Journalism Dean: “There are limits to free speech”

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**Posted by Phineas

freespeech

It’s a measure of how craven and corrupt our political culture has become that even the Dean of a journalism school in a nation founded on free speech and freedom of the press should say “there are limits, however:”

Charlie Hebdo has gone too far.

In its first publication following the Jan. 7 attack on its Paris office, in which two Muslim gunmen massacred 12 people, the once little-known French satirical news weekly crossed the line that separates free speech from toxic talk.

Charlie Hebdo’s latest depiction of the prophet Mohammed — a repeat of the very action that is thought to have sparked the murderous attack on its office — predictably has given rise to widespread violence in nations with large Muslim populations. Its irreverence of Mohammed once moved the French tabloid to portray him naked in a pornographic pose. In another caricature, it showed Mohammed being beheaded by a member of the Islamic State.

While free speech is one of democracy’s most important pillars, it has its limits.

So says DeWayne Wickham, Dean of the School of Global Journalism and Communication at Wayne State University. In a very limited sense, he’s right: I cannot go yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater (1), for example (2). Nor can I incite to violence by, for example, standing before a crowd and telling them to go now and beat up a certain person or persons.

But that’s it. All other political speech is within bounds, regardless of whom it offends. You cannot have a free society unless the it includes the right to freely criticize those in authority — and not just criticize, but to satirize and mock, too. If I as a Catholic want to question Original Sin and the need for Divine Grace, or that Jesus was not Divine until adopted by God, then the Church might well denounce me as a heretic and excommunicate me, but the law cannot punish me for my beliefs, nor should I fear physical violence. If I want to be truly outrageous and place the Crucifix in a beaker of urine, I would be a jackass, but I still should not have to fear either legal sanction nor physical violence.

And the same is true of any religion. If I want to question Muhammad’s status as a prophet, or even if he existed at all; if I want to argue that his earliest biography shows he was a bandit, a warlord, and a torturer; and if I want to criticize Sharia, Islam’s divine law, for calling for the execution of homosexuals, that is my right as a free man — even if I want to draw questionably funny satirical cartoons.

This is the right of any human being and well-within the “limits” of free speech.

Let’s be honest. It’s not a regard for the proper limits of free speech that motivates Mr. Wickham. If he or one of his students offended some Amish who then complained, I’m willing to bet he’d be on his soapbox screaming about “free speech” and “freedom of the press.”

And that leads us to the truth. Amish might shun you. Catholics won’t invite you to Bingo Night. A Buddhist would probably just decide you’re an annoying illusion and don’t really exist.

But all too many Muslims would be quite willing to kill you for insulting their Muhammad. Just ask the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, or Theo van Gogh.

The limit to Dean Wickham’s freedom of speech is his fear of punishment, and thus he is not free at all.

via Michael Walsh

PS: It’s great to see ST back in business. :)

Footnote:
(1) Popehat argues there are serious flaws with that particular justification for censorship.
(2) When it’s not true, that is.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

How about we stop demanding apologies from public figures?

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Arsalan Iftikhar

Arsalan Iftikhar, Senior Editor for The Islamic Monthly.

For the very simple reason that most of the time it’s forced – and they really don’t mean them anyway. And making them rationalize their remarks in depth serves to expose them even more.

Brought this up after reading the story of an MSNBC contributor who made a despicable remark about Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA), which prompted a wave of demands for an apology. Via CNN media guy Brian Stelter (hat tip):

MSNBC is distancing itself from a guest who asserted on Monday that Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal “might be trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin.”

Arsalan Iftikhar, a human rights attorney and commentator, made the racially-tinged remark on MSNBC’s “Now with Alex Wagner.” It immediately prompted criticism.

An MSNBC spokeswoman told CNN on Tuesday morning that Iftikhar won’t be appearing on the channel again.
“We found this guest’s comments offensive and unacceptable, and we don’t plan on inviting him back,” the spokeswoman said.

Iftikhar didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment. But on Monday night, he told CNN, “I will apologize to Bobby Jindal when he apologizes to seven million American Muslims for advancing the debunked ‘Muslim no-go zones’ myth.”

Jindal did no such thing on Tuesday. Instead, he faulted MSNBC for giving Iftikhar a platform in the first place. The governor compared Iftikhar’s criticism to liberal filmmaker Michael Moore’s recent assertion that “snipers aren’t heroes.”

[…]

[Iftikhar] laid low on social media after Monday’s MSNBC appearance, choosing not to respond to tweets like this one from conservative political strategist Matt Mackowiak: “Your outrageous, racist, bigoted, disgusting attack on @BobbyJindal requires an immediate, public apology.”

Nah – forget the apology. We ought to let stuff like this stand, and instead of demanding an apology, ask the offending idiot (in this case, Iftikhar – an Obama donor) to explain their comments in depth. They won’t be able to, and will usually instead dig themselves into a deeper whole and be unable to get out.’

