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The Free Exercise of Stupidity <br /> <small> Dr. Laura, the Ground Zero Mosque, and the 1st Amendment </small>

by Michael Shermer, Aug 24 2010

Recently, two of the biggest media story brouhahas were Dr. Laura’s N-word gaff and the Ground Zero mosque, both of which commentators insist are First Amendment issues. They are not. Here’s why. First, let’s review the First…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

(Most people forget that there are actually five freedoms protected in the First Amendment: religion, speech, press, assembly, petition.)

Laura Schlessinger says that she is quitting her job as the biggest female radio show host in the galaxy because, she told Larry King: “I want to regain my First Amendment rights. I want to be able to say what is on my mind.” Sarah Palin chimed in on Twitter that Schlessinger’s First Amendment rights “ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence her.”

Wrong. The First Amendment applies only to what the government can and cannot do. No government agency is demanding that Dr. Laura step down. No laws are being passed to silence radio talk show hosts (at least not yet—recall last year’s cultural scuffle over whether liberals should be given equal time on all radio shows, including conservative talk radio). This is not a First Amendment issue in the least. Dr. Laura is free to exercise her First Amendment rights to say what is on her mind, including her stupefyingly ignorant opinion that blacks are being hypersensitive when called the N-word by whites. In turn, blacks, whites, and anyone else not from another planet are free to remind Dr. Laura what has transpired over the past half century here on Earth since she’s been away on Mars.

The Ground Zero Mosque issue is equally clearly not a First Amendment issue because, near as I can figure, it is not being built on government land, it is not being funded by tax-payers dollars, and it is not a public building. To that extent, it’s none of the government’s business what the owners and financers of the building want to do with their private property, so they are free to build a mosque near Ground Zero (it’s two blocks away, by the way, not “at” Ground Zero), and by the 4th right of the First Amendment, people are free to peacefully assemble to remind said private land holders and building builders what happened in that neighborhood a scant nine years ago next month.

The government is not—and never should be—in the business of regulating stupidity or making laws respecting the free exercise thereof.

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151 Responses to “The Free Exercise of Stupidity <br /> <small> Dr. Laura, the Ground Zero Mosque, and the 1st Amendment </small>”

  1. Deen says:

    However, when people try to get zoning commissions to stop the building of a Muslim cultural center, then it becomes a First Amendment issue. When Republican gubernatorial candidates suggest that if they are elected, they will use Eminent Domain to confiscate the land the center will be on, it becomes a First Amendment issue.

    • MadScientist says:

      Yes, it’s tricky – the sort of case that lawyers love. If a state government basically rejects the proposal because it’s a mosque and not a christian church then that’s a violation of the establishment clause. However, if someone comes up with an ingenuous excuse and pretends that they’re rejecting the plans for other reasons then they may get away with it – but only maybe. The test is whether the muslim proponents of the project are treated equally under the law, so even an ingenuous excuse may fail in court. My suggestion to the muslims affected is that if they don’t get their building then they should pay close attention to the laws and any proposed future developments and make sure to file appropriate complaints for any proposed christian or Jewish places of worship in the area.

      It’s pretty bizarre that there is such opposition when it is obvious that the majority of worshippers there will be Americans (whether natural born or naturalized) and yet people are so damned stupid they believe that we’re being invaded by foreigners who belong to a cult who want to destroy the USA.

      • Max says:

        Sheik Rahman’s Al Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn was used to coordinate the 1993 WTC bombing and fund Al Qaeda.
        http://www.investigativeproject.org/case/408

      • Zed says:

        Which has nothing to do with either the Blog post or the Comment that you have replied to. So that makes you a Troll.

      • Max says:

        The Al Farouq mosque was an Al Qaeda front since 1987.
        http://www.historycommons.org/entity.jsp?entity=al-farooq_mosque

      • tmac57 says:

        Is there any evidence that this mosque is being planned by muslim radicals for nefarious purposes,or is your implication “better safe than sorry” just because they happen to be muslims?

      • Max says:

        I got the impression that MadScientist thinks all American mosques are benign, so I gave a counterexample. In fact, part of Al Qaeda’s strategy is to recruit Americans like Faisal Shahzad, who tried to bomb Times Square.

        I expect the Ground Zero mosque to support terrorist sympathizers, since Imam Rauf is involved with Perdana, which raised $380K for the Free Gaza Movement. There’s a chance he’ll funnel money to Hamas, since he refused to recognize them as a terrorist organization and they’ve expressed support for the mosque. It wouldn’t be the first time somethng like that happened. The biggest Islamic charity in the US, the Holy Land Foundation, was shut down and its founders imprisoned for life for funneling $12 million to Hamas; the founder of the American Muslim Council expressed support for Hamas and Hezbollah and was imprisoned for his role in a Libyan conspiracy to assassinate Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.

        My sense is that Imam Rauf is one of those Muslim “moderates” who with extremists plays good cop/bad cop. The extremists threaten violence and launch attacks, and the moderates step in, half-heartedly condemn “the violence” without being specific, blame the victims, and push their agenda of building mosques, censoring cartoons, and changing foreign policy. Thus, Imam Rauf couldn’t discuss 9/11 without calling US policies an accessory to the crime, and couldn’t condemn Al Qaeda without reminding everyone that “the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al-Qaida has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.”

      • tmac57 says:

        Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley has stated that they have paid for 3 previous trips for Rauf to travel overseas to speak to muslim countries (twice under Bush)and Crowley said “In 2007, he visited Bahrain, Morocco, the UAE and Qatar…And earlier this year, in January, he also visited Egypt. So we have a long-term relationship with him. You know, his work on tolerance and religious diversity is well-known and he brings a moderate perspective to foreign audiences on what it’s like to be a practicing Muslim in the United States. And our discussions with him about taking this trip preceded the current debate in New York over the center.”
        So,is the state department missing something that you know for sure? I can’t see why they would be allowing a known subversive islamist to travel on our dime,especially under Bush’s term.

      • Max says:

        The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a Hamas front that has worked with everyone: Presidents, congressmen, civil liberties groups, the armed forces, the FBI… until it was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding case.

        Or read about Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, the founder of the American Muslim Council.

        Before he was sentenced to 23 years in 2004, he served as an Islamic adviser to Clinton and as a consultant to the Pentagon.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abdul_Rahman_al-Amoudi

        But he raised red flags along the way.
        http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1311

        In 1994 he said: “Hamas is not a terrorist group. … I have followed the good work of Hamas. … They have a wing that is a violent wing. They had to resort to some kind of violence.”

        On December 29, 1996, Alamoudi told a meeting of the IAP: “I think if we were outside this country, we can say, ‘Oh, Allah, destroy America,’ but once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it. There is no way for Muslims to be violent in America, no way. We have other means to do it. You can be violent anywhere else but in America.”

        In October 2000, Alamoudi attended an anti-Israel protest outside the White House. Speaking to a group of Palestinian-terrorist-supporters, he declared: “I have been labeled … as being a supporter of Hamas. Anybody supporters of Hamas here? … We are all supporters of Hamas … I wish they added that I am also a supporter of Hezbollah.”

      • Zed says:

        Again, Which has nothing to do with either the Blog post or the Comment that you have replied to. So that makes you a Troll.

      • Carax says:

        No, it means you don’t know how to counter his argument.

      • tmac57 says:

        Zed-Although I don’t see eye to eye with Max on this issue,he is not a troll.His comments are usually well thought out and appropriately skeptical.

  2. I’m not sure that I agree. It seems to me the Ground Zero Mosque is a 1st amendment issue in that it’s being presented as “the democrats are allowing it to happen,” when in actuality, thanks to the constitution they have no choice (as it should be I might add) this is a great opportunity for people to learn what role our government does and doesn’t play in situations like this.

    As far as Dr Laura is concerned, I think people sometimes equivocate the human right of “freedom of speech,” Article 19 of the ICCPR, with the first amendment itself. If there is a consorted effort to silence her, I would say that violates the spirit of both documents.

    • Deen says:

      Dr. Laura may have the universal right of freedom of speech, but she does not have the universal right to have a radio show.

      • Max says:

        And Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf doesn’t have the universal right to represent the United States on a taxpayer-funded tour of the Middle East.

