Does the Freedom of Speech Empower us to be Needlessly Disrespectful?

je-ne-suis-pas-charlie

We were barely able to see in the new year before its first major event revealed itself, a little like dung negotiating its way out the anus of an elephant. I intentionally use a vile simile because let’s make one thing clear from the outset, the violence that we witnessed in Paris was barbaric and vile. There is, and never will be a way of justifying those actions

In the 10 days since the attacks I have been left feeling a little perplexed by the spin the media and government put on it. We were told incessantly that this was an attack on our freedom of expression. Unlike 9-11 which attacked buildings, the Paris attack was more symbolic, it was an attack on a fundamental ideology held by the countries of Europe and North America. For the past 10 days I have been left to wonder what the freedom of expression is, do we have it, do we use it as it is meant to be used, and what’s next?

The Role and Agenda of the Media

Please don’t get me wrong, masked gunmen firing Kalashnikov rifles in the middle of one of the worlds major capital cities should capture the interest of the major news networks, but what concerned me was the rhetoric they were quick to use.

The smoke was still drifting out the barrels of the terrorists rifles and the smell of cordite still hung heavily in the Paris air that morning, when the media declared that this was an attack against our inalienable  right to the freedom of expression. I was surprised with the celerity that the news networks were able to be so certain, to draw such a definitive conclusion. Now I confess that I am inclined to look at things a little differently, and whilst not condoning the actions of the gunmen, it was possible for me to see a causal relationship as to how and why this occurred. To say that Charlie Hebdo is a good advocate for the right to the freedom of expression is no different from saying the Kouchai brothers were good Muslims.

Lest we forget the circumstances upon which the Republic of France was founded. After succesfully storming the Bastille, the people went on to execute any aristocrat or reactionary they could place their hands on. Ironically this period is known as The Terror. A period from 1793-1794 when over 16,000 people were guilotined alone. One of the most iconic actions that set the United States on their way to becoming a republic was the Boston Tea Party, an event that if it were to happen today would be defined under American law as an act of terrorism. Both of these events are held up with a near sacred reverence, symbolic of their nations struggle for freedom. What today is seen as an act of violence, might be viewed diffrently by some people in 100 years time. Again this in no way placates the events in Paris, it is just interesting to acknowledge the violence from out of which both these republics arose. I could go onto mention scores of acts of violence and torture the republics have been involved with in more recent times, but that only opens a whole new can of works.

This attack struck at an ideology that we in the west unquestioningly consider to be an inalienable right that we all have. But do we?

Do we Have the Freedom of Expression?

Many of us in Europe particularly following the Charle Hebdo attacks assume that we have the freedom to say, print, or draw anything we please. There are certainly libel, and slander laws that prevent us from circulating information that is false and malicious, there is also the following legislation that the EU passed in 2007:

European Union Framework Decision for Combating Racism and Xenophobia (2007)

The text establishes that the following intentional conduct will be punishable in all EU Member States:

– Publicly inciting to violence or hatred , even by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.
Publicly condoning, denying or grossly trivialising

crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes as defined in the Statute of the International Criminal Court (Articles 6, 7 and 8) directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin, and
crimes defined by the Tribunal of Nuremberg (Article 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal, London Agreement of 1945) directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.

The reference to religion is intended to cover, at least, conduct which is a pretext for directing acts against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

Member States will ensure that these conducts are punishable by criminal penalties of a maximum of at least between 1 and 3 years of imprisonment.[

Member States may choose to punish only conduct which is either carried out in a manner likely to disturb public order or which is threatening, abusive or insulting.

This act gains its notoriety as being the one that prevents anyone from denying or trivializing the holocaust. In all honesty it would appear to me as being a pretty difficult subject to trivialize, but none the less our freedom of speech ends here. Interestingly one would think that those at Charlie Hebdo should have been held responsible under the passage:

Publicly inciting to violence or hatred , even by dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures or other material, directed against a group of persons or a member of such a group defined by reference to race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.

