The Egypt and Libya Embassy Attacks: So, Are We Going To Have An “Everybody Make An Insulting Film About Muhammad Day” Now?

Why not? It’s your right!

“We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” said Steve Klein, a consultant on Nakoula Basseley Nakoula’s anti-Islam, Muhammad-bashing film. The film is apparently the reason two U.S. embassies were attacked yesterday, resulting in the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and others. That was the “this” Klein was referring to. Nakoula and his Isreali backers set out to make a film that denigrates both Islam and its prophet, knowing what the response in Muslim nations has been to such things, as well as the deaths caused by podunk bigot pastor Terry Jones, with his Quran-burning stunts.

Now people are dead, the Arab world is inflamed, and the perpetual tinderbox known as the Middle East is ready to ignite. The online film has had almost no audience yet, but don’t worry: international violence was probably part of the marketing plan. Maybe Nakoula will be really lucky, and have his First Amendment-protected agitprop start World War III, and he can take his place in history next to Gavrilo Princip, in the coveted “Insignificant Jerks Who Started World Wars” category.

Indeed, as an American citizen, Nakoula has a sacred right to make any movie he wants, write any book, draw any cartoon, burn any book. Americans have a sacred right to be irresponsible, and thanks to electronic communication, they can now be irresponsible on a grand scale, disrupting diplomacy, inciting international unrest, fanning racial, ethnic, international and religious discord. That means that sometimes an exercise of  the right of free speech can be legal, cherished, and terribly wrong. Among those times are when you know that shooting off your metaphorical mouth has a strong probability of getting people other than you killed.

I agree that there is something amiss when “The Book of Mormon” is winning accolades on Broadway, knowing well that if the satirical musical targeted Islam instead of Mormonism the Great White Way might be running red with blood. I agree that it reeks of a double standard when columnists like Charles M. Blow can tweet about Mitt Romney’s “magic underwear” but American Muslims are immune from similar indignities because, well, they might kill us. This elevates instability, intolerance and lack of respect for human life to an asset, and that is itself intolerable—but what is the solution? Charles Krauthammer, condemning our Egypt embassy’s conciliatory response to the mob attack on it  yesterday, said that our response should be “Go to hell.” In this he was endorsing the response of the Everybody Draw Muhammad Day crowd, which decided that an organized, mass insult to Islam was the intelligent response to one Islamic terrorist intimidating Comedy Central into censoring South Park. Their reasoning: “You can’t kill us all.”

They can kill our Ambassador, though, can’t they?

Since there is no justification for hateful, intentional denigration of anybody’s religion, there should be a bright line between caving to Islamic threats over satire and humor, which is disgraceful and un-American, and not setting out to agitate the Arab street with calculated insults, which is the domain of Jones and Nakoula. The latter is flagrantly irresponsible and reckless, and should not be condoned or excused, Constitutionally protected though it is. Nakoula, it was reported, was in hiding for his life.

If so, good.

“We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,” said his colleague. Having to fear for one’s life seems like a fair punishment for someone who knew his hateful, rinky-dink movie might get other people killed and cause mass violence, and made it anyway.

___________________

Sources:

Graphic:  No Short Corners

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

60 thoughts on “The Egypt and Libya Embassy Attacks: So, Are We Going To Have An “Everybody Make An Insulting Film About Muhammad Day” Now?

  1. You are so far off base here as to be laughable if this wasn’t such a serious matter. The Bill of Rights exists to protect speech, even speech we don’t like and this can include stupidity which I have to say your post on this gets pretty close to.
    Why don’t you do something ethical and write about the atrocities committed in the name of Islam or are you in the Obama school and think that the great security threat to the world is returning US soldiers.
    You, I think, for the same reasons as the rest of the political blogosphere will not say anything about Islam because you are afraid. I personally think having a day where everyone draws the Prophet is a great idea. Hopefully we could get some lard based paint and use the hair from a dog as a brush.
    I get so sick of you pseudo intellectuals trying to tell me that Chicken Sh*t is really Chicken Salad if only I would hold my nose while I eat it.
    No Thanks!

