Je Suis Charlie Hebdo

February 16, 2015
Je Suis Charlie Hebdo
by Ronald D. Rotunda

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Censored SpeechFree speech is under renewed attack after the Charlie Hebdo murders that claimed 12 lives earlier this year. Around the world, some Muslims protested—not to defend the right of free speech but to attack those who, in their view, insulted Islam. For example, in late January, protestors killed five people and set fire to eight Christian Churches in Niger. French President Francois Hollande responded that France was committed to “freedom of expression,” and that commitment is “non-negotiable.”

A month before the Charlie Hebdo violence, a French appellate court overturned the conviction of Christine Tasin, a retired schoolteacher of Classics. In 2013, she had publicly criticized Islam’s Eid-ul-Adha (“Festival of the Sacrifice”), as unsanitary and cruel to animals. The trial court sentenced her to a €3,000 fine (half of which it suspended) and a three month prison sentence, also suspended. Earlier, a Muslim man threatened her with death. The court fined that man only €800. The judge apparently decided that objecting to cruelty to animals is five times more offensive than threatening a retired schoolteacher with death.

Tasin rejoiced in the overturning of her conviction. “Last Thursday was a great day for freedom of expression in France,” she said. She added:

The [appeal] court in Besançon has now acknowledged that one has the right to express opinions and I did not encourage hatred against Muslims, and I can think and say that Islam is a threat to France, that it is a freedom of expression. [Those who] fear that freedom of expression is disappearing, and that blasphemy has become a crime again are relieved. Yes, I am an Islamophobe, so what? It’s Normal! . . . I don’t find it normal to torture animals; I don’t find it normal to veil women. I’m talking about a serious problem.

Others take away a different lesson and encourage self-censorship—be careful what you say. On January 21, Stevie Wonder advised, “we should make laws against people criticizing religion,” a most in-apropos comment (it was part of his eulogy of André Crouch). In 2012, the President’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, in the course of a press conference, said, “We are aware that a French magazine [referring to Charlie Hebdo] published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the prophet Muhammad, and obviously we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this.”

After the 2015 murders of the Charlie Hebdo staff, Carney reaffirmed his view that Charlie Hebdo should have pulled back with its satire. Carney, of course, made clear that he did not justify violence. Yet, as Washington Post columnist Charles Lane advised, “mixed messages unavoidably implied that the rioters had a valid point, which is never something you want to imply—at least not if you understand how dangerous it is to give violent extremists a veto over what your citizens can and cannot say.”

Carney’s successor as White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, speaking shortly after the Charlie Hebdo attack, embraced that mixed message. The violence is terrible, of course, yet, when a reporter asked Josh Earnest, “Does the White House stand by that questioning [in 2012] of the judgment of the publication of that cartoon in light of recent events?”—Earnest’s response was yes, after long, convoluted remarks. He reaffirmed that Charlie Hebdo exercised poor judgment; however, satire “could put Americans abroad at risk,” so the President “will not now be shy about expressing a view or taking the steps that are necessary to try to advocate for the safety and security of our men and women in uniform.”

This response appeared to be a non sequitur so the reporter said that protecting “American service personnel is different than criticizing or raising questions about the judgment underlying any satirical expression, be it to mock Islam or Christianity or Judaism, or anything else.” Consequently, the reporter asked, “Where do you draw the line?” Earnest’s answer, “I think it depends on the scenario.” What does that mean? Don’t mock Islam but Episcopalians are fair game?

It is difficult for you to support free speech if you simultaneously express reservations about what the speaker is saying and then warn that you will “not now be shy” about “taking steps” to discourage the speaker from speaking because that is exercising “poor judgment.”

Jonathan Chait, a commentator for New York Magazine and former senior editor at the New Republic, saw right through this decidedly ambiguous message. What the White House Press Secretary is saying, Chait says, is, “They do not believe religious extremists should be able to impose censorship by issuing threats, but given the existence of those threats, the rest of us should have the good sense not to risk triggering them.” That is not a defense of free speech but rather a call for self-censorship:

“The line separating these two positions is perilously thin. . . . The right to blaspheme religion is one of the most elemental exercises of political liberalism. One cannot defend the right without defending the practice.”

