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Hate speech or offensive speech: the human rights and wrongs of “Innocence of Muslims”

A still from “Innocence of Muslims”.

Protests have erupted across the Middle East in response to a trailer for an obscure US-made film posted on YouTube, Innocence of Muslims. Those protests seemed to turn deadly in Libya. However, it seems now that those killings (of US embassy staff including the Ambassador) were probably perpetrated as part of a terrorist attack rather than by a mob outraged over the movie. Nevertheless, anti-film protests were ugly in Cairo, and anger over the film still has the potential to cause severe public disorder.

The film describes Islam as a “cancer”, and trailer scenes depict the prophet Muhammed “as a buffoon, suicidal, gay, lascivious and condoning of pedophilia”. Given the outrage generated in parts of the Muslim world over previous episodes, such as the publication of the Satanic Verses, the Danish cartoons controversy, and instances of Koran burning, there seems little doubt that this film was designed to enrage. In which case its makers got the reaction they were looking for.

In this post, I wish to examine some of the human rights issues at stake over the publication of this movie. In particular, is its publication protected under international human rights law or is it perhaps prohibited?

Was the US obliged to ban the film as ‘hate speech’?

Clearly, the publication of the movie is a manifestation of freedom of expression. This right is protected under international law, but it is not an unqualified right. Indeed, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights demands the prohibition of certain types of speech, namely “hate speech”, in Article 20(2), which reads:

Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.

Was the US, the place of publication of the film, obliged under the ICCPR to ban this film as hate speech? The answer is no.

I query whether the film is in fact hate speech. Please note that my comments below are based on descriptions of its content, as I have not viewed it.

Hate speech is classically viewed as speech which incites violence against the group that is targeted by the relevant speech. For example, Nazi ravings against Jews incited violence and murder against Jews, and broadcasts on Radio Mille Collins in Rwanda in 1993 incited genocide against Tutsis (and moderate Hutus).

Innocence of Muslims is extremely provocative and it foreseeably provoked religious violence. However, it is doubtful if it could be said to have foreseeably incited religious violence against Muslims by non-Muslims. At this point in time, I am aware of no such incidents (though the question of whether something is foreseeable is different to the question of whether it actually happens). Instead, subsequent events have followed the trend of previous like episodes: the relevant publication offends some Muslims in some countries so much that it provokes violence by those Muslims against others, including other Muslims and non-Muslims. That is, the foreseeable violence is by a small radical component of the victimised group, rather than by people against that group. Therefore, I would argue that the movie is not hate speech.

In any case, the US has entered a “reservation”, indicating that it is only bound by Article 20 to the extent allowed under its Constitution, which contains free speech protections much stronger than those in the ICCPR. Indeed, most instances of hate speech are constitutionally protected in the US. Reservations are like opt-out clauses. A State’s right to make reservations to treaties is not unlimited, but I believe the US’s reservation to Article 20 is valid.

Could the US ban the film as a ‘necessary’ limitation of free speech?

Under Article 19(3) of the ICCPR, freedom of expression can be limited even if it does not amount to hate speech, for example in circumstances where it is necessary to protect public order, national security, or the rights of others. Given the foreseeability of violence, the US would have been permitted under international law to censor the movie (though an interesting legal question arises from the fact that the foreseeable violence is outside rather than inside the US). However, the US is free under Article 19(3) to censor or not to censor. Of course, for reasons mentioned above, it is probably prohibited from doing so under its Constitution.

Does the publication of the film breach any other human right?

Are there any countervailing human rights which might indicate that the US should have censored the movie? There is no issue of the film inhibiting freedom of religion: Muslims are not hindered in practising their religion due to its release. Such an effect might have arisen indirectly if the film was well respected and influential in the non-Muslim world, but that is hardly the case.

The film has clearly caused extreme hurt and offence. While the denigration of one’s religion is unpleasant, there is no human right not to be offended.

A sound case could perhaps be raised that the film may foreseeably lead to injuries and deaths of people caught up in riots, thus raising issues regarding the rights to security of the person and life. (It is not clear that anybody has died because of this movie, if one assumes that the Benghazi attack was essentially unrelated).

This is a thorny issue. Should speech be banned because a tiny extremist minority might foreseeably react violently? If so, unreasonable reactions and sensitivities are being rewarded.

On the other hand, it is clearly reckless to publish material (or perform an act such as Koran-burning) when one should be able to anticipate the very real harm that could be caused to others caught up in subsequent riots. In that respect, I am not perturbed that YouTube has taken the film clip off its site.

In conclusion …

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood has called for peaceful protests against the film on Friday. Certainly, peaceful protests (against anything) are permitted under human rights law as a manifestation of freedom of assembly. Perhaps the Brotherhood is attempting to orchestrate a peaceful outlet for the undoubted passions inflamed by the movie. However, the call for protests confers a status upon the film that it does not remotely deserve, and we must hope that the protests do not get out of hand. Even if one thinks the film should have been banned from the outset, riots and violence are not a justified or proportionate response.

Finally, it is incumbent upon the authorities in Egypt, and across the Muslim world, to do all they can to counter pernicious misinformation which is designed to manufacture even greater outrage over such offensive publications. It should be made clear, for example, that the film is not sponsored or endorsed by the US government, but is rather the work of fringe bigots.

Certainly, publications once limited to one country now spread around the world quickly, digitally and virally. The potential for a publication in one State to generate mayhem in another is greater than at any other period in history. But while the film would undoubtedly be banned in Muslim countries, they cannot demand that the US (or Denmark, or any other country) alter its constitutional and free speech values to accord with their own.

P.S. Things have moved on considerably since I posted the above article on Thursday Australian time. My latest thoughts on this matter are at: http://castancentre.com/2012/09/15/the-innocence-of-muslims-rights-responsibilities-and-cultural-and-political-impositions/

Join the conversation

264 Comments sorted by

  1. Mark Goyne

    Lawyer

    There is never the same level of comment/coverage when Christians are attacked. When there is the same level of coverage, there will be a level playing field.

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Mark Goyne

      I presume you are talking of Christians being attacked by speech rather than being attacked physically. Latter of course is completely unacceptable.

      The analysis of anti Christian speech would be the same, though of course it always depends on the exact content & nature of the speech. Right now, it seems less foreseeable such speech would provoke violence, so that part of the analysis would be different.

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    2. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Mark Goyne

      Christians are seldom viewd as worthy victims in Leftist circles. It upsets the dialectic of who / what is the enemy.

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  2. Tim Mazzarol

    Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia

    Dear Sarah

    Good article. However, do you see any problems with the recent arrest of Adnan Karabegovic?

    From the press reports he has been arrested for "collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts". It is unclear as to whether he has actually planned to carry out such acts.

    Given the reaction to the burning of Korans in Afghanistan would it not be reasonable for the makers of this movie to have expected a violent response by terrorists?

    The murder of the US Ambassador to Libya and several of his team seems to be a consequence of this film, albeit an indirect one.

    If the people who made and financed the film had been motivated to deliberately stir up this violent reaction, would they - under Australian law - be liable for the same offence as Mr Karabegovic?

    If not, what makes one act legal and another act illegal?

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Tim Mazzarol

      Thanks Tim.

      Re Libya, I still think the speculation is leaning more towards a planned militant attack, not motivated by anger at the movie. Though the militants may have used unwitting protesters as cover.

      I don't know much yet about the Karabegovic case. One of the most controversial aspects of Aust terrorism law is how it largely applies to inchoate offences, preparation rather than perpetration. While it's great to prevent a terrorist act from happening by preventing it rather than catching…

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    2. Tim Mazzarol

      Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for this well considered and detailed response.

      From what you have indicated here. Under Australian law someone like Mr Karabegovic (who I might point out I don't know or seek to defend), can be arrested for making documents that might allegedly result in terrorist acts.

      However, someone like the anonymous people who made this anti-Islamic film (who could have anticipated a violet reaction given past experiences) are committing no offence.

      I guess it really seems to hinge - as you seem to suggest - in the definition of "terrorism", rather than just plain bigotry, hatred and a desire to evoke a violent reaction.

      Seems like a fine line to me, but I'm sure it will keep lots of lawyers busy.

      A pity about the many people, both Americans and Libyans who died. From the latest press reports there are going to be more deaths and injuries over coming days from this.

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    3. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Tim Mazzarol

      It's also causation. Planning a terrorist attack (whether evidenced by documents or whatever) by one's self or one's conspirators brings one closer to the planned outcome than the provocation of others whom one ultimately has no control over. (none of this is to make any presumptions over Karabegovic).

      And also, yes, the definition of terrorism.

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    4. Mia Masters

      person

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      "provocation of others whom one ultimately has no control over"

      I believe it is a question of foreseeability. There is no doubt what the intention of the film makers is when they liken the Muslim fate (and Muslims) to cancer, which one surely would want to 'get rid of' (eradicate, eliminate, etc)

      Of course the "film" does not incite violence by non-Muslims against Muslims, it does the reverse. It is still HATE speech. You have to hate someone very much to define them as a deadly and despised…

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    5. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Mia Masters

      I agree that hate could have been involved in the making of the film. But legally, that doesn't make it "hate speech".

      I think your post doesn't attribute enough responsibility to the provoked. They don't have to react that way, & I think violence as a response is unjustifiable.

      Yes of course there are cultural & religious differences. But it works both ways. Yes, the film insults & hurts some Muslims. But at the same time, the US can't be expected to alter its constitutional free speech values so as to clamp down on such films: that's part of its culture.

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    6. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Tim Mazzarol

      Is it of relevance that the discussion is of US law and Constitution while Karabegovic is being prosecuted in Australia under Australian laws?

      If it came down to it, I suspect it would be possible to enrage Christians just as much with such an offensive portrayal of Jesus.

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    7. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to John Harland

      I don't really think this issue & Karabegovic case are analogous. My reference to terrorism in the article was to unrelated (but perhaps opportunistic) terrorist attack being responsible or deaths in Libya.

      Re your second point, I don't know. Certainly the recent episodes of this type have involved offensive portrayals of Islam.

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    8. Mia Masters

      person

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      The film insults and hurst ALL Muslims. It is designed to offend by the fact that it is portraying the Prophet in this light (and not JUST INDIVIDUAL Muslims).

      I think your post does not attribute enough responsibility or recognition to what we know about human nature/condition. As far as I understand, it is the religious and unquestionable DUTY of every religious Muslim to defend the fate and the Prophet. Your original article, and many posts here pretend that we are all rational beings not…

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    9. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Tim Mazzarol

      "The murder of the US Ambassador to Libya and several of his team seems to be a consequence of this film, albeit an indirect one."

      SEEMS TO BE is something that requires more emphasis. You seem to be forgetting that Libya has recently had a civil war that involved NATO troops and some post hoc concern over the usual international political manipulations that seem to occur. I would fathom that this would be a much stronger and more logical motivator than some film that for all we know, the people…

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    10. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Tim Mazzarol

      One is planning to offend people (as in Life of Brian) one is planning to take human life (murder). Surely you are not so confused to equate the 2.

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    11. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Emma Anderson

      Hi Emma,

      I would agree that there is a lot more to this than just a movie. But the movie does seem to be a significant catalyst for the rioting. Certainly, it seems the Muslim Brotherhood is attributing the cause of the rioting in Cairo to this movie.

      Also - it may not even all be related to anti-Americanism. On ABC Breakfast News this morning, a Middle East expert (albeit an academic) was talking about how the Cairo protests were now dominated by football fans, taking the opportunity to have a go at the police. (he called them "Ultras")

      As for "posturing", maybe I have to plead guilty. We are not all Middle East experts, or situated on the ground in the relevant places like Benghazi, but we are all entitled to an opinion, and I have written mine down here. But my main aim was to explain the human rights issues, particularly those relating to free speech, associated with the film. And I hope I have done that.

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    12. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Nah you're alright, it wasn't a bad article at all (even though I don't agree with everything) I've just got a prejudice with middle-eastern/muslim politics. Too many years of propaganda coming out of people's mouths and then reading rabid, racist rhetoric on the internet from people who are just repeating the shock jocks. Not from you but forums in general. I think I need to put a post it note on my monitor that says "Calm down before commenting"...I'm at risk of being hypocritical and I probably…

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    13. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to John Harland

      John,

      You said "If it came down to it, I suspect it would be possible to enrage Christians just as much with such an offensive portrayal of Jesus"

      I am sorry, but that statement really is nonsense. Your suspicions are demonstrably baseless. None of Piss Christ, the Life of Brian, nor the constant rubbishing of and sniggering at Christians we see on current affairs shows generates anything other than a few letters of outrage. The willingness of so many people to draw moral equivalence between a pretty much non existent outrage by Christians and the constant violence we see in the Islamic world is not just absurd, but a deliberate smear.

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    14. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Piss Christ did not allege anything offensive about Jesus.

      Life of Brian is something I imagine Jesus finding funny.

      Neither is at all in the same category as "Innocence of Muslims"

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    15. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to John Harland

      It's offensive that it's not shown in every high school to be discussed as a positive point in post modern western art and literature.

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  3. emily vicendese

    undergrad

    Very calm and collected response to an issue often met with hysteria. I agree the film is not hate speech, and you gave good reasons in support of this.

    I am curious as to why you are so sure the filmmakers are bigots, however. Do you have information about them? It was not referred to in your article.

