Free speech all the way until I sue you

An interesting remark being retweeted on twitter:

@mumbletwits Anyone who thunders about absolute free speech should promise to never avail themselves of libel/defo laws.

Not that it would be legally binding. But I like to think that such a hypocrite, most particularly one with access to a powerful soapbox, would eventually find themselves in court having their own words – or, even better, the precedent they’d sought in their own earlier defamation case – thrown back at them, with devastating results.

Anyone who’s been watching the media landscape for the last decade or so will have seen some extraordinary things. People with entire national broadsheets at their disposal threatening to sue people who’ve tweeted remarks made by others. We’ve seen media companies themselves issuing proceedings on completely the opposite side from which you’d expect to find guardians of free speech. We’ve seen journalists whose entire business is using their pulpit to attack others, often in the most personal and misleading ways possible, having their lawyers demand salve for their own wounded feelings.

It’s all a bit silly, isn’t it? The powerful with all these outlets at their command demanding money and compensation from critics via the courts for their hurt feelings? Is robust speech to be, in practice, all one way – the privilege of the powerful at the expense of the ordinary person?

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63 responses to “Free speech all the way until I sue you

  1. Splatterbottom

    And anyone who doesn’t thunder about free speech should shut up and kill themselves. Free speech, that most fundamental of freedoms, is under vicious attack from the goons of political correctness and religious fanatics everywhere.

    I don’t like defamation laws much at all but surely we should at least have a rule that public figures need to show actual malice on the part of the defendant as is the case in the US.

  2. “…should shut up and kill themselves.”

    … is an advocacy of free speech, how?

    Anyway, speaking of Frank Sinatra being right…

    When Bernard Keane and Margaret Simons* published some pieces taking an absolutist position on free speech, I wrote to both (through their ‘daily’).
    I asked wether “free speech”(TM) protected libel, or libellers with demonstrable form. I also asked where they were when the Chasers got suspended for “Make a Realistic Wish Foundation” (a swipe at the commodification of disadvantaged kids), a less offensive piece than the one they excused.
    It was generic other than the Chaser reference.

    It has yet to appear, but commenters before and since mine have appeared, as have more fulsome ones than mine.
    Make of that, what you will.

    Oh well, as least they can’t sue me for writing it, unless they DO print it…

    *Simons disavows any description of her position as absolutist… cue Mandy Rice-Davies

  3. Splatterbottom

    Lykurgis, what is an absolutist position? If I use words to commit a crime does anyone think the right to free speech should get me off? That would be an absolutist position. In fact I have not heard of a “free speech absolutist” except from the mouths of those wanting to further limit free speech rights.

  4. I’m a bit confused about the ‘right’ of free speech in Australia. Most conversations seem to assume we have the same rights that are granted in the USA by the (appropriately named) Bill of Rights. As recently as 2002 this does not seem to be the case in Australia. Have things changed since then?

    The list of the five fundamental freedoms listed on the Australian Government Department of Immigration website has this to say about freedom of speech:

    Australians are free, within the bounds of the law, to say or write what we think privately or publicly, about the government, or about any topic. We do not censor the media and may criticise the government without fear of arrest. Free speech comes from facts, not rumours, and the intention must be constructive, not to do harm. There are laws to protect a person’s good name and integrity against false information. There are laws against saying or writing things to incite hatred against others because of their culture, ethnicity or background. Freedom of speech is not an excuse to harm others.

    This isn’t legislation – simply a guide for new citizens. There are a number of qualifiers in there (‘bounds of law’, ‘inciting hatred’, ‘not an excuse to harm others’).

    I could think of a number of instances where making a perfectly true statement about an individual or organisation could harm them but could be argued to be in the best interests of a larger group. Where the law is not specific, or where multiple laws could apply to the situation you would have to go to court for a decision. Unfortunately the legal system does seem to be biased towards those with greater resources, especially in such gray areas. An individual for example is not likely to have the same resources available as a corporation. This is not an intentional bias, simply a factor of market forces.

    Free speech (and balanced representation under the law for that matter) is one of those issues we will be debating forever because there is no distinct line that can be drawn to decide what is acceptable or unacceptable. Libel and defamation need to be guarded against but those laws should not be able to be used to restrict valid criticism. There must be the ability to maintain trade, commercial and security secrets but legal support for whistle-blowers needs to be present so illegal or dubious activities can be exposed.

    As always education and awareness are key elements to ensure this line does not stray to far to one side or another. I was pleased to see a number of articles coming out in favour of Andrew Bolt – not for what he said, but for his right to say it. True ‘free speech’ means having to defend those you don’t agree with.

    Sorry for the long response, this issue is particularly dear to my heart. It also overlaps with the issue of censorship (think the R18+ game rating argument) and the overlap of the two can become very blurry.

  5. As if I didn’t have enough to say last time I’m back again 🙂

    I was reading through the various political blogs I have in my reader and came across this article (warning: NSFW language).

    A brief summary: A pastor (Terry Jones) in the US went ahead with his long term threat to burn a Koran. As a result (expected by most and possibly desired by him) there were riots, violence and counter-protests in many Islamic communities. In Afghanistan the result was death to people not involved in the burning. There has already been some conversation about how this applies to free speech (in this case it is argued that freedom of speech should be limited in time of war).

    This is certainly a case where you have to question the limits of free speech or at least come to terms with the possible consequences. Free speech applies to all, even those who would use it for self promotion, manipulation of public opinion or without the foresight to see what the results could be.

