Friday, September 28, 2012

All Holy Men Are Equal

But some are more equal than others. Three of the four figures in the illustration may be freely mocked, vilified, insulted, and disparaged without repercussions. If the same is done to the fourth figure, there will be death threats, massive and deadly riots, and tearful and angst-ridden apologies from the US government. Can you identify which of the holy men will bring on the latter reaction? Bonus points if you can write the name in Arabic.

At the United Nations General Assembly opener this week, we were treated to a speech from Mahmoud Imadinnerjacket, leader of Iran, who repeated that Israel must be wiped off the face of the map. Also appearing was Barack Hussein Obama, Apologist-in-Chief for the Western world. Making his first appearance before the Assembly was the new leader of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi. Morsi declared that Egypt doesn't much like violence, but understood the anger of the people who attacked the American embassy in Cairo.

Of course the big flap is about that fourth character in the illustration. Morsi said the following: “I condemn insults hurled on the Prophet of Islam, You-Know-Who,” and demanded that the UN immediately do something about those who do hurl those insults. He went on to say: “We reject this, we cannot accept this. And we will be the opponents of those who do this. We will not allow anyone to do this by word or deed.” The word “anyone” appears in the official UN translation of Morsi's speech, though it was not contained in the written version of the prepared speech handed out in advance.

Morsi announced that there is "an organized campaign against Islamic sanctities." He went on to say that the U.N. has a "main responsibility" in addressing Islamophobia, which "is starting to have implications that clearly affect international peace and security." He pleaded with the Assembly to pass resolutions which would punish “blasphemy” against all religions and religious figures. Wink, wink.

Says Morsi: "Egypt respects freedom of expression -- freedom of expression that is not used to incite hatred against anyone, not a freedom of expression that targets a specific religion or a specific culture; a freedom of expression that tackles extremism and violence, not the freedom of expression that deepens ignorance and disregards others.” In other words, a “freedom” which sounds very much like Barack Obama's liberal version of “hate speech.” Obama also opined from the UN pulpit that nobody should hurl insults at the Prophet Mohammed (OK, I let the cat out of the bag about the identity of the fourth figure).” This time he used the expression “the Prophet of Islam,” but more often he simply uses “the Prophet Mohammed.” He has called the Muslim call to prayer the most beautiful thing he has ever heard.

All of which brings me to the point of my mini-rant. What's with this “Prophet Mohammed” stuff? The president of the United States uses it, his administration uses it, and the mainstream media use it. When they speak of Jesus, do they add “Son of God, Savior?” When they speak of the traditional Western “God,” do they say “Yaweh, King of the Universe?” When they quote Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, do they say “the divine apostles of Jesus Christ?” When Jesus is put on the cross and dipped in urine, or the Virgin Mary is depicted covered in elephant dung, do they demand that the UN do something about it or else? And how about that Smithsonian Institution display showing Christ on the cross covered in ants? We don't behead people over these “works of art” or burn down buildings. Instead, we us public funds to support them. We can't say the same of depictions of the “Prophet Mohammed.”

Whatever else Mohammed may have been, he is only a prophet to those who follow the “religion of peace.” Ignoring the current violence and the Islamist view of jihad, do any of these “Prophet Mohammed” non-Muslim people find it blasphemous that the Koran denies the divinity of Jesus Christ? Those who conflate “God, Jehovah, Yaweh, and Allah” as different manifestations of the same god know nothing about theology, history or the derivation of the very basis of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim god.

We who believe in persuasion and the Constitution may criticize angry and violence-inducing attacks on any figure a world religion holds sacred, but we don't demand respect for our religion only, nor do we expect non-Christians or non-Jews to have the same view of and respect for our holy figures that we hold. So why do our elected officials and mainstream media find it necessary to honor the man Mohammed as “the Prophet” while not paying the same courtesies to our holy men and women? Why is it “free speech” and “art” when a work is entitled “Piss Christ,” but dangerous speech which should be suppressed if it merely refers to a criticism of Mohammed, or worse, actually does a physical depiction of him?

I certainly have an opinion on each of those questions. How about you?

36 comments:

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

I agree, but if I comment what is really on my mind, I will get banned.

Anthony said...

*Shrugs* As I've said in every thread on the subject, more Muslims need to learn that freedom of speech doesn't end at the criticism of Islam. The mocking of Judaism and Christianity is common in some of the places where large number of people are aghast at the mocking of Islam.

Also, I think the Muhammed the Prophet thing is to distinguish him from the 543,931,782 guys named after him in the world (there are Hispanic men named Jesus, but even there, its not nearly as common).

Also, it should be kept in mind that many of the incompetent, corrupt leaders in the Arab world used religion to distract their people from their own government/daily lives (don't hate the guys with the boot on your neck, hate Israel and America!) and to convince Americans to support their dictatorships (look at how much they hate you, you need us!). China plays the same game with nationalism nowadays.