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to emily vicendese

      I admit that "bigot" is a presumption judging by what I've read of the contents of the movie, which seem to be very intolerant of Islam. Either that, or they are orovocateurs with bigoted motives. I think it's a fair assumption.

      Since I wrote this, the info on the film makers is patchy (it's morning though & I haven't checked thoroughly). It seems that they are fundamentalists who overdubbed the movie to be anti-Muhammed against the knowledge of the actors. Also, it seems the alleged Israeli-American film maker isn't Israeli at all. One can only speculate why the person would want to pretend to be Israeli.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-19572912

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    2. emily vicendese

      undergrad

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Hi Sarah, thanks for your response. To be honest, I don't think "bigot" is a fair assumption at all. It is possible that the people who made the film are sceptical of religion in general, and seek to mock religion for political reasons. I see this sort of action as in a similar basket to political satire: I think non-violent mockery of any belief system is not necessarily bigotry. I don't think mockery and intolerance are the same, and I think intolerance is necessary for bigotry.

      Even if…

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    3. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to emily vicendese

      I haven't read anything indicating it was satire. "Bigot" certainly came to mind in what I read. Especially as Terry Jones has something to do with promoting it. I am fairly happy to call him a bigot. I don't call all of those named people bigots though. But again, I haven't seen it.

      I certainly agree that "bigot" isn't confined to people who are anti-Muslim. Muslims can be bigots too. And many people can be the target of bigots.

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    4. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to emily vicendese

      I Agree an agnostic stance is totally needed so that we can understand and judge this for what it really is, rather than what people want it to be..

      As the details emerge about the movie what maybe a shock to many is that many of the acts depicted in this movie are based on Actual commentary of Mohammad's Life as actually documented in muslim texts .. To all the "Bigot labellers", time will prove the movie right because everything is there to be revealed in Islamic texts..

      In the meantime…

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    5. emily vicendese

      undergrad

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      The reason I caution against unwarranted use of the word "bigot" is because as a past president of my university's Secular Society, I was called many names (racist, xenophobe, bigot) in response to my inclusion of Islam in our broad critique of religion and religious authority. Some critiques of Islam are rational and socio-politically warranted, but in my experience many people have a "bigot" reflex in response to any negative portrayal of Islam. Being too trigger-happy with conferring bigotry helps religious fundamentalists silence criticism and hinders those who do not want to see religion gain too much socio-political foothold.

      I would also add that just because a bigot promotes something, it doesn't mean that thing is itself bigotry. Nietzsche was used by Nazi party to promote Nazism, but this doesn't mean Nietzsche was antisemitic.

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    6. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to emily vicendese

      I agree with your point. 'Bigot'all too easily become the magic word to close down criticism. If one raises the very real problems of 'honour' killings, female genital mutilation within the context of Islamic gender apartheid all of a sudden abracadabra you are a bigot!

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    7. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Sometimes that is far too true. But sometimes also people also use complex and disturbing issues like that as a platform for bigotry.

      I think the problem lies in stereotyping or conflating versus drawing a factual line in the sand. Yes there is a religious component in gender struggles - apartheid as you call it certainly applies as a term in numerous examples - but it's not just limited to one religion nor is it limited to just religion, or indicative of what everyone in that religion feels…

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    8. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      I am sure you must have seen the clip on YouTube by now. It's clearly attempting to use comedy and satirical approaches to draw parallels between the origins of Islam and the current failings of Arab-Muslim societies. The historical setting yet clearly in sight of 4WD tracks, the Christian man of science attempting to use algebra to solve for x to find the cause of Islamic terrorism. It is clearly seeking to offend. What ever else it is it's badly made and I imagine seeking to be purposefully amateur to emphasize it's supposed comedy value. I can see why many Muslims would be offended by it. But worth killing for? No.

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  4. Russell Walton

    Retired

    In principle-

    "Should speech be banned because a tiny extremist minority might foreseeably react violently?" The answer is "No". I can't think of any more effective method of reducing democratic society to the lowest common denominator, i.e. that of the most narrow minded and bigoted of its sub-cultures.

    Islam is an ideology, and as such, should be subjected to criticism. Islamic organisations have been pushing the UN to incorporate blasphemy laws into its Charter, the misuse of "Hate Speech" laws will introduce de facto anti-blasphemy regulations. How can liberal democracies allow Moslems (or anyone else) through the threat of violence, to inhibit our right to free speech?

    Those individuals who become murderous because because their beliefs are challenged or ridiculed, are criminals.

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Russell Walton

      Russell,

      Your 2nd para I think refers to the Defamation of Religions debate in the UN. This resolution was dropped last year though I'm not 100% sure it hasn't been reintroduced.

      I tend to agree with you, as is indicated in last three paragraphs. Re Q of whether such speech should or shouldn't be banned, I tend to agree.

      BUT it does seem that the film was possibly made precisely to provoke mayhem (judging by more recent reports about it). Which doesn't excuse the mayhem, but I'm not sure such speech serves any useful purpose. In which case its banning wouldn't harm democratic society too much in my view.

      I can say that its banning probably isn't demanded under Int'l human rights law, but its banning would be no breach. After all, the European Court of Human Rights allowed the banning of a low grade blasphemous porno video (of Christianity) from the UK in Wingrove v UK.

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    2. Mia Masters

      person

      In reply to Russell Walton

      "Should speech be banned because a tiny extremist minority might foreseeably react violently?"

      Really?! Tiny?

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    3. Russell Walton

      Retired

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Sarah,

      I'll bet that blasphemy laws will be on the agenda, one way or another, for some time.

      I might have misunderstood the phrase, "useful purpose", it seems a minefield. The Devil's in the detail here, on what criteria, is an opinion, "useful", I'd agree with Mill, even 'crackpot', useless opinions should be tolerated.

      'Provocation' is also in the same category, if some religious extremists choose to be 'provoked' by ridicule or indeed, as often happens, others' behaviour, that's their problem.

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    4. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      I'm sorry Sarah, but the 'extremist' view is a long standing and mainstream position within Islam. It may or may not be the majority viewpoint within any specific community, or even society, but the number who hold to the ideology which backs the violence is not tiny. In order for even small numbers to riot with impunity, which we see all too often, there needs to be widespread support within the wider community.

      I recommend you read the comments made to Thomas Jefferson by the Tripolitanian envoy…

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  5. Chris Harper

    Engineer

    Something which is forgotten or overlooked in so many of these discussions is the nature of the riots and rioters themselves.

    The riots are spoken of as if they are a force of nature, rather than made up of rational and rationalising human beings. They are treated as an inevitable consequence rather than something incited or carried out as a matter of free choice. Those who write the books, draw the cartoons or make the films are not responsible in any way for the violence and murders which take…

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Chris Harper

      I chose to focus on the "speech" not the violence as I find the issue of the definition of hate speech interesting.

      There is no question that the violent reaction is completely unjustified, & I hope my article doesn't imply otherwise. Any "responsibility" by the moviemakers for the violence, if any, is totally dwarfed by the responsibility of the perpetrators of the violence. To say otherwise is to dehumanise & infantilise the rioters.

      Your last point seems to contradict your previous points. But yes, it reflects my point of view, as do all of my posts. Re Sharia, there are differing interpretations of it. But I tend to think your characterization of it here is glib.

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Sarah,

      I would tend to argue that my characterisation here was not so much glib as simplistic.

      It is true, but it could have been more sophisticated.

      As to differing interpretations of the Shariah, yes, there are a number of schools, but they all nontheless endorse the violence which the Quran and Sunnah teach. For instance, all four major schools endorse the requirement that any adult apostate should be executed, they all acknowledge the supremacy of Shariah over any other legal system, they all acknowledge the importance of the lesser jihad in spreading the message.

      The differences between the interpretations of the major schools of jurisprudence are somewhat less important to me, as an infidel and kufr, than are the the matters where they are in agreement.

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    3. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Chris Harper

      @Chris,

      What we should realise that many muslims are also victims of this great lie call Islam which history ( if freedom of speech prevails) will uncover as the greatest con ever.

      as the short clip version that i saw parody of a sorry man whose voices in his Head ( officially gabriel) commanded Him to kill all those that did not believe him, and did not believe that he spoke for God.. anyone that was not killed was taken as a slave and sold.. search "Islam Slave Africa" to witness some…

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    4. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Sarah,

      As to your claim that the islamic countries and peopls cannot demand that we alter our principles, the Egyptian President, the Egyptian Cabinet, and the Egyptian ruling Party, the Muslin brotherhood all did just that yesterday.

      "Egyptian President Morsi, who spoke by phone to President Obama on Thursday, told reporters in Brussels he had condemned those behind the Mohammed film and had asked Obama to “to put an end to such behavior.”

      A day earlier, the Egyptian cabinet had called…

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    5. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Thanks for this info.

      In saying people "cannot" demand that other States cede to their cultural demands, I don't mean that they physically cannot do it. They can, and Egypt has. But my opinion is that the US will not & should not cede to that demand. I recognize Egyptian culture is different to tat in the US. But I also recognize that the US won't change its internal laws (which represent its culture) to suit Egypt.

      The US has its own constitutional system. Egypt is essentially asking it to alter it to stop offence to Egyptians. It won't, & I don't think it should. The Broherhood talks of "laws" as if it presumes its laws are those of the US. They aren't.

      Are you seriously suggesting that the US should be expected to alter its Constitution to punish the film makers? What about US culture?

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    6. Russell Walton

      Retired

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Sarah,

      Agreed.
      The use of diplomatic language by Western governments creates a false impression in the minds of people who have experienced nothing but authoritarian regimes and who assume a democracy will necessarily compromise its principles to prevent an international incident.

      I'm sure members of the Moslem Brotherhood would regard Sharia as universal, the notion that a legislature anywhere had the right to contradict it would be inconceivable.

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  6. Joseph Bernard

    Director

    Lets bring back Blasphemy Laws,

    "Piss Christ" artist should be prosecuted

    "Any one that questions religion" must be prosecuted.. I suspect that it can be argued that Richard Dawkins is guilty of hate crimes and a terrorist by the definition and he should be prosecuted and jailed too for hate crime

    Slippery slope this “hate speech”… anything I do not want to hear should be banned even if it is true, which I particularly hate

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      I'm not sure why you post this sarcastic comment (I assume it's sarcastic). After all I conclude that the film isn't hate speech.

      From a legal point of view, Richard Dawkins isn't guilty of hate crimes or terrorism, for the record.

      And Piss Christ may have been blasphemous. But I don't support blasphemy laws.

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    2. Lynne Newington

      Researcher

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      So many haven't seen the significance of the "Piss Christ" portrailt, or the life of the artist.
      I'm no art critic but Andre Serrano painted another portrait, the Maddona and child that many probably have never seen, it can be found on Corcoran: A Capital collection.
      The amber background invoking a corporal in-utero connection, the urine connection can be understood as the ultimate fear as experienced by a male as subject indentifying with the humanity of Christ on the cross.
      The off putting expression of wording of the portrait, commonly used today and not only by thoses living on the edges of society as the artist in his younger days, but ultimately with those whom Christ identifies with.
      But getting back on track, the pope sued Benetton Clothing for being depicted as kissing a Muslim Iman, I suppose we could take an example there of what is acceptable.

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    3. Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      Contrarian / Epistemologist

      In reply to Joseph Bernard

      The subtext is nothing should be done to provoke 'them'. At the same time the 'them' is not a homogenous group. Whilst the 'tiny minority' disourse is a means of not provoking them, even when factually reporting events.

      This YouTube clip is make believe. It is important to remember that Rushdie's Satanic Verses is also a story, a novel. Something to entertain.

      It's hard to deconstruct a belief system where such could justify murder and not make discriminating judgments. Some how easier…

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    4. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      From an artistic standpoint, mine specifically, the artwork Piss Christ was just as much about the politics of aesthetics as it was about using a controversal image to generate publicity. Take away the Jesus image bit and it's still about whether or not urine can have beautiful qualities, rather like shellac or some other kind of amber coloured, rich varnish. And still political because urine is often viewed with disgust and therefore not seen as material to be used in this context. It basically was Dada (ie nonsense using found materials, Duchamp's dunny etc) and actually come to think of it, using an image of Jesus is culturally equivalent to using the image of any other celebrity from popular culture, in the context of a broadly but not universally Christian society like the US. So the controversy was completely viewer oriented and arbitrary.

      Can we say the same thing about this video?

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  7. Mia Masters

    person

    The question is: who financed this film and why?

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  8. Tim Scanlon

    Debunker

    I didn't understand the reaction to this movie at all: It is fiction discussing fiction. If people are so easily offended then they don't really deserve to have a place in modern society.

    To not accept any criticism is to deny reality, to seal oneself off from fixing falsehoods, and adapting to new knowledge. That is nothing short of arrogance and stupidity to not even allow criticism, because otherwise people are suggesting that they are perfect, that their understanding is perfect and that everything they stand for is perfect. That is just bullshit.

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    1. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Tim Scanlon

      "Movie is Fiction"

      From what i have seen this movie is based on facts.. the grave mistake is that the quranic verses and references are not included on the actual movie so that Muslims can look up the facts for themselves

      Imams incite riots because they know this is true and do not want their muslim subjects to discover the truth.. Why do you think apostates (those that wish to leave islam) face death? the truth about mohammad is a well kept secret

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    2. Tim Scanlon

      Debunker

      In reply to A Ahmed

      It doesn't really make any difference if it is based on verses or not, any religious discussion is always opinion and interpretation, especially once you get into the medium of film.

