Freedom speaks: An interview with Pamela Geller

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

Muhammad bomb cartoon

Link here. As she bluntly notes right at the start of the interview:

We incited no one. We didn’t call for violence, justify violence, or approve of violence. The people who were inciting were the ones saying that we should be killed for exhibiting Muhammad cartoons. There is no automatic or unavoidable response to being insulted. No one is forced to kill for being insulted. Those who choose to do so are responsible for their actions. No one else is.

When asked about the criticism that pundits and reporters on both the left and the right have been leveling at her for provoking the attacks, she was equally blunt, though she saved her harshest criticism for the quislings on the right.

This is the problem with the conservatives. This is why we can never nominate qualified, brave, true conservative candidates. The conservative movement has trimmed to accommodate the leftist media so much that they’ve trimmed themselves out of principle. They attack me because they’re desperately afraid that the leftist media will smear them by association with me. It is an act of sheer cowardice.

It has been disgusting these last few days watching the so-called intellectuals of our society, including many reporters who should know better, rush over themselves to blame Pamela Geller and the victims in this Islamic terrorist attack, merely because they exercised their first amendment rights.

The Islamic State has not only claimed credit for the attack, it says it plans to do more, targeting people in as many as 15 states, with Geller as one of those named to its kill list.

And we should blame Geller for the violence? How divorced from reality has our society’s intellectual class become?


Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.

This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.

This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.

Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


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  • Cotour

    Not according to this knuckle head:

    Free speech is about disagreement not about agreement. We could agree all day long, what would the point be?

  • Sandra Warren

    In protecting our freedom of speech, must we poke a sharp stick into someone else’s eye? Twenty years ago, someone made a collage of elephant dung into a portrait of Jesus. Naturally, a lot of Christians were insulted and upset. About the same time, someone dunked an American flag into a container of urine — using taxpayer money from an NEA grant — and called that free speech. Many of us felt like dunking the artist into his own container. But we didn’t; we recognized the right of free speech, held our nose, and lived with it. But at any moment, a crazy person could have gone that extra little step into insanity and killed everyone around the exhibits. I’ll defend your First Amendment right to make an ass out of yourself. But do I have to defend it to the death, literally, for something stupid and mean? Just because you have the right to do a thing doesn’t mean you should do a thing. Perhaps these cartoonists could put just a little more thought into the process, and rather than deliberately doing something to upset the entire Muslim community (both the minority crazed maniacs and the majority common citizens), maybe they could create thought provoking political cartoons that might bring rational people together instead of driving them apart. Then we might all be united together against the extremists that threaten our lives.

  • Robin Fox

    What else provokes the Muslim community? Gay people, Jews, women without veils, women being educated, women with their genitalia intact? Where exactly do we draw the line? If there are Muslims (or practitioners of any other religion) that refuses to work within the bounds of the Constitution, should they still be accommodated? I think they should be invited to leave the US and seek refuge in a country with a more like-minded populace.

    As I recall, the contest was to draw the BEST picture of Mohammed, not the most insulting. Jews don’t believe there should be any physical depictions of God, yet not one Jew has even suggested defacing the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for its depiction of creation.

  • Chris L

    It is a very bad idea to legitimize violence as a reasonable response to speech we don’t like. By claiming that Muslims can be expected to kill and destroy in response to cartoons, you are saying they are mindless savages who can’t be held to the same standards as everyone else. That sounds a bit racist.

  • Tom Biggar

    ” I’ll defend your First Amendment right to make an ass out of yourself. But do I have to defend it to the death, literally, for something stupid and mean?” Actually, you do if you want to keep those rights. Speech we all like needs no defence. It’s only when speech becomes stupid and mean that it needs to be defended. That’s when we all need to rise to defend the right to say it. Allowing one person’s speech to be intimidated by threats of violence cannot be tolerated. We have to be willing to die and, if necessary, kill to defend free speech because they are willing to die and kill to take it away from us. We didn’t choose the fight but we have to win it. And they will NOT listen to reason. Failure to defend free speech only encourages the enemy and chips away at our freedom.

  • Cotour

    If only the world were the way that you would like it to be.

    Words or cartoons and being offended by them are not the problem, its people who choose to kill or attempt to kill others because of words or cartoons that are the problem. Think about that for a moment.

    Q’s: If it were just as offensive to Muslims for women to wash their hair as those depictions of Mohammad, would you stop washing your hair? And at what point of offence will you begin to wear the veil?

