…an actual civil liberties organization:

To help spruce up the building’s image, they hired artist Matt Evanson and gave him free rein to paint a giant mural of marine life, thus far depicting images of six local game fish: snook, redfish, tarpon, dolphin, grouper and sailfish. But Evanson has not been able to complete the artwork – which contains no words except for his signature – because the city on Florida’s Gulf Coast claims it violates the sign code.

He had an interesting counter:

His response? Proudly hang a giant banner with text of the First Amendment promoting free speech in front of the mural. Not amused, the city of Clearwater is now threatening to hook Quintero with fines of $500 a day for displaying the large version of America’s founding document.

Well they weren’t the only ones not amused:

The American Civil Liberties Union has been reeled in and is representing Quintero in court.

“Only in Florida could a business owner be targeted and fined for displaying artwork; and then in protest of the fine, display the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – and then be ticketed for that,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida. “Unfortunately, public officials disregard constitutional freedoms all the time, but punishing citizens for displaying the Constitution may be a first.”

Stop the ACLU is impressed:

This is a fight for a certain amount of free speech. All liberty minded Americans should hope for the ACLU to be victorious over this corrosive power of the city to impose itself on its citizens. Anyone interested in the rights of property owners should support Mr. Quintero in this fight. More of these thuggish city rules should be challenged throughout the country to put a check on the nanny state in which we increasingly live.

Hey lets see if this keeps up.

Looks like our favorite net comedian who is Not Mohammad is getting death threats from the religion of peace™:

God forbid you insinuate the religion of Islam is anything short of peaceful. It only results in responses such as these:

“DEATH WILL FIND YOU NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE EVEN IF YOUR ON THE MOON WITH WALLS BUILD UP HIGH DEATH WILL STILL COME AND FIND YOU”

“ur a freaken racist pig… otherwise u wouldnt be making any sarcastic remarks…u just got the worst reputation amoungst muslims that I showed that video to…they were cursing u like crazy….take my advice and remove that racist video”

“you should actually post a new video, correcting the mistakes you made in this video, and im sure you know which ones you made, because that’s the only way that’s gonna save you from a freak accident.”

“FYI, i am glad, because if u said this to my face, u would be on the floor. simple. u come here and disrespect me, forget me, u disrespect the prophet pbuh, u expect me to just sit by, u disrespect the quran and then u try to play it off. u r a joke. a joke. dont EVER do this again. EVER.”

“your a jew ISLAM WILL TAKE OVER THE WHOLE WORLD”

“u should make a video apologize to the muslim community. thats the only option u have.”

Charming. In their defense folks… My video IS classified as hate speech. At least, that’s what thousands of Muslims said whilst flooding YouTube with constant “flagging.” In case you haven’t yet heard, there are actual online Muslim networks that exist solely for this purpose. The minute anything even remotely critical of Islam pops up online, thousands of members are notified and are commanded to flag, spam and utilize comment suppression techniques that ultimately result in the video’s removal and permanent banning of the user.

Well tell you what, every time I read about his death threats I will re-post the video.

Update: Oh and he is now blogrolled too.

We can’t be surprised when we see stories like this:

The Tibetan New Year, or Losar, is normally the most festive holiday of the year, when Tibetans burn incense, make special dumplings and set off fireworks. But this year, Tibetans have declared a moratorium on celebrating their own holiday, saying they will instead observe a mourning period for people killed last year during protests against Chinese rule.

Amazing and I thought everyone loved a holiday!

“Instead of the usual celebrations marked by singing, dancing and other festivities, silence will be observed and butter lamps will be lit in the temples and homes to pray for the deceased,” they announced in a statement last month.

The tactic appears to be driving Chinese authorities crazy. They’re countering with their own campaign of forced merriment, organizing concerts, pageants, fireworks, horse races, archery competitions.

And you VILL haf fun or else:

At Beijing’s Central University for Nationalities, Tibetan students who had applied last year for permission to hold a Losar celebration informed the university recently that they wished to cancel. But the university told them that the party must go on, said a university source who asked not to be quoted by name.

“Celebrating is compulsory,” he said.