Seriously, don’t ask them to take it back. Invite them to expand on it at length. Expose them for the bigoted fools that they are. Forcing them into an apology seems, well, forced most of the time, and even at that most apologies from public figures are of the “I’m sorry you were offended” variety, anyway.

Don’t help them look better in the eyes of the masses by pushing them into an insincere “I’m sorry.” Call ’em out, put them in the position where they have to go into detail about what they mean. By the time they’re done, their “credibility” will take a serious dive. And deservedly so.

QOTD: Obama “never had reporters eating out of his hand” sez former WH spox

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I wonder if even they laugh over some of the ridiculous claims they make?

I wonder if even they laugh over some of the ridiculous claims they make?

It is to laugh, my dear readers. It is to laugh:

So you think that President Obama’s rise stemmed in part from media favoritism? Reid Cherlin, a former Obama campaign media liaison and later a White House spokesman, has different ideas, as outlined in a Rolling Stone piece:

No, Barack Obama never had reporters eating out of his hand the way that right-wingers love to allege — even though Obama’s intellectual approach made him seem like someone who could just as easily have been a columnist as a candidate. Appearing at his first Correspondents’ Dinner, in 2009, the president joked, “Most of you covered me; all of you voted for me.” But even as polite laughter settled over the black-tie crowd, there was ample evidence that the old way of the news business – in fact, the news business entirely – was falling away, and with it, the last shreds of comity between subject and scribe.

Time to book Cherlin on a conference panel with Mark Halperin. The co-author of “Game Change” and well-traveled pundit and reporter said after Obama’s 2008 victory: “It’s the most disgusting failure of people in our business since the Iraq war. It was extreme bias, extreme pro-Obama coverage.”

Halperin was, of course, correct.   And several years later, unfortunately, not much has changed.

How the Associated Press perpetuates the “Israel is the enemy” myth (UPDATED)

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Associated Press

A disturbing, revealing tweet from the Associated Press earlier this morning (screen-capped in case they delete it):


As you’ll see below in the original piece published by the AP and written by journalist Bradley Klapper, this wasn’t just a headline writer gone wild. It was in the actual piece as well, the first two lines:


I’m not sure how long the article stayed up this way, but someone got a hold of it and revised it (even though as of this writing, the tweet is still there in all its infamy), and it now reads:

WASHINGTON (AP) — As the war in Gaza escalates, U.S. lawmakers are pressing the Obama administration to take no action that puts pressure on Israel to halt its military campaign against Hamas.

It’s fascinating, really, when you think about it – even the revised version is biased. Where the original article implied the Palestinians were being unfairly and horrifically targeted by IDF and ganged up on by US politicians who were “falling all over themselves” to support Israel, the revised version insinuates that Israel started the “military campaign” against Hamas without provocation. Ignored throughout the piece is the real horror behind the Gaza war, and not just this one but many prior: Palestinian children are taught from birth to loathe the Jewish people. And as soon as they’re able to hold a gun, the children are militarily trained on how to target and kill Jews. Not much later than that in their young lives, they’re instructed about martyrdom and how it is an “honor” to blow yourself up “for the cause.” Also not mentioned in Klapper’s hit piece is how Hamas routinely uses children and other innocents as human shields in their battles against Israel, how they deliberately store weapons they want to use against Israel near hospitals and schools so Israel looks like they bad guy when they destroy those weapons of war and innocents get caught in the crossfire.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Sadly, this isn’t just standard operating procedure for the Associated Press, but other news orgs as well, like Reuters and the BBC, all of which are seemingly incapable of putting their “#FreePalestine!” bias aside in favor of straight news reporting on a very delicate and dangerous subject. I’d like to think the light shined on the Associated Press today on the glaringly obvious bias in Klapper’s article will cause them and other news outlets to be a little more careful in the future when it comes to how they word their reports on the conflict in Gaza, but I won’t hold my breath. Israel-shaming is popular today, and – unfortunately – not just in media circles.

And besides, Hamas is just a “humanitarian organization“, right? o=> 8-|

Update – 12:50 PM: The AP has now ‘officially’ revised their tweet:


Never change, AP. Never change.

Get ready for the Sarah Palin Internet channel

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Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin

The USA Today reports that the “rogue” Alaskan has decided to cut through the left wing media filter and launch her own network:

Sarah Palin has gone rogue again, this time launching her own Internet channel.

“Tired of media filters? Well, so am I,” the former Alaska governor proclaimed Sunday on her Facebook page. “So let’s go rogue and launch our own member-supported channel. “

In a video on sarahpalinchannel.com, Palin calls the new subscription-based network a “community” where she and viewers can share ideas. “I want to talk to directly to you on our channel on my terms and no need to please the powers that be,” she says, promising to go beyond soundbites and to “cut through the media’s politically correct filter.”