The Washington Post republished the Charlie Hebdo cartoon cover circulated after the attack, but the New York Times did not, noting, “most Muslims consider any depiction of their prophet to be blasphemous.” That certainly appears like self-censorship. (It also shows that the editor of that article does not travel much, at least not to Istanbul, where one could tour the famous Topkapi Palace Museum, which displays many images of Mohammed. That’s another problem with self-censorship; it leads to over-self-censorship, if you are scared enough.)

In December 2004, I gave a speech at the University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands about America and the Gulf War. A month earlier, a 26-year-old Dutch-born Muslim murdered Theo van Gogh, while cycling to work. My speech was public and a Muslim woman spoke up in the back of the room before I began. She was accompanied by several large men and videotaping equipment. She wanted to videotape my speech. I asked the audience if they objected and they did. The audience was obviously scared and I asked her if she had any reaction to that. She refused to speak.

I told her that the audience was scared of her because of the murder of Theo van Gogh and that ought to concern her. She just stared at me in utter silence. I said she could condemn the murder of Theo van Gogh; that might make the audience less frightened. Again, nothing. I finally told her that she could videotape me but the camera must focus only on me. She could not make any record of anyone in the audience. She agreed, and the audience felt better. Then I began my speech by saying that it is important that we not be afraid to speak. After I finished the presentation and answered questions, she and her entourage left. At that moment, I did not need the White House Press Secretary to tell me to exercise “better judgment,” i.e., self-censorship.

Each generation must learn and relearn the lessons of free speech. Those who say we can speak, but should not be rude or offensive do not understand that inoffensive speech has no need of protection. The White House Press Secretary should not be telling us to censor ourselves; he should be telling the world that the cure for speech we do not like is more speech, contrary speech, not violence or self-censorship. If you disagree, respond with words, not force.

Those who worry about inciting those Muslims who preach and act out hate think that appeasement will stop the terrorist attacks. Sadly, appeasement in the past has been about as effective as throwing some blood in the water to appease sharks.
Listen to an Egyptian cleric, Muhammad Hussein Yaqub, speaking in 2009, on Egyptian Television. He told his viewers:

If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. We will never love them…They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine. They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing…You must believe that we will fight, defeat and annihilate them until not a single Jew remains on the face of the earth.

The Quran tells us that if God had wanted one community, He would have made one community. Instead, we are many communities so that we can compete with each other in good works (Quran verse 5:480). The murderers of Charlie Hebdo worry about sacrilege, but they are the ones who are sacrilegious, because they actually think that Almighty God needs those puny men to effectuate His will.

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Jury Duty

Next week I am scheduled for jury duty.  I am rather excited about it, as I honestly believe that it is not just our civic duty to perform, but also our moral duty.  You may be wondering “moral duty?”  Yes!  So many people are hell bent on getting out of this obligation, because it is interfering in their lives; however, they fail to realize the purpose of this duty.  YOU are all that stands between a fellow citizen and jail, potentially a wrongful imprisonment.  This is a serious subject and MUST be deemed as such.  You are not the Prosecuting Attorney’s friend, nor are you the District Attorney’s friend; you are, in fact, the ally of the accused, because you can stop the improper use of the law and say to one and all…THIS IS WRONG AND I WON’T STAND FOR IT!

Why a JURY of your PEERS is is so vital to FREEDOM?  One day long ago a man rode into the small town of Culpeper, VA He was totally shocked by what he saw!  There, in the middle of the town square was a minister tied to a whipping post, his back laid bare and bloody with the bones of his ribs showing. He had been scourged like JESUS, with whips laced with metal.  The man turned to someone and asked what the man had done to deserve a beating such as this.  The reply given him was that the man being scourged was a minister who refused to take a license. He was one of twelve who were locked in jail because they refused to take a license to preach.  The time was March, 1775 and the man who viewed this travesty was none other than Patrick Henry and the incident was the basis for his “…GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH!” speech.

