North Texas Objectivist Society (NTOS) Message Board › Italian minister to wear Muhammad cartoon T-shirt

Italian minister to wear Muhammad cartoon T-shirt

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Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 154
Italian minister to wear Muhammad cartoon T-shirt

15 February 2006 01:38

A prominent Italian government figure planned on Wednesday to wear a T-shirt sporting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that have sparked violent reactions from Muslims around the world.

Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli denied that the T-shirts are meant to provoke, but said there is no point in promoting dialogue with Muslim extremists.

"I have had T-shirts made with the cartoons that have upset Islam and I shall start wearing them today," Calderoli told Italian newspapers.

"It is time to put an end to this tale that we need dialogue with these people," he added.

Calderoli, who is a leading figure of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, said he will wear the T-shirt despite being asked not to do so by Italy's Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

SOURCE: http://www.mg.co.za/a...­
A former member
Post #: 48
Good for him!
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 155
I certainly liked the Calderoli's statement: "It is time to put an end to this tale that we need dialogue with these people." Muslim extremists are using every form of force and intimidation they can muster to impose their views on others.

The part I wondered about, however, is whether a government official should -- in the name of free speech -- make public statements offensive to any particular religious group. Is there a principle (not necessarily a law) that would guide and inform us regarding whether it is proper for a government official to wear such a T-shirt on the job?

In this regard, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Of course, Calderoli is Italian, and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is only a prohibition against the U.S. Congress making such laws.

But is it appropriate for a person sitting in his or her official government position to speak in this manner?

-- Todd
Sherry
SherryTX
Plano, TX
Post #: 37
I don't think publishing the cartoons in the newspaper was wrong at all.
I don't think it is a good idea to wear that tshirt as a public official. I think it is just stirring the pot.
It is one thing to bar free speech, but I question whether this official is using this controversy to just make a name for himself.

Makes more sense to wear a tshirt with a target on the back...eek.

Of course it is also absolutely stupid to be killing others over a cartoon.
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 160
Makes more sense to wear a tshirt with a target on the back...eek.



Hi Sherry,

In the United States, the Constitution prohibits the government from "abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." Most of us in our group probably agree this is based on rational principles.

I think we would also likely agree that this does not mean that other contexts might limit a person's freedom of speech. For example, an employer, as a condition of continued employment, should be able to limit an individual employee's speech, at least during the employee's working hours as a representative of the employer.

Similarly, I do not think that a government official, acting in that capacity, has an unlimited freedom of speech. For example, a judge, sitting on the bench, should not wear a T-shirt publicly sporting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. This despite that the judge should rule that an individual walking down a public street can wear such a T-shirt.

Turning to the case of the Italian minister, I am wondering if a member of a representative government should wear such a T-shirt, especially when acting in his official capacity. While this may be legal, as a matter of the official being a formal representative of the people (which probably includes some Muslims) this does not seem to be appropriate.

At the same time, I do think that such a government official should speak out in support of the freedom of an individual to wear such a T-shirt or the press to publish such cartoons. It's a fine point, but to advocate or defend the right of free speech does not mean a government official has to wear an offensive T-shirt.

The part you mentioned about wearing T-shirt "with a target on the back" is particularly interesting. I think that we in the West are generally being respectful of Muslim sensibilities. But some Muslim extremists are actually using our respect for Muslim sensibilities against us. As we and the press are being generally "respectful," those few who are not stand out like targets.

I think that more of the press needs to stand up and publish these cartoons (perhaps balanced with cartoons of other major religions and philosophies) to make a principled stand on the freedom of speech and the freedom of the press. Standing together to fight for the principle would avoid any particular newspaper becoming a target.

Otherwise, if we do not stand together for reason and the principles of the First Amendment, we will elevate being respectful of Muslim sensibilities (and any other group's sensibilities) above the principles of the First Amendment, we begin to create an atmosphere where a few who do speak become "targets" implicitly blamed for bringing violence upon themselves for speaking, and we begin to cede our First Amendment rights to extremist groups of every ilk, and ultimately, we will cede them completely.

-- Todd
(Note: I edited myself to correct a couple of grammatical errors.)
Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 4
Todd, I agree with you on all those points, my remark about the target was a sarcastic one. I just don't have a gift of writing. =)
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 161
Hi Sherry,

I think you write very clearly. I understood that you were using sarcasm or humor in making the "target" comment. The judicious use of sarcasm and humor can be very effective tools for communication.

Your point was very much on target (so to speak), and prompted me to think about how in the United States where we have freedoms of speech and of the press, it had become that a particular person or newspaper publishing such cartoons would become a "target," and how dangerous that result could be.

For my part, I hope I did not come across as lecturing you. Your and Dean's postings have shown some interest in this topic, so I thought I would expand on my thinking and put it up for public comment.

-- Todd
Old T.
OldToad
Group Organizer
Dallas, TX
Post #: 163
One of our NTOS members, Chuck, forwarded to me the following "Letter to the Editor" (I don't know of which newspaper(s)), and I thought it would fit in well with the "target" issue Sherry had raised here.
-- Todd

Dear Editor,
Although I was unable to get into the February 28th University of California, Irvine (UCI) event to watch the unveiling of the Danish cartoons and the panel discussion on terrorism (I was told by security that the hall was filled to capacity), I did have an opportunity to closely observe the mob of protestors demonstrating against the event. Amongst those chanting "Allah Aqubar" and holding signs such as "Mohammed Protector of Women" and "Young Republicans = the new KKK", were a noticeable number of people wearing green arm bands nearly identical to those worn by Hamas suicide bombers in the Middle East. Apparently this is not the first time these armbands have been worn by students on the UCI campus. To learn that there are people right here in my own backyard who openly display support for a terrorist organization like Hamas was a real wake up call.
I'd gone to the event in defense of my right to free speech, and my right to see the Danish cartoonists' message without fear of violence or intimidation. What I came away with was the realization that my right to free speech and my right to life were under a much more immediate threat.
Debi Ghate
Manager, Academic Programs
Ayn Rand Institute
Lathanar
Lathanar
Dallas, TX
Post #: 6
I do not understand why more news agencies and media outlets have not published the cartoons. They are most definitely a news-worthy item and should be used to clarify what everyone is up in arms about rather than mere descriptions. Sadly though, it is true that our "freedom" of speech is mostly gone in America, if not so much by fear of government reprisal, more a fear of political and social reprisals. Litigation, boycotts, even selective violence must all be considered now before things meant even in jest are said. Too many political careers of good men and women have gone out the door because of one misplaced comment that some group took offense to.

Travis
A former member
Post #: 10
I don't think people are really up in arms about the cartoons, I think it's just an excuse. Firstly, the Koran doesn't expressly forbid drawings, it's only interpereted that way to prevent idolatry. Secondly, this idea applies to all the prophets, including Jesus, and there're plenty of depictions of him. Thirdly, these cartoons were published in September. What was happening for 3 months until the rioting started?

There are a lot of Muslims who are oppressed in this world. They have plenty to complain about (famine, corruption, warfare, morality police, etc...). Why don't they protest any of that? Because they'll piss off they're oppressors and things will get worse? Makes sense to me...

The cartoons give them the perfect excuse to vent their frustrations.angry
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