Quantum Matrix Scribe

There Is No Right To Not Be Offended

September 12, 2012 | 5 Minute Read

When I first heard that the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, had been killed in an attack, I thought it was a mistake. An error, some unintended misinformation. But no, lo and behold, our ambassador has been killed in an attack:

U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens was among four Americans killed in an attack by Muslim protesters on the U.S. consulate compound in Benghazi the previous evening, the U.S. government confirmed Wednesday.

“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens,” President Obama said in a written statement released Wednesday morning. The U.S. government had confirmed one American death on Tuesday.

President Obama said he had ordered heightened security at all U.S. diplomatic offices around the world in the wake of the attack in Benghazi and a similar but less violent incident in Cairo on Tuesday. Both incidents were sparked by hardline Muslims protesting a film made in the U.S. which insults the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

Military officials told CBS News an anti-terrorism team of U.S. Marines was being deployed to Libya to help secure U.S. interests in the country following the attack. The State Department said, however, that no Americans were remaining at the facility in Benghazi. State officials would not confirm how many Americans were evacuated, or to where.

Wanis al-Sharef, a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi, said the four Americans were killed when the angry mob, which gathered to protest a U.S.-made film that ridicules Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, fired guns and burned down the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

It’s the film thing that gets me, that what provoked this attack was a very badly made film about Islam that portrayed the Islamic prophet Mohammed. That’s a big no-no in Islam; one of their core rules is that you aren’t allowed to make any image of him, lest you run of risk of being killed by an angry barbaric mob.

I realize that there are some reports that this may have nothing to do with the film (and there are many nagging questions about the attack), but I just want to comment on the film thing. Namely, how the government has apologized for this “hateful” movie, and how the new Egyptian government wants to prosecute the American filmmakers now. It is thus:

There Is No Right To Not Be Offended. Get Over It.

Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai said that this was not free speech, but rather desecretion, and that “Desecration is not a part of the freedom of expression, but a criminal act that has now badly affected the righteous sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims all over the globe.”

To which I say: ooh boooh waaah. Grow up and get over it. This is no longer the 1st century. It’s the 21st century, and it’s time to get with the program.

I am honestly sick to death of people bending over backwards for Islam and saying they have a right to not be offended. Did I have such a right when in elementary school and junior high I was picked on all the time? Should I be calling a jihad on those guys? I don’t care that it’s a religion. I don’t care that some people think it is “desecration.” Certainly, one must respect another’s property and life, but one is not required to respect another’s values, and certain can say whatever one wants to.

It’s called “free speech,” and it’s the most important right of all.

Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy knocks this out of the park:

And same for all of you who mock young earthers, or devout Scientologists, or believers in miracles — and all who say that, for instance, racist or sexist religious beliefs are contemptible — and maybe even all those who, even politely, contend that rival religions’ views are wrong and will deny salvation to the holders of those views:

The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.

So says the Secretary of State, in quite categorical terms. After all, in all the examples given above, you would presumably be intentionally denigrating the religious beliefs of others: saying that they are immoral and foolish. The U.S. government deplores your speech. It’s not just that the government doesn’t endorse the speech, not just that it deplores a limited and narrow category of blasphemous acts (e.g., burning a Koran, treading on a crucifix, and the like), but rather that it deplores any attempt to denigrate religious beliefs. Religious beliefs, which are routinely used by billions as a guide to private action and a guide to lawmaking, are supposed to be somehow immune from the denigration that is a commonplace and necessary part of debate about ideological beliefs generally.

The government statement also rightly condemns the murder of American diplomats and soldiers, but in the process deplores anti-religious speech as well. And, yes, I understand the context in which the statement was made, the demands of diplomacy (which often include the need to lie), and the reality that the State Department likely cares only about denigration of those religious groups that contain a substantial extremist fringe likely to respond to the denigration with murder. But the statement says what it says, and deliberately goes beyond an expression of nonendorsement to an expression of official governmental condemnation.

In other words, any criticism of any religion, whatsoever, is now unacceptable.

It is criticism of others that we grow and adapt and become better. It was criticism of the Catholic Church that led to the Protestant Reformation. It was criticism of England that led to the United States. It was criticism of the truly deplorable racial situation in southern America in the 1960s that led to the Civil Rights Movement. And so on and so forth. Can you honestly say we would have been better off without these criticisms?

To me, Muslims invading the US compound in Benghazi and killing folks over a movie is just an advanced form of children stamping their feet and whining petulantly. Only instead of your ears being hurt, lives are being lost. The United States government should not be tolerating this, and instead of apologizing, it should be telling Libyans to go pack sand.