Freedom of Speech comes with responsibility


This is a controversial topic, and many of you will not like my point of view. However, I have tried to give this subject a lot of thought.  It relates to what I consider the irresponsible actions of Terry Jones, the “pastor” from Florida. I am not talking about either the Lindsay Graham or the General Petreus solution here, I am talking about the responsibility that comes with our right to free speech.

Terry Jones knew that his actions would create a situation when Middle Eastern countries learned of his actions. Terry Jones knew the consequences of his actions – that there would be a riot because the more radical imams would stir up the hatred against the USA as well as against Christians.

In the past innocent words have been twisted and distorted by those radicals, and it had also led to riots and deaths. A good example were the words uttered by Pope Benedict not long after he was elected to become Pope during the Regensburg address. Now I happened to agree with the comments that were uttered at the time. I feel sure that Josef Ratzinger did not intend to cause a riot.

However, when you compare that situation with the deliberate actions of Terry Jones, one has to question the lack of responsibility shown by Jones.  I happen to think that his actions were totally irresponsible. Whether one can say that he is responsible for the deaths at the UN compound is another story. Also, I am not going as far as calling his actions bigotry, even though it might be appropriate.

Our freedom of speech, such as what I am exercising here, comes with the responsibility of not inflaming people to the point of causing riots. It also comes with the responsibility of not spreading fear amongst people. It really is very much a two way street.

Now, it happens that I disagree very much with the tactics used by Muslims when they start these riots. I happen to disagree with the manner in which they try to twist the freedom of speech so that it is used against us. The riots and the deaths caused by the riots are a form of intimidation. Muslims are very goood at that form of intimidation. Their imams are very good at whipping up the anger that leads to the riots, church burning, and the deaths of westerners in Muslim countries.  It is nothing new in those countries.

In the past I have mentioned the Africans known as the Circumcellions. I mention them here because I think that it will throw some light on the excitability of these people. If you want to find a link, try looking up the Donatist controversy, because the story of the Circumcellions is tied up with the Christian heresy known as Donatism.  Basically, the Circumcellions were probably a bit thick when it came to the idea of martyrdom. They seemed to think that they had to find a way of dying as martyrs, but without committing suicide. These people existed well before Mohammed, but they are African tribesmen. My mention of them is based upon how I see that it was in the nature of these people to be extreme in one way or the other. The Circumcellions, who lived around the time of St. Augustine, can certainly be described as extreme.  This is my point we are dealing with people who have a tendency to do extreme things out of a wrong belief that they are somehow doing God’s will.

It is for this reason that I personally disagree with the manner in which Terry Jones has exercised his basic right to free speech. It would be far better if he took responsibility for his actions, rather than putting on a front of further belligerance. 

Surely we can disagree with the Muslims, even disregard the Koran as being holy, but without doing something that was bound to cause a riot? 

I do not defend the Westboro Baptist church when they protest at funerals, and likewise I will not defend the actions of Terry Jones. Was he really doing God’s work by taking that action?

14 responses to “Freedom of Speech comes with responsibility

  1. Again, I cannot exactly disagree – BUT

    Islam is THE GREATEST THREAT to the world (certainly Western Civilization) that currently exists. And it is a huge and GRAVE THREAT. Muslims have always hated Jews and Christians, and sought (per their ‘sacred’ directives) to convert them, subjugate them, or kill them. But not since The Crusades have they been a feasible threat.

    But now their tactics of Terror and Infiltration – plus milking the Inclusiveness and Tolerance of Western Civ to it’s fullest – have generated what may be the greatest threat to mankind ever.

    And yet, NOBODY is explaining that to us. Muslims are being described as ‘just another religion’ – in the sense of peaceful Baptists vs. peaceful Methodists. The pundits do not even make the larger comparison of Catholics vs. Protestants of the middle ages. This situation is at least that huge and that deadly – and in my opinion, FAR WORSE.

    So it easy to see how someone (like Terry Jones) can freak out. Imagine a large asteroid closely approaching earth and nobody admitting to it. Don’t you think that would necessitate a large number of doomsday prophets and clothes rendering? Terry Jones is simply saying – WE HAVE GOT TO GET THEIR ATTENTION BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

    I can definitely sympathize with that. Both on religious and cultural grounds, and by analogy to our current political situation.

