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Free Speech Is "Hate Speech"

Reader comment on item: Two Decades of the Rushdie Rules

Submitted by Fred Baehr (United States), Nov 5, 2010 at 17:53

Free speech is what matters. The word "free" implies "for all" doesn't it? That is what we have to watch out for if we want freedom for everyone. Some sorts of speech are forbidden though. "Fire!" in a theatre (that is not on fire) is the classic example. Exhortations to riot and murder can be used against you in court if what you said led to rioting or murder. But it is hard to come up with examples for which I could support prohibition. Where should we draw lines on speech? We had better be careful. If we decide to keep the Nazis out of Skokie when will we be kept out of Anytown,USA? "You know we don' need you free-thinkers down here to tellin' us how to live." To have free speech we must have it all and a lot of it is going to be stupid, ugly and crude, just like we are. Free Speech as a political concept effectively applies to only one broad type of speech: unpopular. Who ever got lynched for saying,"You people are the greatest people in the world!" ? So don't we have to tolerate all the preachers of hate? But do we have to let our streets and squares be taken over by hate mongers? Hey, you reading this, I don't know. I have read several comments on this article and others at this site and some of it is not very worthy of comment. Just more vitreol. Fun to read or write sometimes but what does it really add? How constructive is it to answer invective with invective? Isn't constructive engagement the point of free speech? Since we are all inescapably engaged, isn't constructive engagement the only alternative to destructive engagement?

Still, constructive engagement is seldom the same as submission (to God or anything else). But why not submit to something else if you have already decided that what you have is not all that good? If we continue to tell ourselves that the values of free speech and the rest it are not necessarily worthy ideas, and that other ideas that may even repudiate the whole concept of free speech as we currently have it in the liberal democracies are perhaps just as worthy of the appraisal "good", and thus require our respect or we show ourselves to be bigots so only respectful speech shall be allowed, are we being constructive or are we submitting?

I read that there are rulings going back a thousand years in Islamic juris prudence to the effect that it is lawful to wipe you ass with pages from the Christian Bible or the Jewish Torah on the premise that those texts are not sacred. Okay. There is a body of opinion among scholars and theologians going back at least a few hundred years that the Koran is not what it purports to be: direct quotations from God, and that therefore it is not sacred but rather an example of impostor, and thus a kind of blasphemy. Okay. Now say I disagree with both statements and say they are all impostors, fakes, and not sacred. Okay? Now how about if I make a video of myself wiping my heretic ... with pages from the Bible or Torah? Okay? How about if I wipe my infidel ... this a page from The Holy Koran in Arabic with the gold edging? Okay?

What reactions might we expect from any of the above desecrations? Christians or Jews rioting everywhere, chanting "death to Fred"? I doubt it. But what about the Muslims? Depending on how much attention I had garnered before my monumental wiping of ass, it might well foment death and destruction around the globe, like a cartoon or something. So should I or should I not?

To wipe or not to wipe, that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the toilet to wipe with the Bible, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and wipe with the Koran? 'Tis a constipation devoutly to be reached. To sit, perchance to shit. Aye, theres the rub, for in that nasty shit what stink may come do we have not wiped with something must give us pause.

I guess it would be fair to call such a thing hate speech. Is even suggesting it hate speech? Is Amos and Andy hate speech? Would doing such a thing be con-structive or de-structive? Hey, you reading this, I don't know. Part of me would like to do it but part of me says it would be pointless. You want to stand up to the forces of regression, you feel free to use sarcasm or irony, free in fact to make any kind of statement even given the certainty that millions of people the world over will find it deeply offensive to their most cherished beliefs, but should you do it? Will it add to the conversation? It might. I don't know.


