Thursday, February 09, 2006

Because we can?

When a crucifix is put in a jar of urine and called art, I am offended. When the Pope was depicted as a Nazi in a cartoon on Rabble, I was offended. When Warren Kinsella (and many others since) mocked evangelical Christians for their faith, I was offended. Media in the Middle East still perpetuate the blood libel, and that offends me.

I'm not Roman Catholic, I'm not an Evangelical Christian, I'm not Jewish -- but I understand the anger and frustration at being ridiculed and having something sacred to me, portrayed with contempt and scorn.

How then, could I not be offended by cartoons that are hurtful and insulting to Muslims?

The violent 'response' to the cartoons in question is unjustifiable. The cartoons aren't the cause of the rioting - -they are simply an excuse to shed blood by people who need very little incitement to become violent.

That said, I agree completely with Peter MacKay's statement condemning the violence, but praising Canadian media for choosing not to print the cartoons.

Freedom of speech and independence of the press are essential in a democratic society. The governments where the cartoons have been printed, are absolutely correct not to apologise on behalf of newspapers over which they have no control -- and the government of Canada is right to praise the media for exercising their right not to print what might offend some Canadians.

There has been no governmental direction of Canadian media - editorial boards have decided independently not to publish the cartoons. The cartoons have been described, and are readily available online for anyone who wants to see what they're all about.

Fellow bloggers have posted or linked to these cartoons to demonstrate their freedom of expression and I respect their right to do so. I think most have posted them out of a sense of principle, and not to insult Muslims who have no part in the rioting and mayhem happening abroad.

Newspapers that don't publish the cartoons are not 'cowards'. They are exercising choice. Freedom of expression also means not being forced to print something you find objectionable. If the government was trying to impose a ban on the printing of the cartoons, then printing them to protest the ban would be laudable. As it stands, doing so in the MSM would simply be gratuitously hurtful to Muslim Canadians.

Canadian Muslims have had a measured, tempered response to cartoons that offend their faith. MacKay is right that this is the brand of Islam that needs to be promoted around the world. Why shouldn't we support that? It's in all of our interest that adherents to Islam overseas emulate their Canadian cousins, isn't it?

My choice not to post the cartoons and not to link to them, doesn't mean I endorse violence. It doesn't imply that I understand or condone the radical response to the cartoons. It doesn't suggest that I'm an apologist for Islam and it doesn't mean I don't believe in free speech.

My religion says I should do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I resent it when Christianity and Christians are mocked for a laugh, or in the name of art, or in an attempt at satire. I won't deliberately offend Muslims for no other reason than 'because I can.'



Jason Kauppinen said...

How about checking this out:

Danté said...

Nicely said.

valiantmauz said...

"My religion says I should do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I resent it when Christianity and Christians are mocked for a laugh, or in the name of art, or in an attempt at satire. I won't deliberately offend Muslims for no other reason than 'because I can.'"


Thank you for one of the most sensible and Christian responses I've yet seen in the blogosphere.

bob said...

As always, quite thoughtful.
But it's interesting to watch the media dance around this one. Many of 'em had no problems with depicting a crucifix in a jar of urine, an image I found (and still find) totally offensive. Insulting Christians (and, to a lesser extent, Jews) is fine and dandy, but don't hiss the Muslims off.
The hypocrisy is breathtaking.
But the real reason for the media's double standard is a simple one -- Christians don't issue fatwas (except for Pat Robertson, to whom no one really pays serious attention any more, and that weird minister in the western U.S., Fred Phelps).

NL-ExPatriate said...

Well put CA

I to was torn about reposting the cartoons. Not so much because I found them offensive but because of the out cry and back lash which was happening. So yes I was being intimidated by the goings on in Muslim land.

But I finally decided to repost in part because of fredom of speech and inpart because I don't think the outrage being shown by muslims is the true feelings of muslims.

The fact of the matter is the vast majority of muslims are just like you and me it is only the fanatics and ones with an alternate agenda that are fanning these flames to furthur their own causes.

Can you imagine how much these fanatics fund raising campaigns and recruitment drives have gone up because of this false out rage?

It is up to the majority of Muslims to denounce these groups who us Mohammed for their own purposes and gain.

If they don't denounce these extremist muslims for what they are then they are no better than the suicide bombers who die for Mohammed and the 70 virgins with little or no care about the innocents who are injured because of their misguided religious beliefs.

Yes I checked out the piss bottle and I didn't find it terribly offensive. If the artist felt that was what he felt about christ so be it it is his opinion and he will have to live with it according to Christians beliefs and not his own obviously.

The Truth Hurts!

Central Content Publisher said...

The reality is that Canada, The United States, and the other western countries who are appologizing for the self-censorship, all have theocratic parties in power. It's in their interest to respect the authority of religion over fancy shmancy things of the enlightenment like Freedom of Speech. The "offense" items that make fun of crhistians are from a by-gone era pre-neo-con.

Canadi-anna said...

