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Freedom of speech

By Ms Kiran Rizvi

There has been a mention or two of the alleged ‘freedom of speech’ in USA, primarily in regard to the anti-Islam movie that attracted undue attention all over the world. While everything is to be taken in context, I felt that the subject needed some clarification after I read a piece on Viewpoint from an expatriate Pakistani professor residing in US. While I can understand that it is hard to comprehend this concept for people in Pakistan because the culture in the subcontinent is restrictive in nature, I certainly did not expect such odd sentiments from a person living in the US.

Freedom of speech is at the center of personal freedoms in the constitution of USA. While it is true that there are many intangible ways to restrict this freedom, by and large people are free to say whatever they feel like provided their words do not result in tangible loss of life or property, for example one cannot legally lie to sell a product etc. Even though uttering offensive words in public sphere can be devastating in many ways, there are no laws that would imprison, fine or punish the perpetrator at state penitentiaries. The debate, therefore, is what is/should be considered ‘offensive’.

Obviously there are some categories that everyone agrees on, when it comes to offensive language. This includes racist, sexist, slanderous and hateful language towards an individual or a group of people. So the question is what do people in US do if a person is found to have used offensive language in public? They can be fired from public or private posts, they can be stripped of their honors, their name can be smitten from the honorary rosters or in the absence of such distinctions, his business could be boycotted etc. There are many organizations that look after the interest of certain groups when it comes to monitoring the offensive language in public. Anti Defamation League comes to mind when we talk about monitoring and protesting anti-Semitism expressed around the world. Such organization use their political and economical power to make sure nothing that is redolent of anti-Jewish sentiments is forgiven in public media. Their contention is that “All it takes is one lie to reignite anti-Semitism”, ironically this heading is displayed on their website in relation to the ‘lie’ that Jews were behind the infamous anti-Islam movie.

People in USA react to hateful and offensive speech in many ways. It can either be used to evoke public disdain, thereby discrediting the perpetrator as a decent member of the society forcing him/her to retract his words or apologize. An example would be when Rush Limbaugh, a famous radio host used indecent remarks for a woman who spoke in favor of women’s health and abortion rights. Mr. Limbaugh had to apologize or face boycott from his sponsors and listeners. Another example was when a church decided to show up with anti-homosexual slogans at the funeral of a homosexual soldier, public disdain was used to characterize the church as an outlier and disgrace to civil society. Sometimes ignoring the events and not giving them enough coverage works too, for example when anti-zionist Jews in Bronx burn the Israeli flag to protest against policies of Israel, no coverage is given to those events, granted their protest is against government policies of Israel and not anti-Semitic in nature. However when a non-Jewish Texas politician, Larry Taylor, uses ‘jew’ as a verb to chide insurance companies, he ends up writing an apology letter to ADL and lose his public post.

Another extreme example of anti-religious expression in USA, in recent history, is ‘PissChrist’. While some Christians took the 1987 photograph of a plastic statue of Christ in artist’s own urine, as a symbol of what Christ’s message has been reduced to in modern times, others have taken it as a sign of disrespect and are outraged on its display in public and private galleries. This was especially disturbing because part of the funding to the artist Andres Serrano was allegedly tax payers’ dollars. There have been ‘death threats’ to the artist, gallery owners and others involved in this controversy but no state punishments have been meted  out to any of the parties involved in the name of ‘freedom of speech’. This whole incident, however, is mainly ignored by the media in recent years to the outrage of devout Christians who see more coverage on the anti-Islam movie than the PissChrist incident.

With freedom comes responsibilities, and yes, in USA you have the freedom to hate, but this hate is not free, it comes at a great economic or personal cost. The cost of freedom of speech depends on who exercised it against whom and in what capacity to gain what interest. The sentiment in Pakistan is that all religious defamation should be outlawed internationally so the sensitivities of devout followers of the religions are not perturbed in any way. However the problem is what is considered offensive to the followers of a religion. To some, a movie that has no resemblance to the story of Islam which uses a few names of the characters from Islamic history cannot be logically accepted as an insult to the religion; whereas not using the honorific ‘PBUH’ in front of Muhammad PBUH, may be seen as offensive to others. There is no point in passing unenforceable laws, and everyone already condemns the attack on any religion or race officially, so what can be done if a group feels unjustly targeted for slanders? There are many ways to combat such spewing of hatred and misinformation other than legislating against the act. Recently when NY subway authority, unable to oppose the petition made under ‘freedom of speech’, had to grudgingly put up anti-Islamic posters in the subway stations sponsored by a pro-Israel organization, another Jewish organization sought to combat this hateful act by putting up pro-Islamic posters instead. This is how US combats bigotry, it may not always be right or succeed in doing what it professes, but that is how it approaches the negative impacts of freedom of speech.

