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A new blasphemy battle is coming Highly discriminate violence is on the rise

'If Rushdie hasn’t quite lived up to the hopes invested in him, his liberal critics have even less to recommend them.' (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for PEN America)

'If Rushdie hasn’t quite lived up to the hopes invested in him, his liberal critics have even less to recommend them.' (Cindy Ord/Getty Images for PEN America)


July 6, 2023   6 mins

Last summer, Sir Salman Rushdie told a German magazine that some normality was finally returning to his life. Two weeks later, he was stabbed multiple times on stage in New York. The incident was a cruel reminder that, despite all the time elapsed and normality resumed, the fatwa against him was every bit as valid as the day it was announced: Valentine’s Day, 1989.

It seems almost certain that more blood will be spilled in the West over blasphemy. Meanwhile, with each new “affair”, the noose around expression is tightened, and people take greater pains to err on the right side of the assassin’s veto. This means that, in effect, well-meaning people and institutions come to accept the logic of the fatwa, but the more we accept it, the lower the bar for extremist allegations drops and, perversely, the more likely violence becomes.

As a new blasphemy controversy bubbles away in Sweden, I wanted to isolate and examine the particular strand of Islamist violence aimed at those perceived to have blasphemed. For the Counter Extremism Project, I identified 71 successful attacks, plots and threat campaigns against individuals or institutions believed to have insulted Islam or the Prophet. (It’s likely there are more.) There are distinct phases to the violence, starting with the years-long global campaign of assassinations and bombings connected to The Satanic Verses. Like a pharaonic curse, catastrophe strikes those connected to the book one by one: bookshops are bombed in London, California and New York; an imam is assassinated in Brussels; a man blows himself up preparing a bomb in a Paddington hotel.

The recurring theme of this first wave of violence is the complete abyss of information. Few suspects are ever charged and, despite the ferocity of the incidents, this suggests there is a professionalism to the attacks, rather than mere anger and opportunism. The CIA was under few illusions about who was behind it, in 1992 reporting that “Iran has shifted from attacking organisations affiliated with the novel — publishing houses and bookstores — to individuals involved in its publication, as called for in the original fatwa”.

In 1991, the novel’s Italian translator was stabbed multiple times but survived, while the Japanese translator was not so lucky: Hitoshi Igarashi was killed in a stabbing frenzy outside his office at Tsukuba university. In 1993, Rushdie’s Norwegian publisher and defender, William Nygaard, was shot and left for dead, requiring months in hospital. The single worst act of violence unfolded that same year, in Turkey, where a secularist activist who translated excerpts of the novel was targeted by a riled-up mob, which set the Madimak hotel ablaze. Their target, Aziz Nesin, escaped the inferno, but 37 innocents did not.

Later, in the early 2000s, Europe’s emerging jihadist movement took up the mantle of the defence of Islam and the Prophet. The first warning signs were the targeting of San Petronio Basilica in Bologna, home to a 15th-century depiction of Muhammad. In Amsterdam, in 2004, one of Europe’s very first dealings with domestic jihadist terror was also the continent’s first exposure to jihadist blasphemy violence: the murder of Theo van Gogh. With Ayaan Hirsi Ali, he had created a film that portrayed verses from the Quran on the naked bodies of women. For this, he was stabbed, shot and nearly decapitated in broad daylight by a 24-year-old named Mohammed Bouyeri, who afterwards plunged a letter saturated with religious fury into his victim’s chest.

Bouyeri was part of a Dutch network of Salafi jihadists, which, according to his contemporary Jason Walters, was gripped by internal division over whether to focus on proselytising at home, travelling to fight American occupiers in Iraq, or launching attacks in Europe. Bouyeri unilaterally ended the debate with van Gogh’s assassination, after which authorities broke up the network. Walters tells me that even among those who opposed attacks, the murder of van Gogh was deemed legitimate (if strategically disastrous): the filmmaker had insulted Islam.

The following year, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in an experimental commentary on freedom of speech relating to Islam. Global unrest ensued, claiming some 200 lives. Closer to home, the impact of the cartoons affair cannot be overstated. As the data shows, plots and attacks targeting Jyllands-Posten or individual cartoonists in Denmark lasted almost a decade, until civil war in Syria grabbed the attention of Europe’s Islamists and jihadists. In fact, during the mid-2000s to 2010s, Denmark, with just six million inhabitants, was targeted more often than the United States, the traditional enemy of al-Qaeda. Denmark and Sweden were also disproportionately affected by departures for Islamic State, years later — a fact that dismantles the myth that Scandinavian countries do not suffer homegrown jihadist radicalisation due to their egalitarianism and lack of either colonial history or adventurist foreign policy.

Some of these plots were directed from overseas, such as the 2009 plans by Pakistani-American 40-something David Headley. Headley, who previously helped orchestrate the 2008 Mumbai massacre, wanted to take hostages inside Jyllands-Posten and throw severed heads from the windows to the street below. But plenty of plots were homegrown: domestic jihadists deemed the “covenants of security” with their host nations were null and void, because the cartoons constituted acts of war against Islam.

This interpretation of blasphemy is recurrent: addressing the Danish cartoons, Osama bin Laden declared that the West’s killing of Muslim women and children paled in comparison to Jyllands-Posten’s crimes: “This is the more serious tragedy,” he said in an audio message, “and the reckoning will be more severe.” Likewise, the first issue of al-Qaeda’s English language magazine made clear that killing one of the cartoonists would be an even “greater cause than fighting for Palestine, Afghanistan or Iraq”.

Similarly exaggerated equivalences have reappeared in later affairs. The man who led the campaign of accusations against Samuel Paty, the teacher who was beheaded after showing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a class on free speech, warned that “tolerating” Paty’s actions could lead to a Srebrenica for French Muslims. Indeed, even a UK-registered charity mentioned the genocide of Rohingya Muslims and a Batley schoolteacher showing a Charlie Hebdo cartoon, in the same breath.

Delving into the nature of the plots is revealing. As much as jihadist violence is associated with mass casualty attacks, discriminate violence targeted at blasphemers or other perceived enemies of Islam account for a large share of total terror plots, prior to Isis. When those targets are identified, the violence is excessive and notably vicious, even by jihadist standards. Theo van Gogh was, to use the words of Ian Buruma, “slaughtered like a sacrificial animal”, for instance.

In these attacks, the violence goes well beyond the infliction of death, which can just as well be achieved by a single bullet. It is designed to humiliate, degrade and punish transgressors through extreme violence and dismemberment. For all the apparent “tradecraft”, the same characteristics can be observed among Iranian assassins in the early Satanic Verses campaign. In Britain, the pitiless stomping to death of a former imam in Rochdale accused of black magic, and the knifing of a Glaswegian shopkeeper by a follower of Pakistan’s spiralling anti-blasphemy movements, are results of the same frenzied violence.

It is this increasingly animated blasphemy fervour, emanating from Pakistan, that Britain cannot afford to ignore, given that Iranian operations and jihadist plots continue on British soil. It is the underlying force behind the controversies involving the Batley schoolteacher; last summer’s protests outside Cineworld screenings of The Lady of Heaven, a British-made epic that became the first film to show the “face” of the Prophet Muhammad; and the more recent “Quran-scuffing” incident in a Wakefield school.