It is at this juncture that my anti-social level of cynicism comes into play. The staff at Charlie Hebdo were clearly acting in defiance of this act. As it turned out their actions not only got 8 of their employees killed but 12 others who had nothing to do with the magazine. Why wasn’t this law enforced. Had this law had been enforced would, the very reason for the law itself to prevent stirring racial hatred, then there is a good chance this event would never have happened. Since this law was passed the following people have been found guilty of holocaust denial, one of which received a 6 year jail sentence.

Feb. 15, 2007 Ernst Zündel Germany 5 years’ imprisonment
Nov. 8, 2007 Vincent Reynouard France 1 year imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 euros
Jan. 14, 2008 Wolfgang Fröhlich Austria 6 years’ imprisonment (third offence)
Jan. 15, 2008 Sylvia Stolz Germany 3½ years’ imprisonment
Mar. 11, 2009 Horst Mahler Germany 5 years’ imprisonment
Oct. 23, 2009 Dirk Zimmerman Germany 9 months’ imprisonment
Oct. 27, 2009 Richard Williamson Germany €12,000 fine [later overturned]
Jan. 31, 2013 Gyorgy Nagy Hungary 18-month suspended jail sentence 

Now these people are most likely extreme right-wing neo nazi morons, and west-double-standard-on-mocking-jews-muslimsprobably not someone you would ask to baby sit for you. None the less they demonstrate that this law is really only meant to protect a certain group within society. In Europe to date, nobody has been incarcerated or fined for inciting the hatred of Muslims.

 

The events in Paris were one great tragedy, but there is one case that should make people realise this was an attack by terrorists who happened to be Muslims. Members of the Ku Klux Klan were Christians but they did not behave in ways the christian doctrine endorses. je-ne-suis-pas-charlie-copy Ahmed was the Muslim policeman who was executed as he lay wounded on the pavement. Ahmed was a Muslim who chose a career that would help protect the people of Paris.

Wherever it is that we go from here I only hope there are enough of us with the courage to discuss and bring to light the agenda that is fanning the flames of this fire.

confused

Fear and Loathing and Getting Recruited for ISIS – A savage journey to the heart of Jihadist ideology

the few the proud the bearded

Out of a perverse sense of curiosity, out of loyalty to the absurd, in reverence of bad taste,  but mostly just as a result of old fashioned boredom, I have spent much of my weekend trying to apply for membership to Islamic State. I felt a need to put the endless news reports to the test, the media has repeatedly informed us that joining these maniacs should be a relatively straight forward task, and that it could be done online. It was Friday night, I had the time and a sick enough sense of humor to give this thing a shot, so I did.

Less than 5 minutes into my search for employment, I learned that Islamic State had recently produced an expensive and slick English language video designed at recruiting young British Muslims. The video entitled ‘Let’s go Jihad’, which at face value appears a somewhat whimsical title for what should ultimately represent quite a serious life decision. Although disappointed by the name of the video I decided that it would be only reasonable to watch it, after all I had come this far, and damn it I needed to learn more about my potential employer. How else could I be expected to feel comfortable making any long term commitments, because I had questions by jingo. Was there dental cover included in the health plan? What were the hours? Holidays? Pensions? Were they prepared to help with my relocation expenses? The practicalities of Jihad seemed endless, so putting my logistical concerns to one side I settled down and watched watched the following video:

http://jihadology.net/2014/06/15/new-video-nashid-from-al-%E1%B8%A5ayat-media-center-lets-go-for-jihad/

The video opens with what sounds like a deaf man blowing on a piece of tissue paper over a comb. Although these guys clearly demonstrated no appreciation for music, I decided that this was a luxury I could live without, afterall I gave up listening to music sometime back in the 1990’s, (a traumatic incident involving a dwarf, a rabbit and a head full of acid.) Not the most catchy of openings but I was willing to go further. Next I was requested to supplicate myself, while I admit that I haven’t been doing a lot of supplicating recently I didn’t consider it beyond my range. I felt that I was still in with a shot.

