Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 01:23 am est

Have we taken free speech too far?

Posted on September 26, 2012 | by Faria Mardhani

As of this week, anti-Islamic ads reading, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad” are legally being displayed in subways across New York City.

The ads are funded  by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an organization co-founded by Pamela Geller who also co-founded the Stop Islamization of America.

Before discussing the implications of the ad, it is essential to clarify that these ads are anti-Islamic and not just pro-Israel. The Arab-Israeli conflict is fundamentally a political conflict: It is a conflict over lands that both parties consider rightfully their own. This ad is playing on the fact that the states that support Palestine militarily are a majority-Muslim; using the terms Jihad and Islam interchangeably. The ad is portraying the conflict as essentially religious rather than political, but what is most infuriating is that it is likening an entire faith to savagery.

The ad goes much further than only discussing the Arab-Israeli conflict. It sends an insulting message about Muslims worldwide. If we assume the ad is using Jihad and Islam interchangeably, it implies:

1. The battle for Israel is a war against all Muslims.
2. All Muslims are savages.
3. All Muslims are anti-Israel.
4. The term Jihad can loosely be defined as the Palestinian perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The FDI incorrectly defines Jihad as a general Holy War without understanding the many facets of the true meaning of Jihad and the restrictions Islam places on Muslims concerning violence. They clearly lack accurate information about Islam and are hoping to prevent others from obtaining it with these ads.

Although the Metropolitan Transportation Authority appealed the ads, a District Court Judge legalized the advertisements on the basis of the First Amendment. The United States is one of the only democracies in the world that does not prohibit hate speech that incites animosity toward certain groups of people even though acts like this are clearly insulting the spirit of the First Amendment. The U.S. legal system’s refusal to accept this minimizes equality among Americans and reduces America’s sense of democracy.

If any group is targeted by hate speech, its dignity and its right to self-respect is not being protected by national law. These ads are framing Muslims and Americans as two groups with irreconcilable differences, categorizing Muslim Americans as non-Americans. The ads minimize the true citizenship that Muslims hold in America and subject Muslims to hostility, violence and discrimination. This is a clear lack of social security.

Several groups have been marginalized by regrettable actions in America’s history, including the open persecution of Jews, the Japanese, African-Americans and homosexuals. In all four cases, the disregarded group was only afforded second-class citizenship. These ads will prove that the U.S. legal system has not left that America in the past. The ads will open the door to more outright persecution of Muslims, providing an extension of colonization, of Orientalism and of imperialism. They will lead to the west and the east having a true “Clash of Civilizations”  and delaying the process of learning about each other.

The decision that the United States must now make is whether hate speech like this should be legal. Do values of free speech override the values of equality and of preventing profound personal offense to any singular group? Was the First Amendment passed with the intention of grouping very diverse people into one entity and then vilifying them? Living in America, we are constantly valorizing free speech, and in my opinion, this makes it easier to trample over other values. We must not forget that the United States is first a democracy that promises to protect all of its citizens and treat them with equality. An ad like this inherently creates a hierarchy within society, placing the civilized man or American at the top and the savage or the Muslim underneath. If the U.S. government is willing to overlook the dignity of Muslims to uphold what the FDI chooses to call free speech, it has very clearly failed to be a true democracy and protect its citizens.

Faria Mardhani is a contributing columnist. Email her at opinion@nyunews.com.

Comments

  • Donot Foolme

    No, we have not taken free speech too far. Get real there have been 19655 persons who died at the hand of jihadists. When are you going to have the courage to recognize there is a lot of blood being shed because of Islam and write about it?

  • freeman

    Yes, the first amendment was written with the understanding that it would protect offensive speech. we should not be cowed into abridging this right by those who use the fallacious argument that it should be illegal to villify a particular group. muslims are free to use thier speech to refute any claims against them and often do as well as they make sweeping claims against others. to croos the line and say in effect “I can’t effectively respond to your speech so I want it legally silenced is to misunderstand the entire concept of a free society.

