Friday, March 23, 2007

Defamation, Criticism and why they are different words.

I stumbled across this at Markedmanner, was moved to comment, and then realized there was more that needed saying. There seems to be a marked lack of comprehension on the part of certain portions of the Religion of Peace of the distinction between "defamation" and "criticism."

A "defamation" is something that is both offensive and untrue. A valid criticism IS true, and while often uncomfortable, is not a legitimate cause for offense. That is to say that in saying, for instance, that the treatment of women in some Islamic countries is repugnant and unacceptable to great swaths of moral beings is true. That such behaviors brings Islam into disrepute is true as well. It does. Cope, and perhaps consider if the Koran truly requires what culture demands.

Or, for a domestic example, "Swift-Boating" involves saying things about a person, their history and their motives that are factually untrue and intended to discredit them in the eyes of people who do not know any of the parties personally. It's also referred to as "Bearing False Witness" in the Bible; I believe the Koran has similar language, but I cannot quote it.

It's very difficult (not to mention rather silly) to "defame" the Prophet. It's far to easy to check and see if the Prophet really... Oh, wait, yes, I do see the point. See Swift Boating, above. Nonetheless, if you are concerned that the Prophet, or your faith as it's taught are being defamed - or indeed, any person or concept, one goes first to the source to find out the facts of the matter.

Further, for most people on this globe, religion is less about God and more about culture, and therefore it's perfectly legitamate - and indeed, the primary task of every recorded Prophet - to remind folks that there is a real and significant difference, while rudely pointing out the difference between what your neighbors say the book says and what it plainly does say.

Consider also what your culture - and your blind acceptance of it - says about you. And almost all western criticism - even that so ignorant it IS unintentional defamation is actually directed at cultural manifestations. Most people wouldn't recognize a Koranic passage if it bit them. Myself, alas, included.

Spreading ignorance is not bearing false witness. But the consequences are often quite similar.

Especially as you-all quite insightful and accurately criticize the failings of what we touchingly refer to as "western civilization." The radical Islamic and terrorist, Osama Bin Ladin has been most articulate in that regard, as insightful into our failings as he is (or was) blind to the his own failure to practice Safer Sects. Such is the arrogance of mankind.

Of course, one does not have to be Islamic to be confused on this point, or indeed religious. We all have our pet ideas and would love to harbor our fond delusions of mental, moral, religious and cultural superiority. Americans are somewhat cartoonish in this respect, with our flagwaving and parades. But, to the extent that such idealism serves to drive us toward fulfilling our unrealistic expectations of ourselves, it's tolerable, even to be applauded. Mostly, folks prefer the delusions to the heavy lifting involved in making their propaganda come true.

I just found a meeting that took place in Washington DC this week with the Organization ofUS Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Karen Hughes. Islamic Conference. Karen Hughes who is the U.S. Under Secretary of State lead this meeting. Here are some of the things she said: Read The Whole Thing Here


“As you pursue important efforts at the U.N. Human Rights Council to promote resolutions against the defamation of Islam,” Hughes said, “I hope you might consider broadening those resolutions to include respect for all faiths and people’s freedom to worship and express themselves as they choose.”
It's important to recall that this directly relates to the Great Cartoon Flap.

Apparently the diplomatic language is opaque to the author - so permit me to translate. "Sauce for the Goose is sauce for the Gander. If you wish people to respect YOUR choice of religion, and indeed your religion per-se, you must not get your panties in a wad about those who choose otherwise. If you wish to be treated as grown ups; grow the hell up! If you wish to be respected, be respectable. Run along now, the grown-ups have important things to discuss."

Please note the gender of the person saying this. The choice of spokesperson for the United States in this matter was not accidental. This was a diplomatic bitch-slapping, and a textbook example of how one communicates an idea that may be offend without giving legitimate cause for offense.