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175 Responses to "Freedom of speech"

  1. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    @RajTOO

    .

    You and your wayward maggi yelped out at the news as if that old lady was your mother…this seems to be the reason maggi thuggi’s mind at once switched over to her mother Teresa !! You poor souls!!
    How can you say those so called Muslims who beat the canine bastards were not imitator Mirzai’s???

  2. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    @ rajmoot

    and finally am warning you to keep you tongue in place otherwise I will pull it out.
    you linguistic effluent doesn’t bother me,,,and if you continue showing me your BUND Shund without restraint I will have to shove in something very hard up yours!!

    .

  3. RajTOO Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Arab Ki Bund,
    .
    The bark of a pig is worse than his bite! You should learn some courage from that 87 year old lady and stop taking off your chaddee and bending over whenever you hear some Mullah say AoA!

  4. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    @ rajmoot

    .

    why should i care about your mother??? That dog seems to be her paramour…otherwise you wouldn’t be worried about her as you are not concerned about the hundred of thousands of old women humiliated by the Indus in the ganoo nagri of Indoostan!
    Why don’t you go and help that old woman and her lover doggie?? Do you want me to send you orgies about how women in Sweden enjoy ‘free sex”?? how the Hindu women enjoy themselves with he-goats when a Mullah is not in hand???

  5. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    BEWARE MAGGU…..!!!!

    .
    Abuse of Older Women

    1. Are Older Women More Likely to Experience Abuse Than Older Men?

    Many Canadian community agencies and organizations have found that older women are more likely to be the victims of abuse than older men; older women often represent two thirds of victims in the abuse or neglect cases brought to their attention.(1) The organizations and agencies find men are more likely to be the abusers than women, again usually by a ratio of two to one.

    On per capita basis, the rates of abuse and neglect appear to be equivalent for both older men and older women. It has been suggested that aging and ageism are great “equalizers”, as they may leave both women and men open to abuse or neglect in later life, especially when the person has disabling conditions and must rely on others. (2)

    However, people working with abused older women note greater risks for women because of their social situation:

    “Domestic violence is learned behaviour, and passed on from generation to generation. Domestic violence is about power and control… [t]he social expectations of older women as women, wives, mothers, and grandmothers. In many case, older women have grown up with the expectation that if a problem develops in their relationship they have a responsibility to live with it and to make the best of it. This places the responsibility solely on their shoulders…”(3)

    There are more older women than older men, especially after about age 75 or 80. That means that number-wise, we would expect to see more abused older women than abused older men, because there are more older women.

    Researchers are finding that abuse of older women is much more common than previously expected, and service providers in some settings such as health care are very likely to be working with abused older women. A 2004 report in the United States looked at 92,000 women aged 50 to 79 coming to health clinics. It found that 11% reported experiencing some form of abuse in the past year. (4) Women in their 50s were more likely to identify having being abused than the older women.

    2. Gender and Crime

    A. Who is more likely to be the victim of abuse crimes, older women or older men?

    According to criminal offence reports for 2000 (Statistics Canada), there are more older women who are victims of abuse and more men are abusers. Eighty percent (80%) of the people accused of violently victimizing an older family member were men.

    In cases of family violence towards seniors, an adult child or spouse of the senior accounted for almost three-quarters (71%) of victimizations. Older men were most likely to be victimized by their adult children (43% of the abusers). Older women were just as likely to be victimized by their spouses (36% of the abusers) as they were by their adult children (37% of the abusers).(5)
    http://www.cnpea.ca/abuse_of_older_women.htm

  6. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    @ RAJMOOT

    LOOK INTO THE MIRROR FOR YOUR REAL IDENTITY!!!!

    .

    Indian women fight abuse

    Squatting on the floor of a women’s shelter, 33-year-old Swati lifts her blue cotton sari to reveal blackish scars on her disfigured feet.

    “They held me down and poured kerosene over me and then they lit a wooden stick,” she says, before adding that she counts herself lucky. “Only my feet and legs are burned.”

    Swati suffered nine years of terror and beatings at the hands of her husband and in-laws for not paying an ample enough dowry, before they eventually tried to kill her by burning her alive.

