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.

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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.

Obama’s Latest Apology

Not that it worked, but...

Regardless of where one stands on accusations that President Obama has been too generous with apologies (regrets, acknowledged mistakes, etc.) to foreign nations, there should be no argument over whether his apology to his Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the inadvertent burning of copies of the Quran by American soldiers was appropriate. It was,  it was also responsible and necessary, and it required a measure of political courage for which the President deserves praise, not criticism.

As properly explained by Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation specializing in South and Central Asia (who is obviously not running for the Republican presidential nomination), “It was an important demonstration of respect for the Afghan people and their religious faith.” President Obama was attempting to defuse a potentially explosive situation, protect the fragile situation in Afghanistan and avoid American deaths.

This was responsible diplomacy. The Republicans who are taking cheap shots at President Obama for this should be ashamed of themselves.

The ACLU Gives Us a Lesson in Principles

Paul Scofield as Sir Thomas More

“What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?…And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide…the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down…do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”—- Sir Thomas More [Played by Paul Scofield, scripted by Robert Bolt (in a speech adapted from More’s writings) in the film of “A Man for All Seasons” (1966)]

My opinion of Rev. Terry Jones is a matter of record; to summarize, I think he is well beneath Charlie Sheen, Donald Trump, Tom DeLay, Goldman Sachs, Nancy Pelosi, Eliot Spitzer, AIG, Charlie Rangel , Mark Sanford, Barry Bonds, “Ronbo” and most of the other members in bad standing on the Ethics Alarms Bottom 100. Determined as he is to sully the First Amendment with his disgraceful and hate-soaked use of it, however, he is an American, and he has rights. A Dearborn, Michigan jury, prompted by the city, has taken away those rights by preventing him and another fool from protesting outside a local mosque. Continue reading

Terry Jones’ Next Irresponsible Protest: Legal? Sure. Stupid? Yes. Ethical? Of Course Not.

We have to permit the stupid demonstrations to protect the important ones.

The latest drama surrounding irresponsible publicity addict, Quran-burner and gonzo Islam-hater Rev. Terry Jones is his attempt to get a permit to demonstrate outside  the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan because, well, because it’s there, I guess.  Wayne County and Dearborn officials insist that he pay security costs that they estimate at about $46,000 before he will be allowed to incite more violence and riots overseas. These are a near certainty because a lot of people in other countries can’t understand why the United States lets its citizens say and demonstrate about any fool thing they want to. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Month: #1 American Asshole, Rev. Terry Jones

...or "The Rev. Terry Jones Story"

“If you want to be technical, I guess we broke our word. We thought twice about it.”

—-Rev. Terry Jones, agreeing with criticism that he had promised last September not to burn the Quran, but did so anyway last month when he felt that his anti-Islam campaign was not getting enough headlines.

If you want to be technical, Rev. Jones is probably the biggest asshole in the United States right now. I know, I know—civility. But there are rare situations in which only our crudest, most insulting words can fairly describe individuals and acts. Rev. Jones richly deserves the asshole label, indeed the U.S. Champion, Gold Plated, #1 Asshole label, because nothing else adequately describes his reckless, self-promoting, hateful, irresponsible, deadly, virtually treasonous conduct—all completely legal, of course.

What do you call someone who pours gasoline on a brush fire to get attention? Jerk is too mild. What do you call someone who intentionally makes a difficult problem of international perception even more difficult—intentionally? Fool is too kind.  Unethical, my staple, is too abstract. There just is no civil term for someone like Jones. Continue reading