Theo Van Gogh. South Park. Franklin Graham. Free Speech. In common?

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    Comment at end

    24th April 2010

    What does Free Speech have in common with Theo Van Gogh, South Park and Franklin Graham?

    NOTHING.

    Free speech is in absolute contradiction to any of the above. Or so recent murders and decisions would have us accept.

    Except we don’t, and nor should we. Indeed, we mustn’t.

    Recently my stats have shown that visitor numbers to two particular posts have gone stratospheric. The posts? The two below, illustrated with pictures appertaining.

    Do YOU bank with Barclay’s? Bail out before the Jihadists get 51%

    Where this man’s murder was discussed –

    Pim Fortuyn, Dutch politician shot dead for speaking out against Islamic violence

    And –

    Van Gogh: To Murder a Dutch artist is to Murder Freedom

    Where this man’s murder was discussed –

    Theo Van Gogh, Dutch filmmaker, shot and stabbed to death for making a film showing violence within Islam

    My search numbers for these search terms ‘theo van gogh’/’theo van gogh death’ are in the thousands per day rather than the usual hundreds.  I’ve now worked out why.

    It’s to do with the TV show South Park and censorship.

    Just after that story broke there is also this on the American army withdrawing an invitation to the evangelist son of the world-famous Christian evangelist Billy Graham. Why withdraw? Why do you think?

    Because it might upset Muslims.

    I’m sorry – no – correction – I’m not sorry!

    ENOUGH.

    South Park’s 200th, litigious celebs and Mohammed: Matt Stone and Trey Parker (BB Video) (5:55)

    boingboingvideo — 12 April 2010 — South Park co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker speak with Boing Boing’s Xeni Jardin about the 200th episode of the hit Comedy Central series, and plans to revisit battles over the boundaries of what can and cannot be done on television — including how many celebrities they can piss off in a single episode, and whether Comedy Central will stop them from showing the image and voice of a cartoon version of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

    THE MEDIA/ PRESS/PC LIBERALS LET US ALL DOWN

    Of course they did. And they’re still letting us all down. That’s clear as day to me. They ignore calls for the death of Tony Blair, even publishing comments calling for such in their liberal ‘free speech’ comment pages. But they scream blue murder when a British resident – NOT a British citizen, mind you – an illegal immigrant, who trained in Pakistan to blow us all to kingdom come, is detained at Guantanamo.

    That’s FREEDOM today in the crazy, suicidal, liberal west. And here writes a once ‘liberal’. Not any more.

    Referring to their earlier ‘Super Best Friends’ clip shown at around 3 mins these South Park guys say:

    “It was before the Danish cartoon controversy, so it somehow is fine. And then after that  – now that’s the new norm. Like,we lost. Something that was OK is now not OK, now it’s just fucked up […] the whole Mohamed Danish cartoon thing it’s like if everyone would have just like normally they do in the news organisations just printed the cartoons, everyone would have rallied together. Now that guy…  hiding …  all this shit because everyone left him out to dry.”

    I understand that western politicians and many liberal ‘thinkers’ believe that swallowing this censorship is better than civil unrest. I even understand why they think like that. They don’t want any more Van Goghs or Pim Fortuyns left bleeding or dead on our streets. I realise that they have a responsibility to avoid religious/racial confrontation, and that they fear being blamed for ensuing unrest. They have their place in history to consider. They notice that Tony Blair is still hounded over his brave Iraq decisions, and they don’t want his ongoing position to become theirs. But –

    They are cowards of the first order. Our politicians AND press – BOTH!

    The trouble is there are reasons – innate, ingrained and hard-to-discuss ‘intellectual’ and doctrinal reasons within Islam why the desperate liberal hope of the spread of eventual widespread liberalism will never happen on a worldwide basis. We should not offer it succour by capitulating to its threats here in our own lands. Not, in any case, while they still are our own lands.

    Comedy Central Censors ‘South Park’ Episode After Muslim Site’s Threats

    RevolutionMuslim.com posted a warning following the 200th episode of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "South Park," which included a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad disguised in a bear suit.

    “Comedy Central bleeped out all references to the Prophet Muhammad in Wednesday night’s episode of the animated show “South Park.”

    The episode was a continuation of last week’s episode which depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

    A radical Muslim website threatened the show’s creators following that episode.

    Comedy Central confirmed to FoxNews.com that it had censored the show, and that the episode was not available on its website.

    In addition to bleeping the words “Prophet Muhammad,” the show also covered the character with a large block labeled “Censored.”

    A radical Islamic website had warned the creators of “South Park” that they could face violent retribution for their depiction of Prophet Muhammad.