And ve haf vays of making you party:

On Feb. 14, a 39-year-old Tibetan monk set off a furor when he walked through a public market in the Tibetan plateau’s Lithang county carrying a photograph of the Dalai Lama and chanting, “No Losar.” Hundreds of people reportedly joined the protests, which continued into the next two days, according to the Dharamsala-based Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy. The group said that Chinese police detained 21 people, some of whom were badly beaten, and that the county has been locked down for the holiday.

Reports say that as many as 20,000 additional soldiers and paramilitary troops have been deployed in Tibetan areas and that in Qinghai province, village leaders were threatened with arrest if they urged people not to celebrate the holiday.

Well its a good think that we are concerned about human rights, aren’t we:

Clinton told reporters covering her tour of Asian nations that human rights violations by China should not stand in the way of cooperation between the two powers on financial, environmental and security crises, The Washington Post (NYSE:WPO) reported.

And we all know how softplaying human rights worked with the Olympics:

Well, advocates of granting the Olympic Games to China all said that having the Games would force the PRC to liberalize. It would be good for human rights, people said. Even Chinese authorities themselves said that the Games would cause them to liberalize!

That was the great selling point.

And what happened? Not only did the Games not have a liberalizing effect; they had the opposite — moving the PRC to crack down all the more. I documented this extensively in a five-part series on this site last August. You can find it in my archive, here.

What a surprise, as the old Cox and Forkum cartoons say: “I’m a communist dictator you fool!”

Update: Darren Hutchinson notices other interesting aspects.

Looks like Gert Wilders is going to make the British eject him:

“A newspaper reports that Dutch MP Wilders has been “taken away” from an airliner at Heathrow Airport, no immediate official confirmation.”

And that: A Dutch newspaper reporter describes a “chaotic” scene aboard an airliner at Heathrow airport as banned Dutch MP tries to enter country.

And here is the money quote of all money quotes:

Mr Wilders told The Times on the flight that the British Government was “the biggest bunch of cowards in Europe”. ”It is easy to invite people you agree with, it is more difficult to invite people you disagree with and this is the proof of the pudding,” he said.

“I am going to Great Britain because I was invited by another politician (Lord Pearson of Rannoch). I am a democrat, I am serving freedom of speech. They are not only being nasty to me they are being nasty to freedom of speech.

He added: “They (the British government) are more Chamberlain than Churchill.”

Me I’ve always said that the answer to speech you don’t like is more speech. England is making a huge mistake here. They are afraid of the fight, you’d better have that fight now while freedom of speech and expression is still strong enough to win it. If not then you will quietly sink into Dhimmitude.

Commentary:
Atlas Shrugs

Bye bye England — they are done. They should be kissing his ring for his bravery and courage in doing what they don’t have the spine to do.

Glenn Reynolds:

The lesson to me is that if you want freedom of speech, then, like the Muslims in Britain, you must make the authorities afraid to bother you. If you seem harmless, you will be silenced at the demand of those whom the authorities fear. Once again, I note that this is an incentive structure that the British authorities will likely come to regret.

A few days ago Charles Johnson declared a plague on both your houses:

Yes, it’s a disgrace. Geert Wilders has the same right to free speech as anyone else, and the government of Britain is demonstrating once again that they’ve completely lost their way in a maze of multicultural contradictions.

However, Wilders himself does not deserve to be called an icon of free speech, since he explicitly wants to ban the Koran and make Islam illegal in Europe; in other words, he wants to take away other people’s freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and that is simply wrong. Book banning is what totalitarians do, not believers in free speech.

Update: Bad link fixed.

Update II Diana West:

How can the UK call itself a “civilised society” when it has just proven beyond any doubt to the entire world that it cannot and will not and does not wish to ensure freedom of speech against the threat of Islamic violence?

Update III: Mark Steyn nails it:

As to the judgment of the British Home Office, they have no problem admitting to the United Kingdom the likes of Dr Ijaz Mian, who preached as follows at the Ahl-e-Hadith mosque in Derby:

You cannot accept the rule of the kaffir. We have to rule ourselves and we have to rule the others… King, Queen, House of Commons: if you accept it, you are a part of it. If you don’t accept it, you have to dismantle it. So you being a Muslim, you have to fix a target. From that White House to this Black House, we know we have to dismantle it. Muslims must grow in strength, then take over

Just the guy you want over for dinner.