    • Why Martin! What a measured and reasonable response! So logical! So fair! So informed! So analytical! So idiotic!

      So I take it you think its a good idea to set out to foment riots and violence for no other purpose than to show you can. Good thinking. Your response already established that you can’t read, since I was exquisitely clear that Basile has every right to be a reckless asshole. On the internet, the world is a crowded theater, and his film amounts to shouting “Fire!” just to watch people stampede. No, there’s no law against it. It’s just outrageous and wrong, and your (cretinous—read the rationalizations list and learn why) use of Islamic misdeeds to justify setting off crazy zealots on killing sprees is the mark of an ethical troglodyte. I’m sure you also cheer flag burners and people who wear Fuck Jesus T-shirts? You do? Then I’ve misjudged you.

      But you’re still full of it. Even First Amendment absolutists, to whom I am very close, acknowledge that there is free expression that is not prudent, wise or justifiable.

      Check this out before you accuse me of being afraid of upsetting Muslims when I actually have something worth saying. Or this. Or don’t. Knee-jerk mouth-foamers like you aren’t worth my time, or anyone else’s.

      Something can be protected and irresponsible, and Sam’s deadly ego trip qualifies.

      • Jack,you are right on! I hate it when people think that two wrongs don’t make a right. It’s a tragedy that our ambassador and others were killed. They were innocent of any misdeed. Unfortunately that’s how backlash often happens.
        When I began reading this I of course thought of the crowded theater scenario too. What is legal may also be so unethical that you sometimes wish to God it was illegal. Bacile knew full well that this video would very likely get people killed. Accessory to murder comes to mind.

        • Bacile knew full well that this video would very likely get people killed. Accessory to murder comes to mind.

          Col. Krakpot can explain it better than I can.

          Don’t you see how incredible asinine that sounds? Let’s try putting this in a different context. That fucker Martin Luther King, Jr. if he just shut his mouth and didn’t inflame the passions of those good ol’ boys, nobody would have gotten lynched.

          • “Don’t you see how incredible asinine that sounds? Let’s try putting this in a different context. That fucker Martin Luther King, Jr. if he just shut his mouth and didn’t inflame the passions of those good ol’ boys, nobody would have gotten lynched.”
            That’s not the same thing at all. We’re talking ethics. MLK ‘s cause was just and worthy. What is Basile’s cause? Just what the hell was he trying to accomplish other than making a name for himself? Is that worth the repercussions he knew would likely come?

              • “MLK ‘s cause was just and worthy.
                so what? Why should he not be responsible if some Klansman took enough offense at someone to lynch a black person with a rope?”
                Blacks were being treated this way before MLK. He and his followers obviously believed that civil rights for blacks was worth the sacrifice rather than living at the whim of racist whites. Martin was willing to die for his cause. He wasn’t a coward. Can’t you see that it’s important to choose your battles? Are they worth the cost?

      • I don’t get it. You seem like a pretty smart guy sometimes and then you go and get all politically correct on us. You know yourself the reason you call this not prudent is not because there is something inherently wrong or immoral but because of the actions of the Islamic mob. I also think they are just looking for excuses to kill infidels just as their so called religion teaches. I am, as you say, full of it but not full of what you infer. I am full of rational, free thought, unencumbered by years of legal training and a desperate need to pander to the exquisitely political elite establishment.

    • Oh its the Super Solider Martin!! The man who during the Vietnam War spent ten years in school and didnt go off to fight but now can talk all sorts of trash., Fucking POG

  2. Since there is no justification for hateful, intentional denigration of anybody’s religion […]

    *sigh.* Denigrating a false belief is right on general principle, but even moreso when the false belief causes negative results. Hating things that are bad is also properly. Your statement is flat out false. If you’ll allow the irony, Religion isn’t sacred.

    • There’s a difference between criticism, debunking and non-reverent discourse, and denigration. I’ll concede that those distinctions are sometimes lost on you, but denigration isn’t necessary or productive.