    • Freedom Lover

      Freedom of anything should be accompanied by responsibility otherwise it is fire in the hands of kids. How would you feel if someone make fun of you in PUBLIC for his own reasons which you may not understand. You are free to own a gun but with laws and resonsibility. Why cann’t we have same resonsibility for freedom of speech?

  • EZ Rider

    This entire article, from start to finish, is full of untruths and double standards. I don’t even know where to begin.

    It is obvious that Faria Mardhani is clueless regarding the “how’s and why’s” of the freedon of speach and expression.

    Ms. Mardhani, You said…
    “The ads will open the door to more outright persecution of Muslims, providing an extension of colonization, of Orientalism and of imperialism. They will lead to the west and the east having a true “Clash of Civilizations” and delaying the process of learning about each other.”

    First of all, I already have learned all I need to learn about Muslims, Islam, and the jihad that goes with it. The reason you and the rest of the muslim world are trying so desperately to squash the first amendment is to hush those who want to expose the
    TRUTH about the so called “Religion of Peace”. Which is exactly what the freedom of speech and expression are designed for. To allow the good freedom loving Americans to expose evil ideologies and opressive dictators. Having said that, I strongly urge all freedom lovers to read the quran, hadiths, and suras. And arm yourselves with the truth, as told by muslims themselves.

    Also, you said…
    “The ads will open the door to more outright persecution of Muslims.”

    Don’t even talk to me about persecution when I read about the persecution of (and murder of) all non-muslims by muslims on a daily basis going on all over the Middle East and North Africa.

    The amount of taquia (untruths) spewing from you article is unbelievable. And for some reason, doesn’t seem to bother you in the least. Why is that? Hummm.

  • Jan Doelman

    It seems essential to me to point out elaborately that freedom of speech has huge advantages and is a great rule. Limits should of course be inciting to violence and that statements/ arguments are only showed in public space where they can be avoided.

    Faria Mardhani may mean well, but by the same token Pamela Geller means also very well. But whereas Pamela is in favor of free speech, for AND against her, Faria is in favor of censorship it seems.

    And that offends me really very much, because I see the huge advantages of genuine freedom of speech and the huge dangers of censorship. It makes me judge Faria as arrogant. As if she can determine what get’s censored and what will be allowed, based on HER judgement whether statements and arguments are based on truth or falsehood, or merits or disadvantages. But Faria should take that, because she can insult Pamela and she accepts Pamela to take that too.

    Faria advocates censorship based on hurt feelings of innocent people and of perceived bad reactions of people hurt in their feelings or people who may conclude from statements and arguments meanings that were not intended and not actually said. Like treating Muslims as second-class-citizens. Whereas it is well known that Pamela is not in favor of anything like that, at all.

    All Muslims were NOT painted with one brush with this ad, or even by Pamela, as Faria implies. And it was not even all Islam that was criticized, but only the Jihad part of it. But she seems convinced that is how Pamela will be interpreted en masse.

    Faria probably is not about to write the same protests against all the propaganda from people who are pro-Islam and anti-Israel in the world. But even if she wanted to, she would not be able to stop these worldwide. And if she cannot stop or discourage, censor both sides, she should not want to censor only one side, in my opinion.

  • Arafat

    Faria could you explain this conundrum for me?

    Why is it Muslims are free to violently conquer lands anywhere and everywhere without a word of protest from American Muslims, or any Muslims for that matter, but if Jews have a legally established homeland Muslims will never stop protesting against it? Why is this do you suppose? What explanation can be given other than as the Qur’an states repeatedly that Islam’s goal is to establish a worldwide caliphate in which all non-Muslims are subjugated.

    For instance, Mohammed was born around 571 AD thousands and thousands of years after Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism existed. But within a few centuries of Mohammed’s birth Islam had violently conquered vast sections of Asia, all of North Africa and smaller sections of Southern Europe.

    Now Muslims tell us that all this land belongs to them even though, for instance, in Afghanistan they killed every last Buddhist who once lived there. According to Muslim logic per Israel shouldn’t this land belong to the Buddhists?

