Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ann Coulter, Islamophobia, American Freedom of Speech, Canada's Right to Exist and Cancellation at the University of Ottawa--Relevance to Saudi?


Ann Coulter, former lawyer, and now professional far right wing, proud Neo-Con media pundit, is well known for her inflammatory statements about the left, liberals, Muslims, homosexuals, Obama, and once famously said about Canada's refusal to join the war in Iraq (we have been in Afghanistan since the beginning), that Canada should be grateful the the US allows it to exist. The following is a student compilation of Ann Coulter and fellow Fox News correspondents on Canada's right to exist:

Here is a sampling of other opinions Coulter has expressed on Canada and Canadians. She also famously (at least in Canada) argued with a CBC interviewer about whether Canada had sent troops to Vietnam. Although he offered her every face saving way to desist and move on, she insisted. The short clip is worth watching to get a sense of her style when cornered:

Recently Ann Coulter has graced Canada with her presence on a sponsored tour of Canadian campuses and other institutions opining on free speech. She recently exercised her American right of  free speech (different legally than in Canada where the threshold for hate speech is lower ie less tolerant of  it) at the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario, Canada) telling a 17-year-old Muslimah student that all terrorists are Muslim, all Muslims are terrorists, and hence Muslims shouldn't be allowed to fly, but rather should travel by flying carpet, or, failing that, by camel. At her next scheduled stop, the University of Ottawa (a bilingual university in the nation's capital) student protests, including by Muslim students, prevented her talk from being held as planned.

This being Ann Coulter, the media were all over it, and of course she issued statements that provoked more controversy. I have included below 4 newspaper articles, 2 from the centre left national CBC, and 2 from the right wing Sun News organization, which together provide some context and a sense of the reactions to them. The links are included in the titles for those who want to read them in situ. I would only note at this point, that the Ezra Levant quoted is a far right wing, pro-Israel pundit, often in trouble with Muslim associations in Canada, and who, as the editor of the now defunct Western Standard, was the only major news editor in Canada to publish the Danish Cartoons.

It is also important to be aware that Canada, while valuing free speech, has a lower tolerance for hate speech, and a higher tolerance for media bans, than the US does. Also, freedom of speech in North America is quite different than that in MENA countries, including Saudi Arabia. Certain blogs have addressed freedom of speech in Saudi directly:  for example John Burgess  of Crossroads Arabia recently did a post on "Expanding Saudi Media Freedom", and Eman of Saudiwoman's Weblog posted March 24 on "Censored in KSA"; or in the context of freedom of speech in the West seeming to mean freedom of Islamophobic (but not anti-semitic) speech. In other cases, the issue comes up in the comments, often between Western commentators and Saudis, or Muslims, who differ in their perception of what is legitimate expression of criticism or disagreement, and what is hateful and offensive.

Coolred  of Coolred's Rant recently questioned the boundary between free speech and hate speech when she discovered her 2 highschoolers are regularly taunted and harassed as "terrorists" by virtue of being Arab and Muslim, "When is Freedom of Speech a Crime?". This is particularly painful as she went to considerable lengths to move her children from a negative social environment in Bahrain, where they were targeted because of their father's abuse, as she has documented on her blog, and which was mentioned in the post she agreed to here, "Ramadan Zakat,  Sadaqa, Charity: When Mixed Marriages Go Awry, and Mixed Families Suffer" .  The joy of their success in moving to the USA, and the positives of  their stay there are not tarnished, but are put into broader context by schoolyard racism, also discussed here in the post, School Yards Plus ça change...: Forms of Discrimination.

Student bloggers, Asmaa of Chapter One, in Saudi, and Ellen, of Steadily Emerging with Grace, in Australia, have simultaneously, it seems, had problems with freedom of expression where usually it is most liberal--in a university setting.