      • Mover says:

        Is he representing the USA or is he on a fund-raiser? He needs $100M to build.

      • tmac57 says:

        The state dept. has an explicit policy against fund raising.Maybe he can circumvent that,but that’s the policy.

      • tmac57 says:

        According to P.J.Crowley with the State Dept., Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs:
        “Imam Faisal will be traveling to Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE on a U.S. government-sponsored trip to the Middle East,” Crowley said. “He will discuss Muslim life in America and religious tolerance. … We have about 1,200 of these kinds of programs every year, of sending experts in all fields overseas. Last year we had 52 trips that were specifically focused on religious — promoting religious tolerance. We will expect to have roughly the same number of programs this year.”
        I don’t see this as being such a bad thing considering how much misunderstanding and divisiveness there is between the U.S. and Islamic cultures overseas.

      • Mover says:

        I have to question the “misunderstanding” comment.

        I think that the message from radical Islam and the silence of Muslims on the subject is perfectly clear.

      • Deen says:

        What does that have to do with anything?

      • Max says:

        In both cases, being insensitive can get a person fired without infringement of the person’s First Amendment rights.

      • Zed says:

        Again, Which has nothing to do with either the Blog post or the Comment that you have replied to. So that makes you a Troll..

    • Dax says:

      RE Ground Zero Mosque: funny how it’s — according to my biased views — usually the republicans who want to ignore the constitution while claiming it’s the liberals who actually do that.

      RE Dr. Laura: she has freedom of speech, yes, but as a paid host of a radio show, she is actually an extension of the company. And in that role she represents the broadcasting company and thus the broadcaster has the right to limit her speech. This is not in violation of her freedom of speech as an individual.

      • Mover says:

        I believe both parties invoke the US Constitution when it suits their purposes and ignore it when it doesn’t. Mandatory health insurance is an example of ignoring it and support for the 9/11 Victory Mosque is an example of it being invoked.

        Knowing a little Islamic history, I wonder if Imam Rauf and his wife, Daisy cutter Khan, understand that the Burlington Coat Factory is not a church?

      • Frying Dutchmen says:

        You mean community center?

      • Mover says:

        Yeah, yeah. That’s the new propaganda. Identifying it as a Mosque has caused problems, so let’s call it a “community center”. Yes, much more ambiguous. Never mind that the Islamic community center will have a mosque in it, Muslims are praying there now (and have been for a while), and that representatives from CAIR are referring to it as a mosque.

        I wish your you luck in convincing yourself that it means nothing.

  3. The implication in this post is that the proposal to build “the Ground Zero Mosque” is stupid, thus seconding the irrational screeching of demagogues in the media and on the stump.

    I submit that calling the controversial building “The Ground Zero Mosque” is itself an instance of the free exercise of stupidity. The building is not primarily a mosque (it’s been compared to the 92nd St. Y in its intended community function) and it isn’t at Ground Zero. (In Manhattan, two blocks make a lot of difference in neighborhood identity.) According to a story on NPR’s On The Media, there are already two storefront mosques in that same neighborhood.

    Of course, commentators on Fox News and political candidates trying to drum up irrational passion to gain votes can say any damned thing they want. Skeptics ought to be more careful not to be suckered by their semantics.

    • GL says:

      You make some interesting points; however, I feel like we read two different posts.

      • What I’m responding to is the parallel drawn between Dr. Laura’s comments and the proposed Islamic center. Consider these sentences, in adjacent paragraphs:

        “To that extent, it’s none of the government’s business what the owners and financers of the building want to do with their private property, so they are free to build a mosque near Ground Zero (it’s two blocks away, by the way, not “at” Ground Zero).”

        - and -

        “The government is not—and never should be—in the business of regulating stupidity or making laws respecting the free exercise thereof.”

        The implication seems to be that building the cultural center *is* stupid, but that the government can’t really stop it.

      • Deen says:

        To be fair, I read that as the government can’t stop the people stupidly protesting the community center.

      • But the issue is whether the government should interfere with the building – not the protesting – of the mosque. Thus, the reasonable conclusion is that building the mosque there would be stupidity outside of the gov’t's regulatory powers.

    • Mover says:

      If it is primarily not a mosque, why have Muslims already been going there to pray?

      • MadScientist says:

        That’ll be because they pretty much pray wherever they can, and the existing building happens to be used for their prayer meetings and other things. “Not primarily a mosque” and “muslims pray there” are not mutually exclusive.

    • MadScientist says:

      Dang, you beat me to it. I was going to suggest a better name like “Hitler’s Ground Zero Victory Over the Great Satan Mosque”. It is sad that people are popularizing the pejorative names for the place. And although that project is the one being hyped at the moment, it’s really just another case of bigotry – there are other mosques or muslim community centers around the nation which are being opposed by the rednecks. I wish the judges or city planning office could deny the project on the condition that all religious places of worship within the area are demolished; I’m sure the christians and Jews will be happy to demolish their temples to protect the sanctity of two-blocks-from-the-WTC and prevent this proposed mulsim project from going ahead.

    • jack says:

      It is stupid to build a building in the name of any religion because religion is stupid. So they have every right to build it and the protestors are wrong but its still stupid

    • danake says:

      NPR? You mean National Palestine Radio?

      • tmac57 says:

        Way to demagogue one of the few remaining legitimate news sources still in existence.Keep it up and we will end up in a ‘hall of mirrors’ world where we only see ourselves peering back out at us ala FOX news et al.

  4. Jim says:

    And of course, Governor Patterson is compounding the Park51 First Amendment issue by seriously proposing to give state land to the builders of the center.

  5. Max says:

    I propose the “Appeal to Rights” fallacy: If somebody has the right to do something, then it’s the right thing to do. Any criticism can then be countered by saying, “It’s not illegal!”

    But you know, when most people agree that something legal is wrong, it raises the question whether it should be outlawed. Like, do Muslim extremists have the right to build a memorial to the 19 hijackers on their property right next to Ground Zero? Do we really value their right to add insult to injury more than we value a 9/11 survivor’s right to not be further traumatized and intimidated? If a law rewards evil and punishes the victims, what good is it?

    • Are you so easily swayed by media hype that you’re willing to assume “Muslim extremists” are building “a memorial to the 19 hijackers on their property right next to Ground Zero”? Could someone who claims to be a skeptic really be so gullible?

      • Seth Manapio says:

        I think that was a hypothetical, more a question of where this idea of a ‘right’ limits out.

      • It didn’t strike me as hypothetical, but I suppose I should give the benefit of the doubt. Max’s comment reads like demagogic blather, though.

      • Max says:

        No, it’s a more extreme hypothetical scenario to test the limits of the First Amendment.
        If you want a real scenario, we can talk about the 1978 neo-Nazi plan to march through Skokie, a place that had the highest concentration of Holocaust survivors outside Israel. Do we value the neo-Nazis’ right to spread their message more than we value the Holocaust victims’ right not to be intimidated by Nazis ever again?
        Those who are kind to the cruel, in the end will be cruel to the kind.

      • tmac57 says:

        So Christians building a church could be considered a slippery slope to building a monument to the Crusades?

      • Mover says:

        I have to ask: Do Christians build churches on top of Mosques after slaughtering Muslims?

        Mr. Rauf named the 9/11 victory mosque his “Córdoba Project”. Look up “Great Mosque of Córdoba”.

      • Beelzebud says:

        Mover: Let’s just stick to the facts.

        This building isn’t being built ON what people refer to as “ground zero”.

        “Ground zero” isn’t sacred ground. There is a strip club nearby, and I don’t see any clamor to shut that down.

        There is a mosque 4 blocks away. Where is the cut-off? Why is 2 blocks too close, but 4 blocks okay?

        We have a mosque INSIDE the Pentagon, a building that was directly hit on 9/11. If the folks at the Pentagon can tolerate a mosque INSIDE their building, I’m sure the city of NY will be just fine.

        What I find sadly amusing are the people posing the question: “If they can build a mosque at ground zero, why can’t we build a church at mecca.” Does anyone else find it disturbing that some of these people equate “ground zero” with the holy center of a religion?

        Welcome to Silly Season. An election is a few months away.

