Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wicked, Hurtful Words

Pat Condell, A British stand-up comedian, regularly excoriates religions of all suasions on his own blog. In a recent video, he took Islam to the cleaners and, among other things, called Mohammed a desert nomad “with a psychological disorder” and said that women who wear the veil are “mentally ill.” (See The Dougout blog, May 19.) He characterized average Muslims as “hysterical, murderous, carpet-chewing, book-burning muppets.”

His atheistic humor may not be to everyone’s taste – too often he is more outrageous than funny – but his monologues and observations have appealed to many of the non-faithful around the world. His YouTube videos have been broadcast just about everywhere. He reported that this particular video earned him 16,000 hits and a few death threats.

His latest monologue was sent to the Berkeley, California, city council. Members of that sorry enclave’s “peace and justice commission” (more Marxist nomenclature you would need to conduct a search for) took grave exception to Condell’s scathing critique of Islam and Muslims. “It’s not about free speech,” said Elliot Cohen, one of the commissioners. “It’s hate speech.” This commissioner also called it “racist.”

Excuse me, Mr. Cohen, but, yes, it is about free speech. If we excluded what you deem “hate” speech from any protection, what would be left that you would permit to be spoken? Some vapid, meaningless, “balanced” exchange of views?

It is obvious that Condell’s critique emanated from a hate for religion; in this instance, for Islam. And his contempt for adherents of that creed cannot be disputed. Conclusion: Condell “hates” Islam. So what?

However, Condell was not encouraging other atheists to go out and slay Muslims and torch mosques. He did not behave like American or British imams who advocate slaying infidels, torching churches and synagogues, and killing any Jews behind them; those genuinely “hateful” rantings are protected because they are founded on “religious” convictions. Condell’s statements simply expressed an antipathy for Islam and were formatted in the vehicle of humor.

By some sleight of rationalization, however, Condell’s statements should not be protected because they are not founded on any religious belief. Or, at least there are those who wish his statements were not protected by the First Amendment or the British equivalent of it because they are fantasy-free, ergo, unexplainably immoral and wicked.

Watching Condell’s video, I could not help but notice that as he ripped Islam to shreds, he did not sport a balaclava, the preferred headgear of those brave executioners and killers of Hamas and Hezbollah. Rather than looking like a wild-eyed, foaming-at-the-mouth crusader against the ghosts, phantoms and goblins of all faiths, he struck me a fiftyish, mild-mannered accountant or software engineer.

Cohen’s “racist” charge against Condell is more serious. Given that Islam appeals to members of all kinds of races (remember Richard Reid, the foiled shoe-bomber?), black, white, Asian, Semite, non-Semite, this accusation makes no sense. To equate a serious or humorous critique of Islam with “racism” points to a very suspicious ulterior motive of the commissioner’s, to wit, a desire to squelch all criticism of Islam. On the face of it, the “racism” charge is ludicrous. Condell has subjected Catholicism and Anglicism to the same treatment. Would the humorless commissioner call that criticism “racist,” as well? On what grounds?

Condell was flaying a religion which is not so much a creed as it is an ideology. Ideologies, especially totalitarian ones, are as color blind as religions. Ask Castro, or Robert Mugabe, or Mao, or Stalin, or Hugo Chavez, or Vladimir Putin.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Islamic organizations also equate criticism of Islam with racism, which is why they are so happy that the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1592, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act. It would make such “hate” speech a federal and punishable offense.

(On ABC News the other night, in special reporting on the recent death of Jerry Fallwell and the rise of religion in politics in the Reagan years, Charles Gibson noted that the Christian right is beginning to take up the cudgels on behalf of global warming, poverty, and AIDS. Well, there’s intellectual bankruptcy for you.

In the same spirit of bankruptcy, the left is forming a kind of tacit, conditional alliance not only with Christians, but with Islamists, as well. Why would Cohen and Comrades care what anyone says about Islam, unless they saw something in it for them? It is reminiscent of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact. They are all for imposing universal, collectivist power over the country as a shared goal. If they ever attain that goal, the falling out between them should be interesting, just as the Nazis and Soviets fell out, and be just as bloody.)

Further, what would Cohen propose to do about the likes of Condell and such “insulting, degenerating and racist” spewings? (“Degenerating”? Not “denigrating?” But, never mind, that’s Cohen’s vocabulary.) Advocate a government entity to police the Internet to keep it “clean” and “non-offensive”? And, why was Condell’s video sent to Cohen and Comrades in the first place, and by whom? Was it sent to raise the good Marxists’ hackles, to get them into a comical lather in the best Keystone Cops tradition? Or was it to provoke the bull with a red cape, to see if Cohen and Company could form a posse to lynch Condell from a distance of six thousand miles?

