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flo's avatar

Should the following filmmaker be applauded as a free-speech hero, or should he suffer? ?

Asked by flo (7794 points ) September 17th, 2012

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Should the film maker get some kind an award for showing what freedom of speech is about, or should he suffer for it, or other?

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53 Answers

susanc's avatar

Other.
He should never have shown that video in Libya. That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t have made it. He could have shown it where it would be watched with some degree of equanimity, though it sounds very hateful.
This sounds like “If you can’t say something nice…” but it’s not. It’s more like “Choose your battles.”

josie's avatar

Let’s make him suffer. It will create the illusion that we sympathize with the people who killed our ambassador so maybe they won’t want to kill us too. Make him a sacrificial lamb.

wundayatta's avatar

If this country doesn’t stand for free speech, then we stand for nothing.

flo's avatar

@susanc The unrest is in many countries no just in Libya. Also in this internnet age can we just show some video in just one country? And I believe he ntended it to be seen all over the world.

@josie I see your sacrcasm, what is the solution is the question.

@wundayatta Anyway the basic thing is according to you: It is okay to do all kinds of wrong things because you can just do some charity work later on and people will be fooled into forgiving you, right? See (Permalink) and second
Permalink

Jaxk's avatar

Maybe we should push some international law to override the constitution when it comes to any anti muslim expression. Hey wait, we already did that.

flo's avatar

How do we know this man did not set out to hurt America?

flo's avatar

@Jaxk I wouldn’t go with only anti-muslim expression. This is frivolous hate from what I understand. Like I answered @josie, what is the solution?

wundayatta's avatar

@flo Your logic is as impeccable as always.

Nullo's avatar

It is the final word in lousy cinematography. There’s an award category for that, called the Raspberry. This movie could likely win all of them for ever.

We live in a world where artists make horrible things. It’s unexpectedly popular, for instance, to create art that attempts to denigrate Jesus Christ. There are two solutions: either everybody converts to a single religion, or everybody decides to stop being jerks. Neither one is going to happen without divine intervention.

@flo How do we know that he did? Our justice system assumes the accused innocent until proven guilty. Or would you like to explain to the judge how you aren’t setting out to hurt America?

Jaxk's avatar

@flo

There is no problem with the expression only with the reaction to it. It would be nice if everyone only said nice things but we would lose free expression and dissent in the process. Muslims are the only one to react en masse like this. Do we change the world to accommodate them or should they change to join the world. It’s time for them to grow up.

susanc's avatar

@Jaxk My point exactly. Let’s all grow up.

Ha ha ha ha ha ah ahahhh hahaha oh ha ha ha ha oh I’m dying I can’t catch my breath ha ha ha hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha….

ETpro's avatar

The guy is a two time felon and was on parole for bank fraud. The terms of his parole prohibited him from using computers to go online. It certainly appears he violated parole, and if he did, he should go back to prison for doing so. But we should also make it clear to Muslims around the world that he isn’t being jailed for his expressions of his beliefs, but because he violated terms of parole on a completely different matter.

It might allow just a little light into the Arab street on what the US means by free speech. Right now, the protesters are demanding their freedom to shut up everyone who says anything that annoys them. They have the idea of freedom of speech exactly backwards.

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wundayatta's avatar

I don’t think many people really understand free speech. I think most people believe in free speech for speech they approve of. But as soon as people start saying things they don’t like, they start calling for them to shut up, give it a rest, or go somewhere else.

Remember the “America, love it or leave it” calls in the 60s and 70s? America is filled with many who have those tendencies towards censorship, even though the idea of free speech is supposed to be taught in every school in the land.

Qingu's avatar

I have to say, I find myself in agreement with @Jaxk… at least to some extent.

If “The Innocence of Muslims” is hate speech, then by the same standard, so is the Quran, which repeatedly calls unbelievers stupid, lying, and evil people who deserve to have burning oil poured down their throats in hell. If you want to ban movies that criticize Islam or are “mean” to Muslims, then you need to explain why you don’t want to ban religious texts like the Quran.

I think there is a strategic question involving the censorship of movies like “The Innocence of Muslims”—in other words, savages and terrorists will kill people if you release movies like this, so maybe from a utilitarian perspective it’s better to censor movies than risk actual human beings losing their lives. And I’m sympathetic to this position. Not sure if I agree, but it’s certainly a difficult question.

But I think the question is distinct from whether “The Innocence of Muslims” should be banned on principle. It absolutely shouldn’t.

That said, @Jaxk is being dishonest as usual about the actions of the Obama administration, but he knows that and so do all of you, so why bother even acknowledging it at this point.