Asmaa, whose photography work was featured here in the post, "Medical Cover: Labcoat/Abaya/Scrubs", has posted on her own blog, in "Don't You Dare Smile!", about a backlash from certain professors against the highly successful video she and other students put together as part of a GCC Medical Students Conference-- the highly altruistic and Islamic (though some disagree on that latter characterization), "Donate a Smile Campaign". The video featured staff, students, and professors at KAU hospital and medical school, photographed smiling, with famous quotations about the value of a smile, fading in and out, set to "Smile (though your heart is breaking)". The esthetic and public success of this video seems to have offended some; and pressure on professors and students resulted in the video being removed from Youtube and made private. *There has been a new resolution to the problem, and the video has been lightly edited and reposted:

Meanwhile, Ellen--whose marriage to M (a Saudi and Shia) has been featured  here in a 2 part post, "Saudi/non-Saudi Students: Marriage and The Marriage Permission Process--Part I Ellen" and "Part II M" -- has been having difficulty with freedom of expression in a University of Sydney (Australia) course on Islam:  "Duty to Speak Up?" . Let's just say that she and the professor disagree about the proper tone to take in discussing Islam and Muslims, and more recently and dramatically on the Sunni/ Shia split: "How to go about it?". Of greater concern to her was the way he handled her questions, and the remarks he made about Shiism.  Now, she will be dropping the course, and looking for proper avenues to complain about his pedagogical practices.

Some questions now for discussion later:

Should Ann Coulter, or anyone, expect American style freedom of speech in a foreign country?
Does Canada, or any other country, have the right to set its own boundaries and publication bans on hate speech?
Was the warning from the university official part of a fair preparation for Coulter's visit, or a threat to her or to freedom of speech?
Should campus security have handled things differently?
Were the students right to protest in this way or would a different strategy/tactic have been better? What?
Does this deserve media attention, a lawsuit, a blog post, or is it much ado about nothing?
What about freedom of speech in Saudi, or on Saudi-based or Saudi-themed blogs? How free is it?What or who controls how free that speech or, any other, is?
How free is academic freedom of speech? What pressures are brought to bear on students and professors?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

The articles:

As a starting point for discussion, please read the articles below, about the cancellation of Coulter's speech, and think about the limits of freedom of speech, free speech vs hate speech, where the line is drawn between them in different countries, and in different settings, and the rightness or wrongness of the students protesting as they did in Ottawa, along with how this plays out in Saudi or MENA vs Western contexts on blogs and off. Also, gather your own thoughts and impressions, of course.

Not reprinted below, but the newest update, Ann Coulter was extremely well received at the University of Calgary, a training ground in some departments for Canadian neo-Cons, and in the Canadian Bible Belt. When they were persona non grata in 2009, both George W Bush, and Condoleezza Rice spoke there, and no where else in Canada. Ann Coulter, in her scheduled talk, claimed she has been treated worse in Canada than any Muslim since the Reformation (?), "Spurned in Ottawa, Ann Coulter gets a big welcome from Calgary"--well worth the read.

Coulter's Ottawa speech cancelled

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 | 7:23 PM PT 

Conservative author Ann Coulter had been scheduled to speak Tuesday night at the University of Ottawa.Conservative author Ann Coulter had been scheduled to speak Tuesday night at the University of Ottawa. (Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press)
American right-winger Ann Coulter's speech at the University of Ottawa was cancelled Tuesday night due to security concerns after thousands protested outside the venue.
A spokesman for the group that organized the event said there were fears for Coulter's well-being after about 2,000 people gathered outside the venue to protest her presence there.
Although the event was cancelled, organizers said her Canadian tour will continue, wrapping up at the University of Calgary on Thursday.
Coulter is a darling of the U.S. right wing who, according to critics, uses incendiary language to sell millions of books, as well as her syndicated column.
On Monday night, Coulter sparked controversy when she spoke to about 800 people at the University of Western Ontario in London. She drew applause when she attacked the health-care overhaul bill U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law Tuesday.
But the regular Fox News commentator drew outrage from some, including a 17-year-old Muslim student who asked her a question about her views on Muslims.
Coulter has said all terrorists are Muslims and has suggested all Muslims be barred from airlines and use flying carpets.
When the student said she didn't have a flying carpet, Coulter told her to "take a camel."
In an interview on CTV News Channel Tuesday, Coulter called that remark a joke. "They wouldn't be bringing me in here for a speech if I never told a joke, if I never used satire," she said.
"There's a political point behind my saying that they could take flying carpets, the silliness of all this."

