Two weeks after Zuckerberg said ‘je suis Charlie,’ Facebook begins censoring images of prophet Muhammad

Jan 30, 2015

Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

By Caitlin Dewey

Only two weeks after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a strongly worded #JeSuisCharlie statement on the importance of free speech, Facebook has agreed to censor images of the prophet Muhammad in Turkey — including the very type of image that precipitated the Charlie Hebdo attack.

It’s an illustration, perhaps, of how extremely complicated and nuanced issues of online speech really are. It’s also conclusive proof of what many tech critics said of Zuckerberg’s free-speech declaration at the time: Sweeping promises are all well and good, but Facebook’s record doesn’t entirely back it up.

Just this December, Facebook agreed to censor the page of Russia’s leading Putin critic, Alexei Navalny, at the request of Russian Internet regulators. (It is a sign, the Post’s Michael Birnbaum wrote from Moscow, of “new limits on Facebook’s ability to serve as a platform for political opposition movements.”) Critics have previously accused the site of taking down pages tied to dissidents in Syria and China; the International Campaign for Tibet is currently circulating a petition against alleged Facebook censorship, which has been signed more than 20,000 times.

While Facebook doesn’t technically operate in China, it has made several recent overtures to Chinese politicians and Internet regulators — overtures that signal, if tacitly, an interest in bringing a (highly censored) Facebook to China’s 648 million Internet-users.


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

70 comments on “Two weeks after Zuckerberg said ‘je suis Charlie,’ Facebook begins censoring images of prophet Muhammad

  • I thought Facebook was a favourite medium of jihadis. Is that why it doesn’t want to “offend” them?
    That aside, I would have thought that cyberspace offers a most ephemeral target. Then again is their any intelligence whatsoever in their targeting, it seems to me that they will lash out at the nearest available soft target. Which finally brings me to agree with Boris Johnston for the first and perhaps only time in my life when he describes them with careful literalism as “wankers”



    Report abuse

  • What’s surprising about it? Facebook is neither a newspaper nor Amnesty International. Facebook is a big fat multinational: its goal is to make make money. Not censoring where it could be “bad publicity” or can even cost you the licence to operate is a bad decision for your pockets.

    You’re always free not to subscribe. You’re free to use other social platform or even think up some yourself -and it really baffles me that nobody did it yet.
    I’m not in Facebook: I find the concept and the company absolutely disgusting -and not since today, since day one. This last happening just reinforces me in my opinion about the whole thing.



    Report abuse

  • 6
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    @Lorenzo

    Couldn’t agree more about Facebook. It’s also a great way for the intelligence services (NSA, CSE, etc.) of all Western nations to gather private information on their own citizens.



    Report abuse

  • This is not surprising Zuckerburg (or at least his company – arguably amounting to much the same thing) IMO has very shaky ethics.

    Just one of the major incidences here illustrates how casual Mark (or his company) is with private information for example in this incident in 2009 the company reset everyone’s privacy settings to public. This meant other search engines at the time could link to all your content through your metadata. and any personal information you have. To understand why he would do this for the uninitiated you need to be aware that the Internet ratings system is based on how many people click on your content so is suddenly the entire content of facebook is made available to google images say, then that is a lot more clicks. So his company is either very shaky on security (given they hold the keys to enormous amounts of personal data I find this very unethical behaviour) or he is just plain opportunistic and doesn’t care about the relationships ruined through these actions. I’d therefore not take anything he said on ethics terribly seriously.



    Report abuse

  • It’s comical, really, this whole lamentable story turned into a farce. And don’t get me started about ‘Freedom of Speech’ in France. Or anywhere else for that matter.

    Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Apple, … All these big corporations don’t have an ethical backbone among themselves. Too big for that, their ‘morals’ are entirely self-serving. The NSA snooping is reprehensible only because it hurts their interests.

    it really baffles me that nobody did it yet.

    Who would do it? How would they monetize their services, while staying competitive with free platforms, like Gmail and Facebook? Facebook only exists to sell you ads, and then sell your data to ad agencies. That’s the deal the user makes when using Facebook, YouTube, Google, and so on. Hell, Facebook started it all, Google takes it to the next level.

