Wednesday, October 04, 2006

France Rejects Voltaire

France rejects Voltaire, or more exactly, a modern philosopher who has dared to criticize Islam.

France’s history of religious criticism is second to none in the Western world. Harsh criticism, indeed, offensive anti-religious tirades seldom elicits a response. Non-religious movements, even atheist in nature, attracted wide following. The French Communist Party, officially atheist, received 25% of the vote in post-war elections and continued in popularity for decades. Irreverence was welcomed; skepticism was normal.

That has changed!

Today, Islam is protected from criticism by law. Even carefully worded articles bring threats of violence, with little protection from the French government. When it does acknowledge the rights of a writer, the government even goes out of its way to scold the writer for being insensitive:

M de Robien [Education Minster] voiced solidarity with the teacher but added that he should have been “careful, moderate and sensible in all circumstances”. Similarly Dominique de Villepin, the Prime Minister, said: “Everyone has the right to express his views freely, while respecting others, of course”.

These caveats, if taken seriously, would allow any arbitrary claim of disrespect to veto the expression of ideas critical of a belief system. There can be no “buts” to free speech. And when a brave man tells the truth, as Monsieur Redeker has, he should be a cause celebré. The truth needs no apology. As I said earlier this year:

Our side, in this battle, has failed to use our most important weapon: we are fighting for the truth. This isn’t incidental to the debate; this is the whole purpose of the debate! Freedom of speech isn’t irrelevant to the truth; it is a means required to establish the truth.

Update: American book publisher afraid to publish book.

Update2: A Time To Speak Out: “In the face with violent intimidation, the worst thing anyone can do is acquiesce to being silenced … it is all the more crucial in this politically correct age to stand and forthrightly speak the truth.”

Update3: Review of Islamic intimidation in the West from SFGate (H/T Jeremayakovka.)


Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

I agree with Jason that "Freedom of a means required to establish the truth." The search for truth is indispensable for our enhancement and well-being.

Yet there is an even more important freedom, if we accept the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness--namely freedom from fear. How can Monsieur Redeker have a right to life, when there are those who are sworn to murder him? How can he have liberty, when it is dangerous to enter his school? How can he pursue happiness, when his wife and children are in hiding?

It is not only a restriction of freedom of speech, where people are restrained from speaking or being published. It is an assault on all of their inalienable rights, when they must live in fear.

Moreover, it cannot suffice to deal with each individual who attacks someone who criticizes Islam, as though it were a given criminal act. The perpetrators constitute a conspiracy, where if some are stopped, others will take their place. It is necessary to outlaw the organizations themselves that issue Fatwas. They are part of a worldwide conspiracy that should be declared illegal. Only then can we restore our freedom from fear, and freedom of speech.

10/4/06, 3:06 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Of course, it is the same thing. Protection of speech is established when the government protects you from threats to person or property and consequently you are free to use your person or property to express yourself without fear of punishment by those who would violate your rights.

Even though you didn’t raise the issue, freedom of speech doesn’t mean you’re owed a platform (you’re only free to use your own property to express yourself) nor does it mean you are free from ostracism (other’s freedom of association allows them to shun those they find odious.)

10/4/06, 4:02 PM  
Blogger truepeers said...

It's interesting that the Euro left have given up religion while showing a renewed fear of the sacred in Islamic dress. "WE don't believe in that religion stuff but we know enough (about what exactly?) to fear those who do. Fear/love of the sacred is often said to be the start of wisdom. This may be why Redeker is a lot smarter than some of his fellow leftists. Let's hope more will wake up to what moves men, and why.

10/4/06, 5:06 PM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

Jason points out that freedom of speech is the same as the other freedoms, so that the government must protect its citizenry from threats to their person and property. That is true, since our rights are indivisible.

However, there is a difference in connotation. When we address how to ensure freedom of speech, we think in terms of publishers and articles. Yet when we address the conspiracy of Muslim intimidation, a far more radical approach is called for.

My question for Jason is what is his recommendation for ensuring freedom of speech, with regard to the Muslim threat.

10/4/06, 5:42 PM  
Blogger JINGOIST said...

Weingarten as per your last paragraph and question to Jason let me give it a shot. You ask how do we ensure freedom of speech in light of the Muslim threat?