Even before she spoke in London — the first of three speeches this week on Canadian soil — Coulter received a pre-emptive and private caution about the limits of free speech in Canada from the provost of the University of Ottawa, where she appears Tuesday.

Coulter warned to tread lightly

The letter was immediately leaked to select conservative news organizations, with Coulter telling one that the university was "threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech."
For a strident provocateur speaking on "Political Correctness, Media Bias and Freedom of Speech," the University of Ottawa warning — however tepid — was pure oxygen for the fire.
After mentioning the Charter of Rights and Canada's free speech laws, vice-president academic and University of Ottawa provost François Houle invited Coulter to "educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada."
He noted, by example, that "promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."

Warning just fuel to fire, say critics

Coulter's representatives did not respond to an interview request Monday from The Canadian Press.
However, she told in an email that: "The provost of the U. of Ottawa is threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech there on Monday — before I've even set foot in the country!"
Even critics of Coulter say attempting to muzzle her only gives her a louder bark.
"In terms of putting limits on what she … should say or shouldn't say, I'm not sure that helps," said Ottawa Centre New Democrat MP Paul Dewar.
"It might add fuel to the fire that she will be probably starting tomorrow."
Liberal MP Scott Brison told Coulter's political opponents to "vote with your feet."
"If you don't agree with what she has to say, then ignore her."


  • The story originally stated the University of Ottawa is located in the Ottawa Centre riding. In fact, it is located in the Ottawa-Vanier riding.

Coulter's circus comes to town, but can't perform


I knew something was up as I walked towards the University of Ottawa and saw security guards locking the exits surrounding the Marion building.
That's the building where American right-wing commentator Ann Coulter was about to give her much-hyped lecture this evening.
The University of Ottawa is one of three stops on the Ann Coulter's Canadian tour, organized by the International Free Press Society and the Clare Booth Policy Institute.
About 200 demonstrators turned out to shut down Coulter's talk.
And they succeeded.
Canadian conservative commentator Ezra Levant told the audience inside at about 8:10 p.m. that the event was cancelled. The audience was forced to leave through those very exits I saw university security locking.
Levant later wrote this message on Twitter: "Cops advised that proceeding with Coulter event in face of protesters would be dangerous to her and crowd."
Prior to the start of the event, hundreds of people were forced to wait in the rain while organizers tried to usher people through.
As the demonstration escalated, about two dozen police officers and university security guards also showed up to try and quell the crowd.
Outside on the steps of the building's entrance, protestors held up signs while reciting some of Coulter's past quotes, such as: "we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."
Other protestors chanted "this is a safe space."
Then at 7:41 p.m., security officials told the crowd outside that someone pulled the fire alarm and tried to get those in line to back away from the doors.
After about 15 minutes, people started to file back into the building, until the event was called off.
One male in his early twenties was escorted out of the foyer of the building by an Ottawa police officer.
Protestors claimed victory, chanting "whose campus? Our campus!" at the entrance to the lecture hall.

Ann Coulter: 'I'm the victim of a hate crime'

Controversial columnist and author Ann Coulter speaks at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, on Monday, March 22, 2010

Controversial columnist and author Ann Coulter speaks at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, on Monday, March 22, 2010

