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Thu Jan 8, 2015, 03:55 PM

From Tim Wise re free speech & anti-Muslim satire

From his Facebook feed:

As we rightly condemn the senseless and barbaric murders of journalists in Paris can we still manage to have a rational conversation about free speech, without the empty platitudes about how these cartoonists were "heroes?" For instance, I believe it is possible to agree that free speech is an essential value, and that journalists should have the right to say what they want -- even to offend others -- without then proceeding to act as though every act of speech (Just because people have a right to it) is therefore worth defending as to its substance, and that free speech protects one from being critiqued for the things one says. What I mean is this: I have a right, I suppose, to stand in the middle of Times Square and shout racial or religious slurs. And I surely should be able to do that without fear of being murdered for it. This last point in particular is so obvious as to be beyond debate, I would hope. But if I do this, whether in Times Square or in print, it makes me an asshole, and one who deserves to be labeled as such. Not a hero, but an asshole. And I don't become a hero just because I insulted people, some of whom might be even bigger assholes than me, and so dangerous and unstable that they decide to hurt me. People seem to confuse the principle of free speech with the idea that one's speech should be protected from pushback; and while violent pushback is always wrong--always--I am uncomfortable with the idea that we should make heroes out of people whose job appears to have been to insult people they considered inferior to themselves. Especially because, historically, satire has always been about barbs aimed at those who are MORE powerful than oneself (the elite, royalty, the dominant social, economic, political or religious group), rather than being aimed down the power structure at those with less power. To satirize people who are the targets of institutionalized violence (whether for religious or racial or cultural or linguistic or sexual or gendered reasons) is not brave. It's sort of shitty, in fact. Should it be protected legally? Sure. Should those who do it be killed or punished in any way? Of course not. But should we hold them up as exemplars of who we want to be, all the while ignoring how the exercise of their freedom, without any sense of responsibility to the common good, actually feeds acrimony and violence on all sides? I think not. I really think we need to be talking about this.

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 43 replies Author Time Post
Reply From Tim Wise re free speech & anti-Muslim satire (Original post)
gollygee Jan 2015 OP
CJCRANE Jan 2015 #1
reddread Jan 2015 #2
CJCRANE Jan 2015 #4
Spazito Jan 2015 #3
Number23 Jan 2015 #8
Spazito Jan 2015 #10
KittyWampus Jan 2015 #22
Spazito Jan 2015 #29
PotatoChip Jan 2015 #5
CrawlingChaos Jan 2015 #6
TorchTheWitch Jan 2015 #7
Nye Bevan Jan 2015 #9
KittyWampus Jan 2015 #23
MellowDem Jan 2015 #42
oberliner Jan 2015 #11
Bonx Jan 2015 #18
KittyWampus Jan 2015 #25
oberliner Jan 2015 #28
nichomachus Jan 2015 #30
gollygee Jan 2015 #35
MellowDem Jan 2015 #43
sabrina 1 Jan 2015 #12
oberliner Jan 2015 #13
Jappleseed Jan 2015 #14
oberliner Jan 2015 #17
HappyMe Jan 2015 #15
oberliner Jan 2015 #19
HappyMe Jan 2015 #20
oberliner Jan 2015 #21
HappyMe Jan 2015 #24
KittyWampus Jan 2015 #26
oberliner Jan 2015 #34
sabrina 1 Jan 2015 #32
oberliner Jan 2015 #33
Avalux Jan 2015 #39
MellowDem Jan 2015 #16
KittyWampus Jan 2015 #27
MellowDem Jan 2015 #31
gollygee Jan 2015 #36
MellowDem Jan 2015 #41
MineralMan Jan 2015 #37
Avalux Jan 2015 #38
bobclark86 Jan 2015 #40

Response to gollygee (Original post)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 04:09 PM

1. It's a good point. Cartoons were notoriously used to demonize minorities in the past.

That's no excuse for violence, of course, but in terms of pushing the boundaries of freedom of speech, it's all a question of taste.

