February 22, 2006
Cartoons, Muslim Minorities in Europe and Holocaust Revisionsim
Recent shows and interviews on Arab media outlets have made much of the rather ironically timed conviction of David Irving. Many jumped on the most obvious contrast between the sanctity of the Jewish holocaust and that of the apparently much holier subject of the Prophet Mohammed. They took this case as the perfect example of the inherent contradiction and hypocrisy of so-called freedom of speech laws in Europe.
Upon close examination (sadly not easily fitted in catchy soundbites) the history of those European countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland) banning Holocaust revisionism and the position of Jewish activists and Holocaust survivors in those societies opens up a rather important and not sufficiently examined dimension to the cartoon controversy - the nature and political/social inclusion (or lack thereof) of Muslim minorities in Europe. 'Aqoul touched upon this briefly in an earlier post. I am not qualified to comment on specific European countries, least of all Denmark, but a generic (and I am sure hence possibly much attacked) look into the problems facing Muslim migrants in Europe today, in my view, is worthwhile.
Why are Muslim sancities not as respected as those attributed to the Holocaust? There are two answers to this question:
- a Muslim Holocaust has not occured (leading the fascinating segue, do we NEED one to happen in order to pass more rigid laws)
- (and in my view much more appositely) Muslim immigrants have not yet managed to integrate and include themselves into political and social systems in order to de-stereotpye themselves and gain enough clout as a minorty so as to become a successful lobbying power.
Why de-stereotype? I hear many Muslims in Europe ask in misplaced pride. I am proud of my heritage, appearance, beliefs and do not want to shed them in order to become a respected member of European society. Jewish minorities in Europe have become so genteel-ised that their character has become barely distinguishable.
There is, of course, some truth in this although I find it difficult to imagine that European Jews do not still manage to eat kosher, observe religious holidays and practice their religion and also to practice political, social and economic roles within their scopes as citizens.
This leads us to another question, one that has been irking me for some years. Is there a basic irreconcilability between, e.g., swearing allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen (on the Quran of course) and being a Muslim who feels more affinity with members of the Umma in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine? In this day and age have the criteria of citizenship bcome so few, diluted and purely pratical that the concept itself has come to mean nothing? If this is the case (and those who were shocked to find that he 7/7 bombers were indeed not from KSA but Bradford believe that it is) then the very fabric of the nation state as we know it is as a threat. In the United Kingdom, many Muslim immigrants (mainy economic from the Indian sub-continent but a great many under the false pretence of political asylum, many Sudanese, Somalis and Kurds fall into this category) have brought the issue of political inclusion to the forefront since 9/11. Or rather the issue was brought forward FOR them on behalf of many MPs and social activists alarmed at the growing minority of Muslims who generation after generation continue to reproduce their patterns of life, marriage and social relationships without adopting any of the identity of the average Brit and, more dangerously, without developing any sense of loyalty that might discourage the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.
The rise of ghetto neighbourhoods in London giving rise to the term 'Londonistan', the bombings of 7/7 etc have led to changes in regulation regarding citizenship. Sometimes, new citizens do not even speak English proficiently enough to undertake the swearing ceremony without a translator. If European countries themselves to not place more importance on citizenship criteria, then surely Muslim immigrants cannot solely be blamed for not making any effort to do so. I am not suggesting that Europeans go down the same route as KSA and deny citizenship to all who are not indigenous, but a much more realistic approach to immigration may still serve the purposes of the country without creating travesties that pave the way for the rise of organisations such as the BNP.
Having said that, whenever there is an issue that brings respect of Muslim sensibilities and Islam in general to the forefront one looks to these minorities and wonders that the bloody hell they have been doing for the last few years and why they need to to call upon the Islamic world , from which they have migrated, for assistance when they are in fact passport carrying members of European communities with rights, resources and political freedoms. To cash your check, (social security of otherwise) go the mosque and then for a sheesha down at the local Arab cafe and THEN when discriminated against allegedly by your own country to call upon the rest of the Islamic Umma is an irresponsible and politically immature manner in which to practice citizenship. The West and the Islamic World have enough problems without Muslims in the West 'telling' everytime their feelings are hurt. Because of that fundamental lack of desire/ability/initiative to integrate and in their own time, bespoke conditions and subjective processes, country by country to engage governments and tackle sensitive issues as responsible citizens, then, dare I suggest, the cartoon issue may have been allowed to become as explosive as it has.
