Sunday, December 10, 2006

Please, Please, and Please

I have a bleg.*

I have a hunch that the offense taken at depictions of the prophet Mohammed (and alleged mistreatment of the Koran) is of recent vintage. It seems that one can cite examples where this happened in the past without all of the problems. This relates to some points that I want to make on a related topic.

What say you? (besides "Do your own research")

P.S. I am still waiting to see if "Anonymous #2" wants to identify him/herself. If so, I will post the comment whole. Otherwise I will chop it up into bite-sized morsels.

*Bleg -- when a blogger begs from something

6 Comments:

Blogger Derek Jensen said...

Some people just want to be offended. This seems to include the "Arab Street" since about 1975

December 11, 2006 12:25 PM  
Blogger Mahan said...

While I am loathe, as a scholar, to credit Wikipedia as a serious source on much of anything, lo and behold, we find, with a quick search of Google, these depictions from Islamic artwork.

I don't seem to recall the Muslims in those centuries getting too worked up over depictions; they were irked with each other for other reasons. I can dig up some other examples a little later, if you would like?

December 11, 2006 4:18 PM  
Blogger Mahan said...

Oh, yes; there's this article as well.

December 11, 2006 4:24 PM  
Blogger Aaron B. Solem said...

A good example is Comedy Centrals reaction to the two South Park episodes that have depicted Muhammad.

In 2001 they allowed the image of Muhammad to air in an episode where he is part of a super-hero brigade made up of religious figures who fight the magician David Blane. If I remember correctly, Muhammad morphs into a Beaver.

In 2005 South Park ran a two part episode parodying the violence over the Muhammad cartoon. Comedy Central refused to show Muhammad handing a character a football helmet, while in the same episode it allowed depictions of George W. Bush and Jesus defecating on one another.

December 11, 2006 4:27 PM  
Blogger Mahan said...

After looking at the incidence of "Mohammed Rage" that the media has reported (the Danish cartoons, the South Park incident, etc), it appears to me that there are factions within Islam that are willing to use an interpretation of that faith to advance their political goals.

*Claude Rains voice*

"I'm shocked...SHOCKED at this implication!"

*end voice*

I know, it's unimaginable that religious faith might be used in such a manner. Moreover, one of the advantages to doing this is that, since the West prides itself on tolerance of conscience, the persons stirring up the crowds can accuse the artists of fomenting hate, Islamophobia, etc., using catchphrases that resonante in our culture. Whether or not they, themselves, believe this is of little or no consequence.

Not that I am cynical about this.

December 11, 2006 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Anonymous # 2, checking back. Sorry, but I strictly forbad myself permission to read any blogs until exams were over. Then, of course, I was reunited with my sweetheart and became distracted.

But seriously, why do you care who I am? I'm not trying to provoke you (well, maybe just tease you a little bit), but I am intrigued as to why it matters. I mean if I made up a random blog name like Mr.Alice or AttitudesAnonymous would that suit you? Now I'm curious.

Isn't an idea an idea, whatever its source? Forgive the cliche, but "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet..."

Perhaps Emily Dickinson has the answer:

I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us--don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know.

How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!


NOTE: Bog does rhyme with blog, you know. Very interesting.

If you must call me something, call me "Kao Nashi" which means "No Face" and is the name of a character in Miyazaki's "Spirited Away."

As for images of Mohammed, and such:

In the grand scheme of history, don't you think rage is a relatively common reaction for a believer to have towards perceived heresy? I mean, what would have happened to the South Park producers under the Spanish Inquisition? Or if the episodes had come to light in Salem during the witch trials? If you drew such pictures of Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution?

I personally appreciate that we live in a country that protects freedom of speech, but it has taken centuries to build up to our current tolerance level. I am not convinced our collective tolerance for religious and other insults is entirely natural. We are trained into it.

Furthermore, having the right to say something doesn't mean your audience doesn't have a right to get mad at you for saying/drawing it. Obviously, I don't believe rioting and violence are an appropriate reaction, but the anger is rather predictable, don't you think? I mean, didn't these guys put Rushdie on a hit list for the "Satanic Verses"?

Why hand out free ammunition to the other side? Honest question: do you think "training" extremists to get used to inflamatory speech is a practical option? Will they allow us to thicken the faithful's skin without the extremists' permission? If you repeatedly wave the red flag in front of the bull, does he stop charging?

Of course, people use perceived insults to advance political goals.

Politics is politics.

My favorite example is the "War of Jenkin's Ear."
See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_of_Jenkins'_Ear

This British Captain presents his pickled ear to the House of Commons SEVEN YEARS after it was severed off by a Spaniard somewhere near Havana. His pickled ear was then used to whip up enough frenzy for war against Spain which lasted nearly a decade.

I don't mean to belittle the severing of an ear, but the war wasn't really about the ear. The ear was a catalyst. That is the sobering thing about the way the Saddam Hussein hanging was handled.

Off to bed. I wonder if you even check these old comment pages.

But my sweetheart is gone, and I have conversation time to kill.

January 07, 2007 11:48 PM  

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