    Or in North Africa all the Berbers have been forcibly converted to Islam or have been killed and now we’re told all this vast landmass belongs to Islam. That’s interesting, if not completely hypocritical. And what about Southern Thailand. Did anyone know that in the last several years something like 5,000 Buddhists have been killed by Muslims because, or so we’re told, the land the Buddhists are on belongs to Islam. And Southern Russia? Muslims are relentlessly waging a slow reign of terror in Russia because, you guessed it, Russians are treating Muslims poorly and they should give up the Southern section of that country to Muslims.

    Or, let’s take Sudan as another example. How many millions have been killed in Sudan? How many babies and children have starved in Sudan while Islamists steal the food from aid compounds? How many women have Muslims gang-raped in Sudan all because that land belongs to Muslims and only Muslims. All other people can go somewhere else to live, I guess.

    And Kashmir? The same. Despite Hindus having lived there for 3,000 years – something like 2,000+ years before Mohammed was born – Muslims tell us Kashmir belongs to them. Amazing logic isn’t it?

    And that brings us to Israel. Israel also belongs to Islam. Did you know that? It’s true. Even though it’s no bigger than a small pimple on the caliphate’s ass it is still their land and they will fight to the death to prove their point.

    Doesn’t the logic here make a lot of sense. Isn’t it as clear as day? Of course it is. The world belongs to Islam and we’re mere players on their stage.

    • Freedom Lover

      Arafat, all conflicts you outlined started either as non-religious or are culturally driven but then were painted by religios paint because that’s what units ununited with no leadership. This is quite unfortunate. Today, agressive nations don’t conquer other contries but corupt their leaders on the name of national interest. Muslims never went to Malasyia and other south east contries which now has largest muslim poulation.

  • kafantaris

    The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution itself are both utopian, and both over 200 years old. But unlike other utopias, the one our forefathers embraced works.
    It has an ingenious mechanism to revitalize its institutions: Freedom of speech.
    As John Stuart Mill explained, when a society allows its citizens to question its government, its values and its most sacred beliefs, the examination finds errors and things for improvement.
    But even when no correction at all is needed, the challenge in itself works miracles — it forces us to defend them.
    If things prove fine after such “stress test,” we learn that we are on the right track. Merely knowing this wipes away uncertainty and replaces it with life and vigor.
    Such is the hidden benefit of open debate — and the reason why institutions elsewhere stagnate and die.
    And no one rushes to save them because people have forgotten long before why they are there in the first place. This is the grave danger John Mill warned us about.
    The fathers of this country gave heed to his words.
    Perhaps the fathers of new democracies should do the same.

  • Wallace Brand

    Faria Mardhani’s logic leaves much to be desired. She needs to learn to use Euler’s circles. Her logic reminds me of this conclusion:

    Major premise, All men are featherless bipeds.

    MInor premise, All plucked chickens are featherless bipeds.

    Contrary to her logic, the ad does not claim all Muslims are savages — only those who murder and terrorize innocent civilians are savages. Compare that quite reasonable statement with the statement that “All Jews are descended from apes and pigs” which you can easily find in Muslim literature.

    Conclusion, All men are plucked chickens.

  • smalltowngirl

    Please interview Pamela Geller to get your story right. And please do not “assume” what is meant by the ad. The words in the ad were carefully chosen and are accurate. Do you deny that killing innocent women and children or beheading innocent, defenseless individuals is not savagery?

  • smalltowngirl

    correction to my last post …should read “do you deny killing…..is savagery?”

  • Stuart Parsons

    ‘The opinion which it is attempted by Authority to suppress, pay possibly be true. Those who wish to suppress it, of course deny its truth, but they are not infallible. John Stuart Mill.

    And those who ‘deny its truth’ are Muslims.

    Muhammad Al-Ghazali ” When it is possible to achieve an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, IT IS PERMISSIBLE TO LIE IF ATTAINING THE GOAL IS PERMISSIBLE.

  • EZ Rider

    Think about this………. If the blasphemy laws were imposed world-wide, the quran would be the first book banned. It’s full of blasphemy.

  • Omar

    In many of the most intolerant, despicable, misogynistic societies on the planet, islam and islamic law functions is the primary source of both government and laws – and is enforced through islamic courts by clerics and imposed by islamic police).