All this is, of course, academic, if European laws of freedom of speech are as sublime and comprehensively applicable as they are claimed to be since that suggests that they have a universality rendered infallible through lack of exception. I have great respect for freedom of speech but all that is of course bollocks as the case of David Irving and the Jesus cartoons indicates. However, these exceptions may be valid and indeed, if anything, should send the message to Islamic minorities that there are ways to gain respect in ways other than terrorism, demonstrating in suicide bomber gear and random boycotts. I am not suggesting that some over-zealous bigot go ahead and murder six million Muslims, but that maybe, by trying to forward their interests through channels provided by those countries to which they have immigrated, they manage to establish themselves as fully fledged members of European socities and not extension presences of Pakistan, KSA or Iraq.
David Irving was convicted for declaring something that was quite clearly, bullshit. In fact, he went some way to retract his statements. However, some have gone to the extent of denying the existence of Jesus Christ and were not arrested. There are thus, particular situations that after years of soul searching, discomfort and lobbying, have been deemed offensive enough to be criminalised. This should not be exhaustively criticised as a bias towards a particular race but as an indication that laws can be sensitive to (and this is vital) the bespoke needs and historical dictates of the country in question. Unless Muslim minorities in Europe make more of an effort to become an integral part of that fabric, external attempts such as the Ulema petition will only fall on deaf ears and idle clash of civilisation talk is inevitable.
Posted by Meph at February 22, 2006 04:59 PM
Filed Under: Islam & Politics
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First, here is a very thoughtful defense of the decision to publish the cartoons writtne by the editor of Jyllands-Posten. This is necessary reading.
Second, you cannot conflate the laws outlawing holocaust denial with laws outlawing attacking religion. They are fundamentally different.
The proscription against holocause denial in Europe is primarily an act of self-censorship. It has nothing whatsoever to do with either Israel or Jews. Countries that outlaw holocaust denial are effectively saying, "We participated in this terrible thing and we will never forget we participated in this terrible thing. We will never assauge our guilt by pretending it never happened."
Posted by: Anonymous at February 22, 2006 10:12 PM
Interesting post. I do think the imprisonment of David Irving makes Europe hypocritical on the "free speech" count. But I don't think the answer for fairness is to censor MORE.
I'm a Jew, and members of my family were in Nazi concentration camps. David Irving represents evil, dangerous hatred, and I personally despise him. But I would never want David Irving censored. The right to express any opinion, even a hateful, evil opinion, is a basic human right.
I am proud to live in America, in which Holocaust denial is not a crime. If some American David Irving denied the Holocaust here, I would picket him and shout at him. But if my government locked him up for it, I'd picket the government for completely free speech. After all, if today his opinion can be censored, why not mine tomorrow?
When I saw the hideous cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank, I was filled with rage. But I would not censor it for all the world.
Meanwhile, I'll denounce all the anti-Muslim bigots out there -- those who think of the Prophet Mohamed as wearing a bomb for a turban. I will denounce skinheads who harass Muslims on the streets of Europe. But, as Salman Rushdie said, free speech is it; free speech is the ballgame. Europe should mend its hypocritical ways by freeing the scumbag David Irving, not by banning cartoons of any kind.
Posted by: Seth Chalmer at February 23, 2006 12:28 AM
> a Muslim Holocaust has not occured. . . Muslim immigrants have not yet managed to integrate. . . .
> The proscription against holocause denial in Europe is primarily an act of self-censorship. . . . "We will never assauge our guilt by pretending it never happened."
Amusing how the anonymous author only manages to disprove his own point.
Note the "we". Many Europeans feel so guilty about the Holocaust that they live in a state of denial such that they believe that everyone around them should feel the same guilt they do. Hence it is thought a legitimate use of government authority to censor "we" who disagree with... er... "we". Or "us". The "we" that isn't "us".