    Free speech is about being offended and possibly feeling disrespected, this is America. As soon as you are willing to accommodate someone else’s definition of exactly where the free speech line is to be drawn they own you.

  • Jwing

    According to the Koran and the Haddith, just being a non-muslin is insulting and provocative thereby justifying anything from beheading to the infidel tax. Sharian is completely insane and stands Western civilization and the rule of law on it’s head. Sharia is anti-constitutional and yet the media blame Geller.
    How can someone like Bill O’Reilly say Geller was at all wrong????? It’s the First Amendment, stupid!

  • danae

    I’m fed up with the accusation that Pam Geller’s gathering constituted too much of a provocation for Islamic radicals to resist. One could justifiably argue that the actions of Martin Luther King’s civil rights followers were equally, if not more, provocative. Eventually the majority of Americans came around to the realization that King was right, and we’ve been better off for it. More power to Pam Geller; I pray for her safety. We’ll be better off when the gutless and the ignorant self-righteous begin to respect the validity of her arguments against Shariah law.

  • Lois


    It’s time to get the slow creeping of Shariah law into our own system exposed. Pam knows what she is doing.

    I pray for her too.

  • PeterF

    some Islamic clerics equate bathing with shaving and proudly exude a holy stench

  • Cotour

    Respect……….. all good relationships as well as commerce begins with respect, but it is not mandatory as per any legal document in America.

    Again, free speech is about what is not agreed upon, not about what is agreed upon. And here we see Al Sharpton massaging the issue by introducing the fact that Muslims serve in the military, which is of course a ridiculous red herring. Anyone that serves in the military swears an oath to upholding the Constitution and not their interpretation of “fairness”, or their religion, or the president or anything else.

    Respect? Yes, its usually the way to go, but it is not mandatory.

  • Edward

    I am continually fascinated with the contradictions of some people. Two decades ago, some people said it was OK to display the “piss Christ” and stomp on the American flag for artistic reasons, despite the hatred it showed and the anger it created, but now they say it is not OK to draw a couple of cartoons for exactly the same reasons.

    Another contradiction: the lack of anger and insufficient controversy generated over cartoons drawn in Denmark, so an Imam drew additional, more inciting cartoons. No one got angry at the Imam who drew the bad cartoons (and distributed copies of all the cartoons); instead, they got angry at the newspaper that published the insufficiently controversial cartoons.

    Finally, people who proudly proclaim that they are in favor of free speech turn around and declare that people should not say anything that is “stupid” to say. If we were to go by the “stupid speech” rule, then I would suggest that 90% of all speech, writings, and entertainment be banned for being “crap” (hat tip to Theodore Sturgeon).

    It is true that just because we *may* do something does not mean that we should, but if we are told that we may not do it then we have lost the freedom to do so. Sometimes you have to do things just to prove that they can be done. Why climb Mount Everest? Because we can; it isn’t as though we make the world a better place by climbing it.

    If you are going to protect free speech (and freedom in general), then you cannot limit it through subjective definitions. You can limit it so that crimes are not incited (e.g. riots) or danger is created (e.g. stampede from a crowded theater). It may be stupid to express some thoughts, but mere hatred, meanness, or stupidity are not reasonable reasons to limit speech. Otherwise, we would be limited to expressing only intelligent and kindly compliments.

  • Edward

    I agree with you completely.

    Oh, wait. So what was the point of this reply?

    The point was to comment on the “fighting words” mentioned in the article. The courts long ago rejected the “fighting words” defense on violent behavior, and I agree with that decision. In a civilized world, we should be in control of our behavior, no matter how angering or hateful are the words used against us. It is only emotionally immature children who should get into fights over words, and they are — rightly — taught that violent reactions are not appropriate behavior.

    One of the problems that I have with Islam is that it assumes that people are too immature to control themselves, as though they are children who must be controlled through a series of rules, to ensure that they do not behave badly. Then, as a contradiction to this philosophy, the religion encourages extortion, slavery, violence, and murder upon those who do not properly follow the rules. This is not a philosophy of freedom and tolerance but of control and hate.

    Yet freedom of speech means that we must tolerate and defend the freedom for such a hateful, tyrannical, contradictory philosophy.

  • Cotour

    Chris Cuomo has some very interesting way’s of interpreting the Constitution, but I can understand it understanding who’s house hold he grew up within. Again, an example of a very well educated person with access to the media morally interpreting law to his own standard and meaning. Chilling.

    I do not even know if he can see his misinterpretations or are they well crafted opinions with a cause?

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