Freedom Of Speech Or Freedom Of Insult

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Hamza Yusuf

Channel: Hamza Yusuf

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Bismillah

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Rahmani

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Raheem, Mohamad. First of all, I want to thank everybody for coming out on a Monday night barrier traffic, Berkeley parking. And I want to thank the President, the GTU, Dr. minear giwa, also for honoring us here on the hill, Sandy for coming up on very short notice from a very busy schedule. The obviously, this is an event that's happened, we've been here before. In fact, when the Danish cartoons happened, I actually went to Denmark. And I met with the Prime Minister's office, I spoke to the Danish people actually spoke on Danish television, reminding them that the Arabs loved Danish cheese.

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And that it actually harmed their economy, believe it or not, it harmed their economy, because there was a boycott on Danish cheese, which sells very well in the Arab world. And economics is very important, right? People like good ties with other places because they can make money. In fact, one of the worst things for businesses war unless you're in the business of war.

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Business, people do not like instability, they like stability. These are very destabilizing events that are happening.

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I want to just look, first of all at a few ideas, and then we'll get into the conversation. One of them. I spoke here on this lectern A while back before I even knew that we would one day own this building, not even a thought in my head. But I spoke about economic injustice and I used Dante as a springboard to talk about that, and during that talk actually mentioned, and I use the word defend. And I mentioned that because Dante according to the inferno has a character that he calls momento and an alley, another character, and it's believed that these are meant to portray the Prophet Mohammed and his cousin it as schismatics. Anyway, I use the word defend, pointing out to a lot of

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Christians, most of the people in the audience were Christian, that the Dante did not put the Prophet with the false prophets, but with the schismatics. So I was pointing out that nuance about the inferno? Well, lo and behold, a remark really off the cuff I didn't wasn't prepared, but a group in England actually anathematized me for that statement, saying that I was no longer Muslim that I need to make public Toba, which is repentance. Because I had defended somebody who had insulted the Prophet, which was certainly not my intention. But I was pointing out a nuance Well, we're living in a world where nuance is no longer in our vocabularies.

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Right, we are in the cartoon world of black and white. It's not even color cartoons.

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So I want to talk a little bit here about the idea of freedom of speech, because certainly in the West, this is one of our most cherished rights is the right to freedom of speech, I will guarantee to you I've been all over the world literally lived in many different places. Freedom of speech exists all over the world, people speak very freely. In fact, in some places, they speak far more freely about things than they do in the United States.

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But there are two areas in many places that people are not free to talk about. One of them is religion, and the other is politics. But in the United States of America, freedom of speech means being able to say whatever you want about religion, and whatever you want about politics, generally, this is the idea and this these are harder and people died, there was bloodshed to to acquire these rights. But we also have certain

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laws that prevents certain types of speech, and we know that you cannot shout fire in a crowded theater. Oliver Wendell Holmes, we also have the Brandenburg standard, if there's a clear and imminent danger

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in speech that incites to hatred,

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Brandenburg versus Ohio case, and there are other cases like this, that test the limits of freedom of speech.

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Unfortunately, we have now people in

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Significant people really. And I would say and you know, everybody's significant in their own way. But I'm talking about people that, you know, really, it's quite stunning that somebody you know, who lives in a house with wheels, and has a car in the front that has no wheels, and he's able to literally

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create riots on the other side of the planet.

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Who has a church with 15 people?

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Right? Half of them are his own family.

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And, and the other half are our friends.

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That really can affect global situations. Um, this is really extraordinary. The internet, the internet, right? Really, I mean, I call evil email, evil mail, because it causes so much problem. Now we have to have these little happy faces just to make sure people know that I'm not being offensive. Right? I mean, this is the type of world we're in, there's no nuances. People can't speak any more freely, everybody's afraid.

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So, you know, we have to think about incitement to hatred, and what that means and being realistic about it. Nobody argues that Germany is not a free society.

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But they have a law there that prohibits denial of the Holocaust. There's a law that prohibits denial of Holocaust, there are laws in certain countries. In fact, in Denmark, there are not laws denying the Holocaust. And one of the things that I tried to point out one of the nuances in the Arab world when I was there, because I was interviewed during that time I went to the Arab world, what I tried to point out was when the Danish people said they supported because the Arab newspapers and say 80% of the Danish support,

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the cartoons, they didn't support the cartoons, they supported the right of the person. In fact, most of the Danish people were actually offended by the cartoons. And so these are the nuances that get lost in these things. Unfortunately, we had a presidential candidates say, we should never apologize for American values, supporting the film. People hear that in the Arab world, and they say it's an American value to to denigrate our religious sensitivities. He was obviously saying speech, freedom of speech. But the point is, as Americans do, we really want to say it is an American value to denigrate other people's faiths, other people's beliefs. We can criticize those beliefs, right

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intellectual tomes about why Islam is not a true religion. There are many books like that, and nobody gets upset Muslims don't get upset.

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You can write all you want of why you don't think the Prophet Mohammed is a prophet, but to mock, to denigrate, to make fun of somebody who's dear to the hearts of of the Muslims. And this includes Jesus, the Muslim feel the same way about Jesus,

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or about Moses,

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about any of these prophets. Really,

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this is where we have to ask ourselves, is this the type of society we want? We have risen above racial denigration in this country, in the public space. If you denigrate somebody racially in the public space, you will lose your job.

