Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ Blasphemy (and a question for readers)

The new Jesus and Mo strip, called “pure”, came with this information:

“This week’s strip is inspired by the depressing story of a young gymnast who made fun of the wrong religion and is now being punished for it.”

2016-10-12

The “depressing story”, first published in The Sun, shows British gymnasts Luke Carson and Louis Smith, clearly drunk at a wedding, mocking Islam in a hotel room, shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is the greatest”) and pretending to pray to Mecca by bowing down on a rug. Have a look at the footage, please.

The UK’s National Secular Society, in a link that inspired the cartoon, notes that Smith was instantly castigated by Muslims as well as secular organizations, and then draws a continuum between Smith’s behavior and the severe punishments meted out to blasphemers in many Muslim countries:

Condemnation came swiftly from Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation, who asserted “our faith is not to be mocked” and called on Smith to “apologise immediately”.

Or else what? One wonders. Because Mohammed Shafiq has form when it comes to whipping up hostility against people lawfully exercising their right to free expression. Back in 2014 when Maajid Nawaz tweeted a Jesus & Mo cartoon with a message saying he wasn’t offended by the depiction of Mohammad, Shafiq threatened to “notify all Muslim organisations in the UK of his despicable behaviour and also notify Islamic countries.”

Following Shafiq’s lead, other condemnation of Smith soon followed. A Muslim councillor in Peterborough withdrew his support for the four-time Olympic medallist to receive the Freedom of the City. Sponsors distanced themselves from the athlete. British Gymnastics, the official governing body for the sport, threatened Smith with expulsion. “British Gymnastics does not condone the mocking of any faith or religion”, said a spokesperson.

For his part, Smith issued a swift apology and a statement in which he recognised the “severity” of his mistake.

 Again, here’s the screenshot (click on it to see the behavior at issue), and it would behoove you to watch the drunken antics (only 1.5 minutes long) before passing judgment:

screen-shot-2016-10-12-at-7-47-47-am

Now there’s no doubt that Smith had every legal right to say what he did, and probably wouldn’t have done this when he was sober. And there’s no doubt that what he did was blasphemy, and would (and did) suffer more for a display of anti-Islamic sentiment than of, say, anti-Christian sentiment.

But I’m not sure that he’s really mocking religion rather than the religious. In other words, is this simply mockery of a faith, or is it true Islamophobia—bigotry against Muslims? It seems to me that it’s close to the latter. An equivalent would be this: Smith dons a yarmulke, a big plastic nose and beard, and then pulls out a wad of cash, pretending to be a grasping Jew worshiping money. Is that criticism of Judaism or of Jews? Granted, the latter doesn’t include religious behavior like Smith’s praying toward Mecca, but throw in a bit of broken Yiddish and some davening (Jewish bowing during prayer), and you have what many would call anti-Semitism.

What I see here is not mockery of faith alone, but of those who follow the faith. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll defend Smith’s behavior vigorously, and will decry Islam’s incessant tendency to punish that kind of behavior not with counter-speech, but with physical attacks and death. But there’s a big difference between a drunken mockery of worshiping Muslims and sober, reasoned criticism of Islam of the type purveyed by Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali—or of a discussion about the contribution of blind religious faith to terrorism.

So here, for once, I have to differ with the Jesus and Mo artist and with the National Secular Society’s conclusion:

However well-intentioned, over-reactions like those we’ve seen this week to Louis Smith’s mockery of religion have a disastrously chilling effect on free speech. It plays into the hands of the Islamic world’s professional offence takers who would like nothing more than to see all criticism of Islam silenced once and for all.

Being offended from time to time is the price we all pay for living in a free country. If religion expects to be tolerated it needs to be tolerant and robust enough to withstand mockery. Let’s insist on respect for people’s rights, but not their beliefs. Bigotry and hatred need to be called out, but there should be no shame in mocking religion. So let’s be assertive in defending our liberal values and in doing so cut Louis Smith some slack.

Note: Smith was not threatened (although perhaps such threats are implicit), but simply criticized with counter-speech. (The threats of expulsion from the British Gymnastics society are a different issue, and debatable.) And he’s mocking religious behavior, not religious belief. Yes, mockery is a tactic useful in calling attention to religious malfeasance, but Charlie Hebdo’s mockery is surely more incisive than Smith’s boorish cries and prayers, or Mr. Deity’s videos making fun of Christian beliefs and the Abrahamic god.