    RevolutionMuslim.com posted the warning following the 200th episode of Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s “South Park,” which included a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad disguised in a bear suit. The web posting also included a graphic photo of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in 2004 after making a documentary on violence against Muslim women.

    “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show,” the posting reads. “This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”

    Abu Talhah al Amrikee, the author of the post, told Foxnews.com he wrote the entry to “raise awareness.” He said the grisly photograph of van Gogh was meant to “explain the severity” of what Parker and Stone did by mocking Muhammad.

    “It’s not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome,” al Amrikee said, referring to the possibility that Parker and Stone could be murdered for mocking Muhammad. “They’re going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It’s just the reality.”

    Al Amrikee said the website is considering a protest against the “disgusting” show, which also depicted the Prophet Muhammad in an episode on July 4, 2001.

    “This is not a small thing,” he said. “We should do whatever we can to make sure it does not happen again.”

    The posting on RevolutionMuslim.com also includes audio of a sermon by Anwar al-Awlaki — a radical U.S.-born preacher now believed to be hiding in Yemen — who discusses assassinating individuals who defame the Prophet Muhammad. It also included a link to a 2009 story in the Huffington Post that gave details of Stone and Parker’s mansion in Colorado.

    A Comedy Central rep told FoxNews.com that the network has no comment on the posting.”


    SO ARE WE BRITS UP IN ARMS OVER THIS, LIKE WE WERE WEREN’T OVER THE DANISH CARTOONS?

    Are you kidding? Tom Chivers at The Telegraph  feels the need to explain “Why I feel solidarity with the creators of South Park”

    His reason is simple. As he confesses, it’s because he is afraid of the repercussions if he upsets Muslims. OFGS. Welcome to today’s free world, Mr Chivers. So are many of us.

    But not ALL of us.

    In order to separate one lot from the others, as soon as time permits I will publish as many insulting pictures of any individual, living or dead, religious or not, prophet or not, that I consider deserves “outing”.  Some of us are heartily  sick of insults to OUR way of life. On the other hand some of us are liberally-minded wallies, from all political backgrounds and none. Thus the silence on this from any political party that counts.

    As a non-religious person, brought up in a Christian land, I am very protective of the religion that helped shape our laws. And I am personally affronted and, yes, insulted that some with their fairies at the bottom of the garden have been permitted with their hatred to tell US how to live, laugh and love in the free west. I am even more slightly vexed that some think (with the aid of the powers that be useless) that they can get away with threatening to kill people who care about freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

    THEY CAN ROAST IN HELL. If only there were such a place to burn them in.


    ON 6th MAY,WHILE WE VOTE AND TONY BLAIR CELEBRATES MAKING IT TO ANOTHER YEAR …

    Evangelist Graham uninvited from attending the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer. What the …

    “Evangelist Franklin Graham said Thursday that he regrets the Army’s decision to rescind its invitation to him for the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer service on May 6, but expressed “strong support” for the U.S. military.

    An Army spokesman confirmed to Fox News that the invitation to Graham to be honorary chairman at the event was rescinded amid complaints from Muslim members of the military about his description of Islam as an evil religion.

    The Army spokesman said the event will go forward but without the National Day of Prayer Task Force participating.

    “I regret that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to participate in the Pentagon’s special prayer service,” Graham said in a written statement.

    “I want to expresses my strong support for the United States military and all our troops,” he added. “I will continue to pray that God will give them guidance, wisdom and protection as they serve this great country.”

    Earlier Thursday, Graham stuck by his remarks about Islam, including that Muslims are “enslaved” by their religion,

    Franklin, the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, told Fox News that he loves Muslim people and wants them to know that God loves them, even if they can be saved only through Jesus Christ.

    “I want them to know that they don’t have to die in a car bomb, don’t have to die in some kind of holy war to be accepted by God. But it’s through faith in Jesus Christ and Christ alone,” Graham said.

    Graham said said he loves the Muslim people, just not their religion — which he called “horrid” for its restrictions on women.

    “I love the people of Islam but their religion, I do not agree with their religion at all. And if you look at what the religion does just to women, women alone, it is just horrid. And so yes, I speak out for women. I speak out for people that live under Islam, that are enslaved by Islam and I want them to know that they can be free,” he said.

    After the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Graham said Islam “is a very evil and wicked religion.” In a later op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal, Graham wrote that he did not believe Muslims were evil because of their faith, but “as a minister … I believe it is my responsibility to speak out against the terrible deeds that are committed as a result of Islamic teaching.”


    RELATED

    Found a link – here. Not only charged but sentenced to 6 months, suspended! FGS!

    Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, has been left angry over the conviction.

    “The six month sentence may have been suspended, but it is still totally out of proportion for what Mr Taylor did. The professional ‘offence takers’ in religious communities will now feel that they have a strong weapon to use against anyone who is critical or disapproving of them. It is, in effect, a blasphemy law that covers all religions and is much more powerful than the one which was abolished two years ago.”