In fact, clashes like these, as well as highly discriminate violence, may come to characterise the post-Isis era. Compared with the model of violence unleashed at Manchester Arena and the Bataclan, violence against “blasphemers” inspires a much wider constituency of sympathisers, apologists and relativists — precisely the oxygen terrorism needs to survive. This apologia has, at times, even extended well into the Western media. Terrorists learn, and they will not have overlooked the massive global controversy which followed the killing of Paty. In short, blasphemy violence is not only righteous and obligatory, it better serves the interests of the various extremists competing and jostling as defenders of Islam.

Admittedly, the story of blasphemy violence is not limited to attacks, which are merely the most visible and visceral part of the equation. Nor is the story of blasphemy violence simply one of intentionally vulgar and offensive cartoons, the loss of which from the public square few commentators will mourn. The Jewel of Medina was a historical novel, which lost its publisher. The Lady of Heaven was a film made by Muslims for Muslims, yet was pulled from British cinemas. The professor who lost her job was teaching a masterpiece of Persian art.

And these are just the cases we know of. Every book never written, every painting never painted, every critique never voiced and every historical inquiry never made: that is the true story of blasphemy violence.


Liam Duffy is a researcher, speaker and trainer in counter-terrorism based in London.

LiamSD12

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Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago

It seems to me that the whole “offence” and “hate-speech” industry started with the Rushdie fatwa; or certainly brought such concepts to the front of the public imagination as never before. In that sense, every time someone cites “hate-speech” they’re pandering to the medieval worldview of Islamists. This is why we must resist such concepts with every fibre of our being.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Indeed “hate-speech” is simply a version of blasphemy laws introduced to support woke theology. We should return to the robust version of “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” except where those words are encouraging the breaking of bones.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

An alternative approach is to be respectful of other people’s deeply profound belief’s and not ridicule them with ridiculous fictional characters and narratives. Why create depictions of the Prophet Mohammed for example if you know this is going to be extremely offensive? Just leave it alone for goodness sake.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

If you oppose the theology of the woke or militant Islam ridicule is an important way to highlighting the absurdities of the belief systems. I am sure you or those who share your beliefs will have no hesitation in ridiculing beliefs that I profoundly hold such as the importance of free speech, the family and the rule of law.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

It’s precisely that “leave it alone” attitude that led to the grooming gangs getting away with their despicable activities unchecked for so long.

Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Robbie K was (I think) simply saying don’t go out of your way (in the first place) to offend and provoke Islam. He was not (I think) advocating “leave it alone” as a response to appalling things like the Grooming gangs (which are still a massive problem). Whilst going out of one’s way to provoke Islam seems nutty to me, I feel strongly that we need to be much fiercer and more fearless in our defence of our cherished liberties, way of life, and the rule of law.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago
Reply to  Caroline Ayers

I think you ignore the fact that it is a war. As their numbers grow they will become more vociferous
On my old route in to work ay poster displaying female flesh is quickly sprayed over. They will not be satisfied until you wearing a burka.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
10 months ago
Reply to  Caroline Ayers

I think you ignore the fact that it is a war. As their numbers grow they will become more vociferous
On my old route in to work ay poster displaying female flesh is quickly sprayed over. They will not be satisfied until you wearing a burka.

Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Robbie K was (I think) simply saying don’t go out of your way (in the first place) to offend and provoke Islam. He was not (I think) advocating “leave it alone” as a response to appalling things like the Grooming gangs (which are still a massive problem). Whilst going out of one’s way to provoke Islam seems nutty to me, I feel strongly that we need to be much fiercer and more fearless in our defence of our cherished liberties, way of life, and the rule of law.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Muhammed was a paedo.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

It’s called freedom of speech, Robbie. The hallmark of free societies everywhere.
Would you also suggest that the Jews in Germany in the late 1930’s should have simply left the country so as not to offend the locals? And perhaps the freed slaves in the U.S. should have hopped a ship back to Africa so as not to offend the plantation owners? And perhaps all Protestants should apologize to Catholics and relinquish their faith? What about all LBGTQAAI+-~…. apologize for offending all people of faith? You would have made a very good apparatchik back in the day!

Last edited 10 months ago by Warren Trees
Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

No of course Robbie K wouldn’t! What happened to nuanced discussion?

Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

No of course Robbie K wouldn’t! What happened to nuanced discussion?

Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Heh I’m trying to like your comment Rob K but if I do so it comes out as a dislike!!! So there’s something bizarre going on with the UnHerd algorithm/website – I agree with everyone else that actually you have to be a free speech absolutist, and I think your comment conflicts with that, but I have so much sympathy with your comment! Anyway, I take my hat off to any nutter that tries to offend Islam through cartoons etc because they are SO brave. I just feel more comfortable defending to the hilt the cases where the offence was caused without such intent eg the school teacher illustrating freedom of speech, the Muslim film for muslims etc. But we actually have to defend to the hilt every case even where for example, the qu’ran has been shown on naked women’s bodies, but I just wish people wouldn’t do the latter sort of provocation (much as I massively admire and respect Ayan Hirs Ali) …..

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Caroline Ayers

Ah well, even the system hates me!
I agree for free speech that one has to accept being offended by other’s views. There are caveats though are there not? Especially around religion.
Anyone familiar with the controversial passages in Satanic Verses shouldn’t refer to them as free speech. It’s a work of fiction for a start, and draws on Islamic characters in a particularly distasteful manner. It’s a thoroughly nasty book by design.

Marissa M
Marissa M
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Then there should be no ridiculing of any faith. Why avoid Islam because of fear of reprisal but attack Christianity (in films, movies, books) because you know you can get away with it?

Marissa M
Marissa M
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Then there should be no ridiculing of any faith. Why avoid Islam because of fear of reprisal but attack Christianity (in films, movies, books) because you know you can get away with it?

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Caroline Ayers

Ah well, even the system hates me!
I agree for free speech that one has to accept being offended by other’s views. There are caveats though are there not? Especially around religion.
Anyone familiar with the controversial passages in Satanic Verses shouldn’t refer to them as free speech. It’s a work of fiction for a start, and draws on Islamic characters in a particularly distasteful manner. It’s a thoroughly nasty book by design.

tim williams
tim williams
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Live not by lies

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

If you oppose the theology of the woke or militant Islam ridicule is an important way to highlighting the absurdities of the belief systems. I am sure you or those who share your beliefs will have no hesitation in ridiculing beliefs that I profoundly hold such as the importance of free speech, the family and the rule of law.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

It’s precisely that “leave it alone” attitude that led to the grooming gangs getting away with their despicable activities unchecked for so long.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Muhammed was a paedo.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

It’s called freedom of speech, Robbie. The hallmark of free societies everywhere.
Would you also suggest that the Jews in Germany in the late 1930’s should have simply left the country so as not to offend the locals? And perhaps the freed slaves in the U.S. should have hopped a ship back to Africa so as not to offend the plantation owners? And perhaps all Protestants should apologize to Catholics and relinquish their faith? What about all LBGTQAAI+-~…. apologize for offending all people of faith? You would have made a very good apparatchik back in the day!

