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Old 04-03-2011, 11:40 AM   #1
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Terry Jones

So, I'm sure you're all aware of the recent goings-on in Afghanistan in response to the burning of the Koran by Pastor Terry Jones.

To sum up, Jones staged a mock trial where the Koran was found guilty of murder and rape and sentenced to incineration. In response protests erupted in Kandahar, and innocents were killed.

I've read enough about Terry Jones to know he is a simple minded and thoroughly ignorant man. It is amazing to me that such a figure can stir up the kinds of protests we've seen half-way across the world. I mean, he is not someone to be taken seriously. But as foolish as Jones is, the reaction in Afghanistan has been disproportionate to put it mildly.

The UN's chief envoy to Afghanistan has this to say:
""I don't think we should be blaming any Afghan, We should be blaming the person who produced the news - the one who burned the Koran. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from offending culture, religion, traditions."

There is a lot wrong with this statement. The actions of this small-minded pastor were deplorable, to be sure, but it is Afghans who bear the responsibility for these murders. What is more, anyone who agrees with the envoy - that the blame rests solely on Jones - is a part of the problem. Without condemnation from within, and without honest reflection, this sort of heinous aggression is encouraged.

Now, his definition of free speech is another thing, and probably indicates a significant and permanent(?) divide between the West and the Middle-East. Whatever the form of free speech born from the Arab Spring, I think it is safe to say that there will always be limitations with respect to religious mockery.

Given this, I think the onus falls on us to practice respect, or at least refrain from commenting as a general rule. But, it also falls upon the Muslim world* to try and understand that when one of us dissents from the general rule, the whole of us are not thereby implicated; nor should these dissenters be expected to be made an example of or prosecuted in any way by our governments.

Thoughts?



*I say "Muslim world" here loosely, knowing that they are not a homogeneous group.
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Old 04-03-2011, 12:17 PM   #2
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I think that freedom of speech absolutely encompasses offence to cultural norms, religious beliefs, and received traditions. I think that is a powerful tool for social change. I don't think burning a koran in the name of religious sectarianism serves any of those purposes but it should still be protected speech.

As far as responsibility goes I think that demagogues who move the ignorant to violence bear the most responsibility. At the same time it's probably asking too much for religious leaders to consistently preach dignified restraint whenever the opportunity to consolidate power with a two minute hate comes up.
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Old 04-03-2011, 02:14 PM   #3
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Pastor Jones has also stated, "It is definitely a consideration to stage a trial on the life of Mohammed in the future,".
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Old 04-03-2011, 05:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Basstrap View Post

I've read enough about Terry Jones to know he is a simple minded and thoroughly ignorant man. It is amazing to me that such a figure can stir up the kinds of protests we've seen half-way across the world. I mean, he is not someone to be taken seriously.
I think in the way that he is ignorant, you have to accept that so are the people who partook in the violence. You are probably talking about uneducated men who have no concept or understanding of free speech, of western culture, of the insignificance of Terry Jones. They are simple folk who have likely never gotten the chance to participate in any sort of critical thinking and so when they are fed hatred and misinformation from some imam and they take his word to be the absolute truth it is not altogether surprising.
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Old 04-03-2011, 06:06 PM   #5
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from the WSJ
Quote:
"We cannot see the difference between that man in Florida and the American soldiers here," said Karimullah, a 25-year-old religious student who, like many Afghans, goes by one name and took part in Sunday's Kandahar protests. "They are killing our people here while in the US they burn the Holy Quran. America just wants to humiliate the Muslim world."
I tend to assume that way of thinking about it is pretty characteristic among these protesters. I don't disagree with the philosophical points about not implicating the whole in the actions of a few (although, why are we in Afghanistan then?) or the importance of the right to desecrate religious symbols in an open society. But there may be a certain absurdity in unproblematically applying those principles to this situation, as if their absolute sanctity were so self-evident, regardless of context, as to make this response incomprehensible. To be honest, I think I might be more appalled by Jones than by them, in that I find their readiness to vengeance easier to understand than his haughty, contemptuous indifference to the potential consequences. I understand (and condemn) a siege mentality in Kandahar, but I don't understand it in Gainesville. What is at stake for Jones here, really?
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Old 04-03-2011, 07:28 PM   #6
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I don't know why we are in Afghanistan anymore, to tell you the truth. But, I saw an interesting debate on Al-Jazeera today between an American and a British political analyst, and a Prince so-and-so in Kabul. Please forgive me, I do not remember their names!