While many might not see a difference here, I do. But maybe readers don’t. I ask you to weigh in below and see if the Secular Society and Jesus and Mo artist are overreacting to criticism of a behavior that, if it was mocking other faiths, might arouse equally strong offense.

84 Comments

  1. Todd J Morgan
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    You’re reasoning on this has given me pause. I will give it some more think.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Looks more like making fun of behavior. The faith requires that behavior. So … mockery of both equally? By accident?

    It’s also very nonsensical, difficult to see a clear statement in it.

    It’s also pretty stupid and didn’t watch the whole thing.

  3. Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    Typo?

    “Now there’s no doubt that Smith had every legal right to say what he did, and probably wouldn’t have done this when he was drunk.”

  4. Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    The threats of expulsion from the British Gymnastics society are a different issue, and debatable.

    The point is that, as a professional Olympic athlete, he is funded by UK Sport (a public body) at the level of £28,000 a year. If he loses that funding over this his athletic career is effectively over.

    There’s a good article on this by Matthew Syed in today’s Times. (Paywall, sorry.) It ends:

    “And that is why I urge Smith to front up. To stand by his right to free speech and, if he is suspended by UK Sport, to challenge the decision in the courts. I am confident that most British people, and the vast majority of Muslims, will be on his side. Only the fanatics — and those who cravenly bow to political correctness — will disagree.”

    • Chris G
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      Hmm, I wish I shared Syed’s confidence that ‘the vast majority of Muslims’ will be on the side that supports these gymnasts. Seems more likely the vast majority will be critical and angry with the few Muslims who are brave enough to support them,
      Chris G.

    • eric
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

      We have similar thorny cases over here in the US. While private organizations are free to fire people for, essentially, bringing bad press on them, public (government-run) organizations are arguably not. So when they fire you for legal artistic expression because it offends people or embarrasses the organization, is that justifiable? Can a HS teacher take a side gig as a model? If they go on facebook in their space time and make offensive comments (to friends or others, not to students), can they get fired for it? I believe that – at least in the US – the government has legally prevailed in these sorts of cases (i.e., their firing of the employee held up in court).

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted October 16, 2016 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

      I’m somewhat surprised that a UK journalist – even one for such a demagogue as Murdoch – would be as unwise to recommend that someone go to law over something like this. In the pretty unlikely even that he could successfully make a case that the actions were “protected free speech” (as opposed to proscribed incitement to religious or racial hatred), the legal costs are very likely to bankrupt him. Then there would be the two separate cases for ejecting him from “British Gymnastics” on the grounds of “bringing the sport into disrepute” (the first for the actions ; the second for fighting it in the courts).
      To misquote … someone in a Guy Ritchie film … he’s fscked. Proper fscked.
      (IANAlawyer, thankfully. But I still think he’s fscked.)

  5. Liln
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    Just to clarify: Louis Smith is the one holding the camera, the guy on the carpet is Luke Carson, right? Why is Smith getting all the heat?

    Also, how did the Sun get hold of the video?

  6. GBJames
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    sub

  7. Trevor H
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    IMO he was impersonating/mocking a ‘muslim act’, other religions (especially the CofE) are well used to this sort of mocking – see Dave Allen, Rowan Atkinson et al and would hardly raise an eyebrow

    Islam is seen as a ‘special’ case – probably due to the often violent reactions

    By treating them as a special case they are in a way continuing to do Islam a dis-service, and will probably encourage bad reactions

    If muslims just nodded at it, it wouldn’t even make a headline

  8. Chris G
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Mocking (ridiculous) religious behaviour/practices should not be construed as bigotry against the person.
    The comparison you describe in mocking a Jewish person focuses on dubious pernicious stereotyping of Jewish attitudes e.g. money grabbing, rather than their religious beliefs and practices.
    I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the overly defensive argument that atheists criticise religious ideas not religious people. Because it seems to me that distinction disappears when religious people demonstrate and display those religious ideas,
    Chris G.

  9. moleatthecounter
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    For me, he is mocking the behaviour or a religious group, rather than individual Muslims, or skin colour or race… Again, for me, this is acceptable, but admittedly not necessarily advisable in the current climate of appeasing all things Islam…

  10. BobTerrace
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    My take on this is as follows: I feel that freedom of speech should be upheld in all cases, except those cases that could cause immediate harm (e.g.: crying fire in a crowded theater).

