WJBA? In 2010 Would Jesus (Along With His Apostles & Saints) Be Arrested For Hate Speech?

Wednesday, August 4, AD 2010

A few short years ago the mere suggestion that the Son of God, His Apostles and Saints would face arrest for hate speech would have seemed absolutely ludicrous. However, events have spiraled out of control across the western world. In his opinion that strikes down California’s recently voter approved marriage law, Judge Vaughn Walker wrote that those who speak in the name of religion to put across their views that same sex marriage is wrong are “harmful to gays and lesbians.”

Across Europe and Canada, faithful Christians speaking out for traditional marriage face the threat of being hauled off to court for citing the teachings of the Catholic Church and various Evangelical Churches. Where will this all end? Some see a great persecution coming against the Christian faithful. Though possible, one need remember that the Christian faith always grew when persecuted.

The Catholic Church has long taught that some individuals have an inclination toward same sex attraction; they are to be loved as all people are to be loved. The Church teaches that these feelings are not to be acted upon. The Church goes on to teach that all individuals are given a cross to carry in this world and for those who are same sex attracted; this is their cross. An organization exists for those who are same sex attracted called COURAGE. It has many chapters and members.

Recently a profile was done in The New York Times on same sex attracted Eve Tushnet, the Ivy League educated Catholic daughter of Harvard Law professors. She has chronicled her growth in Catholicism and the logic of the Church’s teachings on sexuality. For years the Catholic Church took some heat from some quarters of Christianity for not stating that anyone who is same sex attracted would be going to hell. The Church now is facing a maelstrom of vitriol from those who claim the Church hates homosexuals.

For the Church to change her teachings would be to deny not only what Christ said (Matthew 11:20-24,) but his Apostles, not to mention Saint Paul’s lengthy discourse on the subject (Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.)  In addition to the Apostles and saints, there is a rich history of saints writing on the subject, particularly the Early Church Fathers like Saint Augustine, St Justin Martyr, St. Basil and St John Chrysostom as well as Church intellectuals like St Thomas Aquinas, Saint Albert the Great (the greatest scientist of his time,) along with mystics like St Catherine of Sienna to name but a few. To say that the greatest minds of their respective eras were all wrong is simply breathtaking.

Many who disagree with the Church tend to forget that homosexuality was much more common and approved of by the Roman government in the early Christian era than it is even in 2010. Many in the upper echelons of Greek and Roman culture experimented with all sorts of sexual practices. It would have been far easier for Jesus, the apostles, saints and popes to approve of this conduct than it would to disapprove of it. Christianity might have grown at a faster pace. However, there was a reason for this swimming against the tide, and the faithful accepted it.

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4 Responses to WJBA? In 2010 Would Jesus (Along With His Apostles & Saints) Be Arrested For Hate Speech?

  • Great column as usual, Dave. It just blows my mind that our nation is no longer a republic of, for and by the people but an elite and arrogant oligarchy that is unleashing one perverted social experiment after another on us.

    The far left have the nerve to needle the conservatives for wanting to have less government yet have government restrict marriage. Quite the contrary, we want to be able to decide how our society should function, not have the government do so.

    It’s a shame that the voters in my state of California were robbed once again, but we can still hope for the Supreme Court to save the day. In the meantime, this should serve as a wakeup call for the voters, especially those in the 45 states who have kept marriage to one man and one woman, to vote the radicals out in the fall and make sure the Democrats never control government again as long as the militant secularists who are ruining this nation continue to call the shots for the party.

  • This is almost a grand slam!

    This is government hate speech against, and injurious to, Christians, Jews and Muslims.

    Oh, that’s okay!?

    Never mind.

    Thanks for voting for them dems.

  • Prepare for the worst. There is little doubt that in the near future Christians will be arrested and imprisoned by the American Socialist State if they continue to preach the gospel and traditional morality. The American politicians have created their long desired Atheistic State which will have no tolerance for believers. Prepare for the dark days of persecution but the good news is that it will separate the wheat from the shaff and the sheep from the goats.

  • But Jesus and the Apostles were arrested and even put to death for their speech.

    When DeGaulle was reproached for not taking more care against assassination, he replied: “It comes with the job”.

Firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell to be Reviewed By University of Illinois Committee

Wednesday, July 14, AD 2010

Last week I wrote here about the firing of Dr. Kenneth Howell who had the audacity, in a class about the Catholicism, to actually state Catholic doctrine about homosexuality.  There has been enough of a furor since that the University of Illinois is acting, according to this story in the Chicago Tribune:

A faculty group at the University of Illinois’ flagship campus will review the decision to fire an adjunct religion professor for saying he agreed with Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.

Urbana- Champaign campus Chancellor Robert Easter said Monday he hopes to have a decision on the firing of Kenneth Howell from the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure by the time fall classes start. The review is to determine whether Howell’s academic freedom was violated.

“We want to be able to reassure ourselves there was no infringement on academic freedom here,” new university President Michael Hogan told members of the Faculty Senate on Monday. “This is a very, very important, not to mention a touchy and sensitive, issue. Did this cross the line somehow?”

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Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois

Friday, July 9, AD 2010

I am an alum of the U of I.  I obtained my BA in 79 and my JD in 82.  My wife is also an alum of the U of I, obtaining her MA in Spanish in 82.  Our eldest son will be entering the U of I as a freshman in August.  I therefore found the news that  Professor Kenneth Howell, an adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, has been fired for teaching in a course about Catholicism  basic Catholic doctrine on homosexuality quite alarming:

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39 Responses to Anti-Catholic Bigotry Alive and Well at the University of Illinois

  • Looking at the e-mail from the student to the administration, and the original e-mail from Howell, two things seem clear:

    1. Neither the student nor his “friend” have a clear understanding of the purpose or content of Howell’s e-mail. They clearly cannot distinguish between advocacy and presentation of a fairly standard-issue argument in Catholic moral theology. I might expect this of high school students. College students should know better.

    2. This supposed college student’s grasp of standard English is most distressing. “Anyways”? Yikes!

    I am forced to question the Department Chair’s ability to notice the above.

  • In other words: Teach Catholicism, but don’t teach that it has anything to do with reason and reality. We must continue the lie that faith and reason are at odds, that the Church opposes gay marriage solely as a matter of religious faith, and that religion is purely a matter of private opinion, not public action.

    And this is supposed to “promote independent thought”? I’d wager that those students have never encountered any though quite so radical as Prof. Howell was exposing them to. He was doing exactly what they say they wanted.

  • Elena Kagan demonstrated how liberal pandering to any special interest group trumps your right to freedom to exercise your religion.

    Kagan on Whether Catholic Church Could Recruit at Harvard Law

    http://tinyurl.com/369nxwj

    This is precisely how Hitler took over Germany. It began with politically correct “thinking” which led to politically correct “law” and everything Hitler did was “legal”. This “judge” who never met a politically correct cause she didnn’t love and support (regardless of it’s standing the law) is about to take a seat on the highest court in the land.

    Yet she is touted for her “brilliance” and legal scholarship. They teach you all about the law in law school – they don’t teach you a thing about JUSTICE.

    ———————–
    “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

    ~ President John Adams

    “Authentic democracy is possible only in a state ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person. It requires that the necessary conditions be present for the advancement both of the individual through education and formation in true ideals, and of the “subjectivity” of society through the creation of structures of participation and shared responsibility. Nowadays there is a tendency to claim that agnosticism and skeptical relativism are the philosophy and the basic attitude which correspond to democratic forms of political life. Those who are convinced that they know the truth and firmly adhere to it are considered unreliable from a democratic point of view, since they do not accept that truth is determined by the majority, or that it is subject to variation according to different political trends. It must be observed in this regard that if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.”

    ~ Pope John Paul II – Centesimus Annus

  • theory of Catholicism

    So now Catholicism is a theory and not a faith?

  • Just read the emails. I’m no natural law philosopher, but wasn’t the professor’s explanation of natural law a little weak? It was more about biology than teleology. Nor was his description of utilitarianism exactly correct.

    Still not grounds for dismissing him, however.

  • Does anyone else see the immediate bias by Kaler when saying “the theory of Catholicism.” This sums the issue up. Another situation of higher education punishing the religious guy.

  • I hope that it is starting to dawn on the “Catholic Church” that when you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas. Amen!

  • TonyC,

    Are you referring to the U of I as dogs?

  • Do you think if he had taught what Islam tenets are in the Koran on morality and homosexuality and the handling of those of that orientation, he would have lost his post.

  • “When I joined the military it was against regulations to be homosexual, then it became optional. I’m getting out before it becomes mandatory.” GySgt Harry Berres, USMC

  • Guys, guys! Remember, you’re free to talk all you want about Catholicism, as long as you don’t believe it!

  • Very, very troubling indeed! May God have mercy on us. It is so hard for me to see the radical decay all around. May I work to be faithful, to pray for the Catholic Church and for men like this, punished harshly for speaking of their religious beliefs, that were once protected by the very Constitution that is now used to persecute them.

  • This is just awful. Kenneth Howell, in case you don’t know, is a former Presbyterian minister who converted to the Catholic faith — which of course, forced him to give up THAT job — and who has written several books on Catholic doctrine. He converted well BEFORE he took this job. He was hired by the U of I specifically to teach classes on Catholic doctrine, which have been offered, for credit, for decades. It should not surprise anyone that he agrees with Catholic teaching on homosexuality and other issues.

    What he said is not “hate speech” any more than, say, an observant Orthodox Jewish professor who teaches classes specifically on Judaism attempting to explain kosher dietary laws and having a student who raises hogs back home take offense at it.

  • Friend, huh? Might this ‘friend’ not be a student? Is it possible that someone just wants a politically correct elucidation of the theory of Catholicism without any of the truth of what the Church teaches?

    I am also curious, how does saying that sodomy is an unnatural act ostracize people with homosexualist proclivities? Any biologist would tell you that certain human orifices are for evacuation and not anything else, except in cases of medical testing. Should we outlaw the theory of biology?

    Apparently the school wants to teach the theory of Catholicism and disassociation themselves from what the Church actually teaches. Why? Does anyone really think the UI Religion Dept. is somehow associated with the Church or with Catholics in anyway? Why did his statement violate the ‘inclusivity’ policy? Was he banning homosexualists from his class? Did he tell them that Sodomites aren’t allowed to learn about the theory of Catholicism? Were they told they were not allowed to disagree with Natural Law? Since when does the Church or those who teach her truths believe that humans don’t have free will?

    Are we going to fire history teachers who teach the offensive act of killing Jews? How do you study Nazi Germany without addressing the wholesale slaughter of Jews, Catholics, etc.? You can’t. It is the truth. Nazis did kill Jews. It is offensive. It certainly isn’t inclusive. I seriously doubt that any history teacher worth their mettle thinks it is OK to kill Jews – but they teach it nonetheless, because that is what Nazis did and what they believed. No one has to agree with it. This is ridiculous.

