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Limiting free speech will hurt the fight against terrorists

Our home grown authoritarians plan to inflict yet more absurd measures which have nothing to do with defending ourselves against terrorism. ID cards would not have stopped a single terrorist attack in the UK: they are a control measure designed to make taxing and regulating people’s economic activities easier, nothing more. Yet because there is a genuine threat from Islamic terrorists, the government keeps trying to conflate ID cards with ‘doing something about terrorism’. As it is so obviously untrue, this issue makes a rather good quick and easy litmus test to detect people who are either complete idiots or barefaced liars (or both).

Moreover the intend to make ‘glorifying terrorism’ illegal is not just bound to backfire, it is a terrible idea on every level. You would think people in the dismal halls of Westminster would have learned to leave well enough alone given the comical absurdity of past attempts to ban terrorists saying things in the UK, which lead to such farcical situations as having Sinn Fein/IRA’s Gerry Adams’ voice being dubbed by other people’s voices to get around attempts to stop him airing his views. We need people to actually say what they think and the more vile they are, the more important it is to hear what motivates them.

Moreover does anyone seriously think people are attracted to actively support terrorism because of what they read in a mainstream newspaper rather than opinions closer to their every day life? It is a bit more complex than that and again you would think the experience of Ulster would have shown that when terrorists gain the support of a section of a society, all stoping their spokesmen from talking in the media does is prevent everyone else from understanding what they really think.

The BBC and mainstream media generally has followed the government line that there is a large pool of moderate Muslim opinion which does not support or sympathise with radical and intolerant Islamic views. I too have assumed this to be the case, at least in some measure, and yet as time goes by the theory is starting to look rather threadbare as if there really is a majority of moderates out there, they are more than just silent, they are almost invisible. The organisers of the demonstration yesterday in Trafalgar Square carefully choreographed the event to show the world a moderate face of muslim opinion standing hand in hand with a few dhimmis like Ken Livingston and select useful idiots such as Pax Christi and former KGB front man Bruce Kent. Yet it took less than 24 hours for one of the people behind the demo to reveal his true colours.

But any attempt to shut these people up with the law will not stop them saying whatever they want amongst their own community, unless the government plans to have multi-lingual spies reporting on what gets said in every single mosque and Arabic/Turkish/Kurdish/Pakistani social club in Britain. The only people who will no longer know what these guys really think will be the rest of us. And given that anyone who trusts the what the state says to decide who is and is not ‘the bad guys’ is a credulous fool, that is not a good idea to say the least. Yet again we see why freedom of expression is not just important, it is essential if we are to know our enemies as well as our friends.

58 comments to Limiting free speech will hurt the fight against terrorists

  • Joshua

    I agree. Making opinions illegal only radicalizes them since they never get a public review. The cure is more speech, not less. And in any case, free speech is a solid right or it’s worthles — and that means it has to apply to all citizens regardless of what the government thinks of what they’re talking about.

    Here’s a choice line from the article on yesterday’s rally organizers:

    Police, criticised last week for standing by while protesters displayed slogans such as “Massacre those who insult Islam”, ordered demonstrators to remove Socialist Worker stickers saying “Blair must go”.

    Love it. It’s perfectly cool with everyone to call for massacre, but suggesting the (presumably democratic) removal of the PM is out. Nice.

  • permanent expat

    Please excuse me the small diversion of mentioning that I have just seen (on foreign TV) the new video clip of the alleged brutality of British troops against Iraqi(?) youths. The film is taken from some distance. The soundtrack appears to be fairly clear though. There’s lots of “grrrrr” from troops and a quite clear “Please don’t hit me” from one of the victims. While the film may be genuine it appears to me that the soundtrack has been added. I would be interested to know if others who have seen this video received the same impression. If the tape has, in any way, been doctored I hope that some action will be taken by & in the media to offer an explanation.

  • Robert

    Short of actual incitement or conspiracy to commit a violent act there need be no restriction. Once you impose restrictions it just results in a never ending stream of people demanding protection for their special holy people or religion on the basis that the other guy has that protection. All these laws should go, including the blasphemy laws. And, the Church of England should be disestablished.

  • Pete_London

    More info here* about the moderate muslims who organised yesterday’s rally.

    * Those of a liberal left constitution should beware that the link takes you to the Daily Mail. Shock. Horror. But there you go.

