Religious Studies Prof Values Free Speech So Much That She Keeps Calling for Filmmaker's Arrest

In my Tablet column from yesterday, I mentioned that University of Pennsylvania Associate Professor of Religious Studies Anthea Butler had tweeted: "How soon is Sam Bacile going to be in jail folks? I need him to go now." USA Today asked Butler to revise and extend her remarks, and she came up with a humdinger titled "Why 'Sam Bacile' deserves arrest." A glimpse into the academic mind:

My initial tweet about Bacile, the person said to be responsible for the film mocking the prophet Mohammed, was not because I am against the First Amendment. My tweets reflected my exasperation that as a religion professor, it is difficult to teach the facts when movies such as Bacile's Innocence of Muslims are taken as both truth and propaganda, and used against innocent Americans.

If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!

So why did I tweet that Bacile should be in jail? The "free speech" in Bacile's film is not about expressing a personal opinion about Islam. It denigrates the religion by depicting the faith's founder in several ludicrous and historically inaccurate scenes to incite and inflame viewers. [...]

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Jones on Wednesday to ask him to stop promoting Bacile's film. Clearly, the military considers the film a serious threat to national security. If the military takes it seriously, there should be consequences for putting American lives at risk.

While the First Amendment right to free expression is important, it is also important to remember that other countries and cultures do not have to understand or respect our right.

So if I'm understanding Butler correctly, we should factor in degree of teaching difficulty when figuring out when to criminalize speech, opinionated films are "not about expressing a personal opinion," the U.S. military is an appropriate domestic censor, and the importance of remembering that other countries don't respect the First Amendment means that we should weaken it. Why, if her professorship didn't automatically qualify her as a champion of free speech, I might suggest that she doesn't really understand the term!

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  • ||

    If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!

    Funniest thing I've read all week!

  • Michael||

    This killed me too. Who better to understand speech protections than someone that enjoys more of them than than the average prole?

  • ||

    The whole institution of tenure was invented to protect religious freedom of speech.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    What a dipshit. I can't believe this lady is teaching at Penn.

  • SusanM||

    Sadly, I can...

  • The Hammer||

    Pay attention to *what* she teaches.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Religious Studies doesn't necessarily preclude you from being interesting, or worthwhile. I was considering majoring in it myself (chose Finance instead). But I was thinking more along the lines of truly great religious thinkers like St. Augustine, D.T. Suzuki, C.S. Lewis, etc.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    But I was thinking more along the lines of truly great religious thinkers like St. Augustine, D.T. Suzuki, C.S. Lewis, etc.

    Wouldn't you consider these to be along the philosophical lines instead of the religious studies line? I am not sure how deep this lady would go into the metaphysical y ethical aspects of religion; compared to the above mentioned.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Wouldn't you consider these to be along the philosophical lines instead of the religious studies line?

    In American academia, "philosophy" is pretty much limited to positivism. Anything that has a flavor of mysticism is banished to religious studies/theology.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Anything that has a flavor of mysticism is banished to religious studies/theology.

    That is what I am asking, does religious studies get into the metaphysical/mystical/ethical foundations or do they just skim it?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    From my limited experience of the discipline, it's more about comparative religion and finding commonalities in the anthropological and sociological aspects of religion.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    HM has a good answer below. But yeah, I guess I was thinking of more of a philosophy/metaphysical studies. Religious Studies, based on the U. Penn website seems to be more comparative religion, sociology of religion, and history of religion. Probably not solving the questions of God, Nature of Existence, Man's Relationship To God, etc.

  • robc||

    C.S. Lewis

    Despite being a professor, guess what he didnt teach?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Yes, how dare someone study an institution that is as old as humanity.

  • ||

    I took some great Religious Studies classes in college with great teachers. Took a class on the Reformation with a guy who was a fucking genius about it but was also awesomely crazy. He brought a suitcase full of get away stuff and bags of groceries everywhere he went because he never knew when the government was going to come for him. He was always prepared to flee. Fucking awesome.

  • deified||

    affirmative action.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!

