U.S. Ambassador To Libya Dead, U.S. Embassy In Cairo Attacked, In Protests Over Obscure Film

A day of protests over a film nobody has ever heard of has lead to the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.

The United States Ambassador to Libya, along with three other American diplomats, was killed yesterday in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that topped off a day of protests in both Libya and Egypt apparently sparked by an obscure, Internet-based, film that has been described as anti-Muslim:

CAIRO – The Libyan government said Wednesday that United States ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed along with three of his staff in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi Tuesday night. It was the first death of an American envoy abroad in more than two decades.

The State Department declined to confirm or deny the reports and said the previous night that only a single unnamed embassy employee had been killed. But if confirmed, the killing, during an attack by an armed mob angry over a short American-made video mocking Islam’s founding prophet, threatens to upset Washington’s relations with the new Libyan government that took over after the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and sour American public opinion about the prospects of the democratic opening of the Arab Spring.

Mr. Stevens, a veteran of American diplomatic missions in Libya, served in Benghazi during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi, and he was widely admired by the Libyan rebels for his support of their struggle to overthrow Colonel Qaddafi.

The news emerged as violence spilled over the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and demonstrators stormed over the fortified walls of the United States Embassy in Cairo.

Few details of the events in Benghazi were immediately available, but the killing of the ranking American official in Libya raised questions about the vulnerability of American officials at a time when the profound changes sweeping the Arab world have hardly dispelled the rage against the United States that still smolders in pockets around the region.

Tuesday’s violence came on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, and were inspired by Egyptian media reports about a 14-minute trailer for the video, called “Innocence of Muslims,” that was released on the Web.

Earlier, an unidentified Libyan official in Benghazi told Reuters that the American ambassador in Libya and three other staff members were killed in Benghazi “when gunmen fired rockets at them.” It was not clear where in the city the attack took place. The Libyan official said the ambassador was being driven from the consulate building to a safer location when gunmen opened fire, Reuters said.

In a message on Twitter, Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagur of Libya said on Wednesday that he condemned “the cowardly act of attacking the U.S. consulate and the killing of Mr Stevens and the other diplomats.”

Agency France-Presse quoted the Libyan Interior Ministry as saying Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three staff members were killed when a mob attacked the consulate in Benghazi. Al Jazeera’s English-language Web site said Mr. Stevens died of smoke inhalation after a mob set fire to the consulate.

The Associated Press identified three Libyan officials confirming that the envoy had died as Wanis al-Sharaf, the deputy interior minister for eastern Libya; Benghazi security chief Abdel-Basit Haroun; and Ahmed Bousinia, a Benghazi city council and security official.

Mr. Stevens arrived in Tripoli in May 2012, as United States Ambassador to Libya, according to the State Department Web site, after serving two previous terms in Libya since 2007 as an American envoy before and after the 2011 revolution that overthrew Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Mr. Stevens, conversant in Arabic and French in addition to English, worked at the State Department since 1991 after a spell as an international trade lawyer in Washington. He taught English as a Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco from 1983 to 1985, the State Department Web site said.

Ambassador Stevens’s death followed a day that started in Cairo when a large crowd, apparently whipped into action by Muslim clerics, scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo:

(Reuters) – Egyptian protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy on Tuesday, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over what they said was a film being produced in the United States that insulted Prophet Mohammad.

In place of the U.S. flag, the protesters tried to raise a black flag with the words “There is no God but God, and Mohammad is his messenger”, a Reuters witness said.

Once the U.S. flag was hauled down, some protesters tore it up and showed off pieces to television cameras. Others burned the remains outside the fortress-like embassy building in central Cairo. But some protesters objected to the flag burning.

Many Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet to be offensive.

“This movie must be banned immediately and an apology should be made,” said 19-year-old Ismail Mahmoud, a member of the so-called “ultras” soccer supporters who played a big role in the uprising that brought down Hosni Mubarak last year.

He called on President Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s first civilian president and an Islamist, to take action, without giving details of the film that angered him or other protesters.

About 20 people stood on top of the embassy wall, while about 2,000 protesters gathered outside. The demonstrators were mainly supporters of Islamist groups or “ultras” youths.

Rafik Farouk, 38, an Egyptian Christian, also took part. “I am here because I am Egyptian and reject anything that insults Islam or anything that sparks division in Egypt,” he said.

Over at The Atlantic, Max Fisher provides some background information about the “film,” which turns out to be associated to some extent with Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who made a name for himself by burning a Koran last year:

The movie is called Innocence of Muslims, although some Egyptian media have reported its title asMohammed Nabi al-Muslimin, or Mohammed, Prophet of the Muslims. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because most of the few clips circulating online are dubbed in Arabic. The above clip, which is allegedly from the film (update: Kurt Werthmuller, a Coptic specialist at the Hudson Institute, says he’s confirmed the clip’s authenticity*) is one of the only in English. That’s also because it’s associated with Florida Pastor Terry Jones (yes, the asshole who burnt the Koran despite Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ pleas) and two Egyptians living in the U.S., according to Egyptian press accounts.* The Egyptians are allegedly Coptic, the Christian minority that makes up about a tenth of Egypt.

(…)

What exactly does the film say? It’s still not clear, but it appears to compare Mohammed to a goat and Muslims, according to one translation, to “child-lovers.” The New York Times’ Liam Stack, offering some offhand translations of the scene shown above, called it a “doozy.” The man in the scene says of his donkey, “This is the first Muslim animal.” He asks the goat if it likes girls; when it doesn’t answer, he bursts into laughter and says, “He doesn’t like girls,” according to Stack. Other scenes in the above clip seem to portray Muslim Egyptian characters, who for some reason all have strong New York accents, as immoral and violent, particularly toward the Christians whom they pursue with near-genocidal fervor. A number of Islam’s founding figures, including the prophet, are accused of homosexuality and child molestation.

The movie, like Terry Jones himself and his earlier Koran-burning stunt, have received attention far beyond their reach, which would be modest if not for obsessively outraged media. And yet, here the movie is, not just offending apparently significant numbers of people, but producing real-world damage

I’ve got to part company with Fisher here. We’ve covered Terry Jones several times here in the past year or so, and there’s no question that he is an ignorant, bigoted, attention-grabbing troglodyte. I haven’t seen any of this “film” he’s involved in, which apparently is only available on You Tube, and you can check out the clips that Fisher has at his site if you wish. However, it really doesn’t matter what it says, because the film is not responsible for the riots in Cairo or the four murders in Benghazi, the people who committed those acts are, as are the “clerics” who quite obviously lied to them and goaded them into violence and murder. As offensive as it might be, Terry Jones and the makers of this film have a right to free speech and Chris Stevens had a right not to be murdered in cold blood because some people were offended by a film that they had never actually seen. There is no justification for what these people did, not even the offensive speech of Terry Jones.

Bizarrely, though someone at the United States Embassy in Cairo thought it would be a good idea to release this statement:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

The Embassy’s Twitter account also sent out a number of Tweets that appeared to be sympathetic to those protesting, including some that may have been sent out while the protests were going on. It’s worth noting that most of the senior Embassy staff had apparently been evacuated from the embassy before the protests got bad, so it’s unclear who may have been responsible for this. Nonetheless, the statements were, of course, idiotic and unconscionable. It isn’t at all proper for an American Embassy to issuing statements like this, and it wasn’t long before the White House turned around and repudiated the statement:

The Obama administration is disavowing a statement from its own Cairo embassy that seemed to apologize for anti-Muslim activity in the United States.