    What other more ethical deal could you make to have a viable ‘social’ platform? What guarantees would you have that your privacy is respected? In an ideal world, laws would cover your rights to privacy, but governments are just way too happy with the current situation. Free meta-data!

    I don’t use Facebook myself, although I have an account, apparently. And it’s linked to all sorts of things, which is bad. I do use and rely on Gmail / Android too much for convenience, also.



    Report abuse

  • 11
    richard says:

    how can they censor pictures of Mohammed he lived before photo’s just like Jesus all pictures are figments just like jesus..blond hair hippie beard and blue eyes…I don’t think so



    Report abuse

  • 13
    voiceofarabi says:

    It is like watching a Marionette puppet show, it is multi layered and is seen and means differently to different folks…

    Some of us see the story unfolding before us and comment on that…

    Some see the puppets and their elaborate colours and comment on that…

    Others will notice the strings and possibly comment on the method of control (verticals, horizontals, etc)

    Almost always the marionette’s puppeteer will be hidden from the scene, and hardly anyone will comment on them. Most of the times, it is just one single Puppeteer pulling all the strings

    Facebook, google, NSA, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Islam, Christianity, Semitism, funding the new US president, etc, etc is all part of the Story, the Puppets, the Strings and method of control…

    Why is it, majority of contributors on this site, either fail to, or choose not see that… Everyone here prefers to bash religion or customs and tradition, instead of pointing out the almost always, single puppeteer driving the whole show….

    We know religion is a big lie… we know customs are backward stuff… so it is time to move on.. (Majority of us figured out Santa was fake in our early years, we moved on….)

    Facebook selectively censor their site for the same reason GE was donating funds for Hitler’s elections back in the late 1930… And it is driven by the same thought process…



    Report abuse

  • I posted 5 at the time,they’re still up on my page anyway. I’d say whatever is up needs to firstly be reported ,then the mediator takes it down accordingly. But,if the caricature is of Muhammad’s younger and not so prophetic brother “Robert” ,then they don’t give a f**k,because nobody liked him anyway.The problem is,they actually looked very alike ,and too often ,the cartoonist forgets to label the poxy drawing,resulting in outrage,purely from mistaken identity. Robert was a slightly funnier looking guy too…you know where this is going don’t you…



    Report abuse

  • Semitism

    You mean Zionism?

    Almost always the marionette’s puppeteer will be hidden from the scene, and hardly anyone will comment on them. Most of the times, it is just one single Puppeteer pulling all the strings […] instead of pointing out the almost always, single puppeteer driving the whole show….

    Source? Who IS this Machiavellian mastermind I keep hearing about all over the Internet. What is his plan, his goal, when will he spring his trap? Is it soon? Tell us more!

    And it is driven by the same thought process…

    Sweet irony.

    Ah, Good old conspiracy theories. Come on, on your bike. Move on, nothing to see.



    Report abuse

  • I think the guy behind the curtain is meant to be Mamon. But don’t think too much. Keep listening to this Voice instead. It will wipe away all the complexities of civilisation for you.



    Report abuse

  • Am I wrong to take offence on two points here Stafford? One is the silly question about ‘them shouting’, the answer being ‘ it’s a protest’!!! , and secondly the ‘they’ coupled with the silly question. It reminds me of the late 60’s when we used to go to the sea side, in the UK, where house coat wearing women would shuffle their children away from where my family were because we dared have different food, koftes, tomatoes, dolma, water melon etc….whilst they munched on their salmon sandwiches. And we looked slightly different and spoke a different language. It broke my heart as an eight year old as I looked forward to playing with these children. I realise your comment was on a religious theme but the tone and coupling with the question gives it a whole other meaning.



    Report abuse

  • 21
    voiceofarabi says:

    Hi Obzen,

    Off course, I mean Semitism , and Zionism, and Wahhabism, and Wall street, etc etc etc.. 🙂

    I believe Phil Rimmer above understood what I am driven at, but mistaken it for the riches or whatever the bible or the old testament meant… (hi Phil, it took me 10 minutes to figure it out – my head is still spinning 🙂 )

    And no, it is not conspiracy theories I am talking about…. I am talking about human instinct… (I read somewhere, religion almost started with the beginning of wealth creation)… (not because of wealth, but because of basic human instinct – in my humble opinion… )..



