Free Speech Asymmetry

I think the fact that there is an asymmetry between how critiques of Islam are received by US intellectuals and how critiques of Christianity are received is so obvious I am not even going to bother to prove it.  Suffice it to say that the same folks who refrained from even printing the fairly tame Danish Mohammed cartoons embrace satire of Christianity that is far more harsh, e.g. the Book of Mormon.

So accepting this asymmetry as nearly an axiom, I want to ask instead:  Is this asymmetry an exception being made for Islam, or an exception being made for Christianity.  In other words:

  • Do these folks support criticisms of all religions except Islam, because Islam is somehow different, perhaps out of a fear of violence?  If so, aren't we just encouraging anyone who is butt-hurt to resort to violence by giving folks with a Molotov cocktail an effective veto over speech?
  • Or, do these folks oppose criticisms of all religions except Christianity, perhaps because Republicans and Texans are Christians and intellectuals really don't like those guys.  In some ways this is parallel to the asymmetric way the "right not to be offended" is enforced on most campuses, with everyone afraid to offend a black woman but with no punishments assessed for offending white males.

Either answer, by the way, is absolutely unacceptable.  People who want to limit speech in a way to favor their own in-group should wonder what might happen when their group is no longer "in".


  1. tjic:

    > embrace satire of Christianity that is far more harsh, e.g. the Book of Mormon.

    I certainly think that Mormonism gets a LOT wrong about Christianity, and even goes far enough to be called heretical, but I don't think that it's fair to call it a satire; I think that Joseph Smith -

    Oh. Wait.

    You're talking about those South Park guys, aren't you?

  2. HenryBowman419:

    Not being familiar with Joseph Smith's epic translation work, I wonder how it could be considered a satire on Christianity. Could you clarify, please?

  3. HenryBowman419:

    Or, do these folks oppose criticisms of all religions except Christianity, perhaps because Republicans and Texans are Christians and intellectuals really don't like those guys.

    They do indeed truly hate Christians, because many people in the U.S. are Christians and thus subscribe to a religion different from their own (socialism). See Muravchik's Heaven on Earth for details. Muslims, because most live in "oppressed" countries, are given a pass, and anyway most of those educated in the U.S. realize that many Muslims, especially Arabs, are barbarians at heart and thus cannot help themselves. And, you're right, many of those Christians are from the G-D State of Texas, where men are men and sheep are nervous, and worst of all, is the state whence G.W. Bush came! Texas, in their view, is Hell on Earth. In the summer, it does feel that way...

    Just for the record, I am not Christian.

  4. MingoV:

    Evidence exists for both positions. Offending Christianity does not violate PC (political correctness) standards in the USA. Offending Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, or Islam does violate PC standards. However, politicians, editors, and reporters are especially careful not to offend Islam because they fear violent retaliation. That fear is evidence-based because Islamic leaders have issued fatwas on reporters, politicians, writers, etc. who offended Islam.

  5. Don:

    The media finds their interests aligned with the Christian haters (where ever they come from), and the incentive of not having molotov cocktails for lunch simple helps nudge the edge cases into line.

    "The enemy of my enemy..." and all that. In general, BOTH of your scenarios are largely true. I think !Islam && !(Christianity || Judaism) == null as far as most in the media are concerned.

  6. obloodyhell:


    "The only social order in which freedom of speech is secure is the one in
    which it is secure for everyone... and, as those who call for censorship
    in the name of the oppressed ought to recognize, it is never the oppressed
    who determine the bounds of the censorship. Their power is limited to
    legitimizing the idea of censorship."

    - Aryeh Neier -


  7. obloodyhell:

    }}}} most of those educated in the U.S. realize that many Muslims, especially
    Arabs, are barbarians at heart and thus cannot help themselves

    The term for this is "The Racism of Soft Bigotry".

    It's the same reason blacks need handouts, they just can't do as the "oriental" has done and climb out of the muck without them. "They just are an inferior race".

