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Archive for the ‘Free Speech’ Category

Currently We Are Trying to Steer Clear from Blogs on Blasphemy

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Last month an editor from The Express Tribune asked me if I wanted to write a blog on United Airlines barring two girls wearing leggings from boarding. I responded:


This article is interesting, and it seems just absurd that an airline would ban anyone for wearing leggings, however I’m not sure if I’m the right person for it, I’m much more interested in writing about a different topic. The #HangAyazNizami hashtag is exploding ever since he was arrested. Blasphemy is one of the more important issues in Pakistan, and the extremists are pulling down the entire country with their ideology. I also realize how sensitive the issue is, and would be respectful both of Islam and its followers in the context of speaking against judicial executions. This goes back to the dialectic between fundamentalists and Salmeen Taseer for his support of Asia Bibi. I would examine compulsion in religion and how this contradicts punishment for blasphemy. Let me know if you’re interested.



But The Express Tribune responded thus:

“Currently, we are trying to steer clear from blogs on blasphemy.”

We know the danger, as the BBC reports, “At least 65 people have been murdered in Pakistan after being accused of blasphemy since 1990.” This goes back to Rushdie and Egyptian Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz, who wrote on topic:

“No blasphemy harms Islam and Muslims so much as the call for murdering a writer.”

Then Pakistan then experienced another tragedy. A young student, Mashal Khan, was murdered on campus.

“Students beat classmate to death while screaming ‘Allahu Akbar'”

PEW reports that 64% of those in Pakistan support capital punishment for those who blaspheme, and section 295C of the Penal Code also mandates the penalty. So it’s not mere cowardice to avoid polemics if you are on the ground in Pakistan.

We fight those who support blasphemy laws, for they are at the forefront of the dialectic between benevolent humanity and the evils of religious chauvinism. We also fight those who obfuscate in their condemnation, out of cowardice, ignorance, or complicity. Many in Pakistan and the West are guilty (a tangent that runs too deep for a short blog).

Therefore, those who have freedom of speech, non-Muslims and Muslims alike, must challenge the evil of blasphemy laws and recognize many “blasphemies” are actually not evil at all, but calls for tolerance.

To double down on the above, just like I have no desire to burn the American flag, use racial slurs, or mock the religious, I also claim my right to criticize the United States, culture, and religion. Those who criticize are often falsely accused of being unpatriotic, racist, and blasphemous when in fact they are pushing ideas that will help humanity progress. That’s why not enough can be written in support of free speech and against blasphemy, whether secular or religious.

Such evil ideology can only flourish in a vacuum of speech. From Mao’s China to North Korea, those who control speech control society. And right now, in Pakistan, evil is flourishing.

Pakistan, we realize the danger you face and we support you, but please write about blasphemy. Be convincing, be strong, be courageous, spread the risk. We who have speech support you.


Written by Caleb Powell

April 15, 2017 at 10:01 am

Milo Yiannopoulos, Vida Rz, and the Right to Be a Bigot

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How should we respond to a bigoted post on social media?

Facebook:  My Facebook “friends” include liberals, conservatives, libertarians, etc. Many post political views that warrant exchanges. Often hatreds erupt, and underlying this is free speech’s relation to “hate speech.” The former covers the legality of speech, the latter relates to ethics.

(This post is not primarily about Facebook protocol, but here I’ll mention I rarely block or unfriend anyone, making exceptions for pornbots, solicitors, and the rare tool. I try to welcome, respect, and engage with those whose views clash with mine, and hope the feeling is mutual.)

The Milo Effect:  Recently I wrote an article at The Express Tribune Blogs on Milo Yiannopoulos where I defended our right to express our hatreds, and made clear this does not condone bigotry:

“Let’s face it, most of us hate something or someone. Whether it’s broccoli, rush hour traffic, Trump, conservatives, liberals, terrorists, dictators, bigots, or anti-free speech fascists. I claim my right to excoriate that which I hate, and you should too.”

Free vs. Hate Speech:  The Milo brouhaha highlights the current dialectic regarding speech. In Bangladesh, speech inaccurately deemed “hateful” can get a blogger murdered. Thus we debate “hate speech” in the marketplace of ideas. Example:  Vida Rz’s joke.

The Joke:  Unlike SJWs, who shut down and ban speech, the Alt-SJWs seem to double down on bigotry. I tried to engage, to see if Vida and her friends would consider the context of Charlie Hebdo or Raif Badawi, I mentioned that my grandfather was born in Iran (we’re Mizrahi), and to support Iranians’ rights should mean something. 

Did Raif Badawi get 1,000 lashes so Vida Rz could use “free speech” to call Muslims goatfuckers? I told Vida and company:

Bizarre, folks. As if Raif Badawi and dissidents in Evin prison fought for the right for free speech so dingbats like you can make bigoted unoriginal jokes. Fair enough, it’s the marketplace of ideas. If you want to fight bigotry, it’s quite simple, don’t be a bigot back, don’t play the SJW perpetual game of Tag, You’re Racist.” 

The result?  A few people supported me, but mostly I got called a “pussy” and an “SJW.” Vida proclaimed her right to hate Muslims b/c “they” wanted her dead. She didn’t quantify. (I linked to the post, but it has since been deleted)

Final word:  We’ll stand by the Westboro Baptist Church’s constitutional right to say “God hates fags,” but we’ll use the same right to condemn bigotry. We reject the Neo-PC SJW authoritarianism party line and don’t need the self-imposed censorship of “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.” Why? Because we recognize that only free speech can destroy bad ideas, and you can’t do that from a safe space.

Written by Caleb Powell

March 21, 2017 at 8:46 am

Melissa Chen: Free Speech Destroys Islamic Extremism

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Melissa Chen on Blasphemy

Free Speech:  The right to speak without censorship or restraint except for libel, slander, or inciting violence. Also, to speak w/o government interference.

Expanding Limits:  The present cultural climate of “Psychotic PC” has extended limits on speech to include the criticism of ideas or political views. Hyper-sensitivity to “racism/Islamophobia/homophobia/sexism” has created Neo-McCarthyites aka Social Justice Warriors who believe “My bigotry is justified, yours ain’t.” These fascists must be stopped. To inhibit free speech, as Melissa Chen notes above, is to repress the means that destroys evil ideas.

The Significance:  Donald Trump and Zakir Naik may speak without censorship or restraint, and we will respond with  better ideas. Those who bolster their counterargument with a demand that we limit speech are not only regressive, but lack the strength of their convictions. They are insecure in their ability to debate.

Progress:  Superior ideas win without the need of force of censorship. From ancient days through the Age of Englightenment and beyond, bad ideas needed protection to survive:  Patriarchy, Kleptocratic Regimes/Communism, fundamental Christianity, and slavery were replaced with women’s rights, socio-capitalistic democracy, secularism, and Emancipation.

Three books that incite misogyny/homophobia/and religious supremacism:  If the trilogy of holy books from Judaism/Christianity/Islam went under the same scrutiny that the Radical PC  supporters and Social Justice Warriors demand, these would be the first three books to go.


Moderation:  When religions moderate for the benefit of all, it is because of free speech. As philosophies, religions have much to offer, as ultimate truths they are flimsy. Only free speech can transform ideology in a progressive manner, and thus to want a tolerant and benevolent world is to champion speech.

Related:  These Bangladeshi bloggers were murdered by Islamist extremists. Here are some of their writings

Written by Caleb Powell

April 24, 2016 at 8:53 am