      • You can’t criticize falsehoods without denigrating them, at least, not to a true believer.

        As an aside, I’m not defending this film, but it’s unethical because it’s intentionally unfair crap, not because it denigrates Islam.

        • tgt,to me what’s being denigrated id beside the point. The fact that the denigration gets people killed is. If someone put out a film making fun of hamburgers knowing someone would die most likely because of it then they should use some restraint. This isn’t journalism. Nobody needs to know you hate hamburgers. If you go ahead and people are murdered,then you are responsible. Their deaths are a DIRECT result of your actions.

          • So the rightness of the message depends on whether some people might kill because of it, regardless of whether the message was said a day, a year, or a decade before.

            Just today, I read some very offensives messages. Here is one from The Revd , who was replying to my comment that nobody should have been a 9/11 victim.

            YOU and every other fucking shabbos goy should have been victims.

            The 9-11 incident was a direct retaliation for YEARS of jew rectum
            sucking by the USA.

            The Revd’s statement is offensive to Americans in general, especially those who lost family and friends on 9/11.

            Is the morality of the Revd’s statement dependent on whether anyone decides to kill someone in retaliation for his offensive comment. If *I* killed someone in response to his comment, where he said that *I* should have been a victim of 9/11, does that make his statement more immoral? Does that make him responsible for my decision to kill someone because he offended me?

            • ” If *I* killed someone in response to his comment, where he said that *I* should have been a victim of 9/11, does that make his statement more immoral? Does that make him responsible for my decision to kill someone because he offended me?”
              Michael,we aren’t talking about every irresponsible and inflammatory thing someone might say. We know from hard experience that ridiculing Mohammed gets people killed. We are at war with a faction of Muslims,right or wrong. Unless Basile was living under a rock he knew full well what might happen. He has the right to free speech but only he should suffer the consequences of what he says. If that were the case I’d say go for it. He knowingly made a video that serves no purpose other than to make people mad enough to kill and that was accomplished. Well done.

              • Michael,we aren’t talking about every irresponsible and inflammatory thing someone might say. We know from hard experience that ridiculing Mohammed gets people killed. We are at war with a faction of Muslims,right or wrong. Unless Basile was living under a rock he knew full well what might happen. He has the right to free speech but only he should suffer the consequences of what he says. If that were the case I’d say go for it. He knowingly made a video that serves no purpose other than to make people mad enough to kill and that was accomplished. Well done.

                In another post on that Usenet thread, the Revd claimed someone named Jeff Jakobstein should have been a victim of 9/11. What if Jeff Jakobstein reads this and kills someone in a fit of rage? For all we know, this Jeff Jakobstein fellow could be the type of person who would kill someone who saw an offensive message.

                and, from the forum that had Col. Krakpot’s message, it6 also has this post from someone called amigocabal , citing Supreme Court cases.

                The ground rules for Freedom of Speech was set forth in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) (per curiam) The Supreme Court held that “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Brandenburg, 395 U.S. at 447 Neither this film, nor the burning of the Quran, qualifies as inciting imminent, lawless action.

                Brandenburg is still good law. In a recent case involving a protective order, a judge deliberately ignored Brandenburg. An appeals court overruled that judge, citing Brandenburg.

                Under the Brandenburg standard, a person who interrupts a gathering of 9/11 survivors and yells that the victims deserved to die for supporting Israel could be guilty inciting imminent lawless action. Someone who merely appeared on a video, or wrote text, saying that the victims of 9/11 deserved to die for supporting Israel can not be guilty under this standard even if someone took enough offense to it to commit murder.

                It is bad enough that many in society blame rape victims for arousing their rapists, either by wearing too short a skirt or by acting too friendly.

                But now, pictures of girls and women can arouse rapists around the world. Should Lindsey Evans, a former Miss Teen Louisiana, be blamed for rape, merely because she bared her vagina in a photo and some rapist was aroused enough by it to commit rape?