    Citations needed.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Free speech for them personally? Certainly. Free speech for anyone else, sometimes even other professors? Hell no.

  • ||

    Matt, I don't think this post is about expressing your opinion' it's about denigrating Anthea Butler.

    When is Matt Welch going to be in jail?

  • ||

    Why bother with jail when a drone strike would be quicker?

  • R C Dean||

    While the First Fourteenth Amendment right to free expression

  • R C Dean||

    Ah, screw it. Not that funny anyway.

  • Anomalous||

    We knew where you were going.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I would imagine leftists hate incorporation, because they hate corporations.

  • LibertyMark||

    Well done sir.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    it is difficult to teach the facts when movies such as Bacile's Innocence of Muslims are taken as both truth and propaganda

    What a load of horseshit. Whether or not Bacile's movie is accurate is of no import on her capabilities to communicate. In fact, it is a perfect opportunity to open the discussion.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    It is difficult to teach Aerospace Engineering when movies such as Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey are taken as both truth and propaganda.

    It is difficult to teach Thoracic Surgery when movies such as Altman's M*A*S*H are taken as both truth and propaganda.

    It is difficult to teach Financial Analysis when movies such as Stone's Wall Street are taken as both truth and propaganda.

    Professor Derp has spoken.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, yeah? Well how else do you explain the magnetic anomaly found at Tycho?

  • ||

    It's difficult to fill heads with nonsense when there is an opposing viewpoint.

  • Rich||

    Well said.

  • wef||

    If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor

    One is tempted to laugh at this embarrassing and philosophically-incoherent burden both on the public fisc and on the conned parents of her students of the University of Pennsylvania.

    But instead we should simply ignore this taxpayer-leech, fat-assed, fascist pigwoman.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    UPenn is a private school, so whatever her other failings, she's at least not leeching off the tax payers.

  • NeonCat||

    Do any of the students use Pell Grants to pay? If so, then yes, she is.

  • Calidissident||

    By that logic, almost any business is a taxpayer leech, since almost all of them, even if they don't have direct subsidies or government contracts, have customers on welfare, SS, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment, etc and/or who are public employees

  • pmains||

    Not really. Universities encourage their students to seek Pell Grants and other forms of government financial aid and they are heavily dependent on federal dollars to operate.

    University of Phoenix (not that it should be compared to an Ivy League) has maxed out the amount of federal financial aid their students (and, subsequently, they) receive. In order to get around the regulations, they've opened up other "colleges" that run on the same software and offer similar curricula.

  • Calidissident||

    And other businesses don't try to get handouts? Universities would operate just fine without the government. You sound like Tony

  • Calidissident||

    UPenn is a private school. Not that she isn't an idiot

  • John||

    So the titular head of the military calls an American Citizen and suggests that it would be a good idea if he stopped exercising his 1st Amendment Rights and this moron thinks it is a good thing.

  • ||

    Who's the commander-in-chief, John? Because it matters as to her opinion.

  • John||

    That is just it.

  • o3||

    just because one can do something, doesnt mean one should john

  • John||

    True. But that also doesn't mean the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs or anyone in the government has any business telling them about it.

  • John||

    Here is the sorry fact. If you are minority and leftist, you will succeed in academia beyond your wildest dreams no matter how stupid you are. If this woman were a white male or anything but a hard leftist, she wouldn't be teaching at a community college.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    That says something about the value of a college education.

  • KPres||

    "If this woman were a white male or anything but a hard leftist, she wouldn't be teaching at a community college."

    FIFY

  • ||

    If the military takes it seriously, there should be consequences for putting American lives at risk.

    This is an astoundingly evil thing to say.

  • John||

    If Obama sent SEAL Team 6 to deal with Jones, I have no doubt this woman would defend it.

  • WTF||

    If TEAM RED did it, however, the screeching would be epic.

  • ||

    Clearly, the military considers the film a serious threat to national security.

    You know who else considered freedom of speech a threat to national security?

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    John Adams?

  • ||

    Good one!

  • WTF||

    Woodrow Wilson?

  • Translucent Chum||

    Ming?

  • ||

    Tony Snow?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I need him to go now.