      How many "based on a true story" films and TV shows have there been? And how accurate have they actually been shown to be? Usually you are lucky if the characters have the same names, let alone the incidents that happen are portrayed as they happened.

      That is without getting into a discussion of religion. That is also without getting into a discussion about being offended. Being offended about a movie is pathetic, especially rioting over a movie. In my opinion, violently rioting over a movie shows just how childish the belief system that has been offended is. People desecrate facts and science every day, frustrating those who are trying to advance knowledge, yet you don't see scientists burning cars and throwing rocks at police.

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  9. April Martin

    Artist/Writer

    Americans and the West are missing the forest for the trees. Why must we weigh in on the merits of a silly movie while our President, the press and comment boards are silent over true atrocities? Christians are being burnt alive in Churches by Muslims around the globe. The crimes of Islam are immense and ignored or discounted through cowardice and fear. By forcing the issue into our court and demanding a knee-jerk response the real evils are empowered. To even mention this movie as being commensurate…

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    1. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to April Martin

      @April,

      yes people have been burned alive, Christians, sharmans and muslims .. while i write these words and recall the surreal images of what seems like a hundred charred objects that are infact bodies in just one attack, i wonder where are our values.. We have people here defending the very teaching that provoke these barbaric acts and then call you a Bigot for even raising the topic?

      one must ask which is worse.. the people who defends the religious rights of Islam or the Islamic…

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    2. Helen Pritcher

      Environment consultant

      In reply to A Ahmed

      @A Ahmed are you able to provide the references, or perhaps a link to them?

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    3. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Helen Pritcher

      @ Helen,

      here is a link to a book by Dr Ali Sina who is an exMulsim that has spent a great deal of his life studying the Quran only to find it disturbing.. He has been dedicating his life to saving Muslims from the great lie.

      you can find a free copy of the last version of His book online.. the updated version is to be released shortly where He explores the life of Mohammad and offers an extensive set of references and research.

      http://ebookee.org/Ali-Sina-Understanding-Muhammad_695185.html

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    4. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to A Ahmed

      It's "creator" - if you are going to launch Holy Wars one should at least try to get the spelling right.

      Yet again The Conversation is allowing itself to be a platform for quasi-religious zealots like this anonymous Mr Ahmed who is neither Arab nor Christian from his blatherings.

      The links posted to Sina and Faith Freedom have been found to be hate-speech in various European jurisdictions. They were regularly quoted in large slabs in Breivik's "manifesto". It is not an attack on violence, or terror or jihad extremism - it is an attack on Islam and is designed to inflame hatred and fear.

      Sort this crap out editors. This is supposed to be a moderated site and these links and comments are anything but moderate.

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    5. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      @Peter,

      thank you once again for your informed opinion.. always backed up by your solid research on the subject.

      I am surprised (not), that you have pointed out the threats and violence on the weekend.. "Behead those that insult the prophet".. this is what? just boys letting off steam? if they really meant if then they would do that they are already doing in Afghanistan, sedan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Mali, Niga, Lybia, Iraq, Burma, India, London underground, twin towers, and…

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    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to A Ahmed

      Sedan? Strewth!

      The Conversation is supposed to be about informed discussion - not the hate-filled ignorant rubbish posted here anonymously by someone pretending to Arabic heritage.

      I blame you for nothing other than the pathetic transmission of ignorance and fear.

      I blame the Conversation for giving you a place to spew out your bile.

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    7. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter
      With respect, I strongly disagree with your censorship / edit out what we do not want to read / hear point of view.
      It is better that we read this 'bile' and take note of it, than think all the world is rosy and all sits under shady trees singing kumbajaa, rude awakenings in not fashionable. The Conversation and this article is doing free speech and understanding the imperfect world we life in a huge favour.

      Then, please pass a moment of thought for people like A.Ahmed and me. He may have a iPad without spell checker like me, and as English is not his (or my) first language / mother tongue language, and we do make errors.

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    8. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      No you are misunderstanding or misrepresenting my viewpoint Stephanus. I am not advocating censorship of "what I do not want to read or hear".

      I read a lot of stuff I disagree with ... that's how we learn I suspect. At the very least I learn how people I disagree with think which isn't a bad thing. Bit like science - we learn from the unexpected and the failures more than the confirmation of our initial hypothesis. We knew that already. Or guessed.

      This is why I've read the Bible, the…

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    9. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      You said: "No you are misunderstanding or misrepresenting my viewpoint Stephanus. I am not advocating censorship of "what I do not want to read or hear".

      Yes you are. That is exactly what you are doing.

      You seem like a decent bloke, and you probably see yourself the same way. The thing is, decent blokes don’t advocate censorship do they, and if you are one of those then what you are advocating can’t be censorship, can it? Because decent blokes don’t want to censor other people…

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    10. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Tell that to the US Amabassor to Lybia's wife and kids Chris. Tell it to the eight nameless folks killed in Cairo. Tell it to the families of Australian soldiers who will be killed because some con-man in the US wanted to say something stupid and provoke this sort of reaction.

      Now I don't know what part of this you don't understand Chris: It is not what I don't want to hear or disagree with. It is about what folks with guns in far away places don't want to hear.

      If you weant to say stuff…

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    11. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      I am sorry, but I find your position both emotional and irrational. While you wish to see opinions you disagree with censored you are willing to privilege hate speech which doesn’t fall into you’re approved definitions. Further, although you appear to dislike European fascism you are open about your willingness to appease the theo-fascism which is endemic in the middle east.

      Appeasement, paying the danegeld, in whatever form, does not work. You will never be able to appease them short…

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    12. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      I am pleased that you find my views emotional and irrational. I would be most concerned to find you in agreement with me.

      Good luck in your clash of cultures.... the war to end all wars.... hope you've too;led up - or will you be sending others to wage your war for you?

      Oh it's "Sudetenland" incidentally. Why can't these fear and hatemongers spell?

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    13. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You wish to pass laws privileging Islam and dictating what your fellow man is allowed to say or not to say, and you label other people hatemongers?

      Really?

      Good luck with that appeasement thing you got going. I am sure your grand daughter will thank you when she dons her first burqa.

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    14. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      "Privileging Islam"? What are you talking about?

      I'm just opposed to letting our policies and actions be driven by frightened and ignorant people who fester in their own ignorance rather than actually do some reading or thinking.

      Good luck with WW3. I hope it works out nicely for you.

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    15. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Ok, jibes to one side. Now that both the Egyptian and Libyan governments are claiming and producing evidence that the assaults were geopolitical power plays on behalf of Islamic imperialism, and the movie had nothing to do with them, do you still want to see the people involved slammed away in clink?

      If, as the growing evidence now suggests, what we say, write or film is irrelevant and Islamists will attack western targets regardless, do you still want to censor people?

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    16. James Dowty

      Genetic epidemiologist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, it’s a fairly safe assumption that most people here are hoping for a calm and rational exchange of ideas rather than a holy war. Obviously ideas have power, but you’re kidding yourself if you think that shouting down people in this forum is going to prevent more deaths in the Middle East. The most that’s going to come out of this discussion is that some of us might change our minds a bit. Given how little rides on what we write here, your emotions seem completely out of proportion. I also think your strongly-expressed hatred of anything that you deem to be hatred is stifling legitimate debate.

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    17. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to James Dowty

      No James I'm not shouting people down or anything like it.

      But I am fed up with "decent" people saying Muslims think this or that, or talking about Islamic Imperialism and other such generalised rubbish. That is hatred and fear. They are not talking about extremists or fundamentalists. They don't distinguish between them - Muslims are, apparently, all the same as far as they are concerned -it's the nature of the religion.

      I vehemently condemn extremists and violence. But to denigrate a…

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    18. James Dowty

      Genetic epidemiologist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Maybe I should have said “deriding and ridiculing” rather than “shouting down”, but otherwise I stand by what I said.

      As an atheist, you can’t believe that Mohammed’s message came from God, so I guess you think that Muslims are the victims of an enormous con. So isn’t it fair to say that you have a negative view of Islam, the ideology and political movement, as opposed to Muslims, the people caught up in it all?

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    19. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to James Dowty

      You've asked a decent question James, so I'll try and give you a decent answer.

      No I don't believe in supernatural beings - but they do. And that's OK - it's what they do - how they act that is important. If belief helps people lead useful, productive lives, help their fellow human beings and raise happy healthy families, I don't have a problem with what they choose to believe.

      I don't abuse Christians or Buddhists or Hindus, call their "prophets" names or denigrate their beliefs. I'll…

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    20. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Chris Harper

      @Chris,

      Peter is probably a muslim pretending to be an atheist.. There is an islamic term called "taquiya" which is a Islamic teaching that promotes deception for the defending of the Islamic faith.. which explains the inability to reason at all with peter on these issues.

      Chris as far as this Islamic movement is concerned i offer three links that are produced by FBI and a former Public prosecutor that have been researching this subject of the muslim brotherhood and they offer hard evidence…

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    21. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to A Ahmed

      I am well aware of the doctrines of both taqiyah and kitman. I certainly wouldn't claim that Peter is a muslin exercising them. I would rather judge him to be precisely what he appears, a westerner who is willing to abandon the principles of Western thought and civilisation where they conflict with the latest fashionable PC stance.

      That free expression is an essential prerequisite for a meaningful democracy, and that to censor opinion in the manner he espouses is to subvert the democratic process, is simply something he doesn't perceive as important.

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    22. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Chris Harper

      @Chris,

      This latest "fashionable PC stance" seems to be like some post Judaeo -Christian guilt complex that wishes to somehow earn respect for past sins.. and is accept going back to the stone age thinking without question..

      they say that when we are given something for nothing then it is worth nothing to us.. freedom and democracy seem to have fallen into this hole

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    23. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to A Ahmed

      They have. Peter has no idea of the implications of the policies he advocates, or of how rotten are the societies which implement them.

      Millions died just short decades ago to preserve the freedoms he longs to casually piss away.

      Well, not on my watch. While I have no desire to offend anyone for the sake of it, if the laws he wants to see are ever implemented the system would not be able to cope with the number of honest, honorable and decent people who would go out of their way to demonstrate their loathing and contempt for the lawmakers by breaking them.

      I would be one. It is my right to be offensive, and I expect the law to support that right.

      After all, who cares about inoffensive speech? It is only challenging (offensive) speech which needs protection.

      This survey came out last June: http://www.countingcats.com/?p=12447

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    24. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Chris Harper

      @Chris,

      I agree people have no idea what they have here.. I first became how lucky we are in this country when i first traveled to a third world country and experieced the poverty there.. that took away all my complaints of what i did not have as i became aware of what we do have.

      regarding this discussion.. call me selfish.. i want people to be aware and treasure the freedom we have here and so i find it offensive when people try to take this fredom away.. I particulary find slavery offensive…

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    25. James Dowty

      Genetic epidemiologist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I agree with the sentiment of a lot of this, though it’s really not your place to “not tolerate” what you judge to be ignorance, stupidity or hatred on this website or in any other public debate. I also agree that religious people can be very smart, wise and knowledgeable, though I was mainly interested in what you thought of their beliefs rather than them as people. You seem extremely respectful of religious beliefs and you have every right to adopt that as your personal style. However, you seem to have an odd lack of respect for the rights of others to adopt a more militant style or even to simply state their opinions about Islam and other religions forthrightly. Is it wrong to say that a man who owned slaves and had sex with a 9 year old girl is an unfit role model for modern humans? Or is it wrong to not say this? How does the ethics of this change if the man happens to be revered by a powerful group of people, including some who murder their critics?

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    26. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to James Dowty

      Not my place? Whose place is it? No one's apparently - it's open slather - any bigot with a keyboard or a video camera can change the world?

      Now lets look at some history - was marriage to a nine year old girl considered acceptable in Mohammed's day? I suspect so. So how do we judge this sort of thing - from now and here or from then and there?

      If we judge any religious text from a modern western viewpoint we will inevitably denounce it. And not just Islam.

      Was slavery considered…

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    27. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to A Ahmed

      I am starting to feel nostalgic.

      Not only Muslims-under-the-bed but a McCarthy helping in the fight against the menace.

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    28. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to John Harland

      Spot on John.

      With the collapse of the iron curtain and the cold war, with us hopping into the cot with "Red" China, I reckon a lot of folks were having fear withdrawal... they grew up with it and it is essential ingredient in their worldview.

      Goodies and baddies, us and them, black hats/white hats ... the comforting certainty and cohesiveness that comes with being under attack from without and within.... they miss it all.

      The thinking is identical - anyone who disagrees with them is a closet Muslim or fellow traveller of some sort. These strangers must be monitored, investigated, torn out and sent home and certainly no more should be admitted.

      Fear - one of the five basic food groups.

      Incidentally, if you're up to parting with one of those dynamo axles I've redesigned my little vertical axis turbine to suit and would be most keen to buy one from you. Contact me at the address above - my name is as written - all lower case - one word at hotmail.com.