Photograph by: Dave Chidley for National Post, Dave Chidley for National Post

Inflammatory right-wing pundit Ann Coulter took aim at a University of Ottawa administrator Monday night, saying an e-mail from the school warning her to use "restraint, respect and consideration" when addressing Ontario students during a speaking tour this week made her a victim of a "hate crime."
Speaking to students and academics at the University of Western Ontario Monday, Coulter said the e-mail sent to her Friday by Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost of the University of Ottawa, targeted her as a member of an identifiable group and as such, she will be filing a complaint with the Human Rights Commission alleging hate speech.
"I'm sure the Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of it," Coulter said to loud cheers from the 800-strong audience. "I think I'm the victim of a hate crime here. Either what (Mr. Houle) did was a hate crime, or the whole commission is BS."
In Houle's e-mail, a copy of which was obtained by the National Post, the administrator urges Coulter to weigh her words with "respect and civility in mind" when she speaks at the University of Ottawa campus Tuesday.
"Our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or 'free speech') in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here."
Houle goes on: "Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."
Ezra Levant, lawyer and former publisher of the Western Standard magazine, spoke before Coulter on Monday and called Houle's letter a "veiled threat." Seamus Wolfe, the president of the University of Ottawa's student federation, has already said that Coulter is not welcome on campus and that he is trying to work with the administration to find a venue for her speech elsewhere.
The administration, however, has said it does not object to the fiery pundit's appearance on campus.
Coulter's targeting of the University of Ottawa administration and Canada's Human Rights Commissions came at the end of a half-hour speech that attacked political correctness in the United States and the mainstream media, which she said was uncritical of the Obama administration and unfairly biased against conservatives.
"It's almost like there is one standard for Conservatives and one completely different one for Liberals," Coulter told the crowd, which alternated from cheering to booing depending on the topic of discussion, which ranged from gay marriage, illegal immigration to Obama's health-care bill.
"A word is either offensive or it's not. In a world of political correctness, all words are banned unless they're used against conservatives."
At one point she criticized gays for comparing their plight in the U.S. with the hardships experienced by blacks during the civil rights movement. She also called Obama the "first 100 per cent politically correct president."
Coulter began her speech to a standing ovation from about three-quarters of the crowd and said she harboured no hard feelings about the U.S. hockey team's loss to Canada at the Winter Olympics.
Apart from her anger toward the University of Ottawa and the human rights commissions, Coulter was uncritical of Canada, unlike past comments she has made about this country.
Even though Coulter is not a Canadian citizen, Levant, who has been involved in human rights law cases, said it would not be "outlandish" for Coulter to file a complaint against the University of Ottawa, especially in light of the 1985 Singh v. Minister of Employment and Immigration case.


Anonymous said...

The very fact that she said 'they should be lucky we let them exist on the same continent as us' with a straight face, makes me coil up in horror. But then again, the idiotic nature of most of her comments make me laugh.

When I want to know a bit more about what's happening in the US, I use the Daily Show for news and I use FOX for entertainment purposes. It's funny really - we have a news channel that's also owned by Murdoch, but it's quite a respectable one due to British impartiality laws (which for some reason doesn't apply to print media).

Qusay said...

People, who inflame without evidence, are in abundance, and on both sides. I wonder sometimes if they knew that what they were doing was wrong and continue to do it because it is easier to make money and gain fame by promoting hate… or it seems like that to me.
Hate speech should be a crime or at least a felony, because it is an accusation without proper evidence. If someone is a terrorist (no matter what creed, religion, or nationality) then they alone, and not their whole family or city or country are.
I wonder what she would’ve said if she was presented with this Europol report which shows that 99% of terrorist attacks in Europe in the past 3 years were carried out by NON -MUSLIMS.
Please see Figure 2 on page 14
But it is a 56 page paper filled with facts, number and statistics… who needs all that when it is easier to tell people to fly on a magic carpet?

Anthrogeek10 said...

Boy sure know how to get a tired college student out from under her books.:) I am back for this one even though my eyelids are suggestinng otherwise. lol

I saw an article on this the other day and wondered when (not if) you would discuss this.

Should Ann Coulter, or anyone, expect American style freedom of speech in a foreign country?

Oh no. When in Rome, do as the Romans. I mean, it is a choice to visit sommeone elses homeland. Treat it as if you are a guest--because you are. Learn the customs and general laws and follow them.

Does Canada, or any other country, have the right to set its own boundaries and publication bans on hate speech?

Absolutely. Do not have much more to say about this one. lol
I would never go to KSA and start protesting. I know that is an extreme example but hey....

Was the warning from the university official part of a fair preparation for Coulter's visit, or a threat to her or to freedom of speech?

It was fair. They actually should not have invited her at all in my book.

Should campus security have handled things differently?

I did not read it in its entirety....

Were the students right to protest in this way or would a different strategy/tactic have been better? What?

I think they did what they felt was correct. Go students!! lol

oes this deserve media attention, a lawsuit, a blog post, or is it much ado about nothing?

I think it deserves attention. She is a terroist in her own right using verbal weapons. That is my view.