What was interesting was that the American and British commentators were very critical of continued troop presence in Afghanistan, whereas the Afghan prince (really sorry for not remembering) was arguing for the presence of coalition forces in Afghanistan. And he made an well-informed and passionate case for it. I realize that this man was probably well educated and not exemplar of those who are protesting, but - to me- it seems to indicate that amongst Afghan intellectuals and elite, there are at least a few who fully support this war.

On the street, however, it seems to be an issue of dignity, as it so often is. I think the young man's words in yolland's quote - regarding Muslim humiliation - is telling.

I take anitram's point about the lack of education amongst these protesters, and it makes me wonder what plans, if any, are in place to develop the Afghan education system. I think much of the reason why we are still there is to nation build, and education seem paramount in so many ways.
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Old 04-03-2011, 08:25 PM   #7
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what's the difference between free speech and hate speech?

are there no laws against hate speech in the US??

in France there are laws against incitement to racial hatred which includes hate speech against religious beliefs etc... people like Jones would be prosecuted in France for sure!
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Old 04-03-2011, 08:55 PM   #8
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No, we have no hate speech laws, because of the First Amendment and its interpretation. There is a concept of incitement, but the threat of violence must be imminent (e.g. if Jones had urged attendees to go burn down the mosque down the street). There can be hate speech policies in the workplace, but not in the public sphere.
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Old 04-03-2011, 09:17 PM   #9
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Hitchens had a pretty good talk on why hate speech should be legal.

His main point was that by criminalizing such speech we may be denying ourselves a real learning experience. We are forced to research and learn about the things we take for granted.

onegoodmove: Free Speech

sorry to those who dislike Hitchens; he is not always enjoyable to listen to. But I think you'll find this more palatable.

EDIT:
he does go off on one of his patented anti-religious tirades in the second half. Just so you know.
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Old 04-03-2011, 10:02 PM   #10
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The UN's chief envoy to Afghanistan has this to say:
""I don't think we should be blaming any Afghan, We should be blaming the person who produced the news - the one who burned the Koran. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from offending culture, religion, traditions."

There is a lot wrong with this statement. The actions of this small-minded pastor were deplorable, to be sure, but it is Afghans who bear the responsibility for these murders. What is more, anyone who agrees with the envoy - that the blame rests solely on Jones - is a part of the problem.

~Basstrap



I agree.

Are we ready to live in a culture that restricts speech because it might offend a religion or a tradition?

I am a Christian, but I would never want to go along with a law that would restrict your freedom to slam my faith or any faith or tradition.


If we are, we are on very dangerous and scary grounds.
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Old 04-04-2011, 01:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the iron horse View Post

If we are, we are on very dangerous and scary grounds.
and people like Jones are not dangerous and scary?

fwiw, that doesn't seem to be the case here in France - it is more about trying to encourage mutual respect and equality of faiths

sure, people have their own private views, but in the public domain it's a big no no...

"words" are taken very seriously in French law, surely you would understand that Iron Horse, i mean, the Bible lays great emphasis on not just actions but the power of words also, no?

as a non-French person, i've found it really interesting learning about this, since moving here... words and speech are a huge part of French law, i mean, for instance, you have to be quite respectful of how you talk about others in public, like you can't for example go round in public saying someone is "crazy" as that would be "undermining their person", but you could describe them as being "psychologically fragile" for instance... and in public arguments you wouldn't say "you bitch!" because that would be verbally insulting someone in a public place, but you could get around this by saying "what bitchiness!" for instance, thereby insulting the action and not the person lol i find it fascinating!
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Old 04-04-2011, 01:42 AM   #12
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The murders seem so disproportionate to the act that I can't help but think some other inane shit might have set them off as well had Terry Jones' church never acted.
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Old 04-04-2011, 05:23 AM   #13
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What Terry Jones did is wrong...PERIOD.

He and his simple-minded followers seem to be unable to deferentiate between the Islamic religion on the whole and the actions of a few barbaric terrorists.

I've stated over and over again that it is not Islam in itself that is the problem - it is those who twist the teachings of the Koran to suit their own evil purposes.

What Terry Jones did was grandstand in the worst way possible and I don't believe for a second that he didn't think that his actions would have severe and deadly consequences. I would even go so far to say that those 30 subsequent deaths (as unjustified as they were) are definitely on his hands.

People need to understand that you cannot condemm an entire religion just for the actions of a few fanatics.