    To say that islam is above criticism or satire is to suggest that we – and more importantly, the reformers and dissidents who come here fleeing such laws (like the incompetent Nakoula) – may never subject them to open criticism, which obviously includes ridicule and satire.

    As non-muslims, islamic peoples believe we do no have the right to govern any part of the earth with our man made laws and our primary responsibility is to simply submit to islam like good dhimmis. Well, just for the record . . . :

    I.
    Will.
    Not.
    Submit.

  • http://islamsfatalflaw.blogspot.com/ Bob Smith

    What a bunch of taquia.

    Typical Muslim double talk. My favorite is the “extension of colonization”.

    I’m sorry but – Islam is Arab religious colonization under fear of death. What makes Pakistani’s (and dozens of other national groups) pray in Arabic and bow towards Mecca?

    The more discussion about the facts of Islam the better.

  • Marbran

    You state that Geller and her AFDI and SOIA attempt to use the terms jihad and Islam interchangeably, but that really exists only in your own mind. Jihad means ‘struggle’, or at least that is what Muslim apologists tell us. But in fact, jihad is the direct fight against all unbelievers, wherever they may be. It says so in the Qur’an. Until Muslims worldwide begin to openly and vociferously denounce the violence that almost universally emanates from the Muslim community, people like Geller will continue to speak out against jihad and anyone who seeks to commit violence under its banner. Why don’t you write a piece denouncing the jihadi violence, Ms. Mardhani?

  • ertdfg

    “If we assume the ad is using Jihad and Islam interchangeably, it implies:

    1. The battle for Israel is a war against all Muslims.
    2. All Muslims are savages.
    3. All Muslims are anti-Israel.
    4. The term Jihad can loosely be defined as the Palestinian perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

    But what if we assume they’re using Jihad and Pudding interchangeably? Then the ad is against a snack/dessert item.

    What? Since we’ve decided to reword the ad to make it different, why is my absurd interpretation less accurate than yours?

    “If any group is targeted by hate speech, its dignity and its right to self-respect is not being protected by national law. ”

    Right, we cannot insult Muslims, or Christians, or Jews, or Atheists, or gays, or men or women or Democrats or Republicans or Politicians, or lawyers, or anyone. Of course Government will protect themselves the most; but having a government silencing all dissent of the government is a small price to pay, right?

    We need a Fascist Dictatorial Government crushing all dissent and imprisoning any who speak out against it for a free and just nation.

    Admit it, you cribbed this from Orwell didn’t you?

  • http://burningbird.net Shelley

    Of course this type of speech is protected. If we say this type of speech is illegal today, than what’s to stop speech from atheists being illegal tomorrow? Or speech critical of the Christian Faith being illegal the next day?

    Our freedom of speech is one of those things our country has done right, right from the beginning.

    You fight hate speech like this with the truth. And you stand on the truth and by the truth and you let the hate just wash around you, like water around a rock. And in the end, the speech will be gone and the truth will be all that’s left standing.

    That’s how you deal with the ignorance, hate, and stupidity of these ads.

  • http://VentrueCapital.blogspot.com John Fast

    “Do values of free speech override the values of equality and of preventing profound personal offense to any singular group?” Yes, I think it’s pretty clear that they do, and should. Leaving aside any other issues with this article — for example, it is the writer of this article, not the writer of the advertisements, who explicitly assumes that “Jihad” is synonymous with all of Islam — I will simply point out that if we outlaw any speech that causes “profound personal offense to any singular group,” then this article itself would be outlawed, because there are people (including myself) who feel profoundly offended by it.

    Perhaps the author should clarify what, if any, other criteria ought to be met in order for something to qualify as “hate speech” that can legitimately be outlawed. And then she ought to discuss how those standards would apply to, say, calls for eliminating the existence of the State of Israel.

    BTW, I’m Jewish, and I’m also libertarian, so I believe the United States government should be neutral in the Middle East, and not supply government aid to any country there.

  • JT

    What if I find this editorial personally offensive? I’ll take slippery slope for $200, Alex.