    I wonder if its OK to teach about Nazism because most Nazis were Sodomites and not OK to teach about Catholicism because the Church teaches that Sodomy is not OK, despite the proclivities of a small number of her members – of course, we don’t talk about pederast priests, we talk about pedophile priests because if we addressed the real problem, we may have to indict Sodomy. Me thinks there is an agenda here and just like in the late Wiemar Republic it starts with the homosexualists.

  • I was tempted to say that this development would make Msgr. Edward Duncan, the VERY longtime U of I Newman Center chaplain (over 50 years, from the 1940s to the 1990s), “turn over in his grave”, but after doing a quick google search on his name it appears he’s still alive, or was as recently as 2008. Anyone know his status? I don’t doubt he would have a LOT to say about this.

  • They would never have pulled this Elaine if Duncan were still in charge of the Newman Center. He was a formidable presence on the campus and not a man to brook any insult against the Church, as I noted when I was at the U of I. Judging from the spineless reaction of the Newman Center to this outrage, I guess the University decided that Catholics would just take this slap in the face lying down. Time to prove them wrong.

  • Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?

  • “spineless reaction of the Newman Center to this outrage”

    I just hopped over to Thomas Peters’ blog and read the actual letter from Dr. Howell himself, explaining his side of the story.

    After reading it, I’m almost as ticked off at the Newman Center and the Diocese of Peoria as I am at the university! It APPEARS that they told him “Sorry, can’t help you, and by the way, we no longer need your services either, so good luck and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” What’s up with that?

  • Do I have this right? A man teaches the 2,000 year old teachings of Holy Mother Church in a U course on Catholicism and is terminated for hate speech.

    But Obama supporters call for murdering crackers and their babies; and that’s free speech.

    Go figure.

  • If the “Institute of Catholic Thought” for which Dr. Howell worked is structured in such a way that an instructor can no longer work for the Institute if they no longer work for the university, well, isn’t this living proof that the Newman Foundation and the Diocese had better do something about that? If they don’t, then I will have to take back all my past comments about the U of I being a more “Catholic” university (because of the quality of its Newman Center, and of the ICT classes) than some Catholic in name only schools are.

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  • As a no longer proud alum of U of I it shows me that the motto Learning and Labor has left the learning behind. Universities understand only one thing now and that is money. Don’t just write comments on blogs, write the president of U of I at [email protected] If you are an alumm tell him you won’t send them another dime until this is fixed. Send emails to all of your alumni friends. Post this on all of your blogs.

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  • Msgr. Duncan is still alive. His health isn’t so great anymore, but he occasionally makes appearances at St. Johns. I know he was there as recently as last fall for a special event.

  • This is simply further proof that the so-called Diversity Movement is about anything BUT diversity. It is about conformity to a set agenda with dogmas as entrenched as those of the Catholic Church with whom they are at war. Homosexuality and the praise thereof top the list of that agenda.

    I was particularly awed by the following excerpt taken from the email sent by the offended students “friend” and the mention of “independent thought” : “Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing,” the student wrote in the e-mail. “Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another. The courses at this institution should be geared to contribute to the public discourse and promote independent thought; not limit one’s worldview and ostracize people of a certain sexual orientation.”

    Who is genuinely aware of the meaning of true public discourse here? Who is promoting genuinely independent thought? Who is being ostracized? It certainly isn’t the Diversity Movement, not is it the offended student, who is still a student, while the good Prof. is beating the streets looking for a job.

  • Food for thought received in an email from the Manhattan Declaration group:

    ” . . . may be one of the gravest, most insidious threats to religious freedom I’ve seen in my lifetime: What may be an attempt, at the very highest levels of government, to RE-DEFINE the very meaning of religious freedom, from “free exercise” to merely private worship.”

  • “Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?”

    No, only anti-catholic bigotry is allowed.

  • Is there any anti-Buddhism, anti-Hinduism, anti-Islamic, anti-protestant? Why there is anti-Catholic Bigotry? If there is answer please answer me. Thanks!

  • GM: I think (bombs away!) that there is anti-Catholic bigotry because Holy Mother the Church (the minority that actually adheres to its precepts) is a major safeguard against secular humanist cultural/societal hegemony.

    And, if one believes (as a small minority of so-called Catholics believes) that we are IN this world, but not OF this world, one is less easily controlled and, thus, one is a threat to the statist, fascist far-left liberals intent on controlling aspects of our lives.

    And, because the majority of bishops, nearly all so-called catholic scholars, catholic university regimes, etc. have sold out to Obama and the socilaists. In this rounnd the bowl of pottage is full of human dignity, peace, social justice, etc.

    I could barf!

  • T. Shaw,

    Food for thought received in an email from the Manhattan Declaration group:

    ” . . . may be one of the gravest, most insidious threats to religious freedom I’ve seen in my lifetime: What may be an attempt, at the very highest levels of government, to RE-DEFINE the very meaning of religious freedom, from “free exercise” to merely private worship.”

    That is why the Obama administration and many liberals continue to say “Freedom of Worship” instead of “Freedom of Religion”.

    They want to eliminate faith completely from the public square by redefining certain precepts of the U.S. Constitution.

  • You can say that Catholic bigotry is alive at the University of Illinois, but your church is a most dangerous foe of civil and religious liberty. The Catholic Bishops descended on Congress and pressured our legislators to pass Obama’s health care bill, even though the nation could not afford it and is on the verge to ruin and bankruptcy. The Bishops have no respect whatsoever for the U.S. Constitution. All across the board the church is pushing its’ agenda, seeking to dominate and control. The papacy is battering down the walls of church-state separation every where she can. She is pushing to enforce Sunday observance upon all of Europe, and is pushing for Sunday enforcement in the U.S. also. The Founding Fathers enacted safeguards, but these are being dismantled. Persecution is returning as sure as day. The words of John Adams, our second president, are proving true, as liberty of conscience is more and more threatened, “I have long been decided in opinion that a free government and the Roman Catholic religion can never exist together in any nation or Country.” “Liberty and Popery cannot live together.”

  • Logan,

    The Catholic Bishops are U.S. citizens.

    You need to brush up on the constitution.

    The last time I read it we all have freedom of expression.

  • Actually Logan the Bishops opposed Obamacare due to fear of it funding abortion. However I have found that anti-Catholicism and rank ignorance tend to go together so I am unsurprised that you are misinformed.
    As to your comment about the Church attempting to enforce Sunday observance, that is a fantasy you either got from an anti-Catholic website or dreamed up in your fevered imagination.

  • Logan, if you are some sort of Christian, then you should prayerfully read John 8:32.

    If you aren’t Christian, then you should pray, “God, if you really exist, help me understand what you are telling me in this Scripture reading.” and then read John 8:32.

    God and His Church do not impose, He proposes – the rest is up to you. Know that your Father loves you, despite any feelings you have otherwise.

  • Logan,

    The wall of separation between Church and States is from a letter Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptists, a religious minority fearing that they would not be able to worship the way they were inclined and Jefferson was assuring them that the first amendment to the Constitution protected their religion from interference by the federal government.

    Jefferson was an adept diplomat and knowing his audience, Baptists, he wrote in terms they would understand. The wall of separation was drawn from a sermon by Roger Williams, whose sermons would have been known well among Baptists in 1802.

    The particular sermon is titled, “The Garden in the Wilderness” preached in 1644. He said, “When they have opened a gap in the hedge or wall of separation between the garden of the Church and the wilderness of the world, God hath ever broke down the wall itself, removed the candlestick, and made his garden a wilderness, as at this day. And that there fore if He will e’er please to restore His garden and paradise again, it must of necessity be walled in peculiarly unto Himself from the world.”

    Clearly Jefferson was referring to the fact that the wall separated the Church (the garden) from the State (the wilderness of the world) to protect the Church from the corruption of the political power. He was not even intoning that the State had a right to be ‘protected’ from the Church. In Jefferson’s time, even though it followed the Enlightenment, people of faith knew that religion formed men in virtue and virtuous leaders, men of character, were what was required to govern the Republic.

    Twisting this wall of separation to mean that religion has no place in public life is an atheistic Communist ploy. Probably concocted by the Communist front – the ACLU. It is a lie and intelligent people using the gift of human reason wouldn’t employ such a tired and weak argument.

  • “Will they fire Muslims for taking the same position?”

    An excellent question! Are similar courses in Islam being taught there?

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The Romance of the Press

Thursday, July 1, AD 2010

It’s been interesting, though a bit odd, for me, watching the hand-wringing over the “death of the press” as some of the major newspapers struggle to figure out how to make their budgets work in a world in which fewer people read “dead tree” editions and advertisers can take advantage of more targeted advertising online and in specialty publications. There is, it seems, a level of reverence which many people seem to attach to “the press”, which does not seem well born out what it actually is.

Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads. They seek to provide stories that people want to read (whether “news”, human interest, comics, crosswords or recipes) in order to persuade people it’s worth parting with the artificially low newsstand or subscription price.

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16 Responses to The Romance of the Press

  • Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads.

    Historically? No. Modern economics? Yes. And this is probably one of the reasons why there is a problem.

  • Historically, yes. If you look at the rise of the major newspapers in the 19th century, they were very explicitly a way to sell ads (and subscription bases in order to gain ad revenue.) Much good and bad (the rise of comics as an art form, the rise of ‘yellow journalism’) can be traced to the race for circulation (and thus profit).

  • Looked at historically and economically — newspapers exist as a delivery system for ads.

    Not really. That was more a product of corporatization of newspapers. Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue. You can see this in the newspaper names themselves.

    Marketing itself starts in about 1900s. Mass marketing got going in the 1920s.

  • If you doubt that the big, profitable newspapers of the 19th and early 20th century (they became less profitable with the rise of weekly magazines in the 20s and 30s) were not vehicles for partisanship and advertising (even ahead of news gathering), you simply haven’t spent much, if any, time in an archive. Start with Horace Greeley’s Tribune, which ruled some big roosts for nearly forty years.

    We also see this sort of thing when folks want to claim our current political claimate is oh so heated and dangerous. Not by historical standards it ain’t. Start with….well, any presidential election in the 1800s.

    Darwin’s point that newspapers existed in no small part as a delivery system for ads is pretty easy to verify, particularly if you look at the papers that mattered before 1900, shortly before the LA Times got really into crime reporting (Chicago, New York, Boston, Baltimore).

  • There is a difference between a discussion of “big, profitable newspapers” and “newspapers.” The second is a larger group.

  • Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue.

    You could say that pamplets were low budget affairs sponsored by some ideologue, and that the readings of governor’s declarations and the like were newspapers, but I think the definition of newspaper would have to be stretched too far. (And Franklin, our greatest genius after Washington, had his traveling printing shows…)

    The rise of what we would recognize as a newspaper coincided with advertising and partisanship. Newspapers of importance were by definition big budget and big ads. In the 19th Century, in fact, newspapers not only launched presidential campaigns, they were probably the most necessary form of campaigning.

