Props to the people of Denmark (specifically, the journalists at Jyllands Posten) for their role in encouraging our Islamic friends to lighten up a little bit. The now-infamous illustrations at issue can be found at the bottom of this summary from the Brussels Journal, or can be seen here individually. Slate does some Blogosphere summaries. The Toronto Star interviews Doug "Kudzu" Marlette on the topic. Here are William F. Buckley's comments. Excerpt: The most striking aspect of the controversy is the leverage of the offended Muslim community. Even in the United States, even a publication as venturesome as Slate magazine describes the offending caricatures but is careful not to reproduce them. A quite natural curiosity attaches to how these 12 caricatures actually looked. One of them features Muhammad in a vaporous cloud addressing an assembly of suicide terrorists, with the caption that the heavenly kingdom has run out of virgins, so that aspirant debauchers simply have to lay off for a while. How was all that actually depicted by the cartoonist? Even the banal representation of Muhammad with a bomb replacing the turban on his head did not appear in The New York Times, the paper of record.
This hysteria is now well past the insane point (even though these things have been floating around since September).
Protests Riots have reached from Europe to Jerusalem to Indonesia. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are moderate Muslims who are calling for calm, and there are always troublemaking rabble-rousers, but Jeez Louise...
Here's the code for a Support-Denmark Ribbon that you can paste into your template if you so desire. I'll probably update my template sometime Saturday.
The always-excellent Boing Boing points to this collection of depictions of Muhammed through the ages, up to the present.
Here's one of the cartoons, which I thought was rather interesting. It's my favorite of the bunch. Not riot-worthy, IMHO, but what do I know? I live in a country where (most of us) treasure Freedom of Speech. The rest of the cartoons seem about as offensive as a Gomer Pyle episode written by Herblock.
It's easy to forget in America, that even when a couple of overzealous establishment lackeys arrest Cindy Sheehan on trumped up charges because of her T-shirt ("Unlawful conduct" -- How Orwellian!) that Freedom of Speech is still the standard that we go by, because the Capitol Police Chief had to backtrack and kiss ass immediately, a sign that such authoritarian abuses are the exception rather than the rule.
You know what makes America great? That even though our heritage is tied so closely to Christian traditions (don't worry, I'm not one of those ignorant of the deism of the founders), we allow mockery (good-natured and otherwise) of Christianity to occur without a realistic thought of any governmental body taking any action. Can you imagine a majority-Islamic nation's parallel of Jesus Christ Superstar? Not to even mention AntiChrist Superstar? Or Oh God!? Or The Omen? Or Life of Brian?
Here's what we could do to demonstrate how great America is: Get Comedy Central to re-air the recent South Park Episode "Bloody Mary." A bunch of Catholic activists got upset over an episode last month in which a statue of the Virgin Mary was depicted as menstruating, causing the townsfolk to proclaim it a miracle. Some control-freaks with no sense of humor decided to twist the arms of Viacom bigwigs to make them promise that the episode would never see the light of day. Comedy Central claims that they haven't shelved them permanently, but I've been keeping an eye out since the controversy arose and I still haven't seen it air. What Bullshit! Let Bloody Mary air again, ASAP, and let it serve as an example to the rest of the world of the liberties and freedoms we enjoy.
I'm always frustrated by those who confuse ideas associated with a thing with the thing itself. There are lots and lots of people in this world (and in this country) who need to take a valium and read some Hayakawa.
Update, 10:26 AM, 2/4/06: Amba has two good posts full of comments and link round-ups here and here. Also, check out Tim Cavanaugh's interesting article in Reason Magazine, in which he views the controversy with a certain amount of optimism.
Update, 9:22 AM, 2/5/06: Christopher Hitchens weighs in on this matter in Slate. Excerpt:
Islam makes very large claims for itself. In its art, there is a prejudice against representing the human form at all. The prohibition on picturing the prophet—who was only another male mammal—is apparently absolute. So is the prohibition on pork or alcohol or, in some Muslim societies, music or dancing. Very well then, let a good Muslim abstain rigorously from all these. But if he claims the right to make me abstain as well, he offers the clearest possible warning and proof of an aggressive intent. This current uneasy coexistence is only an interlude, he seems to say. For the moment, all I can do is claim to possess absolute truth and demand absolute immunity from criticism. But in the future, you will do what I say and you will do it on pain of death.
I refuse to be spoken to in that tone of voice, which as it happens I chance to find "offensive."
Last update on this topic before I just make a new post on it, 10:03 AM, 2/5/06: The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel ran this excellent piece by dissident (and pseudonymous) Muslim writer Ibn Warraq. Excerpt: The great British philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty, "Strange it is, that men should admit the validity of the arguments for free discussion, but object to their being 'pushed to an extreme'; not seeing that unless the reasons are good for an extreme case, they are not good for any case. "The cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten raise the most important question of our times: freedom of expression. Are we in the west going to cave into pressure from societies with a medieval mindset, or are we going to defend our most precious freedom -- freedom of expression, a freedom for which thousands of people sacrificed their lives?