Greg Gutfeld's plans to build a gay bar adjacent to the Ground Zero mosque (Al Gayda? The Velvet Sword? Sharia Spa?) as a way to build a bridge to understanding with the Muslim community that is, we understand, somewhat hostile to homosexuals, brought this reaction from Megan McArdle:
This is kind of a jerk move. But it's a brilliant jerk move. I am hoping that at least one person will attempt to explain why we should support the mosque near Ground Zero, but not the gay bar next to the mosque near Ground Zero. I would find that very entertaining.
Indeed. After all the lecturing and tut-tutting the left has been doing with regard to center-right Nation's horrified response to the mosque proposal, it's time to turn the tables.
(For the record: though we believe building this mosque there is strictly an act of provocation and an incredibly insensitive one at that, we can see no legal standing to prevent them from building it there)
And McCardle gets her "one person".
The Ground Zero mosque spokesperson tweeted Gutfeld the following:
You're free to open whatever you like. If you won't consider the sensibilities of Muslims, you're not going to build dialog
Well, that's certainly a matter of opinion, now isn't it, champ? Just consider this a lesson in that whole American freedom and liberty thing cutting both ways.
But Gutfeld's gay bar got us to thinking about offensive/hate speech and actions. In some places, what Gutfeld is attempting to do, would get him frog-marched to in front of some civil rights commission (think Canada or parts of Northern Europe) but that's not what we do here.
In one of our posts regarding free speech in America, we talked about what constitutes hate speech and how, because we view free speech in this country much differently than other countries, the bar for hate speech is set much higher:
Precisely because the bar is set higher, the legitimization of hate speech is much more infrequent. Rather than officially recognize alleged hate speech in courts of law, the rantings of say, a Jeremiah Wright or the suggestions by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson that the acceptance of homosexuality in this country was, in part, responsible for 9-11, it is instead held up for public scorn, ridicule and mocking…. as it should. The question of legitimacy is taken off the table and in fact, it is viewed not as court-defined “hate speech” but rather, “illegitimate speech.” In other words, speech that is outside the legitimate circle of polite and civil discourse.
We will not take you to court, we will, however, make fun of you and then simply ignore you.
And this is what Gutfeld is doing. He has turned the tables on the mosque builders. He is gutting (no pun intended) the spiteful intent of these people with mockery and satire. He is de-legitimizing the mosque with this brilliant Alinsky-like tactic.
There is a parallel here and it occurred just 3 years ago in the same city:
A perfect case-in-point for this is the Iranian mad-bomber, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who came to New York last year to make a number of speeches and appearances. We understood the calls for banning and/or boycotting his speeches but we generally came down on the side of letting the man speak knowing that the true Mahmoud would reveal himself and sho’nuff, the raving lunatic, homophobe and anti-semite we knew him to be did not disappoint.
Despite the serious nature of what he said, we mocked and ridiculed the guy, essentially turning Ahmedinejad into a late-night punch line effectively neutering and delegitimizing his message.
This is part of American exceptionalism so bring it on. Instead of cowering in a corner or behaving like a bunch of humour-less, politically correct, Euro-scolds, Gutfeld has embraced his inner wild, wild West(ern civilization) and is fighting this fight on his terms.
America: where freedom and fun happens.