  • Not really. That was more a product of corporatization of newspapers. Newspapers have historically been low budget affairs sponsered by some ideologue. You can see this in the newspaper names themselves.

    I get that there were newspapers of a sort prior to the rise of the large circulation, advertising-driven newspapers, but I don’t think they adhere very much to what those worried about the death of The Press are worried about.

    After all, the small and plentiful micro newspapers of the 1700s and early 1800s are arguably much more akin to today’s blogs than today’s newspapers. If that sort of small, often one-man press with a lot of opinion and local color, and a little bit of news gleaned from travelers or (later) the telegraph news services, were considered an acceptable manifestation of The Press, people wouldn’t be ringing their hands about the prospect of the big city dailies going out of business.

    Actually, I’d argue that in many ways we’re going back to a more distributed, reader-driven form of “press” such as what we had from the 1700s through the early 1800s, with less (though certainly not an extinction) of the respectable, big city paper ethic while is familiar to us from the 50s through the present.

  • I’m not quite sure where we are going. With bifurcation in this country, I think it is going to increasingly be difficult to fund popular venues through advertising. The products the poor buy increasingly don’t have enough margin in them to try and influence market behavior through advertising. Real news information is increasingly going to be subscriber funded, like international news is with Jane’s and Stratfor.

  • I think this recent post by Matt Yglesias is a propos:

    “[J]ournalistic objectivity” as traditionally practiced by reporters at American newspapers and television stations is a business strategy as well as an ethos. The way it works is that when a market has only a small number of competitors (one or two daily newspapers in a given city, three television networks) the economic incentive is to try to be generic and inoffensive. Attracting passionate fans doesn’t really help you—even if you love the Indianapolis Star you’re not going to buy two copies a day.

    In a more competitive marketplace like the one highbrow magazines and UK newspapers have always operated in things look different. You need to differentiate your product, and it pays to develop an audience of passionate fans.

  • Marketing itself starts in about 1900s. Mass marketing got going in the 1920s.

    The earliest newspaper in my home town was founded in 1818, I believe. The second was founded in 1826. It was called, in the first instance, the Rochester Daily Advertiser. Every iteration of the title from 1826 to 1918 had the word ‘advertiser’ in it. I have examined in microtext issues from the 1860s. If I recall correctly, the front pages were filled not with articles or editorials (though there were plenty throughout the paper, in tiny print), but with ads.

  • Having ads is different from existing for the sake of delivering ads.

  • Anyway, when the progressive, humanist propaganda organs go bankrupt . . . Either, the Obaminstration regime will prop them up like it did GM and Chrysler . . .

    Or, you won’t read errata and fabrications supporting abortion, idiot supreme court nominees, gay marriage, hatred for tea party people, hatred for pro-lifers, America is evil, it’s Bush’s fault, etc.

    How will Big Brother brainwash the masses?

    Public schools!

    Brilliant!!

  • Having ads is different from existing for the sake of delivering ads.

    This is a fair point, and perhaps this is where a difference in approach is putting as at odds more than a disagreement over the facts.

    Newspapers have generally achieved their income from two sources: subscription fees and ads. In their modern incarnation, daily papers have derived most of their income from ads — thus allowing them to maintain numbers or reporters and lengths of physical product which would not otherwise be affordable to most people.

    So when I say they exist as an ad delivery medium, I mean that were it not for advertising revenue, newspapers would find it very difficult to operate as they do while putting their product at a price that people could afford. Take the advertising away, and the newspaper medium becomes totally unsustainable in its current form. Readers may not buy it for the ads, and writers may not be interested in the ads, but the desires of the readers and writers wouldn’t be fullfillable if newspapers did not deliver ads.

  • That strikes me as pretty dead-on, BA.

  • Funny DC and BA. Chesterton made a similar observation about the character of journalism between the US and UK. He was surprised that all the competing papers in the US wanted to interview him and they all reported on the same stories. In the UK, exclusivity reigned supreme and if one paper landed an interview with someone, nobody else wanted anything to do with person.

  • A lot of newspapers have, or used to have, the words “Democrat”, “Republican”, “Independent”, and “Whig” in their names for a reason. When they were founded in the 19th century their political party affiliations were obvious and they made no pretense of objectivity. These affiliations or leanings often changed over time mainly due to the views of the publisher or family which owned the paper.

    Also, up until the last 20 or 30 years many newspapers were family owned (Hearst and Pulitzer were probably the most famous “press dynasties”). A newspaper’s character often depended on the character of the family or individual who published it. If he or she was conscientious and community-minded, you got a quality paper; if he or she was a rabid political partisan or only interested in sucking up to the powers that be in town, you got a rag. Now most papers belong to giant corporate conglomerates interested only in maximizing profits by (usually) cutting staff as much as possible.

Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

Tuesday, June 29, AD 2010

Back in 1979 I was one of the founding members of the Christian Legal Society at the University of Illinois.  Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Hastings College of Law at the University of California was within its rights to deny recognition to the Christian Legal Society because the group requires that members agree, among other principles, that sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful, and that members must be Christians.  Hastings contended that these principles violated the open membership policy of the university, in that it would discriminate against prospective members on the grounds of religion and sexual orientation.  Go here to read the decision.

Justice Alito, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Scalia and Thomas, wrote a thought provoking dissent.

The proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.” United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U. S. 644, 654–655 (1929) (Holmes, J., dissenting). Today’s decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom for expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.

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23 Responses to Supreme Court Rules That Public Universities May Discriminate Against Christian Student Groups

  • Kagan once said, it’s okay for the government to ban books because the gestapo would be ineffective at enforcing it.

    You have to scratch a liberal just a wee bit to get to the totalitarian essence under the uber-thin vineer of warm and fuzzy bu!!$hit.

    Isn’t there a right, somewhere in the US Constitution, to free association, in addition to the rights to abortion; gay privileges; being fed, clothed and housed by the taxpayer.

    The king denied the Colonists the right to meet. They met anyway – Committees of Correspondence. The king isn’t king of this country. We shall overcome.

  • The pairing of decisions yesterday reminds us that our constitutional rights are basically at the mercy of the whims of Justice Kennedy. It’s truly frightening. Though he seems to have re-discovered some measure of a backbone, on social issues he remains completely inept.

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision? Gays aren’t going to get elected to leadership positions in CLS.

  • Question: If Hastings is a state institution, thus receiving government funds (from the tax payer), does that not mean it is essentially a politically-funded entity?

    And if so, should we not be surprised that what is politically correct weighs heavey on their policy choices?

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision? Gays aren’t going to get elected to leadership positions in CLS.

    I think the issue is more that it makes it very difficult for CLS to assemble, hold activities, etc. on campus if theyr’e not recognized as a campus organization.

  • Darwin, CLS can, and probably will, amend its pledge banning gays and the club will continue with business as usual, i.e., without gays.

  • One of the things I find interesting is that the argument that a group should be allowed to keep out people they do not like is being argued by two different groups.

    First, CLS. They say they should be free to have a group which follows the principles they hold dear. Of course, if they were not on a campus, looking for funding and approval to use facilities on campus, I think no one would question such a right.

    However, the second group is the university itself. If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right? To argue in favor of CLS is to argue in favor of the university, as far as I see it. That, I think, is the paradox with this case.

    Can someone show me why CLS can discriminate and not the university? I am in favor of free associations, and I do think a university should encourage such free associations (the university’s policy is wrong), but I also do wonder how a university is not accorded such a right?

  • BTW, I would even agree the university is going against its claims of tolerance to discriminate in this way, however, the question is not whether or not the university is acting bad, but whether or not it is within their legal rights.

  • Eh, you might be right, RR. I guess as an old Boy Scout I figured the organization would stick to its guns and suffer the consequences. 🙂

  • I am not a huge Kennedy Basher but bioth the right and left are right at times he gets carried away with his verbiage. I am amazed that a Catholic Justice basically said that Creed like matters are like Loyalty Oaths

  • Has there ever been a less consequential decision?

    I disagree. Traditional morality is only tenuously tolerated. This further institutionalizes its banishment from the public sphere. It has very little to do with whether CLS admits gays or not; look beyond the legal ramifications to see the cultural narrative. A Christian group, along among others, is singled out for chastisement. This has everything to do with what metaphysical premises are acceptable in polite company.

    “Untenured” at WWWtW said it best (with respect to another story):

    Increasingly, we are seeing secularists posture as though their pet metaphysical and moral committments are some kind of reasonable “default” that everybody would naturally gravitate towards if only it weren’t for the malign influence of religious “indoctrination.” There is a very real movement to portray traditional morality as some kind of “pathology” that is okay to exercise coercion against. Witness, for example, the attempt to make moral objections against homosexuality appear as if they are *no different* from objections to interracial marriage. Even people with philosophical training who ought to know better, like to pretend that this line of reasoning is cogent out of some kind of weird “political solidarity” with “sexual minorities.” They don’t give a darn about intellectual honesty- they want to deny traditional moral beliefs a toehold in the space of reasons, and they will do so by any means necessary. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that we are soon going to see people arguing that there is *no difference* between a homeschooler being taught traditional morality and an underage bride at a Mormon polygamy compounds. Then some arguments, with the pretense of hand-wringing, about how reasonable people have no choice but to coerce these backwards homeschoolers out of existence. For the sake of the children, of course.

  • ” I would even agree the university is going against its claims of tolerance to discriminate in this way, however, the question is not whether or not the university is acting bad, but whether or not it is within their legal rights”

    Henry I think it is clear that the University cannot , as a general matter with exceptions of course) discriminate against viewpoint discrimination.

    Now I realize this is a complicated case and in hindsight I am willing to bet the Justices wised they never took up the case because they discovered it was such a procedural mess and the factual record was clouded.

    That being said while many are saying the Opinion is narrow ( focusing just on this odd unique all comers policy) I am not so sure if it that narrow at all. The comments by some of the Justices on how they got there are perhaps the most disturbing and I am hoping like Justice ALito this si an aberation

  • “Eh, you might be right, RR. I guess as an old Boy Scout I figured the organization would stick to its guns and suffer the consequences.”

    Well the case is not over. They still have a chance to prove that this “all comers” policy was a pretext for unlawful discrimination

  • “However, the second group is the university itself. If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right?”

    I would say that a private university should have that right, but a public university does not. Here we have a governmental institution, Hastings Law School, imposing membership criteria on a private entity, the Christian Legal Society. All Catholics, members of an organization that is looked upon with hatred by many of the elites in our society, should look with alarm at this decision. “The Catholics want to prevent women from being priests? Fine, we will pass a law dictating that no non-profit may have tax exemption unless they sign on to this non-discrimination policy.”

  • I would say that a private university should have that right, but a public university does not. Here we have a governmental institution, Hastings Law School, imposing membership criteria on a private entity, the Christian Legal Society.