    Report abuse

  • (I read somewhere, religion almost started with the beginning of wealth creation)…

    Ah yes ! Religion and private property are strong bedfellows ! A shrewd observation !

    Like Mother Tereza, the religious love the poor, but the last bloody thing they would do is to abolish poverty !

    As Marx put it in the Preface to Capital:

    The Church of England would rather part with 38 of its 39 Articles, than part with with one 39th of its income.



    Report abuse

  • “**I’m committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence,” Zuckerberg said in his Hebdo statement.

    He forgot that little asterisk: “… as long as what you say follows the censorship laws in your country, and as long as said country doesn’t ask us to take it down.”**

    Caitlin Dewey, who wrote the article for the Post, ends her op-ed with pointed criticism. Behind the ironic sarcasm is an implicit wish that Zuckerman had been upfront with Facebook users, or more precisely his “paying” customers, about the terms and conditions for using his social media property.

    All social media is moderated including this blog. Comments are vetted by professional “censors” before being posted. Offensive, defamatory, obscene, racist or otherwise “unacceptable” comments are taken down.
    All forums must, with few exceptions, exercise rules governing speech in order to maintain coherent, pertinent and civil conversations within “reasonable” parameters of topics under discussion.

    Arguments about the appropriate ban on images of Mohammed on Facebook demanded by the Turkish government are really arguments about the limits of free speech not the principle of free speech Though generally sympathetic to the outrage on the thread, Charlie Hebdo arguably invites the kind of censorship we deplore in one forum but vociferously demand in another. Charlie depicted Mohammed (and other religious figures) pornographically in some cartoons invoking grounds for immediate removal on many other forums. Because we westerners, especially secularists, despise the beliefs and practices of Islam, we are amused by obscene insulting images of the Prophet actually thrilled by the offense demonstrated by Muslims. Show his genitals, show his anus -the more the better.

    Zuckerman should stand up before his customer base tantamount now to the international public and tell it like it is – with words to the effect: “Facebook provides a social media forum dedicated to the widest range of unimpeded speech consistent with progressive interpretations of free speech rights defined by the first amendment of the United States Constitution. Nonetheless, understand that Facebook will monitor and sometimes prohibit content under terms and conditions consistent with U.S. law and on occasion will reluctantly consider demands from foreign governments to ban specific content as a condition for permission to operate within sovereign territory. Facebook will selectively and regrettably sometimes comply with limited demands on curtailing free expression pending liberal reforms in order to maximize a presence in the global community of nations and maintain a viable international business model.



    Report abuse

  • 25
    voiceofarabi says:

    Hi Mr. DArcy,

    Marx also said…

    “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people”..

    When someone comes up with the alternative to religion to control human instinct, then we can get rid of religion… 🙂 (just my opinion..)



    Report abuse

  • This decision is cowardice in the first degree. Yes, Facebook is a business and the decision was therefore based on money; nevertheless, this is why I would much rather be here than there!



    Report abuse

  • Because we westerners, especially secularists, despise the beliefs and practices of Islam, we are amused by obscene insulting images of the Prophet actually thrilled by the offense demonstrated by Muslims.

    No, Melvin. Your problem is not with the few snickery atheist, Beavis and Buttheads (who would be quite as amused by Hebdo’s depiction of the Father, Son and HolyGhost, double sodomy and a rather painful looking butt plug). Your problem is with reasonable, rational me who recognises a desire to diplay a viceral disgust at an hypocrisy, who understands the European tradition of the scatological political cartoon, 250 years old and who will stand up for the right of holocaust deniers to have their disgraceful say.

    You cannot reframe this argument as one of partiallity by Charlie Hebdo or of adolescent snickeriness or of a simple vindictive mindset. To not notice this anger for what it is is to gift the angry into the hateful hands of the far right who are turning all of Europe into a rather scary place at the moment.



    Report abuse

  • Can’t do a thing about Facebook….except choose another social medium. It isn’t a public space.