                • “The ground rules for Freedom of Speech was set forth in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) (per curiam) The Supreme Court held that “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Brandenburg, 395 U.S. at 447 Neither this film, nor the burning of the Quran, qualifies as inciting imminent, lawless action. Brandenburg is still good law. ”
                  I thought this was about whether or not the video was ethical,not whether it’s legal.
                  Fortunately most people don’t set out to kill you for shooting your mouth off but this situation is extremely volatile. Everyone knows that and you’d better have a damn good reason for firing those shots. To me this is exactly like yelling fire in a crowded theater. It’s nonsensical,irresponsible and dangerous.

  3. If the middle-east is a tinderbox, and it only grows and adds more kindling by the day, then by all means, let’s not spark the fire just yet. Sometime in the future will be way better.

  4. Among those times are when you know that shooting off your metaphorical mouth has a strong probability of getting people other than you killed.

    Then we should condemn the civil rights movement, because they antagonized the Ku Klux Klan.

    • No, the KKK was already killing people, and legitimatizing them eventually saved lives. There was also a purpose to civil rights expressions—it was not gratuitous insults to the KKK. You can read any statement to find an example where it is inexact. I’ll stand on the general principle.

  5. This elevates instability, intolerance and lack of respect for human life to an asset, and that is itself intolerable—but what is the solution?

    The solution is to kill all the sand Nazis, starting with the ones firing rockets into Israel.

  6. I’ve said everything I possibly can about EDMD. At this point, all I hope is that I participated not to inflame tensions or purposefully insult them, but to stand for my rights and to remind people what this sort of thinking can lead to. I intend to participate next year, and every year henceforth, even if I am the last one doing it.

    Anyone who takes umbrage with it, all I ask if that they see what I drew before they draw either a conclusion or swords.

  7. I apologize about the length. I truncated where I could without changing the meaning but I wanted my responses considered in-line with the context of the passages they were meant to refute. Moving on:

    “I agree that it reeks of a double standard when… American Muslims are immune from similar indignities because, well, they might kill us. This elevates instability, intolerance and lack of respect for human life to an asset, and that is itself intolerable—but what is the solution?”

    The solution for this would seem obvious, treat all religions equally even in matters of satire. But what about the violence? See “What is the alternative?” below.

    “Charles Krauthammer… said that our response should be “Go to hell.” In this he was endorsing…[that] an organized, mass insult to Islam was the intelligence response to one Islamic terrorist intimidating Comedy Central into censoring South Park. Their reasoning: “You can’t kill us all.””

    I feel like this is a misrepresentation of the intent behind the various instigate Muslim counter protests. They don’t seem to be an attempt at an intelligent response but rather an understandable* expression of anger and frustration, and a non-violent one at that. The attitude isn’t so much the simplistic “you cant kill us all,” as it is “we will not be cowed by your violence, here is proof [burn sacred object x].”

    “Bacile, it is reported, is in hiding for his life. Good.”

    Because non-violent expression of your beliefs clearly means you should be hunted by other men.

    “Americans have a sacred right to be irresponsible … they can now be irresponsible on a grand scale, disrupting diplomacy, inciting international unrest, fanning racial, ethnic, international and religious discord. That means that sometimes an exercise of the right of free speech can be legal, cherished, and terribly wrong.”
    “The latter is flagrantly irresponsible and reckless, and should not be condoned or excused, Constitutionally protected though it is.”
    “‘We went into this knowing this was probably going to happen,’ said his colleague. Having to fear for one’s life seems like a fair punishment for someone who knew his hateful, rinky-dink movie might get other people killed and cause mass violence, and made it anyway.”

    Reckless and irresponsible? What is the alternative? Should we allow the validity of violence to enforce silence? Are we to be intimidated into censure by some religious mafia? If we condemn a man for expressing himself out of fear of unlawful, unethical, and unreasonable violence then we have failed a test of commitment to our rights.

    If you disagree with him do so solely on the principle of his argument and not on the reactions of extremists.