    And now for a bit of true fiction –

    À la mode of Harris & Polanski – TRUE FICTION – ‘The Prime Minister’s Mistress’ and The Prime Minister’s Mistress (‘Labyrinto’) … continued (Part 2)




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    33 Responses to “Theo Van Gogh. South Park. Franklin Graham. Free Speech. In common?”

    1. Invisible Fence Training Says:

      […] Theo Van Gogh. South Park. Franklin Graham. Free Speech. In common? « Tony Blair […]

    2. Bob W. Says:

      The Franklin disinvite had absolutely NOTHING to do with free speech of freedom of religion.
      I work at the Pentagon, and his views do not represent mine and I consider them intolerant. There are muslims who work at the Pentagon who consider his views towards their religion hostile. These are government employees, service members, and decorated combat veterans.
      Inviting him to the Pentagon is a disservice to all the Muslims who work there every single day. And no one who works at the Pentagon will have their freedom abridged by Franklin’s absence, either. There are chaplains and a ministry team that serve all faiths and creeds there. The Pentagon is a federal facility, not a public place. You couldn’t protest Franklin’s presence there if you disagreed with his views (like I do) or you’d be arrested. You cannot even enter the Pentagon if the authorites decide not to admit you, and you may be asked to leave at any time.
      The National mall is less than two miles away from the Pentagon; Franklin should get a permit, hold a prayer rally there, in a public place, and anybody who wants to attend can go, from the Pentagon and the rest of the Federal buildings. And people like me, who disagree with his message, would be free to protest his presence.

    3. Grundoon Says:

      Bob, I must say you sound a bit like an atheist with a fear of Muslim violence which you cover by feigning sympathy for the very people who would like to destroy you and your country. And it did have everything to do with free speech. As long as we continue to knuckle under to the Islamists who threaten us at every turn crying blasphemy toward their mentally unbalanced, pedophilic, insecure prophet.Franklin Graham was condemning the Muslim religion as evil. A very apt description if you ask me. But then, you didn’t ask me. So, just continue pretending to be a friend to those Muslims and hopefully they won’t make you suffer too much later.

    4. Stan Says:

      In the interests of balanced reporting I set out below the other side of the story on the Franklin Graham disinvite (even Fox News felt obliged to print it).

      “The Military Religious Freedom Foundation raised the objection to the appearance, citing Graham’s past remarks about Islam, in a letter sent Monday to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

      Mikey Weinstein, president of the foundation, said the invitation offended Muslim employees at the Pentagon because Graham never retracted or apologized for his description of Islam as evil. Weinstein said the invitation would endanger American troops by stirring up Muslim extremists.

      Army Col. Tom Collins said the invitation wasn’t from the Pentagon but from the Colorado-based National Day of Prayer Task Force, which works with the Pentagon chaplain’s office on the prayer event.

      The task force organizes Christian events for the National Day of Prayer. Collins said neither Army Secretary John McHugh nor Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. was aware of the invitation.

      After Graham’s appearance, the Council of American-Islamic Relations issued a call for supporters to petition the Pentagon to drop Graham.

      “To have an individual who calls Islam evil and claims Muslims are enslaved by their faith speak at the Pentagon sends entirely the wrong message at a time when hundreds of thousands of our nation’s military personnel are currently stationed in Muslim countries,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Franklin Graham’s appearance has the potential to harm unit cohesion and morale through the promotion of distorted, intolerant and divisive views within military ranks.”

      To those who defend the Graham invitation and that South Park episode (uncensored), I say fair enough, but personally I’m not disposed to wave red flags at raging bulls. This is not out of cowardice but I do not see the point of provoking creatures (raging bulls or mad mullahs) unnecessarily . Stand up to them on things that matter, by all means, but riling them with silly invitations and jokes just gives them another excuse to work themselves up into a frenzy. Humouring the afflicted always works better at bringing them round than directing “humorous” jibes at them.

      Grundoon, I see no evidence that Bob is an atheist. And lumping decent, decorated Muslim veterans working at the Pentagon with Islamists ” who threaten us at every turn” is frankly an insult to the American military and a recipe for unending religious conflict.

    5. keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      Stan, thanks for the balance from the other side from Grundoon. Knew I could depend on you.

      ;0)

      You said:

      “…but personally I’m not disposed to wave red flags at raging bulls. This is not out of cowardice but I do not see the point of provoking creatures (raging bulls or mad mullahs) unnecessarily.”

      But nor do I see the point, Stan, in constantly over-compensating for the fact that most of us are NOT racist or anti-islam, (while most of us ARE anti-extreme religious fundamentalism.)

