Monday, February 06, 2006

Chill, Phil

So I was going to blog on the burning of Danish and Norwegian embassies following the publication of cartoons that depict the image of Muhammed - then I saw that Harley's pretty much written everything I was going to, and in a much clearer way than I likely would. So read him instead.

It seems to me the RWDBs have been itching for a lefty blogger to try and defend the actions of the extremists, so that they can be torn to shreds. Ingeniously, the LWLBs - Left Wing Love Beasts (thanks to Zoe for that gorgeous phrase) have not bothered to do this - because this is not an issue about left and right, it's about free speech and the expectation that newspaper comics are humorous, satirical and often just plain silly. They are not necessarily statements of fact and they certainly should not be taken this seriously.

I will point out an issue that appears to be somewhat overlooked: My understanding is that Muslims object to any literal depection of the Prophet in any medium, positive or negative. Now, that may seem a little odd or even precious to many, but then for me, as a humanist, religious customs and rituals such as not eating meat on a Friday or Buddhists monks not being allowed to dance or handle money seem odd, too.

The point of difference, however, is the degree of reaction. If tomorrow, the Daily Terror published an anti-queer cartoon - not out of the question, given its usual editorial line - I'd be furious, I'd be outraged and I would demand a retraction, apology or assurance it would not happen again.

I wouldn't, however, burn down the News Ltd building.

We have to accept that free speech, while not absolute, is nonetheless a necessary precondition for a genuine democracy. Conversely, we can also expect that there are legislative safeguards in place, such as anti-vilification laws, that can to some extent curb people from, for example, inciting people to violence.

In fact, the litmus test for anti-vilification laws, as Harley writes, "rests solely on the reasonable likeliness of sticks and stones resulting from said words". And I don't think anybody who argues that burning down embassies is a fair enough reaction to the publication of a cartoon would be taken very seriously.

Extremists are responsible for the unnecessary destruction in this situation, not the Danish newspaper. It might suit the prejudices of RWDBs to automatically assume we do-gooder greenie pinko scum will come to the defence of these people but I'm certainly not about to.


At 6/2/06 1:53 pm, Anonymous Robert said...

So here is my two cents on this one. If the daily terror published an antigay cartoon, I would not only not burn down the building I would PROBABLY completely fail to get my panties in a bunch over it.

Not that I am a roll over play dead kind of boy, in any reguard, its more that how I conduct myself, my personal dignity as a gay man has done MUCH more to convince people that we as a a subculture are not raving sex crazed freaks out to convert everyone in sight and thereby get that shiny new toaster oven.

Honestly, look I get it that the Muslim community is feeling really put upon and victimised. There has been quite a bit of that. But burning buildings down aint going to help people see the majority of islam as something other than a bunch of terrorists.

I know they are not, it would be good if they started behaving in a more balanced way.

At 6/2/06 2:28 pm, Anonymous Bazza said...

Having experienced the negatives that some in society throw at GLBTI people, I have found ignoring these negatives, the best way to show my distain.

As to this appalling behavior over a cartoon, this I put down to poverty and illiteracy in Middle East countries.
An Online Opinion "Muslims in the dark age" by Irfan Yusuf, is an interesting comment from a muslim.

At 6/2/06 3:19 pm, Blogger Sam said...

I guess this whole fiasco just proves that Muslims really are evil.

Aww, kidding!

Great post, QP.

At 6/2/06 3:39 pm, Blogger Sam said...

I get what you're saying Robert although I don't think protesting against a hypothetical anti-queer Daily Terror cartoon compromises the dignity of gay men - and it certainly doesn't show we're a bunch of "raving sex crazed freaks out to convert everyone in sight".

Likewise, Muslims have every right to protest the publication of those cartoons (which are actually quite offensive, not just "satirical"). I don't know Danish law very well but I'm sure there's several legitimate channels for them to consider before they start burning embassies.

Sam: Don't make me shush you again.

At 6/2/06 4:30 pm, Anonymous Bazza (less than 9 weeks) said...

Belief is potentially dangerous, it can justify any action or inaction and take away personal responsibility to think and act for oneself.
Hitler was a a catholic, but it is that his people were prepared to believe, not question and prove.

At 6/2/06 9:20 pm, Blogger Muslim said...

I really was upset about the cartoons. Why make such cartoons when they are infactual and false?

If people really read about the prophet peace be upon him they would realise he was a mercy to mankind.

Moreover, as Muslims we aren't allowed to draw pictures of Prophets, furthermore, we aren't meant to disrespect someone elses religion. We respect all prophets, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, so why not respect our dear Prophet?


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