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← [UPDATE-07-Jan: commentary by Russell Blackford] Prejudiced Danes provoke fanaticism

[UPDATE-07-Jan: commentary by Russell Blackford] Prejudiced Danes provoke fanaticism - Comments

Vaal's Avatar Comment 361 by Vaal

327. Comment #448000 by Steve Zara

If people don't think that the cartoons were offensive to a particular group, then substitute something else

Would that include the atheist bus campaign, Steve?

Personally, I detest seeing the omnipresent religious advertising wherever I go, and could crow the offence caused by the religious damning anybody not in their particular sect to eternal torture.

The fact is that whoever wants to find offence about anything will find it. If you don't like it, ignore it, turn over, debate it, but don't threaten violence, intimidate or seek to muzzle, as political Islam seeks to do.

We should also remember that it is a certain subset of Islamists, who seek to be offended by cartoons. They are also muzzling other muslims who regard their poison as nonsense. In fact one of the muslims at my work enjoys the Jesus and Mo cartoons, and there is a rich tradition of satire and portrayal of Muhammad in early Islam, as has been pointed out by other better read contributers about Islam on RDnet than myself.

Yes, as Richard points out, pornography and violence is beyond the pale, but religion, particulary the poison of Islam, should not be entitled to a free ride, just the opposite.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 12:26:00 UTC | #429295

Mr. Forrest's Avatar Comment 362 by Mr. Forrest

I can't believe we're honestly having a discussion about whether it's right or wrong to offend someone.

That's not the point at all, the point is: do you have the right to offend?

Of course you do, and it is this right that these muhammed-cartoons took advantage of to show how much mealy-mouthed self-censorship is going around when it comes to Islam.

The fact that threats and violence is the real reason for the self-censure has also been made abundantly clear by the following reaction.

Now I believe that it is every mans right to choose what he wishes to say. I wholeheartedly believe that it is NOT every mans right to choose what his fellow man should say.

If you don't wish to offend, fine. That's your right. But don't tell me that saying nothing while a disgusting, mysogynistic, repressive, racist, medieval ideology like Islam tries to take away your civil liberties is a good thing.

I think being offensive is honestly the only proper response to an ideology like that when it tries to influence the public discourse.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 12:33:00 UTC | #429297

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 363 by Steve Zara

Richard, Philip, Vaal (and others)

I think that the comparison with the bus campaign is very interesting indeed.

I think the Atheist Bus campaigm worked superbly in the UK, because of the very mild language. The outrage about the campaign looked very silly as a result, and it was clear that some who protested were just trying to make trouble, and feigning offence.

Now, it seems like the Cartoons were designed to be quite offensive. That was the artistic intention. Putting aside any judgement on that, wouldn't it have been more interesting if the cartoons had been designed to be hardly offensive at all, in the style of the UK atheist bus campaign. It would have make those claiming insult and offence look very silly indeed.

A campaign of being extremely mildly offensive and seeing the wildly disproportionate response of religious people could be quite effective!

As for some people wanting to be outraged, it's also others exploiting those people, deliberately stirring things up to cause trouble. As Quetz says, I'll bet few of those demanding violence have even seen the cartoons.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 12:38:00 UTC | #429298

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 364 by Quetzalcoatl

Steve Zara-

Now, it seems like the Cartoons were designed to be quite offensive. That was the artistic intention. Putting aside any judgement on that, wouldn't it have been more interesting if the cartoons had been designed to be hardly offensive at all, in the style of the UK atheist bus campaign. It would have make those claiming insult and offence look very silly indeed.


Given that any depiction of Muhammed is offensive to Muslims, what sort of thing would you have in mind?