      And why are we the ones at fault? Why are WE westerners not free to say what WE think in our own western countries for fear of upsetting those who settled in our western countries in order to find the freedom that those western countries give them?

      Why do we fear upsetting those who subscribe to a “religion” whose “good books” say – Kill the Infidel. And yes, I know most Muslims don’t subscribe to this. But MOST Muslims would have no say when push comes to shove.

      “… but riling them with silly invitations and jokes just gives them another excuse to work themselves up into a frenzy. Humouring the afflicted always works better at bringing them round than directing “humorous” jibes at them.”

      Are these poor “riled” people not members of a religious theology which has proved itself far more dangerous than, say- Buddhism/Judaism/Christianity? Might that not having something to do with our reluctance to rile?

      I do believe that it is intimidation that has basically stopped freedom of expression in the west.

      You will recall that you and I disagreed on this freedom of speech business before, when our governmenet foolishly stopped Geert Wilders’ entry into Britain. In the end the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was sacked and Wilders was allowed in. Oddly enough I haven’t noticed the riots that such as you seemed to think would follow Wilders’ arrival.

      So, cast your mind back – was it still right to have excluded Wilders or not? I think we both now know the answer.

      I am not au fait, as neither are you with the American system of religious speakers. But we all know our American friends are far more into religious get-togethers than we in Britain. (Christianity, historically.) There is something rotten in the state of America, if you ask me, when a religious (Christian) speaker is banned from such a gathering for his views.

      Act for America has its thoughts on many things which it sees as threatening America. I got this in my inbox today:

      //////////

      For years “South Park” has lampooned pretty much everything and everybody. Unlike some satirical programs, “South Park” is not afraid to touch even the most supposedly untouchable “sacred cows.”

      Even the “sacred cow” of Islam.

      In 2006 “South Park” lampooned the controversy surrounding the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. But Comedy Central blacked out the image of Mohammed, revealing that, yes indeed, there is a double standard in the world of satire when it comes to Islam.

      So as Ross Douthat notes in a recent New York Times editorial, “the next obvious step [for “South Park”] was to make fun of the fact that you can’t broadcast an image of Muhammed.”

      This episode led to what Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes in a Wall Street Journal column below as an “informal fatwa.” Comedy Central reacted to this informal fatwa by censoring the follow-up episode out of concern for the safety of the creators of “South Park.”

      When even “South Park” is censored, and when even a New York Times editorial lashes out against the not-so-veiled threats of an Islamist, we should all sit up and take notice.

      All it took to get “South Park” censored was one Muslim posting a notice that the show’s creators will likely wind up dead.

      And people say we shouldn’t take the threat of radical Islam seriously?

      //////////

      Drift down at this site to see what it thinks about CAIR, btw:

      http://www.actforamerica.org/index.php/learn/recent-news

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        PS to the previous response, Stan.

        You and I, as two of the most serious Tony Blair supporters in Britain, know that there is a worldwide threat from at least some sectors of Islam. This Washington Post article refers to people arrested in Yemen after the attempted assassination of our ambassador there the other day.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/27/AR2010042702578.html

        SANAA (Reuters) – Yemeni police arrested dozens of al Qaeda suspects in sweeps a day after a suicide bomber tried to kill Britain’s ambassador to Yemen, security officials said Tuesday.

        In Yemen’s turbulent north, three people were wounded as rebels exchanged fire with pro-government tribes who cut a main road to the capital.

        Among those taken into custody, the officials said, were seven Yemenis who had close relations with the bomber, who died when he attacked the convoy of British Ambassador Tim Torlot on Monday.

        The seven men, as well as the bomber, had all been arrested for suspected al Qaeda ties following the September 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. targets, but were released after two years in prison, according to the officials.

        Yemen has been battling al Qaeda and other militant groups eroding its stability for years. The group’s regional wing, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is based in Yemen and has previously threatened and attacked embassies.

        Monday’s attack “bore the hallmarks of al Qaeda,” Yemen’s interior ministry said.

        I imagine there are plenty in denial here in the weak and weary west thinking “Those poor ‘suspects’. Nothing to do with them. Haven’t they sufffered enough?”

        These deniers are the same people who have been after Blair for years, accounting for the high cost of his security, and they are westerners probably moreso than originating in the Middle East.

        But then, fair enough! It’s all our fault, eh? Poor dear terrorists. We MADE ’em do it.