    I’m not against the burning of any book (even holy books) as an expression of your views although I do think it’s a pretty stupid way to express them. Some books seem to get burned more often than others (the ‘Harry Potter’ series was a recent favourite).

    Burning the Koran has been done before without the same reaction (a quick google search can find many other instances). In these cases however there was no big lead up, no meeting with national political or religious figures, no big push for publicity – just a random person expressing their opinion on YouTube or a blog.

    The murderous reaction itself is extreme, untenable and unforgivable – of that there is no doubt. It was also predictable and that should have been in the mind of the pastor when he performed the act – by expressing his views in the way he did he knowingly (what is the legal definition – ‘a reasonable person’ would know?) that he would be inciting violence.

    In some cases the reactions involved groups coming together and burning effigies of the pastor or of Barack Obama – a fair enough response to the original act even if it is not something I would do. Burning things (books, flags or effigies) is a symbolic act – I consider it a fairly extreme symbolic act but it remains symbolic – no-one gets physically harmed even if emotions and feelings may be hurt.

    Americans have attempted for a long time to raise their flag to the status of an untouchable symbol – the response to flag burnings tends to be a flurry of legislation and legal challenges rather than riots and deaths. A culture that puts such a great symbolic significance in an object should surely be able to understand the symbolic significance of objects for another culture? We may not agree with or support the reaction but we can understand how it came about at least?

    Perhaps the question we should be asking is how a backwater pastor with a congregation numbering around 200 could have his unoriginal idea make it to the national media in the US and then have his actions broadcast around the world when he finally carried through with it?

    Does ‘inciting violence’ have any legal merit when the violence occurs in another country? In Australia would his actions have been illegal due to ‘racial or religious intolerance’? If that is the case what is the status of atheists who condemn (hopefully only with words) all religions? Does an action like this even constitute ‘speech’ or is it the reporting of the action which is the ‘speech’?

    This is one case that pushes the boundaries of what should be considered ‘free speech’ and what should be considered ‘incitement’. Regardless of religious or political views the side effects of this should make you question what (if any) limits should be applied to free speech. Your answer may very well be the same as what you already believe but perhaps you, like I, can come to an understanding that free speech is not universally a good thing for everyone and that it has it’s dangers as well.

  6. Splatterbottom

    Ghost: “This is one case that pushes the boundaries of what should be considered ‘free speech’ and what should be considered ‘incitement’. “

    Burning the Koran doesn’t even come close to incitement. It is their hideous religious beliefs that incites these murderous bigots.

    The proposition that religious fanatics should dictate free speech laws in other countries is beyond insane. Acquiescing in that proposition is a quick trip to tyranny. The appropriate response is for the rest of the world to institute an International Burn The Koran Day to explain to these fascists that they are not entitled to inflict their primitive views on the rest of the world.

    “free speech is not universally a good thing for everyone and that it has it’s dangers as well.”

    There is certainly a cost to free speech. It means that people sometimes get their feelings hurt. That is utterly insignificant compared to the benefits deriving from free speech. Free speech is the most fundamental of freedoms. To tell someone their thoughts are so terrible that they must not express them is to deny their humanity.

  7. I believe that there are 2 issues here, unfortunately they are moral rather than legal issues.
    1 There is the question of intent. There is no doubt whatsoever that the suposed pastor intended to start a riot. Whether there was intent that someone would lose their life brings us to the second issue.
    2 Responsibility for the results of one’s words or actions. Whatever I say or do has ramifications. Like it or not we live in a global village and there are some things that are best not said or done so as to reduce friction between people(s) who share this village.

    Wars have been started over lesser actions than this

  8. @Splatterbottom: Burning the Koran doesn’t even come close to incitement. It is their hideous religious beliefs that incites these murderous bigots.

    Ok, I was with you up until It is their hideous religious beliefs …. Try going on to a Christian blog and defending abortion – you will get a good mix of murderous and bigoted responses. Responses that are bigoted are protected by ‘free speech’, the fact you are not actually murdered is more of a result of our culture and legal system.

    Here there are definite consequences to actions – if I disagree with your views on abortion (or actions pertaining to that belief) there are consequences if I perform an act of violence on those impulses (although it doesn’t stop people from acting on them). If the legal consequences of such an act were lowered do you think that more people would engage in the activity (and claim ‘religious belief’ as a reason)?

    In Afghanistan (the location of the murders) there is little to no consequence for the perpetrators (or at least nothing worse than what they are already undergoing). As I said in my original post these actions are not acceptable but they can occur in that environment with no detrimental effect to the person that performed them – Afghanistan is not Australia and it is not the US no matter how much we would like it to be.

    @Splatterbottom: The proposition that religious fanatics should dictate free speech laws in other countries is beyond insane.

    Here I heartily agree with you. My question (at the bottom of my post) was related to the legal implications – not what is right or wrong. If Terry Jones was pastor in Dingos Foot, Queensland instead of Toads Leg, Arizona (both locations made up btw) could the Australian or Queensland government lay charges based on incitement? How are international boundaries treated in such a case? Can freedom of speech in Australia (or the US in this case) be influenced by external opinion? I don’t have clear and definable answers for any of these – that’s why I was presenting this example for discussion.

    It’s not just religious issues that we should be concerned about either – what about political, financial or moral issues? Should news outlets avoid discussing the performance of the $US or stock market because of potential negative responses from trading partners? Should we avoid discussing human rights violations in China because they are our largest trading partner? If any group is large enough to damage us or considered ‘politically incorrect’ to mention do we deem them exempt from criticism (a charge often leveled in this context in a form similar to ‘it’s ok to burn a bible, but a crime to burn a koran’ or in the accusations of ‘antisemitism’ leveled at anyone that criticises actions of the Israeli government).