    Actually, the problem is the university is saying that, as a public institution, it cannot accept a private society as a student body if it is going with such discrimination. In other words, their argument is if they support the society, they are supporting such discrimination as a public institution. They are not saying what CSL can or cannot do, just what they can or cannot do if they want to be a student group at Hastings. The court, of course, said something unusual, in that it said a university can engage in such rules, but does not have to. It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.

  • “Actually, the problem is the university is saying that, as a public institution, it cannot accept a private society as a student body if it is going with such discrimination.”

    That is a way of saying that the public entity will discriminate against a group based upon its membership policies, unless the private group has membership policies acceptable to the public entity. The implications for Newman Centers on public campuses are clear, along with any groups that are in official disfavor. The true absurdity of this policy of course is that almost all private groups, by definition, discriminate. A staunch Republican like me would not be wanted among College Democrats. If I join a Chess group on campus, I will be expected not to insist upon the group playing checkers. Why this absurd policy of no discrimination in admissions by private groups of course is being implemented on campuses is as a hammer to beat groups that do not sign on to the gay rights agenda. This is governmental action engaging in viewpoint discrimination in order to banish from campuses those groups engaging in heretical thoughts.

  • It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.

    I don’t think I agree or understand what you said before, but I agree with this sentence. Whenever one tries to enforce what SCOTUS said in this opinion is a “viewpoint-neutral” outlook, you run into problems once you have conflicting viewpoints. Instead of ditching the whole flawed approach, the majority here tried to argue “this form of discrimination isn’t really discrimination” by pointing out that CLS can exist off campus (which as a college student I can tell you is a waste of time; w/o events on campus and the funding to throw even small lunches, recruitment is difficult to impossible).

  • Says Kennedy, via the Washington Post: “A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.”

    Memo to Kennedy – as an American citizen, I have a right not to engage in dialogue. As an American citizen, I have the right to freely associate with whomever I choose. And the students on that campus, a public campus, have those rights as well.

    The right to associate and exclude on the basis of values may be the only thing that prevents radically different groups from going to war with each other. American governments and courts that think they can force everyone to “dialogue” are going to be in for a rude awakening. This isn’t Europe.

  • “A vibrant dialogue is not possible if students wall themselves off from opposing points of view.”

    Kennedy is always good for a bone-headed quote. This one is hilarious for two reasons.

    First, the clear intent of the Hastings Policy is to quash a point of view that the administration of the law school finds distateful by denying the Christian Legal Society recognition.

    Second, if there is any group more cloistered from opposing views than the federal judiciary, with lifetime appointments, I am unaware of it.

  • Henry Karlson wrote: “If CLS has a right to discriminate, why does a university not have that right? To argue in favor of CLS is to argue in favor of the university, as far as I see it. That, I think, is the paradox with this case.”

    This is exactly what my husband said when we discussed it. He’s pretty libertarian in outlook. His argument is that the university can make whatever rules it wants to for official clubs, that the students are still free to do what they want, but if they take the university’s money and free space, then they have to abide by the rules. He says it’s better for them to do so and believe what they want to.

    Things are coming to a head, and I’m afraid that anyone looking for tolerance anywhere is likely to be disappointed.

  • “His argument is that the university can make whatever rules it wants to for official clubs, that the students are still free to do what they want, but if they take the university’s money and free space, then they have to abide by the rules.”

    It should not be the role of any government entity to set the membership policies for private groups. It is of course especially ironic that this attempt to stifle a viewpoint is taking place at a university, a supposed citadel of intellectual liberty. Of course most universities in this country, as demonstrated by repeated attempts to impose speech codes on students, are as enamored of freedom of speech as they are of cutting their budgets to reduce the exorbitant tuition that they charge.

  • The libertarian outlook sees this case as yet another illustration of the need for separation of Schooling and State.

  • It’s really a messed up case, because on every level, there seems to be a kind of self-contradiction involved.-Henry Karlson

    Seems? (Hint: category error.)

Lars Vilks, Gay Muhammad and Freedom of Expression

Sunday, May 16, AD 2010

This past week brings news of yet another fracas involving Swedish cartoon artist Lars Vilks (CNN.com):

When Vilks entered a classroom where he was to deliver a lecture to about 250 people — all of whom had passed through a security checkpoint to gain admission — about five people started protesting loudly, Eronen said.

After Uppsala uniformed and non-uniformed police calmed the protesters, the lecture got under way at about 5:15 p.m. (11:15 a.m. ET), Eronen said.

But as Vilks was showing audiovisual material, 15 to 20 audience members became loud and tried to attack Vilks, he said.

As police stepped in, a commotion started and Vilks was taken to a nearby room; police used pepper spray and batons to fend off the protesters, Eronen said. Vilks did not return to the lecture. [Video footage of the event].

Last March, an American woman who called herself “Jihad Jane,” Colleen LaRose, was indicted in the United States for allegedly conspiring to support terrorists and kill Vilks.

In a 2007 interview with CNN he had drawn the cartoon of Mohammed with a dog’s body in order to take a stand.

“I don’t think it should not be a problem to insult a religion, because it should be possible to insult all religions in a democratic way, “ says Vilks from his home in rural Sweden.

“If you insult one, then you should insult the other ones.”

His crude, sketched caricature shows the head of Prophet Mohammed on the body of a dog. Dogs are considered unclean by conservative Muslims, and any depiction of the prophet is strictly forbidden.

Vilks, who has been a controversial artist for more than three decades in Sweden, says his drawing was a calculated move, and he wanted it to elicit a reaction.

“That’s a way of expressing things. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. And if you look at it, don’t take it too seriously. No harm done, really,” he says.

When it’s suggested that might prove an arrogant — if not insulting — way to engage Muslims, he is unrelenting, even defiant.

“No one actually loves the truth, but someone has to say it,” he says.

Vilks, a self-described atheist, points out he’s an equal opportunity offender who in the past sketched a depiction of Jesus as a pedophile.

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19 Responses to Lars Vilks, Gay Muhammad and Freedom of Expression

  • This “artist” will learn the limits of free speech – the hard way.

  • Why should some peoples belief supercede the beliefs, or lack of belifs, of others?

    Why should I, or anyone else be forced to abide by the rules of THEIR faith?

    What right does religions have to put themselves above everyone else? Is it a godgiven right? Thats what they believe isnt it?

    Religions mock the entire world with their existance alone. Grown men and women believing in old fairytales make a mockery of humanity as a whole.

    Yet we shouldnt be allowed to point out the glaring flaws, the insecurities, and the barbarism their faith entails?

    The very thought is disgusting. The very reason religions are mocked is because they demand respect for their belief, while having no respect at all for those of us who do not believe in any god.

    If one imposed limits on the freedom of expression it would cease to exist.

    Freedom: the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action.

  • I really am disgusted by the abasement of religion in this manner.

    Showing a gay Mohammed is almost as repugnant to me as it is to a Muslim, and is a deliberate act of provocation.

    Things were bad enough with Comedy Central. But the reason I defended the creators of South Park is that, first of all, they already SHOWED Mohammed in an earlier episode before the Danish cartoon scandal and no one cared.

    It wasn’t a particularly vulgar depiction either. What happened this time around was absurd – they only wanted to “show” Mohammed as they do other religious figures, they’d done it before, and saw the proscription of this time around as arbitrary and irrational, which it was.

    In this case, though, I’d say we’re way outside the scope of the Danish cartoon scandal or South Park. To depict is one thing; to associate a revered prophet with sexual immorality in such a blunt way is another. This isn’t about expression because no one believes Mohammed was gay. It is about pissing off Muslims and doing a thing simply because it can be done.

    Maybe the distinction I’m making is wrong, maybe it doesn’t exist. But I do see a difference.

  • Joe, I’m not aware of the South Park depictions of Muhammad before the Danish cartoon scandal. Do you have a source?

    I think censorship, whether religious or otherwise, should be based on community standards. In America, we’re not sufficiently outraged over irreverent depictions of religion to warrant legal censorship.

    Should material of academic value that offend community standards be protected speech? Would Islamic states be justified in completely censoring (as opposed to hide behind a “spoiler warning”) drawings of Muhammad from Wikipedia?

  • Well that kind of begs the question – what academic value does this really have? That Nathan quote could be re-worded only slightly and it would apply to the artists tehmselves – living off the fruits of Christianity, they can only mock it because they do not have the talent to meet or exceed Christianity’s greatest accomplishments. Where’s our contemporary Sistine Chapel? Our Mona Lisa? Our Pieta? Our art is ugly because our society is ugly.

    Largely we are not outraged because most of this “art” is ignored, at least by the unwashed masses.

  • Art ought to be all about aesthetics and edifying the beholder. Soap boxes/op-ed pages/letters to Congressmen are venues for free speech.

    I’m a charter member (from birth) of the unwashed masses.

    Here’s the reason I ignore art that scandalizes Christ: “Forgive all injuries. Bear wrongs patiently.”

    Our Lord will come again in glory and He probably will foresake those that made fun of His Redemptive Life and Salvific Sacrifice.

    Finally, it’s not my job to bring justice to poor benighted elites.

    Er, I don’t frequently shave, either.

    OTOH, muslims must defend Muhammed. That mass murderer is not getting out of Hell.

  • Couldnt help but notice that my original comment has “Your comment is awaiting moderation” stamped on it and is hidden from view of other visitors to this page.

    Since my post contained no links, no swearwords, no racism etc the only reason I can think of is because I do not agree with the viewpoints in the article.

    The viewpoints in this article must be fragile indeed if only comments of agreement are allowed.

    Here, there is no freedom of expression, there is only the freedom to agree.

  • Couldnt help but notice that my original comment has “Your comment is awaiting moderation” stamped on it and is hidden from view of other visitors to this page.

    Imagine that.

    Since my post contained no links, no swearwords, no racism etc the only reason I can think of is because I do not agree with the viewpoints in the article. The viewpoints in this article must be fragile indeed if only comments of agreement are allowed.

    Or, it could possibly mean I’m currently dealing with a newborn and a two year old, and — operating on about 2-3 hours sleep a night — don’t have time to moderate comments with as much punctuality as you desire.

    In fact I have no idea why it was stuck in moderation, but go ahead and assume the worst of my motives if it suits you. I can understand the guilty pleasure of such conspiracy theorizing. =)

    Why should some peoples belief supercede the beliefs, or lack of belifs, of others?

    Certainly I think nobody ought to be forced to accept the tenants of Islam or Christianity or any other religion, for that matter. Faith born of coercion is no genuine faith at all. I’m actually very much in favor of non-coercion in this respect.

    However, I’d say defining freedom solely in negative terms as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action” offers a rather pathetic understanding of freedom. It also poses a challenge to our ability to reside together in some kind of civil community (surely you’re in favor of such?).

    Even as a self-proclaimed atheist, I’d venture that you probably find yourself upholding certain laws or norms of moral conduct — prohibitions against theft, taking the life of another, treating each other with basic respect etc. Are these simply “beliefs imposed” upon you? Do they spring from something deeper?

