:: Saturday, 4 February 2006 ::
This is why the cartoons need to be published.
Thanks to some French paper for this beautiful vision of the heart of the argument as I see it.
And here are the cartoons themselves.
[NOTE: Yeah, yeah, marvel at my technological ineptitude at being reduced to photograph photographs on the innernut....I really gotta get me some lessons in this bloggy thing.]
Anyhoo, where was I?
Oh yeah - Why publish? Cos any discussion of this stuff without publishing them or at least some of them is, to be blunt, not a gesture that is respectful to Muslims sensibilities. It is a capitulation, in a time of real crisis, to Muslims’ overdeveloped sensitivities, unrealistic expectations and and overreactions to non-Muslim behaviours.
The Danish publication was done deliberately to show that in Denmark, the effect of Muslim mania has chilled artists to the extent that an author could not locate any artist prepared to contribute illustrations for a book about Mohammed. That is why the editors of the newspaper decided to call for cartoonists to submit some pics and go ahead and publish them.
To show that there is a problem in the attitudes of Muslims in Denmark that is running wholly counter to the more local Euro attitude that artists should be free to express views about religious figures including Mohammed without fear or favour, subject always to the constraints of the law.
And boy, were those editors ever right.
Mad muslims (note, the mad ones) have behaved as they have ever behaved about any vague references by non-Muslims to the Islamic religion that are not capitulatingly praisefilled - immediately taking offence where none is intended and engaging in violence and calls for bloody retribution as a result of something that never ever warranted such a reaction.
What's new, eh?
Let us forget about them, they are insane in the membrane and alls they care about is their religion.
I do not care about their religion. I care about mine. Mine has nothing to do with this whole hullabaloo, but Roman Catholic, zif you needed to wonder.
What I do care about, that absolutely does have something to do with the hullabaloo, is freedom of expression for newspapers to publish their cartoons as they see fit within the constraints of the law and not within the constraints of a bunch of mad Muslims.
So, to get to the nub of it, what are the constraints of law upon the right of freedom of expression?
Well, two really.
First, publication that vilifies a person or a recognised group of those sorts of persons with a view to inciting active prejudice against them, based upon race, religion, gender, disability and/or age.
Second, straight up old fashioned defamation - libel or slander, that is, being publication that injures somebody's reputation (or the reputation of a group if they share the reputation), whether the publication is deliberate or reckless.
And are there are defences to such publications?
Yah. In the first case, the defence that no vilification is intended, and context comes in to it. And in the second case, there is often a defence of simple straight up truth, even if the truth hurts. Plus other more esoteric defences, no need to bore youse witless about it all here.
See, seems to me the cartoons, published now all over the globe, thanks to the internet and a BBC broadacast, fit within the law.
So, next question - have the mad Muslims who have demonstrated around the globe, burned flags, fired their stupid guns, set fire to the Danish Embassy (and the Chilean and Swedish too - zif they care) in Damascus and called for jihad and violence against all folks who "disrespect" Mohammed blah blah, themselves acted within the law?
Well, to the extent their demonstrations amount to nothing more than:
"What Don't We Want
hen that is fine, but when it starts getting violent with the burning and the firing, then no, they are no longer law abiding.
They are inciting violence against a recognisable group of people - Danes, of all peoples! They are disturbing the peace.
Now, we all know the drill of the mad Muslim - complain that he is acting legitimately when he breaks the law, because he is simply responding to provocation which was itself illegitimate blah blah blah the cartoons have caused the trouble, not the troublemakers themselves who show not a jot of restraint in their behaviours.
It is shite.
It is Rushdie all over again and I reckon I have grown up since then.
Back then, 1989, I thought Rushdie deserved what he got cos he riled up the wogs. Back then I used to think - hey, they are wogs, going berserk is what they do, you cannot expect an exemption, you have made your hammock now lie in it.
What changed for me? Sicily 1992. Stay with me here, cos it makes sense and is objectively right.
Sicilians, mafia and mafia protectors, at least that was their reputation, actually did something about the "mad Muslims" ie mafiosi, in their midst. "Basta". Enough. No more.
70000 people went to the funeral of Giovanni Falcone, mafia prosecutor, assassinated by filthy scum in a vast explosion of his car. And they pledged, among other things, “not to turn a blind eye to current malpractices, lending them tacit consent simply because ‘cosi fan tutti’ ”.
To apply this to the cartoon hullabloo - I think the Danish editors essentially made a pledge not to lend tacit consent to the extra-legal suppression of free expression achieved by mad Muslims through their constant violence and threats of violence over the years wherever they perceive their religion is not being given sufficient awe by those of us who do not care about it.
Translation - just cos some mad Muslims are gonna go crazy, does not mean we should not address this whole question of freedom of speech and art and Islam in Europe, in the pages of our paper.
And I reckon that is the heart of this madness, and a pledge worth taking.
By the way - "extra-legal" - yeah, that is what I mean. There is no law says I have an obligation not to republish the cartoons because to do so may cause offence to some Muslims reader, if there are any. No law. If I cared about offense, I would not publish for the internal conscience reason, you know? But not law.
The law says I cannot vilify or defame.
I am not vilifying anyone or their religion nor am I injuring their reputation.
I am supporting Danes and folks all over the globe who think cartoons that depict Mohammed should be able to be published and Muslims should be free to peacefully and legally complain if they wish, but they really would be better expending their energy on more important things than the fact that non-Muslims do not share their attitudes towards pics of their prophet. They do not thinks pics of the prophet are okay. Fine – do not publish any. Me, I like figurative art, and this whole episode is the first time I have even realised that there have been many renderings of Mohammed in the past. So this whole ‘no pics’ thing is just another bad habit picked up by modern Muslims that is deeply flawed in a modern world where you have to be in an empty room with the lights out to be in a place without art.
For some better reading on this than mine, check out Norm and Scott from the UK.
For a perfect but awful vision of what this whole cartoon episode is wreaking, check out the threats to NZ.
And, just as a last thought, I wonder if the UK laws against religious vilification would have caught the BBC as publishers of the cartoons, or maybe the mad Muslims genuinely inciting violence in the name of their religion instead. Or maybe both?
:: WB 10:49 pm [link+] ::