Last edited 10 months ago by Warren Trees
Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Heh I’m trying to like your comment Rob K but if I do so it comes out as a dislike!!! So there’s something bizarre going on with the UnHerd algorithm/website – I agree with everyone else that actually you have to be a free speech absolutist, and I think your comment conflicts with that, but I have so much sympathy with your comment! Anyway, I take my hat off to any nutter that tries to offend Islam through cartoons etc because they are SO brave. I just feel more comfortable defending to the hilt the cases where the offence was caused without such intent eg the school teacher illustrating freedom of speech, the Muslim film for muslims etc. But we actually have to defend to the hilt every case even where for example, the qu’ran has been shown on naked women’s bodies, but I just wish people wouldn’t do the latter sort of provocation (much as I massively admire and respect Ayan Hirs Ali) …..

tim williams
tim williams
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Live not by lies

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Whether or not your causal theory is true, which it may well be, your final sentence is absolutely correct, which is why I increasingly go out of my way to cause as much offence to the woke scum as possible.

David Jory
David Jory
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

An example of a new concept: antinominative determinism.
I like that.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  David Jory

Haha! I take it you’re referring to my unfortunate surname.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  David Jory

Haha! I take it you’re referring to my unfortunate surname.

David Jory
David Jory
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

An example of a new concept: antinominative determinism.
I like that.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The industry did take off, as it were, at approximately that time, Steve, and you’re certainly correct in identifying secular outcries against “hate-speech” with the religious notion of “blasphemy.” But I think that the origin of this secular conflict over the past half-century, at least in the United States and Canada, is more complicated than reaction to the fatwa.
It’s true that some people in the West reacted to the fatwa by insisting on freedom of speech, freedom of the press and so on. But others, in the 1980s, either ignored the fatwa or found politically expedient excuses for it and redoubled their own efforts to limit freedom of speech or other forms of communication (albeit with other targets in mind).
Among the latter were feminists, for instance, who were already writing speech codes for their universities or rewriting laws to prevent “hostile work environments” and pornography. (By this time, the expression “political correctness” had become common, first without irony and then with irony.) I became aware of all this while doing research on cultural perceptions of men: reading countless books and articles that would have been ferociously denounced as hate-literature had the word “men” been replaced by “women” (or Jews, blacks and so forth) and either censored or banned accordingly.
Meanwhile, or even slightly earlier, Jews were lobbying to prevent antisemitic speech. The latter was eventually defined morally and legally in connection with either hostility directed uniquely toward Israel or “holocaust denial.” That effort has led us directly to the counter-productive notion that denial of any “scientific” or political orthodoxy should be illegal, which makes it a social good for governments to persecute those who spread “misinformation” (or its variants).

Last edited 10 months ago by Paul Nathanson
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

“denounced as hate-literature had the word “men” been replaced by “women””
That was the point where women and blacks in the West, found it convenient to both control speech in the name of “safety” as you point out…..
But also defined hate, bigotry, discrimination etc not in terms of content or actions (which could be directed at anyone) but in terms of groups. Ie, you could be as hateful as you want against white men, while anything mildly beyond the increasingly restrictive rules against women or blacks was wrong.

That’s why the current trans fracas is funny. Because they are using the world view, tactics of feminists and turned it against women.

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Interesting. Your earlier excellent comment referring, quite rightly, to the historical brutality resulting from some of the dangerously hateful contents of the Quran has been taken down (cancelled?).

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  james goater

Ha.
Somebody pointed out some verses in the Bible which have objectionable references to violence. But I bet that wasn’t what was deemed to be offensive!

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  james goater

Ha.
Somebody pointed out some verses in the Bible which have objectionable references to violence. But I bet that wasn’t what was deemed to be offensive!

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Interesting. Your earlier excellent comment referring, quite rightly, to the historical brutality resulting from some of the dangerously hateful contents of the Quran has been taken down (cancelled?).

J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Excellent post.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

“denounced as hate-literature had the word “men” been replaced by “women””
That was the point where women and blacks in the West, found it convenient to both control speech in the name of “safety” as you point out…..
But also defined hate, bigotry, discrimination etc not in terms of content or actions (which could be directed at anyone) but in terms of groups. Ie, you could be as hateful as you want against white men, while anything mildly beyond the increasingly restrictive rules against women or blacks was wrong.

That’s why the current trans fracas is funny. Because they are using the world view, tactics of feminists and turned it against women.

J Bryant
J Bryant
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

Excellent post.

R S Foster
R S Foster
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

…as some of us said at the time, the Bradford book-burners should have been locked up for sedition…because such actions were clearly and explicitly an incitement to rebel against the freedoms defended by the state…and then, if possible, deported…they almost certainly held Pakistani as well as British Passports…and Sir Salman Rushdie should have been given a peerage, and his book added to the next years A-level reading list…
…a decisive statement of intent then would have saved a great deal of trouble later…

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Indeed “hate-speech” is simply a version of blasphemy laws introduced to support woke theology. We should return to the robust version of “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me” except where those words are encouraging the breaking of bones.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

An alternative approach is to be respectful of other people’s deeply profound belief’s and not ridicule them with ridiculous fictional characters and narratives. Why create depictions of the Prophet Mohammed for example if you know this is going to be extremely offensive? Just leave it alone for goodness sake.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Whether or not your causal theory is true, which it may well be, your final sentence is absolutely correct, which is why I increasingly go out of my way to cause as much offence to the woke scum as possible.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

The industry did take off, as it were, at approximately that time, Steve, and you’re certainly correct in identifying secular outcries against “hate-speech” with the religious notion of “blasphemy.” But I think that the origin of this secular conflict over the past half-century, at least in the United States and Canada, is more complicated than reaction to the fatwa.
It’s true that some people in the West reacted to the fatwa by insisting on freedom of speech, freedom of the press and so on. But others, in the 1980s, either ignored the fatwa or found politically expedient excuses for it and redoubled their own efforts to limit freedom of speech or other forms of communication (albeit with other targets in mind).
Among the latter were feminists, for instance, who were already writing speech codes for their universities or rewriting laws to prevent “hostile work environments” and pornography. (By this time, the expression “political correctness” had become common, first without irony and then with irony.) I became aware of all this while doing research on cultural perceptions of men: reading countless books and articles that would have been ferociously denounced as hate-literature had the word “men” been replaced by “women” (or Jews, blacks and so forth) and either censored or banned accordingly.
Meanwhile, or even slightly earlier, Jews were lobbying to prevent antisemitic speech. The latter was eventually defined morally and legally in connection with either hostility directed uniquely toward Israel or “holocaust denial.” That effort has led us directly to the counter-productive notion that denial of any “scientific” or political orthodoxy should be illegal, which makes it a social good for governments to persecute those who spread “misinformation” (or its variants).

