Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Winter Olympics

Friday is a big day. First, it's the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. It's also the Muslim day of prayer, the second Friday since the Cartoon Jihad began. Italy contains more than 800,000 Muslims. Without a doubt the Friday "prayers" around the world will incite Muslims to "protest" against the cartoons, Denmark, Norway and perhaps Austria.

Who thinks the Olympics, which lasts 16 days, will pass without violence? I doubt militant Odin worshippers will cause any trouble. But the Olympics are starting at the height of a wave of anti-European, anti-Western violence that has seen arson and calls to massacre and murder. And what is more Western than the Olympics?

I know, I know. It's always a small fringe, a tiny minority, etc. But 1% of Italian Muslims in 8,000. One percent of that is 80. It took a handful of men to bomb London on 7/7. It took a dozen to bomb Madrid on 3/11. Only 19 operatives carried out 9/11. Even discounting foreign element, 1% of 1% is more than enough.

On the up side we got through the Summer Olympics in Athens without an incident. Maybe we can get lucky again. But who wants to count on luck?


Blogger Irzan said...

When free speech comes at a great cost
By Siew Kum Hong, TODAY
First Published 8 Feb 2006

I consider myself a free speech advocate who firmly believes that more speech is generally better than less. So, I was surprised by my reaction to the ongoing controversy over the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed: I found myself condemning the so-called advocates of free speech.

I remember reading about the publication of the cartoons in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Denmark last year and being surprised at the relative lack of outrage in the Muslim world.

That changed, when newspapers in Norway - and later France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Holland and New Zealand - republished them.

These newspapers have cited freedom of speech to justify their actions, while some governments have pointed to press freedom in not condemning the newspapers.

But these reasons ring false and hollow, and loudly so.

In the first place, it is universally accepted, including in the West, that freedom of speech is not absolute. It is invariably qualified by exceptions such as defamation and hate speech. In Denmark itself, hatemongers have been prosecuted.

Meanwhile, many European countries, including France and Germany, make it an offence to deny the reality of the Jewish Holocaust.

There is always a balancing exercise between the overall benefit and the overall harm of free speech to society. As the famed United States jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr wrote: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic."

And that is really what the newspapers did in this case. The response by the Muslim world to the caricatures, including the violence against Western embassies, was predictable.

Indeed, the Jyllands-Posten editor has since stated that he would not have published the caricatures if he had known the consequences. He has clearly realised, too late, that the harm of publishing the caricatures outweighs the benefit.

So I found the European newspapers disingenuous when they talked about their right to free speech as if it was absolute and unfettered, as if the right would be meaningless if they chose not to publish the caricatures, as if they were justified in publishing the caricatures, consequences be damned.

After all, the right does not exist in a vacuum. And in the mass media, editors must consider whether the benefits of publication outweigh the harm caused.

The issue is therefore not quite as clear-cut as the newspapers would have us believe. It is not really about freedom of speech against freedom of religion. Framing it in that perspective assumes that the newspapers were properly and justifiably exercising their right of free speech, when that may not be so.

The Jyllands-Posten's original objective in publishing the caricatures was to test whether Muslim fundamentalists had affected the freedom of expression in Denmark.

But some of the caricatures, in particular those linking the Prophet Mohammed with terrorism, went far beyond what was necessary for doing that.

Even if freedom of speech allowed the newspapers to depict the prophet in some form, they must surely have exceeded their rights by publishing such offensive images.

Some of the governments involved have also acted less than responsibly in their reluctance to condemn the newspapers. They have argued that the newspapers are private entities outside governmental control with their right to free speech and so the governments could not apologise for what they had done.

But these governments are entitled to take their own view as to the propriety of the newspapers' actions, even if it is strictly legal, and to articulate that view as strongly as is appropriate.

Furthermore, these governments have deemed it fit to criminalise the denial of the Holocaust. In what way is the denial of the Holocaust inherently more repugnant than the depiction of the central figure in the second-biggest religion in the world as a terrorist?

It is perhaps ironic that the newspapers in the US, that self-styled bastion of free speech and the free press, have refrained from publishing the caricatures.

Maybe nobody wanted to be responsible for causing the death of American soldiers in the Middle East. But that is precisely the point: Rights always come with responsibilities.

In the end, these newspapers may well have done much more damage than good to the cause of freedom of speech and press freedom.

Those who advocate the importance of responsibility over freedom will now have more ammunition in demonstrating the dangers of a reckless free press.

And, sadly, they would be right.

The writer is a lawyer commenting in his personal capacity.

Please consider commenting on this. I would love to hear more of your opinion regarding this matter.

Taken from Channelnewsasia.com from Analysis Section.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Subcomandante Bob said...

Tragedy strikes opening ceremonies at Olympics, as only the National Nitwit can cover.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

u really really wanna get bombed aite thomas..may u get what u wanted

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Irzan you make some very interesting points and they make a lot of sense however I think it is only fair that if the KKK can go and parade themselves and people are not allowed to get violent with them. I believe that drawing muhammad in any form should be allowed. Just because there are a lot of them and they are violent does not mean they have the right to tell someone what they can and cannot publish. I do believe the editor should have been fired and protest made but to threaten to behead all of Europe because of it now that is not right.
We have to make a point that threats will not stop freedom of speech or expression no matter how offensive. They can boycott the place,write letters condoning it but to use violence (once again) is oppressive.

One thing I do not accept in the free world is being oppressed.

I immediatly looked for sites that drew muhammad. I drew muhammad myself being spanked by a prostitute. I started collecting sites that showed offensive cartoons of Muhammad just like millions of people around the world are doing in protest to the violence.

I have a collection of pictures that I am spreading around the internet. Just to spite the terrorist.

I am a liberal and normally I am like respect this..and tolerate that..but when someone comes along and threatens my freedom of speech no way in fucking hell am I going to let that happen.

Here The Stranger of Seattle washington printed the drawings.

Hell Muhammad (may piss be upon him)

7:10 PM  

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