Recently I posted on twitter asking the question: How does it hurt Muhammad when he is mocked? He is dead and in the grave in the window to paradise (Riadhul Jannah) and he is going to go to paradise, of course surrounded by 72 virgins. So why is it a problem if someone says bad things about him? I mean like who cares right? And of course the usual response goes like, “Well it’s the followers that get upset not Muhammad himself”. In response to my tweet, one Muslim said to me, “You said Muslims shouldn’t be feel bad about prophet Muhammad being insulted since he has passed away. Does that make your deceased father fair game? Was Armin’s mom fair game?”.
Actually, I didn’t say that Muslims shouldn’t feel bad. I said you shouldn’t behead anyone for it. Also, this fellow knows that my father passed away because I made a video about it and he’s asking if it is okay to insult my father because if I think it’s okay to insult Muhammad and he’s passed away well my father’s dead too. Armin’s mom also died of cancer and a bunch of Hindu trolls were making sexually explicit images of her photoshopped right and the question is you know under free speech is that okay.
Well, first of all it seems like people don’t understand what free speech means. Free speech means that the government cannot arrest you for saying something. However, this right has limits. So for example, if you insult me under free speech as long as you’re not inciting violence or causing injury on me then that’s considered okay. Another contemporary example, The Sun newspaper or tabloid wrote that Johnny Depp was a wife beater. He sued them and he lost the case for libel. Why? Because the court ruled that it was in the public record that he was a wife beater therefore the tabloid can call him a wife beater and it’s fine. Now the issue is if it wasn’t true then it would have been libel.
So there are a lot of things that we are saying about prophet Muhammad. First of all, they are true. Secondly, if you wanted to insult my dead father I would tell you it’s up to you. If you were to do that I would not like you. I would probably hate your guts, but it’s free speech and you’re allowed to exercise it. Does that make you a good person? No, not necessarily. Free speech doesn’t say anything about right or wrong. It doesn’t make everything that you say automatically morally good. A common misconception is that everything that is protected under free speech is morally right. That is not how it works. You can say things under free speech that are really bad for society, bad for people and yet they’re still considered protected under free speech. So you’re misunderstanding the whole point.
Free speech also doesn’t mean that people can’t be upset. Muslims are most welcome to be offended. They can be pissed off about someone insulting Muhammad and I have no problem with that. Under free speech, if I said something about Muhammad and a Muslim didn’t like it they can say things back to me if they wanted. That’s fine and that’s allowed. For instance, Muslims will not get arrested if they say Abdullah Sameer is an idiot. Go ahead and say it if you want.
If you want to mock or insult my dead father I think he would just laugh at you. If he’s up there watching he would find the whole thing so hilarious. He would probably be upset if I got upset, but he wouldn’t be upset about people making fun of me because he’s dead. He actually said to me, “When I die, celebrate my life. Don’t mind my death.” So this whole thing is so silly. if you want to be upset because someone is offending you that’s okay you’re allowed to be upset free speech doesn’t say that you can’t be upset. However, If you want to attack Armin’s mother you may actually get in trouble with the law because in this case there is no public good in what is happening.
Here is an excerpt from the U.S supreme court ruling on the first amendment and free speech. It’s so beautiful.
“At the heart of the first amendment is a recognition of the fundamental importance of the free flow of ideas and opinions on matters of public interest and concern. The freedom to speak one’s mind is not only an aspect of individual liberty and thus a good unto itself but also is essential to the common quest for truth and the vitality of society as a whole. We have therefore been particularly vigilant to ensure that individual expressions of ideas remain free from governmentally imposed sanctions.
The first amendment recognizes no such thing as a false idea as justice Holmes wrote, “When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundation of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas that the best test of truth is a power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market…””
This is an amazing way to put it. The marketplace of ideas and the public good is benefited from free speech. Which is why when you have a public leader like Trump, Putin, Muhammad, Sikh Gurus, Saints or anyone that’s a public figure that has a claim to authority that people follow we have every right to criticize them. Some of you might say, “What about criticizing, but don’t ridicule”. Well you see there’s a fine line there that’s always going to move. What you may consider fair criticism someone else might consider unfair ridicule or mocking, right? If I believe that Muhammad was a liar someone might say you’re offending me and you’re blaspheming against my religion. If I say Muhammad had mental issues they may consider that as me mocking him. In fact at the end of the day there’s no difference between criticism and mockery. All of it falls under the same category of basically free speech.
You don’t have to like the things that I say. You do not have to engage with me and no one is forcing you. So if i say something offensive to you about Muhammad you have every right to not listen to what I have to say, to block on social media, to unfollow, or unsubscribe – whatever you want. If you are saying things that I don’t like or if you make cartoons of me I’m just gonna ignore it. I’ll give you my word; I will not behead you and that is a promise. You are most welcome to say whatever you want. It doesn’t mean I will like it or that I will be your friend.
If you say something offensive and hurtful to me about my family members that will be the end of a relationship. That will be the end of me engaging with you. If my father or any of my family members were public officials in government positions then you have every right to criticize him, to attack him, to hold him to a higher regard because he is an official. Same thing with Muhammad, millions of people are following him billions actually. When someone makes a cartoon of Muhammad with an infant in his hand they are attacking the fact that he married a nine-year-old child. This is actually criticism of Muhammad’s actions. Of course there are going to be some cartoons that are not only meant to criticize his actions but also to offend and upset Muslims. By all means, if you don’t like those ones that’s fine and understandable. You don’t have to like it and I don’t have to like anything you say about me or my friends or my family members.
If there’s an incitement to violence e.g. if someone says you should go and kill Abdullah Sameer, now that’s going too far and the government should get involved. At this point your free speech is no longer free speech. There’s a limit. The ironic thing is if you are saying that I deserve to die under an Islamic state now under free speech you’re most welcome to say that. You’re allowed to say that, but it doesn’t mean it’ll be without consequence. Also, people will see that your religion is an awful religion which advocates for killing of ex-Muslims and homosexuals.
Here in the West we love our freedom of expression and religion and we will fight to protect it and that includes the right for people that follow religion who have bigoted ideas to say what they want to say. And your speech is protected under the law. I believe you have every right to say that I deserve to die under an ideal Islamic state because I want people to know that this is what Islam teaches according to your interpretation of Islam. I don’t need to tell them that Islam is a terrible misogynistic, barbaric, nasty, evil religion. I don’t need to say that you’re doing all my work for me if you want to insult my father or Armin’s mother. You’re doing all my work for me if you want to copy Muhammad Hijab and attack me and my wife instead of responding to arguments being made.
In conclusion, Yes you can go ahead and insult my dead father. That is protected speech, but that does not mean we’re going to be buddies after that. You should be free to speak your up mind.
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