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    29. James Dowty

      Genetic epidemiologist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      No, it’s not your place, unless you think that you personally should be able to censor views on this website which you disagree with. Whether or not you think that certain opinions should be censored, it’s definitely not your place to do it (yet!).

      OK, I think your position is that you agree that such a man is an unfit role model and that it’s immoral to say otherwise, but you’d add that many religious figures are also unfit role models (with the exception of Jesus, if he existed, it seems). I agree with all of this. I’m an atheist, by the way, in case that wasn’t clear.

      I need to think more before responding to the rest of your post.

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    30. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to James Dowty

      So who's place is it to ensure that hate speech and ignorant attacks on others' beliefs should not get people killed in the current context?

      Or are you - as implied - suggest that the interweb should be a no holds barred school of knock-down, drag out brawling and that a sort of Parliamentary Privilege - the cowards' castle - extend to the web.

      I am - despite those suggesting otherwise - actually a strong supporter of free speech - but it is not an aboslute right, nor does it come without…

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    31. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      “was marriage to a nine year old girl considered acceptable in Mohammed's day? I suspect so.”

      What you suspect is of no relevance. You either know it, or you don’t.

      In fact, Ayesha’s father, Abu Bakr was horrified when Mohammed asked for his daughter in marriage when she was six. It was Mo’s action here which normalised this within Islamic culture, his being the definition of moral behaviour and all.

      “There were no servants back then - no butlers and scullery maids - just slaves.”

      Utter…

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    32. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      No just ignorant.

      Here read this: Leviticus 25:44: Nice range of translations here: watch how it changes from slaves to "bondsmen" and servants:

      http://bible.cc/leviticus/25-44.htm

      Here's a more general discussion of the issues from a Christian perspective - one who actually reads the bible:

      http://christianthinktank.com/qnoslave.html

      If you don't have yours handy, here's a few quotes:

      Exodus 21:1-4 "If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh…

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    33. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Are you really categorising Geert Wilders, David Irving and that Norwegian nutter together?

      Really?

      You categorise an outspoken liberal democrat, a NAZI apologist and an insane mass murderer with incoherent political ramblings all together? And you expect to be taken seriously?

      "I am - despite those suggesting otherwise - actually a strong supporter of free speech"

      No you aren't. This claim is just an affectation on your part. If you are not in favour of free speech for your worst enemy you are not in favour of free speech at all.

      "If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise." - Noam Chomsky.

      http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Noam_Chomsky#On_freedom_of_speech

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    34. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Jewish society evolved.

      At the time of Christ slavery was virtually unknown in Jewish society, regardless of what the situation had been in past millennia or in the wider Empire around them. I stand by my posting.

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    35. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Geert Wilders ... a liberal democrat??? Really?

      Here's some of his "liberal democratic" quotes: (There's quite a few I'm researching him)

      "It [is] absolutely undesirable that Amsterdam has no less than 177 nationalities".

      “Expel the Muslims who cause problems, including their whole family."

      "Many fundamental problems in The Netherlands are ultimately directly connected to migrants, such as infrastructure, traffic jams, housing problems and the welfare state."

      "I don't believe that…

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    36. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Oh I see Jews just stopped having slaves and christians too (well except for the USA for a bit) but Islamic societies haven't changed at all. None of them. Not ever. They're just frozen in the 8th century.

      Of course you'll stand by your posting Chris. That's the hallmark of the true bigot. Won't learn nuffink and proud of it.

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    37. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Ok,

      So for a liberal democrat to rail against a fascist misogynistic apartheid ideology is not just fine and dandy, but in fact to be expected, but as soon as it becomes theo-fascist we all suddenly have to drop objections and become all dewey eyed and approving. Right?

      Supporting all the principles which have made our civilisation worth maintaining is fine, unless our opponents sprinkle mention of god throughout their rants and riots? At which point we have to roll over and give up?

      Disliking…

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    38. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Oh well I guess folks can decide for themselves about Geert Wilders and your own attachments to liberal democracy.

      Collective punishments, forced emigration and deportation, closing down schools, taxing headscarves, making Turks and Moroccans work longer ... all sounds a bit familiar doesn't it folks? Pity you didn't answer my questions re the list of folks whose freedom of speech you would apparently defend with your last breath Chris. Charlie Manson and Breivik? Really?

      The bit of the slab of Geert's bile I posted above is the notion that no matter what they say or how they act there is no such thing as a moderate muslim - that they are simply pretending - fifth columnists working to erode "our way of life" from within... they've all gotta go.

      This isn't about working to eliminate violence, hatred or extremism - this is straight up and down intolerance and fear.

      Liberal democrat? Nah enough.

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    39. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      I am happy for you to criticize what I say, but please don't criticize me for what you would have liked me to have said, but didn't.

      Please read what I wrote.

      "At the time of Christ slavery was virtually unknown in Jewish society, regardless of what the situation had been in past millennia or in the wider Empire around them."

      I fail to see any reference to later Christian practice in that sentence.

      I stand by what I wrote, and am I to understand that to you 'bigot' = anyone who holds an opinion contrary to Peter Ormonde, regardless of how informed and educated?

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    40. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      “Pity you didn't answer my questions re the list of folks whose freedom of speech you would apparently defend with your last breath“

      Sigh,

      Given that I have already made my position clear I saw no reason to belabour the point, but, ok, if you insist.

      I, personally, as a private individual, would not provide a platform for Charlie Manson, The Unabomber, Breivik, Chomsky, Mao Tse-tung, Stalin, Pol Pot, Marx, Hitler, big Mo or any of the usual suspects. I would also seek to dissuade anyone else from providing that platform. Hell, I wouldn’t give Gillard a platform if she asked for one. However, that is no infringement of free speech. If someone were willing to provide that platform I would, as you put it, “defend with my last breath”, their right to do so against any attempt by the state to close them down.

      My not providing them a platform at my cost is not censorship. Your using the power of the state to prevent anyone providing them a platform is censorship.

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    41. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Evidence... a reference ... a link... anything at all to substantiate your view regarding the demise of slavery in Judaism in or about the first century ?

      And also for all those good godly decent romans and their slaves? When did they decide it was immoral or wrong? And what bit of the Bible suggested that at all?

      Or would you just like it to be like that? Let's all pretend.

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    42. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Liberal? Democracy? Can't see any evidence whatsoever.

      Are you suggesting that the state should allow the likes of Breivik, Manson, et al a platform? That you would campaign for their right to speak like Geert Wilders? Stop dodging the question. How much of this freedom of speech are you up for?

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    43. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to John Harland

      @John,

      yes there is some irony in the McCarthy link

      and if it was only that.. How many people died under Stalin? between 6 and 20 million? and the suffering of the gulags

      and how many died in China? 40 to 70 million...

      but that was just paranoia of the west!

      So now with islam what are we to expect? how many more millions will suffer before we see it as a problem? some 19,000 terrorist attackes recorded probably a lot more unrecorded.

      but lets not say anything ...be very quiet or we will upset someone

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    44. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      “And also for all those good godly decent romans and their slaves? When did they decide it was immoral or wrong?”

      I reiterate, please read what I wrote.

      I continue to look forward to your explanation of why you hold different groups of people to different moral standards. Caucasians and Christians in the West seem to be being held to a different standard than you accept from others elsewhere in the world.

      Have you ever heard the expression: “The soft racism of low expectations”?

      Me, I just expect everyone to refrain from violence, riot, murder and pillage, without exception. I guess I'm funny that way. Call me a liberal - a real liberal that is, not that ersatz reversal of meaning of the last few decades.

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    45. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      And you reckon Geert Wilders is calling on folks to refrain from violence? Bricking up mosques, taxing burqas, forced deportations .... sounds like Hitler to me.

      And then you say folks died to make the world safe for Geert to spout his ugly xenophobic splatter? Incidentally most - 28 million - were fighting for Mother Russia.

      Incidentally: what you wrote was this: "True, slavery was ubiquitous amongst the pagans, but it was almost non-existent amongst the Jews. True, jobs as we understand…

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    46. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      “Stop dodging the question. How much of this freedom of speech are you up for?”

      Are you serious? Did you even read what I wrote?

      What part of: “If someone were willing to provide that platform I would, as you put it, “defend with my last breath”, their right to do so against any attempt by the state to close them down.” do you find difficult to understand?

      How is this: There are no circumstances in which the state has a role in determining which opinions may be expressed or who expresses them.

      The sole, and I mean sole, exception to that is defamation, and defamations are, by definition, lies. A defamation is a damage to your reputation, and your reputation is your property. No one has a right to damage your property without making restitution.

      BTW, you cannot defame a dead person. Such as my grandfather, Winston Churchill or even Mo himself.

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    47. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Chris Harper

      @Chris,

      lets all pretend that there is nothing wrong..

      Lets pretend that geert is not an elected member of one of the most progressive countries in the world.
      Lets pretend that the Fitna movie is not based on actual quotes and doctrine of the Quran? and the court did not throw the case out of cause because the Hate speech in the charges are actual quotes in the quran.

      Lets pretend that Geert is living a free man in His own country
      Lets pretend that Geert is not living with death threats from because of Islam..

      and so, chris what makes a person so myopic on this subject of islam and violence? what fuels the emotional outbursts that lashes out at anyone who dares to discuss or dare to show any evidence. lets pretend they are "bigots"

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    48. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to A Ahmed

      Yes - let's pretend - along with Geert and Chris that there is no such thing as a moderate mulsim...they are just pretending to be modern and educated ... that the religion itself is antithetical to our way of life and values... that Islam is about slavery and genital mutilation and that we must keep them out of here at all costs. That we should send them all back where they came from - even those Afghans who've been here for a hundred years or more ... Moslems out!!! Anything there you disagree with at all "Mr Ahmed"?

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    49. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Sigh,

      Seriously,

      Can you please point me to something where I support Geert Wilders? Objecting to your drawing an absurd moral equivalence between him, an politically incoherent mass murderer and a NAZI apologist doesn’t quite make me a supporter. Or at least, not in my book anyway. Trying to make out I support him in this way has you on a hiding to nothing.

      Want to explain your different moral standards for different peoples? The way you adjust (lower) expectations for folk who aren’t European?

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    50. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Yes he's a "liberal democrat" ... not that you'd be supporting him at all.

      Just doesn't talk like one. Talks like a jew killer to me.

      I am not seeking to apply different standards to different people at all. I am saying that some ignorant dolt who makes a stupid little film attacking Islam - not terrorism - Islam as a whole - and lobs it onto the interweb is trying to provoke a reaction. A violent stupid and excessive reaction. And he got what he was after.

      I'm not excusing that reaction…

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    51. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You said: "So you'd be all for giving Breivik a TV show than?"
      What on Earth leads you to believe I think that tosh? I know you can read, but I am starting to have severe doubts about your comprehension.
      I wrote: “I, personally, as a private individual, would not provide a platform for Charlie Manson, The Unabomber, Breivik, Chomsky, Mao Tse-tung, Stalin, Pol Pot, Marx, Hitler, big Mo or any of the usual suspects. I would also seek to dissuade anyone else from providing that platform. Hell, I wouldn’t…

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    52. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      No Chris, I would certainly hope that you would not. But then you say that you are opposed to any and all forms of censorship or curtailments of "free speech"... that you might not agree with what they say but you will fight for their right to say it. That right? Or am I misunderstanding you?

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    53. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yes,

      That's pretty much it.

      I hesitated to put it that way, because I didn't want to sound too cliche, but that sums it up. Although it is a bit more complex than that.

      It is about platforms, not the words. You cannot shut people up, they can always write or speak, but they can be denied or granted a platform. I am free to deny anyone a platform at my cost. To force me to provide a platform is an infringement on my right not to support speech I disagree with. I am also free to pursuade others…

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    54. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to A Ahmed

      I've been following this thread but becoming increasingly exasperated by some of the conclusions. Surely the problem is fundamentalism of any flavour: Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Communist, Fascist, neocon, anti-abortionist.... The list goes on and on, but the world has a sizeable proportion of angry men (and most of them are men) who approach belief in an angry fundamentalist manner, project their own uncertainty and impurity into the non-believers and then want to destroy them. This isn't a problem with Islam as such, its a problem with a rigid fundamentalist literal interpretation + anger.

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    55. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      It's not an intellectual criterion Chris, it's a moral one. And anyone can do it by virtue of being a human.

      But one does have to have some moral and ethical compass before the decision can be said to be informed.

      I take mine from stuff like the sermon on the mount myself - you know, the bit about peacemakers. Even for a committed athiest like myself there's some substance to that speech.

      I have no time for hate-mongers and those who tar a large slab of the world's inhabitants with allegations…

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    56. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Block

      Michael,

      The problem I have with this is that there is no problem with fundamentalism per se.

      "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." - Senator Barry Goldwater.

      Christian fundamentalists believe in the literal existence of the Garden of Eden, Islamic fundamentalists fly planes into buildings. There is a difference.

      I just plain don't care if I am surrounded by Christian fundamentalists behaving as Christian fundamentalists do. I do care if I am surrounded by Islamic fundamentalists. And so, I suspect, would you.

      After all, I can always throw away the pamphlets the Christians will urge on me in their fevered excitement.

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    57. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Every half decade or so we hear about some lone deranged Christian acting out his fantasies, and unhesitatingly condemned by all Christian leaders, without hesitation or equivocation. On the other hand, there are so many acts of Islamic violence week after week, that most don't make the news. Of those that do, the condemnation is invariably muted, halfhearted and full of justifications.