What about freedom of speech in Saudi, or on Saudi-based or Saudi-themed blogs? How free is it?What or who controls how free that speech or, any other, is?

Of course, my worldview stems from a country that was founded on free speech so I think that everyone deserves to express themselves to some degree. Notice I said SOME. Everyone should have the right to practice a religion as long as it is practiced peacefully. I even think the KKK deserves their opinion (but kept to themselves as opposed to demonstrations), as vile as I think it and they are. I am not sure where that line should be drawn and it sure is a great question....
How free is academic freedom of speech? What pressures are brought to bear on students and professors?
Any other comments, thoughts, experiences?

In the usa, professors of Middle Eastern Studies programs are censored to a large extend, as I understand it. I do not know the details. Public universities largely paid for by the state should have more censorship than private ones I think.


Chiara said...

Shafiq--Thanks for your comment, and I agree with what you write. I find the Daily Show less satisfying than the Colbert Report on routine basis, but both are more reliable about the news than Faux News. Thanks for the information about British impartiality laws. I didn't realize that they had any, given the way the press behaves, but your explanation clears that dichotomy. The Brits do have the libel laws that best favour the plaintiff though. Thanks again.

Qusay--thanks for your comment and the link to the outstanding report. You are right that the whole document is an excellent read, and reference, as well as Figure 2 on Page 14 (page 14 of the upload) being particularly pertinent to the discussion here.

I agree with making hate speech a criminal offense, and a serious one as it has the potential to do serious harm to individuals, groups, and the society as a whole. I find invocation of "freedom of speech" arguments in these situations to be disingenuous.

Ann Coulter seems to need new audiences, as some of her inflammatory remarks have led to the media, except for Faux News, being generally disinchanted with her. As you point out she earns a living by being inflammatory, not just arguing a particular view point, even an extreme one. That Ezra Levant is her champion in Canada speaks volumes as he has been accused of and charged with Islamophobia and hate speech against Muslims more than once. It does seem as if in North America and Europe hate speech about Muslims and Islam is better tolerated than other types of hate speech for a number of historic and social reasons. Hopefully this is changing with the efforts of Muslim groups, and Muslim lawyers, like the trio who did their final law school project on anti-Muslim bias in Canada's answer to Time Magazine, MacLean's, and then pursued it through a Human Rights Commission complaint.

Thanks again for your inspiring comment and the excellent reference and link.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to play devil's advocate and come out in favour of free speech - There is a very fine line between what's hate speech and what isn't and in my opinion, governments usually get it wrong. I also think it's more effective challenging such people instead of attempting to silence them (which usually backfires anyway).

The only types of speech that should be prosecuted (in my opinion) are lies/slander (but with more neutral laws than Britain currently has) and speech that directly calls for violence against others.

Souma said...

saudi arabia has a low tolerance to hate speech, but only if the hate is directed towards the good muslims. but what does that make the rest of us? there is no Saudi who isnt a muslim. we are all in the same boat here but if i speak against anything bad a bearded man or a face covered woman did, i'm the bad person.

freedom of speech here is only given to one group, and that group has their mistakes, regardless of how huge they are, automatically excused for them because of their so called righteousness.

they can speak against us but we cant say a word to them.

all this does deserve attention, though what Ann Coulter said IS hateful and she was acted against by her same methods (hate). but hate only begets hate, cant expect much to come out of this emotion while unprocessed.

Chiara said...

Anthrogeek--LOL :) !

Thanks for your coherent and thoughtful comment! :) I agree that freedom of speech is important, but I am not so sure about freedom of inflammatory speech, and certainly there is no place for hateful speech, and especially speech inciting hatred.

In fact the student Progressive Conservative Party club on campus (allied to the Conservatives in power federally currently) invited her and as a campus club were given permission to hold the event on campus.

I read Dr Houle's letter and I think it was more informative than threatening while bearing in mind that when Netanyahu was invited to speak at Concordia University by the campus Hillel Society in 2002 there were riots which had a major impact on the university's reputation. In that case campus security were overwhelmed and city police were called.

