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However - you can still apply reality-based reasoning to all of those topics.

E.g. if the argument is that nuclear power provides free, safe energy, it's entirely reality-based to debate if it really does.

If capital punishment is supposed to be the ultimate deterrent, you can ask if it really lowers crime rates.

And so on.

But the authoritarian argument is either 'You should agree with me because I will bully you unless you don't' or 'You must agree with me because I'm right.'

When I linked to Mary Whitehouse earlier it was to remind everyone that it wasn't all that long ago that we had someone famous in the UK appoint themselves as a guardian of public morals based solely on their personal religious prejudices, who took it upon themselves to harangue creative people if they produced anything she didn't like.

The argument - ultimately - was the same as Katrin's, i.e. 'This offends me so no one should do it.'

While a lot of people aren't happy about the state of public morality in the UK at the moment, I doubt many outside of religion feel that porn on TV, gay sex and swearing are the major moral challenges of the day.

The real breakdown has been in the morality of authority - and it was already starting while Whitehouse was fulminating.

All she did was distract from it with emotionally charged trivia that threw red meat to the 'moralists'.

I find a lot of TV ethically unwatchable - either too stupid to bother with, or too loaded with subtexts about greed and cutthroat competition to be comfortable viewing.

Whitehouse was never interested in facts to support her assertions. If she didn't want simulated gay sex in a theatre, she'd start a court case against a play.

Meanwhile the real horrors were happening elsewhere. And she was always far more obsessed with sex than with everyday social violence.

I can't help thinking that seems to be a familiar outcome when you let religious arguments drive your ethics.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 3rd, 2012 at 02:23:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Edit - to clarify, I meant she was always more obsessed by 'her own personal outrage' than about any wider social context, empirical research, or deeper insight into collective morality.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 3rd, 2012 at 02:32:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The argument - ultimately - was the same as Katrin's, i.e. 'This offends me so no one should do it.'

It's not my argument. My argument is that hurting religious feelings is divisive and humiliating. This is an evil in itself, and additionally poisons relations in a society, which is dangerous. I weigh other rights against that right.

After telling me that my argument was the same as Whitehouses's (thanks a lot!) you give a list of nutty positions and still claim:

I can't help thinking that seems to be a familiar outcome when you let religious arguments drive your ethics

Hey! Can you stick to what I say, perhaps, and not what you make up I might say?

by Katrin on Mon Sep 3rd, 2012 at 03:34:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but hurting non religious feelings is also divisive and humiliating.

And since historically the religions have often been doing the division and humiliation - never mind the outright physical violence and emotional and sexual abuse - the balance of power is firmly on the side of the religious.

Still. It might, perhaps, only just be starting to shift in parts of Europe now. But certainly not in most of the rest of the world.

Would you have supported the fatwa against the Danish cartoonists? Or the jail term in the Oz trial?

The fatwa is an analogous situation, with a jail term instead of a death sentence.

The process by which that jail term appears to become justified seems identical to me.

And in any case, it's a red herring - unless you seriously mean to tell me that the membership of the Orthodox Church is so insecure in itself that it can't deal with a very mild version of the in-your-face baiting that atheists in the US have to deal with every day.

It's nice that you're 'weighing the rights' and all. But you don't seem to be weighing them in a particularly disinterested way.

There are many places in the US where you will be ostracised and kept out of employment if you admit you're an atheist, or gay, or simply the wrong kind of Christian.

Why aren't you as outraged about that as you are about the dreadful social poison created by PR's juvenile attention seeking?

Hey! Can you stick to what I say, perhaps, and not what you make up I might say?

So think of an argument more persuasive than 'I'm everso personally offended by this and therefore PR should be punished for it.'

So far after who knows how many hundred words you've simply repeated that over and over.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Sep 3rd, 2012 at 04:53:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but hurting non religious feelings is also divisive and humiliating

Of course. That's why I sort speech hurting religious feelings with racist hate speech and the like. Do you read my posts before you distort them?

Would you have supported the fatwa against the Danish cartoonists?

Not "the" fatwa of course, but the Danish cartoons are indeed the classical example of how insults to religious feelings not only hurt and humiliate people but are a public danger. A thoroughly despicable campaign, these cartoons. But of course there were so called progressives who applauded it because they applaud everything that is against religion. You don't mean to say you are one of them?!

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 02:10:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not "the" fatwa of course, but the Danish cartoons are indeed the classical example of how insults to religious feelings not only hurt and humiliate people but are a public danger.

Wait, so someone else's death threats to me make me a public danger?

Being the naive sod that I am I'd have thought that it was the other way around. But evidently I just don't understand your faithsplaining.

A thoroughly despicable campaign, these cartoons.

Of course, you're performing a very careful contextectomy here.

The cartoons were the response to a publisher pulling a textbook because the publisher received death threats over violating the picture taboo. Going on to flagrantly violate the offended taboo is absolutely the correct response to textbook authors getting death threats over violating a religious taboo.

Because letting religious extremists censor textbooks is, to put it very gently, a betrayal of everything worthwhile that European civilization has accomplished in the last five hundred years.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:24:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The brown skinned people reacted exactly as the initiators of the cartoon campaign had wanted, so don't get over-excited in your moral outrage.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:57:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that a bunch of nasty reactionaries jumped on the bandwagon neither makes the outrage at textbook censorship unjustified, nor the response of perpetuating the sacrilege unmerited.

