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MSNBC’s Hayes: ‘I Don’t Care’ If Cartoon Contest Was Provocation, It’s ‘Important’

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MSNBC’s “All In” host Chris Hayes argued that it doesn’t matter if the Mohammed Art Exhibit and Contest was a “provocation,” “it’s important that that be done” on Thursday.

While Hayes said that Geller’s speech is “ugly stuff,” he continued, “my feeling, though, in the wake of this, is that there’s some part of me that feels that if the thing you’re worried about is doing an event that will provoke two people rolling up in body armor and automatic weapons trying to murder people, then it actually weirdly is important that you do that or it’s important that that be done. Like, this idea that this was a provocation which, yes it was a provocation, but I don’t care if it was it was a provocation, if what it’s provoking is attempted murder because I want to live in a society that that is essentially not okay and not tolerated.”

Daily Beast columnist Michael Moynihan, while he denounced “Pamela Geller’s odious and cretinous views” argued, “I think the bigger problem here is I don’t like the fact that we are again after Charlie Hebdo, litigating the content of Pamela Geller’s blog posts and her silly contest. What — it strikes me is if people — if it is provocation to murder, to have a bunch of, kind of 50 knuckle-draggers who think Islam is like the worst — it’s not radical Islam. It is Islam. If that is — if it’s provoking people into gunfire, that’s the bigger problem, right? There’s nothing that can provoke me, I mean, I understand that people are offended by this, but, you know, you can’t pull out a gun. That seems like an obvious point. But that said, there is no legal sort of regime here that says this, you know, free speech — is it free speech or hate speech? I saw this today, I mean, it can be both.” A point Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations in the San Francisco Bay Area agreed with.

Hayes added, “Here’s an example of how I think of this in my — from where I sit, right? If someone — if we were going to do a segment that was about someone that was advertising on the network and I was kind of on the fence about it, or actually didn’t like the segment, right, I thought it was a little unfair maybe, but then someone came to us and said ‘you can’t do that segment because of an advertiser.’ I’d be like, ‘now we have to do the segment.’ Because I have to — it has to be the case that we can do that segment, right? And So, what I don’t like is the notion that there are people going to be making calculations, particularly like a venue, do we want to give you venue over to this thing? And the calculation they’re making isn’t a calculation of do I think this person is bigoted or odious? But, is this going to create a security footprint that I’m not comfortable with? Because that seems to me to be a real threat to free speech.”

Billoo added, “I don’t think that personal safety should be what determines how and when I speak, or what you’re permitted to say, or what we choose to say, but I also don’t think that Pamela Geller is a champion of free speech. Examples of her own work advocating against First Amendment rights include what you mentioned about Park51, her opposition to Al Jazeera. She’s not a free speech advocate, she is an anti-Muslim advocate.” An argument that Hayes and Moynihan also agreed with.

Moynihan also said, “I really hope that people get away from this idea of ‘it’s a provocation, and we shouldn’t provoke things,'” and Hayes stated he also agreed on that point. Moynihan added that, “I think that the idea that the person being odious, is it doesn’t matter, because there are things, there are people that aren’t odious that provoke with religious beliefs into violence. Whether it’s two men holding hands in the wrong neighborhood, that’s a provocation to people who are very religious.”

(h/t Truth Revolt)

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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