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Subject:Censorship of South Park ep.200/201

'“Censorship” is a term pertaining only to governmental action. No private action is censorship. No private individual or agency can silence a man or suppress a publication; only the government can do so. The freedom of speech of private individuals includes the right not to agree, not to listen and not to finance one’s own antagonists.' -- “Man’s Rights,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 98.

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'“Censorship” is a term pertaining only to governmental action. No private action is censorship. No private individual or agency can silence a man or suppress a publication; only the government can do so. The freedom of speech of private individuals includes the right not to agree, not to listen and not to finance one’s own antagonists.' -- “Man’s Rights,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 98.

Using one definition of censorship that pertains to people being forced to censor themselves.

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As opposed to censoring themselves willingly.

For example, "Go **** yourself". Chose not to say fuck. I willingly omitted something, on the basis that it would be offensive. Clearly the bleeps on South Park regularly are not the original product. THey are censored versions. Just because a government didn't force them to censor it, doesn't mean it isn't censorship.

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As opposed to censoring themselves willingly.

For example, "Go **** yourself". Chose not to say fuck. I willingly omitted something, on the basis that it would be offensive. Clearly the bleeps on South Park regularly are not the original product. THey are censored versions. Just because a government didn't force them to censor it, doesn't mean it isn't censorship.

censorship is such an important concept that we cannot afford loose definitions. by not swearing, you are simply showing restraint.

censorship is the use or threat of government force to make someone change a publication or to restrict some kind of action deemed objectionable by the law or state officials. self-censorship would refer to someone restricting their own speech, based on a fear of govt. force. however, the phrases were not bleeped for fear of govt censure, but for fear of Islamic terrorists. it is not censorship, it is intimidation or perhaps we need a different term.

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however, the phrases were not bleeped for fear of govt censure, but for fear of Islamic terrorists.

But why do they fear Islamic terrorists? Oh, because Islamic terrorists have made public threats on their lives, and the government has done nothing. Muslims have initiated force, and the government has not done its job.

Government-sanctioned initiation of private force - and all of its consequences - is no different from government initiation of force. If the government allows some people to make open threats on other people, those other people have to acknowledge that the government chooses to do nothing about it. Thus, any change in their behavior (e.g. self-censorship) is a direct result of the government-sanctioned initiation of private force.

Stated plainly, if self-censorship is the result of government-sanctioned initiation of private force - then it is government-sponsored censorship, a direct consequence of the improper action of the government in choosing to ignore the threats.

The immoral action on the part of the government was the choice to ignore the threat. The damage that is being done as a result of this action is the self-censorship of individuals, acting irrationally due to threat of force. The government sees this self-censorship, and still does not do anything about the original initiation of force, allowing the damage to continue.

Edited by brian0918
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There is no way in Hell you don't get his point. He's made a pretty obvious, simple point there.

Surely, there is no way in Hell that you are as ignorant and ill-mannered as you come across.

Voluntary censorship is a contradiction in terms.

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Surely, there is no way in Hell that you are as ignorant and ill-mannered as you come across.

Voluntary censorship is a contradiction in terms.

All you're doing is playing a language game - if anyone uses the term "censor", you refuse to acknowledge their argument, regardless of the obvious context in which they have placed that term in order to clarify the actual concept to which they are referring.

Words, after all, often refer to multiple concepts. It is the individual's duty to clarify which concepts his words refer to, by adding context to his statements. That has clearly been done in this thread, however you choose to ignore that added context.

Nobody here is referring to direct government bleeping of one's speech. Everyone here is obviously referring to self bleeping of one's speech due to direct government sanctioning of private initiation of force. It cannot get any clearer than that.

Edited by brian0918
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All you're doing is playing a language game - if anyone uses the term "censor", you refuse to acknowledge their argument, regardless of the obvious context in which they have placed that term in order to clarify the actual concept to which they are referring.

Words, after all, often refer to multiple concepts. It is the individual's duty to clarify which concepts his words refer to, by adding context to his statements. That has clearly been done in this thread, however you choose to ignore that added context.

Clarifications such as: "People being forced to censor themselves" as opposed to being censored?

I'll point again to Miss Rand's comments on Censorship in the Lexicon.

So "freedom" can be redefined to mean "slavery," but the important thing is for people to merely clarify which concept they are referring to when they say "freedom"?

Edited by Trebor
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One last time, and then that's it:

Nobody here is referring to direct government bleeping of one's speech. Everyone here is obviously referring to self bleeping of one's speech due to direct government sanctioning of private initiation of force.