      All fundamentalisms are not morally equivalent.

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    58. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Fundamentalism + angry man + projected unwanted parts of self into 'other' = trouble

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    59. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Ah yes that'd be "bomb 'em back into the stoneage" Barry Goldwater?

      He also said: "I think every good Christian ought to kick (Jerry) Falwell right in the ass."

      Also this: "On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's…

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    60. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to Chris Harper

      More angry men?
      It isn't fundamentalism itself that's the problem, it's fundamentalism + anger + intolerance. I'm a coffee fundamentalist, but I don't go around bombing people who like Nescafe.

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    61. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Who cares what else Goldwater may have said. I reproduced that quote as an example to support my contention that there is nothing wrong with fundamentalism per se. Do you accept that quote as an example of a fundamentalism which is admirable, or even supportable, or not?

      Personally, as a statement of fundamental principle, I can't fault it. Who cares about Goldwater's opinions of Christians, I don't. It was an example of fundamentalist views. It wasn't religious, but so what?

      As to arguing…

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    62. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      To call Goldwater a "fundamentalist" is a slander Chris - he was under constant attack from within the Republican Party by fundamentalist bigots like Falwell.
      He despised them.

      I see that you have a comprehensive understanding of the Quran - wanna trade some quotes to demonstrate your mastery of the subject.

      English or Arabic (mine's a bit rusty but we'll have a crack at it).

      Yep - a hater. And you have understood nothing we've been discussing. Immune to evidence or appeals to tolerance. No evidence is necessary.

      Liberal democrats - you've gotta love 'em.

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    63. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Block

      Michael,

      THAT, I have no problem with.

      I must admit though, I do have an occasional hankering after Gloria Jeans Caramel flavoured ground coffee.

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    64. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      ?????

      Of course Goldwater was a fundamentalist. I have no idea of his religious beliefs, and I don't care, but he was a certainly a fundamentalist when it came to freedom, liberty and constitutionalism.

      You seem to have a very narrow view of what constitutes fundamentalism.

      Michael criticised fundamentalism per se, I was pointing out that there are fundamentalisms which are admirable. I thought what I was saying was clear. Sorry if it was not.

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    65. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      A lot like Hitler, this Geert Wilders. A sick product of sick conditions.

      Here we have a nation that has stood out for generations for its multiculturalism.

      Yet every culture has limits to the proportion of immigrants it can incorporate before the speed of change becomes intolerable to a large proportion of the population. The free movement of huge numbers of people within Europe has stressed the society. Refugees have added to the stress.

      All of which gives Wilders a platform and a chance to swapegoat a group that stands out as different. Swap Jews for another Semitic group, dead easy.

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    66. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to John Harland

      The challenge in rcognising this is that we need to think, not of economies, but of communities.

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    67. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Oh I'm very sorry I thought we were talking about religious fundamentalism .. you know text and verse - every word dictated by Gopd, Allah, Jaweh, Vishnu or some such.

      Why do you think Goldwater was a "fundamentalist" ... because he was an "extremist" when it came to matters of freedom and justice? A Constitutional/ Bill of Rights/ Declaration of Independence sort of fundamentalist.

      Incidentally all documents written by slave-owners. Sorry couldn't resist.

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    68. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to John Harland

      Also the heartland of this stuff in Europe is in countries with non-migrant communities - monocultures ... very uniform and orthodox - at least in historical times.

      I have some mates in Ireland who kept me in stitches when all of a sudden there were Poles actually wanting to migrate to Ireland. No one knew what to do. First time since the Normans than anyone has actually wanted to move in.

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    69. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

      In reply to Chris Harper

      It is quite revealing to read the debate between Ahmed, Chris, Michael and Peter.

      It takes me back to University in the 80’s in “good old apartheid” South Africa (Peter please see the “ ”), where students who supported apartheid, the pro-white / right wingers, people who did not, but supported a transition to democracy, the liberal / progressives and the radical left, the ones who supported radical communist revolution and the overthrow of the apartheid government by force and violence. While…

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    70. James Dowty

      Genetic epidemiologist

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter, I think you have less respect for free speech than you realise. You objected when I said it’s not your place to decide what opinions should or shouldn’t be tolerated on this website! Also, allowing people to speak isn’t the same as letting them “speak for us all”. This seems completely obvious to me, but if you think they’re the same thing then that would explain a lot of your intolerance towards opinions that you find offensive.

      You asked “so who's place is it to ensure that hate…

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    71. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Fair point, you are quite right. I had wrongly equated fundamentalist with extremist.

      Goldwater was an extremist in the extent of his respect for other people and their rights and abilities, rather than a fundamentalist.

      Fair cop.

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    72. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      @Stephanus,

      Thank sharing your experience, it is an excellent example. I totally agree about the need to have open discussion but this seems to be in question. For some reason which has been difficult to clarify what exactly is so offensive and why offensive should be illegal, especially if it is based on facts.

      Fyi.. I have a problem with labels like Left and right and Bigot because what value do they add to the discussion? these labels have totally different meaning to every person…

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    73. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Ah Stephanus, that takes me back. The days of moral certainty uncontaminated by understanding or knowledge. I remember protesting against Helen Suzmann during her visit here in the 1970s - one of the few things in my life I am now ashamed of. But I remain most pleased that I demonstrated against the Springboks.That sent a serious message I think.

      My concern in this brawl here is not inflame the passions - it is precisely the opposite. I cannot understand the thinking behind the hatred being…

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    74. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      @Peter,

      please understand these distinctions..

      There are people and there is this teaching called Islam..

      Muslims in general believe in one God.. very reasonable belief.

      Islam says that there is only one religion and Mohammad is the perfect example.. no other belief or religion is to be tolerated and all must submit.. Islam the word means submission.

      The problem is most muslims have no idea of real mohammad and they see a sugar coated version of his life.. whereas the…

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    75. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to A Ahmed

      Do you think that there may be a risk in taking every word or statement in the bible or koran literally and applying those attributes to every single person who identifies with that faith? Just as it's difficult to identify the historical Mohammed, I'm also sure that the historical Jesus wasn't the tall white Northern european male figure that he is commonly depicted as, in fact there's overwhelming evidence that the historical Jesus was much more interested in reforming Judaism that beginning a new religion, yet nobody is compelling christians to become more like that.
      Do you really think that i billion Moslems all believe that war is the way to make others submit? Do you think that every single Muslim person is compelled to convert or kill?

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    76. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You said: “I do not understand why folks like Chris or "Mr Ahmed" feel compelled to denigrate the beliefs of others.”

      I am sorry, but what utter twaddle. You have denigrated the beliefs of Charles Manson, Anton Breivik and Geert Wilders on a number of occasions here, and for reasons you feel are completely justified. All you need do in order to understand this is to examine your own motivations for your own acts. BTW, do not take this as support for Mr Manson et al, it is just a demonstration…

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    77. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Michael Block

      @Michael

      re: - "taking every word or any word of the bible or Quran"

      well here is the root of the problem.. the claim is "The miracle of book that fell from the sky and was written to be perfect and has never been translated" thus all islamic scholars revert back to the arabic version..

      The first great lie.. do a search on 'Aramaic quran' and discover the oldest quranic text was discovered in yemen in 1970 or there abouts and in 2003 some german scholars had published their finding…

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    78. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to A Ahmed

      I think that we can agree that there are some radical extremists in all cultures. There are radical extremists in Islam as well of course. I do think that it's helpful to attribute your comments more carefully to this group, and not tar all Moslems with the same extremist brush. It's akin to holding all current Jews as responsible for the death of Jesus.
      I don't think that the way to oppose radicalisation and over-generalisation and black or white thinking that accompanies it is with our own radicalisation and black or white thinking, it just adds fuel to the fire.

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    79. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Block

      Michael,

      You are right, individuals vary, and all belief systems have moderates, extremists and fundamentalists.

      Christian, Jewish and Muslim moderates watch TV, visit Coles and wash their cars on Sunday morning. Christian extremists sing kumbaya and hand out pamphlets, Jewish extremists grow sidelocks and Muslim extremists riot in the streets and plant bombs.

      I have no problem with radicalism, extremism or fundamentalism per se, and I will not criticise the principle. My concern is only with the specific ideologies which underlie them.

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    80. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Some christian extremists sing kumbaya whilst they blow up abortion clinics or murder staff that run them or harass the people that are trying to use them. Some Jewish extremists in illegal settlements are little different in their attitudes of intolerance and their solutions of violence than those who they despise. Moslem, Jewish or Christian, it's the extremist fundamentalist angry few that are the problem

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    81. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      "Mo (I think you mean Mohammed), on the other hand, is acknowledged to have been a rapist, child-abuser, thief, oath breaker and murderer. Further, as the moral exemplar for all muslims, his behaviour is the moral example all should adopt."

      Yep - really educated sophisticated analysis there Chris.

      What has this got to do with you at all? Why do you feel obliged to pass judgement - not just on terrorism or violence but on an entire religion and its adherents? A strange fellow.

      The sensible folks in Islam will handle the Wahhabist takeover of their religion. I/we/ the west can do liitle if anything to stop that. It is up to them.

      I can condemn, denounce and urge people to act responsibly here - at least to get an education and stop making stuff up. Free speech does not condone or endorse your hate speech Mr Harper.

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    82. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to A Ahmed

      "Mr Ahmed"

      Islam regards Jesus as a prophet, they regard Jews as also being "people of the book", sons of Abraham to whom they too pay homage ... your ignorance on these issues reflects the sources of your information - largely religiously bigotted hate-blogs I suspect. Certainly not the understanding or knowledge one might expect from a purported dissident Arab - my bet is you've never even met a Moslem, let alone discussed or read of their religion beyond the likes of Mr Wilders.

      If you want to make these assertions and smears - might I suggest you decorate your postings with the odd quote or reference. In short - stop making shit up.

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    83. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Michael Block

      @Michael

      I agree that we look at individuals and any group of people on their own merits. In fact i do try to make the distinction of "Islam" the teaching vs "Muslims" the people.. a point that seems to be lost..

      "Islam" in its literal interpretation is a totalitarian ideology and there is a large percentage of Islamic scholars that demand the literal translation of "this book that fell from the sky" ... Once we can get our head around this distinction then we can move on to see what that means..

      If we look around the world, there is hard evidence that this literal interpretation means all other schools of thought are invalid.. Once we get our head around this demand for literal interpretation then origin of the anger will make sense and how the ‘book’ must be literally accepted as law.. sharia law.

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    84. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      What pity that despite your familiarity with this concept neither of you seem able to spell it. It's "Taqiyya". This was a concept established in subsequent Shia Islam to allow them to essentially hide in Sunni communities when they were being persecuted - making it OK to pretend to be a Sunni essentially.

      This might assist despite your obvious understanding of the concept: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taqiyya

      Keep making it up.

      When do we get down to the Jewish blood rites and the stealing and sacrificing of children?

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    85. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      @Peter,

      you should learn about your faith Peter.. Yes, Mohammad acknowledge Jesus, which most likely Mo had to as there were so many christians around at the time.

      But the twist is that Isa (jesus) taught Islam.. and the bible and christians have corrupted the teachings and can not be trusted..

      here are some quotes.. that are the watered down english versions of the quranic text.. read them literally as they are intended to be understood.

      5:54 "O ye who believe. Take not the Jews…

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    86. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to A Ahmed

      In arabic please "Mr Ahmed" - I don't trust these translations taken from sites like "The Religion of Peace". Faith Freedom and the like...they just make stuff up.

      And when you have done that, you can tell us what beyond allegations and smears, you would propose to do about Muslims here in Australia. What are you really wanting to say?

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    87. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Block

      “Some christian extremists sing kumbaya whilst they blow up abortion clinics or murder staff that run them”

      That is true, it has historically happened approx. once every ten years in the United States, but I am not aware of any such instances in Australia or the United Kingdom, unless you can point any out? On all occasions condemnation by Christian leadership has been forthright, unhesitating and unequivocal. These acts are not mainstream; they are rare and have no general community support…

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    88. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      One incident that I can recall - a bloke called Peter Knight .... tooled himself up to blow up a termination clinic in Sydney - managed to kill a security guard.

      Catch up with him here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_James_Knight

      Now let's cut to the chase Chris: What should we do about muslims here in Australia? Aside from throwing around allegations and making grossly uninformed smears, the real issue is what should we do about them?

      Love to hear your ideas.

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    89. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      “Why do you feel obliged to pass judgement - not just on terrorism or violence but on an entire religion”

      I am not obliged, but I am entitled to do so under my own cultural mores and the law of the land. Just as you are entitled to pass judgement on those who write book, draw cartoons or make movies. And you do pass that judgement. Don’t question my right to carry out actions you indulge in.

      “The sensible folks in Islam will handle the Wahhabist takeover of their religion.”

      I damn well wish…

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    90. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Well they are trying Chris - and this sort of trash from the filmmaker exercising his rights to "free speech at a distance" really doesn't help at all.

      Here's a few more juicy biblical quotes:

      "Next we headed for the land of Bashan, where King Og and his army attacked us at Edrei. But the LORD told me, 'Do not be afraid of him, for I have given you victory over Og and his army, giving you his entire land. Treat him just as you treated King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon.' So…

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    91. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You said: “Aside from throwing around allegations and making grossly uninformed smears, the real issue is what should we do about them?”

