Bill O'Reilly, Jesus, and Mohammed

Bill O’Reilly might be interested in this question.  What constitutes pinheadedness – when it comes to invoking Jesus Christ’s name?  It might be when O’Reilly took to the airwaves the other night to share his theological insight.

O’Reilly, whose book Killing Christ seems to make him an expert on the son of God, informed his viewers that “Jesus would not have sponsored that event.”  O’Reilly was referring to the “Draw the Prophet” cartoon contest that Pamela Geller held in Garland, Texas.  The event was attacked by two ISIS-inspired Muslims, both of whom were killed by a police officer.

Bill, others have opinions about what Jesus would say and do in reaction to just about anything.  It’s been a parlor game for a couple of thousand years, so we’ll keep playing it here.

Though declining to sponsor the cartoon contest, Jesus might have spoken out for free speech rights, given that God gave humans free will.  Free speech can be awfully disagreeable.  But that remains the basic reason for speech protections. 

Jesus, being a higher-order thinker, might well have prioritized as wrong attempts to kill the 300-odd participants in the cartoon contest over whatever objectionable language they produced.  Just food for thought.

Now, Bill, you say that the free speech argument for the contest is “bogus.”  Let’s concede that the cartoons are offensive to Muslims.  The contest was inflammatory speech.  Yet if you bother to inspect Islam more closely, you’ll find that most anything said negatively about the Prophet can be construed as offensive. 

If one was to speak out, saying that Mohammed conquered with a sword; that he subjugated as much as converted people to the faith; that in the Prophet’s wake is a plentitude of blood and oppression, those words under Sharia are punishable. 

Let’s go to the Qur'an to read verse 33:57: 

Lo! those who malign Allah and His messenger, Allah hath cursed them in this world and the Hereafter, and hath prepared for them the doom of the disdained.

Then from the Hadith, Bukhari, verse 4:241.  To give the following quote context, Mohammed had retaken Mecca and was asserting his authority.  He killed those who mocked him.   

The Prophet said, "O Allah! Punish Abu Jahl, 'Utba bin Rabi'a, Shaiba bin Rabi'a, Al-Walid bin 'Utba, Umaiya bin Khalaf, and 'Uqba bin Al Mu'it (and he mentioned the seventh whose name I cannot recall). By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, I saw the dead bodies of those persons who were counted by Allah's Apostle in the Qalib (one of the wells) of Badr.

Islam, practiced to the letter, tolerates no criticism of the Prophet.  But what’s written about conquest, blood, and oppression happens to be historically true.  No supposition.  Yet, in the right precinct, the teller of the truth might find his head in the bottom of a basket. 

It raises the question: where’s the line drawn between provocative speech (the cartoon contest) and speech that provides analysis that holds to the facts but that Muslims find offensive, regardless?  Is the remedy to muzzle all speech for fear of offending?  What say you, Bill, since you are reported by Mediaite as commenting:

He implored people to separate emotion from the equation, because “emotional displays like insulting the Prophet Muhammad make it more difficult to rally law-abiding Muslims” in the fight against radical jihadists.   

If “emotional displays” are removed from critiques of the Prophet, then exercising free speech rights is okay?  Or by your reasoning are critiques just insults, making any speech off limits?

There’s a strategic aim to your argument.  You wish to “rally law-abiding Muslims in the fight against radical jihadists.”  I would think that the way to rally anyone to the fight against radical Muslim jihadists is to stand for principles and rights fundamental to Western civilization – more specifically, to the U.S.  (Bill, I had to add “Muslim” as a qualifier, because we aren’t fighting radical Christian jihadists or radical Jewish jihadists.  Let’s be honest about who the enemy is.)  But if in this fight against radical Muslim jihadists, we add all sorts of qualifiers to what constitutes free speech – what makes speech acceptable, in other words – we debase principle and mock what should be our birthright.

Those law-abiding Muslims whom we wish to enlist in our cause, shouldn’t they understand what our cause is about?  Shouldn’t it be crystal-clear to them what it is we’re defending?  Isn’t that more than a nice steak dinner, a Broadway show, and drinks afterward?  If we don’t know what the truth is (to borrow from Pontius Pilate), how will potential Muslim allies know what the truth is? 