Also, @Jaxk, Muslims are not the only ones to react violently to speech they don’t like. Christians have done it too. And the people who are violently protesting are Salafi Muslims, not “Muslims”—the equivalent of crazy evangelical Christians here. Something tells me that you’re not really interested in such nuances, though.

rojo's avatar

I think what many fail to understand is that having the right to speak your mind also burdens you with an awsome responsibility; that is to self-regulate that right.

Was it Heinlein who said that your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins?

Qingu's avatar

@rojo, I think that analogy is dangerous. Criticizing the Prophet Muhammad is not injurious speech. It is only perceived as injurious speech by a deluded, violently intolerant cult.

Likewise, I don’t think that criticizing a mob boss is analogous to “swinging a fist at someone else’s nose.” But if you criticize a mob boss, chances are the mob boss might try to kill you or people close to you.

In both cases, a person’s choice to refrain from critical speech is motivated by fear of terrorism.

rojo's avatar

Point taken and I agree with you about the criticism of Muhammed, but I believe the analogy is accurate.
If the film was made with the intent of provocation (admittedly an assumption on my part) then it is an example of the lack of self-regulation of the right to free speech; as the reaction of the rioters against others who had nothing to do with the film is yet another certainly more extreme example of the same. And the reaction of the rioters is comparable to that of a mob boss who strikes out not only at the guilty party who made the comment but also seeks vengeance againt at those who were innocent of any involvement in the slight in order to negate any future challenges to their power.
Regardless of the motivation, self regulation of free speech is better than having your speech regulated by others.

Nullo's avatar

@rojo Oliver Wendell Holmes. Heinlein was never one to worry about where the other guy’s nose started, if he thought his outlook would be improved with a fist.

Qingu's avatar

I’ll agree to that. It’s unjust and outrageous that cultists around the world would destroy property and murder people over this film, but that is the reality of the situation.

Deliberately provoking such people strikes me as akin to poking a wild bear with a stick—except that unlike the bear analogy, other people end up getting killed.

On the other hand (I think you can tell I’m very ambivalent about this) these bears obviously wanted to be poked. Islamic fundamentalists are much more responsible for fanning these flames than this obscure sect of Copts. The video mostly just seems like an excuse or a pretext to mobilize anti-American demonstrations and, in some cases, terrorist attacks.

Nullo's avatar

And rolling over? What kind of message does that send?

@rojo A Heinlein hero, in case you were wondering, would not let fear guide his speech except to open the door for character development. Invariably being a capable fellow, he would fight against Wrong, adapt to the Uncomfortable, and contrive to remove himself from danger until conditions were more favorible if fighting would be suicidal.
You should read some Heinlein; he has some interesting insights.

Qingu's avatar

Heilein was interesting; he was also a fascist.

Nullo, my problem with your analysis is that much of the Salafis and terrorists’ “reaction” to the video in question seems completely divorced from any actions surrounding it—the actions of the filmmakers, of the government trying to muzzle it and mitigate it, or whatever. Their violent reaction has also led to the video in question, which would have originally been seen by maybe 300 people, being viewed more than 6 million times on Youtube. At a certain level, the decision to “roll over” vs. “stand up for free speech” seem divorced from the actual chain of events.

Unless you are talking about future critiques of Islam. I’d agree that critics of Islam should not muzzle themselves. One of my favorite books is Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Infidel,” which obviously took a lot of courage to write. And in some ways it was just as deliberately provocative as “The Innocence of Muslims” (and far less stupid). So were the Danish cartoons, which I thought were actually quite salient.

So I don’t know. I mean, I’m uncomfortable just saying “screw the fanatics, nobody should be afraid to publish anti-Islam stuff” because I’m not the one whose life is going to be put at risk.

Jaxk's avatar

The problem with regulation of ‘Free Speech’, such as the UN regulation that @Qingu doesn’t seem to think passed, is who decides. What constitutes an insult? Do the Muslims decide? As Justice Potter Stewart once said “hard-core pornography” was hard to define, but that “I know it when I see it”. The same goes for religious insults.

@Qingu – Morsi himself was encouraging these demonstration as the events unfolded. He is Muslim Brotherhood and President of Egypt. It difficult to argue that all this was the reaction of some splinter group. No matter how hard you try to nuance it.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, I differentiate between demonstrations and protests (idiotic), riots (dangerous) and attacks/murders (terrorists.)

I see the Muslim Brotherhood as analogous to fundamentalist Christian conservatives, but with the social support they once enjoyed in the 1950’s. I do not see the Muslim Brotherhood as actually allied with al-Qaeda or endorsing terrorism. Though, like fundamentalist Christians, the Brotherhood has a tribal morality and a completely frayed and ignorant conception of reality (Morsi is on record as being a 9/11 truther), which can provide oxygen for more extremist and violent elements.

