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Barack Obama v. Simon Corbell

By 26 September 2012 26

Last month Labor’s Simon Corbell decided to legislate against religious villification.

Last night the US President Barack Obama spoke to the UN General Assembly about why Simon Corbell is wrong:

Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense. Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs. As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day — (laughter) — and I will always defend their right to do so. (Applause.)

Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views, even views that we profoundly disagree with. We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.

We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

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26 Responses to Barack Obama v. Simon Corbell
#1
Diggety9:33 am, 26 Sep 12

+1 to Obama.

#2
Truthiness9:53 am, 26 Sep 12

I learned a long time ago to ignore everything Obama says, and to instead focus on his actions. How many gag orders has his administration sent out to Google and the media? How many ACTAs and SOPAs has he supported? What about Bradley Manning? Is that freedom of speech?

Obama talks good game, but half his cabinet is Goldman Sachs and the other half is Monsanto. Defending freedom of speech is great, pretending America has freedom of speech is contrary to the evidence.

#3
johnboy10:06 am, 26 Sep 12

Truthiness said :

I learned a long time ago to ignore everything Obama says, and to instead focus on his actions. How many gag orders has his administration sent out to Google and the media? How many ACTAs and SOPAs has he supported? What about Bradley Manning? Is that freedom of speech?

Obama talks good game, but half his cabinet is Goldman Sachs and the other half is Monsanto. Defending freedom of speech is great, pretending America has freedom of speech is contrary to the evidence.

None of which is relevant to the situation in the ACT which is what we’re talking about.

When the US President and his speech writers devote their attention to explaining clearly why a local pol is wrong it would be foolish not to avail ourselves of their words.

#4
MERC60010:23 am, 26 Sep 12

Well said Prez , now I wonder what his opinion would be on Simons banning of plastic bags, and light rail

#5
Truthiness10:26 am, 26 Sep 12

Oh I agree with his point, I just think he is being a massive hypocrite.

I have been speaking to some Muslim friends about the global riots over that movie, since the media had been painting them as against free speech. They agreed freedom of speech was important, but they also pointed out how many sites, videos and articles the American government has silenced everyday. If Obama or the media moguls had wanted the anti Muslim video gone it’d would have disappeared silently like countless others. So claiming there is freedom of speech in the west is clearly counter to the evidence.

It seems the yanks have no problem defending things that offend other people, but as soon as you offend them, you’re silenced.

I don’t agree with Simon’s stance, but hearing the counter argument from such a censorship junky as Obama rather undermines the message.

Its scary that Obama has to resort to dissing foreign small scale politicians to make himself look good.

#6
johnboy10:30 am, 26 Sep 12

he probably didn’t have Simon directly in mind, it’s just the shoe fits.

#7
Truthiness10:37 am, 26 Sep 12

The choice of words and venue seem like an attempt to quell the global tensions over that movie.

I’d be surprised if he’s ever even heard of Mr Corbell.

#8
johnboy10:43 am, 26 Sep 12

Truthiness said :

I’d be surprised if he’s ever even heard of Mr Corbell.

That was my point.

#9
Chop7110:51 am, 26 Sep 12

So Simon, will you reply?

#10
pirate_taco11:03 am, 26 Sep 12

Pirate Party Australia is committed to free speech, and I am very concerned that Corbell’s legislation will have unintended consequences.
If it were limited to religious vilification that incites violence, I think it could be tolerated.

Glen Takkenberg
Pirate Party ACT

#11
Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd11:07 am, 26 Sep 12

Obama is the man. Wish he was running this place.

#12
steele_blade11:24 am, 26 Sep 12

Heard O on the news this morning, followed by the story of ADF members posting hate speech on Facebook. I can’t decide where the line should be drawn. Is O saying that the citizens should be able to post such bile? I’m looking for some universal truth here, not some technicality that the ADF should be treated differently to civilians.

#13
Holden Caulfield11:31 am, 26 Sep 12

MERC600 said :

Well said Prez , now I wonder what his opinion would be on Simons banning of plastic bags, and light rail

:lol:

#14
Truthiness12:41 pm, 26 Sep 12

Everyone should be able to post bile, its up to us to put on our big kid pants and not be so mortally offended by words.

#15
steele_blade1:11 pm, 26 Sep 12

Truthiness said :

Everyone should be able to post bile, its up to us to put on our big kid pants and not be so mortally offended by words.

Even if those words whip a mob into a frenzy? And we finish with riots like Cronulla or the CBD? (I’m not arguing against you, I’m still just looking for the line in the sand, if there is one.)

On a related point, what about shouting obscenities at a person? Shouldn’t that be free speech too?