It is exactly that sort of guilt-based, schizophrenic, and ultimately irrational policy that triggers comparisons and charges of unequal treatment. And rightly so. The fact that there is far less European guilt about prejudice against Muslims than against Jews (such that, for whatever reason, one is outlawed and the other is defended) is made glaringly clear to all but the self-deceived.
As Meph points out, it is not guilt alone that, say, causes discriminatory hiring against ethnics in France. It would seem that the combination of both guilt on one hand and bigotry in various flavors on the other causes the obvious discrepancies in attitudes toward different minorities.
Posted by: blue92 at February 23, 2006 12:37 AM
dear m & others,
1 - i would strongly caution against speaking of "europe" here. regulations about how "free" speech can be vary tremendously. denmark is at one extreme (up to the point that there are neo-nazi radio stations and denial of the holocaust may actually be legal [not sure about the latter]). austria - where david irving was just convicted and will be jailed - is somewhere closer to the other. interestingly enough, the publication of some of the muhammad cartoons (about 3 of which were racist) might be violating the austrian laws as well. they certainly do violate those of germany, france, and some other countries where the cartoons have been published. now we have to wait if anyone will press charges against those newspapers.
BUT, to speak of "europe" as if it was one politi with the same law everywhere, and thus postulating a hypocrisy because david irving was sentenced but the jyllands-posten not charged with a crime ... is simply wrong.
2 - The right to express any opinion, even a hateful, evil opinion, is a basic human right. this is - and i know that i'll sound like L now - utter crap. first of all, human rights were/are made by humans. they do not grow on trees. second, if you bother to check the u.n. charta on human rights you will find that, while article 19 states that
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.,
you also have to look at article 30 that states that
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
it becomes clear that hate speech infringes on the rights guaranteed in article 3 (life, liberty and security of person) and, particularly, article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
and article 7
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
HENCE ... there is no human right to express ANY, EVEN EVIL opinion.
3 - every politi has the right to make its laws. there is a difference how the anglo world and continental europe approach the role of the lawmaker. continentals are thinking less in terms of "freedoms" and more in those of "securing the system". the holocaust-denial laws are primarily designed to prevent nazi ideology from gaining ascendancy again. in the same vein, actually, are the policies that allowed "parallel societies" to develop in european states - one did NOT want to discriminate against foreigners and thus did not intervene in so-called "inter-muslim" affairs.
4 - regarding the question of integration ... i think it has a lot to do with self-perception of one's own future. if you think yourself (or your community) to be in-country only temporarily (as unrealistic as it may have become) then you do not feel a great urge to integrate yourself into your "host" community. the fact that most (if not all) european countries did not institute strict immigration conditions (learning language, etc.) until recently - mainly out of misunderstood "respect & sensibility" - did not particularly help.
Posted by: raf* at February 23, 2006 06:12 AM
"i know that i'll sound like L now - utter crap. first of all, human rights were/are made by humans. they do not grow on trees."
Humbug to your utter crap. If humans make human rights they can take them away. If germans decide Jews and other non-Aryans are exempt, well then, what's to stop them -- there was no UN Declaration.
Whether rigths come "by the Creator" to use language of the American or French revolutions, or by some intrinsic categorical imperative, to speak Kantian, it is essential to locate human rights beyond the positivistic and into something unmalleable and intrinsic, greater than the human will. Otherwise, it is the hostage of the state, of might, or of something like the UN which at worst can be merely a trade union of ambitious politicos, empires, dictators, and totalitarians.
One enters the human commmunity with human rights attached and inalienable, and thereafter negotiable with the human community, one does not get them from the community. Otherwise, anyone can be voted out, as was the case with Jews and Hitler and other situations as well.
Posted by: matthew hogan at February 23, 2006 09:39 AM
> . . . to speak of "europe" as if it was one politi with the same law everywhere, and thus postulating a hypocrisy because david irving was sentenced but the jyllands-posten not charged with a crime ... is simply wrong.
Certainly it is incorrect to suggest that ALL Europeans feel one way or the other or that all European countries have completely identical policies and practices--just as the MENA states have their own differences. Would the cartoons in question been protected speech under Austrian law? Austrian lawyers chime in, please, but that is not necessarily relevant to other issues. Not every American state practices capital punishment, but we may consider the general attitude of Americans toward capital punishment as a curious phenomena, noting the European assessment and its effects.