The proper response to attempts at censorship is to replicate that action which prompted the attempt. I would have thought this to be a universally recognized principle among those of us who do not support censorship. But apparently not.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 04:43:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You can only whine about successful censorship by religious groups because you distort the facts. You even call the refusal to supply illustrations as censorship and "a textbook scrapped". You call a complaint on grounds of personality rights a censorship of political speech. Then you claim a church was public space where you can set the rules. You need to go out a bit and think about why you have nasty reactionaries as allies.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 05:59:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks to me like you also have nasty reactionnaries (the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin) as allies...

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:00:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I have made very clear indeed that my problem with PR is different from theirs, so how are they my allies?
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:06:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And I made very clear that the motives for my support for challenging the Islamic taboo on iconography are different from the motives of reactionary assholes trying to get a cheap laugh out of riling up stupid mullahs.

So again you resort to special pleading. Your objection is really different from Putin's and the Patriarch's objections, but my objection is not really different Ralf Pittelkow's objection. Because you say so, apparently.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:22:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now you are denying that the cartoon campaign offended Muslims, not only mullahs. In the case of PR you deny that the performance offended Christians, not only clerics and Putin.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:30:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm not denying that people were offended.

I'm stating that "people being offended" is not a valid basis for prosecution in a court of law, due to the reducto ad absurdum of such a trial being extremely offensive to some subset of the population. And therefore, under the "offending people is illegal" standard, the trial itself is grounds for prosecution of the prosecutor.

Unless, of course, only religious people are entitled to take offensive speech to court. Which is, of course, what you are consistently arguing, even if you dress it up in morphing ad hoc definitions that let you pretend that you're not arguing against equal protection.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm not denying that people were offended

But you are denying (or shrugging off) that people other than members of clerical hierarchies and Putin were offended. You don't want to admit that the actions you find fine offend ordinary people whom progressives would like to have as allies.

I'm stating that "people being offended" is not a valid basis for prosecution in a court of law, due to the reducto ad absurdum of such a trial being extremely offensive to some subset of the population.

There are much larger subsets of the Russian population who would handle the PR affair in the same way the Lebanese population handled the cartoon affair. If you manage to prevent lawsuits that doesn't mean that the offended people are prevented from all agency... Is that what you want?

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:12:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But you are denying (or shrugging off) that people other than members of clerical hierarchies and Putin were offended. You don't want to admit that the actions you find fine offend ordinary people whom progressives would like to have as allies.

I'm offended by Pussy Riot being put on trial for exercising their inalienable right to free speech.

But somehow the offense I take is less important than the offense you take. I wonder why.

The only equitable way to deal with people being offended at people being offended is to not make "being offended" a valid legal basis for prosecution.

There are much larger subsets of the Russian population who would handle the PR affair in the same way the Lebanese population handled the cartoon affair.

Let's try that again, in a slightly different context: There are much larger subsets of the RussianDixie population who would handle the PR affaircivil rights movement in the same way the Lebanese population handled the cartoon affair.

The proper response to that is and was sending the federal police to impose some overlong delayed civilization on that substantial part of the population.

If you manage to prevent lawsuits that doesn't mean that the offended people are prevented from all agency... Is that what you want?

I want offended people to not resort to violence to express their offense, whether in person or by proxy through the police.

And I want offended people who are not willing to refrain from resorting to violence to express their offense locked up in a psychiatric institution next to Anders Breivik.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:33:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm offended by Pussy Riot being put on trial for exercising their inalienable right to free speech.

Fortunately there is no such thing as that right in Europe. We don't want the incitement of hatred here. Take your barbarian free speech back to the US where it belongs.

Hell. You are really shocking me. I am European.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:57:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The criminalization of incitement of hatred is not generally taken to mean inciting hatred against yourself. That is normally held to be its own punishment.

I am also more than a little disturbed by your apparent refusal to totally, unambiguously and unequivocally condemn any and all risk of violence that might have arisen against Pussy Riot if they had not been put through a formal witch trial.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:16:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's the most important rationale behind this sort of legislation: to maintain peaceful relations in society. It's not only the injury of hate speech or the danger that this develops into physical violence. It's the reaction too that is prevented by putting a lid on all this.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:21:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to maintain peaceful relations in society

So we have to allow people prone to violent reactions to dictate the law so they don't react violently?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:23:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If driven far enough we all are prone to violent reactions.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:46:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what harassment laws are for.

In none of the cases under discussion did the "offenders" accost or pursue the "offended" with the intent to cause them distress.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:49:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If driven far enough we all are prone to violent reactions.

But reacting violently to a YouTube video would be considered grounds for psychiatric evaluation if the contents of the video were not blasphemous.

I'm just saying it should also be if the contents of the video are blasphemous.

Unless it's a part of a wide-spread, long-term campaign of harassment. Which Pussy Riot is not, except in the deluded fantasies of conspiracy merchants.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:54:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Blasphemy isn't the issue. It is really ridiculous that you deny that in a church the church can dictate which behaviour is allowed and which is not.