    Me, not being racist, don't cotton to that notion. I hold all Men to the same standards.

  8. obloodyhell:

    P.S., I've already been noting the hypocrisy in comment feeds on the whole Libyan fiasco. That people who make excuses for Muslims offended by some stupid movie acting out violently, would never, ever tolerate a bunch of Xtians ransacking a museum that was showing "Piss Christ", or "Virgin Mary In Elephant Dung".

    I want to see some of these BRAVE BRAVE artists speaking actual "Truth to Power" by jumping Islam on clearly legitimate issues, by their own liberal attitudes -- Clitorectomies, Honor Killings, Rape-Incest cases where the girl is treated as the criminal, and so forth.

    Naw, I know. Much too Truthful....

  9. mark2:

    South Park Guys - If you can find it still the movie Orgasmo is absolutely hillarious. It combines skewering Martial arts videos, Pr0n industry and Mormons all at the same time.

  10. mark2:

    Personally I think it is the fear factor. Journalists and artists can bravely skewer Christians and Jews because they know that while some will get a bit angry, Christians and Jews don't tend to take up arms against the blasphemous. It is really easy to "bravely" skewer the Christians beliefs. Of course say something factual about Muslims and you get a Fatwa on your head.

    Something else to note about this whole affair: The movie was just a cover for an El Quaida attack, this has been determined. The protesters are just ignorant stooges in this. I don’t understand why they get so riled though – don’t they have jobs, families to feed, etc. How can they afford to take time off to protest and riot all the time?

  11. hunt johnsen:

    Mark2 has got it - everyone except Ann Barnhardt and Michelle Malkin are scared of the PC police or the muzzies.

  12. Gil:

    I would subscribe to this version of double standards towards certain religious criticisms.

  13. mesocyclone:

    I know there's a lot of Christian hatred on the left, where atheists have often been replaced by militant atheists. I see it all the time among leftist folks on Facebook. There is also a combination of PC multi-culti unwillingness to attack Islam (and probably anything not western) and pure craven cowardice. I have yet to see a Christian hater say anything dangerous about Islam.

  14. mark2:

    Add Dave Horowitz to the ranks of the brave

  15. obloodyhell:

    It's the ME.... the goats can take care of themselves for an afternoon. :-S

    More seriously -- have you every wondered about their low productivity?

  16. David:

    The idea that anyone skewers Jews is just nonsense. Despite the fact that Judaism is open racism (do you not realise just how offensive the "chosen" notion is?) and the Torah is just about the most disgusting religious text in the entire world (glorying in genocide, slavery, murder and a whole host of other crimes), Jews get a pass.

    In fact, the only religions which get denigrated are Christianity (especially Catholicism) and Islam. There are differences between the two. Christians tend to get attacked by offensive garbage (piss-Christ) while Muslims get hit with twisted attempts to paint them as evil.

    In the meantime, criticizing the flagrantly racist policies of the Jewish state is considered anti-Semitic in many quarters.

  17. Mark:

    The origin of "political correctness" is political liberalism.
    WIth this in mind, a long time ago I was trying to figure out why the Left supports the Palestinians over the Israelis. Israel is one of the most progressive societies on the planet, practicing almost pure socialism with almost totally open views on social issues like homosexuality and sex. The Palestinians, on the other hand, view these subjects with a 10th century viewpoint. Yet, the Left hates Israel and loves the Palestinians. It did not make sense until you look at the true paridigm of the Left: support the perceived victim.In their worldview the Israelis are the aggressors and the Palestinians are the victims. Whatever the victims do is right, whatever the aggressors do is wrong.
    In the world, there are two aggressors: The United States and Israel. Therefore, anythign "mainstream" in the United States is wrong. Christianity/Judaism the religion of the aggressors: wrong. Islam, the religion of the oppressed victims: always right, and always right even when it is in complete oppostion to the progressive worldview.
    The liberal/progressive/Left worldview is a tragic mistake and one of the reasons why the Middle East is the way it is.