When one considers general trends, attitudes, and, in particular, perceptions it is sometimes useful to use the requisite general terms. Specifically we can all understand that the two incidents happened in separate countries under separate circumstances. There exist rational explanations for the apparent disparities, but every irrational law has a rational explanation, and "uncommonly silly laws" provoke commentary.
> this is - and i know that i'll sound like L now - utter crap. first of all, human rights were/are made by humans.
> HENCE ... there is no human right to express ANY, EVEN EVIL opinion.
Um... Unless by the second sentence you mean you've (or the UN) defines human rights that particular way, you've just contradicted yourself.
> continentals are thinking less in terms of "freedoms" and more in those of "securing the system". the holocaust-denial laws are primarily designed to prevent nazi ideology from gaining ascendancy again.
Feeling, not "thinking".
The practical question is whether or not one should disenfranchise a segment of the population based on their expressed beliefs rather than actions. The inability to distinguish between mere "incitement" and actual discrimination itself is pragmatically problematic in that it punishes those who only crime is gross stupidity, thus alienating them and supporting their delusions of persecution with the reality of actual persecution.
Posted by: blue92 at February 23, 2006 09:40 AM
Well said, blue92. And raf, if expressing an opinion can be taken as an "act aimed at the destruction of...rights and freedoms", then would a man be breaking international law to publish an essay saying he thought one of the rights and freedoms set forth in the UN Charter ought to be abolished?
As to degrading punishment, one might fairly use the word "degrading" to describe hateful cartoons, but in the context of a clause about torture and cruel punishment, doesn't it make more sense to interpret "degrading" as applying to punishment or literal, immediate treatment of an individual? After all, anybody could choose to find anything emotionally, or generally, degrading, and then there goes freedom of expression.
Posted by: Seth Chalmer at February 23, 2006 10:17 AM
dear matthew & seth,
thank you, gentlement, you have just proven my point. lest you invoke some "creator" or "natural law", then "human rights" are human-made. they are contingent on the respective situation in which they are drafted and agreed upon. and yes, they can change. there is nothing intrinsic, or greater than human will, matthew. therin lieth the problem ...
guess what - there is an islamic charta of human rights. and, surprise, it differs from the (western-inspired) u.n. charta.
which one is the "correct" one? and who gets to decide that? will there be a vote? or do we agree on the smallest denominator?
mrblue said "we may consider the general attitude of Americans toward capital punishment as a curious phenomena, noting the European assessment and its effects." -- again, sure you can do that. you can also asses THE asian attitude towards something, or THE african to another. it's still meaningless. in this case meph conflated danish LAW with austrian LAW, and i cautioned against that. just as i, and others, argued here on aqoul against reading the various protests against the danish cartoons under the label "muslim anger", completely separated from their specific settings. i know it's easier to generalize - but it doesn't work.
re: practicalities - yeah, that needs to be discussed further. i am not sure how useful laws criminalizing holocaust denial are. but that was not the topic of meph's post.
seth - the u.n. human rights charta is not law. it is a charta to which states, as the only legal subjects in int'l affairs, have signed on. but violations of the charta are hard to prosecute, as various court cases show. technically, yes, that person would be "breaking" the charta. what's your point?
as to your last point - that's precisely the problem at the heart of the danish cartoon issue: who gets to decide what's "degrading" and thus breaking the law?
where were you people during the big pc-ness debates in the 90s?
Posted by: raf* at February 23, 2006 11:35 AM
raf, et. al.,
The debate regarding natural law and legal positivism has been going on for a couple of hundred years now. It is an extremely complex debate and anyone who suggests the answer is self-evident is merely demonstrating that they do not understand the question. This debate would be extremely off-topic for this blog so perhaps we ought to stick to the pragmatic. Deity-of-your-choice knows there are more than enough practical issues to address without dipping into the philosophical.
Having said that, I will observe, in passing, that Sharia is, effectively, a natural law system albeit one based in part on diktat. A good deal of the tension between Islam and the West arises out of the clash between this system and the West's more logically rigorous natural law tradition.