Mind, there are cases where a line must be drawn. Where it is difficult to decide which behaviour to criminalise and which not. This doesn't apply here, because the performance was in a church.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:03:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except that you have repeatedly refused to specify precisely what happened inside the church which merits such outrage. Because the actual outrage with which you sympathize is directed at a video on YouTube which could just as easily have been clipped together from stock footage, without Pussy Riot ever setting foot inside the church in question, or indeed within eight time zones of said church. The events in the church are wholly incidental to the moralistic thuggery.

The standard you repeatedly appeal to - consistently with the outrage being about the YouTube video rather than anything that happened in the church - is "offends religious sentiments." Blasphemy offends the religious sentiments of many people. Therefore, criminalization of blasphemy is a subset of the standard you propose.

You further propose that any building that a religious group uses for its occasional get-togethers should be subject to religious law at all other time, no matter its wider historical, aesthetic, cultural or architectural significance. That is a monopolization of cultural heritage which I frankly also find objectionable.

Mind, there are cases where a line must be drawn. Where it is difficult to decide which behaviour to criminalise and which not.

I'm not necessarily asking you to draw the line. I'm asking you to commit to an objective standard which can be applied by a disinterested, and therefore necessarily secular, observer.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:21:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not necessarily asking you to draw the line. I'm asking you to commit to an objective standard which can be applied by a disinterested, and therefore necessarily secular, observer.

Because we're assuming that if it comes to that, the judge presiding over a court case should be described as disinterested (and, therefore, secular).

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:34:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the point of having courts is to have cases reviewed by a disinterested arbiter.

There is a name for the sort of society where there are different kinds of courts for different religious or ethnic groups, and you cannot appeal to a universal standard of jurisprudence. We call such a society "apartheid."

There is also a name for societies which raise the prejudices of a single religious group to the level of universal standard of jurisprudence. We call such a society "theocracy."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Increasingly, there are suggestions of incorporating religious law into European personal law. There was something about that in Britain some years ago
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, sparked a stormy debate when he appeared to suggest that some aspects of Sharia law should be adopted in the UK.
Brilliant gambit, where an Anglican Archbishop uses "tolerance of cultural differences" and Sharia to get Anglican law back into British personal law.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:28:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's nothing in principle wrong with the model of allowing religious people to resolve their differences using religious arbiters rather than real courts. Provided that using the religious arbiter requires informed consent from all parties to the case, and that the case can be appealed to a real court.

Then again, some elements of Sharia are already in European legal codes. Because Sharia contains a bunch of commonsense rules that every society needs, and which, therefore, the Sharia contains alongside all the bonkers stuff.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:43:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK has Christian, Jewish, and Islamic religious courts and they work without too many problems, on the whole. As Jake mentions they are voluntary, both parties must agree to have their matter resolved there. There was absolutely nothing remarkable in Williams' remarks.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 01:23:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's remarkable if he wants to insinuate the more recondite forms of religious law into the law that the real courts use.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 02:14:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends. Quite possible that Sharia has something to make contract law clearer. Pretty sure that it doesn't for family law. This is a debate that societies have to go through without excluding their Muslim minorities.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:11:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But equally without deferring to them simply on the ground that they happen to not have done the whole "five centuries of telling the church to sit down and shut the fuck up" thing.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:24:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought secularism in public life (as opposed to private life) was the solution Europe had found to wars of religion.

Apparently I was mistaken, and the European solution to wars of religion is self-censorship and closeting of minority beliefs.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:26:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's the most important rationale behind this sort of legislation: to maintain peaceful relations in society. It's not only the injury of hate speech or the danger that this develops into physical violence. It's the reaction too that is prevented by putting a lid on all this.

Fun fact: That is, in so many words, the rationale behind banning Gay Pride in many Eastern European cities.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:31:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hardly, even if that is claimed.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:13:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that a true Scotsman I see there? I think that's a true Scotsman. But he puts sugar on his porridge. So apparently he isn't a true Scotsman.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:23:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's about keeping reproduction and sexuality under control. People aren't meant to reflect that sex and sexuality are more ambiguous than they thought.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:50:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know that and I know that, but how're you gonna prove that in a court of law? Judges aren't telepaths. They can't tell fake outrage from real outrage.

Besides, the security risk is very real - pride parades all over eastern Europe have been attacked with broken bottles and worse. So if "religious fanatics might use violence to silence Pussy Riot" is a good enough reason to silence Pussy Riot, then "religious fanatics have demonstrated that they will use violence to silence pride parades" must be an even better reason to ban the latter.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 04:15:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The security risk is very real, but the outrage isn't. There is nothing spontaneous about it either.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 04:39:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And how do you propose that a court of law tell the difference between sincere and fake outrage? Since you're proposing to make sincere outrage the standard for prohibition, you really need a clear, simple, straightforward, honest answer to that.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 04:41:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't propose at all that a court of law decides that. For the legislator the prevention of violence is the rationale to become active and make laws so that people can have the insult to what they hold dear (and the humiliation that causes) punished by law.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 04:50:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So every religious taboo which it is illegal to break should be on a blacklist?

That'll be a joy for parliament to write.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 04:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Personality rights do not prohibit political satire of public figures.

Claiming that they do is obviously frivolous, and in the pertinent cases clearly motivated by religious bigotry.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:12:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If that was obvious instead of ambiguous, Titanic would have the pictures back online. Good to know that you know the law better than their lawyers.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:33:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, what? If the attempted censorship fails, it's not valid because it failed, and if the attempted censorship succeeds, it's not valid because there was a legal basis for the censorship?