    John Paul II spoke of “a false notion of individual freedom at work in our culture” —

    “… as if one could be free only when rejecting every objective norm of conduct, refusing to assume responsibility or even refusing to put curbs on instincts and passions! Instead, true freedom implies that we are capable of choosing a good without constraint. This is the truly human way of proceeding in the choices–big and small–which life puts before us. The fact that we are also able to choose not to act as we see we should is a necessary condition of our moral freedom. But in that case we must account for the good that we fail to do and for the evil that we commit. This sense of moral accountability needs to be reawakened if society is to survive as a civilization of justice and solidarity.”

    What do you think about that?

    Religions mock the entire world with their existance alone. Grown men and women believing in old fairytales make a mockery of humanity as a whole.

    Spoken like a true Stalinist. But surely we can progress beyond this kind of intolerance? 😉

    Yet we shouldn’t be allowed to point out the glaring flaws, the insecurities, and the barbarism their faith entails?

    Perhaps. But if your purpose is to enlighten and educate, you might do better than simply lash out and taunt them with the artistic equivalent of a cudgel.

  • First of all, I find it hard to believe that you “had no idea why it was stuck in moderation”. Its your blog after all, even if its an automated process registering on key words, you should have some idea how it works.

    Secondly, how long it takes for you to moderate a post was not an issue at all. I reacted to the fact that it was marked for moderation in the first place.

    I used the definition of freedom together with the term “freedom of expression” spesifically because I suspected that you might try to use the definition of freedom in the way you just did.

    The concept of freedom of expression should be free of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. Just like the definition.

    I didnt, like you imply, include concepts like “freedom of murdering people”, “freedom to steal” or “freedom to set oneself above the law” when I put down the definition of freedom.

    As for your thoughts about moral conduct:

    Laws and norms of human conduct is a result of the society one lives in.

    If you some day take a good look at the world around you, I think you will realise that in socities in parts of the world that do not have the luxuries and/or traditions of western culture, the defintions of right and wrong are vastly different.

    Surely,if “upholding certain laws or norms of moral conduct” springs from something deeper, as you say, shouldnt people in all corners of the world share the same sense of morality?

    Yet they do not.

    I also note that you are labeling me a “stalinist”.

    Indeed, atheism and stalinism are required to go hand in hand arent they? There is no way that anyone can be opposed to religion without being some sort of communist.

    Labeling any opposition communist or stalinist regardless of which issues are being discussed seem to be popular in america.

    And then you preach about intolerance. Or spesifically “this kind of intolerance”, implying “intolerance against religions”.

    Which is appropriate, since religious groups, including catholics, traditionally have a large number of things they have zero tolerance for.

    It sure is good to know that believers have the right and knowledge to define what kinds of intolerance are acceptable or not.

    The purpose with which lars vilks lash out and taunt the muslim fundementalist is obvious: Its to teach people that they cannot have their way by resorting to violence. Many religious groups, including your own, realised this a long time ago by themselves.

    But before that, catholics and other christians were just as quick to resort to violence as these muslims are now.

    Unfortunatly, with the way things are, its impractical to wait the hundreds of years it could take for muslims to reach the same level of peaceful conduct as the major christian factions.

    Lastly, from a western moral perspective, who do you think have the moral high ground? The guy who is making pictures and drawings, or the people who are trying to beat him up, kill him and burn his house down?

  • I put your comment in moderation Moozorz. If it had been in one of my threads I would have deleted it since you merely regurgitate the “I hate religion” meme and have nothing fresh to offer to the debate. Since it was Christopher’s thread I left the ultimate decision as to what to do with your diatribe up to him when he looked over the thread. He duly approved it since he has much more patience than I do for people who repeat tired cliches as a substitute for substantive argument, and is one of the most fair-minded individuals I have encountered on the internet.

  • First of all, I find it hard to believe that you “had no idea why it was stuck in moderation”. Its your blog after all, even if its an automated process registering on key words, you should have some idea how it works. […]

    See Don’s comment as to why you were in moderation.

    The concept of freedom of expression should be free of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. Just like the definition. I didnt, like you imply, include concepts like “freedom of murdering people”, “freedom to steal” or “freedom to set oneself above the law” when I put down the definition of freedom.

    Unrestrained freedom, absent force of law, can lead to precisely that.

    I’m curious what you might say with respect to a women’s “freedom” with respect to the life of her unborn child?

    Laws and norms of human conduct is a result of the society one lives in.

    If you some day take a good look at the world around you, I think you will realise that in socities in parts of the world that do not have the luxuries and/or traditions of western culture, the defintions of right and wrong are vastly different. Surely,if “upholding certain laws or norms of moral conduct” springs from something deeper, as you say, shouldnt people in all corners of the world share the same sense of morality? Yet they do not.

    Diverse, but now wholly different. I think if you examine different parts of the world, cultures share remarkably similar moral-cultural norms. Show me a culture that specifically endorsed theft, lying, deception, murder, injustice, etc. in direct inversion to what we think of as morality?

    For example, C.S. Lewis in examining various traditions around the world pointed out how they share similar behaviors with respect to the prohibition of murder; the doing of good towards children, parents, kinfolk and neighbors; prohibitions against adultery, etc. I think history has shown as well what happens when cultures or societies abandon or deliberately ignore such ‘laws’:

    http://www.columbia.edu/cu/augustine/arch/lewis/abolition4.htm

    I also note that you are labeling me a “stalinist”.Indeed, atheism and stalinism are required to go hand in hand arent they? There is no way that anyone can be opposed to religion without being some sort of communist. Labeling any opposition communist or stalinist regardless of which issues are being discussed seem to be popular in america.

    While atheism and stalinism aren’t necessarily identical, one can point to a number of historical examples (the french revolution, the bolshevik reovlution, national socialism, etc.) where atheism and totalitarian violence have gone hand in hand. And the nature of your comment — “Religions mock the entire world with their existance [sic] alone” — wasn’t far off from that kind of thinking. What do you propose then, since the mere presence of religion itself is an abomination?

    And then you preach about intolerance. Or spesifically “this kind of intolerance”, implying “intolerance against religions”. Which is appropriate, since religious groups, including catholics, traditionally have a large number of things they have zero tolerance for.

    I’m not necessarily opposed to intolerance. I happen to think “tolerance” and “non-judgementalism” are highly overrated. As Chesterton said, “The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”

    It sure is good to know that believers have the right and knowledge to define what kinds of intolerance are acceptable or not.

    But there you go again — having just indicated by your example that we should all be intolerant of religion.

    The purpose with which lars vilks lash out and taunt the muslim fundementalist is obvious: Its to teach people that they cannot have their way by resorting to violence. Many religious groups, including your own, realised this a long time ago by themselves.

    As I’ve said, there is little question that many Muslim’s response to Vilks is disproportionate and extreme — at the same time, Vilks does not help the matter with his direct provocation to violence by taking what Muslims hold dear — the prophet Muhammad — and violating it.

    Unfortunatly, with the way things are, its impractical to wait the hundreds of years it could take for muslims to reach the same level of peaceful conduct as the major christian factions.

    Muslims have a ways to go, yes. But they might get there a lot faster if we didn’t resort to such tactics as Vilks. You teach toleration and respect for others by practicing it. Vilks’s desire to deliberately invoke violence by blaspheming what they hold dear is merely an echo of Muslim intolerance.

    Lastly, from a western moral perspective, who do you think have the moral high ground? The guy who is making pictures and drawings, or the people who are trying to beat him up, kill him and burn his house down?

    In this case, neither — if the guy who is “making pictures and drawings” does so with the specific intent of inciting people to violence. Come now, it’s not as if Vilks was showing photos of the Mona Lisa or Michaelangelo’s David.

  • @Donald R. McClarey

    I dont hate religion, I just oppose it :3

    Especially when some people in the various religions are attempting to put belief in god above all else, not just for themselves but for others as well.

    @Christopher Blosser

    As I was reading through your latest post, I noticed several things.

    You took my paragraph about freedom of expression and somehow try to twist it into a pro-choice/pro-life issue.

    Undoubtedly because you couldnt, at the time, think of a counter-argument that related to the actual issue that was being discussed, i.e. freedom of expression (other than groundless speculation that having freedom of expression will somehow, in a nondescript fashion, lead to a society where one can freely steal, murder, and put oneself above the law.)

    Next, funny you should mention a connection between atheism and national socialism.

    Let me quote from the The National Socialist Party program from 1920, proclaimed by Adolf Hitler, point 24:

    “We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us, and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework: The good of the state before the good of the individual.¨”

    Restrictive, perhaps, but hardly atheistic.

    Your other examples are more accurate at least.

    Furthermore, in your previous post, you said “But surely we can progress beyond this kind of intolerance?” when I said that religions are old fairytales.

    Yet in your latest post, you say you arent neccesarily opposed to intolerance.

    Thanks, I guess, for demonstrating with such perfect detail that what I said previously about your brand of “tolerance” is absolutely true.

    You have the exact same mindset as the muslim fundamentalists, that your beliefs must be tolerated above all else while the religions themselves should be free to judge and comdemn and generally be intolerant towards anything they wish.

    Be honest: it is because you believe that god is on your side.

    Is it not so? What other reason could you have to justify the difference between religious intolerance against people and peoples intolerance against religion?

    Anyways, your paragraph about Lars Vilks state that he is making pictures and drawings “with spesific intent of inciting people to violence”.

    That something you made up completely on your own.

    You are basically saying he is asking for it, even though nothing has ever indicated that Lars Vilks is trying spesifically to create violence.

    In fact, saying so is an insult to the islamic people, since it implies that we should expect them to react in a violent and barbaric fashion.

    A comparable anology is to say that a woman who wear sexy clothing is asking to be raped, after all, everyone knows that men are primitive and lack the self-control neccesary to stop themselves from assaulting women who arent “properly” dressed.

    While in reality, men do in fact have the potential to control their own behaviour, and many choose to do just that.

    Similarly, I think todays muslims have the potential to control their anger and violent reactions and instead react in a modern and civilized fashion when faced with such displays.

    Unfortunatly, some of them choose not to.

  • Religions should be insulted democratically.

    Why?

    Because if you’re going to insult one, you have to insult them all.

    Oh, OK, very reasonable. Now, run by me why we just, don’t tell really unfunny jokes to “insult” religions again.

    I feel like I’m in that episode of Seinfeld, where he tells a priest that one of his former congregants starts making a lot of anti-semitic jokes, and he asks him if it offends him as a Jew, but he responds, “No, it offends me as a comedian.” That’s just not funny, and therefore, beyond the realm of cartoonists.
    I get that the Jihadists are worse, but come on, are we really going to say, “we’re OK, so long as we’re not terrorists!”?

