wherever they may occur. They would need to accredited somehow so they will be taken seriously and have salary so they devote the hours needed to solve though the lakes of bullshit and fix all the spoinging irony meters. I imagine that they would all be dressed as greek philosophers and go from place to place disproving terrible agruments.

    Outwrite banning terribly stupid bad ideas of massive dumbness is not only something I am deeply uncomfortable with but is also uneffective. This ideas just go underground and with no-one to call bullshit on them the just get steadily crazier until they suddenly pop up and kill a bunch of people, that or they hide their craziness behind a flag and accusations of political correctness gone mad until they get enough power to drop the act. That and there can rail against their oppression rather they talking about what they actually what to do. Case in point, hungry has holocaust denial laws and ended up electing what is pretty much nazis to the EU whilst britain which doesn’t has the milder (but this pretty horrid) ukip.

  15. Max T. Furr says:

    Equality: Mo is saying that “All are equal except that “religious fanatics” are more equal than others.”

    Several States in the U.S. still have blasphemy laws on the books. They do not enforce them, but all we need to have it so is for Christian Fundamentalists to gain enough power in Washington and the States–Establishment Clause be damned.

    If fundamentalists are allowed to discriminate in commerce against some segments of society, perhaps the activation of the *blasphemy laws come next.

    *Actually a virtual blasphemy law is active in Pennsylvania. As most here will recall, the teen who, for fun, simulated receiving a BJ from a statue of Jesus was–to avoid a trial–ordered by a fornicating, fundamentalist DA to 350 hours of community service and no social media for 6 months. Although no damage was done to anything but Christian sensibilities, the teen’s “crime” according to the DA, was that his “actions infringed upon [Christians’] rights to practice their faith.”


  16. plainsuch says:

    Is Free Speech mean Free like in Free Beer or Free like in Fat-Free?

    apologies to Richard Stallman

  17. JohnM says:

    Good idea to apologise to Richard Stallman. It’s said he can be a real prickly character, especially if you call GNU-Linux just Linux 🙂
    Author Thanks for ‘favouriting’ my Tweet. But now that you know my real name, please don’t let on to the Ayatollahs 🙂

  18. wnanig says:

    Thomas, love the imagery of the Greek philosophers. I can see them appearing in a pythonesque manner in your living room to counter a flawed argument when you least expect it :-).

    By the way – anyone who cares to try to re-enact the balcony scene from “Life of Brian” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjz16xjeBAA) during, say, an election campaign? (Probably somewhat safer than in a religious context…) Might work. “No new taxes! We want change! We are all individuals! We can think for ourselves! We don’t just repeat what other people say!” You might get some Lumberjack song effect on that (or not, tragically…).

    Thanks to previous comments found the Onion article on “Intelligent Falling” (http://www.theonion.com/articles/evangelical-scientists-refute-gravity-with-new-int,1778/). A bit like how my philosophy text book from high school described Bishop Berkeley’s subjective idealism. “The socks in my drawer really only exist when I look at them, so why are they still there when I open it again? Well, God looks at them all the time.” I am so glad an omnipotent being has nothing better to do with its time than to pay attention to all the belongings of us lowly humans. How would we ever find anything again otherwise? Just imagine constantly watching an ant colony, let alone several. And then you read them some advanced literature in the hopes that they will make a useful interpretation of it. The ant version of Sartre maybe. In French. Hoping that nothing gets lost in the subsequent Antish translation. How on earth does it put up with us without going mad? Guess you have to be omniscient to understand that.

    DH, a couple of threads late, but better late than never – Cheers! Hope the knee is healing well.

  19. Mary2 says:

    I’m in 2 minds about the whole free speech thing. On the one hand, once governments start banning ideas they limit discussion and dissent but I don’t believe in free speech without limits. Words have power and not just the power to impel murder and genocide. Australia has similar laws against hate speech as Canada (thankfully without the blasphemy bit) and I think they strike a pretty good balance. They don’t ban speech ‘in good faith’ or satire etc but limit the ability to push the demonisation of minority or ethic groups. The bar is pretty high; our Attorney-General believes “people have the right to be bigots” and people are free to deny the holocaust, talk about all gays being immoral sinners etc but one can be sued for crossing the line into whipping up hatred. I think this is a good thing. People in minority or disempowered groups in society can be continually further demonised and disempowered by hateful rhetoric from those with more power and a public platform. The only instance I am aware of of someone being sued over these laws was that of a high profile newspaper columnist who published a series of opinion pieces where he ‘suggested’, in particularly nasty terms, that light-skinned Aboriginal people (who in reality, against all odds, had become highly educated, successful, people) were only claiming Aboriginal heritage to get handouts over the rest of us. The implications of his ‘speech’ were many and unpleasant: race is based on skin colour and these people were not real Aborigines, success is based on race – real Aborigines are not lawyers and academics but live in slums or prison, etc etc. We might claim that people do not have the right not to be offended (and that argument has merit) but this is not about ‘hurt feelings’ this is about ideas which perpetuate the systemic discrimination and disenfranchisement experienced by a group of people who, in this case, did not have access to the same kind of public platform to fight back with verbal rebuttal.