Last edited 10 months ago by Paul Nathanson
R S Foster
R S Foster
10 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

…as some of us said at the time, the Bradford book-burners should have been locked up for sedition…because such actions were clearly and explicitly an incitement to rebel against the freedoms defended by the state…and then, if possible, deported…they almost certainly held Pakistani as well as British Passports…and Sir Salman Rushdie should have been given a peerage, and his book added to the next years A-level reading list…
…a decisive statement of intent then would have saved a great deal of trouble later…

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago

It seems to me that the whole “offence” and “hate-speech” industry started with the Rushdie fatwa; or certainly brought such concepts to the front of the public imagination as never before. In that sense, every time someone cites “hate-speech” they’re pandering to the medieval worldview of Islamists. This is why we must resist such concepts with every fibre of our being.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago

Christians have back in the 16th century been sufficiently exercised about blasphemy to kill but, as this article concerning Calvin’s uncompromising approach to theological differences suggests such murders for blasphemy have usually been part of an official judicial process. https://www.reenactingtheway.com/blog/john-calvin-had-people-killed-and-bad-bible-interpretation-justified-it

What is striking about Muslim religious mania is that such assassinations for blasphemy are so often carried out by individuals or Muslim mobs entirely outside any local formal judicial process and this seems to be frequently supported by Muslims.

Unless we in the West are prepared to punish not only the assassins but their vocal supporters we will not be rid of these outrages. The rule of law must be vigorously defended against those who support non-judicial assassinations.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Your link is incredibly misleading vis-a-vis Calvin. His views on blasphemy were not only very nuanced, but also in many respects more tolerant than those held by his contemporaries.
Servetus, for example, was not killed because of some personal grudge Calvin had against him, but because he had been trying to undermine basic Christian doctrine for decades everywhere he went. He was on the run from every authority in European and had already been sentenced to death by the Catholic Inquisition. The parallel in our time is more akin to how, in times of war, ‘free speech’ interacts with ‘sedition’ – this is a hotly contested issue that even free speechers like myself acknowledge to be difficult to resolve.
Getting back to Calvin, though, read his letter of Jan. 24, 1564 to Renee, the Duchess of Ferrara, to get a better idea of his views on charity towards his theological opponents. In that letter he chastises Renee (who viewed herself as his disciple) for assuming that her son-in-law (the Duke of Guise) was going to hell for his actions… even though the Duke was a staunch Catholic who had been killing Calvinists! Calvin concludes the letter by praising Renee for preventing her subjects from vandalizing the property of their (and his) theological opponents. As he says at the end of the letter, “Hatred and Christianity are incompatible.”

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Thank you for your defence of Calvin and providing another aspect of his character. I am no Calvin scholar and merely referenced the article because it highlighted that in Europe of the 16th century when religious passions were at their height the matter was dealt with judicially rather than by individuals responding to a fatwa or mob violence.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Thank you for your defence of Calvin and providing another aspect of his character. I am no Calvin scholar and merely referenced the article because it highlighted that in Europe of the 16th century when religious passions were at their height the matter was dealt with judicially rather than by individuals responding to a fatwa or mob violence.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I completely agree with you but I see no chance whatsoever of this happening because everyone, leaders included, is so scared of reprisals. It’s too late I fear, we had our chance at the very beginning but we displayed much cowardice over Salman Rushdie with many non Muslims blaming him. That was the moment resolution by the West was needed.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Your link is incredibly misleading vis-a-vis Calvin. His views on blasphemy were not only very nuanced, but also in many respects more tolerant than those held by his contemporaries.
Servetus, for example, was not killed because of some personal grudge Calvin had against him, but because he had been trying to undermine basic Christian doctrine for decades everywhere he went. He was on the run from every authority in European and had already been sentenced to death by the Catholic Inquisition. The parallel in our time is more akin to how, in times of war, ‘free speech’ interacts with ‘sedition’ – this is a hotly contested issue that even free speechers like myself acknowledge to be difficult to resolve.
Getting back to Calvin, though, read his letter of Jan. 24, 1564 to Renee, the Duchess of Ferrara, to get a better idea of his views on charity towards his theological opponents. In that letter he chastises Renee (who viewed herself as his disciple) for assuming that her son-in-law (the Duke of Guise) was going to hell for his actions… even though the Duke was a staunch Catholic who had been killing Calvinists! Calvin concludes the letter by praising Renee for preventing her subjects from vandalizing the property of their (and his) theological opponents. As he says at the end of the letter, “Hatred and Christianity are incompatible.”

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I completely agree with you but I see no chance whatsoever of this happening because everyone, leaders included, is so scared of reprisals. It’s too late I fear, we had our chance at the very beginning but we displayed much cowardice over Salman Rushdie with many non Muslims blaming him. That was the moment resolution by the West was needed.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago

Christians have back in the 16th century been sufficiently exercised about blasphemy to kill but, as this article concerning Calvin’s uncompromising approach to theological differences suggests such murders for blasphemy have usually been part of an official judicial process. https://www.reenactingtheway.com/blog/john-calvin-had-people-killed-and-bad-bible-interpretation-justified-it

What is striking about Muslim religious mania is that such assassinations for blasphemy are so often carried out by individuals or Muslim mobs entirely outside any local formal judicial process and this seems to be frequently supported by Muslims.

Unless we in the West are prepared to punish not only the assassins but their vocal supporters we will not be rid of these outrages. The rule of law must be vigorously defended against those who support non-judicial assassinations.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Simon Neale
Simon Neale
10 months ago

Excellent article. Mr. Duffy is to be commended for his research. Having it all set out like this helps remind us of the scale and severity of the problem, when it would otherwise just fade into the background as we await the next atrocity.
Our politicians and opinion leaders invited the tiger to tea, and now they rap us across the knuckles if we mention the beast’s presence and appalling table manners. Don’t look at it, don’t make a fuss, because it will react badly if we do.
What appalling cowardly spineless idiots we have had as politicians.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I agree though I think there is a lot more that can be added here. Around the same time as the Danish cartoons, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address in Regensburg University, which following the next Friday in Mosques globally became an object of horror from the Islamic world due a quotation from a 15th century Byzantine emperor while we were used to witnessing the posting of videos of western ex pats who had been taken captive in the Middle East were they were working being decapitated. And you are correct, it seems throughout the west, we have to adopt a ‘don’t make a fuss’ line.

Peadar Laighléis
Peadar Laighléis
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

I agree though I think there is a lot more that can be added here. Around the same time as the Danish cartoons, Pope Benedict XVI gave an address in Regensburg University, which following the next Friday in Mosques globally became an object of horror from the Islamic world due a quotation from a 15th century Byzantine emperor while we were used to witnessing the posting of videos of western ex pats who had been taken captive in the Middle East were they were working being decapitated. And you are correct, it seems throughout the west, we have to adopt a ‘don’t make a fuss’ line.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
10 months ago

Excellent article. Mr. Duffy is to be commended for his research. Having it all set out like this helps remind us of the scale and severity of the problem, when it would otherwise just fade into the background as we await the next atrocity.
Our politicians and opinion leaders invited the tiger to tea, and now they rap us across the knuckles if we mention the beast’s presence and appalling table manners. Don’t look at it, don’t make a fuss, because it will react badly if we do.
What appalling cowardly spineless idiots we have had as politicians.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago

This is obviously in large part an issue with Muslim culture, immigration, etc. – but I also see this as a free speech issue. Back when The Satanic Verses came out, PEN and other organizations dedicated to free creative expression were staunch defenders of Rushdie. Now those same organizations tremble and quail at the thought someone might publish something racist or homophobic.
No, you’re either a free-speech absolutist, or you’re on the side of the fatwa issuers. And part of the fragility of our society is seen in the fact that rather than take a strong stand for free speech, many now think free speech is too dangerous and harmful to be allowed. Sure, they want to protect Pride Flag allies from hearing things they don’t want to hear… but that’s the same thing the Ayatollah wants. What happened to ‘stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’?
I take it as evidence of the robustness, coherence, and stability of my own sacred cows that I do not turn against free speech when they come under public attack or derision. People take the Lord’s name in vain daily, and it prompts no political explosion from me.