Update IV: The Times of London echos Charles Johnson:

For all the obvious hollowness of Mr Wilders’ credentials as a defender of free speech, the cause is a good one. It is a common notion that the right to free speech must be held in balance with the requirement to avoid needless offence. That is a mistake. The right to oppose, mock, deride and even insult people’s beliefs is essential to a society where bad ideas are superseded by better ones. There is no right to have one’s emotional sensibilities protected, for it is no business of government to legislate for people’s feelings. Mr Wilders’ views are obnoxious, and (not but) his freedom to express them must be defended. It is regrettable that Mr Wilders faces not just ostracism but prosecution in the Netherlands because of his comments about Islam.

Sort of a reverse of love the sin hate the sinner.

Gates of Vienna translates this Jylliands posten editorial. Those guys know a few things about the dangers of appeasing Islam:

At the end, it is probably not about disagreeing with Wilders that has led to this. Actually, it is apparently based directly on fears that there will be riots in the streets if he shows up.

That is, the British government admits that it would rather break its good international character than risk violent reactions from people who argue with violence. It is a day of shame for Great Britain.

Gateway Pundit:

A blow to free speech. Geert Wilders was not allowed on the plane to England today.
Wilders produced this 10 minute film called “Fitna” that offended Muslims.

Because of this controversial film, England announced this week that Wilders would not be allowed into the country. Wilders was asked to show the film at the House of Lords by UK Independence Party peer Lord Pearson.

He embeds a youtube of the film as well.

…always seem to be where stuff like this happens:

4 Iranian bloggers will receive a total of 124 lashes and 8 and a half years in jail for “spreading lies” and “propaganda against the regime” among other charges.

I’m sure the Obama administration will speak out against this crime against free speech on the internet any moment now, anyone , anyone? Bueller?

An Important announcement for all people like me who have embedded and or posted Monty Python clips over the years direct from the Pythons itself:

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant! I’m in favor of anything that leads to new original python stuff such as the clip above..

The page is here.

And the Pythons are right it is a much higher quality video. So if you are going to buy ringtones or videos etc you might as well buy it direct from them.

In case I haven’t made my opinion clear I think that Monty Python will (and has) stand the test of time as good or better than any other comedy team in history.

Mark Steyn is one of today’s great writers. His comment on the Wilders situation deserves its own post:

The PC nellies of the Canadian “Human Rights” Commission, happy to hound the last neo-Nazi in Saskatchewan posting to the Internet from his mum’s basement, won’t go anywhere near Abou Hammaad Sulaiman Dameus al-Hayitia, the big-time Montreal imam whose book says infidels are “evil people”, Jews “spread corruption and chaos”, and homosexuals should be “exterminated”.

Instead, the state’s response to explicit Islamic intimidation is to punish those foolish enough to point out that intimidation. You don’t have to be as intemperate as Minheer Wilders can sometimes be: In the Netherlands even the most innocuous statement can get you into trouble. To express his disgust at Theo van Gogh’s murder, the artist Chris Ripke put up a mural outside his studio showing an angel and the words “Thou shalt not kill”. But the cops thought this was somehow a dig at the local mosque and so came round, destroyed the mural, arrested the TV news crew filming it, and wiped their tape. The Dutch have determined to commit societal euthanasia, and dislike fellows pointing out it might not be as painless as they’ve assumed.

Democracies tend to die of suicide, lets hope that’s not the case.

You want real censorship, here you go:

A Dutch court has ordered prosecutors to put a right-wing politician on trial for making anti-Islamic statements.

Of course this pales before the vast censorship during the Bush years of left wing voices right?

Reaction: Gates of Vienna

Notice that the court claims the right to grant “normal leeway” to politicians. That is, they are the law. The political leaders, who are elected by the people and are charged with passing laws, do so only on the sufferance of judges, who make the ultimate decisions about what is and isn’t permitted.

Gateway pundit:

The end of free speech in Europe

Jihad Watch:

If they succeed in doing this, we will be rendered mute, and thus defenseless, in the face of the advancing jihad and attempt to impose Sharia on the West — in fact, one of the key elements of the laws for dhimmis is that they are never critical of Islam, Muhammad, or the Qur’an, so this initiative not only aids the advance of Sharia in the West, but is itself an element of that advance.

