Not-so-free speech in Finland

Should you be allowed to say that Islam is evil?

Pastor Daniel Nalliah ran into this problem when he was found guilty of violating the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act during one of his sermons in 2002, though his appeal was upheld in 2006 and the matter is ongoing.

And now a Finnish blogger (Mikko Ellila — blog in Finnish), who uses the blog services of Australian libertarian-objectivist PRODOS has also come to the attention of the authorities. According to the PRODOS blog, the municipal police department are investigating Mikka for hate speech. The speech in question is apparently anti-Islamic, pro-Israel, pro-US and pro-western.

Mikka admits to saying that “Islam is a fascist ideology that advocates killing Jews, atheists, homosexuals etc”. I think such a comment is silly, ignorant, misleading and offensive. But I also think that any advocacy of socialism also meets all of those criteria and I certainly don’t suggest that all socialist “thought crime” should be restricted.

Islam is just a religion… and like any religion it can be used or abused. Islamic socialism (sometimes called “islamic fascism”) is an evil idea, but it’s wrong to extend the judgement of that political philosophy with the broader philosophy of Islam. However, if you want to call Islam “evil” (or if you want to advocate communism, or deny the holocaust, or sing ABBA songs etc) then that is your right and the ALS throws it’s support behind PRODOS & Mikko in their battle for free speech.

UPDATE 5/5/07: Some kind soul has translatted the charges against Mikko and it appears the relevant post was not about Islam but about how blacks are supposedly less intellegent and more criminal than whites. This makes no difference to my original point. I still think his comment is silly & offensive… but I also still support his right to say it without having the government come knocking at his door.

34 thoughts on “Not-so-free speech in Finland

  1. No free speech in our public schools either if the teachers get their way:
    http://snipurl.com/1j55q
    If the comments from the site which are featured in the article are representative in any way of the general content then I fail to see how they have grounds to call it defamation. Even so I don’t see what grounds they can justify banning the entire site from schools.

  2. There needs to be a conceptual separation between “hate speech” and “a conspiracy to commit violence”. The first should definitely be permitted and the second should definitely be prohibitied. So a persons should be able to prattle on for hours and hours about how they hate women, the way they talk, the way they think, the way they dress the moral tone they assume or whatever. However if they advocate that next Tuesday we should gather to burn down the country womens association during the annual convention or kick the crap out of a given feminist then they have crossed the line. I felt the need to make this exact point in response to the following article:-

    http://pommygranate.blogspot.com/2007/04/victory-for-terrorists-human-rights.html

  3. Mikka may have made a mistake (technically speaking) in calling Islam a fascist ideology. IslamISM on the other hand certainly is. If one looks at what Islam says, then proceeds to divorce that from the Muslims actual practices (i.e. seperate Islam from Muslims), then that also reveals Islam is no friend of freedom (if taken as a totality). However, we do have to remember not all Muslims are Islamists (i.e. Literalists, Fundamentalists). Even so, the fact is all theistic religions sooner or later end up as insane as Islam if analyzed in the fundamentalist, literalist sense. Finally, I agree that persecuting Mikka is a monstrous violation of Mikka’s rights. There can be no such thing as thought crime. Yes, Mikka may be wrong (depending on the qualifications in his post about Islam… if he hasn’t distorted the context, he may be right), but so are socialists, conservatives, homophobes, and children that say 1+1=3. None of them should be put into jail. The cognitive processes of someone are the most private part of the self, the government should not interfere.

  4. Actually, none of those are wrong in context. 1 rabbit and 1 rabbit very quickly =>3 rabbits, to rabid individualists my minarchic leanings sound socialist, whilst communists think I’m the avatar of Adolf, homophobia would be perfectly natural if our population was very small, etc.
    I just can’t think of the context in which Islam would seem reasonable, but it might exist. (Islam versus Aztecism?)

  5. I am referring to what is meant by “Islam.” Islam understood independent of its practicioners (i.e. reading the texts and looking at logical implications)? Islam understood as the practices of certain groups of Muslims? etc.

    I certainly agree that if one looks at pure text and draws logical implications, you often will find terrible results. Same for basically all faiths. But Islam is a ‘broad mosque’ with multiple schools of thought. So making one giant generalization without adding qualifiers is likely fallacious.