      You have not demonstrated where I am misinformed. Claiming that I am does not make it so.

      As to the Islamic population? What do we do about them? Really? I think that is a dreadful question, separating them out like that.

      We do nothing specific. We treat them as citizens and residents, just as we do everyone else, with all the rights and obligations we…

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    92. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris, if the problem is solely with the ideology as you insist then why isn't every Moslem throughout history a murdering extremist? most people of any belief go about their lives in a quiet and considerate manner. this doesn't make the Fox News or the Murdoch press. Angry extremists of every persuasion cause the problems.

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    93. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      So hijabs and burqas are OK? A mosque down the road? Unrestricted Muslim immigration (within the set quota) is fine?

      I'm not actually saying you are mis-informed Chris - the correct term is uninformed. But feel free to exercise your "free speech" to demonstrate it all you wish actually.

      Reminds me of an old anarchist cartoon: a razor-wired pen - looking remarkably like a refugee detention centre - full of sheep with a big daubed sign - "all sheep have freedom of speech".

      Anyway I'm getting bored with this ping-pong argument - you will always insist on your rights to insult the beliefs of others - and to do so without reading or understanding. Only Muslims though I notice. An excellent contribution to easing tensions and cooling things down.

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    94. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      You said: "So hijabs and burqas are OK? A mosque down the road? Unrestricted Muslim immigration (within the set quota) is fine?”

      Sigh.

      You are doing it again. You really have difficulty with direct statements of principle in respect of freedom. When I say: “We do nothing. We treat them as citizens and residents, just as we do everyone else, with all the rights and obligations we all possess. Equality under the law and all that.” What is so difficult to understand?

      Someone wants to wear a burqua? Good luck to them. No skin off my nose.

      A Mosque? So long as they don’t block my driveway, again, what is my role in interfering with them? None.

      Freedom is a concept you really do seem to have a problem with.

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    95. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Will you be sitting out in your front yard with a few placards laughing at "Mo" while folks are walking to the mosque Chris - taking up your right to free speech that denigrates especially them?

      Will you be teaching your kids to laugh at women in burqas or hijabs? Telling them that these strange folks follow a mass murderer and pedophile?

      All that freedom and you waste it on this sludge.

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    96. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Seriously, where do you get this from?

      So long as they are not trying to shove Islamic law down my, or anyone elses, throat why should I care?

      Your extrapolations really are out there.

      If people are trying to shut me up I will push back. If they aren't, well, they aren't. I would have no reason to respond. Going after people for no better reason than they don't share my views is not really part of my approach. Even if it is core to Islamism. Note, I said Islamism.

      You really, seriously, don't understand, do you?

      These are concepts you simply are not familiar with. I am starting to wonder if A Ahmed might have been right. I am normally pretty good at spotting an Islamist troll in these discussions, possibly I failed on this occasion.

      BTW, you still haven't demonstrated where I am uninformed. As I said, assertion doesn't make it so. I am always eager to learn.

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    97. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      You do not understand the difference between religious fundamentalism and the hard-line stance taken by the likes of Goldwater (and yourself) regarding free speech.

      You believe but cannot document that Jews stopped keeping slaves by the time of Jesus Christ. You see no evil in the Bible at all.

      You claim that the Quran and the life of Mohammed encourage, support and tolerate pedophilia and mass murder. You reject the same enthusiasms contained in the bible - let alone the practices of modern…

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    98. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Sigh,

      A mishmash of assertions, statements of opinions I did express and allegations of opinions I didn't, claims of statements I did make, and further claims of statements I didn't make.

      Then we have this: "And lastly, you are a coward. You restrict your insults to the anonymoity afforded by the interweb".

      Anonymity, yeah. I guess that's why I use my real name instead of a nom de interwebs.

      BTW, I am perfectly happy to accept that people have finger problems on these sites. I feel no…

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    99. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      To be honest Chris I have exactly the same arguments with Hezbollah - you know the folks in Lebanon who reckon they are exercising their free speech by lobbing rockets over the fence - not doing much damage but spreading fear and strengthening the very forces they oppose.

      So you keep it up - you're talking up a storm with your bigotted and uninformed silliness. And it all makes the world a sadder and more dangerous place.

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    100. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      So, tell me Peter, are you prepared to comment on censoring those who preach violence and hate, or are you determined that only those who identify the words the haters use should be shut down?

      Yeah, we know, shutting down criticism of Mo and Al as the first step will make it that much harder for people to tell the truth about future attempts to introduce more Shariah later on.

      It's a tactic I've come across before. That and introducing it as family law - only to be applied within the Islamic…

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    101. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris,

      I think you have made your real concerns quite clear with that post and your comments on the Sharia by stealth "tactic" ... torn straight from the Geert Wilders guide to "Eurabia".

      Our own home grown anti-Islam Hezbollah - taking the fight up to "Mo and Al" - lobbing his little missiles over the fence ....pushing, pushing trying for a reaction. A hater. And bugger the consequences. Or actually - the more severe or extreme the consequences the better.

      Should frightened people…

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    102. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      "torn straight from the Geert Wilders guide to "Eurabia"

      Wouldn't know, never read it. Or do you mean Bat Ye'or's book instead? She was the one who coined the term 'Eurabia'.

      So, I take your multiple failures to answer my question as indicative that it isn't hate speech and incitements to violence you dislike, only critical analysis of Islam's beliefs, text and claims which are used to incite it. In other words, you wish to see core features of the Shariah implemented forthwith, which is what…

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    103. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      "tolerance"

      In the words of the inimitable Mandy:
      You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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  10. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

    Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

    Insightful article and exciting commentary! For a person who grew up Christian but 'turned' agnostic,  I found, while living in Nigeria (west Africa, and population strongly divided between Islam and Christianity), the most intolerant people for just a Q&A style discussion on religion where members of Islam. They would become very angry, violent even, but took the liberty to criticise Christianity and openly hate Zionism. At that time the flamboyant Dutch politician , now in his afterlife, Pim Fortuyn made the statement on BBC's 'Hard Talk'  that Islam is a backward culture. It caused quite a storm. 

    I firmly believe, as some other contributors also state, as all religions, Islam is an ideology, therefore open for criticism, questioning and debate. Modern society should never tolerate the idea towards anti-blasphemy laws, it will be a serious backward step, and become open for even more sanctioning than now. 

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    1. Mia Masters

      person

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      I agree with you in principle. However this case (and diplomacy in general) is not based on what or how it SHOULD be, but how it is now.
      Let's not lecture Islam (and the people of Islam) about how backward or whatever the religion, and their approach to life is. (A little bit of respect would go a long way) We already know that it is a trigger point and it will have a predictable reaction. If the predictability of the reaction and the reaction itself is childish, so is the 'act' of 'reaching…

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Mia Masters

      You said: “A little bit of respect would go a long way”

      Well, I am sorry, but that is not going to happen.

      In general, I dole out respect, or withhold it, to people based on their individual behaviour, and I have known Muslims I respect, and I have come across those I don’t. This all depends on what they say or do, not on their beliefs. Actions count more than words.

      I respect the right of anyone to hold to any belief, no matter how silly, but I am under no obligation to respect the silly…

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    3. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Interesting question you raise, Chris, about numbsrs of Christians killed by the Romans.

      It seems obvious to me that teachings such as turning the other cheek and walking another mile were Jesus' teachings of passive resistance to Roman rule. That is why he despaired of the Essenes at Megido (Armageddon) because he could see that their outright confrontation would end in tears.

      The early Christians seem quite clearly to have been striving against Roman rule so it is open to question whether the killings of them were religious persecution or punishment for political activity.

      It took a lot of editing and rewriting of Christianity to turn it into a Roman-friendly religion antagonistic to the Jews. Perhaps that was when it morphed from an accepting to an intolerant religion, as well. Jesus' parable of The Good Samaritan would seem to be preaching religious tolerance.

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  11. Nat Jones

    Translator

    It seems likely that the person responsible for the film was one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is apparently a Coptic Christian of Egyptian origin. If true, one would think that he should have been extremely well aware of the reaction the film would incite in countries like Egypt. Also, once details of the man's ethnicity become widely known in Egypt, we can no doubt expect another wave of violent attacks there against the Coptic community - something which Nakoula should also have foreseen, and which may in fact be one reason why he pretended to be Jewish in recent statements to the American press.

    If it is not a criminally punishable act for someone like this, who can be reasonably assumed to be well aware of the very high probability of large-scale violence resulting from his actions, to make and distribute such a film, then surely it should be made so. This must surely qualify as criminally reckless disregard for the well-being of others.

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    1. emily vicendese

      undergrad

      In reply to Nat Jones

      But where should the line be drawn? Should everything critical / mocking of Islam be banned?

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      It is also the end point, the aim, of those who choose to incite the riots as well as those who choose to carry them out.

      I would point out that there are also people who choose not to incite riots, and who choose not to take part in them.

      It is all about choice, and those choices are made by the individuals involved; those who write books, draw cartoons and make films have no role at this point.

      Criminal acts of violence are carried out by those who choose to do so. Blame them.

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    3. Mia Masters

      person

      In reply to Nat Jones

      Could not agree more! If we demand full responsibility from those reacting to the film (in a way which was predictable), why don't we demand responsibility from those who knowingly, with reckless disregard for the well-being of others push the trigger points and invest in such acts?!

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    4. Nat Jones

      Translator

      In reply to Stiofán Mac Suibhne

      No, I'm not arguing that all criticism or mocking of Islam should be deemed a criminally reckless provocation. Of course there is a line to be drawn, and it would ultimately be up to legislators and courts to draw such a line. Drawing such lines is precisely their job, and we all depend on them to do it continuously in countless areas of our lives.

      I'm not even sure that I would view the Danish cartoons of 2005 as having been criminally reckless, extreme though they were, because the cartoonist…

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    5. Russell Walton

      Retired

      In reply to Nat Jones

      Nat Jones,

      No criticism of Islam should be criminalised, Islam is a creation of the human mind, it's an ideology. If some believers are offended and provoked into violent behaviour it's their problem, those individuals who published any 'offending' documents or videos are not responsible.

      What you advocate is a gradual surrender of our liberties, if some Moslems are offended by ridicule of their religion and we comprise, they'll next be offended by what women wear or don't wear, gender equality and many other aspects of Western culture. Implicit in the protestors' behaviour is the is the inferior status of non-Moslems,do you want to pay the Jizya?

      Yes, there's a line to be drawn and it should stay very close to free speech.

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    6. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Nat Jones

      I think there may be a real question mark over how foreseeable the protests were. I haven't checked but I wouldn't be surprised if there is a lot of anti Muslim stuff all over the net including YouTube (there's all sorts of hate stuff re religions & race). So what is so special about this film?

      Second, it's interesting you note the protests have largely been in the Arab world. Yet last year, with the Koran burning, there was a massive shrug & the only place where there were reactions, albeit awful ones, was Afghanistan, from memory.

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    7. Nat Jones

      Translator

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      I think that what made this film different, as I said in my previous comment, is the fact that the dubbed audio was in Arabic. And not just any Arabic but native-speaker Arabic, from an Egyptian who is highly likely to have known exactly what statements would be most incendiary. All the violence this time has been from Arabs who would have seen at least part of the film on their TV news and heard those words, and experienced the visceral reaction that can only be experienced when you hear vitriol…

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    8. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Nat Jones

      @Nat,

      the only thing wrong with this movie is that it does not contain the supporting quranic and hadith verses that support what has been said.. This movie is a paraday of the facts..

      so if the movie is based on facts then what? Mulsims should be insulted by their imams for the lies that they have been fed.. Muslims that truly wish to be Godly, understand "Shirk" and that by condeming theirs brothers to death that they are infact commiting "Shirk" .. but the is no meantion of shirk.. only the wish to "BeHead the Unbelivers" .. but that is not insulting or hate speach.. just let the boys let off some steam

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    9. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Peter,

      Did you see? The bloke who made the movie was taken away. State officials wearing brown shirts turned up at his place at midnight and took him away for questioning.

      Brown shirts?
      Knock on the door at midnight?
      His crime? None whatsoever. You may think what he did should have been a crime, but it isn't, and he is in custody anyway.

      Happy?

      This is the world you want, even if it makes me sick to the stomach. But who cares if if I am offended, right? I am not going to riot or kill regardless of how my deepest principles are pissed on by people like you, so who really cares. The only people who need to have their beliefs respected are murderous religio-fascists who wish to establish a misogynistic, apartheid theocracy, right?

      Well, done you, you want it, you're getting it.

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  12. Linus Bowden

    management consultant

    While the general conclusions of this piece seem OK, the premises on which they are based are not OK. And in light of the appalling events in Sydney's CBD today, some serious rethinking needs to be done with "human rights" academia I am baffled why a discussion about the right to freedom of expression in the United States, Libya, and Egypt even mentions the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, let alone privileges it.

    1. As far as the US is concerned, the US Constitution, particularly…

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Linus Bowden

      Dear Linus,

      Both Egypt & Libya are party to the ICCPR which is binding in international law. The Cairo Declaration is not.