Holy unfalsifiable hypothesis, Batman.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:49:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it succeeded, you could rightfully lament the power of religious communities to exercise censorship. Since there are no (contemporary) cases of that, you are either hopelessly behind the times or you are fantasising.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:00:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You keep forgetting the how to cook a Christ case, where hundreds of thousands of Euros were posted as bail to avoid preventative jailing for a case that was subsequently thrown out.

That definitely has a chilling effect. Of course it doesn't succeed in censoring the content, but it succeeds in harassing the author.

But since, as a Lutheran, you're an iconoclast, you don't care. While you do care about the Danish cartoon controversy.

How confusing.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:06:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry to confuse you, and I keep forgetting that case, which is because I can't fathom what this video does with the feeling of Catholics, and what the history of publication of that video is (I suspect the video was difficult to find in order to be outraged, yes?), and what kind of laws were used to harrass the author. Do you think this case is typical for the problem Jake cites?

Mind, I do not deny that there are laws that ought to be abolished: all blasphemy laws for instance. Or laws forcing religion on all schoolchildren.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:28:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it is unjust to prosecute blasphemers, then what about the sincere moral outrage that religious people feel when they learn that someone has blasphemed?

For that matter, what was the cartoon jihad about if not blasphemy?

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:35:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For that matter, what was the cartoon jihad about if not blasphemy?

A campaign to incite hatred against immigrants and Muslims. By the way, it was not against any law. A pity. Humiliating Muslims is legal. You are aware that your argument of protection for a minority applies here, aren't you? Astonishing that you support this despicable campaign.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:44:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the argument for supporting oppressed minorities applies here.

However, in this particular case it must be weighted against the equally legitimate argument that people were attempting to enforce a blanket ban on pictorial depiction of a historical figure. Such a blanket ban must be opposed, because it is far too wide reaching to legitimately claim to be concerned with hate speech.

I find the latter argument more persuasive. The mullahs were not demanding legitimate protection from hate speech. They were demanding the intrusion of an extremist caricature of Islam into general society.

The fact that legitimate and proper backlash against the meritless intrusion of backwards religious dogmatism into secular society creates an opportunity for racist hate speech when the meritless intrusion is committed by an oppressed minority is regrettable, but probably not avoidable. Unless you want to give oppressed minorities a blank check to engage in any or all antidemocratic behavior simply because they are an oppressed minority. Which is a bridge I am not quite prepared to cross.

In any event, the Russian Orthodox Church obviously cannot claim the need for any such protection. Rather, it is Pussy Riot which can clearly claim the need for protection from the Russian Orthodox Church.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:27:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that legitimate and proper backlash against the meritless intrusion of backwards religious dogmatism into secular society creates an opportunity for racist hate speech when the meritless intrusion is committed by an oppressed minority is regrettable, but probably not avoidable. Unless you want to give oppressed minorities a blank check to engage in any or all antidemocratic behavior simply because they are an oppressed minority. Which is a bridge I am not quite prepared to cross.

Now we can discuss clitoris ablation for another 400 comments.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:30:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what kind of laws were used to harrass the author

I have actually quoted the applicable law in the subthread.

I can't fathom what this video does with the feeling of Catholics

It mocks the Descent from the Cross, the Stigmata, the Holy Sepulchre and the Resurrection. Apart from proposing actually eating a Christ.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:24:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
Apart from proposing actually eating a Christ.

they got anticipated on that one...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:32:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have actually quoted the applicable law in the subthread.

Sigh. I'll try and find it in this jungle.

Apart from proposing actually eating a Christ.

Er, what is wrong with that?

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:44:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The same that is wrong with suggesting that the Communion is cannibalism (that would see you sued for blasphemy, or for offending believers, pretty quick).

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:45:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, you personally as a Lutheran would not be offended by jokes about transubstantiation, so that makes them okay?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:49:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sigh. Apparently you did misunderstand what I wanted to express there, when I used those words: there are a few things that must be explained to me, because they are not my background. Catholic or Buddhist or Copimist rites and the related sensitivities for instance.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:27:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You also said in relation to the Christophagy that since as a Lutheran (again) you don't believe in the holiness of images you did not see what was so offensive about the video.

So it all appears to come down to whether you share the personal outrage.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:29:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And now I have clarified twice.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:51:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sigh. I'll try and find it in this jungle.

Hint: the Krahe case discussion starts in its own top-level comment, joking about taking a poll.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:46:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There was an American case a while back where a kid took one of the sanctified crackers out of the church to show it to a friend.

I don't remember whether the parish sued over this gross mistreatment of their holy cracker. But several parishioners did threaten to put the kid in a hospital.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:02:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why are we suddenly interested in American cases?
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:28:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because we're talking about thin-skinned, violently repressive religious bigotry.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:30:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because we're talking about thin-skinned, violently repressive religious bigotry deeply hurt religious feelings.

FIFY.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:42:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because we are talking about your proposal that "offend religious feelings" should be a criminal offense.

Examples of actions that hurt religious feelings, and therefore would be criminal under the standard you propose, are germane to the discussion.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:38:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh, the leaking pope? The cock-cross? Cooking a crucifix?