“The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” an administration official told POLITICO.

(…)

“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet.  The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.  But let me be clear:  There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a Tuesday statement.

The protests outside the embassy have resumed this morning, although there is apparently a much larger Egyptian security force there today, something that makes one wonder why there wasn’t a larger security force yesterday. Details about the situation in Libya are murkier largely because there isn’t much of a media presence in the city, or in the country as a whole for that matter. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much of an indication that these protests are spreading to other parts of the Middle East as of yet.

Where things go from here is unclear. It’s rather obvious that all of this happened largely because large crowds of people were whipped up into a frenzy by people who basically lied to them. According to some reports, the people protesting in Cairo actually believed that these anti-Muslim “film” was premiering nationwide in movie theaters in the United States on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. They had no idea that the “film” was, in reality, an obscure piece of bizarre propaganda that nobody had heard of until yesterday, and which is apparently only available online. There’s no indication in either Libya or Egypt that there were government forces behind the attacks, although it is worth noting that while the Libyan Government has denounced the attack in Benghazi but there has been no similar condemnation from the Egyptian Government. In either case, though, it’s hard to see what exactly we can do about this situation. Finding the responsible party in an act of mob violence is next to impossible, and it’s not like there’s anything that we can do militarily about this. In the end, perhaps the best we can do is evacuate non-essential personnel until such time as things cool down.

Photo via The New York Times

FILED UNDER: Middle East, National Security, World Politics, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    As offensive as it might be, Terry Jones and the makers of this film have a right to free speech and Chris Stevens had a right not to be murdered in cold blood because some people were offended by a film that they had never actually seen. There is no justification for what these people did, not even the offensive speech of Terry Jones

    Why be so parsimonious with blame? There’s a limitless supply of it.

    Terry Jones creates these incidents to demonstrate how savage and horrible Muslim fundamentalists are — and he proves his point when the Muslim fundamentalists do things like this. But, the death of others is an entirely foreseeable consequence, so I’d say that Terry Jones has blood on his hands.

    It’s less carefully directed than Tiller The Baby Killer, but no less likely to cause harm.

  2. Mikey says:

    @Gustopher:

    But, the death of others is an entirely foreseeable consequence, so I’d say that Terry Jones has blood on his hands.

    No, no, no. Civilized people do not react in this way to a film, no matter how “offensive” it is. And we do not curtail free speech based on the potential actions of a brainless mob in a foreign country.

  3. Anderson says:

    I suspect al-Qaeda agitators were spreading word about the film to generate mobs.

    Presumably Romney’s attempt to capitalize on these deaths awaits a separate post.

  4. Scott says:

    Obviously, the film is not so obscure that those willing to whip up anger and violence couldn’t find it and use it for their ends. It is also obvious that this was the intent. It also shows the power of the internet to internationalize the use of propaganda.

    However, to whip up public sentiment is not new. The newspapers in the US over 100 years ago whipped up public rage over the sinking of the Maine which led to the Spanish-American War.

    The question is, how do we respond? I think the correct response is neither apology nor anger but a calm reiteration of our freedom of speech and freedom of religion principles. That doesn’t mean we can’t call the Muslim – haters assholes and call them out as we see fit. And it doesn’t mean we can’t condemn violence against us. But it does mean that we have to be on that dispassionate middle ground or the extremists on both sides will win.

  5. @Mikey:

    I think Jones is some kind of free rider on our system of liberty and free speech. He does nothing to maintain it, or expand our freedoms. He does not use it to expand our science, our art, or our politics. Instead he uses it to cause harm.

    He’s a bug, not a feature.

  6. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how easy a “take down” is to get at YouTube for some things, but not this? Obviously anything questionable with child would be removed quickly, but also anything with a dubious copyright claim.

    I think it’s possible that an outsider might see us protecting “our” values but not “theirs.”

  7. John,

    Take down’s are related to copyright violations.

    Are you suggesting that You Tube start deciding what is and isn’t offensive and delete postings of its own whim?

  8. Xenos says:

    Where things go from here is unclear. It’s rather obvious that all of this happened largely because large crowds of people were whipped up into a frenzy by people who basically lied to them. According to some reports, the people protesting in Cairo actually believed that these anti-Muslim “film” was premiering nationwide in movie theaters in the United States on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. They had no idea that the “film” was, in reality, an obscure piece of bizarre propaganda that nobody had heard of until yesterday, and which is apparently only available online.

    And somebody took this little-know bit of amateur dreck, translated it into Arabic, and distributed it in such a way as to incite a riot on the very day that Netanyahu tried to bully Obama about the US Iran policy. And the the RNC and the Romney campaign come out with coordinated attacks on Obama for being weak on Middle East policy based on these riots, attacks so premature that nobody knew the severity of the situation yet? I am not one for conspiracy theories, but this smells to high heaven. Someone trying to manufacture and October Surprise with some help in Jerusalem?

  9. PD Shaw says:

    Instead of this weird concoction on American civics, it would be nice if the State Department has some Islamic specialists who could voice a position informed by Islamic prohibitions on murdering innocent guests and those who personally did not speak ill of the Prophet.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey:

    No, no, no. Civilized people do not react in this way to a film,

    No, no, no. Civilized people do not make movies guaranteed to incite violence in uncivilized people.

  11. @Doug Mataconis:

    You are repeating what I said. YouTube take-downs relate to our values, including child pornography, including copyright. And yes, YouTube pretty much does that on whim.

    We don’t put a high priority on sacrilege, but that is a cultural choice.

  12. Ben Wolf says:

    @Doug Mataconis,

    I wish there were a like button for good posts. a button I could click more than once.

  13. @this:

    Some idiot down-voter thinks Jones adds value? Is a feature and not a bug?

    I’d love to hear that explained.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Are you suggesting that You Tube start deciding what is and isn’t offensive and delete postings of its own whim?

    Hmmmmmmm…. That is a hard one….. Uhhhhhh….. Yes.

    You Tube is a private company already acting on it’s own whims for profit. I wonder if their are any higher values it might act upon?

  15. Bil Danielson says:

    Once again, this demonstrates that religion is NOT the answer – it is the problem.

  16. Interesting, YouTube does have a “hate speech” rule and does take down videos for that reason.

    Really, where I’m going with this is that while there are no easy answers, it’s not like we have absolute and unrestricted speech (and video) as a background to the question. This is kind of like “free markets.” The short-hand, idealized, version is not the whole story.

  17. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Again: we do not curtail free speech based on the potential actions of a brainless mob in a foreign country.

  18. @john personna:

    YouTube is a private company that can set its own Terms of Service, of course. Personally, I would oppose overly restrictive terms that would be aimed at more than obviously illegal activity, copyright violations, pornography (YouTube is, after all, a site easily accessed by children), and the like.

    Besides, this video could easily be hosted anywhere else besides YouTube if the filmmakers wanted to do that. Blaming YouTube for this is as bad as blaming the film for the actions of a group of barbarians whipped into a frenzy by wild-eyed religious nuts.