What ever happened to freedom of expression Mrs Hughes? How about instead of outlawing people putting down religious faiths we allow them to do so if they please? If people want to put down Christianity and Jesus thats their choice. If people want to put down Islam and Muhammad that is their choice. There should be no law against the right of people to express how they feel about any religion. This should never be against the law. Just because Muslims cant handle people putting down Muhammad and the Quran doesn't mean other religions have to cow tail to their demands and outlaw defamation of all religions. Christianity is constantly attacked by people who mock Jesus yet I do not know of any large group of Christians that have committed violence because of it. Nor have they called for the outlawing of peoples freedom to express themselves in this negative way towards Jesus. Muslims should understand freedom of expression and freedom of criticism the same way Christians do.

Well, let's have a look at what else Karen Hughes said. Here's the next two paragraphs:

Noting recent violent terrorist acts committed in the name of Islam, Hughes praised leaders such as Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu for speaking out against “violent extremists [who] only pervert religion when they bomb hospitals, universities, wedding parties, mosques, employment centers, even groups of children.”

Hughes called on the OIC Washington Group to join U.S. efforts to combat “misperceptions fostered by extremists that there is a ‘clash of the civilizations,’ that the West is somehow in conflict with Islam.” [emphasis mine]

Hear that, Dobson and Roberson? You have just been publicly and officially declared to be "part of the problem." Clearly she did not clear this statement with the White House. That, or as a Bush Appointee, she's incapable of perceiving irony. Nonetheless, I see nothing in here suggesting that violent actions are to be "tolerated" as "Legitimate expressions of outrage," or that criticism of Islam, or any religion should be outlawed.

But the author is not advocating the right to criticize Islam. He's advocating the right to DEFAME Islam. He's correct, so far as it goes, to say that as a US Citizen, the First Amendment guarentees the right to say things that may well offend others, and that Government is espressly prohibited from restricting such speech, even for his own good. The only exception to this is the "Fighting Words Doctrine," which says that the government is justified in acting to restrict speech that is likely to cause an immediate breach of the peace by "reasonable persons." Government has neither the authority nor the responsibility to protect the speaker from personal consequences - the doctrine exists ONLY to prevent "collateral damage."

In practical, individual terms, the way the law treats this is to reduce the consequences of punching a markedly offensive person in the face to a misdemeanor; just enough of a consequence to make people consider whether honor requires such a sacrifice. Honorable persons are responsible for the actions that honor requires of them, regardless of religion or culture. This is an ethical constant.
[She praised] Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu for speaking out against “violent extremists [who] only pervert religion when they bomb hospitals, universities, wedding parties, mosques, employment centers, even groups of children.”
Yeah. Thereby effectively putting words in his mouth that he very much did not wish to say in this context. In praising him, she was "heaping coals of fire upon his head."

General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu whom Mrs Hughes quotes supports outlawing any negative things being said about Islam. Read Here Sure he speaks out against specific attacks but who does he really consider to be terrorist organizations? That is the question we must ask.
Um. Why must we? It's quite probable he does support organizations that many westerners consider to be "terrorist organizations," and it's not at all a stretch to consider it legitimate to support the goals while considering some actions to be abominations.

I considered the African National Congress to have had worthy goals. But it WAS accurately described as a "terrorist organization." I was uncomfortable with that, but one has to consider if any other means were available to blacks in South Africa... or indeed, Catholics in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. In both cases, arguably, other options were limited or non-extant. Or shall we speak of the Irgun? Of the Stern Gang? The Mossad, pre 1948? I'm quite sure that the British considered them terrorists, and I doubt they were such airy-fairy idealists to seriously disagree. These groups were founded by survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and the extermination camps. There is a definite "whatever it takes" that comes with "never again," and to an extent I cannot argue. Up to the point they start building ghettos for other people. Then I start wondering if anyone ever learns anything from history. I mean, what part of "never again" was unclear? It's an unqualified statement. If YOU can do it, it means - aside from "never again to us" - permisson to others to say "Once again, with FEELING."

Anyway, whether such acts as blowing up the King David Hotel are acts of terrorism, insurgency or those of "freedom fighters" is mostly a matter of perspective, and whether one agrees with the intended goals and the eventual outcome.