Very few would promote the anti-Semitic cartoons of the 20th century for example, or caricatures of black people. And many of the Anti-Israeli cartoons in Arab countries are offensive to most people.

So, while freedom of speech is sacrosanct, the actual content in every case is not always something to be lauded.

But then of course, someone might come along and publish all of these different kinds of offensive cartoons to make an even bolder statement.

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Response to CJCRANE (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 04:33 PM

2. and sell military intervention

 

im pretty sure offensiveness has been thoroughly explored, but never was its stock so high.

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Response to reddread (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 04:39 PM

4. Yes, there's an imbalance in the power relationship

both at the social level (dominant culture vs minority) and geopolitical level.

However, the French cartoonists were not part of the state like the Nazi cartoonists, so they very much didn't deserve what happened to them. No cartoonists should suffer those consequences.

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 04:38 PM

3. Kudos to Mr. Wise...

His words capture how I am feeling about this but, until reading this, was having difficulty in articulating my thoughts.

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Response to Spazito (Reply #3)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 06:40 PM

8. I agree, Spaz

This bit in particular:

People seem to confuse the principle of free speech with the idea that one's speech should be protected from pushback; and while violent pushback is always wrong--always--I am uncomfortable with the idea that we should make heroes out of people whose job appears to have been to insult people they considered inferior to themselves.

That pretty much brings it home for me.

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Response to Number23 (Reply #8)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 11:51 AM

10. Hey Number23, it does for me as well...

I can and do condemn the murders without extolling cartoons I find offensive and insulting. Those murdered were victims but that doesn't make them heroes, imo.

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Response to Spazito (Reply #3)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:49 PM

22. Agreed. I was going to post the results of the google "Obama as a monkey" for DU'ers who think

 

it isn't possible to fight for the right to publish satire and simultaneously denounce the content of that satire.

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #22)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 01:07 PM

29. Exactly!

To denounce both the murders and the content of the satirical cartoons is not inconsistent nor is doing so blaming the victims of the murders.

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 04:49 PM

5. He expressed my same thoughts. Only much more eloquently. (nt)

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 05:02 PM

6. PERFECTLY SAID!! Thank you for this!

And now, thanks to your post, I have discovered Tim Wise, with whom I was not previously familiar. I've been reading his site a little bit and he seems awesome. Many thanks!

Boy does this need to be said. Again and again.

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 06:12 PM

7. well said n/t

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Thu Jan 8, 2015, 07:36 PM

9. Sounds like the writer does not realize that Charlie Hebdo ridiculed *every* religion,

and thinks that they only made fun of Islam. Plenty of DUers ridicule all religions; are these folks "sort of shitty"?







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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #9)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:52 PM

23. YOU missed where the satire about Islam was picking on an already beleaguered minority population

 

And while it was an equal opportunity offender its Islamic crap also played into Far Right sentiments.

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #23)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 04:13 PM

42. Islam is an idea...

And it's the dominant oppressor in plenty o societies and worthy of criticism. Maybe Wise will defend the KKK next as a beleaguered minority.

Wise is defending religious privilege.

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 11:56 AM

11. Completely clueless post

 

Showcasing a total misunderstanding of these cartoons.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:38 PM

18. The author's last name must be satire.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #11)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:54 PM

25. You misunderstand the capacity of humans to protect free speech while not necessarily lauding

 

the message being made.

Here's a whole page of satirical images you can not only fight for their freedom of expression but you can also support the message being made. Have fun!


http://www.google.com/search?q=obama+depicted+as+a+monkey&hl=en&gbv=2&prmd=ivns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=nBWwVIj1KNWAsQToqYGwAg&ved=0CAUQ_AU

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #25)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 01:01 PM

28. The author compares the cartoons to shouting racial slurs in Times Square

 

To me, that shows a complete misunderstanding of these cartoons.

