Anthea Butler is an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She has called for the arrest of the people who made the anti-Islamic movie and actually tried to defend such a stupid position by using the pages of USA Today to double down on the stupidity.
Let’s have some fun.
My initial tweet about Bacile, the person said to be responsible for the film mocking the prophet Mohammed, was not because I am against the First Amendment. My tweets reflected my exasperation that as a religion professor, it is difficult to teach the facts when movies such as Bacile’s Innocence of Muslims are taken as both truth and propaganda, and used against innocent Americans.
So she thinks she is justified in calling for the arrest of the people who made this film because she believes it makes her life as a teacher more difficult? Are you kidding me? First, there is not one shred of evidence that this movie, or any movie like it, has made it difficult for her to “teach the facts.” Second, maybe she has trouble teaching because she is a bad teacher. At least, that’s what her students at RateMyProfessor say. She only has two reviews from 2011, but they are both very bad:
She is an awful teacher who thinks that she knows everything when half of the time she is making mistakes in the names of the things she is trying to teach! I’m a student and even I can see her mistakes! She takes herself way too seriously, and her TAs are awful! Her and her TAs are very harsh graders, beware!
Maybe those dissatisfied students should be outed and arrested.
She then goes on to assert:
If there is anyone who values free speech, it is a tenured professor!
Yeah, right. Associate Professor Anthea Butler is a tenured professor and she clearly does not value free speech. It’s funny when your very existence disproves the point you want to make.
So why did I tweet that Bacile should be in jail? The “free speech” in Bacile’s film is not about expressing a personal opinion about Islam. It denigrates the religion by depicting the faith’s founder in several ludicrous and historically inaccurate scenes to incite and inflame viewers. Even the film’s actors say they were duped.
So those who made this film should be in jail because it denigrates Islam. Someone needs to tell the professor that free speech includes the right to mock and misrepresent any religion. It includes the right to denigrate. Gnu atheists, for example, commonly engage in such tactics. But I know of no one who has called for the arrest of any Gnu atheist.
Bacile’s movie is not the first to denigrate a religious figure, nor will it be the last. The Last Temptation of Christ was protested vigorously. The difference is that Bacile indirectly and inadvertently inflamed people half a world away, resulting in the deaths of U.S. Embassy personnel.
I see. If only Christians had rioted and got people killed as part of their protesting The Last Temptation of Christ, then we could have had those movie producers arrested. This professor doesn’t seem to realize that is precisely what her logic would demand. In short, she would have us go down a path where any expression of free speech can be silenced simply by having someone react to that speech with violence.
Bacile’s movie does not excuse the rioting in Libya and Egypt, or the murder of Americans. That is deplorable. Unfortunately, people like Bacile and Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who provoked international controversy by burning copies of the Quran, have a tremendous impact on religious tolerance and U.S. foreign policy.
Here she gives us the token “deplorable” judgment and then quickly shifts to put the blame on people who have not rioted or committed murder.
Case in point: Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called Jones on Wednesday to ask him to stop promoting Bacile’s film. Clearly, the military considers the film a serious threat to national security. If the military takes it seriously, there should be consequences for putting American lives at risk.
Stop the presses, folks! So the way to determine whether an expression of free speech should be allowed is to invoke considerations from the military?! A university professor would have us go down a path where a leading figure in the “military-industrial complex” determines if speech should be allowed. The irony is killing me.
While the First Amendment right to free expression is important, it is also important to remember that other countries and cultures do not have to understand or respect our right. My condolences and prayers go out to the families of the U.S. Embassy employees killed in Libya.
Yes, other countries and cultures do not have to understand or respect our right. And we do not have to understand or respect their attacks on our rights. Y’see, the other countries and cultures that do not understand or respect our right to free speech do indeed put their people in prison camps (or worse) for practicing free speech. And we are supposed to defer to that and respect that?
So there you have it. A public call for the arrest of people engaged in free speech, and an irrational defense of such authoritarianism, all from……a university professor.
I have to wonder. If someone read that opinion and went on a crazed killing rage, could we call for the arrest of Anthea Butler?