The Instigator
rwebberc
Pro (for)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
Puck
Con (against)
Winning
27 Points

Bring it, I'm bored. Challenge me on anything

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/29/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,820 times Debate No: 4832
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (26)
Votes (10)

 

rwebberc

Pro

I haven't been on here in a while and I'm looking for some intellectual stimulation. Challenge me on any subject you like, but keep in mind that I'm an international politics major and my main non-academic interest is sports. So if you challenge me on the merits of Inuyasha vs. Dragonball Z or some crap I wouldn't expect a very good debate. Good luck to my opponent.
Puck

Con

Topic: Religion(s) should have special immunity from criticism.

Position: Con

Any questions we can clarify in the comments section.
Debate Round No. 1
rwebberc

Pro

Sooo for those of you reading the comments section you've probably noticed that I backed out of Puck's original challenge due to a lack of interest in the position I would be defending. My apologies to those who were disappointed, I simply don't have quite enough time to come up with a BS argument at the moment. I will keep my opening statement brief as I have to be at job number two in about two hours :(

The resolution as stated by my opponent is "It was not ok for Danish Press to publish cartoons of Mohammed"

I will be looking at this from a couple of different angles: first from a practical standpoint, and secondly from a moral standpoint.

I'm sure my opponent will argue about the need to defend free speech, and I certainly agree that freedom of speech is important. But we mustn't forget that words and images have power. There's a reason I can't write f**k on this website or give a speech in a public square inciting my listeners to act violently towards members of a certain race. Certain speech and images have little to no place in a sophisticated society. When the editors of Jyllans-Posten decided to publish these cartoons they claimed to be doing so in "an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship" (http://en.wikipedia.org...). Especially coming so close on the heels of the bombings in London and Madrid, these editors should have been more aware of the need for sensitivity at such a time. Aside from the obvious outrage that the cartoons would cause, as images depicting Muhammad are considered idolatry according to Muslim tradition, some of the cartoons appear to be downright racist. One of the cartoons depicts a scowling Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, the Muslim shahada is written on the bomb. Another contains a poem blaming Muhammad for the oppression of women. Given the current political climate this seems to be a foolish decision. It is blindly, if not intentionally damaging to inter-faith dialogue.

This incident is especially curious because of the issue of Muslims in Europe. Muslim immigrants in Europe have found much less acceptance and have found it much harder to assimilate into their new homelands than their American counterparts. With this in mind, if the editors at Jyllands-Posten were so concerned with the dialogue on self-censorship, why did they reject cartoons of Jesus Christ that they thought might be offensive to readers (http://www.guardian.co.uk...)? The same editor who found it appropriate to publish the somewhat racist and stereotype-enforcing cartoons about Muhammad responded to the cartoonist who had submitted them with this quote "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them." This is laughably hypocritical. The cartoons which the paper instead chose to publish, excuse me, ASKED their cartoonists to create, misrepresent Islam as a vehicle for violence and Muslims as war-mongering, bulbous-nosed misogynists. This was not an expression of freedom of speech, it was a childish publicity stunt done with a complete lack of respect for the feelings of an already alienated Muslim community.
Puck

Con

http://www.zombietime.com...

^ For the readers and Pro's benefit, the cartoons in full and readable print.

Also included are images from the pamphlet that was distributed BY Danish Imams to Muslims in the Middle East, with the addition of several extra inflammatory images for the sole purpose one would guess, of inciting the populace.

"Certain speech and images have little to no place in a sophisticated society. When the editors of Jyllans-Posten decided to publish these cartoons they claimed to be doing so in "an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding criticism of Islam and self-censorship" (http://en.wikipedia.org......). Especially coming so close on the heels of the bombings in London and Madrid, these editors should have been more aware of the need for sensitivity at such a time.

Sensitivity for whom? The victims and their families deserve sensitivity, not the religious institutions that may have appropriated such disasters. Although al-Qaeda's involvements in those two cases are debatable, their support of them is not. In that regard, it is not so much a case of free speech as criticising why, in this case Islam, a religious doctrine can produce such violent outcomes amongst its members. The irony being of course that the ensuing protests upon the publication of these images were violent in and of themselves, in protestation of Islam's peaceful nature. The Danish Imams did far worse by deliberately lying to the faithful who listen to them.

"Aside from the obvious outrage that the cartoons would cause, as images depicting Muhammad are considered idolatry according to Muslim tradition, some of the cartoons appear to be downright racist."

