Looking for Trouble: Two Views

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by Neil Godfrey

Interesting to compare two different responses to Southern Lauren‘s attempt to enter a Muslim area she opposes. Each links to a different report of the event. (I had thought Southern had been denied a visa to enter Australia; I’ve obviously been out of touch with the latest developments.)

Jerry Coyne’s Comment P.Z. Myers’ Comment
A darling of extreme right-wingers everywhere . . .  there’s no doubt that she’s a bigot. Nevertheless, she has the right to speak and the right to go anywhere she wants in public. In this encounter, though, she wants to enter to a “no go” part of Sydney, Australia inhabited largely by Muslims. There’s no doubt she wanted to stir up trouble. . . . The thing is, she has a right to do that; and, indeed, calling public attention to Islamic homophobia or sharia law has its beneficial side. . . . I emphatically defend Southern’s right to say and do what she wants in public. . . . [A]n Aussie police inspector . . . has “grave concerns that she might cause a breach of the peace” because the area is “highly religious”:===. . . . [H]er counterarguments are sound: any “breach of the peace” would be the fault of those who would cause the trouble, not Southern. . . . . Southern did her usual schtick of seeking out what she calls “no-go zones” to show how racist they are, as if she thinks racism is a bad thing. So she walks into an area with a high proportion of Muslims with camera and sound guy in tow, making a little bit of a spectacle of herself, and notices how suspiciously people are looking at her (surprise!) and that some people are yelling in Arabic (oh my god), and starts to head down a street to a mosque to stir up some real juicy footage. She’s stopped by a policeman, who tells her no: he knows that she’s there to provoke trouble, so he tells her that she may not go there. He also informs her that local white people have no trouble coexisting in this neighborhood — making it clear that the problem isn’t with respectful citizens, it’s specifically with her and her actions. . . . She knows nothing.
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Neil Godfrey

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8 thoughts on “Looking for Trouble: Two Views”

  1. Provocateurs gonna provoke. Everyone admits she was there to disturb the peace – it’s just that some like the idea of a riot and some think a riot does more harm than good.

    1. Isn’t peace disturbed when some people are above the law? When the law enforcement is forced to enforce unofficial laws?
      And by the way, when this truce that brought peace, signed?

      1. Exactly! Southern is not above the law. It’s a shame she doesn’t have the sense to restrain her worst impulses. It’s a good thing police were present to prevent a situation that could have resulted in innocent people being harmed.

  2. If the police are there, does it count as a “no-go” area?

    And she is a Canadian, not an Australian, so how does she “have the right” to go there and stir up trouble?

  3. Neil, I have just read your 2013 “related post” (I always find these very useful for background) and the comments in which some of Coyne’s supporters attack you rather stridently for your observations on his Islamophobia. I agree with your position completely, that Coyne dismisses political motivations for Muslim radicalism in order to attribute blame to Islam itself, and that he seems to have no sense of historical context. But equally telling is that you allowed your critics free rein to attack your argument, and answered them civilly if forcefully. As one of many who has been blocked from comment on Coyne’s blog, I can testify that Coyne, the ostensible champion of free speech (especially for critics of Muslims and Islam) would never allow such criticism of himself and his opinions on his own blog. He can dish it out, but he can’t take it.

    I myself have criticized your views more aggressively (perhaps too aggressively in light of your own gentlemanly approach) than I ever did on Coyne’s blog. Yet I have received not so much as a warning from you, whereas Coyne quickly and abruptly pulled the plug.

    1. I consider several of Jerry Coyne’s recent posts to be rank hate-speech. He appears to have no knowledge whatever of historical context and different cultural heritages. In other words, he writes like an ignorant bigot. He uses his reputation to foment hate.

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