  • red sweater

    “…these ads are anti-Islamic…”

    No, this author is just anti-reading. The ads explicitly name those whom they label savage: jihadists. If you manage to find that offensive, I’m sorry, no one and nothing can help you.

  • Geist

    We all know that this article would be written from the complete opposite angle if the subway ads were attacking Israel.

  • Robert Fisher

    I think you are confused about the principles behind this country’s Constitution when you state: “If the U.S. government is willing to overlook the dignity of Muslims to uphold what the FDI chooses to call free speech, it has very clearly failed to be a true democracy and protect its citizens.”

    This country IS NOT a true democracy. And that is by design. We have unalienable rights, among those are the right to life, liberty and property.

    We cannot be deprived of these, even if the majority of people wish it to be so. A “true” democracy is nothing more than mob rule. But the Constitution is as much against the tyranny of the mob over the individual as it is against the tyranny of the government against the majority.

    Does that help?

  • donf

    well first and foremost WE IN THE USA ARE NOT I REPEAT ARE A DEMOCRACY We are a constitutional republic and they are not even close

  • aelfheld

    There is no such thing as a ‘right’ to self-respect. That jihadis and their apologists do not respect themselves only indicates they’ve formed an accurate assessment of their worth.

    There is nothing ‘dignified’ about killing 9-year old children with grenades; about throwing acid in the faces of girls; about raping women in Tahrir Square; about hacking the heads off of bound and helpless prisoners.

    Muhammedans fear free speech because it reveals the savagery committed in the name of their so-called prophet, encouraged and sanctioned by that compendium of hate that is the Koran. This ‘holy book’ commands violence against non-Muhammedans – there are no ‘restrictions’ placed on Muhammedans concerning violence, just the reverse.

    If the jihadis and their apologists want to be treated like civilised human beings it is up to them to behave in a civlised fashion – not for the rest of the world to excuse their barbarities.

  • John

    I’d rather hate speech be legal than the regulation of what is and isn’t proper to say.

  • Frodo

    Instead of tagging this under free speech, tag it under creeping sharia

  • Rich

    Thank God I still live in a country where I can call your idiotic arguments idiotic, and where you are free to make your idiotic arguments all day long if you feel like it.

  • http://trueliberalnexus.wordpress.com/ tamerlane

    1) Define “hate speech”;

    2) Read the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech….” ‘NO law’ — get it? Your feelings do not trump the U.S. Constitution;

    3) Glenn Greenwald on free speech:

    “The whole point of the First Amendment is that one is free to express the most marginalized, repellent, provocative and offensive ideas. Those are the views that are always targeted for suppression…. If you’re someone who wants to vest the state with the power to punish the expression of certain views on the grounds that the view is so wrong and/or hurtful that its expression should not be permitted … then you’re someone who does not believe in free speech, by definition; what you believe is that one is free to express only those viewpoints which the majority of citizens (and the State) allow to be expressed.”

    http://www.salon.com/2011/04/04/free_speech_3/

  • David W. Nicholas

    I think I agree with the article’s author. Free speech is only worthwhile if the speaker is inoffensive. All people who slander or criticise the President should be jailed for their racist hate speech.

    Then we can save money by simply dispensing with elections, and just go about our jobs doing what we’re supposed to…

  • Pablo

    If we assume the ad is using Jihad and Islam interchangeably…

    Why would you assume that? Are they the same thing?

  • David

    Interesting. Someone exercising free speech to call for it’s abolition. Just because other countries or despots determine what is acceptable speech doesn’t mean that the United States should join that club. A good number of those countries are third world countries where freedom and individual liberty are unknown concepts. They are free to do as they see fit, but America was founded on the rights of the INDIVIDUAL, not on the control of a centralized government. Our Constitution establishes our government, while the Bill of Rights define what the government can NOT do. The Bill of Rights are not limits on the people, but on the government. Our rights come from God and government has no right to remove them.

    “We must not forget that the United States is first a democracy that promises to protect all of its citizens and treat them with equality. ”

    1st, the U.S. is a Representative Republic, not a democracy. The founders purposefully avoided a democracy. (“Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes itself, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” – Samuel Adams) Being unaware of this obvious fact calls your entire premise into question; it’s based on an incorrect understanding of our form of government.

