Monday, October 1, 2012

"This column would not be allowed under blasphemy laws. The Register-Guard would not be allowed to print most articles about Islam and Muslims if free speech rights are curtailed under the guise of protecting fragile sensibilities"

My new editorial in today's Register-Guard newspaper.  There are still a few news outlets that stand for free speech, my local hometown paper is one of the few.  Thanks to Jack Wilson and the staff there, well done.

From the Register-Guard, October 1

GUEST VIEWPOINT: Free speech must remain free, despite tyrants

Is the right to freely speak one’s mind absolute, or are there words that demand to be removed from polite society? And if some words are beyond the pale, who decides what is OK and what is banned? Would you support restrictions on your right to speak freely?

These questions are quickly becoming relevant to the future of free speech here in Eugene and across America — and it all stems from a bad Internet movie about the prophet Muhammad.

I asked my fellow students at Lane Community College how they felt about the movie and their position on free speech, and virtually without exception they had no opinion. There was no group-think, but there was also no awareness of the potential problem, either.

I was heartened when, after explaining the situation, some fellow students agreed that free speech should not be abridged. This belief does not apply in many countries today, nor is it part of the “tolerance” espoused here in Eugene.

I know what it is like to be attacked and shouted down when trying to speak. I was censored by LCC because of pressure from the Council on American–Islamic Relations regarding a noncredit class I was to teach on Islam. I was censored as a lecturer during the days of Pacifica Forum, when I dared to speak controversially about the Holocaust and Islam. I had a table at the federal building on Saturday mornings during the summer but was shouted down as well as having a complaint registered against me to the Eugene Human Rights Commission.

I cannot speak about Islam, yet local Judaeophobes can demean Israel and call for its deconstruction with no complaints. Why? My First Amendment rights were curtailed because someone did not like my words. Degrading speech about Israel and Jews is OK because Jews will not kill to avenge a slight. Degrading speech about Islam or Muslims is not allowed, because they kill out of anger and revenge....

Read it all

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