      I write this as an international human rights lawyer so, from my point of view, it is relevant whether the US's actions here conform to that treaty, which it freely ratified. I have concluded that they do.

      If they did not, there would then be a clash between it's Constitution & its

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    2. Linus Bowden

      management consultant

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Sarah, S.18C of the RDA is "binding law". The ICCPR is not "binding" law whatsoever. And the fact that Egypt and Libya are party to it only reinforces its non-binding and non-legal status. Australia is also a party, but then Australia is also party to over 1,000 other international instruments. If these were truly "binding law", we would have no need for a Parliament. OTOH, the Cairo Declaration most certain is "binding law" as the constitutions of so many OIC nations attest, including Egypt and…

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    3. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Linus Bowden

      I completely disagree with you. The ICCPR is binding international as upon all of its States parties, including the US, Australia, Egypt & Libya. International law is law, though I'd agree it's quite different to domestic law.

      The Cairo Dec is not of itself legally binding as it isn't a treaty. If it has been incorporated into States' constitutions, then it is binding as part of the relevant States' domestic law.

      You complain about the democratic deficit of our treaty ratification processes…

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    4. Linus Bowden

      management consultant

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Sarah, my apologies if my comment about your profession came across badly. I wasn't dismissing you. I was trying to emphasise that the fact you - or anybody else - are a human rights lawyer does not in itself necessarily imply anything about your personal attitude towards privileging this or that instrument over domestic law. It is equally feasible that a human rights lawyer might think that - for example - the UN Human Rights Council should be closed down, or that international human rights law…

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    5. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Linus Bowden

      Your question has a very complex answer, which normally takes about 3 hours in my lectures. I can only be incomplete here.

      International law isn't a higher law as opposed to a different plane of law (except in monist countries, of which there are very few). Treaties including the ICCPR are "binding" in international law but not necessarily domestic law.

      Australia hasn't incorporated the ICCPR in domestic law so it is binding only in Int'l law not domestic law. On the other hand, it has incorporated…

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    6. Linus Bowden

      management consultant

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Well I understand if you're tired, but when your are feeling perkier, I would love to continue the discussion.

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  13. Linus Bowden

    management consultant

    The author claims

    "While the denigration of one’s religion is unpleasant, there is no human right not to be offended."

    Can anybody explain where Michael Lavarch got the idea for s.18C of the RDA, then?

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    1. Linus Bowden

      management consultant

      In reply to Sarah Joseph

      Sarah, thanks for that link. Your article was an excellent and nuanced take on that case. I don't want to derail this thread by discussing the merits of the Bolt Case and s.18C. I was not living in Australia when that amendment was passed, so I'm not totally on top on the politics. I did not even know the amendment existed until the Bolt Case. I just presumed they passed it "to comply with our international obligations". If I read you correctly, I'd say my position is quite close to yours - keep "humiliation" and "intimidation". But get rid of "offence"!

      If there was no treaty obligation, then why did Lavarch frame it this way? Your point on the "Streisand Effect" is bang on. Following this case in the media, I remember shaking my head saying "what are you people thinking? This is not going to play well for you in the medium-long term".

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  14. Michael Block

    Idler

    I saw some of the film on You Tube. I could have seen more but really it was like the worst porn movie that you could imagine seeing but without the sex (although there was some of that too). It was simplistic, and I thought, designed to be maximally offensive. 15 minutes was all I could take really, watching any more would have required a voluntary abuse of my human right to dignity. Having said that should it be banned? I don't think so. Should it be condemned - yes, it's factually incorrect and…

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    1. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

      In reply to Michael Block

      I was wondering as I was a small kid in rural Africa at that time, how did Christians react to the many movies/ jokes/ cartoons ridiculing their God, in the 1960's? How are they reacting even today? Philip adams always mocks Christianity but i do not recall people burning building because of that? I am waiting for the day he pulls such a trick on Islam.

      Stating the above, it would be a scary day when one ideology, whatever it is, demands respect and sanction/ debate/ questioning against it as its right, that smacks of totalitarism. Sadly my personal and very limited experience with Islam as the Ruler in northern states of Nigeria, where Sharia law is the law is nothing else than totalitarian, and there respect for human rights as we believe in, and the UN pretent to protect, non existant.

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    2. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Stephanus any reading of history will remind you that intolerance and hatred seem to be shared equally amongst all religions. Christianity has had its own share of hatred and pogroms, and even now, intolerance - it's a part of human nature.

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    3. Stephanus Cecil Barnard

      Town planner and freelance writer at Kalahariozzie

      In reply to Michael Block

      Fully agreed Michael, with a glance back over recorded religious history, the pot cannot call the kettle black.... You are so right indeed....

      I really enjoyed reading all the contributions to this article, the silver lining on the rather serious storm clouds would be the mutual respect and tolerance showed by all contributors to this piece. May be small but it is there

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    4. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Michael Block

      Michael,

      I would tend to disagree. The pre Christian pagan religions tended to be pretty tolerant, after all, they all had a plethora of gods and they often went in for mutual recognition. Christian persecutions in the early days were actually few and far between, and usually happened because the Christians were uncooperative pains in the fundament. Religious intolerance seems to be a feature mainly of Christianity and Islam. And even there, while Christians were intolerant, there was little theological justification for it; only Islam requires it theologically.

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    5. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      The chief basis of intolerance within and between religions is doctrinal. However, because we are so accustomed to the concept of doctrine, it can be difficult to recognise that was not always the case. Doctrine, as we understand it, was pretty much invented by Christianity. Before that worshippers pretty much tried to get in good with the gods, either to get them to help out in daily life, or, at least, to mollify them and stop the gods getting mad at them. Doctrine, however, was pretty much non-existent. You could believe pretty much what you liked about the gods without someone else screaming divine praises as they chopped of your head.

      Read Homer and your other Greek myths and try to find statements of doctrine. Even Judaism back then lacked doctrine as we know it today; the Talmud didn’t arise for centuries still.

      I don’t blame religion in general for behaviour which is largely limited to Christianity and Islam.

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    6. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Chris Harper

      I tend to agree more with Michael's comment rather than Chris'

      I cite the example of the 8 religious wars in France, usually called the Protestant Reformation. What the term reformation glosses over is the fact that millions of people died over doctrine and that it was largely a Christian affair. Hundreds of thousands more fled as refugees - some were more than likely my ancestors. All that bloodshed, because some people liked the pope and a couple of clauses about fate and others didn't…

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    7. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Emma Anderson

      Emma,

      There is a great deal in what you wrote I can agree with, and a great deal I can disagree with, but there is only one point I will raise now.

      Buddhism does not have a an unblemished history, there were Buddhist religious wars in China around the 9th Century, but it has a pretty good history regardless. To claim it produced Pol Pot is pretty unfair tho. He may have been raised a Buddhist, but he was a product of Marxism, the most viciously murderous ideology in human history.

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    8. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Not coincidentally it's the monotheistic religions that are the intolerant ones. "tThere's only one god and it's mine'. Pan/poly theists are potentially more accepting it seems

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    9. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Michael Block

      @Block

      Christianity that is based on the actual teachings of Jesus is a total polar opposite to that which is promoted by the actual teachings of mohammad..

      Until you understand this distinction you really have no idea of what is going on

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    10. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Chris Harper

      You raise the finer point that there's more than one thing going on when a sick bastard goes megalo and fervours people into murderous rage.

      But to say that Marxism is the most viciously murderous takes a pretty hyperbolic and limited view of history. Find me an ideology that hasn't resulted in death and has actually achieved it's touted aims....and I'll consider following it, but for now, you're being as unfair to Marxism as I was to the facts about Pol Pot, perhaps more so, because you're…

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    11. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Emma Anderson

      Emma,

      You said: "But to say that Marxism is the most viciously murderous takes a pretty hyperbolic and limited view of history. "

      No it does not.

      Adherents to Islam killed roughly eighty million people over a five hundred period in India, but followers of Marxism murdered between one hundred to one hundred and twenty million people over roughly a fifty year period during the twentieth century. I reiterate, Marxism is the most murderous ideology in all human history, by a very wide margin.

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    12. Russell Walton

      Retired

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Chris Harper,

      Moslems also killed millions of people in the NE and Europe and given the much smaller populations pre 20th century, I wouldn't be sure which ideology has taken more lives proportionally.

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    13. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Russel's answer is accurate we can never be sure which ideology has taken the most lives throughout all of human history, and what kind of history is that, from written era only? And whose testimony do we listen to, that of the scribes, who were apparently usually under the command of the priests in service of the kings doing the killing? It's a hard call to make, but again, to say that Marxism or any given ideology is the most murderous throughout all of history IS hyperbolic and limited as it…

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    14. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Emma Anderson

      Emma,

      Don't get me wrong on this. I am not seeking to defend Christianity, it certainly has its faults, but nothing you have said addresses the reality of the number of people slaughtered by Marxism. Now Karl himself killed no one, and I would guess that he would be horrified at what has been done in his name, but nothing you have said gives me reason to change my position, that Marxism is the most murderous ideology in all human history. In fact, I find the soft ride Marxism is given to be repugnant. I certainly regard Marxism, in practice, as no better than Nazism. One only has to read history, or remember what happened in my own lifetime.

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    15. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      I get your point Chris but there's a problem with blaming "isms" ... was Stalin practising marxism - or was he just a dictatorial butcher - a tsar masquerading as a marxist? Same with the last Emperor Mao or with the genocidal Pol Pot - nothing to do with marxism as written down - all about political power and control. It's like blaming "capitalism" for US slavery.

      Brutality has deep historical roots. And we are all capable of it in the right circumstances. That such horror dresses itself up as an "ism" tends do distort the analysis.

      So for example was Christianity responsible for Hilter, or Mussolini or Franco or Pinochet - or Hiroshima. No - but in creating the necessary preconditions - an "us" and a "them" with them being less than us - you bet. And this is inherent in all ideologies based on enmity, distrust and fear.

      Except maybe for humanism and pacificism and any other isms predicated on mutual respect and the rights of us all.

      It's about deeds not isms.

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    16. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      Fair point, however, I look at justifications. Hitler didn’t use Christianity as a justification, he played on German romanticism instead. Nor did Truman use Christianity as a justification for Hiroshima, amongst other things because that would have been an absurdity piled on an absurdity. However, the Inquisition justified itself using Christianity, and Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao et al, as well as their supporters in the West, used Marxism for the same purpose. That is the basis of how I allocate responsibility.

      A Christian who uses violence is not the same thing as someone who uses Christianity to justify their violence.

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    17. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Actually quite a bit of Hilter's mass appeal in his early days was a curious ambivalent mix of germanic norse mythology and christianity (of a sort) - it was a critical factor in his declaration of war on Europe's jews.

      One doesn't have to use the words Chris or quote biblical texts - sufficient that they are not like us - have strange alien beliefs and are "less" as a result.

      Either way whether one is violent because of one's beliefs or uses beliefs to justify violence (which I suspect is almost invariably the case) - it's a moot point for the victims.

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    18. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      People need someone to blame and when an entire country is warped by a murderous fervour, as has happened too often in human history and apparently for many reasons, that someone isn't always as simple as the bloke (usually) in charge. So people blame something.

      Is it not the case that on some level, it is possible even for a bigot to acknowledge that human conduct is universal and inspired to an extent by culture? That there is some kind of hypocrisy when a psychopath, say Milat, goes on…

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    19. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Emma Anderson

      Emma,

      You raise some interesting questions so I've been thinking a bit before replying. I'm not sure I completely follow your thinking so let me know if I've overshot or missed the barn completely.

      Firstly, I think we all must answer for actions. So I don't accept the "defence" that those who made the trains run on time in Germany were "forced" to do it, were "just following orders" or had no choice. There is always choice. The consequences of that choice may be severe - but some chose…

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    20. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Karl Marx is said to have said "if these people are Marxists, I am not".

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    21. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Hey Pete look mate no overshooting just food for thought and for now my brain probably needs more food than thought so apologies for spelling errors and general rantiness

      Uhm ok. Well. The thing that comes to mind is the citing of common place occupations associated with general niceness - like school teachers, who doesn't love a nice cuddly kindy teacher or the friendly postie that gives a wave when he drops of yet another bill or in the olden days a letter from a pen-friend? But to look…

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    22. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Emma Anderson

      Ah but Emma the sad fact is that the folks who dropped the gas down the chute, who herded the kids onto cattle wagons, who dropped their names into the Gestapo were not monsters - well not normally. They were nice decent folks. That's the point.

      Germany wasn't suddenly taken over by a whole generation of Milats. The doers were postmen, and school teachers and dentists and accountants and the local butcher.

      Give folks a diet of hate - of someone to blame - of someone who is different enough ... and if there's enough of it about - and the law turns a blind eye - you'll have folks kicking and punching old ladies down the street.

      That's how hate works. It taps the psychopath in us all on the shoulder and gives us a licence to kick. And we do. And hate speech is how it all starts.

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    23. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Ah but Peter I think you've missed something I implied there. I am not saying that Germany became full of Ivan Milats. I am saying that there is no difference between Ivan Milat and a school teacher, unless he has a physiological moral disability which has not yet been demonstrated.

      On the other hand, you did say "the psychopath within us all". Yes it's there, with limited exception. I have been fortunate enough to meet one or two people who I would believe completely and utterly incapable…

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    24. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Emma Anderson

      Benign psychopath tumours? Dormant perhaps.

