On Terry Jones wanting to put Mohammed on trial

Steve Hynd, in a fine rant, says Terry Jones is trying to provoke violence in the Muslim world, and the US legal is too lame and too mired in 18th century constitutional fetishism to stop him.

He blasts Andrew Exum, who happily says that US soldiers can die to defend the supposed free speech of Terry Jones, as a perfect example of such lunacy.

Exum’s post begins from the popular myth that the U.S. is “a nation founded by the political and religious dissidents of Mother Europe” rather than the truth – that most of the original settlers were madmen, criminals and psychopaths either fleeing justice or exiled by their governments.

(Hey buddy, my first ancestor here in the States arrived from England shortly after the Pilgrims and was a selfless seeker of freedom. Oh wait, he was actually a privateer AKA a semi-legalized pirate, wasn’t he? Hmmm.)

It then meanders illogically from America’s sensible and ethically correct prescriptions that “protect a man’s freedom to worship God – or not worship God – as he pleases” to calling for Americans to die to the last of them for someone who doesn’t believe in that freedom of religion. I’ve news for Exum – the first rule of human relations, be they ethics or anything else, is that when you refuse to play by the rules of the game yourself you give up the right to be treated according to the rules of the game.

This is the core point. With freedom comes responsibility to the group, something often overlooked by free speech advocates here. In the UK, Jones would be arrested for his antics (he’s already been banned from entering the country) as would Westboro Baptist, as the right of citizens to not be unduly threatened trumps the right to absolute free speech regardless of consequences and with no responsibility.


  • pb

    We get it, Bob! You’re against freedom of speech! Please give this nonsense a rest. As much as I’ve enjoyed your blog in the past I think it’s time I stopped reading Politics in the Zeros.

    • Read what I said. I did not say I was against freedom of speech, only that in some other countries it is assumed that freedom comes with responsibility. Germany does not allow speech praising Nazism, and for obvious good reason.

  • I suppose it bears repeating: While Ben Franklin put it in lay-terms: “Your “rights” end at the tip of your nose”, US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall (1801-1835) was a bit more technical: *There are no “rights” without responsibility. It is the individual’s responsibility to ensure the exercise of the individuals’ “right” does not impinge upon the “rights” of another, as the individuals’ “rights” end when the exercise of the individuals’ “rights” impinge upon the “rights” of another* [paraphrased].

    I’m tracking down down a similar quote from Blackstone, which of course involves digging through books (of which I have hundreds, if not a thousand) that haven’t been opened in tens or more of years. I’ll bring it back later today (as I will without a doubt find it).

    Perhaps if we had had in place the same restrictions in place as Germany we wouldn’t have become the Nazi nation we have. As to Terry Jones, like the Westboro Baptists, it* only does this for the attention – if we ignore it, it will go away.

    *Yes, “it” – it isn’t human. “It” is less than human, an animal. Ask a combat vet sometime why we adjudicate some “people” as less than human.

    • “That the whole should protect all its parts, and that every part should pay obedience to the will of the whole; or, in other words, that the community should guard the rights of each individual member, and that (in return for this protection) each individual should submit to the laws of the community; without which submission of all it was impossible that protection could be extended to many” ~Blackstone

  • I actually kinda like Jones’s idea. While we’re at it, let’s prosecute Abraham for attempted murder, Moses for murder and insurrection, Jesus for incitement and anarchism and so on. The problem though is that once we start prosecuting religious leaders for their crimes, there is no end to the ordeal. We will never catch up with the centuries, and even millenia-long backlog of religious criminals who have yet to be prosecuted, let alone catch up to those who are in our midst.

    It might make more sense, though, to prosecute the likes of George Bush, Barack Obama and their cronies in the global warfare, corporate welfare state for all the crimes they have committed in the name of the American people.

    • Heck, more than a few Popes would have to go on trial too

  • Sue

    Jesus *was* prosecuted for insurrection.

  • DJ

    My earliest ancestor to come to these shores accompanied by people seeking religious freedom, and was the brother of a great peacemaker. He himself, though, appears to have been a cantankerous fellow and possibly a drunk, fined multiple times for strong language and sued because he confiscated a servant’s clothes. It’s a fine, freedom-loving line I come from!

    Bob’s point is well taken – when a right is abused irresponsibly, that’s a problem. But is the remedy to remove that right? Or do we need to look instead at those who tolerate or even glorify such actions, and ask why our society does not isolate Jones instead of putting him center stage.

    I’ve found it interesting that the supposed Left media gives so much free press to Fox News and its pundits. Even Rachel Maddow is in on it. Rather than falling into this trap, why not point the finger at the MSM and write Jones himself off as a wacko who should have been relegated to page 6 of his local paper, if that!

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