Shouting Fire

I’m not a fan of censorship.  One of our most precious freedoms is that we can say just about anything, including criticizing our government, without fearing repercussions.   There are situations, however,  when some types of speech go beyond just pushing the envelope, passing that gray area of being provocative and falling smack dab into full-blown antagonism.   There are people in the Country who, with their own agendas and without any sense of responsibility, put the rest of us in harm’s way.

Yesterday, the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya and the Embassy in Cairo, Egypt were attacked by angry mobs.   The assault in Libya resulted in the deaths of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff.   Protestors in Egypt tore down the American flag, replaced it with a flag that said “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet” and covered the walls of the compound with graffiti.   The catalyst for these violent acts was an anti-Muslim film which mocked the religion and the prophet Muhammad.  I watched a few minutes of the film on youtube.  It’s an amateurish, poorly produced piece of garbage, the sole purpose and design of which is to incite hatred and promote disinformation.

The production of this film is attributed to a man by the name of Sam Bacile, who is described as a real estate developer from California.  He has made it clear that he will do whatever it takes to further his campaign against Muslims.  He also has a supporter in those efforts, Florida’s Reverend Terry Jones.  Jones is infamous for his “Burn A Koran Day” which also received more attention than he deserved.  His stunt resulted in riots in Afghanistan and the deaths of 12 people.  Even pleas from General David Petreaus couldn’t dissuade him from carrying out his mission.  He’s become more emboldened as time has passed and his last piece of nonsense was to hang President Obama in effigy.

Last week, during the President’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention, a 16 year old girl posted, on Twitter, what appeared to be a call for the President’s assassination.  By the next morning, news outlets were reporting  that the Secret Service, together with other law enforcement agencies, had paid a visit to her home and her school.  They found her tweet to be non-threatening and left her to deal with the aftermath of her own teenage angst and stupidity.   The same excuse or reasoning can’t be applied to Jones and Bacile, however.  They knew what they were doing and what risks they were taking.  Their actions were not momentary lapses in judgment.  I love the First Amendment and the right to have my say.  I also know that you don’t get to shout fire in a crowded theater and think that there won’t be ramifications.

I had to add this picture of the Libyan people and their sentiments.


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34 Responses to Shouting Fire

  1. klmh says:

    Couldn’t agree more. Tx for the great read.

    • I appreciate that you appreciate the fact that I was making a very simple point about how easy it is to abuse the rights we have – including being the cause, however small that role is – of murder and mayhem.

  2. Edna says:

    Have to speak up her, it is not the same as Shouting Fire. Christians are horribly slandered, ridiculed and maligned each and every day. These terrorist extremists are simply being fed by very evil men who use it as fodder to incite. The turmoil will be long lasting and beyond anything we’ve ever encountered to fight; to change our core democratic foundation would be our undoing.

    • Two foolish and irresponsible men poked a hornet’s nest and then stepped aside, letting someone else get stung. In my opinion, they are doing nothing to further their cause or promote “our core democratic foundation”. The rhetoric from all sides has damaged us and I think we’re better than that. Civil discourse and debate are one thing. It’s propaganda and anger that will be our undoing. I don’t have to agree with everyone, but I’ll do my damnedest to try to understand their point of view. Even if, after all is said and done, I fail to see things the way someone else does, I know that I won’t torch their house and protest the fact that we disagree.

  3. Donna says:

    I’ve read differant articles on Facebook, I also watched Hillary Clintons speech on Facebook I’m looking at it all with a side eye.

    “The purpose of the attacks in Egypt and Libya was for the Sunni leadership to show it can unleash mob attacks against American diplomatic assets. (There may be some historical exceptions, but it’s more or less axiomatic than mob attacks cannot happen without government approval.) That point has been received by everybody except U.S. State Department employees. ” ~article

    • Hi, Donna. Thank you for sharing the article. All of it deserves a side-eye. There are reports flying around that the State Department had been receiving increased “chatter” in advance of the attacks, planned to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. Members of al Qaeda are now claiming partial responsibility, saying that they had planned a “peaceful” protest, that grew into something beyond their control, spurred on by this film. Frankly, I think al Qaeda would claim that they were on the grassy knoll in Dallas if they thought it would rally their following. I think we’re going to hear a whole lot of spin on what happened, and we should be suspicious. It’s a mess and the “fact-checkers” are going to have their hands full sorting it out.

      • Donna says:

        I sometimes wear my tin foil hat. I had it on and my husband said “what is that!” I told him “It’s my tin foil hat to keep the aliens from reading my brain” LOL He said “maybe I should wear one too”.

  4. Yesterday I was worried that something bad would happen, to mark the 9/11 anniversary. The attack on Chis Stevens and the other 3 men that died was unusual in that the attackers had heavy weapons, and it seemed planned, not spontaneous. Al Queda, or some other terrorists, wanted an opportunity to hurt Americans.