  19. Mikey says:

    @john personna: It wasn’t me, I gave you the thumbs-up. Jones rides a fine line, but even his idiocy is protected.

  20. KariQ says:

    Doug:

    Terry Jones and the makers of this film have a right to free speech

    Mikey:

    And we do not curtail free speech based on the potential actions of a brainless mob in a foreign country.

    Did Fisher, or someone else, suggest that they didn’t have the right to make this film or that the right to do so should be curtailed? I didn’t see that any place, though I may have missed. If so, then of course I disagree. If not, and I haven’t seen and didn’t see it in the then why are you even saying this?

    Doug:

    Are you suggesting that You Tube start deciding what is and isn’t offensive and delete postings of its own whim?

    Actually, YouTube already does this. I don’t know that they would or should extend it to religiously offensive material, since that is a whole can of worms I wouldn’t want to see them wade into, but since they are a private company they have every right to decide that they don’t want to host this sort of material and delete it. If they did so, it wouldn’t be censorship but a business decision.

  21. Tsar Nicholas says:

    @Xenos: It’s not “someone.” It’s a cabal. But a secret cabal. A super secret evil cabal. Halliburton, Diebold, Karl Rove, the Carlyle Group, the RNC, the GOP, of course the world Jewish conspiracy. It’s all part of their secret plot to steal the election so they can wage endless wars for oil. And not only in the Middle East, mind you. Hell, their bloodlust for oil is so strong that soon they’ll invade Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and of course Western Canada. And in addition to the “October surprise” they’ll suppress the votes of college and grad students, and of course racial minorities, merely by using their mind control powers.

    That aside, I’m not sure that evacuating non-essential personnel is the best course of action. Not that it’s a bad option. But retreating in the face of mob rule has this nasty tendency to encourage the mob, especially in that part of the world. So perhaps staying put and beefing up security until things settle down is the better course of action. Presumably the administration is mulling that over as we speak.

  22. @Doug Mataconis:

    I know I did not actually blame YouTube for the Ambassador’s death, and so you are going more than a little overboard there.

    What I tried to highlight is that we do restrict free speech, both using laws and private company practices, as a backdrop to this.

  23. stonetools says:

    Steve Kornacki in defense of the Embassy messages:

    That’s not at all what happened, of course. The actual chronology goes something like this: As anti-American protests inspired by a crude Terry Jones video began gathering steam, the U.S. embassy in Cairo – and not the Obama White House — put out a statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

    The obvious intent was to cool the passions of the protesters. As Marc Ambinder explained, it was “exactly what Americans inside the embassy who are scared for their lives now and worry about revenge later need to have released in their name.”

    The defense works for me.I wouldn’t second guess the actions and statements of embattled Embassy personnel from 5,000 miles away

  24. Anderson says:

    How secure was the consular compound? Not very, it seems, which is odd in a country as racked by unrest as Libya.

    I would like to know who, State or Defense, is responsible for security of embassy and consular grounds. Someone may have dropped the ball.

  25. From wikipedia’s “freedom of speech” page “limitations” section:

    However, John Stuart Mill also introduced what is known as the harm principle, in placing the following limitation on free expression: “the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.”

    Basically, discussing philosophy and not law here, a hard-line defender of Jones is rejecting Mill’s harm principle.

  26. Mikey says:

    @KariQ: The first commenter on this post stated Jones has blood on his hands because he supports the video that made the mob angry.

  27. Mike says:

    @Anderson:

    Neither. Per the Vienna Convention, the host nation is responsible for external security of diplomatic missions. That said, DoD has little to nothing to do with internal security of diplomatic facilities (obviously there are exceptions but that’s the general rule). The Marine guards are under operational control of the DoS DSS folks at the facility, and the RSO is the one who is ultimately responsible for internal security, so it would be State who is responsible here.

    Ultimately there’s little you can do to stop a determined mob from gaining access to a building, short of massive lethal force. Additionally, I would be willing to guess that since the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Libya sat vacant from 1980 until the mid 2000s, it is entirely possible that they had not been fully upgraded to modern standards for things like stand-off, barriers, and other security measures, particularly given the complicating factor of the revolution. Not saying that there wasn’t a possibly a screw-up somewhere, just saying that it is entirely possible for this to have occurred without there being a colossal failure on anyone’s part.

  28. Xenos says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    It’s not “someone.” It’s a cabal. But a secret cabal. A super secret evil cabal.” You are thinking much too large-scale. But still, since the treason of candidate Nixon persuading the Northern Vietnamese to break off peace talks sponsored by the US, and the treason of Reagan/William Casey persuading the Iranians to not release the hostages until after the election, and even postponing the release to the day Reagan was inaugurated, I don’t put much beyond republicans when it comes to treasonous conspiracies for political gain.

    The Likudniks who might be involved here would not be at the center of things, but they have thrown their political futures in with the neo-cons, and may be up to stirring the pot if there is an advantage to Romney in it for them. I suppose the Saudis would be better placed to make this sort of trouble, too, so I suppose they could be the guilty parties here.

  29. Xenos says:

    Should have previewed that… only the bolded part is a quote, the rest is mine.

  30. stonetools says:

    There’s enough bad religion going around. A Jew made the film and a Christian pastor promoted it. And it definitely was offensive, and made to offend.. But I do wonder what it is about Muslims that they go apes&*t over stuff like this ( Remember the cartoons?).

    When people make offensive anti-Jewish,anti-Buddhist, ant-Hindu, and anti-Christian films, there are at best demonstrations, discussions, and statements denouncing the films. Nobody dies. Is it too much to expect Muslims to do the same?

    Apparently, it is.

  31. @Mikey:

    The first commenter on this post stated Jones has blood on his hands because he supports the video that made the mob angry.

    “That’s his thing,” right? Jones flips Mill’s “harm principle” and does harm in a war on … something.

  32. @stonetools:

    But I do wonder what it is about Muslims that they go apes&*t over stuff like this ( Remember the cartoons?).

    There was a time when Christians were raised in the same sort of cultural framework.

    “The last known heretic executed by sentence of the Roman Catholic Church was Cayetano Ripoll in 1826.”

  33. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mikey:

    Again: we do not curtail free speech based on the potential actions of a brainless mob in a foreign country.

    Seeing as I never called for the silencing of Jones, I am unsure to what part of my statement you are referring to? Jones is a despicable xenophobic cowardly weasel who wields hate as a weapon. He lashes out at Muslims in a way guaranteed to get the most horrible reaction, and he is never the one to pay the price.

    Yes he has the right to freedom of speech. He does not however have the right to freedom of You Tube.

  34. Mikey says:

    @Xenos:

    I am not one for conspiracy theories

    Really? Because you’ve done nothing in these comments but push one.

  35. JKB says:

    So the mistake was, when they showed the piss Christ, that Christians didn’t burn New York or kill a few random artists. Got it. Next time, instead of acting live civilized people, respecting the right of others to be speak even thought their intent is to be offensive, and having the firmness of belief and faith that can withstand questions, attacks and blasphemy, Christians should do mob violence.