Middle Eastern Studies Departments in the USA have long been dominated by a judeo-centric view, with much Israeli sponsorship. Edward Said, the Palestinian activist who was a professor of Comparative Literature at Colombia University required police protection after threats from the Jewish Defense League itself. However, more recently there is concern that the departments are receiving Saudi money and are biased because of it. Needless to say it can be as divisive in a department as it is in the countries.

Thanks again for your comment!

Chiara said...

Shafiq--you make some very good points, especially about how hard it is to draw a line between free speech and hate speech. I agree that speech that incites violence is clearly criminal,not just illegal, but I worry about the speech that is not quite there yet, but which prepares the way for others to follow. Genocide studies, for example, show the incremental acceptability of Otherness, then hate, then elimination of the Other. Individual instances of targeting, bullying, mobbing, and swarming follow the same pattern.

I would be interested in what others have to say about this as well.

Thanks for playing devil's advocate. :)

Chiara said...

Souma--you raise very good point about what happens when the boundaries are too narrow or too skewed in one particular direction. This can be very dangerous for individuals, and ultimately harms the society because of insufficient freedom to address issues or bring in new ideals to resolve old or new chanllenges.

I was aware that by addressing the issue in this way I gave more attention to the attention seeking Ms Coulter, but it seems a worthwhile discussion and place to start. I appreciate that you see it as relevant.

I was particularly glad to see that your own freedom of speech issue was resolved, and I have added the link and the video so people can catch up on that.

Congratulations and thanks for your comment here.

NidalM said...

I dont think anybody takes Coulter seriously anymore. Honestly, noone actually listens to her anymore. Her goals here are not to convince people, but to generate buzz and create unrest.

As a student at the University of Michigan, we had to deal with something called the Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. Headed by a gentleman named David Horowitz, there would be numerous 'seminars' and rallies on campus where people would be told things like 'only a third of muslims are terrorists'.

These events would be held across dozens of campuses across major universities in the United States and had just one goal: to elicit an inflammatory reaction from the local muslim students associations (MSA) or other liberal organizations. Media would be brought in at the slightest hint of unrest and would make headlines the next day.

Their goal, in the end, was to give right wingers more political ammo.

Despite its appearance as overbearing and stifling, the Saudi freedom of speech laws and those pushing against them are relatively tame (both are looking to do the 'right thing'). In the west, its no longer about that.

Chiara said...

NidalM--thanks for your comment!

I am not aware of Islamofacism Week in Canada, but then Canadian universities have also blocked Daniel Pipes from speaking, and prevented inflammatory displays like the extreme anti-abortion one, Genocide Awareness Project, from being presented publicly such that campus members are forced to walk past them. The displays are relegated to a specific location off the main routes and the posters displayed on walls turning inward so that no one is forced to see them.

There have been kerfuffles about freedom of speech about this, but generally these American groups find Canada takes a tougher stand about inflammatory rhetoric verbal or pictoral (except for the University of Calgary which has a record for the number of times the Genocide Awareness Project's version of anti-abortion rhetoric has been hosted on campus to great fanfare, and some counter protests).

Canada doesn't have the same relationship that the US does with Israel, nor the same lobbying system and AIPAC or powerful Israeli lobby group, so I would imagine that some of the more islamo-fascist rhetoric is easier to tone down. Unfortunately idiocy prevails everywhere and certain mainstream vehicles like the newspaper the National Post, and MacLean's Magaizine find other ways to keep Muslims within a narrow stereotypic portrayal.

The Human Rights Commission at least sided against MacLeans.

I agree that Ann Coulter imploded, and is stuck looking for new audiences outside the US. That is one reason that her happy reception at the University of Calgary which produces our neo-cons, like our current Prime Minister, and the hard swing to the far right of what was a centre-right conservative party, is to be lamented in my opinion.

Thanks for your comment and a different take on the topic!

Jay Kactuz said...

Shafiq: Sometimes Ac makes really shred statements, sometimes she says stupid things. The one about Canada was stupid.

The line between free speech and hate speech is not thin at all. It is a mile wide.
Let me explain:
free speech – opinions, beliefs, ideas, statements about facts, even if wrong.
Hate speech:- calls to hurt or oppress people. Of course the issue then is what is oppression? That then opens another can of worms… To what extent does a society have the right to impose norms of behavior?

