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Generational Dynamics Web Log for 20-Sep-2012
20-Sep-12 World View -- France closes embassies after magazine publishes Mohammed satire

Web Log - September, 2012

20-Sep-12 World View -- France closes embassies after magazine publishes Mohammed satire

Blasphemy laws and freedom of speech divide Western governments

This morning's key headlines from

France closes embassies after magazine publishes Mohammed satire

The publisher of Charlie Hebdo, Charb, holds up the new issue
The publisher of Charlie Hebdo, Charb, holds up the new issue

France's satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday published a series of magazine with a series of cartoons, some of which depict Muhammad naked or in demeaning or pornographic poses. France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the principle of freedom of expression "must not be infringed," and added: "Is it pertinent, intelligent, in this context to pour oil on the fire? The answer is no."

In view of the recent attacks on American embassies over the film "Innocence of Muslims," France reacted by ordering its embassies, cultural centers, schools and other official sites to close on Friday — the Muslim holy day — in 20 countries. It also immediately shut down its embassy and the French school in Tunisia, the site of deadly protests at the U.S. Embassy last week. The French Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning urging French citizens in the Muslim world to exercise "the greatest vigilance," avoiding public gatherings and "sensitive buildings." AP

I really have to laugh at Fabius' posturing about not infringing the principle of freedom of expression. Last year, France's parliament passed an insane law making it a CRIME to claim that the war between Turkey and Armenia a century ago was not a genocide. And in some European countries, including France, you can go to jail if you deny the Holocaust.

Freedom of expression in France is only for those who do not insult the Armenians or the Israelis. The French don't like the Turks, so it's OK to jail someone who sides with the Turks.

It's worthwhile adding that you can be a "denier" of all sorts of historical events without going to jail. You can deny that the French Revolution ever happened, or that the Christian Crusades happened or that the Protestant Revolution happened, without anyone sending you to jail. This shows how arbitrary laws banning freedom of expression can be.

Blasphemy laws in the UK and Ireland

Blasphemy was a common law offence under Irish law when the 1937 Constitution explicitly made it an offence punishable by law, though it was seldom enforced. Several attempts to repeal the law have failed, and in 2009, a new Defamation Bill contained a claus saying, "A person who publishes or utters blasphemous matter shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable upon conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding 100,000 euros."

"Blasphemous matter" is defined as matter "that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion; and he or she intends, by the publication of the matter concerned, to cause such outrage."

Under this definition, I would assume that the film "Innocence of Muslims" would be considered a violation of Ireland's blasphemy laws. However, prosecution of blasphemy in Ireland effectively ceased when the Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1869, though a man was prosecuted for burning of a Bible in 1885.

In Britain, prior to the 1900s, several people were flogged or imprisoned after being convicted of blasphemy. The last person in Britain to be sent to prison for blasphemy was John Gott, who in 1921 was convicted for publishing pamphlets satirizing the Bible, in which he compared Jesus to a circus clown. Michael Nugent

Blasphemy laws in Pakistan

This week, a businessman in Hyderabad, Pakistan, Haji Nasrullah Khan, has fled for his life and is in hiding, after being accused by his neighbors of blasphemy. Protesters were demanding that all businesses close their shops in protest of the movie "Innocence of Muslims," and Nasrullah refused. Scores of outraged religious parties activists and seminary students tried to attack Nasrullah’s house, leading to a clash. After that, they all went to a nearby mosque and claimed to have witnessed Nasrullah committing blasphemy. They demanded that he be arrested. Dawn

This is the kind of mass action that's of interest to Generational Dynamics. There have been blasphemy laws in Pakistan, Ireland, and Britain, but few people have been prosecuted in Ireland and Britain, and there have been no mass demands to convict someone of blasphemy as far as I know in more than the last century.

In Pakistan, in 1927, the British colonial rulers of the Indian sub-continent made it a criminal offence to commit “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religious belief”. The law did not discriminate between religions.

As in the case of the UK and Ireland, the blasphemy law was rarely enforced. In the 58 years between 1927 and 1985, only ten blasphemy cases were heard in a court under this law.

But things changed dramatically since the 1980s, and 4,000 blasphemy cases have been heard since 1985.

This enormous change would correspond to the time of the rise of the Pakistan generation corresponding to America's Generation-X. From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this generational change is extremely significant.

I've been trying to think of a corresponding mass change in attitudes in America in the 1980s that's similar to Pakistan's mass change in Pakistan regarding blasphemy laws, and the obvious one is feminism. In the 1960s, women's lib was a positive political force that addressed real problems. But in the 1980s feminism became extremely destructive. In divorce courts, charges of family violence exploded against fathers, with anecdotal evidence indicating that over 95% of them were phony, manufactured charges -- just like most of the 4,000 charges of blasphemy in Pakistan since 1985.

Possibly the height of feminist rampage was the "Duke Lacrosse rape case." In 2006, a black woman named Crystal Gail Mangum, alias Janette Rivers, claimed that several members of the Duke College lacrosse team had raped her. District attorney Mike Nifong kept pursuing criminal charges against the team, for months after he knew for a fact that the alleged attack had never occurred. (See "Collapse of Duke rape case represents cultural change") This is exactly like blasphemy cases in Pakistan, which are pursued even when it's known that accusations are false. It's worth pointing out that the New York Times editorially joined Nifong in the false allegations, even when it was known that they were false.

There is little difference between a jihadist who makes false claims of blasphemy on the one hand, and the New York Times and Mike Nifong on the other hand. In all three cases, they pursued charges that they knew were false, and jumped in the sewer from where they could throw feces at anyone who disagreed with them. Express Tribune (Islamabad)

Identity Group Expansion

In his book Clash of Civilizations, Samuel P. Huntington, described how small regional wars expand into much larger wars. Belligerents in the war identify themselves as part of larger rather than smaller groups -- e.g., Muslims instead of Bosnians, or Christians instead of Croatians -- in order to rally other nations in similar identity groups to their side. This process of "Identity Group Expansion" unites belligerents on both sides, and makes a small war into a larger war. In the modern era, al-Qaeda linked jihadists have very effectively used blasphemy laws as a tool to effect Identity Group Expansion.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, these are examples of mass phenomena that are typical of generational hatreds. As I explained in "The Legacy of World War I and the Holocaust", this is also the same behavior that led to the 1930s Holocaust. This kind of mass generational hatred only leads to one place: catastrophe.

(Comments: For reader comments, questions and discussion, see the 20-Sep-12 World View -- France closes embassies after magazine publishes Mohammed satire thread of the Generational Dynamics forum. Comments may be posted anonymously.) (20-Sep-2012) Permanent Link
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