    It’s all very well to say ideas can be fought with ideas but when you have a power differential where only one side has access to public platforms on which to promote those ideas, this leaves no room for reasoned debate. We have a company who hires campervans to young backpackers whose vans are painted with pictures and slogans/jokes aimed at appealing to the 19 year old boys who hire them. Some of the vans look fabulous and are funny but often the jokes are not funny and incredibly sexist and derogatory towards women. They are also often sexually explicit.There are hundreds of these things in some of our tourist cities so they are not an isolated instance. These vans are breaking no laws by having slogans like ‘inside every princess is a slut waiting to be released’ and I would be reluctant to suggest we legally ban them but ‘speech’ like this is in the public arena, people have no choice about whether to read it or stop their children seeing it, and surely contributes to the perpetuation of negative stereotypes about women and even rape culture. So, for me, free speech is a tricky one.

  20. wnanig says:

    Mary2, maybe we should add some new graffiti to those campervans: “Inside every sexist is a moron waiting to be sedated”? At the risk of sounding elitist the best way to attack these idiocies may be to make them feel stupid when doing it. Preferably while making them laugh at themselves, if there is any chance of that being achieved. So much of human behaviour seems to be based on guilt and shame, so why not use the shame for something useful for once – staying away from stupidity… Although you should probably simultaneously offer them a way out and something to feel proud about instead or you may just get more hate from backing them into a corner.

    How about getting someone to do youtube satire of the van people? I remember we had a couple of catch phrases from some comedy mimicking teenage ineloquence “Eh, eh… moped” and (not even sure how to translate this) “But we don’t have any premises” (place for teenagers to hang out after school or so). As soon as someone started speaking moron, someone else would inevitably use one of those phrases and the whole situation turned into comedy. Conditioning people for self-mockery is remarkably effective…

    Those that do have a platform and disagree with the morons also have a responsibility to use their platform. It is not just up to a disenfranchised and/or targeted group to defend themselves, it is up to all of us to defend humanity. It is also a self-preservation issue. Intolerance tends to escalate and it is early on that you have the best chance to counteract it. What is that classic speech ” … Then they came for the jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me”. We have climate change with subsequent migration and most likely also at some point a crisis in the global economy ahead of us. The names will probably be different, the place and the targets may be different, but don’t think it can’t happen again.

  21. hotrats says:

    Police have hailed a ‘successful’ security plan that resulted in shooting dead two IS-inspired gunmen who had opened fire with automatic weapons, injuring an unarmed security guard, at an event in Texas where cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed were on display.

    The contest, in community centre in a Dallas suburb, was organised by the New York-based American Freedom Defense Initiative, which offered a prize of $10,000 for the cartoon judged the best. (Was J&M included, I wonder?)

    Kudos to Sky News in the UK, who throughout the day have run the following forthright quote from event organiser Pamela Geller: “You have to enter the human race at some point. And this capitulation by the media, this capitulation by western elites, to silence ourselves, so as not to offend savages, is monstrous.”

    More details here.

  22. JohnM says:

    How sure can we be that the AFDI is not the ‘hate’ group that certain commentators in the international media are painting it to be?

  23. two cents' worth says:

    A related cartoon that you might enjoy (and that I doubt was entered in the contest held in Texas) is available at http://www.gocomics.com/claybennett/2015/05/05

  24. JohnM says:

    ‘(I’m reminded of the road signs in Germany that read “Dangerous curves, slow to 30. Jews 90?)’

    Could it simply be an acknowledgement that Jews are far more skilful drivers than Germans :0)

  25. two cents' worth says:

    Another cartoon not entered in the contest http://www.gocomics.com/darrin-bell/2015/05/06


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