      • tmac57 says:

        Beelzebud-The facility in the Pentagon is characterized as “…an interfaith chapel — often used by Muslims for daily prayer service, as well as by other religions — but no mosque.” according to PolitiFact.org.
        But, the point still stands that the Pentagon does not fear Muslims coming together daily to pray in their facility,and don’t consider it a “victory” (whatever) for Islamic extremists.

      • Mover says:

        @Beelzebud

        A few points:

        1. I never said it was going to be built “on” ground zero.

        2. I’m doubting it would be an issue except for the attitude of those who wish to build it and the feelings of those who lost family and friends on 9/11. Mr. Rauf words makes him a poor representative of moderation and tolerance.

        3. There are over 200 Mosques in NYC. Is there a need for this one when, as you say say, there is another 2 more blocks away? Is there that many Muslims living and/or working in lower Manhattan?

        It just seems to me to be a spit in your eye project.

      • John Greg says:

        Beelzubud said:

        “Does anyone else find it disturbing that some of these people equate “ground zero” with the holy center of a religion?”

        Well, yes, perhaps. But it should be noted that as the towers were a near-sacred (by the sounds of it) monument to finance, and as finance is America’s primary religion, perhaps the parallel exists? Sort of.

      • Max says:

        I wasn’t making a slippery slope argument, I was questioning unerring faith in the First Amendment. Some folks cling to it the way religious people cling to their faith in God after a catastrophe. They’re actually proud that they maintain faith in something even when it makes good people suffer.

      • I think Max’s point has already been hashed out before in the courts. You do not have the right to threaten, incite riot or panic (cry ‘fire’ in a theater), or commit perjury. The freedom of speech is limited – but it is NOT limited by others’ discomfort, taking offense, or disagreement.
        Many politicians have tried to shut down political satirists b/c they have caused them discomfort, offense – and even ruined them politically. If we must make sure our speech cannot harm anyone (including crooked politicians) then it is not protected.

        Would you give the devil benefit of law?
        Yes, for my own safety’s sake.

      • Max says:

        “Many politicians have tried to shut down political satirists”

        And a thinly veiled death threat from Muslim extremists did shut down South Park’s depiction of Mohammed, yet AFAIK nothing was done about it because the threat wasn’t imminent enough.

      • Mover says:

        I wouldn’t agree that the issue is caused by media hype, although it is through the media that we learn that Imam Rauf has stated publicly that this country is an “accessory” to the 9/11 attack and will not concede that Hamas is a terrorist organization whenever asked.

        Is Rauf an extremist? Who knows, but he certainly doesn’t seem to shy away from what I would regard as extremist commentary.

      • The Saint says:

        Rauf is a Sufi. They tend to not be extremists. What “extremist” commentary are you referring to?

      • Max says:

        http://www.faithfreedom.org/oped/sina41027.htm

        “Sufism is just a façade. When push comes to shove, a Muslim is a Muslim and Islam is what Muhammad taught and not what Rumi or Attar fantasized.
        In 1979 all the Iranians forgot about their Sufi tradition and reverted to fanatical Islam overnight and the great Sufi lover Khomeini, turned to be a ruthless bloodthirsty tyrant.”

      • The Saint says:

        Well if someone who used to be a Muslim said it, it must be true!

      • Max says:

        Verify it with other sources.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruhollah_Khomeini
        “However, perhaps Khomeini’s biggest influences were yet another teacher, Mirza Muhammad Ali Shahabadi, and a variety of historic Sufi mystics, including Mulla Sadra and Ibn Arabi.”

      • Max says:

        http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/intro/islam-sufi.htm
        “In fact, the Islamic brotherhood in Egypt, and Al Qaeda, are both Sufi based movements.”

  6. Will Lewis says:

    I am pro-Cordoba House, and it is a 1st amendment issue. The 1st amendment applies to state actors by incorporation through the 14th amendment. The Cordoba House had to receive a permit from the city and state to operate. The 1st and 14th amendments prevents the community board and state approval boards from accommodating a religion or preferring one religion over another. But the boards have, I believe, already approved the Cordoba House’s permit without considering religion, so there was no constitutional violation.

    On the Dr. Laura point and your broader point concerning the Cordoba House, I think that the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights represent fundamental freedoms and liberties that many believe is the core of the American Idea–there is a spirit of the Constitution that has no little place in the courtroom, but that every American 6 year old seems to think can allow them to stay up late and say whatever they want. There has been neither a criminal nor civil violation when one has had the entire scope of their beliefs restrained from being voiced on the radio by their employer. But I think it is entirely understandable, no matter how much I may disagree with their beliefs, when they say that they are quitting because they can’t fully exercise the freedoms. Her verbiage is just more political and rabble-rousing, and Constitutionally wrong, but I don’t think we can forget the preservation of freedom that the Bill of Rights embodies.

    • Will Lewis says:

      Sorry, I am not ‘pro-Cordoba House,’ but I am certainly not anti-Cordoba House. Rather, just Cordoba House ambivalent. But I am certainly pro-right to build and operate Cordoba House.

      And first sentence, second paragraph, not “no little place,” but “little place.”

  7. GoneWithTheWind says:

    You have been suckered into believing that this is a 1st amendment issue. If it were we wouldn’t even hear about it. The fact that the backers of the mosque are being heard and are pushing forward belies that opinion. They are fully exploiting their 1st amendment rights. It is their intent to create a controversy excatly so they can use it to gain power. They played the “race” card (islamophobia) and are getting lots of press. But the simple fact remains they intend to build this mosque so they can stick their finger in the eye of America. And as you all say they have a 1st amendment right to do so.

    As for Dr Laura, she is a counselor and she was counseling the caller who was “hung up” on the “N” word. She used a practical example to show this lady she was overly sensitive. Had the word been “sex” or “tits” or “vigina” what Dr Laura did would be right on. It is ONLY because of the false sensitivity to the “N”word that it somehow is “wrong” for Dr Laura to help this woman. I guess what she should have told here is “I can’t help you because the race pimps have made it impossible in their never ending attempt to leverage race into political and economic gain for themselves”. The bottom line is the single biggest reason blacks in this country fail is because their leaders constantly play the race card to gain benefits and it creates an environment of unreasonable fear of racism in their constituients. The message to Dr Laura from the likes of Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton is “back off! We aren’t finished exploiting black people yet!”

    • tmac57 says:

      I think that you just demonstrated the theme of this article.

      • EricJ says:

        Indeed, tmac. What GoneWithTheWind is also demonstrating here is how many factual errors and logical fallacies one person can fit into two paragraphs. I’ll just point out one:

        The “Mosque backers” (and there is no Mosque proposed) did not create the controversy at all. Demagogue wingnuts like Pam Geller initiated the “controversy” which was the promoted by Faux news, which was then picked by demagogue politicians like Gingrich as a potential wedge issue against their opponents.

        etc etc…

      • tmac57 says:

        I mostly agree with what you wrote,except that there apparently is indeed a Mosque proposed as part of the overall project,but only a small part of a 15 story facility which will include a:”world-class community center” open to all New Yorkers, regardless of faith. According to the site, plans include: a swimming pool, gym and basketball court, a 500-seat auditorium, a restaurant and culinary school, exhibitions, education programs, a library, reading room, art studios, childcare services and a September 11 memorial and “quiet contemplation space, open to all.” (from PolitiFact.com)

      • As I said, it’s basically the 92nd St Y . . .

      • EricJ says:

        could be right re the Mosque. I knew there was a prayer room planned, but is that the same as a Mosque? I think of a Mosque as a place where a Imam gives sermons (like a Church)

      • tmac57 says:

        The planners refer to it as a Mosque on their site.
        http://www.park51.org/facilities.htm

      • Max says:

        Even the developers call it a mosque.
        http://park51.org/facilities.htm

        •a mosque, intended to be run separately from Park51 but open to and accessible to all members, visitors and our New York community

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        The backers of the mosque call it a mosque. They change their rhetoric to fit the audience. There is no doubt this was intended to create controversy. Even the choice of the name is a poke in the eye to Christians. The mosque backers are enjoying thier success and in fact even if the mosque were eventually moved away from this site the backers have succeeded. I predict as a direct result of this provocation and push back we will see some radical Islamist attempt to pull off another Times Square style attack and they will cite the supposed discrimination you claim is being shown by wingnuts. Interestingly it is people from all over the spectrum that are opposed to building a mosque in this location and NO ONE is opposed to building a mosque anywhere else in NYCity. So much for your stupid netroot wing nut theory!!!