Posted by: Anonymous at February 23, 2006 01:24 PM
First of all, I apologise for having Israel on my list, it was a paste and whatever you may think of the content of the post or the comments, I think we can pretty much agree that Isreal is not in Europe.
Second-raf, the conflation of Dainish and Austrian law is EXACTLY the reason why the claims of hypocrisy are being raised, and the reason why I try to make the point that each country has specific law making past and processes.
Third, Anonymous, I did not say that anti- revisionist laws had anything to do with Israel, I realise that in the majority of paranoic discourse all fingers point to Isreal so I suppose it is not unusual that one hears that argument even when it is not made.
Fourth- blue 92
'It would seem that the combination of both guilt on one hand and bigotry in various flavors on the other causes the obvious discrepancies in attitudes toward different minorities.'
Nail hit- and the sooner Muslim minorites in European countries and media talking heads in the Muslim world realise this the more likely it is that home grown Muslim activism and involvement in Europe will develop and hopefully also that vacuous talk of duplicity will become more nuanced.
Posted by: Meph at February 23, 2006 01:25 PM
> again, sure you can do that. you can also asses THE asian attitude towards something, or THE african to another. it's still meaningless. in this case meph conflated danish LAW with austrian LAW, and i cautioned against that. just as i, and others, argued here on aqoul against reading the various protests against the danish cartoons under the label "muslim anger", completely separated from their specific settings. i know it's easier to generalize - but it doesn't work.
Public perception is hardly meaningless. Prone to gross inaccuracy, yes, but also sometimes reflective of reality, and certainly responsible for shaping subsequent reality regardless of its accuracy.
In any event, are we supposing that Irving would not have been tried in Denmark or that the cartoons would have been censored in Austria? If it is the case that, based on past legal practices, we cannot entertain the suggestion of hypocrisy as probable, then we can sufficiently condemn the generalization. If, on the other hand, we would view the hypocritical position as completely consistent with past experience and utterly unsurprising within the jurisprudence of the majority of Europe, then it would suggest to most observers that the generalization is largely true, or at the very least a significantly deceptive distortion.
I agree that the chain reasoning has a fundamental flaw, and that the cause of one attitude arises differently than does the other, but that does not mean a hypocrisy does not exist.
> where were you people during the big pc-ness debates in the 90s?
We still believed all Mac users should be prosecuted. ;)
Posted by: blue92 at February 23, 2006 01:55 PM
Guys, guys, guys, the Jews were kicked around Europe for hundreds of years. Okay, thousands. Russian pogroms were just one deal. Tossed out of Spain to commemorate the defeat of the Moslems in 1492 (Jews might have been on Columbus' boat). Oddly, the Turks welcomed them in Salonika. Romans spread them around to start, and kept in ghettoes since, prevented from owning land, etc. It's been a rough ride. So now let's not go be a bunch of babies whining about how great the Jews have it because for the last 60 years after murdering 6 million or whatever high number you want to use, we've basically put a restraining order on violence against Jews. And don't worry, you're still welcome to all the bigotry you want - you can blame Jews for owning all the corporations and controlling international finance and blowing up shrines in Iraq and knocking down WTC, and anything and everything. You just basically can't say that a bunch of lunatics didn't try to wipe them out between about 1938 and 1945. Now, I personally wish there weren't this censorship, but some wife-beater idiot hanging around his ex's window shouting he didn't beat her but he sure as hell will if he gets up to the window... well, perhaps he should be a bit restrained in his free speech.
So yeah, currently there's an exception for Jews. Get used to it. The biggest problems for Moslem communities are probably those involved with trying to study, get good jobs, stay out of trouble with the law, and the other basics that any other immigrant group goes through. Ari Onassis fled Izmir for Argentina with $5 and built himself up to a super rich ship owner. Millions of immigrants around the world pull off smaller miracles. Immigrants almost always live in ghettoes. Chinese, blacks, Italians and Mexicans had it much worse in America. Moslems in Europe have a singular opportunity to make their religion respected by integrating well into their new culture - not by abandoning important facets of their religion, but by dropping the anti-liberal democracy hypocrisy, hate-mongering, censorship and racism of the societies they left. And don't feel too bad - native Europeans have had to abandon a lot of their cherished, barbaric traditions as well, as the absence of slaves, lions and gladiators highlights.
