Freedom of speech
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“Hey! Put down that torch!”
“We must ban this shit, it makes me nervous in public!”
Freedom of speech is the concept of being able to speak freely without a Danish embassy halfway around the world burning to the ground because of it. The right to freedom of speech is guaranteed under international law through numerous marginally effective human rights instruments, notably under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Issue #109 of The Uncanny X-Men. Implementation of these boring and long-winded declarations remains lacking in most countries, with the exception of the benevolent and happy nations of Iran and North Korea, widely believed to be the most huggable countries on Earth.
The synonymous term freedom of expression is sometimes preferred, since the right is not confined to verbal speech but is understood to protect any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used, unless the medium is a comic or cartoon. Then all bets are off.
In practice, the right to freedom of speech is not absolute in any country, although the degree of freedom varies greatly. Most nations only allow true free speech when it's parodying or satirizing white people, because they suck. True story.
- 1 Freedom of Speech and Cartoons
- 1.1 Mmmm, Danish
- 1.2 Can't We All Just Get Along?
- 1.3 "Sons of Abraham" World Tour to Fight Intolerance
- 1.4 Fuck you if you can't take a joke. Oh, Christ Almighty, I mean it.
- 1.5 Even the Non-Religious Are Easy to Offend
- 2 Other Examples of Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Speech and Cartoons
Freedom of speech and cartoons have gone hand-in-hand since Egyptians used cuneiforms, an early form of writing that used line drawings of birds, eyes, and swirly-things, to depict Pharaohs going over budget and bungling the construction of yet another pyramid.
In late 2004, a Danish newspaper ran a series of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in an unflattering light to prove that freedom of speech never ever leads to people overreacting. Some people were offended by these cartoons as, in their particular take on Islam, it is bad mojo to depict Muhammad in pictures, drawings and paintings - as that could lead to idolatry. It's even worse than depicting Charlie Brown trying to kick a football, which itself is not funny at all.
While no one idolized the drawings, one guy laughed a little while the rest simply furrowed their previously unfurrowed brows, as most of the comics were, to be polite, either dumb or in bad taste, or both. Just like television!
Various Islamist groups promptly decried the cartoons, six months after they were published. They also protested three extra pictures that hadn't been in the Danish newspaper, including a picture of a man with a fake beard and a pig nose at a pig-squealing contest in France, as it's well known that the 7th century prophet had a particular dislike for French pig-squealing contests, after losing one while on a childhood trip to Marseille due to his inability to squeal en français. To prove that all Muslims are at least as peaceful as Crusade-era Christians, a tiny minority of them (most of the Middle East and Indonesia - only 40 million people or so) decided to reconcile with the Danish, and by extension "the west", by burning shit up and generally just making asses of themselves. Remarkably, in this they resemble a well armed frat house on frosh week. "Go Delta Pi Omega! Death to the infidels!". In other, more peaceful demonstrations, protestors carried signs that read Behead those who say Islam is not a peaceful religion! and John 3:16.
Well, maybe not the second one.
Salman Rushdie, from his bunker deep under parts unknown, released an email stating that he was in no way involved with the publication of any of the cartoons, the numerous reprints, nor of their wide dispersal on the interweb.
The aftermath of the drawings was such that a Danish government official, in an interview on "Good Morning Tehran", had to repeatedly explain why he just couldn't have the people who made the drawings hanged...
Knowledge versus Ignorance
It should be noted that the Middle East was once the center of the most advanced quasi-secular empire of its time, inventing or rediscovering pretty much everything that "the west" had forgotten during the dark ages.
The knowledge, wealth and power of the Middle East steadily grew while population of "the west" was still emptying bedpans into the street, the majority of whom were convinced that their zealous and jealous God (from the only book that was kosher to read, even if most couldn't) could strike them and others down for even minor variance from His rather harsh take on justice.
Later, while the infidels were replacing mandatory ignorance with the Spanish Inquisition (recently replacing with the wilful ignorance of television), the Middle East was replacing knowledge with a combination of their own brand of old-school dumbassitude and holding a grudge over the Crusades.
Soon they'll all get TVs, and with that will come "Fox's: When Heretics Attack!".
Perhaps we aren't so different after all.
Peace, Love and Understanding
Denmark attempted to put out the fires by publishing a new cartoon. This unfortunately stoked the flames even further, as paper from Denmark is widely known to be by far the most burnable paper on Earth. It is the paper equivalent of the American Flag.
Can't We All Just Get Along?
Meanwhile in other parts of the world, more cartoons have been published. These new drawing have offended the easily offended, and bored and confused everyone else.
Interpreters and misinterpreters of the Koran have seen (or at least been told of) other comics that may or may not deserve some form of Fatwa advocating the severe and fatal tickling of the infidels involved.
Just to be safe they're leaning toward the terminal tickling.
Prophets for Profit
In honor of the Danish cartoon massacre the bin Franklin Mint produced a limited-edition commemorative plate of the cartoon that started it all.
"Sons of Abraham" World Tour to Fight Intolerance
In 2006 The Prophets of Rock (Moses, Jesus Christ and Mohammad) took their act on a 136 city worldwide tour to preach tolerance for followers of other religions (tolerance for followers of the big three monotheistic ones, anyway).
Rolling Stone reports that to close the final concert of the tour, "Live at Temple Mount", the three sang "You're so Vain (I bet you think this Psalm is about you)" and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. This didn't stop the audience from rioting. Indeed, the rioting there was worse than at any of the other cities in the tour. Of course, it's tough to tell whether the concert was at fault or whether it was just another night in Jerusalem.
Riots before, during and after each and every concert sullied the events somewhat, but in the end over six million dollars had been raised to fight the real enemy; secular humanism.
