I Believe in Free Speech, and the Easter Bunny...
And here we are again. Deja vu, 2005 protests against the Danish cartoonists of the Jyllands-Posten and, for those old enough to remember, the 1988 fatwa against author Salman Rushdie and his controversial book The Satanic Verses. And again, as violent protests rage in the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Libya and other Muslim states, we hear the west speaking out and boisterously condemning, the "artist" behind the film allegedly to have incurred the wrath of Imams the world over.
Immediately as the identity of the filmmaker was discovered, western media descended on his home in California and pundits raged about how could such a depraved individual be so insensitive to depict the prophet Muhammad and deliberately hurt the feelings of an entire religion? By doing so of course, we continue to sidestep the issue at hand which is that the film and its progenitor are incidental.
For starters, there are hundreds of videos and images depicting the Prophet Muhammad all over Youtube and the web, have been for some time, so it's a little suspect that this film translated into Arabic, suddenly discovered on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 should incite such fury. In 2005, the Danish cartoons were featured in a Egyptian newspaper months before any protests erupted, the offense having been acknowledged, discussed and almost forgotten. Until the Imams got their claws on them.
July 2001, South Park depicted the Prophet Muhammad. And no one cared.
It matters not whether the allege work is a cartoon, a crappy film trailer, or a work of literary fiction, or even an episode of South Park, as it's the mission of small hardcore group of Islamist Fundamentalist leaders to be offended and rally the masses to their personal ends, stemming back from a little meeting in '05 that sought to adopt Canadian-style hate speech laws with which to attack freedom of speech around the world:
"The role of the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), representing 57 Muslim states, in creating a climate for violent confrontation over the cartoons [was shown when] the OIC set the stage for anti-free speech demonstrations at its extraordinary summit in Mecca in December 2005. The Muslim states resolved, through these many demonstrations, to pressure through a program of joint Islamic action, international institutions, including the U.N., to criminalize insults of Islam and its prophet. (Washington Times)
So once again, out of fear, all major western media outlets have refrained form showing a clip or image from The Innocence of Muslims out of fear of violent reprisals, thus failing at their most fundamental duty. In an information age that is over saturated in images and sound and sensational exposes, in the case of the Muslim Prophet, we geeve, failing to show the images in a story about images, context be Allah-dammed.
Even in Canada, great bastion of freedom, land of rich resources, a nation that prides itself on pluralism, the mere suggestion of a public exhibition of this controversial film where those curious to see, or those vehmently defiant in their right to freedom of speech and freedom to see and hear, one can read this criticism dawn in the National Post from Maryam Dadabhoy of the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations: "Everyone has the right to freedom of speech and can show whatever film they want but, at the same time, you should show respect to those around you."
Well shit, apologies to Ms. Dadabhoy but that's not how freedom of speech works. To paraphrase a great thinker, paraphrasing some other great thinkers, it's not only the right of the person speaking to have their voice heard, it is the right of you the listener to hear what they have to say regardless of how uncomfortable we may become, regardless of how grossly misinformed those views may potentially be. Because it will force us to question what we know and reexamine the evidence for our convictions, that is, the details of historical narratives.
Canada politely closes a whack of embassies.
You claim the Holocaust never took place or that it's been misrepresented, we'll solemnly rebuke your assumption with the accounts of survivors, the physical evidence, preserved paper trails that detailed the logistics of the Third Reich. You assert that the Twin Towers were demolished by explosives, we have a 2000 page report from the the independent experts who make up the National Institute of Standards and Technology that disputes your charges in agonizing detail. And you claim people with skin a different colour than yours are inferior races, well allow me to mushroom slap you across the face with the Human Genome Project that has cataloged the identical genetic information that makes us all humans, dispelling the myths of racism, phrenology and other bunk presuppositions.
But I digress, and so will summarize with these thoughts. In these nations where we see protesters swarming the streets and attacking western embassies, how seriously are we to take the threat of the masses? Not very. These are people who aren't allowed to gather in public or protest for SHIT, but in the case that it is politically and piously advantageous for their hardcore clerics and Imams, the placards come out, the flags and effiagies are torched. The extremist minority of the Islamic world that monopolizes the attention we pay to Islam, have no arguments or intelligent discourse with which to engage the rest of the world. Violence is all they have, to inspire fear in us so we will censor our newspapers and cow to their sensitivities.
Just publish the goddamn cartoon, films, whatever. Terrorize them with the Solidarity of Freedom of Speech that they fear so much. Join me friends, they can't cut all of our heads off.
Hello, my name is Muhammad.