    Finally I think its important to note that Bacile, while despicable for his hateful views, is about as responsible for the death and violence in the middle east as you or I are, that is to say – none. He was peaceful in his expression, they were not. Bacile should not be running for his life, it should be the people committing the violence.

    *keep in mind that understanding is not the same sympathizing

  8. At this point, hasn’t the Islamic violence sparked others to draw and denigrate Mohammed, therefore, the Islamic violence is the cause of denigration which caused violence?

    The fools in Libya and Egypt obviously never heard of the Streisand Effect. There is bound to be any number of things that would offend their sensibilities or their religion. That denigrates them as a people and as a religion. Do they go looking for every piece of obscure creation in order to have a reason for violence? Or are they just violent and they think the art and speech in the world is cover for their actions?

  9. ” Constitutionally protected though it is. Bacile, it is reported, is in hiding for his life.

    Good.”

    This is a disgusting post. And pretty stupid. Advocating violence againt people because other people reacted violently to their speech? I suppose if somebody reacted to your approval of violence agaist Bacile by harming him, you’d be the first one stepping up advocating violence against yourself.

    • Really? And if I said, “He is in danger, but not hiding, so people can come and kill him. Good,” presumably that would be disgusting to you too. You know, so much is disgusting when one cannot read.

      I said that I was glad he was in hiding, because, you see, being in hiding is no fun, and his life is disrupted. Did I say I wanted him found? No. Killed? No. Hurt in any way? No. I don’t even know that he’s really in any danger, do you? He just thinks so, being a coward as well as a jackass, and that’s just hunky-dory with me.

      He can’t be prosecuted, there are no formal sanctions that can be taken against Americans who happen to go out of their way to incite violence abroad to promote hateful movies. So feeling so terrified that he’s in hiding seems like a pretty fair consequence, though not nearly what the creep deserves.

      You can criticize what I write all you want, that’s what comments are for. Try to comprehend what I say first, though. Thanks.

      Jerk.

      • I see. You think it’s good that he has to fear for his life, but it would be bad if he were hurt in any way. Even though you say he deserves much worse than simply having to fear for his life, you’re not saying it would be good if anything bad happened to him. Got it. Maybe you should try to comprehend what you say.

        And what did he do to deserve much worse than having to fear for his life? He hurt people’s feelings. You’ve got a twisted sense of “deserve”

        • Hey, why don’t you just write the essays yourself, and criticize them then, since you don’t pay any attention to what I actually write?
          He didn’t just “hurt people’s feelings.” That would be fine. Sometimes you have to hurt people’s feelings. He helped get four people killed. He also knew that was a very possible result of what he was doing. The movie was put on the internet in Arabic to outrage as many Muslims as possible. He deliberately risked exactly what happened, for no valid reason that justifies the risk.

          Saying that he deserves more unpleasant consequences than he’s getting, which I did and do, does not translate into hoping he is killed or physically harmed, which is what your initial dishonest comment asserted. Your follow-up dishonest comment continues to make the same unwarranted leap.

  10. Watch the film first.

    Now I agree that everyone involved in making this “film” should be publicly castigated. Not for content – it merely dramatises actual events for the most part – but because a 6th grade class in drama could do better. It might have cost $5000 to make, but may not have.

    It reminds me a lot of “Plan 9 from Outer Space” in terms of props, quality of script, and cinematography. Just nowhere near as professional,

    It’s the kind of film anyone could make, Any individual. Any small group. No experience necessary.

  11. Curiouser and curiouser….

    http://gawker.com/5942748/it-makes-me-sick-actress-in-muhammed-movie-says-she-was-deceived-had-no-idea-it-was-about-islam

    The film’s mysterious pseudonymous writer and director, “Sam Bacile,” has claimed to be an Israeli real estate mogul. But Garcia said Bacile told her he was Egyptian on set. Bacile had white hair and spoke Arabic to a number of “dark-skinned” men who hung around the set, she said. (A Bacile associate also told The Atlantic he wasn’t Israeli or Jewish.)

