Is Free Speech in Europe confused?

Discussion in 'Politics and Society' started by iBrian, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    On the one hand, publishing cartoons demonising a religion are regarded as Free Speech...

    ...but mention of secular history towards another religion in unapproved ways and it's jail or suspension from public office.

    Seems that Europe doesn't really know what Free Speech is, and is sending very confused messages.

    While there's a tradition within Europe to satirise all public institutions - including religious ones - the Danish cartoons portrayed Islam's central religious figure as a terrorist. Not exactly good taste or little other than inflammatory.

    But disagree with religious-secular history, or refer to it in the wrong way, and your opinion results in strict punishments.

    How badly wrong has Europe got its priorities on Free Speech issues?
     
  2. Faithfulservant

    Faithfulservant Well-Known Member

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    I heard this story on the news and it disturbed me.. I almost wondered if the media exaggerated it to make it news worthy.
     
  3. Faustus

    Faustus Jew In Progress

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    I do think that it's been exaggerated as the story made the rounds- I was hearing from people that this guy got ten years, when in fact he got three. Not that I feel it's acceptable to jail someone for three years based on the denial of the Holocaust. While I agree with those in the article that said Holocaust denial is really anti-Semitism dressed up as intellectual debate (and I think Irving himself acknowledged this by initiating that libel suit against the woman who called him a Holocaust denier, despite the fact that that's just what he is, and he's now admitting it), I don't think that jailing people and such for it is an effective way to address the issue. It just lends more credence to the neo-Nazi claims of things like worldwide Jewish conspiracies to prevent people from speaking out, blah, blah. Now personally, I think people who deny the Holocaust are ignorant and almost always anti-Semitic, but they're entitled to hold that opinion just as I'm allowed to think they're morons. Freedom of speech. Unless this man was doing something to incite violence against Jews or in other ways endangering people (the whole "Fire!" in a crowded theater thing), I don't think jailing is appropriate. Though I do notice that he was certainly backpeddaling pretty fast when it came to either standing up for his views or taking his knocks on this. It strikes me as the behavior of someone who knew quite well that he was peddling anti-Semitic crap that had little basis in reality, and that he's quite willing to abdandon all of it now that it's getting him in trouble is rather telling about his character. Of course, the fact that he's an intellectual wimp and an anti-Semite isn't, again, sufficient reason to try and have the man jailed. The guy seems like quite a piece of work, but part of freedom of speech is that people are allowed to express their opinions even when they're ridiculous, unsubstantiated, ignorant or hateful. You have to take the good with the bad. I will point out, though, that we don't see any reports of Jewish people rioting in the streets or trying to burn down Irving's offices in response to his writings.
     
  4. Faustus

    Faustus Jew In Progress

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    From Wikipedia, this seems to be the crux of the issue:
    If that's the case, then I'm inclined to stand by the Austrians' ruling- if he's being tried and jailed on charges related to illegally entering the country (knowingly at that), then sorry, but he made that bed, and now he can lie in it. If the charges are related to Holocaust denial (that is, he's being convicted under Holocaust denial laws, not immigration-type laws), then I think this does more harm than good.
     
  5. Jack Halyard

    Jack Halyard Hermano Pequeño

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    From what I've read about the charges, David Irving was sentenced to three years for denying the holocaust. IMHO, the only thing the man is guilty of incredible stupidity.
     
  6. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Hi Brian,


    Do you object to the cartoons on the intro of 'have i got news for you'? they satarise all sides. You are correct that europe has a long tradition of satire through cartoons, and it is a sign of health in free speech that this continues.

    Is it wrong to claim an Islamic leader is a terrorist? No, many give thier support to terrorism. My own opinion is that we pay far too much service to political correctness and that very few Islamic sources are so polite about the west.

    As for Holocaust denial...I support what you say Faustus. Jailing a man for this is counter-productive and only serves to to give self-justification to the idiots that are ready to believe in conspiracy theories etc.
    "lest we forget", well perhaps its time we did just that.


    regards

    David
     
  7. cyberpi

    cyberpi Interfaith Forums

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    Yes I notice this. It is a favored tool of both individuals and nations in history to control speech both by propaganda and by censorship. Conflicts are strongly associated with the dividing lines of communication, which all starts with those individuals or groups who ban others whom they deem to be uncivil.

    Naturally it is a serious problem in the USA. Rather than encourage individuals to communicate and interact even more with those who oppose them, today the government leads by example by practicing RENDITION, or even a police WAR on DRUGS... so the 'Jewish problem' of the last century has been replaced by a 'Terrorist problem', a 'Muslim problem', a 'Drug problem', a 'Sex offender problem', a 'Segregation problem', etc... It is not that the problems do not exist, but that the government's solution or the public's solution is often the exact opposite of what would actually solve the problem. The problem is stoked and encouraged.

    Today as I sit in the USA my eye is evil because it only sees what I or my neighbor deems is civil. How shall I deal with my evil eye?
     
  8. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    I think increasingly we do have free speech. The supression of, in the UK, the Thatcher years has gone and the powers that be are much more willing to stand back and let people like myself rant. Why? Because the masses are an apathetic bunch of self-serving dont cares. They happy to settle for middle class mediocrity and the suffering of likes of the people of Darfur are just daily news content and meaningless to their lives. They donate their bit to charity, say the right words, and turn up dutifully to vote in the next puppet of corporate greed. so free speech is not confused....its meaningless and irrelevant to the masses.
     
  9. madeinrussia89

    madeinrussia89 Well-Known Member

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    By pushing this behavior (denying the Holocaust) under the carpet, they are giving it more power than it would have if out in the open and talked about. It becomes more attractive if forbidden.