All that being said, its worth bearing in mind that the level of freedom of speech we have here in the US isn't all that common (hate speech and Holocaust denial are crimes in a lot of European countries) so there is a danger some non-Muslim countries might go along with the demand for a UN resolution condoning censorship of critics of religion. *Shrugs* As with most stuff the UN passes, even if it happened, it wouldn't impact the US.

Individualist said...

Lawhawk

We keep hearing in the media that the You tube video being discussed was made by christian zealots. In America this connotation is an Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian with all the baggage an atheistic secular press tries to tie them down with.

This man is a Christian however he is not an American Evangelical. He is an Egyption Coptic Christian (according to what little I can find tho read about him). His name which I won't mention to protect his family from murdering maniacs seems to bear that this is the case.

Why make this distinction since all christians are brothers. While this is true and as a Cotholic I will feel as offended about someone walking into a Baptist church shouting obscenties at Jesus as much as a Catholic Church, there is a significant distinction. In Egypt Coptic Cchristians are persecuted, driven form their homes, killed and raped by fundamentalists. There churches are burnt down. Just south in lower Africa thousands of Christian blacks are exterminated in genocide.

So if I am supposed to understand the social pressures of a person who robs a liquor store in making my judgments why am I to divorce the circumstances regarding what drives this man from making this film.

If the Egyptian President would like for people to stop mocking his precious prophet I'd suggest he tell the Imams to tell his follwoers to quit tortuing, murdering and enslaving anyone who is not their religion.

Just a thought.

tryanmax said...

Anthony, I wouldn't be so easy to *shrug* when so many in the upper echelons of one of our major political parties (and may I remind you we only have two in this country, meaning near 50% of the leaders of our political parties) are enamored of such old-World paradigms as restricting speech.

Have they made serious inroads? Of course not. But the fact that they never have never seems to deter them from the prospect. I'm not advocating a panic or even any sort of reaction. But as you point out, our freedom of speech is unique in this world. Its preciousness at least deserves wary vigilance over a *shrug*.

Anthony said...

Tryanmax,

My indifference is only to foreign opinion. As I've said before, I have a problem with Obama apologizing for the film and asking internet companies to pull the film.

T-Rav said...

In answer to your last question, I suspect it's because they know they'll get away with making fun of God and Jesus, but not Mohammed. I mean, Seth MacFarlane and others have basically admitted as much in the past. In other words, our "artists" are just as cowardly and self-preserving as the rest of us. Hopefully that's kind of comforting.

Tam said...

This is all the arabic I know:
lan astaslem لن استسلم
"I will not submit"

obiwan2009 said...

I remember how MAD TV poked fun of Jesus, but yes, despite implementing sci-fi, at least the main guy in the skit gave the response, "He'll be back" at the end.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJKye7J3-54

BevfromNYC said...

Islam needs to get over it. And it's time for moderate Muslims to stand up to the radicals, period and PROVE they are the religion of peace. As long as they kill and we undercut our rights to appease them, the terrorists win. Period.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm a firm believer in freedom of speech and that should be the government's only concern in these matters.

BevfromNYC said...

And furthermore, If Andre Serrano had ANY stones at all as an artist, he would create "Piss Mohammed". It would prove he has guts as an artist, but he won't because he doesn't.

tryanmax said...

Bev, great point! I am so sick of "edgy" artists who are "brave" enough to take on the Christian "status quo." There hasn't been a Christian status quo in my entire life. I've had more than my fill of people who pose as counter-cultural when they are completely corro-cultural. (I think I just made that term up.)

Tennessee Jed said...

apparently, too many Muslims have a bit of a thin skin when it comes to this stuff. In that respect, they remind me of liberals who love to dish it out, but have their heads explode if any criticism blows back on them. That said, I agree government's only interests in this have to be free speech and (to the extent it may impact) our national security.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: You've shown admirable restraint. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

Anthony: There are hundreds of thousands of Hispanics named Jesus, but I don't think anybody misunderstands who is meant when Jesus is discussed.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: I concur.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: Morsi worrying less about words about Mohammed and more about the real murder of Christians in their churches would be a good start to a relationship with the US.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tam: That's good enough!

LawHawkRFD said...

obiwan: I wouldn't like to think how many times when I was young that I probably committed blasphemy making bad-taste but good-natured jokes about Jesus or the church. Our Christian God tends to be a bit more forgiving than that of the Islamists. I think God can sort out which jokes and satires are actually meant to deny Him or "defame" Him, and which are not.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I can't find anything to disagree with in that.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: I really wasn't in any way trying to squelch free speech. The president, the talking heads and the mainstream media are free to call Mohammed anything they want, no matter how obsequious or flattering. At the same time, I'm exercising my right of free speech to call them hypocritical for their faux respect for Islam and all things Islamic while treating Christianity and Judaism as if they were some sort of social disease.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: Serrano likes the freedom and publicity too much to spend the rest of his life in hiding dodging fatwas.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: I think we should conduct tours of places like Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan for liberals, and announce in advance that they will be "speaking truth to power." First, they can mock Christianity to the cheers of the crowd. Then, they can mock Islam to, well, you can guess the rest.