  • By the way, Moorzorz, you sound so smart. I think you sound so convincing, as though you’re not writing generalized emotional ejaculations (funny word right?); you sound as if you’re not just some pasty white atheist teenager to mid twenty year old, “trolling” (as the “kids” say) on a Conservative Catholic blog saying nothing remotely cerebral, desparately seeking attention, even if it’s only from angry papysts over the internet- that’d be like a neglected child turning form his parents to people he’ll never meet for attention.
    Oh, and also, if you could get me a copy of Dan Brown’s latest work of history, and a t-shirt depicting our hero Che, that’d be great.

    Hipsters 4 Life!

  • You took my paragraph about freedom of expression and somehow try to twist it into a pro-choice/pro-life issue.

    I was basically operating on the assumption that if you define “freedom” as “the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action”, your definition is not merely limited to “self-expression” but freedom of action per se. Hence the question: where does such freedom from coercion begin and end with respect to the unborn?

    Undoubtedly because you couldnt, at the time, think of a counter-argument that related to the actual issue that was being discussed, i.e. freedom of expression (other than groundless speculation that having freedom of expression will somehow, in a nondescript fashion, lead to a society where one can freely steal, murder, and put oneself above the law.)

    Well, I thought we were talking about the nature of freedom per se. If only self expression, then may I assume you would define freedom otherwise — and that there are justifiable limits to freedom when living in society?

    Next, funny you should mention a connection between atheism and national socialism. [Insert quote from the Nazis]. Restrictive, perhaps, but hardly atheistic.

    National socialism was accomodating of religion only insofar as they found it expedient to do so. Ultimately it became a kind of religion of its own, elevating the ‘superman’ (ditto or the Communists). Case in point — Christians who went along with the Third Reich were tolerated; those who didn’t went to the camps along with the gypsies and the Jews. For a firsthand account from one priest, see Priestblock 25487: A Memoir of Dachau. For a broader view, I recommend Michael Burleigh’s The Third Reich: A New History.

    Furthermore, in your previous post, you said “But surely we can progress beyond this kind of intolerance?” when I said that religions are old fairytales. Yet in your latest post, you say you arent neccesarily opposed to intolerance.

    You’re getting the picture. I think it would be difficult indeed to go through life without being discriminating. Moral judgement is as elementary to existence as eating or breathing. And there are things we should quite justifiably be intolerant about.

    On the other hand, when you arrive at a sweeping judgement that religion in toto is an evil and a mockery of human existence, I think such a sweeping condemnation such as your own is a choice example of intolerance born of ignorance. I know of other atheists or agnostics who are quite capable of studying the breadth of human history and discerning positive elements in religion. An attitude that simply mocks and condemns religion strikes me as a rather stunted perspective.

    Anyways, your paragraph about Lars Vilks state that he is making pictures and drawings “with spesific intent of inciting people to violence”. That something you made up completely on your own.

    No need to impute motives here. I need only quote Lars: “It should be possible to insult all religions in a democratic way … If you insult one, then you should insult the other ones.” In the past he depicted Jesus as a paedophile. Don’t tell me he wasn’t hoping to get a reaction. In no way does it justify violence on the part of the protesters, but he certainly wasn’t seeking applause on their part.

    […] Similarly, I think todays muslims have the potential to control their anger and violent reactions and instead react in a modern and civilized fashion when faced with such displays. Unfortunatly, some of them choose not to.

    I think you and I agree on this point — our hope is that Muslims, when they find what they hold most dear insulted in this manner, should be able to restrain themselves from violence.

    That said, I don’t think Lars Vilks necessarily has the right to provocate Muslims in this manner.

  • Lars Vilks has every right to provocate Muslims if that is his wish under Swedish norms as long as he is prepared to pay the price. By what right do the crazed Muslims given residence, asylum and baksheesh in the West under the same suicidal liberal norms, now claim that their Jim Jones is above caricature? The liberal order is unwinding, some honest men Lars Vilks among them, have taken it upon themselves to bring the whole house of lies down.

  • @Clay

    I am dreadfully sorry to come all the way here to this catholic site when I was searching for news about Lars Vilks, I know that people disagreeing with your views must be terribly frightening.

    See? I can use sarcasm to apply attributes to other people too. Thank you for bringing your insight into this discussion.

    In all seriousness though, I am a norwegian, I live in norway, and up here in the north there are no “unwritten rules” that its distasteful internet behaviour to display ones views on a site where people have different views.

    If there is some kind of american unwritten rule about this, please inform me about it and I`ll stop posting.

    Also, if being norwegian somehow invalidates all my views, please inform me and I`ll stop posting.

    @Christoffer Blosser

    I am not just now “getting the picture”, you have read my previous posts, so it should be pretty obvious that I was, unfortunatly, completely right about your views on tolerance from the start.

    I was actually hoping you would disprove my preconceptions on that spesific issue.

    You choose not to address several parts of my paragraph, which is fine, you are free to address the parts you feel neccesary, but I still would like you to tell me how you justify the difference between religious intolerance against people and peoples intolerance against religion, like I asked before.

    I think its because, as I said, you believe your god gives you the right to do so, but I like to think thats not your only reason.

    Furthermore, I have never said religion is evil. Religion is regressive to society, often intolerant and I would even call it irrational.

    But I do not think religious people do what they do and say what they say just for the sake of making other people suffer. If they did, they would be evil.

    By the way, if there is no need to impute motives here, as you say, then perhaps you shouldnt impute motives onto Lars Vilks either?

    Sure, Lars Vilks was hoping to get a reaction. But you said he was spesifically trying to incite a _violent_ reaction.

    Was he trying to incite violence by displaying jesus as a pedophile? Did he except christians to physically attack him and issue death threats when he did?

    I think not.

    Your misconception about Lars Vilks seeking a violent reaction to his displays are only based in your preconcieved judgments against the muslim people.

    You expect them to answer with violence, so to you its obvious that everyone else thinks so too.

    There are several other things I suppose I could, and should, have addressed, but right now I`m out of time, Ì have to head to work.

    I will say this though, Christoffer Blosser, even though we disagree on a great many things, its refreshing to talk with a christian who is willing to argue, rather than the ones who prefer to “answer” only with moderation or bland sarcasm.

  • NOTE: This will be quick, because I think Moozorz and I have discussed this long enough and are conversation is heading into other topics not related to the actual post.

    I still would like you to tell me how you justify the difference between religious intolerance against people and peoples intolerance against religion, like I asked before.

    When speaking of “intolerance”, I think you really need to go into specific detail about what it is you are criticizing. To merely condemn religion in toto as a mockery of humanity — such a sweeping condemnation speaks rather badly and comes across as intolerant. Religions, like anything else, are a mixed bag. If you study Christianity you will find that it, like any other religion, has made positive contributions to society. (Certainly as a Christian I believe it has done more than that; I also recognize that there are many instances where Christians have not behaved in a Christlike manner). At any rate, I think there are positive goods which the religions of the world have to offer which any atheist can recognize if they tried.

    Likewise when you speak of “religion’s intolerance against people”, it may help to be specific.

    I think its because, as I said, you believe your god gives you the right to do so, but I like to think thats not your only reason.

    If you subscribe to a revealed religion, I suppose it’s natural that you will make distinctions between believers and non-believers and to be “intolerant” of certain kinds of actions. But as I’ve pointed out, you don’t have to be religious to make moral distinctions, to condemn certain kinds of behavior, to place limits on human freedom.

    By the way, if there is no need to impute motives here, as you say, then perhaps you shouldnt impute motives onto Lars Vilks either?

    There is no need, because Vilk already gave the reason. He wanted to insult Muslims. He was undoubtedly hoping to get a reaction. A necessarily violent reaction? — Perhaps he wasn’t expecting to get his house firebombed (although in light of past examples, such as the violent reaction of many Muslims to the Pope’s Regensburg address — he might have anticipated such). I do think he would have been sorely disappointed if he didn’t cause offense to Muslims.

    Your misconception about Lars Vilks seeking a violent reaction to his displays are only based in your preconcieved judgments against the muslim people.

    Oh, please. Read what I’ve written about the “Muslim people”, and then decide. (I’m far closer to Muslims than you imagine).

    I certainly don’t think all Muslims respond in the way that Vilks’ critics have done — but let’s face it, there is a subset of Muslims, those who tend to occupy the headlines, who have a propensity to react with threats or actual violence when their religion is mocked. It happens. So I don’t think the possibility of such happening was remote from Vilks’ mind when he decided to ridicule the Prophet Muhammad in the fashion that he did.

    You expect them to answer with violence, so to you its obvious that everyone else thinks so too.

    Actually, no.

    I will say this though, Christoffer Blosser, even though we disagree on a great many things, its refreshing to talk with a christian who is willing to argue, rather than the ones who prefer to “answer” only with moderation or bland sarcasm.

    Feel free to email me if you wish to talk further. blostopher @ gmail.com.

South Park, Fear and Self-Censorship

Friday, April 23, AD 2010

I confess that I have never watched South Park.  From what I have read about it, the show holds nothing sacred and has had cruel attacks on Christ and other religious figures.  Some people have given it a thumbs up for not being politically correct.  I guess the latter is true, because in an episode that aired Wednesday the South Park crew went after the ultimate sacred cow in today’s America, the founder of Islam, Mohammed.

Or rather they attempted to.  Comedy Central, obviously caving to death threats from Islamic extremists, bleeped out the portions of the broadcast aimed at Mohammed:

Comedy Central bleeped out all references to the Prophet Muhammad in Wednesday night’s episode of the animated show “South Park.”

The episode was a continuation of last week’s episode which depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

A radical Muslim website threatened the show’s creators following that episode.

Comedy Central confirmed to FoxNews.com that it had censored the show, and that the episode was not available on its website.

Continue reading...

50 Responses to South Park, Fear and Self-Censorship

  • Matt Stone and Trey Parker are part of the problem.

    Look at their depiction of Muhammad. They were scared enough not to portray him, so they opted for a bear costume.

  • They were scared enough not to portray him, so they opted for a bear costume.

    This was a reference to an earlier episode of South Park where Comedy Central censored an image of Muhammad. Trey and Matt were basically mocking the network for their actions and making a point about the completely absurd double standard, and Comedy Central not only validated their point, but upped the ante as well. Truly remarkable.

  • I have seen South Park on occasion. It’s often hilarious, but too vulgar for me to watch in good conscience. At the same time, I don’t really get the criticism offered in the post. Sure, there’s a double standard; Comedy Central doesn’t receive many death threats from Scientologists (one of the few episodes I’ve seen), Mormons, Catholics, or many other groups. They do receive death threats with a nonzero plausibility from various Muslim groups. And so they have censored some inflammatory comments aimed at people who are threatening their employees.

    Why, exactly, does a tv network devoted to comedy have a moral obligation to stand up to Muslim extremists? Isn’t it just good business practice to take reasonable steps to protect your employees? Also, I can see why you’d object if you thought the show was a valuable contribution to society; but as you don’t, why would you care one way or the other whether it is edited to be less offensive?

  • John Henry,

    It’s my impression of the cowardice of Hollywood and their constant attacks on non-violent Christians is what Don was getting at.

