Sunday, May 31, 2015

Haters gonna hate, beheaders gonna behead

   There wasn't much to choose from between the two sides in the motley assembly of demonstrators and counter-protestors who faced off outside a mosque in Phoenix Friday.  Mom, apple pie and semi-automatic stopping power were represented by bikers and other self-styled patriots who wanted to serve notice that ain't no A-rab or nobody else gonna tell Jethro what cartoons he can or can't draw in 'Murca.  On the other side of the police line were the usual suspects who never met a social justice cause they wouldn't hashtag to check their white privilege.   Happily, the prophet's avengers apparently got stuck in traffic en route, so the only shots fired were verbal. 
   Arguing over whether drawing pictures of Muhammad is a legitimate exercise in free speech or a calculated attempt to provoke a violent Muslim backlash misses the point.  Muhammad cartoon contests are themselves a backlash to violence already being perpetrated ad nauseam in the name of Islam.  Showing up with a variety of (legal) firearms was definitely white trash overkill on the part of the bikers and their allies, but I'll say this for that side of the debate: they're clear about where they stand. They believe in the liberal values that underpin western democracy and won't abide any attempt to undermine those values, especially from an ideology with a bloody track record of violently rejecting freedom and equality.
   The pro-Islam crowd, meanwhile, are hopelessly mired in their own contradictions.  The fundamental failing of white liberal apologists who like to play the "Islamophobe" card is that they're the same crowd who yammer endlessly about misogyny and homophobia, knowing full well that both are well-entrenched in the Islamic faith.  I have yet to hear anyone adequately reconcile Islamist apologia with the institutionalized subjugation of women or routine summary executions of homosexuals.  In fact, I haven't even heard them try - either because they know it would be a futile exercise, or they're too busy haranguing a Christian baker for balking at making a cake for a same sex wedding while gay Muslims are being thrown off rooftops or hanged from construction cranes. 
   It's fine - admirable, even - to promote racial and religious harmony and trumpet equal rights for all, but if you're not consistent in your convictions, you'll lose the credibility battle every time - even to gun-toting rednecks. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Free speech - like it AND lump it


   If there's one thing activists on both ends of the political spectrum can agree on, it's free speech - more specifically, the primacy of free speech when it serves their agenda.
   Celebrity Montreal chef David MacMillan, better known by his public persona "Joe Beef", sparked an online firestorm last week when he tweeted an open invitation to convicted war criminal Omar Khadr and called Prime Minister Stephen Harper a "dumbass".  MacMillan subsequently deleted the tweet and apologized, but not before the hashtag #boycottJoeBeef was trending across Canada.
   Interestingly, MacMillan's apology generated at least as much response as his original tweet - mostly from supporters who said he had nothing to apologize for and should have stuck to his guns rather than acquiesce to an online lunch mob.  As someone who's had social media bullies gun for my livelihood on the basis of my opinion, I can sympathize with Joe Beef.  Of course, free speech is a two way street, so MacMillan's critics are as free to encourage a boycott as he is to offer Omar Khadr lunch on the house.
   The Muhammad cartoon contest that resulted in a failed terrorist attack and two dead jihadis in Garland, Texas, was less about opinion than it was about free speech versus hate speech.  The event's organizer, Pamela Geller, is an outspoken anti-Islamist who's widely regarded as a hate monger by hopelessly naive leftists who buy into the "religion of peace" narrative despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  That was the whole point of Geller's event - to illustrate the lunacy of the premise that someone deserves to die for drawing a picture. The two would-be "martyrs" who showed up with assault rifles proved her point by their choice, at the cost of their lives.  Her detractors' claims that Geller provoked the attack and is responsible for the violence is beyond flimsy.  She didn't stage the event in Mecca.  She held it deep in the heart of Texas, which is deep in the heart of America, which is as home turf as it gets for free speech advocates. 
   That's the deal with free speech: Joe Beef has as much right to invite an admitted murderer to his restaurant as Pamela Geller has to mock Muhammad, and you have the right to support one and criticize the other.  It's a bit - or even a lot - like a dog chasing its own tail, but for anyone who values independent thought and expression over regulated groupthink and censorship,  it's the best system we've got.