One more time, that is not censorship!

Edit: I misread your statement. "self bleeping of one's speech due to direct government sanctioning of private initiation of force" is censorship by the government.

Edit: If the government is sanctioning private initiation of force, it is permitting it. Private initiation of force is criminal. If the government sanctions criminal acts, it has endorsed such acts. It permits them; it makes them possible.

Edit: This all reminds me of the claim made by the IRS and their apologists, that the income tax depends upon "voluntary compliance."

Edited by Trebor
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I see your point and you are correct that a limp-wristed govt. response has allowed this situation to develop, but it is certainly a stretch to suggest that the government failing to fulfil their duty amounts to censorship. Censorship is govt action, use of force, to restrict action or free speech. They are not directly seeking to censor South Park, that is an unintended consequence of their attempt to placate and appease Muslims. You are right that the result of their appeasement has been a self-imposed restriction on speech, but that is not their intent. Censorship is such an important concept, I don't want to devalue it by expanding the definition and over-using it in inappropriate contexts that do not constitute a conscious government attack on free speech. Though perhaps the use of the term is necessary, to raise awareness of the harmful side-effects and unintended by-products of the government's unwillingness to upset Muslims, even to the extent of refusing to apply the law. Perhaps "indirect censorship," "unwitting censorship" or "govt-sanctioned intimidation." Either way, I think this should be clearly distinguished from direct censorship, govt. seeking to control speech.

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It is important to clarify what exactly one means by "People being forced to censor themselves ". The main question is whether they are really being forced or not: i.e. whether there is a real threat of violence. Someone might not say something out of some notion of politeness, or unwillingness to offend someone else. That is not fear of force, and -- as you pointed out in your reply to Egoist -- such restraint is not really censorship.

Even a threat of "consequences" is not enough to qualify as force. If a boss indicate he will fire a worker if he mentions some subject, that is still not censorship as long as the boss has the right to fire the worker for any reason. When I delete a post by someone from the forum, I do not consider it censorship; and if someone does not post something with the fear that it will be deleted, I do not consider that self-censorship. These types of restraints are similar to censorship in that there is some type of refusal to allow certain type of speech accompanied by some type of threat, but it it not a threat of illegitimate force. I'm not sure if there is another word for this type of practice ... any ideas?

On the other hand, China might have a law that says any mention of the Tiananmen Square killings will send a the media-owner to jail. There is a real threat of force. Typically, such laws come vaguely worded. So, editors often practice self-censorship in the sense of staying away from what might be borderline cases. Used in this sense -- i.e. not publishing something from a legitimate fear of actual physical force -- the term "self-censorship" is valid and merely names a procedural variation on censorship. As a rule, only the government has the power to enforce such censorship, but there are exceptional cases when the government stands by as others use threats of violence.

So, if I understand what Trebor is saying, he would call the recent restraint shown by South park as censorship because it is the result of criminal force which the government is allowing to take place without restraint. On the other hand, if one uses "f***" in a context where nobody really cares if you say "fuck" he would not call that censorship. If I'm summarizing him correctly, I agree. In addition there is also the "middle area" where one faces consequences, but those consequences are within the rights of the actors. Perhaps one needs a different word to designate this different concept.

Edited by softwareNerd
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Whether one chooses not to draw Mohammad due to govt-sanctioned private threat of force, or one chooses not to build a hospital due to govt-initiated threat of force through regulation, both actions are a direct result of the initiation of force.

So this type of censorship, while not a direct initiation of force, is itself the result of the initiation of force. I might call this type of self-generated action government-induced censorship or maybe force-provoked censorship. But I am also fine with just calling it self-censorship.

Edited by brian0918
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To summarize, from the posts above, it would seem that there are three situations:

A. The example of not using "fuck" in a post

B. The South Park restraint

C. Government saying "do no publish XYZ"

Everyone agrees that "C" is censorship. So, let's forget about that for now. (Agreement is so boring!)

Example A. One poster terms this "self-censorship", but Trebor and some others (including me) disagree saying this is not censorship at all

Example B. Some term this "self-censorship", Trebor says this is just regular censorship, and ought not to be qualified with a word that can be mistaken to imply voluntary action

Edited by softwareNerd
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It is important to clarify what exactly one means by "People being forced to censor themselves ". The main question is whether they are really being forced or not: i.e. whether there is a real threat of violence....

