Sunday, May 18, 2008

Using Koran as target practice

This widely reported story raises some simple points:
1. It's a book, those who get upset about it happily ban and burn books themselves.
2. Notwithstanding that, it was not a clever thing to do in a predominantly Muslim country.
3. However, it's telling how upset so many Muslims get about this, but don't get agitated about honour killings, rape victims being executed, sentencing teenagers to death for having consensual sex, or death for adultery. Yes, the priorities of far too many Muslims are - book first, lives second (sorry I mean female lives third).
Oh and if anyone wonders how i'd feel if a copy of The Fountainhead was used as target practice? Well if it was by a US soldier, I'd say he was an idiot, but it's his right to free speech. If it was the Bible I wouldn't care less, but I suspect many in the US would be calling for his head.
You see as much as I know how it isn't clever to deliberately insult others for the hell of it, it is more important to realise that nobody has a right to not be offended. I find all the points I listed in "3" above to be infinitely more important than any single book - I'd like to hear from Muslims who agree.


ZenTiger said...

Of course people have a right to be offended. Why shouldn't people get upset over things that matter to them?

The issue, I would think, is that do offended people have any sort of right to ask to not be offended by the specific action in question?

Again, there will be cases where some offensive actions also breach people's rights in other areas, and as such, should be protected.

In this particular case, using the Koran as target practice is a deliberately offensive act that serves no positive gain, and may reflect "conduct unbecoming to a representative of the United States". Although, there may be a context in which this action was understandable, and punishing bad conduct could not be done in justice until we understood the context.

Anonymous said...

Zen, perhaps it's best put thus:

"My idea of a free society is one in which it is safe to be unpopular". (Adlai Stevenson).

You tread on dangerous ground when you talk of banning offensive actions should they breach people's rights, etc. Which rights? What offensive actions? How do you define them? Where do you draw the line?

I'm reminded of one militant UK-based Muslim who was quoted last year as saying something like ... "Living in a free country doesn't mean that you can insult Mohammed!"

Like it or not, oh yes it does, matey-boy.

Oswald Bastable said...

Hell, is Telecom going to go postal on me for using their phone books for ballistics testing!

ZenTiger said...

Sus, you tread on dangerous grounds when you accuse me of wanting to ban anything. It's this little thing I like to do where I say something and wait for libertarians to assume I'm immediately going to ban it :-)

Most of the time, I just like to clearly state my opinion on what I find offensive or not, and why I don't think it a positive force for society to put up with certain behaviours.

But, let's go down that road, since we do have a few laws that all but the most anarchistic seem to think reasonable (or at least those that recognise the value of a community of individuals is more than the sum of its parts).

So, yep, I find it offensive if a flasher flashed themselves at my children. I don't get to decide to "turn away" (and my children can't make informed consent on this issue) and why should this person get to offend me first, and some idiot say "oh, because they offended you first, you don't have the right to be offended, and you could turn away, or leave this public place, or otherwise alter your lawful behaviour and intent to accomodate their uinlawful behaviour - or at least unlawful here in anti-libz land, or do you agree?

ZenTiger said...

Oh, and when you say "which rights", this all started when libertyscott people don't have a right to an opinion (the ability to express they feel offended by something).

Note that "right to be offended" does not equate "right to make it unlawful", that's just an assumption I'm trying to dispel here, because step one of PC behaviour is to end free expression of opinion, which this kind of language certainly reeks of!

Libertyscott said...

There is a right to be offended, absolutely. I said there is no right to NOT be offended, i.e. no right to prohibit things that offend people. Zen I think we are on the same page with this. I fully support your right to express what you find offensive.

The flasher example is interesting because it very much goes beyond free speech and just short of initiating force - although it is threatening behaviour so is worthy of debate. People swear in public, people shout at each other or their kids, people may smell bad, smoke or engage in public displays of affection. The issue becomes defining public space, and in a libertarian world all such space would be privately owned (and the rules set by owners). E.g. no shopping mall would tolerate flashers, most wouldn't tolerate smokers or the intoxicated and obnoxious.

Anonymous said...

Hi Zen .. given that Scott's said pretty much what I would have said (directly above), I'll leave it at that.

But if you will use provocative words like "protect" with regard to the state ... :)

Glad to see you reiterate that you're not in favour of banning this & that. So, seriously, why aren't you a libertarian?