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Pure Heart

For-Nothing Bluffing – Part I

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Da me again-o, my people.Da me Paul. My mou’hna scared. Da me say so. Behn nee-dohdyee?Glee-glee Gba-gba glee.

I have said or written over and over again that certain things about you the creatures called human beings or your activities or behavior just look stupid or funny to me. Anyway, you human beings are stupid and funny creatures. Da me say so.

One of the things that show the stupidity of you human beings is your tendency to bluff. You human beings, both men and women, like bluffing business – for-nothing bluffing. I call it for-nothing bluffing because I don’t see the reason why you should bluff like that. You human beings just think that you are some very fine creatures. You are not fine. If you took your own time to think about how you look, you would be ashamed to even think about bluffing with your body, your hair, or your butt.  You would not think about bluffing with your eyes, your lips or some other stupid part of your body.

Let me repeat. You na fine. Just look at yourself. You think you fine? You lie to yourself. You na fine. Look at yourself in the mirror. Your nose is on your face. And there are two holes in your nose. Da how a fine creature looks? Just look in the mirror and look at your nose very carefully for a long time. You will see two open holes in your nose on your face. You think you fine? You fine with that two open holes showing and passing through your nose like dat? You na fine. Don’t think you’re fine. Have you ever thought about closing those two holes? Do you also know that all kinds of stupid things can pass through your nose? You know finess?

Mehn move from here mehn. You get two open holes in your nose on your face and you are passing all around here bluffing like that? You think you fine, with those two open holes right on your face? You human beings really get dry face-o. Stop your stupid bluffing. Remember you have two open holes in your nose on your face. If you want to bluffing, close those two open holes. You think you fine?

When I see a man approaching a woman, saying the woman has a beautiful face, or when I see a girl bluffing in the street, one of the questions that come to mind is: “Doesn’t the girl have two open holes in her nose on her face?”

Why should a girl bluff in the street, in the church, in the community, at the work place or at school, when she knows that there are two open holes in her nose right on her face? The nose is not hidden. The two holes are not hidden. You bluffing with two open holes in your nose just like that? This is stupid.

Then there are the two stupid things called “ears” standing on each side of your head like mushrooms. Yes, you have ears side your head, and you are passing around, saying that you are fine. You think you fine? Just look in the mirror and look at your two ears for a long time, say, five minutes. You could soon realize that you should not be bluffing around here. You have ears side your head. Monkeys and baboons have ears side their heads and you are bluffing around here? You think you fine?

Look, don’t bluff around here. You have your two ears side your head. Besides, you have two open holes in your nose right on your face. You na fine seh. Stop bluffing like that with your ears and open holes. Da me say so.

To be continued…
Seriously, my people, aren’t these points to ponder?


Freedom, Blasphemy, and Violence
By Aryeh Neier

PARIS – Violent attacks on US diplomatic outposts across North Africa and the Middle East have once again raised the question of how to respond when Americans and other Westerners engage in provocative expression that others consider blasphemous. Though the attack on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff were murdered, may well have been planned, as the State Department has maintained, the killers clearly exploited the opportunity created by outrage at an anti-Muslim film produced in the US.

There have been several episodes in recent years in which perceptions of blasphemy have led to threats of violence or actual killings, starting with the publication of Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses more than two decades ago, and including the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. In the Netherlands, Theo Van Gogh was murdered on an Amsterdam sidewalk in retaliation for his film Submission, which criticized Islam’s treatment of women.

Even some who defended freedom of expression in those cases may be disinclined to do so now. This time, the film that triggered riots in Cairo, Benghazi, Sana, and elsewhere is so crude and inflammatory as to seem clearly intended to elicit the outrage that it produced.

Yet judgments about literary or artistic merit should not be the basis for decisions about freedom of expression. The proclivity of some elsewhere to react violently to what they consider blasphemous cannot be the criterion for imposing limits on free expression in the US, the United Kingdom, Denmark, or the Netherlands (or anywhere else).

It is important to differentiate blasphemy from hate speech. What is objectionable about hate speech, and makes it punishable by law in countries around the world, is that it is intended to incite discrimination or violence against members of a particular national, racial, ethnic, or religious group.

Even in the US, where freedom of expression is zealously protected, such incitement may be prosecuted and punished in circumstances in which violence or other unlawful behavior is imminent. By contrast, in cases of blasphemy, it is not the speaker (or the filmmaker) who is directly inciting discrimination or violence. Rather, it is those who are enraged by the expressed views who may threaten or actually engage in violence, either against the speaker, or against those, like US government officials, whom they believe have facilitated (or failed to suppress) the blasphemer’s activities.

It is, of course, impossible to be certain what will arouse such anger. At times, as seems to be the case with the video that triggered the current protests in cities across North Africa and the Middle East, a long period may elapse between the offensive material’s dissemination and an outpouring of popular rage. The rage, it seems, is not spontaneous; rather, it is an artifact of local or regional politics. This does not diminish the irresponsibility of those who gratuitously engage in such offensive behavior, but it does make clear that outrage against their actions should not be a basis for abandoning our commitment to freedom of expression.

What, then, is to be done? The only appropriate response is the one chosen by the US Embassy in Cairo, which denounced the film and said that the American government condemns those who offend others’ religious beliefs. And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reinforced the condemnation when she called the film “disgusting and reprehensible.”

Plainly, that was not enough to deter those who sought an occasion to attack the US Consulate in Benghazi. If they had not grasped this opportunity, they would have sought another. Simply condemning a film will not mean much to those who believe that, as may be true in their own countries, a powerful government like that of the US can simply decide whether a film should be made or broadcast.

Though the statement from the US Embassy in Cairo has become the target of political criticism, it warrants praise for exemplifying American values. Contrary to the criticism, condemnation of the film is not censorship. While rejecting censorship, the US government should not renounce its authority to speak sensibly and condemn an appalling and apparently intentional provocation that produced such tragic consequences.

Aryeh Neier is President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2012.


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