The free speech line is clear, the other is fuzzy and vague. One thing is sure: hurting someone’s feelings or saying something they don’t like is not hate speech. There is also the issue of discrimination. Some speech is obviously discriminatory (ie, calls to ban the veil). In this case, in my opinion, the issue becomes one of equality and reciprocity. If a certain group discriminates against another, I see no reason not to return the favor.

Saying one does not like Islam is not hate speech. Saying that Islam teaches hate and violence is not hate speech. Saying that Muslims bring many problems to Western society is not hate speech. Calling Mohammed a pedophile is not hate speech. Saying all Muslims are evil and calling for their death is hate speech and wrong.

Qusay. Obviously you didn’t read the report you referred to, or you have no understanding of math. Islamic terror is a major issue in the report. Don’t you people ever think others will check your facts and references? Surprisingly, right-wring terror is almost non-existant. Go figure.

The concept of hate speech as so often used today is political instrument used to subdue opponenets.. My opinions to you are probably hate speech.

Anthro. I am with you, mostly.

One cannot divorce the Counter issue from the generalized attack on anybody that takes a conservative or anti-Islam position. I refer you to a good article on this.

Quote: The Flight of the Intellectuals, Paul Berman's new 300-page polemic (to be published this spring), recalls these heady days in a book that is likely to provoke an intense controversy among public intellectuals. The most contentious assertion in Berman's book is that some of the most prominent of these—people who rushed to the defense of Salman Rushdie when he was threatened with death for a novel deemed blasphemously irreverent to Islam—have failed to offer wholehearted support to Muslim dissidents today, people such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born author and Muslim apostate, whose lives are similarly threatened. This failure, this "flight of the intellectuals," Berman argues, represents a deeply troubling abandonment of Enlightenment values in the face of recurrent threats to freedom of expression.

To me, the main difference between the Rushdie affair on Hirsi Ali situation is that we have had 20 years of Islamic infiltration in our society, causing an erosion of free speech. .Islam and free speech and conscience do not mix.

I wonder if saying that Muslims are vile animals and the worst of peoples is hate speech. That goes pretty far to inhumanitize a group of people. What do you guys think?

Susanne said...

"I wonder if saying that Muslims are vile animals and the worst of peoples is hate speech. That goes pretty far to inhumanitize a group of people. What do you guys think?"

I think it's a total lie! I know some fantastic Muslims one of whom is like a younger brother to me. I love him to death. :)

I hope one day you can meet some Muslims like Samer and Qusay and Murtadha and Louai and Wasim and Nidal and others I've met either in person or online. I daresay you'd be impressed at how kindhearted and down-to-earth these young men are.

The same with dear old Ann... I wish she'd meet them I mean. She's not kindhearted, but thrives on hatefulness. That's why I did not read this post. I have no time for her.

Wendy said...

As I sit here and listen to the debate on Cross Country Check-Up I think I have to say that unless it's out and out incitement to commit a crime free speech should be allowed. Ann Coulter got a lot of free press over this. The best way to handle speakers such as her is to simply not attend and listen to her. Yes, her supporters will listen with rapt attention but they'd seek her out anyway. The best way to deal with these kind of people is to not give them an audience or press. This is my opinion anyway.

Chiara said...

Jay-- I do think you gave in thinly veiled (pun intended) disguise a number of instances of hate speech against Muslims as a group, Islam as a religion, and the character of the Prophet Mohamed. You may be testing the limits of the commenting policy of this blog, but I hope you trust I will enact them.

I trust that as an engineer Qusay is well versed in mathematics, and as I said above, I thought his reference, link, and the chart he directed us to were outstanding.

I do think that Coulter is inflammatory in a way that does a disservice to conservatives. If she were only expressing conservative views, I would be happy to agree to disagree.

As for the rest of your comment, well don't get all Cactaceous, please! :)

Chiara said...

Susanne--thanks for your comment on the comments! Ann Coulter isn't deserving of any more publicity than she already seeks but I thought the issues her visit raised were worthwhile. And, of course I found her annoying. Sadly I think Ann is immune to reality! LOL :)

Chiara said...