Me, I like calling a spade a spade. And if these groups were terrorists - they did not lack for legitimate targets. Nor did they always restrict themselves to legitimate targets. David Ben Gurian, well, I don't think he had reason, on the whole, to have difficulty sleeping at night. His current political successors, though - that may be another matter. Seems to me that one lesson of history should be how and why one should avoid being a legitimate target of - erm - "asymmetrical warfare."

That's the term the Pentagon uses for those folks who are either terrorists or freedom fighters, depending on who you talk to. An accurate description, if intentionally bloodless.

I should like to ask the author if he considered the Nicaraguan Contras to have worthy goals, and to what extent, if any he nonetheless objected to such excesses as the torture-murders of civilians - including nuns - in wholesale lots. They WERE fighting against Communism, or so I have been told. Many would consider that a laudable goal. Some would even say any means justified that end.

But there are means, and there are means. There's a difference between attacking a military occupation force and bombing a shrine filled with children. There's a difference between shooting a known traitor behind the ear and sticking a burning tire around their neck. The distinction is when the viciousness is in excess of any arguably legitimate goal in a moral struggle.

My personal view on all such "struggles" is this; if you are going to "go to the mattresses," it should be about something that is genuinely worth dying for, and ideally directed against objects and possibly persons who are by virtue of their nature and position legitimate targets. If either point is questionable, one's struggle is apt to be perceived as being nothing more than a particularly vicious temper-tantrum. Worse yet, that perception will be accurate.

The distinction between various forms of asymmetrical warriors is debatable, but it's not the debate that we need. We need to distinguish between asymmetrical warfare - as prosecuted on either side - and thuggery.

I think there is a great deal less "asymmetrical warfare" in any supposed cause than there is just plain old vicious thuggery on all the supposed sides, with a few childishly transparent justifications applied as laughably inadequate fig-leaves.

I believe that there is a general world-wide consensus of thinking persons that "temper-tantrum" is an accurate description of those who riot and commit bombings in the name of redressing the offense caused by a cartoon, and that an even better example of such inexcusably childish flailing would be the Iraq war.

Actually, in the latter case, "childish temper-tantrum" would be a charitable interpretation of the actions of this particular excuse for a government. The responses have been thuggish. We are led by thugs, the war is cheered by thugs, and those who balk at being thugs are called traitors.

We can be sure of this, for the most basic of reasons; they refuse to be held to account, they refuse even to give an account of themselves under oath. They are therefore dishonorable men, with not even the moral courage of a child snuffling an outraged "Johnny STARTED it!"

Yeah, I think that world wide, it's time that the real grownups stood up. Islam - go clean up your messes. Don't whine about the perception of Islam when you refuse to deal justly with those who pervert and defame it with their actions. You are demanding "respect." Try earning it. Hark back to when Islam was the heart of civilization and to be Islamic WAS to be civilized. What the hell happened, gentles, and why are you not embarrassed by your dusty decadence? This is surely not a criticism of the Prophet or the Book - but it certainly is of the religion as practiced by people who clearly are not following the Prophet or the Book.

Pot, Kettle, Black, you say?

Indeed!

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4 comments:

markedmanner said...

You said There seems to be a marked lack of comprehension on the part of certain portions of the Religion of Peace of the distinction between "defamation" and "criticism."

I dont understand what your point is. My point this... FREEDOM OF SPEECH. As a Christian I dont like if someone says something like "Jesus Christ is gay." Clearly Jesus was not gay and this is not true. But am I going to Riot and kill because someone says this? NO!
But if anyone says something about Muhammad like "Muhammad was gay." Clearly we all know what the reaction would be by many Muslims throughout the Middle East. Violence would be the reaction. This is my whole point. If people want to lie about Jesus and lie about Muhammad that is up to them. There should be no law against this. Wouldn't you agree?

I also noticed you said "Try earning it. Hark back to when Islam was the heart of civilization and to be Islamic WAS to be civilized. "

I would like to know what part of Islamic history you are referring to. I would love to hear about it. As far as I am aware since the time of the Muhammad every single Islamic civilization had something called Dhimmis. This was anyone that was not a Muslim. They were considered second class citizens. Sure the people did not have to convert to Islam. But anyone that was not Muslim was not considered equal. There was no equality of rights for people of other faiths. Not to mention that non-Muslims had to pay an extra tax.

