Je Suis Pamela Geller: even bigots have the right to be offensive
Who do you blame for the attack on a Draw Mohammed event in Garland, Texas, on May 3? Two armed Islamists attacked the event. They shot a guard. They were then shot and killed.
The Washington Post says you should blame the people who staged the arts event:
Event organizer offers no apology after thwarted attack in Texas
Sandhya Somashekhar writes:
Pamela Geller, the woman behind the Texas cartoon contest attacked by two gunmen late Sunday, knew what she was doing when she staged the controversial event featuring irreverent depictions of the prophet Muhammad in Garland, Tex.
She was grandstanding her right to cause offence. She was showing that free speech has no buts – although she herself is no advocate for universal freedoms. But this writer says Geller was doing something else:
The Dallas suburb had hosted a pro-Muslim conference in January, about the time Islamist terrorists killed a dozen journalists with the satirical French publication Charlie Hebdo. Geller, a blogger and fierce critic of what she calls the “Islamization” of America, wanted to make a statement.
So she sponsored the Jihad Watch Muhammad Art Exhibit and Cartoon Contest in the same exhibition hall as the earlier conference. She and her associates invited 200 people and hired 40 heavily armed off-duty police officers and security guards to protect them.
Her statement being..?
And then they unveiled the pictures: A drawing of Muhammad on a unicycle. A picture of the prophet with a beard of snakes. An angry Muhammad wearing a turban, holding a sword and yelling: “You can’t draw me!” — a reference to the fact that depicting the prophet is considered blasphemous by many Muslims.
If the contest was intended as bait, it worked. Police say two men drove 1,000 miles from Phoenix, shot at a police car outside the event and were quickly killed by one of the hired guards. The shooting has been condemned by Muslim leaders, and Geller, too, has come under fire for staging an event many viewed as purposely provocative.
Who knew that art could be used to provoke? We, like Somashekhar, thought it was all about covering a stain on the wall. All art should be about conformity. It must not upset, challenge or insult. It must be free to a point where it annoys someone.
So cheesed off were the Phoenix critics, they thought it a good idea to murder all the artists. Having found something to be offended by they took their opportunity to strike a blow for their set of rules. A tough and confident society would roundly unite to condemn these nutters. But the West is conflicted. Rather than coming together to celebrate freedom, we hear educated voices further the argument that causing offence is the worst offence. It’s not them. It’s us.
“Pamela Geller has every right to hold this event. And she should be able to do that — as ugly as others, including me, think it is — without facing any type of violence,” said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has Geller on a list of extremists.
Still, “I think decent people would say: ‘Why would you need to do that?’ ” Beirich said.
Like ot loathe Geller, she makes her point well:
“My event was about freedom of speech, period,” she told host Alisyn Camerota. “We need to have this conversation, and the fact that we have to spend upward of $50,000 on security speaks to how dangerous and how in trouble freedom of speech is in the country.”
She’s right. Free speech is not just about depends on defending someone’s right to say things you agree with. Not too long age it was all ‘Je suis Charlie’. But that was a load of crap, a show of solidarity for free speech mutated into a racial unity event. France has about as much interest in protecting free speech and free expression as it does in cricket. That’s the country that bans you from wearing a burka. When the bigot Dieudonne M’bala M’bala celebrated one of the racist Paris murderers by writing “I feel like Charlie Coulibaly”, he was arrested. Why? What for? Saying something upsetting?
How lacking in vigour and belief in itself is France that it considers clothes and words illegal. Pathetic.
So. On the matter of free speech, we stand with Pamela Geller.
And so should Somashekhar, a journalist and thus someone who should be at the vanguard of protecting free speech.
As one of the nation’s fiercest online critics of Islam, Geller, a housewife from Long Island, has long embraced her role as a provocateur. Her inflammatory rhetoric has landed her organizations, the American Freedom Defense Initiative and Stop Islamization of America, on a list of “hate groups” maintained by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On her blog and in interviews, Geller has accused President Obama of being beholden to “Islamic overlords,” according to the center. She was a leading opponent of a mosque planned for construction near Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan.
