We Will Not Censor Our Speech
John Mark ReynoldsTheOne Republic 

author, academic] 9/28/06 

This story is why elaborately constructed reasons that Pope Benedict XVI was wrong in the most recent flap with radical Islam are wrong. 

Radical Islam wants no criticism of its major figures or of its truth claims.I do not believe that we should gratuitously insult persons others revere. There is no place in a multi-cultural society at war for thoughtless offense. 

Christians live in a public square where they are happy to defend the freedom of atheists to state their views about the divinity of Christ. The free and open society built mostly by Christians over the last two hundred years demands this. We respect those who disagree enough to engage in polite and reasoned discourse. But we will not give up our right to make reasonable, but tough arguments against ideas we think are bad.As usual the story is in plain type below and my comments are in italics:Censor comments on Islam to avoid violence: Muslim expert

As the Byzantines discovered, even becoming the servants of the Islamic invaders did not appease radical Moslem aggression. Not all Moslems were radical in history, but many that were not were killed by Moslems who were. Did the victims of 9/11 say offensive things? Did they deserve to die for anything they had said?Non-Muslims should practise self-censorship to avoid triggering violent reactions, a prominent Perth Muslim says. Why? If we do, then Muslims will have removed themselves from the civilized nations of the world. No person should trigger a violent reaction when he or she speaks at an academic conference on controversial items. 

The civilized world cannot practice science or any form of academic discourse in such an environment. Just as Christians and non-Christians can criticize the origins of the New Testament, so we must all have the right to do textual criticism (for good or bad) of the Koran. Just as Christian history and ethics come under (sometimes) withering fire from academics, some even employed in Christian colleges, so Islamic scholars must allow the same sort of free and reasoned look at their own history and ethics to be part of the free world. 

In the wake of violent attacks over a speech by Pope Benedict XVI that linked the Prophet Mohammed’s teachings to violence, Perth academic Samina Yasmeen said religious and community leaders should stop speaking about Islamic icons to avoid causing offence. No.

We will never give up the right to follow the truth where it leads us. That is the heritage of Socrates and Plato that is precious to us and has brought such great advances to the world.No Christian, indeed no gentleman, would condone giving needless offense, but we will not stop saying what we believe the truth to be. 

Associate Professor Yasmeen, director of the University of WA’s centre for Muslim states and societies, accused the Pope of deliberately provoking the aggression by inviting criticism of Mohammed.

The Holy Father did not invite criticism of Mohammed, but even if he had that is the right of a free person living in a free society. The Pope needless to say thinks that Islam has false beliefs. Moslem followers have a right to those beliefs and there is much to admire in the Islamic resistance to secularist decadence in the modern world. 

But better a bit of Vegas than a society where free men cannot freely say in a calm and rational way what they think the truth to be. She said the Pope and other religious leaders had the same responsibility as Islamic clerics to avoid encouraging violence by followers.What violence by the Pope’s followers?

I deplore violence against innocent Moslems but I know of no Christian provoked to violence by the Pope’s speech. Just as it is unjust to blame the victim in a crime (“She was asking for it, coming into this neighborhood.”), so it is unjust to blame the Pope for wickedness caused by others based on a reasonable speech. Stalin was not provoked to murder by the writings of the dissidents.

Islamic extremists need no real excuse to kill. The question is this: will Islamic moderates defend the Pope’s right to make what they feel is a bad speech and courageously attack the violent? To make any moral equivalence between a speech like that of the Holy Father and the burning of churches, the murder of a nun, and other acts of violence is morally bankrupt. Attack the content of the speech.

Call the Pope names if you must, but violence is the fault of the violent not of the man who gave a paper making an argument. Previous emotive reactions, such as the violence following the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed and Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, should have warned people not to criticise Islam. 

Do the Islamic radicals of Egypt really need an excuse to torch a Coptic Church? 

Here is the future if we do not take this War seriously: first non-Moslems will be afraid to criticize Islam, then we will be forced to adhere to Moslem practice to avoid offense. Outrageous tyranny of those willing to be violent for their beliefs will force even the majority in the West to adhere to the will of the most extreme members of a minority unwilling to police its own. 

As the Christians of the Middle East know from practice, there are no equal rights for a religious minority in the Islamic east today. If this Australian professor is the voice of moderate Islam, then my critics are correct and there is no moderate Islam. This is not neither moderate nor tolerable in a free society like Australia.I refuse to believe my friends, Moslems of good will, would say this thing.

Let’s argue about the truth of the Pope’s speech, but give no ground to those who loot and murder in its name. Professor Yasmeen denied that the first reaction of many Muslims to perceived insults was violence, despite calls by some clerics to kill those who insult Islam and the murder of an Italian nun in Somalia.If it is not the first reaction, then is it acceptable as a second or third reaction? No matter how often the “provocation” violence cannot be tolerated based on free speech. 

We are war not because we do not like the views of Radical Islam or the speeches the leaders of Radical Islam make, but because we are defending our way of life. This article in which an academic, paid by the West to teach our children is the best example of our tolerance. This Moslem scholar has the right to her views. . . we should publish them . . . and argue against them, but we must not allow them to silence us. Right now, this very night, seminary faculty all over America in places like Harvard defame my beliefs. I lose no sleep over it and I contemplate no violence even though such an assault on my view of my precious Lord has gone on for decades. 

“I am not supportive of people killing and blowing things up, but people need to start looking at self censorship,” she said. If only that would end the murder, but the Christian Armenians know it would not because they were a defeated minority and the radicals killed them anyway.They were silent and they died in the hundreds of thousands and the Turkish government still will not admit they were murdered. 

Professor Yasmeen said aggressive reactions were mainly limited to countries with low literacy rates and limited understanding of global politics, where Mohammed was seen to be the most important figure in a person’s life. Do Christians kill as Moslem newspapers print defaming articles about Christianity and the Holy Father?

Even in countries with low literacy rates? Would this Professor rather hold an Islamic cartoon about the Pope in a low literacy rate Catholic nation or be a Christian with the Pope’s academic address in hand in any Islamic state? The Pope’s apology and explanation would have had little impact, she said. Why?

Does Islam seek dialogue or only silent serfdom on the part of Christians and Jews? Can we evangelize Moslems? I would give her the chance to make her best case for Islam, if I can do the same safely in a similar size Islamic university. But then, if my students convert to Islam, their parents will be very sad, but if most Moslems convert to Christianity, they must fear for their very lives in the Moslem controlled world.  

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