Reason Writers at Tablet Magazine: Matt Welch on Accusing a YouTube Video of 'Incitement'


Writing at Tablet, Reason Editor in Chief Matt Welch argues that acceding to the "heckler's veto" is like wearing a huge "kick me" sign. Excerpt:

Neither prophylactic apologies nor self-censorship, it turns out, seem to mollify religious fanatics. 

Not that many in America's political class seem to notice. It's a modern marvel to witness how thoroughly the country's journalists and commentators have, over the past decade, internalized false notions about Muslims, violence, and free expression. For instance, that depicting the historical figure of Muhammad is untenable blasphemy (see the Muhammad Image Archive for a repository of rejoinders); that the mere discussion about the proposed portrayal of a cartoon Muhammad bear-suit should be avoided at all costs in order to avoid a potential spasm of Mideast violence; and that retreating so abjectly from the defense of free speech will somehow make the world a safer place.

No, American writers, reporters, and artists won't touch the Prophet Muhammad with a 10-foot pair of kid gloves. Provocateurs who luxuriate in the death of God leave Allah the hell alone. Western countries without a First Amendment prosecute "blasphemers." Even free-speech heroes like Penn Jillette will acknowledge that his act won't tackle Islam "because we have families." An alt-weekly cartoonist felt impelled to go into the witness protection program in order to avoid retribution from murderous Islamists unsatisfied with her apology for proposing an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." Meantime, professional free-speech organizations say little.

So, it shouldn't come as a great surprise that now, after Tuesday night's savage murder of four Americans in Libya, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, a sector of the American commentariat is calling for the heads of … lunatic Florida Pastor Terry Jones and a bizarro-world filmmaker who goes by the names Sam Bacile and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. Even free-speech heroes like Penn Jillette will acknowledge that his act won’t tackle Islam “because we have families.”

    Then Jillette needs to shut the fuck up about the entire subject of religion. If he is too big of a coward to apply the same standards to Islam that he does to other religions, he just makes himself into a bully and encourages barbaric behavior when he goes after every religion but Islam.

    1. If you bothered to watch the Jillette piece, you’d see that he has kind things to say about Christians, that instead of threatening his life they said they’d pray for him.
      Not so, islamists or Scientologists. So I think you can give him credit for criticizing those latter two groups as unable to handle any criticism, which is criticism of the highest order. He was able to get his dig in without martyring himself senselessly.

      1. No fuck him. The standard is that it is okay to drag anyone through the mud as long as they don’t threaten to kill you. Then they are off limits. I don’t want to live in a world where the way you avoid criticism is threaten to kill people. It is just a matter of time before other religions start to resort to these tactics. And when they do, we will have cowards like Jillette to thank for it.

        1. Okay, brave John. Draw up a couple of pics of the prophet and march around your local mosque and hand out your business card. That’s your assignment.

        2. You’re right, and you’re totally better than him by bitching about his behavior anonymously.

          1. You don’t have to martyr yourself to have an opinion fer gods sakes. While admittedly it would be nice if everyone could follow the everybody draw admonishment, I think even our dear Matt, like Penn has implicitly criticized Islam without taking it to the yoo-hoo I’m over here level that might get them killed. At the same time I don’t think that their ‘cowardice’ means that they should be barred from stating their opinions in anything be it religion or otherwise.
            Matt and Penn are at least two public opinionaters that haven’t excused radical Islamism with the multi culture cloak. That seemed to be the point of the piece. Anyway, John your rejoinder was pure non sequitur.

        3. Yeah!
          Fuck him for having a sense of self preservation!
          Fuck him for not wanting to put his family in danger!
          What a fucking jackass!
          Fuck him!

        4. Except they actually carry out those threats because no one has the guts to stop them. All the gun power is aimed at stopping medical marijuana stores and such.

  2. “CAIRO (AP) ? The leader of al-Qaida confirmed the death of the group’s second-in-command, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in northwestern Pakistan in June.
    In a video posted late Monday on militant websites, al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahri described his late lieutenant Abu Yahya al-Libi as a ‘lion of jihad and knowledge.’
    The killing of al-Libi, who was Libyan by birth, was the biggest setback to al-Qaida since the death of Osama bin Laden.
    Al-Zawahri also urged Libyans ? al-Libi was born in the north African country ? to attack Americans to avenge the late militant’s death, saying his ‘blood is calling, urging and inciting you to fight and kill the Crusaders.'”…..4d0a54b9c8

    1. I’m sure nobody will read this and we’ll keep assuming people were murdered over a youtube video

      1. Yep, business as usual.

      2. So people can never have two reasons for doing something?

        1. Sure, but this video is 2 months old

  3. So much so that the media rushed to expose the identity of a man working under a psuedonym, for the likely very good reason that he could be killed for his speech.

    And even Reason joined in on publishing the man’s name.

    1. He’s safe.I wouldn’t be surprised if a bunch of Copts don’t get singled out, but I guess they were already.

    2. Given he misled the actors into putting their actual faces into this movie, don’t expect much concern from me about the man’s privacy. He obviously wasn’t concerned about any potential danger to them.

      1. It’s cool, Scott. Allah sees all, and will protest, ah, PROTECT the innocent.

      2. How do you know the actors aren’t just saying that because they’re afraid of getting killed too?

        1. I actually watched the video yesterday before YouTube blocked it and noticed all the dubbing. Their lines were clearly changed.

    3. Because nobody reads AP, it would have made a huge difference if reason had self-censored.

      1. Probably not, but that’s really not a particularly good excuse. “Everyone is is broadcasting the guys real identity, so let’s do it too!”

  4. Dude seems to be talking all kinds of smack over there wow.

  5. The inciters are these Salafist and Wahhabists Muslims. The film is just a prop they’re using.

    God damn the Western media is a failure.

    1. Yes, hunting the filmmaker’s true identity down and broadcasting it all over the web when you know there are people who would love to kill him. JOURNALISM ETHICS FAIL!

  6. I’m gonna guess that posting the name of the filmmaker in a JEWISH magazine is unlikely to get it read by the Muslims who would want to kill them.

    That, and self-censoring such journalism in a post about how it is bad to censor yourself to avoid “provoking” lunatics would be over the top un-self-aware irony.

    1. Reason is Jewish? WTF?

      And self-censoring because you don’t want to get someone else killed is not the same as self-censoring because you are afraid you will be killed.

      Jesus fuck. It’s not like I just invented the idea that journalists have an ethical responsibility not to report information that could get people killed. Few years back everyone was pissed that Robert Novak blew the cover of US spy Valerie Plame. There’s probably more threat to this guy’s life than there ever was to hers.

      1. Reason is Jewish? WTF?

        Tablet Magazine is geared toward Jewish issues. It’s very open about it.

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