    It’s to highlight how morally deprived and without standards Hollywood has… and to continue to remind the culture of these biases.

    Paul,

    Thanks for clearing that up. It makes much more sense that way.

  • “Why, exactly, does a tv network devoted to comedy have a moral obligation to stand up to Muslim extremists? Isn’t it just good business practice to take reasonable steps to protect your employees? Also, I can see why you’d object if you thought the show was a valuable contribution to society; but as you don’t, why would you care one way or the other whether it is edited to be less offensive?”

    We all have a moral duty in a democracy John Henry to stand up to those who choose to use murder and threats of murder to get their way. Weimar Germany is a prime example of what happens when most people decide to simply keep their heads low and not speak out against those who use violence to intimidate. I dislike what little I know of South Park intensely. I dislike far more those who use threats of homicide getting their way.

    Comedy Central is guilty of cowardice. The cowardice is more contemptible due to their pose of being courageous in giving a forum to a show like South Park which regularly butchers sacred cows. At the first hint of trouble the pose drops in an instant and they stand revealed as cowardly school yard bullies who are shocked that there are consequences to puerile insults.

  • It’s to highlight how morally deprived and without standards Hollywood has… and to continue to remind the culture of these biases.

    Again, why is it morally depraved for a comedy television channel to censor a program – making it less offensive – out of concern for the safety of its employees?

  • Again, why is it morally depraved for a comedy television channel to censor a program – making it less offensive – out of concern for the safety of its employees?

    I double down on your again and will repeat myself to clear my point.

    It is to remind people, again and again, of the moral depravity around us. Once we stop speaking out, like Don says, evil will triumph.

    Or you can continue to live in your relative lap of peace and luxury and continue slinging non-sequiturs at those of us trying to change the culture from your peanut gallery and let it slide.

  • Weimar Germany is a prime example of what happens when most people decide to simply keep their heads low

    Don, you are too well read and sensible to make this type of analogy. Censoring a vulgar comedy show that mocks Muslims in the U.S. in 2010 is not remotely analogous to the rise of the Nazi’s in 1920’s and early 1930’s Germany.

    At the first hint of trouble the pose drops in an instant and they stand revealed as cowardly school yard bullies who are shocked that there are consequences to puerile insults.

    Not really. They still ran the episode, and they have responded to countless legal threats over the years from offended parties. They are willing to accept legal risks, but not physical threats to their employees; that doesn’t seem crazy for a comedy tv channel to me. I don’t understand the content of the moral obligation you are imposing on comedy tv channels. You agree that there is little value to the programming, but state that they should ignore threats to their employees lives in order to broadcast it.

  • Maybe it’s important to point out the hypocrisy of a network that likes to pass itself off as “edgy” with all its attacks on non-violent Christians and suggestions to employees of other “less noble” networks to go fornicate with themselves.

    What Comedy Central should have done is made clear why they are engaging in a double standard by issuing a disclaimer that spelled out that the reason they don’t censor blasphemous things such as Jesus watching pornography is because Christians, despite the rhetoric of Hollywood, don’t actually turn out to be very violent when they have their Faith mocked, whereas practitioners of Islam have shown themselves to be quite violent when their faith is questioned in the arts and the media.

    The fact is that “edgy” Comedy Central is really just a bunch of cowards and bullies striking out at those who don’t fight back while shrinking from those most deserving of having their beliefs (or at least how those beliefs are often put into practice) called into question.

  • It is to remind people, again and again, of the moral depravity around us.

    But aren’t you making the case for broadcasting ‘depravity’?

    Look, this isn’t a big deal. I don’t care whether or how Comedy Central censors their programs. I’m sympathetic to the idea that Western culture needs to defend its values; I just don’t think this is the best example to make that case. It seems to me we could pick our battles better.

  • I generally disapprove of skewering religion for laughs, and maybe it isn’t Comedy Central’s job to draw the line in the sand. But if any show were going to get away with something like this, it’d be South Park. It’s disappointing that no one stands up to this kind of crap:

    “It’s not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome,” al Amrikee said, referring to the possibility that Parker and Stone could be murdered for mocking Muhammad. “They’re going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It’s just the reality.”

    That kind of stuff is just crying out for ridicule. When South Park does those “Jesus and Pals” TV, they’re probably blasphemous (and sometimes funny, I’ll admit). I never issued a mafioso-sounding statement like that guy, though.

  • I think the obvious source of frustration here is not that people want to see Islam insulted, but rather the feeling that Islam is being rewarded with more respect because of the small minority of its followers who are ready and eager to behead or otherwise attack those who offend them, while Christianity is being punished because it lacks a true violent minority.

    And this is made the more galling because Christians are often scolded for allegedly being violent and oppressive.

  • but rather the feeling that Islam is being rewarded with more respect because of the small minority of its followers who are ready and eager to behead or otherwise attack those who offend them, while Christianity is being punished because it lacks a true violent minority.

    Well, but it’s not just Christianity. South Park takes on all comers – from Jews, to Mormons, to Scientologists, to politicians; it’s basically anybody in the country that doesn’t happen to have a sizable minority that issues official death threats. And even then, they ran the episode. I don’t think that really amounts to more respect for Islam; just an acknowledgment that some of its adherents are prone to violence. If anything, that results in less respect for Islam as a religion. People wouldn’t respect Catholicism more if Catholics issued death threats every time they were mocked, although it might lead to a reduction in mockery. In the end, this is not a flattering message about Islam; quite the opposite.

    And this is made the more galling because Christians are often scolded for allegedly being violent and oppressive.

    I can understand why that suggestion is galling. But this is much better understood as the idea that there are different rules for Islamic terrorists than for everyone else, than as a contrast with Christians, or Jews, or whomever. If South Park only picked on Christians this would make more sense to me. As it is, it appears like a comedy channel is being criticized for not confronting terrorists more forthrightly…I’ve never thought that was in the job description of a comedy channel, nor do I think on the merits that there is that much value to insulting religious traditions. I understand the hypocrisy objection Jay raises – and I understand the artistic expression objections no one here has raised – but it’s only hypocrisy if there’s inconsistency. The threats of Islamic extremists are different in kind than the other threats, so I see that type of inconsistency as sensible rather than hypocritical. At least, while I might want to run the episode unedited just to be contrary, I don’t blame people actually responsible for the decision for choosing otherwise.

  • But of course comedy central had no issue leaving in the parts of the same episode where Jesus was watching porn and buddha snortng coke.

  • Interesting discussion- I like John Henry’s out-of-the-box thinking on this- my first reaction is to lash out at the cowardice of Comedy Central- but really the reality is that the threat of violence is a real one and one has to be prudent. The real solution to the double-standard is for Catholics and all Christians to find a non-violent means of conveying the same kind of “threat” not to the lives but to the livelihoods of South Park’s personnel and Comedy Central as well. This is a whole lot harder than having a little violent mafia that can be summoned to break some arms and legs to get our way. But it shouldn’t surprise us that since Christ’s Way is the Truth, He wouldn’t allow us to take immoral shortcuts. And so, we resume the battle for souls in an often hostile world- My own contribution has been to stop watching larry david’s show after the “piss christ” episode even though I really really wanted to see the Seinfeld reunion bits, and I stopped watching South Park a year or two ago and even Colbert is something that I am rarely taking in anymore- I suppose it is something of a boycott, and boycott are only effective if they are huge- these things are tough to organize, but we start with ourselves and our little sphere’s of influence to get people to consider just taking a powder of such offensive programs.

  • If anything, that results in less respect for Islam as a religion. People wouldn’t respect Catholicism more if Catholics issued death threats every time they were mocked, although it might lead to a reduction in mockery. In the end, this is not a flattering message about Islam; quite the opposite.

    That’s actually precisely one of the takeaways I had to this kerfuffle. I don’t think it justifies Comedy Central’s decision, but what does it say that even a veiled threat is taken so seriously?

  • You own a business with many employees under your care. A couple employees want to stage some public spectacle sponsored by the company that you have no objection to except that protesters promise to retaliate with lethal force. What do you do?

  • “Don, you are too well read and sensible to make this type of analogy. Censoring a vulgar comedy show that mocks Muslims in the U.S. in 2010 is not remotely analogous to the rise of the Nazi’s in 1920’s and early 1930’s Germany.”

    Actually John Henry I think that Islamic Jihadists and the Nazis have quite a bit in common in regard to their use of violence and the threat of violence to achieve their ends. I also think many of the elites in our society are every bit as decadent and cowardly as the elites who ran Weimar Germany.

  • “They still ran the episode, and they have responded to countless legal threats over the years from offended parties.”

    They ran a censored episode John Henry as a sign of their capitulation. They were unafraid of legal challenges, because, as you and I as attorneys both know, they had nothing to fear from the legal challenges and much to gain from the free publicity. They gave the Jihadists a victory and gave way to death threats because they are craven cowards.

  • John Henry, we commonly come up short in various ways. We should not. We need to understand that we come up short. Lacking in physical courage and cojones is coming up short. Offering apologetics for this sort of behavior works toward breeding more of it in the coming generation, which is not to be desired.

  • AD, I believe the phenomenon you’re describing is referred to as ‘projection’ in the psychological literature. Not everyone evaluates arguments primarily through the prism of adolescent chest-thumping. Not that there is anything wrong with being an adolescent, of course. It’s a question of the proper time and place.

  • I also think many of the elites in our society are every bit as decadent and cowardly as the elites who ran Weimar Germany.

    And so…what? Comedy channels should run programs offensive to Muslims to prevent radical Islamists from over-taking our government like the Nazi’s seized power in Germany? As I said, I don’t really care one way or the other what Comedy Central does. I’d probably rather see the episode unedited; but I don’t think the arguments you’ve offered are very compelling.

  • They gave the Jihadists a victory and gave way to death threats because they are craven cowards.

    Again, what is ‘craven’ about this? It may be cowardly – most precautionary measures can be so described – but what is craven about it?

  • If Catholic programmers had bowed to threats made by Islamic extremists who did not like the orthodox Catholic perception of Islam or some key component of Islamic religious practice- like the problem of reciprocity in giving religious liberty to non-Islamic religions- then I would be upset. Catholics should not bow down to unjust demands- but Comedy Central is probably staffed by moral relativists who represent the secularist mindset well- hold to certain ideals until they become inconvenient- and switch back when they the storm has passed. The South Park approach of skewering all sacred cows will be revised according to the level of “threat” to either physical lives of the show’s creative staff or to the economic damage that a planned or spontaneous boycott would create.

  • AD, I believe the phenomenon you’re describing is referred to as ‘projection’ in the psychological literature. I would advise you not to showcase certain insecurities, intellectual or otherwise, so openly.

    I look forward to john Henry’s next blog post about how conservatives commentators need to be more reasoned, and how we should avoid ad homimem argumentation. Leading by example, as always.