Surely there is another time in Islamic civilization that I am unaware of that you are referring to. If you are aware of a time in Islamic history when there was a Islamic civilization that had equal freedoms for all people I would love to hear about it. I would definitely encourage Muslims to revert to this. But I am unaware of this Islamic civilization that you are referring to..

Bob King said...

Dhimmis = "second class citizen." Apostates. Unbelievers. Freethinkers. Auslanders. The remarkable thing about Islam during it's period of high civilization is that they were restricted only to the extent of not becoming first-class citizens. Moreover, should one's beliefs be ... flexible ... one could convert and become first class upon the instant.

Compare that to any other society of the time - most especially England, France and the Germanies of, oh, say, the 14th century, and get back to me. As far as I am aware, there were no pogroms, no witch-burnings and no genocides against "unbelievers" within the Islamic world that are comparable to the events in the Christian world at the time.

Now, was it a perfect civilization? No. But it was a Civilization - and the term could only be applied loosely, if at all, to the bucket-heads in Europe at the time.

Let us remember that Jefferson had a copy of the Koran. It would be interesting to study how much that influenced his thinking in outlining what he hoped to become our civilization.

I share his hopes.

As to your point about "free speech." I believe I was clear. You have the right to say offensive things, and the government has no right to prevent you from doing so. You have no right to expect the government, or anyone else to save you from all potential, non-violent consequences of your speech. You may be sued. You may be spoken against. People may decide to avoid dealing with you. This is their right.

And if by means of speech, you provoke someone beyond reason and they kick your ass, the law considers your speech to be a mitigating circumstance.

If you are going to criticize anything as vast as an entire religion that a large percentage of the world believes, it must be accurate. People take offense at the truth often enough, but the truth is an absolute defense. You, on the other hand, clearly haven't enough of a clue about Islam - or even Christianity - to have what we refer to here on Graphictruth as "an informed opinion."

Fact is, the extremist Mullahs issuing fatwas against infidels for tolerating Playboy, Baywatch and Alcohol are a tiny minority. It's as accurate as associating all christians with James Dobson or that homophobic basket case at godhatesfags dot com.

There are at least as many "flavors" of Islam as there are of Catholic and Protestant. Most are as radical as Lutherans and as likely to go on Jehad as Anglicans.

However, none are immune from discomfort and a little reasonable paranoia when propaganda makes them interchangable with suicide-bombing religious fanatics.

Oh, btw, a legitimate Jehad is, I believe, a struggle for justice. I don't think "defeating a struggle for justice" is either practical or a good idea. Of course, the word may be used by people who are struggling for perverted justice, or just to get to the top of the heap - but such distinctions are in fact the very base of all religions of the Book. You don't have to be Islamic to understand the difference.

The test for any reigion at any point in time is this: are belivers in the same circumstances and from the same culture as unbelievers from the same population happier and better people for it?

There's the basis for criticism, Sir. But don't just apply it to Islam. Criticism begins at home.

markedmanner said...

You said "Dhimmis = "second class citizen." Apostates. Unbelievers. Freethinkers. Auslanders. The remarkable thing about Islam during it's period of high civilization is that they were restricted only to the extent of not becoming first-class citizens. Moreover, should one's beliefs be ... flexible ... one could convert and become first class upon the instant."


I am glad that you are willing to admit that throughout Islamic civilization that non-Muslims have not shared equality of rights under the law. You seem not to see the problem with this and that non-Muslims should just simply convert and then everything would be great for them. Ridiculous. While I agree the history of Christianity is not perfectly pure. I ask you to show me where in the world today do we have the form of government that mentioned from the 14th century. It doesn't exist today! But the trouble is we have countless Muslim civilizations that are just like the ones from the 6th century. There are NO civilizations like the ones you refer to from the 14th century by Christians in existence today. That is the difference. Would you agree?