I agree.

Even a threat of "consequences" is not enough to qualify as force....

I agree.

On the other hand, China might have a law that says any mention of the Tiananmen Square killings will send a the media-owner to jail....

I agree.

So, if I understand what Trebor is saying, he would call the recent restraint shown by South park as censorship because it is the result of criminal force which the government is allowing to take place without restraint. On the other hand, if one uses "f***" in a context where nobody really cares if you say "fuck" he would not call that censorship. If I'm summarizing him correctly, I agree. In addition there is also the "middle area" where one faces consequences, but those consequences are within the rights of the actors. Perhaps one needs a different word to designate this different concept.

My point is that Comedy Central's action, not running a particular episode of South Park, or running it with "bleeps," whether or not they decided to not run the South Park episode due to a viable threat of force, is not censorship. Agree or disagree with their decision, they've not resorted to censorship. They have no power to impose censorship.

As Miss Rand said, '“Censorship” is a term pertaining only to governmental action. No private action is censorship. No private individual or agency can silence a man or suppress a publication; only the government can do so. The freedom of speech of private individuals includes the right not to agree, not to listen and not to finance one’s own antagonists.' -- “Man’s Rights,” The Virtue of Selfishness, 98.

If there is censorship in relation to Comedy Central's action, it is not from Comedy Central. If the government is not protecting freedom of speech, if it is defaulting on it's responsibility to do so, then those "private" individuals who initiate force to silence others become, implicitly, agents of the government, sanctioned by the government. The government might as well pay them for their "service." That would be censorship by permission of the government. The essential point is, only governments can impose censorship.

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Whether one chooses not to draw Mohammad due to govt-sanctioned private threat of force, or one chooses not to build a hospital due to govt-initiated threat of force through regulation, both actions are a direct result of the initiation of force.

So this type of censorship, while not a direct initiation of force, is itself the result of the initiation of force. I might call this type of self-generated action government-induced censorship or maybe force-provoked censorship. But I am also fine with just calling it self-censorship.

"The basic evil in any theory of a "mixed economy" -- an economy of freedom mixed with controls -- is the evasion of the fact that a government holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force and that political power is the power of coercion. While a dictatorship rests on a blunt acknowledgement of this fact, on the motto that "might makes rights" -- a "mixed economy" rests on pretending that no such distinction exists, that might and right can be safely scrambled together if we all agree never to raise the issue."

"So long as people evade the difference between economic power and political power, between a private choice and a government order, between intellectual persuasion and physical force -- Mr. Minow has reason to assume that he can safely stretch their evasions all the way to the ultimate inversion: to the claim that a private action is coercion, but a government action is freedom." Ayn Rand, "Have Gun, Will Nudge," The Objectivist Newsletter, March 1962, 9

"Now let me define the difference between economic power and political power: economic power is exercised by means of a positive, by offering men a reward, an incentive, a payment, a value; political power is exercised by means of a negative, by the threat of punishment, injury, imprisonment, destruction. The businessman’s tool is values; the bureaucrat’s tool is fear." "America’s Persecuted Minority: Big Business," Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, 47.

Not to say that anyone here is evading the difference between political power and economic power, it is certainly possible to use the words "censor" or "censorship" for private action (Comedy Central's "bleeping" of the South Park show, for example), to use "censorship" as a symbol for both concepts, government censorship and private restrictions, but to do so runs counter to the requirements of cognitive clarity. The distinction between political (government) and economic (private) power is too important and too muddied in today's mixed economy to support the use of "censorship" or "censor" for private, voluntary action.

If you agree that government censorship is wrong, that it is a violation of the right of free speech, yet that private, voluntary restrictions or limits are a right, that they are not a violation of the right of free speech, then, if you use "censorship" for both concepts, private choice and government control, you will continually have to make the distinction between them an explicit qualification (context) with every use of "censorship" if you want to make certain that this critical distinction is always clear. Such critically distinct concepts require distinct words to symbolize them.

That's my argument against the use of words like "censorship" or "self-censorship" or "censor," etc., for private, voluntary restrictions or limitations.

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Not to say that anyone here is evading the difference between political power and economic power, it is certainly possible to use the words "censor" or "censorship" for private action (Comedy Central's "bleeping" of the South Park show, for example), to use "censorship" as a symbol for both concepts, government censorship and private restrictions, but to do so runs counter to the requirements of cognitive clarity. The distinction between political (government) and economic (private) power is too important and too muddied in today's mixed economy to support the use of "censorship" or "censor" for private, voluntary action.