#16
Truthiness1:47 pm, 26 Sep 12

I’d blame the mob for getting frenzied. I could sit on here all day calling for a riot, but if no one actually takes me too seriously, we’ll never have a riot.

Now if we did have a riot, is it my fault for talking? Or their fault, not for listening, but for escalating the situation to actual physical actions?

As for verbal abuse, I don’t condone it as a valid form of debate, but I also don’t think harsh words are actually the problem, again its the way people take them.

If someone calls me a “stupid fat pig” I wouldn’t even flinch, because it is just words. But if they said the same thing to someone who was sensitive to those terms(like my ex) they might actually get upset. What is the difference? Its the way we choose to react.

#17
c_c2:16 pm, 26 Sep 12

I’ll say +1 for Obama, though can’t ignore the slightly idealised version of history the speech puts forward:

“Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views,” …except where in the past we’ve supported leaders being deposed or regimes being opposed who said things we didn’t like, and propped up folks like the Shah and Suharto.

#18
Truthiness2:47 pm, 26 Sep 12

In the past? Just look at the present, how many leaders today only exist because America put them there? How many people have been “disappeared” because their views contradicted Obama’s? How many political prisoners does America hold? Just last month Obama brought in a law which makes it illegal to protest anywhere the secret service is, which is everywhere Obama is.

What kind of person makes it illegal to protest near himself, and then has the gall to say he fights for freedom of speech?

#19
bundah2:48 pm, 26 Sep 12

You paying attention i hope, Soviet?

#20
Masquara2:57 pm, 26 Sep 12

johnboy said :

Truthiness said :

I’d be surprised if he’s ever even heard of Mr Corbell.

That was my point.

+1 for “out of certain persons’ league!”

#21
steele_blade2:59 pm, 26 Sep 12

Truthiness said :

I’d blame the mob for getting frenzied. I could sit on here all day calling for a riot, but if no one actually takes me too seriously, we’ll never have a riot.

Now if we did have a riot, is it my fault for talking?

Laying blame and finding fault doesn’t bring back the dead or heal the injured. And we already ask the judiciary to decide how a fair and reasonable person would behave or if they would be offended by actions and words. I’ve just been reading about Brandenburg v Ohio where the US Supreme Court, even the 1st Amendment absolutists, placed a limit on free speech where it was likely to incite imminent lawless action. So there is a line, but I suspect BO has a far greater understanding of where it should be than SC does. I also think it is more suitable for a federal discussion, and not for Canberra City Council to decide. Still, it’s a really interesting subject, a real can of worms.

#22
Masquara3:01 pm, 26 Sep 12

steele_blade said :

Truthiness said :

Everyone should be able to post bile, its up to us to put on our big kid pants and not be so mortally offended by words.

Even if those words whip a mob into a frenzy? And we finish with riots like Cronulla or the CBD? (I’m not arguing against you, I’m still just looking for the line in the sand, if there is one.)

On a related point, what about shouting obscenities at a person? Shouldn’t that be free speech too?

Yep. Mob frenzy is something that a free-speech society might well have to deal with – so as not to submit to, say, “behead those who contradict the prophet” advocates. I fervently hope that freedom of speech prevails and that – however odious – Pocock’s comments are not censored.
Shouting obscenties at a person is an assault and can be dealt with without free speech legislation.

On a related note – as Canberrans, aren’t we concerned about the public service requiring those of us who are public servants to curtail our opinions, even as private citizens?

#23
Truthiness3:17 pm, 26 Sep 12

Masquara said :

as Canberrans, aren’t we concerned about the public
service requiring those of us who are public servants to curtail our opinions, even as private citizens?

Are we allowed to talk about it?

#24
astrojax3:40 pm, 26 Sep 12

julian assange.

just sayin’…

#25
colourful sydney rac3:51 pm, 26 Sep 12

Truthiness said :

How many people have been “disappeared” because their views contradicted Obama’s?

name one.

#26
Darkfalz1:54 am, 27 Sep 12

We don’t have free speech. Racial vilification laws is not free speech. Laws against questioning any aspect of the holocaust (as exist in some parts of Europe) are not free speech. Now, I don’t agree with intentionally provoking people or trying to cause offence but it shouldn’t be against the law, and certainly not in an appropriate forum amongst like minded individuals. The problem is we let certain mostly distasteful opinions become unlawful and now it’s looking quite hypocritical not to extend it to religion (or gender). As for Obama, this guy wants to put people like Assange into Guantanamo and is constantly cracking down on leaks in his own government. He’s put people to death via predator drone for having committed no crime other than speaking out against the US (like al-Awlaki). So again, he’s got qualifiers on what “freedom of speech” is and where it should apply.

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