Yesterday morning, a reader from France alerted me to two incidents which took place in a Dallas suburb on Sunday night: a “free speech” event—a cartoon contest and exhibition of depictions of the Prophet Mohammed—and the concomitant shooting of two gunmen who had been enticed to travel from Arizona to disrupt the event.
There is a trite saying that the guarantee of free speech does not entitle one to shout “fire!” in a crowded movie theatre. While this instance provides proof that “free speech” can indeed provoke an inappropriate reaction from some wackos out there, it really doesn’t do anything to promote the mutual respect and forbearance required of all people in a society for free speech to exist.
Consider first of all where this event took place. Dallas will always be remembered as the intemperate place where JFK was gunned down. Whether you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was “lone gunman” or “patsy,” it is hard to imagine any more fitting place than Dallas for the assassination to have happened. The Dallas “cartoon contest” attracted 200-300 participants, depending on who you ask.
Now consider whether cartoons of the Prophet are a worthy subject for marking a “free speech” line in the sand? Sure, people in a free society should be allowed to pen a cartoon of anybody, but who gives a damn? Does the world really need to be “illuminated” by your shallow scribbles? Why don’t you tackle some really substantive subject matter, like why the Judeo/Christian/Islamic religions inspire so much discord and hatred? Staging a Muhammad cartoon contest is like waving a red cloth at a bull. Invite Geert Wilders (the right-wing Dutch politician) as your keynote speaker, and it’s a BIG red cloth.
The contest was hosted by the New York-based “American Freedom Defense Initiative” (AFDI), which put up a $10,000 award for the best cartoon depicting Muhammad, plus $50,000 for security. Described by some as a hate group, AFDI has among other activities sponsored anti-Islamic advertising campaigns in transit systems across the country. Pamela Geller, AFDI president, defended the event on Monday: “In a pluralistic society you have offensive speech, you have ideas, you have an exchange of ideas. You don’t shut down a discussion because ‘I’m offended.'”
Yeah right. A discussion. More like a turkey shoot.
Luckily, no one but an unarmed security guard was hurt any worse than being shot in the ankle. The two shooters, who had placed themselves in harm’s way, were shot dead by the police who were all geared up and expecting trouble. I’m sorry anyone had to die, but in this instance, the gene pool was at least cleaned out a little. The shooters fell for the provocation. It was stupidity worthy of an episode on Trailer Park Boys.
One of the dead shooters is identified as Elton Simpson, an Arizona man who was previously the subject of a terror investigation. He’s from Phoenix and television stations there are reporting the second shooter was Simpson’s roommate, Nadir Soofi. The two men attended the Islamic Center of North Phoenix together. According to the blog Zero Hedge, the shooters had claimed they were aligned with ISIS, which is now claiming responsibility.
The $60,000 AFDI expense was the equivalent of offering a $30,000 per-head bounty on dumb asses. I didn’t know they were worth that much. But it just doesn’t seem right. Culling the mentally-deficient went out long ago with the Nazis.
Today we elect our idiots President.
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