Causes that muddle their own truths don’t go far.  Islam doesn’t muddle its tenets.  Our Muslim friends need to appreciate that free speech is often distasteful but protected.  That’s non-negotiable.  It’s at the core of what makes ours a free and civil society.  That’s a truth sensible Muslims should rally for.

But that doesn’t appear to be where you’re going in your argument, Bill.  You could have made the time-honored assertion about the cartoon contest – to wit: “The contest was needlessly provocative.  Pamela Geller’s tactics are detestable.  There are better ways to offer criticisms of Islam.  But speech, however offensive, is safeguarded.”  (Provided you allow for any criticism, given your recruitment commitment.)

There is throughout Western Europe and the U.S. a smothering political correctness at work regarding Islam.  An understood code of silence about what Islam is and how it serves as the vital center of radical jihadist movements.  The reasons for the silence are multifaceted.  It’s practiced in the mainstream media, in political quarters (in both parties), among the non-Muslim religious, and various other notables. 

The code of silence isn’t to be broken – and that doesn’t apply just to a provocateur like Geller.  Imagine if Geller held a symposium with the theme “The Right to Draw Cartoons of Mohammed.”  She had invited academics, journalists, and cartoonists to discuss why there is a right to do so.  The symposium was attacked, just as the contest forum was attacked.  One doubts there’d be much less vitriol hurled at Geller.  The code of silence is paramount.

But doesn’t silence admit to acquiescence?  If silence is a tactic to placate Muslims and to recruit other Muslims, what does our silence truly convey?  One doubts its respect.  More likely, it suggests timidity, uncertainty about what we hold fundamental to our lives and welfare.  It’s an empty gesture with dangerous implications. 

Let’s leave you with not supposition about Jesus’s words and actions, but fact.  From John (14:6):

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

What is the truth, Bill, and how do we get to it if we suppress speech?

Bill O’Reilly might be interested in this question.  What constitutes pinheadedness – when it comes to invoking Jesus Christ’s name?  It might be when O’Reilly took to the airwaves the other night to share his theological insight.

O’Reilly, whose book Killing Christ seems to make him an expert on the son of God, informed his viewers that “Jesus would not have sponsored that event.”  O’Reilly was referring to the “Draw the Prophet” cartoon contest that Pamela Geller held in Garland, Texas.  The event was attacked by two ISIS-inspired Muslims, both of whom were killed by a police officer.

Bill, others have opinions about what Jesus would say and do in reaction to just about anything.  It’s been a parlor game for a couple of thousand years, so we’ll keep playing it here.

Though declining to sponsor the cartoon contest, Jesus might have spoken out for free speech rights, given that God gave humans free will.  Free speech can be awfully disagreeable.  But that remains the basic reason for speech protections. 

Jesus, being a higher-order thinker, might well have prioritized as wrong attempts to kill the 300-odd participants in the cartoon contest over whatever objectionable language they produced.  Just food for thought.

Now, Bill, you say that the free speech argument for the contest is “bogus.”  Let’s concede that the cartoons are offensive to Muslims.  The contest was inflammatory speech.  Yet if you bother to inspect Islam more closely, you’ll find that most anything said negatively about the Prophet can be construed as offensive. 

If one was to speak out, saying that Mohammed conquered with a sword; that he subjugated as much as converted people to the faith; that in the Prophet’s wake is a plentitude of blood and oppression, those words under Sharia are punishable. 

Let’s go to the Qur'an to read verse 33:57: 

Lo! those who malign Allah and His messenger, Allah hath cursed them in this world and the Hereafter, and hath prepared for them the doom of the disdained.

Then from the Hadith, Bukhari, verse 4:241.  To give the following quote context, Mohammed had retaken Mecca and was asserting his authority.  He killed those who mocked him.   