    I? I?

    Left-wing authoritarians unite!

  • ||

    Where's the argument that in order to have true free speech we must censor people? Can't believe she missed that one

  • Randian||

    People won't be free to express themselves if other people are running around hurting their feelings about it.

  • Randian||

    If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!

    Her immunity from the repercussions of free speech make her somehow value it more?

    I am confused about that.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Got to protect your privileges from being distributed to the masses, otherwise, what's the point of tenure?

  • Restoras||

    A perfect example why its dumb to send your kids to an Ivy League school.

  • John||

    You too could pay upwards of $3,000 to have your child subjected to this woman three times a week for an entire semester.

  • ||

    $3,000, John? More like $60,000/year.

  • sarcasmic||

    $60K for one class?

  • John||

    I was thinking of the cost of a single class. Three hour class, $1,000 per credit hour. But that is low you are right. More like $9,000 or $3,000 per credit hour.

  • sarcasmic||

    Freedom of speech means the freedom to say anything you want as long as it agrees with leftist theology. Anything else deserves jail time.

    What's so difficult to understand?

  • Hyperion||

    One thing for sure, is that in a Muslim controlled country, Anthea Butler will be wearing a Burka and keeping her big fat mouth shut.

    Stupid liberals.

  • John||

    I wouldn't be surprised if deep down she wouldn't like that and want that. A person who hates freedom like this usually has a longing to be controlled.

  • Hyperion||

    That is true of most progressives and feminazis.

  • John||

    One of the big first wave feminists, I forget which, had a pretty serious dom sub kind of Geisha relationship with a man for years.

  • Fluffy||

    It wasn't exactly dom/sub, but Sartre treated de Beauvoir worse than a pimp treats his ugliest used-up meth whore for years, and she still reliably showed up to suck his dick every night.

  • John||

    Hannah Arrendt got Heidegger back into polite company after World War II.

  • NoVAHockey||

    can't they just pay for that on their fee time like normal people?

  • o3||

    so we should define our conduct by muslim standards?

  • Hyperion||

    I think that is what we are doing when we say that people who exercise their free speech rights and criticize some 6th century religious doctrine should be thrown into jail.

    Duh, do you ever have a coherent thought? Troll.

  • R C Dean||

    Isn't that what she is suggesting, o3?

  • WTF||

    Forget it, urine is immune to logic.

  • Sevo||

    "If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!"

    Shame she's not intelligent enough to know what the term means.

  • MOFO.||

    Shes part of a (unfortunately) large class of people who think valuing/supporting/believing in free speech means simply saying that you do.

    In this woman's mind, she values free speech because she said she does, the fact that in the same breath she is calling for someone to be jailed for expressing themselves does not enter into it.

    Its what happens when you value rhetoric over principles.

  • KPres||

    "Shame she's not intelligent enough to know what the term means."

    She thinks "tenured professor" means "better than you".

  • rts||

    Not sure if this has been posted before, but...

    No One Murdered Because Of This Image (The Onion, NSFW).

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Great. Now I have to unsee that.

  • rts||

  • WTF||

    Ah, that's better!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If the military takes it seriously, there should be consequences for putting American lives at risk.

    Has this comment been forwarded to the Secret Service?

  • OldMexican||

    My initial tweet about Bacile, the person said to be responsible for the film mocking the prophet Mohammed, was not because I am against the First Amendment.


    Nooo, of course you're not! You're just against people expressing thoughts you don't like. That's all.

    My tweets reflected my exasperation that as a religion professor, it is difficult to teach the facts when movies such as Bacile's Innocence of Muslims are taken as both truth and propaganda, and used against innocent Americans.


    Wouldn't that be the problem of the intolerant assholes and their lack of maturity and character?

    If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!


    If there's anybody that loves children, is a pederast!

    The "free speech" in Bacile's film is not about expressing a personal opinion about Islam. It denigrates the religion by depicting the faith's founder in several ludicrous and historically inaccurate scenes to incite and inflame viewers. [...]


    So I guess opinion is all right as long as it conforms to your level of accuracy. Right, professor?

