Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The violence veto, again 

We have for years been writing about the "violence veto", "censorship -- including self-censorship -- of perfectly lawful speech because of the fear that people who choose to be offended by that speech will vandalize, assault, and murder on account of it." The latest example is the persecution of Molly Norris, the Seattle editorial cartoonist who came up with "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." She has, on the advice of the FBI, gone in to hiding to protect herself from death threats from Muslims, and nobody seems to give a damn:

Freedom of speech and press are in deep trouble when the American government thinks the best it can do to protect a journalist from death threats is to counsel her to go into hiding, and when the elite voices of American journalism can't be bothered to say anything in her defense. But it's actually worse than that. The New York Times' Nicholas Kristof thinks Muslims are owed an apology. "I hereby apologize to Muslims for the wave of bigotry and simple nuttiness that has lately been directed at you," he wrote Sunday. "The venom on the airwaves, equating Muslims with terrorists, should embarrass us more than you."

Instead of telling the rest of us that we're all bigots, shouldn't Kristof and the rest of the journalism profession be outraged by what has happened to Molly Norris? And shouldn't they be angered that her government believes it cannot protect her? Imagine what they would be saying if white-hooded members of the Ku Klux Klan were threatening to kill Norris in Selma, Ala., instead of radical Muslims in Seattle. Would the FBI tell Norris she had to stop being a journalist and go into hiding? And would [the American Society of News Editors] and [the Society of Professional Journalists] look the other way as the First Amendment and freedom of the press were symbolically turned to ashes by flaming white crosses?

The problem, of course, is the frequent use of the word "courageous" to describe "journalists," which practice has unreasonably raised our expectations. Journalists are, as a class, cowards, with no more willingness to stand up in defense of fundamental rights (such as freedom of speech and the press) than, say, your average plumber, the critical difference being that the press pretends to be a guardian of sorts.

What a joke.


By Blogger JPMcT, at Wed Sep 22, 12:55:00 AM:

Mainstream journalists are only "courageous" when going after Republicans.

When they try to publish anything adverse to Democrats, they are merely the recipients of memos from their editors to shut the hell up.

Thus the failure of most media outlets to comment on this latest outrage by the "Religion of Peace".  

By Anonymous tyree, at Wed Sep 22, 02:03:00 AM:

It is a sad day for the USA, but an even sadder day for Islam. Muslims all over the world should hang their heads in shame that they cannot defend their "prophet" with logic, reason and a calm head.  

By Blogger randian, at Wed Sep 22, 06:30:00 AM:

It is a sad day for the USA, but an even sadder day for Islam

That's not how Muslims see it. They see it as a triumph over their enemies i.e. everybody who isn't Muslim.  

By Anonymous Kevin Smith, at Wed Sep 22, 08:51:00 AM:

Here's a journalistic concept that appears to be lost in the blogosphere -- try to do some original reporting, or at least verify facts before repeating information and launching criticism.

The Society of Professional Journalists is not standing by silently while this unfolds. SPJ has no record of the Washington Examiner, which is where you took most of your information for this blog, contacting us for comments as it reported. As president of SPJ and the official spokesperson for the organization I was never contacted nor was anyone at our headquarters.

SPJ did issue a statement of support for Norris and that statement appears in at least one publication in Seattle.

It is here:

"SPJ has always stood behind First Amendment rights of expression whether they originate with the the press, a group or from individuals. Most citizens in our country understand that free speech has protection, even if it is offensive to some segments of society. Editorial commentary, even in the form of cartoons, has long been a staple of the American press. It can engage and enrage people as it provokes thought and fosters debate. That's it's purpose. Cartoonists know that better than anyone. Add Norris' name to the long list of journalists who agitate in order to make a statement. She should have protection and she has our support."

In the future, a simple phone call would set the record straight. SPJ represents 8,000 journalists in this nation and abroad. We are rarely silent on First Amendment issues.  

By Anonymous Iowa_John, at Wed Sep 22, 12:13:00 PM:

You issued a statement that you managed to get into "at least one" publication in Seattle.

I can only imagine the level of self-righteousness you'd hit if you'd got your useless statement into *two* publications.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Wed Sep 22, 03:18:00 PM:

Really Kevin? You issued a statement? Wow, we feel safer already. The people who cut off reporters heads are quaking in their sandals. Here is an example what else the journalists could do: Expose how porous our borders are to illegal entry. Expose where terrorists get their financing. Get the word our about the Iranian opposition and let us know what we can do to help them. Expose the terrorists propaganda for what it is, twice, whenever it rears it's ugly head. Do you remember the Photoshopped pictures of fires in the Middle East and staged photos of "casualties" from Israeli attacks? We do. Give some of that stuff front page attention and then we will know that Molly Norris "has your support". We still remember how CNN bought access to Saddam's regime with silence about his crimes. We remember how "journalists" made Abu Ghraib the story of the year because it fit your politics. We needed action years ago, and all we got were words, words that often supported the other side.  

By Blogger Andrew M. Scott, at Wed Sep 22, 04:51:00 PM:

Iowa_John and Tyree, No offense (well maybe) you're both completely missing the point behind what Kevin just said. This blog and the editorial it quoted did NO journalistic research and did not seek to obtain a factual quote from SPJ on this topic. It is completely embellished to get headlines. I'm sure if he hadn't posted anything, you would have continued in the previous rant of comments in this thread.