    And also, your counterexamples about ‘context’ are wrong. 1 rabbit plus 1 rabbit never equals three rabbits. That only happens if said rabbits breed but that is not relevant to the question. Anarchists may think Minarchists are no better than socialists but that is objectively wrong, ditto communists thinking you are fascist.

    As for a context that makes Islam seen reasonable, look at the schools of Islamic Jurisprudence (some emphasize reason and context), the tradition of Itjihad (free thought and inquiry within Islam), etc. Not all Islam is Wahhabist psychopathy. Just like not all Christianity is Westboro Baptist Church.

  6. If we are going to judge Islam objectively from a literal reading of the Koran then we should judge Christianity objectively from a literal reading of the Bible.

    We can then learn that it is appropriate to offer up your daughters for rape if that will prevent a guy being raped. We can learn that it is appropriate to kill all women and children after destroying a city. We can learn that Genocide is appropriate as long as you have a voice in your head saying “kill those people and steal their gold & land”.

    I think it’s fair to say that most Christians and most Muslims don’t share these beliefs.

    The important distinction is between an Islamic socialist political philosophy (also called Islamic fascism) and the Islamic religion as a personal and moral philosophy. Free-minded people should fight against the former and tolerate the latter.

  7. Jono Says: I’m sure Mikka could even quote the Koran to backup his claims about Islam.

    I’m sure Mikka could too. As I could point to parts of the Bible which support slavery as long as the person you enslave is from another country.

    That doesn’t mean I can lump all Christians together as Slavery supporters because they don’t believe in that anymore despite what the Bible says.

    nicholas gray Says: I just can’t think of the context in which Islam would seem reasonable.

    What about Sufism? For tolerance I would hold Sufism up against the Daoists.

    You can’t lump all Muslims together just because some of them take all of the crazy bunch of wives tales that make up a lot of the Hadith literally “The last hour won’t come before the Muslims would fight the Jews and the Muslims will kill them so Jews would hide behind rocks and trees. Then the rocks and tree would call: oh Muslim, oh servant of God! There is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

    Just like you can’t Lump all Christians in with the Snake handlers for basing a large part of their crazy faith on one passage in the Bible “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”

    If you look at the five pillars of Islam there is nothing that could be objected to from a libertarian perspective as long as it remains personal. As with anything when you force your way of life on others it becomes wrong.

  8. I’m not confusing them. Jesus explicitly endorsed the old testament and there’s nothing in the Bible that says you should ignore the old testament. I think it’s a step forward for christians if they do ignore the sadistic and barbaric old testament… but that is a recent re-interpretation based on the necessities of modern morality.

    The same process (ignoring or “re-interpretting” parts of the Bible/Koran) exists in Islam. One of my Muslim friends has argued that the head scarf isn’t necessary for muslims in western culture as the rationale for the scarf was to not draw attention and in western cultures it has the reverse effect. Whether she’s right or not isn’t the point. It just shows the natural tendency for good people to re-interpret the silliness of their religion away.

    The problem is when people want to extend their religion (or moral philosophy) into the rhelm of political philosophy and force it on other people. So when properly understood, the problem isn’t Islam, but socialism (whether Islamic socialism, national socialism, soviet socialism, agrarian socialism etc).

  9. While on this website we have a clear understanding between Islam and radical Islamists, the problem with the Finnish authorities is that they seem duped into thinking that Islamism doesn’t exist and therefore Mikka is engaging in hate speech and potentially encouraging violence. There is no reason why the Govenrment should interfere with your thoughts or expression and there is no benefit in doing so.

    I recommend that people study world religions in general before passing final judgement over an entire faith and all of it’s denominations and sects.

    I recommend everyone look up this brave woman, Ishrad Manji:

    http://www.muslim-refusenik.com/

    These guys are the good guys too, 😉

    http://www.minaret.org/

  10. JH.

    It’s called the New Covenant.

    Luke 22:20 “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

    Jesus fulfilled Old Testament law in himself. Hence, those who follow need only to follow his example.

  11. Yeah Elijah, I’ve heard that line before. If you believe that the above verse implicitly means “please ignore the old testament, it’s barbaric and sadistic and embarassing and we didn’t mean it and it was a mistake” then I applaud your approach to your religion.

    This pretty much proves my point that religious people can interpret their religion in any way that conforms to their pre-existing moral requirements. And that includes muslims.

