Free Speech

The Right to be a Hate-filled Imbecile

Liberal democracies must protect free expression

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There are a number of points on which Ali Eteraz and I agree. Despite my general hostility to organized religion, I too have little patience for Robert Spencer-type arguments that Islam is possessed with a preternatural desire to force unbelievers into a state of "dhimmitude," nor am I terribly concerned that the minarets of "Eurabia" will soon encircle the Islamisized capitals of Western Europe. As I noted in my Reason column, I have little interest—and little academic qualification—in such conversations, and will leave the discussions of Koranic interpretation to theologians and historians. But thankfully, for the sake of Jewcy's readers, there is much on which we disagree. But let me start be reiterating that I too was unimpressed by Wilders film, and his views of Islam still strike me as reductive and, to put it mildly, incomplete.

Read the rest of this column at Jewcy.com

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  1. W/o having read the article, I’m still going to guess the subtitle should read “protect”, not “protest”.

  2. Seems like attack of the spellcheckers today.

  3. Islam IS incompatible with democracy – not only Spencer but Amir Teheri strongly support this notion.

    The Bushnecks pine over a secular democracy in Iraq while they steadfastly oppose such in the USA – that should tell you all you need to know.

  4. Yeah, I agree. Hell, in America, they don’t send you to jail for Holocaust denial. And let’s face it, aside from being hypocrisy against liberal principles, censoring ANYBODY just helps their cause. But let’s face it: Geert Wilders is a xenophobe who is an enemy to liberal society; just like the “Know-Nothings” who veiled their bigotry against Irish-Catholics in the cloak of protecting American democracy from becoming a papal dictatorship.

  5. When Geert Wilders starts suicide-bombing people who disagree with him, we might have a problem.

  6. Until then, stay cool.

  7. i think its terrible that a supposedly enlightened european democracy would choose to let this guys hate speech go unopposed. what people here (and apparently in holland) need to learn is that freedom of speech isn’t absolute. if you say things that cause hate against any group of people for no reason, you should be prosecuted.

  8. concerned observer: Wow, I couldn’t disagree more (assuming you are serious, of course). Hate speech is absolutely protected by the Constitution, and it’s supposed to be. You can’t just protect the stuff that is polite and uncontroversial.

  9. economist: We’ll only have a problem if Geert has figured out cloning. Otherwise, we only to need to worry about the first bomb.

  10. Wilders has every damn right to say what he wants. It is incumbent on Muslims to disprove him wrong. Watching the film myself, and as Michael and Ali indicate, it should not be hard for Muslims to do so.

  11. Who says his hate speech is unopposed? Anyone and everyone is free to criticize it with their own speech.

  12. Say what you will, but I loved Geert Wilders in Young Frankenstein.

  13. Always good to see my co-blogger mentioned at Reason.

  14. if you say things that cause hate against any group of people for no reason, you should be prosecuted.

    You just said that something that causes hate against people who use hateful speech, therefore by your own logic you should be arrested.

  15. oops s/b

    “You just said something that causes hate against people who use hateful speech, therefore by your own logic you should be arrested.”

  16. ” a supposedly enlightened european democracy would choose to let this guys hate speech go unopposed”

    What? I have to reiterate what (H&R) ce and Ali said: you’re not upset because the movie is “unopposed”; you’re upset because the Dutch government isn’t opposing it with censorship, coercion and prosecution.

  17. I wish Michael had hammered Ali over the same non-sequitir. In a single sentence, Ali conflated speech/film with an example of how liberal societies don’t tolerate “discrimination.” Oddly enough, discrimination is an ACTION. Liberal societies do, in fact (to varying degrees), tolerate prejudice, which is speech/thought.

  18. economist | April 18, 2008, 4:10pm | #

    When Geert Wilders starts suicide-bombing people who disagree with him, we might have a problem.

    Well, he’ll only do it once…

  19. Unless he’s really bad at it.

  20. Is attempted suicide bombing a crime? Is it the attempted suicide or the attempted bombing that is at issue?

  21. thats the problem with libertarians and conservatives. just because the “the constitution” protects hate speech doesn’t make it right. the constitution of the united states was written 200 years ago. besides, doesn’t it have a general welfare clause to allow for action in gray areas like these?

  22. Sideshow Bob: Attempted murder? Now honestly, what is that? Do they give a Nobel Prize for attempted chemistry?

  23. OK, this concerned guy has to be a parody, right?

  24. Can you please, for those of us who are joining whatever this is midstream, include more backstory?

  25. My bad. I should have said that when he starts ordering people to suicide-bomb his opponents, we have a problem. If he himself suicide bombs, the problem resolves itself.

  26. that’s the problem you say if anyone disagrees with you they must be joking. and you’re always talking about free speech. the hypocrisy is amazing.