But of course since those campaigns of censorship were successful, you are now going to deny that they were motivated or successful based on religious bigotry.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:12:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The leaking pope is citing protection of his privacy, just as the leaking Jake could (being a VIP helps him, but that's not necessarily being a religious sort of VIP. Compare the photos of Merkel's naked arse, which were printed in Britain, but not in Germany.)

The cock-cross was blasphemy. We are in agreement there: scrap all blasphemy laws.

Cooking Christ: Possibly. I expect Mig will enlighten us what law that was. So possibly you can cite one single case in all of Europe, namely in Spain, which has not yet gotten rid of all ghosts of Franquism, and is perhaps not THAT representative for all Europe. And even that ended in an acquittal.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:37:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The leaking pope is citing protection of his privacy,

Again: Claims of privacy protection can have no merit whatever when directed against satire of a public figure.

Further, the fact that this particular picture, and only this, was pulled, despite many similarly baseless challenges to the magazine, supports the contention that the Papacy gets special treatment. De facto if not de jure.

Compare the photos of Merkel's naked arse, which were printed in Britain, but not in Germany.)

But those are not comparable, because those photos involve Merkel's actual ass, not a satirical photoshop of Merkel mooning somebody.

The cock-cross was blasphemy. We are in agreement there: scrap all blasphemy laws.

What is the objective difference between Pussy Riot's video? (The video itself, leaving aside what they did in church, because that's not the point - the video would have been equally offensive if they had used stock footage and claimed to have filmed it in church, and lying about where you shot a picture is not in and of itself a crime.)

Cooking Christ: Possibly. I expect Mig will enlighten us what law that was. So possibly you can cite one single case in all of Europe, namely in Spain, which has not yet gotten rid of all ghosts of Franquism, and is perhaps not THAT representative for all Europe. And even that ended in an acquittal.

That it ended in acquittal does not matter. It was not summarily dismissed, the defendant was not awarded damages for the cost, wasted time and distress incurred, nor were the vexatious litigants slapped down hard enough to provide a reasonable deterrent against future frivolous lawsuits.

Considering that the Catholic Church is a transnational corporation with an annual profit comparable to the GDP of a small country, that outcome is not reassuring at all: The church can afford to sponsor such a lawsuit every day until the heat death of the universe and not even make a dent in their propaganda budget.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is back on their website right now.

Also the following cover:

by generic on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 05:35:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I expect Mig will enlighten us what law that was.

Two days ago, in response to a comment of yours. The plaintiffs were proud that it was the first time anyone was prosecuted under that article of Spanish law.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:43:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Personality rights do not prohibit political satire of public figures."

That is not true. public figures still do have personality rights, if somewhat limited.

by IM on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 03:27:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Political satire does not negate personal privacy; it just pushes the boundaries.

(I assume that privacy is what is meant when talking about "personality rights" - which sounds like a tradeable commodity, e.g. "You're not allowed to publish my photo in the newspaper, I've sold my personality rights to Fabergé")

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Wed Sep 5th, 2012 at 04:27:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, I give up.

You're basically saying that you're fine with religious types issuing death threats because - you know - that's just what some religious people do. And people shouldn't tweak that because it's just asking for trouble.

And then you wonder why progressives might have issues with religion.

And no, sadly, this is not some reductio ad absurdum. You really do seem to believe this, and you really do seem to think it's morally and ethically justifiable to believe it.

I have nothing to add to this thread.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:05:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not fine with issuing death threats. You are inventing that. I am saying that the racist and Islamophobian scum that started the cartoon campaign deliberately brought this violent reaction about.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:42:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The death threats preceded the cartoons.

In the reality-based community, effect is not generally considered to precede cause.

The proper response to death threats against textbook authors and publishers is to create such a target-rich environment that the deranged, violent extremists cannot actually make good on the threat to suppress the activity.

If that gives some racists some cheap yucks, well shrug Protecting authors and publishers from deranged, violent fanatics is more important than not giving racists cheap yucks.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:57:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The death threats preceded the cartoons

You don't mind substantiating that statement, do you?

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:03:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I don't mind at all.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:08:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The article by Ritzau discussed the difficulty encountered by the writer Kåre Bluitgen, who was initially unable to find an illustrator prepared to work with Bluitgen on his children's book

So there was NOT a textbook scrapped. No censorship. There was an author trying to employ an illustrator, and refusals to do this work.

The first one to decline the job was a Muslim, who refused on religious grounds (not menitoned in the Wikipedia article). Then there were refusals because people THOUGHT there could be violence from Muslims, but there weren't any real threats.

Only after the cartoon campaign of Jyllands Posten there were death threats and riots.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be true if you conveniently ignore the actual cases of people being murdered and assaulted over similar matters.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:41:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was the impression the authors of the cartoon campaign wanted to convey: that Muslims are a menace. It is something I dispute.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:57:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, that people who will issue death threats over making drawings are a threat.

The point appears to be that making representations of Mohamed is a profanation of the holy.

So maybe the problem is that people who believe in the holy are a threat, because they are liable to get unreasonably worked up over actions which they perceive to be a profanation of the holy.

Since the definition of what's holy and what behaviours are profanations of the holy seem to be completely conventional (given the very large numbers of religions disagreeing over what's holy and what's profanation), maybe the problem is the very concept of the holy.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:04:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First there was the cartoon campaign that aimed at showing how primitive these brown skinned people are, and then there were the death threats.

