Monday, March 31, 2008

Freedom of Speech and the Islamic Threat

Freedom of speech is under assault. First and foremost is the threat to Wafa Sultan (hat/tip AOW). Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Geert Wilders, she is a vocal critic of Islam. Very few step forward to speak the truth; few of us become public figures. The blessings of liberty that we, as listeners and readers require if the truth is to prevail, can only be as secured by protecting the few brave souls who enter the public realm and speak the truth.

In Europe, the threat is so great that Geert Wilders’ film can not be shown in public. After van Gogh’s death, no one will sponsor a showing. Even the Internet isn’t exempt from the threats of jihadists. His film was removed from several venues because of the threats to the families of the owners of these websites. But it keeps reappearing. At the moment it is here (hat/tip FPM). Watch it; it is powerful!

It’s important to stress that liberty requires that we defend those who speak whether we agree with them or not. Freedom won’t be there for us if we don’t defend the speakers today that some find objectionable. The debate must proceed if we are to judge the truth. A government that fails to protect the individuals who step forward to speak in the public square fails in its most important function: securing our freedom to talk, think, and reason. We can’t live in an intellectual vacuum. We need to breath the air of liberty if the ideas we require to survive are to grow to maturity.

Update: Paul Belien has an excellent article on appeasement in the Brussels Journal. He reviews the pre-WWII suppression of those critical of Nazism in his native Belgium: “Belgium’s submission to the Nazi demands, however, did not prevent Hitler from invading the country in May 1940. The only result of the Belgian authorities’ appeasement policies was that many ordinary Belgians, at the behest of their own government, had not been able to read articles critical of Hitler.”

How is this different today? “Geert Wilders … has made a 10-minute movie, called ‘Fitna’ (the Arabic word for ‘ordeal’). Releasing the movie has become Mr. Wilders’s ordeal. Whether or not Mr. Wilders is right about Islam is a matter of opinion. The way in which he is treated by the political establishment, however, is eerily reminiscent of the way in which democratic governments such as Belgium’s gave in to Nazi bullying in the 1930s.”

Update2: Superlative coverage on the file Fitna at Gates of Vienna including translations into several languages and internet venues with dubbed copies.

Update3: OK ... I didn't think of this angle.

Update4: Rule of Reason on Wafa Sultan: "If Wafa Sultan is not free to speak her mind, than neither you nor I are free to speak ours. None of us can tolerate this encroachment upon our ability to communicate our ideas."

17 Comments:

Anonymous Americaneocno said...

"It’s important to stress that liberty requires that we defend those who speak whether we agree with them or not."

And that's a difficult thing. In this case, we can say we agree with Wilders’ film and that it should be shown, but we also have to afford a voice to people like Ahmadinejad, even when we vehemently disagree with his preachings of death to Israel (whether Columbia was the best venue for him's another question).

Interesting post!

4/2/08, 1:00 AM  
Blogger Farmer John said...

Update 3 - courage is sexy? That's only true until it becomes characterized as "rashness" (Plato, "Laches")(as the probability of retribution approaches 100%, courage begins more and more to look to outsiders like stupidity and temperance seems more the 'virtuous' course of action).

;-)

4/2/08, 1:38 PM  
Blogger Farmer John said...

FJ's Rule of Unreason #4 - When words can no longer be used to convince others as to the best future course to follow, the only alternative is to dispense with words and replace them with deeds.

Plato, "Cratylus"

SOCRATES: Nor can we reasonably say, Cratylus, that there is knowledge at all, if everything is in a state of transition and there is nothing abiding; for knowledge too cannot continue to be knowledge unless continuing always to abide and exist. But if the very nature of knowledge changes, at the time when the change occurs there will be no knowledge; and if the transition is always going on, there will always be no knowledge, and, according to this view, there will be no one to know and nothing to be known: but if that which knows and that which is known exists ever, and the beautiful and the good and every other thing also exist, then I do not think that they can resemble a process or flux, as we were just now supposing. Whether there is this eternal nature in things, or whether the truth is what Heracleitus and his followers and many others say, is a question hard to determine; and no man of sense will like to put himself or the education of his mind in the power of names: neither will he so far trust names or the givers of names as to be confident in any knowledge which condemns himself and other existences to an unhealthy state of unreality; he will not believe that all things leak like a pot, or imagine that the world is a man who has a running at the nose. This may be true, Cratylus, but is also very likely to be untrue; and therefore I would not have you be too easily persuaded of it. Reflect well and like a man, and do not easily accept such a doctrine; for you are young and of an age to learn. And when you have found the truth, come and tell me.