    What the guy said and did was stupid. Was it blasphemy and Islamophobia? I don’t care. Everyone gets to react to this verbally as they feel appropriate, but not to threaten or perform physical harm.

    The threats of expulsion from the British Gymnastics society – here I feel that the society also has a right to free speech and if they feel that members do not reflect their stated ethics and behavioral policies, then I feel they have a right to expel him.

    I see an analogy between this behavior and the NFL protest of sitting for the national anthem (for BLM). Colin Kaepernick has a free speech right to protest (and I support him), but others have a right to object. One team owner says he will fire any players/coaches/other employees who protest. Again, that is his right to set standards.

    Note: a caveat to all of this is that no one has a right to violate laws like discrimination, which are legally defined as causing harm to others.

    (yes, I know this is a bit of rambling on).

  11. Paul S
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    I have no problem with the mockery. They’re making fun of a practice that I find as hysterical as wailing at a wall and the genuflecting that gave us the Vatican Rag.

  12. Griff
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    I don’t see a problem with mocking the religious as well as the religion.

    Many of the rituals associated with religion are ridiculous. Why should you not ridicule individuals indulging in such rituals?

    • Jeff Chamberlain
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      I, too, find the distinction puzzling.

      • Vaal
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        I’m sympathetic to the notion the athlete’s drunken antics were boorish and hardly a sophisticated critique.

        But…like others I think we need to be quite careful about mixing up critiquing *behaviors* which are things that are in principle amenable to critique and change, and *racial or genetic characteristics* that people can not change. We see it as bad form to mock people for physical attributes they did not choose to have (which is why the extra-large nose costume is seen to mock the Jews for their purported physical features, not their behaviors).

        But to imply that mocking a religious behavior is bigotry seems to be treading into Ben Afflek territory, where the default seems to be that religious behavior is not to be mocked.

        “But I’m not sure that he’s really mocking religion rather than the religious. “

        Mocking the way religion makes people behave is a way of mocking religion.

        And mocking behavior, in of itself, whether religiously motivated or otherwise, has always been valid.

        It’s why comedians have gotten so much mileage out of imitating outrageous evangelical preachers and televangelists.
        If your behavior seems ridiculous, don’t expect it to be held away form ridicule.

  13. jay
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    How many people have mocked Catholic genuflecting or prayers to Mary?

    The distinction between mocking a religion and mocking people practicing that religion is not clear. The distinction between religion and culture is also not clear. In many cases, the act is the same, so one cannot be a ‘keep one’s hands clean’ defender of free speech (I realize, Jerry you are starting a discussion and not making a declaration).

    Secularists and atheists sometimes hide behind ‘it’s ok to mock religion but not the people’, but it really doesn’t work that way. To many people criticism of their religion is no less personal than criticism of their race, or culture (which is, by nature, a ‘learned’ rather than innate characteristics.)

    Free speech can be consistent only when it’s accepted whole hog, even though parts may make some of us squeamish.

    • Craw
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      “How many people have mocked Catholic genuflecting or prayers to Mary??

      Exactly. That, pace Coyne, would get a pass.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      That some people take offense because they can’t distinguish themselves from their faith doesn’t mean that the distinction between mocking people and mocking ideas is faulty.

      I imagine that some Brits are offended when we mock their native cuisine. But that’ their problem, IMO. (Those ghastly sausages!!!)

      (I joke! I love baked tomatoes for breakfast!)

      • Chris G
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

        Oi GBJames, we worship those breakfast baked tomatoes, you bigoted tomatophobe!
        Chris G, (UK)

        • darrelle
          Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          Baked tomatoes for breakfast? I spent some time in the UK back in the ’70s and never came across baked tomatoes for breakfast. But heck, nicely seasoned baked (broiling works better actually) tomatoes are pretty tasty!

          • GBJames
            Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

            You never had English Breakfast?

            • darrelle
              Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

              I remember all of those items except for the tomatoes and the optional “square sausage.” The most likely case is that the tomatoes were indeed there and my poor brain has simply lost the memory of them.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Quite a few Monty Python skits and a whole M.P. movie mocked religion. Of course the target was not Islam, and so there was considerably less push-back.
      If this is supposed to hinge upon choosing between respect for religion versus upholding free speech, the application should be even-handed.