Posted by: Mashrout at February 23, 2006 02:20 PM
I can't wait until these ludicrous anti-denial laws are struck down by some EU court.
All they are is an excuse for Austria/Germany etc to claim some moral high ground and appease their own conscience over the war.
They are antithetical to free speech, and an dangerous disgrace.
Posted by: secretdubai at February 23, 2006 06:57 PM
of course they're antithetical to "absolute free speech" but them germaustrians never claimed that they're FOR "absolute free speech". neither does the e.u., by the way. there is (currently) no e.u. body that could "strike down" any national law, UNLESS the countries themselves have previously agreed on it. it'd be interesting to see if the european human rights commission would even agree to deal with someone complaining that s/he is not allowed to deny the holocaust in germany or austria ...
ps: can someone explain why "absolute, unrestricted free speech" is better than "free speech with restrictions against incitement to racism, war, genocide, etc."? i am somewhat irritated by the fact that it's postulated here as "obvious".
Posted by: raf* at February 23, 2006 07:30 PM
ps: can someone explain why "absolute, unrestricted free speech" is better than "free speech with restrictions against incitement to racism, war, genocide, etc."? i am somewhat irritated by the fact that it's postulated here as "obvious".
I can do no better than citing Justice Holmes, a U.S. Supreme Court justice who crystalized the concept of the "marketplace of ideas."
Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power and want a certain result with all your heart you naturally express your wishes in law and sweep away all opposition. . . . But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas -- that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.
To put it another way, the remedy to bad speech is more speech.
To give one practical example, holocaust deniers often turn up at college campuses in the U.S. This inevitably causes a huge controversy with, inevitably, some people demanding they be silenced. Just as inevitably, however, there is a counter-reaction with articles in the student paper, presentations on the holocaust, talks by holocaust survivors, etc. The controversy gets thoroughly discussed among students and the deniers are thoroughly and publicly discredited. Students end up with a much deeper and more personal understanding of the holocaust than they would ever have had were it simply a matter of academic information to be learned, regurgitated on a test and then forgotten. In effect, these holocaust deniers act like a sort of stupidity vaccine.
Posted by: Anonymous at February 23, 2006 07:55 PM
==can someone explain why "absolute, unrestricted free speech" is better than "free speech with restrictions against incitement to racism, war, genocide, etc."==
Yes. Aside from the philosophical arguments about ultimate human liberties, there is the utilitarian arguments of not wanting to give the State the power to define opinions and protest out of existence.
This is utilitarian. There are other moral arguments too.
We must stop -- advocacy for Israel -- as that is genocide against the Palestinians or war against them; we must stop advocacy for Palestinians as that is advocacy for genocide against the Israelis or antisemitism.
I am sticking to the utilitarian side -- governments and their enforcement arms are not necessarily run by persons of the same level of goodwill or intelligence as those who design the refinements and cautionary restrictions. Areas like speech/opinion are easily manipulated where an unpopular opinion can be caricatured into hate-speech, genocide, racism. Better to have a social contract that says - anything goes (perhaps with the exception that it isnt wilfull conscious fraud, which is itself hard to prove.)
And why not add blasphemy to hate-speech, genocide, racism, after all blasphemy is hatred to the Deity and that is a bad thing, no?
Absolute free speech, or at least absolute speech-content, is a way to allow maximum use of critical faculties and to allow maximum perspectives and to limit state restriction of criticism.
Posted by: matthew hogan at February 23, 2006 08:08 PM
I'll be really curious to see how the Turkish laws re: discussing the Armenian genocide play into the mix as EU accession negotiations progress. After all, it's not like Jews have a monopoly on victimhood.
Posted by: Eva Luna at February 23, 2006 08:16 PM
Personally, when it comes to pure theory about "free speech", I like this from Brandenburg v. Ohio as a delineation:
"The line between what is permissible and not subject to control and what may be made impermissible and subject to regulation is the line between ideas and overt acts."
Anything else is just silly emotional posturing.
