Over the Top
No, not the WWI command given to soldiers when they left the trenches to charge into the machine guns. I’m talking about the reaction of Muslims to the cartoons published by a Danish newspaper last September. As I’ve discussed earlier, the reactions of violence and anger have proved the point of the cartoons that portray Islam as a violent religion. The violence has escalated from protests and individual gunmen, or small groups, seeking out Danes and Norwegians to kidnap, to rioters burning the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria. On a side note, I would suggest that anyone who thinks those riots were not allowed, even encouraged, by the Syrian government hasn’t paid much attention to reality in the Middle East.
First, a piece of advice to Muslims. Stop worrying so much about what someone who doesn’t believe in your religion does. After all, if your religion is true, those cartoonists have committed blasphemy and will pay the price for their sin. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt you at all. They have not caused you to violate your religion, nor even urged you to. So, chill out. Or, as another religion’s teachings say, worry about the stick in your eye before worrying about the sliver in mine. Because, if your religion is actually one of peace, you are violating it with the riots, attacks, and destruction of property that you are committing.
In the meantime, we in the West need to stand firm. Messages like the Washington Post is reporting need to stop:
“The right to freedom of thought and expression . . . cannot entail the right to offend the religious sentiment of believers,” the Vatican said in a statement.
That’s complete bull. If you can’t offend the sacred cows and the naked emperor then you don’t have freedom of expression. Of course, I’m sure that the Vatican would like to have the ability to control thought and speech as they did in the past.
In the United States, major newspapers, including The Washington Post, chose not to reprint the images on grounds they would give offense.
So, you have de facto surrendered your freedom of expression. Of course, this is just a more public variant of something that has been going on for a while now. According to reports I’ve read in the past, the movie studio that produced “The Sum of All Fears” changed the plot from Palestinian terrorsts getting a nuclear weapon to white supremacists because of pressure brought to bear by Muslim groups. So much for artistic freedom.
Freedom of speech means that I can say whatever I please, publicly, no matter whether it is offensive, racist, inflammatory, or anything else that people don’t like. To suggest that there should be limits on what I say or write in order to avoid offense to another is to suggest that I should not be free to speak. The choice, and the responsibility, must be mine, else the freedom does not exist.
To the couple of commenters on this entry who suggested that the cartoons are racist, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong. Racism is the belief that race or ethnicity accounts for differences in the character of people or their ability to do something. It is about discriminating based on someone’s ethnic group. These cartoons may be anti-religion, but they do nothing to single out someone for their race, or suggest that any ethnic group is inferior to another. Of course, your charges of racism are a convenient strawman to attack this, and is an attempt to deny the truth that the reactions of Muslims supports the satire of the cartoons in the first place. It is also an ad hominem attack, an attempt to discredit the message by attacking the messenger. If you can make the cartoonists out to be racists you will, you hope, avoid dealing with the message. It’s a trap that ultimately discredits you. Deal with the message.