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Making a mockery of free speech

Making a mockery of free speech

Khwaja Ahmed, above, of Irvine in California, has launched a petition calling on the University of California, Berkeley, to bar Bill Maher from speaking at the school’s graduation ceremony on December 20.

Maher, a celebrated US  stand-up comedian, television host, political commentator and outspoken atheist, was invited to deliver the keynote address at UC Berkeley’s graduation.

Ironically, the University is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement this fall.

According to this report, the petition follows a much-debated segment on HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” in which the host sparred with actor Ben Affleck over radical Islam, arguing that fundamentalist views are commonly held in Muslim communities, not the exception as Affleck asserted. (Watch Affleck losing his cool here).

Bill Maher

Bill Maher

Maher made the 2008 movie Religulous (watch it on YouTube) and often criticises organised religion on his late-night programme. But this segment went particularly viral, attracting more than 1.2 million views on YouTube, and dominating cable news panels earlier this month. In the clip, Maher said liberals should stand up for principles like free speech, but not everyone bought his argument.

In his petition, which has so far attracted just over 1,000 signatures, Ahmed says:

Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for. In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment.

Bill Maher’s public statements on various religions and cultures are offensive and his dangerous rhetoric has found its way into our campus communities.

Ahmed then provides some examples of Maher’s “hate speech”. Here’s are two:

• Rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.

• At least half of the [Ten] Commandments are stupid!

A press rep for Berkeley did not immediately respond to a request to comment. The school’s official newspaper, the Daily Californian, announced on Tuesday that Maher will speak at the school’s graduation ceremony.

Meanwhile, it is reported here that fury has erupted in Afghanistan over a newspaper article that condemned the Islamic State group and the Taliban.

Afghans call for the death of those responsible for a blasphemous newspaper op-ed.

Afghans call for the death of those responsible for a blasphemous newspaper op-ed.

In an opinion piece published last week in the English-language daily the Afghanistan Express, a journalist named A J Ahwar admonished Muslims for remaining silent in the face of Isis and the Taliban.

He also criticised Islam for not accepting other religions and minorities such as homosexuals and Hazaras, a Shia minority in Afghanistan.

The article ended by concluding that human beings are more important than God

This triggered demonstrations in several Afghan cities yesterday, with protesters denouncing the article as blasphemous and calling on the government to punish the publication.

In Kabul, a crowd of approximately 500 people, including clerics and several members of parliament, gathered in front of the Eid Gah Mosque, the city’s second largest house of worship.

Said Mangal Bader, 38, one of the protesters:

The newspaper said God can’t control people and that God is unwise.

He joined others in calling for the newspaper staff to suffer the same fate as five men who were recently convicted of rape and hanged, after great public furore.

Said Fazl Hadi Wazin, an Islamic scholar at Salam University who spoke from the outdoor podium.

The government must stop the people who insulted the prophet, the Qur’an and Islam, and prevent them from leaving the country.

Another zealot – Ahmad, 22 – declared:

They need to be executed so humans know that you cannot insult the religion of Allah.

In a public apology issued days after the controversial article, the Afghanistan Express explained that the op-ed was published due to a “technical mistake”. The apology, however, has done little to quell the anger.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Afghanistan report)

29 responses to “Making a mockery of free speech”

  1. barriejohn says:

    Barry: Did you notice that these idiots claim to be defending freedom of expression?

    “The international community pretend to be heroes of freedom of expression,” said Wazin after his speech. “They have to come out and say they are not behind this. If they don’t, these protests will grow.”

    Talk about “You couldn’t make it up”!

    I was tempted to remark that the worst aspect was the supine “apology”, but can you wonder at it really? And all in the week that Benjamin Bradlee died!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_C._Bradlee

  2. Broga says:

    Open and free debate, exchanging facts, producing evidence: that is what the religious cannot handle. They always lose. So they have to resort to censorship e.g. the BBC and Thought for the Day and violence.

  3. zombiehunter says:

    Bill Maher is awesome

    Ben Affleck is a tool, he fucking sucked in daredevil and he will fucking suck in batman vs superman too

    (though the new batmobile does look cool)

  4. jay says:

    The sad thing is, he may succeed. Colleges have been folding against protests like these and have become profoundly ‘sensitive to the needs of the disadvantaged’, which basically means don’t say anything that the muddy headed left does not want to hear. Apparently it’s not censorship if it’s for a good cause (and it always is).

    Zombiehunter: “Bill Maher is awesome”. Not really. His anti-vaccination advocacy is probably indirectly causing disease and deaths.