  27. Certainly, Mike. Geert Wilders (born Jerome Silberman, June 11, 1933) is an American Emmy Award-winning and twice Academy Award-nominated stage and screen actor, director and screenwriter. He starred in such films as The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and Silver Streak. He also made a movie that was highly critical of Muslims.

  28. Oh, and he was also Willie Wonka, who, now that I think about it, was clearly anti-Islam.

  29. “just because the “the constitution” protects hate speech doesn’t make it right. the constitution of the united states was written 200 years ago. besides, doesn’t it have a general welfare clause to allow for action in gray areas like these?”

    So hatefull speech wasn’t a problem 200 years ago but now it is?

  30. Oh, and he was also Willie Wonka, who, now that I think about it, was clearly anti-Islam.

    That Oompa Loompa parody of Islam was particularly offensive.

  31. Can’t we all just get a bong?

  32. about libertarians and conservatives: conservatives are the ones i think actually hate minorities, but libertarians are their enablers by protecting their hate speech.

  33. But it evens out because we’re also enabling all the people that whine about racism.

  34. thats the problem with libertarians and conservatives. just because the “the constitution” protects hate speech doesn’t make it right.

    Hear, hear. Why do I have a right to something just because a piece of paper says I do? If the constitution said it’s okay to rape oompa loompas, does that make it right?

    That’s why I say you have the right to say whatever the hell you want with your own property, whether the message is “hateful” or not.

    about libertarians and conservatives: conservatives are the ones i think actually hate minorities, but libertarians are their enablers by protecting their hate speech.

    Since when did the libertarian movement gain enough power to be an “enabler” to conservatives? The conservatives are the enablers to the conservatives. There isn’t even that much hate speech anyway.

    And since when are all or even most conservatives racist? I think you’re relying on an unquestioned stereotype, and are consequentially a bigot.

  35. about libertarians and conservatives: conservatives are the ones i think actually hate minorities, but libertarians are their enablers by protecting their hate speech.

    That sounds like “hate speech” to me. Arrest yourself, moron.

  36. I think “hate speech” is a duty.

    And I have been accused of being a “leftist” here.

    Actually, I am an anarchist, but coming from the Bush sycophants here I consider “leftist” a compliment….

  37. I hate everybody. So fuck off.

  38. “conservatives are the ones i think actually hate minorities”

    Yes, you are correct. They want to continue the welfare state that enables and motivates so many minorities to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and make something of themselves. Sheesh!

  39. Concerned Observer is employing hate speech against conservatives. Arrest him!

  40. it should not be hard for Muslims to do so.
    here

  41. today;
    4/19/1775 – The American Revolutionary War began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Middlesex County ,Massachusetts .

  42. Damn, concerned observer started so promisingly, then by the 3rd post had slipped into very pedestrian trollery.

  43. If hate speech is banned, the terrorists win!
    Ok, bad joke. But joking aside, I am wary of any move to curtail speech (yes, that includes hate speech or even idiotic speech). Not just because it provides material for stand-up comics, but more importantly, there is a risk of going too far. I mean, who is to say what qualifies as hate speech except on the level of offense it generates (Of course, by hate speech, we would mean the kind of speech that is derogatory to a certain demographic of the population). The problem is where do we stop then. Should we also ban speech that is critical to a religion when it is based on facts (i.e. a religion that performs human sacrifice. Not that to the best of my knowledge, one does exist in the western civilization)? There are unintended consequences in censorship as there are in free speech. Free speech might allow offensive speech to exist, but censorship might silence dissent. In censorship, the only speech that is allowed is the one of the persons that have the legal system on their side.

  44. Your academic disinterest in Islam is obvious. The Koran is considered the ultimate, infallible word of Islam. Perhaps you should read it before you express your lack of patience for arguments about dhimmitude. The Koran clearly states how non-Muslims are to be treated, and it is not the same as Muslims. Perhaps you should educate yourself about the nature of Islam before you sound again sound like a total fucking idiot. And since when does pointing out the violent nature of both modern Islam and the Koran make one a hate filled imbecile? It seems the authors of this magazine are as gutless as anyone else when it comes to confronting the backward philosophy that is Islam. What a fucking joke.

  45. “The Bushnecks pine over a secular democracy in Iraq while they steadfastly oppose such in the USA – that should tell you all you need to know.”

    More grade Z commentary from assholes on this site. What a way to not only call Bush supporters idiots but also take a shot at the President in a discussion that has absolutely nothing to do with either. And I don’t remember Bush ever clamoring for a theocracy. You have spent too much time reading Andrew Sullivan, you witless jackass.

  46. “Concerned Observer” is a bigger fool then most of the morons on this forum.

    And as far as “hate speech” is concerned, most of it comes from the left.

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