And I don't think this action should be protected by the first amendment just like I don't think that killing someone with a gun should be protected under the second amendment - just because you have the right to bear arms doesn't mean you have the right to shoot someone and just because you have the right to voice your opposition to a different religion doesn't mean you can defile the artifacts of the other religion.
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Old 04-04-2011, 05:44 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by mama cass View Post
what's the difference between free speech and hate speech?

In America, organized religions could not exist if hate speech was outlawed.
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Old 04-04-2011, 05:55 AM   #15
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In America, organized religions could not exist if hate speech was outlawed.
yeah it's scary... last night on British tv, there was a program on Louis Theroux (i love him! lol) with "America's Most Hated Family" (the Phelps) and i found it sooooooooo hard to watch it made me so angry! i haven't come across anything as extreme as that over here... sure i've had many run-ins with completely bonkers and off-the-wall pentecostals in my dim and distant past who were quite extreme in their beliefs, and a friend who lost family members to a sect, but this hate speech is on a different level altogether... i can't believe there are no laws against it in the US... for me, in France, i find it incredibly shocking...
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Old 04-04-2011, 06:04 AM   #16
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it is not just Phelps and his group

many if not most of the 'so called' main stream religions are opposed to 'hate speech' laws

Quote:
Couched in language that prohibits "hate crimes" motivated by the victim's race, color, or religion is more language that prosecutes violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. This is where pastors are at risk.

King says, "If a pastor stands up and [preaches] on the Biblical position on homosexuality, he could be charged under the hate speech legislation. If you speak against Islam from a Biblical perspective, you can be charged."

Similar legislation already has been approved in Canada and Australia. King says a pastor in Australia was arrested. "He was changed under their hate speech laws by Muslims for holding a conference about Islam and for largely reading from the Koran and passages from the Bible about how to come to God." He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending himself.
Hate speech legislation in the U.S.? Christians at risk
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Old 04-04-2011, 06:33 AM   #17
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Canada does have legislation against hate propaganda in its criminal code, but it's made very easy for smooth talkers to get off the hook. Also, if one can reasonably show that your hate is religiously inspired, you get a pass. (as you can imagine, there are not many convictions under this section):

Quote:
(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under subsection (2)

(a) if he establishes that the statements communicated were true;
(b) if, in good faith, he expressed or attempted to establish by argument an opinion on a religious subject;
(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.
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Old 04-04-2011, 04:12 PM   #18
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I see no great divide between those who would be compelled to kill Westerners because of a burned book half a world away, and those compelled to kill Westerners for their secular democracy. This sounds like a handy pretext for anti-Western resentment, and why negotiating with the maniacally irrational would be unproductive.
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Old 04-04-2011, 05:35 PM   #19
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on "Face the Nation," April 3

Quote:
Bob Schieffer: General Petraues today condemned the actions of this Florida preacher who burned the Koran...Is there anything that actually can be done along this line?

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.): You know, I wish we could find some way to hold people accountable. Free speech is a great idea, but we’re in a war. During World War II you had limits on what you could say if it would inspire the enemy...anytime we can push back here in America against actions like this that put our troops at risk we ought to do it. So I look forward to working with Sen. Kerry and Reid and others to condemn this, condemn violence all over the world based in the name of religion. But General [David] Petraeus understands better than anybody else in America what happens when something like this is done in our country and he was right to condemn it and I think Congress would be right to reinforce what General Petraeus said.
When a war is leading us to contemplate this kind of abdication of principle then perhaps it's time for us to abandon it.
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Old 04-04-2011, 08:43 PM   #20
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Christian Science Monitor, April 4
Quote:
Much of the support stems from the inability of many [Afghans] to contextualize the March 20 Quran burning. A translator who works for a fellow journalist here in Kabul did not know that Florida pastor Terry Jones was the same person who threatened to burn the Quran last September. This led to the perception that many Americans share his beliefs, even if he heads a small church of about 30 people who have so little support that they’ve had to sell their furniture on eBay to stay afloat. Mr. Jones is now trying to sell the church property.

In a place like Afghanistan, where the vast majority of the populace is illiterate and many lack regular access to reliable news outlets, perception and rumors often become more important than facts. Now that the story of the Quran burning has spread, it almost does not matter how strongly US officials--from President Barack Obama to Gen. David Petraeus--condemn Jones’s actions. The damage has been done.

After almost 10 years of foreign troops and international aid groups, the Taliban is still a serious threat and it’s difficult to see what tens of billions of dollars of foreign aid money has bought for the country. Patience is wearing thin among many Afghans, and incidents like the Quran burning provide a vehicle for their growing anger.
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