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 12:47:00 UTC | #429299

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 365 by Richard Dawkins

Steve Zara

Now, it seems like the Cartoons were designed to be quite offensive. That was the artistic intention. Putting aside any judgement on that, wouldn't it have been more interesting if the cartoons had been designed to be hardly offensive at all, in the style of the UK atheist bus campaign. It would have make those claiming insult and offence look very silly indeed.
Unfortunately for this otherwise constructive suggestion, it is hard to imagine how the Danish cartoons could have been made LESS offensive, unless you buy into the peculiar Islamic conception of offence. The Westergaard cartoon, which is normally touted as the most offensive of them (if you don't count the three EXTRA cartoons conjured up by Muslims and never published in Jyllands-Posten) simply showed a (presumed) Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. Any President or Prime Minister in the world would have more right to take offence at the daily cartoon in some newspaper or other. The Westergaard cartoon implies nothing more offensive than that Islam is a violent religion, a fact that was amply demonstrated by the response to it. Part of the problem, as many here have pointed out, is that Islam expects special treatment: expects to be allowed to take disproportionate offence, far beyond that assumed by anybody else on Earth.

Mr Forrest
Now I believe that it is every mans right to choose what he wishes to say. I wholeheartedly believe that it is NOT every mans right to choose what his fellow man should say.
Yes, and it is also every man's right not to offer himself as a martyr, for fear of being thought a coward.

Richard

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 12:51:00 UTC | #429302

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 366 by Steve Zara

Comment #448020 by Quetzalcoatl

Given that any depiction of Muhammed is offensive to Muslims, what sort of thing would you have in mind?


My thought is that the lack of offensiveness should be clear to all but those who say they are offended.

To be honest, I have no idea what to suggest! I'll leave that to others. It could be that this just won't work for Islam.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 12:54:00 UTC | #429303

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 367 by Oromasdes1978

Richard

Thank you, Steve Zara's question about whether it would matter if the cartoons got published got me thinking

How many Jihad-like death threats and oversees violence has the bus campaign actually caused? None that I am aware of - it is a perfect test case in that respect - you got called strident a lot, there were howlings and protests from religious groups saying how positively nasty it all was but nothing out of the ordinary happened - why even the notoriously irracible Yahweh from the Old Testament let it pass! :)

Yet all it took for the cartoons were some very hardline and mendacious people to add more offensive cartoons that were not in the original line up, spread the word around the more easily provoked parts of the world - Pakistan had people burning Dutch flags if I remember, where did they get the flags to do that from in such quick time? They picked on a small incident and made it their own to manipulate into their own version of it that was guaranteed to cause outrage and violence.

Did the South Park cartoon people start violence when they showed Mohammed being friends with all the other world's religious icons? Remembering that their programme is shown worldwide, in many different countries.

Not a jot. Not one announcement of Jihad or motion to violent behavior.

But, a newspaper that most of the world had never heard of, would never have read that day, had not really been noticed until suddenly gets plunged into the horrific storm that it did.

My impression of this so far, especially from what I am still reading about now as indicated in the article, there is STILL violence going on about this. All these people need to do is focus their efforts into this and incidents like Salmon Rushdie's book or the Teddy Bear incident and the Islamic world gets to use it to their advantage as an excuse to remain somehow justifiably "hurt".

I think it was you who said it, correct me if I am wrong - like most religions who reject things like science and reason over wilfull ignorance, they don't have anything to back up their claims or their reasons for doing what they do. So now they use the "I'm outraged and offended that you said or did that about my God" because that is all they can fall back on. They haven't got much else to fall back on in order to perpetuate their agression.

They can choose their targets, big or small, and use them to make life for the rest of use dangerous and difficult.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:09:00 UTC | #429306

Rachel Holmes's Avatar Comment 368 by Rachel Holmes

I've sat on the sidelines on this one before jumping in.

First - as Carto eloquently pointed out - any supposed moral wrongdoing on the part of a person who draws a cartoon with the intention of offending Muslims is dwarfed by the moral outrage of someone attempting to murder him for it.

I'd also like to applaud Sciros for his beautifully nuanced understanding of insults. I know he deployed his argument in relation to offensive epithets, but I think it applies more broadly.