      And triggered into action by finding someone less than us - a target, someone to be afraid of, to blame, to kick.

      I agree we probably will never eradicate hate speech and hatred - but we can make it harder to find - so that one must go looking for it rather than have it posted up here on The Conversation by the likes of fake fakirs like "Mr Ahmed".

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    25. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Emma Anderson

      Just so long as those kindy teachers are not walking qlong the street in Victoria with that texta in their pocket. They could be prosecuted.

      The relevance of that to the present discussion is the degree to which normal behaviour is being made criminal because it is so much easier to detct than actual crime.

      It is much easier to blame people for "incitement" than to catch and prosecute the riioters. Even more, it is easier than to catch the provocative agents in the crowd - assuming that they are not agents of the police or security agencies anyway.

      We often had the impression that they were in 1970s demonstrations that turned violent.

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  15. David Arthur

    resistance gnome

    Surely anyone has the right to download this material from YouTube, overdub the offensive bits of its soundtrack with corrected statements regarding the Prophet, and upload that?

    Like, the backers of this "Innocence of ..." tripe are hardly gong to sue for copyright, are they?

    Mind you, I've never looked at anything on YouTube, and never will; from what I've seen in various comments pages, it would seem to be replete with Climate Denialist bollux.

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    1. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to David Arthur

      David, Youtube is a microcosm of the internet, some of the stuff there will absolutely amaze and entrance you, some will leave you rolling your eyes. Better for people to make factual movies with decent production values.

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  16. Tim Mazzarol

    Winthrop Professor, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Marketing and Strategy at University of Western Australia

    Hi Sarah

    What is your opinion on the protesters in Sydney recently who held placards calling for the beheading of blasphemers?

    Have they crossed a line between freedom of speech and promotion of violence?

    Also, what do you think of the call by Tony Abbott for the revoking of the visa of Taji Mustafa, the leader of the British based Muslim group Hizb ut-Tahrir?

    According to Mr Abbott this organisation has called for the destruction of Israel and violence against Australian troops in Afghanistan.

    Where is the line between terrorism, violence and the need to protect an individual's right to freedom of speech?

    It all seems a bit out of control to me.

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Tim Mazzarol

      The beheading placards were disturbing but not sure they broke law. Our hate law targets race hate not religious hate (in Vic there is religious hate law but not, I don't think, NSW)). Not sure it was hate speech anyway as didn't target particular group & was unlikely to incite anything but disgust. It did call for death of someone who wasn't in Australia.

      Can't really comment on Taji Mustafa as don't know anything about him. I'd rather know than just go off Abbott's description (or indeed Gillard's description)

      The "line" is always going to be fuzzy at the margins. I don't think placards crossed it. There was violence but not, I don't think, related to placards so much as the movie itself.

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    2. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Tim Mazzarol

      Tony accuses him of preaching hate. That puts our Tony on pretty thin ice himself, it seems to me.

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    3. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to John Harland

      To draw this comparison is not just absurd, but is arguably an example of hate speech in itself.

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    4. Linus Bowden

      management consultant

      In reply to Tim Mazzarol

      Tim

      I was actually walking home through Hyde Park when it was all going off. I quickly moved to the edge of the throng, and went on my way unharmed. There were all sorts of signs about beheadings and so on, but seriously have you ever had any involvement with Muslims? I didn't bat an eyelid. If you get an attack of the vapours every time a gang of Muslims started banging on about swords, beheadings, dogs, jihad, blah, blah, blah, you'd evaporate pretty quickly. I am more contemptuous of the brilliant…

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  17. James Dowty

    Genetic epidemiologist

    It’s now fairly clear that Islamic fundamentalists here and overseas will protest violently whenever Islam is insulted (if the insult is prominent enough). How should we in the West react to this state of affairs? Instead of using laws or public condemnation to try to stop Westerners from insulting Islam, as some people have suggested above, I think we should do the opposite. Adults who say “behead those who insult the prophet” are the enemies of all rational and ethical people (whether Muslim…

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    1. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to James Dowty

      James,

      I don’t believe any major co-ordinated campaign is possible, there are too many outlets and that have such disparate opinions and motivations that agreement would be impossible. In fact, I would hate to think we lived in a society where it would be possible. But yes, criticism and mockery of Islam, Allah and big Mo himself needs to be normalised, just as such criticism and mockery of Christianity has been. I have no desire to mock a devout Muslims beliefs – even if I just did with my reference…

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    2. James Dowty

      Genetic epidemiologist

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Hi Chris,

      You might be right about the practicalities of a coordinated media campaign, though a similar protest did occur in 2005 when a number of newspapers around the world republished the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. I guess they found common ground in their dislike of being intimidated and censored (which doesn't seem very sinister to me).

      Talk to you later,
      James.

      PS. Sarah, thanks for a great article.

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  18. Helen Pritcher

    Environment consultant

    Thanks for an interesting article. However, I do think it's a bit difficult to argue a case about a video clip on YouTube that you say you haven't even seen. At the very least one would expect that someone writing articles about a video clip, would have seen it.

    There is a claim that the events depicted in this (simply awful) movie, are based on events recorded in the Koran. If so, wouldn't that invalidate the objections to it (other than on the dreadful quality)? Not that the Bible is much…

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    1. Sarah Joseph
      Sarah Joseph is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law at Monash University

      In reply to Helen Pritcher

      Point taken Helen. I should have watched it. In small defence I say the following though.

      The watching of the video is most relevant, in my view, to my judgement that the makers were bigoted. However, that isn't really the main point of the article. My opinion of its makers or of the movie's quality is irrelevant, really.

      Furthermore, re your second para, I couldn't possibly know whether the events depicted are in the Koran or not as I am no expert on the Koran. Watching the movie wouldn't…

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  19. Peter Ormonde
    Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Farmer

    Sarah,

    Context is everything. And with the interweb context is a very fast moving feast indeed.

    I am extremely concerned that this "movie" has been linked to Copts. In the current context of Egypt this is an incendiary piece of abusive foolishness that will have profound consequences. It might not meet the fine print definition of hate speech - it does not directly incite folks to violence - but the consequences are obvious.

    ABC TV last night featured a set of comments from some local…

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    1. Michael Block

      Idler

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I agree Peter
      this isn't a 'battle of religions', its a battle between extremists. Extremists are attracted to any dogma

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    2. Chris Harper

      Engineer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter,

      What other speech would you like to see people gaoled for? How do we predict what will or will not cause a problem? Is it only offense to Muslims you would wish to see people gaoled for? After all, even something as vile as this http://www.countingcats.com/?p=12954 would not cause Jews, Christians, Hindus or Buddhists to riot or murder.

      For instance, would it be a gaoling offence for me to publish the opinion that Allah does not exist and that Mohammed was a murderous psychopath with…

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    3. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Chris Harper

      So here we are as fellow athiests debating the niceties of religious freedoms.

      If one sees a pile wood stacked up with some ratbag mullahs pouring avgas on it, should some ignorant bigot 10,000 kms away be able to hurl matches about?

      It will not be the ratbag safe in hiding behind the US Constitution copping the consequences of this - it will be folks in harm's way from US Ambassadors to Egyptian Copts, it will be Australians in Afghanistan.

      Like you I am not a god-botherer in any shape…

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    4. Mia Masters

      person

      In reply to Chris Harper

      "This is the behaviour of a drunkenly humiliated people: swinging wildly with the hope of landing a blow, any blow, somewhere, anywhere. There's nothing strategic or calculated about this. It doesn't matter that they are the film's most effective publicists. It doesn't matter that they protest using offensive slogans and signs, while protesting against people's right to offend. It doesn't matter that they object to insulting people on the basis of their religion, while declaring that Christians have no morals. This is baffling only until you realise these protesters are not truly protesting to make a point. The protest is the point."
      Waleed Aly

      Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/the-incredible-muslim-hulk-proves-to-be-no-friend-of-islam-either-20120916-260e8.html#ixzz26hBDAfwV

      So far, the most eloquent analysis on the subject in the media.

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    5. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Michael Block

      Very much so.

      I am reminded of Fukayama telling how he and colleagues had "switched sides". They used to be either Stalinists or Maoists.

      There seemed to me to be a strong thread joining the befores and afters.

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    6. John Harland

      bicycle technician

      In reply to Chris Harper

      Would we even have heard about it if people had not been looking for a pretext, or trying to set one up.

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  20. Mark Goyne

    Lawyer

    The real reason why s18c of the RDA was brought in was to intimidate Australians into not raising genuine concerns about who comprises the illegal immigrants etc. I as an Australian citizen want to raise these concerns,and I will. I understand PM Harper has repealed a similiar law in Canada, and if the Coalition win they must do so to.

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    1. Mark Goyne

      Lawyer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      The right to make comments on issues. A very clear statement, any one should understand that.

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    2. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Yet another race hater turns up here flying false colours - a non Arab called "Ahmed" and a now a "lawyer" ....

      The reason why I know you aren't a lawyer Mark is that no one with even a passing knowledge of the law, the RDA or S18C could make such a statement.

      S 18C was introduced in 1995 - well before "illegal immigration" (as you put it - again not in law) was an issue. It was introduced to stop folks making statements designed to stop ignorant people making racially or religiously hateful…

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    3. Mark Goyne

      Lawyer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Your answer confirms my opinion you have no idea about anything. This section was introduced to stifle legitimate debate.

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    4. Jan Burgess

      Retired

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Peter - I don't have any expert knowledge of the law or the RDA, but I have to disagree with you here on several points.

      You say "S 18C was introduced in 1995 - well before "illegal immigration" (as you put it - again not in law) was an issue. It was introduced to stop folks making statements designed to stop ignorant people making racially or religiously hateful comments"

      To my knowledge, it has nothing to do with religious comment, hateful or otherwise. It is specifically limited to "race…

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    5. A Ahmed

      Student

      In reply to Jan Burgess

      @Jan,

      thank you for your wise words and balance.. i know that this subject is some what charged and people's "Feelings" are going to get hurt.. i am somewhat at a loss because there are many arround the world that have lost their lives and many others that are suffering incredible hardships, so our "feelings" are a little less dramaitic and of no consequence in comparison.

      As you have pointed out "Offence is subjective, and it's a very slippery slope." .. now I ask you to please revise…

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    6. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      Or if that's too much, read this:

      http://www.hreoc.gov.au/racial_discrimination/cyberracism/vilification.html

      See we of the dominant culture here don't get offended easily. We don't have much to be offended about. I'm particularly thick-skinned. But it's not about how you or I feel. It's about how the targets of abuse feel.

      Now let's just say you're Jewish. Your family didn't make it out of the camps. Let's just say a group of blokes in black shirts starts giving Nazi salutes at you…

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    7. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to A Ahmed

      Nah - you've got me all wrong Ahmed. I'm not denying that bad things happen in Africa. They also happen in India, China and anywhere else you'd care to mention.

      What I object to is that you say these bad things happen because Muslims - all Muslims everywhere - are dedicated to the overthrow of the non-muslim world and enslaving the planet. This is what you believe. This is what you say. You preach fear, hate and ignorance.

      And this makes you a hate monger. Just like your pin-up boy Breivik whose insane manifesto you seem to be following most closely. No peacemaker by any means. I wonder where you are actually from.

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    8. Mark Goyne

      Lawyer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      I think everyone should be given a ration of comments on a particular topic. You would have exceeded your quota a long time ago.

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    9. Peter Ormonde
      Peter Ormonde is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Farmer

      In reply to Peter Ormonde

      It's interesting how overnight - between midnight and six am - articles on a range of specific issues - notably climate change, Islam, racism or hate-speech are subjected to a stream of tutting index fingers throwing red and blue flags about... not really participating in a conversation - more like a second row in a scrum - just pushing.

      I wonder what timezones these little fingers are tapping in and on how many sites.

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  21. Greg Boyles

    Lanscaper and former medical scientist

    I think there is LIMITED merit to what Geert has to say.

    However I think where he goes terribly wrong is to cast his net far to wide.

    I can't logically see any difference between moderate well educated muslims and moderate well educated christians.

    And I can't see all that much difference between the bigotry, sexism and hate speech in the the Koran and the bigotry, sexism and hate speech in parts of the bible.

    It all comes down to the intelligence of those who read the Koran and the bible…

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    1. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Perhaps Geert is also a little arrogant in thinking that Christianity is fundamentally better than Islam.

      What is better than Islam is secular western society that has largely marginalized Christianity.

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    2. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      The same thing needs to happen to Islam in arab societies if their cultures are to emerge from their theological dark ages.

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    3. Greg Boyles

      Lanscaper and former medical scientist

      In reply to Greg Boyles

      Gee wiz...this sounds awfully familiar doesn't it?

      http://candobetter.net/?q=node/3185

      5000 Singaporeans demonstrated Feb 18, 2013 against mass migration blaming influx for infrastructure strains, record-high housing and transport costs and competition for jobs. Government plans for even higher immigration have been greated with cynicism, distress and mass protest. Three video-links inside, two indie-media.

      On Feburary 16 about 5000 Singaporeans grathered at the Speakers' Corner at Hong Lim Park to voice their anger at the government's announcement of a plan to raise the population with mass immigration. The government excuse was, shamefully and predictably, 'the aging population

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