Islam is not a race and there is nothing inherently racist about the cartoon images. A Caucasian Muslim is perfectly acceptable to the religion itself. If you notice on the link provided at the top, the "white" Muhammad is labeled a PR stunt. That is what newspapers do. They make money by sensationalising and selling copies. People then buy said copies; will you admonish the readers who bought the paper as well? (That's the free speech bit).

"One of the cartoons depicts a scowling Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, the Muslim shahada is written on the bomb. Another contains a poem blaming Muhammad for the oppression of women. Given the current political climate this seems to be a foolish decision. It is blindly, if not intentionally damaging to inter-faith dialogue."

How is this exactly foolish? It is foolish to possibly incite violent religions in case they are more violent? That is backwards rhetoric, and pandering exactly to Islam's Imams. If they didn't want people, media, governments to give them special privileges from criticism they would not aggressively enforce it so much. However they do, frequently. It is for that very reason that criticism must be employed. Satirical cartoons are a valid form of criticism. It can be both a PR stunt and criticism, the two are not exclusive. Inter faith dialogue is between the religions themselves, not a newspaper and an angry mob of protestors threatening to cut off their heads while burning effigies.

"This incident is especially curious because of the issue of Muslims in Europe. Muslim immigrants in Europe have found much less acceptance and have found it much harder to assimilate into their new homelands than their American counterparts."

Any lack of assimilation (an ugly term) is the fault of the populace itself. There are no laws that force segregation, no non-Muslim schools, public transport etc. Those populaces choose to remain segregated, stay enclosed in their communities. There is nothing forcing them to act that way except the leaders of their own communities. Why should a media source pander to such a choice by not publishing certain content? The answer is of course, they shouldn't.

"With this in mind, if the editors at Jyllands-Posten were so concerned with the dialogue on self-censorship, why did they reject cartoons of Jesus Christ that they thought might be offensive to readers (http://www.guardian.co.uk......)? The same editor who found it appropriate to publish the somewhat racist and stereotype-enforcing cartoons about Muhammad responded to the cartoonist who had submitted them with this quote "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them." This is laughably hypocritical."

"In April 2003, Danish illustrator Christoffer Zieler submitted a series of unsolicited cartoons dealing with the resurrection of Christ to Jyllands-Posten."

Last I checked unsolicited offerings of publication were not considered the best basis for publication decision. It really does not matter if it was a hypocritical stance, if both sets were published as you advocate then you would be annoying both Christians and Muslims. If the editor did not find them funny, and as the illustrator said "type that my Christian grandfather would enjoy " then they certainly would not of been a good sale point for the newspaper. It is the editor's job after all to sell them.

"The cartoons which the paper instead chose to publish, excuse me, ASKED their cartoonists to create, misrepresent Islam as a vehicle for violence and Muslims as war-mongering, bulbous-nosed misogynists. This was not an expression of freedom of speech, it was a childish publicity stunt done with a complete lack of respect for the feelings of an already alienated Muslim community."

Except they do not misrepresent Islam. Islamic culture can be mysoginist and violent. Its culture is highly patriarchal and it actively acts against female advancement and freedom. It produces violence in its "normal" populace. Its Imams promote violent protest. It has a long history of seeking to destroy any person who speaks against it. Salman Rushdie anyone?

It was a newspaper, publicity is its currency. Islam's followers can not continue to ignore the fruit of its doctrine and shove to the side as fundamentalism, because frankly it is not and criticism of such doctrines should be employed more often.
Debate Round No. 2
rwebberc

Pro

Although I my self am an agnostic (in fact I would consider myself a 6 on Richard Dawkins' scale) I find my opponent's flippant remarks regarding Islam to be rather troubling. Let me start by addressing claims made by my opponent in his opening argument.

"sensitivity for whom?...amongst its members."

First, let me answer my opponent's question. My point here was that following these attacks, a tremendous amount of anti-Muslim sentiment was stirred up amongst an already xenophobic population. After 9/11, the backlash against ordinary Muslims in the United States was so strong that many Muslims went into hiding, and even a Sikh man in Arizona was murdered simply for wearing a turban. With this in mind, I believe it is the media's duty to ensure that they do not propagate negative views of Islam. The publication of these cartoons did nothing to further such a goal.
Secondly, my opponent seems to have confused al-Qaeda with Islam. Simply because al-Qaeda is an extremist Muslim group doesn't mean that an act which is committed by them must be followed by scrutiny and, in this case, degradation of a religion practiced by over a billion people.

