Friday, February 13, 2009

Still pending: Geert Wilders

In the meantime, I tend to agree with Graeme.

Bonus link: Though Cowards Flinch


bob said...

Been chatting off blog about Wilders with Jogo. This was my last e-mail to him:

My point is, why is free speech such as sacred right? Shouldn't rights beconsidered in their concrete context, and not treated as sacred absolutes? And shouldn't rights be placed in some kind of hierarchy, in which, say, the right not to be killed should be nearer the top than the right to free speech? And shouldn't rights always be balanced against responsibilities, including the demand for citizens to speak responsibly? And if free speech is so important, why should I defend someone like Geert Wilders, whose number 1 agenda item is banning a book, the Koran?

(By the way, in England, the classic counter-example, for some reason, against free speech as an absolute is shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre, which apparently is illegal here. Would it be protected in America?)

So, no I don't think speech should be banned for causing offence. But I am simply not going to bother defending the free speech of someone like Wilders whose raison d'etre (ironically achieved well by being proscribed in both the UK and the Netherlands) is offending people and sowing hatred. (Just as I would not defend the rights of someone like Qaradawi to speak in England, even if the free speech principle appeared to protect him.)

richard said...

Don't agree with Bob or Graeme about Wilders. His arguments about Islamist terror being based on certain verses in the Koran are strong ones. He presents that evidence and doesn't advocate violence. There is no way he should be banned for that.

Kirsty Wark did a great job chairing a discussion of this on Thursday night. I fully agree with what Dr. Jay Smith said, someone who should be much better known across the UK as we seek to get serious about the roots of Islamism. Maajid Sawaz, not surprisingly, didn't entirely agree with Jay about the value of the film but was also excellent on the arbitrary and counterproductive nature of the ban.

I then went on the official Newsnight blog to congratulate the team on all this. The extent of paranoid, mocking, anti-semitic, holocaust-denying, pseudo-intellectual claptrap that was then permitted deeply shocked me. Maybe someone from here would like to have a go? Even just in complaining to the license-funded authorities. I feel I've done my bit for now.

Interesting confirmation of that bad meme we once talked about, the one previous time I popped up, Bob. Interesting and shocking, how it has already grown in power. So, mostly disagree with you on Wilders - though disagree with Wilders about banning the Koran, even in Holland - but wish you well.

bob said...

Thanks Richard. I don't actually, and I don't think Graeme does, support the ban; I agree with you that it was arbitrary and counter-productive. However, I feel no enthusiasm for actively the defending the right to free speech of someone who advocates banning books.

I find parts of the Koran unsavoury, but the idea it should be outlawed is wrong, and the idea that it is equivalent to, say, Mein Kampf (a claim Wilders makes) is also excessive. Hatred of Jews is the essential core point of Mein Kampf. Hatred of Jews (and other unsavoury things) is there in the Koran, but not right at its heart. I know lots of Muslims, and they are not the Muslims Wilders portrays.

I need to check out the Newsnight broadcast. Gosh, what a lot of nutters and haters there are on the discussion board there. Where do they find the time?

Graeme said...

Wilders wants to throw all Muslims out of Europe. He's not interested in having a genuine discussion about the connection between scripture and theology and violence or whatever (which is stupid in any case. Does the Koran justify violence? Sure. So does the Bible and the Torah, Karl Fucking Marx, and the entire series of Grand Theft Auto games). He's a fascist and a dick and I don't particularly give a shit about what he has to say about Islam or anything else.

The Contentious Centrist said...

Why do some people think, or feel, that inserting the words "fucking" and "shit" in their comments render their vehemence more authentic, or convincing? I'm genuinely curious.

I also don't quite get how a personal preference has any role to play in the merit of an argument.

So what exactly is Graeme's saying? That personally he wouldn't mind if Wilders is gagged? How does that help me understand better the principle involved? Aren't the "rights" of people supposed to transcend the personal preferences of certain constituents? Are we supposed to extrapolate from Graeme's comment that our subjective feeling about another's right to anything is a legitimate parameter for denying or according that right to that individual?

I just don't get it.

Graeme said...
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Will said...
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Graeme said...
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The Contentious Centrist said...

The note I scribbled on the side after placing my comment approximated the gist of the last three comments...

What puzzles me is the complete absence of any poetry or richness or wit or originality in the proffered cliches. Always the same adjectives, nouns, etc. There is a sameness about this which not only disgusts but is so boring that it can't even induce a yawn.