Fuck you if you can't take a joke. Oh, Christ Almighty, I mean it.
Even the Hare Krishna haven't been spared from this vicious cycle of the repeated publishing of poorly drawn, and even more poorly thought out, cartoons.
The normally peaceful Krishnas rioted in airports worldwide, using the power of lentils and their skinny arms to whack passing travellers on the head with their tamborines, over a terrible illustration of Vishnu with a stick body, comedy moustache glasses, and a rabbit for a hat.
If you are planning to go an airport, beware. Their attacks have caused at least one innocent bystander's glasses to be knocked slightly askew and, if news reports are to be believed, another spilled a bit of his coffee.
Flying Spaghetti Monster
People who have been touched by His Noodly Appendage, the followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, are outraged at a napkin sketch of him as limp, undercooked pasta with unappetizing balls of meat.
Down in Dagobah
In late August 2005, Pat Robertson stood on his soapbox to denounce artists' representations of him that make him look like Yoda. When he was informed that those were actual pictures of him and that he does, in fact, look like the famed Star Wars Muppet he quickly changed the subject by advocating the murder of the leader of Venezuela.
The free people of Venezuela congratulate Pat and his willingness to use his right to free speech to try to get people killed. God bless Pat Robertson.
God help the rest of us.
Even the Non-Religious Are Easy to Offend
Religious or non-religious, assholes worldwide love to complain.
None of the Above
Atheists & Agnostics
Atheists were whipped into a zealous frenzy by an anonymous painter's anonymous painting of a blank, white-washed garage wall in Minnesota that depicted, in gory detail, their lack of faith in the existence any higher power whatsoever.
Agnostics, meanwhile, are thinking about maybe getting ready to start a riot over a mixed stain of oil and automatic transmission fluid on a driveway that may, or may not, be God.
In Soviet Russia, Riot Incites You!!
Citizens of the former Soviet Union would be rioting over a painting of an unmustachioed Stalin and one of Lenin with a wicked Afro, but they have more important things to worry about - like the possibility of an undead Lenin rising from his tomb and going apeshit on the Kremlin, as he said he'd do if Communism ever failed.
Which it did.
Cartoon on Cartoon Violence
Fat Albert is currently on a hunger strike to protest a cartoon depicting him as a svelte, healthy man.
It's unknown at this time if any or all of the "Cosby Kids" support him in this, yet another whacky adventure. It is known, however, that their plans for a North American tour have been suspended, pending either a successful end to the hunger strike or a return of the 1970's.
After the release of a cartoon depicting Fred Basset beating up a Rabbi at a Nazi war rally, many of the elderly readers of this spectacularly unfunny comic were outraged that Basset's ears weren't as long and floppy as they had been in previous weeks.
The comic strip "Sally" enraged everyone with its disturbing lack of humor, leading it to be replaced in newspapers by a blank white bar. This lead to claims of racism by the P.W.R.N.G.L. (People Who Really Need to Get a Life), which caused the papers to change from a white strip to a multicolored rainbow strip.
As this is a symbol of the homosexual community it will, no doubt, lead to the Republicans banning all newspapers nationwide (except, of course for "USA Hurray for America Today"). This suits perfectly their mission to dumb Americans down to the point where a seventeen trillion dollar debt and intelligent design seem like a good idea.
Other Examples of Freedom of Speech
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Stephen Colbert was invited to speak at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, which is held every year at the White House for an Association. Of Correspondents. While there they have dinner. He was asked to present the keynote speech because they wanted to show that the Christian Right, their leader Dubya, and their collective mouthpiece, the press, have a sense of humor.
What they failed to realize is that they only have a sense of humor about other people (preferably foreigners, immigrants or immigrant foreigners); they lack the ability to laugh at their own mistakes, of which there have been many. Members of the press, meanwhile, failed to find the humor in his bringing attention to the fact that they haven't been doing their jobs, instead choosing to parrot whatever pops out of the president's mouth as though it were coming from God Himself.
Dubya says that God talks to him, by the way. So what he says may very well be what He says. In which case, God help us all.
For his twenty minutes of playing to what could politely be called "a tough room" his phone will be tapped from now until the end of time and he will be audited by the IRS every single year.
Hopefully his giant balls will get him through these indignities.
Rebel Without Applause
In 2007 the White House Correspondents' Association dinner again courted controversy by inviting shock comic Rich Little to give a speech. In the White House. For the Correspondents' Association. For dinner.
His impressions of such modern, topical and up to date luminaries as Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan held the audiences enrapt. His Richard Nixon and George Burns impressions, in particular, were the talk of the town for literally minutes after he shuffled slowly off the stage.
What controversial comic, with his or her controversial comic-stylings, will appear at the dinner next? Who knows? More importantly, who cares?
Freedom of Speech & the Interweb
Little Trouble in Big China
China is known both far and wide for its commitment to free speech. Chairman Mao, who never murdered or imprisoned millions of his own people and is said to have been kind to puppies, and his successors have made freedom of speech one of the cornerstones of their cuddly wuddly take on oppressive communism.
Thanks to western companies like Microserf, Whazoo, Credible News Source, and Gulag (whose motto recently changed to "Do Evil") the government of China can now ensure that the nasty lies of the Interweb, can be filtered out via the "Great firewall of china" before it has the opportunity to sully the pure minds of the billion people of China (and the ten or so that own a computer). This will, of course, aid the kind and courteous secret police in their quest to help the common Chinese person to remain free.
^ Wikipedia and its head, Jimmy "Jimbo" Wales, meanwhile, collectively told China to get stuffed. Hurrah for the humble wiki! It sure is easy to make the tough choice when there isn't billions of dollars at stake.