The Baha'i Faith & Religious Freedom of Conscience

From: <>
Subject: Re: Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedom of Conscience
Date: Saturday, February 06, 1999 10:25 PM

Schaut writes:
> I have no doubt that Dr. Cole believes his version of the events.
In other words, I'm not a liar after all.
>It's Dr.
> Cole's credibility that I've called into question.  That doesn't make him a
> liar.  It just makes him a human being who is as subject to a skewed view of
> reality as the rest of us.
This is logical gobbledegook.  Are you suggesting that a full professor of
History at the biggest research university in the United States, someone
recognized by the press and government as an acknowledged expert on Middle
Eastern relgion, past director of the Center for Middle Eastern and North
African Studies, and recently chosen editor of the International Journal of
Middle East Studies, the flagship journal in the field, lacks credibility? 
And who exactly is calling this credibility into account?
Further, not all human beings lack credibility.  Lots of them have
credibility.  So the final phrase about my being as fallible as 'the rest of
us' makes no sense.  Do the 'rest of us' *all* lack credibility?  If so,
Schaut, being among the 'rest of us' also lacks credibility.  Then his
calling into account my credibility lacks credibility.
Then there is this piece of illogic:
First Schaut says:
> I'm not aware of any sanctions having been applied to Dr. Cole, so why should
> it be necessary to present any evidence of guilt?
Then he quotes me:
> >The point is that Fareed Akhtarekhavari, an enrolled Baha'i, has run a large
> >scale campaign against policies of the US national assembly and he hasn't
> been shunned.  I never even referred to any of them by name, and I get > >
threatened with the Baha'i equivalent of Siberia.
Then he says:
> This is rather like someone who has blown up the house complaining because
> someone who merely shot at it got a lesser sentence.  It's a diversionary
> tactic designed to focus our attention away from the real issues.
But it hasn't been established that I 'blew up' any 'houses'  (huh?) or that
in 1994-1996 I did or said something worse than or even similar to things
that Akhtarekhavari was saying.  And if I *had* 'blown up' any 'houses', then
why weren't sanctions forthcoming?
And to top it all off, Schaut elides the fact that I was threatened with the
ultimate sanction in the Baha'i system, despite the fact that all I did was
share my thoughts by email and never broke any Baha'i law nor contravened the
Baha'i covenant in any way.
> Read the following paragraph carefully.  It's about _inquiries_, not findings
> of guilt and/or innocence.
> >> Second, as I've stated before and will state again, I saw activities that
> >> would warrant an inquiry and, perhaps, an outlining of the consequences if
> >> the behavior continued.
Anyone who comes out here on the Net and advocates an Investigation of a
professor for his email messages and hints around that the professor might
well be punished ('consequences') for them is openly admitting to being a
member of the Internet Thought Police.	For an employee of MicroSoft to
engage in this activity seems to me completely shameful and to reflect
extremely badly on the company for which this individual works.  Is that
company in favor of persons being subjected to punishments for their licit
email messages?
And anyone who openly admits to being a member of the Thought Police can
expect to be flamed, ridiculed and otherwise deservedly roasted.  Why don't
we emigrate to any other Usenet list and explain what Schaut is about to
people, and see what they say about him?
> >You're wasting your time with that software stuff, and this little Baha'i
> dog
> >and pony show, Schaut. I think you definitely have the mindset and the
> >talent for the big time.
> To which Dr. Cole replies with some wonderfully vile invective.
> Congradulations, Dr. Cole.  I believe you're finally beginning to master the
> art of flamage.  Unfortunately, flamage isn't evidence.  > Regards,
> Rick Schaut
Actually, I didn't use even one piece of invective.  I simply pointed out
that since Schaut has clearly said he is a member of the Thought Police, that
he seemed to me to have too little ambition in restraining his activities to
such a small canvas as the tiny Baha'i community, and that there were much
bigger opportunities out there.  If he doesn't like the idea of being a Mulla
in charge of Iran's Ministry of Intelligence, which has also made inquiries
into the views of college professors and punished them for their writings,
then perhaps he might consider going to work in Yugoslavia for Slobodan
Milosevic, who likewise needs goons to silence uppity college professors and
inflict various punishments on them.  I would be sorry, though, since I
really would have liked to see Schaut in that huge black turban.  I'd even
let him bastinado me if he'd wear one.	Hey--that should be Fred's next
project--alt.bahai.S&M--we could invite all the counselors at the ITC on, and
they could have virtual whips and black leather and make the covenant
breaking humanist liberal intellectuals scream to their hearts' content.
cheers    Juan
Juan Cole
History, U of Michigan
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