I can't help feeling that some posters have adopted a stance along the following lines:

Freedom of speech encompasses freedom to insult. Therefore,

(1) anyone who criticises others for being insulting is an enemy of free speech; and

(2) anyone who is offensive is a champion of free speech.


Neither (1) nor (2) flow from the premise.

(2) is so obviously wrong that I hope I've misunderstood the posters who seem to hold this view. My five year old niece is well within her rights to skip around the living room calling me a poohead, but forgive me if I raise a quizzical eyebrow at the notion that this makes her a free speech heroine.

Given that the cartoons were originally published to illustrate the issue of self-censorship around Islam, I'd say they made their point very well, albeit at horrible cost. Were there other ways of making that point? No doubt - but I don't see that Jyllands Post can be accused of having been gratuitously offensive.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:15:00 UTC | #429309

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 369 by Steve Zara

Comment #448023 by Richard Dawkins

I guess there is also the requirement for flexibility of belief for there to be the possibility of different levels of offence.

If (as Quetz points out) any depiction of Muhammed is offensive, how can it be done in any "moderate" way?

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:16:00 UTC | #429310

Hilde Blomberg's Avatar Comment 370 by Hilde Blomberg

Comment #448023 by Richard Dawkins : Yes, and it is also every man's right not to offer himself as a martyr, for fear of being thought a coward.


You're right, Richard. What I said is of course easy when you're not an editor yourself, as in my case.

I think publishing it is important and I would loved to have seen many editors do it. At the same time I cannot blaim all the editors for not doing so. Because I think I wouldn't dare to myself.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:18:00 UTC | #429311

epeeist's Avatar Comment 371 by epeeist

Comment #448019 by Steve Zara:

Now, it seems like the Cartoons were designed to be quite offensive. That was the artistic intention.
Are you certain of that? If so, could you point me at a reference. I have asked the same question elsewhere and not had a response.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:20:00 UTC | #429313

Hilde Blomberg's Avatar Comment 372 by Hilde Blomberg

Comment #448009 by Philip1978 : The mentality from my own perspective seems to be these idiots WANT the violence, they WANT to be outraged - anything will do -

You're so right, Philip.

Islamist terrorists want there to be a conflict.

So what can one do about it?

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:21:00 UTC | #429314

Rachel Holmes's Avatar Comment 373 by Rachel Holmes

epeeist,

Are you certain of that? If so, could you point me at a reference. I have asked the same question elsewhere and not had a response.

They would have had to be extraordinarily naive not to know that some Muslims would be offended. It is arguable that if you can be more or less certain that your actions will result in a certain outcome, then you intended that outcome.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:23:00 UTC | #429315

Quetzalcoatl's Avatar Comment 374 by Quetzalcoatl

As part of this I would like to see far greater condemnation of violence and demonstrations by Muslims on the basis of their being "offended". Right now it is almost expected that any perceived slight to Islam will result in a disproportionate reaction, it's almost a normal occurrence. We need to make it clear that this behaviour is not acceptable. Of course, condemning them for being violent and overreacting would probably result in violence and overreaction- but that would prove the point quite nicely.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:24:00 UTC | #429316

Raiko's Avatar Comment 375 by Raiko

Richard,

If I had been the Editor of Jyllands-Posten, I would not have published the cartoons, on grounds of simple cowardice. Or, more accurately, prudence.


I think it's not exactly relevant whether or not the cartoons should have been published. I might be ignorant for thinking nobody could know beforehand that publishing a simple cartoon would lead to so massively endangering the artist's or the editor's life, instead of just a very angry uproar. Maybe one could have predicted it, but offensive cartoons are published every day and in a country like Denmark, I would have felt (maybe falsely) a sense of security.

So, my basic starting point would be: The comics have been published and the threats have been uttered. What now?