The new channel includes videos of Palin criticizing President Obama and his addiction to “OPM,” or other people’s money, and her explanation of why she believes he should be impeached. There’s also a blog by her daughter, Bristol, and running tallies of the national debt and how many days, hours, minutes and seconds are left in the Obama administration. Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, will serve as the channel’s executive editor and will oversee all posted content.

Here’s the announcement she made as read/viewed on her Facebook page. Video below.

As to the cost? $9.95 a month, or $99.95 for a year.

Rest assured there will be a lot of laughter and mockery over this coming from the Usual Suspects, but I say more power to her. Any opportunity you have to cut through media spin, to provide your own side unfiltered – especially in a visual/video format, is a good thing. Rock on, Sarah!

—–

Memeorandum has more.

Headline of the day: ‘Barack Obama locks out the press — again’

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President Obama in toast

Our celebrity President held a couple of high-dollar fundraisers on the left coast this week – and the mainstream media are not happy that they weren’t granted access whatsoever to either of them (via):

SAN FRANCISCO — President Barack Obama went to the West Coast to meet donors from two top Democratic super PACs, but the press wasn’t invited.

Tuesday, the reporters and photographers traveling with the president on Air Force One and in his motorcade were left on the gravel path not even within sight of former Costco CEO Jim Sinegal’s house in the Seattle suburbs where Obama sat for a Senate Majority PAC fundraiser with a $25,000 entrance fee.

Wednesday morning, when he met with big donors for the House Majority PAC at the Four Seasons hotel in downtown San Francisco, they weren’t even told what room or floor he was on.

“We think these fundraisers ought to be open to at least some scrutiny, because the president’s participation in them is fundamentally public in nature,” said Christi Parsons, the new president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. “Denying access to him in that setting undermines the public’s ability to independently monitor and see what its government is doing. It’s of special concern as these events and the donors they attract become more influential in the political process.”

Despite constant complaints from the press corps and promises from White House officials, access to the president continues to be limited. The constantly repeated line that they’re running the “most transparent administration in history” tends to prompt snickers. Halfway through Obama’s West Coast swing, it’s tipping toward outrage.

Make sure to read the whole thing as Politico writes about other events that the press were only allowed very limited access to, and notes two meetings with high profile Democrats that the media only found out after the fact.

This is nothing new. In fact, the secretive nature of this administration is so absurd that they have actually blocked reporters from covering meetings about … transparency!  So it’s about freaking time someone in the mainstream media got outraged.  Bring on the chorus of frustrated journalists. Let’s hear more about it!

“Transparency” you can believe in – only it’s the kind of  phony”transparency” that I described here….

Related: Via the SF Chronicle – Signs of donor fatigue at Obama’s Bay Area fundraisers

Hypocritical White House criticizes journos for use of anonymous sources

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obama-mirror

The two-faced nature of this administration continues.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest angered a lot of journalists at today’s press briefing over his comments regarding the anonymous sources of a story he was questioned on.  Via The Hill:

Complaints from White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday about anonymous news sources prompted a testy exchange with reporters who noted that administration officials regularly demand anonymity.

Earnest was asked about a Washington Post report charging that the administration ignored predictions last year from the Department of Homeland Security about the surge of unaccompanied minors who have flooded across the border in recent months.

ut the spokesman looked to challenge the report by arguing it was “based entirely on anonymous sources.” Earnest also offered a broader critique on the use of anonymous sourcing in a bid to challenge the credibility of the story.

“In the course of reporting, I think it’s important, based on my own personal view, for those kinds of quotes and those kinds of stories to be given greater weight than just anonymous sources,” Earnest said. “So, what that means is, if you have anonymous sources at the White House who are telling you something, and you’re gonna say to them — that anonymous source — ‘Look, I’m willing to give your side of the story a little less weight right now, because you’re telling me this anonymously.’ “

That prompted complaints from reporters who noted that the White House routinely insists on anonymity when unveiling new efforts.

“Would you guys commit then, when you have situations like today’s call, which is people specifically picked by the White House to roll out a policy of the White House, would you commit to have those people speak on the record?” asked Associated Press White House correspondent Julie Pace. “Because there doesn’t seem to be a reason to put them on background.”

[….]

“What I will commit to is a case-by-case evaluation of the background or the ground rules of each of these kinds of calls and a commitment to an open dialogue with you about the ground rules that will serve your interests and the White House interests the best,” Earnest said.

Make sure to click on the link above from The Hill to read how some Washington Post journos responded on Twitter to a particularly ridiculous criticism Earnest leveled at them about not sending anyone to the briefing to “defend themselves” on their border story published today.  It goes without saying that the write-up wasn’t exactly flattering to the administration, and for that – of course – journalists must be punished.  It’s the Chicago-on-the-Potomac way.

As always with this White House, it’s do as I say – not as I do.  “Transparency” you can believe in, and all that … 8-|