You said "Let us remember that Jefferson had a copy of the Koran. It would be interesting to study how much that influenced his thinking in outlining what he hoped to become our civilization."

I also own a copy of the Quran. Im sure many other presidents have had a copy of the Quran does that mean they wanted it to influence American civilization? I am also skeptical that Jefferson had a favorable view of the Quran and Islam. SEE HERE. If you have any articles where Jefferson said the Quran influenced him I would love to read them.


You said "And if by means of speech, you provoke someone beyond reason and they kick your ass, the law considers your speech to be a mitigating circumstance."

I also noticed you used the term "fighting words" previously. I would like to know what you consider "fighting words." While I agree if a person would go into a mosque and says "I hope all you towel heads die and burn in hell along with your prophet." That would be provoking a fight. I agree fully. BUT I do not consider someone writing in a book or saying in public the following "Muhammad was an idiot and is gay." to be fighting words. Just if some said the same things about Jesus. Clearly it is not true Jesus or Muhammad were gay. But why would it be fighting words to say such things in a book or in public? When People that seem to say these things about Muhammad death threats are brought against them. Even people that say things that are documented clearly in Islamic texts and history threats are brought against them. Threats are even brought against Moderate Muslims that speak out about violence in Islam. Do you think Muslims are justified in threatening peoples lives that simply say bad things about Muhammad? I am sorry but I do not believe saying negative things about Muhammad or Jesus equals "fighting words." Also I have yet to see a story where Christians have got violent and issued death threats over someone insulting Jesus. Sure they may protest and say "We don't like what you are saying about Jesus." But that is a far cry from issuing death threats. Are we in agreement there?

You said "If you are going to criticize anything as vast as an entire religion that a large percentage of the world believes, it must be accurate. People take offense at the truth often enough, but the truth is an absolute defense. You, on the other hand, clearly haven't enough of a clue about Islam - or even Christianity - to have what we refer to here on Graphictruth as "an informed opinion."

I would just like you to explain to me how you know what I do and do not know about Islam and Christianity? How do you know if I have studied religion or not? This is a sweeping generalization. You don't know me or anything about my history or what i do for a living. So on what basis do you make this claim? Also If I have said anything inaccurate about Islam that can not be documented in Islamic texts please show me. I make no conclusions about Islam for myself. I simply report what other Muslims say about Islam.
If you would like to know about my experiences with Islam just ask and I will be happy to share if you would like to hear.

You said "Fact is, the extremist Mullahs issuing fatwas against infidels for tolerating Playboy, Baywatch and Alcohol are a tiny minority. It's as accurate as associating all christians with James Dobson or that homophobic basket case at godhatesfags dot com."

First do you really believe that the guy from godhatefags and James Dobson are equal? Further do you really believe that James Dobson is equal to Islamic Extremist that are calling for Muslims to wage warfare until Islamic Law Rules the world? If you have any articles where Dobson has called for Christians to wage violent warfare to spread the law of the Bible please share them. I would love to expose Dobson for this and I will stand with you on your comparison. But then again hopefully you werent trying to compare Dobson to Islamic radicals because clearly they are not equal.

Further you talk about the "tiny minority" of extermist. I found this statement very widely used by Islamic apologist. The problem is it is simply not true. Intelligence Reports have shown that 15-25% of Muslims worldwide are extremist. Sure that sounds like a small percentage number and it is not the majority of Muslims. But that 15-25% is MILLIONS of people almost equal to the population of the United States. Further it is not difficult to find imams on Middle East television teaching Muslims to wage warfare on unbelievers until Islamic Law rules the world. This shows that this teaching is very mainstream in the Middle East and has been for a VERY LONG time. Also if you visit Islamic websites from the Middle East it is very common to see Jihad warfare being taught. Not to mention I can give you many Imams right here in the united States that believe in this extremist view of Islam as well.
Also you can take a look at this map that shows all the countries where Jihad in the name of Islam has been waged. CLICK HERE Is it really only a few people?
Also you can take a look at these stories about the "tiny minority of extremist" that you refer to. I can give you more information on how mainstream the teaching of jihad warfare is if you would like. Many Islamic leaders and scholars from the Middle East have the teaching right on their websites.

