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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Double Standard Where Offending the Faithful is Concerned

I will say this for the Germans. They did learn their lesson from their experience with the Nazis. This week they ruled in favor of allowing a cartoon series that lampoons the Pope and all things Catholic when German bishops tried to get the series legally banned. This was consistent with their 'freedom of speech' stand in support of neighbor Denmark for allowing the infamous Mohammed cartoons. Not everyone has been consistent, however.

The Mohammed cartoons spawned many copycat cartoons and tributes (all in tremendously poor taste as is to be expected from those who deliberately torment people over their religion) and a whole lot of worldwide media hand-wringing. Predictably, the twinkie-munchers in the blog community got into the act. One blog proclaimed it "Draw Mohammed Week!" and posted lots of new pictures of the prophet in a less than flattering light. The blog got a tremendous number of hits from web-surfers who live in the Middle East - the faithful looking for something to be offended about no doubt. It's interesting that most of the blogger's readers were people who had googled the site looking for Mohammed cartoons. Then, of course, they promptly got offended.

I checked Wikipedia for international reaction to the Mohammed cartoons. They listed official responses from 36 nations, the United Nations, the European Union and The Organization of Islamic Conference. Most condemned the cartoons roundly, although about a third managed to mumble something about free speech in there somewhere.

Now along comes "Popetown" which is not just a couple of cartoons in an obscure Danish magazine, but an MTV animated series that features Jesus sitting in a Lazyboy in front of the TV and the pope bouncing through 'Popetown' on a pogo stick. The series offends Catholics six ways to Sunday and does so deliberately.

So, I checked out the international reaction to Popetown on Wikipedia - statements by governments in reaction to the arguably anti-Christian cartoons as I had done with the arguably anti-Islamic cartoons before. Want to guess how many countries got officially upset?

Two! Germany and New Zealand and then they took aim at the Catholic Bishops who sued to have the series taken off the air. The freedom of speech angle was not mumbled about, but spoken about rather clearly - in essence telling the bishops "Too bad you're offended. We have that pesky free speech thing going..." Great Britain, which paid for Popetown in the first place, never allowed it to run on the BBC and hasn't had much to say about it since. I didn't find the round condemnation that the Mohammed cartoons got. Nobody suggested any studies of potential anti-christianism or decried the rise of anti-christian sentiment in the EU or compared it to Nazi led anti-semitism as dozens of countries did over the Mohammed cartoons. The whole reaction to Popetown has been a distinct "Who cares?"

Hey, in the U.S., we've got the "Simpson's" and "Southpark". We're used to seeing Jesus in the wrestling wring with Satan or drunk and soliciting hookers in a back alley. Popetown is pretty tame compared to that and this stuff goes pretty much lawsuit free over here. I guess the German and New Zealand bishops thought that after all the hoopla over the Mohammed cartoons, they might get some traction if they were to get offended too.

Sorry guys, but Catholic bishops aren't likely to blow anyone up over this and we're not afraid of lawsuits. So, their efforts to stop the show have largely fizzled and since they shut down the Inquisition several hundred years back, the Catholic church has been pretty much left without an enforcement arm unless they want to start stuffing the novice nuns' habits with explosives.

Now, I believe strongly in freedom of speech since free speech tends to protect freedom of religion. I also believe in the Golden Rule, which, unfortunately, if enforced by other than the free will of believers who practice it, soon becomes a device to enslave and control people. The Golden rule only works if everybody obeys it because they want to, not because the law says you have to. I, personally, would not do anything to deliberately offend someone over their religion - unless, of course, they stop me on the street or come to my house on Saturday morning and seem to want to participate in an open theological debate, and then I may say something controversial, though not deliberately hurtful.

What protects our freedom in this sinful world are laws about free speech and religion. That protection means some folks with less than pure hearts will say hurtful things about your religion and do it deliberately. We are only guaranteed freedom to speak, not freedom from speech. I think it's a pretty good system. Apparently, some countries do not.

Also what is blindingly apparent is that unless you express your displeasure at having your religion made fun of by blowing up things, beheading innocent bystanders and knocking down skyscrapers, nobody really cares if you get your feelings hurt...

Now, class, what lesson have we just taught to terrorists about how successful their methods are? The recent book "The Lessons of Terror" by Caleb Carr makes a brilliant case that terrorism doesn't work very well as a tool to accomplish a national purpose. In all of history, terror never works well as a tool of societal evolution. If terrorists were really interested in accomplishing what their stated goals are, they might pay attention to that lesson and resort to other tactics. The problem with terrorists is that they aren't in this for the greater good of Islam, Communism solidarity or a United Ireland.

I think they're all in it for the girls!!

Okay, maybe not directly, but think about it. It's about power. It's about who's in control after the revolution. And.... whoever has the power gets the best women. It's pretty simple. So, what about women terrorists. Well, if you believe the movies, terrorist gals are only impressed by males with a great deal of perceived power (like a license to kill - which accounts for 007). Women terrorists in movies are either attractive, loose women whose taste in fashion runs toward spandex or they are sweaty, pistol-packin' man-killers or they are totally dominated by their male counterparts (don't hit me again, I promise I'll trigger the detonator this time!). Suicide bombers are promised 70 virgins in the Islamic terrorist version of heaven. Case closed, I think!

I have a hard time believing that terrorists really are thinking about societal change when they try to make people more respectful of their religion by blowing up women and children or beheading some electrical engineer who came over to get their lights running again for them.

Does anyone think, "Hey, he blew himself all to bits and took out the old lady and the baby carriage at the same time. How cool is that! Sign me up for that religion! I am so in!"

Maybe they'll blow up enough of their followers to make themselves ineffective. We can only hope.

Just one man's opinion...


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