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (69) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
The Satanic verses or الايات الشيطانية and Prince Charles [272 words]dhimmi no moreMay 18, 2014 08:39214872
At least Rushdie didn't suffer being persecuted by his own government [84 words]someoneSep 15, 2012 18:06198699
1Why the pot shot at environmentalism? [104 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
JackJan 6, 2011 18:49181615
stewart [63 words]gemNov 12, 2010 12:26180098
2Free Speech Is "Hate Speech" [822 words]Fred BaehrNov 5, 2010 17:53179953
1lets get them out [8 words]Reuben GoldbergOct 20, 2010 18:18179491
1Primitive tribes should be thrown out of civilized world [160 words]Muslimk***Nov 10, 2010 04:04179491
Rushdie Rules [105 words]Sir Daniel M.J. TobinOct 18, 2010 14:09179390
Defining God [74 words]JoeOct 18, 2010 03:47179381
7Biggest and oldest mafia [153 words]B.N.GururajOct 10, 2010 10:44179141
a bit more than that [13 words]gemOct 15, 2010 01:55179141
Mafia [82 words]AnnaNov 6, 2010 06:38179141
5Rethinking political correctness [117 words]Rebecca MouldsOct 5, 2010 12:48178991
1Standing up to Islam [26 words]RobertoOct 10, 2010 19:12178991
i agree [68 words]mariahNov 14, 2010 02:51178991
House of Ishmael [29 words]Einah TebOct 5, 2010 09:34178981
I Second The Motion [82 words]FroikeOct 8, 2010 09:23178981
1Jews in Islamdom [329 words]Erich WiegerOct 10, 2010 19:45178981
2The answer [97 words]MichaelOct 21, 2010 08:06178981
1thanks Michael [218 words]Erich WiegerOct 26, 2010 15:05178981
9A melancholy story [208 words]John W. McGinleyOct 3, 2010 08:55178924
5Wonderful! [333 words]MichaelOct 3, 2010 19:56178924
Suicidal Tendency of Democracy [113 words]B.N.GururajOct 19, 2010 00:50178924
1Michael of Egypt [148 words]DEBORAH THE JUDGEOct 19, 2010 10:10178924
2Thanks [199 words]MichaelOct 20, 2010 07:40178924
12liberals not protecting their own families [201 words]ivyNov 10, 2010 08:25178924
Substitute [49 words]yuval Brandstetter MDOct 3, 2010 05:53178919
1Re: Substitute [146 words]DEBORAH THE JUDGEOct 19, 2010 10:31178919
Europe may not be done [40 words]yuvalOct 20, 2010 09:59178919
5Obama Has Signaled Islamists to Proceed [161 words]Richard RheinerOct 2, 2010 21:49178910
1right now [134 words]mariahOct 4, 2010 15:24178910
1plain to see [28 words]ivyOct 8, 2010 10:15178910
Answer to Right Now [105 words]Richard RheinerOct 9, 2010 17:25178910
not to be sarcastic [28 words]mariahNov 16, 2010 04:13178910
1Get off olf Arab OPEC oil.... [66 words]yudi FOct 2, 2010 19:37178908
3This and that ... [216 words]GetRealOct 2, 2010 09:02178892
76I've always known all this. [228 words]MichaelOct 1, 2010 20:58178880
Are we dhimmis [46 words]aspaciaOct 1, 2010 19:48178878
4What do we pay government for? [115 words]Erich WiegerOct 1, 2010 16:09178875
Sitting pretty [183 words]UgriOct 2, 2010 09:30178875
Pandemonium [77 words]Erich WiegerOct 3, 2010 02:22178875
about protecting us [168 words]ivyOct 16, 2010 11:53178875
2Free Speech [85 words]Lujack SkylarkOct 1, 2010 11:52178865
6It is time to ACT AGAINST ISLAMISM IN AMERICA [377 words]Carmen WaggonerOct 1, 2010 10:23178858
5the satanic verses [157 words]wendykOct 1, 2010 08:19178853
Application of the Rushdie Rule may be a criminal offense [66 words]Wallace Edward BrandOct 1, 2010 08:15178852
Clash of Civilisations? [30 words]NevilleOct 1, 2010 07:08178850
Constitutional Rights [122 words]Stuart SchoenburgOct 1, 2010 06:45178848
2Rules for radicals,Muslim brotherhood, temporary friends ? [35 words]infosifterOct 1, 2010 06:21178846
1Counter Rushdie's Rules [823 words]Lawrence DanielSep 30, 2010 13:54178831
God bless us with big mouths [10 words]mariahSep 30, 2010 03:05178823
saudi outrage [16 words]ivyOct 13, 2010 23:30178823
4The conquest of the West is a work in Progress [374 words]BobSep 29, 2010 11:08178808
3kow towing to a tyrant religion [267 words]Jules PostenSep 28, 2010 13:46178778
4islamism winning the cold war [153 words]mythSep 28, 2010 07:45178769
muslims must stop selling oil in $ [122 words]syed mohammad aliSep 27, 2010 11:39178746
10Switzerland is the West? [394 words]JeffSep 28, 2010 13:17178746
5Muslim oil for the west [141 words]RajeevSep 29, 2010 00:28178746
5agreed [130 words]the Grand Infide of KaffiristanSep 30, 2010 05:46178746
1... (syed mohammad ali) [48 words]RajivSep 30, 2010 16:08178746
1Democracy and islam [120 words]Lawrence DanielOct 2, 2010 12:48178746
racist [437 words]MarcOct 17, 2010 03:49178746
1Oil from OPEC [35 words]MarisaJun 12, 2011 15:12178746
10Don't forget the NJ Transit worker who lost his job [112 words]EdwardSep 27, 2010 10:44178744
2A LAWSUIT ENSUES [17 words]aspaciaOct 1, 2010 19:55178744
You want NJT to bow down in front of NEOCON agenda? [16 words]amirDec 8, 2010 09:12178744
1What neocon agenda? [41 words]JeffDec 13, 2010 13:07178744
woah!!! [11 words]AmirDec 13, 2010 21:11178744
Jewish what? [20 words]JeffDec 20, 2010 12:35178744

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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