Sunday, July 22, 2007

Free Dominion Subject of Human Rights Complaint

Anti-Muslim comments provoke complaint

Conservative website Free Dominion is under fire, as a human rights complaint has been lodged against it.

The complaint, reportedly filed by one Mary Lynn Gentes (identified as a University of Saskatchewan graduate and professor at Vanier College), seems to focus around a grisly pamphlet being distributed in and around Edmonton by one Bill Whatcott (who has been before a Human Rights Commission before, for an anti-gay pamphlet distributed in Saskatchewan).

The suspected offending threat features the pamphlet, which depicts a beheaded Indonesian girl (identified as a Christian), an Italian fresco of the prophet Muhammad in hell, and the Danish Muhammad cartoons that provoked such controversy two years ago.

"While not all Muslims are violent, Islamic theology is violent and many faithful interpreters of the Koran and Muhammad’s Hadith resort to violence to further the goals of Islam," Whatcott's pamphlet reads. "The decapitated Christian girl in our picture (left) is an all too common abomination in the Muslim world. Fanatics who commit this type of crime quote their Korans and Hadiths to justify their behavior."

"The violence and discrimination inherent in Islamic theology does an awful lot to explain the paradoxical outrage at a cartoon, but the utter silence and even approval of the beheading of a defenseless teenaged girl in Indonesia," the pamphlet adds. "When pressed by the media most western Muslims will denounce the killings of non-Muslims. However serious attempts at reigning in the violence is lacking throughout the Muslim world."

"The fruit of Islam and Sharia law is not beauty, peace or justice anywhere in the world where it is practiced," the pamphlet concludes. "Rather it is oppression, injustice, murder and lies. We condemn the Prophet Muhammad and call on his followers to repent of his teachings and seek the truth where it can be found."

And where can the truth be found?

"The truth in our view is found in Jesus Christ and the teachings of His church," it continues. "Jesus is not a mere prophet but rather the Son of God and when He came into the world to save sinners He was God incarnate."

The religious freedom in Canada that should allow any and all religions to proselytize aside, Whatcott's pamphlet is wrought with hypocrisy. For example, it may be true that some Muslim extremists kill "unbelievers". But historically, so have Christians. More recently, Christians have cited biblical verse to justify bombing abortion clinics.

Thus while the highest-profile cases of religious violence in the world today may focus around Muslims, Christianity has never been immune to the same pitfalls. To pretend that violence is a reason that Christianity is a necessary substitute for Islam is a logical fallacy.

Now, the question can be asked: who is Mary Lynn Gentes? Is she another politically correct busybody stirring up trouble by lodging a human rights complaint over anything and everything she finds personally objectionable? Or could she merely be a frustrated individual fed up with the hateful nonsense that qualifies as debate about Islam?

It's morely likely the latter. Unfortunately, all too many Islam-alarmists (or Islamophobes) specialize in flooding their debating opponents with all varieties of nonsense, while refusing to acknowledge any examples of peaceful conduct on behalf of Muslims (although, to his credit, Whatcott does). Instead of beating their opponents with better logic or better information, they tend to specialize in merely wasting their opponent's time and exhausting their patience.

What they practice is at worst a willfull pre-determined double-standard and at best an example of virtual reality ideology that only allows for a single answer--militant Islam--for any question potentially asked.

What is a more intriguing philosophical question is this: what are these individuals actually promoting--hatred of Islam, or fear of Islam? If you accept the popular notion that people hate what they fear (and fear what they don't understand), then the answer to this question is quite moot. By this way of thinking, promoting fear is promoting hatred.

One thing they certainly promote is a lack of understanding of Islam. Many of these individuals promote as the world's "top experts on Islam" are invariably non-Muslims: individuals like Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes, who often have never actually studied Islam in any formal academic environment.

Meanwhile, the opinions of actual Islamic scholars are dismissed as "deceptive" or as "propaganda".

Finally, and most erroneously, Islam is portrayed by these Islamophobes as a monolithic war-like religion, when nothing could in fact be further from the case. Even beyond the most prominent schizm in Islam: the Sunni and Shi'ites, there is a wide variety of Muslim religious belief, including various Sufi movements, as well as various reform movements within Islam.

Islamophobes may fear Islam, but one thing they aren't afraid of is being inflammatory. Denunciations of Muslim violence are often liberally mixed with advocacy of "crusades" against Islam, undermining the idea that Christians don't engage in or believe in religious warfare.

All this aside, important questions can also be asked of Free Dominion, mostly regarding whether or not they practiced due diligence in trying to control Bill Whatcott, and prevent hate speech from being disseminated on their website. Was Whatcott warned about his comments, or asked not to comment like that on their site?

Apparently not. But the question of whether or not Whatcott's pamphlet qualifies as legitimate hate speech remains valid. Hate speech laws in Canada remain nebulous, and no matter what the outcome of this complaint someone will feel as if they have been maligned.


  1. Anonymous3:01 PM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Anonymous8:03 PM

    Your criticism of Whatcott's article is fallacious, for one simple reason: you fail to distinguish between the logical outcome of Islam *versus* the logical outcome of Christianity.

    You are correct that Christian history has been marred by waves of unjustified violence. However, such violence is in fact *inconsistent* with Christianity, which calls for believers to love their fellow man, including love for those who show no interest in - or even hostility toward - Christianity. Therefore professing "Christians" who have themselves been persecutors were individuals acting *inconsistently* with their professed faith.

    What Mr. Whatcott argued, conversely, is that it is *consistent* with Islam to perpetuate violence and an atmosphere of oppression. History furnishes overwhelming support of Whatcott's argument.

    Your criticism is thus shallow and betrays a lack of understanding of both religions and their history.

    A.J. Derxsen

  3. Wrong. Entirely.

    As a matter of fact, there exists a comparable amount of scripture in both holy texts that can be construed to encourage violence.

    As such, violence could be argued to very much be consistent with Christianity, as much as anyone would ever argue that it has been consistent with Islam.

    Furthermore, how do we decide what is consistent with either religion? To we base it on what is in their scripture? Or in the way that its adherents (be it actual or alleged) behave?

    In either case, Christianity doesn't pass the violence test any more cleanly than Islam does, except in the minds of those who promote a double standard in terms of how we will judge them.

    I would say that the worst thing that can be said about Islam in terms of violence is that they're 600 years behind Chrisitanity. Considering that Islam was established 600 years after Christianity, I would argue that perhaps this is to be expected.


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