Two men were shot dead after opening fire outside an exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in Garland, Texas on Sunday.
The two men fired towards the Curtis Culwell Center and hit security guard Bruce Joiner, who was shot in the lower leg and suffered non-life threatening injuries, according to WFAA. NBC 5 in Dallas-Fort Worth reports that Joiner has already been released after being taken to a local hospital.
One of the deceased shooters was identified by CNN and ABC as Elton Simpson. According to court records reviewed by CNN, Simpson was convicted in 2011 of making a false statement involving international and domestic terrorism and sentenced to three years of probation.
Texas authorities declined to name either suspect in a press conference Monday morning.
The Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest was organized by Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, an anti-Islamic organization that is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In 2015, we’re living in the intellectual equivalent of kindergarten — with no offense to five-year-olds intended.
Consider this most recent incident in Texas. Bloodshed of innocent people was narrowly avoided thanks to — police; in particular, the SWAT team responsible for protecting those attending the conference.
How do we reconcile this success with the fact that (at least emotionally) police officers are automatically and always considered guilty — regardless of what the facts are, or what’s actually proved, later on?
In order to make rational distinctions, you must first advance beyond the conceptual level of kindergarten. While most people have done this, too many have not, at least not when it comes to making serious assessments about serious matters.
Another thing I do not understand is the listing of Pamela Geller’s organization as a “hate group.” After all, hatred of something generally implies love of its opposite. The question is not why you hate; the question is what, in fact, you love.
This is true whether you’re talking about irrationally based hatred, or rationally based hatred. There is a difference — isn’t there? Or are we to assume that all forms of hatred are automatically and always wrong? That’s what people who throw the word “hater” around so lightly seem to assume.
Consider an example of irrational hatred. Think of black-hating white supremacists. In their hatred, they reveal something about what they love, value and cherish. They love race and they love genetics. Emotions are, in part, value judgments. In that value judgment, racists elevate race to the most significant aspect of moral character — while race, in fact (being an unchosen feature of a person) has nothing whatsoever to do with a person’s character at all. The defining feature of racism isn’t hatred; it’s merely an emotional consequence. The defining feature of racism is a cognitive error, which ascribes moral value to a characteristic (racial make-up) that isn’t chosen by the person, and therefore is of no relevance to moral values.
Those participating in the American Freedom Defense Initiative where this shooting took place will undoubtedly be smeared as anti-Islamic bigots. We will be told that they’re “Muslim haters” in the same way, and for the same reasons, that white supremacists and Nazis are non-white haters. But if you take the time to investigate what they were doing, you’d discover that the purpose of this event was to celebrate and champion freedom of speech. Pamela Geller, the organization’s leader, has been quoted as saying, “Islam is not a race. This is an ideology.” She’s exactly right. When you express disagreement with, disgust for, or even hatred of, the ideology of Islam, you’re not primarily attacking people. You’re attacking a body of ideas first and foremost, and (as a direct consequence) the people who express those ideas and then act on them, particularly with violence, as — let’s be honest — Muslims very often do. They do so willingly, because ideas (at least once a person enters adulthood) are chosen and accepted, while one’s skin color or other biological characteristics are not.
That’s the basic issue of our day, particularly when applied to Islam: Freedom of speech versus government dictatorship. While there may be individual Muslims who fervently favor freedom of speech and separation of church and state, they’re not associated with any of the modern Islamic movements such as ISIS (who was reportedly quick to take credit for this violent incident); nor are such freedom-loving Muslims especially vocal about their views in favor of freedom. There is no widespread “Muslims for Peace and Separation of Church and State” movement to counter what violent, intolerant Muslims keep doing every single day against nonbelievers they call infidels.
Freedom of speech; separation of church and state. These are principles to cherish, not to denigrate. The true “haters” out there are the ones who shout the label of “hater” at anyone who dares to take a moment to stand up for them.
I wish organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center would defend their claims that anyone who disagrees with them is a “hater.” I’m frankly getting sick of it. It’s intellectually insignificant, a bit boring — and also quite dangerous. The reason it’s dangerous is best illustrated by the people who say, in response to this shooting, “Well, they were going after another’s religion. They were asking for it.”
Not in a society based upon freedom of speech, you’re not. These individuals were paying for their event with their own money, and with the voluntary consent of everyone involved. Those who morally oppose such an event are free to say all they want to say about it — with their own money, and the consent of those involved.
That’s the basis for a free and rational civilization, and that’s the thing we should celebrate and uphold. The people at this event were doing just that. The shooters were on the other side, and they were the ones — thanks to the skill and bravery of the police — who got exactly what they deserved. For once, the bad guys lost and the good guys won, and that’s something to celebrate.
Dr Michael Hurd
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