  • Verity

    Interesting piece. First, I have long been of the opinion that Blair has no interest in combatting terrorism and indeed finds terrorism a handy way of keeping the British citizenry under control. Look at his cowardice over the IRA. I am still totally baffled about why he joined the US in Iraq (which I think was the right thing to do, though). It is against everything this former CNDer and tranzi believes.

    The other thing I have long suspected – longer than Perry – is that the “moderate Muslim” is, in fairly large part, a mythical beast. Certainly, there are some who not only pass information quietly to the police (who then shred it), but are actually brave enough to speak out publically. My hat is off to them, because this is a brave deed.

    I think most “moderate” Muslims are moderate as long as there is nothing to get too excited about. When there is, they fly into an immature rage because they are, by and large, immature people. They are taught not to think because all the answers are in the Koran, so no need to question anything. If worried, ask a mullah and he will explain what the Koran says about your situation, so no need to do anything yourself. This is universal in the world of Islam. That is why they find the confident, self-directed people of the West, a threat.

    I think any law restricting free speech – I might except wartime (real wartime; not WoT time) – is wrong and a stupid move for the reasons Perry cites. On the other hand, we find that the words and intentions of people like Abu Hamza have been known to the police for years – yet the police don’t act. Which is very bizarre. In Abu Hamza’s case, they failed to act for seven years.

    But I think “moderate” Muslims are largely a myth. They don’t incite violence or terrorism themselves. But when someone else does, they’re there.

  • permanent expat

    Sorry, I now read that the sound in question is commentary by the cameraman……….Oooops.

  • Nick M

    Of course banning these people from showing their “true colours” is shooting ourselves in the foot. Leaving out the pantomime villian aspect of the coverage in the tabloids, has anyone done more to alert the ordinary Brit to the fact that Islamic terrorist are here (and not in far of lands of which we know little) than Abu Hamza?

    I don’t think the gov wants ID cards to regulate people as such. I think they are just (a) addicted to bureacracy for its own sake (b) desperate to increase the size of the state sector (he who owes their living to Labour votes Labour) and (c) want to be seen to be doing something about terrorism/organised crime/benefit fraud/illegal immigration/whatever. It is a typical Labour reponse – legislation which looks bold but achieves nothing. Afterwards they can always spin statistics to say its been a resounding success.

    We have a government so addicted to staying in office that it does not realise that it is not capable of using that office to any positive effect.

  • Nick M

    I agree completely with Robert that any restriction on freedom of expression (with the usual caveats – shouting “FIRE!” in a theatre etc.) is the thin end of a potentially very thick wedge.

    I had a very dirty thought this afternoon. Wouldn’t it be interesting to invent a faith, slander it, and see what rent-a-mob rabble rousers decided to rally against this slur on people’s deeply held beliefs? To get Red Ken in on the act is (perhaps) too much to hope for, but…

    If you think this is far-fetched, I heard a week or so back that a number of web news feeds had fallen for a hoax that Narnia was planning on withdrawing from the WTO.

  • Robert Alderson

    Immediate legislation is required to protect the holy name of our Sainted Prophet Adam Smith (Division of Labour Be Upon Him.)

  • Jeffersonian

    Let the sociopaths rant and rave. Sunlight and fresh air are good disinfectants.

  • Patrick

    via everybody’s favourite MM, here’s one to your tastes:

    http://labaf.blogspot.com/2006/02/la-baf-crash-la-manif-des-islamistes.html

    Would that they were British!

  • mike

    “Let the sociopaths rant and rave. Sunlight and fresh air are good disinfectants.”

    If only.

    “Wouldn’t it be interesting to…”

    Not really. It would merely show what we already know, namely that such people are irrational and afraid of taking responsibility for themselves.

    “First, I have long been of the opinion that Blair has no interest in combatting terrorism and indeed finds terrorism a handy way of keeping the British citizenry under control. Look at his cowardice over the IRA. I am still totally baffled about why he joined the US in Iraq..”

    Well there is the possibility that Blair really did believe it to be the right thing to do, and loosely for similar reasons to why we think it was the right thing to do. This apparent overlap with our own outlook can perhaps be partially explained by his own relationship with the Labour Party – he has been at odds with the Labour left since he was elected leader, and in some measure the Iraq invasion was his demonstration of how far he was prepared to follow his own beliefs in defiance of them. The wider point being the need to change the outlook of the Labour Party to a more Blairite view – Blair has probably been worrying whether the Labour Party will slip back into irrelevance without him. Of course Verity you are the last person who could possibly need to be told that Blair is obsessed with his own importance to British politics!

  • Tuscan Tony

    I for one will use my lightsabre on anyone who dares impugn the name of Yoda (May the Force Be Upon Him), one of the principal prophets of my religion.

  • guy herbert

    Back on topic, it is worth noting that one of the Lords’ amendments to the ‘anti-terrorism’ legislation that the Government appears to be preparing to reverse is one that directly affects blogs and bloggers.

    Websites glorifying or indirectly inciting terrorism (and recall the definition is not what ‘everybody knows’ terrorism is pace the Prime Minister) could only be shut down with judicial approval according to the Lords. The original bill places a summary power in the hands of police officers.

  • I think it is a lession in itself that the march, with buses and such, only scraped together 5,000 or so people.

    As to ID cards, I have no issue per se with ID cards (gasp!) as I have had to use one in Singapore and in Hong Kong and found them sensible and very useful items. Bringing a gas bill to open a bank account is rather idiotic, frankly.

    To me it is not IF but HOW.

    What I am most concerned with is the total waste of money and the monopoly on provision. My ID is under State control and once it becomes de facto, they can just unvalidate my card and not issue me a new one and my life would grind to a halt in a few months. It is bad enough now for scientists and academia who voice out against the State machine.

    What we need is multiple providers (like VISA and Mastercard in the Credit Card world), where we have ID clearing houses and people can register with a company to have their ID protected, managed, verified AND have strict ‘Chinese Walls’ between what the State can access and what the private companies are allowed to reveal or sell (nothing, IMHO). If a company is known for giving too much away, people shall migrate from one to the other and so ensure that the private companies ‘behave’ as the public want them to.

    Multiple providers will get the system up faster. It will be cheaper and it will respond to public need more effectively. However, what we do NOT want is some form of faux “privatisation” or “outsourcing” where the companies have to lick boots and worse to get the deals, and as such become beholden to the State for their livelihood (as is happening in the health sector slowly and surely).

  • Bringing a gas bill to open a bank account is rather idiotic, frankly.

    You miss the point entirely. The ID card is just the bit you see… it is the pooled database behind it packed with personal information, to which even low level government fuctionaries have access, that is the problem.

    And whilst I can choose to not have a credit card, I cannot choose (legally) to not have an ID card.

  • Julian Taylor

    Never mind, it looks as though Our Dear Leader will miss yet another crucial vote in the House tonight. Apparently his private 737 had an engine failure in Johannesburg yesterday so he won’t be leaving until late tonight. Of course nobody mentioned that he could conceivably got on a first class BA Flight last night which would have got him into Heathrow this morning …

  • Pete_London

    Julian Taylor

    His ‘private’ 737? Who ‘privately’ owns that then? Bill Gates? Richard Branson? Another Indian billionaire industrialist looking for more favours?

  • Tuscan Tony

    Since a 737′s range is only around 2,500 nautical miles, and Joburg is twice that from London, why would he bother with a 737 for that sort of trip anyway? More likely it’s handy to have, as it gives him the opportunity for a Wag The Dog style excuse (in which the US president’s plane develops a convenient bout of engine trouble in China when trouble is brewing back at the ranch) for not being in London. Presumably in this case to give his anointed successor a little go at being Prime Minster

  • mike

    “The original bill places a summary power in the hands of police officers.”

    That is extraordinary news – extraordinary, but not surprising. As you seem to have some sort of attentional glue to the various goings-on between the two chambers, guy, I wonder whether you might happen to have any analysis of what chance the Lords’ amendment in favour of judicial evaluation stands of being sustained? Liklihood of Parliament Act being invoked etc? And whether, if so, you’d care for our gratitude at being enlightened by such analysis?

  • Perry: I agree with your original point, and I do not see how I am ‘missing it’, as I outline aspects in my posting to defend against it. I think I make it very clear from my post that we should have a market solution for proving our identity to counterparties and if governments try to get their greasy fingers on information then this will be exposed and if a company breaks trust people should be free to desert them for an alternative who does not.

    There should be no reason why a Libertarian ID provider should not come into existence which resists interference and as such it will blow the whole debate wide open. The fact is if someone demands not to say who they are, others are free to say they will not deal with them. That goes for the State as well as any other organisation!

    Further, you appear to be conflating the issue of proving one’s identity with government access to the resultant database. They are two different issues, as is the issue of compulsion.

    Regardless of anyone’s views on compulsion, it should be universally condemnation at what appears to be an orchestrated attempt at bamboozlement is Clarke’s attempt to bring in a false ‘hurdle’ to compulsion with one hand, while saying that anyone who needs to renew their driving license or passport will cut over to the new system – i.e. don’t move house ever or live for more than another 10 years!

  • btw apologies at what ended up as being a very mal-formed last para.

    Try again:

    Regardless of anyone’s views on compulsion, there should be universal condemnation at what appears to be an orchestrated attempt at bamboozlement by Clarke. This is Clarke’s attempt at bringing in a false ‘hurdle’ to compulsion with one hand, while saying that anyone who needs to renew their driving license or passport will cut over to the new system – i.e. don’t move house ever or live for more than another 10 years!

  • Pete_London

    TimC

    I think I make it very clear from my post that we should have a market solution for proving our identity to counterparties …

    No demand exists for it so no-one is providing such a service. There’s your market solution.

  • I agree with Nick M. that the main reason for pushing through ID cards is to add yet another layer of ‘essential’ bureaucracy to our horrendous, bloated system.

    The Tax Credits system is the perfect example of this – robbing from the hard-working poor to give to the unemployed, at a vast sum (far less efficient than a simple tax reduction). Having worked in the system, including such horror stories as sending the same family on the same day two reclamation letters, one for 1 pence and the other for £10,000, I have little sympathy for it.

    Still, it’s got New Labour more voters. When our tax rate is 100% and all British success stories have fled to Jersey, then maybe we’ll get a less socialist government.

  • Pete: I think it is presumptuous to assume that.

    Rob: Indeed, Tax Credits are just a way to avoid tinkering with the tax system (i.e. altering the personal allowance and base rate), whilst making even more people swing from the State teat. Witness the fate of one Simon Davies who dares to speak out on ID cards and is, in effect, excommunicated and impoverished.

  • John K

    What I am most concerned with is the total waste of money and the monopoly on provision.

    That’s really the whole point of the ID card scheme. The Home Office have wanted the reintroduction of ID cards almost since they were abolished. That is because the whole ethos of that sinister bunch is that “controls are good”. They are the original control freaks. For the Home Office, ID cards are an unalloyed benefit; they bring money, jobs and power, so what’s not to like? British gun owners have known the score for years as they have been ground down under the ever tightening grip of the Home Office’s controls; now everyone else will get to join in the fun. Appropriately, gun owners will be among the first people forced to get a “voluntary” ID card if they wish to renew their certificates. Happy days.

  • guy herbert

    Bringing a gas bill to open a bank account is rather idiotic, frankly.

    It is. And it is also an entirely unnecessary, government inspired requirement: indirectly enforced, but entirely created at government fiat. The government is offering a ‘solution’ to a problem of its own creation, which only makes the whole thing a bit more like a protection racket.

    Likewise photo ID (even if they see you every day) and answering impertinent questions about your purposes if you wish to draw your own cash or obtain a draft. Banks would not insult their customers (or not nearly as much) if they had a free hand.

    I have an account with HSBC/Midland I opened 22 years ago after I fell out with Barclays for its refusing to drop bank charges. The procedure was as follows: enter branch; present £1 coin and give name and address in return for a receipt; go home and wait for chequebook and details to arrive in the post. I have never had any fraud, and can’t recall any significant banking cock-ups on that account other than sending an ATM card to the Suffolk branch, not the Chelsea one, for me to collect.

  • guy herbert

    For the Home Office, ID cards are an unalloyed benefit; they bring money, jobs and power, so what’s not to like?

    Indeed. Whitehall in general seems not to have caught on that this will make the Home Office, not the Treasury, the master department, since the Home Office will have potentially inserted itself into every transaction between each individual and the state and between individuals and private sector organisations under the regulatory net (such as banks), and into every exchange about an individual citizen between government departments and other public bodies, or a public body and a private sector body.

  • guy herbert

    guy, I wonder whether you might happen to have any analysis of what chance the Lords’ amendment in favour of judicial evaluation stands of being sustained?

    At the moment, none. The Lords are getting quite firm with the Govt’s depredations of liberty, and the Parliament Act is unlikely to be used on such a minor issue.

    Blair and the Home Office will be pleased to get direct web-censorship of any sort onto the statute book, I would have thought, so they may be quite relaxed about defeat on that procedural question. Once the principle is there, it can be extended on other occasions. That’s the way things have often worked in the past. Look at the progress of the RIP Act 2000 and orders under it.

    If the government sustains any defeat today, we need to be on the look out for the remise.

  • “The government is offering a ‘solution’ to a problem of its own creation”

    Indeed, Guy. If we were not taxed as we were and if the inane drugs situation was not in place the concept of ‘money laundering’ would not exist in any real dimension, and so no need to ‘control’ bank accounts!

  • Julian Taylor

    Regarding 737 ranges, I think you’re talking about the normal fully laden range of a ‘normal’ 737. Blair’s jet has very much reduced seating for a small number of invited guests coupled with bureaucrat seats and Blair’s private suite, plus an extended wingspan. It can certainly do Jo’burg to London in one hop – I gather that the record for the BBJ737 (Boeing Business Jet) is 13 hours 51 minutes 42 seconds over 7,200.40 statute miles. Royal Jet has this configurantion for the last time he (or WE the taxpayer, rather) hired one of their jets for the 2012 Olympic announcement on 6th July 2005 in Singapore.

    By the way the cost to the taxpayer for chartering Tony’s 737 is about £400,000 per round trip

  • guy herbert

    the concept of ‘money laundering’ would not exist in any real dimension, and so no need to ‘control’ bank accounts

    Not that the conception of ‘money laundering’ promulgated by governments as a pretext for monitoring bank accounts has any relation to real money-laundering, which is about getting stolen or otherwise illegal funds back into a form that they can be spent in. Large scale crime is not about individuals paying large wodges of cash into personal accounts or drawing it out. That’s the province of the real targets of such measures: white van man, escort agency woman, and the middle class people paying their cleaners, nannies and builders cash.

    Real money-launderers won’t be overly concerned to escape tax. There’s no reason to treat fencing iffy cash as different from fencing other stolen goods: one wouldn’t expect to get full market value, and the tax on the notional source of funds would just be part of the cost of doing business (and some measure of legitimation in the face of other bureaucrats). For every long firm there are dozens of short firms, as it were, operating steadily in legitimate niches, and with all the KYC paperwork entirely correct (for the registered directors/proprietors, at least) — but making markedly bigger profits than you might expect.

  • Mary Contrary

    if there really is a majority of moderates out there, they are more than just silent, they are almost invisible

    There was one the other night on the Politics Show, you know the one with Andrew Neil, Dianne Abott and Michael Portillo. Apparently she’d been an entrepreneur contestant on the Dragon’s Den or something. She took a genuinely strong line on the hardliners (No weasely “of course I deplore violence but…” from her) and their allegedly moderate apologists alike. Frankly, by far the best press the BBC could give genuinely moderate Muslims would be to have her on TV in prime time every night. But since her message was pretty much the antithesis of the BBC cultural cringe, I’m surprised they let her on at all.

  • Verity

    Guy Herbert, the Beeb’s running a poll on whether ID cards would make Britain safer. The results are: NO votes, 75.87%. YES votes 24.13%. A crushing disappointment for the Beeb, I would say, with well over 11,000 people voting so far. Go ye there and vote, Samizdatas!

  • Pete_London

    Mary Contrary

    I have to disagree. I thought she was a horribly right-on, Islington-dwelling, metropolitan ponce. Frankly her feminism outweighed islam in her eyes so that bit of modernity demands that free expression wins out over a dark age religion. But she was also full of that “We’re so very lucky to live in a wonderful, vibrant, multicultural society” bollocks. She’s Polly Toynbee with a tan.

    We need the BBC to give us more, much more of Anjem Choudary. Newsnight gave him a platform last week which he strutted gloriously in demonstrating the full range of the islamic persecution complex, arrogance, ignorance, hate and delusion. His triumph came in telling a female Conservative Party member and muslim that she had no right to speak as she wasn’t veiled.

    Please BBC, we want more.

  • Tuscan Tony

    Verity, great stuff, did it about 1/2 hour ago in fact, I fully expect the usual “this debate is now closed” post to go up any time now….

  • Verity

    Anjem Choudary – god, these people are ugly. Did he really say, in a Western TV studio that an MP had no right to speak because she wasn’t veiled? What an absolute hoot! You are right, Pete_London. More ignorance, bigotry and stupidity please, Beeb!

  • Verity

    Anjem Choudary is what happens when generations of first cousins marry and breed.

  • Verity

    Tuscan Tony – which debate? Is it something on the Beeb?

  • Verity

    Go here (Link) to vote.

  • Verity

    Ooops! They’ve just closed the voting as, obviously, there were too many people voting the wrong way. Results at closing were:

    VOTE RESULTS
    Will ID cards make the UK safer?
    Yes
    24.52%
    No
    75.48%
    13127 Votes Cast
    Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

  • Verity

    On the other hand, I just went here (Link) and voted again, and the figures are 13,649 votes cast. Odd.

  • Tuscan Tony

    Verity, closed the voting? To paraphrase Murtaza, “quelle surprise”……!!!!!!!! Not that I doubt you, but I simply just cannot believe they’d be so obvious.

  • Tuscan Tony

    I saw the voting miraculously open again too. Can Perry tell somehow if BBCzentralkontrol is reading this? I’m chuckling away here in Tuscany imagining the BBC’s strategy somehow being dictated by this blog. It’s all just too delicious to be true.

  • Verity

    Tuscan Tony – I really did lol when I read your last post. That is really funny. “Quick, close the poll! It’s tanking for our side!” “Right! Done!” Racing back in with hair on fire, “Quick! Re-open the poll – they’ve noticed over on Samizdata!”

  • guy herbert

    Verity,

    A crushing disappointment for the Beeb, I would say…

    There’s no reason to suppose the Beeb is always on the other side of every question. It has been a bit wet on ID, and notably unwilling to stand up to government bullying since Hutton. But plenty of BBC people have told me privately that they are personally very much on our side; all the senior journos now seem to understand the issue; and even programme editors are starting to get it…

    I had a terrible interview for the World Service last week, trying to discuss the ID fraud pretext without reference to the fraudulent Home Office figures. But coverage of today’s vote has been very promising, with concealed compulsion and the database to the fore. Longer term this can be Labour’s poll tax, and it can bring them down.

  • John K

    Longer term this can be Labour’s poll tax, and it can bring them down.

    I certainly hope so. I had a lingering hope that the dour Scot would drop this idea when he became PM, because he must know that the money’s run out, and he would be in a position to blame it on Blair. But the Caledonian chump has now come out as a social fascist, parroting My Little Toni’s sick think, so he can go fuck himself as far as I’m concerned.

  • Guy: That was my point exactly – it is another fabrication, so we are into about a 3rd or 4th-order fabrication now. About time the edifice crumbled!

  • Midwesterner

    This just in!

    At the University of Wisconsin, Madison (a campus which is a little to the left of UC Berkeley) the student paper, The Badger Herald, printed the cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb in his turban!

    The paper’s editorial director gave a statement to the TV reporters stating the importance of free speech to open debate. He said people need to see what the debate is all about and decide if this cartoon, while offensive, is worth people dieing for.

    True to form, our local See B.S. errr….. that’s CBS affiliate showed a picture of the newspaper with, of course, the cartoon censored out with a pixel patch over it. This was to protect the sensitivities of Muslims. Yeah. Riiight. Why can’t they just come out and say they’re worried about the safety of their property and the lives of their families.

  • Joshua

    MADISON printed one of the cartoons? MADISON????

    Wow.

    And then, wow.

    And seriouly now – WOW!!!!

    I guess this issue really is wedging a chink in the lefty armor! Quick, someone bait some more!

  • Sylvain Galineau

    Well yeah, moderates are by definition silent and passive. That’s why we call them moderates.

  • Midwesterner

    Joshua,

    I sent a letter to the news and editorial directors of the television station. This station really has, for MSM, made an effort to see and show all sides of issues.

    I don’t see this as so much finding a chink in their armor, as loosening their blinders to the reality of what is happening.

    Here is a copy of the letter I sent. If anyone wants to cut and paste text or ideas for their own letters, go for it. You may want to leave out the reference to my mother, though.

    _____ ______, Managing Editor
    ____ ______, Editorial Director
    ________ _____, News Director

    I have been watching your local news almost exclusively for at least fifteen years, now. Throughout this time it’s been because you have the best weather forecasts and the least biased editorial news decisions. Lately, I’ve been upset by an exception to this history.

    Your coverage of the Danish cartoon riots, arson and killings is so heavily censored by your ‘sensitivity’ to Muslims that it doesn’t count as news coverage at all. It’s like one big teaser without the story. Many embassies have been burned in many countries. Many people have died. Major economic boycotts are underway. And you won’t show us a picture of the cartoon that started this because of your sensitivity.

    Yet, at this same time, you have been showing an actor dressed up as a nun and swearing at the top of her voice, yelling “should get a ruler and beat the hell out of” repeated again and again all day. My elderly mother has had a stroke that damaged her short term memory. She had never permitted that language in our house and she is offended anew every time you make a little more money showing that particular advertisement.

    Where are your sensitivities? If might appear that they are with your bank accounts. Or perhaps they’re with your own safety. Maybe you need to stop claiming concerns with other’s feelings and admit that you are dealing with extra-constitutional extremists who will not hesitate to commit violence to get privileged treatment. It is reasonable to make this decision in the interest of your own, your families’ and your business’s safety. But please don’t lie about it. You can give up your reputation for fairness. And even your reputation for presenting complete, accurate news without apology. But don’t also forfeit your reputation for honesty. Are you to be outranked on the scale of journalistic integrity by an editor of a student newspaper?

    This is about freedom of speech. This is about freedom of the press. This is about a free and open exchange of ideas.

    For a real nightmare view of where this is going, read this Islamic view of the new blasphemy law in Norway.

    http://www.islam-onl ine.net/English/News/2006-02/15/article04.shtml(Link)

    The only way to preserve a right, is to exercise that right. Norway is a very liberal country. And they now have a law that punishes blasphemy with fines and even imprisonment. This is the stated goal of Muslims in the United States. Think about what this means and who will be the definers of ‘blasphemy’. Look at that cartoon of someone who is, even by Muslim beliefs, just a human being, not God. If this is blasphemy, what else? You need to show this to your viewers.

    Please, be honest with us. If you’re afraid of retaliation, admit to us you’re afraid. But don’t hide behind ‘sensitivity’ when you are dealing with people who can and do use violence to gain power over our lives.

    It’s time for you to demand equal treatment for our freedom of religion and, more importantly, our religion of freedom.

    Thank you.

    Check out the link on Norway. It looks like they’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

    The link is giving me trouble. It won’t post, saying it could be spam. I’ll try adding space(s). You’ll need to remove them to make the link work.

  • Midwesterner

    I enjoyed this(Link)

    Scroll down for some great political cartoons

  • Joshua

    Midwesterner-

    Just had a look at your Norway link. Definitely depressing.

    Sounds like Norway was never on the cusp of victory though. They note, after all, that the PM condemned the cartoons from the outset. So that sort of puts Norway in the “Canada” column – i.e. one or two citizens with balls, but a government that ain’t worth a damn, no?

  • Midwesterner

    Joshua,

    I try to think good things of Norway, I have a lot of relatives there, but I’m afraid you’re very right.

    I got my first reply back on the letter. It was very cautious from the editorial director. He essentially said that since they hadn’t broached the subject in an editorial yet, he would let the news people state their case first. My guess is it’s a big issue behind the scenes and it’s not hurting for me to check in with an opinion.

    The news directors email came back broken so it’s up to the managing editor, now. If I don’t hear in a day or two from him, I’ll ask the editorial director to please forward internally since he is in a different domain from the other two and it’s possible the managing editor might not have received it either.

  • Midwesterner

    The mother lode of Muslim Extremist topic political cartoons.

    http://www.cagle.com/news/Muhammad/main.asp(Link)

  • Midwesterner

    Joshua! That earlier Islamic link, check it out!! They changed the headline and cut out all reference to the new Norwegian ban! When I first linked it it was ‘Norway Bans Blasphemy’ or something like that. Now they have removed all reference to the Norwegian ban except a short sentence at the very end! The pictures are the same, the rest of the article is the same. Darn, I wish I’d copied it to hard disk.

    There are hostile lurkers on this site!