Posts Tagged ‘hate speech’
The so-called French comedian Dieudonne is a suspect for money laundering after police raided his Paris home Tuesday and found more than $1 million in cash there and in a theatre he operates.
If charged and convicted, his previous hate crimes, primarily anti-Semitic slurs against Jews, will seem like petty theft, and God willing, his mate messages will be restricted to the confines of prison cell.
French authorities want Dieudonne to pay fines of nearly $100,000 for previous convictions and now think that he was scheming to declare himself bankrupt and that he may be guilty of money laundering.
The French government has won a last minute appeal on Thursday to France’s highest court, which reinstated a ban lifted hours before by a third court and decided that the French anti-Semitic comic Dieudonne M’bala M’bala cannot appear as scheduled in Nance.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls appealed to the Council of State, France’s highest court after judges in Nance overruled a lower court’s ban on the performance.
Dieudonne, already convicted seven times for anti-Semitic hate speech, already had arrived at the theatre where he was to perform. Not to be silenced, he announced he will put on a show next to the French court in Paris.
The court decisions centered around the argument whether Dieudonne’s show, called “The Wall,” represented “an attack on human dignity as its main object.”
The comic’s lawyers appealed the initial ban on ground that it violated freedom of speech.
He won the appeal after judges decided that his performance did not endanger public order, but the highest court thought differently.
World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder called on France to “confront this preacher of hate head on,” and President Francois Hollande had earlier urged French officials to the ban on the show.
Dieudonne remains are scheduled to perform in other events, but Bordeaux and Marseilles already have cancelled the shows.
A controversy-courting Canadian Jewish television host apologized for a rant against the Roma people.
Ezra Levant of the Sun TV network sparked widespread outrage in September when he referred to Roma as “gypsies” and “a culture synonymous with swindlers…one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging.”
He also said: “The phrase ‘gypsy’ and ‘cheater’ have been so interchangeable historically that the word has been entered into the English language as a verb: he gypped me. Well, the gypsies have gypped us. Too many have come here as false refugees,” Levant said on the segment, which was titled “The Jews Verses the Gypsies.”
The attack came amid news reports about a crime ring of Romanian immigrants working in the Toronto area.
Canada’s Roma community on Monday asked Toronto police to investigate Levant for hate crimes.
Levant referred on Monday to the segment as “a pretty good rant” but added: “To those I hurt, I’m sorry….It’s just wrong to slur a group of people. I made the moral mistake of judging people collectively.”
Known for his blustery talk and fervent belief in free speech, Levant said, “I don’t apologize simply for the sake of being consistent in my views. I regret having made these statements and I’m hopeful that those remarks will serve as an example of what not to do when commenting on social issues.”
Sun News apologized for the segment last fall and pulled the offending video from its website.
Writing in the National Post newspaper in the wake of the broadcast, three prominent Jewish community leaders said, “If the Sun News Network had aired an attack on Jews, the whole country would be outraged.”
Some have said that Levant’s apology is suspiciously timed, as the Sun network is in the midst of asking Canadian broadcasting regulators for inclusion on digital basic cable for five years.
To stop Islamist violence over perceived insults to Muhammad, I argued in a FoxNews.com article on Friday [also republished on the JewishPress.com], editors and producers daily should display cartoons of Muhammad “until the Islamists get used to the fact that we turn sacred cows into hamburger.”
This appeal prompted a solemn reply from Sheila Musaji of The American Muslim website, who deemed it “irresponsible and beyond the pale.” Why so? Because, as she puts it, “The solution to escalating violence and hate speech is not more hate speech.”
Hate speech, legal authorities agree, involves words directed against a category of persons. Here’s a typical definition, from USLegal.com: “incitement to hatred primarily against a group of persons defined in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and the like.”That sounds sensible enough. But does mocking Muhammad, burning a Koran, or calling Islam a cult constitute hate speech? And what about the respectful representations of Muhammad in the buildings of the U.S. Supreme Court or the New York State Supreme Court? Even they caused upset and rioting.
Attacking the sanctities of a religion, I submit, is quite unlike targeting the faithful of that religion. The former is protected speech, part of the give and take of the market place of ideas, not all of which are pretty. Freedom of speech means the freedom to insult and be obnoxious. So long as it does not include incitement or information that urges criminal action, nastiness is an essential part of our heritage.
On a personal note, I have had to learn to live with torrents of vulgar venom, in speech and in pictures alike, from those who disagree with me; you don’t hear me whining about it. More broadly, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and other faith communities in the West have learned since the Enlightenment to endure vicious lacerations on their symbols and doctrines.
If proof be needed, recall Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi, Andres Serrano’s Piss Christi, and Chris Ofili’s The Holy Virgin Mary. Or the avalanche of antisemitic cartoons spewing from Muslims.
For an over-the-top recent example, The Onion humor website published a cartoon under the heading, “No One Murdered Because of This Image.” It shows Moses, Jesus, Ganesha, and Buddha in the clouds, engaged in what the caption delicately understates as “a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity.” As the Onion mock-reportingly but accurately goes on, “Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.”
I asked for the cartoons to be published again and again to establish that Islamists must not chip away at the freedom to mock and insult by hiding behind bogus claims of incitement. Name an instance, Ms Musaji, when biting remarks about Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam have led to riots and murders by non-Muslims against Muslims?
I cannot think of a single one.
When attacks on Muslims take place, they occur in response to terrorism by Muslims; that’s no excuse, to be sure, but it does indicate that violence against Muslims has no connection with lampooning Muhammad or desecrating Korans. Muslims need to grow thick skins like everyone else; this is one of the by-products of globalization. The insulation of old is gone for good.