In any case, I’ll take Morsi over Mubarak (not least because Egyptians overwhelmingly do), and Morsi did respond to pressure from Obama the next day. And I never said the reactions were a “splinter group.” Salafis are a major sect of Islam, though a minority. They enjoy some overlap with the more moderate Brotherhood, and both fanned the flames. The “splinter groups” are the terrorist who are actually killing and attacking people.

Nullo's avatar

@Qingu From the Heinlein Society:
People with particular slants seem to latch onto one work or another that suits their opinions or biases and take it as being representative of all of Heinlein. “Starship Troopers” is regarded by some as ‘fascist’ (particularly after the hideous distortion presented in the movie version), it isn’t . “Stranger in a Strange Land” became a banner book for liberals—yet it was written at the same time as “Starship Troopers” so couple the contradictions together on that account. Libertarians adore “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” with the anarchistic type of society that works so well, yet Heinlein came along with “The Cat Who Walks Through Walls” and smashed that same perfect setup to bits, showing the potential unpleasant outcome. For every political or social stance you care to choose to assign to Heinlein you can probably find something in his writing to support that opinion… and something else to contradict it.
I have my own issues with Heinlein, chief among them his status as a dirty old man.

Qingu's avatar

Fair ‘nuff. I actually read the book Starship Troopers though; I do think “fascist” is a pretty fair characterization of its ideology!

Nullo's avatar

I think that was just that versatile of a writer. His only consistent message was that a person should be smart, capable, adaptable, and to an extent, virtuous, and that the people who are not are nearly as bad as a villain.

rojo's avatar

@Nullo I enjoyed all of the books mentioned when I read them. At the time, I was not looking for ideology, just a good read and Heinlein fit that mold.
That being said, “Stranger in a Strange Land”, is the one I remember the most. In fact, last week I bought a new copy of it for my daugher to read after she and I got to talking about it.

Poser's avatar

I have seen/heard of lots of “art” that intentionally maligns/mocks/denigrates Christianity and Jesus, yet I have never heard of mobs of angry Christians killing people for it. Heck, even the whacko Westboro Baptists only say crazy hurtful things. They aren’t violent. There is no serious discussion in this country on whether or not we should limit the things people can say about Christianity, or Buddhism, or Wiccan or any other religion except Islam (unless you are talking about the display of religious-themed symbols on anything that may even be remotely considered public property as a violation of the establishment clause).

Twice now, the State department has apologized to a foreign government for an American exercising what was once our most sacred liberty. The Framers didn’t guarantee our right to freedom of popular speech. Popular speech does not need protecting. It is unpopular speech that needs to be protected. While I may disagree, with every ounce of my being, with what this film says (I haven’t bothered to watch it, so I don’t know or care what it says), I will fight to the death for the filmmaker’s right to say it. If the violence it has sparked teaches us anything, it is that whatever this film says about Islam probably needs to be said.

Qingu's avatar

@Poser, please cite the apologies by the state department.

ETpro's avatar

@Poser I’d like to know about those apologies too. I’m a real policy wonk. I keep up with this stuff. And I never heard the State Department do any such thing.

Poser's avatar

Cairo ebassy remarks: http://news.yahoo.com/romney-blasts-obama-cairo-embassy-apology-225927129--politics.html

I can’t seem to find the article referring to the statement by the US Embassy in Pakistan (or possibly Indonesia, it’s been a while) referring to the Terry Jones Koran-burning hubbub. It was something similar to the Cairo embassy statement. I’ll keep looking. I thought I posted a link on Facebook back in the day, but my work computer is not very Facebook-friendly.

Qingu's avatar

Cite the apology in the Cairo embassy remarks, please.

I see a condemnation of the film.

Mitt “no apology” Romney also condemned the film.

“You know, I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it.”

“Of course, we have a First Amendment, and under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do. They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film.”

“I think the whole film is a terrible idea. I think him making it, promoting it showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths. I don’t think that should happen. I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment —- the good judgment — not to be — not to offend other peoples’ faiths. It’s a very bad thing, I think, this guy’s doing.”

Do you think Mitt Romney apologized, @Poser?

Poser's avatar

Edit: The administration has distanced itself from the remarks released by the Cairo embassy: http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/09/white-house-disavows-cairo-apology-135247.html

The statement read, in part, “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” Perhaps less an apology to Islam and more a condemnation of the filmmaker.

ETpro's avatar

@Poser You’re changing the subject instead of answering the question. The quote you mention was issued 7 hours BEFORE the attack on the consulate in Lybia. It was intended to defuse the tensions on the streets in Egypt. It was so far from an apology for the killing of our Ambassador that to claim that’s what it was is abhorrent political opportunism and highly unpatriotic. Yet that’s just what Mitt Romney did. What’s more he fired off his “response” before he even had the facts. That’s not the behavior of a man ready to be Commander in Chief.

flo's avatar

Toddlers and Tiara – The freedom to use your child’s labor to please peadophiles.