      • EricJ says:

        Whether a Mosque is a part of the cultural center is in any case irrelevant to larger point that the owners of the building have every right to do whatever they want with the property, and you have no rational reason to oppose it. Ditto for whatever opposition it may have all over the spectrum. That just shows how many Democratic politicians are a bunch of spineless hacks.

        As far as your point that “NO ONE is opposed to building a mosque anywhere else in NYCity,” this cannot be taken seriously. Recent attempts to build Mosques or Islamic centers all over the country from Tennessee to California have been met with mob reactions from the wing-nuts.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/08/us/08mosque.html?_r=1

        Also, if we needed any more evidence of the sheer bigotry of the anti-Mosque protesters, please review this video from NYC, where a dark-skinned man walks thru the protest and is therefore mistaken as a potential Muslim. The guy is lucky he wasn’t lynched.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EwaNRWMN-F4&feature=player_embedded

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Did you mean that innocent black man wearing the muslim prayer cap yelling muther f**ker at the crowd? Did you mean that man??? A great example of how the left inflitrates peaceful demonstrations to provoke violence. This is what you want to hang your hat on? Or should I say hang your Taqiyah on???

    • Kurt says:

      But the simple fact remains they intend to build this mosque so they can stick their finger in the eye of America.

      You need to take ownership of your feelings. They didn’t make you feel uncomfortable about this project, you did that. How is at all fair for a multi-million dollar project to be put on hold or reorganized because it makes you think of the 9/11 attacks? How do your sad memories constitute a harm that they must make amends for?

      She used a practical example to show this lady she was overly sensitive.

      Yeah, and then she told that caller that if she didn’t like it she shouldn’t have married “outside her race” — a concept that is, according to modern biology, nonsense (race is a cultural construct without any reality in genetics).

      Given both these examples, I’m going to throw out the “wild” theory that the overly sensitive person here is you. I’m sorry that your comfortable white privilege is threatened by those scary Arabs and blacks. There there, it’ll be OK.

      Does that condescension makes you angry? Congratulations, now you know what it feels like to be a minority.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        To say they didn’t cause the problem is like saying a man who exposes himself to children is blameless and it is the kids fault for looking. You could not possibly be so naive that you truely think this was simple a casual choice for a location for the mega-mosque. It is a “victory mosque” something that Muslims have done over the centuries whenever they destroy an enemy site.

        Your point about Arabs and blacks was informative. Indeed the backers of this mosque are intentionaly inflaming racist blacks to rally around them. They also intend to carve out a “protected” status for themselves much like what has been done for blacks and other protected groups. Interesting that in this light their claim to want to promote tolerance seems laughable.

      • djheru says:

        “To say they didn’t cause the problem is like saying a man who exposes himself to children is blameless and it is the kids fault for looking.” – Your analogy is faulty. We do not have a Constitutionally protected right to expose ourselves to children.

        “You could not possibly be so naive that you truely think this was simple a casual choice for a location for the mega-mosque.” No, the location was intended to serve as an outreach to non-muslims to promote understanding and tolerance of all religions. The personal history of the Imam lends credence to this view.

        “Indeed the backers of this mosque are intentionaly inflaming racist blacks to rally around them. They also intend to carve out a “protected” status for themselves” Yes, how DARE those sneaky muslims force Americans to victimize them with bigotry and intolerance.

      • Kurt says:

        It would be the kids fault if the kids had intruded in his home and caught him coming out of the shower. That is much more akin to this situation, where you are insisting that someone exercising their rights on their own property should bow to your demands.

        Also, yes I am so “naive” as to think that it’s ludicrous that the organizers picked that location just to piss off hypersensitive white guys like you. Seriously, you’re not that important — although the assumption that you are the most important kind of person in America is telling.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Kurt, the full story has not yet been told. Keep watching and you will discover where the money came from and what the purpose is. After the covers are pulled back and we all see that there are ties to terrorist groups will you still feel the same way.

        As to your point about exercising their rights you miss the mark. No one is “stopping” them. The people who object to this are simply exercising THEIR rights. It seems you think some people have more rights then others do.

  8. Miguel says:

    Short, concise, and to the point. Very well said.

  9. jrpowell says:

    People fighting the building of this mosque & community center are doing the terrorist’s work for them. The Republicans are doing this as a part of their ongoing strategy to scare (ignorant) white folks into voting for them. This is because to the Republicans, getting votes is more important than defending conservative values, like upholding the Constitution.

    The Republican Party is not truly conservative. In the ten years they had power we saw what their core value is: making rich people richer. Nothing more, nothing less. Starting wars in Asia and the Middle East? Yay for Haliburton and KBR. Clear Skies Act? Yay for Koch and the rest of Big Coal. Tax breaks on the rich? Yay for the rich. Financial deregulation? Yay for the rich again. Energy deregulation? Yay for Enron. And on and on. Vote Democrat until something better comes along.

    • I half agree with you: the Reps certainly are not fiscally conservative… whenever they have held enough power in DC the debt grew rapidly. However, both the Dems & Reps are playing a dangerous game of trying to make everyone happy (ie. the voters who actually put them in office and the donors who pay for their campaigns) – which causes them to rob Peter to pay Paul.
      Neither party really represents The People – although both put out a lot of propaganda claiming that they do.
      Americans need the courage to vote for ‘Third parties’ to break the duopoly of the Dems & Reps… not that third party candidates are magically more honorable but until a significant number of third party candidates get into office and neither party has a majority (and they cannot excuse themselves by pointing across the isle) there is no reason for them to change.

    • TryUsingLogic says:

      There are no perfect solutions but it should be obvious to any reasonable person that free markets and liberal democracy make all participants in society better off at every level of income.

      It is now being demonstrated by BO that government spending and increased regulations make all levels of society poorer by destroying incentives to create jobs and inspire wellbeing.

      BO is stubbornly sticking to his Utopian Dream and we are all paying the price.

      The Democrats are stuck on stupid when it comes to the economy!

    • Another point of view says:

      Enron was not attributable to George Bush. Tax cuts for the very rich is not the same as giving money to the rich, it is just stealing less from them. All should pay equally and the all would have more legitimate say in how things should be run. Stop asking for handouts and start taking responsibility for yourself and your neighbors.
      The problem is not with the communnity center but the fact that it is insensitive to build it there.

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      You would have to be naive to think those people against the mosque are Republican or ignorant. The people opposed to this are a very diverse group and very likely most of them would take offense to your calling them Republican.

    • danake says:

      Voting Democrat equals illigitimacy, crime, drugs, dependency, poverty, ignorance, incompetence, corruption, injustice and immorality. But don’t vote Republican cause they’re for “rich” folk.

  10. jackd says:

    A quibble with Dr. Shermer’s parenthetical:
    last year’s cultural scuffle over whether liberals should be given equal time on all radio shows, including conservative talk radio

    As I recall, the “cultural scuffle” was yet another ginned-up false controversy by conservatives claiming that the Obama administration was about to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, which was transparently false. Your characterization of the FD likewise reads like conservative propaganda.

    Oh and speaking of conservative propaganda, if anyone is misled by Newt Gingrich’s disquisition on Cordoba House, please see Got Medieval.

    • tmac57 says:

      The link didn’t work for me but I found the article through Google.Thanks, it was pretty interesting,and shows once more that Newt is a champion demagogue.

  11. The Saint says:

    Whoever came up with the phrase “ground zero mosque” deserves a prize, and a place in the hell-that-I-sometimes-wish-existed. As Shermer notes, it’s not at ground zero.

    Secondly, it’s not a mosque in any real sense. It’s a community center with a mosque inside. Most hospitals have chapels inside them. Does that make the hospital a church? Only if you’re an idiot.

    Personally, I find it much more offensive that people are trying to profit from 9/11 right next to ground zero by selling t-shirts and other worthless crap.

    • Max says:

      Selling t-shirts next to Ground Zero doesn’t send the message to Muslims around the world that Islam is gaining ground, but building a “Cordoba House” does. Recall that the Great Mosque of Córdoba was built on the site of a church.