Last edited 10 months ago by Kirk Susong
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Indeed it is the fact that those responsible for mocking Pride flags and the other shibboleths of the woke risk being the subject of hate speech laws that mark woke ideology out as being an old fashioned quasi-religion whose tenets cannot be questioned.

Beliefs should always be open to criticism and mockery. It is the way that we attempt to distinguish the true from the false. If you are convinced of the righteousness of your belief mockery and criticism should be like water of a duck’s back.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Arguably the most intelligent response to this excellent article.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Excellent, Kirk. I’m so glad that you’ve made the inherent connection between religious intolerance in many Islamic societies and secular intolerance in our own. The author doesn’t explicitly make this connection, but might well have done so in a longer article.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

The clash of the intolerances is imminent.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
10 months ago
Reply to  Paul Nathanson

The clash of the intolerances is imminent.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Indeed it is the fact that those responsible for mocking Pride flags and the other shibboleths of the woke risk being the subject of hate speech laws that mark woke ideology out as being an old fashioned quasi-religion whose tenets cannot be questioned.

Beliefs should always be open to criticism and mockery. It is the way that we attempt to distinguish the true from the false. If you are convinced of the righteousness of your belief mockery and criticism should be like water of a duck’s back.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Arguably the most intelligent response to this excellent article.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
10 months ago
Reply to  Kirk Susong

Excellent, Kirk. I’m so glad that you’ve made the inherent connection between religious intolerance in many Islamic societies and secular intolerance in our own. The author doesn’t explicitly make this connection, but might well have done so in a longer article.

Kirk Susong
Kirk Susong
10 months ago

This is obviously in large part an issue with Muslim culture, immigration, etc. – but I also see this as a free speech issue. Back when The Satanic Verses came out, PEN and other organizations dedicated to free creative expression were staunch defenders of Rushdie. Now those same organizations tremble and quail at the thought someone might publish something racist or homophobic.
No, you’re either a free-speech absolutist, or you’re on the side of the fatwa issuers. And part of the fragility of our society is seen in the fact that rather than take a strong stand for free speech, many now think free speech is too dangerous and harmful to be allowed. Sure, they want to protect Pride Flag allies from hearing things they don’t want to hear… but that’s the same thing the Ayatollah wants. What happened to ‘stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’?
I take it as evidence of the robustness, coherence, and stability of my own sacred cows that I do not turn against free speech when they come under public attack or derision. People take the Lord’s name in vain daily, and it prompts no political explosion from me.

Last edited 10 months ago by Kirk Susong
Michel Starenky
Michel Starenky
10 months ago

We have invited the enemy at the gates of Vienna to stay permanently in Europe.

james goater
james goater
10 months ago

And there is no Charles “The Hammer” Martel in sight!

Arthur G
Arthur G
10 months ago
Reply to  james goater

That was Jan Sobieski that saved Vienna.

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

I was referring to a battle against a Muslim invasion of southern France, much earlier. Look him up!

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Arthur G

I was referring to a battle against a Muslim invasion of southern France, much earlier. Look him up!

Arthur G
Arthur G
10 months ago
Reply to  james goater

That was Jan Sobieski that saved Vienna.

james goater
james goater
10 months ago

And there is no Charles “The Hammer” Martel in sight!

Michel Starenky
Michel Starenky
10 months ago

We have invited the enemy at the gates of Vienna to stay permanently in Europe.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago

Right now I’m having lunch in the restaurant of the Watershed arts centre on Bristol Harbourside. It’s woke central, I’m surrounded by alphabet people and bien pensants, and I’m wearing a t shirt bearing the legend “Man: Adult Human Male”. If this is not blasphemy, I don’t know what is.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Good for you, though it might be more risquĂ© if your t shirt said ‘Woman: adult human female’

Last edited 10 months ago by Phil Rees
Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Thank you, and I concede your point.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Phil Rees

Thank you, and I concede your point.

Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I bet (or hope really) you won’t wear a t shirt with your earlier UnHerd comment!!!

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

You should go out in a t-shirt with ‘you people’ on it.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

Having only just seen your comment, I’m chuckling as I write this!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

Having only just seen your comment, I’m chuckling as I write this!

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Good on you Richard
. I refuse to give them my money! I believe you witnessed the mob attacking women trying to speak about their rights on college green last year
.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Thank you, and yes I did, well remembered. In fact, the Telegraph’s report of this incident featured a photo of me standing next to Kellie Jay-Keene.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

It’s Kellie-Jay Keen
spelling grammar and biology pedant here!! Have you seen the near martyrdom that happened to her in New Zealand? Definitely like a religious lynch mob!!

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

It was a total disgrace and sullied NZ’s international image hugely.

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

It was a total disgrace and sullied NZ’s international image hugely.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

It’s Kellie-Jay Keen
spelling grammar and biology pedant here!! Have you seen the near martyrdom that happened to her in New Zealand? Definitely like a religious lynch mob!!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Thank you, and yes I did, well remembered. In fact, the Telegraph’s report of this incident featured a photo of me standing next to Kellie Jay-Keene.

Phil Rees
Phil Rees
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Good for you, though it might be more risquĂ© if your t shirt said ‘Woman: adult human female’

Last edited 10 months ago by Phil Rees
Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

I bet (or hope really) you won’t wear a t shirt with your earlier UnHerd comment!!!

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

You should go out in a t-shirt with ‘you people’ on it.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Good on you Richard
. I refuse to give them my money! I believe you witnessed the mob attacking women trying to speak about their rights on college green last year
.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago

Right now I’m having lunch in the restaurant of the Watershed arts centre on Bristol Harbourside. It’s woke central, I’m surrounded by alphabet people and bien pensants, and I’m wearing a t shirt bearing the legend “Man: Adult Human Male”. If this is not blasphemy, I don’t know what is.

Marissa M
Marissa M
10 months ago

Yes indeed. The Muslim violent bullying and murder of those who dare to speak out about their religion, not even against it, is unique to their “faith”. And it is extremely effective.
Try saying you’re a Catholic and see the vituperative harangue that will follow, with no fear of recourse, for example. Many movies ridicule priests and nuns and crucifixes cheerfully, but would never, ever shame the followers of Mohammed. Why? Out of fear.
Like Bill Maher says, “Their crazies are worse than our crazies.”

