The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

A Serious Thought On Sharia

Posted on | September 27, 2010 | 20 Comments

by Smitty

Of course, raaaaacist, bitter, cling-on, knuckle-dragging, Constitution-fetishing conservative extremists lack independent thought, and merely parrot what is beamed into their noggins from the orbital mind control lasers run from corporate headquarters, under the auspices of the Undying Cyborg Cheney. It only looks like an all-or-nothing, zero-sum, binary sort of confrontation, liberty vs. sharia, because conservatives lack sophistication, nuance, and that jocular liberal capacity to harmonize diametric opposites as simply as brushing teeth
Peradventure I was capable of, you know, thinking, I might be tempted to offer some ideas about the creeping sharia in the US. There is, it turns out, an interesting example of differing cultures coexisting that anyone active in the Information Age deals with continuously: software licensing.
Now, Stacy McCain will slip into a coma almost instantly, so let’s keep this brief. There are three major flavors (with random examples) of software license:

  • Proprietary (Excel, for the capitalists),
  • Free (Apache, for the libertarians), and
  • Open (Emacs, for those building a culture)

I love/hate all three of these, because each has proponents arguing their merits to the exclusion of all others, when software is just a means to an end, and all I wanted was a hardcopy of a spreadsheet from a web page.
Prompting this post is an interesting aspect of the Free Software Definition.

. . .copyleft (very simply stated) is the rule that when redistributing the program, you cannot add restrictions to deny other people the central freedoms. This rule does not conflict with the central freedoms; rather it protects them.

In other words, Free Software has an absolute character about it. You can never leave.  Liberty is allowed to to anything, except become non-liberty.
The US Constitution is older, affects more people, and lacks the narrow, abstract, relatively tractable aspects of computer source code. So the comparison is dodgy, but worth making as a thought experiment.
If the Bill of Rights, and the First Amendment in particular, retain any merit, then hate speech laws, must, themselves, be seen as hateful of speech. The heckler veto, while ugly, needs to be properly recognized as crime, and dealt with by police.  This post is not an argument in favor of anarchy for its own sake, however.
In software license terms, terrorists, religious or otherwise, are like a proprietary license of their own devising. This is not a swipe at proprietary licenses, which have their place. Using fear of what terrorists might do if we don’t cater to them, they attempt to capitalize on weakness and control the marketplace of ideas. As a country, we have had a policy of opposing terrorism by putting troops overseas.
What is more crucial in the long run is that we systematically support liberty.  Chipping away at freedom in the name of delaying violence is not peace, and our Free Software-like liberty will drift into ‘proprietary’ schemes of whoever will be the biggest bully.
Keeping religious arguments relatively low-impact is going to require renewed energy application toward the First Amendment, as vigorous as the Free Software definition. While we can find Libertarian sand in which to bury our heads about the increasing efforts to force sharia in the United States, it’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap. It’s a proprietary license vendor putting all of the code within proprietary blobs, and then offering a thin Free Software wrapper to inject it into the system. Yes, the analogy is has made Stacy’s eyes glossy. However, video card manufacturers do this sort of thing. And it bites.
I predict that:

  • increasing attention will be given the issue of sharia,
  • the positive commitment to the Bill of Rights is the simplest, most defensible means of dealing with the problem,
  • elections will turn on the issue,
  • things will get better in the long run.

Liberty is American. Appeasement is un-American. Our good nature has been abused, and we’re going to reject that abuse. Miscreants take note.
In closing, I have no idea if a software licensing argument will have any traction with readers. The point in bringing it up is that it’s an arguably similar, worked example of world-views in tension, without all of the historical baggage associated with religions. Also, I’m not saying proprietary license holders are terrorists. There are Free Software proponents who would, but doing so within the scope of this essay is hijacking my point. Doom on those who go there.


20 Responses to “A Serious Thought On Sharia”

  1. Stogie
    September 27th, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    Keeping with your software metaphor, Sharia and Freedom are two different programs that cannot be run on the same computer at the same time. You can’t run Apple’s OS at the same time your run Windows; it’s one or the other on our national computer.

    The Freedom program has bugs; sometimes it inadvertently allows a radical demagogue to get elected president; however, the program is usually self-correcting in subsequent processing cycles.