  12. John is right Elijah. People can reinterpret their religion, with or without a Messiah or new prophet. See Ishrad Manji above.

    People quote Hadiths as some kind of proof about the pitfalls of Islam, but this is like quoting a Jewish scholar or Aquinus instead of the Bible, Koran or Torah, or even King David or St Peter instead of Yaweh or Jesus. It is part of the story but not the “divinely inspired word of God” so to speak.

    Any idea that Islam is fundamentally wrong as opposed to all other religions needs to come from the Koran, not apocrypha, and then compared to other canon scripture.

    Of course, Islam has cultural problems, such as the reinterpretation of social mores as part of expected piety and morality paticularly in societies domianted by the Wahibbist sectand the suicide bomber cult of martyrdom which was essentially started by the Ayatollah in the Iran-Iraq War.

  13. Islam in its current incarnation seems a great deal more prone to ‘abuse’ than others. Wether you consider this a corruption of the koran, or a faithful interpretation, the fact is that a great deal of modern islamic thought is a fundamentally totalitarian ideology which does endorse the killing of Jews, atheists, homosexuals etc.

  14. John,
    You are confusing old and new.
    Paul specifically says that he regards most of the Old Testament as now dross, because the new covenant replaces it. Jews don’t agree that it has been superceded, since Moses never mentioned that as likely, but they would have only regarded the first five books as infallably inspired- the rest is from human beings of varied grades of holiness. A lot of argument is about which of these sayings of the prophets is better than others, but Moses’ books always win. (This is why the Protestants felt able to chop and change some books, which are now called the Apocrypha. Books actually quoted by Jesus were the ones they retained.)
    As a Christian with esoteric interests, I find the answers are in Deuteronomy. Both covenants are valid, but I’ll choose the new as it is easier to implement, and I’m quite fond of my foreskin.

  15. nicholas — I’m not confusing anything. I know much more about Christianity and the Bible than is healthy after being brought up in a penticostal family and school. Please see above for my answers to Elijah. Jesus endorsed the Old Testament and nowhere in the Bible does it suggest that the Old Testament was a mistake or not the inspired word of God or the God is sorry about the genocide or for ignoring all non-Jews or dictating the correct price for slavery (although the new testament does say that circumcision is no longer necessary).

    And when you say “books actually quoted by Jesus” I presume you mean books that quoted Jesus. Jesus didn’t actually write anything and according to modern scholarship, neither did anybody who knew Jesus. The closest gospel link is Mark, who was a follower of Paul/Saul, who also never met Jesus. And there is also some doubt that all the books attributed to Paul where actually written by him. It takes a brave man to trust the judgement of the 4th century catholic church that was being coordinated by a tyranical pagan and then systematically destroyed most western knowledge as blasphamy.

    I’m glad you’ve chosen to largely ignore the Old Testament. It once again proves my point that people are able to pick and choose the parts of their religion that they find acceptable. In Christianity, slavery & genocide are out, and that’s a good thing.

    Likewise, many Muslims do not accept the less-than-friendly elements that have sometimes been a part of their religion. I agree with Tex that Christianity has moved further in “updating” their morals. This makes sense as Christianity is dominent in the part of the world that is relatively more developed and progressive. This progression is being seen today in Turkey and Morocco and Malaysia to various degrees. It is simply wrong to say that Islam is evil. The real enemy (which we should all be able to agree on) is Islamic socialism… or any form of socialism for that matter.

  16. Just for curiosity’s sake, where did Jesus endorse the old testament? I know he quoted from various prophecies, and said that some psalms were prophecies, but I don’t think he ever quoted from ‘Tobbit’, or the Books of the Maccabees, which are in Jewish and Catholic Bibles even now.
    Jesus allowed us to update with sayings like ‘Thou shalt love The Lord Thy God with all thy heart and all thy mind and all thy strength, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. This is the law and the prophets’, which meant we didn’t need to remember the 613 Commandments.
    But, since the Koran is meant to be direct quotes from God via an angel, not divine inspiration, the Koran can only be taken whole, not processed, and it cannot be digested.
    I repeat, Jews have to accept the first five books of Moses as divine, and the rest as inspired but not necessarily infallible, which leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

  17. Interesting comments. sorry to arrive late.

    Not all Islam is Wahhabist psychopathy

    No, but an awful lot is.