      • tmac57 says:

        Max-Take a look at this article that jackd (#9) referenced regarding the Great Mosque of Córdoba for some perspective on that subject: http://gotmedieval.blogspot.com/2010/08/professor-newts-distorted-history.html

      • tmac57 says:

        I don’t have the scholarly background to evaluate the claims of this author,but I didn’t have much trouble finding criticisms of her work,as well as skepticism of Robert Spencer’s views.The article seems like a cherry picked and biased reading of history to me at first blush.

      • JediBear says:

        Thanks much for the link, tmac57. Very informative and enjoyable.

      • I hear all these people talk about how awful Islam is, as if Christianity and Judaism don’t have a closet full of skeletons. After having read the Qu’ran and the Bible I am convinced that the three ‘faiths of Abraham’ truly are siblings.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Today in about two dozen countries around the world muslims are killing Christains with the intent of mass genocide and taking over the country. Since 9/11 muslims terrorists have committed over 16,000 terrorists attacks in the name of Islam. Can you show us something similar by Christian organizations in that same time period??? All I can find is charitable efforts by Christian groups like in Haiti and Africa to save lives and help people. Are you really stupid or just blind?

      • The Saint says:

        How about the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan? While the US military may officially be secular, everyone knows it’s dominated by a conservative and Christian culture. Or how about the orthodox Serbs trying to ethnically cleanse the Muslims from their midst? Or does that not fit within your arbitrary timeline?

      • djheru says:

        First, I would like to remind you that Islam is only about 1400 years old. If you compare the behavior of followers of radical Islam to the behavior of followers of radical Christianity circa 1400AD, I’m sure you will be able to note the similarities.

        Second, without going into a debate of the accuracy of your claims or the definition of your terms when you state that “muslims [sic] terrorists have committed over 16,000 terrorists attacks in the name of Islam”, I think that it is important to point out that there are over 1.5 billion muslims. If the natural outcome of a belief in Islam is violent extremism, it seems obvious that the world would be in a far greater state of conflict than it is now. In fact, we see that in the absence of other factors that may encourage violent extremism, such as war, desperate poverty, or political oppression, most predominantly muslim countries are comparable to non-muslim countries, all other factors being similar.

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        Could you possibly have missed the provocation, i.e. 9/11. Do you really think we “invaded” Iraq or Afghanistan for no reason???

        Do yourself a favor and look into the issues in Serbia and the surrounding Balkanized areas/countries. There is a centuries old open sore caused by Muslim invaders centuries ago. The “muslims in their midst” did not have clean hands. They have been doing a little ethnic cleansing of their own. I sincerely hope the people in that area learn to live together because neither side is going anywhere. But do not make the mistake of ignoring the facts that don’t fit your agenda.

      • The Saint says:

        So you really think that AQ attacked on 9/11 for “no reason”? Obviously not. Obviously the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (for some reason) were reactions to 9/11. The 9/11 attacks were reactions to a half century of US meddling in the middle east.
        I don’t blame the Muslims living in the Balkans today for their ancestors invading Eastern Europe several centuries ago. That fact is completely irrelevant to my point, which was that Christians are not blameless in the last several decades.

    • Max says:

      Americans may still be edgy after the International Freedom Center, a.k.a. the “Why They Hate Us Pavilion”, was selected in 2004 as a “cultural space” adjacent to Ground Zero.

  12. BillG says:

    Perhaps the best way to combat “The free exercise of stupidity” is to ignore and give it zero attention.
    Dr.Laura and Mosque builders – the dolt and the delusional, will simply fade away if we let their ego go unfed.

  13. Andrew says:

    If Sarah Palin wants to claim that Schlessinger’s First Amendment rights “ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence her.” then wouldn’t she also have to admit that she and Newt and the rest of the people against the two blocks from ground zero cultural center are in fact against the constitutional rights of muslims.

    She clams otherwise and I just wanted to point out how even her internal logic is fucking retarded.

    In reality Shermer is correct here and there is no first amendment issues with either Schlessinger or the cultural center. (Unless people are actually successful in using zoning regulation in stopping the project.)
    I’m just sick and tired of people playing political football with the constitution. We need more people like Lucy pulling the football away from blockheads.

  14. Montana says:

    I am so happy that the ugly (inside and out) crazy old gym teacher reaped what she had sowed. She could have gotten her argument across by saying “N word” and not using the word and by not saying “don’t NAACP me” but like Michael Richards AKA “Cosmo Kramer”,she ends up the the trash heap of history, a history of her own making. I am so happy that the free market AKA sponsors started to pull their ads (I guess they were exercising their free speach) and she finally realized that she was just another “run of the mill gabby” and her days were numbered. She realized that she was not as smart as she thought she was, finally!

    Palin was the one who got bent over the use of the word “Retard”, Palin also said that the people have the right to build the Mosque in NY, but out of respect for the 9/11 families they shouldn’t, but I guess this same standard is not applicable to Laura Schlessinger. Do you see the hypocrisy? The problem with Palin is the same when she mistakenly referred to Ronald Reagan Eureka College, being in California and we all know its in Illinois, same thing, she does not fact check anything she is going to say. She is soooo Palin!

  15. i think it is impossible to the government not to have a business about that matter because even here in our place politics/government have business regarding the church/religion..

  16. awC says:

    Being Canadian, we do not have a lot of the so called rights to speach, guns and protest that Americans do. We any worse off for it, we seem to get a long much better both locally and globally.

    It is so distant in our past that we do not even know what the N word means anymore or it has no significance in modern Canadian society.

    That Americans are holding on to the ground zero incident celebrating it year after year, it is like bitter feelings of divorce that wont go a way yet serves a dark purpose. It appears it is used as one more reason for political divide and conflict by the US to fuel the industrial military. Typically the conflict is abroad, perhaps this time the violence will come home to roost.

    Just because the constitution uses the word Free it does not make you so.

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      Canada is very lucky with a small population in a large country with a wealth of natural resources. Do not confuse this “luck” with skill. It is quite likely you will survive this recession/depression fairly well thanks to your abundance of oil, NG, coal, timber, and of course a HUGE market with a 3000 mile border to your country. It may be 100 years before your population and balkanization give you the problems we have here. Be happy and enjoy your good fortune.

  17. Bob Mcbride says:

    Does Sara Palin claim that her 1st amendment protections were violated when she quit her job as governor?

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      The Democrats in Alasaka pulled out all the stops and mounted a massive dirty tricks campaign against Palin when she was governor. The DNC pumped in money and dirty lawyers to lead the effort and used local lawmakers as front men in the attacks. Sarah Palin acknowledged that the dirty tricks were preventing her from governing and the only way she could restore sanity to the process was to quit. SO while it certainly was a resounding success by the Democrats it is hardly something to brag about. Personally I would favor a special prosecutor to investigate what laws the Democrats broke in their Vendetta. It would also be interesting to discover where they got the money from. They seem to have an illegal slush fund that they use for dirty tricks…

      • Beelzebud says:

        Oh please, save the political propaganda for somewhere else.

        She quit mid-term. Period. That’s not leadership.

      • Bob Mcbride says:

        @gone You are quite mistaken if you think I’m a democrat. I’m no fan of Palin either. You on the other hand seem to have a biased view. The complaints that ended her career (well led her to quitting) were ethics charges. What evidence do you have of her acusers?

      • GoneWithTheWind says:

        The evidence is that as soon as she quit the blizzard of false charges ended. This is classic Democrat dirty trick.

      • djheru says:

        Actually @gone, Sarah Palin was found guilty of ethics violations and had to return $368,000 worth of contributions. http://doa.alaska.gov/dop/

      • Beelzebud says:

        That’s not evidence of anything but your conspiratorial mindset. Palin isn’t a victim. She quit her job early, to sell a book, and become a celebrity.

  18. jeshua says:

    It’s obvious most people have the issues surrounding the proposed Islamic center all confused. First of all, they have every right to build their center wherever they have legally purchased the land, which i understand they actually purchased BEFORE 9/11. It is not a “victory mosque.”

    OTOH, i think the planners themselves should be reconsidering based on possible negative consequences, however they might arise, i.e. from bigoted politicians, manipulative media, fearmongering, etc. In the end, it should be up to the planners whether or not to build there.