    • Bill
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      +1

  14. Jonathan Dore
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    “Charlie Hebdo’s mockery is surely more incisive than Smith’s boorish cries and prayers…”

    I think the difference is that Smith’s boorish cries and prayers were never intended for public consumption, and have only become public inadvertently because some recipient of the video decided to take some of Rupert Murdoch’s money by selling them to the Sun.

    Given that almost the only time we in the West ever hear someone say “Allah Akbar” is when some senseless act of violence is being perpetrated, I’d say the mockery was rather good-natured.

  15. Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I find Louis Smith’s suitcoat and shirt pairing to be distasteful, but the behavior is no worse than an SNL-style parody for the bibulous.

  16. jesusandmo
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I agree with Jerry that Smith’s drunken antics are not funny, and that the video shows behaviour which is at least as close to mocking Muslims (or, more accurately, Muslim religious behaviour) as it is Islam. However, I disagree with this bit:

    An equivalent would be this: Smith dons a yarmulke, a big plastic nose and beard, and then pulls out a wad of cash, pretending to be a grasping Jew worshiping money. Is that criticism of Judaism or of Jews? Granted, the latter doesn’t include religious behavior like Smith’s praying toward Mecca, but throw in a bit of broken Yiddish and some davening (Jewish bowing during prayer), and you have what many would call anti-Semitism.

    The first part of this is not equivalent – it is a genuinely antisemitic caricature of the money-worshipping Jew. For the gymnasts to do this, they’d have to be wearing fake suicide belts or pretending to sexually assault young girls (to tap into the terrorist/rapist caricature). An equivalent of the gymnasts’ *actual* antics would be the second part – the davening and the broken Yiddish, without the nose and the money-worshipping. That would be making fun of Jewish religious behaviour.

    The outrage from British secularists that Smith’s treatment has generated stems from the old problem of religion – and in this case, one religion in particular – being given special protection above other forms of belief and opinion. I think British Gymnastics has no business interfering in this matter.

    Thank you, Jerry, for posting the cartoon here. I always appreciate it, even when you disagree!

  17. Dimitris Klaras
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Personally I consider such worshiping behaviors ridiculous. They can be targets for satire as in the video. In the video was not any real person to be harassed. It was not an attack to a real person. But this is not the real problem here. The real problem is that some Muslim can kill you for that and be considered a hero by the standards of his/her religion and co-religious. This is the problem we face and the reaction is analogous to that. Actually we speak about terrorism.

    “notify all Muslim organisations in the UK of his despicable behaviour and also notify Islamic countries.”

    The above is just a counter speech or an implicit call to some devote Muslim “hero” to act or to some Muslim state to execute you (legally!) if founds you in its soil? I am afraid that is analogous to threats from a mafia boss.

  18. Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Tim Tebow goes down on one knee and does hand jive whenever he makes a good play. How is he not mocking all those who pray for relief from tragedy and receive none? And if his incessant such mockery isn’t reason to punish him, why is this one-time incident enough to end these kids’s careers?

    These are athletes, not moral authorities. They’re not teachers nor politicians. Somebody should tell them, “Hey, man…that’s not cool,” and that should be the end of it.

    When a social studies teacher does this sort of thing, yes: the hypocrisy and the harm caused to the students and their education warrants meaningful discipline. But demanding neverending perfection from everybody is itself a display of intolerance.

    That’s another thing: this is, so far, best we know, a single incident. If there’s a demonstration of sustained pattern and practice of bigotry, something more might be appropriate.

    But a couple athletes getting drunk one night and becoming obnoxious?

    “Hey man…that’s not cool.”

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Bill
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      “why is this one-time incident enough to end these kids’s careers?”

      Because what he’s doing here is punching down (muslims are oppressed you see), and according to modern leftist ideology, that is racist (maybe even a hate crime depending on who you ask).

      I thought this should be fairly obvious to people here, since Jerry is constantly talking about this whole SJW nonsense.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

      Carson and Smith absolutely should not be punished for blasphemy or any other offense, and no governmental body should impose any sanctions. Sponsors, OTOH, are free to withdraw their financial support as they see fit — just as we free-speech advocates are free to boycott the sponsors for doing so if we see fit. It’s where the marketplace of ideas intersects with the actual marketplace.

      • Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        just as we free-speech advocates are free to boycott the sponsors for doing so if we see fit

        Boycotts aren’t a practical response. Were I to boycott every entity that’s done something I find objectionable, I’d have nowhere to spend any money…and, for that matter, nowhere I could earn money from. And 99 44/100% of the population would be in the same predicament.

        Not to mention, a boycott is every bit as much of a disproportionate over-the-top response to the malfeasance on display as the malfeasance is to the drunken idiocy.

        This whole mess was either started or fueled by “zero tolerance” intolerance, and, if there’s one thing I won’t tolerate, it’s intolerance.

        Is it really too much to ask for a rational sense of proportion?

        Cheers,

        b&

        >

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          You have to pick your spots with a boycott, same as I’d expect sponsors to pick their spots in deciding whether to cancel their sponsorship.

          You’re not suggesting sponsors should be legally prohibited from cancelling their sponsorship under such circumstances, are you? That could prove every bit as disruptive to commerce.

          • Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

            Did I mention my problem with intolerance? And what is legal prohibition but intolerance codified?

            b&

            >

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

              Some legal prohibitions protect against intolerance. Like the one that begins our Bill of Rights: “Congress shall make no law … “

  19. alexandra Moffat
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Beware toe under the tent of Free Speech – better err on the side of free speech than protecting the offended….even if the mockery is over the top, distasteful, rude,mean, stupid.
    Blasphemy is one of the very worst words, concepts, in the world.

    Just sayin’

  20. rickflick
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    Of people not Muslim, who has not viewed a hall full of grown men, heads down, bums up as absolutely absurd. It is totally laughable that these men, some bankers and dentists and car salesmen in real life, waste precious time worshiping a 7th century garden fairy. I have absolutely no trouble with such mockery of Islam or any religion’s foolish rituals. The practitioners find it plausible only because of religious indoctrination from infancy. The outsiders view of religions typically is one of amused tolerance for human folly – even for those who themselves contort to their own religious music.
    Obviously, the mockery in question is in very poor taste and its boring duration is undoubtedly due to the % alcohol. But, there is no justification in paying any attention to this, let alone serious condemnations and threats. I think the anger of many is due to their fear of being seen as complicit in Islamophobia rather than and real disgust.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      I am afraid that I am with the cartoonist. I think you have it there, particularly that last line.

    • Posted October 13, 2016 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      Yes!
      Personally, I am a confessed Islamophobe but I am afraid of being viewed as anti-Semite, and of adding fuel to the flames of true anti-Semitism. So I very rarely criticize Jews, though I find some habits of ultra-orthodox Jews ridiculous or worse. Then, when children died in a fire because a heating plate was left on throughout Saturdays (Prof. Coyne blogged about this tragedy), I thought that, if people like me didn’t tip-toe around religious idiocy, maybe we would have less of it.

  21. Flemur
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Sun: Last night retired ex-international Carson said: “It was a three-minute video of us just fooling around.”

    The fact that this harmless and trivial incident becomes international news is sick.

  22. Jenny Haniver
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    When I lived in Tunis in 1974, I spent some time in the company of an extended family of Afro-Tunisian Stambeli musicians. For an explanation of Stambeli, see http://stambeli.com/Stambeli.com/Home.html. The leader of this group was a grizzled old dude who loved to drink wine, and sometimes, when he got a bit tipsy, he would scandalize the rest of his family by performing an hilarious parody of circumambulating the Kaaba and a few other Islamic rituals. I thought it was the funniest thing I’d seen and wish I remembered his routines.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      I’m sure you’re right and I’m sure it happens often.

      Muslims are mostly people too and I expect the same percentage have the same sense of humour and irony as the rest of us. Just their religion may not allow them to show it.

      cr

  23. jeffery
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I remember the photo I saw several years ago of a Muslim demonstrator in England holding up a sign that read, “FREE SPEECH GO TO HELL”….

  24. Albert Habichdobinge
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Anybody who mocks my religion, football, disturbs me during church on a game day, a service of two-times 45 minutes with a bathroom break, or touches my god, the ball, with the hands, shall be condemned to be a follower of a really bad team in amateur league for at least ten seasons. I am inclined to consider calling football soccer already as blasphemy.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Maradona!