  • Paul, I don’t know why you felt the need to comment there. I mean, honestly. What are you trying to accomplish? Granted, I shouldn’t have responded with an ad hominem to AD”s ad hominem. It’s bad practice. I don’t really see why you decided to get involved, though. I certainly wasn’t talking to you, and there is no need for you to be so nasty.

  • So, basically you acted like a tool, and your reaction is to admonish me.

  • I apologize, again, for responding to AD’s ad hominem in kind. There is not much else I can do. I am not going to hi-jack Don’s thread any further responding to your unnecessarily hostile remarks.

  • When someone is attacked via ad hominem or otherwise it is acceptable in my view, and in fact can be noble, for a third party to defend the person attacked.

  • Mike,

    I agree. I thought what happened was that Art Deco attacked me with an ad hominem and I responded, wrongly, in kind. Then Paul jumped in ostensibly to scold me for responding with an ad hominem, while throwing another into the mix. Was I wrong to interpret Art Deco’s remark as a childish ad hominem? If so, then I apologize both for misinterpreting and for responding as I did. As it is, I just apologize for the response.

  • John, I dunno. I suspect that all of us just allowed our passions to momentarily get the better of us, me included.

  • John Henry,

    Why are you bending over backwards to defend cowardice?

    You say you really don’t care about this issue, yet here you are a dozen posts or so into defending your view on it.

    Your attitude, if I may say so, is precisely the wrong one to take. You are distorting the comparisons others in order to continually justify a position that most of the people here rightly and instinctively know is wrong – servility and groveling in the face of a relentless and brutal enemy.

    You say,

    “Look, this isn’t a big deal. I don’t care whether or how Comedy Central censors their programs. I’m sympathetic to the idea that Western culture needs to defend its values; I just don’t think this is the best example to make that case. It seems to me we could pick our battles better.”

    We don’t get to pick our battles, John. Our battles come to us. They “pick” us.

    If we can’t stand up for ourselves over “small” things, then I question our ability to stand up over large ones.

    When dealing with an aggressive foe, boundaries must be drawn, they must be made to know that they can NEVER get away with death threats against American citizens.

    I don’t give a rats about the content of South Park. The show has its great political moments, it has also terribly insulted the Church and Christ on numerous occasions. The show’s writers are still too childish and naive to understand that the Church is the best thing that ever happened to Western civilization and is worth promoting, and not attacking; so be it.

    They’re still American citizens and they still deserve to be able to exercise their first amendment rights without fear of death threats from a group of fanatics who use violence to show how angry they are that people portray them as violent in the ultimate act of psychopathy.

    What if the Muslims threatened to blow up the studio where South Park is made unless Matt and Trey convert to Islam? Should they do it? Where do you draw the line? At what point does “safety” take a backseat to human dignity and honor?

    I would like to know.

  • I view this whole thing as a sad commentary on free speech today. The 1st amendment at its finest is meant to protect the thoughts and speech that people would die for; yet it has become merely interpreted by our society as the right to say whatever disgusting and offensive thing they can think of.

    While the creators of South Park & Comedy Central would no doubt believe themselves to be advocates of free speech (as shown by the show’s frequent attempts to push the limits of the FCC), it is telling that what they backed off as soon as any consequences were hinted at.

    That’s not to say the made the wrong decision. I don’t think unnecessary blasphemy is funny nor do I think it’s worth dying to protect the right to unnecessarily blaspheme. I just wish that they would take the same time & effort they have put into this into saying something worth saying and worth dying for.

  • John Henry, I do not think the term ad hominem means what you think it does.

    That aside, my personal biography is obscure to you, as are my insecurities and what not.

  • What if the Muslims threatened to blow up the studio where South Park is made unless Matt and Trey convert to Islam? Should they do it? Where do you draw the line? At what point does “safety” take a backseat to human dignity and honor?

    Since you’ve specifically requested that I respond, I will, but I think my shift as volunteer pinata on this thread will be over after that. I am not sure that running vulgar, self-satisfied cartoons that insult various religious traditions is a matter of ‘human dignity’ and ‘honor’. And so I’m fine leaving the decision of whether to offend Muslims in that way up to Comedy Central and the writers to work out among themselves. It’s not like we’re talking about high art or a great contribution to culture here. South Park is probably the crudest show on cable – and that’s a difficult category to win these days. Notice, most of the criticisms above are about a double standard – South Park goes after anyone else with abandon, but not Muslims. I explained above that there seems to me to be a reasonable distinction there given the threats of violence, or at least there is room for reasonable disagreement.

    Is this a type of ‘surrender’ to violence; maybe, but I would not be surrendering anything I view as particularly valuable here. A private company that runs a Comedy Channel self-censoring to make its program less offensive doesn’t bother me. When something that I value is at stake, that’s where I’ll draw the line. For instance, if the FCC or some other government group tried to coerce a private company to self censor in this manner, I’d absolutely oppose that type of government action. Or if the program in question was a debate among scholars about the Koran or Islam & violence, I’d have a problem. But, as it is, the terrorists are damaging themselves more than anyone else – and more than any episode of South Park could.

  • John Henry, I do not think the term ad hominem means what you think it does.

    That aside, my personal biography is obscure to you, as are my insecurities and what not.

    AD, now, that you’ve re-appeared, I apologize again. I am well aware of what an ad hominem is; apologies for the misinterpretation (assuming you were not intending to insult me) and response (regardless of whether you intended to insult me or not).

  • ” I am not sure that running vulgar, self-satisfied cartoons that insult various religious traditions is a matter of ‘human dignity’ and ‘honor’.”

    Way to twist the argument. It is a matter of dignity and honor to not cower before threats of violence, regardless of what one is doing.

    For their part, Matt & Trey are challenging the double standard as applied to Islam. As a point of logic, they are absolutely correct – it is inconsistent and cowardly for CC to allow them to mock Christ and other religious figures but not Mohammed. It is a clear sign and signal that Islam’s violent threats have “worked”, that they have acquired a special immunity. This is unacceptable.

    “It’s not like we’re talking about high art or a great contribution to culture here.”

    It doesn’t matter.

    “South Park is probably the crudest show on cable – and that’s a difficult category to win these days.”

    You haven’t seen Drawn Together, then… At any rate, while it is slightly off-topic, South Park may be crude but it often approaches political issues from a more mature standpoint than most cable news commentary. Sometimes I think the creators add as much vulgarity as they do as a test – if you “see through it” and watch the show for the message, you learn something. I could be wrong.

    “Notice, most of the criticisms above are about a double standard – South Park goes after anyone else with abandon, but not Muslims. ”

    Though this isn’t your point, I will say here that Matt and Trey WOULD “go after Muslims” – it is the network execs. at CC that censor them.

    The first part of the episode (it was a two parter) highlighted the fact that BEFORE the controversy in Denmark, South Park prominently featured a Mohammed in the original “Super Best Friends” episode and there was NO PROBLEM.

    Then a group of fanatics in Denmark arbitrarily decided that it was the time to start getting violent over print depictions of Mohammed, and everything changed. Frankly, as a Christian I am as disgusted as any civil libertarian at this servility. These people are bullies, and you stand up to bullies, you don’t back down.

    “When something that I value is at stake, that’s where I’ll draw the line.”

    Ok. I think that strategy is pointless, since the thing to be valued is our freedom not to be threatened by violent extremists, but whatever.

  • Why expect the Comedy Central execs to be any braver than the newspaper editors who refused to publish the Mohammed cartoons, or Western leaders who rush to preemptively denounce “hate crimes” against Muslims the second after any Muslim commits a hate crime?

    The merits and faults of South Park are secondary compared to the larger context, which is that Western governments and media (the same media which pride themselves on “speaking truth to power”) are utterly cowed by Muslim. The MSM caved on the Mohammed cartoons; Mark Steyn was hauled before the modern day equivalent of the Star Chamber in Canada for “hate crimes” (his “crime” was actually quoting a Muslim iman accurately); the French media reports on “youths” holding their nightly carbeques in the Paris suburbs without mentioning that the Renault-torching youths all belong to a certain religion; Geert Wilders is on trial for hate crimes against Muslims, although he is the one who needs police protection; Theo van Gogh was carved up in an Amsterdam street in broad daylight and none of his fellow filmmakers saw fit to mention his brutal slaying at that year’s Academy Awards. I could go on – and on. The more they bully and threaten, the more the West kowtows to their demands, to their inviolate right never to be offended, no matter how mild or unintentional the offense is. A few years ago, some company in the UK banned coffee cups depicting Porky the Pig because Muslim employees were offended by them. The Jews traditionally have never had much use for pork, but I’ll wager it never crossed the minds of even orthodox Jews to call for a ban on cups with pictures of cartoon pigs.

    The Muslim grievance society is perpetually aggrieved. They demand and demand and demand, and the West gives in and apologizes and capitulates endlessly. And the same people who do give in to the Muslims because of the very real fact of Islamic extremism fret about imaginary “tea party violence” and congratulate themselves for being daring when they insult Christians.

  • “And the same people who do give in to the Muslims because of the very real fact of Islamic extremism fret about imaginary “tea party violence” and congratulate themselves for being daring when they insult Christians.”

    That they do – and they sicken me.

  • Very interesting thread. My first instinct was to side with the snot-nosed religion-bashers over the violent psychopaths and the cowards, but really there are no role models in this story.

    I think it is the obligation of anyone in the field of communications to risk his life for human rights. We typically don’t think of it that way, but Vaclav Havel would. If you’re lucky enough to go a few decades without risking your life for something, you’re in a historical lull, but those don’t last long. The whole point of life is to pick a side.

  • Is Obama a coward for refusing to release the prisoner abuse photos?

    It’s one thing to put your own life on the line, but when you’re responsible for the lives of others, sometimes you should bite your tongue. Besides, it’s not like Comedy Central was protecting the Holy Grail. It was a cartoon. The right of Comedy Central to air a cartoon on one side and real lives on the other. I think they did the right thing.

  • Giving into a threat of murder restrainedradical merely encourages those who make the threats. It is cowardly and simply doesn’t work in the long run.

  • Some of you may be getting caught up in the vulgarity of southpark but it actually touches a lot on social and political issues. By the mere fact that they are willing to accept death threats because they believe in free speech actually says a lot about their character.

    Lets set aside the problems you have with southpark and at least acknowledge that.

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  • Of course catholics would defend the muslims because just like them they are responsible for far worse evils than ANYONE in the history of hollywood. Im glad its finally coming to light just how corrupt the holier than thou are.

  • Right. People killed in just wars waged by the Catholic Church (the “Crusades”) = a few thousand.

    People killed by atheist communists for a demented ideology that doesn’t even work = somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 million.

    No, you non-believers have us beat.

  • MR, who can possibly argue with someone who has such a keen grasp of history? For future reference I am going to exercise my prerogative of blog censorship and state that I find your assumed name offensive and any further comments under that name will go to the spam file and you will be banned from this blog. I defend the right of the South Park creators to be jerks in the face of Jihadist death threats. That does not mean that I wish to see their style of ignorant jerkiness emulated in my threads.

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