    In spite of my comments above, there are still some questions that IMO need to be answered. The answers could either help to allay or confirm people’s fears, but regardless, they need to be answered. For instance: Will men and women be allowed to swim at the same time in their pool? Will the women be required to wear “burquinis?” Will the mosque invite radical imams to preach there? Does Rauf realize the importance of silencing his critics by being more forthcoming? Like i said, the answers won’t affect my opinion about building the center, but they could go a long way to quieting opponents or confirming people’s fears.

  19. David Hoffman says:

    Granted that they have every right to build a mosque at ground zero, the building was damaged by landing gear from one of the planes so it is on ground zero, the question is weather they should. They should not. It will cause the relatives of the 9/11 victims great pain to see a monument built to the religion that inspired the attacks. I imagine that when the imams start preaching hatred for the infidels and support for shariah every friday it will cause more pain. The fact that the people behind this project do not see this or do not care says something.
    Then there is the question of why they want this mosque built at the particular site. Could it possibly be intended as sort of a victory memorial to demonstrate the superiority of the true faith over the infidels.
    We would not allow a shrine to Hitler at Auchswitz. We would not allow a statue of McVeigh built in Oklahoma City. We ought not to allow this mosque to be built.

  20. David Hoffman says:

    And yes, I am making a direct comparison between Islam and Nazism. Call me a bigot if you will, but then read Mein Kampf and the Qu’ran. They say similar things about the Jews. If anything the Qu’ran is far more hateful.

  21. Norman Charles says:

    If the “cultural center” is built at the proposed location, it will be regarded by many as an insult to the 9-11 victims. This perceived insult may incite violence. That seems to me enough justification for the NYC authorities to deny a building permit.

  22. Bo Gardiner says:

    I like the succinctness of this article — thanks. With these two issues, conservatives make their hypocrisy evident. They claim to want less government… but then for Schlesinger they apparently want some sort of government intervention to guarantee a radio slot where they can offend, and they want the government to intervene to violate citizens rights, so they themselves are not offended.

    But they know damn well there are no Constitutional issues here. They’re perfectly happy with the pretense, with the hypocrisy, to cynically manipulate public opinion. I can’t understand such poor ethics. It’s nauseating.

    Yet personally, I have concerns about the center. While I argue for their right to build, and defend them against wingnut claims of secret terrorist intentions, I question the planners’ agenda. They are obviously fomenting the opposite of the goodwill they claim to seek. Why? And however sincerely “moderate” and nonviolent they may be in their intentions, their center will empower a belief system that in practice is used around the world to justify violence, oppression of women, intolerance, and irrationalism.

    I am profoundly offended by it. But that’s my problem, not the government’s. The worse thing mosque opponents could do is behave themselves like oppressive, unjust and irrational extremists.

  23. Bill Dietrich says:

    Both of these issues are red herring non issues. They are super hyped media issues to distract us from very bad economic news, a 17% real unemployment rate, more home foreclosures daily, a dollar that continues to fall in value, Wall Street Bankers who continue to rob your 401K, IRA and Pension funds and invest the money in High Risk Derivatives and Credit Default Swaps and then give themselves million dollar bonuses, etc.

    Nice job Michael. Keep up the side distractions. You are good at that. Don’t talk about the real problems. Only the false problems.

    • danake says:

      you are correct sir!

    • Gnosis Mysterion says:

      @Bill – The first paragraph I applaud, but it was rather silly, frankly, to call Dr. Shermer down for distracting from more important issues, when he wrote, and I quote, “Recently, two of the biggest media story brouhahas were…” Have you bothered to consider the word “brouhaha” in this sentence? It means “publicity, attention, or excitement far beyond the merits or importance of its cause”. So, Dr. Shermer actually seems to agree with you about them being “super hyped media issues”.

      Nice job, Bill…

    • Adam says:

      Dude – this is ScepticsBlog.org. The article is here to point out that they ARE “super hyped media issues” and are really non-issues (at least in the way they are being presented) – i.e. to be skeptical about how the media is portraying the issues. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

  24. Bo Gardiner says:

    You two apparently stumbled onto the wrong website while you were looking for the “Discuss Only Serious Economic Problems” Society.

    Check the “about this site” page then try again.

    Or better yet, just get over yourselves.

  25. Montana says:

    I am so happy that the ugly (inside and out) crazy old gym teacher reaped what she had sowed. She could have gotten her argument across by saying “N word” and not using the word and by not saying “don’t NAACP me” but like Michael Richards AKA “Cosmo Kramer”, she ends up the trash heap of history, a history of her own making. I am so happy that the free market AKA sponsors started to pull their ads (I guess they were exercising their free speech) and she finally realized that she was just another “run of the mill gabby” and her days were numbered. She realized that she was not as smart as she thought she was, finally! The first three times she used the word might not have been in anger but the last eight she was filled with hate, so good riddance.

    Palin was the one who got bent over the use of the word “Retard” (she wanted some fired?), Palin also said that the people have the right to build the Mosque in NY, but out of respect for the 9/11 families they shouldn’t, but I guess this same standard is not applicable to Laura Schlessinger. Do you see the hypocrisy? The problem with Palin is the same when she mistakenly referred to Ronald Reagan Eureka College, being in California and we all know its in Illinois, same thing, she does not fact check anything she is going to say. She is soooo Palin!

    http://vodpod.com/watch/3933949-keith-olbermann-mocks-sarah-palins-imbecility-stupidity-video

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-24-2010/the-hurt-talker

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhGk6eF65Fo

  26. GoneWithTheWind says:

    It would seem that a misstatement about the location of the college should be pretty minor in the greater scheme of things. If she intentionally told a lie with the intent to deceive or to pass bad legislation that would be a big deal. Obama has done this often, for example:
    Here are Obama’s greatest lies … misstatements … and stretches of the truth as contained in his address before the joint session.

    “Buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer.”

    “There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”

    “And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage.”

    “One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy. . . . They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it.”

    “Another woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne.”

    Rising costs are “why so many employers . . . are forcing their employees to pay more for insurance.”

    Rising costs are “why American business that compete internationally . . . are at a huge disadvantage.”

    “Those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it — about $1,000 per year that pays for somebody else’s emergency room and charitable care.”

    At this point, Obama said, “These are the facts. Nobody disputes them.”

    “[Reform] will slow the growth of health-care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.”

    “Nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: Nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.”

    Requiring insurers to cover preventive care “saves money.”

    “The [bogus] claim . . . that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens . . . is a lie, plain and simple.”

    “There are also those who claim that our reform efforts would insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false. The reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.”

    “Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.”

    Critics of the public option would “be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they won’t be. I’ve insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.”

    “And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.”

    “I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future.” “The plan will not add to our deficit.”

    “Now, add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years.”

    “The middle class will realize greater security, not higher taxes.”

    I know your devotion to truth and clearing up misstatements will cause you to jump on this and give us an opinion…

  27. hznfrst says:

    GWTW, every first-world country except the US has some form of national health care, because it *works*. Demagogues on the right are convincing less-educated and lower-income people to vote against their own best interests by *lying* to them about the horrible consequences of providing health care to everyone. Attitudes like yours sicken me to death because they are so transparently pro-profit to the exclusion of everything else that matters to civilized people.

    European countries in general provide universal converage for all their citizens at a cost of roughly *one-quarter* per capita that we pay! How – by raising taxes which people are happy to pay because they recognize the value they are getting in return. Insurance companies (when they exist) are not allowed to overcharge and deny coverage to anyone, trial lawyers are not allowed to demand obscenely large malpractice awards, and drug companies are not allowed to gouge patients with absurdly high prices.

    All of this happens because those governments are not entirely in the pockets of profit-seeking corporations as they are in the US, and the people have given those governments the muscle to make health insurance work, along with mass transit systems that put anything we have in this country to shame. Ooh, bad, bad big government, with all its evil public services – how dare they work for the people!

    As for the mosque disguised as a “cultural center,” I am against it for both emotional and practical reasons. It may be legal but it’s certainly a bad idea to put it there (and no one is suggesting to demolish the existing mosques in the area). When they want to open it on the tenth anniversary of the attacks, how politically-correct do you have to be to dismiss this as “unimportant”? Sheesh, if Pat Condell would run for office here I’d vote for him as often as possible – and I’m what most would consider to be a liberal.