The third line, of what could never be described as a catchy tune, aroused my suspicions when it called for the ‘Nasheed to bomb the Kuffar for real’. Some rapid googling and I realized this wasn’t good. They appeared to be calling for any and every non-muslim to be bombed. While my knowledge of the Quran is limited, I find it hard to believe these could have been the words of Muhammad. For one I’m not sure bombing had been adopted as a military tactic back then. It was starting to look like ISIS were not an equal opportunity employer after all, and that this whole muslim, non-muslim thing might cause a problem. If this was the case I had no intention on letting these bastards off the hook that easily, I was still going to apply and then they could turn me down to my face. Anyway I still had to see if it was as easy as the media had said it was.

Now in my life I’ve been both lucky and unlucky enough to have been able to meet some of societies most psychologically unique people, but it was only now that I started to appreciate that ISIS recruits  a rare breed of maniac. People responding positively to ‘Let’s go Jihad’ are beyond my comprehension, most videos that promote things use enticement. I expected beaches, a bevy of beauties in burqas, minarets and mosques. Instead the video uses sheer, raw violence to make its appeal.  Machine gunning men bound in ditches would appear to even the least sane person to be profoundly inappropriate. With that said is it any more immoral than dropping a laser guided bomb on a family who’ve just sat down for dinner? It’s hard to find any morality or sense in the senselessness of war.The content of the video surpasses disturbing and it’s hard to imagine the mind that such a video could appeal to, but what is just as disturbing is the level of professionalism in its production, and the destructive power they appear to have at their disposal.

humvees
ISIS happily using the U.S made Humvee.
M198-Howitzer-ISIS-parade
ISIS are believed to have 52 American made M198 Howitzers capable of firing a shell 20 miles.
isisrusssiantank
ISIS have upto 30 Soviet built T55 tanks, although old they are still active in 50 armies around the world. They also have a smaller number of the newer T72.

I had initially understood ISIS to be a crackpot bunch of terrorist lunatics, with extremist religious views. A group that would die out once their own people had realised that they do not want to live under such a harsh regime. The truth is that ISIS have existed since 2000, they are well supported, well funded and well trained for such an outfit. They are extremely well armed having routed large sections of the Iraqi Army, they have seized great quantities of U.S made weaponry including heavy artillery, as well as Russian made tanks. They far exceed my understanding of a terrorist group. But perhaps their greatest weapon and threat is their appeal to young Muslims around the world. Muslims that have grown up watching western coalitions invade muslim countries, who have watched Israel use excessive force against the Palestinians. Children who have grown up with this as the status quo are perhaps easier to convince that somewhere there is a Jihad out there for them to fight.

Still I needed to put the media’s claims to the test and make contact with someone in charge of recruitment at ISIS, therefore I googled “ISIS Recruitment Form”, and surprisingly I was successful.

http://www.isisgroup.co.uk/recruitment/application.html

Rather cleverly their website poses as being for educational purposes and even supported by the British Council. As a further smoke screen to foil intelligence services you will notice a woman not wearing a burqa. I appreciated their savvy. Regretfully the link to their application form was broken, but they were forward thinking enough to provide the following contact details.

ISIS-Education-logo

We are always happy to discuss things with potential or returning employees. If you have any questions, please feel free to email our Recruitment team or give us a call.

Recruitment
ISIS Education and Travel
259 Greenwich High Road
London SE10 8NB

So the media were right after all, contacting the recruitment wing of ISIS was a doddle.

As I get older it appears to me that civilization (if that is even the right word to describe it any more) is caught up in a perpetual cycle of violence. Groups of people are forever provoking and responding to provocation, and unless a group of fanatics who uphold the values of common sense take the radical action of not reacting, then I’m afraid this suffering and senseless destruction will be the demise of us all.

FritzTreeArt
Continuing to do what we have been doing will have inevitable negative consequences. A new plan featuring common sense is called for.