To make matters worse, Islamists tell us Be Careful with Muhammad! and threaten those with the temerity to discuss, draw, or even pretend to draw the prophet of Islam, even as they freely disparage and insult other religions. I can cite many examples of actors, satirists, artists, cartoonists, writers, editors, publishers, ombudsmen, and others openly admitting their intimidation about discussing Islamic topics, a problem even Ms. Musaji herself has acknowledged.
To cool the temperature, Muslims can take two steps: end terrorism and stop the rioting over cartoons and novels. That will cause the antagonism toward Islam built up over the past decade to subside. At that point, I will happily retract my appeal to editors and producers to flaunt offensive cartoons of Muhammad.
Google has rejected a White House request to remove the anti-Muslim video ‘trailer’ of a supposed full length, anti-Muslim movie titled “Innocence of Muslims,”” from YouTube, but is restricting access to it in certain countries.
YouTube said in a statement Friday that the video is “clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.”
The short film denigrates the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him as a blood thirsty womanizer and pedophile. It ignited mob violence against U.S. and other Western missions around the Muslim world.
“We work hard to create a community everyone can enjoy and which also enables people to express different opinions,” the YouTube statement said. “This can be a challenge because what’s OK in one country can be offensive elsewhere. This video — which is widely available on the Web — is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube. However, we’ve restricted access to it in countries where it is illegal such as India and Indonesia as well as in Libya and Egypt, given the very sensitive situations in these two countries. This approach is entirely consistent with principles we first laid out in 2007.”
YouTube’s community guidelines say the company encourages free speech and defends everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view. But YouTube says it does not permit hate speech.
“‘Hate speech’ refers to content that promotes hatred against members of a protected group,” the guidelines say. “Sometimes there is a fine line between what is and what is not considered hate speech. For instance, it is generally okay to criticize a nation, but not okay to make insulting generalizations about people of a particular nationality.”
Each year at many California universities, pro-Israel students dread the inevitable arrival of “The Wall,”—the centerpiece of Israel Apartheid Week. These programs, sometimes known as Justice in Palestine Week or Palestinian Awareness Week, usually take place sometime between late-winter and spring and focus on charges that Israel is an Apartheid state that illegally occupies Palestinian territories.
But what if the wall wasn’t allowed to go up?
Speculation on the future of anti-Israel demonstrations on University of California (UC) campuses has increased in recent weeks after a mid-July report compiled by the UC President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate recommended that UC consider banning all hate speech from its nine campuses.
Between October 2011 and May 2012, a group of professionals handpicked by UC President Mark Yudof travelled to six UC campuses (Santa Cruz, Davis, Irvine, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego) to assess the social conditions of Jewish students as well as Arab and Muslim students.
Jewish student leaders on the campuses were interviewed by the council, which evaluated the students’ biggest concerns as Jews on campus.
A separate report, providing background and recommendations on behalf of Arab and Muslim students was also released in mid-July.
Ultimately, the council recommended that hate speech, particularly anti-Israel demonstrations, be banned because of the unsafe and uncomfortable environment that can ensue on campus.
“UC does not have a hate-free policy that allows the campus to prevent well-known bigoted and hate organizations from speaking on campus such as the KKK,” the council wrote in the report. “UC should push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further, clearly define hate speech in its guidelines, and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.”
The council recognized that such a ban, if put in place, almost certainly would lead to legal action challenging it. Already, a petition asking Yudof to table the recommendations has gathered over 2,300 signatures.
Opponents of the recommendation claim that the report, released July 9, does not consider all viewpoints of Jewish students on campuses—particularly those of Jews who are critical of Israel.
In response, StandWithUs started a counter-petition urging the UC Office of the President (UCOP) to accept and implement the recommendations outlined in the report. While the first petition targets the hate speech ban proposal, the StandWithUs petition focuses on implementation of the entire report’s recommendations which include ensuring that kosher food options be available on UC campuses and that anti-Semitism be clearly defined and banned.
The advisory council also recommended that UC staff members receive cultural competency training and that accurate data be kept on Jewish students to better evaluate their needs.
There has been mixed reaction to the report in the pro-Israel community. Sharona Asraf, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow and board member of Tritons for Israel at UC San Diego, created a Facebook event promoting the petition and said she supports the Council’s recommendation to ban hate speech.
“This will verbalize protocol and will elaborate what the consequences are for hate speech,” Asraf said.
However, Daniel Narvy, President of Movement for Peace in the Middle East at UC Irvine, said that while he thinks hate speech should not exist, banning it on UC campuses could actually make life more difficult for pro-Israel students.
“I can promise that SJP will claim the university is Islamaphobic and complain until they get their way,” Narvy said. “Do I think the hate speech, which it clearly is, should be there? No, but the university cannot use prior restraint and just censor a club just because [some members of the club] are obnoxious .” Richard Barton, who is the national education chair for the Anti-Defamation League, co-wrote the report with Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP. Barton defended the report in an Aug. 23 op-ed in the San Francisco Gate.
“By including an examination of the climate for Jewish students, the Campus Climate Council has truly advanced the notion of honest and critical examination that lie at the heart of the UC’s core values,” Barton wrote.
Though UCOP is not expected to finish evaluating both the Jewish and the Arab and Muslim reports until late October, Yudof noted that ensuring a right to free speech would remain a priority.
“The Council will continue to address issues for a broad range of campus community members,” Yudof said in an August 8 open letter to the UC system. “None of this is designed to stifle free speech, but rather to ensure that our campuses are welcoming to a broad diversity of students, faculty and staff.”