    • OK, as a director, I’ve never been happy with any kind of “don’t tell the actors the truth” crap that some directors pull. Like when they dropped Alan Rickman on a 2 count instead of 3 to “get his real reaction.” This is a trick used by charlatans who can’t get or don’t trust their actors to bring sincerity to the performance.

      Once, I was shooting something where a person was surprised that someone busted into a room. I told the actress, “Relax for now. I’m gonna roll and I’ll bust into the room, but I won’t tell you exactly when.” I waited a few seconds between each take to let her be surprised by it (I didn’t end up using this shot anyway).

      The critical difference: I TOLD her what I was doing. There’s no reason to not be totally honest when directing someone.

      Didn’t Ben Stein say his movie Expelled was something different when he was interviewing people? Michael Moore said he was a member of the NRA in order to talk to Charlton Heston (he may even be a member, but it’s a gross mischaracterization and a trick). The makers of the pornographic movie Pirates said they were shooting a family film so they could shoot on the Bounty II. The producers of Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot lied to Estelle Getty by telling her there would be no guns in the movie to get her to sign on (I’m assuming the title was added later).

      Remember, I supported EDMD and I still DO. Of course he’s free to make his nasty, prejudiced and artless movie and we’re free to watch it and determine it was made by a braindead joker. But getting other people to participate by tricking them is FAR lower than any of the examples above. He could at least have the courage to tell the actors what they’re really going to be doing. That’s just as telling as the content of the movie.

      Maybe if he was honest about it, it would have never gotten made. It was as if this guy was trying as hard as he could to cause as much harm as possible.

      I’m having trouble pinning down why I can disapprove of this and still support EDMD (it’s late). My first instinct is that in EDMD, only the artist’s neck is on the line. One of these actors could be targeted when they are truly blameless. They were pawns in a miserable man’s scheme.

      If this IS the turning point that leads us into real war, people will look back on this film and think, “…really? This piece of crap caused that war?”

      • Comparing “Bacile” to Charles Manson, Bacile seems to have competence as a manipulator of persons close to himself that Manson might admire, plus competence as a provocateur (according to his own biases) of persons far from himself that Manson lacked and would envy.

  12. Jack,
    I have to disagree with your reasoning on this issue. I think that the problem comes very early on in your explication of the events:

    “The film is apparently the reason two U.S. embassies were attacked yesterday”

    Step back from this a moment and substitute the word “excuse” for the word “reason” in the above sentence and see where you wind up. I think that it would be a pretty logical idea to think that our enemies have become frustrated at their inability to attack us in any significant way on our own soil since 9-11-2001. That is, until 9-11-2012 when they were able to organize two attacks on our soil on the same day (embassy grounds are American sovereign territory after all).

    This was another sortie in the existential war against liberty that is being waged by the Islamist warriors. Our response, so far, is to display all of the “weak horse” characteristics that were so compelling to Osama Bin Laden before the first 9-11.

    • As facts have come out, it does appear that the second attack, at least, was planned in advance. Nonetheless, the point of the essay stands. The film provided a catalyst for the violence. It was still willfully irresponsible.

      • I don’t want to comment and run, but I will have to go off and work a bit pretty soon.

        I have no disagreement that the film was willfully irresponsible on many levels. However, your essay only has a valid point if you can believe that the film was the “reason” or the “catalyst” for the violence. In that case the point of your essay certainly does stand.

        Maybe it is off topic to bring up this orientation, but from continuing events (including now the attacks on the embassy in Yemen) it seems far more reasonable to view the film as the “excuse” for a probing action to see how weak US resolve actually is now. If our response is not robust enough, combined with effectiveness, then we are in for some pretty hard times with the hard core Islamist factions.

        • No! That’s consequentialism–illogical, invalid. The film is irresponsible because it was calculated to cause violence and unrest. Whether it in fact does after the fact is irrelevant to the conduct’s ethical character. To hold otherwise, as you do here, is to say that conduct becomes ethical or unethical based on subsequent events beyond the actor’s control…which is absurd.

          Though I hear and read it all the time…

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