    Finally, I am concerned about molding our actions based on our expectations that the barbarians will go nuts. If we do that, haven’t they already won?

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  2. PS – what did you expect when you start a new thread with: “This is a controversial topic, and many of you will not like my point of view.”

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  3. Have to agree with you on this one, and I’m extremely unpopular for saying it, but that’s just the way it is. In my honest opinion, he committed sacrilege, so that’s how I’m looking at it, from the scriptural standpoint. So bear with me for a minute while I explain.

    We know that the religion is false, meaning Islam. To them it is real, though. So if it is real to them, how can we win them over and lead them out of it when we destroy something that they consider sacred? You can’t! I know, I know, they burn Bibles. However, we are not responsible for their Bible burning. We are not responsible for them when they commit sacrilege against us. They are the ones who are responsible for themselves and are guilty, so we don’t want to pull ourselves down to their level.

    And I take my teaching from here:

    Rom 2:22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
    And also when Paul went to Athens:

    Act 17:16 But awaiting them in Athens, Paul’s spirit was pained within him, seeing the city full of images.

    Did he go in and smash all the images (idols)? No. Read Acts 17 for how he handled it. He was not given the charge by Yahweh to go there and smash their idols. Paul handled it another way.

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  4. Interested Bystander

    Hey All,

    If the media would have ignored Jones, no one would have known about it.

    It seems to me that this is NOT newsworthy, but being the indoctrinators that they are, our “fine” news outlets reported this again and again, and MADE it news.

    It really makes me sick at what the “news” folks think we need to know. They ignore the important stuff like eligibility to be President (thanks for breaching the subject Mr Trump), and the FACT that the Democrats held majorities in the House, Senate and the White House, and yet they couldn’t agree on a 2011 budget, the corruption of the Federal Reserve and the Department of Justice, and report crap that we really don’t need published.

    Just my opinion of course.

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  5. I think that the news media and many liberals take advantage of free speech and the meaning. I love having free speech, but I don’t want to abuse it by offending others. And you’re right, Bystander, they don’t talk about the important stuff like BO’s lack of eligibility.

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  6. Folks you have all made good points, which is the reason that I opened up the topic.

    Kittycat that was an excellent perspective that you gave. I was looking for the Biblical example that would show how Jesus responded but none came to mind, however, the example of Paul in Athens is an excellent one.

    Carlyle, as usual you made good points, and I would say that you added quite admirably to my own points, so thank you.

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  7. @Interested Bystander, I agree about the role of the media, but did they actually report his actions this time? It has not been clear to me about how the Afghanis found out.

    It looks like someone went out of their way to inform Karazi of the actions done by Terry Jones. It is Karazi in Afghanistan who has helped to fan a few of the flames. In some ways I am not surprised that he is feeling mighty angry with Østupid, and very upset over some rather unsavoury actions by a few members of the military acting like Lindy England.

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  8. Aussie | April 8, 2011 at 6:47 AM |

    Aussie, from what I’ve heard it was Karzai who brought it to the attention of the Afghans in a speech he gave, so he seems to be the biggest instigator. Granted, he wouldn’t have even known about it to begin with if the US MSM had just ignored the subject (like they have for instance in vetting b○, lol).

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  9. @Indy, thanks I thought it was the case… that Karazai is stirring the pot.

    I admit that I am not surprised that Karazai has turned. If I remember correctly Østupid is firmly against him and has done things to create unease.
    BTW I am quite strongly against the use of the drones inside of Pakistan, and I am not sure about their legality. If anything was going to be something to go before the ICC then this is the one that could garner a lot of attention IMHO

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  10. Now, THAT is something I agree with. Karzai as the leader has a responsibility not to stir his own people up. HE is the one who should consider the consequences of his actions, not Jones. Jones made a legitimate statement. Karzai’s is inexcusable. Jones’s was maybe juvenile, but Karzai’s was an act of war. Karzai is the one who got people killed, not Jones.

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  11. Aussie,
    It has been instructive to read the varying opinions about the Fl. preacher. What came to mind (without any particularly deep analysis on my part) was the First Amendment rights that we have and how important they are to us as free Americans; however, as has been pointed out, there is the very vital aspect of personal responsibility.