    If we are going to judge Islam objectively from a literal reading of the Koran then we should judge Christianity objectively from a literal reading of the Bible.

    No. The reason is the Reformation and Christians’ decision to ignore the nastier elements of the Bible. Islam is suffering because it has no central structure and so many competing elements (shia, sunni, wahabbi, sufi etc) fight for pre-eminence.

    To date, Muslims believe that the Koran is the word of God as dictated to Mohammed by the Angel Gabriel. This is a crucial distinction with the Bible, which is not the word of God but of mortals. Therefore Muslims have to believe every word of the Koran as it is God’s actual words. There is no scope to pick and choose here. I dont see how ‘reformers’ or ‘moderates’ can ever get around this stumbling block.

    The problem is when people want to extend their religion (or moral philosophy) into the rhelm of political philosophy and force it on other people.

    Yes. People who wish to practice their religion (e.g. Satanists) should be free to do so in the privacy of their own home or on private land owned by them. However, when a religion proselytises, it should be open to ridicule and even hate speech.

    Finally, there is a difference, as highlighted by Andrew, between hate speech directed at Muslims and at Islam (or between Christians and Christianity). The former is unpleasant and disrespectful. The latter is justified.

  18. Matthew 5:17-18 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

    Paul also endorses the Old Testament in various places, including Acts 24:14 “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets”

    As for “Love thy neighbour as thyself” that is a repeat of Lev 19:18 and “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul & strength”, that isa repeat of Deut 6:4-5. And even if Jesus had said new things, that doesn’t imply that he was rejecting the slavery, genocide etc of the Old Testament. It would have been pretty easy to say “opps, sorry about the genocide” but he didn’t. Further, no Christian had thought of ignoring those elements of the Old Testament until modern morality changed. What an amazing coincidence!

    As for the “devine word of God”, Christians used to believe that applied to the whole Bible and many still do. My parents believe the world was created 6000 years ago in 6 days. My brother-in-law argues that the history of Egypt (which goes back to before the great flood) is a Satanic trick planted in the desert to confuse people. They also believe that the canaanites (who the Israelites killed) had it coming and deserved their genocide because of the sins of their ancestors. How do they know the Bible is the divine word of God? The Bible says so. Same with the Koran.

    Pommy — it is simply not true that an aweful lot of Islam is Wahhabist. Very few are (mostly in Saudi Arabia) and even less belong to the break-away Wahhabist school of Al-Qaeda. Most Muslims take their religion as seriously as most of my friends take theirs. They write down “catholic” because that’s what their mum said there are… but they don’t care.

    And the reformation was not about ignoring the nasty elements of the Bible. In fact, it was largely inspired by taking the Bible more literally!

    And the Sufi’s most certainly don’t fight for pre-eminence. I agree the Sunni-Shi’ite conflict is a bad state of affairs. Thankfully the equivalent Christian battles (Catholic v Prodestant) are mostly behind us now (thanks to development). In many countries Islam hasn’t taken that step yet, but as they develop they too will move past sectarian violence.

    The same stumbling block that Islam can apparently not get past existed also with Christianity. As I mention above, the “absolutist” school of Christianity still exists (example: my family) though thankfully they are now a minority. Worryingly, they are growing in number… but that’s a different story.

    Anyway — none of this gives a reason for condemning a moral philosophy on the basis of your disagreement with a political philosophy. That approach is simply a non-sequitor and no amount of mis-statements about Sufis, the reformation or wahhabists will change that.

    Finally, I agree that people should be free to offer “hate speech” against Islam the religion. This post started with my defence of Mikko’s right to call Islam evil. I was just pointing out that I disagree with him… which makes my defence of him more meaningful because it’s done out of a genuine defence of free speech, not just free-speech-for-my-friends.

  19. In my view the problem the West has with Islam is three fold:

    1. Repressed people can’t believe anything else, and it is their faith so through it they blame their enemies and misfortunes.

    2. Western Muslims are embarrassed by the loonies and so defend it byond reasonableness.

    3. Islam and nationalism get entangled as does support of nationalist causes and rationalist criticism of the more barbaric elements of a very old belief system.

    The problem with Mikka’s statment (Islam is evil) does not need to be corrected by interrogation and “approved” speech but open debate and enquiry (and indeed some elements of Islam, as it is practised are evil). The issue can be resolved by allowing free specch.