CRATYLUS: I will do as you say, though I can assure you, Socrates, that I have been considering the matter already, and the result of a great deal of trouble and consideration is that I incline to Heracleitus.

SOCRATES: Then, another day, my friend, when you come back, you shall give me a lesson; but at present, go into the country, as you are intending, and Hermogenes shall set you on your way.

CRATYLUS: Very good, Socrates; I hope, however, that you will continue to think about these things yourself.


Acta non Verba!

Old Italian proverb - "Alexander never did what he said, and Caesar never said what he did"

4/2/08, 1:48 PM  
Blogger Beamish said...

Islam is the religion of peace, and if you dare say otherwise, they'll fly planes into office buildings.

4/3/08, 4:44 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Dr. Wafa Sultan is an American citizen. Yet, she's not getting protection from law enforcement (as far as I know). I can't believe the negligence with regard to protecting an American citizen's right to free speech!

Apparently, critics of Islam will not be protected.

4/4/08, 10:42 AM  
Blogger Farmer John said...

...an advantage that can preclude tribalism from evolving into a 'greater' organizational form (state/nation phylum/kingdom) and leads to the devolution of individualism that can only emerge from within the confines of a larger multi-functional state.

4/5/08, 10:19 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Always said: I can't believe the negligence with regard to protecting an American citizen's right to free speech!

Haven't most Western governments already caved in to Islam in this respect? Surely, they only pay lip-service to freedom of speech and freedom of expression. That means to say, they talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk.

4/7/08, 9:33 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Two of Pat Condell's sites are down. I'm not sure of the reason.

4/12/08, 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No wonder Ronbo killed himself. The end of freedom of speech looks us dead in the face, and with the end of the First Amendment comes the rule of the barbarians. Ronbo may be the first in a long series of Western suicides. Did not the noble Roman gentleman kill myself rather than submit to tyranny?

4/16/08, 6:41 PM  
Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

That would be Cato "the Younger". Washington had great admiration for this stoic Roman Senator.

4/16/08, 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

INDEED....unwilling to live in a world led by Caesar and refusing even implicitly to grant Caesar the power to pardon him, he committed suicide. According to Plutarch, Cato attempted to kill himself by stabbing himself with his own sword, but failed to do so due to an injured hand. One of Cato's slaves found him on the ground and called for a physician to stitch up and bandage Cato's wounds. Cato waited until they left him and then tore off the bandages and the stitches with his fingers and pulled out his own intestines, thereby ending his life.

Interesting parallel here..I wonder
if like Republican Rome the USA is headed for an era of civil wars?

--The Patriot

4/19/08, 10:46 AM  
Blogger Ducky's here said...

Well AOW, if you get police protection for a simple phone threat then the Islamic Center of Boston would have around the clock police guards.

4/22/08, 4:08 PM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
What's the big deal with Sultan? Yes, she got some threats on the phone but that's not uncommon.

The threats were specific enough that the family had to go into hiding.

4/23/08, 6:37 PM  
Blogger Ducky's here said...

Well, looks like Fina had its 15 minutes. Gone, baby, gone.

4/29/08, 2:50 PM  
Blogger Just Some Guy said...

Kewanio Che Keekeru!

5/1/08, 9:00 AM  
Blogger American Patriot said...

We aren't violent, now quit spreading those lies or we'll chop your head off.

5/3/08, 6:16 PM  
Blogger kevin said...

I just posted about another author getting shut down in Canada. (Linked it to here.)CAIR and it's ilk are todays book burners.

5/12/08, 11:42 AM  

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