The media is so, so angry at Pam Geller for putting them in a position where they have to side with her (sort of). They already despised her. Now that she’s made them unwilling allies in defending her right to mock Mohammed, they’ll never forgive her.
So they’re going to try to make her the instigator of the Garland attack rather than the two turds who actually tried to pull it off. Why else would she, the ostensible victim, need to apologize?
If the contest was intended as bait, it worked. Police say two men drove 1,000 miles from Phoenix, shot at a police car outside the event and were quickly killed by one of the hired guards. The shooting has been condemned by Muslim leaders, and Geller, too, has come under fire for staging an event many viewed as purposely provocative.
“Pamela Geller has every right to hold this event. And she should be able to do that — as ugly as others, including me, think it is — without facing any type of violence,” said Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has Geller on a list of extremists.
Still, “I think decent people would say: ‘Why would you need to do that?’ ” Beirich said…
In an interview with The Washington Post, Geller said she and her fellow organizers were “prepared for violence” this past weekend. In tweets immediately after the shooting, Geller appeared almost gleeful that she had been right.
To answer Beirich’s question, Geller “needed” to do it because, as Ross Douthat wrote after the Charlie Hebdo murders, “If a large enough group of someones is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more.” Eugene Volokh described that in a post yesterday as “speech as defiance.” In most other circumstances, the left has no trouble understanding that publicly testing a social taboo can desensitize those who enforce it, slackening the taboo over time. Charlie Hebdo may not like being lumped in with Geller but they have a message in common to Muslims who take offense: “Get used to it.” Accept that you live in a society that privileges the right to blaspheme over the right to punish blasphemers with death. Slackening this particular taboo would be good news for everyone, but in this case, for whatever reason, many liberals seem very annoyed indeed that the taboo keeps being tested. How come?
By the way, this makes two examples today of Geller being accused of possibly wanting an attack to happen at her Garland event. The other came from Noah Feldman, linked in my Josh Earnest post earlier. Reminds me of a point Ace made last week, quoting one of his commenters: Too often, for modern progressives, violence is speech and speech is violence. If they approve of your message, as they did in the Baltimore riots, you’re “speaking” even by smashing windows at the local CVS. If they don’t approve, as they don’t of Geller’s Mohammed cartoon contest, you’re complicit in violence even by expressing yourself peacefully. (The most sinister example of speech-as-violence lately is the “safe space” cancer metastasizing on college campuses.) WaPo and Feldman are basically accusing her of being a de facto ringleader in a murder plot, in which she was one of the prime targets, in order to advance her anti-Islam agenda. That’s the only way to deny her the sympathy normally due a victim of a violent attack. She was “baiting” a pair of savages. She wanted blood. She asked for it.
Ace wonders if this new rule, in which testing a taboo to soften it makes you complicit in the violent reprisal you receive, would also apply to drag queens dressing up as nuns to mock Christians. Of course not. Whether a taboo is worth enforcing turns, for the left, on the relative privilege of those on either side of it. Muslims are an officially designated victim class; Geller and her allies are part of the Judeo-Christian majority. It’s cruel to offend the disempowered. The taboo stands. (That’s what Garry Trudeau and the louses who dissented from PEN’s award for Charlie Hebdo are all about.) In Ace’s hypothetical, it’s the privileged Judeo-Christian majority that’s offended and the drag queens, an officially designated victim class, who are doing the offending. That taboo’s got to go. All political questions for progressives, at least recently, boil down to identifying the relative privilege of the various parties and siding against whoever’s closer to the top. Geller’s sin was in confounding that easy calculus by making this a stark test case for free speech, a value many lefties still seem kinda sorta obliged to defend. But maybe not for long: I linked to a poll from last October in the Josh Earnest post showing 51 percent of Democrats support criminalizing “hate speech.” McClatchy, an otherwise respectable news outlet, wondered in an article this morning whether there should be “limits” to provocative speech. The would-be prime minister of the UK told voters recently that he’d move to make “Islamophobia” an aggravated hate crime under British law if elected. The obvious solution for those who’d rather indulge Islamic blasphemy norms than be forced to take Pam Geller’s side in a debate is to make Mohammed cartoon contests illegal. We’re not there yet, but give the “safe space” logic time to work. What could be safer than an America where you go to prison for insulting “the prophet”?