    Somehow it is okay for Europeans to discriminate against Muslims with hijab bans and cartoons insulting their religious figures, but not to say a thing against Jews or the Holocaust or their whole world falls apart.
     
  10. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    That was exactly the argument at this guys trial, that this is not worthy of jailing but it would be better to simply discredit him in public rather than turn him into a cult hero. Turns out he is still banned from Austria and deported to England but he was out 21 Dec 2006 for time served.

    It appears it doesn't matter what religion it is something always gets someone up in arms. Most bans against hajibs don't go far, and the cartoon thing was decried publicly once it was exposed the reason for the uproar. And of course the Christians weren't quiet when the stewardess couldn't wear her crucifix. We all have our moments and our cross to bear.
     
  11. madeinrussia89

    madeinrussia89 Well-Known Member

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    Right when I think society is going to make a step forward, someone hits the rewind button and we're all stuck with the same **** again.

    Most bans don't go far? As far as I know the French one hasn't been overturned, and Germany is even looking toward installing one.
     
  12. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Admin

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    Could of sworn I read a story recently - think it was Spain - where someone faced jail for "insulting the King". Can't find the story at present, but did seem rather shocking for a modern secular Europe.
     
  13. wil

    wil UNeyeR1 Moderator

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    I can understand a society which wishes to have drivers licenses and facial recognition as the simplest form of identification. As I understand it the problem is with limiting that. Am I wrong?
     
  14. Caimanson

    Caimanson Mind or spirit?

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    Isn't the whole thing more about politics than free speech?
    Perhaps the Germans and the Austrians are still oversensitive about the holocaust, so they act tough to show that they have nothing to do with anti-semitism.
    The stigma of the ugly past.
     
  15. madeinrussia89

    madeinrussia89 Well-Known Member

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    No, you're not wrong. It's just that these societies could do things other than ban hijab altogether. It would be okay for them to get picture IDs without hijab if women were the only ones who looked at their pictures. Problem solved.
     
  16. bob x

    bob x Well-Known Member

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    So males are not allowed to be policemen anymore???
     
  17. madeinrussia89

    madeinrussia89 Well-Known Member

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    Why shouldn't women have the preference to be searched, carded, or photographed by other women only?
     
  18. bob x

    bob x Well-Known Member

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    You are asking for special treatment that you are not entitled to. Most traffic patrol is by men: of course there are some women out there, but they are a minority. If you cannot abide being pulled over by a man, then be like the Saudi women and just stay off the road.
     
  19. Muslimwoman

    Muslimwoman Coexistence insha'Allah

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    This may help the discussion, inshallah:

    Obviously if a woman was going to be searched she should be allowed to insist on a female, be that a police officer or doctor.

    Question: As-Salamu `alaykum. I was watching a TV program that broadcasts some court cases. When I tuned to this channel, it was about a Muslim woman who is suing the State of Florida's Vehicle and License Department because it asked her to remove her face veil (niqab) so that an ID photo can be taken. One of the Muslim leaders in that state was on the cross-examination and argued that the woman can remove her niqab only in case of death!

    What would you say to Muslim women who live in the West generally and in the US particularly about the issue of niqab? Is it so difficult to remove the niqab that she must file a case against the State, which doesn't even require her to uncover her hair, as some states do require for the drivers' license?

    Answer: Dear brother, we commend your eagerness to become well acquainted with the teachings of Islam, which is the way Allah has chosen for the welfare of His servants.

    As for your question, bear in mind that the majority of Imams — including those of the four schools of fiqh as well as others — hold the opinion that a woman is not obliged to cover her face and hands. However, a group of scholars, the majority of whom belong to the Hanbali School, teach that a woman must cover her face and hands as well.

    It goes without saying that Muslims precede others in keeping the public interest and security of the nation. Therefore, if the law governing a given country requires uncovering the face of the woman for genuine reasons, such as identification, the Muslim woman, like all other women, abides by the law.

    In response to your question, the prominent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Muhammad Iqbal Nadvi, Imam of Calgary Mosque, Alberta, Canada, and Former Professor at King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, states:

    “The issue of niqab (covering the whole body including the face and hands) is a basic condition of hijab (Muslim woman’s dress) in one school of fiqh, while it is recommended part of hijab in other schools. But what is agreed upon in all schools is to remove the niqab[i.e., to uncover the face]) for some genuine reasons such as identification or medical purpose.

    The case you mentioned may be a reason to remove the niqab if the police officer is in need to do so, and there is a legal requirement by the law to show the face, regardless of the faith and this applies to all faiths.

    However, this should not be a way of discrimination against a veiled woman just to tease her. Therefore, the sister has to insist on her right to use niqab and fight for this right IF she is targeted for discrimination and the law does not require showing the face.”

    Dr. Rif`at Fawzi, professor of Shari`ah at Cairo University, adds:
    “It is permissible, as far as Shari`ah is concerned, to remove the niqab (face cover) for some genuine reasons such as identification or to get a photo for ID or driving license.
    Therefore, if a Muslim woman is asked to remove the face cover to get a photo for such genuine reasons, then she is permitted to do so and Almighty Allah will forgive such matters. Added to that, she will keep the photo and such matters are pardoned for the facilitation of the affairs of people.”
     
  20. bob x

    bob x Well-Known Member

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    A person ought to be identifiable at all times. New York City (perhaps other places, but I know of New York) has a general statute left over from the 19th century, making it a misdemeanor to appear in public with your face masked: this is, I expect, seldom or never enforced, but I heard about it when the KKK wanted to march, and as a matter of "free speech" were allowed to have their parade but not to hood their faces; I don't think you would ever get arrested for wearing a "balaclava" or "ski-mask" in the winter time, but in the summer you might be arrested for that, since only thieves and gunmen have reason to hide their faces.
     

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