    Until we learn that “free” means the advertisers call the shots and we actually choose to stump up a monthly subscription, we must take what we’re given. I wonder if there is a commercial proposition to be made?



    Report abuse

  • Not sure if I fully understand you Phil but if you mean Turkey then the leadership is feeling threatened (for some good reasons IMO). Survival is all that matters at the moment.



    Report abuse

  • Your problem is with reasonable, rational me who recognises a desire to diplay a viceral disgust at an hypocrisy, who understands the European tradition of the scatological political cartoon, 250 years old and who will stand up for the right of holocaust deniers to have their disgraceful say.

    Like.



    Report abuse

  • Sorry. My comment is only about Facebook being mistaken for a public space. It isn’t.

    In Melvin’s piece I was only addressing the misrepresentation in the quote.

    I wasn’t commenting on the problem of Turkey.



    Report abuse

  • Phil: Sorry. My comment is only about Facebook being mistaken for a public space. It isn’t.
    In Melvin’s piece I was only addressing the misrepresentation in the quote.

    I’m confused by the accusation that I’m mistaking Facebook for a public space, when I explicitly referred to a “business model.” I also implicitly criticized Zuckerman for whitewashing the Facebook forum with the principle of free speech divorced from candor about the limitations to free speech practiced by the Facebook social media forum under the constraints he and his stakeholders impose under various circumstances in order to grow business and profit.

    Every forum for coherent and purposeful speech imposes limitations. There is no reason to be coy about the Richard Dawkins Foundation site being both a business model and a forum that censors, bans and takes down comments.

    I applauded Caitlin Dewey for calling Zuckerman on his hypocrisy. Zuckerman could have avoided disparagement by speaking plainly about the rationale for complying with demands from the Turkish government to ban the offending images. Those who disapproved “on principle” could have unsubscribed to Facebook, taken their business elsewhere and advised others to do the same. I doubt if Zuckerman & Co. would have suffered much loss. Belittling distractors, the Facebook founder could have credibly claimed to have disseminated more “free speech,” omitting mention of personal privacy damage to users who naively expected it, than any other person in history.



    Report abuse

  • I’ve been on more protests than you could shake a stick at Olgun, but I’ve never once felt the need to holler.

    These guys are the victims of religiously induced mass hysteria; just the same as that the Fascists stirred up in Germany the thirties.

    I think susceptibility to hysteria, or panic, might be part of our evolutionary inheritance, – read Why we Believe in Gods, by Anderson Thomson and Clare Aukofer -, but, it is a tendency which education can help us to deal with; I’m not an educated man myself, but that much I do know.



    Report abuse

  • I was not addressing Facebook at all in my comment to you. We may well agree on some aspects of that.

    The “quote” I was addressing was the quote of yours I pasted at the top of my comment to you, “Because westerners…etc.”



    Report abuse

  • The protests that went around the upper classes and all types of royalists and press when the Australian prime minister dared lay a hand on the queen was a result of the thinking of one country. There are more than one yardsticks in the world. A Muslim country protesting against anti muslim (they thnk) actions is a shock? Fascism? I’m a quite man myself and even if the protests get noisy I tend to feel I can’t join in but passion runs through and if it stays peaceful then so what. It’s a protest. Intelligence also means understanding that there is more than one point of view



    Report abuse

  • Phil: The “quote” I was addressing was the quote of yours I pasted at the top of my comment to you, “Because westerners…etc.”

    Understandably, my observations about Charlie’s “unmoderated” obscene depictions of Mohammed were seen as central to my point, when they were intended as an aside to pick out a poor match for affirming the pseudo “PRINCIPLE” of absolute free speech distinguished from the practice of censoring specfic kinds of unacceptable speech banned on most other forums whether responsible or civil or not. No attempt was made to parse what forms of extreme humor and satire are “really” funny and effective from a situated point of view or based on an aesthetic theory. If several rogue Muslims had trashed Charlie’s offices and left, the commentary would have been quite different – more ambivalent, divergent and controversial though the “topic of “Free Speech” would have played a salient role regardless.