    6. little ole American Says:

      In the interest of fairness (for those who care to be fair), the Pentagon, the Army, CAIR and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, could have made a simple suggestion; have Franklin Graham, a Mullah, a Rabbi, and a Laughing Bhudda, say a prayer. Surely there are Bhuddists, Hindus, Atheists, and Jews in the Pentagon? Hmmmmm. Apparently THOSE religions (or non-religious) are more TOLERANT.
      Most of our troops are Christians and a prayer by Franklin Graham is a comfort and if anything, strengthens their resolve. So that argument is completely mute.
      Franklin Graham, like his father, is a poster child for religious tolerance. Samaritans Purse is world-reknown for its charitable works. Graham goes into countries who practice Voo-doo, Bhuddism, Hinduism, Islam and no religion at all. In most countries he and his organizations are welcomed (by their leaders and the people) with open arms and gratitude. Do you suppose a mother in Haiti or any country in Africa would refuse food or a Marlaria net for her children because, he didn’t approve of their religion? Graham is much more than a preacher; he is a good man, a gentle soul, who SHOWS his love of humanity…ALL humanity. Graham does not preach violence. He does not ask his followers to strap bombs on themselves, commit suicide or do any type of violence against anyone. He is a man of peace.
      In a way, it is a good thing this has happened. We are seeing an unfounded attack on one of our most admired and respected citizens, no matter his faith. It has brought to light, the intolerance we fought against when we were just a babe. It feels like a “haunting”.
      If anything, this has opened the eyes of otherwise disinterested citizens and CAUSED anger amongst the American people.
      Do you suppose Al Amrikee might put up a warning for Franklin Graham?
      Do we have to protect our preachers from the fate of Theo Van Gogh? Is it ok now, to censor books, comic strips, movies, video games, prayers, and speeches because of FEAR of how it will offend a certain religion? Do we have “check in” with the rules of Islam before we open our mouths?
      Do we have to be reminded of the “unprovoked” attacks of 9/11? Do we have to be reminded of the “unprovoked” attack on the Pentagon? Do we have to be reminded, it was “Islamist” terrorists who attacked us? Do we have to be reminded the terrorists were “spawned” from the radical teachings of Islam? So, do we now, buckle under, knuckle under the “pressure” of an intolerance that hasn’t haunted us for centuries? What the hell did we fight for? What are we fighting for today?
      This censor of Graham has nothing to do with keeping the peace, or tolerance. It has everything to do with “submission”.
      We need to make up our minds whether we will take a stand or kowtow to a religious group. A RELIGIOUS group! Can you believe it? In this day and age? In THIS country?
      If Graham were allowed to say his prayer at the Pentagon, would the employees be “required” to listen? I think not. I think they would be allowed to go to the local pub or Synagogue or Mosque, to hear their own preachers. If you do not want to listen to someone, you simply leave the room or do not attend in the first place. If you were required to be there, you could always bring your ipod and listen to the Beatles, cover your ears, close your eyes, go to sleep (as is the case when many preachers speak) or find other ways of blocking it all out, if that’s what you feel you must do…. but, for God’s sake, do NOT tell ME that my wanting to listen to Graham pray, is unfair to YOU and therefore, cannot be allowed to speak. I would not do that to YOU if your Rabbi, Mullah, or the POPE spoke a prayer at the Pentagon. That makes me TOLERANT, that makes me a uniter, not a divider.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        And I knew I could rely on you too, Little Ole American.

        Well said.

        Bottom line – freedom of speech for ALL.

        PS – every time I click back to this page to glance through the comments, I see the pictures of two bodies of people who thought they were free in their own lands. Who SHOULD have been free. Who should still be alive today.

        It’s atrocious that we think that it’s acceptable even par for the course to sort of… more or less… not dwell on this, because it might upset the innocent majority of the Muslim community who also think it is atrocious. Is that how Hitler got away with his behaviour for so long? By those who did not agree with him turning a blind eye and leaving it to others to confront seriously?

    7. Ashleigh Says:

      The ObaMAD Legend

      Here’s a suggested book title for anyone who will someday write about the hopefully short-lived, Obamaniac dictatorship:

      “Double-Crossers, Cross-Dressers & Cross-Bashers”

      (For more Obamagic, Google “Obama Avoids Bible Verses” and “Obama Supports Public Depravity.”)

    8. Bob W. Says:

      Interesting conversation, everyone., except for perhaps the intolerance for one’s fellow man that some people here are displaying, the likes of which would make the Taliban proud.