If the FBI or NSA confiscated Cohen’s computer, they could track down the culprit, and determine his motive. I’m willing to bet the Internet cops would learn it was sent by the California chapter of either the Muslim Public Affairs Council or CAIR.

I am reluctant to let Condell monopolize “hate.” Why is such speech called “hate speech”? What are the alternatives to that term? “Mildly resentful” speech? “Awfully irritated” speech? “A tad ticked off” speech? “Tepidly tactful” speech? The candidates are almost numberless. I will leave development of that kind of levity to Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, and Pat Condell.

I imagine that Cohen and Comrades could just as well seethe with anger at someone who exercised his freedom of speech by reciting in person or in a video, for example, the Declaration of Independence. Surely, Jefferson’s language could be deemed “hate speech,” directed against George the Third and Parliament, intended to move men to take action against those who shared the king’s and his legislators’ most profound beliefs. And, remember, they were all Anglicans, members of a state church, so the Declaration could be said to indirectly slur their religious beliefs, as well. Doubtless, George and many Englishmen found that language to be insulting, denigrating, and patently offensive. Also, radical. Perhaps, fearfully incomprehensible. Certainly hurtful.

After all, tyrants and dictators have feelings, too.

And everyone knows what happened as a result of that kind of speech: the violence of the American Revolution. Well, practically everyone would know whose minds haven’t been turned to mush by a politically correct public school and college education.

Why have the advocates of censorship settled on the term “hate” to designate the kind of speech they disapprove of and wish to regulate? “Hate” is a powerful term, denoting an emotion rooted in fear. They presumably associate “hate” with action that is “likely” to be taken against that which is feared. Well, one can fear something without taking criminal action against it. Not everyone is an emotional, hate-saturated basket case like Cho, the student who gunned down 32 people at Virginia Tech. Most people will not act on their fears, which they usually cannot articulate except perhaps in the form of expletive-salted exclamations.

And what is it that the gauleiters of speech fear about “hate speech”? The truth. Ridicule of the indefensible. Disrespect for the fallacious. Not being taken seriously, after serious scrutiny or unmitigated hilarity has deflated their arguments. And communication by the offender of the truth, ridicule and disrespect to a wide audience whose members’ minds are not controlled by the “offended.”

For example, observe the peculiar outrage directed against anyone who questions the delusional fraud of man-caused global warming.

Speaking of hate speech, that globetrotting, church-going, odd couple, professional altruists and former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, addressed the graduating class of the University of New Hampshire last weekend.

“…Putting politics aside Saturday,” they urged “ graduates to focus on helping others both in their communities and around the world….’I can’t tell you the selfish pleasure I get out of working with President Clinton,’” said Bush. . (The Daily Press, Newport News, May 21)

Bush told an audience of 2,650 graduates “that they don’t have to run for office to become leaders. ‘All you have to do is care, roll up your sleeves and claim one of society’s problems as your own.’” This is said in the state whose motto is “Live Free, or Die.” The New Hampshire men who risked death at Bunker Hill to be free would slap Bush silly, if they could, for spewing such collectivist, anti-freedom claptrap.

If you ever doubted that the left and the right could ever meet in the middle to become an indistinguishable glob of collectivist politics, Bush Senior and Clinton will serve as a nonpareil symbol.

Adopt one of society’s problems as one’s own? Become a “caring,” selfless minion of fascism, by obeying Kant’s categorical imperative? Just like Elliot Cohen? And Jimmy Carter? And, don’t forget Bill Gates, and anyone else who feels a guilt-driven compulsion to “give back” to society.

The double billing of Bush and Clinton in New Hampshire is an instance of a pair of idle, purposeless nonentities preaching altruism, and at taxpayer expense, as well. They both have Secret Service protection 24/7, at a cost of about $10,000 a day. The Secret Service goes with them even on their speaking engagements, from which these retired political millionaires each collect stupendous fees, in addition to their presidential retirement pay. One can only wonder how much the University of New Hampshire shelled out to them.

Unlike Voltaire, I won’t defend someone’s right to say things with which I disagree. I won’t act to stop him, either, but try to answer him on my own dime and time. However, I bear a special malice for unrepentant frauds with careers of destruction who contribute to the diminution of my freedom, and I am forced to pay for it, as well.

There, dear readers, is another instance of “hate speech.”

So, sue me.


Mel McGuire said...

The quote from Cohen is more ominous: "‘People should not be allowed to spew racist propaganda without others being able to respond,’ Cohen said. ‘It’s not about free speech - it’s hate speech.’" This is from a U.K. story :Comic in US 'hate speech' row.