And at no point was there the question to Muslims in Europe which protection of their interests they want, and a debate if the majority wanted to grant this protection.

And then, oh surprise, there was violence.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:35:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That debate was pretty effectively pre-empted by a gaggle of extremist Danish mullahs who decided to go on a tour of various Mideastern banana republics with a doctored set of pictures.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:14:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the assault on a Copenhagen university professor was not an "impression the authors of the cartoon campaign wanted to convey," unless you are going into tin-foil hat territory and claiming that it was staged for public consumption by the authors of the cartoon campaign.

Nor were the several political assassinations of high-profile anti-Islamists. Now, some of those assassinated arguably did the European culture a favor by shrugging off this mortal coil, but that does not make assassination somehow OK or non-threatening to legitimate anti-clerical activism.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:06:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First there was the cartoon campaign, then there was the related violence. Not the other way round. And nobody had to scrap a textbook.

It would be an interesting debate if Danish Muslims would tell us what illustrations they would find proper in a children's book about the prophet Mohammed. Instead there was a campaign to teach the primitives how civilised people behave.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:39:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First there was the cartoon campaign, then there was the related violence. Not the other way round.

No, that's simply a lie. It doesn't get more true because you repeat it. The cartoons were published after a professor at the University of Copenhagen was bodily assaulted for reading from the Koran.

It would be an interesting debate if Danish Muslims would tell us what illustrations they would find proper in a children's book about the prophet Mohammed.

A large part of the controversy centered around the question of who gets to speak for "the Danish Muslims." Because their self-appointed spokesmen are a gaggle of extremist nutcases whose representativeness is very much in doubt, and whose ideological home is somewhere slightly to the right of Russian Orthodox Patriarch.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:21:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that is not what the authors of the cartoon campaign claimed they wanted to convey.

They may have wished to convey that those who claim special privileges for Islam are a menace. This is abundantly verifiable.

You may be interested to know how the controversy played in France, which offers relatively little in the way of protection for religious feelings.

The Danish cartoons were published by France Soir, a paper with a right-wing editorial line, and by Charlie Hebdo, a scurrilous scatological lefto-greeno-republican weekly. This provoked "lively debate", and a couple of attempts of prosecution by a confederation of Moslem organisations under a law forbidding insults to a group of people based on their religious beliefs.

They lost : it was judged that the drawings satirized Moslem extremists, not Moslems as a group.

Last year, they were preparing a special issue (named Sharia Hebdo) to commemorate the electoral victory of the Islamist party in Tunisia, when the premises of the paper were destroyed by arson (never fear, the paper is still alive and well).

My perception is that the paper demonstrated that it is indeed OK to caricature religions and religious beliefs in France, with no exceptions. This ought to be obvious to everyone, and it's a shame that they had to demonstrate it by putting themselves and their paper at risk.

I'm very glad they did it, and I believe that they have improved the integration and insertion of Moslems into French society, which was their intention.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:25:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You are right, the authors claimed other aims.

In my view the French version of the relation between state and religion only works if minorities are very small. French secularity keeps the Catholic church in their place, and all other religions don't count. 5% Muslims is too strong a minority for that.  

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:45:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if it doesn't work in France, it presumably can't work anywhere.

The issue in France (and to a lesser extent, elsewhere in Europe) is that a society which has been secularized, i.e. is no longer intimidated by vested religious interests and therefore has no religious taboos in the debate of ideas, is effectively being asked (by a Muslim minority) to take a step backwards into the obscurantist past.

And is saying no. Quite rightly, and fairly successfully overall, in my view.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 10:53:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I dispute that we live in secularised societies! We mostly respect religious taboos (we only notice them when they change) and we have some kind of balance of powers between state and religion. The appearance of a new player disturbs the balance.

Funny turn the discussion is taking now. So the real enemy is Muslims?

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 11:15:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But I dispute that we live in secularised societies!

You told Jake recently Take your barbarian free speech back to the US where it belongs.

I feel compelled to ask you to take your religious society to the US where it belongs.

Now seriously, this is the time to point out that secularism, separation of church and state, and freedom of conscience are three separate concepts.

I was of the opinion that, by and large, the US had freedom of conscience and separation of church and state, but it wasn't a secular society; on the other hand, Europe tends to have freedom of conscience and a secular society but no separation of church and state.

Is this one of those cases where you can pick two out of three?

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 11:32:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have the impression (I am open to correction) that France enjoys all three. I believe this to be a relatively enviable state of affairs, and well worth defending.

I deplore any regression in this respect, beit in France, Russia, or the Maghreb, for example.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 11:40:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe if you scratch the illusion of secularity a bit, you'll see how thin it is. In Germany Catholics and Lutherans are about one third of the population each. Small fry and no religion is the last third. Especially in the rural parts the Churches are everywhere (in the west). I don't know what is secular in that. We are more concerned with balancing the two Churches against each other (yes, the two Churches. A church is founded by Peter or by Martin Luther, everything else is a sect) than with secularity.

So it's not even a case of picking two out of three.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:07:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what is secular in that.

