Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ezra's stunt

Two good letters to the editor of the Globe&Mail regarding little Ezra's stunt. And it's nothing more than that. It's not a hate crime, but it's deliberately provocative, designed to attract attention and advance his own agenda, which has nothing entirely to do with free speech.


gwilliamjr@aol.com said...

Isnt that what free speech is all about?? If its not a hate crime, which it is not, then it should be protectected, no matter how vile, disgusting and offensive we find it, this is the ultimate point. And, this is the same arguement that was made over burning flags!! I'm against it, I see the hurt in Muslims eyes, but, we allow people to burn uniforms and flags in plain view of Veterans, and we see the hurt and pain that we cause, but, its free speech, we mock God and Jesus in art and in films, but its free speech, how is this any different?? Freedom of Speech is the abiltiy to be offensive, vile and disgusting...or do we want the ability to censor what we feel is offensive to some?? Catholics have protested for the past 20 years the use of God, Jesus, and the Mother Mary in pornographic art and film, and it has never gotten the response that these cartoons have...why?? Is it because no one is threatening violence?? I think that this is the question...or do we want all sarcasm censored when it comes to religious beliefs. Ezra may be an ass..but everyone has to ask themselves these questions.

Mike B said...

Ask the questions, fine. But it adds nothing to the debate to publish the cartoons again. Free speech without responsibility and without reason is just noise and yelling.

gwilliamjr said...

To you it may be noise and yelling...but its still free speech. It doesnt have to add anything to a debate or a conversation...thats the beauty of it, it cannot be censored...and thus is the arguement, who decides what is noise and yelling?? Is it those who file complaints, is it those who threaten, is it those who are minorities.....and isnt the fact that Ezra is publishing the cartoons evidence enough of the importance of free speech, we are now having a debate and learning more about Muslims and each other...over an offensive, vile, disgusting cartoon....its what so many people since time has begun have fought and died for...the freedom to speak and think, even if you think its noise and yelling, even if you think it adds nothing to a conversation, I have the right to say it.

Mike B said...

Ezra's actions didn't spark the debate. The debate, the attempts to understand, all of it were well underway before his publishing of the cartoons. Why did he wait so long? He's just jumping on the bandwagon, trying to grab a little bit of publicity or notoriety, to stoke the flames a bit before cooler minds prevail. And cooler minds are prevailing, now that the obvious manipulation of emotions on this issue, by both sides, is being revealed.

The issue here is that I just don't believe Ezra's argument that he is going this in the name of free speech.

gwilliamjr said...

Ezra is sparking this debate..it was the headline of your blog...if no one had the balls to publish the cartoons then this debate would never happen, if we all felt the same, or, if we all felt compelled to do what everyone else thought was right, then, what kind of world would we be living in right now, homosexuality would still be a dirty word, some of the worlds greatest literature would never have been published...you dont have to be a great person to push the free speech envelope...you just have to have the guts to stand up and speak, and not care what others think of you..no matter how misguided or self serving it is. I'm thinking we are agreeing to disagree...

Dean P said...

Perhaps this is a touch of a false dichotomy. Levant's publishing the cartoons is certainly his right. I think we all agree that there should be no bar to publishing what you want, within our hate crime or other limits (i.e. you can't yell FIRE! in a crowded theatre when there is none).

At the same time, one should legitimately question whether Levant is doing it as a noble bid to foster free speech, or whether he's just cashing in.

But the answer to the first point - that he unquestionably has the right to publish it - in no way hinges on the answer to the second - whether he is doing it out of noble or cynical intent. He can have the right to publish, but be taking advantage of it to improve his sales or pull a stunt.

Now - if he published the cartoons, and either didn't charge for that edition, or announced all the proceeds would go towards some foundation for mutual understanding, I might be more sympathetic.

I agree that it doens't further the debate; I read enough of the cartoon that even before I saw them I could probably draw half of them(which is more than can be said for half the nutjobs out there burning embassies). The "debate" about free speech v hypersensitivity is taking place irrespective of the cartoons being further published. (I put "debate" in quotes because I don't think it's a real one - there's only one correct answer here).

Levant's actions are neither the trigger nor a catalyst of the debate. If anything, it clouds the issue and injects a distraction - i.e. a debate (like we're having here) about Levant's motives.

Dean P said...

One more point, to Gwilliamjr's point on Levant sparking the debate - I question whether he is. He's not pushing the envelope; that was already pushed. The Danish paper sparked it (actually, no - given that they were published months ago in Egypt and no one cared, we can safely say a buch of inciters managed to spark the debate).

If there were something Levant were doing to further the debate, the point might be valid. I'm not sure what could be done - responsive cartoons about Christians and Jews have already made it to western papers, which I think furthers the point. Iran's doing it's little holocaust denial thing, which furthers the point.

GW - I don't think either me or my tag teaming buddy disagree with you at all that there are times when it's important to push limits, and that freedom of speech unquestionably means the freedom to offend. I think we're just both not quite convinced that Levant is some great moral crusader and suspect maybe he's just taking advantage of the issue to get himself some publicity. The debate had been going on in Canada for weeks already before Levant joined in.

I will grant one thing: if Levant publishes, and if someone brings a hate speech complaint against him, and if a court says, nonsense, this is unpleasant, offensive, but not hate speech, perhaps a victory will have been scored.

But I don't think he's holding himself out there for that - I don't think he's doing it with the intention to get sued. I think that it's entierly consistent with Levant's MO and history to take advantage of a situation to get a little fame.

But again, GW, we don't at all disagree with your fundamental premise of the importance of free speech. Or at least I don't.

Mike B said...

I don't disagree with gwilliamjr on the free speech point. I just don't like Ezra. So maybe my whole argument is framed by this bias. But whatever. Free speech, whatchagonna do ;)

gwilliamjr said...

Ezra is an ass...always has been. For him, this is about face time...and thats it. Larry Flint has higher morals than Ezra...my point is that if you in some small way try to censor people like Ezra, then, they become more of a story then they should be....and right now he is doing way too many talking head shows then anyone needs to see or hear, but, without total freedom of speech, we wouldnt really see what kind of a self-serving manipulating ass Ezra is...I like my weirdo' up front where I can keep an eye on them.
...bye the way...love your blog boys..one of the better ones.