  25. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    … there should be no shame in mocking religion.

    The National Secular Society errs in failing to qualify the above statement. It should read “… there should be no more shame in mocking religion than in mocking any other subject.”

    Mocking religion in a vulgar or ugly or intentionally offensive way should be perfectly legal. But it shouldn’t be any more immune to criticism than any other type of vulgar or ugly or offensive expression. To claim otherwise is simply to privilege anti-religious speech in a way that we secularists object to religious speech being privileged.

  26. Duncan
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    What’s also interesting to note is that the BBC initially described (or reported it being described) as RACIST behaviour. When the news came in first the word racist was sprinkled throughout the article. Presumably someone pointed out how bloody stupid that was since it was just labelled offensive when I saw the later versions

  27. Heather Hastie
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    My problem is with people who sell out their friends by selling a video of what is obviously private drunken behaviour. It’s all pretty tasteless, but seriously, when was the last time you saw young blokes act sensibly when drunk?

    And I refuse to look at leaked private e-mails and photos as well. It’s all very well when they’re showing up someone you don’t like, but just imagine being the victim of a hack. (Though I have to say I’m too boring to have anything online to hide.)

    • Chris G
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:54 am | Permalink

      It’s been a while since I saw drunk young women acting sensibly too. Just saying.
      Chris G.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I agree — unless it discloses the hypocrisy of a public figure’s publicly expressed position (and. even then, I disapprove if it involves the betrayal of a mutually understood confidence).

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

          I mean, I agree with Heather.

  28. jeremy pereira
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I have been known to mock the supporters of rival football clubs to Arsenal. I have been known to cast aspersions on the intellectual capabilities of actual footballers and the visual acuity of referees.

    Usually this happens in the relative privacy of my own home, somebody else’s home or a pub. However, I’m sure some of the targets of my mockery would be offended if they knew about what I said.

    I have never suffered any kind of penalty for causing offence to people in the footballing World. I fail to see why people who ridicule the religious should be treated any differently, especially when the ridicule was clearly never meant for public consumption and the people in question were drunk.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      As they used to say (maybe still do):

      “Do you enjoy watching football?”

      “No, not really, I’m an Arsenal supporter”.

  29. Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    “Condemnation came swiftly from Mohammed Shafiq, the chief executive of the Ramadan Foundation, who asserted “our faith is not to be mocked”

    To my mind, Shafiq’s outrageous statement is what is truly worthy of condemnation and apology in this sordid affair.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      … worthy of being mocked itself, anyway.

  30. Brujo Feo
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I have little to add, as my views have already been expressed quite eloquently by Ben Goren, alexandra Moffat, rickflick, and Gingerbaker.

    I do have an issue with BobTerrace’s position that a sports team’s owner’s right to “set standards” extends to the right to fire employees for exercising rights of free speech. That’s an awfully libertarian view, and I expect that I might even agree with it more than BobTerrace does himself. (And he can correct me if I’m wrong.) But where does one draw the line? And where *could* one possibly draw such a line that wouldn’t allow Kaepernick to take a knee? What if instead of taking a knee, Kaep said, publicly, “I support Mary Jones for City Council.” Why couldn’t he be fired for that, just as well?

    Sorry if that’s off-topic…

    • BobTerrace
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      “What if instead of taking a knee, Kaep said, publicly, “I support Mary Jones for City Council.” Why couldn’t he be fired for that, just as well?”

      If the standards are set beforehand and the employee knows about when gaining employment, then I would say yes, the employee could be fired.

      The standards would have to be something like “No political endorsements while at work” and not something like “It is OK to endorse Mary Jones/political party X, but not Elizabeth Smith/political party Y”.

      • BobTerrace
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        Also… “My boss is a piece of garbage” is free speech, but firing is a very valid response.

        • Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

          If Tebow’s boss tried to fire Tebow for doing his religious shtick, he would be served a discrimination lawsuit for not reasonably accommodating Tebow’s religious rights.

          Luke Carson’s actions can be seen as private (atheistic) religious expression and/or political speech. Should he not be afforded the same accommodation as someone expressing more mainstream theistic expression? The British Gymnastics organization is not a religious organization, and is not allowed to use hiring practices that discriminate along religious grounds. Is it not time for atheists to enjoy the same religious speech protections as the religious?