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

Perfectly true — Winston Churchill’s words, from over 120 years ago, still have the ring of truth, and are always worth repeating in this context, “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is the fearful fatalistic apathy…….The effects are apparent in many countries…No stronger retrograde force exists in the world….etc.”

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Marissa M

Perfectly true — Winston Churchill’s words, from over 120 years ago, still have the ring of truth, and are always worth repeating in this context, “How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is the fearful fatalistic apathy…….The effects are apparent in many countries…No stronger retrograde force exists in the world….etc.”

Marissa M
Marissa M
10 months ago

Yes indeed. The Muslim violent bullying and murder of those who dare to speak out about their religion, not even against it, is unique to their “faith”. And it is extremely effective.
Try saying you’re a Catholic and see the vituperative harangue that will follow, with no fear of recourse, for example. Many movies ridicule priests and nuns and crucifixes cheerfully, but would never, ever shame the followers of Mohammed. Why? Out of fear.
Like Bill Maher says, “Their crazies are worse than our crazies.”

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago

And your solution is…? What is the point of rehashing well known (and less well known) instances of a phenomenon which governments accross the West seem completely incapable of containing, let alone curbing? It seems as you are caught in a particular form of self-censorship which refuses to countenance any path forward because all paths are distasteful.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago

And your solution is…? What is the point of rehashing well known (and less well known) instances of a phenomenon which governments accross the West seem completely incapable of containing, let alone curbing? It seems as you are caught in a particular form of self-censorship which refuses to countenance any path forward because all paths are distasteful.

Steve Hay
Steve Hay
10 months ago

To use the old military saying the west has lost the will to fight. We have an army of civil Libertarians who are making it as easy as possible to be an Islamic terrorist, and to minimise the consequences of their actions. We even have left wing organisation who applaud them if there target is Jewish or a supporter of Israel.
We are getting what we deserve for our inaction in the face of terrorist threats

Steve Hay
Steve Hay
10 months ago

To use the old military saying the west has lost the will to fight. We have an army of civil Libertarians who are making it as easy as possible to be an Islamic terrorist, and to minimise the consequences of their actions. We even have left wing organisation who applaud them if there target is Jewish or a supporter of Israel.
We are getting what we deserve for our inaction in the face of terrorist threats

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
10 months ago

When people kill for religious reasons the level of brutality is often extreme. The blasphemers are lower tham beasts, dehumanised and slaughtered accordingly. Witness the wars of religion in Europe particularly the St Bartholemew Day massacre of protestants in France in 1572 which went on for weeks.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
10 months ago

When people kill for religious reasons the level of brutality is often extreme. The blasphemers are lower tham beasts, dehumanised and slaughtered accordingly. Witness the wars of religion in Europe particularly the St Bartholemew Day massacre of protestants in France in 1572 which went on for weeks.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
10 months ago

There’s something going on which Muslims actually seem keen on, because they like the engagement . . . but which may be much more corrosive to Islam than the things targeted in fatwas; the Historicity of Islam topic.

That is, debates and scholarship over their prophet, the stuff described in their book and how it came to be written.

Last edited 10 months ago by Dumetrius
Dumetrius
Dumetrius
10 months ago

There’s something going on which Muslims actually seem keen on, because they like the engagement . . . but which may be much more corrosive to Islam than the things targeted in fatwas; the Historicity of Islam topic.

That is, debates and scholarship over their prophet, the stuff described in their book and how it came to be written.

Last edited 10 months ago by Dumetrius
Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
10 months ago

I can see how accusations of ‘anti-semitism’ might be centrally orchestrated to deflect criticism of Israel’s settlements and blockading of Palestinian territories. The Holocaust has been mentioned. There again, the Nazi state stirred up hatred against a section of the population for political and acquisitive ends. But it is hard to see how a state actor could benefit from Islamic assaults on ‘blasphemy’, unless I am missing something. This suggests it originates in fanaticism.
Khomeini and bin Laden may have been more calculating, seeing Jihad and Fatwa as a way of undermining Western influence and mobilising populations against the kind of covert destabilisation that brought down Mosaddegh for example. However, Islamic State, whatever its roots and pretensions, does not qualify, because it was never a state nor represented one. The roles of Iran and Pakistan in fomenting ‘lone wolf’ attacks is presumably significant, but is it decisive?
It may be a truism that fanatics are driven by religious beliefs, absolute commitment to ideas that have no foundation in repeatable evidence and therefore necessarily become entangled with the believer’s sense of identity, which is ipso facto brittle. This is different from adherence to principles or examples as in purer forms of Buddhism. In effect, religious fanaticism is a form of idolatry where the idol is particularly vulnerable to exposure. In the case of Islam, its internal conflicts and contradictions, and its evident conflicts with human nature and with nature as a whole, for example in its attitudes towards women and the primacy of life over ideology, combined with its apparent inability to evolve, render it hyper-sensitive.
Christianity may have gone through such a phase when its political, territorial and ontological claims exceeded the possibility of moral and spiritual justification. As a cult, Islam seems to me more similar to Communism in its ability to suppress the critical faculties of a mass of people. Sadly, since 1945 the veniality of the ‘liberal’ West has done little to discourage such movements, and has served to undermine its own moral justification.

Last edited 10 months ago by Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
Nicholas Taylor
10 months ago

I can see how accusations of ‘anti-semitism’ might be centrally orchestrated to deflect criticism of Israel’s settlements and blockading of Palestinian territories. The Holocaust has been mentioned. There again, the Nazi state stirred up hatred against a section of the population for political and acquisitive ends. But it is hard to see how a state actor could benefit from Islamic assaults on ‘blasphemy’, unless I am missing something. This suggests it originates in fanaticism.
Khomeini and bin Laden may have been more calculating, seeing Jihad and Fatwa as a way of undermining Western influence and mobilising populations against the kind of covert destabilisation that brought down Mosaddegh for example. However, Islamic State, whatever its roots and pretensions, does not qualify, because it was never a state nor represented one. The roles of Iran and Pakistan in fomenting ‘lone wolf’ attacks is presumably significant, but is it decisive?
It may be a truism that fanatics are driven by religious beliefs, absolute commitment to ideas that have no foundation in repeatable evidence and therefore necessarily become entangled with the believer’s sense of identity, which is ipso facto brittle. This is different from adherence to principles or examples as in purer forms of Buddhism. In effect, religious fanaticism is a form of idolatry where the idol is particularly vulnerable to exposure. In the case of Islam, its internal conflicts and contradictions, and its evident conflicts with human nature and with nature as a whole, for example in its attitudes towards women and the primacy of life over ideology, combined with its apparent inability to evolve, render it hyper-sensitive.
Christianity may have gone through such a phase when its political, territorial and ontological claims exceeded the possibility of moral and spiritual justification. As a cult, Islam seems to me more similar to Communism in its ability to suppress the critical faculties of a mass of people. Sadly, since 1945 the veniality of the ‘liberal’ West has done little to discourage such movements, and has served to undermine its own moral justification.

Last edited 10 months ago by Nicholas Taylor
Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago

starting with the years-long global campaign of assassinations and bombings connected to The Satanic Verses.

