Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

One hallmark of a free society is the legal right to make fun of our leaders. Several times per week I engage in ridicule as well as argument against the folks who think they know what they are doing when they attempt to rule us.

We should wear this freedom to ridicule like a badge.

Iranians, alas, can’t say the same.

Mahmoud Shokraye was tried and found guilty for insulting Nameye Amir, a member of parliament. Shokraye drew a mildly funny caricature of Amir, in a colorful post-Nastian style (the kind most major papers now fall back on), and for his trouble got 25 lashes.

Heroically, a number of cartoonists have upped the ante and created even less flattering caricatures, as you can see at the Cartoon Blog. (I sample some of them, here.) Amir got more than he bargained for. I hope it stings — more than 25 lashes’ worth.

There are several lessons to draw from this.

First, “taking offense” is not the basis of any legal action. Or any violent action. In the west, we’re centuries away from duels and other deadly fights of “honor.” The Islamic east is, alas, still embedded in old honor cultures. The faster they can shuffle off that obsession and move to a rule of law, instead, the better.

Second, as Thomas Jefferson put it, governments should fear the people, not the other way around. That’s part of what it means to live in a free society.

Politicians who don’t like it are free to seek a less public job. Really.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. 2WarAbnVet says:

    This can typically be expected from a culture/religion mired in seventh century barbarism.

  2. Drik says:

    Our own government is maneuvering around to figure out a way to make critical speech “hate speech” if, for instance, it happens to redflect something bad about a particular religion or sexual identity.
    Funny part is that the religion that gets the free-est reign when critical speech is limited, is likely the one that will do the most to prejorate non-heterosexual identity.

  3. Jay says:

    What country are you talking about, where can be critical of the government (or the “protected classes”) freely? not the US.

    Look at the gay community and their atatcking (then and now) those who contributed to the Cal. rferendum on same sex marriage.

    Look at the (to use Drik’s term) Presbro’s people (or people/groups that support him) to smear those who dare to give to Romney (and prior, I BELIEVE, NOT SURE) others during the GOP primary elections.

    The Wall Street Journal the other day had an Op-Ed on this, using a gentleman who lives in Idaho (and is wealthy) whose wife gave $500 or so for the group against same sex marriage; and he gave money to Romney’s campaign. Got sealed records and publicized them; etc.

    Seems the wife and husband’s crime – do not believe in same sex sexual marriage and ABO

  4. Ken Kelley says:

    Although I admire the optimism that the Muslim will shake off the philosophy of the old “honor culture” and move away from that obsession, it is not going to happen. And it’s because of the difference in the way they think. To contemplate that they will move away from that philosophy and into a rule of law, is the flaw in how Western cultures perceive Muslims. For them, religion and politics are irrevocably entertwined. They are not going to change.

  5. dd says:

    @Jay All your examples appear to be some groups/individuals vs other groups/individuals – nothing wrong with that.

  6. Jay says:


    In the case sited by the WSJ- (I beleive that there are more, have seen — in various places- others who contributed to Republicans (Mr. Adelman of Vegas when gave money to Mr. Gingrich’s campaign, etc)- are you so naive as to beleive that this is “groups/individuals vs. other groups/individuals (last part yes– and that the first part is not part of some political group/agenda.

    Especially now the atatcks on Mr. Romney’s supporters?

    And the “firms” doing it will ask for (as Obama’s peopel are–“transparency” but offering none.

    Politics si getting dirtier- and intimidation seems to be the new norm.

    (Also, consider the timing of the DOJ lawsuit vs Sherriff Joe in Arizona–and the DOJ ADMITTING it is NOT ABOUT MONEY; NOT ABOUT some other lies. It is about discrediting law enforcement peopel UPHOLDING FEDERAL LAWS.

  7. MoreFreedom says:

    Some folks, e.g. many social conservatives but some liberals as well, believe that seeing/hearing/reading some things, harms them. And this can be physical harm. After all, there is something called sympathetic vomiting and I’ve seen it: my brother threw up, my friend saw it and threw up too.

    This is the thinking behind many laws outlawing nudity, nudity or cursing on TV/radio, burning the flag, bible or Koran, and of course, so called hate speech. Who likes to see a compulsive gambler lose their savings leaving the family penniless? Isn’t awareness of the situation somewhat painful?

    One could take the position that the person who sees these things and claims harm, harmed themselves, and that if they’ve had more exposure of the offending stuff, they might have developed immunity to it. Thus, by limiting their exposure, they endangered themselves.

    As a Libertarian, I must point out that taking a position that government may have such laws, is taking a position that government can outlaw anything that offends anyone. In which case I demand a law prohibiting such laws because they offend me deeply (I’m only half kidding).

    I believe advocates of such laws are making a mistake. Taking the position that government can outlaw offensive behavior, means whoever controls government gets to decide what is offensive. Thus, social conservatives shoot themselves in the foot, when liberals then decide that nudity, sexual promiscuity, gambling, burning the flag, burning the bible and other actions are OK and should be legal, but not speech advocating against homosexuality or sexual promiscuity.

    I’d rather law allow offensive behavior (but not behavior that directly causes physical harm to you or your property) which I consider forms of speech, rather than allowing those in government the freedom to outlaw such speech.

    And for those who don’t want to be offended, then stay in your home and turn off your TV and radio. People are flawed and will offend others, often unintentionally.

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