          And, is not political speech at least as well protected as religious speech?

  31. Posted October 12, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Imagine if Monty Python were still active today, and ridiculed Islam to the same extent they ridiculed Christianity, and catholicism specifically. I suspect they would all be living with fatwah’s on their heads.

    • Posted October 13, 2016 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      Or would no longer live, like the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists.

  32. Bill
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    “But I’m not sure that he’s really mocking religion rather than the religious.”

    I love this bullshit distinction that people try to make.

    Why have we never made this distinction before when we were criticizing Christians, Scientologists, Mormons, right-wingers etc?

    Why do we need to constantly bring this up when discussing Islam? Do you think that if you say that before you proceed to criticize their religion, muslims will take it less personally?

    When you mock religion, you are also mocking the religious. There’s no getting around that.

    • Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      “When you mock religion, you are also mocking the religious. There’s no getting around that.”

      I think you are absolutely correct. The problem with Islam however is that many people’s(particularly the types who support Trump)primary motivation is mocking the religious rather than the religion. People who mock Christianity as opposed to many who mock Islam don’t then go on to refer to christians using racist terms like sand n*gger, or camel jockey.

      • Bill
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

        “The problem with Islam however is that many people’s(particularly the types who support Trump)primary motivation is mocking the religious rather than the religion.”

        The new atheist movement has been mocking the religious for a long time now. I’m sorry, but i don’t buy this distinction.

        To be clear, i don’t give a shit whether you mock the believers or the belief. People have all kinds of personal beliefs, be they political or religious, and this nonsensical distinction only started appearing when atheists and other people started criticizing Islam AND muslims.

        Here’s a newsflash for you: you are going to get called a racist and a islamophobe either way.

        “People who mock Christianity as opposed to many who mock Islam don’t then go on to refer to christians using racist terms like sand n*gger, or camel jockey.”

        Now your experience might have been different than mine, but the people who go around calling arabs sandn*ggers don’t seem to care too much about whether they are talking about muslim, christian or atheist arabs.

        They just seem to hate arabs (or brown people) in general.

    • GBJames
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      “Why have we never made this distinction before when we were criticizing Christians, Scientologists, Mormons, right-wingers etc?”

      We haven’t? I see that distinction made all the time with regard to all religions. (In the case of “regular” believers. Exceptions are usually granted for public figure bozos like, for example, Pat Robertson who deserve all the ridicule they attract.)

      • Bill
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        “I see that distinction made all the time with regard to all religions.”

        Maybe you hang around different types of atheists then.

        “In the case of “regular” believers. Exceptions are usually granted for public figure bozos like, for example, Pat Robertson who deserve all the ridicule they attract.”

        So you do admit you don’t make that distinction; and what does being a “public figure” has to do with anything here?

        Also, c’mon now. You and I both know that it goes beyond just mocking the likes of Pat Robertson.

        This meme of “we criticize the belief, but not the believer” is bollocks.

        You are afraid of being called a racist. That’s all there is to it.

        • GBJames
          Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

          Nonsense. I’m not afraid of being called racist. Now that is bollocks.

          Being a public figure (by which I specifically mean public religious leader) opens you to ridicule for the same reason that being a politician opens you to ridicule.

          I don’t think I’m saying anything weirder than advocating the kind of attitude that Da Roolz here at WEIT require. We treat each other with reasonable respect even if some of us say things that are ridiculous. (And thus deserve ridicule.)

          • Bill
            Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

            “Nonsense. I’m not afraid of being called racist. Now that is bollocks.”

            You will forgive me if i’m not convinced of that (or maybe you don’t care).

            “Being a public figure (by which I specifically mean public religious leader) opens you to ridicule for the same reason that being a politician opens you to ridicule.”

            So being a public figure opens oneself to ridicule and criticism, but being an average joe that believes that the perfect man was a warmonger and a pedophile, doesn’t?

            Don’t we mock all Trump supporters here? No matter who they are?

            Don’t we mock christians here? No matter who they are?

            And once again: to the average believer out there, do you honestly think they don’t get offended by your religious criticism?

            Charlie Hebdo (as far as i can tell) always went after some famous right-wing politician or a famous terrorist group (Boko Haram, ISIS etc).

            That didn’t stop you average muslim or your average right-winger from getting offended by their satire.