    As I mentioned on another thread, we are letting the language dominating the debate over free speech get between us and the atrocity. What happened to Charlie was premeditated, cold-blooded murder with aggravating circumstances. Murder. Simply murder. (NOTE: This comment is also not addressing Facebook and Zuckerman’s hypocritical manifesto directly.)



    Report abuse

  • Understandably, my observations about Charlie’s “unmoderated” obscene depictions of Mohammed were seen as central to my point, when they were intended as an aside…

    I took them entirely as an aside. What’s gets a pass for Paris will be seen differently in Turkey.

    As I mentioned on another thread, we are letting the language dominating the debate over free speech get between us and the atrocity.

    If so, why the reductive aside?

    Because we westerners, especially secularists, despise the beliefs and practices of Islam, we are amused by obscene insulting images of the Prophet actually thrilled by the offense demonstrated by Muslims. Show his genitals, show his anus -the more the better.



    Report abuse

  • I took them entirely as an aside. What’s gets a pass for Paris will be seen differently in Turkey.

    Exactly. “Seen differently” and “gets a pass” always depends on a relation between a speaker and the-powers-that-be on the forum or in the public square with the authority to censor speakers or punish them for what they say.

    Your problem is with reasonable, rational me who recognises a desire to diplay a viceral disgust at an hypocrisy, who understands the European tradition of the scatological political cartoon, 250 years old and who will stand up for the right of holocaust deniers to have their disgraceful say.

    Phil, there are plenty of people, the drafters of the law making holocaust denial illegal and punishable in Austria for example, who will privilege their position with reason, rationality and understanding of history.
    There is no Principle of Free Speech anyone can appeal to outside of beliefs that personally or collectively justify how we permit ourselves to talk about topics.

    Because Western democracies have allowed wider and wider amplitude for [free] speech, we have become snowblind to the limits imposed by governments, media, including social media, and intersubjective consensus. Naturally we have a visceral feel that our own point of view approaches the Platonic Ideal or Principle of Free Speech. No such ideal exists. All that exists in the public space is the ongoing debate between ourselves and our opponents. So let’s keep the debate going and muddle on -hopefully forward.



    Report abuse

  • No such ideal exists. All that exists in the public space is the
    ongoing debate between ourselves and our opponents. So let’s keep the
    debate going and muddle on -hopefully forward.

    This is exactly why I can’t agree with the Hitchens call to arms. I understand it….. But there is no public space. Just public spaces!



    Report abuse

  • No such ideal exists. All that exists in the public space is the
    ongoing debate between ourselves and our opponents

    Free speech is only sometimes an issue of truth finding/giving. More often it is about lighting the blue touch paper of evidence finding/giving. Most issues involved in the social or political arena have no right or wrong answer.

    The greater part of the efficacy of free speech isn’t contingent upon truth, it is contingent upon strength of feeling. This is exactly what I have said all along in free speech debates. I want to see who thinks what and how strongly they feel about it. I want others t know how strongly I feel about it subject x.

    An ideal of free speech exists and again I have said that I shall judge a society the better the more free speech it can tolerate. I have also made my position on free speech legislation detailed and clear (Yes, shock horror Phil seeking to legislate against free speech and urging that it is assiduously policed too.)



    Report abuse

  • Public spaces are better or worse than each other. Some are not even public spaces, not if you open your mouth.

    This is ridiculous argument that a principle does not exist because it cannot be perfectly realised.

    Tiny spaces are enlarged by our struggle to make them so. Take no offence rather than not give it or we shall all be reduced to silence.



    Report abuse

  • Tiny spaces are enlarged by our struggle to make them so. Take no
    offence rather than not give it or we shall all be reduced to silence.

    It’s not that I don’t agree with you there Phil, I just don’t like the war cry.

    I’ve just had an evening of Tim Minchin and started thinking that we might just need to stick with mocking God. Let’s leave the various religions alone and pick the one thing that binds them together. It can’t be racist or allow one side of the hook. Then logic and fact will do the rest.



    Report abuse

  • I must completely disagree on this one.

    Religions and cultures can be better or worse. Post Modernism is dead and I dance on its grave. I find some expressions of religion…..well admirable…..not for me…..but more good than bad. And this is important. This is the way to bring people doown in large numbers from the cliff edge of locked in and bullying cultures.

