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May 13, 2006

What, Me Censor?

An always-perceptive reader (involved professionally with the visual arts) emails:

Such a topic, censorship. The Church militant lies down like multicultural pussycat toward Islam but stomps its boots over a dumb read like The DaVinci Code.

No, censorship is not atrocity. But it provides cover for atrocity. If giving offense is criminalized [as thoughts have already been criminalized through hate-crime legislation] then Islam and its theological impetus toward violence is protected from examination and public rejection.

As previously stated, I do not support calls for Christians' pursuing "legal means" if read as "means that manipulate the law" (as opposed to "means that are legal"). That said, there's an undertone to free-speech arguments against Christian outrage as if to suggest that we can't let Muslims get away with their pressure because it will unleash the Christians. No doubt, this undertone is generally unintended (although there are surely secularists who fear losing ground in their campaign to push religion from the public square altogether).

The practical effects, therefore, of eminently safe outcries (including quasi-fictionalized revelations about Catholic conspiracies) against supposed Christian overtures toward theocracy, combined with a failure to treat Islam in like manner, combined with continued thrusts against Christians in Western government and society (e.g., adoption in Massachusetts) is the scuttling of internal compromise out of an inability to absorb an encroaching threat. I'd suggest that further strengthening our mechanisms for pluralism — which would mean increasing Christians' say in their own government and their own societies, largely via federalist principles — would be more apt to disperse the rising Islamist tide than further narrowing the public sphere would be.

For one thing, our system is ingenious in its ability to divert hostility into politics. For another — again — the Christians among us will understandably be less inclined to defend a society that deliberately insults and excludes them.

(N.B. — Certainly, Glenn Reynolds, to name one, is not included among those who have failed to treat Islam in like manner.)

Posted by Justin Katz at May 13, 2006 9:16 AM