Cheering for the stick

Mrs. Dog has been blessedly and comfortably out of the loop on this whole cartoon riots thing. It came to her attention for the first time yesterday when I was telling her about the Bennett/Dershowitz column (and TBogg’s excellent post about the same.)

And she said “I get the feeling that there are commentators and pundits who, y’know,if you were to poke a muslim with a sharp stick, they’d cheer for the stick.”

I think she’s on to something.

20 Comments

  1. Darren

    Yep, she’s on to something. But can’t the same thing be said the other way around? Aren’t there those who would cheer when, say, a shia mosque is blown up? Or when sunnis are murdered in retaliation? And none of these reactions are any more acceptable than the others.
    I just come down on the side of the fence where violence, except to protect you or yours from an imminent threat of same, is unacceptable.

  2. Not to mention that the version of Islam that’s squawking the loudest is the version that regularly demonizes Jews and, frankly, would like have to a wall toppled onto me because I’m gay. I know that’s not necessarily a reflection of Islam worldwide, but still, to me, it’s damn scary.

    I said earlier on this site that those who enforce European free-speech law failed to mete out justice for anti-Muslim hate speech. It has also failed whenever it does not prosecute European Muslims who issue hate speech of their own. Fair’s fair.

  3. Look, I want to make sure no one makes this mistake here again….

    I am just saying that there’s a clear sectarian bias taking hold of the discourse on all sides right now. There’s a lot of talk about The Muslims, which is no more fair than saying “The Jews,” “The Gays” or “The White People.”

    The thing that I am noticing is that the people who hold the microphone (which happens to be the voice that speaks for the hand that holds the stick, btw) on what should ostensibly be “our side” of this discussion are acting like it’s okay to conflate all muslims as one entity. Additionally, piling on seems to be fairly acceptable, too.

    That’s what the missus and I were noticing, last night.

    Let’s say that there were cartoons in an Austrian paper depicting Jews as beady-eyed criminals with everyone else’s money disappearing into their pockets. Would we be cheering if those cartoons were reprinted in Le Monde, The NY Times and the the London Telegraph?

  4. Darren

    “the people who hold the microphone” —
    Clearly no conflating of one with all in this phrase.

    Look, I don’t tolerate the statements along the lines that it’s just crazy muslims being crazy muslims. However, individuals have chosen to react violently to a (very serious and offensive) slight, and I have even less tolerance for violence as a reaction to speech.

  5. Please recall that the article which inspired this post was a duet between Bill “Slots” Bennett and Alan Dershowitz that contained this paragraph:

    “To our knowledge, only three print newspapers have followed their true calling: the Austin American-Statesman, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the New York Sun. What have they done? They simply printed cartoons that were at the center of widespread turmoil among Muslims over depictions of the prophet Muhammad [as a suicide bomber]. These papers did their duty.”

    Please imagine it as follows:

    “”To our knowledge, only three print newspapers have followed their true calling: Le Monde, the London Telegraph and the New York Post. What have they done? They simply printed cartoons that were at the center of widespread turmoil among the Jews over depictions of Abraham [as a greedy/rapacious rodent]. These papers did their duty.”

  6. Well, did their duty in what? Reporting the news, including why the riots are happening? I really have no problem with that, and I wouldn’t if they were anti-Semitic cartoons that their original publisher offended me with.

    There’s a basic difference between publishing to get a rise out of someone, and publishing to report facts.

  7. I think you might be being a bit obtuse, Neil. Perhaps not on purpose, but I think it states pretty clearly in the Dershowitz/Bennett article that publishing the cartoons was “their duty.”

    It’s not like the riots were ignored in media.

  8. Darren

    “Sorry, did I miss Noam Chomsky on Fox News last night?”
    Well, now, equating Fox News with all that have any voice in western media is sorta like equating those that rioted (purportedly) in reaction to the Mohammed cartoons.
    And I’m with Neil on your anti-Semitic cartoon example. Free speech is free speech, no matter if it’s offensive to you or others.

  9. The riots were not ignored in the media, but until I saw the cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, I had no idea if the riots were justified or not.

    And it was seeing that cartoon, you might recall, which led me to believe that the Muslims in Europe were getting a raw deal. So, yes, there was a duty to publish the cartoons, absolutuely. How on earth are we to know what we’re debating on otherwise?

  10. Free speech is free speech, no matter if it’s offensive to you or others.

    Agreed. And it’s possible to be contemptuous of the stick, the Muslim being poked and the asshole doing the poking. Let’s also not forget the MILLIONS of Muslims worldwide NOT rioting, NOT killing, NOT inciting violence. Besides, as evidenced by the oppurtunistic manner in which the clerics who spread this propaganda throughout the Muslim world as well as the nations in which these protests took place (Syria isn’t really in the habit of allowing mass protests unless they’re, y’know, advantageous to the government) this is at its core an intra-Muslim struggle between those leaders who would like their people to live in some 7th century fantasy world and those who realize that it’s the 21st century and Muslims are just another religious group on this planet.

  11. I think it’s important to make very specific right now that I wasn’t saying that no one should be running these cartoons. I am saying that Dershowitz and Bennett are congratulating three newspapers for running those cartoons because it really pisses those muslims off, essentially.

    Hence, cheering for the stick.

  12. Does it really matter why the cartoons were republished? They got me to change my mind; to me they were an objective good. Frankly, I don’t much care why Dershowitz and Bennett believe republication was good. Free speech should be encouraged no matter what the reason. (Standard caveats about inciting violence and shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater apply.)

    So Dershowitz is an asshole. Big shmeal. The cartoons still needed to be republished, and it was the duty of the newspapers to do so.

  13. I am this close to giving up on this conversation. Please read the original post again. The post was not critical of the republication of the cartoons, it was critical of the cheerleading of the INTENT of the publication.

    I am not siding against free speech here, I am siding against GRATUITOUS muslim bashing. (Which was, uh, the purpose of the original post.)

    Believe me, I am no fan of muslim fundamentalists, or South Dakotan fundamentalists, now that you mention it.

    My suspicion is that the little backslapping fest that Dershowitz and Bennett are putting on has a lot more to do with anti-muslim prejudice than it does any love for the 1st Amendment.

    Did anyone read the article itself?

  14. My suspicion is that the little backslapping fest that Dershowitz and Bennett are putting on has a lot more to do with anti-muslim prejudice than it does any love for the 1st Amendment.

    Yup. That’s about it, but that doesn’t mean that their intent has to ruin our pleasure at seeing free speech tested in yet another hostile forum…

  15. I’m reading the Dershowitz/Bennett article again and… yeah, I’m agreeing with most of what was written. To the extent that their editorial was motivated by anti-Muslim prejudice, they’re bad people. Stipulated. No argument from me there. But as far as it was motivated by support for the First Amendment, well, go them.

  16. Darren

    So yeah, went back and read it. Other than sloppy use of “islamists” and “the islamist street,” which could easily lend itself to confusion that they were referring to Islam generally (hell, maybe they were), I have no MAJOR issue with the piece (it’s not like the mainstream media has been all over the Bushies, after all).

    And not to start another round here, but regarding the papers that did not reprint the cartoons: did they do so truly out of tolerance, or are they the real bigots, witholding publication because they were afraid of being bombed? I don’t know.

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