    Our Declaration of Independence says that all are created equal. We receive equal protection under the law and we have equal opportunity to make the most of our lives (or the worst of them, as many do today). To that end, we all, equally, have the right to speak our minds. There are already limits on speech, such as inciting violence, but to create a “Speech Police” makes the rest of us subjects to the whim of those who decide what we can and cannot say.

    Under your premise, if I were to find your article offensive, I could ask that you be arrested and prosecuted. That’s the pattern in other countries where Christians are killed simply because of their refusal to recant. You call for limits on what people say (because a group’s “dignity and its right to self-respect is not being protected”) but you seem to have no concern about the thousands of men, women, and children that are slaughtered simply because of their beliefs. Speech > Life? I find that to be an abhorrent position. A call to end the murder of those who believe different than Muslims is a far more important task than pulling down “offensive-to-certain-people” ads.

  • Demosthenes

    Let’s see here…

    “We must not forget that the United States is first a *federal republic* that promises to protect *the freedoms of* all of its citizens and treat them *equally*. An *article* like this inherently creates a hierarchy within society, placing the *hecklers and whingers* at the top and the *responsible citizens* underneath. If the U.S. government is willing to overlook the dignity of *Americans* to uphold what *Ms. Mardhani* chooses to call *the protection of their “rights”*, it has very clearly failed to be a true *republic* and protect *the rights of* its citizens.”

    There. Fixed it for you.

  • Momo’s a Pederasta

    No, the US is not “first a democracy.” What are they teaching at NYU? The US is a republic. “If we assume the ad is using jihad and islam interchangeably” wow that is one gonzo whopper of an assumption, but OK, let’s make that jump, hand in hand, and we find that the remedy for speech you find objectionable is still “more speech” not less. And when the man said “more speech” he didn’t mean red spray paint. Or car bombs.

  • Mike

    So if I want to shut down free speech all I have to do is act offended? THIS IS GONNA BE FUN!

  • Tim

    “Humiliation only operates with the consent of the humiliated.”

    I can’t take away your dignity and self-respect with my words. Only you can do that with your reaction to them.

    Buck up. It gets better.

  • Robert Fisher

    Even if we concede the demand on us that free speech should be controlled. Is it reasonable to demand that Islamic nations:
    a) allow free conversions without killing people
    b) stop killing women simply because they are victims of rape
    c) stop allowing Muslims to kill whole Christian communities simply on the basis of a false charge that some Christian has blasphemed the prophet.

    For the record I am an atheist. I think Christianity as a religion is completely bogus. But they should not be treated the way the are treated in Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan.

    Why are my three conditions unreasonable as a precondition to our limiting our freedom of speech? Why? Why? Do you support this treatment? I come from a secular background, but the treatment really horrifies me, and I actively support Voice of the Martyrs who gives them legal and financial help. How do you feel about this?

  • Sparky

    The comments in response to this article have restored my faith in humanity.

  • Bob

    The above article is the perfect example of why the whole notion of “hate speech”is so ridiculous in this country. The author writes:
    “If we assume the ad is using Islam and Jihad interchangeably, it implies:
    The battle for Israel is a war against all Muslims.
    2. All Muslims are savages.
    3. All Muslims are anti-Israel.
    4. The term Jihad can loosely be defined as the Palestinian perspective on the Arab-Israeli conflict”

    Notice the use of the word “implies”. The author can’t even point to the actual text of the ad. So she just blithely assumes, with no evidence, that the author is equating those who wantonly murder Israeli civilians to all Muslims. And that is the whole problem with the ridiculous “hate speech” bullsh**. The government is supposed to censor people because of what some easily offended whiner infers? Give me a break.