Wendy--thanks for your comment. Normally I agree that such people should not be given the attention they crave, but as some take that as license to be persist, it sometimes backfires.

The issue for me is really the inflammatory part. She is smart enough, and savvy enough about the law and the media, not to incite violence but the attitudes and opinions she spews are hateful, and she always appeals to emotions and ad hominem attacks. That type of speech unchecked is what does lead people to be inflamed and to violent incidents.

Thanks again for sharing your perspective here!

Chiara said...

Jay--I just poofed the 2 comments you left yesterday. Both seemed unnecessarily personal about commentators; one made a point you made before (but which is clearly erroneous, as opposed to being merely a difference of opinion), and the other I am not sure was even on the right post.

However, I will remind you that substantive, respectful differences of opinion are welcome here, but not baiting commentators individually or as a group, nor the type of backhanded "-isms" I identified above. Thanks for the times you have adhered to this, and I hope you will do so in the future.

Chiara said...

Jay--thanks for your comment for here which I read carefully, but won't post because it contained some blanket statements that aren't merely unpleasant about Islam, according to your belief, but are too close to Islamphobia for this blog, ie one doesn't have to adhere to any particular view, but statements suggesting that a group is all one way is at best stereotyping and at worst inflammatory.

I of course do know your style, and that you wish no actual harm to individuals you may challenge here. I don't think any of the Muslims commenting here, or hopefully wishing to comment here, are unaware of the impact that an extremist cult within Islam. It is one which has selected and distorted passages from the Quran and concepts within the Muslim faith, and has negatively impacted on the impression that many have of Islam and of Muslims. They don't need you to tell them that. I don't agree that human rights and Islam are incompatible. Most likely that compatibility will be elaborated further in future posts.

Yes, I am a believer in multi-culturalism and in relativism, the latter only implying that there is more than one way, not that anything goes.

Unfortunately I cannot edit a comment only publish or reject it, nor would I presume to do so without consulting with the commentator firstm and acknowledging it online.

The computer I am using currently won' even let me copy paste the comment to let me repost it under the persons name. Given that binary choice and the statements within your comment that I consider disparaging of a group of people based on faith, I poofed the whole comment.

I know your ideas are set, but I also know that you are articulate enough and intelligent enough to focus on substantive matters from the post, or comments, and to refrain from baiting other commentators. Thanks!

Jay Kactuz said...

That is fine with me, Chiara. I have no problem with you making decisions about what you allow on your blog.

I am not exactly a stranger to this type of thing, so I don't loose any sleep over it.

Saying that you hold a very liberal view of certain things is a very modest way of describing your position on what is known as "multiculturalism". You think it is wonderful, I think it is devisive and will lead to conflict, sorrow and tragedy. History will be the judge, not I, not you.

You must understand that this is not the immigration of the 1800s, the 1920s or even 1950s. The world has changed and things are very different now.

Of course it isn't just immigration, but much worse. Mankind has spit in the face of nature and nature one day will send the bill and it will not be pretty. Take just the single issue of birth control and family life. Modern Western societies have taken tens of thousands of years of accepted behavior and thrown it out. They don't have families and children as nature intended and now, as they grow old, they bring in people that, unlike the children they didn't have, have no interest in caring for them, nor should they. And so on...

I can't explain this concept in less than a couple of thousand lines so I won't even try. It is not complicated but I see a breakdown looming in Western societies that will lead to troubled times.

Oh well.

I will try to refrain from my evil ways, and please feel free to say that I am no longer welcome if you think I have transgressed too much too often. I will then no longer bang the keyboard at ChezChiara and the world will be a better place. OK?

Take care!

Susanne said...

Jay, I hope you will be welcomed here and still keep commenting. You've proven you can do it in a tolerable way and I actually enjoy hearing your side of things even when you call me out personally in areas where we disagree. If we can't discuss things, we all have lost out, in my opinion.

Chiara said...

Jay--I do hope you will continue to comment here, in the best version of your comments. Feel free to toss in a little music. :)

Susanne-I agree that Jay often adds to the discussion, and then... well...Jay knows about the other times. LOL :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails