Salman Rushdie on "Innocence of Muslims" and Defending Freedom of Speech

Over at the New York Times today, editorialist Bill Keller cites author Salman Rushdie's views on the importance of defending free speech in the face of intimidation. As Reason readers will recall, Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa in 1989 urging Muslims to murder Rushdie for allegedly blaspheming Muhammad in his novel The Satanic Verses. Keller reports:

Of the current confrontation, [Rushdie] says, “I think it’s very important that we hold our ground. It’s very important to say, ‘We live like this.’ ” Rushdie made his post-fatwa life in America in part because he reveres the freedoms, including the freedom, not so protected in other Western democracies, to say hateful, racist, blasphemous things.

“Terrible ideas, reprehensible ideas, do not disappear if you ban them,” he told me. “They go underground. They acquire a kind of glamour of taboo. In the harsh light of day, they are out there and, like vampires, they die in the sunlight.”

And so he would have liked a more robust White House defense of the rights that made the noxious video possible.

“It’s not for the American government to regret what American citizens do. They should just say, ‘This is not our affair and the [violent] response is completely inappropriate.’ ”

Absolutely correct. As I explained in my column,"No one has the right to a world in which he is never despised" last week:

...the only task that American officials have is to explain that the American government does not endorse any religious or anti-religious views and that Americans are free to say any damned thing that they want.

See Reason's extensive coverage of the "Innocence of Muslims" controversy here.

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  • ||

    Nice one Salman. It's enough to make one forgive you for that lousy collaboration with U2 and the unnerving eyebrows

  • Killazontherun||

    ^this. I've held a grudge for the U2 matter, but time to let bygones be bygones.

  • ||

    "And so he would have liked a more robust White House defense of the rights that made the noxious video possible."

    Really? Wasn't Rushdie initial response basically a carbon copy of the administrations'? The irony must've finally hit him.

  • robc||

    Rushdie is a private individual, so its not at all ironic if he has a view that differs from what he wants the official government view to be.

  • robc||

    For example, I hate Illinois Nazis, but I expect the government to treat them the same as anyone else and issue parade permits in accordance with the law.

  • Restoras||

    +1 cigarette lighter

  • ||

    The irony is that he initially condemned the film as overly provocative, which is the same charge leveled against his critiques.

  • John Thacker||

    It's not irony.

    It's the difference between a private citizen saying "I don't like Chick-Fil-A's owner's stance on gay marriage," and a Boston mayor or Chicago alderman saying, "I don't like their policy, and that could have effects on their zoning applications."

  • ||

    Don't think that's fair. Rushdie initially said:

    “He’s done something malicious, and that’s a very different thing from writing a serious novel,” said Rushdie. “He’s clearly set out to provoke, and he’s obviously unleashed a much bigger reaction than he hoped for. I mean, one of the problems with defending free speech is you often have to defend people that you find to be outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting.”

    The Administration AFAIK condemned the video, said it wasn't officially sanctioned, and then tried to bully YouTube.

  • ||

    Because 'The Satanic Verses' wasn't written to provoke? Oh, but that is a "serious novel".

    Just getting a little too close to "free speech for me but not for thee" territory for me.

  • Zeb||

    I don't know. I think that there is a difference. Just not one that government should have a position on.

  • ||

    Really? But not in it, surely, not by a long shot. He's making a value judgment about his speech as opposed to the film-maker's. The correctness of his judgment is disputable, but not his right to judge the value of speech, which is wholly legitimate and necessary. The only (although significant) danger of that value judgment is that it can lead to speech controls based upon perceived value, validity or utility. Rushdie does not do this. He upholds the film-maker's right to that speech. Nothing too different from what you hear around this joint, or indeed in the apocryphal Voltaire which gets trotted out on these occasions

  • R C Dean||

    I don't care if he doesn't realize, or just doesn't care, that by condemning the filmmaker and the video, he is undercutting his free speech argument and aligning himself with the mullahs.

    If you want to make a free speech argument, just fucking make it. Don't clutter it up with you views on the underlying speech, which are irrelevant and can only detract from the free speech argument.

  • ||

    Don't clutter it up with you views on the underlying speech, which are irrelevant and can only detract from the free speech argument.

    Hmmm. We differ on tactics, but not, perhaps, on our reading Rushdie's original comments (which is not Greg83's)

    Like it or not, opponents of free speech will zero in on the value of the speech, because they think that's their killer argument. Acknowledging the speech might be worthless or hurtful and that this is wholly irrelevant doesn't undercut the free speech argument, just that of free speech opponents.

  • R C Dean||

    Call it a tactical disagreement. I think the better approach is to say that anyone's views on the value or quality of speech is utterly irrelevant to free speech.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I think he was saying he didn't care for the film or the intent behind it. That's fair enough. But I think since then, he's seen that logic used by governments to justify suppression of speech. That, he doesn't agree with, I'd say.

  • kinnath||

    I mean, one of the problems with defending free speech is you often have to defend people that you find to be outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting.

    This is the big test.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    You're free to say inoffensive stuff like, "Puppies are cuddly." Isn't that enough?

  • Doctor Whom||

    You're free to agree with us on everything. What else could freedom possibly mean?

  • Zeb||

    Well I fucking hate puppies, you offensive bastard. If you were a country, I'd burn down your embassy.

  • wef||

    dogs are unclean you kafir offspring of pigs and monkeys

  • Drake||

    To stand up and declare an unwavering support for free-speech requires two things: A belief in free speech (and freedom in general), and moral courage.

    Our leaders lack both.

  • Mr. Soul||

    I didnt realize Rushie (sic) was a dittohead.

  • Mike M.||

    Now there's some schmuck named professor Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah at King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia who is apparently lobbying the U.N. to make criticism of Islam a crime throughout the world. To that I say, go hump your camel, Abdullah.

  • Doctor Whom||

    How about we make denying the Trinity a crime throughout the world? Sauce for the goose, and all that.

  • Killazontherun||

    If you enjoy a good ripping apart of Islam you can't go wrong here:

    http://www.flex.com/~jai/satya.....koran.html

    How Was Man Created?
    Was man created from a blood clot as the verse below states?

    (Koran 96:2)
    Created man, out of a mere clot of congealed blood.

    Or was man created from water as Mohammed has stated in the verses below?

    (Koran 21:30)
    ...WE made EVERY (including man) living thing
    from water...

    (Koran 25:54)
    It is He who has created man from water...

    Or was man created from "sounding" clay?

    (Koran 15:26)
    He created man from sounding clay, from mud
    moulded into shape...

    Or was man created from dust?

    (Koran 3:59)
    ...He created him from dust, then said to him
    Be and he was.

    (Koran 30:20)
    Among His signs is this that he created you from
    dust; and then- Behold, ye are men scattered
    far and wide!

    Or was man created from nothing?

    (Koran 19:67)
    But does not man call to mind that WE created
    him before out of nothing.

    Or was man actually created from earth?

    (Koran 11:61)
    ...Ye have no other god but him. It is he who
    hath created you from the earth and settled you
    therein..

    Or was it a drop of sperm that created man?

    (Koran 16:4)
    He has created man from a sperm-drop...
  • mr simple||

    Don't you know it's blasphemous to read or print the Qur'an in anything but the original Arab. That disproves everything on that site.

  • Killazontherun||

    In Arabic, just like the original Torah!

  • Killazontherun||

    Mohammed the Innumerate Prophet who couldn't handle fractions.

    Let us suppose that a man dies and leaves behind three daughters, two parents and his wife. According to the verses stated above the three daughters together will receive 2/3 of the share, the parents will receive 1/3 of the share and the wife will receive 1/8 of the share.

    Do the math once again: 2/3 + 1/3 + 1/8 = 9/8 = 1.125. The distribution of the property adds up to more than the available property! How can this distribution be possible? Once again Mohammed displays his inability to add. Well, if a person can't add integers then it is unprobable that he would know how to add fractions.

    Another example: A man dies and leaves behind his mother, his wife and two sisters. According to what Mohammed has stated in Koran 4:11-12 and 4:176 the mother will receive 1/3 of the property, the wife will receive 1/4 of the property and the sisters will receive 2/3 of the property.

    Let us add up the fractions again: 1/3 + 2/3 + 1/4 = 5/4 = 1.25 and once again it adds up to more than the available property.
  • Ska||

    Unprobable? Did Ralph Wiggum write this? Tell the author that when you take someone down on a math fail you still need someone to proof your English.

  • Killazontherun||

    The author is a Hindu nationalist. Enjoy it for what it is.

  • Killazontherun||

    Also, the author wasn't the one claiming to be infallible and transcribing the word of Allah.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Man you are a stupid fuck. Allah will kick in the additional .25 as interest.

  • Killazontherun||

    I remember Allah when he worked behind the counter at the local Subway. He didn't last very long.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Maybe one or more of the above persons fit into more than one relationship category?

    /appalachian arithmetic

  • John||

    Terrible ideas, reprehensible ideas, do not disappear if you ban them,” he told me. “They go underground. They acquire a kind of glamour of taboo. In the harsh light of day, they are out there and, like vampires, they die in the sunlight.”

    This and you also by censorship cede the field to the real wackos. It is almost like they want to make the Western public hate Muslims and want to kill them.

  • Drake||

    They want to be feared. That's how the religion was spread from the outset. Fear and unequal rules. Freedom for the Muslims, dhimmitude for everyone else.

  • John||

    I don't think many Americans outside the douchebags in the media and government are too afraid of them. Sadly, the douchebags are encouraging Muslims to actually believe Americans are afraid of them. And that is not going to end well for Muslims.

  • Drake||

    The same can't be said in Europe.

  • John||

    I think the Euros, particularly the Germans may have a little more blood lust than people think.

    The Arabs have taken it up the ass in every war since the 17th Century. Fighting and dying for the jihad is what they do. I am not very intimidated.

  • Rasilio||

    There is something to this.

    In the end result of every warrior culture that has venerated dying for the cause as the ultimate good and path of righteousness has been defeat because it creates a willingness in your best soldiers to go out and push unwinnable situations getting themselves killed in the process.

    It would be effectively impossible for even a technologically advanced Islamic army to pose much of a threat to a similarly equipped army of either western or asian origin due to this belief in Jihad and being a martyr for Allah.

    Sure that acceptance of your death would allow the Islamic army to win a few early battles, meanwhile Eastern and Western armies would be busy following the advice of Von Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, and similar military theorists in focusing on winning the actual war.

  • Rasilio||

    That said the problem in Europe is not one of military origin but rather demographic. The bulk of Europe, especially Southern Europe has not been able to maintain anything close to replacement level birth rates in more than 2 generations and as a result they have been forced to import huge numbers of primarily muslim immigrants rapidly to maintain their workforces. The problem when you do this is it allows the immigrants to create enclaves and import their own culture rather than integrate with the existing one.

    Europe is in no danger of becoming a Muslim continent through military conquest, the threat is that it will become so through the ballot box as culturally islamic immigrants (and their 2nd and 3rd generation children who never assimilated) start to outnumber the native populace and then they start to implement their own culture into the laws.

  • Killazontherun||

    I think you are right. Our multicultrist elites are not doing them any favors by misleading them about the fundamental nature of Americans with their knee jerk appeasement. In existential terms, they are not prepared for us if the shit really hits the fan.

  • tarran||

    Sadly, the douchebags are encouraging Muslims to actually believe Americans are afraid of them. And that is not going to end well for Muslims.

    ^^^ THIS!

  • R C Dean||

    OT:

    I see that Elizabeth Warren not only isn't an Indian (contrary to her assertions), she isn't even a lawyer, as she has had no law license for quite some time (apparently, it was too much trouble for a law professor to keep up with continuing ed requirements). Even though she has been providing legal services, apparently illegally, in Massachusetts.

    While I'd be interested to see if falsely claiming minority status in connection with affac programs is a crime (it might be; those claims do get reported to the feds by the employer), I'm certain that practicing law without a license is a crime.

  • John||

    She had no license? A lot of people get around the state bar licenses by just practicing in federal court where they are pretty liberal about granting pro hoc requests. But I have never heard of anyone who wasn't licensed in any state practicing law. I suppose she could claim that she just advised and didn't actually practice law. But that is a pretty fine line.

    Beyond that, what kind of an arrogant slug lets their law license expire unless they are just leaving the field? The bar is such a irrelevant pain in the ass, no one would ever want to do it twice. And she is a law professor for God's sake. I bet Harvard would pay to send her to conferences to get her CLE credit. That is just pathetic.

  • tarran||

    John, you missed the link in the morning links.

    She had a license in New Jersey that she voluntarily surrendered on 9/11/2012. Yes, less than a month ago.

    It appears she participated as counsel in federal cases, using her office at Harvard Law school as her address.

    Perhaps you could enlighten us as to the licensing requirements.

    Clearly, though, she has something she thinks she needs to hide... you don't surrender a law license in the middle of a freaking campaign for nothing.

  • John||

    People get around those rules a lot. It all depends on if she was named counsel. If she never put her name on anything and just provided advice, it is technically illegal but is rarely enforced.

    That said, I have no idea why anyone would voluntarily give up their license. The only explanation I can give is that she had done something unethical and was worried that someone was going to file a bar complaint against her. If you are no longer licensed, they can't file a complaint against you.

  • tarran||

    On the traveler's insurance cases, there are documents with her name appearing as counsel to the insurance co.

    And yes, in MA, all she had to do was file a motion to be admitted to the bar without an exam based on her job (professor @ harvard law) and experience.

    There is clearly smoke here.

  • John||

    Yes Tarran. In most states, MA included, if you have practiced law for from five to seven years depending on the state and are in good standing in another state, the will admit you without taking the bar for a fee. The one thing they do do is a really complete background check. I know in Texas, you literally have to get a letter from the police department in every town you lived in saying you have never been arrested. Most state bars make the background check a bit of a pain in the ass because they want to limit the number of out of state lawyers who can come in and compete with the local lawyers.

    Now Warren knew the rules. And she was making very good money defending travelers. If you are doing the odd case as a favor, you might want to chance it. But if you are going to make good money and do significant work, which she did, it makes no sense not to get the license. She could have even billed the fee to Travelers as a necessary expense for her work. There is no reason not to have done it, unless you have some bar complaints or some other ethics issues that might cause the MA bar to say no.

    When you combine her lack of getting an MA bar license despite clearly doing a lot of work with her mysteriously surrendering her license in New Jersey, there is a whole lot of smoke here.

  • Tman||

    Here's the full break down of her law license problem.

    I'd be interested to see what the attorneys here think about this-

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2.....e-problem/

    From a laypersons standpoint, this don't look too good for Faucahontas.

  • John||

    She represented Travelers' for years and make nearly a quarter of a million dollars. And she didn't bother to go down and get an MA bar license? That is a big deal. Every lawyer knows the bar rules. I can't believe she was that lazy. I think she had something to hide and didn't think MA would admit her.

  • Tman||

    I bet she was afraid of not being able to pass the MA bar. It's easily one of the hardest in the nation (so I've been told, my mom had to take it twice to pass, and she's been an attorney her whole life).

    She also apparently ignored Harvard Law School by ignoring their advice against the unauthorized practice of law.

    Lotsa smoke here. This being Massachusetts, it may not matter -I mean Teddy let a woman drown for goddsakes and he got re-elected every year for chrissakes- but still, this look bad.

  • John||

    Tman,

    She wouldn't have had to take the bar. If you are a member of another bar in good standing and have practiced law for five years, you don't have to take it.

    Maybe they don't count teaching as practicing law. But I doubt it. So I think it was an ethical issue or she was just pathetically lazy.

  • Tman||

    Ah, well that answers that. I thought MA required you to take the bar to practice there, but I didn't know either way.

    I just remember my Mom bitching about how hard it was.

    Either way, it seems par for the course for Faucahontas. She's lied about her heritage to get tenure at Harvard, so lying about her license wouldn't be a huge stretch at this point.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Hard to know for sure without knowing Massachusetts law governing the unauthorized practice of law, but it is worth noting that waiving in requires being in good standing in another state. That could be the issue.

  • ||

    she did let her Texas licence lapse (no details available) and gave up the NJ one a few weeks ago. All very odd. I could understand letting them lapse once you're elected, so you don't have to comply with any continuing legal education obligations or pay fees/insurance, but deliberately resigning one during a campaign you could well lose?

  • R C Dean||

    I suspect it was just pure laziness on her part. She's a big shot Harvard professor, those kinds of things are beneath her.

    I don't know if Massachusetts would admit her without taking the exam, as that kind of admission "on motion" typically requires 5 to 7 years of active practice in another jurisdiction.

  • Pro Libertate||

    That's a good point--she might not have those years, either. I was assuming she'd been in active practice somewhere else.

  • R C Dean||

    Looks like Massachusetts recognizes teaching, so she should have been able to waive in.

    The fee is stout - $1,015, and she may have had to take the multistate ethics exam. If it ever even occurred to her, that's probably why she didn't ever apply.

    I don't have a courtroom practice, so I can't really say if she violated the rules of the various federal courts she appeared in (and, yes, she is listed on the briefs, so she "appeared"), but that's another possibility.

    Delicious.

  • Mike M.||

    Law licenses are for the little peon lawyers who aren't part of our official ruling class.

  • ||

    even listing an MA address is enough to trigger the licensing requirement, so practising in the federal jurisdiction ain't enough. Or that's what Fluffy said because he read the article

    http://reason.com/blog/2012/09.....nt_3274281

  • Loki||

    ...and nothing else happened. Laws are for us "little people".

  • ||

    three posts this morning and two of them are on point and almost human. Nice one anonbot, you've passed O3 and are almost at full personhood. Well, what passes for personhood around here

  • Mike M.||

    Even anonbot is going to end up getting a fatwah put out on it.

  • ||

    That is exactly the right response, and it's what's really wrong with Obama's reaction to the riots. To over and over condemn the film while saying nothing about freedom of speech. Romney should be raking him over the coals for that.
    Instead, well, Romney's criticisms have been mostly incoherent. Like he just feels he has to say something bad about Obama, but hsn't actually figured out what it is.

  • Sevo||

    "Like he just feels he has to say something bad about Obama, but hsn't actually figured out what it is."

    Pretty much sums up his campaign. And the reason is simple; he's offering nothing different.

  • ||

    Arguably, his "gaffe" about the 47% was the most substantive thing he's said so far. As fucked up is it was, mixing the 47% who pay no taxes with the 47% who support Obama, it was a stab in the direction of saying something about the culture ofdependency.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Well he probably feels for the muslims because of The Book of Mormon (the musical), so he can't just go balls out.

    Plus it's hard for people that don't actually believe in free speech to pretend like they do. Plus plus he, and everyone in his campaign, are idiots who wouldn't know how to capitalize on a weakness if it came with instructions.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "Instead, well, Romney's criticisms have been mostly incoherent"

    Like he can say anything without the MSM trying to make hay out of it.

  • OldMexican||

    [...]the only task that American officials have is to explain that the American government does not endorse any religious or anti-religious views and that Americans are free to say any damned thing that they want.


    But, you see, Rushdie is missing the point here: US Governent officials do not really believe in any of that individual rights crap. They think they're above the simple-minded folk, the rubes and the peasants. They think we're their children, and like any responsible parent, they feel the need to apologize for our little peccadillos. After all, we're not like them: All grown up and enlightened.

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