    @Splatterbottom: There is certainly a cost to free speech. It means that people sometimes get their feelings hurt.

    Unfortunately the cost you cite is simply the first level cost (and you’ve underestimated that for a lot of scenarios). Libel and defamation laws exist primarily to help people deal with the first level costs – where you have either deliberately or inadvertently disseminated a lie about me or you have used elements of my personal life in order to do harm to me (assuming those elements do not involve illegal activities).

    When you make statements about a group of people or an individual who represents a group you definitely get secondary and tertiary effects. Make statements about Catholic priests who molest children and you will get negative responses from Catholics who may very well agree with you that the individuals did the wrong thing but need to defend their group, make statements about the current party leader (whatever party) and you will get negative responses from people that may very well agree with you about that leader but need to defend their group. As you say – this normally goes no further than hurt feelings.

    The tertiary effects tend to involve the fringe members of the group – those that have made the group the primary thing in their lives. By attacking the group in general or a recognised leader of the group you are attacking them and they will retaliate.

    In the case I stated in my comment this was fairly predictable, it was also fairly predictable that the events would happen in a country where finding and prosecuting the perpetrators would be next to impossible (and not very high on the TO-DO list of the powers in charge).

    If you had the opportunity to perform an act or make a statement that demonstrated your feelings about a group knowing that you might incite that same group to kill Australians by performing it would you do it? Or would you try and find another way of expressing your feelings that would be less antagonistic?

  9. @lindsayms:

    The first issue is both moral and legal. AFAIK the question of ‘intent’ determines sentencing (or even the charge) for most laws. The difference between running someone down because you wanted to (intended) versus running them down because you had a few too many drinks (unintended) makes a big difference.

    As for the intentions of the pastor involved I don’t believe he had anything more in mind than increasing his personal fame. For him (and for a lot of rural Americans I have met – I lived there, in mining towns, for the better part of two years) things that exist outside of the borders of the continental USA are little more than abstract constructs. I do believe he was hoping for press coverage similar to that when the infamous Muhammad Cartoons were published.

    I believe he wanted to see violent riots across the Muslim world (and specifically in Muslim communities within the ‘western’ world) but did not expect the deaths (or at least the deaths of non-Muslims) that occurred. I do not believe he intended any deaths to occur – he simply wanted news-worthy responses that would bolster his own fame.

    Your second point, I believe, is purely moral. As I said in my post (and expanded on in my response to @Splatterbottom) this raises a number of legal issues – if my speech in this country incites violence in another is that still illegal? As far as I can tell the answer is no. What I would like to see is the pastor apologise for the side effects of his actions (not accept responsibility for those that performed the murders, simply acknowledge that his actions triggered a chain reaction that lead to that event). As you said, accept personal responsibility. In all honesty it’s possible he already has (in front of his congregation) but it’s unlikely to be reported if he did.

    As for the global village – it’s a visible dream but not yet a reality. At best we live in a global suburb that consists of a handful of gated communities. Legal, religious and political differences create the gates and most of them are there to protect the legal, religious and political constructs that have developed behind them. That’s probably a topic for another discussion though 😛

  10. “The appropriate response is for the rest of the world to institute an International Burn The Koran Day to explain to these fascists that they are not entitled to inflict their primitive views on the rest of the world.
    […]
    There is certainly a cost to free speech. It means that people sometimes get their feelings hurt. That is utterly insignificant compared to the benefits deriving from free speech.”

    Let’s test how far your willing to let feelings get hurt in the name of free speech SB.

    Let’s follow “International Burn the Koran Day” the next day with “International Burn The Bible Day”. If we’re burning books based on “primitive views” then the Bible predates the Koran by several centuries and is thus arguably “more primitive” in its thinking. And has led to no less horror for the people living in Bible-drenched societies who don’t measure up (women, gays, other minorities).

    I’m interested to see if your response is anything other than “Whaaa!!! My freedom is being curtailed by the evil leftist atheist conspiracy! Make him stop!”

  11. @Splatterbottom: The proposition that religious fanatics should dictate free speech laws in other countries is beyond insane.
    …Unless they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour (goes without saying really)

    Seems we collectively hit a nerve in our silently-suffering SB again… prompting yet another reminder of how passionately he believes in HIS OWN free speech.

    Honestly, I don’t know why he puts up with the dire threat this whole country poses to his First Amendment rights.

  12. Splatterbottom

    ghost: ” I was with you up until “It is their hideous religious beliefs ….” Try going on to a Christian blog and defending abortion …. “

    How on earth does that rebut my statement? Are you somehow suggesting that a belief that blasphemy justifies murder? The fact is that that belief is hideous. I do not understand why you disagree.

    The cause of the deaths was that murderous fanatics acted on their religious beliefs. Allowing the human rights of others to be held hostage to sick religious beliefs is disastrous. The consequences of acquiescing in that situation are too vile to even contemplate.

    Whether or not any foreign law encourages such actions is irrelevant to the perfidy of the killers. It made no difference to Theo van Gogh who had a religious message pinned to his chest with a knife inserted there by a savage.

    Your primary – secondary – tertiary analysis is tendentious blather. Arbitrary categorisation is not a rational argument. For example:

    “The tertiary effects tend to involve the fringe members of the group – those that have made the group the primary thing in their lives. By attacking the group in general or a recognised leader of the group you are attacking them and they will retaliate.”