    Though she can no longer walk properly, Swati was rescued from her ordeal. Millions of other Indian women, however, remain terrorized by their families in their own homes, activists say.

    One in three women face some form of domestic violence, yet most remain silent, according to women’s groups.

    But the Indian Government says a new law on violence against women in the home could stem the fear and suffering in many households across the country.

    Stove burnings

    The most common case is dowry-related violence, where women are abused and beaten and even killed by their in-laws for not bestowing enough gifts or money to their husbands’ families at the time of marriage.

    Many die in infamous “stove burnings” in which in-laws set them ablaze and then say it was a kitchen accident.

    A recent report by the United Nations (UN) Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) said violence against women in South Asia was on the rise, based on cases reported to the police.

    But observers say centuries-old attitudes are beginning to change towards women and the new legislation reflects the change.

    “In the 1980s, India recognized for the first time ‘cruelty by husband’ as a crime,” says Ranjana Kumari, director of the Centre for Social Research, an independent think-tank.

    “After 10 years of lobbying, street agitations and numerous dowry deaths, the government is now willing to accept that the husband – traditionally considered the chief guardian within the family – could indeed be a criminal.”

    Protection and property

    Lawyers say the new law, expected to be passed by parliament in August, will focus not on penalizing the offender but on protecting and compensating the victim.

    This could be in the form of a share of the abuser’s property and salary as well as medical damages for physical abuse and in certain cases, he will also have to cover the victim’s legal costs.

    It provides for the appointment of protection officers and private service-providers to help abused women get medical and legal aid and a safe place to stay.

    The definition of domestic violence has also been extended to include all kinds of abuse – physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and economic, making it easier for victims to complain and police and the judiciary to take action.

    The most empowering clause, however, relates to women’s right to residence in shared households where the law will protect the rights of victims to secure a house or live in her married home.

    “Often when women manage to get enough courage to complain to the police, they are thrown out of their homes and into the streets with nowhere to go,” said Flavia Agnes, a women’s rights lawyer and founder of women’s legal rights charity, Majlis.

    “So in that sense, this is a good law.”

    Source: China Daily

  7. AKB Pakistan Opera Windows says:

    COST OF FREEDOM IS PAYED BY WOMEN WHILE PEOPLE LIKE RAJMOOT WATCH HAPPILY!!

    .

    WOMEN ABUSE IN INDIA, THE US AND OTHER COUNTRIES..SHAME ON THEIR MEN!!

    The Statistics

    The reports and statistics we will mention are staggering enough but many attacks and abusive situations are never reported, leaving the numbers inconclusive and much worse than we think. Please take a serious look at the following incidents from the international fact sheet on gender violence, published by the UN Non-Governmental Agency, UNIFEM.

    INDIA
    It is estimated that more than 7,000 women in India will be murdered by their families and in-laws in disputes over dowries. 160,000 Nepalese women are held in India’s brothels. Discrimination against girls are so strong in the Punjab state of India that those aged 2 to 4 die at twice the rate of boys. Statistics from 2000 showed that on average a woman is raped every hour in India. This is a very conservative number due to the fact that victims are often reluctant to report rape. Why? In an open court victims must prove that the rapist sexually penetrated them in order to get a conviction. This can be especially damaging. After proving that she has been raped, a victim is often ostracized from her family and community. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that rape laws are inadequate and definitions so narrow that prosecution is made difficult. Protected by powerful lobbies, landlords and men in uniform continue to rape.

    USA
    While it has been said that here in America the rate for such heinous crimes has decreased in recent years, here’s what we know – About 1 in 3 American women have been physically or sexually assaulted by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. A woman is raped every 6 minutes, battered every 15 seconds. 683,000 women are raped each year, according to the National Women’s Study. This translates to 1 every 3 minutes, 78 per hour, 1,871 per day. 9 out of 10 women murdered are killed by men; most are at the hands of a male partner. 10-14% of all married women in the US and at least 40% of battered wives have been raped by their husbands.

    ELSEWHERE
    More than 15,000 women have been sold into sexual slavery in China.

    Assassination of women in Bangladesh by their husbands accounts for 50% of all murders.

    In Papua, New Guinea, 67% of rural women and 56% of urban women have been victims of wife abuse.

    In the Maternity Hospital of Lima, Peru, 90% of young mothers aged 12 to 16 have been raped by their father, stepfather or a close relative.

    A survey of women in Barbados revealed that nearly 1/3 has been sexually abused during childhood or adolescence.