    The First Amendment has been studiously ignored for most of our history ever since we gave churches all those undeserved tax exemptions. Imagine how putting a stop to that would reduce the deficit. Oh yeah, and stopping all the insane wars that the Republicans were so hot for, and taking another hint from Europe, controlling drugs and prostitution by *legalizing, taxing and regulating them* like any other business. Business is one of your favorite things, is it not? Are you going to say you think alcohol prohibition was a good idea?

    Finally, Sahara (mind like a desert) Palin: an ignorant, amoral, money-grubbing, corrupt, anti-science, crazy bible-thumping fundamentalist nutjob who belongs in an asylum, at any rate nowhere near a responsible position in government.

    • GoneWithTheWind says:

      Socialized health care does not work. It requires rationing and some bureaucrat gets to decide who gets care and who doesn’t. In England the government decided that people over 55 who were receiving dialysis were not worth the cost to save their lives so this life saving care was denied them. In Canada the health care is MUCH better. If you are diagnosed with a serious heart condition requiring an immediate bypass operation you will be put on a two year waiting list and eventually become eligible. OR you can go South of the border and get the operation to save your life within a week. Canada runs out of money every year and has to put off health care for months until a new budget is funded and they can afford to take care of you. France (one of those enlightened European countries you love so much) had a hot spell a few years back and 16,000 French citizens died. The heat wave occurred during August and all the French government employees take 6 weeks off in the summer so the doctors were gone and many hospitals were closed. So much for the government coming to your aid.

      • dcanuck says:

        GWTW – Where did you get your info on the Canadian health system – Fox News?

        I apologize for being off the blog topic here, but I had to address this.

        If anyone has to have waited for 2 yrs for bypass surgery, it was certainly an isolated incident. I have 3 friends and my father all who had immediate attention thanks to this system and they didn’t have to go bankrupt to pay for it!

        Nobody has had to wait until the money comes in to get necessary treatment. I don’t know who you were talking to, but it definitely was not the average Canadian who fights to keep our health care out of the hands of corporations whose only interest is the bottom line!

  28. Montana says:

    I am so happy that the ugly (inside and out) crazy old gym teacher reaped what she had sowed. She could have gotten her argument across by saying “N word” and not using the word and by not saying “don’t NAACP me” and “Don’t marry out of your race ” but like Michael Richards AKA “Cosmo Kramer”, she ends up the trash heap of history, a history of her own making. I am so happy that the free market AKA sponsors started to pull their ads (I guess they were exercising their free speech) and she finally realized that she was just another “run of the mill gabby” and her days were numbered. She realized that she was not as smart as she thought she was, finally! We are all adults here and we all know that we cannot control how others will respond to our comments, but it nothing to do about First Amendment rights (how exactly did the government stop her? They didn’t) and street talk and more about being held responsible for our actions and words. The first three times she used the word might not have been in anger but the last eight she was filled with hate, so good riddance.

    Palin was the one who got bent over the use of the word “Retard” (she wanted someone fired for using it once), Palin also said that the people have the right to build the Mosque in NY, but out of respect for the 9/11 families they shouldn’t, but I guess this same standard is not applicable to Laura Schlessinger. Do you see the hypocrisy? The problem with Palin is the same when she mistakenly referred to Ronald Reagan Eureka College, being in California and we all know its in Illinois, same thing, she does not fact check anything she is going to say. She is soooo Palin!

    http://vodpod.com/watch/3933949-keith-olbermann-mocks-sarah-palins-imbecility-stupidity-video

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-august-24-2010/the-hurt-talker

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhGk6eF65Fo

  29. Jim Howard says:

    The Ground Zero Mosque would be a first amendment issue if anyone were asking the government to somehow prohibit it from being built.

    Not being a Muslim country or France, our government doesn’t have an official religion and doesn’t regulate on the basis of religion.

    Nobody is asking the government to regulate this Mosque. It is a stupid strawman argument to frame the Ground Zero Mosque (and is IS a Mosque) as a first amendment issue.

    What clear thinking people are saying is that even though it IS the right of the landowner to build a Mosque very near ground zero, its ‘Not Right’. In fact it is highly offensive to many millions of Americans, particularly those who lost friends and family in the Jihad attack on the WTC.

    You know, if there is one thing the left likes to do is be offended. Mostly they are offended by hearing anything that doesn’t agree with their narrow world view. Why isn’t the left offended by this mean-spirited insult to the victims of the 9/11 attacks?

    Instead of making a disingenuous strawman attack on the majority of Americans who oppose the Ground Zero Mosque, why don’t you ask the Mosque builders to read that ‘CoExist’ bumper sticker on your Prius and move the Mosque a respectful distance away from Ground Zero?

  30. MaikU says:

    This is just another PR..

  31. MaikU says:

    “In fact it is highly offensive to many millions of Americans, particularly those who lost friends and family in the Jihad attack on the WTC.”

    there is no such thing as “right not to be offended”.

    “the majority of Americans who oppose the Ground Zero Mosque”

    did you made a poll? Please gimme a link. Even if you gave it to me… Since when a majority have a say what a person can build on his property or not? You are just full of yourself, dude :)

    Maybe I am offended by your hat. So if I ask my friends to support me, I can then prohibit you from wearing your own hat? Can’t you see a absurdity of your own position?

    • Max says:

      Thanks for demonstrating the strawman argument that Jim was just talking about.

    • Jim Howard says:

      MakU, thanks for being the poster boy for the typical liberal’s lack of reading comprehension and general overall inability to reason logically. You even topped Michael Shermer in this respect.

      To answer your comments.

      “did you made a poll? Please gimme a link”. Here is what you need to do, this may be hard for you, have an adult type in google.com for you, and ask the adult to search for “ground zero mosque poll”. You’ll see that dozens of national polls have been taken on this question, both from fair and balanced news organizations like Fox as well as highly biased liberal advocacy groups like Time Magazine, CBS news, and ABC news.

      In all of these polls the majority of both New York residents and all Americans oppose the Ground Zero Mosque by large margins.

      “Even if you gave it to me… Since when a majority have a say what a person can build on his property or not?”

      Well, the supreme court has said in the Kelso decision that the majority can just seize private property whenever it wants. And let’s not get started on the Obama EPA’s view of private property.

      “Maybe I am offended by your hat. So if I ask my friends to support me, I can then prohibit you from wearing your own hat?”

      Well if you were the author of the campus speech code on a liberal university you certainly would claim that right.

      However, unlike you, MaxU, I’m a conservative and so understand that just because something offends me it should not therefore be made illegal.

      Had you actually read my prior comment you would have understood that like all clear thinking Americans I acknowledged the right of the land owner to proceed with this unfortunate building project. I just pointed out that it’s ‘Not Right’. And its not.

      I’m not certain, but I have a theory that folks like MaxU and Michael Shermer are religious fanatics, and their God is the Government. Their mental processes are so hard wired to view government action as the only possible solution to any problem that they become hopelessly confused by individuals who do not share the view that if the government allows an action, the action is therefore completely moral and beyond criticism.

      In my opinion the original post is a childist hate driven strawman attack without a shred of clear thinking in it.

      • KittyS says:

        It’s not right? The only reason it could be possibly “not right” is if every Muslim was supportive of the events on 9/11. They are not. Muslims and especially American Muslims are a culturally diverse group. The ones who aren’t American-born come from all over the world including Europe and Africa. They have as many degrees of worship and as much variation of devotion as any other religion. You can not tar an entire group for the actions of some fundamentalists.

        A small group of Muslim extremists were responsible for the attacks on 9/11. Saying it’s not right to build a mosque a few blocks away from ground zero is like saying you can’t build a church near the Stonewall Inn because of Westboro Baptist.

  32. Max says:

    I just saw your comment that “Skepticism and rational thinking is a key to the objective morality.”
    Is it objectively moral to hang a noose from a tree in a black neighborhood, or to build a big statue of Osama bin Laden on your property next to Ground Zero?

