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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Sensitivity or Fear?

(All emphases by Always On Watch)

From Michael Kinsley's commentary, "The Ayotollah Joke Book," in the February 10, 2006 edition of the Washington Post:
"...A lively debate is going on about whether Islam really does forbid any portrayal of the prophet, however benign, or whether that is a recent innovation of some subset of the faithful with possible ulterior motives. This debate misses the point. Some Christians believe they are required to wear particular sorts of clothing. Some Jews and Muslims don't eat pork. They don't claim that their religion requires other people to wear special clothing or avoid eating pork....

"But the limits of free expression cannot be set by the sensitivities of people who don't believe in [a particular teaching]...."

From Charles Krauthammer's commentary, "Curse of the Moderates," in the February 2006 edition of the Washington Post:
"...A true Muslim moderate is one who protests desecrations of all faiths. Those who don't are not moderates but hypocrites, opportunists and agents for the rioters, merely using different means to advance the same goal: to impose upon the West, with its traditions of freedom of speech, a set of taboos that is exclusive to the Islamic faith. These are not defenders of religion but Muslim supremacists trying to force their dictates upon the liberal West....

"What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear. They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached.

"The worldwide riots and burnings are instruments of intimidation, reminders of van Gogh's fate. The Islamic 'moderates' are the mob's agents and interpreters, warning us not to do this again. And the Western 'moderates' are their terrified collaborators who say: Don't worry, we won't...."

From Andrew Sullivan's essay, "Your Taboo, Not Mine," in the February 13, 2006 edition of Time Magazine:

"...Muslim leaders say the cartoons are not just offensive. They're blasphemy--the mother of all offenses. That's because Islam forbids any visual depiction of the Prophet, even benign ones. Should non-Muslims respect this taboo? I see no reason why. You can respect a religion without honoring its taboos. I eat pork, and I'm not an anti-Semite. As a Catholic, I don't expect atheists to genuflect before an altar. If violating a taboo is necessary to illustrate a political point, then the call is an easy one. Freedom means learning to deal with being offended....

"Yes, there's no reason to offend people of any faith arbitrarily. We owe all faiths respect. But the Danish cartoons were not arbitrarily offensive. They were designed to reveal Islamic intolerance--and they have now done so, in abundance. The West's principles are clear enough. Tolerance? Yes. Faith? Absolutely. Freedom of speech? Nonnegotiable."

Catering to "Muslim sensitivities" over a bunch of satiric cartoons published in a free press, particularly if that catering stems from fear of reprisals, amounts to turning the clock back to the Middle Ages, when the establishment of religion as the rule of law was the norm. Furthermore, such catering comes too close for comfort to supporting the validity of anti-blasphemy laws. And sometimes blasphemy is in the eye of the beholder, which is to say, subjective. And subjectivity can be dangerous.
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posted by Always On Watch at permanent link#

6 Comments:

Blogger Jason_Pappas said...

In France, Italy, and Australia, they already have laws against vilification of a religion. The UK came close to passing one.

These cartoons may have forced the issue in the open. Now people will have to re-think those laws. At least we can hope so.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 2:39:00 pm  
Blogger JMJ said...

Great post!

I also think Kinsley's comments about the US position is very valid.

"How can President Bush continue to ask young Americans to sacrifice their lives for freedom in the Muslim world, if he won't even defend freedom verbally when forces from that world are suppressing it in our own?"

Bush and the US SHOULD be the ones to stand tall on this issue without compromise!

As messy as I think this whole thing is as well as the many momentum swings, this is still a very good thing. As Jason said, "Now people will have to re-think those laws." as well as where each and every one of us stands. We are talking long term here on how this will affect western society and therefore there can be NO compromise. That's why Dag's idea of the Thur McD meeetings need to be extrapolated into a western "physical" countermovement for each mussie demonstration. As well as pro-active demonstrations where we are ahead of the curve.

Where is the ACLU in all this?

Question:
What are the other organizations within our system that deals with freedom of speech that can be activated? How and where did the protests of the 60s originate from?

I know it was the students. But maybe as a form of nostalgic protests by Tom Hayden and Abby Hoffman (Is AH not alive anymore?)(I know not my favorite people either) but some thing to get the westerners out in the streets, in BIG numbers and as often as needed to show the mussies this will NOT stand.

If even Kinsley is now not an apologist, it just goes to show that this could the uniting issue for all of us in the western world because eventually it will affect us all.

Just my 2 cents.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 4:19:00 pm  
Blogger Lewis Perdue said...

Google-Owned Blog Is Censoring Posts About Cartoon Depictions of the Prophet

One of my favorite cartoonists, Darrin Bell, (http://www.candorville.com") is having the same censorship problems with the Google-owned Blogspot, as General Braxton (see my previous post on this at http://crockplot.blogspot.com/).

When he tries to have the cartoons visible on his blog, he finds that the Google/Blogspot system reduces them to a postage-stamp-sized image that makes them too small to see.

Bell had to post the cartoons on a separate server (his own) in order to have them appear the correct size.

Go here to see what I mean: http://www.rudypark.com/candorville/blog/2006/02/about-those-mohammed-cartoons.asp

This is a disgraceful situation and shows just how fragile the so-called freedom of expression is in the blogosphere.

More about the censorship here: here: http://www.braxton2008.org.



Lewis Perdue
lperdue@ideaworx.com
http://www.ideaworx.com

Saturday, February 11, 2006 5:08:00 pm  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

JMJ,
What I found quite interesting about Kinsley's post is that typically this columnist doesn't say anything against Islam primarily because he is not a Bushie and doesn't want to support the war in Iraq. But this cartoon fracas has forced Kinsley to look at a bigger picture than that of political alignment, though he did put in that portion which you quoted. The Right and the Left, if the latter is capable of it, had better unite and concentrate on what's really at stake.

Lewis,
I've seen other pieces about the censorship now being imposed on the blogosphere. The worst is happening! A few years ago, had I even suggested such a suppression could happen, I'd have been laughed out of the room for being a paranoid alarmist.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 6:46:00 pm  
Blogger von Schlichtningen said...

I am not sure this is censorship. I lost several articles that Friday - Saturday as well. They were brilliant of course.

But there were hardware problems with blogspot servers.

I did get a little suspicious though. They claimed Friday the problems were solved. But they were not until Sunday some time...

Saturday, February 11, 2006 7:17:00 pm  
Blogger Always On Watch said...

VS,
I, too, had Blogger problems last weekend. Even my noncontroversial homework blog wouldn't hold a posting, so I never succumbed to paranoia.

What bothers me is that Blogger didn't immediately put up an announcement as to the problems encountered.

Saturday, February 11, 2006 11:20:00 pm  

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