A Reply to a Guy Named Bread

Ha! That’s some damn strong rhetoric there Bread. I shall not resort to the same, as my argument is stronger by virtue of its content alone.

Adultery and idol worship are both forms of apostasy in Christianity. “If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall purge the evil from Israel” (Deut. 22.22). “Whoever sacrifices to any god other than the Lord must be destroyed” (Exodus 22:20). Your claim that execution for apostasy is “unheard of” in Christianity is false.

Compare to this verse in the Quran (generally considered the source of the idea that apostates should be killed): “They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they). But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (from what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks.” (4:89)

In the Quran, the scriptural support for the execution of apostates is far less clear than in the above two examples from the Bible. “If they turn renegade, seize them and slay them”. But how should we interpret “renegade”?

Keep in mind that your argument thus far has been that there is something essential to Islam that sets it apart from other religions. It is by it’s very nature violent, sexually repressive, etc.

While it may be true that no other religion is presently debating executing apostates, the fact that Christianity (and Judaism) have scriptural support for this practice means that there must have been debates in the past. Hence it is not something unique to Islam. This is further support for my argument against generalization.

I contend that it is bigoted as well as inaccurate to generalize, over all Muslims, that “Islam is violent” or “Islam promotes the execution of apostates” or “Islam is sexually repressive”. Rather we should qualify our statements in order to avoid bigotry as well as be factually accurate. My example is “Some extremist sects of present day Islam are violent”.

Let me explain why the above generalizations are bigoted and inaccurate. When you say “Islam is violent” without qualification, you are saying “all Muslims are violent”. Saying so is inaccurate because all I have to do is find one non-violent Muslim and the statement is shown to be false (anyway the vast majority of Muslims do not support violence). It is an example of bigotry, because it implies a deep intolerance towards all Muslims regardless of their individual creed. In short, saying “Islam is violent” or “all Muslims are violent” is hate-speech.

In order to be completely clear here, let me provide some other examples of hate-speech for comparison: “All Christians murder abortionists”, “All Jews eat babies”, “All black people are criminals”, “All women are stupid”. These are bigoted statements equivalent to the statement “all Muslims are violent”.

On Fassett’s post I point out the inappropriateness of a statement like “There is something suspicious about every Muslim”. In your response you write: “If we have reason to be suspicious of Islam, then we have to accept that there is a non-zero chance that a particular Muslim will be of the problematic sort. That’s just a logical necessity. If you want to make reasonable statistical extrapolation into hate speech, you’re free to do so, but most people aren’t going to get on board with that definition.”

Does this apply to black people? There is definitely a non-zero percent chance that a particular Black person is of the “problematic sort”. Are you willing to defend the statement “We should be suspicious of every black person”?

The conclusion here is that we should be suspicious of everyone, regardless of color, race, or creed. This is a pessimistic point of view. But more importantly, it eliminates the difference between Muslims and every other group.

Additionally, you seem to be saying, and correct me if I’m wrong, that hate-speech, in order to be hate-speech, requires “reasonable statistical extrapolation”. In other words, if enough Muslims are “of the problematic sort” then the statement “there is something suspicious about every Muslim” is not hate-speech, but rather an observation, or just the hard truth. Is this math you really want to do? What percentage of “problematic” Muslims is sufficient to begin saying “there is something suspicious about every Muslim” without it being hate-speech?

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that we’re able to establish the total percentage of, for example, violent Muslims in the world. Let’s say that we’re also able to establish the total percentage of stupid women in the world. Let’s say those numbers are 11% and 14% respectively. Are we now justified to claim that the statement “Muslims are violent” is less an example of hate-speech then the statement “Women are stupid”?

I’m of the opinion that all of this is hogwash. The statement “there is something suspicious about every X” where X is a large, heterogeneous group of people, is always hate speech, and always factually incorrect. Similarly, all statements of the form “X are Y” where X is a large, heterogeneous group, constitute hate-speech, and are also factually incorrect.

So, Bread, in conclusion, it is my considered opinion that you need to do some immediate, deep soul searching.

Wallace Rocker