Private television networks have censors. They are private entities, and I wouldn't think per confusion that the network censors were government officials. To censor means to remove or suppress by one who is authorized to do so. The question turns on whether such authority legitimately exists. In fact, private censorship is the only legitimate kind.

So I say, let's take back the word "censorship". What government does when it initiates force to suppress speech is not, properly speaking, censorship. It is force, plain and simple.

Edited by Seeker
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  • 4 weeks later...

It seems that the SouthPark stunt was intended to instigate a reaction on both sides of the issue.

More 'Draw Muhammad Day':

http://drawmoday.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2q0rcz

http://drawmoday.deviantart.com/gallery/

http://news.deviantart.com/article/118114/...et=100#comments

http://devilmaycryub.deviantart.com/journal/32334166/

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?ref=pr...Q.1558510634..1

Freedom of speech is hard to defend when it is used in such bad taste, but Freedom of speech is the only thing that keeps people from killing each other.

What can be said to encourage Muslims to understand that human life is more valuable than images?

What can Muslims who are against violence do to change the stereotypes against them?

Muslims are used to acting collectively to suppress opposition by targeting the organizations who host these drawings rather than attempting to communicate to the individuals involved.

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What can Muslims who are against violence do to change the stereotypes against them?

They must vocally advocate non-violence, but more than that, they must vocally reject the idea of Islamic law. Saying you reject violence while at the same time voting for Islamic law is a contradiction. Based on my limited understanding of Islam, this is borderline apostasy to most Muslims. Unfortunately, L-C's post above is not just a joke.

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  • 1 year later...

It is easy to say 'Stop being Muslim' But how is a Muslim to make such a transition. He would naturally resist the idea of Sacrificing the moral investment he has made over the course of his life. Muslims are human beings with the capacity to be rational. What concepts would he be willing to accept as a starting place? Human Rights maybe, the value of a human life. A greater emphasis on the passages where his holy books support the value of human life.

I posted this video in another thread about belief, but it is necessary to preface what I mean when I talk about God.

It is interesting to see Ayn Rand's take on God in interviews. She knew how meaningful the concept of God was to man, she appreciated it as a primitive form of morality.

When asked "You might even thank God for it[this country]?" She said "Yes, I may not literally mean a God, but I like what that expression means "Thank God" or "God bless you", it means the highest possible to me, and I would certainly thank God for this country."

(At the end of this video)

When I use God in the following dialogue I mean "The highest Possible to Me"

I joined an 'Everybody Draw Mohamad' group to take part in the discussion. Since then there have been several Muslims messaging me personally to express their disapproval in my participation. I take that as an opportunity to introduce some rationality into their thinking, while trying not to blind them with offensiveness. Here is one such conversation:

I shortened his name for privacy. Please note that I also found it more productive to use Babelfish to translate everything I say in these conversations into Arabic, and back into English over and over again until what I put in makes sense coming back out.

Between You and Muhammad Ib

Muhammad Ib February 4 at 12:34pm

Hey tym, this is a random message, how r u by the way, i just wanted to ask u......... u look like a really nice person... why would u want to hurt other peoples feelings.... i mean by joining "Everyday is Draw Mohammad/Muhammad Day!"........ as u know life is short... why live in anger or in making other people unhappy... ?

Tym February 4 at 11:57pm

I appreciate that you want to make peace, I never drew one of those images, but there are people who's lives are threatened for drawing them, and life is more important than an image.

Muhammad Ib February 6 at 2:58am

thats really good if u didn't draw, and u r right about life being more important than an image, but u should see the view of Muslims, they don't want to kill anyone or they dont like to hurt people, tell me one thing, this world has millions and trillions of things to draw, then why do they hurt the feelings of the Muslims, and it is not that they don't know, everyone knows that Muslims don't like people making drawings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and they should respect that as Muslims respect everyone, if Muslims believe in something that others dont, it doesn't mean that Muslims are wrong, others should research that why are Muslims so aggressive about listening or seeing bad about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was no normal human being, He was Allah's Prophet and we all should respect that. Muslims respect all the Prophets that came earlier than him as they were mentioned in the Quran as the Prophets of Allah. I would take strict action against someone who tries to degrade Prophet Jeus, Moses (PBUH) or any other Prophet. The thing is that Muslims respect Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) after Allah the most and then the others, even more than their parents, now u can have an idea of what a Muslim feels when he sees or hears something about Him (PBUH). U can take a small example from our daily lives. If someone uses foul language against your parents or someone u love, would u like that person, would u leave that person, u would not, that is confirmed. Hope u understand what i mean. We can discuss more if u want to. I want to clear peoples image of the Muslims and the entire Islam.