    Revealing that so many here don’t embrace American values, apologize for ignorant religious nuts and seek to surrender at the first “boo”. As we’ve seen since 1979, crazy islamic leaders will always seek to incite violence to advance their cause. They seek out some obscure reason to give their familiars talking points. One cannot live their life nor can a country survive by giving into mob violence. If need be, we should withdraw our non-military nationals from Muslim countries, cut off foreign aid and let them fend for themselves in their Islamic paradise

  36. JKB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Ah the justification so familiar, you can say anything you want but we will cut off your means of projecting past the strength of your own voice. Nice one, commisar

  37. The movie, like Terry Jones himself and his earlier Koran-burning stunt, have received attention far beyond their reach, which would be modest if not for obsessively outraged media.

    It seems odd to blame the media for this. It’s not like this film has been receiving a lot of coverage prior to the embassy attacks.

  38. @JKB:

    Speaking again from a perspective of philosophy and not law … I don’t think my life would have been diminished at all if Serrano had not done Piss Christ or if Jones had not done his video.

    I don’t think there is a slippery slope here that we must defend all speech, lest good speech be lost.

    If something does more harm than good, then ethically, that’s kind of the answer.

  39. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Revealing that so many here don’t embrace American values, apologize for ignorant religious nuts and seek to surrender at the first “boo”.

    Well, I don’t know about anybody else, but Terry Jones doesn’t scare me.

  40. gVOR08 says:

    False dichotomies. Doug blames the leaders of the mob. Others may blame the members of the mob who actually did the acts. Max Fisher blames Terry Jones. According to WAPO, the producer of the film blames poor security. Which of these is really to blame? All of them. Why this need to pick out THE culprit. If I lift something with a chain, which link is responsible?

    Doug, It strikes me that conservatives have an odd relationship with the word “rights”. I was going to bring this up, in a trivial example compared to this, when you defended Ann Romney as having a “right” to not answer questions. Conservatives seem to have a binary notion of “right”. There seems a tendency to feel that if one has a “right” to say a thing, or do a thing, that that “right” is some god given absolute right, not to be impeded in any way. When Limbaugh wanted to buy into a football team, black players objected because of some of his past remarks. Conservatives defended Limbaugh saying, in effect, he had a right to say what he did, and therefore should suffer no consequences.

    Terry Jones and the others involved did an incredibly stupid, predictably harmful thing. Under US law they may have a right to have done it, but they certainly should be subject to whatever sanctions civil law and public opinion can provide. And I seem to recall something about shouting “fire” in a crowded theater.

  41. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    Note the date. I am well aware of the bad history of Christianity and other religions on persecuting free speech, and I don’t defend it. But we are talking the 21st century here.In this century, we see this stuff only from Muslims.

  42. JKB says:

    @Anderson:

    Foreign diplomatic missions are under the protection of the host government. The mission’s security forces can only provide security inside the compound and are not of a size to fend off a mob. There are reports, the Libyan security forces pointed out the Ambassador to the mob as he moved to a supposedly more secure building.

    Now, Obama could order the Marine Expeditionary Force stationed in the Med. to deploy to protect the US mission. A bit late, though. And generally, they simply fend off attackers a Americans are evacuated. But you should be aware, US forces firing into a foreign mob attacking a US diplomatic mission on foreign soil comes with many foreign relations pitfalls.

  43. george says:

    As offensive as it might be, Terry Jones and the makers of this film have a right to free speech and Chris Stevens had a right not to be murdered in cold blood because some people were offended by a film that they had never actually seen. There is no justification for what these people did, not even the offensive speech of Terry Jones

    That’s the bottom line. If you’re willing to give in to censorship because it makes other people angry to hear (admittedly obnoxious) things, then you might as well censor everything. Because you’ve just decided that freedom of speech is just a convenience, and you’ve given over your rights to it to anyone angry enough to become violent.

  44. Aidan says:

    Doug, it’s very brave of you to criticize staffers in a besieged embassy trying to diffuse a situation where they are the targets of mob violence. I’m sure they will try to be more proper with their tweets next time.

  45. Xenos says:

    @Mikey:

    Really? Because you’ve done nothing in these comments but push one.

    Unlike a true conspiracy mongerer, I am happy to be proven wrong.

    I was wrong, however, when I assumed Reagan could not possibly be so crooked as to have secret dealings with the Iranians, and that did not make me happy. Latest story up on this site is that Romney and Reibus ‘botched’ their response to the crisis. I’ll check it out, and will be happy if they turn out to be stupid, not evil.

  46. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    Ah the justification so familiar, you can say anything you want but we will cut off your means of projecting past the strength of your own voice. Nice one, commisar

    I expect that from you JKB. But I wonder if you have noticed that You Tube already decides who gets to post there and who doesn’t?

  47. george says:

    @JKB:

    So the mistake was, when they showed the piss Christ, that Christians didn’t burn New York or kill a few random artists. Got it. Next time, instead of acting live civilized people, respecting the right of others to be speak even thought their intent is to be offensive, and having the firmness of belief and faith that can withstand questions, attacks and blasphemy, Christians should do mob violence.

    Kind of my take on it too. The precedent is being set – become violently angry about something, and freedoms are taken away. This is no different than the Patriot Act, just another example of giving up freedom rather than facing any physical risk. Of course the group that defends the Patriot Act tends to be a different group than the one that defends limiting freedom of speech, but they’re both working on the same principle – freedom is a convenience to be given up as soon as it costs something.

  48. mattb says:

    @stonetools:

    A Jew made the film and a Christian pastor promoted it. And it definitely was offensive, and made to offend.. But I do wonder what it is about Muslims that they go apes&*t over stuff like this ( Remember the cartoons?).

    Once and for all (I wish) it’s not “Muslims” who go ape shit. Residents of Dearborn Michigan did not rise up and attack Detroit. Indonesian Citizens didn’t riot. Countless Muslims across Europe did not take to the streets.

    Is religion a factor in this? Yes.

    But so to are the specific living condition of the people who rioted. This includes large amounts of political instability, wide spread unemployment, low education, large amounts of idle time. The list goes on and on.

    Put it a different way, at the height of Italian Organized Crime in the US, one could ask why is it only the Italians who become career criminals? Or during the height of slavery, it was only logical to expect that there was something within the very fundamental makeup of Black Africans that *made* them slaves (not that they *became* slaves, but that it was in their very nature to be slaves).

    There is nothing fundamentally about *Muslims* that causes them to engage in these acts of spectacular violence. There are things about the individuals living conditions that does contribute a significant amount. And, once a riot starts, there’s a lot of stuff baked into us as Humans that helps keep it going.

  49. @stonetools:

    One of the explanations I’ve heard for the whole rise of militant Islam is that global media has pressed this cultural transformation upon them. “In the old days” countries and cultures could evolve much more at their own pace.

    If someone in the west, in response to Jones video, tells Egypt or Libya “you must adopt our values” they are pressing the culture war from one side, and the rioters are pressing from the other.

    Personally, I blame both sides, but I view Jones as our problem, and the rioters as theirs.

    I mean, if you want to police freedom of speech issues in Libya, what are you going to do? Build a Beacon of Democracy in the Middle East?

  50. JKB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Well, I don’t know about anybody else, but Terry Jones doesn’t scare me.

    Which is why you attack him and not the mob that is doing the violence, nor the cleric who are inciting the violence. Nice attempt at diversion though.