As does your comparison of these cartoons to Obama depicted as a monkey.

Christianity and Islam are ideologies that can and should be satirized.

Just because an ideology is labelled a "religion" ought not to shield it from spoofery.

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #25)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 01:11 PM

30. I would defend the right of neo-Nazis

to march in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood -- without saying that I think the neo-Nazis are "heroes" or even more worthy than dog shit.

Defending free speech does not mean that you agree with the speech or even like the people making the speech.

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Response to nichomachus (Reply #30)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:38 PM

35. That is exactly the point Tim Wise is making n/t

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Response to nichomachus (Reply #30)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 04:15 PM

43. Except Charlie Hebdo weren't Nazis...

Criticizing religion is not bigotry. Wise's religious privilege is showing.

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 11:56 AM

12. This is what I always thought satire was about:

Especially because, historically, satire has always been about barbs aimed at those who are MORE powerful than oneself (the elite, royalty, the dominant social, economic, political or religious group), rather than being aimed down the power structure at those with less power.


To satirize the weak isn't heroic in my view.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:25 PM

13. Christianity and Islam are two of the most powerful forces in the world

 

Neither should be off-limits to satire.

Maybe Mormons and Scientologists since they are both tiny minorities ought to be afforded such protection.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #13)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:32 PM

14. Islam is a minority in that country.

 

As it is in the US. The wish to protect some minorities and demonize others is bigotry.

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Response to Jappleseed (Reply #14)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:37 PM

17. Muslims are a minority, not Islam

 

Islam is a religion. Like Christianity. It's an ideology.

Should it be off limits to poke fun of an ideology?

Tea Partiers are a minority in the United States - can we not make fun of their ideology?

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Response to oberliner (Reply #13)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:35 PM

15. lol!

Why would you pick and choose who's religion should be satirized. Or should only the ones you have a bone to pick with be satirized. Magic underwear and scifi aliens are off limits!? No Wicca either?

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Response to HappyMe (Reply #15)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:38 PM

19. Exactly

 

Methinks all religions should be ripe for satire. If we can make jokes about Scientology and Mormonism we should certainly be able to make jokes about Islam.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #19)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:47 PM

20. Draw up some Scientology and Mormon cartoons then.

Make them as juvenile and tasteless as the other cartoons. Lampoon atheists too. Some of them are just as preachy as the worst amongst the fire and brimstone Christian preachers.

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Response to HappyMe (Reply #20)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:49 PM

21. South Park beat me to it

 

That's why I used those two examples.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #21)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:52 PM

24. Okay.

Get to work on those atheist ones then.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #13)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:55 PM

26. Muslims are a minority in France/EUROPE and the Far Right is agitating heavily against them.

 

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #26)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:36 PM

34. Can't we draw a distinction between Muslims, the people and Islam, the ideology?

 

If someone thinks Islam or Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism, the ideology, is stupid - they ought to be able to express that perspective freely.

If someone thinks that Muslims or Christians or Jews or Hindus are <insert negative stereotype here> than that, to me, is something else entirely.

Don't you perceive a difference between being critical of an ideology as opposed to people?

For instance, don't you think we can make fun of the ideology of right-wingers?

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Response to oberliner (Reply #13)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:09 PM

32. Mmm, I disagree regarding 'powerful' in terms of Muslims. I see them in France eg, mostly living

poverty. The reason for the demonstrations a few years ago. And since these cartoons were aimed at a French audience, I don't see how you could describe France's Muslim population as powerful.

Would it be okay to aim similar 'satire' in this country, at minorities?

Very often the reason for adherence to religion is poverty and ignorance. People with no other hope often clint to their 'faith' for some comfort. After all, when they cannot depend on earthly relief, it is comforting to them to believe in a higher power.

So to target what may the only comfort of the powerless, doesn't seem like traditional satire to me.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #32)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:31 PM

33. The ideology of Islam is different from France's Muslim population

 

I think that the two largest religions in the world by far ought to be allowed, and even encouraged to be ridiculed.