  5. Stephen Turner says:

    And presumably none of those calling for the journalist’s death have been
    arrested. That being said, the fact that this has appeared at all seems positive.

  6. Paul Cook says:

    I like this bit :
    “we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment’

    What like using a book written by people who thought a wheelbarrow was the mother of all garden inventions, that is touted as factual and the only book any one would ever need to (rote learn) read.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Bill Maher does say some strange things at times, and can be very dogmatic in his asserions, but at least he makes an attempt to be rational and isn’t afraid to ridicule superstitious belief, all of which rather begs the question: how come people like him are so popular in the USA if everyone there is so devoutly religious?

  8. Toto says:

    When a civilised grown up person does not agree an opinion, that person will hear out the assertion and counter with a reasoned rational response. It is called democratic free speech. When a bigoted person wants to defend a stupid idea or an patently incorrect position he will shout down the opposing speaker or otherwise deny him the opportunity speak. When the pious need to defend the indefensible they criminalise the opposition by shrill accusations of apostasy or blasphemy. Islamic zealots simply murder the opposition. Easy….because they are doing the will of their imaginary all knowing big boss in the sky God. Anyone petitioning against Bill immediately forfeits the right to be considered a civilised rational person.

  9. Matt Westwood says:

    He accused me of being a violent thug so I beat his stupid head in.

  10. Marky Mark says:

    I like Bill Maher and as to his opinions on vaccination…I still have fillings in my teeth that contain mercury, maybe he has information that we don’t.

  11. Marky Mark says:

    “all of which rather begs the question: how come people like him are so popular in the USA if everyone there is so devoutly religious?”

    I think we are a silent majority here in the USA. I’m surprised how many people that I converse with will say, “I don’t believe all that crap” when the conversation turns to religion. Many X-catlicks

  12. barriejohn says:

    Marky Mark: I’m sure that there are millions of you. I still don’t understand how a nation that prides itself on the separation of church and state can allow religious maniacs to give addresses at its presidential inaugurations, allow “Presidential Prayer Breakfasts” (also addressed on occasions by sheer lunatics), and allow so many Christian references in many other spheres of national life. It will be Remembrance Sunday here in the UK very shortly, and, although the Cenotaph was deliberately designed as a non-religious memorial to “The Glorious Dead”, a priest clad in silly robes will march out to take his position at a microphone, followed by a phalanx of choirboys, a sermon will be preached and hymns sung, and everyone will pretend to be a devout believer on that occasion, whilst our retarded queen once again “purrs” like a cat. Sheer, bloody hypocrisy!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cenotaph,_Whitehall

  13. Toto says:

    And I hate the term islamic scholar, unless it is being used ironically. Scholar…. an intelligent and well-educated person who knows a particular subject very well. You can hardly credit a narrow minded fundamentalist loon, who only knows and believes one book, learned by rote through years of mind numbing endless repetitive chanting, with the appellation scholar.

  14. Superdynamite says:

    How about we ban all the Muslims that were dancing in the streets on September 11th,2001, celebrating the planes crashing into the twin towers. How about we revoke all the drivers licenses of all the cab drivers that were not in downtown Manhattan the morning of September 11th, 2001, because they knew that there would be an attack and send them back to the country they were cheering for. How about the USA deems Islam “incompatible” with our society like peaceful Japan has done.

    How much time does a group of people have on earth once they declare war on everyone? The countdown to extinction has begun. It’s only a matter of time. Then WE’LL be the ones cheering. (c:

  15. zombiehunter says:

    I looked up Bill Mahers opinions on vaccines, ok when it comes to that he’s off the mark but when it comes to religion he is on the money especially when it comes to the lefts denial of atrocities committed by Islam.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Bill Maher has come in for criticism over many of his views. I wonder whether he really believes all that he says or is just stirring it sometimes.

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/01/14/bill-maher-on-christine-maggiores-book/

  17. Tom80 says:

    @Barriejohn
    I agree that the Centotaph was designed as non religious. It was designed to honour the dead from the 194-18 war and not favouring any particular faith. I have an opinion that in those times this country was far more religious than it is now. Church attendance was certainly greater than now, judging by the records in the Church I attend. I think that the majority of those who fell in the war would have expected some form of religious ceremony at a memorial service for them, so it seems fitting to me that this should take place at the Centotaph

  18. Marky Mark says:

    Barriejohn said;
    “I’m sure that there are millions of you. I still don’t understand how a nation that prides itself on the separation of church and state can allow religious maniacs to give addresses at its presidential inaugurations, allow “Presidential Prayer Breakfasts” ”

    The problem is organizing…many atheists I know don’t bother to vote, where as the Christian Right motivates their followers from the community church(s), even busing them to the poles.

