Much talk in the blogosphere today about the refusal of Borders and Waldenbooks to carry this month’s issue of Free Inquiry because it reprints Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons of Mohammed. Not much talk, though, about another magazine’s brave decision not only to publish the cartoons, but to put the most provocative one right on its cover.
Submitted for your approval, courtesy of fearless editor Robert Bidinotto, the Winter 2006 issue of The New Individualist:
I’d tell you all to ask for it at your local newsstand, but … c’mon.
Robert Bidinotto’s got a blog of his own and he discusses the new cover here. He’s also penned an open letter to Borders. For more on Borders, don’t miss LGF’s latest post, which demonstrates just how incidental the cartoons are to the real agenda at work here. Meanwhile, Jeff Goldstein reports that the Western Standard and Jyllands-Posten are being sued for re-printing the images:
One thing is clear here: in their haste to show their intolerance of the supposedly “intolerant” dissemination of information, the [Alberta Human Rights] Commission has provided interest groups with the incentive to file suits as a way to prevent other criticisms; because the financial burden of having to pay for the right of free speech necessarily acts as a material check on such speech.
In other words, free speech isn’t free. Which is why the Western Standard has to resort to this.
In the spirit of, ahem, free inquiry, I went to NYU last night to attend the Objectivist Club’s controversial panel discussion about the cartoons. (Michelle blogged about it here.) Pam at Atlas Shrugs was there and has a full report, as do The New York Sun and Washington Square News. NYU gave the Objectivist Club a choice: either it could show the cartoons, in which case the event would be limited to NYU faculty and students, or it could skip the cartoons and open the event to the general public. In light of the public demand, the Club chose the latter. And so it was that an event billed as a presentation of the Jyllands-Posten images featured a row of panelists seated before four blank easels.
A group of Muslim students attended the discussion and held up a banner that read “FREEDOM OF SPEECH [does not equal] FREEDOM TO HATE” — which, of course, it does, unless you’re a college student or a character in an Orwell novel. Lukianoff, in particular, was exercised by the stupidity of the sign, pointing out several times throughout the evening how chilling it is that universities, “citadels of free speech” as he described them, seem to have such difficulty with the most basic aspects of the concept.
And as if to punctuate the point, one of the students in the audience reported during the question and answer session that he had been forced to remove the t-shirt he had worn to the event by NYU security. When one of the panelists asked him what was on the shirt, another student in the audience yelled “this,” stood up and unbuttoned his jacket, and turned around so the audience could see.
And of course, it was this one.
On a night when many trenchant points were made, the most trenchant belonged to Peter Schwartz of the Ayn Rand Institute, who noted that the goal of Islamists isn’t merely to intimidate the west into censoring itself. It’s to have the west accept self-censorship by dressing up its fear as something principled, such as “tolerance” or “respect for religion.” Which brings us right back to the Alberta Human Rights Commission and the Western Standard.
UPDATE: An allegory from Iraq — “We didn’t find a mosque.”
“We didn’t find a mosque,” says the Iraqi special forces commander,striking deep at the heart of the allegations against his men. “We only killed men who were armed and firing at us.”… The young officer says his men didn’t find prayer mats or books or any of the usual elements of an Islamic house of worship. Instead, he says, they found the instruments of torture; drills, electrical wires, and other “tools”. “It is a place used by a political party,” he says, having sustained intense, unrelenting fire from houses facing the building on three sides as his men entered. “Other rooms were offices.” Based on the evidence his men retrieved — including weapons caches and bombmaking materials — it’s clear the site was used by an armed militia, he maintains, with some of its members linked to security forces, and others to a notorious kidnapping ring.
UPDATE: Ed Driscoll: “Compare and contrast Ramapo College’s art exhibition with NYU’s panel discussion on those cartoons. Notice what’s curiously missing from the latter: the actual artwork!”
Some animals are more equal than others.
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Egyptian parliament speaker Ahmed Sorour said the cartoons and other recent events showed the existence of a cultural deficit, while stressing that freedom of expression cannot be unlimited. Jordanian MP Hashem al-Qaisi said it was not enough to deplore the cartoons, as such events could reoccur in another country….
Turkish representative Zeynep Uslu said freedom of expression was an essential value, but not a limitless freedom, something the European Court of Human Rights also stated.
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