In a word COURAGE, or better yet FORTITUDE. I think we Americans have what it takes to beat back the Muslim threat. Approximately 50% of us will fight it as long as need be. That's enough. Jason's post deals with the French, they are probably done for. Do you remember the Muslim "youth riots" of 5-6 mos. ago? Suicidally, the French showed weakness in dealing with that sorry episode. Big mistake. The France that we all know and despise will be history inside of twenty years.
What I really care about is the custody of the French nuclear arsenal. Big problem.


10/4/06, 7:07 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

The response requires both of two components: the first by individuals and the second by the government.

In the past if there was an attack on a member of the press, a vigorous solidarity brought all members of the press out in force. This did not happen after the publication of the Danish cartoons. If a teacher was threatened by vigilantes because of the content of published works, professional organizations would mobilize. If a writer, like Rushdie, was threatened (and, by the way, a translator of his was killed), there would have been an outcry and other writers should have read his works in public.

A large and organized mobilization shows that intimidation will backfire. There should be no apologies under fire. One person can’t do it but a broad movement can.

The second component is government protection. The government should provide the costly measures to protect those threatened. It should monitor the groups responsible for these threats. And it should take measures to limit immigration and entry by those who identify themselves as sympathizers (i.e. call themselves Muslims.) Islam is inherently intolerant even if individual Muslims don’t fully practice the religion in this respect.

The government can’t compensate for the culture. If there are too great a concentration of people hostile to individual speech, the government can’t be everywhere. Thus we need both broad support coupled with government action to protect individuals and to limit Muslim entry to free societies if we are to safeguard our liberties. The broad support will demand government action which will protect those who speak out. It is reciprocal.

Without the support for free speech – and I mean demonstrative action – such liberties will wither away as we are seeing today.

10/4/06, 11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The truth is that the left only cares about Freedom of speech when it is convenient. If you burned a Koran there would be Nazi comparisons. However burning the American flag is peachy to this bunch. Arson is not freedom of speech.

The truth is the far left does not ever go on defense. We have a venal anti-semite from the UK who
lasted all of about six posts on my site. They never get forced to play defense. Even the Duck seldom gets treated like Poultry.

I want you to be aware that the new tactic of Islamicists is to hack sites. This is one of the reasons I created a back up. However, I do not attract as much attention as you.

10/5/06, 9:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Voltaire being one of my intellectual heroes, the title "France Rejects Voltaire" immediately caught my attention. When the V-man died, the French gave him a hero's send-off, similar (if not quite as huge) as the one the English would, a few decades later, give Lord Nelson. Now I wonder if his play MAHOMET could even be staged in France.

10/5/06, 9:29 AM  
Blogger Allen Weingarten said...

I agree completely with Jason "The government should...protect those threatened...monitor the groups responsible for these threats...take measures to limit immigration and entry by those who identify themselves as sympathizers."

His concern for freedom of speech does cover the imperative for freedom from fear.

10/5/06, 9:45 AM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Thanks for the comments.

I heard a production of Voltaire’s Mahomet was stopped in France or Switzerland because of fears. I remember writing about it but I can’t find it in my archives right now. In any case, here is a translation on Jack Wheeler’s .

10/5/06, 9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a production of MAHOMET with SEINFELD's Michael Richards in the title role. Every time he appears on the stage, he could make a funny, Kramer-style entrance. He could play the role as a kind of nutty prophet-next-door. It would humanize the founder of Islam and help counteract Islamopobia.

10/5/06, 11:03 AM  
Blogger FreeCyprus said...


Radical Muslims in France's housing estates are waging an undeclared "intifada" against the police, with violent clashes injuring an average of 14 officers each day.

Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy was warned of an 'intifada'

As the interior ministry said that nearly 2,500 officers had been wounded this year, a police union declared that its members were "in a state of civil war" with Muslims in the most depressed "banlieue" estates which are heavily populated by unemployed youths of north African origin.

10/5/06, 1:06 PM  
Blogger (((Thought Criminal))) said...

I say to the Muslim world that if they're not offended, fuck 'em. Nobody has the right to not be offended.

10/6/06, 2:52 AM  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

France’s history of religious criticism is second to none in the Western world....That has changed! Today, Islam is protected from criticism by law.

Every time I consider that metamorphosis, I can't believe that it's happening! Shows how easily a country can repudiate its own heritage, go belly-up, and dive into dhimmitude.

10/7/06, 7:02 PM  

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