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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Note on the Freedom of Expression

Posted by on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 2:19 PM


An Egyptian-American journalist was arrested in New York Tuesday for spray-painting over one of the controversial anti-Jihad subway posters produced by the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

The New York Post captured a video of award-winning journalist Mona Eltahawy defacing AFDI's ad with pink spray paint, while another woman attempts to stand in her way.

The other woman, who identifies herself as Pamela Hall, asks Eltahawy, "Mona, do you think you have the right to do this?" To which Mona answers, "I do actually. I think this is freedom of expression, just as this is freedom of expression.”

My father was always enthusiastic to share this insight with me when ever he had forgotten that he'd shared it with me many times before (Johnny Walker was usually to blame for this forgetting): "Do you know what the difference is between living under a communist dictator and living in a capitalist democracy? When a communist dictator is running the show, dissenters are locked in; in a capitalist democracy, they are locked out." This is what freedom often amounts to in the US. It explains why, for example, Al Jazeera has had great difficulty entering the American cable market—they, unlike Fox, are locked out. These radical American Freedom Defense people are, in fact, free do what radical Muslims could never do: buy advertising space and freely express their views to a wider audience. Sure, you can express positive views about Islam on your Facebook account, but not billboards or cable. You are locked out.

My father also had this to say about African corruption. "You know what the difference is between Asian corruption and African corruption? In Asia, when someone crookedly wins the contract, the road is made; in Africa, only the crooked deal happens. No road is made."


Comments (12) RSS

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Here's freedom of expression: Mona Eltahawy prints her own copies of the subway add, spray paints them, and then pays MTA to hang them.

What Mona did was try to block out some one else's message with vandalism.

Also, letting paint fumes loose in the subway is most offensive thing in this story. Mona should be banned from the MTA for a few years.
Posted by DNash on September 26, 2012 at 3:08 PM · Report this
Similar joke, once told by a tropical forester:

A Zimbabwe bureaucrat is visiting his counterpart in France. He's impressed by the opulence of the Frenchman's home and asks how he can afford such luxury. THe Frenchman smiles, points to a street and says, "you see that street?" He rubs his fingers together. "Thirty percent."

Some years later, the situation is reversed, and the Frenchman is quite surprised to see the huge mansion the Zimbabwe bureaucrat has. He asks how he can afford it, and the Zimbawean says, "You see that road down there?" Confused, the Frenchman points out there's no road to see. The Zimbabwean grins and says, "One hundred percent."
Posted by Orv on September 26, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
cue Yakov Smirnoff
Posted by Headlikeahole on September 26, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
There have been pro-Islam ads in the subway on NYC and many other cities including one which urged people to convert. CAIR and other organizations have bought ad space on TV, radio, and newspapers with a pro-Islam media. Similar confrontational bus ads and billboards which are pro-Palestinian have been up, sometimes in cities that refused to have similar ads which denounced Islamic terrorism. I see an ad in the Stranger almost every week in which Israel is accused of "war crimes" and "apartheid".
Posted by Andrew S. on September 26, 2012 at 4:48 PM · Report this
"Sure, you can express positive views about Islam on your Facebook account, but not billboards or cable. You are locked out."

Not true. (See above). People come to conclusions about things and ignore that they are wrong even when the proof is in front of their face. Furthmore, ever since 9-11 the NYT has run article after article which presents Muslims in a positive light. They do that for no other religion. Anytime they write about hate crimes Muslims committ they make it sound as though it were a cry for help by the oppressed. They sure don't do that for Christians and Jews.
Posted by Andrew S. on September 26, 2012 at 5:01 PM · Report this
quix 7
I know I should ignore Mudede's nonsense, but for fuck's sake. You make a living expressing your dissent in this capitalist democracy. If that's locked out, I'm George Orwell.
Posted by quix on September 26, 2012 at 6:17 PM · Report this
@5 Are you seriously going to try to make the case that the NYT has never covered the coptic community in Egypt?
Posted by Hanging in C.C on September 26, 2012 at 6:33 PM · Report this
Having never heard of the ads, Mona's action clearly does not block the ad in the least. Instead, she has multiplied their reach at the same time as reinforcing her brand. Think of a certain licked doorknob. Mona should definitely write for The Stranger, and I mean that in a complimentary and appreciative sense.
Posted by mwhybark on September 26, 2012 at 6:44 PM · Report this
dwightmoodyforgetsthings 10
Those ads aren't anti-jihad. They're anti-Palestinian.
Posted by dwightmoodyforgetsthings on September 26, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
Charles, your father was deep! Love that last paragraph. Unfortunately it seems true. Seems like corruption is to blame for some of the poverty in certain African countries. Hope that changes.
Posted by Patricia Kayden on September 27, 2012 at 3:20 AM · Report this
I guess the Muslims in America will go through the same amount of systematic structural insults like the Italian-Americans, Irish-Americans, blacka, jewish people etc and continue protesting until it gets through to the majority of the people and becomes, hopefully, so socially unacceptable that no one in their right minds would want to buy ad space to promote their message by insulting them. It's the same thing dan savage says he wants to happen to homophobic slur on tv, make it socially unaccpetable.
There is a difference between criticism and mindless slander. Israel is in fact knee deep in war crimes and have a system that can be called a form of apetheid. It's not an insult of the jewsih people, but of Israeli state policy and practice. There are so much real, actual challenges to be made of Islam and Islamic practices, why would anyone forclose conversation by handing first a verbal slap? I guess they don't really want that conversation.
Charles, does that have something to do with the fact that African countries are known for their compliance for IMF compliance (e.g good governance) and being miserable whereas the asian ones make up their own rules and do rather well?
Posted by fahima on September 27, 2012 at 7:07 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 13


Repetitive and derivative of your previous work. Also, you still have not gotten out of the "yelling racist non-sequitors" period of trolling. Furthermore, you are still not influencing normal posters from engaging you in pointless "debate."

You can do better, apply yourself.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on September 27, 2012 at 9:03 AM · Report this

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