Writing for the Huffington Post Eboo Patel reports that “a few days back, small groups of college students atNorthwestern, Illinois and Wisconsin — angry that Comedy Central had been intimidated into censoring a South Park episode depicting the Prophet Muhammad – chalked their quads with stick figures and labeled these drawings ‘Prophet Muhammad’.” He continues:
One of the members of the Atheists, Agnostics and Freethinkers (AAF) group leading the event at the University of Illinois wrote a letter explaining his actions: “No one’s sacred cow unwrites basic human rights. You can cater to the whims of fundamentalists, or you can cater to fundamental rights, but you can’t do both.”
As one should expect from a person who writes for the Huffington Post, Patel disagrees with the AAF. To him, “this isn’t about Free Speech vs. Fundamentalist Islam” but about “Actions that Build an Inclusive Society vs. Actions that Marginalize a Minority Community” (awkward capitalization by the author).
Right. Well, guess what Eboo, I’m afraid you’re wrong. This most certainly is about free speech vs. fundamentalist (or extremist) Islam.
Free speech is an integral component of democracy. It forms the very foundation of all the freedoms we enjoy in the West. Extremist Muslims – who are the ones threatening with violence every single time someone dares do or say something that’s even remotely critical of them and their views – are the ones who want to take this freedom away from the rest of society. They and their enablers want to limit everybody else’s right to say what they believe. They try to do so by changing the laws, which they have succeeded in doing to quite a large degree already in Western Europe, or by committing acts of terrorism – or by threatening to do so.
Another point Patel makes is the following:
It’s always interesting to see which items get labeled sacred cows and therefore invite attack.
Is a sick grandmother a sacred cow? If you staple pictures of that image on bulletin boards and write, “Isn’t cancer hilarious?” are you defending free speech, or are you just being a jerk?
Well, it could be just me, but I have yet to come across a League of Grandparents who threaten to murder someone who draws a cartoon that some of them find “insulting.” Last time I checked it are extremist Muslims and their leftist enablers who are trying to silence people, and nobody else. They decided to declare war on the freedom of speech, not the other way around. Extremists started this war, we are simply fighting back.
Lastly, a point about the freedom of speech and being “offensive,” sadly not mentioned nearly enough by others: Everyone living in a democracy is expected to be able and willing to deal with criticism and, yes, even mockery. The freedom of speech means you also have the freedom to “offend.” Once you outlaw being “offensive” to this or that person or group, you are actually outlawing free speech. After all, no matter what you say, you can be darn sure somebody will be offended. If you can’t deal with this, perhaps you should move to one of the many backwards countries in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia or Iran, where those who dare criticize you and your views are simply hanged or at the very least imprisoned and brutally tortured until they have lost the will to live altogether.May 13th, 2010
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