    Why youtube has not removed that movie is shocking to me. This incident should fall into the area of domestic terrorism, IMO. It is wrong to allow anything to be put on the internet that will incite violence, either at home or abroad. The people responsible for this should all be cooling their heels in a lovely cell, perhaps Gitmo has one or two available. There is a difference between freedom of expression and inciting others to violence….absolutely.

    • Last night, when I watched the clip on youtube, the views were about 2,900. I just checked and the number is now over 200,000. I don’t know why or even if youtube should remove it. Maybe it should stay there as the perfect example of how not to make a point.

  5. melthehound says:

    I really don’t know what to say that isn’t going to get me into a fight here with somebody so I’ll practice my freedom of speech and remain quiet about most of it. This only goes to prove what I said last week. Freedom of speech has both it’s limits, and it’s price. That dumbass teenie learned last week that there are limits. Lines that should not be crossed. She was seeking attention, and she got it. Just not the attention and cool slaps on the back she was likely hoping for. Fortunately for her, she was not considered a real threat.

    On the other side of that, the price. In this case, at least 16 people have paid the price for the freedom of speech of 2 others. People who likely had families of their own. Reverend Terry Jones, I don’t believe for one second has read a word in that bible he thumps. As you have written though, 12 have paid the price for his freedom of speech and he has no intention of stopping. He continues to come to or try to come to Michigan to aggravate the Arab and Muslim population here. Along with him come many outsiders both on his side and counter protest groups. The locals for the most part, stay home and watch it all play out on TV if they pay any attention to it at all. What that dumbass fails to realize is that much of the Arab population here, is Christian or more specifically, Catholic. Not all of them but many. I hope he’s proud of himself but what he does doesn’t have a thing to do with Christianity. He remains however the type of reason that Christianity is constantly maligned.

    Then we have this other asshat, Sam Bacile.. I couldn’t watch his flick, not because of the message but simply because it’s such shitty production likely filmed in his basement and back yard against a green screen put together with piss poor editing. I don’t intend this to be a critique of his ‘film’, just an observation. He is not alone on my list of hollyweird type assholes but today, he’s certainly front and center. I hope he too is happy with his freedom of speech. It cost 4 people their lives.

    On a personal note, I am dead set against any organized religion for this and many other reasons. That isn’t to say that I am without belief but more wars and carnage have been done in the name of a God (what ever name you call him/her by) than any other cause in the history of man. Both Christianity and Islam are touted as religions of peace but you damn sure couldn’t prove it by what I’m seeing.

    • You’re not going to get into any fight with me about it. True followers of their respective religions would never condone the types of speech and actions we’re talking about. Jones and Bacile are extremists in their own right and don’t represent anything close to the ideals or beliefs they purport to uphold.
      BTW, trust me – the film really does suck, on so many levels.

      • mth, You mentioned that Jones has tried to bring his brand of vitriol to Michigan – a sort of hate on tour venture. The KKK did the same thing in Connecticut in the early 1980’s, another period in which the country was dealing with an economic downturn. They were met with the same tepid response with the cops and protestors far outnumbering whatever supporters they had hoped to woo. I guess their kind of divide and conquer tactics don’t always work.

    • klmh says:

      ITA. An interesting quote:
      “All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” — Thomas Paine (1737-1809).

      • That’s pretty much how Paine saw things. He was a deist and often used allegory when writing about religion. He was a master of rhetoric when it came to composing his pamphlets on politics. Both got him into some hot water with his critics. I, for one, happen to like the way he shook up the establishment. 😉

  6. zanne says:

    I was always taught that my rights stopped when they infringed on the space of others. That was what elections and debates were for the right of many over the rights of loosers. We learn this in the games we play in grammer schools

    • MaggieG says:

      Majority rule does not mean that no concession/consideration is made to the “losers”. The concept of minority rights is one attempt to address valid concerns.

      • zanne says:

        agreed !!! But there are always winners and loosers, but no one has the “right” to behave like our congress is acting. There should be give and take. The problem like in the middle east tonight who do we talk with?

  7. MaggieG says:

    Thank you for including the picture of the Libyan people with their signs. It reminds us that last year’s Arab Spring showed the world a different Middle East.

  8. Donna says:

    Ok this popped up on my Facebook, I’m wearing my tin foil hat

    “The cast

    As most news outlets have reported, the small cast of actors from the brief film have released a joint statement condemning it and insisting they had no idea the video would be edited into a tool of religious war and propaganda.

    “The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer. We are 100 percent not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose,” the actors’ statement read, “We are shocked by the drastic rewrites of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred.”