Tym February 9 at 2:45pm

There are reasonable people and unreasonable people. A controversy gives us the opportunity to communicate and come to understanding. It may seem like a negative thing they are doing but nothing they say can truly degrade anything that is good.

"I would take strict action against someone who tries to degrade..."

For those who draw the images the issue is about 'Control' ...about being forced.

I understand that most Muslims don't want to hurt any one, and I have tried to get the more angry people who draw these images to understand how they are being excessive and stereotyping all Muslims when only a small minority of Muslims have threatened people's lives over these images.

"if Muslims believe in something that others dont, it doesn't mean that Muslims are wrong, "

In the western way of thinking a man's mind can not be forced, if we come to God or Allah it has to be of our own free will. It is better to focus on the good aspects of your beliefs in order to inspire someone to agree with you, rather than threaten him if he does not.

How can Muslims have their beliefs protected, while at the same time forcibly disregarding the beliefs of others?

The people who draw these images would never force you to draw one.

Muhammad Ib February 10 at 11:47am

u r rite tym every person has his own free will, and every person will not be deprived of his free will until he or she dies. After dying that individual will be judged, if u believe this or not, it is the true thing u will believe when u will not exist in this world, so it is better not to do the wrong things before finishing the time of forgiveness. and threatening for some Muslims is what they actually mean to do, and for some it is a way of showing people that dont try to do this or we will do something, u know the world is a cruel place, people dont think until they are shaken, because allot of Muslims have taught people about the importance of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to us, still if they want to be cruel they can be, don't be offended, i'm just trying to say this that its not only the Muslims that should respect Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), i know u don't believe in Him, because you never tried to read about Him (PBUH), or get to know for what cause He (PBUH) came here, and He (PBUH) was not only for the ARABS He (PBUH) came for the whole world as the last Messenger of Allah.

Try reading the biography or some information about Him (PBUH), you'll know what beauty u r missing in this world. At least once try to read the teachings of QURAN and HADEETH.

Tym February 10 at 4:04pm

I have read some teachings of QURAN and HADEETH, and I find them interesting. I had a great love of God before reading them, and my love continues to grow with the writings of many different holy teachings.

There are 7 billion people on the planet, many know nothing of Islam. Most people are good, kind, and productive. God speaks in many ways to all of them.

"Evil forces have no creative power" is an important idea to contemplate. Creative power is the opposite of killing. There seems to be no demonstration of creative power through offensive behavior. In this controversy over drawings two evils struggle against each other blinding the good they both want. It takes less mental effort to kill than it does to inspire your adversary to think.

Being offended is a complex issue in Western culture.

Friends tease each other to share laughter. They know it is really ridiculous, it improves their friendship. Their friendship is more powerful than words. Because even the harshest criticism has your best interest at heart.

It seems like a contradiction to suggest that perhaps God is in the heart of those who draw these drawings. It is their way of speaking out against killing. Offending you does not seem like a productive way to communicate. It is offensive that their lives are threatened. Their life is a part of God's creation.

As long as a man lives he has the chance to grow, it is not correct to end his life too soon. It is right to stop a man from damaging you physically. It is better to avoid, and ignore them if they try to offend you. Why would God create a man, give him the ability to think and question, and then send other men to torture him for questioning?

Muhammad Ib February 11 at 2:30am

yeah true, i'm 90 percent with your thinking. and the last thing u said is very true and beautiful that "Why would God create a man, give him the ability to think and question, and then send other men to torture him for questioning?"..... if everyone was good their would be no use of making this world, then all should be in heaven... true..... well it was good to talk to u.... thanks for talking.... giving your time to talk to me...... may Allah give us guidance.... Allah Hafiz (Bye).

it will be good to talk to u in the future....

Tym February 11 at 10:17am

Thank you for talking with me as well. May God inspire us.

Muhammad Ib February 11 at 10:28pm Report

(:

- - -

*A note about me saying “May God inspire us” it was a response to the Muslim custom of saying “Allah Hafiz” which translates to 'God protect you'. I believe the Muslims are more in need of inspiration than protection.

Edited by Tenderlysharp
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