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You will lose your job, there are consequences to saying kike to saying MC to saying spek to say nigger, all of these things have consequences. Why? Because we recognize that people have sensitivities. If you go down to East Oakland right now, if you go down, if you go down to East Oakland right now, and and you shout the N word, as a white man in East Oakland, and somebody comes in stabs you, is there any kind of anybody going to be surprised? Seriously, is any anybody going to be shocked? No, but what the problem is, we don't recognize that for believers, when you die, you lose your racial identity. But when you die, you maintain your religious identity. This is this is

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how the Muslims understand it. Now, I'm not gonna justify anything that Muslims did in their reactions. I'm not going to justify that.

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The Prophet Muhammad never, never, ever attacked any ambassador. In fact, when a false prophet sent his ambassadors, he actually honored them and sent them back.

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He never denigrated ambassadors. In the ancient world, it was a declaration of war to kill an ambassador.

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This is a wretched thing that happened, but a small minority of people and let me remind you that there were Libyans who died defending that embassy trying to keep the Americans safe, and they are recorded. There are recordings of them saying hello, who should the Americans who should American okay

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Protect them, make sure they're inside.

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And they lost their lives. And they would see that as a martyrdom in their faith.

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Just like a mirror of the coverages that he defended, the Christians and the French legation in Syria against the riots, in which they were attacking Christians. He went out and defended them. The French sang his praises even though they had conquered his country and driven him out of his own country. He defended them in Damascus. He was honored in this country Kadar, Ohio is named after Iowa is named after him, because he was honored as a noble human being, this is our profit This is how we see our profit.

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Now,

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I would argue that there is an element I called this years ago I gave a talk at the Globe Theatre about a fellow It was after 911 and I argued that Othello you know, Iago, Santiago Matamoros was the patron saint that drove out the Moors from Spain. And so Shakespeare called this character Jago. Right, the Spanish advisor to

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the the more. And there there is an argument that Yago was actually represented a certain voice inside England that wanted to prevent an alliance with Queen Elizabeth and the Moroccans against the Spanish. Because Masuda the hubby had argued for that Alliance. We have Iago is working on both sides, whispering, trying to get us to kill each other to strangle the Desdemona of hope.

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I mean, this is what's going on. And we have to be very careful about that. I want to argue that when the

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the First Amendment, which is such a beautiful testimony to the ideals of this country, when that was enacted, we tend to forget there were dueling laws in the United States of America. The dueling laws were actually a caveat, to make sure that you did not use freedom of speech to abuse other people. You could actually demand satisfaction. We have one of our founding fathers was killed in a duel, because his honor was disparaged. Honor is something real people hold to honor. I'm actually a Kentucky Colonel.

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Right. And in Kentucky, if you're sworn into a state

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public service, you have to swear that you've never been in a duel, because Kentucky was the last state to outlaw dueling. Now in place of dueling they brought in defamation laws, defamation laws to prevent defamation of character. Unfortunately, during the Warren Court, they had sued Matt Sullivan versus the New York Times to remove defamation from public officials and public characters. So my wife is protected under the defamation laws, but I'm not.

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It's not equal. I don't think it's fair. You can't mess with my wife, you can mess with me. It's not fair. She does it all the time.

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But I want to say honor is an important thing. And anthropologist sometime divides societies into honor societies and into law societies. Honor is sometimes in place of law when you don't have a strong legal system. Honor becomes the way that people redress problems. That's why in the ghettos often, where you have a type of lawlessness, there's codes of honor, right? You don't step on people's toes. Because there's consequences to doing that. You don't diss their mothers, you don't diss their fathers. Right, because there are consequences to that. Right. You talking to me? You talking to me? You must be talking to me. I don't see anybody else hear you talking to me. Right?

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That's how it works in the hood.

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That's how it works in the hood. Right?

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So it's very important for us to really think deeply about these things and the harm that these things cause. Right. And finally, I want to say that if this country would only apply the advice of the United States Army from 1943, we could end all of the problems. Alright, so I want to read from instructions for American servicemen. This was during the Iraq when they were in Iraq in 1943. Okay,

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page 12. No preaching.

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This isn't preaching.

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You probably belong to a church at home and you know how you would feel towards anyone who insulted or desecrated your church. The Muslims feel just the same way, perhaps even more strongly. In fact, their feeling about their religion is pretty much the same as ours toward our religion.

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Although more intense, if anything, we should respect the Muslims, the more for the intensity of their devotion.

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That's the US government in 1943. I mean, where the hell are they in in 2012?

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Right? If you should see grown men walking hand in hand ignore it. They are not queer.

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Be kind and considerate to servants Iraqis consider all people equals avoid any expression of race prejudice 1943 avoid any expression of race prejudice, that people draw very little color line.

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Yeah.

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So finally, we're living in the age of mockery. One of my favorite poets Yeats wrote a poem about this. Come let us mark it the great that had such burdens on the mind and toiled so hard and laid to leave some monument behind, nor thought of the leveling wind, Come, let us mark it the wise with all those calendars were on a fixed old aching eyes, they never saw how seasons run and now but gape at the sun, come let us market the good that fancied goodness might be gay and sick of solitude might proclaim a holiday Mark mockers after that, that would not lift the hand maybe to help good wise are great to bat bar that foul storm out for we traffic in mockery.