Friday, February 24, 2006

Blasphemy Law in Action: German Dhimmitude / Talleyrand's Lazy Butt Kicked

Insane. The German blasphemy laws that is, not the poor anti-dhimmi on the wrong end of them. I have for some time now wanted to see the entire Koran printed on toilet paper. Looks like someone had a similar idea.

DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) - A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word "Koran" on toilet paper and offering it to mosques.
The 61-year-old man, identified only as Manfred van H., was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, a district court in the western German town of Luedinghausen ruled.
Here is a recent debate on freedom of speech and offence laws at Silent Running involving yours truly. Pitch in. Talleyrand, this means you ! (And lets see some articles too!)

[Update: 24/2/2006] The butt kicking worked beautifully. Talleyrand may be many things, but it will be a while before I call him lazy again. Here is a sample of his Napoleonic-era Gallic genius:

Irving is scum but he should be freed.
Austria, Belgium, Czech Rebublic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland all have laws against denial of the Shoah. Is this a good idea?
I could give some purely practical objections of course.Firstly, court cases like this provide the majority of all of Irving’s publicity, and he gets free worldwide airtime for weeks everytime some new action against him is started. Secondly, of course these laws don’t stop holocaust denial, they just push it underground. Thirdly, as Ben Ze’ev points out, these laws in fact fuel conspiracy theories about the Jews. Fourthly, in most of the countries that ban such speech, it is primarily a way of merely avoiding embarassment about their history. Fifthly, when you ban books like Hitler’s Mein Kampf, you in fact make it more difficult for anyone to actually understand what happened, i.e. you reduce historical comprehension by covering over history.

And then of course in the current situation, the ban is most annoying: the reason the Iranian newspaper called for a cartoon competition on the holocaust was because they knew that by calling attention to this subject, they could all have a laugh at the European’s claim to be supporters of free speech. They are trying to say, look, if you guys believe in free speech, then
why is it that suddenly we aren’t allowed to say certain things when it is about the Jews? Sounds like a) a conspiracy b) like you guys are hypocrits when you go on about freedom of speech.

Free speech is worth recommending to all of the above countries, speech that would include even the right to make quite wild-sounding claims about certain historical events. These countries mess around much more with free speech (and even with speech on the internet) than
one is generally aware of. The reason you see people like Chomsky also supporting the right of holocaust deniers for example is that he knows that the kind of speech in which he engages (calling every President since WWII a war criminal) is possible only in a society that radically supports freedom of speech. The left relies on this freedom just as much as the right: in how many countries in the world could you imagine someone running a film nationwide basically slandering the President for 2 hours in the runup to an election? And yet Michael Moore was able to do this without retribution in the US. And then even sit in the Republican get-together in NY in the weeks before the election with a shit-eating grin on his face. And what happened to him? He made a lot of money. That’s the kind of freedom of expression that we believe in, and it is a freedom of expression that all sides of politics get something out of.
Of course, Tony, the people of Austria or France or whatever have the right to decide that they want to live in a land without radical freedom of speech, but our job here is to tell them why we think they should change their minds…
Talleyrand's next challenge:

Or I will publish that film of you, Dominique de Villepin and the donkey...
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