THE DEATH RATTLE FOR FREE SPEECH

I should be working right now–working on my science fiction story–but I can’t because I am irritated.  Bothered is more like it.  To link my irritation to science fiction, I should quote Guy Montag from the Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451.

We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?

Yeah, I’m that kind of bothered, bothered about that cartoon contest Sunday night near Dallas where two gunmen showed up, intending to do harm (Update–ISIS is now claiming responsibility for the gunmen) but they were stopped before they ever got started  (click here for CNN) because one Garland traffic officer with a pistol took out two terrorists with automatic weapons and body armor.  And yes, in case you’re wondering, that is how we roll in Texas.  When they make this movie, Bruce Willis will no doubt play the role of the traffic officer.isis-garland-fox-screenshot

What bothers me is that by the next morning people all over the media were blaming the people hosting the cartoon contest for the incident.  For an example of this type of gross equivocation click on this link to read a hatchet piece over at the Huffington Post.  It is rather nauseating, because people can’t seem to tell the difference between words and weapons, and the result is that over and over and over again pseudo-intellectuals and media types were blaming the people at the “Draw Muhammad” contest, those people who would have been Charlie Hebdo-ed had the police not been there.

I have no doubt that the people who organized the “Draw the Prophet Muhammad” contest, or whatever it was named, are odious and mean, even hateful.  However, people who are exercising their constitutional right, however distasteful it might be, can never be cited as the victim or as the ones who brought it upon themselves.  I’ve used this analogy before, but it needs stating again–this reasoning is akin to blaming a woman for being harassed or raped because of the way she dressed or behaved.  Need another example?  If someone is burning the United States flag in protest, but an offended patriot tried to kill them, no one would ever blame the flag burner even if we all disagreed vehemently with what the flag burner was doing.

As a pastor, preacher, writer, and historian free speech is dear to me, and it is sad to watch it fall upon such terrible times.  We are told what words we can’t say, we are told who we have to be nice to, and we are warned constantly not to offend anyone.  The net effect is that liberty is retarded in the United States.

Free speech in our nation is almost dead, and you can hear its death rattle every day on the news.

Other free speech posts from Pastor Greenbean

Charlie Hebdo

Koran burning

Google Searches/Spying

NSA T-Shirts

image from jewishpress.com

SIX THOUGHTS ON THE CHARLIE HEBDO TERRORISM ATTACKS

Je Suis Charlie

These thoughts have been brewing all weekend, and come in no particular order.

1.  Thursday I was making potato soup while listening to NPR.  Keep in mind, the attacks were still only twenty-four hours old, but already people were saying things like, “Well, this is terrible and all, but Charlie Hebdo really shouldn’t have made those Muslims angry and should have exercised better judgment.”  I paraphrase, but that is the gist of it.  Je Suis Charlie

That kind of thinking makes me sick, because it is roughly equivalent to the line of thought that blames a rape victim for dressing provocatively.  Charlie Hebdo was a poor taste, lowest common denominator satire that I do not appreciate or enjoy, but they were doing what free people do–expressing themselves.  To put any of the blame upon them is cowardice and makes me sick.

2.  The best analysis I have heard on the whole thing was from Rachel Maddow on her Friday night program.  I have embedded it for your convenience.  It is lengthy.

3.  David Brooks wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Friday that struck a nerve with me.  He wrote:

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it: If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn’t have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.

I find his arguments to be compelling, and a little unsettling.  We, and by we I mean western culture, have gotten seriously too thin skinned.  People do not have the right to be not be offended, and all opposition to the politically correct terminology is not hate speech.  I think we need to take the muzzle off.

4.  The first time I saw “Je Suis Charlie” on a sign I thought it said “Jesus is Charlie” and it really confused me.

5.  I have posted on terrorism many times, but I will say it again, we are facing worldview issues.  It would be wrong to label all Muslims with this broad stripe, but those radical jihadists such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and others reject out of hand pluralism in a society, while pluralism is one of our cherished values.  The worst thing we can do is to concede liberties of freedom of speech, travel, assembly, religion, and press in an effort to stay safe.  We have already lost too much because of fear.  It is time to stop being afraid and to start acting like the same people who defeated Hitler and Communism.

6.  What happened in Paris at Charlie Hebdo and at that kosher grocery store is horrible, but every day ISIS is doing evil things.  It was recently brought to my attention at church that they are actively seizing Yazidi women and girls as sex slaves.  If you have time, check out the Twitter hashtag #Yazidiwomen.  It will break your heart.  Why has reporting of this travesty been so neglected in the United States?  Do the lives of women and children who belong to a peculiar, yet interesting, religious sect matter less than Parisian Satirists?

So, yeah, those are some of my thoughts.

image from www.timeshighereducation.co.uk