  18. mesaeconoguy:

    Barry Obama is fully responsible for the US Embassy security

    Full stop.

    Now, what you want the Hitlary Clinton US foreign policy to
    be, well… let us see….

  19. skhpcola:

    OBH, click the "Discussion" box at the top left of the comment thread and choose "oldest." I haven't any idea why the default is set to show the newest comments at the top, but I agree it isn't a logical order.

  20. Hunt Johnsen:

    Spoken like a true antisemite. Regardless of their holy book, I don't see jews (or catholics) doing the crap the muslims have been doing for 1400 years. Poor misunderstood muslims, if everyone just did it their way no one would get hurt, instead people keep insulting them and they just have to kill millions to feel better about themselves.

  21. Daniel:

    Ask an atheist what happens when they try to put up a billboard or advertisement about atheism. The advertising companies are often forced to remove them, or the advertising company won't run the ads because they will lose business from Christians. The atheist signs are often vandalized or stolen too.

  22. johnbr:

    The Onion posted a recent picture with the headline 'No one was killed today after this picture was posted'. The picture was a XXX tableau of a dual-gendered Ganesh manually stimulating both Jesus and Moses, while anally penetrating Buddha.

    I think that's your answer.

  23. Hunt Johnsen:

    I'm not seeing the countryside exactly littered with atheist billboards - or christian ones either. Sounds like a straw man to me. Atheism is fine, just keep in mind that it is a religion same as the rest. Agnostics seem pretty tolerant in comparison.

  24. Nehemiah:

    Free speech and conscience rights. Thomas Jefferson, that makes this point,
    "It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to
    resist invasions of it in the case of others; or their case may, by change of
    circumstances, become his own.”

  25. mark2:

    An interesting article about the duplicity of raving over "The Book of Mormon" which insults Mormons, and is the thing to see in NY (Hillary Clinton has paid to see it without uttering any protest) vs the "Innocense of Muslims"

  26. obloodyhell:

    Thx. Not surprised it could do it, but couldn't see any logical places. It's ridiculous that it's not in the profile.

    As it is, it looks as though it would have to be reset at each thread (haven't checked that yet, so no need to comment if that's wrong -- I'll find out soon enough).

  27. obloodyhell:

    David is vaguely correct in the sense that Judaism is a "racial" kind of group as well as a religious group. They do practice a measure of exclusionary principles in the nature of Israel, but then, Israel exists for a specific reason, to prevent anything like The Holocaust, where the Jews are being persecuted and eradicated yet have no where else in the world to go. It does not really stop another Holocaust in the sense of "now they're collected in one place, let's nuke them!" which seems unwise, but that's an entirely different thing.

    As far as practicing exclusionism, yes, they do this and yes, they get a pass. The earned it by surviving the Holocaust, and by demonstrating, thousands of times throughout history, that they are a civilized people. It also has a reason, since:
    a) They apply it only in terms of franchise. You are welcome to come to Israel and earn a living, regardless of your background. But you don't get to vote unless you're a Jew. By all means, feel free to convert if it means that much to you... or go somewhere else.
    b) if they failed to practice it, then in very short order Israel would no longer be a Jewish state, just based on simple population dynamics and would have lost all meaning.

    When Islam shows itself ready, even in a single instance, to be a civilized people, that'll be the first instance in the last 50-odd years worldwide, and one of a very limited number of instances in the entirety of its existence.

    So we're not going to apologize here for giving Judaism a pass on that narrow issue.
    Or here's the quick response: Eph off.

  28. obloodyhell:

    LOL, more significantly, no one will be killed today, tomorrow, or the next year after, even though people will have had time to find out about it by then.

  29. jhertzli:

    "Is that beany shrinking your brain?" --- Ally McBeal

    As the the allegedly-racist policies of the Jewish state, are you claiming that Israelis are racist against their acknowledged relatives?

    How's that again?