What temporal power do the churches have? If the answer is none, then the society is secular. It's not about how many people profess or practice religion. It's about whether the churches get to dictate behaviour, education, dress codes, sexual morals, etc... or not.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:13:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The government collects a tithe on their behalf: that's pretty non-separational of Church and State.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:24:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It does that in Denmark as well. In Denmark, what that means is that substantially the church's entire revenue stream goes through the central government bureaucracy.

That's a good system, which has worked perfectly well since the 16th century. My only complaint is that it isn't open to all the other religions who might wish to enjoy similar state support place their budgetary decisions in the hands of treasury officials...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:38:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And in Italy you have no choice but to pay it, though a few years ago they started letting you specify alternatives to the Church to give the money to.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 02:14:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Churches have influence on politics, on public broadcasters where they have seats, and they teach the regular religion classes in schools (except in the three city states, where they fight to get that right). And that's only the influence where they have formal legal rights, not even the informal influence.

Then there is the funding: if you owe your church money every month, because you are a member, the state will collect it for them with the income tax. There are hidden funds too.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:41:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And the state tax authorities keep track of people's religious affiliation.

Big yikes!

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:42:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. State tax authorities mark marital status, number of children, membership of church on a card which you then hand to your employer (!) who transfers the taxes on your wage directly to the state.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:51:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Formal legal rights = seats on public broadcasters + teaching religion in schools + administration of voluntary religious tax. OK, that gives them an undue influence on the formation of public opinion, so I guess that, according to Migeru's definition, Germany fails the "separation of church and state" test.

What are the "hidden funds"? Sounds exciting.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:56:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is exciting. The churches run social services, hospitals, kindergarten and are refunded for the costs. The are paid for teaching religion in schools. Their priests study in public universities subjects that are decided by the Church, not the state, but the Churches can't be bothered to pay for that. Then there are some historical hangovers which we are told we can't change. In Bavaria bishops are paid by the state and the like.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:32:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So Germany is much like Minnessotta :)

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:14:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what is secular in that.

I interpret 'secularity' mostly in the sense that religiosity is a private matter. In stark contrast with the situation in the US where public shows of piety are almost required of politicians and public figures, in most of Europe they are frowned upon, discouraged, or they are simply not done. Even Christian Democrats keep a low profile, by and large. I may be mistaken, but even in the case of German President Gauck, the fact that he's a pastor is secondary to his reputation as a dissident against the DDR regime. Merkel doesn't make a big production out of being the daughter of a pastor either.

Maybe the fact of appointing Gauck President is a turning point, just like Sarkozy appears to have tried to inject just a bit too much of Catholicism in his political rhetoric.

If you are not convinced, try it on someone who has not been entirely debauched by economics. — Piero Sraffa

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 02:28:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kindly speak for yourself. I do.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 11:35:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More extensive reply

Funny turn the discussion is taking now. So the real enemy is Muslims?

No, the enemy is not brown people, no, the enemy is not immigrants. No, the enemy is not Muslims. Your introduction of this strawman is repugnant.

If you imagine that there is a balance of powers between state and religion in France, then you are ignorant of French society. (It's true that the clergy are on the state payroll in Alsace, that's a historical vestige similar to the fact that the motorways are toll-free in Brittany.)

It's possible that such a balance of powers truly exists in Germany -- after all, the major government party has the word "Christian" in its name -- but this too is a historical vestige, destined to disappear as (if?) society progresses.

The Catholic church in France no longer attempts to challenge the secular state in power games, it merely struggles to maintain its declining cultural influence. It happens that the only challenges to the secular state of affairs tends to come, these days, from Muslims.

Acceding to such demands would be a civilizational regression.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 11:56:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We mostly respect religious taboos (we only notice them when they change)

But, and this is the key point, when religious taboos are challenged, they are expected to yield. "This is taboo in my religion" is not a more valid argument for making public policy than "I think it's icky."

In practice, this means that Christianity enjoys a measure of privilege that Islam does not, due to simple institutional inertia. The solution to that is to remove Christianity's unfounded and unmerited privileges, not to introduce medieval barbarism in favor of Islam.

and we have some kind of balance of powers between state and religion.

No, we really don't, at least not north of the Eider or west of the Rhine.

The Catholic Church, of course, works incessantly to inject itself into European politics. But by and large it is losing.

Which is as it should be.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 12:33:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i'm with katrin about using political protest in churches, people deserve a place where they can get some peace and quiet in today's world. there are plenty of situations where PR's (valid) protest could have been staged without offending 'innocent bystanders' who are communing with their faith.

like outside the church! just as effective, probably more, and doesn't scare the horses.

i bet jake has some situations where he would like to be protected from the likes of PR from barging in and creating chaos where he was enjoying the serenity of a peaceful gathering of like minded people. economics class maybe? some economics classes are probably as riddled with prejudice and error as a patriarch's, voodoo under a different name...

as for the cartoons, i think that's yelling fire in a crowded theatre. stupid and socially destructive.

if your opponent gets crass or aggressive, it doesn't mean you have to double down the provocation, that's escalation.

there are smarter ways to unite people than mocking what's important to them, and i think we're way past the point of needing to evolve those.

freedom needs to be handled responsibly or it's just carelessness.

thing is, jake argues his case so well, it's impossible to refute it... intellectually. a textbook moment for emotional intelligence, methinks.