    Only morality counts in our disputes with each other. And it is the specifics of religion and culture that make the differences between us.

    The RCC has caused more unnecessary deaths than fundamentalist Islam but the both are a blemish on our claim to civilisation. Their privileging of men is despicable. And yet again I have little expectation that free speech with added mockery will affect the infected so much but it might create that moments doubt in the child that theirs is in fact the way the world is and must be, that maybe something a little less full on might be possible.



    Report abuse

  • I can only be honest and say, the child in me might just as much be frightened and look to my parents for shelter and guidance.



    Report abuse

  • The greater part of the efficacy of free speech isn’t contingent upon truth, it is contingent upon strength of feeling. phil rimmer

    If strength of feeling is the measure, the ignorant and the opinionated will always win. It is quite incorrect to claim that truth is of no great significance in moral issues. When the jury, or any other formal or informal decision-making group, comes to its verdict, it would be perverse to say that the facts are secondary to feelings –it’s the other way round.



    Report abuse

  • 54
    voiceofarabi says:

    Hi Phil Rimmer,

    The RCC has caused more unnecessary deaths than fundamentalist Islam but the both are a blemish on our claim to civilisation.

    I agree with you, and would go even further by saying that the United States of A and Europe in general have killed more people more brutally than both religions in the last 200 years (Vietnam, Iraq, Korea, WWII, WW1, king Leopold the II, etc etc…)… should this not be our first fight… fight the evil that have created and still support religion in the first place.. Address the illness and not the symptom!!



    Report abuse

  • It is quite incorrect to claim that truth is of no great significance in moral issues.

    How can you possibly have got that from what I wrote? What a bizarre reading. The rants of Speakers Corner and the columns of some rag are not where tentative and contingent truths are finessed and policy decided upon.

    If strength of feeling is the measure, the ignorant and the opinionated will always win.

    Again bizarre. I want to know who I should watch out for and the weasel words and broken ideas in their heads. I want UKIP and BNP party members to betray themselves more often.

    From my position, Aldous, your expectations of what I think seem to take take precedence over what I am actually saying. I’m glad you are free to speak your mind as well as articulate your thoughts.



    Report abuse

  • should this not be our first fight

    Only one fight at a time? We are many. I hope you protest and vote and speak out, in equal measure to all the harms we have some leverage in mitigating.

    Besides one interesting phenomenon is how such problems can share common attributes. Obama endorsing the truth of non violent Islam, instead of making a statement about their relative moralities, promotes a false idea about moral content on other issues. Obama endorsed Islam may have adherents behave with oppressive sexism. Presidents shouldn’t ejudicate on matters of religious truth. Tony Bliar shouldn’t defer to a (Christian!) god in deciding to bomb the hell out of Iraquis.

    The bad news, sir. Its cancer. The worse news is its not bowel cancer. Otherwise we could have done something about it. Its our number one killer. No, no, yours is a killer too. Only not as many people get it, so…

    Religion though really does get to poison everything. Often not an outright killer it leaks into all domains skewing thinking, or rather Faith does. Wrong ideas are often purged to be replaced with slightly better ideas. But faith, religion’s anchoring fangs, brings such healthy memetic change to a near shuddering halt. We should work not only on making better decision but also the processes by which we make them.



    Report abuse

  • I can only be honest and say, the child in me might just as much be frightened and look to my parents for shelter and guidance.

    But the seed is planted. Children are very sensitive to ideas of respect. We are uniquely wired to respect older folk including our parents. Without the respect of others your parents are masters of a much smaller universe than you imagined. The religious are rightly paranoid to keep their children from others, school, the internet…. Post puberty and during individuation the choices are made.



    Report abuse

  • The religious are rightly paranoid to keep their children from others,
    school, the internet…. Post puberty and during individuation the
    choices are made.

    Again, there is not much I disagree with you on but the technique. Hitchens full frontal attack is for the adults and the educated and war. Minchins and Seth’s is a seed that has pretty flowers to entice but a root system to break the very foundations. I can give you the examples of my sons, and I have tried to push Hitchens at them, still prefer the comedic route. Their hordes of less educated counterparts in developing countries, I suspect, will do the same. Whatever can be done to keep the politicians out of this the better. I am more than happy that Obama played it the way he did. Stay away and do the job of governing and try to mend the damage they have already done. The comedic route and the science route can take care of the ever growing seed crop.



