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.
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.
It's important to recall that this directly relates to the Great Cartoon Flap.
I just found a meeting that took place in Washington DC this week with the Organization of 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.”
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:
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.
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]
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?
tag: defamation, criticism, defamation of islam, , free speech, Diplomacy, Political Correctness, cultural warfare, religious persecution, terrorism, Iraq War, Clash of Cultures, Religious Fundimentalism, Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes