Sunday, May 10, 2015

But not for thee

What I find most bothersome about all the recent discussions about free speech and what that's supposed to mean is liberals' and leftists' inability to separate morality from law. I hate agreeing with the right on something, but sorry, the left really fails here. There is no "responsibility" where the law is concerned. You can hate Paula Geller and what she stands for, but she's under no responsibility to use her speech in a way that makes you happy or even comfortable. I think she's a nutter too, but holding a cartoon contest, even a repugnant one, is not akin to shouting fire in a crowded theater.

I never thought I'd write this, ever, but Will Cain makes a lot of sense here.  On a related note, Al Jazeera has a good piece about the fallibility of punching up/down arguments:
In cases like Charlie Hebdo, punch theory helped spread confusion over France’s uniquely extreme style of satire, leading some to mistake the magazine for a fascist rag. But the words of a French leftist, Olivier Tonneau, are instructive: the cartoons were “well within the French tradition of satire — and after all was only intended for a French audience. … I hope this helps you understand that if you belong to the radical left, you have lost precious friends and allies.” Tonneau’s point about the need to read those cartoons in their local context should have been obvious. Instead, it was lost as leftists in the Anglosphere imposed their own sensibilities upon a different tradition.

The second problem with punch theory is that it also leads to the silencing of satirists themselves. The most famous example is Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian satirist who has fiercely mocked every Egyptian government since the 2011 revolution. Youssef was arrested in 2013 on the charge of “insulting Islam,” part of Mohammed Morsi’s broader crackdown on political dissent. During his tenure, Morsi was careful to stress tentative support for free speech. But as he famously said during a speech to the United Nations, sacrilege was different, “an organized campaign against Islamic sanctities.” The reasoning is remarkably familiar: In order for satire to deserve protection, it must punch in the right direction, which Youssef failed to do.