  33. Richard Boyle says:

    Max, you are articulate and knowledgeable on these matters and I have enjoyed looking at your references even though I consider some to be of questionable authority because of their rather obvious agenda. Nevertheless, I was about to raise the Skokie issue when I saw that you had used it to bolster your position that the sensitivities of the overwhelming (79% at the time) Jewish population of Skokie should have taken preference over the constitutional right of the neo-Nazis to acquire a parade permit to march in the city. You pose your question as if the answer were self-evident. It was not at the time and still is not to most. To those who value the first Amendment, however, it IS self-evident. The issue split the ACLU at the time and negatively effected their contributions. The case was won for the Nazis because of a Jewish attorney appointed by the ACLU who made the point that the constitution does not afford anyone a right not to be offended and that we do not value but we do protect the right to express opinions that we dispise as well as those with which we agree. That Jewish attorney hated his clients but he loved the principle of the first amendment more. This is the quintessential example of one of the most striking differences between our value of the first amendment freedoms and the position of Islam. Speak, if you will, of the reaction of the Islamic world toward the publication of the “Danish Cartoons” a few years ago. You want the sensitivities of the Jews of Skokie to prevail and you want the same thing for the families of the victims of 9-11 even though over 300 of them were Muslim and the families are by no means united in their opinion on the “GZ Mosque”. How about the sensitivities of the Muslim world in Western Europe and the Middle East in re the “Danish Cartoons”? Do they also fall under your unbrella of sensitivities? The American press failed to re-print those Danish Cartoons out of regard for the feelings of American Muslims. I thought they were gutless and doing a disservice to the spirit (not the letter…Shermer is right about that) of the first amendment. What did you think?

  34. Mover says:

    Just a few points to ponder.

    1. The author states about Dr. Laura, “…including her stupefyingly ignorant opinion that blacks are being hypersensitive when called the N-word by whites.”

    That is factually incorrect. Reading the transcript, Dr Laura was talking to one Black female named Jade and it was Jade who Dr. Laura accused of being hypersensitive. Dr. Laura was using the word to make a point. She implied that other African-Americans use the term to gain leverage, but that is about as far as it got.

    However, there was a possible racist remark made during the show.
    Jade said, “there’s more white people afraid of a black man taking over the nation.”

    Is that a racist remake? I don’t think so.

    Personality, I believe any African-American is justified in being upset when a Caucasian uses the n-word (btw, I’m Caucasian) But context is very important.

    The author got it right when he said, “The First Amendment applies only to what the government can and cannot do.”

    2. Was Dr. Laura’s remark protected free speech? No. When you say free speech as in Constitutionally protected free speech, its purpose was to protect political speech from government interference, such as censorship. Speech between individuals has no such protection. If it were, then the community standards approach to preventing people from broadcasting obscene words over the radio or TV would not exist. The US Constitution restricts government power, not the people.

    If Dr. Laura’s sponsors abandoned her because of what she said, that is their purgative. You can call it censoring her if you like, but it is not unlawful.

    In this case, she simply announced she would be quitting. She censored herself. So, there is no First Amendment issue here.

    3. As for the “Ground Zero not-a-victory-mosque-community center, it is not a First Amendment issue either. Contrary to what all the news outlets have been saying about the subject. This is a local community issue.

    Local communities have the right and the power to control what is and is not built in their community. If this were not true, there would be no planning boards, no zoning ordinances, no city engineers deciding what structures can be built, whether there are strip joints in the neighborhood, where the shopping centers are located and churches/religious structures go through the same process. The backers of the Cordoba House have no right to build anything they want wherever they want. Just like everyone else, they must get permission from the city planners and those planners and their political leadership work at the pleasure of the voters. If the voters say they don’t want a mosque or Islamic community center built at that particular location, they are perfectly within their right to say so and to lobby to have the project stopped. Just because they are claiming religious protection under the First Amendment, doesn’t mean they have a First Amendment right to disregard the local community. It means they are spinning the story to accomplish their goal.

    Oh, and finally, Speaker Pelosi has no business wanting an investigation of the people who are opposed to building the community center. I hope the voters in her district see how corrupt she is.

    • Max says:

      Strip clubs have sued over being denied First Amendment rights, although the First Amendment doesn’t protect obscenity. Some commentators called the Ground Zero mosque an obscenity, but I don’t think it satisfies the legal definition.

  35. Richard Boyle says:

    Max, Strip clubs have sued and won on the issue of freedom of expression after having been denied the right to build by local zoning ordinances and/or boards both of which constitute “state action”. The “state action” in the “mosque” case has come down in favor of the approval of the application to build. The opposition has nothing to do with state action and nothing to do with the first amendment at this point. The opposition has to do with “sensitivity” to the feelings of the survivors of those killed on 9-11, at least that is the cover story for the rather obvious rash of anti-Islamic reaction throughout the country. I directed an entire comment ( # 33 above) to you in re this “sensitivity” issue which you have ignored. Your sentiments for the feelings of others who deem themselves to be offended are clear in this “mosque” case and in the “Skokie” case. What about the case of the “Danish Cartoons”? Were you equally sensitive to the feelings of the offended Muslims at that time? If not, how do you distinguish them? I thought the violent reaction of Islam in Western Europe and the threats resulting were outrageous and that the freedom of the Danish press was seriously threatened not to mention the life of the editorial cartoonist and, further, that the American press was gutless for electing not to republish the offending “cartoons” in this country. What did you think at the time and what do you think now?

    • Max says:

      I’d like to see Nazi and Jihadist operations banned. Their mission is to overthrow the government and carry out ethnic/racial/religious cleansing, which I think is worse than jaywalking or littering.

      We all understand why it’s wrong for Nazis to march through a Jewish neighborhood or hang nooses in black neighborhoods, condoning genocide and lynchings. We shouldn’t put up with that.
      The Danish cartoons didn’t condone genocide. They offended Muslims because they violate Sharia. Well if Muslims are offended by violations of Sharia and issue death fatwas against the violators, then they’ll only be content when everyone follows Sharia, in effect imposing Islam on non-Muslims. We shouldn’t put up with that either.

  36. Mike says:

    I just wanted to point out that the government actually does limit the speech of a radio host. There are a few words that are not allowed on the airwaves. This is clearly a first amendment violation.

  37. J.F.Soti says:

    So if I correctly understand what Michael Shermer is saying, they are free to build their mosque and those who do not like it are free to peacefully assemble there and taunt them with pork products:-) That said I don’t think they can get it built, American workers are refusing to do the job and much of the illegal aliens workforce is self deporting due to Obamanomics.

  38. Rude (Rudy) Waken says:

    This is really a very sensitive issue, in that Islam, which is a religious, military and political system created by Arabs, has sought to place a shine to their achievements in NYC. This was done in Cordova SP, however the Mosque that was built over the church there was later converted back to a Catholic Church.
    This move is similar in the Commercial districts as “One Up Man-ship” where the building is made better than before it is approved.
    In our country we don’t play by the same set of rules as the Arab countries. They do not abide by the same ethics we here in the US take for granted as the supposed established norm. So when someone wants to build a religious center, the reasons are always assumed to be the most honorable as well a practical.
    Although I lack the specifics, there was an orthodox church that was condemned after the 9/11 attack because of damaged sustained when debris fell from one of the towers. So far they have had no assistance or approvals to reopen this Christian Church after 9 F___ing years. Then the Muslims come in and after 2 years have an approved set of plans to begin construction, once this planning issue is cleared. It makes me and others wonder in the architectural field if the hands of some people in the Big Apple had a Big Pile of Money either deposited in some account for them, or going toward campaign funds in the future.

  39. Tim says:

    Would it be out of line to suggest that Americans have been funding Muslim activities for years due to their oil addiction? Since y’all have been giving them yer money for all these years, is it a suprise that they are buying up prime real estate?
    And regarding the previous discussion that goes ‘Christians aint so bad as them nasty ole Muslims..’ Seriously? That whole white christian race thing from about the 1600′s to today, in Africa, the Americas, Asia, ahh…. Slavery, opium wars, and on and on…the whole frickin world actually fugged over by fans of the J man? Some so called skeptics here have forgot their history lessons.
    A dialogue asks questions to gain knowledge. How many of these posts reveal the authors claim some particular insight, yet are not so humble as to ask a question. Skeptics, my ass…. the trolls are breeding here. All faith is perversion; celebrate world mental health day, October 10.