      Grundoon, whether I am an atheist or not is irrelevant. I’m an American, and atheists have the same rights here as everyone else, just as it is in the UK. For the record though, I am a US Army Special Forces officer with 19 years of active service and 2 tours in Afghanistan. I am a lifelong practicing catholic as well. I take freedom very seriously, used to write frequently about it (at my semi-dormant acreofindependence.com blog) and I am not intimidated easily, certainly not when it comes to free speech issues. I cannot prove it, Grundoon, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
      I avoided the South Park issue because I largely agree with the author’s points in the original blog post, I just disagree with linking comedy central’s cowardly cave-in to the Pentagon brouhaha though; other than the unfortunate timing I do not see them as related. Graham was inadvertently invited to the Pentagon through the Chaplains office; as I wrote earlier, the prayer event is to be held in a Federal Installation closed to the general public, and it is a religious event. Many people, not just Muslims, think that crossed a line, especially since Franklin has stridently denounced Islam in the past, and denounced the Muslim faith even recently. It’s certainly his right to do so, but letting him come pray to an exclusive audience in the Pentagon reeks of impropriety, and is a slap in the face to the devout muslims who work there and find him offensive. I would feel the same way if they had invited an imam who had condoned suicide attacks against Israelis in the past to speak there as well.
      Unless one’s religion explicitly requires someone with the last name of Graham (in which case I would have been happy if the SECDEF had substituted sexy Heather for uptight, buttoned-up Franklin), no one in the Pentagon’s constitutional rights were infringed upon either. There is a robust ministry team with chaplains of many faiths and Christian denominations there. The event itself I believe is still on, albeit without Graham’s controversial presence, and probably short the dreadful country western singers that were to tag along with him. That event is just a one day deal, too, but there are excellent religious services available to personnel there every day of the week. As an illustration of services and support offered there, when I was at work today, I noticed on the Pentagon Chaplain’s office electronic bulletin board (there is one close to the locker room at the gym) that there was a protestant service, a muslim service, and catholic confession scheduled for today, which gives you an idea of how well peoples’ religious needs are met.
      And certainly Graham’s rights were not infringed upon. He was invited to a closed Federal facility for a private ceremony and then dis-invited. No one from the public could even attend, and any people who chose to protest his presence would be arrested for trespassing on site, were they able to get in at all. Franklin is still certainly free to preach in any public place he chooses to, and if he preached in the National Mall less than 2 kilometers away from the Pentagon, EVERYONE in the entire US government would be able to attend. it’s a public place, and those who are opposed to his message would have the opportunity to protest as well, unlike in the Pentagon. Additionally, last weekend he was afforded the opportunity to speak with President Obama in person when Obama visited his father’s house too, so he has political access above and beyond what leaders of many other religions have . Franklin has a great deal of ECONOMIC freedom as well; service to the Lord has been a lucrative venture for the Franklin family.
      I have spent too much time either deployed to Central Asia or focused on the threat of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other violent Islamic organizations to ever argue that it is not a serious threat. But there are hundreds of thousands of muslims who live in the United States, many of whom serve in the military, or work in various government agencies, pay (ever higher) taxes, and never so much as get a parking ticket here. There are more than just a few Muslims who work at the Pentagon, too, especially when one takes into account the 8000 civilians who are employed there along with the 16,000 uniformed military personnel in the building. Many have the highest possible clearances a person can have. The government trusts them, and I do as well. To equate them with fanatics based on a shared faith, and not their actions, is racist, ignorant, and patently wrong. You may disagree with my opinion, that’s fine; I’d remind you that there are also Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and even a few Wiccans buried at Arlington National Cemetery though, who managed to prove themselves trustworthy enough to be buried with the highest honors after serving their country, many with valor awards.
      I would imagine it is quite the same in the UK, although intolerance and xenophobia can blind anyone to even the most obvious facts.
      Cheers.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Hi Bob W.

        Glad to see the first part of your comment here:

        I avoided the South Park issue because I largely agree with the author’s points in the original blog post, I just disagree with linking comedy central’s cowardly cave-in to the Pentagon brouhaha though; other than the unfortunate timing I do not see them as related.

        Not so impressed with the second. My point exactly is that they ARE related.

        They are related by the limits on our freedom to speak which were NEVER placed upon us until radical Islamists started to bomb the hell out of us. Then for PC reasons we were obliged not to mention our annoyance it case the very mention upset all the good Muslims. In fact we shouldn’t put “terror” and “Muslim” in the same sentence. Brown as well as Obama played into this linguistic gymnastics. Utter nonsense.

        The end result is that we are seen as a soft touch and are used and abused more and more.

        That’s crazy, imho. It is actually worse here in Britain than it is in the states. Here, the liberal literrati see everything that has resulted from Islamic fundamentalism as OUR doing. Or rather the “war criminal’s”, aka Blair’s, doing.

        It is very easy, sadly typical but mostly wrong to fall back on the racism jibes. The distaste for a religion that some DO feel, has nothing to do with race. Iranians are not Arabic or even Middle Eastern in appearance, yet they are Muslim. And I have no time for the American- Adam whatever who now speaks for Al Qaeda, and he is American by birth, caucasian by race. I have no time for him NOT because he is a Muslim, but because he is a fundamentalist jihadist terror-inclined Muslim.