On another occasion in history a Mr. Bushnell sat on the jury for a man who was placed on trial for violation of a “Conventicle Act.” This was an elaborate Act which made the Church of England the only legal church. The Act was struck down by the jury’s not guilty vote. Freedom of Religion was established and became part of the English Bill of Rights and later it became the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In addition, the Right to peaceful assembly was founded, and Freedom of Speech. Had Bushnell and his colleagues yielded to the guilty verdict sought by the judge and prosecutor, William Penn most likely would have been executed as he clearly broke the law.  The year was 1670 and the man on trial was William Penn.

As a member of the Jury you carry much weight and power, unfortunately people are more interested in going home to watch reruns of Friends or MacGyver, hmmmm!  The previous two stories are the basis for the Bill of Rights, more specifically the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments

AMENDMENT VI (1791) to the US Constitution reads as:  “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”  This guarantees each of us the right to an impartial Jury, but so many of us forget that we are INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, not the other way around!

We are endowed with God-given, or inalienable, Rights.  They come from our creator; no one can take them from us and we cannot give them away without the ability to pick them back up and use them again.  Only YOUR creator can take them from you!  As a Juror you have an obligation to the accused to ensure and make certain that he, or she, gets a fair trial.  It is NOT your duty to make certain that every Tom, Dick, and Harry is found guilty of everything that the Prosecutor swings before you and says that he is guilty.  NEWS FLASH: Not every Policeman, District Attorney, Prosecutor, and Judge tells the truth – nor do they ensure that you know everything that you need in order to make that decision.

“All laws which are repugnant to the Constitution are null and void.” Marbury vs. Madison, 5 US (2 Cranch) 137, 174, 176, (1803)

“When rights secured by the Constitution are involved, there can be no rule making or legislation which would abrogate them.” Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 US 436 p. 491.

JURY RIGHTS

“The jury has the right to judge both the law as well as the fact in controversy.” John Jay, 1st Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court, 1789

“The jury has the right to determine both the law and the facts.” Samuel Chase, U.S. supreme Court Justice, 1796, Signer of the unanimous Declaration

“The jury has the power to bring a verdict in the teeth of both law and fact.” Oliver Wendell Holmes, U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1902

“The law itself is on trial quite as much as the cause which is to be decided.” Harlan F. Stone, 12th Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court, 1941

“The pages of history shine on instances of the jury’s exercise of its prerogative to disregard instructions of the judge…” U.S. vs. Dougherty, 473 F 2nd 1113, 1139. (1972)

And these are the Judges from the days of old speaking on the subject. During the Reconstruction Period of our history it was difficult at best to get justice for the previously known slaves and  ultimately impossible to find a white man guilty of murdering a previously know slave and that was when the Judges began to instruct the jury and essentially said that the jurors needed to listen to them.

The ultimate goal of the Communist belief is power and the Communist Manifesto represents a misguided philosophy, in my opinion, which teaches the citizens to give up their RIGHTS for the sake of the “common good,” but it always ends in a police state.  Just listen to the news and all of the things that YOUR government is implementing and how YOUR RIGHTS are being ebbed away by their law making and chiseling away at the Constitution.  This is considered preventive justice.  Control is the key concept. Read the ten tenets of communism carefully:

1. Abolition of private property.

2. Heavy progressive income tax.

3. Abolition of all rights on inheritance.

4. Confiscation of property of all emigrants and rebels.

5. Central bank.

6. Government control of Communications & Transportation.

7. Government ownership of factories and agriculture.

8. Government control of labor.

9. Corporate farms, regional planning.

10. Government control of education.

As a juror you may have to make a decision that takes away someone’s rights, rights are equivalent to property.  Just think about it and consider these things when you are on a panel of jurors.  I would highly suggest you read and reread the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and the Citizen’s Rule Book (which has the founding documents in it).  It would serve you well to know your rights and the rights of your fellow citizens.

 

References:

http://archive.org/stream/CitizensRuleBookJuryHandbook/

http://lewrockwell.com/peters-e/peters-e165.html

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/

Files for your viewing pleasure:

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