Central Content Publisher -- Don't worry. The big, bad, Canadian, right-wing theocrats are only going after you heretics who are brave enough to enable your profiles.
You're safe for now.

Les Mackenzie said...

Canada has the most stringent boradcast laws and hate legislation so that showing these images would be punishable by law.

Canadian papers aren't publishing these out of a sense of fairplay. And inciting violence over these images is far worse than the original offence in my book. You have given several examples of offenses to Judeo-Christian culture and I've yet to see anyone loonier than Pat Robertson rise up.

Canadi-anna said...

Les, I respectfully disagree. The cartoons deptict a religious image - they don't advocate genocide, they don't incite hatred or violence. Their publication would not be a criminal offense. Given the adequate evidence of other religions/peoples being subject to satirical depiction in cartoons and otherwise being published without prosecution, it would be difficult for government to explain censoring this one -- even Muslims would have to be offended if they tried, because it would imply that Muslims can't be expected to react rationally when their faith is attacked in the media.
Don't see it happening.

While I agree that part of the reason for not publishing them might be fear of a Muslim backlash here, I think today's Donato cartoon in the SUN says it best. He'd rather confine himself to lampooning the radicals who behead people on television etc. than to simply try to offend by drawing an image of the Prophet.

kent Blaker said...

Most of the cartoons have the name Mohammad on them. The bomb head one has something written on the bomb. Has anyone translated it? If it does not say "Prophet" on it then it is really just about a guy named Mohammad and how many of those are walking around with bombing in their head?
..... The cartoons are not really offensive but how one reacts to them can be.
....The muslim reaction is to threaten to kill someone then pull out the knife.Most of the rest of humanity says " thats just rude"

Les Mackenzie said...

I know there is a clause in (I believe) the Canadian Broadcast Act that sets precedent to make showing rap videos illegal in Canada. Laws that are seldomly enforced but know to most in the media industry.

Damnit! I wish I remembered the exact phrasing - I hate arguing without supporting it with a link.

I first learned of said article during the whole banning of 50 cent thing... But basically the article states that any depiction untoward of any minority group can result in heavy fines and revocation of licensing through the CRTC...

Or at least that was the jist. So showing something like this (already proven to incite riots across Europe and the Middle East) would be asking the CRTC to take your license away.

I'm pretty sure it's the same article that got Michael Coren kicked from CFRB in T.O.

NL-ExPatriate said...

If you think the internet can't be censored ask some Chinese aho recently had the Google search engine censored by their government.

There is a bill in parliament that wants to integrate all internet traffic into the same clause as phone taps. On the surface Idon't have a problem with this bill as long as the courts use the same criteria as was used for phone taps.

Censoring the internet is actually easier to do than the phone is and was. I can even censor my own computer from offensive content to protect my children with a simple addition to my router.

Why do you think a few years back people would never refer to Micro Soft or Bill gate by his real name they always used some sort of bastardized mix to try and thwart any censorship since Bill gates had control over all of the internets traffic through centralized routers and sattelites.

PR said...

Well said. It's important for Christians to have a sense of empathy with Muslims when looking at these issues, and you do.

Kateland, aka TZH said...

I don't see the publishing of the cartoons in the "because we can" light, and I hardly thought the cartoons lampooned a religion but rather a certain religious mindset of the jihadists, but my real question to you is how do you answer someone like Ayaan Hirisi Ali (star of Submission)when she appeals to the west to stand up for freedom and literally paper the world with the cartoons?

SPIEGEL: Was apologizing for the cartoons the wrong thing to do?

Hirsi Ali: Once again, the West pursued the principle of turning first one cheek, then the other. In fact, it's already a tradition. In 1980, privately owned British broadcaster ITV aired a documentary about the stoning of a Saudi Arabian princess who had allegedly committed adultery. The government in Riyadh intervened and the British government issued an apology. We saw the same kowtowing response in 1987 when (Dutch comedian) Rudi Carrell derided (Iranian revolutionary leader) Ayatollah Khomeini in a comedy skit (that was aired on German television). In 2000, a play about the youngest wife of the Prophet Mohammed, titled "Aisha," was cancelled before it ever opened in Rotterdam. Then there was the van Gogh murder and now the cartoons. We are constantly apologizing, and we don't notice how much abuse we're taking. Meanwhile, the other side doesn't give an inch.

SPIEGEL: What should the appropriate European response look like?

Hirsi Ali: There should be solidarity. The cartoons should be displayed everywhere. After all, the Arabs can't boycott goods from every country. They're far too dependent on imports. And Scandinavian companies should be compensated for their losses. Freedom of speech should at least be worth that much to us.

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

Hirsi Ali: That's exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.

SPIEGEL: What will be the upshot of the storm of protests against the cartoons?

Hirsi Ali: We could see the same thing happening that has happened in the Netherlands, where writers, journalists and artists have felt intimidated ever since the van Gogh murder. Everyone is afraid to criticize Islam. Significantly, "Submission" still isn't being shown in theaters.