For one thing, retracting or apologizing for the cartoons on grounds of simple cowardice might come down to basically the same thing as not publishing them, however - do you really think retracting or not publishing them with the statement you offered would change much about the apparent bloodlust we've all witnessed in connection to the cartoons? I think it wouldn't matter to the relevant people.


I think the discussion about what went wrong should start after the cartoons have been published.

What went wrong there is that dumb apologetics like Nancy Graham Holm cater to the violence and danger from religious extremists by giving them excuses that do not come from their own ranks. They offer a completely false notion that it's somehow okay or justified to act the way they do about a simple cartoon. A good notion to bring across would be that all of the developed world thinks that acting like bloodthirsty zombies about a cartoon is not okay. Even if apologetics like Holm did it in the "we know you're offended, but this is wrong"-way because they're unable to take criminal energy for what it is when religion is involved.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:27:00 UTC | #429318

Hilde Blomberg's Avatar Comment 376 by Hilde Blomberg

Comment #448019 by Steve Zara:
Now, it seems like the Cartoons were designed to be quite offensive. That was the artistic intention.

And so what? I mean, didn't Monty Python want to be offensive when making Life of Brian for instance? At least, they wanted to ridicule the religion.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:29:00 UTC | #429320

Mr. Forrest's Avatar Comment 377 by Mr. Forrest

Richard:

I agree, of course, that no-one should be pressured into making a martyr of themselves.

However I do think that it is fundamentally sick that such concerns should even enter into it. Not that it isn't completely natural and rational to weigh the consequences of ones actions, but it is a sad fact that we have gotten to a place where we even have to consider violence or murder as realistic possibilities when critisising islam.

I believe that the only way to stop such nonsense is to stand up as a society and say: "Not in my country, you don't". Which is exactly why the police are keeping close watch on Mr. Westergaard and those who would seek to harm him. And why the condemnation of this attack has been close to universal.
I'm glad I live in a society where most people disagree fervently with the sort of nonsense apologies for violence that started this entire thread.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:32:00 UTC | #429321

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 378 by Cartomancer

It strikes me that there is something rather desperate and false about the waves of "offense" conjured up by hard-line islamic groups at negligible little things like these cartoons.

I am reminded of Dan Dennett's comparison between this sort of behaviour and the huckster's confidence trick. Both seek to shift the target's response from the rational to the emotional, and force us to fall back on our ingrained social instinct not to cause disharmony.

But I think there might be more to it than this. I think that these people are so vocal in their condemnations not because they have such strong faith that their islam is good and true and wonderful, but because they DON'T. It strikes me as precisely the sort of thing that people who are doubtful and uncertain as to the wisdom of their path would do in order to cover up their doubts. It is overcompensating. It is protesting too much methinks.

I would draw the comparison with closeted gay clergy and right-wing politicians (Ted Haggard anyone?) who shout their homophobia the loudest to cover up the fact that they are gay themselves.

Furthermore, it seems that radical islam itself is just a big, pompous ball of wind. These people HAVE to shout loudly, they HAVE to make a fuss, they HAVE to seem excessive and uncompromising and utterly determined, because if they don't then the whole thing will disappear and the emperor's nakedness will be apparent for all to see. Their movement is kept alive solely by the vehemence of their protestations. It IS solely the vehemence of their protestations. The medium IS the message.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:32:00 UTC | #429322

epeeist's Avatar Comment 379 by epeeist

Comment #448036 by Rachel Holmes:

They would have had to be extraordinarily naive not to know that some Muslims would be offended. It is arguable that if you can be more or less certain that your actions will result in a certain outcome, then you intended that outcome.
My understanding (and again, I am open to correction) is that the publication drew virtually no interest until a few imams took the actual cartoons plus several additional images to various countries in order to drum up offence.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:38:00 UTC | #429323

Mr. Forrest's Avatar Comment 380 by Mr. Forrest

Epeeist:

That understanding would be correct, if anyone cares to look it up their names are Abu Laban and Achmed Akkari.