  51. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools:

    But we are talking the 21st century here.In this century, we see this stuff only from Muslims.

    And Hindu’s. I recall at some time in the past year or so, some extremist Hindu’s attacked some Muslims in India. More common by far with Muslims, but they are far from alone.

  52. mattb says:

    Without a doubt, the blame needs to first rest on the mob, and those who whipped it up. It should also be noted that local media, especially in Egypt, had a lot to do with creating the frenzy, constantly rebroadcasting the footage.*

    As to the film itself and it’s promotion by Terry Jones, I’m a little less convinced that this is simply free speech. The intent of the film was undoubtedly to insult Muslims — which makes it a bit different than say Theo Van Gogh’s film “Submission” which sparked similar protests. Yes insults are protected as free speech, but insults intended to start a riot are not (see Schenck v. United States and the idea of shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater).

    If the creators of the film believe or expect it to spark riots, and they go ahead and release the film, then it seems dangerously close to shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater and then acting surprised when someone it hurt in a riot.

    * – Of course this is nothing new, think of the constant barrage of gotcha clips that often occurs on American News Programming. And this often has an inherent political agenda — see Fox New’s constant broadcast for a period of Rev. Wrights “God Damn America…” sound byte.

  53. JKB says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I wonder if you have noticed that You Tube already decides who gets to post there and who doesn’t?

    Do you have examples of Youtube denying posting based on the content of the speech? I mean, content owned or licensed by the poster or that isn’t prohibited by law.

    And let us get this out, child pornography is prohibited because to produce it, children must be harmed (as defined by our society). It’s a cultural thing, it is a censure of content that causes direct harm to children in its production. I did not support idea of suppressing drawings and stories that involved no child in its production. I don’t like it, but it is speech.

  54. More from the “limitations” synopsis at wikipedia:

    According to the Freedom Forum Organization, legal systems, and society at large, recognize limits on the freedom of speech, particularly when freedom of speech conflicts with other values or rights. Limitations to freedom of speech may follow the “harm principle” or the “offense principle”, for example in the case of pornography, religious belief or hate speech. Limitations to freedom of speech may occur through legal sanction or social disapprobation, or both.

    I think some people here want to just pretend that all speech is now free, and that no limitations have ever been recognized. They don’t even want to bring that “social disapprobation” to bear, out of some fear of a slippery slope.

    In fact Mill’s thoughts on harm have been understood and incorporated into the western view for hundreds of years.

    Think about that. Maybe the “young” view is kind of a shallow internet phenomenon, the idea that anyone should be able to type anything without consideration of harm. That would be a more broken, less developed, moral philosophy in my opinion.

  55. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JKB:

    Which is why you attack him and not the mob that is doing the violence, nor the cleric who are inciting the violence.

    No. The reason I attack him is because his values are not the “American values” I embrace, they are things I find utterly repugnant. Rather telling that you do not attack him for what he says, tho.

  56. stonetools says:

    @mattb:

    There is nothing fundamentally about *Muslims* that causes them to engage in these acts of spectacular violence. There are things about the individuals living conditions that does contribute a significant amount. And, once a riot starts, there’s a lot of stuff baked into us as Humans that helps keep it going.

    Good answer , but I would point out that there are masses of poor Hindis, Buddhists, and Christians too, and they don’t go burning down embassies and murdering people over cartoons and films.I agree that the answer is a complex one and I don’t mean to smear all Muslims . Clearly, though, there is a kind of “Muslim overreaction exceptionalism” here and I would like to find out what is at the base of it. It isn’t just poverty and ignorance, but something more.

  57. KariQ says:

    @Mikey:

    The first commenter on this post stated Jones has blood on his hands because he supports the video that made the mob angry.

    Which he has the right to say; just as the producers of the film had the right to make their film. He did not say they should be denied that right. you can denounce what someone says, even accuse them of inspiring a riot, without saying they didn’t have the right to say what they did in the first place.

  58. mattb says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    And Hindu’s.

    And Buddists and Christians, the list goes on and on.

    Within the last thirty years, extremist members of just about every religion have engaged in mass attacks — if not out and out genocide — on members of other religions and ethnic groups across the globe.

    We are just primed — in part by out media environment — to pay attention to attacks by Muslims. This is much like the proven fact that when one hears about an attack by a certain Animal (say bear or shark) they are almost immediately more likely to (a) over estimate the number of animal attacks that take place in a year, and (b) believe that its probable that they might be attacked by that animal. (need to dig out the references on the most recent round of those studies, happy to provide them if people would like).

    Again, if you do a meta study, and look at all of those cross religious/ethnic attacks, you’ll find a pretty common set of on the ground circumstances which typically include: large amounts of political instability, wide spread unemployment, low education, large amounts of idle time.

  59. stonetools says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    And Hindu’s. I recall at some time in the past year or so, some extremist Hindu’s attacked some Muslims in India. More common by far with Muslims, but they are far from alone.

    There’s been a thousand years of Hindu-Muslim violence on the Indian subcontinent. But Hindi mobs don’t attack the US Embassy over some film an American makes about the Hindi religion, or over cartoons depicting Hindi religious figures.

  60. PJ says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Personally, I would oppose overly restrictive terms that would be aimed at more than obviously illegal activity, copyright violations, pornography (YouTube is, after all, a site easily accessed by children), and the like.

    So hate speech is ok, but pornography isn’t? Why? Why is it ok for children to be exposed to hate speech but not pornography? Why are you ok with YouTube removing pornography but not hate speech? If the hate speech contains nudity should it be removed? If the pornography contains hate speech should it stay?

    Also, what kind of obviously illegal activities would you like for YouTube to ban and remove?

  61. mattb says:

    @stonetools:

    Good answer , but I would point out that there are masses of poor Hindis, Buddhists, and Christians too, and they don’t go burning down embassies and murdering people over cartoons and films.

    Perhaps not films, but the do, in fact, engage in these activities from time to time. Since providing direct links will cause this to go to Spam Hell, let me suggest you look into:

    – Jewish Settler attacks on Christian Churches (this is pretty recent and there are a number of legitimate news reports)
    – 2002 Gujarat Massacres (Hindu on Muslim violence … a lot more can be found about lesser attacks near the India/Pakistan Border)
    – Buddist Riots and attacks in South East Asia, in particular Myannmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

    The list goes on and on.

    In part people are not familiar about them because they occur in places with heavy Government control of the press and where there are few if any Foreign Correspondents. Other times reports rarely mention the Religous factors of the riot or simply refer to the riot as a “protest.” And all too often, the attacks are so small, that they are simply filed under the general rubric of “street crime” and deemed not worthy of coverage.

  62. mattb says:

    @stonetools:

    There is another answer to your question as to “why Muslims” and perhaps it’s the most accurate. At this moment, Muslim radicals (the ultimate example being Osama Bin Laden) are probably more concerned than any other religious fundamentalists outside the US with creating spectacular media images to further their cause.

    This is as much about the creation of the report of the violence as it is the creation of the violence.

    Prior to this, one could argue that Buddism had the monopoly on this sort of violent spectacle with the self-immolation of Monks in the Vietnam Protests. At that time someone probably would ask, “what it it about Buddists that they keep setting themselves on fire on tv?”