            • GBJames
              Posted October 12, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

              Yes, being a public figure is different from being an “average Joe”. This is actually established in law. Things that would be considered libelous about an “average Joe” are perfectly legit when spoken about public figures.

              Also, there is a difference between mocking identifiable “regular Joes” and populations of “Joes”. There is a difference between mocking Trump supporters, as a whole, and the Trump supporter who happens to live next door to me.

              I have no idea why you think I’m defending easily offended muslim extremists like those who attacked Charlie Hebdo. You seem to have me confused with someone else.

              • Bill
                Posted October 12, 2016 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

                “Yes, being a public figure is different from being an “average Joe”. This is actually established in law. Things that would be considered libelous about an “average Joe” are perfectly legit when spoken about public figures.”

                Britain is slowly becoming a fascistic shithole, and persecuting people for exercising their freedom of speech.

                Thank Allah for America and their first amendment.

                “Also, there is a difference between mocking identifiable “regular Joes” and populations of “Joes”. There is a difference between mocking Trump supporters, as a whole, and the Trump supporter who happens to live next door to me.”

                So we went from a public figure, to Trump supporters as whole and now to Trump supporters “who live next door to me”.

                It seems like you are just making a bunch of nonsensical distinctions at this point.

                “I have no idea why you think I’m defending easily offended muslim extremists like those who attacked Charlie Hebdo. You seem to have me confused with someone else.”

                I’m making the point that it doesn’t matter whether you criticize public figures or average joes.

                People will get offended either way.

                Basically what i’m saying is that your distinction (belief/believer) is facile and nonsensical given how people react to criticism.

              • GBJames
                Posted October 12, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

                And my point is that it isn’t about whether someone takes offense. Nobody has a right to not be offended. It is about trying to behave decently to humans as much as possible while insisting on the right to criticize any idea without fear of “blasphemy” restrictions.

  33. Bill
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Should have included this in my post above.

    “But there’s a big difference between a drunken mockery of worshiping Muslims and sober, reasoned criticism of Islam of the type purveyed by Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali—or of a discussion about the contribution of blind religious faith to terrorism.”

    Is there a big difference? Because the only people who i see making this distinction are people like you Jerry. Muslims act offended all the same.

    Besides, shouldn’t the suggestion that Islam might have a problem with terrorism be more offensive than some drunk asshole taking the piss out of some religious practice?

    Because to me, what the likes of Maajid suggests and says is way more “islamophobic” than mocking a religious practice.

  34. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Jeez, can’t a guy get pissed and act the goat in private any more? The person who should be shot is the twat who leaked the video.

    (I notice right at the end he was in the Lotus position (?) and presumably taking the piss out of Buddhism too. But I assume – since they aren’t mentioned – that any Buddhist who noticed wisely decided to ignore it)

    cr

  35. Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Freedom of speech ought to include imitating people praying (or imitating Christian faith healers pushing people to the floor by their heads or any odd-looking Jewish ritual).

    I didn’t see in the video any hateful messages or calls to do anything harmful to anyone. I saw non-malicious, irreverent, silly behavior that should not be punished.

  36. nicky
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Agreed, freedom of speech includes the freedom to blaspheme.

    What it should not allow is freedom to incite to violence/murder. What Mohammed Shafiq is doing comes very close (“guns do not kill, people do”, where the fanatics are “guns” and “people” Shafiq). I would prosecute him for that, should be an interesting court case.

  37. Paul
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 1:23 am | Permalink

    You make an excellent point, Jerry. But for my money, they were two young men arsing about while drunk in a hotel room. If I compare that with what imams say in public while stone cold sober, I really can’t summon up any sympathy for Mohammed Shafiq’s hurt feelings.

  38. moleatthecounter
    Posted October 13, 2016 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    And the result… from the followers of the religion of peace?

    Louis Smith: Team GB gymnast receives death threats ‘every day’. (Headline from the BBC Sports pages)

  39. Posted October 14, 2016 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    What if someone mocked me, my philosophical beliefs, my trust in science, in evolution, …

    .. hold on, they do. No sweat.

    The religious work themselves up into irate states about their religion (and the religious themselves often suffer because of it: Farkhunda). And then they use it as a weapon.

    Religion deserves to be mocked precisely because of the pseudo-profundity with which the religious hold it; and the more pious they are the more mockery they need to bring them down to earth.


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