    The fact that you can predict behaviour says nothing about the stupidity of limiting the freedom of others to mollify murderous fanatics.

    In this discussion the intentions of the Koran-burner are irrelevant. What is at issue is his freedom to do so.

    Fortunately the US constitution will protect his free speech rights. I am concerned that in places like Australia nonsensical arguments will prevail to the detriment of fundamental human rights.

    To attribute some external cause to the actions of fanatics is to deny their humanity. To deny them agency is demeaning them to a status less than fully human. Denial of agency is precisely the reason victim status is fetishised by the left. It is a fundamental error in in Marxist “thought”, and not surprisingly it is such a common fault-line in arguments between leftists and normal people.

    Lykurgus, I believe in everybody’s right to free speech. But Ghost’s proposition is tempting – I am in fact so passionate about free speech that if anyone suggests limiting speech rights I will kill some leftist somewhere, and the cause of the killing will be the actions of those who propose a curtailment of free speech rights. They had better shut up now! That is how stupid the argument is.

  13. Ghost, please come back WHENEVER you want.

    Especially when SB tries to make one of his points about religion. Particularly Islam.

  14. “The cause of the deaths was that murderous fanatics acted on their religious beliefs”

    How dare you speak of GW Bush like that, the crusader, who invaded Iraq, resulting in the deaths of ?????? civilians.. Why? Because (your) god told him to!

  15. narcoticmusing

    While acknowledging that the tragic deaths were the responsbility of those who acted to intentionally take life; there is cause to consider that this would not have occured had they not been incited/provoked and that the provocation was intended. There is a question here not of responsibility (like I said, that is clear) but of accountability. These people are dead. If the provocation didn’t occur, they’d be alive. Again, the Pastor didn’t do the killing, I am not debating that, however, he did intend the provocation. He intended to incite violence. The question then, is does that create some form of accessory accountability?

    I’ll give a couple situations that I think are analogous:
    1. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Yes, but it is a hell of a lot easier with a gun and well… give a monkey a gun and it can kill people too. So, guns do kill people. The intention of a gun is to kill. It isn’t like a car which is intended for transport but can kill. The intention is there in the item self. The capacity is there. Even without intent to kill from teh person, the gun can still kill. Legally, gun manufacturers are not responsible for murders with a gun and I agree that is appropriate. So it leaves the question hanging.

    2. Girl walks through a really dodgy area late at night, she had alternatives but chose this route. She is raped. No question that the rape was the fault of the rapist. However, if she’d had some common sense and not walked through the dodgy area late at night, it wouldn’t have happened. There was again an intent here: a reckless indifference to her own safety.

    In both of the analogies, the responsibility is clear. Person who shoots the gun is at fault. Rapist is at fault. Murderer is at fault. But, there is that point where there is knowledge and either malicious intent or reckless indifference prior without which, could have prevented the whole thing.

    An interesting conundrum to balance against say: freedom of arms in the US (and to a limited extend in Australia); Freedom of movement; Freedom of speach… particularly when you consider that none of these are unqualified rights in Australia.

  16. narcoticmusing

    Apologies again for typos – again my pc is being uncooperative.

  17. so… just to clarify… SB’s so passionate about other peoples free speech that those who go on record as disagreeing with him had better shut up or else?

    Quick question to everybody else… did I just imagine that?

  18. The appropriate response is for the rest of the world to institute an International Burn The Koran Day to explain to these fascists that they are not entitled to inflict their primitive views on the rest of the world.

    I expect they’d feel much the same way about a Burn The US Flag day, for much the same reasons. But there’s no double standard there. After all, we’re Civilised and Good, while they are Primitive and Evil.

  19. Ironically, I expect support for a Burn The Koran Day would be highest among the types of US citizens who would support a law prohibiting the desecration of the US flag.

  20. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic, the question you raise is whether we should restrict free speech because some worthless piece of shit on the other side of the planet will kill people if we don’t. The answer is clearly no. In fact we should resolutely assert our unwillingness to be held hostage by fanatics.

    Buns: “I expect they’d feel much the same way about a Burn The US Flag day”

    The US flag is regularly burned by crazed mobs in muslim countries. Interestingly that does not lead to an epidemic of mass-murder in the US.

  21. The US flag is regularly burned by crazed mobs in muslim countries.

    We need to even up the score and torch a few Korans then.

    Interestingly that does not lead to an epidemic of mass-murder in the US.

    Whereas mass-murder has ensued elsewhere following the burning of the Koran. No, wait – that never happened either.

  22. “Interestingly that does not lead to an epidemic of mass-murder in the US.”

    There’s this thing in the US and many other nations, it’s called law & order infrastructure, go on the rampage – face the consequences, in the absence of such infrastructure (like in Afghanistan) The likes of you and your ilk (Pastor Terry Jones being your ilk) would turn into a bunch of murderous pricks too. I have no doubt of that, you’ve displayed you hypocrisy, intolerance and racism amply in this thread (and others) since you’ve been backed into a corner your true colours have come to the fore..

    The neo cons (atheists) have demonstrated how they use the religious as tools. God didn’t tell GW Bush what to do, the neo cons told GW Bush that god told him to do it.

  23. Whereas mass-murder has ensued elsewhere following the burning of the Koran. No, wait – that never happened either.

    I stand corrected. OK, now I understand why you hate Muslims. As you were.

  24. Splatterbottom

    Buns: “We need to even up the score and torch a few Korans then.”

    No. That’s not what I’m saying, but you knew that didn’t you?

    Saying I hate Muslims is offensive and wrong. I’m having lunch with an old friend tomorrow who happens to be a Muslim. We will, as usual, compare religious views and discuss topical issues including this one. We will no doubt disagree on the free speech issue, and agree on other issues.

    There are many Islamic groups propagating reasonable views, especially in Australia. The issue I have is that there are still a lot of people in the world willing to violence on the basis of their religious beliefs. These people should not be allowed to hold hard-won freedoms hostage.

  25. narcoticmusing

    The point I was making SB, if you bothered to read it rather than taint it with misinterpretation is, if you are going to assert “I have the right to do X” then you need to take some resposnibility for reasonably foreseable consequences of you asserting that right. I am talking about preventing the consequence from occuring, not necessarily saying one shouldn’t assert their rights.

    Girl says, I have the right to walk through dodgy area late at night. Yes, that is true. Well, if she didn’t, she’d be ok. Again, rapist is to blame, but she could’ve forseably avoided this.

    Pastor says I have the right to burn this book. Yes, he does, but if he didn’t those people would be alive now. Again, murderers to blame, but he could’ve forseably avoided the deaths and/or violence.

    You are so intent on pointing blame that you ignore the fact that people are dead, people with families and loved ones, are dead. If that Pastor hadn’t burned that book, they’d be alive. I’m not suggesting for a moment he murdered them, I’m saying he could’ve easily prevented it. The Afg. Pres also has the same accountability here – no one cared until he re-agitated the issue.

  26. I’m having lunch with an old friend tomorrow who happens to be a Muslim.

    Does your friend know that you think that his prophet is a pervert?

    Cheers

  27. I don’t know why you’re all attacking SB over this – he’s done nothing but express a passionate commitment to free speech (and one with which I heartily agree).

    Do the rest of you really believe that our personal freedoms should be defined by reference to the way fanatics in other countries may react to those freedoms?

  28. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic: “You are so intent on pointing blame that you ignore the fact that people are dead, people with families and loved ones, are dead. If that Pastor hadn’t burned that book, they’d be alive. “

    Aren’t you the one trying to pin the blame on someone here?

    If you want to prevent savages murdering people when they are offended the best thing is to teach them that their hurt feelings aren’t really that important.

    One possible analogy would be a criminal threatening to murder a hostage if you don’t back off. The degree of responsibility in that case would be far more immediate. In the present case, there is not the same proximity or certainty of outcome. There is also the fact that the threat is essentially made to the whole world. The consequences of bowing to that kind of tyranny are to awful to contemplate.

    Al Qaeda has called on non-Muslims in the US to convert to Islam or to suffer the consequences. Does that mean that those who don’t are responsible for the next terrorist atrocity?

    Would you take responsibility for any people I kill if you don’t stop sprouting leftist BS, Narcotic?

    Marek: “Does your friend know that you think that his prophet is a pervert?”

    I haven’t put it in those terms. His view is that while the Prophet was exemplary, having regard to his times the same conduct is not appropriate in modern society either as to the age of marriage or polygamy in general. I have no problem with this view, and it is indeed the same attitude many Christians have to various things mentioned in the Bible.

    The problems arise when strict literalists insist that the same rules should apply today.

  29. narcoticmusing

    SB, I admire you championing for free speech, I too champion this cause. I think perhaps you misunderstand me. I was quite explicit that I was not blaming the Pastor and that I held those who actually did the killing responsible. I was attempting to bring a different perspective regarding responsibilities, I was not defending murderers (or rapists in my analogy). I thought I had made that quite clear.

    Would you take responsibility for any people I kill if you don’t stop sprouting leftist BS, Narcotic?
    It is not reasonably foreseeable that me voicing my view here will lead to deaths, this Pastor didn’t just burn the Koran, he went out of his way to incite and provoke people. Again, I’m not saying he killed these people, but he could’ve prevented it. Just as the Afg Pres could’ve by not re-agitating the situation. Does that condone the murders? Hell no.

    If, however, I knew you were going to kill someone or be violent… if I knew and intentionally provoked you… that would weigh on my conscience. I would not be to blame, no, just as this Pastor isn’t, but me asserting my rights has a cost – a cost whoever you were violent against paid. No one cares what I have to say, so what would it matter if I didn’t say it, if I knew the cost was you killing people. I’m not sure I’d be ok with someone else paying that price for me.

    Are you suggesting if you knew I was going to kill people just to get you to shut up you wouldn’t? You’d let people die just to say something no one gives a shit about?

    I also agree that any threat of violence to prevent free speech is abhorrent – so what is the answer? Fuck ’em, let them die so I can speak? Really? Let someone else who didn’t ask to be part of my protest pay the price huh? How noble. Fighting for free speech is laudable; nothing justifies these murders but surely the cost weighs on this Pastor’s conscience? Where is the free speech and choice of the people killed?

    I fully appreciate and agree with the concept that foreseeing these deaths didn’t likely have the requisite proximity for this Pastor/Afg Pres – both of them were trying to incite rage and possibly violence, (but I doubt either intended deaths). That doesn’t change that innocent people are dead and while they didn’t pull the triggers, these two are a loop in the chain of causation.

    Are you suggesting that we should all go around fully asserting all of our rights to the hell with everyone else? Rights are not unqualified, why? Because they are in competition with other people’s rights. There is a responsibility that necessarily limits rights and curtails raging self interest.

    Another consideration, after all, the cost was very high and preventable. Why should they (the victims and their families) pay? Why not this Pastor? Sure, he wasn’t to blame, the murderers were. But surely he has more blame than the victims and their families?

    It is an interesting debate in the context of provocation being removed as a defense in Victorian law for assault/causing serious injury/etc. I agree with the concept, but you can certainly see the point of view of a person being provoked for hours, buckling and punching the perp only to find out that the hours of harassment counted for naught.

  30. No. That’s not what I’m saying, but you knew that didn’t you?

    Well, further up in this thread, you did say:

    The appropriate response is for the rest of the world to institute an International Burn The Koran Day to explain to these fascists that they are not entitled to inflict their primitive views on the rest of the world.

    Given your anti-Muslim obsession, I saw no reason not to take that comment seriously.

    I’m having lunch with an old friend tomorrow who happens to be a Muslim.

    Lucky for him that he doesn’t know your true feelings about the vile ideology to which he subscribes.

  31. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic: “That doesn’t change that innocent people are dead and while they didn’t pull the triggers, these two are a loop in the chain of causation.”

    Whatever that means. I’m not big into the butterfly effect.

    People are responsible for their own actions. Blaming people further down the chain of causation only focuses attention away from where it ought to be.

    How about this: the Government knew that changing refugee policy would cause refugees to die at sea?

    Ordinarily I am not into burning books at all, especially other peoples’ holy books, but I might make an exception as part of an international protest to send a message to these tools – that you can’t rob the world of its freedoms by your savagery. In doing so, by your calculus, I should be aware that this might cause massive riots, and that people may be killed. The point is that they are killed not as a result of what I do, but as a result of their own vile beliefs. I wouldn’t feel responsible for the actions of the killers.

    If I had family killed in such circumstances I would be very upset, but mostly with the killer, and his vile religious beliefs. Next with the authorities in the country for not protecting them and especially with the preachers who teach this nonsense. I might thing the Koran-burner was a tool, but I wouldn’t see it as his fault in any way.

  32. Splatterbottom

    Buns I think you misunderstand my position.

    Burn the Koran Day isn’t about retaliation for flag burning. The only reason I suggested it is as means of pushing back against the fascists trying to kill free speech. It has nothing to do with flag-burning.

    Also I don’t have an anti-Muslim obsession, or an anti-Islam obsession for that matter. I have an intense disgust for particular religious doctrines, but that is a different matter.

    It is better to have an open, frank and mutually respectful relationship with someone than to be two-faced about matters.

  33. “I have an intense disgust for particular religious doctrines”

    Me too SB, especially those that institutionalize and cover up child molestation, and don’t respect the rule of law…

    “Senior clergy, the commission had found, covered up the abuse for some 30 years. The church was allowed to operate beyond the reach of law. According to WikiLeaks leaked cable, the Vatican continued to complain that the Irish government did not respect its sovereignty.”

    http://www.suite101.com/content/catholic-priest-abuse-revelations-by-wikileaks-a320073#ixzz1ImZJn2w5

    Or those that encourage discrimination against minority groups…

    “A group of 39 rabbis on municipal payrolls issued a religious ruling yesterday calling on Israelis to not rent apartments to Arabs or to foreigners.”

    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/features/knesset-speaker-racist-rabbi-s-letter-shames-the-jewish-people-1.329625

  34. narcoticmusing

    Whatever that means. I’m not big into the butterfly effect.
    The butterfly effect, if I recall from my uni maths days (which I’d admit was a while ago) relates to chaos theory; the predictability of unpredictable systems being unpredictable and thus being able to predict that they’ll be unpredictable.

    It was not unpredictable that a violent response, paid by people other than this Paster, would be the result of burning the Koran. The Koran has been burned publicly many times (eg on Youtube etc) but this man hyped it up in the hope for a violent response, he incited the response. He intended it, so it wasn’t so remote to be a ‘butterfly effect’ type of causation.

    This is far more analogous (to an extent) to contributory negligence (refer, for eg s.25 Wrongs Act (Vic) ) than the ‘butterfly effect’.

  35. Splatterbottom

    Duncan I don’t confine my disgust to teachings based on any particular religion.

  36. narcoticmusing

    I don’t confine my disgust to teachings based on any particular religion

    Me thinks we’ve found some common ground 🙂

  37. Splatterbottom

    That should be a matter of concern for both of us, Narcotic.

  38. Inciting a crowd to violence is a crime narc, and one that is clearly defined by statute (in the relevant countries in that have it). If it could be proved in court that the Pastor in question was deliberately inciting violence when he burned the Koran then the victims of that violence could prosecute him.

    However the truth is that you are vastly overstating things when you assert above that he intended his actions to cause a violent response. No such facts have been established at all – the Pastor has never stated that his intention was to inflame anti-American sentiment in the middle east, nor that he was hoping for a violent reaction. These are things you are inventing to support your argument.

    All you can legitimately claim is that the pastor was reckless in exercising his right to free speech. He was trying to make a political point and did so in an offensive way.

    Which, in a way, neatly highlights the line to be drawn here. Deliberately inciting violence is not speech that should be protected, and indeed it is not. It is criminalised by most sensible societies.

    Anything short of ‘deliberate’, however should be protected. I should never be held legally responsible for the unintended reaction of another human being to my behaviour.

  39. SB – The issue I have is that there are still a lot of people in the world willing to violence on the basis of their religious beliefs. These people should not be allowed to hold hard-won freedoms hostage.

    Which is no doubt why you said nothing about the equally numerous clinic-bombers and doctor-shooters in the US (though you will no doubt belatedly assert that you tacitly included them).
    I guess one mans terrorist really is another mans freedom-fighter.

  40. Splatterbottom

    Lykurgis I already have said that it applies to all religions. Maybe I should also include those who gun-down pro-life activists peaceably holding protest signs.

  41. You would have, if you knew of any.

  42. narcoticmusing

    Mondo – I think that is a reasonable distinction. Perhaps I was reading too much into it, but his hyping it up for months to me suggested he was goading people into a response. That being said, I would lay more responsibility at the feet of the Afg Pres who re-agitated it some time later, his motives were very questionable.

  43. “Maybe I should also include those who gun-down pro-life activists peaceably holding protest signs.”

    You got a reference for that? Or are you just projecting?

    BTW, I’m still waiting for your reaction to “International Burn the Bible Day” SB.

  44. Splatterbottom

    Unique, Buns linked above. Ban the Bible Day doesn’t phase me at all.

  45. buns: other google searches indicate that murder doesn’t seem to be connected to the guy’s anti-abortion activities. The murderer killed another unrelated person and had a third on his hit lit when arrested. Certainly no indication that the murderer was animated by pro-choice beliefs. The pro-patriarchy crowd did try to beat it up out of proportion, as expected.

    According to his son, the murder victim was a straight-up scumbag who used his anti-abortion stance as a way to harass women: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2009/09/james_m_pouillon_criticizes_fa.html No one has their own murder “coming”, of course.

    Anything else?

  46. Ah yes, the serial-stalking mysoginist who literally lived to terrorise anything that had labia, whose shooting at the hands of a serial killer was found to be random, and whose most strident critics were his immediate family – I know the story well (compared to LifeSiteNews and SB at least).

    Strange that an august, globally renowned publication like LifeSiteNews would forget to share those details with their infinitely trusting readers.

  47. “Duncan I don’t confine my disgust to teachings based on any particular religion.”

    No?

    So you feel deep disgust at ALL foul religious teachings from racist rabbis to child molesting Catholic priests, but strictly confine your very vocal condemnation to one particular religion.

    You regularly (probably daily) condemn Muslim culture/religion as being hateful, violent, abusive of women and children etc. I saw you, not more than 2 weeks ago, refer to the entire Palestinian people first as not even existing, then as “Paleostinians” who deserve what they get as “the just reward for their violence”

    https://anonymouslefty.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/so-were-going-to-sit-back-and-watch-gaddafi-slaughter-his-people-are-we/

    So SB, as a “centrist”, and as someone who claims he doesn’t confine his disgust to any one religion, where are your daily posts condemning Jewish racism? And why don’t you condemn ALL Jews for the actions of a violent religious minority, a complacent majority and a racist government in the same way you condemn and cast racist slurs at ALL Palestinians.

  48. Splatterbottom

    Spin it any way you like Unique. The pro-death crowd have worked hard to attribute other motives and claim insanity. The fact is that most of the pro-death crowd do not support murder (at least of people who already born) and neither do the pro-life crowd support murder, although you wouldn’t know that from the twisted ranting of their opponents.

    “You regularly (probably daily) condemn Muslim culture/religion as being hateful, violent, abusive of women and children etc. “

    See this is your mistake. My issue is with particular religious doctrines. Muslim culture and religious beliefs are too various to generalise about. It is preferable to identify specific doctrines which are offensive.

    So I despise the idea of a religious doctrine that permits murdering civilians as an act pleasing to god. Most Muslims would oppose this doctrine. Also, by opposing the doctrine means not singling out a particular religions. Thus the criticism holds for all who murder civilians on the basis of their religious beliefs. this would apply equally to Hindu extremists and Catholic revolutionaries pursuing the liberation theology through violent means.

    The same goes for culture – the criticism is of cultures so debased that the majority of the population supports the murder of civilians.

    Please note that I didn’t condemn all Palestinians and noted on that thread you referred to that “Paleostinians” was a reference to those members of the society primitive enough to carry out terror attacks.

  49. “neither do the pro-life crowd support murder, although you wouldn’t know that from the twisted ranting of their opponents.”

    Facts aren’t rants. Abortion clinic bombers have been given shelter by pro-lifers while they were on the run, such as Eric Rudolph. Then there is the posting of target lists of doctors who provide abortions, leading to the murder of George Tiller amongst many others.

    Hiding a murderer from police? Hit lists? These are facts, SB. The “pro-life” movement is nothing more than patriarchal “get back in the kitchen woman!” nonsense. Their concern for life starts at conception and ends at birth.

    To claim that an isolated incident against one of those scumbags is even remotely equivalent to the decades of intimidation and violence they have carried out just shows how much of a “centrist” you are not.

  50. narcoticmusing

    Don’t you think ‘pro-death’ is a very emotive, politically biased way to refer to the ‘pro-choice’ crowd. After all, the fathers always get the choice to bail and also get the choice to where contraception (note that it isn’t considered rape when a man tricks a woman into believing he has a condom on when he doesn’t, so there is no legal recourse for her beyond ‘breach of contract’ which only works if she is a prostitute). So, the woman, left without choice must bear the brunt of all moral and social responsibility lest she be dubbed, by self-righteous critics who ignore the role of the male in it, a ‘pro-death’ supporter.

    It is, in reality, the only point she has a choice and to suggest the choice is taken lightly by calling her ‘pro-death’ is insensitive and ignorant.

  51. narcoticmusing

    *I of course meant wear

  52. Funny – on the other thread SB is arguing that protesters who continuously single out Israel for vocal condemnation must be motivated by prejudice against jews and not straightforward opposition to specific Israeli policy.