The Prophet said, "O Allah! Punish Abu Jahl, 'Utba bin Rabi'a, Shaiba bin Rabi'a, Al-Walid bin 'Utba, Umaiya bin Khalaf, and 'Uqba bin Al Mu'it (and he mentioned the seventh whose name I cannot recall). By Allah in Whose Hands my life is, I saw the dead bodies of those persons who were counted by Allah's Apostle in the Qalib (one of the wells) of Badr.

Islam, practiced to the letter, tolerates no criticism of the Prophet.  But what’s written about conquest, blood, and oppression happens to be historically true.  No supposition.  Yet, in the right precinct, the teller of the truth might find his head in the bottom of a basket. 

It raises the question: where’s the line drawn between provocative speech (the cartoon contest) and speech that provides analysis that holds to the facts but that Muslims find offensive, regardless?  Is the remedy to muzzle all speech for fear of offending?  What say you, Bill, since you are reported by Mediaite as commenting:

He implored people to separate emotion from the equation, because “emotional displays like insulting the Prophet Muhammad make it more difficult to rally law-abiding Muslims” in the fight against radical jihadists.   

If “emotional displays” are removed from critiques of the Prophet, then exercising free speech rights is okay?  Or by your reasoning are critiques just insults, making any speech off limits?

There’s a strategic aim to your argument.  You wish to “rally law-abiding Muslims in the fight against radical jihadists.”  I would think that the way to rally anyone to the fight against radical Muslim jihadists is to stand for principles and rights fundamental to Western civilization – more specifically, to the U.S.  (Bill, I had to add “Muslim” as a qualifier, because we aren’t fighting radical Christian jihadists or radical Jewish jihadists.  Let’s be honest about who the enemy is.)  But if in this fight against radical Muslim jihadists, we add all sorts of qualifiers to what constitutes free speech – what makes speech acceptable, in other words – we debase principle and mock what should be our birthright.

Those law-abiding Muslims whom we wish to enlist in our cause, shouldn’t they understand what our cause is about?  Shouldn’t it be crystal-clear to them what it is we’re defending?  Isn’t that more than a nice steak dinner, a Broadway show, and drinks afterward?  If we don’t know what the truth is (to borrow from Pontius Pilate), how will potential Muslim allies know what the truth is? 

Causes that muddle their own truths don’t go far.  Islam doesn’t muddle its tenets.  Our Muslim friends need to appreciate that free speech is often distasteful but protected.  That’s non-negotiable.  It’s at the core of what makes ours a free and civil society.  That’s a truth sensible Muslims should rally for.

But that doesn’t appear to be where you’re going in your argument, Bill.  You could have made the time-honored assertion about the cartoon contest – to wit: “The contest was needlessly provocative.  Pamela Geller’s tactics are detestable.  There are better ways to offer criticisms of Islam.  But speech, however offensive, is safeguarded.”  (Provided you allow for any criticism, given your recruitment commitment.)

There is throughout Western Europe and the U.S. a smothering political correctness at work regarding Islam.  An understood code of silence about what Islam is and how it serves as the vital center of radical jihadist movements.  The reasons for the silence are multifaceted.  It’s practiced in the mainstream media, in political quarters (in both parties), among the non-Muslim religious, and various other notables. 

The code of silence isn’t to be broken – and that doesn’t apply just to a provocateur like Geller.  Imagine if Geller held a symposium with the theme “The Right to Draw Cartoons of Mohammed.”  She had invited academics, journalists, and cartoonists to discuss why there is a right to do so.  The symposium was attacked, just as the contest forum was attacked.  One doubts there’d be much less vitriol hurled at Geller.  The code of silence is paramount.

But doesn’t silence admit to acquiescence?  If silence is a tactic to placate Muslims and to recruit other Muslims, what does our silence truly convey?  One doubts its respect.  More likely, it suggests timidity, uncertainty about what we hold fundamental to our lives and welfare.  It’s an empty gesture with dangerous implications. 

Let’s leave you with not supposition about Jesus’s words and actions, but fact.  From John (14:6):

Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

What is the truth, Bill, and how do we get to it if we suppress speech?