        For me the bottom line is freedom of speech. While the internet is alive with threats to kill my country’s former prime minister, so that his protection now costs multi millions per year and we cannot hope to even see him in public in his political after-life, and while none of these free inciteful speakers are chastised far less punished for their words, don’t expect me to feel sympathy for those who may get a little upset by the freedom the west has afforded them.

        I just saw this, btw – Obama deemed too weak to make peace inthe Middle East. Since it’s at the Huffington Post that weakness will be because Obama has not stood up to Netanyahu enough, nothing to do with not standing up to Islamist terrorism.

        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taufiq-rahim/obama-deemed-too-weak-to_b_553322.html

    9. Bob W. Says:

      Keeptony,

      thanks for the comment. I believe this is your blog? Kudos for content!

      I am extremely vigilant about freedom of speech issues here in the US. I believe we enjoy some of the most liberal free speech laws anywhere these days, and like you do not want to see them weakened like they have been in places like Canada and elsewhere in the name of so-called human rights. I agree completely that self-censorship, in the name of political correctness or in the wake of intimidation, is no less a threat to our freedoms. Stone and Parker, besides being incredibly hilarious writers, are doing us ALL a service by constantly pushing hard against limits governments and society place on freedom of expression.

      I also believe that here in the US, so-called liberals are often anything BUT liberal when it comes to standing up and protecting people’s freedom of speech.

      I am no fool as to the impact of the timing/optics of comedy central’s self-censorship with the Pentagon’s Graham dis-invite. It certainly LOOKS bad juxtaposed together. But inviting a divisive religious figure (and he IS divisive here in the US, not just among the Muslims) to what is supposed to be an inclusive event that builds morale in the Pentagon community was a bad move to start with. My guess is that there will be some sort of procedural review in the Chaplain’s office for how these events are organized in the future.

      Inviting a guy who many find offensive like Franklin, or perhaps an anti-semitic 9/11 truther Imam, to speak at a DOD-sanctioned event closed to the public and press, in an organization that would not afford its members/employees an opportunity to rebut the guy’s message, is not an abridgment of free speech, in my opinion. A bit politically correct? Maybe. As an officer, and a working class schlub parked in a cubicle in that lovely building, I stand by the call leadership made to pull his invite; I would have made the same choice in their position. I’ve no doubt that Franklin’s church and its allies will harangue Congress incessantly, and the Department of Defense will catch holy hell from now until after the day to pray is complete, so it was hardly the easier call to make for the Army’s civilian leadership, IMHO.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Thanks for the kind words re the blog, Bob W.

        I admit to knowing little about the background to all this invitation of Franklin business and of course I leave it to Americans to work out what’s right for their country. We have plenty of our own issues arising here resulting from multi-culturalism and PC-ness, like the fact that someone was sentenced to 6 months (suspended) for leaving anti-religious papers on the seats at an airport! FGS!!!!

        Our western countries have been built on freedom, democracy, inclusivity and tolerance towards all. But I have noticed in recent years my tolerance of intolerance lapping away somewhat. Why? I put it down, perhaps, conversely, perhaps not, to the intolerance of a particular mindset that I was once ignorant of. The mindset that says – “keep giving your tolerance and understanding, we’ll keep taking.” Until I see many more voices at the top of Islam (wherever that is!) raised in anger against those we know are intolerant of much that democracy and freedom affords us all, I think we need to stop, breathe deeply and work out if we really want to thrown out freedom of speech with the pc bathwater.

        I see you have made comparisons to 9/11 truthers and anti-Israelis etc. Well, those kinds of people get plenty of time here at public gatherings and are often all over the comment pages of the Guardian etc. Perhaps the actual venue and the significance of the venue is central to your point, and perhaps the fact that Prayer Day has not been controversial in the past (when religion was more surely considered about love than its associations today often suggest.)

        Anyway, that is up to Americans. Here in Britain we are pretty agnostic, even atheistic largely. But even I (with no particular attachment to any religious doctrine) am more than happy to see Christianity and Judaism continue as the quiet foundations of liberty and democracy that they have proved to be.

        So, my bottom line is that we should ALL be permitted to speak freely in our free lands. If we don’t like it to hear some of it – if we are upset – we can ALL move off to lands more suited to keeping us mute. Then we can get really upset about things, but we’ll have to shut up about it. There are plenty such places. No-one is born with the right not to be offended.

    10. Stan Says:

      Phew! Where to start on the points that have been made since my last comment?

