“Free Speech”, and the existence of “Provocative Mannerism”.
Let me lay down all my cards on the table before I delve into the matter any further.
My name is Nabeel Tahir.
I was born in Pakistan, raised in between Pakistan, Singapore, Dubai, and Australia.
I’m a man of religion — meaning that I am Muslim.
I’m a supporter of Free Speech.
I believe in constructive criticism.
I believe in satire.
I acknowledge the right to criticise behaviour or ideas one does not agree with.
I believe in Freedom of Expression.
Whilst I deny that “Hate Speech” exists in it’s pure form, according to it’s dictionary definition; I acknowledge the presence of Provocative Mannerism.
What exactly do I mean when I say “Provocative Mannerism”, because if I’m a supporter of Free Speech — does that not mean I support the right for people to mock and criticise a culture or religion?
I do. I always have.
I also believe in Behaviour appropriation, meaning that I must pay respect to others regardless of their identity, culture, or religious beliefs.
I respect all religions, and welcome people of all backgrounds into my life.
I do not discard or mock people for making fun of me, my skin isn’t that thin.
When my atheist friends argue about religious beliefs with me, I listen and pay my respects; I do not dismiss them.
I’m not overtly religious, I do not preach and I’m not up in people’s faces for what beliefs they hold dear to themselves; as long as it doesn’t harm others.
That’s where I draw the line.
I’ve been to clubs and parties, I like music — I don’t drink, but I don’t mind if my friends do.
But if my friends submerge themselves into a substance to a point that they’re being a menace to society; I’ll step in — because it’s harming others.
Same as I would if a person of Muslim faith wages violence against someone for expressing their opinion.
I defended Salman Rushdie, though I was largely criticised for it at the time.
I’ve read Christopher Hitchens’ books, because I think he was a truly brilliant debater and held respectful opinions — I adored his ability to be open minded and allow his opinions to be challenged; going as far as to change his mind when he was proven wrong (Popularly: His stance on Water-Boarding).
Here’s what I do not believe is “Free Speech” but is “Provocative Mannerism”; calling out a Prophet or God of any religious belief through repulsive language and behaviour purely for the sake of provoking a sensitive issue and then hiding behind the blanket of “Free Speech” and “Oppression”.
Throwing Pork in the face of a Muslim or a person of Jewish faith, or for that matter throwing anything at anybody — is Provocative Mannerism and not “Free Speech”.
Standing naked outside a place where such behaviour is prohibited, is not Free Speech but is Provocative Mannerism — same as it would be if I light up a cigarette in a restaurant; it would make others uncomfortable.
I invite people to express their opinion, and wouldn’t call out for violence against it.
There’s an idea of “No-Go Zones”, and how Multiculturalism and Immigration is failing.
Here’s where I stand on that matter,
I’m an Individual, I know my beliefs, I know where I stand on certain issues, and I acknowledge behaviour that I’m accustomed to.
I do not expect the world to change for me, I must change to adapt.
Same as any individual is expected when they enter a place that upholds a belief and a legal system that requires it to be so.
If I visit a Western culture, I do not have the right to be offended when there’s a party on a Friday Night or by behaviour that doesn’t coincide with my belief system; Why? Because It’s not my country, it’s a secular country and as such I must respect the laws of their culture and not expect to impose mine.
I do wish to be respected, but I cannot demand it.
I cannot demand the right for a Western society to change because I’m unable to adapt.
Same as a Western individual would be expected when they do visit a Muslim country.
In Pakistan, we allow Alcohol consumption for Foreigners and is Legal for sale to Non-Muslims. (What a shocker, right?)
In Dubai, we do not arrest individuals who indulge in Alcohol, Clubbing, or Dressing in a bikini at a beach. Because in Dubai, we appreciate tourism; and wish to promote it because it’s financially beneficial.
In Abu-Dhabi, such behaviour is frowned upon; though they both exist within the United Arab Emirates.
In Saudi-Arabia, which is a religious state and upholds Sharia Law; theres the laws of that state in place to protect their beliefs — as much as the Western Culture may disagree with them.
Same as they are in Israel.
Both places have my respect, and have the right to uphold their beliefs.
If you don’t agree, don’t go there. It’s quite simple.
If a police officer warns me, there’s a Fire down the road — and I call it “Oppressive Behaviour” or an infringement of my “Freedom”; the police officer isn’t responsible when I end up in flames.
The police officer’s duty is to inform me.
If I’m going to go ahead and act like an idiot and get punished for exactly what I was asking for, I don’t get to play the victim.
I have to accept responsibility.
If I incite violence at a “Free Speech” rally and get arrested for it, I am to blame — because I’m at fault.
If I fail to oblige by the laws and beliefs in a respectable manner, I shouldn’t walk into it without acknowledging responsibility.
If it’s dark and an area is unsafe, it is my duty to be responsible for my personal security. I don’t get to play the victim when I knowingly walked into a situation I was made aware of was risky.
I support that people should be able to speak out against views they do not agree with — that is the basis for evolution and cultural debate.
We cannot solve problems by suppressing one another.
What we can do is at-least acknowledge it can be done with “Eloquence” and “Mutual Respect”.