    Every 1 1/2 minutes a woman is raped in South Africa, that’s approximately 386,000 women each year. In North Africa, 6,000 women are genitally mutilated each day. Half of Kenya’s maternal mortality rate of 170 per 100,000 live births is due to circumcision’s infibulations and/or other harmful traditional practices.

    Among the Vietnamese boat people, 39% of women are abducted and raped while at sea. Again due to unreported incidents, this number is very likely underestimated.

    One study of 33 infibulated Somali women, all had to have extensive episiotomies (cutting) during childbirth, and their second stage labor was five times longer than normal; five of their babies died, and 21 suffered oxygen deprivation due to the long and obstructed labor.

  8. Syed United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    @AKB (November 19, 2012 at 2:35 am)
    //…As to how much I know or don’t know about Palestinian problem is none of you business to remark at….It was simply out of modesty that I said that…//

    Actually, your fantastic level of ignorance and your outstanding display of indecency have become everybody’s business at PTH. By the way, I agree that whatever you say has somehow always been “out” of modesty. Try saying something, let’s say for a change, staying “in” the bounds of modesty.

  9. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Syed, Raj,

    Leave AKB in peace, he has more knowledge than many people I have across and I can assure you that I usualy do not keep the company of those who are not academics or without desertaion. You guys are highly emotional and freedom of expression does not mean that you must bring out the worst within you or provoke others to bring out the worst in them.

    We are humans and make mistakes in our jugements, but please this must not be misinterpreted and used against us. Why post items of news on PTH from the tabloids or bullevard news papers.

    Rex Minor

  10. Maggu India Google Chrome  GT-N7100 Build/JRO03C) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19 says:

    AKB, yes these things happen in india but are not a population wide phenomena. While there are certain pure countries where some population wide nasty stuff happens which displays the national mentality. It might interest you to read this one from a news site:
    .
    So here’s the irony: Google ranks Pakistan No. 1 in the world in searches for pornographic terms, outranking every other country in the world in searches per person for certain sex-related content.
    Pakistan is top dog in searches per-person for “horse sex” since 2004, “donkey sex” since 2007, “rape pictures” between 2004 and 2009, “rape sex” since 2004, “child sex” between 2004 and 2007 and since 2009, “animal sex” since 2004 and “dog sex” since 2005, according to Google Trends and Google Insights, features of Google that generate data based on popular search terms.
    .
    The country also is tops — or has been No. 1 — in searches for “sex,” “camel sex,” “rape video,” “child sex video” and some other searches that can’t be printed here
    .
    Pakistan does “love” animals. Go figure why!

  11. Maggu India Google Chrome  GT-N7100 Build/JRO03C) AppleWebKit/535.19 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/18.0.1025.166 Mobile Safari/535.19 says:

    Rotten Manure (gulle):
    .
    “Leave AKB in peace, he has more knowledge than many people I have across ”
    .
    Haha if you crawl out more often from your cave and meet humans you would meet people with some education not madrassa bs. This speaks more about the kind of animals you meet

  12. Maggu India Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Sauds Show Thier True Colors – Mecca – A Business Opportunity
    ————————————————————-
    .
    “Paris Hilton has come a long way from her not-so-humble beginnings as a hotel heiress, via an infamous sex tape to her current position as a ubiquitous media presence and ‘businesswoman’ hell bent on global domination.
    .
    Nowhere is safe from Paris, not even the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia and the latest venue for one of Ms. Hilton’s fabulous handbags and accessories stores.
    .
    Of course Paris isn’t without her knockers and the idea that the notorious hard-partying socialite has opened a store in an Islamic holy place coveted by 1.2billion Muslims worldwide has proved a step too far for many.”

  13. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Rex

    yeah, I know that. Pakistani’s are curious about that, nothing more nothing less. They watch all that stuff with a sense of censure…..not like maggu the thuggu who looks down upon those who differ from her….
    .

    India too has cultural problems like any third world country…..I don’t blame them nor Pakistani;s but people like maggu who pose to be what they are not. Had she been manning 250 people she wouldn’t have the time to wastefully waddle across this board!!

  14. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ rex

    did you read Mirja Ghulla’s puking about Muslims?? Ok, let me tell you he called them ”the children of prostitute ” who didn’t believe in him as a frofet. Now that is deplorable and ugly for any person, especially a true saint or a frofet to state about others ….but hell to the one who called others with abuses..
    Syed and Maggu and their like are afraid of quoting from the saying of their faux frofet Murja Ghulla of Qadian because they know in their heart that he was a fraud, a brother of satan, a crook, a liar and a cheat!!
    Mirjai KKK should reconsider their belief and do something to wake up their conscience…either by performing repentance or proclaiming a new identity to their dastardly belief!!