Did you notice that picture? Either Wilders is REALLY tall or Spencer is really short.

You know as time goes by the wisdom of the Bill of Rights and the people who insisted on it before ratifying the Constitution did a service to us for all time.

Update: Little Green Footballs doesn’t care for either the prosecution or Wilders:

Wilders, however, has called for the Koran to be outlawed. In other words, Wilders wants to ban books with which he doesn’t agree. If there’s one thing we should have learned from history, it’s that book-banning never turns out well—and it’s anathema to the American ideals of free speech and free choice of religion.

This prosecution is disgusting and wrong, but it’s difficult to cast Wilders as an icon of free speech when he explicitly advocates taking away the rights of others.

Three years ago a complaint was launched by the aptly misnamed Canadian Human Rights Tribunal against a Christian pastor named Stephen Boission for a letter to the editor speaking against homosexuality.

The tribunal ruled against him:

the Alberta Human Rights Commission ordered Alberta pastor Stephen Boissoin to desist from expressing his views on homosexuality in any sort of public forum. He was also commanded to pay damages equivalent to $7,000 as a result of the tribunal’s November decision to side with complainant and homosexual activist Dr. Darren Lund. The tribunal has also called for Boissoin to personally apologize to Lund via a public statement in the local newspaper.

Whatever one’s view of homosexuality this sure seems like the stifling of free speech. At the time I wondered how Canada would react if he had been a Muslim iman rather than a Christian preacher, well we don’t have to wonder any longer. as the national post explains:

In April, a Quebec blogger named Marc Lebuis brought a complaint to the commission over a book published on the Internet by a Montreal-based fundamentalist Muslim, Abou Hammad Sulaiman al-Hayiti. Lebuis claimed that the book exposed gays, Jews, non-Muslims generally and other identifiable groups to “hatred or contempt” under the plain meaning of Section 13 of the act.

Mr. Lebuis’ purpose, he admits, was to “test the objectivity of the commission” in light of commission rulings against Christians for publishing equally or less strident language.

Considering the Boission case this should have been a slam dunk, guess again:

CHRC officials told Lebuis that they would not proceed with an investigation of his complaint. They argued that Mr. al-Hayiti was free to say whatever he liked against “infidels,” and particularly non-Muslim women (what with their disturbingly wanton habits of dress and behaviour!) because they do not constitute an “identifiable group.” As for Mr. al-Hayiti’s imprecations against groups established as “identifiable,” like gays and Jews, the commission reported vaguely that these “do not seem” to meet the criteria for promoting hatred.

Well in that case Mr. al-Hayiti must not have said anything strident right?

Allah, Mr. al-Hayiti warns, has taught that “If the Jews, Christians, and [Zoroastrians] refuse to answer the call of Islam, and will not pay the jizyah [tax], then it is obligatory for Muslims to fight them if they are able.” Christianity, in particular, is denounced as a “religion of lies,” which is responsible for the West’s “perversity, corruption and adultery.”

At one point, Mr. al-Hayiti’s book refers to “the incredible number of gays and lesbians (may Allah curse and destroy them in this life and the next) {emphasis mine}who sow disorder upon the Earth and who desire to increase their numbers.” In one short passage, this combines a seeming accusation of demonic “recruitment” with an open wish for the complete elimination of homosexuals and a claim that they are a source of social chaos.

Gee maybe Ann Currey can interview him about his views on gay marriage.

I agree with the Post that free speech demands that Mr. al-Hayiti views should not be censored, but neither should Mr. Boission’s. The unreality of the difference is clear and Glenn Reynolds has pointed out the danger of this:

Will other religious groups take the lesson that violence works? Because, in a world of the spineless, it does, and at very low cost. Thanks, guys, for establishing this incentive structure.

The best way to answer speech that is disagreed with is more speech and the best way to call out either a spineless worm or a bigot is with courage. So in that spirit:

My favorite of the cartoons
My favorite of the cartoons

This is my favorite of the infamous Mohamed cartoons. Think about it, Canada thought that this image was beyond the pale but the words of the Iman above were not.

Update: Nothing to see here either.