Also, SPJ doesn't control what publications do or do not print. That is for them to decide. The Society made its statement and stands by Molly and her free speech rights. Iowa_John's statement is ignorant and childish.

How about you both wise up and go to the SPJ News feed to see for yourselfs, the Society's constant fight for First Amendment Freedoms and their other missions to improve and protect!


And you should both be ashamed of yourselves for hiding in your anonymity of the blogosphere.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Sep 22, 06:53:00 PM:

The media got to write its own job evaluation in the 20th Century. So they always told us they are bright, resourceful, objective, fair, etc.

That works really well when everyone sticks to the theme and readers and viewers have little or no choice.

That comfortable era is no more. Now people can choose among sources and competing ideas.

In reaction the MSM media beast will attempt to restore its near monopoly on communications.

They will demand more FCC regulation, more monitoring, more rules about hate speech, internet use, and civility. And cheer the inevitable selective enforcement.

In sum, they will want censorship placed upon others. And they will try to use the government to destroy those with "unacceptable" views.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Wed Sep 22, 07:46:00 PM:

I have no reason to feel shame. The people who should are the terrorists who threaten journalists. But they don't. The case of Molly Norris shows that not letting everyone know who you are has it's advantages.

The society made it's statement and you stand by it. Wonderful. We can all feel safer now.

You want our respect?

Do something to stop terrorism.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Sep 22, 08:37:00 PM:

Kevin Smith and Andrew Scott: So as a journalist "society", how much pressure has your organization put on the national "journalists" who come into homes over the TV - when's the last time a TV anchor reported about the death threats against their fellow journalists?

I guess as a society, when one of your own gets a death threat, the appropriate response is to issue a statement - words - against such threats.

How about you get off your asses, and make every freaking day a cartoon day for Muhammed, until the death threat is rescinded?

No, that would take actual balls, or in this case, a brass vagina, which Molly Norris has but you guys don't.

I mean, come on, I bet you don't even know how to use a can of simple whip ass, do you???  

By Blogger Bomber Girl, at Wed Sep 22, 10:21:00 PM:

Given the economic backdrop of the newspaper (and hence journalistic) business, I am not sure what you are expecting and the criticism of the profession seems harsh, esp. from all us "anon" bloggers/commenters. Revenues are down, newsrooms have seen cutbacks, news is more politicized, blogs/pundits yack more, less "original" research is done, etc. etc. Not to mention death threats. While the criticism may not be off target, it would seem more helpful to highlight some journalists who are getting it right since they are out there (in addition to the "brass vagina" as so elegantly pointed out above).  

By Anonymous tyree, at Thu Sep 23, 04:18:00 AM:

Good idea Bomber Girl.
Journalists getting it right? Michael Yon. The National Enquirer for breaking the John Edwards scandal. The press covered up for him as long as it could because they liked his politics.
Newsman getting it wrong? CNN's Eason Jordan who lied about the military targeting journalists in the War on Terror. Dan "Fake but Accurate" Rather who published forged memos that attacked President Bushs service in the Texas Air National Guard. Seymour Hersh who got credit for "breaking" a story the Army had publicly reported. The sensationalism of the Abu Ghraib story did a lot to put us and our soldiers in additional danger from the "Religion of Peace". The KPFK radio hack who reported the other day that disbarred attorney Lynne Stewart was serving time for practicing law. Any “journalist” who uses the phrase “teabagger” instead of “tea party” gets a special mention, as do all of those who use the word “immigrant” instead of “illegal alien”. Perhaps none of these are card carrying members of the PJS, but Tigerhawk didn’t single out that group specifically, either.
I know none of those examples are first amendment related, and I hope the PLS continues to support The First Amendment, the Second Amendment and the rest of the Constitution, and our military, police and millions of private citizens who protect and defend it. We aren’t the enemy. The people who hack journalist’s heads off are the enemy.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Thu Sep 23, 07:56:00 AM:

Perhaps relevant to the conversation... AP 'stringer' arrested for working with the Taliban.

The Committee to Protect Journalism is upset... at the coalition forces, for arresting their guy. For working with the fucking Taliban. You know, the same crowd that hacks off journalists' heads.


I have a special loathing for journalism and journalists as a class. The same people who are terrified of publishing cartoons for fear of their lives, and refrain from it, are giddy at the thought of publishing secret military or intelligence information that can cost other people theirs, and do it. Utterly mercenary and morally bankrupt.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Thu Sep 23, 09:37:00 AM:

Yeah, when that AP stringer got wind of the terrorists getting ready to execute two women, he rolled out to the site with his camera. If he had alerted a United States soldier he would possibly saved two lives, but lost a photo op. Such a difficult choice.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Thu Sep 23, 09:31:00 PM:

This just in:
"UC Law Prof Quits Blogging due to threats directed at his family by Progressives."

Yeah, I'll stay Tyree for a little while longer.  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Fri Sep 24, 03:30:00 AM:

Shame, shame on you TH for not using your legions of fact-checkers. Just another lesson that teaches us not to believe these pajama-wearing bloggers and only trust Perfessional Journalists. Remember, everything you read in the newspaper is true, except for those things of which you have personal knowledge.  

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