  63. Rick Almeida says:

    I’d really welcome some of John Burgess’ thoughts on this debacle.

  64. Rob in CT says:

    @Mikey:

    I don’t think anyone here is suggesting that anyone’s free speech rights be curtailed. People are making a moral judgment of Jones & anyone else involved in the creation and distribution of this little “film.”

    One can condemn without seeking to bring the law to bear. “Blood on hands” != “illegal act”

    It’s a moral, not a legal judgment, as far as I can tell. And I agree with it. Jones is free to be an instigator.

    And I’m not absolving the clerics or the demonstrators (and neither is anyone else here).

  65. stonetools says:

    @mattb:

    Mattb, this is the blog of false equivalence, so we can spot this stuff easily. Do “all sides do it?” Yes, in some trivial way, but Muslims do it much, much, more, and its not helpful to deny that. I believe the “Clash of Civilizations” argument is largely BS, but it’s not all BS. There is just too much evidence of a conflict within Islam about how to deal with the modern world, and that this conflict spills out when they face the modern world. Its honest to talk about that, without attacking all Muslims.

  66. Anderson says:

    Thanks, Mike. I don’t know what kind of Marine contingent we had on the site; perhaps these details will come out later.

    Also, anyone know why our ambassador was at the consulate, not at the (presumably more secure) embassy in Tripoli?

  67. george says:

    @mattb:

    If the creators of the film believe or expect it to spark riots, and they go ahead and release the film, then it seems dangerously close to shouting “Fire” in a crowded theater and then acting surprised when someone it hurt in a riot.

    So if having an abortion clinic drives some Christians to start shooting doctors, presumably you take the position that opening the clinic is like shouting “Fire” in a crowded theatre?

    Giving up your rights (including the right to make obnoxious films about Islam or pissing Christs) to pacify people prone to violence always ends up the same results – you have less freedom, and the violent people just get violent for a slightly different reason.

    Again, what is it about us that we’re now so terrified of physical risk that we won’t even stand up for basic freedoms? The Patriot Act was an act of cowardice. So would be restricting idiots like Jones.

  68. george says:

    @Rob in CT:

    It’s a moral, not a legal judgment, as far as I can tell. And I agree with it. Jones is free to be an instigator.

    Morally I agree. But things like the Patriot Act suggest that moral things can become legal when fear gets involved.

  69. Moderate Mom says:

    Put the blame where it belongs. It’s Bush’s fault. 😉

  70. mattb says:

    @george:

    So if having an abortion clinic drives some Christians to start shooting doctors, presumably you take the position that opening the clinic is like shouting “Fire” in a crowded theatre?

    I would argue that you just slippery sloped what I wrote to hell. I am in no way suggesting that there is anything remotely similiar to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, or inciting a crowd to riot, and building an abortion clinic.

    Giving up your rights (including the right to make obnoxious films about Islam or pissing Christs) to pacify people prone to violence always ends up the same results – you have less freedom, and the violent people just get violent for a slightly different reason.

    To be clear, I am in no way trying to curtain the rights if free speech.

    I am simply pointing out that it has been long established that (a) not all speech is protected, and (b) that historically, speech with the intent to incite or create violence, is a primary example of unprotected speech.

    I think we should ask, to what extent, were these riots the intended outcome of this film and it’s promotion. I think that’s especially true of the decision (which no one is taking credit for) to translate it into Arabic.

    Ultimately, if there is doubt, then that doubt need to be in favor of the creators of the speech.

  71. @this:

    Why are you rejecting Mill?

    Do you think you have a higher morality, or is it just an infantile free speech of the “I can say whatever I want” kind?

  72. mattb says:

    @stonetools:

    Muslims do it much, much, more, and its not helpful to deny that.

    You continually write this and offer little proof beyond: “This is what I believe.”

    In no way am I denying the fact that *some* Muslims – in particular those is the near east – engage in this sort of spectacular violence.

    What I am saying is (a) that sort of spectacular violence is (a) far more common than you imagine, it’s just not well reported on within the US, and (b) that it is no no way restricted to people of the Muslim faith.

    Again, this isn’t surprising — we are primed by our history, culture, and our general media system to pay specific attention to Muslim violence. But I can say — as someone who has studied this sort of stuff professionally — that this is a skew vision of the world.

    This isn’t to say that (a) this should be happening or (b) that this isn’t the fault of the perpetrators. I’m simply saying that you are making a continued mistake in assuming that this is exclusively a “Muslim” thing.

  73. mattb says:

    @Stonetools:

    Just to be clear, I realize that you did not say it’s “exclusively” Muslim. But I still hold that you incorrectly assume that “Muslims do it much, much, more.” I am arguing that it’s “much, much, more” reported when Muslims do it than when other groups do it.

  74. Mikey says:

    @Rob in CT: I don’t think Jones bears any moral responsibility, either, for the actions of the mobs–and I say that as someone who despises everything he stands for.

    However, I drew inferences from other commenters’ statements that were not correct. You’re right, condemnation of Jones’ and the filmmaker’s obviously provocative intent does not necessarily equal advocating the curtailing of their right to free speech. So, to those whom my inference unfairly accused of doing so, I apologize.

  75. @Mikey:

    If “intent to cause harm” does not have “moral responsibility” what on earth does?

    Seriously. Consider Kohlberg’s hierarchy of moral development:

    1………… Punishment and obedience
    2………… Instrumental exchange
    3………… Interpersonal conformity
    4………… Law and order
    5………… Prior rights and social contract
    6………… Universal moral principles

    I think a simple obedience to “free speech” ranks somewhere 1-4. When you get to universal moral principles you have to consider outcomes, and the results of your actions.

    Any defense of Jones is legalistic. It says that since speech is free, speech that leads to deaths is no different from speech that does not lead to deaths.

    That is not a fully developed morality.

  76. @john personna:

    When you get to universal moral principles you have to consider outcomes, and the results of your actions.

    Not necessarily. Universal moral principles doesn’t specify what those principles should be. Just because you’re a consequentialist doesn’t mean that deontologists are necessarily wrong.

  77. pat says:

    it is amazing to read the self deluding idiocy espoused by liberals. it must be actually painful to contort so much to support your fictional view of the world. ………muslim mobs, frequent, deadly. christian, hindu mobs, not so much.
    “but in 1356, a group of christians slaughtered mooslims in b—f-ck egypt”

  78. @Stormy Dragon:

    Interesting link, but I still think I’m on good ground. Kohlberg more or less put deontologists at “4” and of course Mill, an early champion of free speech recognized the harm principle.

    Just calling adherence to law and order your highest principle doesn’t magically make a 4 a 6.

  79. @john personna:

    Kohlberg more or less put deontologists at “4″

    [needs citation]

  80. stonetools says:

    @mattb:

    You continually write this and offer little proof beyond: “This is what I believe.”

    In no way am I denying the fact that *some* Muslims – in particular those is the near east – engage in this sort of spectacular violence.