You said "There are at least as many "flavors" of Islam as there are of Catholic and Protestant. Most are as radical as Lutherans and as likely to go on Jehad as Anglicans."

Agreed I do not believe most Muslims want to wage jihad warfare. But there are MANY of them that believe it is required by Islam for Muslims to wage warfare until Islamic law rules the world. This is no small problem.

Bob King said...

I am glad that you are willing to admit that throughout Islamic civilization that non-Muslims have not shared equality of rights under the law.

I don't have problem with dealing with reality as she is. However, we should also consider the significance. Are Islamic nations unique in this? No. With more or less official sanctionn, it is a common theme in human history, and very distinctly within our own European heritage, embracing attitudes that still persist to this day. If you seriously disagree that there are no "second class citizens" in the United States, I suggest you seek out The Unapologetic Mexican for clarification.

Never demand a perfection of others that you are unwilling to attain for yourself.

You seem not to see the problem with this and that non-Muslims should just simply convert and then everything would be great for them. Ridiculous.

I said nothing of the sort. I do not approve of sailing under false colors. However, for people who have no specific beliefs of their own, the advantage is compelling, and the conversion does indeed grant equality under Islamic Law. Equality in fact? I rather doubt that. But that's a rather different discussion.

While I agree the history of Christianity is not perfectly pure. I ask you to show me where in the world today do we have the form of government that mentioned from the 14th century.

Feudalism and serfdom? Good heavens, man, it existed OFFICIALLY here in the south until the Civil War, and there are still pockets of it here and there.

Of course, they didn't call it that. Perhaps you think the name trumps the reality.

It doesn't exist today! But the trouble is we have countless Muslim civilizations that are just like the ones from the 6th century. There are NO civilizations like the ones you refer to from the 14th century by Christians in existence today. That is the difference. Would you agree?

I would suggest that both James Dobson and Radical Islam would concur that that is indeed precisely the problem. For myself, I consider anyone arrogating unto themselves the right to determine my choices for their own religious reasons to be wrong. Dangerously wrong should they attempt to force me.

I amend my language regarding numbers from "tiny minority" to "small minority". I note that it is a smaller percentage of the Islamic population than that of Radical Christians, approximately %35.

And a significant minority of those - including James Dobson - explicitly advocate a Christian Theocratic state.

Yes, that worked out so very well for Spain.


First do you really believe that the guy from godhatefags and James Dobson are equal? Further do you really believe that James Dobson is equal to Islamic Extremist that are calling for Muslims to wage warfare until Islamic Law Rules the world?

Yes, and Hell, Yes.

Dobson and Phelps are equally misled on the same doctrinal points regarding homosexuality, and equally (and, I believe, consciously and deliberately) use this false doctrine as a money-making and recruiting tool.

They both seek to externalize evil, instead of concentrating on not being evil themselves.

And, Yes, Dobson wants to impose a theocratic state. He doesn't call for violence, because stealth works better in the US. If it would work, I firmly believe he'd be calling for pogroms.

I also noticed you used the term "fighting words" previously. I would like to know what you consider "fighting words." While I agree if a person would go into a mosque and says "I hope all you towel heads die and burn in hell along with your prophet." That would be provoking a fight. I agree fully. BUT I do not consider someone writing in a book or saying in public the following "Muhammad was an idiot and is gay." to be fighting words. Just if some said the same things about Jesus.

"Fighting words:" Words likely to provoke an immediate fight.

What you do not consider "fighting words" is in fact "hate speech," which some would argue to be undeserving of first amendment protections. My view would be that if a publication is clearly intended to stir up hatred and promote bigotry, the targets of that hatred and bigotry should have the right to seek redress in court, without having to prove any direct correlation. Of course, if you can, that's how a little black lady ended up owning the national Klan headquarters. Muahahah!

But as in all slander and Libel actions, truth would be an absolute defense.

I may or may not get to your other points, I note you have ducked rather a lot of mine, so I feel no great obligation.

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