After Islamic Terrorist Attacks on TX Art Show, NYT Arrogantly Parses 'Free Speech vs. Hate Speech'

May 7th, 2015 8:00 AM

There is a grievous double standard at the heart of the New York Times' coverage of stories at the intersection of free speech and terrorism. The paper has self-righteously refused to reprint "offensive" cartoons of Muhammad after they led to murder by radical Islamists, while being too cowardly to admit why: not out of any respect for people of faith, but for fear of reprisal.

The proof? The same paper has eagerly reprinted offensive anti-Christian art, such as the infamous "Piss Christ" and the dung-clotted "painting" of the Virgin Mary by Chris Ofili. For the Times to hide behind a claim of respect for religion is ludicrous, given the paper's eagerness to defend and reprint art offensive to Christians.

The latest exhibition of the double standard involved the terror attack at a "Draw Muhammad" exhibition in Texas Sunday night: The paper's pathetic response to the terrorist attack by two Muslim extremists, who tried and failed to shoot their way into the "Draw Muhammad" cartoon contest in Garland, Texas, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, a group led by Pamela Geller.

After various stories calling Geller's group "anti-Islam," Thursday's front-page profile by Manny Fernandez and Laurie Goodstein, "Shooting Clouds Life as Both Muslim and Texan," drew propagandistic lines between bigoted Geller supporters and peaceful Texas Muslims.

When Muslim leaders in the Dallas area learned in February that a provocative blogger had rented space to exhibit caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, they decided to ignore her.

They were well acquainted with Pamela Geller’s vitriol against Islam and figured that there was no point protesting and giving her free publicity.


Texas, and Dallas in particular, has been both welcoming to Muslims and accommodating of bigotry. Even as the numbers and economic clout of Muslims continue to grow -- an estimated 200,000 now live in the Dallas area -- they have faced a series of political and cultural challenges just in the past few months.

Alan Feuer, whose reporting is notoriously shallow, on Tuesday recycled old lines from a hostile profile of Geller that he co-wrote in 2010, using nearly identical language to again slam Geller's Atlas Shrugs website as one "that attacks Islam with a rhetoric venomous enough that PayPal at one point branded it a hate site."

In typical hypocritical Times fashion, Feuer, a journalist who makes his bread on the First Amendment, is more scathing about Geller's sponsorship of free expression than on her would-be murderers.

The cartoon competition, which she says was held in honor of Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical newspaper that was itself attacked this winter by Muslim extremists angered by its caricatures of Muhammad, was only the latest in a long list of inflammatory events in which she has sought to marry a defense of free speech with assaults on Islam as a violent and hateful religion. But this was the first time her group came under violent attack.


Born on Long Island, Ms. Geller, 57, is perhaps best known for her role in helping shut down Park51, a proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center that its founders planned to build in 2010 near the site of the World Trade Center attacks in Lower Manhattan.

With a typical blend of vitriol and media savvy, Ms. Geller assailed the project as “a stab in the eye of America,” saying that its construction, especially near ground zero, was an act “of Islamic domination and expansionism.”


Allied with men like Robert Spencer, the proprietor of and her partner at the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and Anders Gravers, a Danish “anti-Islamization” activist, Ms. Geller spends much of her time on the blog Atlas Shrugs, a website she uses to attack Islam with language so venomous that PayPal, the service she uses to collect donations, once branded it a hate site.

Completing the paper's hypocrisy was a Thursday morning editorial, "Free Speech vs. Hate Speech." Guess who thinks they get to decide which is which?

There is no question that images ridiculing religion, however offensive they may be to believers, qualify as protected free speech in the United States and most Western democracies. There is also no question that however offensive the images, they do not justify murder, and that it is incumbent on leaders of all religious faiths to make this clear to their followers.

But it is equally clear that the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Tex., was not really about free speech. It was an exercise in bigotry and hatred posing as a blow for freedom.

After trying to draw a line between the newspaper Charlie Hebdo and the cartoon contest in Texas, the paper blamed the target Geller, accusing her of bigotry and of inviting the attack.

Whether fighting against a planned mosque near ground zero, posting to her venomous blog Atlas Shrugs or organizing the event in Garland, Ms. Geller revels in assailing Islam in terms reminiscent of virulent racism or anti-Semitism. She achieved her provocative goal in Garland -- the event was attacked by two Muslims who were shot to death by a traffic officer before they killed anyone.

Geller's response to similar criticism: "...that’s like saying the pretty girl was responsible for her own rape."

Hot Air's Allahpundit knew what was going on.

The first step on the path to banning “hate speech” is distinguishing it from free speech. Free speech is vital to society; “hate speech” harms society....Once you make the conceptual break, you can get down to the important business of weighing whether the harm from hate speech is sufficiently great that it’s worth trying to carve it out of the body politic. The Times is on the path, whether they realize it or not.