Friday, February 03, 2006
Opinions Must Be Safe.
Cool image from here. Link here for a Free Speech Quiz.
On this blog at least, I often traffic in opinions and make sport with subjects that are probably dear to someone's heart. I'm a curious person and I like a laugh, so how can I support any culture or state where others aren't free to do the same?
Taking a small break from the news of the odd and the fashioncentric blogging I've been doing, I finally have to comment on the (forbidden within Islam) Danish cartoons of Muhammed, scroll for pictures. The paper was right to print them, the cartoonists were right to draw them, and everyone willing to kill over them is wrong.
Bonus: extra fraudulent cartoons propagated by Muslim leaders from Denmark to further inflame the multitudes. "They think that's offensive?! That's nothing. They obviously have no experience with this kind of defamation. Demonic, pedophilic pig-snouted bestiality, that's what we need here."
So, I'm wading in with my futile 2 centavos because Denmark is now perversely getting more support from other parts of Europe than from us, the Free Speech freaks. Check out the most recent, weaselly State Department response to the rioting in Gaza over the issue:
"Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable," Hironimus said. "We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices."
Of course it's acceptable, because a peaceful expression of opposition or even humor is not "inciting hatred." People are vowing murder and destruction over CARTOONS! They're threatening to blow up Denmark over scribbles that mean nothing from outside Islam. It's absolute, fanatical madness, one of the reasons for our separation of church and state, and proves exactly the point the editors were initially making.
Here's response from part of the Muslim world (emphasis mine): Pakistan’s parliament unanimously voted to condemn the cartoons as a “vicious, outrageous and provocative campaign” that has “hurt the faith and feelings of Muslims all over the world.” Even Hamid Karzai, the Harvard alum, and president of Afghanistan says: “As Muslims, we have the big heart to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that insulting cartoons about Islam must continue to appear. They must definitely, definitely stop,” Karzai told journalists.
Please get over your hurt feelings on your own as everyone else does. My actions can't hurt your faith. You own it; it's your burden or winged shoes. Don't blame me for the state of your soul, and I won't blame the Muslim world if I eat a cheesburger on Ash Wednesday or fail in some more essential article of my faith. Also, I don't require forgiveness for not believing in Islam, and therefore, not following its restrictions. You may forgive me if you choose. I wish you would. Permanently, because that's how long my intellectual and spiritual resistance to this flavor of submission will last. I won't ever cultivate tolerance or acceptance for brutalizing women or gays just because they have the nerve to exist with bones capable of breaking and bodies capable of burning. However, I'd rather deal with my opposition to this tangible, historic violence with discourse and politicking. Where actions like community physical abuse of someone on moral grounds is legal, I'd like to try changing the laws and even the culture long before murdering and pillaging.
Further, and to the point here, I don't believe in violent reprisals against mere ideas which are not inciting unlawful action.
I am a proud member of one of the most mocked religions on earth, the Roman Catholic Church. We even make fun of ourselves, and yet the God we aim to serve, though ever falling short (and sometimes shorter than others- sigh) has not been diminished. If you can't laugh at yourself and your very large hats occasionally, you don't know your flaws well enough and haven't cultivated the humility which is virtue. You can tell who hasn't been living in open society, because the view of respect and tolerace only can be imagined flowing one direction.
There is a notion among the most radical Muslims of the Arab world that they can propogate hideous spew in cartoons about Jews, which Arab national leaders strangely claim impotence in controlling even as they pressure the Danish government. However, they insist their extreme tenderness of feeling must be enforced by other nations above all inherent freedoms. The promise of blood revenge for the trivialities of non-believers is anathema to building true respect for their faith from outside, as is recognized by some moderate Muslims. I have no problem with the boycott of Danish goods; others can pick up the slack in buying to express their support. But threats of murder are beyind the pale. And notice how it always starts with the gooey vulnerable artists: cartoonists, novelists, filmmakers. The level of artistic freedom is the canary in the coal mine of a civilization. That's why I strenuously defend- even as I'm bored by- the never-ending paroxysms of intentionally offensive post-modern art.
Of course, one bright Arab light I read quoted somewhere opined that this outrage might never have happened had they successfully murdered novelist Salman Rushdie after the fatwa issued for The Satanic Verses. He may be right. Yet, the number in Hollywood taking up the cause of slain filmmaker Theo Van Gogh? Still waiting.
You don't have to believe in my God; we'll get along fine. You don't have to agree with my politics; no problem. We don't have to agree about a single aspect of lifestyle or belief except that we each demand freedom to pursue our own aspirations and consciences under a common, civil law of equal protection. That's the ball of wax. There can't be any accomodation or moderation of this position without losing everything that democracy and freedom claim to offer.
For all those who are persecuted and slaughtered around the world for their religions, we cannot elevate mere offense to the level of what the Sudanese and Burmese, as just two examples, have suffered by taking it too seriously. Real slaughters have been inflicted upon them in the name of unyielding ideologies of both church and state. If we are not going to protect them from being murdered for their identities and faiths, letting the wheel of fortune roll and crush them as it will, how can our capitulation of freedom of thought and speech by toadying to this vocal group of thin-skinned intolerants be anything but the vilest hypocrisy?
As a bonus, here's a nice article from a friendly Pagan explaining why pagans shouldn't get their cloaks in a bundle over mangled television portrayals of their values. Lots of reasonable people of all faiths get it. How can our State Department not?
I'm quite glad to have vented that. Back tomorrow, I hope, with my first on-site look at Fashion Week.