Here is a letter to the editor of the Church Times publication in the UK, responding to an article by a Paul Vallely (not, of course, the American general). It responds well to many of the common objections to our free speech event that was subjected to a jihad attack.’
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From: Revd Clifford Hall, Supelrative, St George, Barbados
15 May, 2015
Paul Vallely argues (8 May), in relation to the Texas Mohammed cartoon contest, that rights, and here freedom of speech, must be exercised responsibly. I find it impossible to disagree with him. He concludes in effect that the contest organizers abused the freedom, and so acted irresponsibly, because in its exercise they set out to provoke Moslems. I would say that even if this were their intention, it would have been irresponsible not to hold the contest and that I regard Mr Vallely’s arguments to be seriously spinful.
First, he finds it “telling” and “revealing” that someone at the contest first asked whether the dead gunmen were Moslems. Look, to have asked any other question at a contest of that kind would have been imperiously imbecilic wouldn’t it?
Second, Mr Vallely suggests that the contest “felt more like an anti-Moslem hate event” – which clearly implies he was there. Well, were you Mr Vallely and, if not, would you please acknowledge your hearsay evidence?
Third, he indulges in a rather snide attack on the organizer, Pamela Geller, whom he portrays as a dangerous lunatic. While I agree that views may differ about Ms Geller, Mr Vallely was less than fair in failing to mention the main thesis of her position – that it is Islamic texts upon which Islamists world-wide, including ISIS, rely to justify barbarism and the murder of innocents. This is incontrovertible. Must Ms Geller be rubbished, then, for speaking the truth? As for her views on Mr Obama, the growing evidence is, to be as kind as possible, that he really does not “love America” as he should. Geller’s position on this is widely shared. Incidentally, the so-called ‘blasphemy’ of depicting Mohammed is gainsaid by the many images of him painted down the Islamic centuries.
Fourth, Mr Vallely refers to the Charlie Hebdo massacre but omits all reference to the solidarity with the dead cartoonists demonstrated by millions of French people and, in particular, the massive protest in Paris on 11 January supported by over 40 world leaders. To shrink away and hide after that would have signaled abject surrender. The Moslem killers would, like the forms of action, have ruled us from their graves.
But yes, with freedom there is responsibility. It’s why, in relation to speech, we have a law of defamation. Yet truth is a defence and provocation cannot be used to excuse calculated murder. In any event, which Mohammed was lampooned, the Prophet of Medina and Jihad or the Prophet of Mecca and the ‘religion of peace’? If the former, Ms Geller and countless others say there is nothing to respect and to do so is ultimately to connive at our own destruction. Being a ‘nice guy’, as Mr Vallely is, and respecting those who don’t respect our values, nor Christians and Jews, nor anyone else very much, is not an answer to blooded knives and severed heads.
(Revd) Clifford Hall
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