Sunday, May 10, 2015

Two Odd Things about the Shootings at the Cartoon Contest Last Week

5/10/2015—Happy Mother's Day to all. A secular holiday if ever there was one.

There were two odd things about the reactions to the shootings last week in which a police office shot and killed two would-be terrorists obviously intent on killing people involved in the Mohammed cartoon contest. [I have no idea why authorities will not confirm this motive when it is so obvious. One of the two shooters reportedly had ties of some kind to radical Islamic movement and everyone knows that some Muslims believe it is proper to kill people who demean the Prophet by representing him visually. Anyway, why else would they be there with assault rifles—a Second Amendment display? Actually, that does make you wonder why the NRA did not protest the shootings. Surely it can't be a crime to carry assault weapons in Texas.]

One oddity is the sudden love affair between conservative Christians and the First Amendment. Some years ago, when a crucifix was placed in a jar of urine, some of the same people were calling for an end to government funding for the arts. Now, I realize that ending funding and shooting people are quite different. And even then, no one thought the artist could be put in jail. I only mean that it is not inherently good to make fun of peoples' religious beliefs. Doing so is not something admirable.

But this leads me to the second odd reaction—or rather silence. This is one of those "I don't agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." It is absolutely true that if there are people willing to kill others whose speech offends them, that speech absolutely must go forward, whether or not the speech is offensive. Otherwise, the criminals will decide what can be spoken in this society and we are no longer free.

Where are my fellow first amendment fundamentalists on the left? I almost want to send money to the group that sponsors these cartoon contests. And I certainly want my tax money spent defending them. They are willing to risk their lives for the sake of speech. How many of us are willing to do that?

And as for the fact that they are anti-Muslim—well at the moment, the only point they are making is that some Muslims believe that Islam is inconsistent with free speech. I believe the shootings make their point about that quite well.

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