Canadi-anna said...

Kate - I don't think anyone should apologise for the cartoons and I haven't condemned anyone for posting them.

My first reaction when I saw them and I read about the rioting was to post, but I hesitated. When I thought about it, I decided that there was no governmental body in the Western world trying to prevent the publishing of these cartoons . . . so who would I be protesting against if I were to post them?
I certainly wouldn't be sticking it to the Muslim world that was rioting -- they didn't really need the cartoons to go violent, it's part of who they are. The only people I would be offending is North American Muslims, who seem to be reacting calmly and rationally to the depiction of their prophet - despite the fact that they find it offensive.

Two of the cartoons are satirical, but the reason the lot were commissioned was to inflame sensibilities by depicting the Mohammed.
Slam radical Islam all you want, that's legitimate. The two cartoons that were satirical made their point whether Mohammed was portrayed or not.
To someone like Hirsi Ali I would say: I will condemn radical Islam for the degredation of women, human rights abuses, the targeting of innocent civilians by Palestian and other murder-by-suicide bombers, the beheading of journalists, the blood libel, the kidnapping of aid workers . . . the list goes on. But in condemning and protesting those actions, I don't think it's necessary to offend Muslims who have taken no part in those things.

There is nothing wrong with criticising Islam, but with the exception of two of those cartoons, the sole purpose was to depict Mohammed. They did not critique, instruct, or enlighten --so the only possible conclusion is that they were designed to offend.
Why would I want to participate in that?

TrustOnlyMulder said...

Don't forget the Ny museum that had a picture of the virgin Mary depicted partially in elephant crap....with cut out pictures of male genitalia surrounding her....and then they opened the exhibit up for people to come throw their own shit ...yes i said it.

The Mayor tried to pull funding and the outcry was enormous.

Where are those people now?

Faith Walker said...

I like what you said here. I have to admit a cringed a little when I read MacKay's statement, just b/c it seemed unnecessary to me to say that we are offended by the cartoons...given the kind of offensive garbage that gets passed as "art" these days. How about the Body Works exhibit? That DEEPLY offends me as a Christian and I resent seeing the commercials on t.v., but I don't expect others who don't share my convictions to understand that and apologise to me. Anyhow, what you said is making me think: I am generally against censorship when no crime is being commited...Wordsworth's
"Areopagitica" comes to mind... I feel people need to learn from a young age how to make moral judgements for themselves when it comes to questionable things. That being said, we also need to look at the big picture and sensitivity is the key in that. Provoking a blood-thirsty mob kind of defeats the purpose of demonstrating the beauty of freedom of expression. Professors who post the cartoons in their classrooms "for the sake of discussion" are not looking at the big picture. Is it really worth it to start a war with all of Islam...just to show that we are "right?" So in the end, I agree with you in supporting MacKay, b/c although he doesn't have to say that we are offended, it was the sensitive thing to do and in the best interest of Canada's national security.

Krydor said...


There is no altrusim from the Canadian media regarding republishing "offensive" images. They are operating out of fear. They'll mock any other religion at the drop of a hat, because they know that there will be no violent backlash.

If some nutty Christian group decided that certain images were offensive and comitted acts of violence to show their distaste, I would publish copies in an instant.

Our society is founded on the free flow of information, no matter how offensive it is. In the choice between submitting to the will of a few radicals or offending the crap out of 'em, I'll pick offending them every time.

'Peg City Kid said...

Like Koffi said,

"Freedom of speech is not a licence. It does entail exercising responsibility and judgment."

I, as a decent human being understand, that out of consideration for my neighbours friends, brother and sisters and just for other people, there are things I should and shouldn't say, whether or not I can.

The re-printing of these cartoons is not a demonstration of free speech, it's rape of the very principles it was built upon.

These cartoons are blasphemous, that is why they riot.

Apparently, ridiculing peoples prophets and mocking their religion upsets them. Hmmmm? Funny that.

Let's not forget, this whole thing was an exercise set in motion by Jyllands-Posten "as a test of whether Muslim fundamentalists had begun affecting the freedom of expression in Denmark".

I guess the answer is yes.

Besides, don't you think an image of Mohammed wearing a turban shaped as a bomb a little, hmmmm, racist??

jw said...

Had there been little or no violence, I would have been quite willing to demonstrate agaisnt the cartoons. I have no problem at all in good public demonstrations against religious contempt, without regard to which religion is being degraded.

That said, once the violence started the only fair and reasonable response is to publish all the cartoons as many times as possible and in as blatant a way as is possible.

By giving in to violence we teach all radicals everywhere that Canada may be easily controlled with violence. We are, right now, teaching violence.

Dr. Dawg said...

Well said.

Dr. Dawg said...


Could you explain why "Body Works" is offensive to you as a Christian? I ask as a person who has just written a research paper on the rights of the corpse.

Send me an email, since this is really OT. Sorry, Canadianna.