Jaxk's avatar

Does anybody think this strategy has worked? We published our apology or condemnation of this film before the riots started and have reiterated the same massage about how badly this film insults Muslims everyday for two weeks now. Not surprisingly, the riots have also been going on for two weeks now and have spread across the Muslim world. Hell, now we’re even buy advertising for Pakistani television to keep the issue front and center. For god’s sake let the issue die. This moronic strategy is not working.

Qingu's avatar

@Jaxk, stop being dishonest. No apology was published.

Why are you even wasting your time posting this stuff? Seriously? Do you think any of us are actually stupid enough to believe you?

Jaxk's avatar

@Qingu

I can’t answer that without reprisals from the Mods.

Nullo's avatar

@flo You couldn’t have gotten Toddlers and Tiaras on the air even a few decades ago. Terrible how we have relaxed our television standards.

flo's avatar

@Nullo That show is a crime. Maybe for drama/comedy where the quality of writing acting are below par, etc. “relaxed televsion standards” could work, but not for Toddlers and Tiara.

Nullo's avatar

@flo Oh, I agree. But people scoffed at the rules that kept TV clean, and eventually influenced those rules. This is the payoff.

flo's avatar

@Nullo But this is not about keeping TV clean (scripts, comedians, coarse language, nudity etc) It is not about:
“Adult material”
“Not suitable for children”
“Discresion advised”
kind of thing

If the child actors and/or animals are abused, for example, would you be talking about keeping TV clean? Toddlers and Tiara is about child abuse, not about entertainment.

flo's avatar

….If the child actors and/or animals (on sets) are abused, for example, would that be about keepihng TV clean?

Nullo's avatar

@flo I’m talking about cultural rules, not FCC codes. Should have been more specific, sorry. Time was, two fully clothed people sitting on either side of a bed in broad daylight was edgy. THAT world wouldn’t have ever run Toddlers and Tiaras.

flo's avatar

@Nullo *Abuse/cruelty/slavery not Entertainment. It has no relashinship with what you’re talking about. Even if it wouldn’t have existed then, we’re not talking about the same thing anyway. The children have no say in it. They have no choice in the matter. They are slaves. “two fully clothed people sitting on either side of a bed in broad daylight was edgy” that is about adults acting, they have/had choices.
Toddlers and Tiara
To quote some people:
By Elizabeth (Number 26) comment
“I have always watched Toddlers and Tiara’s and had a chuckle or two, but not any more. After watching last nights episode with the Russian mother, who is obviously mentally ill, I just felt incredibly sad. The little girl was amazingly well adjusted, despite her mother’s repeated tantrums, loud blaming of judges for “hating” her daughter, and other odd behavior. The other little girl doing a hootchie dance to a Shirley Temple song iced it for me. How do I sign up to make this whole beauty pageant scenario illegal and term it child abuse. Discusting.”

By: cindy (number 29)
“I don’t watch this show. I think it’s gross. I wonder if ANY of these mothers think about what kinds of people are watching their children. There are SEX OFFENERS and PEDOPHILES that just live for this. I would be totally grossed out if I thought someone like that might be looking at my child”

If let’s say some network put dog-fighting on the screen way back then, or now, it is the same thing. It is inhumanity even if some sick people find it entertaining.

Nullo's avatar

@flo You aren’t getting my point. We as a culture have relaxed our standards of acceptability for television, which is bad.

There’s been a push, over the last few decades, to do that, which is why we get evil television today. Toddlers and Tiaras, the current end result, is pushing that line into new territory.

rojo's avatar

I believe @Nullo is correct on this We have relaxed our standards. Or, to put it another way, television is appealing to the lowest common denominator and that is the superwide, supergoober, superwalmart generation. Fat, stupid and happy with our substandard chinese junk but hey, at least it is cheap.

flo's avatar

@Nullo. @rojo as someone said “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”?

flo's avatar

@rojo ”...substandard chinese junk but hey, at least it is cheap” The TV? , the elecronic product, TV is cheap? Okay then. Added: What is your comment on @rojo‘s point @Nullo?

rojo's avatar

Yep, cheap. If I go to walmart I can buy a 32” flat screen for under $300.00 and a year from now when it breaks I can throw it away and buy another bigger one for the same price. Remember when we used to actually fix things that broke. Now with built in obsolescence its throw it in the dump and buy the newest fad because the economy depends on MORE spending and MORE buying. If we are not buying we are a failure as a nation. Our entire economic self worth is based on how wasteful we can be.

rojo's avatar

I’m sorry, what was this thread about again?

flo's avatar

@NulloThere’s been a push, over the last few decades, to do that, which is why we get evil television today.”
That is like the predator/drug dealer contaminating an area/population and then saying “It is the people who wanted it. I’m just providing what the people ask for, you can’t blame me, it is us as a culture who…”

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