    Their much better organized…plus, though a priest or preacher cannot endorse a specific candidate from the Altar, they can at their pancake breakfasts and luncheons.

  19. Marky Mark says:

    “I wonder whether he really believes all that he says or is just stirring it sometimes.”

    Barriejohn… Bill Maher has much more information about our pharmaceutical corporations who do use their political connections to create fear about flues’ and other virus…remember the hoopla about the Bird Flue? Our government spent billions buying the vaccines for the public with tax dollars…and about three people got the “Bird Flue”, the vaccines spoiled and were thrown out since and the CEO’s of the pharmaceutical corp raked in tens of millions in bonus…Capitalism at its best!

  20. jay says:

    “I looked up Bill Mahers opinions on vaccines, ok when it comes to that he’s off the mark but when it comes to religion he is on the money especially when it comes to the lefts denial of atrocities committed by Islam.”

    Agreed. Some very smart people have also had some flaky beliefs. I strongly agree with him and with Harris when it comes to this issue.

  21. Marky Mark says:

    Speaking of political Christians…here is a link about my favorite one and good for a laugh:

    http://paulbibeau.blogspot.com/2014/10/50-ways-to-describe-repulsiveness-of.html#.VEwJwG3fKSp

  22. barriejohn says:

    Tom80: Many of those who fell during both World Wars belonged to other faiths than the Christian one, quite apart from those who had no faith at all. The Cenotaph was always intended to be a secular memorial to them, but the Church of England was so unhappy about that that it crassly attempted to upstage the monument with its own “Tomb of the Unknown Warrior” in Westminster Abbey. It’s this fucking air of entitlement, displayed by religious busybodies like yourself, that gets right up the noses of those of us who consider that a person’s personal beliefs are his own business and not to be forced upon others.

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/uploads/cenotaph-summary-a-consensual-and-contested-monument-of-remembrance.pdf

  23. barriejohn says:

    Marky Mark: I know what you are saying, but I shall continue to have my yearly flu jab!

  24. Marky Mark says:

    “Marky Mark: I know what you are saying, but I shall continue to have my yearly flu jab!”

    I haven’t had a flu shot yet…and have not had the flu for well over ten years. Bet if you pass on the shot this year you will be just fine, we have built up an immunity to most flues as to why they have to scare us into getting the shot. The young ones may still need them but most adults do not unless your immune system is damaged or one is really old.

  25. Marky Mark says:

    I take that back…it has been over twenty years since I had a flu, and I smoke ciggs too…and have been known to have a drink or two every now and again.

  26. Laura Roberts says:

    This bit is funny: “Said Fazl Hadi Wazin, an Islamic scholar at Salam University who spoke from the outdoor podium…”

    Calling someone an “Islamic scholar” or “Christian scholar” is tantamount to saying “non-scholar” (or, simply, “pseudo-intellectual”). With a very few notable exceptions (e.g. Richard Carrier, Bart Ehrman), the phrase “religious scholar” is an oxymoron.

  27. 1859 says:

    Just watched the Maher/Afflick link. I felt they all became side tracked by the ‘Majority muslims versus minority, extremist muslims’ argument. Instead of standing back and saying – here is a belief system that can and does condone extremist violence and as such it symbolises the extreme irrationality that can infect ALL religions. It is ,to my way of thinking, pointless to pit the ‘goodies’ within a religion against the’ baddies’ in that same religion – because it is the whole body, the entire belief system that is infantile and irrational. All religions believe in some sort of god. We must focus our criticism against this very notion of ‘god’, because the more people come to see how there is not one scrap of evidence, and never has been, in the existence of a supremo in the stars, the more the organised religions will lose their grip on what people believe.

    Epicurus said it best of all some 2000 years ago:

    ‘Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able to prevent evil, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able and willing to prevent evil?
    If so then where does evil come from?
    Is he therefore neither able nor willing to prevent evil?
    If so then why call him god?’

  28. Paul Cook says:

    Barriejohn and Tom80

    On the memorials for our dead. All CWGC cemeteries have a bloody great cross inside them. Very visible. The overt Christianity is very apparent.
    Only in Turkey, for all the CWGC cemeteries at Gallipoli and the one in Kadikoy Istanbul, are Islamic sensibilities catered for, where there is a cross inside what looks like an innocuous looking oblong shaped centrepiece.
    And every soldier has a cross or Jewish star, on his grave in Turkey.

    The French cemetery used unused barbed wire posts for their soldiers shaped into a cross, the Jewish soldiers have no cross bar – but the main stem only. And star.