    Report abuse

  • Minchins and Seth’s is a seed that has pretty flowers to entice

    Tim disgusted

    Hitchens disgusted by contrast is full of information and powerful metaphors that allow us to cut through petrified thinking. Heaven is like North Korea, or a party for someone else you can never leave.

    The images demean their subject absolutely and make you catch a glimmer of another way of seeing things.

    Not a nuanced debate but a head on denial of merit and claim of the gravest of harms.

    Both have their place.

    Carlin pretty flowers?



    Report abuse

  • Carlin pretty flowers?

    My eldest, who is more into debate with me, still thinks him more preacher than comedic teacher and entertainer.

    This is what got me thinking more and shows there are no taboo subjects for Tim and he is not a hypocrite. Knocks the socks off Carlin for shear production and performance. Pure logic.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zn6gV2sdl38



    Report abuse

  • We certainly share a love of TM. He is one of the highest achievers in turning reason into comedy and heart warming gold.

    Carlin was in there to try and understand where your line on offense in comedy stood.

    Minchin is skeptical and Carlin cynical. I vote for the upbeat every time. Pointing out the bad with the firm intention of making things better. Maybe its a better license for outrage?

    I never thought of Hitchens as a cynic once. The first amendment was to be cherished. He wanted to build not simply knock down.



    Report abuse

  • Maybe its a better license for outrage?

    For me, without doubt.

    I never thought of Hitchens as a cynic once. The first amendment was
    to be cherished. He wanted to build not simply knock down.

    I think you are right but there are different ways to knock down. You can send in the team to take away all the recyclables and then take the thing down floor by floor or, you can blow the thing to smithereens and then pick your way through the rubble. I prefer the less violent..



    Report abuse

  • The rants of Speakers Corner and the columns of some rag are not where tentative and contingent truths are finessed and policy decided upon. Phil Rimmer

    Do the ‘tentative and contingent truths’ remain as wobbly after all the finessing? Besides, after they are tried and tested , they can be subjected to a bit more finessing. In any case, what is tentative and contingent is the means to achieve the desired result, not the moral principles (whatever they may be) which guide those participating in the ‘finessing’. ‘Strength of feeling’, whether crudely expressed or wrapped in fine phrases, is not a rational measure of either the adequacy of moral principles or the efficacy of the policy designed to accord with them.

    It is this ‘strength of feeling’ criterion that I am objecting to. Perhaps you can give an example of what you mean.



    Report abuse

  • It is this ‘strength of feeling’ criterion that I am objecting to. Perhaps you can give an example of what you mean.

    I think it entirely appropriate that this country grant Muslims the opportunity to express their disgust at the portrayal of Muhammed. It helps to know who precisely hurts, how much they hurt and why they hurt. Many, many Muslims will not so protest, but quite a few will express considerable supporting disquiet, some disquiet at how others may react. Watching the reactions to this disgust is very informative.

    I think it entirely appropriate for people to express their disgust at the upper echelons of the RCC and the placement of church over justice. The Pope needed shocking at the revulsion felt to their immoral priorities.

    My moral values may mostly coincide with yours, being mainly to do with minimising harms and maximising fairness. They are quite unlike the much larger set of values found in the right of centre individual. I would wish them to have just mine and ditch loyalty and respect for authority and purity. But…no time soon…if ever.

    As a policy maker (say) I must achieve a social improvement or be a failure and I must do so knowing who hurts about what and how much. Strength of feeling from a few is mostly discountable, but endorsed more quietly by the many must be accounted for in my policy making in some way. The scale of this mass feeling may have lain undiscovered but for the outspoken few and the stimulus given to debate on the widet front.

    Iranian President Rohani inches in the moral direction ratchetting libral ideas forward twice as often as illiberal ones, as much as he can get away with. The UK has a moral stance on capital punishment (as far as I’m concerned) because our more educated leaders have a more rational view on the subject than the populace. Certainly ten years ago over half of UK voters would bring back capital punishment if given a vote on it. Because this is only weakly called for by the many, political leaders can just quietly hide it away until the vengeful old folk have died out.

