Below is deep thought on freedom of speech and the Mohmmed cartoons from Layla Shaikley, university student at Irvine, California:
Hate Speech is Irresponsible
by: Layla Shaikley I offer my humble words to our First Amendment, which grants us the right to freedom of speech.
I apologize, First Amendment, on behalf of the people who abuse you and use you as an excuse to generate hate and enmity.
The framers of the Constitution were men who sought liberty and justice for all, and wrote the Constitution for people who would hopefully realize that with rights come responsibilities.
Freedom of speech, more specifically, is a right that requires responsibility, as established in Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969.
Some people, however, want to take the right and not accept the responsibility by using the freedom of speech to generate hate toward an entire people, nation or religion.
For those who abuse their rights, I apologize to the First Amendment. Freedom of speech was abused when African-Americans were publicly harassed and verbally abused before the Civil Rights Movement.
The abuse of the freedom of speech also created and sustained hate toward Jews in the history of the United States, which is just as despicable.
Similarly, displaying cartoons attacking the core beliefs of an entire religion is nothing but tasteless disrespect for freedoms that some of us have come to take for granted.
And yes, I mean you, College Republicans.
Within the last few months, the Muslim world has been enraged by a Danish cartoon that depicted the prophet Muhammad with a bomb on his head in place of his turban.
The cartoonist reached an abject low by depicting the revered prophet of Islam as a terrorist.
The cartoonist did not mock the few terrorists who hide under the name of Islam.
Rather, the cartoonists mocked the prophet of Islam himself.
The message that is sent out by the cartoon is clear: Islam teaches terrorism.
The cartoon propagates hate toward all Muslims – over 1.2 billion people worldwide – and further propagates false and absurd stereotypes that Islam is a religion of terror.
Are there crazy, evil terrorists out there? Yes. Do some of them claim themselves Muslim? Yes. Does Islam teach terror? No.
But these criminals justify their crimes with their own small-minded misinterpretations of Islam that most Muslims completely abhor and reject.
This is an important distinction that must be understood.
There is no mistaking why Muslims were categorically offended by the cartoons. However, as for the violence that ensued in their aftermath, it has more to do with socioeconomic and political frustrations in each of the nations and less to do with anything 'Islam told them to do.'
So this Danish cartoonist is an ignorant hater.
Well, there are ignorant haters everywhere—the world is peppered with stupid people! A lot of us are in college now trying to open up our minds and expand our understanding of the world.
UC Irvine should not be a forum for hate, but rather one for understanding, discussion and debate.
I was appalled last Tuesday when the College Republicans, in association with the United American Committee, used their freedom of speech as a guise to generate hate against Muslims.
The event unveiled the cartoon, and showcased it next to hateful cartoons from the Middle East, as if two wrongs make a right!
After failed meetings with the College Republicans to cancel the event, over 1,000 UCI students and community members (tallied by a petition against hate that night) protested the event on Tuesday to boycott the abuse of freedom of speech and the propagation of Islamophobia.
The problem is not with us Muslims here on campus, but rather with the haters and those who do not want to confront the truth.
What would happen to you if your war on Islam (or the "evil religion" as one of the event speakers called it) finally ended and you couldn't hate all Muslims anymore?
What if you engaged in dialogue with the Muslims and found out that the fellow Muslims on campus are against Bin Laden and his cohorts (see Ann Coulter: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them")?
What if you learned that Islam forbids anti-Christian or anti-Jewish cartoons, like those you brandished before all as justification for your hate?
What if you opened a history book, or learned about the world beyond the O.C., and learned that some of the biggest terrorist acts in recent history have been committed by those calling themselves Christians, or members of other religions? 50 Cent had "21 Questions," and now Layla Shaikley has got a few, too.
Let us expose haters for what they are, no matter who they are, whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish, white or black. Racism and hate need to end.
And let those people of conscience who have learned from the lessons of history move beyond racism and toward understanding, reconciliation and a better, more peaceful tomorrow.
Layla Shaikley is a member of the Muslim Student Union. http://horus.vcsa.uci.edu