But when it comes to Muslims and free speech, we've blasted that threshold out of the water. We've seen an inordinate number of Muslim attempts at stifling free speech. We've seen Muslim nations attempting to limit free speech through the UN. We've seen news crews getting attacked. Again. And again. We've seen Muslims demanding the removal of peaceful messages. We've seen Muslims attacking cartoonists and committing arson against their homes. We've seen Muslims threatening cartoonists. We've seen Muslims attempting to kill cartoonists. We've seen Muslims killing video directors. We've seen Muslim desires to assassinate authors. Again. And again. And again, and again, and again. We've seen Muslims censoring debates. We've seen Muslims advocating Jihad against websites. We've seen websites bowing to the death threats. We've seen YouTubers forced to remove videos because of death threats. Even David and Sam received a death threat by a Muslim for simply "preaching" about Muhammad and Jesus. David and I posted a blog about this phenomenon in London last summer, and we were certainly victims of it last June in Dearborn. Recently, we've seen Yahya Snow attempt to boycott dialogue with David because of David's defense of free speech. And now, we see Pakistan boycotting Facebook because of the same stance: an adamant refusal to give up free speech.
Since the last occurrence is quite recent and has not been introduced yet on this blog, here's a snippet from the Guardian:
Image taken from MSNBC
Pakistan today blocked Facebook indefinitely in response to public outrage over a competition on the social networking site that encourages people to post drawings of the prophet Muhammad.The Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, which controls internet access, directed service providers to block the website "till further notice" in compliance with a high court order obtained by a group of lawyers yesterday.The court action was triggered by a Facebook page entitled Everybody Draw Mohammad Day -- May 20 which contains over 200 images, many of them certain to offend Muslims, who consider all depictions of the prophet to be blasphemous...The page says its objective is to encourage the "free discussion of brutality of the radical aspects of Islam" and invites members to submit drawings of the prophet Muhammad by tomorrow .
Let me be the first (actually, I'm definitely not the first) to say that I find many of these drawings gratuitously offensive. I can see how many would be offended by them. But herein lies the point: the right to free speech trumps the "right" to not be offended. Free speech is what secures the pursuit of truth, liberty, and justice. Yes, this means that people can be offended. But freedom from offense is in no way more valuable than the guarantee of truth, liberty, and justice.
Unfortunately, Muslims generally cannot handle being offended. They are intolerant of those who criticize them. Can it be any more clear that the intolerance does not lie with the critics, rather it lies with those who call for the death of critics? This is why it was no surprise when a government panel revealed that the majority of nations that are least tolerant of others' religions are mostly comprised of Muslims. And though they exemplify intolerance abroad, they demand tolerance in the West, all the while redefining tolerance as privileged status.
The verdict is in: Muslims respond to criticism with intolerance and censorship, often violent. Of course, this does not apply to all Muslims, but an alarmingly high number.
I'm waiting for the day when the West will awaken and realize that criticism is not intolerance, but censorship and violent reactions are.
We couldn't make this stuff up, folks! Less than 12 hours after writing the above post, Pakistan has banned YouTube and 450 other websites, citing offensive material. Businessweek writes:
Pakistan, home to the world’s second- largest Muslim population, blocked Google Inc.’s YouTube service and more than 450 web links as the government widened a crackdown on Internet material deemed as blasphemous.
The sites were blocked because of the increasing level of sacrilegious and derogatory material, the Islamabad-based Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said in a statement today. The regulator, which shut access to Facebook Inc.’s website yesterday, may block other sites with blasphemous content, said Khurram Mehran, a spokesman at the regulator.
Of course, this is mainly in response to the "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" facebook page, whose creator writes:
“We simply want to show the extremists that threaten to harm people because of their Mohammed depictions, that we’re not afraid of them,” according to the Facebook description page. “They can’t take away our right to freedom of speech by trying to scare us to silence.
Well said. If anyone wishes to argue that Pakistan is just looking after the moral well-being of their nation, please address the fact that Pakistan is the country that leads all others in searching for the term "sex", according to the New York Times. That they lead all others in looking up "Danish Cartoons" is interesting, too.