    When I read that ad, I read it as a condemnation of Muslims who think it is a-ok to murder civilians because someone draws pictures of Mohammed or points out that pretty much every majority-Muslim country on Earth is an oppressive hell-hole or because a particular person happens to be a Jew. As for the “Palestinian perspective on the Arab-Israeli confilct” (so the author is admitting the entire Arab world has declared war on Israel?), get back to me when the Palestinians start to do something other than bomb civilians in pizza parlors and indiscriminately launch rockets into heavily populated areas, all while cowardly hiding behind human shields. I won’t even get into the shows on Palestinian state-run TV featuring MIckey Mouse-knockoffs exhorting children to murder Jews. If you see a condemnation of such tactics as an attack on all Muslims, then that sure as heck says a lot about your so-called “religion of peace”.

    The only people “clearly insulting the spirit of the First Amendment” are those who think the government should censor people just because you feel offended. Boo hoo, poor little you. Sorry, but this is not a majority-Muslim country; we actually have the freedom to say what we want.

  • Kashif R

    It baffles me to see all the against comments here. Clearly there is a lack of commen sense prevailing, but then again commen sense was never really ‘common’.

    Free speech is fine but using it to incite hatred is TRULY an evil action. There can never be any good intent associated. The US dept. of justice and others should definitely barr such evil intended actions and clearly communicate the TRUE spirit of FREE Speech.

    Great Article Faria, am proud that people like you are voicing up. Ignorance about different faiths leads to ignorance in rationalization of them as well. You have done muslims proud and keep up the good work. Remember, we can only win hearts by being good and true muslims and this article and the intent is at the core of that. Thank you and i completely support all arguments highlighted in your article.

    Do not despair of feel disheartened, for wisdom is only for those who yearn to seek it.

  • Shazia

    I think author, Faria Mardhani’s view is being mis-interpretted by many readers here. She is trying to emphasize on the fact that religion should not be confused with politics. She is not necessarily pointing at any particular religious group here and she is trying to bring up facts for discussion

  • Larry Flynt

    “At the heart of the First Amendment is the recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty– and thus a good unto itself– but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole. We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.”
    [Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988)]

    • J. Ambrose

      I think we need to inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union, but oddly enough a foreign country.

      “Support Israel … ” is to support bellicosity, murder, plunder and pillage.

      The slogan should read something like “Don’t support the Israel and don’t support the Taliban”. Both names spell disaster for civilian population. How is that for free speech.

  • Shazma

    After reading Faria Mardhani’s article on free speech, I really feel like she has written this article based on what she has observed and what her values are. Sure, everyone has their own way of viewing religion (which is absolutely acceptable; no doubt about it) but one should also accept and consider what others have to say. Faria has guts to stand up and fight for legal rights. I truly admire it because there are folks who back off due to fear. Faria is speaking the truth; one should have a high regard of it. All the points in the article are based on facts and everyone should learn how to face the reality versus dreaming in the fantasy world. No hard feelings.

    Beautifully written; thank you for all your thoughts author!!! Truly appreciate it :)

  • Shama

    The issue with the ad that the author is trying to highlight is that the terminology used, “Jihad” is incorrect. Jihad is a term that is widely misused and misunderstood. Jihad is a religious duty of Muslims. It describes the inner spiritual and outer physical struggle of an individual to better themselves as a person. (Go look it up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihad)

    This society views Jihad as fighting. This is the coin-phrase that the media has picked up and it has infested the society. The Quran, however, never uses the term Jihad for fighting and combat in the name of Allah; qital is used to mean “fighting.” In the ad, replace the word Jihad with Fighting, you portray the same meaning without disgracing all Muslims. There is no doubt that wording of this ad was chosen very wisely and implications were meant to be made. The implications of this ad are what the author is trying to fight. The implications are:
    1. The battle for Israel is a war against all Muslims.
    2. All Muslims are savages.
    3. All Muslims are anti-Israel.

    I believe it is my right to speak up against these implications. They are threatening.

    I believe in the freedom of speech – it is what I am exercising now as I write my comment – but I also believe that that right should not be abused, as this ad does.

    The misinterpretation of Islam is evident by most of the comments left here.