If you say that mocking Islam, the ideology, is off limits than I am not sure why you can't say the same for any ideology - at which point you no longer can satirize anything.

There are, for instance, a lot of very poor people in the US who fervently believe in the existence of angels. Or, to use another example, there are a lot of very poor people who are have views about climate change or gun control or immigration that many of us find to be ridiculous and even repugnant.

I don't think their poverty and lack of power ought to put their views on such things under a protective shield.

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Response to sabrina 1 (Reply #12)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:50 PM

39. Who is satirizing the weak?

Please explain what you mean by that. Organized religion is not weak.

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:36 PM

16. It's funny seeing Tim Wise as a defender of privilege...

But that's what he's doing here. He doesn't get the satire, because he can't comprehend religion being on equal footing with other ideas.

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Response to MellowDem (Reply #16)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 12:57 PM

27. talking about privilege- here's a whole array of images you can support/ associate with

 

since apparently we must not only defend the right of satirists to express themselves we must also support every piece of crap they create and every message they deliver no matter.

http://www.google.com/search?q=obama+depicted+as+a+monkey&hl=en&gbv=2&prmd=ivns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=nBWwVIj1KNWAsQToqYGwAg&ved=0CAUQ_AU

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #27)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 01:44 PM

31. Build another straw man while you're at it...

Many of the Hebdo cartoons I saw were aimed up the power structure, Islam is the dominant, oppressive force in many societies, and Tim Wise is a bit too provincial to get that.

And his equation of "religious slurs" with racial slurs shows he thinks religion should get special treatment. It would be similar to the term "conservative slurs". And Conservaphobia, don't forget that. DU would be guilty of both.

No, Wise is defending religious privilege, and he and many on the left in the U.S. don't see it.

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Response to MellowDem (Reply #31)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:41 PM

36. Race and religion are both protected classes, at least in the US. n/t

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Response to gollygee (Reply #36)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 04:08 PM

41. Which points to religious privilege in the US

Religion is an idea. It gets the same protection as an inherent trait because of religious privilege. It's why other ideas aren't given similar protection, like political persuasion. Why is that? Religion is given greater weight in our society than other ideas, and greater leeway. It's privilege.

In fact, religion gets an exemption from anti-discrimibation laws on the same privilege. That's why Churches routinely discriminate against women, and no one bats an eye because of the privilege associated with it.

Religious privilege is what allows people to continue to discriminate in the US legally, and what the right uses to continue discriminating against groups they don't like.

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Response to KittyWampus (Reply #27)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:43 PM

37. Or you can do this search:

http://www.google.com/search?q=George+Bush+depicted+as+chimp

Political satire and caricature targets every politician. It's all the same thing, really.

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:47 PM

38. Tim Wise has no idea what he's angry about.

In the case of Charlie Hebdo, their work is not about insulting people who they think are inferior. It's about attacking and bringing organized religion (not just Islam) to its knees, because they view religion as oppressive, a means to control the masses, which of course is the antithesis of freedom.

Tim needs to read about the Catholic Church and French Revolution and learn that history, otherwise he needs to shut up.

I view those killed as heroes; there is no rule in satire that says it must be palatable. The intention is to jar people out of their conformity. The world would be a horrible place without people brave enough to do it.

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Response to gollygee (Original post)

Fri Jan 9, 2015, 03:53 PM

40. Mocking ISIS and child-raping priests =/= shouting the N-word in Times Square

"To satirize people who are the targets of institutionalized violence (whether for religious or racial or cultural or linguistic or sexual or gendered reasons) is not brave. It's sort of shitty, in fact."

Hahaha! I get it! It's funny because by "targets" he means "perpetrators," because the paper was a left-wing satire rag which mocked authorities who cut off people's heads and rape altar boys. Now, Mr. Wise, THAT is ironic satire!

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