  • Drake||

    Professor - please explain exactly how "it denigrates the religion by depicting the faith's founder in several ludicrous and historically inaccurate scenes..."

    She can't explain it without making herself a target too. I've never heard of the Prophet being homosexual, but he certainly practiced a lot of extramarital sex and pedophilia as we currently understand it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    There are a bunch of hadith, which I'm too lazy to look up now, that report that Muhammad sometimes wore woman's clothing and liked to cuddle with men in bed.

  • Drake||

    Damn. I know he supposedly didn't drink. I wonder if he was hitting the opium or hash pipe?

    Muhammad always seems like a totally whacked out gangster to me. Sort of like Tuco from "Breaking Bad". His guys were never sure if he was going screw their wives, kill them, or make them rich.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    He didn't need any of that, dude was an epileptic.

  • Calidissident||

    What exactly constituted women's clothing in 7th century Arabia, that was different than men's? In the desert, I was under the impression that everyone pretty much wore clothes that covered their entire body to protect themselves from the sun

  • ||

    Is this really that hard to figure out? Murder = okay. Offending someone = not okay.

  • sarcasmic||

    Close, but not quite. It all depends on who is murdered or who is offended. Principles do not matter. Principals do.

  • Doctor Whom||

    I'm all for free speech, but Prof. Butler's article denigrates my values by making several ludicrous and constitutionally inaccurate arguments.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!

    Yes, because I might actually be fired for saying incredibly stupid shit if I did not have tenure.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Low hanging fruit.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    What do you mean? You can't even see her breasts in the photo.

  • ||

    Anyone else reminded of the high school teacher berating the student for pointing out a valid Obama criticism?

  • ||

    a valid Obama criticism

    I don't understand.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    a valid Obama criticism

    Just LOOK at him!

    *TWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE ARFARFARFARFARF!*

  • Lyle||

    Salafis would probably just throw this woman out of her ivory tower.

  • R C Dean||

    If it was high enough, sure.

  • RightNut||

    Her statement is truly written like a tenured Professor.

  • Randian||

    She should just bring herself to say "I don't support free speech". That would still make her a monster, but at least she would be an honest monster.

  • NoVAHockey||

    From Iowahawk: "Violent foreign mob: "death to American who made movie!" US Justice Dept: "we'll go find him for you."

  • Nephi||

    While the First Amendment right to free expression is important, it's not that important. Lots of other things are important, too, like being a selectively tolerant lefty asshat.

  • ||

    The right of Muslims to not be oppressed by America is more important that the right of Coptic Christians to not be oppressed by Muslims.

  • Zeb||

    The right of Muslims not to be annoyed by something that one American does is more important that the right of Coptic Christians not to be oppressed by Muslims, apparently.

  • albo||

    Her brains are clearly contained in her dreads.

    Sadder thing is, lots of Penn students would agree with her.

  • ||

    If the guy really is a Coptic Christian, his reason for speaking out against Islam, even in an offensive manner become a lot more legitimate. His film might be bad, it might be offensive to Muslims, but so what? He's from a religious minority that has been persecuted by Muslims his entire life. I'm sure has good reason for being pissed off and wanting to make a film that has mean things to say about Muslims. And it's entirely fucking irrelevant that Muslims don't like it. If we're going to silence anyone that has offensive things to say about people who are willing to kill for a verbal offense, there will be a lot more oppresion in the world.

  • Zeb||

    What fucking crime does she think was committed? Or does she think that the government ought to be able to lock people up for any random reason? Gee, I wonder how her answers to those questions might have changed over the last 4 years or so.

  • Paul.||

    Incitement of violence. Which is an utterly fluid, open-ended concept.

    "You said something that made me really angry, so I killed your Ambassador, you should be arrested for inciting me."

  • thom||

    There's got to be a hungry prosecutor out there who will take her up on this challenge.

  • Killazontherun||

    Oh, he is as good as cooked. A condition of his parole was to not ever be logged on to the internet. This is a common requirement in fraud cases, but the underlying legality should be challenged. Are you not allowed to use telephones once out because you may have used one when committing fraud? If so, than what sense does an internet ban make?

  • Zeb||

    ANd how many hundreds of other movies, cartoons, essays are there out there that insult Islam just as much, but never get noticed? I'm pretty sure this is all just a manufactured reason and excuse to act like assholes and protest the US on Sept. 11.

  • Killazontherun||

    I've been reading the Koran this week and just when you think it is about to get interesting you are hit by some out of know where rant about the worthlessness of those who doubt the story teller. Every page, so far! Please tell me that the plot gets better.

  • Paul.||

    Hey, another one of Obama's professorial asshats calling for the arrest of the filmmakers that Tony said didn't exist! Awesome!

  • Killazontherun||

    Over at Volokh Conspiracy.

    Two articles:

    Former Yale Dean Harold Koh (Now Legal Adviser at the State Department) on Dealing with “Hate Speech” by “Applying … the Transnationalist Approach to Judicial Interpretation”

    our exceptional free speech tradition can cause problems abroad, as, for example, may occur when hate speech is disseminated over the Internet. In my view, however, our Supreme Court can moderate these conflicts by applying more consistently the transnationalist approach to judicial interpretation

    Prof. Peter Spiro on Why “Hate Speech” Should Be “Ban[ned]” in the U.S. — and on How It Might Be Done, Using International Law

    For his part, Justice Scalia sarcastically disclaimed the relevance of the international community, “whose notions of justice are (thankfully) not always those of our people.” But if the suggestions above are tenable, it is no longer useful to speak in terms of “our people,” and an international consensus may be relevant to the determination of constitutional rights norms.

  • John||

    That is scary.

  • R C Dean||

    Fuck me. That is horrifying.

    We should set our legal standards to the lowest common denominator, isn't that about it?

  • Killazontherun||

    More like, America loathing control freaks leftist at the center of our power and academic institutions are using the delicate sensitivities of Muslims to justify an agenda that is to their liking.

  • Paul.||

    I thought this got covered yesterday because I saw this and was so horrified, I didn't think it merited comment.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Whatever happened to that Voltaire quote everyone was using back in the day:

    Though I disagree with everything you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it.

    They didn't really mean it did they?

  • ||

    They only mean it when they agree with the speaker.

  • Paul.||

    Lets pretend, for a moment, that a conservative administration was in the white house. Not conservative like Obama is, but conservative like say, Rick Santorum is. Think, "Obama" but with more God. Drone strikes, bigger government, more intrusive government, but using God as the justification instead of the children, or cultural sensitivity, you get the idea-- but with one major difference: They're hostile to abortion.

    Then let's say some high ranking woman secretly gets an abortion because having children would get in the way of her career, and then let's say that the news of that abortion were leaked to the press.

    Now let's imagine some highly Roman Catholic country somewhere in the world who also doesn't take a shine to abortion storms an embassy and kills some people inside.

    President Santorum gets on the podium and says, "We reject all forms of abortion that are used as a callous, easy method of birth control after the fact, but let me be clear (did you see what I did there?) that is no excuse to storm our embassy and engage in the kind of violence [blah blah blah]"

    You get the idea.

    Liberals would go un-fucking-hinged. They would demand the President retract his statement and demand that he not use his pulpit to insert qualifications to an unqualified right enjoyed by the people of this country.

  • SKR||

    I am getting sick of people using a vernacular definition of incite while discussing first amendment issues like this. The producer of the film is not inciting violence. He is provoking anger in the hopes that some one will become so enraged as to commit acts of violence. Incite and provoke are synonymous when comparing the vernacular. However the legal definition of incite requires advocacy of unlawful activities. The film doesn't meet that criteria. The closest thing that has been upheld as limitable speech that you could call this would be 'fighting words' but those need to be personal and immediate so it doesn't quite fit.

  • Rob Ives||

    So unfair to this brilliant woman. Clearly she believes in freedom for GOOD speech. Everyone knows that BAD speech is not protected because Shut Up.

  • FAILtastic||

    The silence from Tony is deafening! Guess he hasn't the scrote to weigh in on issues of such clear-cut double-talk (by a member of his Team).

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