  • salt of the earth

    Most of the responses to this article have resorted to Islam/Muslim bashing vs debating the author’s arguments. I personally do not agree with the conclusions being drawn by Faria’s article for reasons that only a few intelligent responses have highlighted. However, I must say that with regards to the ad, it is pure propaganda. Any reasonable, unbiased person will see through it. The ad trivializes a complex issue & paints one side as good & the other evil & picks who is good. It also misleads people by portraying a political issue as a religious issue (with specific use of the word Jihad) to incite an emotional response vs a rational inquiry.
    Based on the anti Islam/anti Muslim rhetoric I see in most of the responses to Faria’s article, I must say that the propaganda of American Freedom Defense Initiative seems to be working. Faria’s conclusions may have been wrong, but her fears are well placed.

  • keepmehonest

    Amen to free speech.

    Anyone who deprives innocent people of their lives deserves the same fate.

    An attempt to play on people emotions and by inciting hatred to promote Israeli agenda is deplorable. Shame on them for doing so. Shame on us for buying into this propaganda. This has nothing to do with religion.

    Would you not protect your land from occupation ?

    Were native Americans not called “savages” to justify their extermination from the land they lived on for centuries ?

    • Freedom Lover

      First terrorist attack in Palestine during British rule was led by the same man who became Israel’s first prime minister. Then he was a statesman. If Israel was not formed and if jews were still struggling for their homeland, arabs would have called them terrorists too. Millions in West bank and Gaza are crying and dying for freedom since 1967 and here we are debating on freedom of speech. Looks like we are first class humans.

      • Carlos

        But how did the Palestinians claim “Palestine” in the first place, may I ask, if not through bloodshed and conquest? The Arabs are morally superior? They value democracy more than Israel?

  • Donnie

    The comments on this are racist,full of shit,and show no thought or real world experience. What the ad’s are advocating for is hate speech. Pamela Geller is an outspoken racist and it’s not a secret what her motivs where with her ad’s.These ad’s follow a line of thought that has led down to harm and oppress Muslim communities in the U.S. for years. Freedom of speech is nice, but open ended oppression that leads to the denial of other freedoms isn’t. Support the oppressed and defeat the…

    • Carlos

      There are also Muslim-Americans who commit terrorist acts within the US. Do Jewish or Hindu Americans do so in this nation?

  • Suneyla Kirloskar

    Freedom of Speech can NEVER be taken too far. Problems arise when the contrary is true, where people are forced to shut up and scared to voice their opinions.

  • Carlos

    Faria, baby, it’s great you have free speech in our nation rather than your ancestor’s homeland, but let’s not go too far with the biased articles, KK?

  • Ryan

    If you support free speech, you support it for the ideas that you hate. Otherwise you do not support free speech at all.

  • Asian

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Felipe De La Hoz

Multimedia Editor | Felipe De La Hoz is a Colombian national studying journalism at the College of Arts and Sciences. Having been born in Colombia and raised in the United States, Mexico and Brazil, Felipe is a trilingual travel aficionado and enjoys working in varied and difficult environments. Apart from his photography, Felipe enjoys investigative reporting and interviews, interviewing the likes of Colombian ex-M-19 guerrilla fighters and controversial politician Jimmy McMillan. He has covered everything from governmental conferences to full-blown riots, as well as portraiture shoots and dining photography. Having worked under Brazilian photojournalists for Reuters and AFP, Felipe hopes to one day work on demanding journalistic projects and contribute to the global news cycle.

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Ann Schmidt

News Editor | Ann is a liberal studies sophomore who lived in Florence during her freshman year. She plans on double-majoring in journalism and political science and is always busy. She is constantly making lists and she loves to laugh.

 

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Daniel Yeom

Daniel started at the Features desk of WSN last Spring, writing restaurant reviews whilst indulging on free food and consequently getting fat. Last Fall, he was the dining editor, and he this semester he is senior editor. Daniel is in Gallatin (living the dream) studying Food & Travel Narratives, incorporating aspects of Food Studies, Journalism, and Media, Culture, and Communication. He loves food more than life itself.

Hannah Luu

Deputy Multimedia Editor | Hannah Luu is a ridiculously great Deputy Multimedia Editor. She is a sophomore from Northern California. If you think Northern California means San Francisco you might need to closely examine a map. She is passionate about NPR and being half Asian.

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