Posted by: blue92 at February 23, 2006 11:53 PM
I'll give it a go - the free speech of the out-of-office Nazis was nowhere near as dangerous or effective as the news and propaganda promoted by the Nazis in office. The Nazis had to make a lot of compromises and coalitions in their rise to power that got thrown out the window (literally?) once in control. I think there's some confusion as to whether preventing holocaust denial is because we should always remember and take responsibility, or because we're worried that this kind of lead-up to hate speech could lead to another Nazi movement. An annual Day of Shame seems a better way of handling the former, and letting idiots speak in public seems more likely to prevent them being taken seriously. Even non-curious George has to be kept back from the public to maintain some semblance of competence. So there you have it, governments should accept some level of censorship, individuals shouldn't. And not every outrageous idea is bad.
Posted by: Mashrout at February 24, 2006 07:52 AM
Just to do a little devil's advocacy against my own view, it shoulc be conceded that most of us absolutists are not so in every situation and certainly not on several emotional levels.
Imagine X walks downt he street. X is black. X and Y are standing next to each other. Y says, "You know I don't like you n*****s. Wish you'd go back to Africa and the jungles." X punches Y in the face.
Now X is technically the aggressor in the absolutist free speech theory. Y had exercised his right to free expression and X assaulted him.
Intellectually, I agree X should be punished. Emotionally I might have applauded his action. That is at the core of the debate and it isn't easy.
I accept and even condemn and ridicule anti-hate speech or anti-Holocause denial laws. But the fact that David Irving was sentenced, did not cause me to lose a moment's sleep, even if the law was illiberal. (There is of course a separate issue of whether one engages in willful fraud/dishonesty.)
Still, it is best to err on the side of anything goes.
Posted by: matthew hogan at February 24, 2006 09:10 AM
Warms the cockles of your heart to see what debates are sparked off by a little devil's advocacy.
To skim the cream however, the merits of free speech and restricted speech are one thing and the merits of the system actually in effect are another. As raf mentioned, there isn't even a consensus in the EU that absolute free speech is desirable, hence, disparities stated here between between Denmark and Austria aside, Muslim minorirites should stop bitching and actually DRAW thse distinctions themselves without going for the obvious and erroneous comparisons that do nothing for their case. Either adopt the free speech ethic and object to anti-revisionism or reject it and try to campaign to pass their own favourable laws in their adopted countries. This damned if you will and damned if you won't aggrieved attitude is going to get representative of Islam in Europe nowhere if they want to be represented as an essential and potent sector of society.
Posted by: Meph at February 24, 2006 11:20 AM
Israelis launch anti-semitic cartoon contest.
“We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!” said Sandy “No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!”
My personal favorite --
It made me laugh. I have no idea why.
Posted by: Anonymous at February 27, 2006 10:23 PM
Here's another cartoon site:
Denmark Is Being Pissed On
Posted by: yusaf shahid at February 28, 2006 04:35 AM
a Muslim Holocaust has not occured
I doubt the Armenians would agree. But, as Hitler is supposed to have said, "who remembers the Armenians"?
Posted by: erudito at March 3, 2006 06:18 PM
The Armenian massacres were hardly a "Muslim" holocaust. Ottoman Turkish perhaps, but hardly "Muslim" any more than Hitler's acts constitute a "Christian" holocaust.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at March 5, 2006 06:10 PM
That doesn't work. David Irving is not a German either. My point was the first megacide of the C20th was of a dhimmi group in a Muslim Empire. Indeed, an Empire headed by the official Caliph no less (however limited respect for the claim of the Ottoman Sultan to hold the office may have been). Shifting categories (now it's West/Islam, now it's Christianity/Islam) back and forth to argue that that nothing like the Holocaust happened within Islam is simply not true.
Looking at the continuing tragedy in Darfur, at how effective Israel-the-dhimmi state is as a scapegoat and anti-Zionism as a political pressure-relief valve, at the problems of Palestinian Christians, the problems of Egyptian Copts: which is more alive as a deadly problem for folk getting along--the concept of dhimmi or anti-Semitism in the West?
Posted by: erudito at March 8, 2006 09:40 AM