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk - And that's why Serrano is full of bat guano. It's not about being "speaking truth to power" through "art". It's not about freedom at all. It's about publicity and ego...and money.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I have developed a rather thin skin lately for the casual disrespect shown for Christianity by too large a segment of the population. If they are gutsy enough to do it to my face, they are in for a good tongue-lashing. But I won't behead them or burn down their houses.

I will likely always believe in the words usually attributed to Voltaire: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." Volatire and the Enlightenment had a great influence on the Founders and the wording of the First Amendment. As I said to Andrew, they can say anything they want, but that doesn't mean that I won't exercise my equal right to tell them they're nuts.

Our national security would be worthless if we gave up our fundamental right to speak freely.

BevfromNYC said...

Serrano did't need a $15K grant from the taxpayers to pee in a jar and stick a crucifix. Well, maybe that's what it cost for the beer, but the jar was not extraordinary, the crucifix he had laying around anyway (he has a fixation), and well, the urine can be produced for free...

Okay, I will now end my Serrano rant...grrrrrr.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: Unfortunately for us, that means we have to put up with his obnoxious "art" no matter how offensive we find it. What I do object to is public funding for this kind of expression. The government should never be allowed to censor such works, but do we have to pay for it as well? And before anyone jumps on me for suggesting that, huge numbers are rejected for public funding for their "art" every day for multiple reasons, including that they are just lousy at it.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: You got there ahead of me. LOL

K said...

Is this really about freedom of speech per se, or about political overreach by an administration desperate for re-election and wanting the bad stuff to go away ASAP?

Because you can imagine what would have happened to Serrano and the "art" museum he exhibited in circa 1920. Are the Islamics in these countries that much different?


LawHawkRFD said...

K: The compliant liberals (and conservatives who should know better) participated in the exaltation of the "Prophet Mohammed" long before the elections, and will undoubtedly do so long after the elections. Free speech isn't the issue, since nobody of any importance would deny them the right to fawn over Mohammed. It has simply become de rigueur among the chattering classes to refer to Mohammed as "the Prophet," but never to accord the same to Christian or Jewish notables.

What would have happened to Serrano in America in the 20s is speculative. Outside the South, I guess not much. But the Scopes Monkey Trial of 1925 is probably a good indicator. He would have been charged with some archaic form of public blasphemy, received a fair trial, maybe even lost, then won on appeal on constitutional grounds. He would not have been beheaded. Death threats would probably have occurred, but Scopes suffered the same thing and nothing came of it. All things considered, America in the "primitive" 20s was a lot more civilized than the Islamists will ever be.

Individualist said...

Lawhawk

My father when he ran the school was incharge of the things it ran and one of them was a photography art museum. One of three in the country (I guess there is not a lot of call for that).

He butted heads with the Art director there when after 9/11 he asked her to do one show honoring veterans and she refused becasue the Military does not deserve respect in her opinion. Mind you my Dad was a retired Air Force Officer.

One of the things she did do was to pay this woman from London an exhorbitant amount to fly her photography show in, which highlighted minimalism. Evidently she thought that minimalism was to turn the pictures around and display the backs of the frames. Mind you this is not an art museum, it is a photography museum and it is supposed to be showing the work of photographers. He was griping about this when she had the papers writing stories on his censorship of the museum because he asked for a show about veterans.

I thought it hilarious and said for twice as much I will beat her out in minimalism and just show blank walls. My dad did not take me up on the offer.

T-Rav said...

One would think that if the artists wanted to be truly independent, they would consider taking money from the government beneath them. But this has been the way for several decades now, which is partly why most modern art sucks.

LawHawkRFD said...

Indi: The weirdness of the muddle-headed liberals can't be overstated.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: The sad part is that government-funding of art actually had some good effects early on. Orson Welles and the Mercury Players (many, many great actors came out of it) would have been in real trouble without government assistance. But that's pretty much gone. Money is now doled out by mindless, faceless bureaucrats who wouldn't know art from a fart. They don't know the difference between fad and fashion, nor the difference between trash and creativity.

K said...

Hawk: The bureaucrats who pass out government arts money are not mindless. They are responding to an arts clique which controls what is "art" in the west. The backbone of the clique is government funded and should that funding end, modern art would change enormously within a year.

LawHawkRFD said...

K: I agree. This is not the 30s, and the "outsiders" are now the heart of the arts/government establishment. But the final determination is still made by bureaucrats who are "only following orders."

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