There was some very offensive content in that book, and perhaps if it had never been published then the rest of these incidents might not have taken place.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I very much doubt it. After all, 9/11 happened 12 years later, and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a response to the Satanic Verses.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Bit of a leap that.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

It’s less of a leap than concluding that someone deserves to be beheaded because you’re butthurt about something they have said or done that pertains to your religious beliefs

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

It’s less of a leap than concluding that someone deserves to be beheaded because you’re butthurt about something they have said or done that pertains to your religious beliefs

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Bit of a leap that.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Ironically, your own comment illustrates the flaw in your comment.

Kids use violence when hurty words are aimed at them. They can’t control themselves. Perhaps you are suggesting there is a section of adults whose emotional development was so stunted by their culture that they are in many respects adults with the emotional intelligence of a child. I’m sure the bombers and the assassins might find your words very offensive. Would that excuse retaliation against you?

Likewise, I find your writings suggesting offensive words are reasonably expected to be responded to by bombing, stabbing, murdering the most offensive thing I’ve read all week.

The problem with “offensive words” is none of us agree what is offensive. Worse still, human language and imagination uses metaphors, parodies and implication, meaning a writer and a reader can reach completely different conclusions about what is being said. Your own comment illustrates how you yourself failed to see the offense others could read in your comment.

If offensive words are an excusable trigger for violence, either all of us are going to experience a lot more violence or we are going to live in a world where only protected people speak openly and the rest of us are silenced into submission.

Clearly then, it is better for the vast majority of people for society to tolerate and protect the use of offensive words and come down hard on those who promote and use violence against hurty words.

Last edited 10 months ago by Nell Clover
Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I don’t condone violence in any way.
Neither however do I subscribe to the notion that there is a right to offend. Rushdie must have been aware of the risky nature of his narrative in Satanic Verses, he appears to have gone out of his way to make it controversial.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You’re lying to yourself. You DO condone the violence of these nasty people and you excuse their actions. But you tell yourself that you don’t.

Andrew E Walker
Andrew E Walker
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

There is indeed a right to offend, and it is enshrined in law.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The creators of “South Park” surely knew that their wildly popular musical, “The Book of Mormon”, would be deeply offensive to some Mormons, but Trey and Matt did it anyway. Interesting that Mormons didn’t issue calls for their execution. In fact, many Mormons got a kick out of the show. Some people are civilized. Some are not. Those who are not don’t deserve to be excused because of it.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You’re lying to yourself. You DO condone the violence of these nasty people and you excuse their actions. But you tell yourself that you don’t.

Andrew E Walker
Andrew E Walker
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

There is indeed a right to offend, and it is enshrined in law.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

The creators of “South Park” surely knew that their wildly popular musical, “The Book of Mormon”, would be deeply offensive to some Mormons, but Trey and Matt did it anyway. Interesting that Mormons didn’t issue calls for their execution. In fact, many Mormons got a kick out of the show. Some people are civilized. Some are not. Those who are not don’t deserve to be excused because of it.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“If offensive words are an excusable trigger for violence, either all of us are going to experience a lot more violence or we are going to live in a world where only protected people speak openly and the rest of us are silenced into submission.”
This is why we should deliberately seek to cause the woke as much offence as possible.

Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

So are you going to wear that t shirt?? (I wouldn’t!)

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Caroline Ayers

I’m not completely reckless, although I quite often wear my “I stand with J.K.Rowling” t shirt.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Caroline Ayers

I’m not completely reckless, although I quite often wear my “I stand with J.K.Rowling” t shirt.

Caroline Ayers
Caroline Ayers
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

So are you going to wear that t shirt?? (I wouldn’t!)

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I don’t condone violence in any way.
Neither however do I subscribe to the notion that there is a right to offend. Rushdie must have been aware of the risky nature of his narrative in Satanic Verses, he appears to have gone out of his way to make it controversial.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

“If offensive words are an excusable trigger for violence, either all of us are going to experience a lot more violence or we are going to live in a world where only protected people speak openly and the rest of us are silenced into submission.”
This is why we should deliberately seek to cause the woke as much offence as possible.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

There is some very offensive content in the Quran, especially if you are a gay, woman, Jew, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist “Kaffir”

The number from those other religions genocided in India by Quran followers over the centuries probably numbers on the tens of millions. Add to that small incidents like the Armenian genocide, etc etc.

Why do we still allow it to be published and followed in the West.

Last edited 10 months ago by Samir Iker
Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Interesting comment. To be logically consistent those espousing woke theology should ensure that the Koran is only published with a suitable trigger warning that the contents represent historical thinking of its time which many will find offensive. In addition hurtful words, sentiments and passages will need to be replaced with more acceptable content along the lines of the bowdlerised versions of Roald Dahl and P G Woodhouse.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Well, an education authority in the US recently banned The Bible on these grounds. This shows just how an escalation of offense taking turns into censorship.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Frankly, as a non Christian, the Bible (of at least the new testament) is fine. More about loving and treating people nicely, etc. Not much involvement in politics. And not as much into blasphemy and “you will burn in hell if you don’t do exactly as an illustrated sex pest claims he heard God say.”

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” John 15:6. The NT has multiple threats of unquenchable fire and eternal torture.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Your own Hell sermon in the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is pretty spicy.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  James Joyce

Your own Hell sermon in the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is pretty spicy.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” John 15:6. The NT has multiple threats of unquenchable fire and eternal torture.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

I remember looking for reading matter in a store in Birmingham Alabama one afternoon about 35 years ago, and all they had for sale was the Bible and porn. Nowadays there are no more Bibles, and the porn is all to be found in school libraries.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Frankly, as a non Christian, the Bible (of at least the new testament) is fine. More about loving and treating people nicely, etc. Not much involvement in politics. And not as much into blasphemy and “you will burn in hell if you don’t do exactly as an illustrated sex pest claims he heard God say.”

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

I remember looking for reading matter in a store in Birmingham Alabama one afternoon about 35 years ago, and all they had for sale was the Bible and porn. Nowadays there are no more Bibles, and the porn is all to be found in school libraries.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I somehow doubt if l, even with all those changes, the holy book gets to be on the same lines as Wodehouse.

Our great prophet, PBUH, had a distinct lack of a sense of humour vis a vis the likes of Pratchett or Wodehouse.

Did they mangle Wodehouse as well? Anyway, have the older ones, so couldn’t care. But note to self, don’t buy any book versions post 2020.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Well, an education authority in the US recently banned The Bible on these grounds. This shows just how an escalation of offense taking turns into censorship.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I somehow doubt if l, even with all those changes, the holy book gets to be on the same lines as Wodehouse.

Our great prophet, PBUH, had a distinct lack of a sense of humour vis a vis the likes of Pratchett or Wodehouse.

Did they mangle Wodehouse as well? Anyway, have the older ones, so couldn’t care. But note to self, don’t buy any book versions post 2020.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Interesting comment. To be logically consistent those espousing woke theology should ensure that the Koran is only published with a suitable trigger warning that the contents represent historical thinking of its time which many will find offensive. In addition hurtful words, sentiments and passages will need to be replaced with more acceptable content along the lines of the bowdlerised versions of Roald Dahl and P G Woodhouse.

Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Tell us you think the attack on Salman Rushdie was justified without telling us you think the attack on Salman Rushdie was justified.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

There’s no attempt to justify violence. One can make an observation however that he was courting trouble, in the same manner of hitting a hornet’s nest with a cricket bat.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

A rather troubling analogy don’t you think? It would indeed be foolish to hit a hornets nest with a cricket bat but most people would have no qualms in getting in the pest exterminator to eliminate the hornets and their nest. I imagine you are not in favour of getting the pest exterminator to eliminate the human hornets that responded so aggressively to Salman’s verbal provocations.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

A rather troubling analogy don’t you think? It would indeed be foolish to hit a hornets nest with a cricket bat but most people would have no qualms in getting in the pest exterminator to eliminate the hornets and their nest. I imagine you are not in favour of getting the pest exterminator to eliminate the human hornets that responded so aggressively to Salman’s verbal provocations.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Pat Rowles

There’s no attempt to justify violence. One can make an observation however that he was courting trouble, in the same manner of hitting a hornet’s nest with a cricket bat.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

This is exactly the kind of defeatist thinking that is preventing people who from standing up for freedom of expression and speaking in favour of it. Instead they collude with the murderers and terrorists by justifying their appalling crimes and downplaying them.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Collier

You can express yourself freely without offending someone else’s most sacred religious beliefs. It’s easy.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You can but why should you? Sacred religious beliefs should be impervious to the mockery.

I certainly don’t react with violence to all the nonsense that offends my sacred beliefs. In a civilised society people should put up with mockery.

I find it offensive that you think someone should desist from mockery but I won’t be seeking your sanction through hate crime laws nor will I track you down and attack you. You are quite entitled to offend me and even indulge in a bit of mockery if you wish.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I totally agree and that is the essence of English culture. Not everyone thinks that way however, clearly. If you know something is so emotive that people are prepared to kill over it, then don’t it, and perhaps take some time to understand their point of view.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I am sure Salman Rushdie was well aware of their point of view. He probably considered western society should stand up more robustly to defend his right to write what he did. Without wishing to return to a crusading culture it would be good if we could recapture some of their spirit in defending the culture we hold dear rather than seeking to mollify those who wish to spread their intolerance.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I am sure Salman Rushdie was well aware of their point of view. He probably considered western society should stand up more robustly to defend his right to write what he did. Without wishing to return to a crusading culture it would be good if we could recapture some of their spirit in defending the culture we hold dear rather than seeking to mollify those who wish to spread their intolerance.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I totally agree and that is the essence of English culture. Not everyone thinks that way however, clearly. If you know something is so emotive that people are prepared to kill over it, then don’t it, and perhaps take some time to understand their point of view.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You can but why should you? Sacred religious beliefs should be impervious to the mockery.

I certainly don’t react with violence to all the nonsense that offends my sacred beliefs. In a civilised society people should put up with mockery.

I find it offensive that you think someone should desist from mockery but I won’t be seeking your sanction through hate crime laws nor will I track you down and attack you. You are quite entitled to offend me and even indulge in a bit of mockery if you wish.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago
Reply to  Leigh Collier

You can express yourself freely without offending someone else’s most sacred religious beliefs. It’s easy.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

What exactly did you think was offensive?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I took the first available opportunity after Rushdie’s stabbing to spend a day in Bristol Central Library ostentatiously reading a copy of the Satanic Verses.

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Excellent, Richard! Probably I’m too late on here but, in a similar vein, when next in London, do take a stroll around Speakers’ Corner, formerly a bastion of free speech, but now dominated by Muslims of various ethnicities, all seeking opportunities to chant their favourite message, “Allahu Akbar”. Step up to the stall offering “Free Qurans” (there is bound to be one) and ask why such a dangerous book is being freely distributed. It is a perfectly reasonable question but any concept of “free speech” will almost instantly evaporate in whatever exchange ensues. Take care!

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  james goater

Thanks James, but I don’t think I’m ‘ard enough for Speaker’s Corner.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  james goater

Thanks James, but I don’t think I’m ‘ard enough for Speaker’s Corner.

james goater
james goater
10 months ago
Reply to  Richard Craven

Excellent, Richard! Probably I’m too late on here but, in a similar vein, when next in London, do take a stroll around Speakers’ Corner, formerly a bastion of free speech, but now dominated by Muslims of various ethnicities, all seeking opportunities to chant their favourite message, “Allahu Akbar”. Step up to the stall offering “Free Qurans” (there is bound to be one) and ask why such a dangerous book is being freely distributed. It is a perfectly reasonable question but any concept of “free speech” will almost instantly evaporate in whatever exchange ensues. Take care!

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I very much doubt it. After all, 9/11 happened 12 years later, and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a response to the Satanic Verses.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Ironically, your own comment illustrates the flaw in your comment.

Kids use violence when hurty words are aimed at them. They can’t control themselves. Perhaps you are suggesting there is a section of adults whose emotional development was so stunted by their culture that they are in many respects adults with the emotional intelligence of a child. I’m sure the bombers and the assassins might find your words very offensive. Would that excuse retaliation against you?

Likewise, I find your writings suggesting offensive words are reasonably expected to be responded to by bombing, stabbing, murdering the most offensive thing I’ve read all week.

The problem with “offensive words” is none of us agree what is offensive. Worse still, human language and imagination uses metaphors, parodies and implication, meaning a writer and a reader can reach completely different conclusions about what is being said. Your own comment illustrates how you yourself failed to see the offense others could read in your comment.

If offensive words are an excusable trigger for violence, either all of us are going to experience a lot more violence or we are going to live in a world where only protected people speak openly and the rest of us are silenced into submission.

Clearly then, it is better for the vast majority of people for society to tolerate and protect the use of offensive words and come down hard on those who promote and use violence against hurty words.

Last edited 10 months ago by Nell Clover
Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

There is some very offensive content in the Quran, especially if you are a gay, woman, Jew, Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist “Kaffir”

The number from those other religions genocided in India by Quran followers over the centuries probably numbers on the tens of millions. Add to that small incidents like the Armenian genocide, etc etc.

Why do we still allow it to be published and followed in the West.

Last edited 10 months ago by Samir Iker
Pat Rowles
Pat Rowles
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Tell us you think the attack on Salman Rushdie was justified without telling us you think the attack on Salman Rushdie was justified.

Leigh Collier
Leigh Collier
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

This is exactly the kind of defeatist thinking that is preventing people who from standing up for freedom of expression and speaking in favour of it. Instead they collude with the murderers and terrorists by justifying their appalling crimes and downplaying them.

James Joyce
James Joyce
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

What exactly did you think was offensive?

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
10 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I took the first available opportunity after Rushdie’s stabbing to spend a day in Bristol Central Library ostentatiously reading a copy of the Satanic Verses.

Robbie K
Robbie K
10 months ago

starting with the years-long global campaign of assassinations and bombings connected to The Satanic Verses.

There was some very offensive content in that book, and perhaps if it had never been published then the rest of these incidents might not have taken place.