2. Agreed, but see below.
3. I make the demarcation between criticism and ridicule but refrain from telling people to not ridicule. Ridicule is part of free speech, but I say that it is not beneficial to honest and rational debate, it's anathema.
However in dealing with people who are religious fundamentalists I understand you can only go so far.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into. But you have to reason that this is the case. And once the case is made, don't deal with them at all. If they make threats, fine, they'll find their consequences eventually.
I remember reading an account by a journalist in Iraq who remembered his own experiences in Manchester bar. He was talking to gangsters about this one Hungarian loudmouth who kept challenging people to a fight. He asked why doesn't the Noonan brothers do something about him, and Dominic Noonan replied, "Wossa point?"
You can always ignore a fundamentalist, a racist or a bigot, and when they become dangerous, that's when they need an eye kept on them. If they are fundamentally irrational they will only stop after a short fall and a quick stop.
Delivis saidLet me try to make three points that I touched on in the other thread.
1. What i find disturbing in many of these kinds of cases (by which i mean the cartoon controversy, Salaman Rushdie, and so on) is that on one hand there is someone who is merely saying or writing something, on the other hand someone threatening or doing violence and murder and there are always legions of people who jump down the throat of the person merely saying or writing something for bringing the violence and murder on.
It seems to me to be almost irrelevant whether the person was genuinely tryign to critizise or to ridicule, whether they were saying something deliberately to offend or not, whether it was intelligent or stupid, true or false. When intimidation, violence, and murder are being used against speech the reaction from us liberal democrats should be to say "oh no you don't!" rather than sympathise with the offense taken by those holding the signs saying "behead those who protray Islam as a religion of violence".
2. Try to think of some beliefs you genuinely find ridiculous or perhaps evil, perhaps scientology for the former, perhaps the subjugation of women for the latter. Maybe these are not good examples for you, maybe you do not find scientology all that ridiculous; well put in whatever ideas you do find to be ridiculous. I am willing to bet that everyone, even those who take the "critisize, don't ridicule!" line, do have beliefs which they would and do ridicule.
What would change exactly if the scientologys started lashing out with physical violence? Should you stop all critisicm or ridicule for anyone who threatens violence in response? Even if we simply dial down our criticism in response it would mean we are giving in bullying and intimidation.
3. You make the distinction between criticism and ridicule. You must understand that there are people who do not, people for whom saying anything, regardless how diplomatic, that suggests that their beliefs are false, is gravely offensive. The sort of fundamentalist muslin who really believes what his mullahs tell him and thinks fatwas on writers are the will of god is not going to tell you that he will stop if only people told him in the nicest possible ways that his religion is wrong, rather than doing it in a ridiculding way. There are millions of people for whom it is impossible to say anything bad about their religion without them thinking that violence to silence the infidel is justified. Do you stay silent when you feel the need to critisize the beliefs of such people because there is no way to do it without backlash? I hope not.