They deliberatly inflamed the situation by obscuring the truth and peddling a pack of half-truths to the muslim world.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:42:00 UTC | #429324

Rachel Holmes's Avatar Comment 381 by Rachel Holmes

My understanding (and again, I am open to correction) is that the publication drew virtually no interest until a few imams took the actual cartoons plus several additional images to various countries in order to drum up offence.

Yes, I think that's right and I don't believe for a moment that the newspaper intended to provoke the disproportionate reaction that ensued. At the same time, as I understand it (and I too am open to correction), the reason they published the cartoons was to provoke debate about Islam and self-censorsip. If that's your aim, why publish cartoons that aren't going to be offensive to anyone?

Since I consider that aim to be valid, I wouldn't criticise the decision to publish.

EDIT: to be clear, I find the actions of the imams who took the cartoons abroad with the aim of inflaming anger to be utterly despicable.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:48:00 UTC | #429326

Vaal's Avatar Comment 382 by Vaal

Quetz:

Apologists like Nancy Holm almost encourage violence and intolerance, in the name of cultural relativism. In that way, our media and liberalism are the enlightenment's own worst enemies, as we see by the increasing apologist drivel, which used to be a trickle, now cascading into a torrent, from some of our most respected newspapers.

As you say, what will not offend some Islamists who actively seek to portray any criticism of their medieval religion as an attack on race or kick up the hackneyed non-word of Islamaphobia, to instantly arrest debate.

Will theatres and art-galleries be next to be shut because of causing offence? In some Islamic countries, sport and even music is banned for being "Unislamic", and on another thread we see the Islamic "moral" police, interfering on what consenting adults get up to in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

We must remember that it is not all muslims who jump on the bandwagon of offence, and we do a disservice to those who fight against this political censorship, by the mullahs who know they can manipulate the media, with their "angry-man" actors waiting on the sidelines to jump on any considered offence, flags aready. The moderates should be encouraged to say "not in my name", as they did on-mass with the Jordanian bombings, otherwise the death of a thousand cuts will continue, before we wake up living in a society we do not recognise.

EDIT: Cartomancer, marked as excellent.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:56:00 UTC | #429329

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 383 by Steve Zara

Comment #448041 by Hilde Blomberg

I'm beginning to think that it is pointless to try and classify offence, as it means whatever those who say they are offended want it to mean.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 13:58:00 UTC | #429330

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 384 by Oromasdes1978

Cartomancer

How very Freudian of you! :D

I think you are right, there is that frightened aspect of it all going horribly wrong for them, the words of the Qur'aan and the Hadiths etc are supposed to be infallible and I think the fanatic would be incredibly fearful of it all going wrong or losing the power that they have.

But since people have also flown planes into buildings for this, blown up countless innocent people etc I really think there might be more than just a fear of being caught out with no clothes on. Islam is a highly belicose religion by it's own nature, there is very little from what I have read about it that wants to be peaceful that isn't tainted with violence. Yes it can be interpreted in a peaceful way and there are those that do, but there is still room for fanatics to stir the masses up and have an umlimited amount of people to commit acts of attrocities that few others would ever contemplate.

If a person rejects this they are hunted down and killed or persecuted for it, there is that added threat that I do not see in the other more influencial religions of the world. If someone like Ted Haggard gets caught as he did, then he gets kicked out for a while and has to bow and scrape to get back up the ladder. He could easily pack it all in if he wanted to.

But in it's very nature the Islamic fundie is not allowed to think that way because there is a death threat hanging over them. You disgrace Islam in anyway and you get killed for it or in order to achieve major success you have to kill others for it, the most glorious way being to kill yourself too.

I think you are completely right but I also think the encouragement of violence that is inherent in the very core of the religion itself also plays an important part.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 14:07:00 UTC | #429333

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 385 by hungarianelephant

323. Comment #447985 by Decius

As you well know, in matter of topless dancers and loose women, I always defer to your scholarship.