  15. AKB Pakistan Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    @ Syed

    if a kutta calls others randi ke bachay then be ready to hear randi kay bachay in return from them. But you call this immodest because you don;t have any. Playing with words is going to get you nowhere….stick to the point and tell us all why your false frofet called others as ”children of prostitute’ unless he was one??? Naql e kufr naql na bashid!!

  16. Bin Ismail Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    @ AKB
    “Tum hee kaho ke ye andaz-e guftugu kia hai”

  17. Syed United States Google Chrome Windows says:

    @AKB (November 21, 2012 at 11:08 pm)
    //…he called them ”the children of prostitute”…//
    Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad has indeed spoken of those who do not refrain from base and mean-spirited opposition as “zurriyat al baghaayah”. This is an Arabic term that simply means “defiant progeny”. However, keeping in view your mentality, I am not at all surprised by what you have arrived at.

  18. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    AKB ISREAL ACCEPTANCE OF CEASEFIRE IS VICTORY FOR PALESTANIAN RESISTENCE.

  19. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    Maggu says:
    November 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm
    Sauds Show Thier True Colors – Mecca – A Business Opportunity
    ————————————————————-
    .
    “Paris Hilton

    I DONT KNOW FROM WHERE U GET ALL THESE BULLSHIT.5 STAR HILTON HOTEL IS JUST OPPOSITE(50 YARDS)MECCA MOSQUE.

  20. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    AKB,
    No sir,I do not know much about various sects under the umbrela of Islam. As long as they keep their doctrines or whatever to themselves without imposing it on others, they do not disturb me.

    I find it easier to keep away from those who are just queers, abnormal without having any clue of others but use abusive language in post which is not a norm. I do unerstand the reaction of those who feel personaly adressed by comments of others; but why get personal?

    Rex Minor

    PS
    I know that you have the intution to differentiate between good and Evil, but you need to take the next step of ignoring the Evil when it comes your way. The latter is very difficult Tariqa in Sufism!

  21. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Tajender,

    Two little people are the loosers in the Israeli assault on Gazans, namely Obama and Nathan. Was it realy necessary to deny life to more than fourty palestinian angels, simply to gauge the power of the Arab spring revolution? Morsi muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot Mashal Hamas are the one who are now backed by most of once powerful monarchs and dictators who want to ride the revolution and not be overrun by its momentum.

    Rex Minor

  22. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    rex i predicted in the begining that zoinists will loose this war but so soon even i was expecting.good lesson for those as well who want military solution to tribal problem of pakistan.regarding obama

    :
    ‘a time when the beleaguered Gaza became haunted by Israeli bombs and the innocent women and children were targeted by missiles, US President Barrack Obama together with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a journey to a number of SouthEast Asian countries including Myanmar, the land of pagodas and jungles, a poverty-stricken country which has recently witnessed a state-sponsored ethnic cleansing of the Muslim population in the Rakhine region.

    Needless to say, the truce supported by Washington and some regional regimes such as Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia will not ensure the rights of the Gazans and there is no guarantee that Israel will not re-tread its gory path of mayhem

    The invasion of Gaza was a colossal mistake and it will definitely damn Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu though some may vainly believe that the whole situation will prove to be in the best interests of the bellicose premier. Further to that, the invasion of the defenseless city and the killing of the innocent Palestinian women and children will only open up a wound exacerbated by Israeli animosity towards the Muslims in the world.

  23. tajender United Arab Emirates Internet Explorer Windows says:

    but so soon even i was expecting.

    pls read

    but so soon even i was not expecting.

  24. Rex Minor Germany Google Chrome Windows says:

    Tajender,

    The spring revolution determines the events in the arabian region now; the Israeli Govt. is made up of holocaust generation and have been practicing the tactics which the Romans used with the slaves and those they occupied. Target killing is a mafiosi culture which the Israelis followed by the Americans made it the strategic weapon against its enemies. Fogetting the consequences of such actions, an asymetric war.

    Muslims are not the only one but are very much familiar with the culture of ‘Resistance’ and ‘martyrdam’ as the ultimate prize for freedom.

    Americans are the loosers in this region, and they better stay away until the blood of innocents remains fresh.

    Rex Minor

  25. web site United States Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Great web site you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find high-quality writing like yours these days.

    I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!

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