20 October 2009

Protect certain ghost worshippers from insult

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in The Independent says:

"Muslims, Asians and Black people are human, too – experiencing the pain of gratuitous invective piled on us, day after day, by toffs like Martin Amis and Wilder and racists like the BNP. Words do violence to humans, more sometimes than sticks and stones. They can disable you to the point of insanity"

Of course she's right about racism and the BNP. However, Martin Amis and Wilder have not expressed racist views, as far as I am aware. Race is not something one can choose, and racism is demonstrably irrational and abominable.

However, Amis and Wilder have both condemned Islam. Islam is a choice, or rather it should be (the "crime" of apostasy makes it anything but a choice in some countries), so criticising it should be like criticising Christianity, or Hinduism, or Shintoism or indeed any non-religious based philosophy. Objectivists and supporters of capitalism know this too well, but indeed so do socialists, conservatives or environmentalists. When you decide a particular philosophy is for you, you will inevitably encounter criticism from some, and derision from others. It is part of being in a free society.

Now I don't believe in gratuitously seeking to insult people for the sake of it, but I do believe that people should take direct criticism about their chosen philosophy. If you want to do violence to those who criticise it, it demonstrates your own lack of self control and your own inability to justify your position through persuasion.

However while Alibhai-Brown decries the condemnation of Islam, she also says "Only libertarian fools and fanatics would give set-piece answers" to issues of free speech. Whether she refers to all libertarians as fools or just the ones who are fools is unclear, but it certainly looks offensive to me.

So is she saying if I am an atheist believer in a small state she can call me a fool, but if I believe in a ghost and the words of a long dead prophet who had sex with a preteen child, I should be protected from insult?

No she is a fool. She doesn't understand that free speech means the state getting out of the way, and allowing people to express themselves as they see fit, as long as it does not interfere with the right of others to do the same, or result in infringement of private property rights (including the rights of crime victims and the right to one's reputation).

Indeed, she cannot even accurately describe the events around the Wilders visit saying "I was proud Muslims responded with good sense". Not all, surely?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Words do violence to humans, more sometimes than sticks and stones."
No they do not, ever.