    The director of the film is listed in the credits as Alan Roberts. After exhaustive searches by US reporters, no such person appears to exist in the California movie industry, or anywhere else for that matter. The film’s self-identified producer, Sam Bacile, appears to be one of a dozen aliases used by a California man who is described as a part time film maker and part time banking fraud.” ~article

  9. FLG (Mr. Tigre's Butler) says:

    Empress, thank you for this post. I couldn’t possibly agree with you more. I have family members dotted about the globe, many of whom work as diplomats for this, our adopted country and for the world at large. While I have lived much of my life very peacefully and without fear outside of the USA, I worry constantly for their safety. Terry Jones was expelled from Germany for fraudulently claiming that he possessed a doctorate in theology, when in fact, the little bit of theological training he has received is from a small NON-accredited institution. Facing harsh criticism, that institution has made attempts to distance even itself from Terry Jones. I hope that practitioners of all faiths will begin to demand that the leaders of their faith based institutions posses the proper education and training to operate them. Without proper education and training, those leaders can pose a very real danger to their followers, their communities, their nations and the world at large. While not related, let us not forget Jim Jones and what befell his followers in Guiana.

  10. Kaereste says:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities have identified a Coptic Christian in southern California who is on probation after his conviction for financial crimes as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Mideast, a U.S. law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Thursday …..

  11. silexfan says:

    Very well written Jeff…beautiful insight into organized religion. I was educated in Catholic Schools for 12 years, and as soon as I was out, that was it. I heard stories from my parents about so-called religious priests and how they aligned themselves with nazis, etc…also I don’t believe some of their funadmental things, and the priesthood is a joke. My belief is that religion in many third world countries is a way of controlling people and making the Vatican rich, as with other religions as well. Also the high incidents of children being molested by priests/ministers is disgusting, I have never believed their vows of chastity to be a normal condition for man/woman. I could go on and on. However I am getting so tired of others coming to our country and getting educated here and going back to their countries and attacking us. My theory is if you are not a permanent resident/citizen and want to come here for an education, you pay at least 4 times the tuition, and lets give a break in tuition to the poor kids of the USA. Simplistic I know and I will probably be attacked for this, but I don’t care. Those people that have incited these idiots to kill, should be jailed on what was said above. Thank you to everyone who put it so eloquently!

    • melthehound says:

      I didn’t write this one.. Empress did. I did give an opinion(s) in the comments though that briefly address organized religion.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I don’t get it. As Aiken said, there were 19,000 views, there were more than 19,000 ppl protesting in Egypt and Libya. I wonder what the view # was before anyone found out.
    I think this was an excuse. I do not think it is okay to defame ones religion, that shouldn’t be a factor deciding if a person is good or bad, nor should we assume that a whole race/religion of ppl is bad because of a few bad apples. Last yr we supplied ( we as in America) both countries with weapons for the rebels… ALLEGEDLY!
    So does this mean that we should hate all ppl that are Muslims? Of course not! I digress.

  13. I taught Communication Studies for 25 years. I always uphold the First Amendment. That said, there are responsibilities along with rights. Words have power and there’s a reason groups use visual symbols, such as the Swastika. Words & symbols combined with fear are the greatest motivator.

    • Jennifer says:

      Dame, can I ask you this something.

      We are blessed to have freedom of speech, as always, you will have some ass hat who will take advantage. As Aiken pointed out, there were 19,000 views, I bet many of them came from after this tragedy happened. Is it fair for them to kill the ambassador b/c of some smuck made a low budget film?
      I think it was an excuse! I really do. I don’t condone the film, I think it’s ignorance, I don’t think it is ever okay to mimmick or criticize one’s spiritual or religious beliefs. But I don’t think it’s okay, to take kill people over something like this. We just gave both countries weapons to the rebels… Allegedly….This is why I think U.S.A. needs to stay out of other countries business and worry about our self. I am so tired of foreigners criticizing us, saying we have no morals but this is the first country that people are sneaking into. I would never hold it against any person of the Middle East because of what Saddam Hussein did. Or even hold it against German people for what Hitler did.
      I really think this was an excuse. There are so many videos like that on YouTube. I want to know how they found it to be honest and why youtube DID NOT TAKE IT DOWN!.
      I’m sorry if I come across angry but I am.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Lol Can I ask you this something.

    Sorry, I am not thinking clear right now Dame.
    I mean, can I ask you something.

  15. Jennifer says:

    Or would I hold it against all people from Egypt and Libya for what they did this week.
    Doesn’t anyone find this convenient that is was around the anniversary of 9-11?

  16. Donna says:

    OK everyone I just put on my tinfoil hat, I suggest you put yours on.

    NDAA was struck down, within days a video from a Coptic Egyptian living in the US goes viral, especially in Arabic countries. The State Department asked u-tube to examine the video, because NDAA is struck down, the guberment cannot take it off u-tube. U-tube has blocked it from being down in some Arabic countries.

  17. Jennifer says:

    You know what, people have a right to freedom of speech, but if you put up a amatuer movie like like and lives are taken, you would think the maker of the movie would take it down. People always want to make a point and not care who it hurts.

    • Hi Jennifer, I just saw your question. I agree whole-heartedly that the people are responsible for their actions. I was speaking as a teacher to warn individuals of propaganda. It’s my understanding that the Egyptian media broadcast this. Why? Perhaps that’s incorrect as more news breaks.

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