I saw this story yesterday and have already sent a very angry email to the Peace and Justice Commission. The only email address available seems to be:

I live in Berkeley and was especially furious. The City of Berkeley has seen fit to jump on a British comic; I think it's fair for anyone to jump on them. I don't know how many countries are left which don't have hate speech laws and I consider myself very fortunate that the U.S. is still free. If we get such laws, we're in big trouble; it only takes an error, evasion, or logical fallacy to turn criticism into "hate speech" in someone's mind.

I'm going to look into the House bill you mention; I'm afraid that I missed reading about it. Damn!

Bill Bucko said...

If Islam is a “great religion” (as Bush and all the sundry multiculturalists insist), then surely Thulsa Doom’s snake cult in the “Conan the Barbarian” movie qualifies as a “great religion” too.

Consider the striking similarities:

both religions worship a power-lusting authority figure (I know, Moslems say they don’t worship Mohammed, just as Catholics say they don’t worship the Virgin Mary; but it’s a distinction without a difference);

the authority figure likes to decapitate his enemies,

demands total submission and obedience,

preaches hatred of unbelievers,

plans to conquer the world,

keeps his followers constantly ready to die for him,

and promises them rewards after death.

To be honest, I admit there is one difference between Thulsa Doom and Mohammed. To the best of my knowledge, Thulsa Doom never raped a nine year old girl (as Mohammed did in the case of his child bride).

That’s the “great religion” the multiculturalists want us to surrender to.

Mel McGuire said...

Follow up to my email to the Peace and Justice Commission.

In my previous comment, I mentioned the "should not be allowed" sentence made by Cohen which I'd seen in the U.K. comedy guide "Chortle" (Comic in US 'hate speech' row. I received two responses to my email to the Peace and Justice Commission; one was from Cohen and one was from Jonathan Wornick. Wornick was the commissioner who sent the link to Condell's video to the commission via city's email system. Wornick said: "I was the commissioner who has been called a racist and bigot because of my forward to my fellow commissioners."

After review of material on the web site of the "Berkeley Daily Planet" (BDP 5-15-2007) I find that Cohen's statement in the Chortle article was taken out of context; he was not advocating that Condell's speech be curtailed. He assured me that "as a private citizen one can say what they please." However, he has put this item on the Commission agenda: "Discussion on the use of e-mail system by commissioners to spread racist propaganda." Cohen said (BDP 6-1-2007) that "We shouldn't be spreading racism through the city computers. An attempt to curtail Wornick's speech? I think so!

As further explanation of the "should not be allowed" sentence, note his complaint about how the video was presented to the commission.
"Commissioner Elliot Cohen, who called the tape “insulting, degenerating and racist,” said that the proper place for such a discussion would be to agenda it at the commission level, where commissioners could question Wornick on his intention in presenting this." According to the article, commissioners were "asked by Peace and Justice Chair Steve Freedkin not to respond, because if a majority of the commissioners took part in the discussion, it would constitute a violation of open meeting laws."

In his response to me, Cohen wrote that " continues to be my opinion that a commissioner should not be permitted to use city resources to spread this type of information..." and "when one is acting in the capacity as a Representative of the city I believe they owe respect to the members of our community and must control their conduct somewhat." I replied that I disagreed. When it comes to government business, I don't think there is any right to make restrictive speech rules such as a private organization can make.

Off topic, but further in the Daily Planet article, I found these shameful items:

"Directing her comments to the content of the video and its claims that Islam is a religion of war, Lily Haskell, program director at San Francisco’s Arab Resource and Organizing Center, said “there is no legitimate claim that Islam is not a religion of peace.”"

"Bendib [Berkeley resident, cartoonist and Middle East commentator for KPFA] addressed the accusations of sexism in the tape. “He makes it sound like it’s the norm,” he said. “He makes it sound like it’s prescribed in the Holy Book.” "

A little bit of search got me some info about where this new usage of "racism" is coming from. I assumed that Daniel Pipes might have done some research and I was right. See Anti-Muslim Racism?

Mel McGuire said...

"Racism" usage illuminated!

I've received another response from Cohen. (I had responded to his response to my email.)

He reiterated his position and included this paragraph about the way he's using "racism."

"I understand that race is not religion, but I think I made my point clearly enough and believe the term "racism" is being used more and more the way I did. As to how that has happened, it is intuitive. It feels like racism and ones natural response (at least mine, and others I've heard use the word similarly) is that the term applies."

He's lashed out at Condell and Wornick using this crudely irrational approach to concepts.