    I didn’t want to offer proof, because I thought it was rather clear. Also , too, I don’t want my commnent to be caughttin the spam filter; But here goes:

    Starting in the Pacific, Muslim insurgents in the Philippines have been fighting a war against a secular government,in a Catholic majority country.
    There have been Muslim bomb attacks on Australia.
    There have been Muslim attacks on Christians in Indonesia.
    Muslim insurgency in Buddhist-majority Thailand.
    Hindu-Muslim clashes in India
    In Bangladesh, fundamentalist Muslims are fighting against the secular government.
    Of course, Pakistan and Afghanistan

    Skipping over the well covered Middle East to Central Africa,there is the never ending war between the Muslim north and the Christian south in S.udan, in which there was slave raiding and slave trading in the late twentieth century
    Ending up in west Africa:there has been a low level war in Nigeria between Muslims and Christians that began with Muslim raids on Christian villages and which has escalated into a constant cycle of raid, reprisal, and counter reprisal. Thousands have died in this little covered conflict .
    In Mali, Muslim insurgents have risen up against a secular government and seized the north of the country

    This isn’t even a complete list.
    Looking at the list, its clear to me that Muslims have a problem reconciling themselves with a modern, multicultural world and that the response of some Muslims is often violence. I do not believe the problem is that we are not covering the just as common occurrences of Buddhist mobs burning down embassies over anti Buddhist cartoons, of Jewish suicide bombers blowing up Australian hotels, or of fundamentalist Christian insurgents fighting long running wars against secular European governments

  81. anjin-san says:

    @ Moderate Mom

    It’s not really a good time to try and be clever.

  82. @Stormy Dragon:

    OK, I’ll back up. I followed your lead that deontological ethics might justify a strict adherence to a rules-based philosophy. If deontology were to justify blind devotion to the “law” of free speech, then I would put that at Kohlberg’s 4.

    Thinking about it more, I don’t think deontological ethics does justify that kind of blind adherence.

    Immanuel Kant’s theory of ethics is considered deontological for several different reasons.[4][5] First, Kant argues that to act in the morally right way, people must act from duty (deon).[6] Second, Kant argued that it was not the consequences of actions that make them right or wrong but the motives of the person who carries out the action.

    If you get there, to motives, I don’t think you are defending rule-based free speech, or Mr. Jones.

    Kant’s argument that to act in the morally right way one must act purely from duty begins with an argument that the highest good must be both good in itself and good without qualification.[7] Something is “good in itself” when it is intrinsically good, and “good without qualification”, when the addition of that thing never makes a situation ethically worse. Kant then argues that those things that are usually thought to be good, such as intelligence, perseverance and pleasure, fail to be either intrinsically good or good without qualification.

    You are not heading to “Jones is good” are you?

  83. @john personna:

    (Neither can you say “speech is good.”)

  84. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    I don’t reckon for that Kant guy (Ain’t he a furriner?)

    I do know that it would be GOOD THING if You Tube were to take down that video voluntarily, since as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, continued viewing of video will stoke more violence. THAT’S real world, whatever Locke, Mills, Kant or Hegel would think.

  85. G.A. says:

    Again: we do not curtail free speech based on the potential actions of a brainless mob in a foreign country.

    They got a brain, it’s name is Islam.

  86. george says:

    @john personna:

    Any defense of Jones is legalistic. It says that since speech is free, speech that leads to deaths is no different from speech that does not lead to deaths.

    That is not a fully developed morality.

    Actually it is fully developed, its just more sophisticated than what you’re listing. The argument goes that the long term damage from curtailing speech is worse than short damage that free speech might incurr.

    Its like exercise – your short term chance of getting a heart attack is higher if you’re exercising than if you’re sitting on the couch, but your long term chances of such an attack is lower if you exercise than if you never exercise.

    Which isn’t to say that Jones isn’t a moron. Though I’d add that anyone who lets themselves be riled up by an idiot like Mr.Jones is just looking for an excuse, and will find one somewhere or another in any case.

  87. @george:

    Remember, there are both legal and social limitations on speech already in place.

    That boat has sailed.

    Further, to reject social disapprobation is to make legal response the only choice. You don’t really want that, do you?

  88. Rob in CT says:

    Though I’d add that anyone who lets themselves be riled up by an idiot like Mr.Jones is just looking for an excuse, and will find one somewhere or another in any case.

    Agreed. This “film” is one of the weakest excuses for violence one can imagine. Primary responsibility certainly rests on the people who did the killing and those who directly riled them up. Their actions are inexcuseable. This is obvious, and no one here is saying otherwise (contra various sniping from people who hear the imaginary liberals in their head saying so).

    I’m just saying Jones is, in fact, a repugnant ahole. Perhaps that goes w/o saying. Having said it twice now, I’m guilty of overkill. 😉 I’ll leave it there.

  89. @john personna:

    You are not heading to “Jones is good” are you?

    No, I think he is behaving immorally, but that judgement was not aggravated or mitigated by the embassy attack. Let me put it this way: suppose no one and the middle east had cared about this film. Would that have made it okay simply because there are no long bad consequences? Or is there something inherently wrong with Jones’s film regardless of the response it generates?

  90. @john personna:

    Also, you seem to have missed my point. I was not asking for support in terms of where deontologism should be placed in Kholberg’s hierarchy. I was questioning your assertion that Kohlberg himself has explicitly stated they were a 4.

  91. george says:

    @john personna:

    The trick is to keep that boat that’s already sailed as close to shore as possible. There’s always folks happy to visit every port (remember the 50’s and the reaction to communism for instance).

    And as I said above (or in a different thread), I’ve no problem with social disapprobation, just with legal censorship. The social disapprobation goes on all the time (just about every political thread on OTB for instance is full of posters expressing it). I just think it’s odd that such an obvious nut case like Jones can get a response. So yeah, he’s morally wrong, but then a lot of folks are morally wrong (most of us several times in each day). And there’s a lot of things on youtube and the net in general which are extremely offensive (not just to Islam). So why do his rantings start riots?

    Most of his “contributions” are of the “obvious troll is obvious” category. Which doesn’t make him less morally culpable, but I suspect that even he’s amazed that they have such effect, given how bad they are.

  92. Mikey says:

    @john personna:

    If “intent to cause harm” does not have “moral responsibility” what on earth does?

    Jones intends to provoke. Is that equivalent to intending to cause harm? How far can you stretch the chain of responsibility? You talk about speech that leads to deaths, but how much culpability can you assign to someone who merely supports the provocative speech of another, as Jones does with the video’s producer?

    And what of the authorities in Egypt, who permitted the tremendous misrepresentation of the video’s influence? Aren’t they much more directly responsible than even the person who made the video? And don’t think anything on the scope of what happened there and in Libya could have happened without the forbearance of those nations’ governments.

  93. mattb says:

    @stonetools:
    Look… let me try and be as clear as possible… whether you like it or not, you are beginning with the premise that “There is something inherent about Islam that enables this behavior” and then looking for the facts that match your argument.

    Thus, you end up choosing “Islam” as the key thing that links all the incidents that you discuss and tend to ignore any other possible linkages.

    As far as rioting based on media material, the key thing is that at the heart of these riots it transgression of a taboo — sacrilege. The fact is that this causes people to get killed and riots to take place anywhere. Do you have, for example, any idea of the number of people who were regularly killed for Witchcraft in “Christian” (I put that in quotes because many expressions of African Christianity would be nearly unrecognizable to Americans) in Southern African?

    Likewise, in terms of spectacular public violence by non-muslims, take a look at the Tamil Tigers (who helped popularize suicide attacks).