That is unwise. What you should be looking for is the consensus of appropriate experts who have conducted extensive research in the field.

No, wait, wrong thread.

Here's the story: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3083855/Cleric-Omar-Bakris-daughter-is-a-pole-dancer.html - thought this was preferable to the DFM or Currant Bun versions.

Not to denigrate what she does for a living, of course, but this is deeply amusing. Imagine being the guy who bangs on about traditional family values, respect for elders and modesty, and it turns out that you can't even enforce it within your own family. Perhaps we should be pointing this out to his potential followers at every possible opportunity.

If she shouldn't be asking forgiveness from him but from God, then how come everyone else's private life is his business? Talk about double standards.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 14:24:00 UTC | #429339

BroughtyBoy's Avatar Comment 386 by BroughtyBoy

Perhaps a little off topic but here`s an opportunity to air this:

It`s charity quiznight in a Glasgow church hall -

Minister - "..and the final question to win the £200 is; Take that`s first album title consisted of four words, what were they?"

Silence.

Minister - "okay, here`s a clue. The first two words were Take That, what were the second two?"

After a long silence a wee Glasgow man pipes up with...

Was it "Ya Cunt?"...


With apologies.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 14:25:00 UTC | #429340

Oromasdes1978's Avatar Comment 387 by Oromasdes1978

I've just had a thought - One of Christianity's core aspects is love - you love God and Jesus, he loves you, you follow the rules and you get to heaven. Ok there is the threat of hell and all sorts of other fear and misery but isn't it essentially formed on the basis of love, no matter how badly that is interpreted by the believer?

I can't think off the top of my head any other modern day religion that does not involve some sort of similar teachings - love or friendship being used in some way to entice the believer to keep believing.

Islam is not based on wholly on love, it is based on violence and encouragement of it - the threat of death and the peculiar joy and fervour which some can approach death with seems to me to be easy to fall into.

The average Christian fundamentalist will threaten you with hell and erternal damnation if you don't follow the rules, yes there is the odd case of abortion doctors being killed etc but it is not a core doctrine and it is not as prolific.

The average Islamic fundamentalist will threaten to kill people if they do not follow the rules or offend Allah or Mohammed, this is even before you get to spend eternity in hell. Christians expect God to kill you off and send you to hell, Islamic fundamentalists will interpret Allah's will and do it for him. Taking offence and dealing the necessary punnishment out in a way they see fit.

Just some ramblings from me but I do think the ability to take offence in Islam is too easy and the violence is more encouraged and acted upon.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 14:31:00 UTC | #429342

Hilde Blomberg's Avatar Comment 388 by Hilde Blomberg

Comment #448056 by Philip19

Violence is a key factor here. In the muslim communities I have met much more use of violence, both in bringing up kids and elsewhere. I think it has to do with more primitve societies with less emphasis on individual rights.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 14:33:00 UTC | #429343

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 389 by Steve Zara

Comment #448034 by epeeist

I'm afraid I can't point you at a reference, as I realise I have been basing what I have said on a post of Cartomancer's!

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 14:47:00 UTC | #429345

hungarianelephant's Avatar Comment 390 by hungarianelephant

342. Comment #448030 by Rachel Holmes

(2) anyone who is offensive is a champion of free speech.

...

(2) is so obviously wrong that I hope I've misunderstood the posters who seem to hold this view.

I don't think anyone holds this view. Speaking only for myself, I think there is sometimes merit in being deliberately offensive, if only to break taboos. I assume, for example, that this was exactly the point of Richard's now-famous "God of the Old Testament" diatribe in TGD.

The Jyllands-Posten cartoons were making an important political and social point, and the offence that some people would feel was a necessary part of that point. They were primarily a protest against selective self-censorship, and for that reason I would regard them as championing free speech. Not because they were offensive per se.

Wed, 06 Jan 2010 14:54:00 UTC | #429347