    The Sharia program, however, has been known to decapitate the user unexpectedly. It should be avoided at all costs.

  2. Thrasymachus
    September 27th, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

    You assume we are governed by the Constitution, rather than the “Constitution”. Under the “Constitution” anything offensive to minorities is forbidden; Moslems are a minority, so they can’t be offended.

  3. Thomas L. Knapp
    September 27th, 2010 @ 5:29 pm

    Interesting take!

    I do have one question, though. Where IS this “creeping sharia?” I often hear it alluded to as a general occurrence, but never hear of any specific instance of it.

  4. John Morris
    September 27th, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    Pretty good, but one major problem. Never, ever use the word ‘Open’ to describe Free Software like you did. Do ya want Saint Ignucius himself to show up and start in on ya? 🙂

    Open Source can be closed. Free is forever. (Or at least as long as Copyright which is pretty much the same thing.)

  5. Randy Rager
    September 27th, 2010 @ 9:53 pm

    That’s very nice, Thomas. Why don’t you sit in the corner with the crayons and coloring book? The adults are trying to have a discussion.

  6. DaveP.
    September 27th, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

    Thomas: Go to England, where the verdicts of Shaira ‘family’ courts are now accepted in divorce and custody cases. Go to Canada, where moves are underway to make the same thing a reality- sucessful moves, I’ll add. Go to Hamtramck, Michigan where local government has told citizens point-blank that 140+dB loudspeakers broadcasting muzzein calls to prayer five times a day are neither noise pollution nor dusturbing the peace. Go to NYC, where- within shouting distance of the site of one of the worst cases of Islamic-inspired atrocity in modern times- the ‘Victory’ Mosque (victory over what?) is in preparation to be built with the active connivance of the city government, while an Orthodox Christian church destroyed in that same event cannot get a license to rebuild from that same government. Go to the employment courts, where adherents of One Certain Religon have sucessfully sued employers to recieve seperate prayer areas (exclusive of other employees) and the right to extra-special prayer breaks several times a day…

    …or just put on a yamulke head to your local college, and attempt to worship in any of the “multifaith rooms” that the local Islamic Student organization has taken as their own. For extra credit, after you get thrown out of a public worship area for being of the wrong religon, try to get the campus administration to take your side.

  7. Thomas L. Knapp
    September 28th, 2010 @ 1:41 am


    This isn’t England or Canada.

    Whether or not Muslims in Hamtramck can publicly broadcast their call to prayer has nothing whatsoever to do with Sharia law, although it may have to do with an overbroad interpretation of religious freedom (if the local Christian church bells aren’t permitted to sound off at 140+dB, neither should the muezzin).

    The only people calling the Islamic cultural center in Manhattan the “Victory Mosque” are its more dishonest opponents.

    That leaves the employment and college “multifaith rooms” issues. I’ll do some reading up to see if they’re of any more substance than the other red herrings you trotted out.


  8. SDN
    September 28th, 2010 @ 7:15 am

    Why not ask “Draw Mohammed Day” creator Molly Norris about that, Thomas? Oh, wait, you can’t, because she’s had to enter her own private version of “witness protection” after Sharia creeps threatened to kill her for violating the portions of Sharia that contradict the First Amendment. The government has failed in it’s most basic obligations thanks to that Sharia symp in the WH.

    FOAD, you mendoucheous scumbag.

  9. Thomas L. Knapp
    September 28th, 2010 @ 6:57 pm


    I supported and promoted Draw Mohammed Day. I find it odious that Molly Norris has to fear for her life over it, just as I found it odious that Salman Rushdie had to hide after The Satanic Verses and the Theo van Gogh was murdered in the street.

    These three people and their fates have a number of things in common. One of the things they have in common is that none of them have a single thing to do with whether or not there’s a danger of Sharia becoming US law.

    FOAD yourself, shit for brains.

  10. SDN
    September 29th, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

    Somebody tell this douche the difference between de facto and de jure. It doesn’t matter if Sharia is in the lawbooks, as long as spineless assholes like Thomas will look the other way when it’s actually carried out while trying to tell law-abiding citizens they’re the problem for seeing what’s actually happening and saying that Islam and a free society are incompatible.