      First, in reply to KTBFPM’s latest come-backs I repeat my view that freedom of speech should not encompass the toleration of gratutious, wrong-headed provocations against people and parts of the community (whether they come from left or right, Muslims or Christians) that can test our concept of freedom to destruction. I’m afraid that people are easily upset in our hyper-sensitive societies and such toleration, whether it be of silly anti-Muslim/Christian/Jewish jokes or misconceived invitations is just not worth the trouble it creates imho. You can argue that everyone should have thicker skins but they don’t, particularly where they have a recent history of being oppressed in one way or another.

      With regard to KTBFPM’s earlier remarks about the Wilders issue I still think it was right to stop him if only to uphold the the principle that those who express themselves in a hate-creating, rabble-rousing way (whatever their beliefs) are not welcome on our shores (whether or not the rabble were roused on this particular occasion).

      Getting back to the Graham issue, this preacher was disinvited for the good reasons eloquently given by Bob and in the piece I quoted. As Bob says he had ample opportunity to lead prayers for Pentagon people at an alternative venue close to the Pentagon. This suggests to me that the whole thing was set up as a provocation rather than out of a genuine desire to comfort Pentagon personnel.

      Lil ol American, calling a religion evil and its adherents slaves is not being tolerant imho. It rubs off on all the followers of that religion and tars them all with the same brush. The opponents of Christianity and Judaism could do exactly the same by seizing on any barbaric injunction in the Judeo/Christian Holy Books and any misdeed that were committed in their name (e.g the slaying of the first born,the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition) to vilify the religion as a whole. That kind of talk not to mention your own fighting talk simply stirs up animosity and hatred. It is the very opposite of promoting the love of humanity, unity and peace which you say you and Graham stand for.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Stan, you say:

        First, in reply to KTBFPM’s latest come-backs I repeat my view that freedom of speech should not encompass the toleration of gratutious, wrong-headed provocations against people and parts of the community (whether they come from left or right, Muslims or Christians) that can test our concept of freedom to destruction.

        We have always had such “provocations” but only a recent ideology has responded by calling for ‘religiously united and sanctioned’ death to the insulters! FGS.

        And of course here in Britain a British-born fundamentalist, Anjem Choudary, can incite away, call for more Muslim babies so they can take over Britain from the inside. All quotable and on camera. And he can declare no respect for the Queen, PM, our democracy or the government. He can bellow in London parks that he hopes Tony Blair comes back from the Middle East in a body bag and yet STILL be ignored by the authorities. Great balance, eh? Acceptable common sense, eh? Productive tolerance, eh?

        You also say:

        I’m afraid that people are easily upset in our hyper-sensitive societies and such toleration, whether it be of silly anti-Muslim/Christian/Jewish jokes or misconceived invitations is just not worth the trouble it creates imho. You can argue that everyone should have thicker skins but they don’t, particularly where they have a recent history of being oppressed in one way or another.

        FUNNY HA-HA?
        So where does wanting to end democracy, as Islamic fundamentalists hold dear, or being rid of Israel altogether as Ahmadinejad holds dear, come into this amusing picture? Perhaps they don’t count, because they’re not jokes at the expense of others? No, quite. They’re deadly serious. Jokes, for those who understand them, can actually defuse tension. I would never in my wildest dreams be able to describe the fundamentalist religiosity of some anything like defusing tension. It plays into the hands of such liberals as yourself, as is always clear from your responses on these kinds of issues. We have differed before on this, when you have seen those who oppose Islamist fundamentalism as akin to the Nazis and I have seen Islamist fundamentalism as akin to Naziism. Never the twain shall meet on this, Im afraid, Stan.

        And –

        With regard to KTBFPM’s earlier remarks about the Wilders issue I still think it was right to stop him if only to uphold the the principle that those who express themselves in a hate-creating, rabble-rousing way (whatever their beliefs) are not welcome on our shores (whether or not the rabble were roused on this particular occasion).

        I satisfy myself on the rightness of my thinking on this by the FACT that you were wrong on Wilders, as evidenced by the fact that his presence here in Britain did NOT stir up trouble, though you were afraid it would.

        You see, Stan we liberal-thinking democrats of all religions and none are NOT like Islamic fundamentalists. There is NO reciprocity of thinking or moral equivalence. None. End of story. Being intimidated into not insulting in case you insult the majority of Muslims is to capitulate our freedoms and democracies to the fundamentalist mindset’s lack of both. It does no one, majority of Muslims included, no favours.

        Btw, I suppose you’re deighted with Brown’s utterance this morning, eh?

        For the edification of non-Brits reading this – our present PM called a woman a “bigot” because she mentioned the immigration issue. He didn’t insult her directly, you undesrtand. His microphone was still attached and he said it inside his car to an aide. But perhaps it is just the kind of thing a lot of so-called liberal left Labour/Lib Dem people seem to think these days – that if you are concerned about immigration you are automatically bigoted.

        Imho, Gordon Brown has just blown the election.

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