  20. John

    As you say, you were obviously brought up in a very fundamentalist family. Might this explain your passion for reason and secularism?

    But it is simply not the case to say that many Christians believe the Bible is the actual word of God. But even if this is the case, then the Bible, in particualar the NT, does not recommend killing infidels or forcing them to convert to Christianity.

    I assume an informed person like yourself has read the Koran. It is littered (nearly every sura) with commands to i) believe in God ii) force the non-believer to convert to Islam. It is a libertarian’s worst nightmare.

  21. Well, “many” is a difficult word to pin down. That the Bible is the inspired word of God and infalible is a part of the penticostal movement which is making up an increasing percentage of Christians, especially in America.

    I agree that the Bible certainly doesn’t suggest forced convertion to Christianity. Christianity didn’t exist when most of the Bible was written and Judaism was an intentionally exclusive club.

    I agree there is a lot of crap in the Koran and that a person so inclined could pick and choose some very unfortunate lessons. But the Koran can also be read as tolerant, pro-trade and pro-market and at some points in history Muslim countries have been very tolerant, free and advanced. Especially compared with their anti-reason, burn-the-books, world-is-flat comrades over in early Christiandom.

    Check out Islam’s free-market heritage by Chris Berg and Andrew Kemp, published by the Institute for Public Affairs. The Koran supports private property, contract law, profit from trade and is opposed to price fixing, and yet there have been Islamic socialist movements. As the authors rightly say “individuals interpret sacred texts, rather than being controlled by them”.

  22. I arrive in Sydney next Thursday (10 May) and will probably be around for a few days before catching another flight back to Queensland. If you’re free, I’ll see you then.

  23. The Protestant Reformation was a direct challenge by Luther in his 95 Thesis as a call to return to the Bible’s teachings. It was a protest specifically against selling of indulgences which had corrupted the Church. I do not think Luther intended to get himself excommunicated, he did not want a schism within the Catholic Church, he wanted to re-form it, rather than introduce new ideas (reform it). The fact that the Reformation led to the Counter Reformation is exactly what Luther intended. Strangely enough the English King Henry VIII was in fact in support of the Pope during the initial Reformation and held the title Defender of the Faith when he created the Church of England, a title claimed by English monarchs to this day.

  24. Pingback: The PRODOS blog » Blog Archive » Mikko Ellila - English translation of article and charges plus my criticisma of Mikko while still defending his right to free speech

  25. Oh, john, your quotes prove my point- The Law (the five books attributed to Moses) and the Prophets are not the same as Tobbit or Maccabees.
    As an Esoteric Christian, I have always assumed that the Bible was an evolving document, with more refined understanding coming later and later.
    As an esoteric Christian, I also accept evolution, and assume that Adam was the first of the Semitic races, and that it was his duty, and that of his descendents, to give the rest of the world the Law. Thus Cain married a non-Adamite, and Adam might even have had children with women other than Eve! Thus the big deal in Genesis over Adam having a son ‘in his own image’- his own race. Lilith would have been a real human wife, not a demonic concubine.
    Thus the flood would have been literal, but almost wiping out the Adamite bloodline- clues tell you that some parts of the planet stayed dry, even if it seemed like the whole earth to the survivors (why did the dove disappear, unless she had found trees and food, and other doves? And some of Noah’s contemporaries are called ‘Father of those who work in metal’ etc. If they’re going to be wiped out in the Flood, why even mention them?)
    Therefore, whilst the first chapter of Genesis is something to treat as symbols, with days standing for aeons, the rest could be literal, but confined to one bloodline.

  26. Pingback: The PRODOS blog » Blog Archive » Part 1: A careful examination of Mikko Ellila’s article, Society Consists of People

  27. Pingback: The PRODOS blog » Blog Archive » Mikko Ellila - Aapo Puhakka’s English translation confirmed as quite accurate

  28. Pingback: The PRODOS blog » Blog Archive » Mikko Ellila provides authorised English translation of Society Consists of People

  29. Pingback: The PRODOS blog » Blog Archive » My comprehensive assessment of Mikko Ellila article, Society Consists of People

  30. Pingback: The PRODOS blog » Blog Archive » Announcement: Mikko Ellila blog in breach and to be disabled

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