also i would guess katrin and jake are probably in fundamental agreement about most of the really important issues, and this is an exercise in reviewing what free speech really is, and if (like a free market), it's realistic to expect some regulation to be of benefit, even though there will always be absolutists and professional decriers of any regulation in both fields.

the core issues are the social and political valence of religion in secular societies, the freedom to gather and practice some form of worship in peace, and whether deliberate polemicising is truly free speech or just plain stupid, or worse, shit-stirring, flame baiting, playing with matches at a refinery. jake's totally right that these religious leaders who meddle in politics should not be protected by some sanctified imitation of respect, any particular reverence. katrin's totally right in that the left will never have significant power in politics unless people of faith are perceived as worthy of understanding as anyone else, and welcomed, or they will continue to create unholy alliances with the right, with the bad outcomes we are used to from that combo.

free speech is one of the only tools left for bettering our reality, so i'd be the last one to want it gone, but it should be used with taste, otherwise it has a backwards effect.

PR are just loudmouth kiddy prankster/attention hounds trying to win the outrage olympics, or possibly some kind of even-more-deranged-than-usual psy-ops.

they may well be backfiring more people into putin's arms with this puerile acting out. of course without a stupid media they would be insignificant.

lady gaga they ain't.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:38:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Good. The essence of this thread. Why did we need so many words?
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 06:43:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because neither you nor melo has as yet articulated a legal standard by which Pussy Riot's video (or the Muhammad cartoons) are criminal, but selling a t-shirt with religion is the opiate of the people on it could not be credibly argued to be legal.

Unless you want courts of law to judge artistic or literary merit. Which is about the dumbest legal proposal I've heard since the last revision of the Danish terrorist law.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:05:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i guess it would have to be hammered out in court, where that line be drawn.

how many trampled to death in unfiery thetres did it take before we realised absolute anything is bad news?

straw man, yes, but so is the opiate tshirt lol.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:55:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, the opiate t-shirt is based on long experience with American fundagelicals - this is one of the Marxian adages that they go totally apeshit over.

(It's also a severely contextectomized Marxian adage, but that seems to be standard practice for religious outrage.)

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:58:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh no. Do you really believe that it was ever legal to shout fire in a nonfiery theatre? The quote is from Justice Holmes' awful ruling against someone who was campaigning against the draft in WW1, which he compared to shouting fire in a theatre. To be fair to Holmes, he spent much of the rest of his career making up for this verdict (which was unanimous anyway), but whenever I hear someone use this quote, my instinctive reaction is to think him a hypocrite.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:02:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The line between the two is difficult to hit, that's why. But it's there, because it is two different concepts.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:39:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The loudest bigot? The most extremist bigot? The millionth most extremist bigot? The most violence-prone bigot (as you have suggested elsewhere)? A comparison to the standard set by an impartial (and therefore, by definition, secular) observer?

I'm fine with laws that create edge cases. I'm not fine with laws that allow the most hateful bigots in society to impose their views on the rest of us.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 09:46:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think there is a danger of that. What should make them so influential?
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:44:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A law empowering people to demand prosecution based on nothing more than wounded pride would do that. Maybe not the single most intolerant bigot. But certainly the millionth most intolerant bigot.

Which is still way the Hell and gone over on the wrong side of the bell curve.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:50:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so many words?

that's how ET rolls!

because these issues are nothing if not nuanced, and we have been puzzling, litigating and warring over them for millennia, so 500 comments is another tiny dent.
what's fascinating about this thread is how articulately -and passionately- the arguments are being re-laid out, on all sides.

discordant? sure...

but anthropologically riveting.

:)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 08:50:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well yes - but there's a wider issue about who gets to define public morality for the public.

Generally, religions - closely followed by capitalists - like to feel they have a monopoly on that.

And you do - absolutely and reliably - get protests, sometimes violent, often legal, whenever anyone who isn't in one of those groups tries to challenge those 'rights.'

I'd perhaps be more inclined to give religions a pass if there was a counterbalancing institution that explicitly encouraged positive public morality in a non-religious way.

The closest thing we have is TV and the media, which are too chaotic and contradictory to count.

And of course if such a thing existed, it would be protested by the religious and the powerful, because it would be an explicit challenge to their power.

(Realistically - or perhaps cynically, I can't decide - it would probably soon become corrupt anyway.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 07:46:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey! Can you stick to what I say, perhaps, and not what you make up I might say?

What you say is that you demand that the right of definition must be vested with the religious community which claims offense, not with the standard of a hypothetical impartial, disinterested secular observer. That means that, no, we cannot "stick to what you say" today, because, since you are demanding the right of definition, what you might say tomorrow matters as well.

Which is why constitutional democracies generally do not allow special interest groups the right of definition of what constitutes a violation of their rights and prerogatives.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Sep 3rd, 2012 at 07:07:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A hypothetical impartial disinterested secular observer (not even mentioning rabid antireligionists) cannot find anything wrong with pigs in synagogues or elsewhere, or attach special significance to the altar of a church, because the significance is necessarily religiously defined.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 02:11:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A disinterested, impartial, secular observer can of course take issue with a pig in a synagogue, when the power relationship involved makes it a threatening or chilling act.

But Pussy Riot isn't a threat that the Russian Orthodox Church needs to be protected from. The Russian Orthodox Church is a threat Pussy Riot needs to be protected from.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 4th, 2012 at 03:18:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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