"Islam is not a race...(That's the free speech bit)."

True, Islam is not a race. But Arab is. The characters in many of these cartoons are bearded men with scowling, shady faces dominated by big, bulbous noses. It reminds me a bit of the big-lipped African-American characters from cartoons of old.
The "white Muhammad" my opponent is referring to is actually Danish writer Kare Bluitgen, who had recently published a children's book about Muhammad with illustrations. The PR stunt it talks about is his book. The Muhammad in that cartoon is the stick figure drawing he is holding.
My opponent's final point here makes my case perfectly. Newspapers are by definition papers which should contain news. Sensationalism has no place in journalism. Here's the first definition of it in Webster's dictionary: "subject matter, language, or style producing or designed to produce startling or thrilling impressions or to excite and please vulgar taste." Does that sound like news to you? Is this really the type of reporting that my opponent advocates? Look up the wikipedia entry for tabloid paper and count how many times it uses the word "sensational" (I counted 15). I'm not saying that the newspaper didn't have the right to publish these cartoons, I'm simply saying they shouldn't have based on the reasons I've given.

"How is this...heads while burning effigies."

If you don't believe me about the prevalence of anti-Muslim sentiment in Western Europe, you can read about it here (http://www.fairuk.org...), or here (http://www.independent.co.uk...), or here (http://www.masud.co.uk...). No seriously, don't take my word for it, take historian and Holocaust survivor Walter Laqueur's (http://blog.oup.com...). To imply that this "violent religion" has brought this upon itself is not only quite foolish but also simply ignorant.
I agree that cartoons have a place as a valid form of criticism and this would be a legitimate argument here if Jyllands-Posten had a long history of standing up for provocative artistic expression. However, the editor refused the cartoons about Jesus on the grounds that they would OFFEND its readers. Why is it okay for his newspaper to offend Muslim readers but not Christian ones?

"Any lack of assimilation...they shouldn't."

I'm sorry but this is simply ridiculous. I've already talked about how pervasive Islamophobia is in Europe. The other day a woman was denied French citizenship for wearing a burqa, which has also been outlawed in all French schools (http://www.lemonde.fr...). Here's a quote from a recent report on the integration of Muslims in Europe by the Council on Foreign Relations: "The European-born children of the first generation immigrants have been educated in European schools, are more assertive than their parents, and speak Western languages fluently. At the same time, however, this second generation has experienced barriers to acceptance by European society, including widespread discrimination. Cesari says the discrimination occurs at every level of society, from housing to education to cultural practices." (http://www.cfr.org...) My opponent's point here is simply plain wrong.

"Last I checked…sell them."

Herein lies the real crux of the argument. Indeed, these cartoons weren't unsolicited. The paper WANTED to cause trouble, just not the kind of trouble it ended up getting. "We have gone to war against the multicultural ideology that says that everything is equally valid. The Culture War has now been raging for some years. And I think we can conclude that the first round has been won. The next front is the war against the acceptance of Muslims norms and ways of thought. The Danish cultural heritage is a source of strength in an age of globalization and immigration. Cultural restoration is the best antidote." Interesting quote, don't you think? This vaguely fascist, anti-Muslim comment is from a speech given by Danish minister of cultural affairs, Brian Mikkelsen, at his party's annual meeting the week before the cartoons were published last fall (http://www.spiegel.de...). Strange coincidence? Sadly, no. Jylland-Postens has historically been associated with the minister's Venstre party, and has been known to run stories which promote it's anti-immigrant agenda (http://www.meforum.org...). The offensiveness of these cartoons was seen as a benefit not because of the free speech dialogue that would result, but because it would further the paper's conservative cause. This shows a complete lack of journalistic ethics.

"Except they…more often."

Wow. Impressive generalizations here. Sure Islamic cultures can be misogynistic, so can all cultures. If misogyny is such an Islamic problem, why have two of the largest Muslim countries in the world, Bangladesh and Pakistan, voted women into power as prime minister while we here in the US are hearing questions like "are we really ready for a woman in the Oval Office" (apparently we're not)? Honestly we're getting off topic with this talk but if my opponent would like to debate me as to whether or not violence and terrorism are the "fruit" of the Islamic doctrine I would be happy to do so, but I would prefer if he keep his bigotry to himself in the meantime.