    Outside of University Reseach administration few bodies actually do ethics. No one decides- The Moral Thing To Do. But our refining cultural morals are expressed as much in the political and social policies we enact. Which brings us to the art of the possible, and as morally skewed as that may seem to each of us in our different ways, may be the most moral process of all, being the product of an as open handed and informed discussion as we can have.



    Report abuse

  • I commend Phil’s intelligent pragmatic statement on how to advance human rights. In her own way, author Caitlin Dewey invites us to consider the Facebook incident in a similar nuanced light.

    Still, there’s something a bit grating about the decision, coming so very soon after Zuckerberg’s rosy-eyed epistle on free speech. It would be unfair to fault Facebook for complying with a legitimate foreign government request, regardless of how repressive it may seem. But for Facebook to do that while simultaneously styling itself as the patron saint of political speech? It seems a little disingenuous, to say the least.

    Mark Zuckerberg (There! I finally got his name right!) appears in the drama as an ambiguous, ambivalent figure. A certain amount of narcissism and megalomania must infect a young man capable of such a meteoric rise to wealth, fame and power. On some level he does fancy himself as a truly self-sacrificing, heroic figure in the battle to disseminate free speech over the globe even in the face of death threats from despots and thugs. In a democracy, where real threats are minimal, someone noted “we are all heroes [to ourselves].”

    Ms. Dewey points out the perceived imperatives of business that cause Facebook to compromise proclaimed ideals. She seems more than sympathetic about why Facebook must comply to demands censoring speech in sovereign nations with repressive regimes in order to operate and grow the business in foreign countries. In this regard she higlights the same ambivalent and ambiguous challenges liberal states face when “dealing with” states with poor track records on human rights.

    To the extent that Zuckerberg proclaims himself an uncompromising champion of free speech bearing his breast to the slings and arrows of tyrants, Dewey is right to register her sense of his hypocrisy. He should at least qualify Facebook’s policy for meeting demands to limit speech in authoritarian states by expressing “regrets” that he must comply as a matter of necessity.

    Facebook could, of course, choose to be a purist and refuse to cooperate or operate within undemocratic nations. There are people in the US. who believe the Obama administration should take a harder line against Saudi Arabia and China, even to the extent of cutting many ties to these major powers. Such policies, in my opinion would backfire and threaten the peace and stability of the international order. In practice Mark Zuckerberg has played an unprecedented role in disseminating free speech on a global scale. (The fact that I personally avoid the medium does not affect my assessment of its impact.) However hyped his self-image may be both for profit and self-aggrandizement, the man is one of the great progressive revolutionaries of our time or in world history.

    My last point, less favorable to the piece, is the focus on Facebook cooperating with the government of Turkey to ban specific images of Mohammed on Facebook offensive to the Muslim population of that country. Turkey should have been qualified in the article as a moderate Muslim country, certainly affected by some extremist elements, whose population could not be expected to accept publication Charlie’s cartoons slandering the cherished founder of the cherished national faith under any circumstances . Charlie took the liberty to depict the Prophet in flagrante on occasion through pornographic images, postures and acts which would be deemed ‘inappropriate” if not illegal in the West.

    Every forum, including national governments, reserves the right to ban images and speech which violate foundational values, de facto indispensible cherished beliefs, civilized discourse, and above all the humanity of their reference group. Charlie published images of the prophet which exceeded these minimal standards -enforced on this and most other forums- by egregious excesses of even the lowest bottom feeders.



    Report abuse

  • 68
    Christopher says:

    All religions rely on the concept of the scarcity of Love. If I am inside a religion I can not love those of another without demanding that they join my camp. If I belong to or follow any camp my Love is forbidden to those others. Declaring the otherness of the others separates us. This is what all groups rely on.



    Report abuse

  • Where religion is concerned, no one has the right not to be offended. Those who run Islam are bullies just as the Nazis were. We should stand up and speak out against tyranny in all it’s forms.



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.