    At best, one can argue that Charismatic Radical Islam is embraced in many of these areas of the world and used as a mechanism, often by the government, of maintaining control. And that these riots are a useful tool for directing public anger towards the “far enemy.” In much the same way, the Saudi’s have been exporting terrorists or rather their revolutionary class for years.

    But is that an aspect of Islam or of a specific type of cultural history and economic system?

    As I continue to point out, there are areas of the world where you can quickly swap out Bhuddists for Muslims and find similar problems. Those just don’t get reported. Likewise we can completely remove religion from the equation and look at Marxist rebels in places like Nepal and find similar attempts to agitate popular uprisings at the drop of a hat. Or the afore mentioned attacks on Witches that were all too common in Southern Africa and Indonesia.

    And the idea that there is someone specific to Islam that “fights modernization” is false as well. Historically there have been many wars and revolutions fought in attempts to prevent modernization or cultural invasions. In fact, there are countless times in American history where this occurred as well — to some degree the Tea Party can even be seen as a partial expression of this.

    The key difference is that in economically stable areas, where there are low unemployment rates, and a generally higher level of education, and a strong central government, these protests are generally peaceful.

    That said, let us point out that Americans have been known to riot over something as innocuous as the firing of a College Football coach or their team winning the championship. So I’m not entirely sure we have a right to consider ourselves completely above this sort of thing.

  94. mattb says:

    BTW, I’m am in NO WAY saying that the recent Penn State riots are equivalent to what happened in Libya. Or that Penn State is equivalent to Cairo.

    But does anyone want to seriously argue that — in terms of cause — rioting over a Football coach being fired for covering up pedophilia is in any way better than rioting over a intentional insult to ones religion? And, in the case of Penn State, those rioters don’t even get the benefit of living in a society full of political, economic, and social unrest.

    My point, is as much as we (Americans) want to think ourselves above these things, out own recent history suggests that we might be just as susceptible given the right trigger issue.

    Again, the rioters are clearly to blame. But, again to think that this has something inherently to do with their Religion is a fundamental mistake.

  95. Mikey says:

    @mattb: Obviously there has been more than one huge, violent riot in America–53 people died in the 1992 Los Angeles riots, not to mention the racial and social unrests of the 1960s. So there’s no doubt “it could happen here.” But it seems to happen with far less frequency here, and the triggers are far more significant than mere cartoons (the 2005 Mohammed cartoon riots claimed at least 100 lives).

    I think a lot of this is stirred up by oppressive Middle Eastern governments that see a restless population and want to provide a scapegoat and an outlet for pent-up frustrations. You didn’t see buildings burning in Dearborn when the Danish cartoons were published.

  96. mattb says:

    @Mikey:

    the triggers are far more significant than mere cartoons (the 2005 Mohammed cartoon riots claimed at least 100 lives).

    Again — can we really say that your team winning the big game or Penn State are in the grand scheme of things more significant than the cartoon riots? Have sports reached the level of religion in the US?

    I think a lot of this is stirred up by oppressive Middle Eastern governments that see a restless population and want to provide a scapegoat and an outlet for pent-up frustrations.

    That has always been my point. Does Islam play a factor? Sure in so much as it sets up the tipping point. But in all of these riots, you typically find a lot of deeper common causes which have far less to do with Religion and far more to do with actual living conditions.

    Again, riots like these have long been a method of control for repressive regimes to enabled “controlled” uncontrolled expressions of direct anger at targets other than themselves.

  97. Mikey says:

    @mattb:

    Again — can we really say that your team winning the big game or Penn State are in the grand scheme of things more significant than the cartoon riots? Have sports reached the level of religion in the US?

    The difference is a LOT of people died in the cartoon riots. When fans riot after a sports championship, you might see cuts and bruises and a car or two on fire, but for the most part it’s just general drunkenness. There’s something specific to incidents like the cartoon riots that crosses the line into real, deadly violence, and we don’t see that in sports riots…but we DID see it in the race riots.

  98. mattb says:

    @Mikey: Right. That’s why I said I’m not trying to find equivalence.

    I am suggesting we need to split the issue into 2 different things:
    (1) How easy is it to cause a riot. Generally speaking, the answers is not all that hard when you are dealing with either breaking a big enough taboo or dealing with people in ecstatic conditions. And the more under pressure the population is, the easier it is to do.

    (2) How far does the riot go. And on that has to do with two big factors in my mind: (1) the level of othering in a community (and note, often the victim of Muslim violence in these riots are member of opposing sects… just as the victims of American race riots were typically Americans of a different skin color) and (2) the level of centralized government and the longer term ability of that government to prosecute. There are lots of power dynamics in there.

    But, as we are seeing, all too often, a riot becomes an easy cover for revenge or attacks between long standing enemys.

  99. Trumwill says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I wanted to thumbs-up this comment:

    No, I think he is behaving immorally, but that judgement was not aggravated or mitigated by the embassy attack.

    I was perfectly willing to condemn Jones when he promoted the release of the movie. I’m willing to condemn him now, except insofar as I am unwilling to focus on his role in what came after. Assigning different moral culpability to “Innocence of Muslims” and, say, “Religulous” on the basis of the behavior of the group being targeted is to give a lot of power to the group being targeted in determining how they are treated. Worse, we’re incentivizing violent response by giving those groups more leeway than those who do not respond violently.

    I might be more inclined to try to spike “Innocence of Muslims” on pragmatic grounds, simply because consequences do matter, but it ceased being the story as soon as the embassy was raided. I am just not comfortable saying that we should cater to disproportionate and violent responses.

  100. matt says:

    RIP Sean Smith. We’ll miss you buddy.

  101. Mikey says:

    According to news reports I’ve seen this morning, it appears the incidents in Cairo and Benghazi are very different animals indeed, and that the Benghazi incident, rather than being a protest, was a coordinated terrorist attack.

    http://www.wtop.com/215/3033617/Consulate-attack-in-Libya-was-coordinated

  102. Orion says:

    @Xenos: Take a look at this important article “October Surprise Conspiracy” (at: http://zhaabeezh.blogspot.com/2012/09/october-surprise-conspiracy.html):
    I think the recent attacks on US embassies in Egypt & Libya on Sept-11-2012 may have been orchestrated by Republican Party and/or its supporters, for political gains before election as part of their October-Surprise (OS) mission, similar to the one they did back in 1980 for Reagan/Bush against President Carter, & made a deal behind curtains, behind State department, CIA, etc. with hostage takers & government of Iran (& again in Iran-Contra/Irangate). The immediate question is the coincidence of all these activities & events:…

  103. Orion says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: Take a look at this important article “October Surprise Conspiracy” (at: http://zhaabeezh.blogspot.com/2012/09/october-surprise-conspiracy.html) & “An Israeli October Surprise for Obama?“:
    I think the recent attacks on US embassies in Egypt & Libya on Sept-11-2012 may have been orchestrated by Republican Party and/or its supporters, for political gains before election as part of their October-Surprise (OS) mission, similar to the one they did back in 1980 for Reagan/Bush against President Carter, & made a deal behind curtains, behind State department, CIA, etc. with hostage takers & government of Iran (& again in Iran-Contra/Irangate). The immediate question is the coincidence of all these activities & events:…