As I have shown, these cartoons were not meant as constructive criticism or as tools to begin a dialogue, but instead as political, anti-immigrant propaganda. A newspaper's currency should be its information, its integrity, and its independence, not its sensationalism or its ability to conjure up PR stunts.

(Note: I had to cut down my opponent's quotes in order to make room for my entire argument. Sorry if it makes it a little harder to follow.)
Puck

Con

"I find my opponent's flippant remarks regarding Islam to be rather troubling.."

Your opinion of me is irrelevant to this debate. Any such appeals to emotion can be regarded as useless for the logical fallacy that they are.

"With this in mind, I believe it is the media's duty to ensure that they do not propagate negative views of Islam. The publication of these cartoons did nothing to further such a goal."

The media has no pro social goal. No altruistic common cause for good. It certainly has no inherent responsibility to self censor criticism.

"Secondly, my opponent seems to have confused al-Qaeda with Islam. Simply because al-Qaeda is an extremist Muslim group doesn't mean that an act which is committed by them must be followed by scrutiny and, in this case, degradation of a religion practiced by over a billion people."

No you simply missed the point. By bringing up the London and Madrid bombings you inferred that this would be reason to censor Islamic criticism. The very fact an Islamic organisation condoned those acts, showed why criticism was relevant. Islamic doctrine produced and supports the organisation. Claims of oh but its just fundamentalism and therefore irrelevant wholly misses the point that Islam can produce such organisations amongst its faithful in full compliance of its religious doctrines.

"The characters in many of these cartoons are bearded men with scowling, shady faces dominated by big, bulbous noses. It reminds me a bit of the big-lipped African-American characters from cartoons of old.."

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with caricatures that are the mainstay of newspaper satire.

http://www.dorkinglabs.com...

^ Is that a racist attack on "white" Americans? Of course not.

http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk...

^ Perhaps it was a racist attack on Europeans. Again no. Caricatures as a form of satire are well known and documented. Note the "bulbous" features you find so offensive.

"Newspapers are by definition papers which should contain news."

They do, Jyllands-Posten certainly does. Newspapers may also contain horoscopes, daily letters to the editor, opinion pieces, recipes, comic strips, crosswords, daily religion of area quotes and yes, satirical cartoons.

"If you don't believe me…"

Source 1 has no relelvant pre-publication data. Source 2 is 1 year after the publication. From source 4:

"In Germany, to give but one example, immigrants from Black Africa and the Far East have been attacked more often than Muslims, in Russia students from Black Africa and Christians from the Caucasus (Georgians and Armenians) have been attacked at least as often as often as those from Muslim Azerbaidjan. If there has been latent hostility towards Islam India would probably be a better example. But Islamophobia has never been used in the Indian context, hence the suspicion that "Islamophobia" came into being as a public relations stratagem (partly as a counterweight to antisemitism) in the West in which it was expected to have a political impact in view of guilt feelings prevailing in these countries. This is not of course to deny the existence of tensions and conflicts but these were and are mutual and the term "Islamophobia" clearly intended to allocate responsibility and guilt to one side only."

Source 3 appears to be a dead link. To actually make this argument relevant, examples from the time and region of publication would have been needed. You have failed to provide an "anti Islam" rationale relevant to the time of the cartoons publication.

"I've already talked about how pervasive Islamophobia is in Europe..."

Which is irrelevant to this debate. Jyllands-Posten were supposed to make a decision based upon a social climate 3 years into the future? I think not. All such calls about how any society is now is irrelevant to the decision to print made then. It is simply a red herring argument.

"The paper WANTED to cause trouble, just not the kind of trouble it ended up getting.."

No it wanted to prove a point. There is a taboo on drawing Muhammed, they sought those who were willing to break that taboo. If Islam's faithful wish to censor images of Muhammed they can - amongst those of their faith. To ask the rest of society, the non faithful, to comply to the same RELIGIOUS order is absurd. It should also be noted that when an Egytian paper published the same images no such furore occurred. It's only disrespect if the non faithful publish images? Such wonderful double standards.

"Jylland-Postens has historically been associated with the minister's Venstre party.."