    He and his followers have a right to express themselves under our Bill of Rights, but as kittycat77 pointed out, there is a moral responsibility to God and His Word which they, as a church, should be honoring, imo.

    What came to me almost immediately are the words of John Adams:
    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” We bask in the light and truth of the freedom of speech, but as a nation we are fast departing from the faith of our fathers.

    We see moral deterioration running rampant, and it infects even religious bodies. Hence, there is a departure from the convictions that motivated our founding fathers.

    Therefore, what Pastor Jones has done and even now plans more of it in the future, has to be measured against not only the First Amendment but also moral standards of Judeo-Christian principles.

    What is his real motive? I, frankly, don’t know but would suppose that it is to expose radical Islam. Is he guided by the attributes of wisdom, kindness, and meekness? Or is it a zeal that is not “according to knowledge”? Those are pivotal questions, imo.

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  12. Carlyle | April 8, 2011 at 10:57 AM
    Carlyle I am not disputing your points on the matter at all. If it was Karazai who did the stirring in Afghanistan that led to the violence, then Karazai is also responsible for the attack on the UN compound. However, that does alter the fact that Jones was well aware that his intended actions would cause trouble.

    My point is that when we exercise free speech we need to do so by being aware of our responsibility to the community. I do not believe in the stifling of free speech via those “hate laws”. I have seen ample evidence here in Australia over what happens when words are twisted and distorted.

    There is one particular case here in Australia that is seared in my memory because it involves my favourite Professor, Geoffrey Blainey, an Economic Historian. Professor Blainey wrote “The Tyranny of Distance” and he also wrote a history on the goldfields, amongst other writings. In the 1890s there were protests and riots in the goldfields at Bathurst and I am not sure where else these riots happened (perhaps Bendigo). Anyway the riots were directed against the Chinese who used to come and take over the diggings abandoned by the white miners, and they would persist until they found the gold. Blainey made a remark that was distorted and taken the wrong way, when he was warning against the possibility of a similar situation in the future. Well the press excoriated Blainey over what he said, the Chinese got upset with him, even though they did not understand his point of view. It was terrible.

    Then there is Pauline Hanson and her remarks that caused some angst. Most of us think that what she said was common sense, but other people used it as an opportunity to vilify and cause other problems for people of ethnic origin, including many Asians. Personally, I am against such behaviour. However, it was another example of words being twisted and people acting upon those words.

    What I am saying is that one needs to be aware that some people do act out of bigotry. It is human nature. When they act that way they also intend to intimidate others. This is the crux of the issue.

    Freedom of speech should be unfettered, but it should be exercised with responsibility so that it does not cause intimidation as a response to the activity associated with the exercise of free speech. Where there are acts of intimidation, which is really not the same as the exercise of free speech, then yes, it should be punished (hence the KKK was rightly punished when they intimidated Republican and black voters in the past)

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  13. I always say to speak freely so as not to seek to offend a brother or a sister. Which scripturally we are all brothers and sisters.

    A lot will depend on the time to speak and such, the subject. If it’s truth, and you have a defense, it can offend others who are basically offended by the truth and don’t wish to hear it!

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  14. kittycat77 | April 8, 2011 at 11:38 AM |
    There is always that aspect of offending others who do not want to hear “the truth”

    However, how do we define “the truth”.

    Here I am reminded of Pontius Pilate who asked the question “what is truth”.

    Islam is a distortion of both Christianity and Judaism. These people have been fed a line since the 7th century which is based upon the lies of a serial liar and pedophile. I have come to the conclusion that there is a lot of brainwashing involved. I also keep in mind that Islam was spread by the sword. People were forced to convert or face death. There was no freedom.

    This is such a contrast to both Christianity and Judaism. A good Biblical example is that of Ruth who was not a Jew but she stood by her mother-in-law, thus she converted. Also much is written about the proselytes from the Diaspora in the New Testament – these were Greeks who were converting to Judaism and became Christians. There was no conversion by the sword.

    Over the centuries there has been much in the way of dissension which is caused by a variety of versions of the Truth.

    God’s Truth will prevail, but we need to follow the example of Christ in helping others to see the Truth.

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