    Yet in this thread he insists that his constant singling out of Muslims and Islam for criticism is not motivated by religious prejudice, but by his straightforward opposition to the specific policy and actions of some Muslim groups.

    One rule for SB but another for everyone else?

  53. Splatterbottom

    Unique, your criticism of pro-lifers as a whole for the actions of a tiny minority of people who hold those beliefs is not valid. It’s a simple point. Try thinking for a change.

    Narcotic: “Don’t you think ‘pro-death’ is a very emotive, politically biased way to refer to the ‘pro-choice’ crowd.”

    It is a little emotive, but the fact is that the aim of the pro-death crowd is to make lawful the killing of human life.

    It is a lot better than when people like Duncan suggest that child-molesting priests are acting in accordance with catholic religious beliefs when quite clearly they are acting contrary to them.

  54. narcoticmusing

    “It is a little emotive, but the fact is that the aim of the pro-death crowd is to make lawful the killing of human life.”

    At what point is a blastocyst a human life? The reality is that the human body initiates abortions on its own all the time (we call them miscarriages) for similar reasons (detection of a fault or issue with the child coming to term). To add reasons to the physiological is representative of humans advancing to having a degree of choice and control over their bodies. This is something that uniquely effects women, where men stand by in judgement pretending that they didn’t play a role, can take no responsibility but still have the right to judge and condemn. This is not the same as murder.

    Murder of an unborn child is not punished as murder – that is the real injustice yet I don’t see the ‘pro-life’ crown rallying against that. The reality is that current law does not condemn you for murder if you overtly kill the foetus carried by a mother – it is just considered a ‘serious injury’.

    To ignore the distinction is as ignorant as saying because communism and capitalism have similar theoretical outcomes why don’t we just fuse them? You and I know the distinctions between them are huge, they are entirely different philosophical machinations and just because the result is to govern property ownership, doesn’t make them the same.

  55. Splatterbottom

    Narcotic, my point was that abortion is the killing of something that is alive and is human. Nothing you have said addresses that point. It is useless to state what the law is. As to that question, as in all things, I take the moderate position which is that the law should not permit abortions of babies capable of being born alive. Extremists support laws to permit the killing of babies that survive abortion, as Obama did when in the Illinois Senate.

  56. Splatterbottom

    Mondo: “SB is arguing that protesters who continuously single out Israel for vocal condemnation must be motivated by prejudice against jews and not straightforward opposition to specific Israeli policy.”

    That is not the case and you know it.

    My position is that singling Israel out for demonisation by way of the BSD campaign raise the issue of whether or not people who indulge in this type discrimination are motivated by anti-Semitism. You know that because we discussed it on the other thread. That position is completely reasonable and it certainly doesn’t amount to jumping to the conclusion that they are motivated by anti-semitism. You may want a convenient straw-man to attack but that exists only in your own mind.

  57. “I take the moderate position which is that the law should not permit abortions of babies capable of being born alive.”

    And it doesn’t (in the US). A blastocyst is not capable of being born alive without first going through months of gestation. Which is why third-trimester, pre-viability, abortions are not permitted by Roe vs Wade except where the health of the mother is concerned. Those pesky facts again.

    But this is *not* the position of the so-called “pro-lifers”. Their position is akin to claiming that the bacteria I just washed off my hands with soap was alive and therefore I’ve just committed murder.

    Pre-viability, there is a much more important “life” that needs to be considered – the fully-functional, living-breathing, human being called a “woman” around the fetus. The “pro-lifers” don’t care about that life. Their bloody fetus pictures never feature that life. They do nothing to help the woman raise the child they forced her to bear. She’s all but invisible. But that life is there. And hurting badly because of the vindictive bile spewed by the “pro-life” movement about a matter that belongs solely between the woman and her doctor.

    If you want to charge someone who being “pro-death” in the “kill the babeez” sense, then take it up with your God – most fertilized eggs never implant in the womb and get flushed straight out. Many more miscarry. He’s the biggest mass murderer of them all if we’re calling pre-viability abortion murder. Once you’ve managed to lock him up for his crimes, then you can come after the pro-choice movement for putting the rights of fully-functional women ahead of single-celled organisms.

  58. Splatterbottom

    I would have thought that few abortions concern single-celled organisms, Unique.

  59. My position is that singling Israel out for demonisation by way of the BSD campaign raise the issue of whether or not people who indulge in this type discrimination are motivated by anti-Semitism.

    “Raise the issue of” eh SB? In other words you’re saying that it’s reasonable to conclude that they’re anti-semites, but you’re not openly saying that you necessarily think that they’re anti-semites. What courageous argument.

    Given that you would obviously prefer that others here not leap to the conclusion that your personal habit of focusing all your vitriol on Muslims and Islam belies a genuine prejudice against those people, do you also extend that same benefit of the doubt to the BSD campaigners?

  60. Splatterbottom

    Mondo: “you’re not openly saying that you necessarily think that they’re anti-semites. “

    I am say exactly what I think. Sadly you can’t accept that because you would prefer to set up a straw man to attack.

  61. Well SB, in my defence I have repeatedly asked you to man-up and actually tell us whether you think that those who campaign against Iraeli behaviour are anti-semitic, as you have now strongly implied in multiple posts, but you prefer to weasel around the question.

    I guess if you want to take pot-shots at other people’s opinions it helps to keep yours technically hidden so that your hypocricy and inconsistency don’t become glaringly obvious.

  62. Splatterbottom

    FFS Mondo, if I don’t know, I don’t know. What more can I say? Do you know?

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