I'm more shocked that you seem to think newspapers are some paragon of journalistic integrity with no affiliated bias. Major papers are biased, simple. Again, such things are not exclusive. It is not a political party run paper, it may have a political party bias. Likewise it can publish to certain spectrums and still employ other reasoning i.e. satire. All such correlations are fun to look at but prove very little. To give an example, we could look at their staff and see what % of staff were Muslim and from that infer they were actively biased in hiring non Muslims. It may well be a strong negative correlation, but still a useless conclusion to draw.

"Wow. Impressive generalizations here. Sure Islamic cultures can be misogynistic, so can all cultures.."

I never implied it was especially unique.

"If misogyny is such an Islamic problem, why have two of the largest Muslim countries in the world, Bangladesh and Pakistan, voted women into power as prime minister while we here in the US are hearing questions like "are we really ready for a woman in the Oval Office"

i.e. Do not make broad statements yet apply my narrow examples to broad statements. You have simply contradicted yourself. Benazir Bhutto was assasinated in case you forgot. By Muslims.

I in no way imply all Islamic nations are homogenous. Albanian Muslims are far different to Middle Eastern Muslims, again different to Indonesian Muslims etc. The underlying themes however rarely change. I'm in full support of Pakistan and Bangladesh having female PMs but that is not the norm for the majority of Islamic nations or cultures.

My opponent thinks that newspapers are some cultural entity removed from the processes it reports upon. If a newspaper does not sell copies it simply ceases to exist. Does this mean Jylland-Posten sought to publish cartoons purely for financial or political gain? Absolutely not. The very asking by the editor for the cartoons was a constructive criticism in itself of Islamic tradition. Did the cartoons publish any falsities? Again no. Did it try and hide what its dual purposes was? Again no. It was social satire, newspapers commonly employ it. Cartoonist become famous for it. It is a valid form of protest and its protests against Islam were equally valid. It certainly has no responsibility to any minority group for self censorship. For some of the cartoonists, it was an expression of something deeply felt and personal.

From one of the cartoonists themselves with a follow-up piece.

http://ibloga.blogspot.com...

"It is me on the right. My head is about to explode of anger concerning the insult to my person. At the same time I am angry about the actions of terror in New York, Madrid and London. I had a special personal relation to New York. I loved to sit in the wonderful bookstore, Borders, in the World Trade Center. To the left I have added the old drawing of Mohammad, because it started it all. The hare symbolizes my own personal courage, which is not that big. It is the part of me, which maybe prefers to get away, and that cannot control everything." - Kurt Westergaard
(His family was in hiding after death threats.)

Regards, Puck.
Debate Round No. 3
rwebberc

Pro

rwebberc forfeited this round.
Puck

Con

I guess Pro's boredom got the better of him. Do not let his tricky rebuttal in the form of a forfeit fool you. :D
Debate Round No. 4
26 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by rwebberc 8 years ago
rwebberc
I just wanted to apologize to puck for forfeiting the final round of this debate, I appreciated his views but my work schedule got the best of me.
Posted by Josh 8 years ago
Josh
Still bored rwebberc? (Or are you more bored?)
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
Great debate guys. I agree with Pro in so much as their has to be a limit to free speech, such as inciting racial hatred and also Con's point that religion should not be accorded any special dispensation.

After some deliberation I voted Con, not least because Pro forfeited his last round.
Posted by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
"the religions has evolved to survive in the modern world."

LULZ EVOLUTION. WAIT TILL VENOMFANGX DOESN'T HEAR ABOUT THIS!
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
abrahamic religions only teach peacefullness to members of their own religion.

that is occording to the original texts of course...

things have obviously changed.

the religions has evolved to survive in the modern world.
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
all abrahamic religions only teach peacefullness to members of their own religion. Even jesus' teachings were only meant to be applicable to other jews. Non jews were completely irrelevent. Jesus would be roling in his grave if he knew about the mess he made
Posted by Zerosmelt 8 years ago
Zerosmelt
the koran does teach peace but it also repeatedly requires muslims to murder.
its the moderates who ignore these passages
Posted by Im_always_right 8 years ago
Im_always_right
Well since they don't they will suffer in their after life.

I am not arguing that they do not go by it, but then again all christians sin, I don't think there is a religion where you can be sinless. That doesn't mean hijack a plane and crash it, just so you know. that way nobody can say that I was trying to say that.
Posted by Rezzealaux 8 years ago
Rezzealaux
If the book is about peace then obvious plenty of them don't go by it.
Posted by Im_always_right 8 years ago
Im_always_right
YAY, Puck! **Me secretly ponders if I can wait that long**
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