She’s a blogger who advances her own prejudices in an echo chamber.
And last month, she drew headlines and an unsuccessful lawsuit for sponsoring an ad campaign that featured a quote her organization credited to the Palestinian militant group Hamas: “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.”
She’s none too subtle.
Geller insists that she is not an “Islamophobe” and that she does not believe all Muslims are violent. But critics note that some of her associates are bluntly anti-Muslim. The keynote speaker at Sunday’s event, for instance, was Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliament member who has called for the Koran to be banned in his country and suggested a tax on Muslim headscarves.
Anyone who wants books banned is a dick. And you can call him a fool and a bigot. You can debate him. You can shine a light on him and hold him to ridicule. But best not to shoot him. That’s illegal.
Linda Stasi wrote in the New York Daily News:
Looks like Pamela Geller will get her wish: More dead Americans at the hands of radical Muslims.
Is that what she wishes for, dead Americans?
Last week Geller — whose repulsive anti-Muslim ad campaign caused the MTA to ban all religious, opinion and political ads — held a $10,000 contest in Texas. The aim? To draw caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which she knows is forbidden by most Muslims and frowned upon by the rest.
The result? Two violent radical Muslims opened fire on the group, and the shooters ended up dead at the hands of the police. Yesterday ISIS claimed credit and vowed to kill more Americans.
You can call Geller repulsive and no-one gets hurt.
Violence and its ugly brother, violent protest, is the lowest form of human expression and runs counter to what most of the great religious and philosophical prophets, from Jesus to Muhammad to Martin Luther King to Mahatma Gandhi, preached.
You can feel the but coming…
But so is hate-filled propaganda against any one religion.
But ‘hate-filled propoganda’ can be used by any group. It wasn’t the propoganda and vitriol that caused Jews to be slaughtered in the Second World War. It was denying them a voice and access to guns. Violence might be the lowest form of human expresison, but it defeated the Nazis.
To quote Ghandi:
I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence… I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor…
Though violence is not lawful, when it is offered in self-defence or for the defence of the defenceless, it is an act of bravery far better than cowardly submission. The latter befits neither man nor woman. Under violence, there are many stages and varieties of bravery. Every man must judge this for himself. No other person can or has the right.
Stasi then falls foul of a total belief in free speech.
Geller, like ISIS and al Qaeda, revel in hate and nothing would make any of them happier than to be the catalyst for the killing of hundreds of innocent Americans to prove a point. Geller would be a hero to the hateful. Damn the cost in innocent lives, damn the heartache.
Don’t think for a minute that violence isn’t what she, just like the murderers of ISIS, want. Suppose there was a contest to draw God in defiance of Jewish laws? Would that be free speech or hate speech?
Free speeech. Next question.
What about cartoons of Jesus with his genitals up in the air?
Again. Free speech.
While we have freedom of speech, we also have freedom of religion, which shouldn’t be impinged upon.
So. You get free speech so long as you never lampoon or mock a religion. Well so say a woman called, without irony, Stasi.
Rich Lowry looks at “The lunatic rush to blame Pam Geller”. Writing in the New York Post, he says:
…it is no more legitimate to shoot someone for drawing Mohammed than it is to shoot a girl for going to school, or a Copt or a Shia for his or her faith. Expecting apologies from these victims would be almost as perverse as expecting one from Pamela Geller…
Scurrilous and even hateful speech and cartoons — sometimes involving religion — have been featured in Anglo-American history going back centuries. They are an inevitable part of a free society. In this context, a drawing of Mohammed is mild…
For better or worse, we live in a society in which nothing is sacred.
If we are to accept the assassin’s veto, the only exception (for now) will be depictions of Mohammed, which would be perverse. A free society can’t let the parameters of its speech be set by murderous extremists.
Ina free society, free speech has no parameters – that’s what makes it free…